Bartering for Toilet Paper

Bartering for Toilet Paper

Life is like a rollercoaster. It’s full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s not. There’s solace in knowing we’re all in this together … all in for a heck of a ride … a ride called life. Besides, how boring would it be if it was continuous smooth sailing? After all, couldn’t we all use a little excitement in our lives from time to time? But please, just not too much excitement, huh! Yeah, life has been a little too exciting lately and not in a good way. I’m sure you can agree!

I’ve always been entertained by a good rollercoaster ride at an amusement park despite my propensity for motion sickness. Rollercoasters usually don’t make me sick. However, don’t put me on a tilt-a-whirl. I guarantee motion sickness will rear its ugly head by that spinning dizzying motion, and let’s not even talk about the rolling of a sailboat. ūü§Ę Nope, no tilt-a-whirls or sailing for this gal. Did I ever tell you guys during my first day on the job as a Flight Attendant, I threw up eleven times? Ah, not a day I’d care to repeat, but those tales are for another day.

Today, let’s talk about viruses … okay, not just any virus … the Coronavirus aka COVID-19 and its nauseating, dizzying effect on everyday life.

Yellow poppies in a field

Dealing with a Pandemic

Illness of any kind isn’t fun, but add in the emotion of fear, and you’re dealing with a whole different animal. So many ups, downs, twists, and turns! Fear makes people panic and act and do things out of character. I understand the importance of getting ahead of the spread of this virus (it’s serious stuff) and containing it as much as possible is very critical. I truly do understand the importance!

And even though we are dealing with extreme matters and doing our part by practicing good hygiene and social distancing, I fail to understand the sudden hoarding of products specifically toilet paper. I guess the fear of running out of TP is on everyone’s mind ūüí©

purple flowers and a bee in flight

Finding humor in a non-humorous moment

Due to the rush and hoarding of toilet paper, most of us are seeing a shortage. Store shelves are void of this precious commodity and many (me included) are afraid of running out. There’s a couple of local grocery stores here in Phoenix, Arizona that are offering seniors (65 and older) their own special time to shop; from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday mornings.

Taking full advantage of my husband’s old age ūü§ę, this past Wednesday I kicked him out of bed and loaded him into my little red truck before 5:00 a.m. I bribed him with the promise of a pastry! It was a dark, cold, drizzly morning. I was on a mission … a toilet paper mission. We stood in line outside the store in the drizzling rain with all the other seniors waiting for the doors to open.

a statue at the Arizona Biltmore in Scottsdale AZShopping crowds – so much for social distancing!¬†At exactly 5:00 a.m. we were given entrance. Initially, it seemed very calm and civilized until a few folks broke from the crowd into a gentle sprint. Clearly, they weren’t interested in grabbing a shopping cart but were focused on one thing … toilet paper.

Not one to be outrun by an oxygen tank totting eighty-year-old, Al’s 6’3″+ frame with long legs quickly outstepped his competition and took the lead.

Being one of the first to snag the largest package of toilet paper from the top shelf, Al quickly handed it off to me and then proceeded to help his sprinting competitor. Al’s height and large stature, in comparison to the other senior shoppers, drew attention.

Shortly after helping the oxygen totting gentleman, a frail woman taped Al with her cane and said, “Hey Sonny, can you grab me a package?” Next thing you know, Al was helping hand out packages of toilet paper and in just a few minutes the once well-stocked shelves were once again bare.

Several of us lingered near the aisle and looked at the barren shelves while holding our allotted one package of TP like a trophy and just shook our heads amusingly. “This is crazy”, several folks commented while another said, “I never imagined I would ever see anything like this in my lifetime”.

After our toilet paper mission was accomplished, Al and I picked up a few more staples and with our shopping cart less than half full, we paid for our purchases and headed to the truck. It was still dark, rainy, and cold, but in the truck, we each had a thermal container filled with hot coffee waiting accompanied by a newly purchased fresh pastry as a reward for a job well done.

After a few gulps of steaming coffee, we looked at each other and laughed. Al said, “I never thought I’d go grocery shopping at 5:00 in the morning, let alone have a good time doing so”. Al was thanked numerous times by folks who clearly could not have reached the top shelf or been able to bend over easily to pull from the bottom shelf. What an interesting morning, indeed!

RV Life

I’ll admit, I was relieved to snag that large package of toilet paper. I wasn’t feeling so confident two days earlier. You see, after living in the RV (less than 300 square feet) for the past seven years, I’ve developed a routine of sorts. Most RV refrigerator-freezers need to be defrosted routinely. I usually defrost mine about every three months and knowing this, I allow our frozen food supply to dwindle regularly. And with only a 6 cubic foot refrigerator, I’ve increased my Tetris skills drastically. Tetris skills are a prerequisite for RV living.

bee on a purple wildflowerLikewise, when it comes to keeping our little home on wheels (aka RV) organized and clean. I like to use up our provisions before restocking and I take full advantage of poorly stocked RV shelves and a near-empty fridge to clean, reorganize, and strategically plan out the restocking.

I promise you won’t find any packaged or canned food items in our RV that are close to the expiration date. I couldn’t promise that when we lived in our large custom sticks and bricks home with a huge walk-in pantry. My daughter loved pointing out the expired dates on some of the food items that I’d accumulated.

Yeah, when you have more room than you need, things get overlooked, but not so in our RV 5th wheel where storage space is a precious commodity.

With all that said, I was in the low on supplies process for some thorough spring cleaning when the coronavirus hit. I knew COVID-19 was serious, but I never anticipated the fear factor leading to barren shelves at the stores.

Fortunately, we still had three rolls of toilet paper and enough food for at least a couple of weeks. So, I didn’t panic … until I went to Walmart to pick up just a few things. I was smacked in the face with a new reality. I found myself asking, “What if we run out of toilet paper?”

I love my neighbors! It was a beautiful morning in the neighborhood and while my neighbor and I were chit-chatting about this new way of life, she informed me that she was so glad she stocked up on TP from Costco before this whole hoopla began. My ears perked up! Did she say she had lots of toilet paper? Before she could get out another sentence, I asked if I could buy a few rolls of TP from her. My urgency was knowing the fact that they decided to head back to their home in Michigan early and would be leaving soon. So, I didn’t feel I had time to waste.

“Of course”, she responded, “Isn’t that what neighbors do … help each other out?” She refused to take any money for the three rolls of toilet paper which didn’t sit well with me. So I gave her a bottle of hand soap from Bath & Body Works (I love their pump hand soaps). Yep, life has resorted to bartering for toilet paper. Talk about some interesting twists, turns, and ups and downs!

a little white church in a desert landscape

Stocked up

Well, after a few excursions to various stores, my cupboards are full, the fridge and freezer are full, and we pretty much have everything we need for the next month with the exception of fresh fruits and veggies which seem to be in adequate supply at the grocery stores … for now, anyway.

Adding a little levity

So what does one do in the event of no toilet paper? Use Bounce dryer sheets for a wrinkle-free, fresh-smelling bum that’ll put a bounce in your step! Okay, I’m only kidding. It won’t take the wrinkles out of your bum ūü§£

Let’s try and stay positive knowing this too shall pass. Sending good vibes and well wishes your way!
How are you dealing with current life?

think safety sign

(This post contains¬†affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support¬†‚̧)

Bounce Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets, Outdoor Fresh
Cottonelle FreshCare Wipes
Bath and Body Works Summer Collection – Foaming Hand Soaps

How to Stay Healthy and Energetic when Traveling

How to Stay Healthy and Energetic when Traveling

Traveling full-time, part-time, or some-time can be exhilarating but at the same time exhausting. Finding a travel style and pace takes time and practice and will most likely change as you and your desires change.

Long before Al and I bought an RV, we usually traveled by air to our destination, and on occasion, we tent camped. Even when we were younger, whether we were flying or road-tripping, finding a pace that wouldn’t wear us out was always a priority. After all, the whole purpose of traveling was for us to explore and immerse ourselves in new places and that would require good health and plenty of energy. Most times, this was easier said than done!

For the better part of a month, I’ve battled a nasty cold that has kept me housebound, or rather RV bound. All that downtime had my mind wandering aimlessly. I was focused on feeling better. I was reminded of how important it is for us to listen to our bodies. During my illness, my body seemed to crave soup and vegetables. And of course, being the smart gal that I am, I listened to my body and fed it what it wanted.

Japanese Garden

So while downing gallons of warm nourishing soup, (okay, maybe it wasn’t gallons, but I bet it was close ūüėÜ) my mind drifted to places I’d like to visit and photograph. My poor camera has been sitting idle in the camera bag for weeks, and that does not make for a happy camper around this RV. Although I’m finally beginning to feel better, I’m still struggling with a lack of energy. Even with an addled mind and lack of energy, I’m still fantasizing about RV adventures.

Energy? … During our travels (and we’ve traveled a lot), Al and I have learned plenty of lessons the hard way … including the importance of food, rest, and listening to our bodies. By fueling ourselves properly and getting a good night’s sleep, we can put in ten-hour driving days. Now mind you, that’s not preferable but sometimes necessary.

Pinterest pin, tips to stay healthy and energetic when travelingI think we’ve all experienced those long road trips … grab some junk food, wash it down with some carbonated soda, and call it good. And an hour later, we’re either ready for a nap or just not feeling well, and we certainly aren’t enjoying the adventure of rolling down the road when we feel less than optimal.

Our bodies are constantly sending us messages in an attempt to find a happy balance. Are we smart enough to listen? I truly believe, the best thing for overall health is to learn what our bodies are telling us. Therefore, we can make better decisions that’ll help keep us healthy, energized, focused, and ready to discover what’s around the next bend.

When we feel great, we can immerse ourselves whole-heartedly in exploring new places, new environments, and new adventures.

And get that camera clicking again!

7 Tips for health and energy when traveling

1. Eating for fuel. Just like we try to put quality gasoline in our vehicle so it’ll perform optimally, we need to do the same for our bodies. This means being aware of what our body needs and eating when we’re hungry and stopping when we’re full.

Step away from the potato chips and no one will get hurt. Mindless snacking while sitting in a car or airplane due to boredom doesn’t do anyone any favors. That’s not to say, the occasional snack needs to be avoided, but in moderation and only after the body has been properly nourished.

When I know we’re getting ready for a stretch of long travel days, I meal plan ahead of time. Obviously, one of the best things about RVing is bringing my kitchen along. I’m able to keep items easily chilled and when it’s time to eat, all we have to do is find a convenient place to pull over. Badda bing Badda boom, lunch is served!

Bruschetta
Bruschetta board at Postino’s in Scottsdale, AZ. Great place for Happy Hour or Sunday Brunch. Smoked Salmon and Pesto – Ricotta, Dates, and Pistachios – Brie, Apple, and Fig Spread – Proscuitto, Fig, and Mascarpone.

2. Hydration is probably the most important thing we can do to maintain our health and energy, and not just while traveling, but every day. If you’re feeling tired, drink a tall glass of water. If you’re feeling hungry, drink a tall glass of water. If you’re having trouble focusing, drink a tall glass of water. I think you get the idea!

Paying attention to our water intake is even more important when visiting higher elevations or dry arid climates. If you once start feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated and probably feeling somewhat fatigued. Water is the only nutrient that has been shown to enhance performance for all activities including the most demanding endurance activities. So drink up!

I'm a Pilot coffee mug

3. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining health and energy throughout the day. I think many of us may underestimate the effect disrupted or shortened sleep can have on our overall well-being.

Things to consider … avoid exposure to bright screens like phones, computers, or tablets right before going to bed. Studies have shown, the light from these devices interferes with our natural body clock making it more difficult to fall asleep. And speaking of body clock, try to stick to a routine. Al and I go to bed almost every night around 10:00 and get out of bed every morning around 6:00 making for a solid eight hours of sleep.

Avoid caffeine after a given time of day. This is where listening to our body comes into play again. Personally, I stay away from anything caffeinated much after 3:00 in the afternoon. Most people aren’t quite as sensitive as I am, but this is something to take note of and be aware of the effects of caffeine on you personally.

4. Move! Last summer while enduring some very long driving days as we transitioned from northern Wisconsin to Phoenix, Arizona, Al and I frequently stopped at rest areas to stretch our legs. Energy begets energy! If you’ve been sitting for hours on end in a car, RV, or airplane, simply standing up and doing some squats or getting in some walking will immediately get the blood flowing and make you feel more energized.

Don’t forget to get in some deep breathing while you’re at it.

5. Laugh! Al and I are the kind of people that seem to find humor in most situations. We don’t take life or ourselves too seriously. Studies have shown that laughing can boost energy and be a stress reliever. So, while you’re sitting on the side of the road in a broken-down RV waiting for assistance (if you can even get assistance), pull up YouTube on your phone and watch some silly videos. Laugh! Life is too short not to.ūüėĀ

Or if you’re like us and tend to break down in places without cell service (no internet), then all you can do is laugh at the situation, or make fun of your partner. We’ve been traveling in our RV since 2011 and have made a ton of RVing mistakes. At the beginning of our RV journey, these mishaps and mistakes would overwhelm and stress us and now we just shrug, tackle, and laugh.

Our favorite word to say after an incident is “recalculating“. Not only do we need to reaccess our schedule, but we need to be honest about how we’re feeling. Once again, we listen to our bodies! We may change the pace, grab a healthy snack, hydrate with water, coffee, or tea, or better yet, eat chocolate. Oh yeah, my fave!

6. When all else fails, eat chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better! Chocolate has caffeine which is a quick pick-me-up, and it also has flavonoids that have been shown to boost cognitive skills and improve mood. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m all in for improving my mood and functioning brain. So, we always have a stash of chocolate in the RV.

By the way, I’ll take one for the team, and eat your share of chocolate if cocoa ain’t your thang!ūü§£

7. Listen to your body and do a mental check-in. We need to check-in with ourselves and travel companions regularly to access how we’re feeling. This is the perfect time to get real with what our bodies are telling us. And this holds true for our furry travel companions as well.

When we worked in the airline industry, we used to call it “get home-itis” (The determination of a pilot to reach a destination even when conditions for flying are dangerous). Don’t fall victim to “get there-itis“. When feeling tired, that’s not the time to ignore what your body is telling you and push through. This is when mistakes and accidents happen. Listen to your body! Be clear on how everyone is feeling and make simple changes as needed.

Pace yourself, drink water and eat more chocolate. If you’re not feeling your best and you’re driving, pull over … if you’re on a cruise, forgo that shore excursion … if you’re flying, take a nap. If you don’t feel well, do whatever is necessary to regain health and energy.

“The single biggest difference between people who get what they want and people who don’t is energy.”

By listening to our body, we can enjoy our travels while also benefiting from good health and plenty of energy. All it takes is a little inner reflection, planning, and flexibility.

Do you have any travel tips to help maintain health and energy?

old bicycle in a flower garden

(Thank you for¬†shopping my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and very much appreciate your support¬†‚̧)

Hydration Backpack with Storage
Meal Prep – Reusable Food Storage Containers
Merci Finest Assortment of European Chocolates

Derailed Goals and Being Interviewed

Derailed Goals and Being Interviewed

The last week of January passed in a blur and not in a good way. Talk about a wasted week. The majority of my time was spent on the couch hugging a box of kleenex while watching daytime TV. Although the severe head cold made normal function difficult, my brain was further negatively impacted by the TV watching. After a week of watching daytime TV, I’m sure I have some fried brain cells causing my IQ to drop dramatically. Seriously, who watches this stuff?

I was so ill that I didn’t even turn my computer on for three full days. I know! That meant I was really really sick. I’ll admit, I did use my iPhone to try and stay somewhat connected, but even that was more effort than my ailing mind and body could handle.

I’m finally on the mends … but slowly.

So much for New Year’s goals/resolutions

Ah, the month started out so well. I was focused. I was hitting the trails and getting in my steps. I was eating healthy.¬† Yep, 2020 was off to a great start. And then … the pain in my left foot (that I’d been ignoring) continued to worsen. Turned out to be a textbook case of Plantar fasciitis. Okay, I got this … nothing I can’t fix!

With new shoe inserts and some at-home therapy, I was ready to jump back into hiking … slowly. Plans were made with friends and I was eager to get back to that list of goals. That is until I was knocked between the eyes with the worst head cold that I’ve experienced in years. My life came to a screeching halt.

flowering cactus

This too shall pass, and with each day, I begin to feel a little more like me again. I’ll give myself the time to fully recover before I start jumping back into active life. The TV remains off as I once again feel brain function returning. Now I’ll need to focus on recovering those lost brain cells.ūü•ī I hope to do that by getting caught up with you all.

Being interviewed

On a lighter note, before I fell ill, I was interviewed. How cool is that! Doing the interview was actually fun and has once again piqued my interest in doing more of my own videos. Baby steps, I remind myself!

My interviewer: Debbie, “From She to Me“. I first met Debbie and her husband last year via her brother, Dick. Dick and his wife were our winter neighbors last year, and they are also the couple who generously offered us a place to stay last summer while we dealt with our storage units back in Colorado.

I hope you enjoy Debbie’s video. Oh, and if you’re thinking about Van Life or heading up to Alaska, be sure and check out her other videos. BTW – My interview starts about five minutes in – 5:34. Enjoy!

 

Thank you for shopping my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and really appreciate your support¬†‚̧)

YouTube Secrets: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Following and Making Money
GoPro HERO8 Black Action Camera

Five Favorite Finds

Five Favorite Finds

Happy Sunday everyone! It has been a busy yet productive week around the RV this past week. First off, I’ve been in major cleaning mode and the RV is smelling fresher than ever. It started with cleaning out my closet and then diving into cabinets and drawers. It’s amazing how much stuff two people living in less than 300 square feet can accumulate.

Mid-week I ended up doing seven loads of laundry. Only two loads were filled with the everyday clothes that we wore that week, the rest of the loads were bedding, towels, blankets, and jackets. I didn’t start out the day with the intention to do all that laundry, but when I checked the laundry room here at the RV park at 7:00 in the morning and found the place empty, well let’s just say, I took over the machines.

It felt good to get caught up on that part of my to-do list, and what was even better was getting all that laundry done in two hours while chit-chatting with my good friend Faye. She and I could not have timed/planned our laundry day any better. Lucky for her, I didn’t take over all the machines and she was able to do a few loads herself. Love those serendipitous encounters!

a bird on a wire fence

Okay, with some of the chores out of the way, let’s get back to blogging. I’d like to start a new feature here on the blog, and I’d like to know what you think. Once a month, I plan on sharing some of my favorite things. Thanks to other bloggers sharing their favorites, I’ve discovered interesting products, delicious recipes, entertaining books, TV shows, and even places I’d like to visit.

Perhaps this is a topic some of you would like to join in on and share your favorites on your blog. This could be a blog subject similar to the photo challenges that allow us to engage and share. So once a month, we can all post about a favorite find, a thing, a moment, a tasty restaurant, a great book, or any other subject that you are enjoying and think others might also find interesting. What do you think? I’d really love your input.

Without further adieu, let’s jump into my five favorite finds for the month of January.

1. Hangers

I know, I know, how boring are closet hangers? Well, let me tell you, these thin hangers have been a lifesaver. Ok, well maybe not a lifesaver, but a space saver. Just making the switch from those round plastic hangers to these thin guys has eliminated my morning battle of dealing with a jam-packed closet. By simply switching the kind of hangers I was using, I gained about six to eight inches of hanging space which is huge in an RV closet.

While cleaning and reorganizing my closet, these flat plastic clothes hangers allowed me to hold onto a few more clothing items … which may or may not have been a good idea. Although I must say, I’m proud of myself and did end up parting with a pile of T-shirts. Yep, a pile! This gal has a serious T-shirt addiction that I’m working on rectifying in the new year. 2020 is my year not to succumb to purchasing any more of those location tourist T’s. It helps that we won’t be visiting too many new places this year.

I happen to purchase the hangers at Walmart and bought some with the rubber grip while others are just plain. The rubber grips are great for shirts that have a wide neck or for items that require a little more hold. I like the plain ones for my everyday T’s. You can also get the thin hangers covered in a velvet kind of finish, but I’m not a fan of those. They seem like they could be dust collectors plus I’m just not a fan of the way they feel.

(By the way, some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The price remains the same. Should you use a link, I thank you and appreciate your support. ‚̧)

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent my weekend alone at my daughter’s apartment. No, Al and I did not have a fight … besides, he can’t get rid of me that easily. I was doggie sitting. My daughter agreed to watch her best friend’s two chihuahua’s for the holiday weekend but was later offered an excellent money-making dog/house sit gig. So she was faced with a scheduling dilemma. That’s when I stepped in and offered to watch her friend’s dogs at my daughter’s place. Trust me, there was a little bartering involved. So it wasn’t totally out of the goodness of my heart.

Along with the bartering were a few perks while residing at my daughter’s apartment. Aaahhh, a weekend to myself with a ‘normal‘ toilet, a 40-gallon water heater instead of the 6-gallon in the RV which allowed me to take long hot showers without turning off the water while sudsing up (luxuries nonRVers take for granted), and then there was every streaming service available with unlimited internet. Yeah, I was living in tall cotton!

It was during this dog sitting gig that I discovered the Amazon Prime series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I ended up binge-watching season 1 and 2 and now that season 3 is out, I’m trying to convince my daughter that I need to come over to her place and spend the weekend. So far, no luck! BUT I may have another option up my sleeve soon. Seriously, this show is super entertaining.

3. RV Water Filter

Safe clean drinking water is a subject that affects all RVers and some sort of water filter should always be used. With that said, the size and type of RV that you have will have a direct impact on what kind of filtration system you choose. Most RVers start off with a carbon type of filter; ease and size are usually the number one reasons. Large RVs may have a more complex filtration system installed, but most of us struggle with space making a carbon inline water filter the best option.

Drinking water

We were recently gifted a CLEAR2O¬ģ RV inline water filter and have been super happy with its performance. The tap water in Phoenix usually has visible particles floating around in it. So when I filled up a glass with tap water directly from my RV kitchen faucet and saw how clear it was, I was impressed.

I’ll admit, I was unfamiliar with the CLEAR2O¬ģ product line so I ended up doing a little research namely to see what the differences are between this filter and the blue Camco filter that so many RVers seem to use.

So what are the differences?

  1. Camco uses Granular Activated Carbon for filtration. The CLEAR2O¬ģ CRV2006 RV filter uses solid-block carbon for filtration which is said to be a much better filtration medium due to its density.
  2. The CLEAR2O¬ģ filters down to the 1-micron level. Camco has several RV filters and only one filters down to 5 microns.
  3. Because of its low-micron filtration level, CLEAR2O¬ģ CRV2006 is particularly effective against chlorine, sediment, heavy metals, lead, mercury, chemicals, and pesticides.

clear2O Dirtguard RV filterIn our personal opinion, we think this filter does a better job than the Camco carbon filter. If we change our minds in the future, I’ll be sure and let you know, but so far, so good. And since we’re still in the first month of use, I’m unable to know for sure how long it’ll last, but I’m guessing at least six months or more.

The company is also coming out with a new product called DirtGUARD which will be the first RV inline prefilter that snaps on to any existing RV carbon inline filter (including Camcos), essentially turning it into a dual-stage system. This sounds promising and a product that would be beneficial to a lot of RVers especially for those of us that struggle with extra storage space.

4. Books

Ok, it’s January and a lot of people made a resolution to lose weight, me included. I first came across The How Not to Die Cookbook: 100+ Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease at Costco which then lead me to discover the author’s first book; How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. With my curiosity piqued, I headed off to my local library and checked out these two books.

                     

I’m always fascinated by the science behind the power of food and truly believe, we are what we eat. Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that we consume, the better our skin will look, and the better our body will be able to ward off disease.

I’m still working my way through these books and although the focus is on a plant-based diet, I assure you I won’t be giving up my carnivore status anytime soon. I’m one of those people who believe in all things in moderation. Will I go a day or two without consuming meat? Sure, but I believe going strictly meatless can have its negative effects especially if one isn’t consuming enough proteins found from plant-based foods. That’s my two cents, anyway!

In future posts, I plan on sharing how Al and I eat these days and the diets we’ve followed in the past. The RV mobile lifestyle can be challenging when it comes to diet, exercise, and focusing on healthy habits, but we’ve found a system that works for us… well kind of, we’re still a work in progress!

a female hiking across a creek in Arizona

5. Hiking

One of the activities that fall into that healthy category is hiking. Hiking is my favorite form of exercise and I’m loving being back on the trails this winter. Before we embarked on our full-time RV adventure, I rarely hiked. Sure, I walked plenty but mostly city stuff or the occasional vacation trail exploration that I did in tennies. I didn’t own a pair of hiking shoes until seven years ago. After all, you’re talking to someone who used to live in 3-inch heels when she was younger, and the thought of wearing a pair of ugly hiking shoes would never have crossed my mind.

My how times have changed! These days, I live in my Merrells and don’t even own a pair of high heels anymore, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing like strolling in natural ingesting the sights, sounds, and smells. It makes me feel alive, it’s my church, my escape, and one of my favorite things to do.

I’m lucky that we spend our winters in Phoenix, Arizona. The valley has one of the best trail systems around offering everything from flat easy hikes to challenging uphill climbs and everything in-between. Phoenix has more land designated for parks and preserves than any other major city in the country. While out on these trails, it’s hard to believe you’re in a metropolitan area. The topography and views vary such that boredom is unlikely to be a factor, and of course, the winter weather in Phoenix is perfect for hiking as well as other outdoor activities.

So there you have it, my five favorite finds in January. Please share some of your favorites!

barrel cactus

 

Citrus Rum Chicken & my Health

I find travel to be exhilarating and energizing but at the same time exhausting. Kind of seems illogical, huh! I also think it’s somewhat difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the go. Not that it can’t be done … it just takes a little more forethought and planning.

sitting on the dock of the bay
Sitting on the dock of the bay, watching my diet slip away …. ūü§£

Socializing and traveling …

When I add in a bunch of socializing along with our travels, I find myself getting easily derailed when it comes to my dietary restrictions and healthy eating plan. It’s easy for me to stick to my health plan when we’re hanging with friends that also focus on eating healthy and exercising, but unfortunately, some of our friends do not share those same goals, in which case, I get distracted.

I don’t have what I’d call food allergies, but I do suffer from food sensitivities. In essence, I can eat anything I want without the effects necessitating an EpiPen, but I do struggle with other less obvious aliments caused by eating foods I shouldn’t …. issues that can severely impact my energy, physical well being and ability to travel.

We spent the first three months of the year hanging with dear friends in Lake Havasu City, and as much as we thoroughly enjoyed our time with our friends and loved exploring western Arizona, we didn’t fair so well with our goal of healthy eating.

Unfortunately, Al and I both gained some weight during that visit which is always frustrating, and I started feeling less than ideal. Hmm, aren’t January and February the months when everyone starts a new diet and exercise regimen? I think we missed that memo!

Not everyone understands food sensitivities …. gosh, I’m not even sure I do. However, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to realize, it’s a lot like the straw that broke the camels back .… a cumulative effect of small actions which turns into an unpredictable large reaction.

great egret
No need to get your feathers ruffled

Not wanting to be a party pooper or ruffle anyone’s feathers, I try not to make a big deal about my food issues during social gatherings. After all, it’s not like I’m going to have a life threatening¬†anaphylactic reaction to eating something I shouldn’t.

But after three months of socializing along with all the food indulgences, there was a final straw … the straw that broke this camel’s back. Sometime toward the middle of March, I started feeling like crap. My energy plummeted, I felt physically ill, and my mind was in a constant fog. I had trouble functioning, and I was not having fun!

Fast Forward …

Today, after focusing on diet and exercise the past few months, I’m fortunately feeling better than I have in quite sometime, and Al and I have even lost the weight we gained earlier in the year …. well …. Al more so than me.

One of the reasons (one of several) why we decided to curtail our travels this summer was so we could focus on our health. We wanted to look and feel our best for our son’s wedding this August, and the last thing I wanted was to experience his special day with my head in a fog.

picnic

Even while traveling, we try to stayed focused on our health by having healthy homemade meals and snacks prepared ahead of time, but it isn’t always easy. Sure, when we’re out exploring and hiking we get in plenty of exercise, but it’s also easy to fall into the category of I don’t¬†feeling like cooking,¬†or that restaurant we just passed looks interesting so let’s check it out, or let’s just grab some fast food (something we do our very best to avoid … but occasionally fail). I wish I was more “into” cooking. Perhaps I wouldn’t get distracted so easily and succumb to all those temptations!

During our stay in Page this past April, I got back in the kitchen and started focusing on meal planning. Since we were out and about regularly hiking and exploring in northern Arizona, we didn’t need to think about an exercise plan, at least not until we moved to Prescott.

Once Al and I were settled into a RV Park in Prescott, Arizona, for the summer, we formulated a regular exercise routine complete with the addition of a little yoga. I found this great¬†beginners Yoga¬†DVD that I started doing regularly and all was going great until ….

ducking doing warrior pose yoga
Warrior Pose – my version looked a little different from Mrs. Duck’s version

… until I pulled something in my neck while doing Warrior Pose. Seriously? Oh, but my luck didn’t end there. Oh no! The following week, I twisted my ankle while hiking which has left me unable to perform Tree Pose on my left leg ūü§¶‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ

Egyptian Goose at sunset
tree pose at sunset

Oh well, this too shall pass! After icing the neck and taping up the ankle, I’ve been hobbling over to the local library and returning to the RV with a stack of books on cooking and health … anything to help inspire my active brain while my inactive body recuperates.

With my exercise plan derailed, guess I’ll be wearing Spanx to the wedding. See, there are always options when things don’t go according to plan. RV living has a way of teaching one to be flexible and to expect the unexpected. Actually, flexibility is a prerequisite for RVing. Trust me, it’s in the rule book somewhere!

Back in the kitchen …

Okay, so the exercising hasn’t gone according to plan for me (Al’s doing great ūü§¨ and getting in all his steps every day), but while he’s out exercising, I’m excelling in the kitchen and feeling so much better for my efforts.

picnic
No, we didn’t eat all that! The muffins were for friends, but I thought they’d look pretty in the photo. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Food sensitivities are real!

So back to my food issues … When a person has a severe food allergy or a medical condition like Celiac disease, Western Medicine seems to know exactly what to do, but food sensitivities are not so clear or easily diagnosed.

For many, the journey can be a roller coaster ride, as it has been for me. Ultrasounds and CT Scans were inconclusive and provided no answers for my pain. Several years ago, a visit to a Functional Practitioner was helpful and enlightening. There has been a lot of trial and error along with note taking on my part and the journey continues.

look in the mirror a journey of self-discovery
Looking in the mirror and being honest with myself is the best thing I’ve done for my health.

What might work for me, may not work for another person. One thing I know for sure …. I can’t ignore the fact that I can’t eat what others can. Yes, such a bummer and very frustrating, and when I do ignore that fact, it’s the beginning of a downward spiral for me. Food sensitivities are real regardless if other’s disagree.

Let’s talk food …

So let’s talk about what I can eat …. Yay, I won’t starve! Chicken, my favorite protein and my stomach is never bothered by chicken. Whether it’s grilled, roasted, or sauteed … dark meat vs. light meat, doesn’t matter, I like it all.

One of my favorite things to do is marinade and grill a bunch of chicken one day and then use leftovers for the following day – cook once, eat twice, or sometimes even three times. I quite often plan this before a travel day which deters any urge for going out to eat. Not only does this help keep my diet in check, it helps keep us on budget.

Here’s my favorite chicken marinade recipe. The amount listed here is about right for 4 chicken thighs or 2 boneless chicken breasts. If you’d like to make more chicken, just double the recipe. You’ll want to marinade the chicken for at least 2 hours and more is even better. I prefer to then grill the chicken, but baking also works.

Citrus Rum Chicken Marinade recipe

In a large ziplock bag combine:
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of rum (I like to use Captain Morgan spiced rum)
1 Tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
a pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)

Once all the ingredients are well combined, add the chicken to the ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator to marinade, turning occasionally.

Food photograph of chicken with a side salad
Citrus Rum Chicken

Let me know if you give this chicken recipe a try and what you think about it! I like to grill up a double batch of chicken and use the leftovers the next day to make chicken and lettuce wraps with a drizzle of homemade honey mustard dressing. Yum! The wraps can be seen in the picnic photos further up in the post. Having healthy meals prepared ahead of time for our travel days makes the world of difference. We maintain a higher level of energy and clarity throughout the day. No junk food for this gal!

One thing that has become very clear to me these past few months is staying healthy, active and mobile is the key to an enjoyable life … the key to enjoying our adventurous lifestyle of full-time RVing. Happy noshing!

 

(affiliate links)
Gentle Yoga: 7 Beginning Yoga Practices
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity

Southwest Chicken Soup and the Saguaro Cactus

It’s mid December. The days are short, the air is crisp, and the holiday lights are sparkling. Winter has arrived and we’ve finally had a cold front roll through here in the desert southwest. In Phoenix, Arizona, this past week the thermometer barely hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit … Brrrr! I’m sure my friends to the north are either tilting their head quizzically or scowling at me.

superstition mountains arizona

Hey, when it’s been a consistent 90 plus degrees, anything much less than 70 degrees feels cold and has me putting on a sweatshirt. With that said, I think I’ve officially turned into a reptile. What other explanation could there be as to why 70 degrees would feel so cold to me? Crazy, I know! However, I must say the mornings and evenings do get into the 50’s and even 40’s, which is definitely cold and has me pop’n on the heat in the RV.

Easy Southwest Chicken SoupWith winter in full swing, it was time to make a big pot of soup, but not just any soup, Southwest Chicken Soup. Nothing like warming up from the inside out.

Considering I’m in one of my favorite places; the desert southwest, why not embrace the unique landscape and culinary flavors of the region!

With the soup simmering in the slow cooker, the RV is filled with a wonderful scent. While inhaling the delicious aroma filling the RV, I glance out the window and admire the landscape.

Saguaro Cactus

I find the Saguaro Cactus intriguing.   As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I thought this three armed cactus was a fabrication of cartoonists.  I remember watching cartoons like the Road Runner, Huckleberry Hound, and of course Bugs Bunny.  The background contained scenes of red rock, cactus, and the ever abundant tumbleweed ‚Ķ all foreign to a young gal growing up in northern Illinois among cornfields.

Saguaro Cactus

Each saguaro cactus is unique and appears to have a personality of its own.  It took me weeks of living amongst these beauties before I was even able to pronounce the name saguaro correctly‚Ķ. pronounced:  sa-wha-ro.

Saguaro CactusThe saguaro cactus is a large, tree-sized cactus which can grow as tall as 70 feet (20 meters), and is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, some parts of southern California, and northern Mexico.

Saguaros have a relatively long life span, averaging 150-175 years of age with some living as long as 200 years.  (Hmm, makes me feel like I’m a tiny spring chicken in comparison ūüėÄ) It can take 50 to 70 years just for a saguaro to develop a side arm. Arms are grown to increase the plant‚Äôs reproductive capacity ‚Ķ more arms lead to more flowers and fruit.

flowering saguaro cactus

Saguaros are very slow-growing and may only grow an inch or two during its first eight years.  The growth rate is determined by climate, precipitation, and location.

This army of cacti seem to have their own personality; some cute, some not, some look like proud soldiers, some like cartoon characters, and others look tired, twisted, and weathered, but no two are identical. Oh and by the way, the plural is either cacti OR cactuses – either is considered acceptable.

saguaro

AND then there is the rare crested saguaro.  Why are some crested?  Saguaros rarely grow symmetrically and often grow in odd or mis-shapen forms.

crested saguaro cactusBut on rare occasion, the growing tip produces a fan like form which is referred to as a crested or cristate saguaro.

Biologists disagree about why some saguaros grow in this unusual form.  Some thoughts; genetic mutation, lightning strike, freeze damage, but no one knows for sure why the unusual growth occurs.

Fascinating to say the least for whatever reason!

crested saguaro cactus
crested saguaro cactus

Health Hazards of Travel

hummingbirdsOne of the concerns for folks that travel regularly, is health.¬† I know it is for me. ¬†I’d like to think I could travel anywhere in the world without a thought of¬†getting sick or injured.¬† Unfortunately, that would be naive on my part.

What I can do is prepare and educate myself on potential health hazards for a given country or region I plan on visiting.¬† For instance, its common knowledge we American’s can’t seem to handle the water in Mexico.¬† Thus, to avoid Montezuma’s revenge, most American’s stick to bottled water, soda,¬†or alcohol when visiting Mexico.¬† I’m sure the same can be said for¬†Mexicans visiting America.¬† It’s all about what our bodies are used to.birds of preyIf I were to visit¬†certain foreign¬†countries, I’d probably¬†undergo a slew of shots in an attempt to protect myself from hepatitis, typhoid fever, meningitis, or any other serious medical conditions which¬†might be considered¬†rare in the United States.

mountain wildflowersI remember during my airline days when I would frequent¬†tropical paradises¬†like Hawaii¬†and St. Thomas.¬† The first five days were always sheer joy and tons of fun.¬† As the week progressed, I’d be overcome with an unease or even an ill feeling; almost a sense of claustrophobia.¬† Toward¬†the end of¬†my stay, I couldn’t wait to board that plane for the mainland.¬† Come to find out, there’s actually a condition called “rock fever”.¬† Ok, this isn’t anything serious other than a mild phobia, but it did enlighten me.¬†You won’t find me moving to a tropical¬†island anytime soon.¬† I’ll opt¬†for¬†miles and miles of endless roads any day.

Since I enjoyed plenty of international travels when I was younger, I have no plans to travel outside of North America.¬† As a full-time RV’er traversing my homeland, what health concerns could I possibly have?¬† Surprisingly, more than one might think.

prairie dogsLet’s talk about those adorable Prairie Dogs found in the western United States.

I love watching these little guys pop up and then down ….¬†in and out of their mounded burrow.¬† And their little defensive squawking barks accompanied by the flipping tail is quite entertaining.

I’ve found myself more than once hanging around a prairie dog colony being entertained by their cute antics and trying to capture them on film (film sounds so much better than¬†media card ).¬† These delightful little rodents¬†can be quick and captivate the attention of not only us two-legged creatures but also our four-legged family members.¬† I’ve seen many a blogger post about¬†doggie sticking his head in a prairie dog¬†hole or trying to chase these furry rodents.¬† It’s all I can do not scream at the computer, “NO”!hummingbird

Prairie dogs are known plague carriers.¬† Yes, you heard me right, Bubonic plague still exists in the United States and is usually contracted from fleas living in the fur of prairie dogs.¬† These fleas are easily passed on to our pooches, compromising everyone’s health.¬† Recently near Fort Collins, Colorado, a teenage boy passed away from contracting a rare case of Septicemic plague contracted from prairie dog fleas.

So if you’ve recently been near a prairie dog¬†village and develop flu-like symptoms, it would be wise to seek medical attention immediately.Falcon

There was a time when contracting Lyme disease from deer ticks was¬†an exclusive¬†worry to those living in¬†America’s northeast part of the country.¬† Although it’s still a huge problem in New England, the disease can be contracted from any infected tick throughout the United States.

BroncoLyme disease is a serious bacterial disease with debilitating consequences.¬† Thus, a tick bite should never be taken lightly and should even be followed up with immediate medical attention.¬† You can read about singer – songwriter¬†Avril Lavigne’s Lyme disease journey and struggles here.

Valley Fever?¬† I don’t know about you, but I never heard¬†the term¬†Valley Fever until we started traveling regularly to Arizona.¬† Every now and then we would encounter someone informing us they needed to visit a friend in the hospital who was suffering from Valley Fever.

Since we spend our winters in Arizona, I was quick to educate myself on the signs and symptoms of Valley Fever and the fungal spore behind the illness.  Some folks grow up in Phoenix and never ingest a spore while others may visit for a few days and return home with these nasty guys imbedded their lungs.Canadian GeeseThe spores causing Valley Fever live in the dirt of the arid desert southwest and become airborne during windstorms, construction, four-wheeling, or even gardening.  Once airborne the spore can be inhaled Рingested and imbedded in the lining of the lungs.  Depending on the number of spores ingested and the overall health of a person, determines the severity of the symptoms and illness.  Some folks never know they have Valley Fever while others are hospitalized.  It can be fatal.

RobinYou can read more about it here, but there’s one huge fact to understand about Valley Fever especially for travelers.¬†¬†After returning home, weeks later¬†a person¬†might develop a nagging cough.¬† The fungal spores on a lung X-ray¬†can mimic cancer and lead to a misdiagnosis. Doctors outside of an arid climate might not be familiar with Valley Fever.

So before jumping to the Big C conclusion, a doctor might need to be informed by the patient that further testing would be prudent to rule out Valley Fever.¬† Thus, it’s important for anyone traveling to the southwest section of the United States, to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Valley Fever.

ButterfliesAnd last but not least, there’s West Nile.¬†¬†No one¬†likes being bit by¬†an irritating¬†mosquito.¬† The itchy welts are bad enough,¬†but¬†now, after¬†being bit, I have to be¬†concerned¬†about contracting¬†the West Nile virus!

So there you have some of “my” health concerns while traveling around the country in our RV; plague, Lyme disease,¬†Valley Fever, and West Nile.¬† I’m sure my friend Mona Liza would add chiggers to this list.¬† You can read about her chigger attack here and make sure you don’t meet a similar fate.

Is there a disease or bug where you live that is of particular concern?¬† Have you ever traveled¬†someplace and been exposed to an unusual health risk?¬† Feel free to enlighten us in the comments ūüôā

Blue Jay

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or a nurse.  This post is merely meant as entertainment.  It is meant to enlighten and provoke awareness of geographical health concerns and nothing more.

1001 Natural Remedies (DK Natural Health)
Straw Packable Sun Hat with Black Sash- Wide Front Brim and Smaller Back

It wasn’t all work!

During the 5 week remodeling project at our son’s house, we did manage to fit in some play and other projects.¬† So it wasn’t all work.¬† After all, the paint¬†needed to dry, we¬†had to wait for carpet to arrive,¬†and a little break here and there was warranted.

Watson Lake
Watson Lake, Prescott AZ

Aside from remodeling, socializing and hiking, we managed to get in a day trip up to Prescott, Arizona.  Prescott continues to remain on our radar as a possible place to settle down one day.  I was first introduced to this high desert community 25 years ago and again repeatedly over the past 3 years.Prescott Arizona

Our day trip was two-fold.  First and foremost was having the Ford F-250 serviced.  Why would we go to Prescott for servicing when we were staying in a major city?  Four years ago the turbo went out on the truck and we broke down on Interstate 17 near the Sedona exit.  We had just dropped off a load of furniture to our son in Phoenix with our utility trailer and were returning to Colorado with the empty trailer when the truck refused to climb another hill.

Prescott ArizonaWe were towed to the Ford dealership in Cottonwood/Camp Verde where Ted (our now preferred Diesel mechanic) gave us the low down on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We were offered the easy less expensive fix or the lengthy more costly fix.¬† Turns out, years ago Ted worked¬†for Ford and was a consultant¬†on the original design team¬†for this particular engine.¬† He¬†knew its strengths and weaknesses.¬† If we went with the quick fix, it was just a matter of time and we’d break down again with another issue.¬† If we went with the total redo fix, then our¬†engine would easily go another 150,000 plus miles without major issue.

Since I have an extensive background in marketing and sales, I’m always the skeptical one and felt we were “being sold”¬†or taken advantage of….. out of staters broken down – perfect for the plucking.¬† Four years later and after¬†swapping stories¬†with quite a few other Ford F-250 owners, I¬†now feel we were NOT¬†ripped off and Ted did right by us.¬† Hubby knew that all along ¬†ūüėČ

Prescott Arizona
Where’s Waldo … oops, I mean Al? Hint; he’s wearing a blue shirt.

So this past winter as we¬†crossed the seemingly never ending¬†state of¬†Texas, we sensed¬†the Big Dog wasn’t running quite right.¬† Ah, what to do, what to do?¬† We already had a bad experience¬†with the Peoria Ford Dealership (Phoenix area) and weren’t sure where to go for honest service.¬† Much to hubby’s surprise, I recommended he call Ted.

Gambels QuailTed was now working at H & H Diesel in Dewey, Arizona (a small town just before you get to Prescott).¬†¬†Ted had Al call him back first thing the next morning so they could talk on the phone as Al started the truck.¬† Ted walked him through the settings on the “tuner” (which had been installed during the major turbo fix) and in less than 2 minutes it was determined the number two¬†injector was bad.¬† A repair estimate was given and an appointment set up.

A few days later we drove up to Dewey, which was an easy one hour drive from Phoenix, with both trucks.  We dropped off the F-250 at H & H Diesel and ventured off in my little Tacoma.  Our first stop was Watson Lake.  A few years ago, friends introduced us to this unique and stunning lake.

Prescott Arizona
No such thing as ‘too many’ photos!
Prescott Arizona
Can you see the two kayaks? Helps give scale to the enormous size of the boulders.

Watson LakeI was loving it….¬†climbing here, climbing there, all the while giving that camera shutter a good working out¬† We¬†continued to do¬†a little hiking and exploring with the promise to return another day to take the time to really savor and experience all of Watson Lakes’ nooks and crannies. Perhaps renting a kayak would even be in order.

A short day trip to Prescott was definitely not enough time to take in everything this lovely community has to offer.

When we picked up the truck, the owner, John Hughes,¬†of H & H Diesel spent an hour educating us on the tuner and the repair.¬† The bill was even less than the verbal estimate.¬† It’s been 7 weeks since the work was performed and the Big Dog is running better than ever.¬† Yes, we¬†are very pleased with the work and this will be our go to service shop in the future.¬†¬†As we were leaving and¬†thanking John, two RV’s pulled in confirming they not only work on trucks but diesel pushers as well.

So let’s see…. the big truck is feeling better, the little truck was given some attention, and then I too had a check up.¬† Now all three of us are running in tip-top shape.

Food blogsAnd if I didn’t already have enough on my plate, I decided to start another blog.¬† I’m not sure what I was thinking especially since we were having a ton of internet/router issues at the time – and still do.¬† One minute I’ll be commenting away on someone’s lovely¬†blog and the next I’ll lose the connection along with whatever words¬†I had¬†typed.¬† Grrr… talk about frustrating.

So why another blog?¬† Many of you know, 2014 was not kind to me in the health arena.¬† My new blog will focus on cooking and how diet plays an important role in how¬†we feel.¬†I still don’t have a solid focus regarding this new blog, but I know it’ll evolve over time.

Food allergies and sensitivities are a huge issue.  The food we eat today is not the food our ancestors ate.  Preservatives and genetically modified grains have changed the game.

saguaro sunsetBefore¬†I did the post on “Blogging lessons learned“, I did a little research.¬† One common thread was repeatedly mentioned; have a¬†focused topic and know your audience.¬† That said, I¬†think some of you that follow¬†this blog¬†might be interested in¬†my recipes, a Paleo diet, health, etc., but I feel the majority of Live Laugh RV followers are more interested in our travels and photos.¬† However, if I am wrong and you are interested in food and health, click on over to Dally in the Galley and follow me over there.

I also have my food blog link in my side bar with the above wine photo as the feature.

Also, since I’m usually posting here a couple of weeks (or more) behind in our destinations, if you’re every wondering where we’re at “today”, I¬†update our current location in the side bar with the photo of Al and me.

We left Phoenix on May 7th¬†leaving behind¬†beautiful clear skies and warm temperatures.¬† Now we’re¬†wondering why we left.¬† The weather in Colorado has been wetter and colder than normal.¬† Yikes, snow in May?¬† All part of the adventure I guess!

The Recipe Hacker: Comfort Foods without Soy, Dairy, Cane Sugar, Gluten, and Grain