Change of Season & Must-Have RV Accessories

The changing of seasons can be an exciting time for many of us in the RV community, but it can be a sad time, too. For part-time RVers, this time of the year might mean the last summer camping trip is over, and it’s now time to winterize and stow the RV until next season rolls around.

For those of us that full-time RV, it’s time we keep those wheels rolling with a keen eye on the weather. You never know when you’ll get caught in a freak storm!

snow in Tucson Arizona

An unusual snowstorm in Tucson, Arizona. What a rare encounter!

September is one of my favorite months for RVing. The weather is usually agreeable throughout most of the United States, including the high country. Sure, you have to pay attention to overnight temperatures in the mountains to avoid freezing waterlines, and you might even encounter a light dusting of snow here or there, but most winter conditions won’t begin to set in until sometime in October or November.

Colorado goldPlus, this time of year, the kids are back in school (yay!) leaving plenty of room for the rest of us to find open campsites.

Oh, and have I mentioned the leaves? Who doesn’t enjoy fall colors?

Yep, September is a great month to travel in an RV, but it’s also the perfect time of year to check that our important RV accessories are in perfect working condition. After all, there’s no sense in storing cracked hoses or damaged electrical cords, let alone carry them on to our next destination.

Top 3 Must-Have RV Accessories …

So whether we’re getting ready to put our RV into storage or we’re heading south to a warmer climate for the winter, we should check (closely) our RV gear … especially the necessary and most important gear like sewer hoses, electrical cords/adapters, and drinking water hose. (This post contains sponsored content and affiliate links.)

Al and I spend a great deal of our time traveling around the southwestern part of the United States where it’s not uncommon to enjoy as many as 300 days of sunshine per year. Yeah, we won’t complain about that! All that sunshine is great, and we love it, but that doesn’t mean that sunshine plays well with our equipment. In reality, sun and heat can play havoc with our equipment, especially anything plastic or rubber.

Sewer waste hose

One of our neighbors here in the RV Park in Prescott Valley, Arizona, just replaced his RV waste hose the other day. The hose looked fine to Al and me, and being somewhat nosy neighbors curious, we walked over to ask him why he was replacing the seemingly perfect waste hose.

RVingHe went on to tell us how every time he dumped his tank, he’d smell a bad odor. There were no visible leaks on the ground, just the odor. So upon closer examination of the waste hose, he discovered it was split on top in numerous places. Ah yes, that sun!

By inspecting the hose and then replacing it with a new one, he averted a potentially crappy situation 🤣… a situation that he nor his neighbors would have found humorous, but rather, quite disastrous.

Being able to empty our tanks with ease is crucial in the RVing world. Al and I travel with two waste hoses. It’s always a good idea to have an extra hose in case your existing one is leaking or in the event one hose isn’t long enough to connect to the dump site. I can’t tell you how many times having that second hose averted an inconvenience or even a potential disaster.

Electrical extension cord and fittings

Seeing the country in an RV can be an amazing adventure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. In an ideal world, we could just pull our RV up to an electrical pedestal at any campsite and plug-in and connect. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy, and the use of an  extension cord might be necessary.

RV parks and campgrounds do not always offer the best layout for us to hook-up. Way too many are poorly designed and might even leave us perplexed and scratching our head in bewilderment, wondering, “Whatever were they thinking?” Therefore, being prepared for any scenario is advisable.

RV electrical gear

RV electrical gear by Road & Home

Not only do we need to be concerned about ample electrical cord, but we also need to make sure we check which type of hookup is available and if we have the correct connection. Some campgrounds or RV parks have a 50 amp connection on the electrical pedestal while others may have only a 30 amp connection. If you’re lucky, the pedestal will have both, but in the event it doesn’t, having various electrical RV adapters on hand will make your RV adventure that much more enjoyable.

Electrical adapters are a must if you ever intend to plug your RV into a standard household outlet. Whether you’re at a campground, RV park, or residential home, make sure you understand the various electrical hookups/outlets before plugging in to any outlet to prevent damage to your RV electrical system.

Drinking water hose

Access to fresh water is important when traveling in an RV, and a hose designed and designated specifically for drinking water is an absolute must. We always travel with two 25′ long hoses. First, you never know how far away a water connection will be, and second, you never know when a hose will fail. Yeah, there’s that whole damaging sun and heat subject again.

must have RV gear

It’s the little things that make our life easier … using a Y connector.

Extras we keep on hand

Now that I’ve covered the top 3 must-have RV accessories, allow me to share a few other little items that are great to have on hand. Sometimes it’s the little things that make our RV life a little easier.

  • Water Hose Y connector – this connector allows us to turn a single hose outlet into two outlets.
  • Water Pressure Regulator – this is a must. It protects our equipment, prevents pipe damage and increases equipment longevity.
  • Waste Hose couplers – these come in handy in the event we need to join two hoses together. We also keep a couple of hose clamps in our tool kit.
  • Waste Hose adapters – we replace these fittings from time to time due to use and sun damage. It’s always a good idea to keep an extra around.
  • RV waste cap – this is another item that we like having a spare on hand. A couple of years ago, after staying in an RV park for a month, Al went to disconnect our waste hose and attach the waste cap, but he couldn’t find the cap. We think a critter may have taken it.

chipmunk

A change of season – preparing your RV for winter

If you’re storing your RV for the winter, winterizing it properly is crucial. It’s no fun pulling your RV out of storage and getting it ready for your first camping trip of the season, only to realize you have damaged lines and/or equipment. You’ll want to consult your owner’s manual for instructions specific to your RV or seek professional help in winterizing your particular RV.

If you decide to RV in winter conditions, there’s some precautions to take to avoid waterlines freezing. Al and I do our best to avoid RVing in freezing temperatures, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable. This is how we’ve handled winter RVing … we go into “self-containment” mode.

  • Disconnect the RV water hose and waste hose.
  • Have your fresh water tank full for usage.
  • Use your RV furnace to keep the RV warm. It’s okay to use another source of heat like a Mr. Buddy, but do not use it exclusively. The RV heating system usually has heat runs to the lower compartments, keeping waterlines and the water pump from freezing.
camping in Tucson Arizona

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, Arizona – February 2013

So, are you ready for the change of season?

I know we are, and as we prepare to hit the road along with the impending weather changes, Al and I remind ourselves of our favorite quote ….

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Ben Franklin

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RV Extended Warranty – Should I get One?

With all the repairs Al and I have done lately on the RV, we’ve asked ourselves many times if perhaps we should have purchased an extended RV warranty. It’s an important question every RV owner should ask themselves. Some RV repairs are easy, but many are difficult and expensive.

extended RV warranty and why you need oneRVing is at an all time high and with higher RV demand, the manufacturers are cranking out production at a record high number.

With RVs being rushed down the assembly lines, the quality of the product has slipped and so has customer service.

Once that one year manufacturers warranty is up, RV owners are left to their own devices dealing with failing components.

It’s not a matter of if your RV will need repairs, it’s a matter of when. The first time we blew a tire on our 5th Wheel Trailer, it took out our waterlines and did some body damage. Oh, what fun that was!

This is a sponsored/affiliate post!

Buying a RV Extended Warranty is Like Buying Insurance

An Extended Warranty is very similar to purchasing an Auto Insurance Policy. We never plan on getting into an accident. As a matter of fact, I think we’d all agree that we’d prefer not using that insurance. Yeah, no one wants to get into an accident, but when we do, thank goodness for that insurance.

replace a RV toilet

A new toilet – June 2018! Our 3rd one in seven years. First one replaced during manufacturers warranty

RV components will fail, and when that happens do you have the knowledge, tools, and ability to fix your RV yourself or do you need to seek professional help?

Al and I are extremely handy and quite capable of working on our RV ourselves, but then again, we own a basic RV with few bells, horns, and whistles.

Even with that said, there are some things beyond our capabilities, and we know those more difficult fixes are expensive ones that will need to be addressed by a professional.

Having an extended RV warranty can offer peace of mind just like any other insurance policy … we hope to never need it, but when we do, we’re very glad we have it.

camping at Lake Powell

Reasons to buy a RV Extended Warranty

  • Complexity of the RV – The bigger and more expensive the RV, the more difficult and more expensive the repairs will be.
  • Big dollar repairs – RVs are full of many specialized components that can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in replacement costs not to mention the cost of labor.
  • Peace of Mind – having an RV repair emergency fund is crucial but knowing that account wouldn’t be depleted during a major repair offers peace of mind.
  • Resale Value – If you aren’t sure how long you intend to keep the RV, a transferable warranty may make your RV more marketable.

RV Extended Warranties and why you need one

Should I buy an Extended Warranty for my RV?

Depends! We’ve spoken with many RVers via our travels and via this blog who have shared their horror stories with us about big dollar repair costs on their RV … RVs that are less than five years old. Imagine the cost of things like failing slide outs, cracked waste tanks, bent/broken frames, refrigerators and A/C units that won’t cool, and the list goes on.

Full-time RVing costBefore we bought our new 5th wheel, we owned a truck camper that we also purchased new.

Shortly after the manufacturers warranty ran out, the camper fridge stopped working. The repair and replacement cost was over $1000. Yeah, over a grand for a little RV refrigerator in a simple truck camper.

Another costly situation happened to our 5th wheel when our waste tank cables broke during year two of ownership. Amazing what will break shortly after the manufacturers warranty expires.

So, should you buy an extended warranty? Again, depends! How big is your emergency fund? Do you have the wherewithal to service the RV yourself? We have several RV acquaintances that swear by their extended warranty and have said the warranty paid for itself. Knowing what I know now, we’ll definitely consider buying an extended warranty when we purchase our next RV. Isn’t 20/20 hindsight wonderful 🤔

RVing Grand Tetons National Park

Dealer sold warranties are money makers for the dealer

Many RV dealers will try to sell you an extended warranty when you buy your RV from them. Be sure you shop around before buying any warranty. Some dealer warranties are backed by the dealership itself and require you to get all the repairs done at that very shop … not very convenient when traveling across the country. Dealer-sold warranties are usually more expensive and less comprehensive than any warranty you can get externally. So, you’ll definitely want to shop around.

Some things to keep in mind when shopping for an extended RV warranty –

  • Understand transfer and cancellation policies
  • Know who’s backing the warranty
  • Are you able to use any repair facility
  • Verify any restrictions or limitations
  • Check the reputation of the warranty company
  • Understand deductibles, claim procedures, and term limits

Who do most RVers recommend?

A name that keeps popping up with positive reviews is Wholesale Warranties. We have several friends who’ve purchased an extended RV warranty from them and have been extremely pleased and more than one has said the extended warranty paid for itself.

What makes Wholesale Warranties a leader in the industry

Wholesale Warranties is dedicated to education and customer service. Their RV Warranty Specialists are fully trained on helping customers find the best policy for them, how to buy RV extended warrantyat the best price. With access to several different warranty companies, levels of coverage, and payment plans, they seek to educate the customer on the options available to them, and eventually help them narrow this down to the perfect policy to suit their needs.

Wholesale Warranties always provides customers with a full copy of the terms and conditions of their contract prior to accepting payment for a policy, and is dedicated to transparency. They want their customers to know exactly what they’re getting into, and this includes what they can expect to be excluded in their policy.

Wholesale Warranties does not simply disappear after the sale of a policy. They have a dedicated internal claims staff that is available to customers at any time during the life of the policy. Their claims specialists are happy to assist customers with any questions they have during the claims process, including facilitating communication between the warranty company and the repair facility, and addressing any questions about approval or denial of a claim. They stand behind the products they sell, and want customers to get the most out of their policies.

RV friendly roads or not

Oops … Not an RV friendly road, huh! 🙄

Wholesale Warranties is more than just RV Warranties!

They recently launched an RV Repair Facility directory called RV Repair Direct, where customers can find and rate mechanics in their area. This site also allows Wholesale Warranties customers to submit their information if they experience a non-emergency breakdown, and their internal claims staff will find a reputable repair facility or mobile repair technician that is able to complete that repair for them.

Final thoughts about an extended RV warranty

Steamboat Lake ColoradoWhen shopping for an extended RV warranty, you’ll want to evaluate where your concerns lie. Are you mostly concerned about a catastrophic failure or concerned about the whole RV?

Knowing what type of RV repair bills you can and cannot afford will help you choose the best coverage for your personal needs.

If you are worried that RV repairs might blow your travel budget, or are just interested in getting a bit more information, you can click here and a warranty specialist from WholesaleWarranties.com will be happy to assist you. Mention that you are a Live Laugh RV reader and use code D-LLRV for the best price in extended warranties. Happy trails!

RV extended warranties

(this post contains sponsored and affiliate links)

1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die
The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go

A Visit to Crested Butte, CO

Some places we visit will always hold a special place in our hearts and Crested Butte, Colorado is one of those places. We moved to Colorado in the mid nineties when our children were young, and the first Colorado mountain town we visited was Crested Butte.

This former flatlander from Illinois was awe-struck with the majestic snow-covered mountains surrounding Crested Butte. Our family of four was immediately smitten, and subsequent visits to this lovely Colorado mountain town ensued over the years.

wildflowers in Crested Butte ColoradoAlthough our first visit to Crested Butte was during the winter, Crested Butte is every bit as much fun during the summer as it is in winter. The town may be known for its awesome skiing and winter fun, but summers offer a whole slew of other activities. As a matter of fact, Crested Butte is considered the birth place of mountain biking. Although, I’m sure there are plenty of folks that might disagree with this statement. There’s an ongoing debate about where mountain biking originated 😏

This quaint little mountain town is also considered the Wildflower Capital of Colorado and home to the Wildflower Festival held each July when the mountain meadows are covered in blooms. Once Al and I became empty nesters, we skipped the winter excursions to the mountains and focused on embracing those summer get aways.

Lake Irwin Campground Colorado Crested Butte Keebler Pass

Lake Irwin Campground, near Crested Butte Colorado and Kebler Pass

A memorable trip

July 2012 – It’s three o’clock in the morning and the dog is shaking and can’t seem to get comfortable.  He’s laying in the tent on a blanket near my side of the air mattress and he is clearly cold.  I grab my hoody and cover him, and he falls back to sleep.  I’m glad one of us can fall asleep so quickly.

After tossing and turning for a bit, I decide to step outside for a moment.  I reluctantly throw off the two layers of sleeping bags and scurry to the foot of the air mattress to put on my shoes.  No need to throw on clothes, since I’m already fully clothed in sweatpants and sweatshirt.  It’s cold at three in the morning camped at 10,000 feet in elevation …. as in 36 degrees Fahrenheit cold and this being mid July 😯

I’m not sure whose idea the tent camping excursion was considering we had a new 5th wheel sitting on the side of our house. Okay, it was my idea! We were such newbies at the time with the RV that we weren’t comfortable pulling it to the Lake Irwin Campground near Kebler Pass. Plus, there were only a couple of first come first serve campsites that we felt we would comfortably fit into.

camping near Crested Butte, Colorado at Lake Irwin

Our campsite at Lake Irwin near Crested Butte, Colorado

I quietly unzip the tent and crawl out. I’m immediately awestruck with the most incredible vision while my face is assaulted with a blast of cold air.  The stars and crescent moon are so vivid and bright that I have no trouble seeing around the campsite.  I stand there taking in the incredible beauty surrounding me before I’m reminded as to why I’m standing outside the tent at three in the morning …. and shivering.

Hmm, I contemplate the walk to the restroom down the road. This is serious bear and mountain lion country.  Since I have no inclination of being some animal’s midnight snack, I quickly take care of business at the edge of our campsite. I continued to linger outside admiring the sky before the cold has me crawling back into a nice warm bed.

After what felt like only thirty minutes of sleep, I’m woken by a very restless Brittany Spaniel. It’s only 5:30 in the morning and I’ve decided to rename my sweet little Bear…..”damn dog”.  (ya know, I love my Brittany Spaniel and wouldn’t trade him for the world, but he wants a walk at fricken 5:30 in the morning in the fricken cold while it’s still dark outside). Al remains sound asleep …. grrrr!

camping at Lake Irwin near Crested Butte Colorado

tent camping at Lake Irwin near Crested Butte, CO – July 2012

Damn dog and I go for a stroll, not venturing too far from our campsite.  I’m the only two-legged creature out and about.  Did I already mention we’re camped in bear and mountain lion country?  I’m on alert!  “Hurry up, damn dog”.  Finally with his “business” complete, we return to the warmth of sleeping bags and try to catch a few more winks of sleep.

By seven o’clock, the sun is rising and I hear other campers in the distance.  Al awakes and informs me how great he slept (damn husband).  In a not so pleasant voice, sleep deprived wife tells damn husband and damn dog, “We’re going into town for breakfast.  I need a cup of strong black coffee”.

McGill's Crested Butte, Colorado for great breakfast and coffeeWe drive aimlessly around Crested Butte looking for a place for breakfast.  Eventually, Al has me pull to the side of the road and stop. He jumps out of the truck and walks over to a pretty blonde lady watering flowers.

He and blonde lady chuckle in a flirtatious engaging way (do I really care? NO … need coffee).  When Al hops back in the truck, he proceeds to tell me to drive up Elk Street three blocks.  “Blonde lady says McGills serves a great breakfast”.  It was indeed a good breakfast, BUT the coffee was amazing and just what I needed.

A full tummy and two cups of coffee later, we’re back to “dear husband” and “adorable Bear”.  I love my boys! Al and I discuss exploratory options for the day, but first I need a little retail therapy.

Crested Butte ColoradoWe enter a T-shirt shop. Al and Bear head over to the counter where Al strikes up a conversation with the young man behind the counter. We love the fact that this town is so dog friendly that Bear is able to go with us everywhere except inside restaurants. 

We’re the only ones in the store and during the course of idol chit-chat with the shop clerk, he notes we drive a Toyota Tacoma. He drives a Toyota 4-Runner, sister to the Tacoma lol, and immediately recommends a backcountry scenic loop drive that we must experience.

We’re given a complimentary map along with a few pointers and warnings from this knowledgable local. Two t-shirts later, we hit the road heading into the backcountry … ready to explore.

dog friendly Crested Butte Colorado

Crested Butte is very dog friendly. Bear went everywhere with us.

A scenic drive

We head up Slate River Road, just north of the town of Crested Butte.  As expected, the pavement ends quickly.  We pass some beautiful homes early in the journey.  As we start to climb in elevation and the road starts to narrow, we see campers , ATVer’s as well as local wildlife.

Slate River Road Crested Butte Colorado

Slate River Road, Crested Butte, Colorado

Crested Butte backcountry 4x4

local wildlife – Moooove!

mountain homes near Crested Butte Colorado

Beautiful mountain homes dot the landscape near Crested Butte

A little further into the remote landscape, I finally start seeing some wildflowers.  Up to this point I wondered, “Wildflower capital of Colorado”?  Say what?  The drought conditions severely affected the display of wildflowers during the summer of ’12. Even though the wildflowers weren’t impressive, the scenery was spectacular.

I usually drive during these exploratory excursions to maintain marital bliss, but more importantly to control photo-op stops. Yeah, I can go a little overboard with the photo-op stopping which can get a tad annoying for a non photographer 🤗 Besides, Al says he likes being chauffeured around by a pretty lady.  Awe, ain’t that sweet!

Slate River Road Crested Butte Colorado

Slate River Road – two-way traffic on this one lane road

We continue up Slate River Road.  It’s narrow but in good condition. This one-lane road is meant for two-way traffic which is why we like driving the Tacoma in lieu of the F-250 while exploring mountainous backcountry.

We pass the turn for Washington Gulch Road and continue toward Schofield Pass.  The road gets narrower and more precarious. I can’t imagine two vehicles fitting on this road.

As we come around a blind switch back, we encounter a truck loaded with people heading toward us.  The pickup truck is colored lime green and set up kind of like an open air safari vehicle with bench seating in the rear. “Oh dear! We are going to need to pass each other!”

I need to back up and get us as close to the side of the mountain as possible (thank goodness, I have the inside).  The other truck and I both pull in our outside mirrors and we slowly pass each other within inches. He’s the one on the outside edge and I can see his tourist passengers are wide-eyed and a tad nervous. One slip, and down the mountain they roll.  Once we successfully passed each other, the driver waves and comments, “Thanks, we got’er”, and the passengers started clapping.  Since this is Wildflower Festival week, there are all kinds of additional tours, vehicle traffic and activities planned throughout the week.

Schofield Pass Mt. Baldy Crested Butte Colorado

Near Schofield Pass and Mt. Baldy – over 11,000 feet in elevation

We’re on the other side of Mt. Baldy now and we stop for a much-needed break.  The scenery is breathtaking.  Al checks his phone and is shocked.  “It works!”  No cell reception at the Lake Irwin campground, but it works up here.

This stretch of road is tame and easily navigated. Wish it had all been like this.

After a few photo-ops near Schofield Pass, we retrace that ledge of a road back to the Washington Gulch turn, all the while I pray I won’t have to pass anyone.  That would put me on the outside edge … yikes!  Fortunately my prayers are answered, and we don’t meet another vehicle for quite some time.

Washington Gulch Road Crested Butte Colorado

Washington Gulch Road – we saw more wildflowers along this stretch

Washington Gulch Road does present its own challenges with a small creek crossing, but nothing the little truck can’t handle. We also noticed a few RV’s boondocking off Washington Gulch Road.

(We were such RV newbies at that time, that we couldn’t imagine pulling our brand new RV to any of the boondocking locations we saw. Now? Piece of cake and we wouldn’t give it a second thought. But then again, our RV ain’t so new anymore … as evidenced by the dings and scratches and as one person recently referred to us …. we’re “seasoned” RVers 😏)

backcountry roads near Crested Butte Colorado

What a great Day!

We had such a fabulous time exploring this stunningly beautiful landscape that I would highly recommend this excursion to anyone with a high clearance vehicle. However, please check at the local visitor center in the town of Crested Butte for up to date road conditions, and do note, there are some areas where the road is literally cut into the side of a mountain causing severe drop-offs. Thus, I don’t recommend it for anyone with a fear of heights.

For a more tame backcountry excursion, we enjoyed driving Route 12 from Crested Butte to the tiny town of Paonia. Paonia is a small community with wineries, lavender and agricultural fields. No four-wheel drive needed when we took this drive in July of 2012. Please verify and double-check road conditions before embarking on this remote stretch of road over Kebler Pass.

Quaking Aspen at Kebler Pass

As Al and I continued to explore Colorado’s backcountry near Crested Butte, we take in the sights and sounds of the stunning terrain.  We travel from open mountain meadows, through scented pine forests, and pass through densely populated aspen groves.

Aspen Trees Keebler Pass near Crested Butte Colorado

Kebler Pass – forest of Aspen trees

The unique sound of quaking Aspen Leaves lures us in. The sound has us wondering  if there’s a gentle waterfall in the distance or is it merely the fluttering of aspen leaves?

This particular grove or colony of aspen trees along Kebler Pass is aspen treederived from a single seedling and spread by means of root suckers.  New stems in a colony may grow as far away as 130 feet from the parent tree. It’s kind of like there’s one mommy tree and all the rest of the aspen trees are children. Fascinating!

An individual tree can live  40-150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony can live for hundreds of years. Legend has it, the aspen tree can drive off evil spirits.  An aspen stake was believed to be one of the few weapons suitable to kill a vampire🧛‍♂️

Colorado is synonymous with this famous white-barked tree, adorning golden leaves in the fall.  Colorado gold comes in many forms. Beautiful golden leaves dotting the landscape and the peaceful sound of quaking leaves are just a couple more reasons to love Colorado!

Aspen grove at Keebler Pass Crested Butte, Colorado

driving through an Aspen groove at Kebler Pass

Colorado gold

Colorado Gold in the fall.

For Coffee Lovers

After three days and four nights of tent camping near picturesque Crested Butte, it was time for us to break camp and head home, BUT first, we needed (or rather I needed) to have breakfast one more time at McGill’s to drink up some more of that yummy coffee.

breaking camp at Lake Irwin campground Crested Butte Colorado

Al breaking camp – it was fun, but I missed the comforts of the RV

Al is not normally a coffee drinker and when he does drink coffee he sticks with one of those designer concoctions like a macchiato or mocha, but after trying my cup of black coffee, he ordered a cup for himself 😲

Camp 4 Coffee Crested Butte ColoradoWhile the waitress was refilling our coffee mugs, we mentioned how good the coffee was. She was quick to share the name and location of the local coffee roasters and the blend McGill’s uses.

With that said, we couldn’t possibly leave town without a visit to this coffee roaster. Camp 4 Coffee is a locally owned Crested Butte business and has a cute little shop  just down the road from McGill’s.

There was no way I was leaving town without a bag or two of Camp 4 Coffee.  I purchased a couple of pounds of the Sledgehammer roast and a pound of the Blue Mesa blend which is the blend McGill’s serves.

Can you believe, after thirty plus years of marriage, I turned Al into a coffee drinker thanks to Camp 4 Coffee. He still prefers those designer coffee concoctions, but when I splurge and buy a special roast, he’ll join me in drinking his coffee black. Wonders never cease!

Yep, Crested Butte, Colorado remains one of our favorite mountain towns and holds special memories for our family!

Monarch Pass Colorado

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Enamel Percolator
Dome Tent
Camp Propane Grill/Stove
Yellow Mug

What I don’t like about …

What could I possibly not like about northern Arizona near Page and Lake Powell? After all, I’ve been gushing about it lately. Just look at these photographs showcasing this amazing landscape.

It’s pretty darn special around here, but it’s not a panacea. As a photographer and blogger, I like to showcase the best about an area and sometimes fail to disclose the downside. Yeah, there’s a few downsides … downsides I don’t like.

So let’s get real

Tourism is big business around northern Arizona (Spring, summer and fall). The town of Page is on the schedule as a stopping point for many international tours. You’ll see large tour buses (holding around 50 passengers each, give or take) all around town. You’ll see them parked at McDonald’s, Walmart, the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, Horseshoe Bend overlook, the marina’s at Lake Powell, and of course, the slot canyons at Antelope Canyon.

What an unpleasant treat it is to get in line at Walmart after the bus load of tourists hit the registers or how about pulling up to a scenic area only to see buses unloading hundreds of tourists at a popular site like Horseshoe Bend 😕

Don’t even get me started with the tourists and their selfie taking …… 🤣

Tourists taking a selfie … guilty!

Speaking of Antelope Canyon …. Hiking a slot canyon is an amazing experience. The sight is magical and surreal, but sharing it with hundreds of other tourists and being rushed through the canyon is the reality for many. Most of these unique slot canyons lie on Navajo Indian land, and therefore, tourists must pay for a guided tour if they’d like to experience a slot canyon.

slot canyon

The two most popular slot canyons are Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. There are a few other lesser known slot canyons where group sizes are kept smaller and some specialize in photographic tours. So depending on what your interests are in hiking a slot canyon (fun or photography), you’ll want to shop around.

Weather

I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I called northern Arizona / southern Utah a land of extremes. The land is stunning, perplexing, and wild and so is the weather.

hoodoos

Mother Nature carves interesting sculptures with wind and time

During our four-week stay (April 2018), we experienced temperatures as high as 84 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to overnight temps as low as 36 degrees F and everything in between. On a nice day, winds were as low as 4 miles per hour, while on a bad day, we experienced sustained winds as high as 25-30 mph with gusts over 50 mph.

Those high winds made camping on a beach lively! The RVers that paid attention to the weather forecast usually packed up and left before the impending high winds started while others were caught off guard. Campers with a pitched E-Z UP didn’t fare so well with those excessive winds as evidenced the next day at the dumpsters.

EZ up

EZ-up frames filled the garbage dumpsters after high wind storms. People can be stupid. There are a total of 5 dumpsters. While the one on the end was overflowing with trash, the other 4 were barely half full….duh!

On those extremely windy days, it was impossible to enjoy any outdoor activities without being sandblasted. I’m sure with all the wind and sandstorms Al and I endured, we ingested our bodily quota of minerals. The grit in our teeth confirmed no additional supplements were needed …. nor did I need to use any of my wonderful exfoliating potions as Mother Nature’s sandblasting quickly rid me of any dead skin cells 🤣

The upside to all that nasty wind was it cleared out the beach leaving only the crazy hardy to ride out the storm …. a reprieve from the crowds, I’ll take it.

But let’s face it, without all the annoying wind, we wouldn’t have this boggling landscape to ogle. And just so you know, March and April are the two windiest months out of the year. Guess we timed it right 😞

Guess I’ll endure the winds so I can admire this bazaar landscape

Camping

In my opinion, the camping options are sparse around the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area especially for the amount of tourism this area receives. Tourists driving RV rentals are everywhere and all vying for a place to overnight.  The nicest and most sought after option is camping at the Wahweap Campground. It’s a beautiful campground if you can find an available site or have a reservation.

Then there’s the private Page-Lake Powell Campground. We stayed here several years ago and it was okay. But with the increase of international tourism and the renting of RV’s, this place fills up fast also.

Camping around sand is pretty on a calm day and not so great on a windy day

During our stay, we camped most of the time at the Lone Rock Beach area located along the Arizona – Utah border. Although it’s dispersed dry camping, there is a fee and a stay limit. The cost to overnight is $14 a day with the use of an American the Beautiful National Park Pass or $21 without the pass – ($7 a night for holders of a senior national park pass) 2018 rates!

Although my photographs may make the Lone Rock Beach area look quiet and enticing, the reality is this can be the wild wild west. People come here to have a good time and in the process bring all their toys.

regular roar of engines heard all day long

There’s a bunch of off-road trails at Lone Rock for folks to play on with their UTV’s.  I’ll admit, it looks like a lot of fun tooling around on the hills and sand. With the water right there, the sound of boat engines can be heard all day long, and of course, a steady hum of generators keeping all the RV’s charged up rumble at all times of the day (Quiet hours are 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.). The sounds of engines, music, and laughter fills the air. This is not a place for quiet solitude, but it can be a very entertaining and fun place to hang out for a short time.

Our friends Faye and Dave being entertained. Who needs TV when you can watch people being dumb sh*ts !

At the end of March, we even had some ‘Spring Breakers‘ show up for a couple of nights. Ah, to be young and silly again!

The guys showed up first with the motorhome and later the gals drove up with a popup camper – Party time!

Yeah, it was party central and the music carried all the way to the other end of the beach. I was more amused than bothered. These college kids were there to have a good time and I’d say they succeeded, BUT temps were only in the low 60’s and seeing them lightly clad had chills running up my spine. I’m sure the liquid heat was flowing freely in the form of spirits so they probably weren’t as cold as I was.

Watercraft

Al and I no longer own any form of a watercraft … sigh! Although there are a bunch of things to do around Page, Arizona, the real draw is the lake – Lake Powell. Camping near the water became more and more of a challenge for me once the weather starting warming. I began to miss my boat and wave runners. Visiting Lake Powell and not getting out on the water with our own boat was probably the thing I disliked most about our stay.

We looked into a bunch of different ideas to get out onto the water, but since it still wasn’t as warm as I prefer for boating, we forewent renting a boat and opted for a one-hour boat tour through Antelope Canyon. That was just enough to satisfy my  boat craving …. for now!

Another beautiful sunrise out my RV window

Most disliked

So aside from not having my own boat, the traffic was my least favorite thing. The way some folks drive around here was down right dangerous. I can’t count how many near head on collisions there are every day. People getting impatient seem to take chances passing slower moving vehicles like RV’s on the two lane highways. Plus, there are so many tourists (foreign and domestic) that slow down and make turns on a whim. Yeah, it’s important to be a vigilant driver on these two lane roads.

Did I already mention there are a lot of tourists around northern Arizona? Not only are they forever taking selfies, they drive like they are the only ones on the road, and have a tenancy to gawk at wildlife. Check out the wildlife and the crazy tourists 😁

I’ll be back

Ah, it was still a very fun and awesome time spent amongst some of the most amazing scenery. Waking up every morning to a gorgeous view and beautiful sunrise made any of my minor dislikes about the area seem insignificant. Yeah, I’m already missing those killer views and stunning sunrises … sunrises that I could literally watch while still laying in bed. How awesome is that!!!

sometimes the sky seemed to mimic the land with its layers

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E-Z UP Canopy
Beach Bag
Collapsible Portable Corn Hole Boards

The Trip to Lake Powell

I can’t think of a better way to start the day than by watching a beautiful sunrise while drinking a tasty cup of hot strong coffee.  Throw in some stunning scenery and it just doesn’t get much better.

sunrise at Lake Powell

It’s Easter Sunday and while enjoying the view this morning … and the sunrise and the coffee, I couldn’t help but feel grateful and did a little reflecting. You might say, I was feeling a little spiritual. Since I’m not one to get too serious about things here on the blog, let me just say, it was the perfect way to spend my Easter morning.

We arrived in Page, Arizona, last Sunday, and the week has flown by, but then again, we’ve been very busy …. and social.

slot canyons

Hiking a slot canyon with friends

Our adventure started on our travel day …

Last Sunday we bid farewell to Lake Havasu City. The drive from Lake Havasu City to Page, Arizona was just a little over 350 miles (564 km) and took us just shy of eight hours in driving time. I must add that in addition to stopping for gas, we spent over an hour stopped northeast of Flagstaff for lunch and to check out some boondocking spots for future reference in the Coconino National Forest near Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

Coconino National Forest

Our stop for lunch – Coconino National Forest near Sunset Crater

That stop would add to an already long day and for a split second we thought about overnighting right then and there (well, not exactly ‘there’ because there was a sign clearly stating no overnight parking 😔). We could’ve gone down any number of dirt roads in the national forest and found a place to camp, but at 8,000 feet in elevation at noon time the wind was already brisk and cold requiring us to don a coat. Therefore, we knew once the sun went down, the temperature would plummet …. burr.  Time to keep the wheels rolling.

We don’t usually drive that kind of distance in one day. After all, we live on RV time and prefer to meander. Initially we planned to break the drive up by spending the night near the south rim of the Grand Canyon and boondocking in the Kaibab National Forest where we did last September, but the weather there was also too cold for our desert acclimated bodies – near freezing temps overnight. Therefore, the weather kept us on the move.

By the time we arrived in Page, we were exhausted and more than ready to park the RV. If we were traveling with only one truck, we could easily switch drivers making the long day less tiring, but since we were traveling with both trucks (Al in the F-250 pulling the 5th wheel and me in the Toyota Tacoma), it made for an exhausting day.

When we travel outside of Arizona, we usually leave the Tacoma at our sons home in Phoenix, but since we’ve hung around Arizona all winter, we’ve been traveling with both trucks. As our week progressed, we were glad we had the Tacoma available for a little back country exploring, but that tale deserves its own post.

Getting stuck in the sand

When we finally arrived at the dispersed camping area north of Page and Wahweap Marina, we were eager to assess the road and get the RV parked. The Lone Rock Beach area is a popular spot with day users and campers alike. Located along the shores of Lake Powell, this would be our fourth time camping here.

Lake Powell, Page Arizona

One of the things we learned during our second visit here is the lay of the land is ever-changing. The sandstone buttes, mesas, and monoliths that make the landscape so incredibly stunning are formed from wind and rain, which means you can expect a regular dose of wind around here.

cairnsAnd all that wind, likes to rearrange the sand.

One year, the best packed road leading down toward the water might be to the left of the restroom building while another year it would be best to take the road to the right. Folks get stuck in the sand here all the time and this year it was our turn.

In an attempt to make his princess happy and give her an optimum view, Al attempted to find a nice spot closer to the water than where we’ve previously camped. After all, there were Class A’s and 5th Wheels bigger than us camped at the shore. Unfortunately, the packed gravel like areas are mixed in with the pure sand areas making it a guessing game about finding a good place to park.

It was near dusk. The wind was howling and whipping up the sand. We were exhausted from the long drive. Al stopped the truck and RV so we could talk about exactly where to park (remember he wants to make his princess happy), but what he didn’t realize was when he stopped, the 5th wheel tires were in a soft sandy spot. Once he tried to drive forward, the rear truck tires started spinning and digging deeper into the sand.

Lake Powell, Page, Arizona

Teenagers from the class A came to our aid.

Two teenagers camped in the Class A Motorhome came running toward us with a shovel and wood blocks. This was one time I was glad it was spring break with kids everywhere. Between rearranging the sand with the shovel, using the blocks under the tires, and locking the hubs into four-wheel drive, Al managed to pull out of the sand and kept his momentum going until he found a solid gravel like area to stop.

Lone Rock Lake Powell

We kept the truck and 5th Wheel hooked up for the next two days while waiting for our friends to join us and then deciding together where to park our RV’s for the coming week. Little did we know, we’d be sharing some great adventures. What a week!

Here’s a hint of some of those adventures ….

Those tales will need to wait until I have some down time to write about them. Right now, we have some more exploring to do with our friends before it’s time for them to move on. Such is the life of an RVer!

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday! 🐰🥕🌼

Links to those adventures –

(affiliate links – items that were indispensable in our travels)
Arizona Benchmark Road & Recreation Atlas 
 Folding Shovel

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

(affiliate links)

120 Watt Off Grid  Portable  Solar Panel Suitcase

Propane Grill

Waiting for the Sun to Set

I had a fabulous week boondocking in the Kaibab National Forest. After spending four months in a RV Resort in Prescott, Arizona, it felt fantastic to get the RV rolling, and camp by ourselves in a forest of soaring pine trees. We found a lovely slice of land to call home, and it was only fifteen minutes down the road from the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

sunset at the Grand Canyon

me waiting for the sun to set at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon camping

Our ‘home’ for the week. Aaahhh, can you smell the fresh scent of pine?

Although it did take a little effort on my part to leave the solitude of my beautiful campsite, I did venture up to the Grand Canyon a few times for photo ops. Most of the time, Al chose to stay at camp. He’s not a fan of the Grand Canyon nor of the hoards of tourists. I never mind venturing off on my own especially when hubby has a roaring campfire waiting for me upon my return.

sunset at the Grand Canyon

Lots of tourists from around the world waiting for the sun to set at the Grand Canyon – a storm is brewing

south rim of the Grand Canyon

south rim of the Grand Canyon

While I, along with hundreds of other people, waited for the sun to set at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, a storm started brewing. I could hear thunder in the distance and see an occasional flash of lightening.

south rim of the Grand Canyon

The approaching storm along with some lingering smoke haze from forest fires in the west made for a very interesting sky.

stormy sky at the Grand Canyon

stormy sky at the Grand Canyon

stormy sunset at the Grand Canyon

The sunset was definitely worth waiting around for, and the stormy sky added a touch of drama. I’m glad I pulled myself away from camp to experience the beauty of the Grand Canyon at sunset as a storm approaches. Yep, worth the wait!

sunset at Kaibab National Forest

This was the sky back at camp!

 

Unusual Neighborhood

Gosh, I can’t believe the summer is half over. When Al and I decided to slow our travels down this summer and sit in one spot for several months, I thought for sure I’d have trouble with the stationary stay. The norm for me is to have hitch itch set in … ants in my pants … gotta move thing … going on after thirty days.

watson lake Prescott Arizona

It’s monsoon season in Prescott, Arizona – makes for dramatic and unusual skies

Perhaps it’s the landscape or the attractive town of Prescott or most likely the combo of the two that has held my attention. The enjoyable stay has Al and me actually contemplating the Prescott, Arizona, area as a ‘home base‘. Time will tell!

camping in Prescott Arizona

RV Fairgrounds – a bit on the unusual side – different

And speaking of home base, allow me share our RV park. We’ve been spending the summer camped at the Yavapai County RV Fairgrounds in Prescott Valley, Arizona. It’s definitely not your typical RV Park. The park is a mixed bag of folks; some living here year round, some staying a few months at a time (like us), and those just passing through.

Even though there is predator a common building with a laundry facility and an area to sit with free WiFi, (free WiFi??? … happy dance, happy dance!!!) there is no public restroom … weird, I know. And the office isn’t open on weekends or after 4:00 any day of the week. So unusual and very strange.

Although the park is working fine for our needs, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Earlier in the month, we befriended some folks here in the RV park who intended to stay for a month, but after two weeks, they decided to move on.

The fairgrounds itself no longer holds any active events, but it did come in handy serving as a temporary animal shelter during the Goodwin Fire.

unusual place to exercise

abandoned race track makes for an unusual place for Al and I to get in our exercise

Next to the fairgrounds is an abandoned race track. Yavapai Downs has been vacant for several years, but rumor has it, it has been purchased and the new owners hope to have it up and running by next summer.

Horse racing in Arizona

When we don’t have time to hit the amazing trails, and let me tell you, the trails around here are seriously awesome, we use the race track to get in our steps.

abandoned race track

Yavapai Downs – unusual place to exercise

horse racing

Yavapai Downs – abandoned – smoke from the Goodwin Fire in early July

Not only have we pretended to be horses and briskly walked the track (now there’s a visual 😆), we use the stadium stairs as our personal stairmaster. Yep, definitely an unusual place to exercise, but since it’s in my backyard and so convenient, I don’t have any excuses not to get in a workout.

unusual weather in Arizona

Monsoon season in Arizona – unusual and dramatic

We’ve been thoroughly enjoying our time in the Prescott, Arizona, area and with only a few more weeks to go before we get our wheels rolling again, we’ll be busy trying to squeeze in a few new explorations. Although considering it’s monsoon season around here, those plans may be curtailed. We’ve encountered some doozy storms which always brings about dramatic and unusual skies…. keeping us on our toes!

Prescott Arizona

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YI 4K Action Camera Bundled 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer Selfie Stick Bluetooth Remote Travel Case(US Edition) Night Black

How to Plan for a Camping Trip

With our mother/daughter trip already a month in arrears, Ashton and I still haven’t stopped talking about our exciting adventure.  Looking back, I wonder what made this trip such a fun adventure and total success. No doubt, I attribute it to good planning and organization which ultimately lead to a wonderful camping trip experience.zion national park

Our Utah excursion was one of the best trips my daughter and I have ever shared and that’s saying a lot. Let’s face it, it’s no easy feat beating a trip to Disney World. Our Disney vacation and a trip we took to South Dakota a few years ago still rank pretty high on our list of epic excursions, but this trip to Zion National Park may have topped those two previous vacations.

When Ashton and I decided we were long overdue for a gals get away, our scheming began in earnst weeks in advance. So what exactly did we do that helped make our camping trip so successful?how to plan for a camping trip

This post contains affiliate links. However, I only share items we use and believe in.  

OUR TOP 9 TIPS FOR PLANNING A GREAT CAMPING TRIP…..

1. Location & Budget: Where to go on vacation? Ashton and I pulled out the atlas and began searching within a large radius around her home in Phoenix, Arizona. First and foremost, we discussed budget. Our budget was the main reason we decided to drive versus fly and camp versus hotel.

The length of our trip would be five days and four nights. We looked for a scenic location that we could drive to in one day but could also break up the drive if there was a scenic place to stop along the way. Zion National Park fit the criteria for our excursion perfectly.

Once we decided on a national park as the destination, we knew we wanted to tent camp. In my opinion, camping is a much more intimate experience with the environment than staying in a hotel. Camping puts us up close and personal with our surroundings and wildlife. Trust me, I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for the comforts of a hotel room, I just feel closer to nature when I camp, especially in a national park, but I do like mixing it up depending on where my travels take me. Ah, this is why an RV is the best of both worlds 😎 I do love my RV!

Since taking the RV for this particular trip to Zion National Park wasn’t an option, tent camping was the best choice for these two gals and at $20 a night, we easily stayed within our budget. We knew driving and camping would be the biggest bang for our buck.

2. Create check lists.  Our first list included the items needed for camping which obviously encompasses the tent, air mattresses, bedding, flashlights, ax/knives, lighter/matches.

We started a second list of equipment needed for cooking which included the Coleman Stove(s), cookware, plates, utensils, cleaning supplies, towels.

Our third list was for our personal toiletries and clothing. When you’re camping, you need to think about where you’ll be cleaning up and showering. A beach bag and flip flops have served me well over the years in keeping me organized while using a public facility. However, when a campground offers no place to shower, like the South Campground at Zion National Park, there’s nothing better than a package of baby wipes to keep you feeling fresh especially after a long arduous hike. Who knew baby wipes had multiple uses?

how to plan a camping trip

Bring equipment that serves a multi-purpose use. The use of the dish pan soothed my aching feet after the hike to observation point.  Filled with warm water, you could use it for a sponge bath – in the privacy of the tent 😉

When it came to clothing, we focused on bringing items we could layer and made sure we brought rain gear and cold weather gear. Hiking shoes with good traction were also a must. Be sure you have a realistic grasp and understanding of the type of climate and landscape of your location and pack accordingly.

3. Food planning and preparation.  Ashton and I decided we didn’t want to eat out much. Plus, we’d be traveling through some remote countryside while passing by the occasional small town. It was important to us that we be totally self-sufficient, eat healthy, and not rely on trying to find a place to grab something to eat.

how to plan a camping tripWe made a meal plan (another list) and then divided up the grocery list and cooking preparation.

We cooked meals at home weeks in advance (like spaghetti and chili) and then froze these meals. During our trip when it was time to eat, we simply needed to reheat the food at our campsite.

We also pattied out burgers, marinated chicken breasts, then seasoned and individually saran wrapped everything and froze. The morning of travel, we took all the frozen items and placed them in our cooler topped with a bag of ice. Which ever item thawed first, dictated the order in which we ate the meals.

I could do a whole separate post on our meals and snacks. We really did well in our planning and prep. We never felt hungry, we ate healthy, and stayed within our budget.

4. Plan for travel. I’m a huge believer in physical maps. We’ve all heard the horror stories of a GPS leading folks astray.  There’s nothing wrong with using a GPS, but in remote country, it’s always wise to confirm the route with a physical map so you don’t find yourself on a one lane gravel, rutted road in the middle of no where. It happens!

You can’t possibly do too much research or have too much information. Always stay updated on weather and road conditions.

Are there forest fires anywhere near your destination or along your route? How about road closures, landslides, construction? If you have a reservation, call and confirm ahead of time. If you don’t have a reservation what are your chances of finding a campsite or lodging? What are your backup options?

Have a plan A, B and C. When it comes to travel, flexibility is key and things DO go wrong. Never did we think we were going to get snowed on during that first night at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Thank goodness we packed extra blankets. It sure got cold! There was never a mention in the weather report or on radar about the severity of the storm we experienced. I did my homework and things still went askew. But it added to the adventure, thus no complaints.

5. Don’t procrastinate and wait until the last minute to throw things together. Planning ahead of time is crucial. Off in the corner of daughters garage, we started gathering a small pile of camping gear weeks in advance.  We spent time checking and rechecking the equipment. We practiced pitching the tent in the backyard, which made us look like pros at the campground. Yes, we impressed 😎

We also made sure all the gear was clean and in good working condition with no missing parts. And in the case of tent stakes and propane bottles, we made sure we had extras.

how to plan for a camping trip

you can see our camp with all our stuff – daughter putting on her makeup

6. Organization – load up. I like using water-tight rubber bins to keep us organized. As long as we’re not in bear country, we can keep the bin with kitchen supplies (pans/plates/utensils/matches) handy on the picnic table. It’ll keep squirrels, mice, and water out. We used another bin for our dry foods but did keep that one in the car at all times.

We used different sized bins determined by the amount of supplies and separated by subject.  BUT before filling the bins, we made sure they, along with the cooler, fit into the back of the Honda CRV.

By having everything organized in one spot in the garage, on the day of travel, it was convenient to load up and hopefully not forget anything. This made life easy for Ashton considering she was loading the car by herself. I was located an hour away.

7. Review essentials – medications and camera gear. A day or two before travel day, make sure you pack medications, check your first aide kit, review your camera gear making sure batteries are charged and you have extra media cards, have emergency contacts written on paper in case cell phones die or won’t work, pack last minute things.

I love this power inverter. We were able to keep things charged. We couldn’t find any outlets at the campground not even in the restroom. Thus, this inverter saved us by keeping our phones and cameras charged.

8. Communicate with loved ones regularly.   In this day of technology, it’s easier than ever to stay connected. Keep your loved ones back home up to date on your where abouts. That way, should something unfortunate occur, your loved ones will have a general idea of your last location. This is also the perfect excuse to take selfies and share, but please don’t overdo and annoy your friends and family stuck back home working.

how to plan a camping trip

Don’t leave loved ones in the dark – let them know where you are and what you’re doing.

I usually texted my husband once in the morning letting him know our general itinerary and again later in the day when we returned to camp. My daughter would do the occasional post to Facebook or Instagram.  When we overnighted at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, we had no cell service but the ranger was kind enough to allow us to use the land line so I could call hubby and let him know where we were spending the night. Thus, we didn’t how to plan for a camping tripdisappear for five days leaving loved ones back home worried.

9. Be flexible. Things happen and may not go according to plan. The weather may not agree on the day you have that epic hike planned. Don’t force the plan, adjust. Maybe a rainstorm is the perfect excuse to visit local stores, or a coffee shop, or brewery. Or spend a little extra time at the visitor center learning about the area. How about a museum?

Remember safety and prevailing on the side of caution should always be paramount. Changing plans at the last minute on a whim or due to unforeseen circumstances, has provided some of my most memorable experiences.

 

So let’s review my top nine tips on how to plan for a great camping trip ….

  1. choose a location and budgettop 9 tips for camping
  2. create check lists
  3. plan meals and do food prep ahead of time
  4. plan the travel and do research
  5. don’t procrastinate and wait until the last minute 
  6. organization is key
  7. review essentials and continue to review your check lists
  8. communicate regularly with loved ones back home
  9. be flexible and have a good time

And how’d we do on that budget? Awesome! First, let’s not take into consideration our groceries. Whether on vacation or at home, we still have to eat. So that cost is an everyday expenditure and not associated exclusively with the trip, but I will included the two meals that we did eat out and the stop at the coffee shop at the Zion Lodge. I’m also not including my $80 seasonal national park pass which I had purchased at the Grand Canyon a month earlier.

Five days and four nights cost us just shy of $200 which covered our campsite fees, gasoline, and eating out (2 meals). Ashton and I split the cost making our five day camping trip a whopping $100 per person for the entire trip. Quite the deal, wouldn’t you agree?

So are you ready to get out your camping gear and visit the nearest national park? I know I am and can’t wait to go again!Observation Point Trail Zion

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Pain at the Grand Canyon

It was approaching seven in the morning and the tops of the canyon walls in Zion National Park were starting to light up with sunshine. The winds were gusting causing the tent walls to whip about. The camp stove was sitting on the picnic table, and after several unsuccessful tries at lighting it, Ashton recommends we break camp and stop for coffee and breakfast along the way. That sounded like a fantastic idea…. better than bringing the camp stove into the tent in hopes of blocking that wind.

north rim of the Grand Canyon

Another day, another scenic view!

We quickly broke camp and did a fantastic job battling the excessive winds. We were getting good at this tenting thing and working instinctively well together. We managed to control the thin nylon tent and keep it from taking flight like a kite. We then loaded up Charlotte (Honda CRV) in a neat and organized manner. We still didn’t have a firm plan in mind for the day, but we were living on RV time and rolling with the winds.

Echo Canyon Zion National ParkBefore driving off, we took one more look around the campsite making sure we hadn’t left anything behind. We glanced over at the neighboring campsites…. no movement. Appears our camp comrades were still sound asleep. Fortunately, we had bid farewell to our neighbors the night before over a campfire.

With a nostalgic wave to our new friends and the gorgeous Zion Canyon, we reluctantly drove down the road. The day before, the Mt. Carmel Highway on the east end of Zion National Park had closed due to a landslide which required us to come up with an alternate route.

Recalculating and turning our road trip into a big loop turned out perfectly. We experienced things that we totally would’ve missed out on had we stayed with the original route.

First and foremost on the agenda was breakfast. We ended up driving through the quaint town of Springdale, located just on the outskirts of Zion National Park. For some unknown reason, nothing caught our attention. About thirty minutes later with our tummies growling and cravings for coffee increasing, we pulled into the River Rock Roasting Company. And what a find this was!

River Rock Roasters

Great coffee, great food, great view – River Rock Roasters, La Verkin, Utah

Ashton and I enjoyed the coffee and breakfast bagels so much so, that she and I agreed we’d go out of our way to visit this place again. Was it the view or the fact we were hangry or was it our need for caffeine (coffee addiction satiated) or is this place that good? Didn’t matter to us. We were a couple of happy campers and ready to face the day after our plates and coffee cups were empty.

About an hour or so down the road, we saw a sign noting the mileage to the Grand Canyon. In our typical mother/daughter fashion, we glanced at each other and said, “Hey, we’re this close, might as well stop”.

north rim of the Grand Canyon

Me on the left, Ashton on the right – at the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Turns out the north rim of the Grand Canyon had just opened to tourists a few days earlier. Good timing for us. I’ve driven this stretch of 89A in northern Arizona a couple of times in years past, and Road 67 to the Grand Canyon was always closed. Therefore, a visit to the north rim would be a first for both of us.

Access to the north rim is limited to the summer months, or rather from about mid May until the first serious snow fall which can occur in September or October. The south rim stays open year-round.

We found plenty of parking at the visitor center. As I stepped out of the car, I felt pain … pain all over and immediately used some colorful language. Not one of my finer moments considering I wasn’t setting a good example for my daughter. The car door was still north rimopen which allowed her to hear every inappropriate comment I uttered.

From inside the vehicle, I heard my daughter exclaim, “Mother. What is your problem?” Just then, she exited Charlotte and in our typical mother/daughter fashion, she joined me in voicing colorful expletives…. “Holy sh*t! WTF! OMG!” Thank goodness the parking lot was relatively empty and there wasn’t anyone else within ear shot of us. With each step we took, another expletive escaped our mouths along with a few laughs. Gosh, we hurt!

That eleven mile, strenuous, 2,148 foot elevation gain hike the day before in Zion National Park had finally caught up with us. Ah, the cockiness we expressed just hours earlier had come back to haunt us. We were feeling just fine when we woke up that morning. Guess our muscles just needed a little extra time to process the abuse from the day before.

We slowly and gingerly worked through our pain and walked to the visitor center and picked up a park map. At this point, any sane person would’ve called it a day and returned to their car. Nope! Not us. Let’s do some more hiking!north rim

We were at the north rim of the Grand Canyon which required a little sightseeing and photo taking and the fact that we had trouble walking due to pain was merely an inconvenience. Did I mention how much we hurt?

north rim of the Grand Canyon

“I can take pictures of the Grand Canyon from here”, exclaimed Ashton

When an Adirondack chair presented itself, Ashton didn’t hesitate to take advantage of the situation.

After strolling out to a popular scenic overlook (Angel Point – I think) and a little more photo taking, we enjoyed lunch at the Grand Canyon Lodge cafe. This is when we came to the realization that the thought of setting up the tent later in the day would be a grueling endeavor. Something we didn’t look forward to. We even had doubts that we could physically handle it.

Recalculating! Exuberantly, I said to Ashton, “Dad is in Phoenix spending the weekend with your brother, which means the RV in Prescott is empty. How about we drive all the way to Prescott and sleep in a bed tonight? Let’s forget about the tent.” I barely finished talking when Ashton, rather loudly, exclaimed, “Sold!” Yeah, a few heads in the restaurant turned, but we didn’t care. Neither one of us thought we were capable of the movement necessary to pitch a tent, let alone sleep on the ground. Once we made it to the ground on our air mattresses, we doubted we could get back up. Did I already mention how much we hurt? 🤣

Lee's Ferry Historic Site

Ashton finds another spot to take a break – historic site at Lee’s Ferry

With our new plan mapped out and a renewed spring in our step, we headed off to our next location – Lee’s Ferry. Even though our original plan to camp here was nixed, I still wanted to stop for a quick visit. It had been nearly twenty years since I last drove by this area and I wanted a refresher.

Colorado River boat tour

Boats return from a tour up river thru Horseshoe Bend and near the base of Glen Canyon Damn

When the boats pulled in after their scenic tour up river, I had an aha moment. So this is where the boats come from as they motor up the Colorado River through Horseshoe Bend and to the bottom of the Glen Canyon Damn for sightseeing.

I remember peering over the cliff edge at the scenic Horseshoe Bend and wondering where the boats down below came from. How does one go about boating this stretch of the Colorado River? Lee’s Ferry is the answer.

Grand Canyon rafting

These are supply boats getting ready to head downstream through some serious whitewater rapids.

Lee’s Ferry is also the starting point for an incredible whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. Ashton and I watched these supply boats getting ready to head down stream. I explained to Ashton …. rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a memorable once in life-time kind of adventure. When one signs up for such a trip, all they need to bring are their personal items. Thus, crews are needed to haul all Lee's Ferry historic sitethe supplies, camping gear, and food as well as do all the set up and prepare the meals. These were the boats we were observing – the supply boats and crew.

I’ll admit, I was relieved when I didn’t hear the comment, “Let’s do that for our next adventure“. I’m sure our current state of fatigue accompanied by sore muscles came into play.

It was getting late in the day and as tempting as it was to grab a campsite and call it a day, the thought of pitching a tent had us moving on down the road.

Three and a half hours later, we pulled into the RV park in Prescott Valley and a real bed in my home. It had been a long day of travel, twelve hours to be exact, but we weren’t complaining. We had just completed the best mother/daughter trip to date; a trip filled with amazing scenery and even more amazing memories.

I’m not sure how we’ll ever top this adventure, but we can sure try!prickly pear