My Blog Plan for 2021

My Blog Plan for 2021

Are you new to blogging or do you consider yourself a seasoned blogger? No doubt, I fall into the latter group. I started this little blog of mine nine years ago – January 2012. On one hand, it seems like just yesterday and on the other hand, it feels like a lifetime ago. Time can be strange!

We all have our own individual reasons for starting a blog. Mine started out strictly for personal reasons as a means of documenting our travels and keeping family and friends up to date on all our new happenings. What transpired was the building of a community and a group of new friends. Friendships were forged and physical meetups were arranged.

Many of my original blogging friends have since sold their RV’s and found new places to settle and call home. Most have stopped blogging altogether. Some connections were strong enough that our friendship continues to this day while others have moved on. Life continues as new chapters are started, and as I reflect on the past nine years, I cherish the friendships and memories created.

How to preserve those memories?

What will happen to all our blog posts … our tales … our stories when we decide to deactivate our accounts? Say it isn’t so! No, I don’t plan on shutting down my site anytime soon. I still plan on being around here for a while and I hope you will be as well. I truly appreciate you stopping by, reading, liking, and leaving comments, and for that, I thank you. I love this blogging community and every time I take a break, I miss it … I miss you.

I know there will come a time when I will deactivate this account, but not before I find a way to preserve some of these memories and tales documented here on my blog. This has been my online journal, and I’d sure like to preserve it in some structured way. Thus, the idea of a “blog to book”. What a great concept. The first time I heard about this possibility was several years ago, and since then, there are now numerous platforms to choose from to do just that … turn my blog posts into physical books … books that are intended for my purposes only.

Cringe worthy writing!

I love the idea of creating a hard copy of select blog posts that I’ve written. BUT have you ever gone back and reread some of your original posts? Eek! I don’t know about you, but mine make me cringe. I mean, I literally want to hang my head in my hands in an embarrassing kind of cringe. However, if I look on the bright side, over the years my writing and my photographs have improved… at least I hope. I guess that would be known as progress. I’ll take it!

As much as my early posts make me cringe, I’m still very glad I jumped in and just wrote. My original intent, which continues to this day, is to write as I speak … minus my Chicago accent.ūüėÜ I want my blog posts to sound as if you and I are having a cup of coffee, or happy hour cocktail, together. My goal has always been to sound casual and inviting but without grammatical mistakes. Thank goodness for Grammarly. Where were you when I started this blog?

With that said, I’m not comfortable archiving many of my posts into a book format. Ah, what’s a gal to do?

My solution!

Since Al and I aren’t traveling like we used to and with this virus still hanging around, I find myself at a loss of blog material, a loss of inspiration, and at a loss of what to write about. Thus, I have decided to repurpose AND rewrite older blog posts, posts about our earlier travels with the RV. I also plan to add some new content to these tales … personal content and memories that I’d like to pass down to the next generation. After all, the whole point of turning my blog posts into a book is for the preservation of our travel memories … our life in an RV.

Hopefully, my images and writing will be somewhat less cringe-worthy and acceptable … acceptable to the level that I’ll feel comfortable turning those pages into a physical book; a book that will only be found on my shelf. Notice, I didn’t use the word professional. Yeah, I’m a realist and have no inclination to try and write professionally. Even my rewrites will still contain enough faux pas for an English teacher to have plenty to redline, and I’m ok with that.

So that’s my blog writing plan for the new year … to take you back in time and relive some of our travel tales and adventures. I hope you’ll stick around as I go down memory lane.

It was a good year!

It’s that time of year again.¬†The old calendar is in the trash and the¬†new¬†one is hanging on the wall.¬† I’m not sure why putting up that new calendar made me smile.¬† 2016 cardinalwas¬†actually a pretty good year¬†for me and I was in no hurry to bring on any change.

But as I gaze at the semi-glossy calendar sporting a beautiful landscape photo, I note the lack of scribble on any of the dated boxes …. a clean slate.¬† Oh, the possibilities!

You know that feeling you get after cleaning¬†out a closet?¬† (Well at least the feeling I get) Not only do I feel a sense of accomplishment, there’s a feeling of being refreshed, out with the old, in with the new.¬† It’s a positive feeling that brings a smile to my face.¬† I kind of got that same feeling when I threw out the old calendar and replaced it with¬†a new one.

The dawning of a new day, a new year
The dawning of a new day, a new year!

Al and I have just recently started talking about our travel plans for 2017.¬† I know, kind of late for us considering¬†the new year¬†is upon us already.¬† Quite frankly, I’m still relishing in the memories¬†from some of¬†last years¬†excursions.

Today I’m sitting in Rockport, Texas,¬†back in¬†the very same spot I was¬†in a year ago. As I type, I’ll occasionally gaze out¬†an RV window admiring the unique and resilient oak trees.¬†¬†I contemplate the twists and turns of the tree trunks while listening to the pleasant chirping of cardinals.fog

Last years travel plans started out¬†relatively organized and well¬†laid out, but as the year unfolded,¬†¬†we encountered¬†unexpected twists and turns.¬† And just like I¬†may not¬†understand why those mighty oak¬†trees grow in a hither and yon manor, I don’t fully comprehend how our well organized travel plans went astray in¬†a similar¬†hither and yon way.

"The Big Oak Tree" said to be over 1,000 years old.
“The Big Oak Tree” said to be over 1,000 years old.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter because the year turned out to be one heck of a fun ride.¬† Sure, there were a few negatives thrown in here and there, but that’s life, isn’t it!

A few memorable experiences of 2016 ….. After our regular January stint of birding along the Texas Gulf Coast, we returned to Phoenix, Arizona for a little desert¬†dwelling and hanging with the kids. In April we¬†moved on down¬†to Yuma, Arizona for a short stay¬†to tend to some business which included having the RV and truck washed and hand waxed all for $150.¬† In Phoenix, we paid $400 for the same type of¬†work.¬† That was a memorable price difference, wouldn’t you agree?¬†¬†I foresee regular visits to Yuma in our future ūüėČ

Then it was time for¬†a day trip¬†across the border¬†to Los Algodones,¬†Mexico¬†for dental¬†work.¬† I was a little¬†apprehensive about this at first, and reached out to¬†a few of my full-time RVing friends for recommendations.¬†¬†In the end, I had two crowns and a filling done for a total cost of $750 and¬†thus far no complaints.¬† Normally, I wouldn’t¬†include dental work as a highlight or memorable event, but¬†eating without discomfort¬†allowed me to enjoy¬†our¬†travels the rest of the year that much more.¬† Plus, it was a new and interesting experience¬†that was¬†all positive.Bryce Canyon

Also in April, I had my mind blown away by some of the most¬†perplexing and¬†boggling scenery in southern Utah.¬† I’ve always loved visiting Utah, but the fascinating hoodoos that make up Bryce Canyon National Park had eluded¬†me until that day.¬† Trust me when I say, pictures do not do¬†the park¬†justice.¬† It’s one of those places you really do need to see in person.¬†Bryce Canyon National Park¬†was definitely a highlight of¬†my year and goes toward the top of the list.

Then there was our two month work camping gig in Idaho.¬† I had a great time, Al not so much.¬† I found myself doing things I never thought I could.¬† I spent my time working in the RV Park restaurant and office.¬† I waitressed, I cooked, and I checked campers in and sometimes I was the only¬†one available to do all¬†three.¬† Oh yeah, I was hopping and as much as I impressed myself with my abilities, I was glad the job was temporary.¬† You know Lilacswhat, that was the best thing about it – the job was temporary and I wasn’t in charge.

After running my own business for¬†years, it was¬†wonderful¬†for me to¬†say,¬†“Let me get the owner. I just work here”.

Overall, it was an enlightening experience on many levels.¬† Would I work camp again?¬† I’m not sure.¬† It boils down to risk/reward and every scenario is different.¬† If I had permanently injured myself on the commercial grill, which was hubby’s constant concern, it¬†sure wouldn’t¬†have been worth it.¬† While building picnic tables, Al ended up tweaking an old back injury, which took a while to realign and hampered his fun¬†most of the summer.¬† Risk vs. reward, definitely something to consider when contemplating work camping.

After years of dreaming, I finally made it to the¬†Grand Tetons … not once, but twice.¬† The first time was in early June and the second time was mid July.Grand Teton

I loved all the spring blooms in early June.  Grand Teton National Park did not disappoint and remains a place I hope to revisit time and again.

At the end of July, we returned to our former home town of Pueblo West, Colorado.¬† I like to return once a year to hug my stuff in storage.¬† I’m just not at a point where I’m ready to let go of everything and give up the storage units (yes, plural ūü§Ē).¬† I retrieved some stuff and left other stuff behind.¬† As I looked into the storage units, my thoughts¬†were¬†mixed.¬† Some things I’m glad I’ve kept and others make me wonder whatever was I thinking.¬† We really do need to think about consolidating and purging.¬† But not today!¬† I know it’s only stuff, but I like my stuff and I like embracing it once a year.¬† Hug, hug, kiss,¬†kiss moving on ….

We had the opportunity to see Al’s sister’s new condo in the Denver area.¬† In the spring of ’16 she moved from northern Illinois to Denver, Colorado and hasn’t looked back.¬† She’s loving every minute of her new home state.¬† It was also very convenient for us to spend the night with her so¬†Al could drop me off at the airport for¬†my early morning flight from Denver to Chicago.

While camped at Lake Pueblo State Park, the A/C needed some maintenance.
While camped at Lake Pueblo State Park, the A/C needed some maintenance. That’s why Al’s on the roof.¬† ¬†My photo is not crooked,¬†the lay of the land was.¬† It was a sloping site but offered delightful views.

During our stay in Denver, the RV was comfortably parked at the Lake Pueblo State Park, a two hour drive south of Denver.

DadMy visit with my 89 year old dad was very special as I¬†escorted him to¬†his grandson’s¬† wedding (my nephew).¬† Dad beamed as he watched the¬†first of five grandchildren get married.¬† The wedding was beautiful and the day was absolutely perfect.

Initially, I wasn’t exactly excited about returning to Illinois, but little did I realize, I was in for a special treat ……

I flew back to Chicago on a Wednesday.¬† The Monday before, I received an interesting email.¬† Turns out my bestfriend from junior high and high school was trying to track me down.¬† We’d lost touch twenty-eight years ago and after several failed attempts she finally succeeded in¬†finding my¬†correct address.¬† Talk about timing.¬† That Thursday we enjoyed a four hour lunch filled with non stop talking.¬†After all, we had a lot of catching up to do.¬† How fun was that!¬† Now we stay in touch via Facebook.

The day dad and I did a little yard work together was laughable.¬† It was literally a¬†frick and frack moment.¬† Words like hootchie and jigma jig were used in¬†regards to starting the lawn mowers.¬†At 89 Dad’s brain is as sharp as a tack but he occasionally has trouble finding the right words and as far as I’m concerned, you can call it a primer, a gas thingy, or a jigma jig … I didn’t care.¬† I just wanted to¬†get the things started.Lawn mowind

And once¬†we had both the rider and¬†push¬†mowers started, the necessary sign language used to communicate with¬†one another over the loud engine noise was incomprehensible to¬†each other.¬† I guess I don’t need to tell you which one of us used the pusher ūüė鬆 Yep, a lot of laughing took place that day and the yard work eventually got done.¬†¬†Without a doubt, it was a wonderful and memorable trip.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National MonumentBut I encountered the highlight of¬†my year¬†in mid August near Santa Fe, New Mexico.¬†¬†I’m convinced travel is¬†all about timing.¬† Ever read someone’s blog post where they gush about a place and then when you visit you just don’t get it?¬† Sure, it might be a nice place,¬†but not over the top ‘oh my gosh gotta visit’ worthy.¬† I firmly believe it’s all about what’s going on in one’s personal life that¬†makes a place resonate with¬†ones soul.

Another year, another time and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument may not have touched me in the same way it did.  Guess it was just what I needed at the time.  As much as I was enjoying the summer, it was filled with many stressful moments.  Unexpected twists and turns can be a ton of fun, but they can also be a trigger for stress.

I really should have my arms out stretched as I sing "Let it Go". Yes, I was having an "Elsa" moment! (Disney animated movie, 'Frozen')
I really should have my arms out stretched as I sing “Let it Go”. Yes, I was having an “Elsa” moment! (reference=Disney animated movie, ‘Frozen’)

So you could say, by this point in our travels, I needed to recharge.¬†¬†Santa Fe and Kasha-Katuwe were my salvation, just what the doctor ordered,¬†and¬†remains my all time favorite moment of the year.¬† I’m sure it was all about the timing for me.

How about politics?¬† Although I wasn’t exactly stressed by the political climate, the commercials and news stories became an irritating annoyance.¬† But it did make for¬†one heck of an entertaining and¬†memorable year in America!Route 66

Although the rest of 2016¬†brought about some fun adventures worth writing about, I’ll leave those tales for another post.

In the meantime, keep in mind, life may take a bunch of unexpected twists and turns and we may not always understand why, but remember, we are a resilient thriving bunch just like those mighty oak trees.

Light at the end of the tunnel
A light at the end of the tunnel ūüôā

I send you warm wishes for a wonderful New Year.¬† Let’s start filling in our calendars with intriguing travel adventures¬†… cheers!

1,000 Places to See Before You Die: Revised Second Edition

A Year of Highs and Lows

Hot Air BalloonsIt’s a new year…..time for resolutions and reflection….

The last week of 2013 had us rolling down the highway.  Yep, after three months in Arizona, it was time to hit the road and move on to newer pastures. For this two month excursion, we left my little red truck parked in our son’s garage in Phoenix, thus allowing Al and me to sit side by side for our 1,200 mile journey.

The more than eighteen hours of driving time to our destination was spread out over a 6 day period.  All this time sitting side by side in a vehicle gave Al and me plenty of time to talk.  It also gave me plenty of opportunity to change my mind on where to stop. I’ll leave a woman’s prerogative for my next post. For now I’d like to share some of our 2013 reflections.

As¬†Al and I¬†discuss the events of the past year, we’re reminded 2013 was a year of highs and lows.¬† It was¬†an emotional year.¬† It was¬†a¬†rollercoaster of a ride; some good, some not, but¬†never dull or¬†boring‚Ķ‚Ķ

January started out with us snowbirding in the desert southwest. We were indoctrinated to boondocking in the desert and the big RV event in Quartzsite, Arizona. The majority of folks we met along the way were living full-time in their RV’s. We found ourselves ever more intrigued by this lifestyle and started talking more seriously about selling the house. We had felt lost and emotionally drained and felt perhaps a change was in order.  The past two years had been challenging.

Quartzsite Arizona
Boondocking in Quartzsite, AZ

Allow me to back pedal a little so you might better understand our mindset in early 2013. Starting in 2011, we began to lose loved ones. We lost three out of our four parents within a two-year time period which had us traveling from Colorado to Illinois numerous times.  A very sad two years and the mourning carried into 2013.

Within a three year period we helped our son move from Boulder, Colorado to Phoenix, Arizona.  We helped our daughter in Colorado move twice.

Within the past three years, we personally moved three times‚Ķfrom a large custom home into a rental house while building a smaller home.¬† We¬†moved into the newly constructed house, then 2 years later we moved into¬†the RV. After deciding to go full-time, we closed our business. And in the middle of moving into the RV, we lost our dog of fourteen years. It was a physically and emotionally¬†difficult time.¬† I’m exhausted just recalling all of this!

Tucson AZ
Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, AZ February 2013

So back to RVing at the beginning of 2013……After a fun and enlightening January, February found us meandering around the state of Arizona and talks of change were in the air. One day we were selling the house and moving into the RV full-time and the next day we were keeping the house and RVing part-time.¬†The emotional rollercoaster continued with so many unanswered questions. We still needed to produce an income, but how? How long would it take to sell the house? Our RV was never purchased with the intent of living in it full-time, thus would it be workable? What to sell? What to keep? What to take? Yes, the emotions were running rampant. Somehow with all the emotional drama, we still managed to enjoy some sights as we explored parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

Tucson AZ
A rare snowstorm in Tucson, AZ February 2013

Elephant Butte
Watching the sunset РElephant Butte Campground, New Mexico   Feb 2013

Loretto Chapel
Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

With a questionable future looming, we ended our four-month trip and arrived back at our house in Colorado on March 1st. It was a beautiful house, not quite 2 years old with all my favorite finishes picked out by me. Off the rear of the deck was an unobstructed view of a snow-capped Pikes Peak. To the south, one could see the Spanish Peaks. The house was situated on an acre of land located one block away from the State Park entrance.

Pikes PeakUpon our return from our winter excursion, we pulled the RV in the driveway along the side of the house. Al and I sat in silence before opening the garage door. We weren’t ready for our RV trip to end. When I finally stepped into the house, my first thoughts were, ‚ÄúYes, it‚Äôs a lovely place‚Ķ. shows well‚ÄĚ. Wait ‚Ästshouldn’t I¬†have said, ‚ÄúFeels good to be home‚ÄĚ? As I stood in the entryway, Al joined me and asked, ‚ÄúAre you thinking, what I‚Äôm thinking?‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúYep, this isn‚Äôt home. Our home is in the driveway‚ÄĚ. Decision made! Up until that point, we were still undecided about whether or not to sell the house.

March and April had us preparing for life in a RV. Trips to Chicago, Denver, and Phoenix ensued as we rearranged our furniture and belongings. I won’t lie…..this wasn’t easy and self-doubt was ever-present.¬† Yard sales ensued.¬† Letting go of ‘stuff’ I liked for pennies on the dollar caused a tear or two.¬† The house went on the market mid May and within 48 hours it was under contract. Our beloved Bear passed away two weeks before closing and by the end of June 2013 we were officially ‚Äúfull-timers‚ÄĚ.

Mt. Evans
Spending time with our daughter in Colorado

Our first few weeks of living in the RV had us visiting our daughter in Denver. Then we headed west and the rest of the summer was spent exploring Colorado’s western slope. My favorite part of the summer was reconnecting with my brother and his wife. Life and responsibilities have a way of monopolizing one’s time putting relationships on the back burner. The mutual love of the outdoors and RVing had us reconnecting in a very special way…..laughing, living, and creating new memories!.

Grand Junction
hanging with my brother – special family moments

Western slope
Exploring the back roads in western Colorado

Interstate 70
Heading west on Interstate 70 – Colorado

September rolled around and it was once again time for our winter migration south. A stop in Utah had me going through film…..Ok, this is an inside joke between Al and me. He always asks me, ‚ÄúDo you have enough film?‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúHow much is that film developing going to cost me?‚Ä̂Ķ. I just love digital photography – so yes hon, I have plenty of film.

Utah was so much fun that we plan a repeat in April.Moab Utah

Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch – Arches National Park, Utah

October, November, and December had us parked in a RV Resort in eastern Phoenix. With the exception of a little 5 day jaunt over to Lake Havasu, our travels and explorations kept us in the Phoenix Metro area. We felt a little down time and R & R was badly needed. And, indeed it was…..we needed a low-key break to decompress.

Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu City, Arizona

One of the most enjoyable aspects of remaining parked in one location was the ability to connect with other people; to socialize and forge new friendships, to meet up with fellow bloggers and Escapee members. It was fun receiving emails from folks wanting to meet for lunch. These luncheons had the conversation going strong for hours. We had the pleasure of meeting an array of people from all walks of life and backgrounds.

Socializing with like minded folks is always fun!

As the calendar flipped to December, we found ourselves feeling refreshed,¬†relaxed, and energized.¬† The beginning of December had Al and me starting to feel that itch. That itch to move on. Although we were paid up until the end of December at the RV Resort, we were ready to move on. We spent Christmas day with our son and said our goodbyes hitting the road the day after Christmas. Goodbyes are always bitter-sweet. So our year ended as it began –¬†traveling.¬†our sonTo all the folks whom we’ve had the privilege of meeting this past year¬†–¬†thank you, it has been a pleasure.¬† We cherish these new-found friendships and hope our paths cross again soon.¬† Wishing you health to spare, love to share, and friends who care.

Here’s to a new year filled with fun, adventure, and love….. cheers!laughing

Happy Holidays!

Greetings from Al, Ingrid and Bear.¬† Wishing you time to do the things you love….RVing

Wishing you fun with family and friends…..RVing

Wishing you and yours a warm and Merry Christmas….

Cave Creekphotography

Wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year…..RVing

Wishing you warm wishes from our home to yours.  Relax and enjoy the season!Brittany Spaniel