Boondocking – Love it or Hate it

We attended a social gathering last month. With the exception of Al and I, all the attendees owned homes here in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. About half also owned some form of RV, but none had ever lived in their RV full-time. These were RVing part-timers and some-timers.

During the ebb and flow of normal social conversation, we discussed RV travels and exchanged a few of our favorite places. Somewhere during the conversation, I mentioned how much I was looking forward to boondocking at Lake Powell at the end of the month. My comment was met with cocked heads and wrinkled noses.

boondocking Lake Powell
Boondocking at Lake Powell, Utah – we experienced harsh storms during that November visit!

Definitions

For those unfamiliar with the term boondocking (aka dispersed camping) it generally means, camping in the “boonies” on public lands where permissible with no fixed sites or services … meaning no electric, water, restrooms, or a designated campground. Boondocking is usually free, but not always. National Forest land along with BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) are the most common places RVers like to boondock. One might even boondock for a night in a retail parking lot like Walmart, Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel or a Casino. When we overnight in a retail parking lot, we usually make a purchase making it a win for both parties.

Dry camping is camping without hook-ups in a designated campground for a fee. Stealth camping is also a form of boondocking, but usually in a big city. Stealth camping is most popular with Van dwellers. They are able to park on any street where street parking is allowed, and overnight. Because they don’t look like a RV, they’re able to overnight ‘under the radar‘ so to speak.

Back to that conversation …

wild burroI found the cocked heads and wrinkled noses perplexing. As the conversation ensued, their common attitude became clear.

Since there’s a fair amount of BLM Land to the north and south of Lake Havasu City, during the winter months, the open land is dotted with RV’s boondocking.

Most of these RVers are like Al and me and living in their RVs full-time (or part-time) by choice, but some are not as fortunate, and I’ve heard these folks referred to as “sketchy people”. It’s this later group that these homeowners associate with boondocking; people who can’t afford to stay in a RV park or campground.

I tried to explain why “I” like to boondock, but sadly my words fell on deaf ears. And that’s fine by me … means there’s more land for me to enjoy without neighbors. We wouldn’t want every RVer out here boondocking.

camping in Utah
God rays in my front yard while boondocking in Utah. This is why I boondock!

Through the eyes of a photographer

Photography has helped me ‘see things‘ and given me purpose in our travels. As such, I love immersing myself in beautiful landscapes. When I can sit in the comfort of my RV enjoying my morning coffee while watching the sunrise, I’m in my happy place.

J. Robb State Park sunset

When I’m surrounded by stunning scenery, landscapes adorned with wildflowers while wildlife drifts about, I feel alive and grateful. Boondocking gives me a sense of freedom, a sense of living on my terms, by my rules. Ah, don’t get me wrong, there are government rules and unspoken etiquette amongst fellow boondockers, but that doesn’t overshadow the overall sense of feeling alive and freedom that I experience when I immerse myself in nature.

Boondocking is hard work

I love RVing and I love boondocking, but it can be hard work, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. While boondocking, there’s the constant concern of electrical usage, water usage, and monitoring tanks. Boondockers are a rare bunch willing to give up conveniences for experiences. We know what it’s like to carry our crap around physically and literally.

Lake Powell beach

Boondocking with a RV is one step above tent camping in my opinion. The RV does provide a fair amount of conveniences not available with a tent, but there are still things to consider.  If the idea of sponges baths or baby wipe baths in lieu of a regular shower doesn’t appeal to you, then most likely RV boondocking won’t either. (I won’t even begin to talk about my boondocking squat and hover talents because that would just be T.M.I. 😆)

I grew up camping and feel the beauty I see and experience while boondocking usually can’t be fully replicated while staying in a private RV Park.

Route 66 ArizonaMost state and regional parks come the closest to the outdoor boondocking experience with the added conveniences of some amenities.

Our Havasu friends are totally fine with private RV Parks and feel they get a very similar nature experience to what I get boondocking, although I might beg to differ.

Don’t misunderstand, I love the comforts of full hook-ups, and we spend 75% of our time camped in either a private RV Park or public Campground, but there are times I’m ready to give up the comforts of normal living for a secluded picturesque spot in the hinterland.

camping at Lake Powell, Utah

But let’s get real! The visual appeal, as seen in the photo above, as well as reading blog posts about folks having a fabulous time free boondocking in stunning locations is enticing, but the realities aren’t always fully disclosed. Do you know why we had this amazing slice of land almost exclusively to ourselves?  That’s because Al and I, along with three other RVs, were the only crazy insane idiots hardy folks willing to brave the elements.

It was November of 2012, and the weather turned cold and windy. During our stay, we experienced winds gusting in the 30-60 mph range. At one point there was sleet blowing sideways and the sand on the beach was being whipped into the air. The RV was rocking and rolling and not in a fun way! It was actually scary at times, and we had concerns about possibly blowing over. We questioned our decision making.

camping at Lake Powell
It was so cold, even our dog wore a jacket.

When we arrived at this location near Page, Arizona, two days earlier, the weather was warm and sunny. People were swimming and boating. There had to be well over twenty other RVs scattered around the area, but once the weather forecast predicted high winds, snow, and plummeting temperatures, the place cleared out quickly, leaving behind only us adventurous RVers.

It was quite the adventure, not one I’d care to repeat too many times. But that scenery and the ever-changing skies were like nothing I had ever seen before. It was a truly amazing experience and sight to behold. It made boondocking at Lake Powell totally worth not showering for three days. Hmm, maybe that’s what our friends meant when they used the term sketchy people …. perhaps the name Pig-Pen might be more fitting 😏 But that certainly wouldn’t pertain to us!  Baby wipes are the best. We always stock up before heading out on any extended boondocking excursion. Sponge baths work too, but we’re usually concerned about water conservation.

I’m in my happy place with this for my yard!

We have friends that love boondocking and do it exclusively. We have friends that hate boondocking and joking say roughing it to them means not having a sewer connection, and then there’s us. We fall into the group who enjoys a combination of camping options … a little bit of everything, but we totally understand the realities and what we’re signing up for. There’s a lot more forethought, planning, sacrifice, and physicality to boondocking. Some folks love it, and some folks hate it!

Would you be willing to give up comforts for scenery?

“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.”― Osho

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Comforted by Banana Nut Muffins

We’ve had an incredibly busy August which lead to feeling like the summer whizzed by. Can you believe it’s already the beginning of September?  And to think, when Al and I decided to spend the summer parked in the same RV Resort for four months, I thought for sure I’d be bored and ready to roll after the first month. But Prescott, Arizona, is a lovely community surrounded by beauty which kept me entertained and the camera clicking. We had a great summer!

sunset at Goldwater Lake
Goldwater Lake, Prescott, Arizona

As the end of August rolled around, it was time for us to get the wheels rolling again. I’ll be honest, I had a few mixed emotions about packing up and leaving and actually thought about staying another month, but with twinges of hitch itch nipping at my heels, I knew it was time for a new backyard.

camping in Kaibab National Forest
My new yard. Our home for the Labor Day weekend

Currently I’m sitting in the Kaibab National Forest just south of the Grand Canyon surrounded by tall pine trees and enjoying the crisp fresh air. Wow, talk about a change of scenery along with cooler temperatures. I found myself pulling out pants and a sweatshirt camping in Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyonas the evening temperatures dropped into the 50’s … refreshing, and ah, the smell of pine is intoxicating!

As I sit here relishing the tranquil beauty around me, I feel incredibly lucky yet overcome with sadness. Mother Nature can be gracious and bless us with amazing desert sunsets or spectacular beach sunrises or she can lower her hammer sending death and destruction.

This past week, the Texas Gulf Coast certainly felt Mother Nature’s wrath when she sent hurricane Harvey ashore. I’ve stayed glued to my computer following news stories and getting updates from friends via Facebook and email. The photos and updates are heartbreaking.

Banana bread
I need some comfort food!

Al and I have a special relationship with the Rockport area (this is where the center of the hurricane came ashore). Rockport has been our winter home for the past four years and just a little ways down the coast is where my parents used to winter. Al was also stationed in the area during his military days. Thus, you can see, we have a fond connection to this part of the Texas Gulf Coast.

bird photography
This little guy poses nicely for me. I’m sad there won’t be any Texas birding for me this winter.

For obvious reasons, our usual Texas sojourn won’t be happening this winter. I always look forward to our visits which includes communing with shore birds and reconnecting with friends. I’ll definitely miss this years excursion. I’m afraid if I talk anymore about this disaster the flood of tears will short out my laptop 😪

banana muffinsSo instead of crying, let’s head into the kitchen and bake up something comforting … well, at least comforting to me.

I’ve always loved banana bread, and it usually makes me think of my mom. She made the best, and I could literally devour half a loaf in one sitting provided she didn’t take it away from me.

Because of this lack of will power, I make muffins instead of loaves and can usually limit myself to one a day. But as my emotions run rampant thinking of the Gulf Coast, my mom (RIP), and her favorite beach in Texas …. I think two or three 😋 might be in order. I need something to comfort my emotions. I’ll take an extra long hike tomorrow 🐾

Banana Nut MuffinsBanana Nut Muffins 
4 very ripe bananas
5 Tablespoon of melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons of brewed coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add melted butter and sugar and mix well. Mix in egg, coffee and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and salt mixing until all ingredients incorporated well. Fold in walnuts. In a paper lined muffin tin, divide batter equally by filling each muffin cup about 3/4 full.

Bake in a preheated oven – 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12.

Banana nut muffins

Stay strong Texas … You’re not alone … sending prayers and support!

never alone in the woods
Never alone !

BTW – this is not my mom’s banana bread recipe. I don’t know what I do wrong, but mine never tastes as good as hers did. My mom was a great baker. Oh well, I found this recipe online a few years ago and tweaked it and am sharing my version. It’s not the same as mom’s, but it’ll do. Hope you enjoy it!

Some items I used during this post – pls note: these are affiliate links 😀
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Our Good Fortune Continued

It was mid August when Al and I were in dire need of a little down time.  With obligations behind us, we were able to meander as our hearts desired.  Just the way we like to roll.

Elks LodgeAfter a four hour drive, we pulled into the Elks Lodge parking lot in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  We found a nice grassy spot to set up camp for three nights.  It’s easy to fall in love with Santa Fe, New Mexico.

It is such an eclectic mix of new and old offering a little something for everyone, not to mention a great farmer’s market.  Ah, yes… worthy of its own post!

And although we loved our boondocking spot at the Elk’s Lodge, the real camping gem we discovered was forty miles down the road.  At Cochiti Lake Campground we snagged a lovely pull-thru site with electric and water.

Loved the Cochiti Lake Campground
Loved the Cochiti Lake Campground – photo taken just before sites filled up and rain started

Each afternoon, a summer storm would roll through gracing me with an artistic show that only mother nature could create.  During these storms, I would try to leave the RV door open or at least a window. Cochit Lake Campground

The smell of fresh rain in this arid high desert landscape was intoxicating and the vegetation and bunnies seemed to relish in the moisture.  And once the storms passed, a rainbow would remind me to smile.  Each afternoon as I sat in the comfort of the RV watching the show unfold, I was flooded with a mix of emotions; comfort, relaxed, awed, alive, lucky, life is good …..  and this is why we RV.

Cochiti Lake Campground
Cochiti Lake Campground

The ten days we spent here were just what we needed to relax and rejuvenate.  Although the majority of the time was spent around camp, I did manage to venture into Santa Fe  a few times and hiked at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument at every opportunity.

Hiking at Kasha-Katuwe NM had me feeling relaxed and renewed
Hiking at Kasha-Katuwe NM left me feeling relaxed and renewed …. aaahhh!  There’s something very special and spiritual about this place or maybe it was my timing.
We also managed to take in a quick visit to Bandelier National Monument. We must return - fascinating!
We also managed to take in a quick visit to Bandelier National Monument.  Fascinating place that we must return to! Unfortunately, weather forced us off the trail.

This area in New Mexico is definitely a place I look forward to returning to and as much as I was reluctant to leave, hitch itch set in and it was time to put the RV wheels in motion.

Our next stop was in Arizona at the Petrified Forest National Park.  On the far south side of the National Park, just outside the park entrance, are a couple of gift shops.  They allow free overnight camping.  We stayed here last year for a quick overnight when we helped our daughter move from Denver to Phoenix.

Our free campsite near the Petrified Forest National Park
Our free campsite near the Petrified Forest National Park – Crystal Forest Gift Shop

During this visit, I was able to linger and explore the park …. well kind of.

Retracing the historic route 66 - those are the original telephone poles. A quick photo before the bad storm rolls in.
Retracing historic Route 66 – original telephone poles still stand. Quick photo before the bad storm hits.

The weather wasn’t necessarily all that agreeable and after I took a fair share of commemorative photos, the lightening and down pouring rain had me hightailing it back to the RV.

In between weather fronts, Al and I decided to hit the road bound for Williams, Arizona.  Fortunately, the winds were short lived and the three hour drive was pretty uneventful.

While we were trying to back in to a site at Lake Kaibab National Forest, the camp host rolled up in his golf cart letting us know he just received a cancellation for a nice pull-thru site ….. sweet!  My how those travel Gods continued to smile upon us.

Our peaceful campsite at Lake Kaibab National Forest Campground
Our peaceful campsite at Lake Kaibab National Forest Campground
my front yard - aaahhh, relaxing!
my front yard – aaahhh, relaxing!

Williams, Arizona, is known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, but the town has also done an amazing job of rebranding itself and playing up its Route 66 history.  This is a fun little town worth spending an afternoon exploring.  It’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat or a hotel room for a visit to the Grand Canyon since the national park is only an hour drive up the road.

Williams, Arizona - historic Route 66 is the theme around here - fun!
Williams, Arizona – historic Route 66 is the theme around here – fun!

I had every intention of driving up to the Grand Canyon for a day of photography, but I managed to come down with a head cold and with the cool temps that are common in this part of Arizona at the end of August, I longed for some heat.

So down in elevation we went …. to the town of Cottonwood.  Just east of town is a popular boondocking spot (free camping, no services).  It’s amazing how drastic the change in weather can be a mere hour apart.  In Flagstaff the weather temps barely hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit while in Cottonwood temperatures were well into the 90’s.  The heat felt wonderful, although when it reached 104 inside the RV, even sick lil’ol me thought it was a tad too hot.  However, between the RV sauna, chicken noodle soup, and a spicy Mexican meal at Javalina’s in Sedona, I started feeling better in short order.

Boondocking near Cottonwood, AZ. Sedona off in the distance.
Boondocking near Cottonwood, AZ. Sedona off in the distance.

Three days of boondocking in the desert heat had us moving on down to Prescott Valley in search of electric and air conditioning.  We booked a month long stay at the Fairgrounds RV Park.

Fairgrounds RV Park, Prescott Valley, AZ. It was an ok place to park for the month of September.
Fairgrounds RV Park, Prescott Valley, AZ. It was an ok place to park for the month of September.

On October 1st we returned to Phoenix, Arizona, our starting point back in April. We’ve been comfortably parked on the north side of the valley and visiting  with friends and family regularly.

So now you’re all caught up on our summer journey.  I’ll eventually write some posts and share a bunch more photos on the highlights of our summer stops.  We truly had a fantastic six month adventure filled with lots of firsts and a few repeats

Al and me with our daughter and son. We're able to spend the holidays together this year - happy dance!
Al, our daughter, our son and me. We’re able to spend the holidays together this year – happy dance!

For now, I’m off to finish up my Christmas shopping…..

Should I get this pressure cooker or would this  drone be more fun? I like the idea of both, don’t you 😉 I ordered this T-shirt for my daughter!and several gift cards as stocking stuffers.  Yep, I’m getting close to the end of my shopping and starting to wrap’m up.  I’m a shopper and love this time of year 🙂  This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure can be found here.

What’s in a Name?

The other day I was asked by a non RV’er how we decide on our travel destinations and how we choose where to camp?  It actually took me a few minutes to think about this and I couldn’t come up with just one simple answer.  Sometimes our decision-making is easy and other times it can be down right challenging.

Stylish Chicks!
Which way should we go?

I tried to simplify my answer ….. Our interest in an area is usually from a good old-fashioned road atlas/map, or someone’s blog post, or brochures we pick up at a Visitor Center.  Once we have a basic idea of where we think we’d like to go and what sights there are to see, we peruse several websites to find camping options in that areas’ general vicinity.  Our two favorite websites are RV Park Reviews and Campendium.

When we first arrived in Idaho last May, I managed to visit a very nice Visitor Center in the town of Idaho Falls.  It was there that I picked up a ton of information covering some highlights and must see attractions in this beautiful and diverse State.

After glancing through a few brochures, I was reminded that I had read a blog Beaver Dickpost about Yellowstone Bear World, and quickly added it to my list of Idaho places I wanted to see.  Since we prefer camping as close to an attraction as possible, I started doing my research……

and that’s when I stumbled across the Beaver Dick County Park.  Come on, with a name like that, we had to overnight there.

Say it with me…. “Beaver Dick”.  Doesn’t that just want to make you giggle like a silly school child?  I know every time I say Beaver Dick, I chuckle.   This was an easy camping decision and a decision based purely on the name….  😄

Camping at Beaver Dick Park
Camping at Beaver Dick Park

The Beaver Dick Park is a small nine acre county park popular with the locals.  It’s located about 5 miles west of the town of Rexburg, Idaho off Highway 33, and situated on the west bank of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River.

Plenty of hiking trails
Plenty of hiking trails

It also backs up to 400 acres of BLM Land available for hiking and hunting (during hunting season that is).

The park was named after Richard Leigh, a widely known and liked outfitter, guide, and trapper of beaver – thus, the nickname, Beaver Dick.

He married a Shoshone Indian named Jenny.  Did you know, Leigh Lake and Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons were named after these two?  I love stumbling upon this kind of whimsical history.

Our relaxing campsite at Beaver Dick Park
Our relaxing campsite at Beaver Dick Park

The park offers picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, fifteen dry campsites, and a boat ramp.  We stayed for five nights for a total cost of $15.  Whoohoo!  With that kind of price, the wine fun budget for the month was increased 😉

July 2016 – Beaver Dick Park turned into a great place not only for us to relax but also to explore eastern Idaho. First order of business …. a visit to Yellowstone Bear World, a drive-thru wildlife park.

Yellowstone Bear World
Yellowstone Bear World

After paying admission, I was given firm directions (verbal and written) to leave my windows on the truck UP, drive slowly, and not to let a bear climb into the bed of the truck 🤔 Huh?  The road first meanders past free roaming bison, elk, and deer.  Eventually, I approached another gate where I was stopped by an attendant who once again reminded me to keep my windows up, then I entered the Bear area….

Bear roam freely at Yellowstone Bear World
Bear roam freely at Yellowstone Bear World

Yellowstone Bear WorldI encountered Bear walking in front of me, to the side of me, and behind me.  Although, I did keep the windows in the truck rolled up, the bears quite frankly could’ve cared less about the vehicles driving past and not one wanted to hitch a ride. I’m sure they’re thinking, “Just another day of crazy tourists taking photos”.

cute bear cubs at play
cute bear cubs at play

Yellowstone Bear WorldAfter the drive, I parked at the visitor center and browsed the gift shop before venturing into the petting zoo.  Upon exiting the building, I was greeted by the cub habitat …. a great little fenced island that was home to three very active bear cubs. Watching these little cubs wrestling with one another was worth the price of admission.  For an additional fee, you can sign up to actually bottle feed a bear cub.

For an additional fee, you can bottle feed a bear cub
For an additional fee, you can bottle feed a bear cub
Teething?
Teething?

The little cubs were so darn cute, but the cuteness didn’t end with them …..

This little fawn was adorable
This little fawn was adorable
The petting zoo was fun - watch out for t-shirt nibbling deer!
Watch out for T-shirt nibbling deer!
Goats are such characters!
Goats are such characters!
This guy liked nibbling on peoples clothing.
This guy liked nibbling on peoples clothing.

Petting zoo

Although the petting zoo itself is extremely entertaining, I found a special treat just beyond ….. in an enclosed area.  This little lady (moose are anything but little) was lounging on the other side of the fence at the far end of the petting zoo. I was but a mere twenty feet away from her.MooseWhat a treat to see this magnificent animal up close.  A very tall chain link fence separated me and Ms. Moose, but I was able to shoot this photo between the links.

Yellowstone Bear World is a relatively small attraction and can easily be explored in 2-3 hours.  I thoroughly enjoyed my morning visit in early July, and would definitely return should I find myself near Rexburg, Idaho again.

Let’s see, communing with animals while camped at a relaxing county park – so far, so good.  Next up, we wrap up our Idaho visit with a few more interesting places worth mentioning.

In Love with Bryce

With the weather being fickle, we decided to pay for two nights at a RV Park giving us the flexibility to rearrange our plans on a whim.  When the weather improved, our two-night stop to visit Bryce Canyon Country quickly turned into six nights.  And oh my gosh…. amazing!Bryce Canyon

I assure you, six nights was not enough to savor this breathtaking scenery.  If it hadn’t been for our workamp obligation in Idaho, we would’ve stayed another week.  For some reason, I just couldn’t get enough of those perplexing hoodoos or the layers of texture and colors.  Simply mesmerizing!

Where to camp?
With snow and freezing overnight temps in the forecast, we knew we wanted a site with hook-ups and chose the Red Canyon Village RV Park. It was an ok place to stay and even offers cabins as well as campsites. (restroom shown in the photo below)

Red Canyon RV Park, Panguitch, Utah
Red Canyon RV Park, Panguitch, Utah

The park is located along highway 12 just east of highway 89 and road noise can be expected.  We paid $31 a night for a full hook-up site which included cable TV. The property is owned and managed by the same company that runs the Bryce Canyon Lodge, Forever Resorts.  The location worked fine for us.  It took a Bryce Canyon national parklittle less than thirty minutes to drive to the Bryce Canyon National Park visitor center and about 10 minutes to get to the town of Panguitch, Utah.  Just a couple of minutes away was Red Canyon with some lovely hiking trails that shouldn’t be missed.

Red Canyon is also home to a national forest campground: Red Canyon Campground.  It’s basic dry camping in a wooded setting.  Although some of the sites would accommodate our size RV, we’re not fans of trees and low-lying branches, and thus this campground is not an option we personally would consider.

As we continue along highway 12 toward Bryce Canyon NP, you’ll find the Bryce Canyon Pines RV Park.  We didn’t stop in, but drove by several times.  From a distance the park looked ok nestled in the pines with dirt/gravel roads and sites.  We noticed RV’s of all sizes parked there.

Bryce CanyonRuby’s RV Park seems to be the most popular spot with its close proximity to the hoodoos, but definitely the most expensive.  This RV park is located just outside the national park boundaries which means it offers location, full amenities, and is big rig friendly.

Want to camp even closer to the hoodoos?  Bryce Canyon National Park offers two campgrounds, both with no hook-ups, dry camping only.  The majority of the sites look sloped and mounded.  There were one or two sites at the Northern Campground we liked that we would consider if available.  Sunset and Northern Campgrounds appear to be best for tents, small Class C motorhomes, pop-ups, and small travel trailers.Bryce Canyon

Boondocking – There are a bunch of places off highway 12 east of highway 63 to boondock (boondocking means dry camping on public lands – no campground or facilities).  The land is located within the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument and a free permit is required for any overnight stay.  Along highway 12 from Red Canyon to the town of Torrey, there are six visitor centers to assist you, provide permits, maps, and answer any questions.

There is also a fair amount of national forest land in the area with boondocking options and no permit needed.  Here’s a helpful post on dispersed camping.Bryce Canyon National ParkDuring those times when Al and I do boondock, after about a week we like to refresh and find a RV park with full hook-ups.  From a budgetary point of view the Paradise RV Park might be the perfect place to refresh. This somewhat basic and rustic park offers full hook-ups for $15 a night.  It’s located a few miles north of the town of Panguitch and about 30 miles from the Bryce Canyon Visitor center,  We actually did our laundry there since the Red Canyon RV Park offered one staked washer/dryer on the outside of a building.  Not ideal, especially in 32 degree weather.

Joe's MarketGroceries?
Since we were staying in the Red Canyon area, the town of Panguitch was an easy ten minute drive away.  Joe’s Market in Panguitch, Utah, is a great place to resupply.  We were impressed with the quality of fresh meats, veggies, and eggs that were reasonably priced.  Other items were a tad pricy though.

sour dough breadAcross the street from Joe’s Market is a Chevron Gas Station with a fast food place inside.  We don’t eat deep-fried fast food so I can’t help you there, but with the oven availability, the owners of the gas station bake fresh bread and rolls daily.

Our first stop at the Chevron was late one afternoon.  We filled up with gas and when we stepped inside, we noticed the hand written sign on the window noting fresh-baked sour dough bread.  When we asked about the bread, we were informed they were all sold out, but the gal behind the counter was quick to suggest placing our name on a loaf of sour dough bread for the next morning.   Yes!  It was still warm when we picked it up and perfect for our picnic lunch.  I wouldn’t normally recommend buying bread at a gas station, but this is small town America and it’s similar to enjoying a loaf of bread your mom made.

bakeryAnother place we tried was a bakery on highway 12 just east of highway 63.  The groceries and baked goods seemed a little pricy in my opinion, but we still ended up buying some fresh-baked baguettes for our sandwiches which were delicious.  And of course, hubby had to sample a blueberry turnover which received a two thumbs up as well.

One of our favorite little stops after hiking amongst the hoodoos, was stopping in at the General Store located within the national park just around the corner from the Bryce Canyon Lodge (btw – the restaurant in the lodge had a menu that was tempting, but our sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread won out).  This General Store along with a lovely picnic area is within walking distance to the Sunrise overlook and trailhead to the Queens Stewart'sGarden Trail.  After a somewhat steep hike back out of the canyon, we managed to work up a thirst.

We try to keep our soft drink intact to a minimum, but when we discovered the General Store stocks Stewart’s….. well…. there was no resisting the cream soda and orange cream.

We enjoyed this little splurge so much that when we received an impromptu email from some fellow full-time RVer’s letting us know they were in the area, I knew exactly where to meet up.  We hadn’t seen this couple in nearly two years and certainly had plenty to talk about.

Enjoying a picnic with friends at the general store was perfect.  It was awesome reconnecting, catching up, and sharing some of our favorite Bryce Canyon sites with this delightful couple.

me and Al enjoying our sodas while our friends prefer to stay behind the camera ;-)
me and Al enjoying our sodas while our friends prefer to stay behind the camera 😉

Cheers to friendships, breath-taking scenery, amazing hikes, and cold beverages.  It’s official, I’m in love with Bryce Canyon National Park and am already scheming my next visit.

Bryce loves me back. Can you see the rock heart in the center of the photo?
Bryce loves me back. Can you see the rock heart in the center of the photo?

 

Weather at Lake Powell

With the desert heating up, it was time for us to bid farewell to our children and start our journey north toward Idaho.  I had spent the last month perusing the atlas to see which route we wanted to take.  It didn’t take long to figure out where I wanted our first overnight location to be ….. a place I’ve longed to revisit; Page, Arizona or more importantly Lake Powell.Lake Powell

I’ll jump at any opportunity to camp near water and this little spot is a gem.  We first stumbled upon the Lone Rock boondocking beach back in November of 2012.  We were in the midst of out running – dodging snowstorms from our sticks and bricks home in Colorado, and Arizonaalthough we managed to avoid most of the snow, we did encounter a few flakes while camped at Lake Powell’s shore along with some severe winds.

You can  click here to read my post on that entertaining day.  Ah yes, fond memories!

Back to us hitting the road bright and early Tuesday morning….   We had intended to leave Phoenix on Monday, but just about all of Arizona was under a high wind warning.  And let me tell you, those nasty winds had us rocking and rolling to the point we felt like we were living on a boat.Arizona Highways

It was a smart move on our part to wait a day.  The winds had moved on and the five-hour drive from Phoenix to Page, Arizona, was uneventful and full of unique scenery… just the way we like it.Page, Arizona

We paid $14 for a two-night stay with the senior pass card.  Ah, there are perks to marrying an older man 😉  Since we had stayed here before, we failed to ask the ranger the best route down to the beach and found ourselves almost getting into a serious pickle.  The sandy road, although mostly packed, had some challenging obstacles from water erosion that required the F-250 be put into four-wheel drive to insure we avoid that pickle.  Seems the lay of the land around here is ever changing.Lake Powell

Once settled into a nice level spot off by ourselves, it was time to explore and in the process discover a better road to the pavement.  We sure don’t want to head out the same way we came in.Lake Powell

During our last visit to the area, the weather was so inclement it pretty much kept us RV bound.  This time around, I was determined to visit the Horseshoe Bend scenic overlook and since impending storms were on the horizon, I didn’t waste any time.

Horseshoe Bend overlook
Horseshoe Bend overlook

With storm clouds approaching and winds sandblasting me, I wasn’t able to spend as much time admiring the view as I would’ve liked, but I was definitely a happy camper.  This is a place I intend to revisit.  Hmm, perhaps we’ll need to look into one of those boat tours through the canyon (even though we’re not usually tour users).   Looks too spectacular to not consider and research further.  There are times I do miss our boat!

me sitting on the edge!
me sitting on the edge!
plan on sharing the scenery at Horseshoe Bend
plan on sharing the scenery at Horseshoe Bend

Our two night stay is over and today we’re heading toward Bryce Canyon National Park.  Or so we think.  As I sit here typing, we’ve decided to keep our day fluid and pay attention to the weather.  We encountered thunder, lightening, and lots of rain overnight and we’re a tad bit hesitant to drive the sandy road exiting the beach.  We’ll wait for a couple of hours and then make a decision.  Spending another night here along the shores of Lake Powell isn’t the worst thing.  However, the pull of seeing hoodoos is strong.

I’m a little bummed the weather forecast for the next few days is not looking good.  I’ve been so looking forward to hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park and a steady dose of rain will squash those plans.  Fingers crossed, I at least get a little break in the weather for a  few photo ops!

more fond memories
more fond memories
my hiking shoes ingested at least a cup of sand each
my hiking shoes ingested at least a cup of sand each
Flowers? Could it get any better?
Flowers? Could it get any better?
I could get used to this view!
I could get used to this view!

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump                     

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Utah / Arizona, USA (Trails Illustrated Map # 213)

Let’s talk dirty

We always enjoy our time in Moab, Utah, but there is a down side to this unique and beautiful place.  It isn’t always easy to find a place to camp, even the RV Parks can fill quickly on weekends.  In general, we usually opt for a little more elbow room than most RV Parks offer and look for state parks, national forest campgrounds, or BLM land for boondocking…. all of which can present a challenge around Moab.  This is a popular place and outside of RV Parks the BLM campgrounds can be difficult to find an open spot, especially for larger RV’s.Moab Utah

Moab UtahKen’s Lake is usually our go-to campground in Moab, but our friends, Mike and Linda, snagged a boondock spot on some state land twelve miles out-of-town and were saving room for us.  We camped there last year as well and it’s all about luck finding room to park.

And even when you do find a spot, you can expect to have lots of company on the weekends, whether you want it or not.  This area is super popular with the OHV (off-highway vehicle) crowd.  Last year we had a couple of tear-drop trailers join us and this year it was a bunch of tenters.

There’s no boondocking etiquette around here.  If there’s open ground, it’s game.

Moab Utah
Friday night we had a couple of tents pitched between us and the road and another one in the rear. The rear tenter remained for a couple of days. Shy guy who didn’t engage in conversation.
Moab Utah
If you don’t leave Moab covered in “Moab Red” you haven’t visited Moab

The Friday night of Mother’s Day weekend brought plenty of rain.  And with rain comes mud.  Lot’s of mud.  Thank goodness there were no plans to move our RV’s because I’m not sure how far down the dirt mud road we could’ve gone. That mud gets slick and you sink easily.

The rain didn’t seem to deter anyone’s travel plans and there was a steady stream of traffic of folks looking for a place to camp. As the sun set, we were quickly surrounded by tents (well, that might be a slight exaggeration – at least 3 that we noticed in the dark).  All but one, broke camp the next morning.

Moab Utah
Al works on our broken generator. In the background you can see the campsite next to ours. Several tents and more dirt bikes and ATV’s than I could count. They had fun churning up the dirt…. regularly.

The rains on that Friday kept the four of us housebound and it was an entertaining feat just to walk from one RV to the other.  Once wet, the red dirt quickly turns to slick, thick mud.

Moab Utah
The mud is as slick as ice and all I could think about was not falling on my a*s…. not a pretty sight!
Moab red
My outdoor rug sunk into the mud when I stepped on it. I left a trail of mud on the steps. The bottom of my flip-flops were coated with thick red mud.
Paleo donuts
What do I do on rainy days? Bake! Paleo donuts, orange scones, and chocolate chip cookies

And when it dries, it turns to a concrete like substance.  Ever wonder how those ancient Pueblo ruins have survived so long?  Well, it’s pretty obvious to me – red Moab mud.

So as much as I love the open views and free campsite, it comes with a dirty price.  Once things dry out, it’s the dust devils you have to watch out for.

When the weather cleared, we took full advantage and enjoyed life around camp.  A campfire was built, drinks poured, and homemade treats were served.

Since the weather was so nice, we had our RV windows open and Mike and Linda had their door open as well.  While sitting around the campfire, that’s when it happened…. before we could process what was going on, it was over.Moab Utah

Moab redWe were sitting under our Laredo awning and watched a dust dirt devil swirl right past Mike and Linda’s RV open door.  Oh my gosh, talk about a trail of dirt left in its wake.

They had a thick layer of dirt covering the front half of their RV interior.  I think they’re still working on removing all that Moab red.

Moab Utah
Al, me, Linda, Mike

As much as we love our boondocking and admiring the views, it’s not perfect.  And although we didn’t have a dust devil enter our RV, we too continue to clean and find the fine red dirt in the strangest places.  But hey, with a camp like this, it’s worth a little dirt…. or in Mike and Linda’s case, a lot of dirt!Moab UtahMoab Utah

Moon Zion & Bryce: Including Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante & Moab (Moon Handbooks)

I recently started a food blog called Dally in the Galley.
Feel free to stop byjust click here

Don’t tell Miss Piggy

We ended up staying in Phoenix about 2 weeks longer than we originally planned.  That meant a slow lingering meander through Utah was shortened to a mere four days.  We had a reservation and appointment in Grand Junction, Colorado, that required us to maintain a travel schedule or I assure you we would have moved through Utah a lot slower.  I love this state.

Utah
driving through Monument Valley is always a treat
Utah
I never get tired of the scenery driving through Monument Valley, Utah

Al and I don’t usually like long travel days, but we were really looking forward to some time in Moab.  Therefore, we drove from Phoenix to Moab in one day…. one very long day.  After an eight and a half hour drive, we pulled into a boondock spot next to our friends Linda and Mike.  They were thankfully saving room for us.Moab Utah

Moab UtahEven though Al and I split the driving, we arrived tired and were grateful to be greeted with hugs and chilled margaritas.  Thanks guys.

But their hospitality didn’t end there.

When Al went to start the generator, Honda EU2000i Super Quiet Portable Gas Powered Generator Power Inverter 2000, 120V, the cord ended up in his hand.  Yikes, four days of boondocking with no power would definitely drain our batteries.  Thus, the generator would need to be repaired.  Sounds like a project for two strapping young men to tackle (can I hear a little Tim Allen grunting?)  Fortunately for us, last year Mike and Linda added a ton of solar to their RV …. so much so, that they not only powered their own RV, they powered ours as well.  Yes, wattage envy!

Moab Utah
note the orange electrical cord on the ground – we’re hooked up to the “Bear” for electric.

Our four day stay whizzed by and the weather was a mixed bag; cold, warm, cloudy, sunny, windy, calm.  We had a ton of fun on Mother’s Day starting with the guys serving their wives mimosa’s.mimosa

One mimosa down and another in hand, it was time for me to fix breakfast…. by choice, of course.  I wanted to fix everyone one of my nutritious skilletini’s, which I’ll feature on my Moab Utahfood blog in a couple of weeks.

We all got a big chuckle out of the fact Mike could not seem to remember the work skill-e-tini and instead referred to the breakfast as a spank-a-tini.

From that point on, the dish was referred to as a spankatini.

So what’s in the ‘spankatini’?  Italian pork sausage, butternut squash, mushrooms, peppers, onion, and cilantro…. topped with two eggs and a side of bacon.Moab UtahAs if sausage and bacon at breakfast wasn’t enough pork in our diet for the day, the guys took us out for a Mother’s Day dinner at the Blue Pig in Moab for some yummy barbeque.  I’m sure somewhere on our table was a slab of ribs 🙂  Please don’t tell Miss Piggy that we started and ended our day eating pork.  It’s certainly not something the four of us do regularly, but we were in a rather celebratory mood – it was Mother’s Day after all.  With the exception of the champagne, I’m sure it was all Paleo approved 😉

The next day, Al and I hit the road with Grand Junction, Colorado, as our destination.  But before we get to Grand Junction, we have a little dirt to share…..Moab Utah

Weber 50060001 Q 1000 Liquid Propane Grill

Remodeling and Debauchery

As I choked back the tears, I gave daughter one last hug goodbye before climbing into the truck. We not only bid farewell to our daughter but also said goodbye to our beloved Colorado for the year.  It was a great summer filled with plenty of discoveries and new-found friendships.  We already look forward to next summer.boondocking dry camping

Alas with frost nipping at our heels, we set off on our 1,125 mile journey to Lake Mead, Nevada. We were on a mission …. a mission that entails redecorating the RV.  We’ve now been living full-time in the RV a little over a year and although I don’t miss living in a sticks n bricks house, I do miss certain niceties.  One of which is our beautiful leather couch and loveseat.  I really miss that couch and loveseat.  Before the movers showed up to haul them off to the storage unit, hubby and I even contemplated swapping out the RV couch for our leather loveseat.  It unfortunately just wasn’t going to work.  So we hit the road as is over a year ago.

free camping in Las Vegas Nevada
sun setting over the Lake Mead desert

But the RV couch has remained a source of discontent for both Al and me. I hate the chenille fabric and really miss the leather.  I’ve continued to shop online off and on for a new RV couch ever since hitting the road full-time and a tentative plan to head to Elkhart, Indiana, in the summer of 2015 was being discussed.

remodeling RV
This is the couch the RV came with. I do like the storage drawer so storage is an issue with anything new I pick.

Allow me to digress and backtrack a tad. Last March while camped in Phoenix, Arizona, we were joined by fellow bloggers, Linda and Mike.  During one of many conversations with this engaging couple, the subject of RV remodeling came up.  Linda and Mike were making plans to head up to Oregon to have solar panels installed as well as possibly replacing the loveseat with a desk…..  “Say what? Whatever shall you do with that soft, supple, butter cream, leather sofa?  I call dibs!”

camping at Lake MeadWe spent more time hanging out with Linda and Mike as our paths continued to crisscross during the months of April, May, and June.  Each time I stepped into Linda’s RV, I continued to longingly eye that loveseat but contained myself from saying, “When can I have the loveseat huh, huh, huh?”  At that point they still hadn’t decided if they were going to go forward with the remodel.

Fast track to September – just when I was convinced my loveseat shopping would need to resume and that trip to Indiana was inevitable, I received an email from Linda asking if we were still interested in the loveseat?  “Dah, YEAH!”  A price was quickly agreed upon and then talks ensued for the logistics to be worked out.

We were in Denver, Colorado, and they were in Eugene, Oregon.  We were separated by approximately 1,300 miles but our winter plans had us traveling in opposite directions. Where ever shall we meet?  Lake Mead, Nevada, it is!

You can read about Linda and Mike’s remodel here.  It turned out great.

RV furniture
Our new couch as it sits in the center of Linda and Mikes RV. For traveling, they had to strap it upside down to the other couch. They traveled like this for over 1,000 miles so their friends could enjoy this loveseat. I did call first dibs after all 😉 In all seriousness, we very much appreciated the above and beyond effort because they did have an opportunity to sell it in Oregon. Friends indeed!
RV furniture
Linda and dog Lucy help supervise the guys as the couch comes out of Linda and Mike’s RV.
RV furniture
Lucy makes sure the guys don’t damage the couch as they take it into our RV.

So now you know why we needed to go to Lake Mead….. to pick up our new loveseat.  Let the remodeling commence.  Come on, you didn’t think I would stop with a new couch.  Nope, now there are chairs to reupholster……   and of course a few other things here and there, but all in due time and I’ll share it all in a future post once our DIY projects are complete.

camping in Las Vegas
boondocking at Government Wash at Lake Mead, Nevada
free camping at Lake Mead
not a bad place to call home for a few days. Boondocking with friends at Lake Mead.

debaucheryWith the heavy lifting complete, what do two couples do boondocking in the desert in 100 degree heat with no air conditioning?  But of course, sit in the shade, drink, eat, and solve all the problems of the world.  After four days of desert dwelling and plenty of debauchery, it was in everyone’s best interest we bid farewell before we all needed to check into a detox center, but we do have plans to meet up again down the road.  Perhaps more desert dwelling is needed.

skilletini
Eating well. We start the day off with a hearty ‘breakfast skilletini’… red potatoes and veggies with eggs on top with a side of bacon.  Note – no bread involved…. Paleo eating all the way!
Paleo muffins
Or how about starting the day off with fresh-baked banana muffins and zucchini bread? Paleo of course!  I love my little RV oven.
free camping near Las Vegas Nevada
All alone boondocked at Government Wash at Lake Mead 😦 Time for us to move on as well.

Al and I are now comfortably parked in familiar stomping grounds back at Lake Pleasant located northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, and not far from our son’s home.  Our stop here will be short.  We’ll get in plenty of visits with the son, take care of our DIY projects, and some RV repairs, then hit the road around the 24th.  Until then, I’m thoroughly enjoying the desert sunsets….. they’re the best!photography

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime

Clean & Excellence, 32 Oz., Go Green, Waterless Car Wash Solution, Biodegrable, Non-Toxic, High Shine

Moab again and new tires

Hubby and I have been a couple of very busy campers lately.  First let’s just say Moab’s slogan of “again and again – the adventure never ends” is very fitting and I know Al and I will be returning to Moab again and again.boondocking RVing

We were back in Moab, Utah, boondocking with pals Linda and Mike for about a week before it was time for us to be moving on in separate directions.  But before moving, we all managed to get in some hiking, exploring, and a little socializing…..ok maybe it was a lot of socializing, but who’s keeping track  😉 Moab Utah

Why is it all the problems of the world seem to fade away over cocktails and an open fire?  Or perhaps we just felt somehow we solved all the problems.  Now if only someone would listen!RVing in Utah

The guy below sure didn’t listen to anyone and ended up getting himself stuck in a sandy wash.  Several days earlier it rained; first flooding the wash then compacting the sand, but as the sand dried out the sand got softer and softer making it impassable for anything other than a serious 4×4.  Yep, he’s calling AAA and they DID tow him out.stuck in sandAl and Mike even came to the rescue of a couple of Aussie kids young adults in a mini van.  This was their camp.  What made them think they could drive a mini van back there?camping in Moab

Two old spry men, a F-250, and rope…. can I hear a little male grunting “arrr, arrr, arrr” followed later by the clanking of beer bottles, “cheers” to success.  The Aussie’s were very grateful especially since the vehicle was borrowed from a friend and they had no other affordable options.  A “thanks mate” was all that was necessary.

wildlife in Moab
Beware of wildlife while camping in Moab

So with our fun in Moab over, we head back to Colorado and finish up some repairs.Moab Utah

I will say, having the new tires was a comfort during our travels.  We had the tires replaced before our return to Moab.   After experiencing a couple of blown tires on the 5th wheel, it feels a bit more reassuring to have a complete new set of tires all around when hitting the road.Discount Tire

Being in the home building business for many years, it was rather common for us to have tire issues.  Issues that centered mostly around air loss due to nails in tires.  Discount Tires has always treated us well and after a substantial amount of trailer tire research, we chose the Discount Tire in Grand Junction, Colorado, to do the work.  We spend the majority of our travels meandering around Colorado or Arizona and both states offer plenty of Discount Tire store locations in the event we have any tire issue that needs to be addressed.

We opted to go with their 10 ply trailer tire and not a truck tire.  We had 3 different tire shops in 3 different states recommend we use a 10 ply TRAILER tire.  Trailer tires are designed to withstand the scooching motion that occurs when maneuvering the trailer.

trailer tiresA motorhome, truck, or car all have axles that turn as the vehicle turns and thus the tires always move in the direction of the vehicle.  A trailer has stationary axles and as the trailer is maneuvered around, the tires aren’t always rolling but rather scooching or sliding.  The trailer tire side walls are specifically designed for this motion where as a truck tire is not.

Another thing we were adamant about was checking the dates on the new tires before installation.  Trailer tires should be replaced every 5 years regardless of mileage.  The manufacture date is clearly stamped on the side of the tire.trailer tiresOur new tires were manufactured the 15th week of the year 2014.  Thus our new tires were only 6 weeks old when we had them installed. Happy campers!

Next up, we complete some body work……..Moab Utah

Northwest Enterprises Hard Plastic Two Piece 5-1/2-Ounce Wine Glasses, Clear, 40 Count

Clear Plastic Margarita Glasses (1 dz)