A Weekend in Sedona, Arizona

A geological marvel … one of America’s most beautiful places … multi-hued red rock formations jutting upwards from the high desert floor creating a mesmerizing setting … ah,yes … I’m talking about stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona Arizona

Sun faded prayer flags contrast against the red rocks

Red Rock Country is unique and exudes a sense of spirituality along with a mood that changes hourly with the light. It’s no wonder this majestic place attracts 2 to 4 million tourists a year. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, visitors to Sedona have easy access to plenty of outdoor recreation, but Sedona is equal parts rugged, equal parts resort.

With such an abundance of public land access, the availability of experiencing this amazing landscape is endless. There are trails for hiking and biking, along with plenty of 4×4 gravel/dirt roads perfect for scenic Jeep tours or ATV excursions. Meandering in the back country among red rock pinnacles, spires, buttes and domes is an absolute must for any visitor, and yet, you’re never far from the conveniences of town.

back country near Sedona Arizona

Exploring the back country near Sedona, Arizona

A birthday weekend …

It was the third weekend in September, and although a few weeks past my actual birth date, it was a great time of year to visit Sedona and celebrate my birthday together with family. This trip was actually all planned by my children as part of a gift … awe!

Since our daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all had to work that Friday in Phoenix, we didn’t check into our double-suite condo like lodging until 7:00 p.m., but that still left us a few hours for some socializing over cocktails and snacks before it was time to head off to bed. Sedona is less than a two hours drive and about 116 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. We stayed at a lovely resort called Sedona Summit.

Saturday morning, my daughter and I were out the door by 8:00 a.m. with cameras in hand. As many times as we’ve visited Sedona, there’s always something new on our list that we look forward to exploring.

Sedona Arizona Spiritual journey

Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park, Sedona, Arizona

First stop, spiritual enlightenment

Located near the base of Thunder Mountain is a place for meditation and spiritual renewal.  Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park offers its visitors spiritual transformation and healing through the fascinating architecture and geometry of the stupa. Stupas are one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture and Buddhist practitioners have built them to promote spiritual deepening, healing, prosperity, and peace.

Filled with hundreds of prayers for peace, sacred relics and ritual offerings, the Amitabha Stupa is a vortex of enlightened presence and blessings.

Stupa Sedona Arizona Buddism

Ashton and I were fascinated with this Buddist park, but then again, anything associated with Nepal or the Himalayas seems to captivate our attention and that includes all the Prayer Flags. During her college days, Ashton and her roommate had prayer flags hung around their tiny dorm room. The prayer flags belonged to her roommate and were actually bought in Nepal during a family trip.

My daughter and I share a secret interest in someday traveling to Nepal – a land far away. In reality, I think this Sedona peace park or the time we went to Disney World and experienced Expedition Everest is the closest we’ll ever get to Kathmandu, and in reality, I’m okay with that … but shhh, don’t tell my daughter 😉

(To enlarge photos, click on any image in the photo gallery)

Discovering ancient history

Next on our agenda was heading into the back country in search of ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. We originally wanted to visit the Palatki Heritage Site, but hikes are done via a tour, and since Ashton and I were already running a little late, we opted to visit the less popular Honanki ruins where you’re able to stroll without a guide.

After the split in the road (one way to Palatki and another way to Honanki), the road to the Honanki Ruins gets a bit rough in spots, and I was glad to be driving a vehicle that handles these rough roads perfectly. We did see the occasional car, but we mostly saw Jeep Tours or ATV’s. Here’s a quote from the National Park website about the road condition: “Those with high-clearance vehicles and/or a sense of adventure can turn ….. the compensation for abusing your motor vehicle are wonderful views of the red rock formations that Sedona is so famous for“. Alrighty then!

A final note on the road conditions. Older publications will tell you the route to the Palatki Site from Dry Creek Road is rough. Road conditions have improved substantially within the past year. The Enchantment Resort has brought new development to this end of Sedona and the road is now paved beyond Fay Canyon and Doe Mountain Trailheads. Once the pavement ends, the gravel road is still easily accessed by most vehicles all the way to the Palatki Heritage Site. However, you might want to check with the National Park Service for the latest up to date road conditions.

Once at the Honanki site, we enjoyed a short hike to the cliff dwellings and slowly toured the area taking in the ruins and interesting rock art. Could the ancient cliff dwellers be telling us that Yeti, the abominable snowman, did exist? Another connection to Nepal?

The Honanki cultural site is relatively small and my daughter and I spent less than an hour exploring the area, but we were glad we made the long, bumpy trek out to the site. The drive was all part of the adventure and taking in the beautiful landscape.

Retail Therapy and Dining

Once Ashton and I returned to our lodging, we grabbed a bite to eat with the rest of the family and then the five of us headed to the Tlaquepaque Shopping Village for a little retail therapy.

I love the architecture of this place and always find interesting shops and galleries to stroll through. During a previous visit, my daughter and I enjoyed a little wine tasting, but this time, we stumbled upon Spirits & Spice. This unique shop had the entire family engaged in tasting, and it did not disappoint. I assure you, none of us left the store empty-handed.

Dining … since we had a full kitchen at our accommodations, during this particular visit, we ate in most of the time, but we did enjoy a yummy Sunday breakfast with a great view at the Wildflower Bread Company. Another fun stop for us was at The Art of Wine for a little wine tasting. My daughter ended up buying some Arizona wine.

Restaurants we’ve eaten at in the past: The Coffee Pot Restaurant is ideal for a hearty breakfast and serves up some of the best coffee. I enjoyed the coffee so much that I even bought a bag of their beans to brew back at the RV. Javelina’s Cantina is one of Al’s favorite lunch spots. Oaxaca Restaurant is another tasty Mexican restaurant if you happen to be strolling Main Street. And for those looking for specialty foods, Chocola Tree is worth checking out. Their outdoor patio is very zen with a hippie vibe.

Final thoughts on Sedona

Sedona is most definitely a tourist town and on weekends traffic can be congested and challenging, but if you can get beyond the hoards of people, you’ll discover a sense of history, beauty, and well-being like non-other.

The history of this land goes way back to various Indian civilizations as evidenced by the Honanki ruins; AD 1150-1350. The first Europeans (Spanish) explored the Verde Valley in the mid 1500’s and the first Anglo settled in the area in 1876.

And we can’t ignore the energizing vortexes which attract believers from around the world to experience these mystical forces. What is a vortex? They are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.

Whether you believe in the power of a vortex or not, I think we can all agree, Sedona is unique, and worth at least one visit. As for my family and I, we aren’t done exploring Sedona, Arizona, and are already planning our next visit. Yes Sedona, we’ll be back!

vortex energy Sedona Arizona

Top 7 things to do in Sedona

  1. Hike or bike the 300 plus miles of trails. You’ll find a trail for every level of ability, but do note, the trailhead parking lots fill up quickly. Sedona’s secret 7 hiking trails.
  2. Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross and marvel at this unique structure built into the rock. For more spiritual enlightenment, visit the Amitabha Stupa & Peace Parkand enjoy the peaceful grounds of this 14-acre Buddhist park (open to all faiths)
  3. Dine at one of many restaurants. Finding quality food is not an issue around here, and most recently, Sedona has emerged as a destination for wine enthusiasts.
  4. Shop historical uptown Sedona (also known as Main Street) or at the architecturally pleasing Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. (pronounced: Tuh-locka-pa-key, I think)
  5. Take in the incredible red rock landscape by enjoying a Jeep or helicopter tour.
  6. Visit a vortex. Regarded by Native Americans as sacred, Sedona continues to be recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal. Many come to experience the vortex centers of Sedona to tap into spiritual energy.
  7. Or simply relax around a luxury resort. Sparkling pools and rejuvenating spas abound.

Sedona Arizona

Click here for a map of Sedona.

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Prayer Flags – Traditional Five Elements Arizona: The Grand Canyon State (Exploring the States)

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Home is Where the Heart is!

Home? What does home really mean? The dictionary says – one’s place of residence, place of domicile, but I think it’s so much more than that simplistic definition.

curious neighbors in our front yard – Cherry Creek State Park, Colorado

I was fortunate to have grown up in a house that my parents owned with a nice yard, nice neighborhood, and have some very fond childhood memories as a result. Once I was no longer living under my parents roof, it wasn’t uncommon for me to still refer to that childhood house as home. I’d quite often say to my roommate, “I’m going home to spend the weekend with my folks”.

Knowing my living arrangement with that roommate was temporary, my heart continued to view my childhood residence as home. In addition to any physical house, I think many of us still view the town or state we grew up in as home.

My “home” in one of many temporary locations – Dillon Lake, CO – this was a fave!

The meaning of home

A home is more than a financial asset or physical structure. Whether you live in a big house or a little house, an apartment or a temporary house, or even a RV, home is a place where you feel that you belong … a place you enjoy sharing with friends and family … a place you connect with because your ideas or attitudes are the same as those of the people around you … a place where you can put your feet up and let out a big sigh of contentment … a place where you can relax and say, “Ah, life is good”.

RVing in Grand Tetons National Park

Another favorite … Home for a week – Grand Tetons National Park

We have a saying in the RV community – “Home is where we park it“. We travel with our houses in tow and have the freedom to change our yard and views on a whim. It’s a glorious way to live, but it’s not without its faults.

Pueblo West Colorado

The house Al and I lived in the longest and raised teenagers in  – home for 10 years.

Al and I moved into our RV on a whim over five years ago, and had every intention of living in the RV for merely a year or two … just until we found a new home base. Over the past five years, we’ve put contracts in on three different houses in various locations, and in each case, we breathed a sigh of relief when negotiations stalled. (hmm, wonder which client stuck their feet in the mud during negotiations? 😁)

Our former sticks and bricks home seen in the distance – photo swiped from our friends Facebook post this past winter. I do NOT miss those Colorado winters.

Do I miss the large custom home in southern Colorado that I designed, generaled, built, and raised my children in? … Nope! As much as I loved that house, and it was home to our family of four for ten years, once Al and I became empty nester’s that house became way too big for just the two of us. Plus, my sense of wanderlust took hold, and I was ready for a new direction, a new adventure, and a change of scenery.

The freedom of RV living is addictive, and clearly, Al and I aren’t ready to change our home scenario anytime soon. We love our RV home and our ever-changing backyard! With that said, we’ll keep looking for that home base, and when we do eventually find it, you’ll be the first to know … well, maybe second … our children should be the first!

Our home – we loved this backyard for five awesome weeks – near Lake Powell

Along with all the fabulous and varying locations we’ve enjoyed calling home over the past few years, we’ve also met some of the nicest people living this RV mobile lifestyle and made some wonderful friends along the way. Friends help provide a sense of home no matter where we’re camped.

This summer, we managed to snag a great campsite in a RV park next to fun neighbors. We adore these neighbors that we’ve lived next to for the past five months, and will be sad, yet excited, to be moving in a couple of weeks.

monsoon season in Arizona

My home for the summer of 2018. Watching storms was part of our entertainment.

And as much as we’re looking forward to the change of scenery, we’re already looking forward to returning to Prescott next summer, if for nothing else, than to harass our dear neighbors 🤣 because yes, we do intend to camp next to these very same people again next summer. Although we realize that there’s a risk they decide to change their housing situation. Run Forest, run!!!

Fairgrounds RV Park

Our home in the background and our neighbors home in the foreground – best neighbors!

Today, some places feel more like home to us than other places. The state of Colorado will always have a special place in our hearts, but it is no longer home. The meaning of the word home has taken on more of a spiritual meaning to us than that of a physical structure or place. Home is where our heart is!

Cave Creek Arizona – hot air balloons routinely flew over our home

Photo challenge – theme – prompt

For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of home. What does home mean to you and what does it look like? Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post. I’d love to see images of your home.

Lake Pleasant, Arizona. This place has served as home for weeks at a time

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect!

our home in the desert – boondocking in Quartzsite for a couple of weeks a few winters ago!

Next weeks photo challenge – Architecture …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

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 Home is Where You Park It Throw Pillow
Life is Good Adirondack Mug

A Wedding to Remember

Okay, I’ll admit, I struggled with the title of this post. After all, aren’t all weddings memorable? However, this wedding for me was one for the books, one I’ll remember and cherish, one that brings a smile to my face … my eldest child, favorite son, only son got married.

Weddings in Arizona

There’s something about your child getting married that brings about an awareness, a knowledge that your child is entering into a new chapter in their life. As parents, we all know these mile-stones in life are forthcoming, and there’s nothing we can do to slow things down … kindergarten, high school, a driver’s license, college. We can only hope and pray that we prepared our child to handle these life changing moments.

They grow up so fast!

I’ve never considered myself a conventional mother. When the children were little, we were active in various play groups. When we moved to Colorado Springs, we even joined a bible study group, but eventually, I was ostracized from that group 🤦‍♀️ – ah, but that’s a tale for another time.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Minnesota

Al and a four-year old, Logan, head out into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in MN for an overnight.

While most mother’s were censoring their children’s videos, books, and treats, I was open to exposing my children to whatever they were curious about and discussing the pros, cons, and issues. I was once met with perplexed stares at a play group when I commented, “It’s not my job to protect my children from society; it’s my job to prepare them for it”.

With that said, I can honesty say on my son’s wedding day, he was ready and excited to walk down that isle. I felt I had done my job, and prepared him the best I could for this next phase in his life.

During the weeks months leading up to the wedding, I had enjoyed numerous mother/son luncheons and embraced the opportunity to discuss various topics with my son.  As a mother, I felt I needed to ask the important questions and pose a number of scenarios for him to think about.

Some conversations, he clearly didn’t appreciate, but he always understood where I was coming from. Obviously with over thirty years of experience coping with my mothering style, he had plenty of practice dealing with me. Poor kid! Therefore, none of this came as a shock to him, nor were these conversations based specifically on his bride.

The Big Day!

It was a warm sunny day in August, and the Van Dickson Ranch in Skull Valley, Arizona, served as a beautiful place for a wedding. Al and I arrived at the wedding venue a few hours before the ceremony (per request).

Wedding venue Van Dickson Ranch, Skull Valley Arizona

Van Dickson Ranch, Skull Valley, Arizona

We quickly found Logan and his groomsmen. After a big hug from Logan, his attention turned toward me to see how I was feeling and if I needed something to drink (meaning water). WTF? When did he grow up and turn into such a thoughtful young man? He was so relaxed, caring, and confident, and he didn’t stop smiling. I was overcome with pride and joy.

He was happy … I was happy … and we were ready to officially welcome Jessica into our family. The ceremony was perfect, personal, and performed by a good friend. We all witnessed some tender moments and some jovial moments.

exchanging of wedding vows

Exchanging of vows!

And I pronounce you husband and wife 🥂

Just as the ceremony was coming to an end, dark ominous clouds started rolling in accompanied by the sound of low rumbling thunder. While the wedding guests made their way to the pavilion, the wedding party managed to get in professional photographs before the first drops of rain fell.

van dickson ranch skull valley arizona wedding venue

heading toward the pavilion for the reception before the storm rolls in

And then it was time to celebrate ….

While we did get hit with a summer storm accompanied by rain, winds, thunder, and lightening, everyone was safely under cover and enjoying the delicious food, desserts, and open bar. The storm didn’t last long and the sky even graced us with a rainbow.

Our daughter, Ashton, was a bridesmaid

With the exception of a few gusts of wind knocking over some things, it was a beautiful wedding overall, and I’m so happy for the newlyweds.

And now that Jess is officially part of our family, I have every intention of treating her like a daughter 😲 Do you think Logan warned her about me and my parenting? Too late, Jess! You’re part of the family now. Perhaps, you can consult your sister-in-law, Ashton, for advice on managing your new mother-in-law 🤣

Out of town guests …

One of the best things about a wedding is the bringing together of family and friends from around the country.

We were thrilled to have members from our own wedding party, from 35 years ago, attend this wedding, along with other family members. We loved seeing everyone and having the opportunity to reconnect and catch up. This was long overdue!

My wedding – We too had an outdoor wedding. It was great seeing everyone again for Logan’s wedding (sadly with the exception of one bridesmaid who passed away)

I absolutely loved hanging out with everyone, but the highlight of my evening was dancing with my son. I seriously can’t recall ever dancing with him before, so this was a first. Can you believe, I didn’t shed a tear the entire day? Nope, not even when we danced, but I guess, we made a couple of other folks teary eyed.

Me dancing with my son

I’d like to send a huge shout out to my brother for recommending the song “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was the perfect song for our Mother – Son dance.

So there you have it – my wedding to remember. I wish I had more photographs to share with you all, but I’m afraid there was a camera intervention on my children’s part. My sister provided the first photo and the mother/son photos and the other’s were quickly taken by me when my kids weren’t looking … not an easy task!

My sincere congratulations go out to Logan and Jess. I wish them many years of joy and happiness together 💞 and if you need any advice ……   😉

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 Throw Pillow
The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer
Bride and Groom Wedding glass set
Womens Love Heart Design T-shirt 

Boondocking – Love it or Hate it

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

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

boondocking Lake Powell

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

Definitions

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

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

Back to that conversation …

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

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

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

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

camping in Utah

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

Through the eyes of a photographer

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

J. Robb State Park sunset

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

Boondocking is hard work

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

Lake Powell beach

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

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

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

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

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

camping at Lake Powell, Utah

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

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

camping at Lake Powell

It was so cold, even our dog wore a jacket.

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

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

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

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

Would you be willing to give up comforts for scenery?

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

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Lighthouses of Lake Havasu

With each visit to Lake Havasu City, I learn more and more interesting and fun tidbits about the area. During our first trip to this part of western Arizona back in February of 2012, we learned about the history of the London Bridge . You can read more about the bridge here.
London Bridge Lake Havasu

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Turns out the land developer, Robert McCulloch, actually thought he had purchased the Tower Bridge and was rather disappointed when the reconstruction of the London Bridge was complete. He wondered where the rest of it was. Where were the towers?
No towers! However, the bridge was reconstructed in Lake Havasu City with one less archway than what was originally used crossing the Thames River in London. The bridge was a tad too long here in Havasu for the span from the island to mainland. Thus, the remaining bricks from one of the archways were stored for safe keeping and are used for necessary repairs, which have been required over the years.
London Bridge Lake Havasu City Arizona

Boating under the London Bridge

If you’re fortunate enough to take a boat ride under the bridge, bullet holes from WWII can be found in the bricks. Imagine, those beautiful stone bricks and the abundance of history they’ve witnessed. And since we’re talking about boating, did you know Lake Havasu City is home to more lighthouses than any other city in the entire country?
lighthouses in Arizona Lake Havasu City

I know, when you think about lighthouses, one would never associate a landlocked desert with lighthouses. However, there are more than twenty-five scaled-down functioning replicas along Lake Havasu’s shores with plans to build even more.

The construction of these lighthouses was originally intended for safety purposes, but have become as much of a landmark as the London Bridge.

The Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club, a non-profit group of independent people, wanted to make the lake safer for night boating and fishing. All lighthouses are built and  maintained by the folks at the Lighthouse Club and meet the coast guard’s navigational regulations. So not only do they serve as a unique tourist attraction, they assist in safe water navigation.

East Quoddy Lighthouse Arizona

East Quoddy Lighthouse replica – Lake Havasu City

All the lighthouses on the west side of Lake Havasu are replicas of famous lighthouses on the West Coast. On the east side of the lake are replicas from the East Coast, and the lighthouses around the island are all replicas of lighthouses from the Great Lakes.

Each lighthouse replica costs about $5,000 to build, which includes $1,000 or more just for the beacon. The majority of the labor is done by Lighthouse Club members and other volunteers, and many of the lighthouses are sponsored by families as memorials for their loved ones. Some of the lighthouses can easily be viewed from land while others can be seen only from the water.

Durrituck Beach Lighthouse Lake Havasu City Arizona

A few  lighthouses can be seen during a stroll along the canal in Lake Havasu City – Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Currituck Beach Lighthouse Lake Havasu City Arizona

Each lighthouse replica is adorned with a plaque

One of my personal favorites is the Split Rock Lighthouse. When Al and I lived in the Chicago suburbs, every summer we would pack up our canoe and camping gear and head to northern Minnesota. The stretch of road along the north shores of Lake Superior between Duluth and Grand Marais is a beautiful and scenic drive … a drive I always enjoyed.

Lake Havasu Arizona lighthouses

Both sides of the road feature interesting sights. On the north side of the road, we see waterfalls. The iron ore rich land turns the cascading water into an interesting copper color which rapidly flows over huge rocks and drains into Lake Superior.

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse replica – Lake Havasu City

Glancing to the south side of the road is Lake Superior; the largest of the Great Lakes. A rocky cliff shoreline serves as a reminder that these waters can be dangerous. You won’t find many beaches along Lake Superiors north shore but you will find lighthouses.

Split Rock lighthouse Lake Havasu City ArizonaDuring our many travels through this part of Minnesota, a stop or two to capture a photograph of the Split Rock Lighthouse was always on the agenda.

Somewhere in my storage unit back in Colorado are all my vacation photos from those Minnesota vacations.

I had a great time watching the sunset over Lake Havasu. As I stood next to the Split Rock Lighthouse replica, I couldn’t help but reminisce. Ah yes ….  fond memories indeed. Wherever does the time go?

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu City is a great destination for a get away year round. Just remember, this is the desert and temperatures in the summer do soar, but fall, winter, and spring are an RVer’s dream. For info on a lighthouse tour, click here.

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Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner? I’ll be keeping a close eye on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Here’s a few items on my list (affiliate links). What’s on yours?

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Best thing about RVing

What’s the best thing about living in a RV full-time? Ah, that list is long, but if I had to choose one thing, that thing might come as a surprise. I know it came as an unexpected surprise to me; a pleasant one at that, I might add.

Lighthouses of Lake Havasu

One of the most popular questions about full-time RVing, seems to revolve around location(s); what’s your favorite place, a must see spot, most memorable scenery? Somewhere toward the bottom of that list of questions might be, “Do you miss family or friends?”

daughter

fun with my daughter

Of course we do! We always miss our children, which is why you’ll find us traveling in and out of Phoenix, Arizona on a regular basis. And although we keep in contact with our non-RVing friends, the biggest surprise, and most fun, has been all the new friendships we’ve forged along this journey.

So back to that question …. What’s the best thing about living in a RV full-time? It’s the community of like minded people and the forging of new friendships that makes this RVing lifestyle so special and so much fun.

Sure, the discovery of beautiful places is always a delight, especially to anyway who enjoys photography as much as I do, but the making of new friends, genuine friends, still tops my list of one of the best things about the RVing lifestyle.

I’ve discovered, the mobile life can turn even the most extreme introvert into a social butterfly. That’s not to say, there isn’t an abundance of solitude. RVing is whatever you want it to be, but know, that you’re never alone and there’s always someone willing to lend a helping hand or share a smile.

White Mountains

The White Mountains in eastern Arizona

Over the past several years of RVing, we’ve developed a core of friends; the kind of friends that would drop what they’re doing and travel miles to come lend a helping hand. We treasure that kind of friendship and do not take it for granted.

While staying at a RV Park in Prescott Valley this past June, we developed an amazing friendship with a couple from Lake Havasu City, Arizona. They had just purchased a new to them Motorhome and were having problems with their television. We offered to take a look and help these folks trouble shoot the issue. To make a long story short, this was just the beginning of our ensuing friendship.

Pinetop Arizona

Friends Park Model in Pinetop, AZ

These new friends were on a quest to find a small summer home to escape the extreme summer heat at their home in Lake Havasu City. Once the Prescott area was ruled out, they moved on, much to our chagrin. However, we stayed in touch regularly as their search continued throughout Arizona.

In early August, we received a phone call from them informing us that they had found their perfect summer get away and they couldn’t wait for us to see it. They urged us to come visit, which I assure you didn’t necessitate any arm twisting.

We left the RV behind for the first time in four years, and took a four-hour drive to the White Mountains in eastern Arizona. It felt like we were on vacation. Our friends purchased an absolutely adorable Park Model in Pinetop, Arizona, and refer to it as their little cabin in the woods. It’s so cute and perfect for their needs.

Corgi

our wonderful host and hostess – Kate and Duke

 

After our two night visit, they insisted encouraged us to come visit them at their home when they returned to Lake Havasu City. The mere mention of the word boating, quickly got my attention. Sure, twist my arm some more!

Lake Havasu City

Our friends had plenty of room for us to park our RV next to their motorhome and pontoon boat

In mid September, we pulled into their place in Lake Havasu City and were quickly directed into a parking spot. Al and I incorrectly assumed we’d be staying in our RV while parked on the property. Instead, they had the Casita in their backyard all set up and ready for us.

Casita living

Friends backyard. The main house is on the right and the Casita (studio apartment) is on the left

So not only did we have a free place to park the RV, we were given a free studio apartment for our extended stay … for however long we wanted to stay. Now, that’s some serious friendship!

Lake HavasuKeeping my mom’s saying at the forefront of our thoughts, “Guests and fish begin to smell after three days“, Al and I didn’t make a commitment as to how long we’d stay. We didn’t have anywhere to be until October 1st, but we also didn’t want to over stay our welcome and accidentally damage our friendship.

Well, our two and a half week visit flew by and both couples agreed it felt more like a mere weekend stay and none of us were ready to bid farewell. Fun times!

I’d say it’s safe to assume, regular visits to Lake Havasu City are in our future.

Adirondack chairs

Friendship is a wonderful thing!


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Trouble with the Dream

Whenever I hear the phrase ‘your living the dream’, I do a slight cringe. Dream? Hmm! Living full-time in a RV was never a dream of mine. Al and I decided to move into the RV full-time on a whim four years ago with the intent of traveling for a year or two before finding a home base. And here we are, into year five of full-time RV living and still rolling along. We haven’t found that home base just yet, but we’re still searching and getting closer every day in narrowing down our choices.

south rim Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park – south rim

I have to admit, full-time RVing is an adventurous lifestyle that is filled with highs as well as lows. And the highs are indeed like a dream …. gorgeous scenery, beautiful weather, birdingand the forging of new friendships makes this lifestyle somewhat addictive.

What’s not to love? Perhaps that’s why we haven’t looked too hard for that home base.

But those lows? Ah, yes …. those lows sure don’t feel like I’m living a dream. Feels more like a nightmare and not one where I’ll wake up thankfully realizing all is well.

Nope, no waking up from a bad travel day. Instead, we find ourselves digging deep for the energy and wherewithal to deal with life’s mishaps, and we try our best to keep a sense of humor about us …. remembering this too shall pass!

Let’s take a step back… We spent four months this past summer camped in Prescott, Arizona. It was a very enjoyable summer with very little vehicle or RV maintenance mishaps. Al did have an issue with the F-250 back in May, but after some service it pulling a fifth wheelworked great all summer long which included a bunch of trips back and forth to Phoenix in the excessive heat to visit our children.

Tidbit – there’s about a 3,000 foot elevation change between Prescott and Phoenix, Arizona, meaning there’s quite the hill climbing necessary heading north on Interstate 17 from Phoenix. When temperatures exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit, overheating vehicle engines are quite common. Thus, we were thrilled the Big Dog handled those drives without incident, but remember, we weren’t pulling the RV during those Phoenix excursions.

camping near the Grand Canyon

Our son joined us for a few days. Good times around a campfire!

Once the calendar flipped to September 1st, it was time to lift the jacks and get the wheels rolling. We moved up to the Kaibab National Forest located just south of the Grand Canyon and enjoyed a near perfect week camped in a pine forest surrounded by wildlife. Our son even drove up from Phoenix to spend a few days with us.

bull elk

one of our neighbors strolling by our campsite

Coyote

This neighbor serenaded us at two in the morning. Al and I were amused – son not so much!

Considering it was the Labor Day Weekend, we were pleasantly surprised with the lack of crowds (that is, in comparison to other times of the year) and we considered ourselves lucky to snag such a beautiful campsite.

If it hadn’t been for Al’s dental appointment back in Prescott, we would’ve stayed another week, that’s how much we loved our little spot in the Kaibab National Forest.

squirrel

Don’t be dissing one of my relatives!

But alas, Al needed a tooth dealt with. A week earlier, he woke up with an abscess which made him look like he was storing nuts for the winter. His name quickly changed from Al to Alvin … as in, Alvin and the chipmunks 😆

With a round of antibiotics completed, it was time for a root canal and crown … I’m sure you can imagine Al jumping for joy!

Medical emergencies of any kind while living a mobile lifestyle is always stressful. Will we find a Doctor or Dentist who can see us right away? What kind of care and follow-up can we expect, not to mention the cost? In my opinion, this is the biggest concern about full-time RVing. I can deal with the maintenance issues much easier than medical issues. And don’t even get me started on the problems with insurance!

Speaking of maintenance issues … so after our glorious week near the Grand Canyon, it was time to hitch up and take what should’ve been an easy non-eventful two and a half hour drive back to Prescott.

Grand Canyon camping

Travel day morning, I noticed a tire on my little red truck looked low. This was the perfect scenario for Al to try out his new air compressor – Viair 450P Automatic Function Portable Compressor. I bought this Viair compressor last spring for Al’s birthday. Fortunately, at the time Amazon was doing a Prime deal on it. This was the first time we took the compressor out of the package.

portable air compressor

We had a bit of a Frick and Frack moment when we failed to remove the red plug for air intake. Duh! But in our defense, the instructions made no mention of removing the plug. So what should’ve taken five minutes to add ten pounds of pressure to my low tire, took a tad over thirty minutes.

portable Viair air compressor

After a good laugh, it was time to hitch up the 5th wheel. Al positioned the truck and slowly backed toward the hitch. I flipped or rather tried to flip the switch to raise the front landing jacks. Hmm! The switch wouldn’t move. With my nifty little hand singles, I stopped Al from backing any further and walked up to the driver’s side door. I proceeded to tell Al the switch wouldn’t work.

Al begins to tell me how the switch works. SERIOUSLY, dude dear husband!!!  We’ve only owned this RV for the past seven years and hooked and unhooked this RV a few hundred times. I think by now, I know how the dang switch works. Not in a mood to argue, in my sweetest voice I ask, “I’m sorry honey, but I’m just not sure how it works. Could you please show me?” My man to the rescue. Al walks over to the RV and tries to move the switch. “Ugh, the switch won’t move”, he says in a rather perplexed tone. “Ya think”, I declared in a less than amused tone!

5th wheel landing jacks

Me getting in an upper body workout hand cranking the front landing jacks up!

Like a couple of RVing newbies, we stared at the switch then at the round hole in the side of the RV. “Isn’t there a hand crank that fits in that hole?”

Coyote

Hey, you guys need any help?

Kaibab National Forest

We were an hour and a half behind our self-imposed schedule, but still smiling as we waved goodbye to our neighbors and campsite. A few deep breaths and fifteen miles later, we had settled nicely into the drive heading south on route 64 toward the town of Williams. Since we were traveling with two vehicles, we used our walkie talkies to stay in regular communication. Midland GXT1000VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair) (Black/Silver)

Arizona state route 64

Just when I thought all our troubles were behind us, Al radios me and says the truck stalled and he’ll be coming to a stop 😨 Let’s turn on our flashers/hazard lights!

Let me explain a little something about Arizona State Route 64. It’s a busy two-lane road with virtually no shoulder, and it’s the only route to or from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Thus, one can expect lots of RV’s, large tour buses, and plenty of traffic on this road.

sitting ducks

sitting ducks – stalled on Arizona State Route 64

Al pulled over as much as possible and I did the same, keeping a fair distance between the two of us. We were sitting ducks and I prayed traffic would see us sitting there and slow down.  The fear of being rear ended was a constant concern. We were also concerned about oncoming traffic knowing that southbound traffic would need to go around us and there wasn’t enough space for us and the two-way traffic. In essence, we had shut down the southbound lane.

coyoteA few days earlier while Al and Logan (son) were exploring some of the back roads in the Kaibab National Forest, the truck had stalled necessitating Al call our mechanic in Prescott.

After a few wire jiggles on an internal temperature sensor, the truck started up.

So there we were stalled on route 64 in a very precarious situation waiting for the truck engine to cool a tad all the while Al jiggled the wires. After 15 minutes, the Big Dog started up and kept running all the way to Prescott.

Suffice it to say, by the time we arrived at our destination, we were a bit frazzled but okay plus Al was not looking forward to the next day – a morning spent in the dental chair. Good news, Al had a positive experience with Highland Dental (Dr. Bennett) and his mouth is doing just fine these days… no more Alvin and we’ve found a dental office in Arizona that we like.

But ‘living the dream‘ didn’t end here. After Al’s dental appointment, we spent the rest of our week in Prescott doing a deep interior cleaning of the RV along with taking care of the necessary truck and RV maintenance.

RV mice

We eventually found a SOS pad to wrap around our electrical cord.

Along with Mr. Elk and Wiley Coyote stopping by our boondock campsite in the Kaibab National Forest, Mickey and Minnie Mouse decided to stop by and dine on some peanut butter.

Apparently, we left the door open (electrical cord opening) and the welcome mat out (interior electrical cover plate off) for Mickey and Minnie’s easy entry. Al normally wraps steel wool around our exterior electrical cord but he misplaced it and eventually we used a SOS pad. I also forgot about the interior electrical cover plate that had fallen off the wall (hiding behind my camera bag). Anyway, this combination provided the perfect entry for the little field mice.

Boondocking and mice are a pretty common occurrence and one we’ve come to expect, but once we get back to full hookups, it’s time for some deep cleaning and making sure our unwanted guests haven’t taken up residency.

Whew! It was an eventful and busy week which was anything but dream living. A week we’re glad is over. And now we’re onto a new location and working on living the dream. So far, so good!

south rim Grand Canyon

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When Cold water is Hot

Living a minimalist mobile lifestyle can be enlightening, fun, and rewarding but it can also present challenges. Last summer, Al and I meandered around Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado and although we had a fantastic time, the transient way of life can be stressful at times.

Moab, Utah

A transient lifestyle can be challenging but oh so amazing!

Wanting to keep our schedule flexible, we didn’t make any reservations last summer. That sense of freedom and rolling on a whim is one of many things we love about this RVing lifestyle. But there is a down side. Summer is a time for family vacations, peak travel season, which means state parks, national parks, and private RV parks are usually booked months in advance and for us that meant finding a place to camp was no easy feat without a reservation.RVing

This summer we decided to park in one place for a few months and see how long it would take for hitch itch to set in. This summer we’d have no worries or stress as to where to camp. In the past, I’m usually good for a month, maybe two, parked in one spot and then I’m ready to get those wheels rolling again.

Prescott, AZI’m enjoying my time camped here in Prescott Valley, Arizona, and there’s only a small part of me missing the adventure of travel …. just a little anyway. However, I’m sure my latest adventure with my daughter tempered that need to roll.

So to overcome any hitch itch, I’ve been keeping myself busy. When the weather isn’t scorching hot, which it unfortunately has been this past week, I’m out an about hiking or exploring with the camera in hand.

One of my favorite places to hike in Prescott, Arizona, is at Watson Lake. I’m never at a loss at finding a photographic composition in this unique little spot. And when the light isn’t quite right for those landscape shots, I always manage to find a willing model or two to focus my camera on.

Watson Lake

Not only is it a fun adventure exploring new landscapes, learning the idiosyncrasies of a new location can be equally amusing.  In early May when we moved up to Prescott from Phoenix, up to 5,200 feet in elevation, we thought we would be escaping the extreme triple digit heat which is normal in Phoenix. Boy, were we wrong!

First off, Phoenix has been experiencing record high temperatures this past week and that heat has permeated into every square inch of the state of Arizona, including Prescott. Now granted, we’re still at least ten to fifteen degrees cooler than the city of Phoenix, but who’s counting when the temps rise over 100 degrees Fahrenheit 😲

Watson Lake

me hiking at Watson Lake when the temps were still comfortable

With those high temperatures in mind, when I take a shower in the late afternoon, I have a fun time adjusting the water temperature. I try putting the faucet nozzles in the same position all the time. Lately, the water is hot, I mean unusually hot. The other day when our thermometer was registering 108 outside, I kept turning the hot water nozzle down in hopes that the water temperature would cool.

bird photographyEventually, I had the hot water nozzle  turned totally off and just the cold was running. No cold water for this gal! Considering we only have a six gallon water heater and I’ve become quite adept at taking a quick Navy shower, the excess hot water was a treat. Yep, the cold water was hot …. how interesting!

I’m always learning something new with each place we call home.

Eventually, the water did turn cold, but it did take awhile for the above ground and shallow below ground water lines to be cleared of the heated water.

Watson Lake

This photo was taken in May. You won’t find any puddles around these days.

A transient RV lifestyle is anything but boring, and there’s always something new to learn and experience. And although there’s a part of me that would like to be on the move exploring like we did last summer, I’m enjoying the lack of stress associated in finding a place to park. Plus, I still have so much more to see around here, and I haven’t even mentioned our active social life yet.

There’s definitely an upside to being stationary for a time, but I assure you my transient RVing lifestyle won’t be coming to an end anytime soon. That freedom to roam is addictive!

Watson Lake