Big Changes Ahead

I can’t believe it’s August already. Summer is winding down and 2021 is more than halfway over. Personally, it has been an interesting year filled with challenges and questions about our future. Thanks to a virus, life, in general, isn’t what it used to be and changes have definitely permeated into all aspects of life including travel and RVing.

But if I’m being honest, my restlessness started months before the pandemic hit. I’m a person who has always embraced change, and if life becomes too routine, I get bored. Thus, jumping into the full-time RV lifestyle over eight years ago wasn’t all that surprising. After all, my wanderlust and sense of adventure were passed down to me from my parents.

Our Next Chapter

When that sense of restlessness, sense of discontentment set in a couple of years ago, I went on a quest, a quest to quench an unknown thirst. Al and I changed up how, where, and when we traveled. We even shopped for different RVs, but the more options we explored, the more confused we became. We knew it was time for a change, but we didn’t know what that change would look like.

Going in different directions.

And then the country, the world, was turned upside down by a virus. Life changed. Our ability to travel at will changed. All of a sudden, we were faced with our mortality. I know I certainly was when I started off the new year with a visit to the emergency room with an inconvenient GI issue. When my doctor insisted I visit the ER for an immediate CT scan, I went into full-on “Grey’s Anatomy” panic. I’ve probably watched way too many medical shows.

Visions of an ER overrun with COVID patients followed by a vision of me waiting hours for medical attention ran through my head. And then, I’d be forgotten. Eventually my intestines would rupture causing me to expire long before anyone notices me slumped in a corner in an overcrowded waiting room. Ok, perhaps that was a little melodramatic, but there’s nothing like an ER visit to get in touch with one’s priorities.

My dramatic concerns were unwarranted. The visit went great … well, as great as an ER visit goes. It was quick, efficient, with friendly and helpful care. Two hours after my arrival, I was skipping out of the hospital with a couple of prescriptions in hand. Ok, maybe I wasn’t exactly skipping, but I was relieved.

There were a few other negative things that transpired during the past year making it feel like we were punched between the eyes…. more than once. Perhaps, this was our wake-up call. Clarity set in for both Al and myself. We knew what we needed to do which was not initially what we wanted to do.

The path isn’t always clear!

Life is interesting that way. Throughout our many years together, most of the big life changes Al and I made were due to extenuating circumstances. We moved into our RV full-time not because it was a lifelong dream, but rather, to serve as a break from life. The economy had negatively impacted our business, and we decided to take a break for a year or two until things turned around. Hah! The RV lifestyle was addictive and too much fun. Therefore, we never returned to that former life, and now, here we are more than eight years later still living in the RV.

But then life as we’ve known it has changed causing us to reflect. Without a doubt, it’s time for us to change things up again due to extenuating circumstances. If there’s one thing that RVing has taught me, it’s everything is temporary.

Life will make you grow!

Selling the RV

This is our third summer parking the RV on family property in northern Wisconsin. We enjoy our time here and will continue to savor the views, hang with family, and live in the RV for the next several weeks before returning to Phoenix in September. Upon our Arizona arrival, we’ll be moving into a real sticks and bricks house and putting the 5th Wheel up for sale.

Our decision is bittersweet, and we’ve thought about it long and hard. We’ve hemmed and hawed, gone back and forth, but in the long run, we know it’s best to sell the RV. We are definitely NOT done RVing (it’s in my blood), but merely taking a break. We love our 5th Wheel. It has been very good to us, and we’ve seriously thought about keeping her, but RV’s are meant to be used and not left ignored in a storage lot. So, hopefully, we’ll find someone who’ll want to keep her wheels rolling and love her as much as we have.

Everything is temporary!

The Best Part of RV Life

Over the years, we’ve experienced some stunning scenery, encountered wonderful wildlife, and had amazing adventures, but the best part about the RV lifestyle is meeting like-minded people and developing friendships.

This summer, we’ve reconnected with Joodie and TBG from the blog, Chasing Dirt. They are spending the summer volunteering at the Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, Wisconsin, which is about a one-hour drive from our lakefront home near Hayward, Wisconsin, making it easy to arrange a few get-togethers.

Blueberry Picking, a Picnic and a Short Hike

July 26 — The smoke-filled skies from forest fires to the north didn’t stop this foursome of seasoned RVers from enjoying an outing. It was a beautiful Monday morning, despite the hazy skies, when Al and I picked up Joodie and TBG for a morning of blueberry picking at my favorite farm in Bayfield, Wisconsin. The bushes were loaded with plump ripe blueberries. We timed our visit perfectly and ended up picking over 5 pounds of blueberries – yum! (I’ve shared more adventures in this part of Wisconsin in years past. You can read those posts here and here.)

Living the dream!

After picking blueberries and strolling around the Blue Vista Farm, it was time to find a picturesque place for a picnic lunch, and I knew just the spot located along the shores of Lake Superior.

After appetites were satiated, a little exercise was in order. I introduced everyone to my favorite little hike in Bayfield; the Iron Bridge Trail. Unfortunately, the drought conditions had the creek barely trickling and the water crossings which usually require a bit of a balancing act proved to be uneventful. It was still an enjoyable stroll through a ravine among lush vegetation despite the lackluster amount of water.

Seasons they will change – Iron Bridge Trail in the fall

Before long, it was time for Al and me to drop off our friends and head home, but not before planning another adventure. Fingers crossed, Mother Nature cooperates for our next gettogether.

Blueberries and Imagine Dragons?

What do you do with 5 pounds of freshly picked blueberries? Well, there’s blueberry pancakes, blueberry coffee cake, blueberry muffins, blueberry banana bread, blueberries in cereal, blueberries in a salad, or how about just eating a handful of blueberries? Seriously, the choices are endless. With that said, while I’ve been spending a little extra time in the kitchen communing with blueberries, I’ve enjoyed music playing in the background.

One of my favorite CDs, yes I still play CDs, is by the band Imagine Dragons. I have a few favorite songs, but one song in particular recently resonated with me. Perhaps it has to do with my current mood as we prepare for the upcoming changes in our life, changes that I’m still processing, changes that I’m excited about yet slightly apprehensive about. I remind myself, everything is temporary!

Sunset … hope to see you again!
Sunrise …. wishing and dreaming!
Birds by Imagine Dragons

Seasons, they will change
Life will make you grow
Dreams will make you cry
Everything is temporary

Birds fly in different directions
I hope to see you again

Sunsets, sunrises, living the dream
Watching the leaves, changing the seasons
Wishing it'd last, wishing and dreaming

Everything is temporary!

Thank you, Terri for asking us to share images inspired by a Song or Poem for today’s Sunday Stills photo challenge. Although, the song “Birds” by Imagine Dragons isn’t necessarily a favorite, the song seems to fit my current mood along with these images. I don’t think I’ll be back to regular posting just yet. I’m still processing the upcoming changes. I guess part of me is excited and ready for a major change while another part of me is a bit sad and hesitant. Please know, although I’m a little quiet these days, I’m still reading and following YOUR posts. ❤

Thanks for stopping by and remember … everything is temporary!

Thank you for shopping my affiliate links. ❤ As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road
Blueberry Love: 46 Sweet and Savory Recipes for Pies, Jams, Smoothies, Sauces, and More
Nature Gear XL Picnic Backpack –  Insulated Design – Waterproof Blanket and Full Cutlery Set

Computer Woes!

Change is an interesting subject.  Most times I embrace change whole heartedly.   That shouldn’t be a surprise considering a mobile lifestyle is all about change.  But then there are times or situations that I resist change as much as possible.

Sunset over Lake Pleasant
Sunset over Lake Pleasant

I was resisting the thought of getting a new computer and learning Windows 10.  Just thinking about it had me walking, rather running, in another direction.  The mere thought of dealing with technology change almost had me breaking out in hives.  If there was a word depicting the opposite of Geek, that would describe me to a tee.  I am definitely not a techie.  With that said, the past month I chose to play ostrich and avoid the subject by leaving the computer off.  I must admit, the break from the internet allowed me to complete a bunch of projects around the RV as well as get in a fair amount of hiking.

flowers and beeI knew months ago my laptop was slowly doing a death dance, but I loved the old gal.  She and I got along famously for years and I wasn’t interested in changing things up.  She loyally cared for my thousands of digital photos, put out hundreds of blog posts, and supported all my documents.

Her keys were worn to the point that half the letters were no longer legible making it impossible for Al to use my laptop (he’s never managed to memorize the keyboard and still pecks away at the keys 😆 ).  She sported a huge crack along one side that seemed to be growing and her screen was no longer firmly attached, but we were a comfortable fit.

Day in and day out, she’d sit on my lap providing endless hours of entertainment. Perhaps too many hours.ButterflyI had no intention of replacing her.  Quite frankly, I didn’t want a new computer, but after months of babying her and refreshing her to factory status, she just wasn’t up to the task at hand.  She was tired and wearing out, and when I could no longer upload my wildflowersphotos, I had to embrace the thought that change was necessary.  Plus, I was missing you guys!

I shopped, then shopped some more. I’m usually a very decisive shopper, but not this time.  Google became my best friend enlightening me on the differences between Intel’s i3, i5, and i7 processors.  A Mac was out of the question.  First, it wasn’t within my budget, and second I felt that would be too much of a change.  Although last year’s change from an Android to an iPhone was ezzie peezie and I love my iPhone 5, I just wasn’t going to go from a PC to a Mac at this point and time.

Cowboy mounted shooting
navigating obstacles can be fun!

It’s been a week and my new HP Pavilion laptop and I are getting along swell.  Windows 10 wasn’t the navigation nightmare I thought it might be.  Yes, it’s different, and yes, the first few days I was Googling “how to” a lot, but I haven’t broken out in sweats or hives due to the change.  I’ve even been having fun setting the new computer up.

We’re still closely monitoring our data usage considering we almost maxed out our 30 gigs last month and I was hardly on the internet.  Apparently, Al’s computer and my old computer had programs running in the background that were gobbling up data.  Thus, my internet presence was throttled severely.  I’m hoping to be back blogging soon and am starting to catch up on all your latest posts.  I’m still a little slow with the new gal, but the more time we spend together, the more familiar we’ll get and I’ll soon be sharing plenty of photos of the desert blooming.  You’ve been warned!

sunset over Lake Pleasant, Peoria AZ
sunset over Lake Pleasant, Peoria AZ

For those of you curious, this is the laptop I ended up getting….
HP Pavilion 15t 15.6-Inch Touchscreen Laptop (6th Gen Intel Core i5-6200u Processor, 8GB DDR3L RAM, 1TB HDD, Windows 10), Natural Silver

Plan A, B, or C?

Moving!  Does anyone look forward to this arduous task?  Some people seem to move often while others have only moved once or twice in their entire life.  My dad has lived in the same house over fifty years while hubby and I, however, have moved  a  dozen times.  I’m not talking about moving around in our RV.  I’m talking move about moving from house to house with a boat load of stuff.   Some of our moves were within the same community while others were cross-country.  Some moves presented challenges while others went smoothly, but all were exhausting.

Our daughter, Ashton, was three-years old when we moved from Chicago, Illinois to Las Vegas, Nevada.  She may not remember that move, but I remember it as though it were yesterday.  Al and I loaded up our rear wheel drive, full-size van, pulling a small U-Haul trailer and with two little kids and a dog, we crossed the Colorado Rockies in January.  A moving company transported the majority of our household belongings while we transported personal items.

Traveling Interstate 70, 2 hours west of Denver, Colorado, in July
Traveling Interstate 70, two hours west of Denver, Colorado, in July

The 1,800 mile move took us three days and did not pass without incident…. ah, but that’s another tale for another time.  For today, I wish to focus on Ashton’s journey.  It was during this drive west that Colorado made an indelible impression upon this three-year old little girl, as it did on the rest of us as well.  After exiting the famous Eisenhower Tunnel located about an hours drive west of Denver along Interstate 70, we were all greeted with the most breathtaking sight.  Laid before us were rugged mountain peaks in all directions, blanketed in a thick layer of the brightest and whitest snow we had ever seen.

ColoradoI remember pulling over at the Dillon Lake scenic overlook.  While I walked the dog, Al watched our 3 year old daughter and 5 year old son run around throwing the white fluffy snow.  The lack of moisture in the snow made it impossible to compact into a snowball.  The children giggled in delight with their failed attempt at throwing snowballs at one another.

It was weeks later, long after we had settled into our new world in Las Vegas, that my little curly-headed blonde announced, “When I big girl, I move to mountains.  I like mountains”.  Well this adorable three-year old only had to wait a mere four years.  At the ripe old age of  seven, we moved from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, making her dream come true.

Denver 002There would be two more local moves in her future before it was time to head off to college.  Then those college years brought about several more moves for Ashton, but most of her belongings at that time would fit stuffed into a vehicle or two.

Last summer was one of her most enlightening moves.  For over two years, Ashton had endured a horrible work commute.  She was living in Westminster (north of Denver) with a girlfriend from college while working in the Denver Tech Center (south of Denver).  Her commute to work one way was anywhere from 35 minutes to 2 hours based on traffic and weather, but the apartment and roommate scenario were perfect thus making the commute tolerable, at least for the time being.

However, with another impending winter approaching along with those dreadful snow storm commutes, she finally decided to move closer to work last September (2014).  The majority of the furnishings in the 2 bedroom apartment belonged to Ashton and she was relying on Al and me to help her move.  This is when I stepped in and showed daughter how a young, single gal can move easily without the help of family or friends.  With her checkbook handy and pointing finger ready, she directed Two Men & a Truck to move her from point A to point B.  Within hours she was easily moved and comfortably situated in her new home in Centennial, Colorado.  Her self-reliant confidence grew by leaps and bounds that day.

Interstate 40 heading west toward Flagstaff, Arizona

So here we were a year later.   Ashton found herself moving a thousand miles away; a move that’s a little more challenging to navigate than a local move.  Al and I were in town to provide moral support and advice.  This time I didn’t even help her box things up.  She had a handle on the whole process.  And as much as she knew this move was good for her, it was emotional.  She was leaving her beloved Colorado behind and moving to a city she’s never been particularly fond of.

Moving day was on a Monday.  Al and I picked up Ashton at her place and drove her to the U-Haul facility where she picked up a 17 foot truck.  The U-Haul was no sooner backed into her driveway (with a little help from dad), when the two guys she hired to load the truck called wondering if they could swing by sooner.  YES!  A little over an hour later with the loaded U-Haul truck, Ashton headed back over to the U-Haul store.  I followed driving her car while Al followed in our F-250.

At the U-Haul store, they hooked up the flatbed trailer.  Ashton nervously drove her car onto the trailer and the guys secured the vehicle.  With that task complete and with Al’s assistance, she clenched the steering wheel of the truck tightly and navigated out of the tight parking lot.  This was her first time pulling a trailer.  We rendezvoused at the Cabela’s on Denver’s south side in preparation for the long drive to Phoenix.

Getting ready to caravan from Denver to Phoenix
Getting ready to caravan from Denver to Phoenix

It was 2:00 in the afternoon and we were way ahead of schedule.  It was time for me to implement Plan B.  You see, I took it upon myself to be in charge of the navigations and picking out our gas stops and overnight stops along the journey.  I had a slew of notes written with lots of built-in flexibility…. I had backups to the backups, not knowing how the trip would go.

move We lucked out with mild traffic on Interstate 25 from Denver through Colorado Springs.  By 6:00 p.m. we were parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot in the town of Trinidad, located just 12 miles north of the New Mexico/Colorado border.  Whew!  It had been a long day, but a productive one.

I kept all of us well fed and hydrated throughout the journey
I kept all of us well fed and hydrated throughout the journey

Day 2 had us skirting through Albuquerque.  Since I was really concerned we might run into a lot of traffic through Albuquerque, considering it was the Tuesday before the big balloon fiesta weekend, I drove the U-Haul through this stretch with Al and the 5th wheel following close behind.  Fortunately again, we lucked out with light traffic and once we were west of Albuquerque on Interstate 40, Ashton and I switched drivers.  It was at this point and time, I briefed Al and Ashton on our intended overnight stop that involved a little scenic drive in the process.

driving through New Mexico
driving through New Mexico

Ashton and I are in the U-Haul truck while Al follows in the F-250 and 5th wheel
Ashton and I are in the U-Haul truck while Al follows in the F-250 and 5th wheel

Painted Desert
Painted Desert

I was happy my little plan was not met with resistance.  We were traveling via my Plan A all along, but shhhh don’t tell them that 😉  Not long after crossing the New Mexico/Arizona border, we took the exit for the Petrified Forest National Park.  As many times as Al and I have traveled this stretch of Interstate 40 in northeast Arizona, we had never stopped at this National Park.  Hmm, I’m not sure why!

Painted Desert
Painted Desert

First we took in the unique sight of the Painted Desert.  From there we continued south traveling the 28 mile scenic drive with the occasional stop at an overlook here and there.  Remember, we started our day early in Colorado and it was now late afternoon.  We had already spent all day driving and were all getting rather tired.  Thus, Ashton and Al were putting the kibosh on my photo-op stops 😦

driving through the Petrified Forest
driving through the Petrified Forest

Petrified wood - This National Park is known for its fossils. 225 million years ago, this area was a forest. The downed trees have since turned to stone.
Petrified wood – This National Park is known for its fossils. Once upon a time, 225 million years ago, this area was a forest. The downed trees have since turned to stone.

After a fair amount of oohing and ahhing, we kept our wheels rolling (come on guys, just one more stop – NO) until we arrived at the Crystal Forest Gift Shop Campground.  Thank you to fellow blogger, LuAnn, for the heads up on this free campground.

Crystal Forest Gift Shop Campground just outside the south entrance to the Petrified Forest NP
Crystal Forest Gift Shop Campground just outside the south entrance to the Petrified Forest NP

We settled into two sites next to each other and opened a bottle of bubbly while I made dinner.  We had made it to Arizona!  While we enjoyed dinner, we watched a beautiful sunset. This turned out to be the perfect stop for the night.  It was quiet, dark, and we all slept soundly.

We made it to Arizona!
We made it to Arizona!

Ashton decides to enjoy her bubbly by sitting in comfort.
Ashton decides to enjoy her bubbly by sitting in comfort.

Perfect place to spend the night.
Perfect place to spend the night.

By noon the following day, the RV was all set up at the RV Park in Phoenix.  After enjoying another homemade meal, we were on our way to our son’s home with the U-Haul.  Our son and a friend unloaded the U-Haul and that evening, Ashton slept in her own bed in her new home.

As far as moves go, this one could NOT have gone any better.  Moving karma was with us the entire journey.  We ate well (thanks to my planning and preparation), we slept great, traffic was light, the weather was perfect, and we even managed to enjoy a few laughs along the way.  Ashton did an amazing job driving the truck and trailer and by the time she was met with Phoenix traffic, she was navigating like a pro and already talking about a future cross-country move.  Slow it down honey, slow it down LOL.

Petrified wood up close.
Petrified wood up close.

In the end, it was wise to have a plan A, B, and C, but I was thrilled to be able to carry out my Plan A all along.  The move was tiring but fun!  And by the way, I look forward to returning to the Petrified Forest National Park, but after Al and I enjoy some much needed down time.

 

Cheap Cheap Moving Boxes Packing Paper, Large Bundle, 24 x 36 Inches (20#)
Reusable Furniture Moving Kit for All Floor Types, including both hard surfaces & carpet – (16 assortment pack of SuperSliders)