Holiday Shopping Ideas

Tis the season!

The holiday decorations are in full twinkle mode and they’ve put me in the holiday spirit, and that means it’s time to go shopping.  When Black Friday rolled around, my daughter and I entered our first store before 8:00 a.m. … with coffee in hand, of course.

Gambels Quail

Our lists were short, and although we didn’t need to brave the masses on Black Friday, it’s kind of our mother – daughter tradition. I don’t enjoy shopping as much as I once did, but I still love strolling the stores around the holiday season, especially with my daughter.

Chili Chocolate Festival Desert Botanical Garden

Ashton buys some locally grown honey at the Chili and Chocolate Festival at the  Desert Botanical Garden

However, we did start our shopping a couple of weeks before Black Friday when we visited the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. The garden was hosting a Chili and Chocolate Festival which was too intriguing to miss. Nothing like shopping with a glass of wine in hand while chocolate samples are being passed out. Oh yum! Note to self to attend next years event. Is there such a thing as too much chocolate? I think not!

Shop till you drop

Don’t shop till you drop!

All those extra calories were easily burned off on our Black Friday shopping excursion when Ashton and I walked over 6 miles and 13,000 steps. Between all those steps, we managed to squeeze in a tasty meal at the Yard House and eventually checked off most of the items on our lists.

We had a fun day and didn’t think the crowds here in Phoenix were too overwhelming. We’ve experienced a lot worse during earlier years while shopping near Denver on Black Friday. Hmm, wonder if more folks are choosing to shop online.

I do have a few more gifts to buy, but I too intend to make those purchases online. Yep, Black Friday was fun, but I’ll let my fingers do the walking while fulfilling the rest of my Christmas list. After all, I don’t intend to shop till I drop! Although, after cyber Monday, I may experience signs of carpal tunnel 😆

Have you started shopping yet? Do you need some help with ideas? I’ve put together a list of some of our favorite items. Please note, these are affiliate links.

Desert Botanical Garden Phoenix

This photo was taken mid November in Phoenix. Flowers bloom year round in the desert.

Camera Gear

Okay, for those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know how much I love photography, but I have a hard time calling myself a photographer and refer to myself as a snap-shooter. Sure there are times I pull out the tripod and really focus on composition and camera settings, but that’s not the norm for me. Most of the time, I hand hold the camera, set it to auto or program, and snap away. I do have a ton of fun doing so and don’t take my photography too seriously. With that in mind, here are a few of my recommendations. Note – I do have an entire page dedicated to my camera gear.

If you want to take your photography up a notch but don’t want to be bothered with changing camera lenses, this Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300K might be the perfect fit for you. I shoot with an earlier model and absolutely love my camera. My latest edition is a PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70K. This is a powerhouse of a camera in a little package. All of my photos shared on this post were taken with the PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70K

I do travel with a couple of inexpensive tripods – VANGUARD  Tripod  and JOBY GorillaPod

I love gear bags. Thank goodness I don’t have extra storage space. When we moved into the RV full-time my handbag/purse addiction got purged along with everything else 😲 But gotta have someplace to put the camera gear and keep it protected. Ah, so many cute camera bags these days.

In the Kitchen

We don’t go out to eat very often, much preferring to eat at home. However, having a small kitchen can present a few obstacles, one of which is storage. Thus, I’ve had to pick my priorities as to items I can’t live without …. BUT … there are items we can live without, but oh so fun to have.

RV Related Gift Ideas …

And more gift ideas ….


Hope I’ve given you some gift ideas whether it be for a loved one or yourself. I know there’s a couple of items on this list that I’ll be ordering.

I’ve tried to add these links to pop up in a new tab, but not all cooperated 🤔 If you get taken away from my site, hit your back arrow to return.

Happy shopping and just a reminder,

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Wish me luck on cyber Monday ….

Salt River Arizona

My search for fall colors continues – not much luck for me this year.

Advertisements

A Sense of Freedom

We’re baaaack, comfortably parked in the valley of the sun, otherwise known as Phoenix, Arizona. We arrived in early October and have been enjoying regular visits with our children and a few of our non-RVing friends. We’re staying at a new to us RV park on the north side of Phoenix near the town of Anthem, Arizona.

Grand Canyon Black and White photography

south rim of the Grand Canyon

The RV park is your usual 55+ pack’m in kind of place, but it’s working perfectly for our needs. Could it be that when we toured this place earlier in the year, the woman behind the counter was hesitant to give me any information. She looked at me and said, “You do know, you have to be 55 or older to stay here?” With a smile on my face and calling her my new best friend, I summoned hubby over to the counter and proceeded to say, “Well, if I don’t look old enough, I bet he does”. A few chuckles later, we picked out a site and our three month reservation was made – Oct 1st to Dec 31st.

company Adirondack chairs on the beach

Adirondack chairs near Rockport, Texas – pre hurricane Harvey. I doubt they survived the storm … sigh!

I’m not usually a fan of RV Parks, much preferring the rustic scenic landscape of a state park, regional park, or national forest, but wanting a three month stay with full hook-ups finds us homesteading with all the other silvers and that’s ok. For now, we still have plenty of elbow room around us in the way of vacant sites, but each day more and more RV’s are pulling in. I’m sure by the end of December this place will be full, and I’ll be ready to roll, but for now things are going well.

Chicago skyscrapers

Willis Tower aka Sears Tower Chicago

Over the past few weeks a few things have happened that have put me in a reflective mood. I think it started with the Lake Havasu lighthouses and continued with a photo challenge on Facebook … Seven days, seven photos in black and white of everyday life. No people, no pets, no explanations.

I’m usually not a fan of black and white photography, especially my own, but I was up for the challenge which had me going through a bunch of my photographs ….. a bunch!

As I searched through my external hard drives, I wanted to pick photos of a variety of places showcasing a diverse collection, as well as have the photograph look every bit as pleasing as it’s colored counterpart. I had so much fun gathering these photographs and turning them into Black & White that I thought I’d share them here.

As the week went by posting a photo a day, I reflected upon the memories behind each photograph. For me, they represent a story…. my story. I can’t help but feel fortunate to be able to experience so many beautiful and diverse landscapes.

Dillon Lake, Colorado

Dillon Lake, Colorado

The Facebook challenge was just one reason I found myself digging through archives. A couple of blogging friends reached out to me in search of recommendations for their Arizona travels this winter. It’s usually easier for me to search my blog for past posts and then email the links onto them for ideas.

During my search for helpful information, I came across a few posts that brought a smile to my face. Again, I was reminded why I love RVing AND why I blog.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Not everyone gets the whole RVing thing and that’s ok …. actually more than ok.  I would prefer this RVing boom come to an end and soon. It’s becoming more and more of a challenge to find available camping which interferes with keeping our plans fluid.

sunrise over the Gulf

somewhere along the Texas Gulf Coast

Going through my photographs and blog archives not only brought a smile to my face, it reminded me of all the wonderful experiences we’ve encountered over the past six years of RVing.

trees in the mist

Trees in the mist – somewhere near the Texas Gulf Coast

For anyone traveling to Arizona this winter and looking for some interesting things to do, here a few links to posts I’ve written in the past ….

If you enjoy wildlife as much as I do (especially birds) then you might enjoy visiting the roosting grounds of tens of thousands of sandhill cranes. I know it was a very special and amazing sight for me. Plus free camping – Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw

We don’t go out to eat very often, but when we do, we try to find unique dining options. This post shares a couple of our favorites – Dining Western Style  (unfortunately, the original Buffalo Chip Restaurant structure burned to the ground, but it has since been rebuilt.)

We’ve always had a great time visiting western Arizona. Here’s a couple of posts on those excursions – Hiking Sara’s Crack and Happy Hour

We’re never at a loss of things to see or do while staying in Phoenix – A Tour of Phoenix. Why spring is my favorite time to visit the desert and if you’re looking for an adventurous day trip, the Apache Trail is not to be missed.

Yep, so much fun traveling down memory lane. All these fun excursions have me contemplating the new year. What ever shall we do? Can we top these adventures? Ah, this sense of freedom is the best, and the amazing beauty we get to immerse ourselves within on a regular basis are things non-RVer’s don’t understand. But shhh! Let’s keep it our secret.

***********************************

Guess who got a new camera for her birthday 😎 (affiliate links ahead). Love this little powerhouse of a camera and I haven’t even tried the 4K video yet!

PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70S, 20.3 Megapixel Tripod

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.

*****************************************

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?

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites

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!


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites

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

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites

Waiting for the Sun to Set

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

sunset at the Grand Canyon

me waiting for the sun to set at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon camping

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

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

sunset at the Grand Canyon

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

south rim of the Grand Canyon

south rim of the Grand Canyon

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

south rim of the Grand Canyon

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

stormy sky at the Grand Canyon

stormy sky at the Grand Canyon

stormy sunset at the Grand Canyon

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

sunset at Kaibab National Forest

This was the sky back at camp!

 

Comforted by Banana Nut Muffins

We’ve had an incredibly busy August which lead to feeling like the summer whizzed by. Can you believe it’s already the beginning of September?  And to think, when Al and I decided to spend the summer parked in the same RV Resort for four months, I thought for sure I’d be bored and ready to roll after the first month. But Prescott, Arizona, is a lovely community surrounded by beauty which kept me entertained and the camera clicking. We had a great summer!

sunset at Goldwater Lake

Goldwater Lake, Prescott, Arizona

As the end of August rolled around, it was time for us to get the wheels rolling again. I’ll be honest, I had a few mixed emotions about packing up and leaving and actually thought about staying another month, but with twinges of hitch itch nipping at my heels, I knew it was time for a new backyard.

camping in Kaibab National Forest

My new yard. Our home for the Labor Day weekend

Currently I’m sitting in the Kaibab National Forest just south of the Grand Canyon surrounded by tall pine trees and enjoying the crisp fresh air. Wow, talk about a change of scenery along with cooler temperatures. I found myself pulling out pants and a sweatshirt camping in Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyonas the evening temperatures dropped into the 50’s … refreshing, and ah, the smell of pine is intoxicating!

As I sit here relishing the tranquil beauty around me, I feel incredibly lucky yet overcome with sadness. Mother Nature can be gracious and bless us with amazing desert sunsets or spectacular beach sunrises or she can lower her hammer sending death and destruction.

This past week, the Texas Gulf Coast certainly felt Mother Nature’s wrath when she sent hurricane Harvey ashore. I’ve stayed glued to my computer following news stories and getting updates from friends via Facebook and email. The photos and updates are heartbreaking.

Banana bread

I need some comfort food!

Al and I have a special relationship with the Rockport area (this is where the center of the hurricane came ashore). Rockport has been our winter home for the past four years and just a little ways down the coast is where my parents used to winter. Al was also stationed in the area during his military days. Thus, you can see, we have a fond connection to this part of the Texas Gulf Coast.

bird photography

This little guy poses nicely for me. I’m sad there won’t be any Texas birding for me this winter.

For obvious reasons, our usual Texas sojourn won’t be happening this winter. I always look forward to our visits which includes communing with shore birds and reconnecting with friends. I’ll definitely miss this years excursion. I’m afraid if I talk anymore about this disaster the flood of tears will short out my laptop 😪

banana muffinsSo instead of crying, let’s head into the kitchen and bake up something comforting … well, at least comforting to me.

I’ve always loved banana bread, and it usually makes me think of my mom. She made the best, and I could literally devour half a loaf in one sitting provided she didn’t take it away from me.

Because of this lack of will power, I make muffins instead of loaves and can usually limit myself to one a day. But as my emotions run rampant thinking of the Gulf Coast, my mom (RIP), and her favorite beach in Texas …. I think two or three 😋 might be in order. I need something to comfort my emotions. I’ll take an extra long hike tomorrow 🐾

Banana Nut MuffinsBanana Nut Muffins 
4 very ripe bananas
5 Tablespoon of melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons of brewed coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add melted butter and sugar and mix well. Mix in egg, coffee and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and salt mixing until all ingredients incorporated well. Fold in walnuts. In a paper lined muffin tin, divide batter equally by filling each muffin cup about 3/4 full.

Bake in a preheated oven – 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12.

Banana nut muffins

Stay strong Texas … You’re not alone … sending prayers and support!

never alone in the woods

Never alone !

BTW – this is not my mom’s banana bread recipe. I don’t know what I do wrong, but mine never tastes as good as hers did. My mom was a great baker. Oh well, I found this recipe online a few years ago and tweaked it and am sharing my version. It’s not the same as mom’s, but it’ll do. Hope you enjoy it!

Some items I used during this post – pls note: these are affiliate links 😀
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites

Wildlife on the Trail?

Would you know what to do if you came face to face with wildlife on the trail? Obviously, a lot depends on exactly what kind of animal we’re talking about.  A marmot would have me stopping in my tracks to snap a bunch of photos all the while baby talking to it and letting him know how darn cute he is.

A snake on the other hand gets my heart pounding while exclaiming, “Oh sh*t!” but of course still managing to take a quick snapshot 🐍😮 (which I don’t recommend)

rattlesnake

coming face to face with a rattlesnake on the trail

Even though I should already know the answer(s) considering my past wildlife encounters, lately I find the need to evaluate my trail safety savviness and ask myself, “What should I do if ….. ?” The reason for my review pertains to my recent encounter with a rattlesnake on the trail last week. This was my second time having a close encounter with a diamondback and I’m hoping it’s my last, but when you spend as much time hiking in their habitat as I do, chances are we’ll meet again.

Willow Lake Prescott Arizona

Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona

So what did I do when I heard that unmistakable sound only a diamondback rattlesnake can make? My tale about his tail ….

Willow Lake, Prescott, ArizonaLast Thursday was a glorious day offering a much wanted reprieve from the every day rainstorms. However, it is monsoon season here in Arizona and the moisture is very much-needed in this arid climate.

With the sunny blue skies, it didn’t take me long to lace up my hiking shoes and head on over to the Granite Dells area for an exploratory hike with the camera.

I chose an out and back hike at Willow Lake in Prescott, Arizona. The trail started off like any other dirt hiking trail, but soon I found myself scrambling across huge boulders and using the white spray painted dots to guide me along the trail.

hiking Willow Lake, Prescott trails, Arizona

white dots highlighting trail

I was a mere fifteen minutes into the hike when the trail went up rather steeply and I began wondering what I had gotten myself into.

To maintain my balance, I leaned forward toward the boulder and steadied myself with one hand on the ground as I climbed following the white spray painted dots.

I continued to pay close attention to those dots as to not veer off the trail. I was focused on my footing and my where abouts and of course the obligatory photo taking.

About 20 to 25 minutes into the hike, the trail had taken me up and over some beautiful scenery. I was enjoying myself and getting in a great workout. The trail had dipped down only for it to head back up over a rock outcropping. I was slightly winded as I climbed and just as the boulder leveled off, there was an unmistakable sound to my right.

diamondback rattlesnake

Is it just me, but I see shoes? I find his skin beautiful … the repetitive pattern, texture, and color is stunning.

“Oh sh*t, not again!!!” There off to my right about 10 to 12 feet away was a rather large diamondback rattlesnake in strike position. Tail was up and rattling. Head was up with tongue dancing. I slowly and gingerly kept walking (which I felt was my safest and quickest option).

Within seconds, he settled down and both of us no longer felt threatened. I quickly, and I mean quickly, snapped a couple of photos while admiring his unique beauty.  Hmm, years ago I owned a pair of snake skin shoes with a similar texture. At the time, I lived in the Chicago area and had never seen a snake in the wild.

For some reason, I kept thinking about those shoes and soon came to the conclusion that it would somehow feel very wrong to me owning a pair of snake skin shoes. Although I didn’t appreciate the encounter on the trail, I do appreciate wildlife and that beautifully textured skin belongs in the wild and not on my feet.

diamondback rattlesnake

I was hiking from left to right when I met Mr. Diamondback

diamondback snake

guess I wasn’t the only one on the move.

rattlesnake

As I was hiking from the left and coming over the ridge, I was more focused on my footing and potential critters in the rock crevices which is why I didn’t immediately notice the snake sunning himself near the ledge.

For a brief second, I thought about hanging around for more photo-ops. He was rather large and a good-looking snake at that, but thank goodness my better judgement took over.  Although he and I seemed to have come to an understanding, you never know what might provoke the guy. He is a snake after all and unpredictable. I’m not afraid of snakes, but I am afraid of being bitten by a snake.

I continued on my hike and once I was on the other side of the ravine, I looked back to see if the snake was still there.

Willow Lake Prescott, Arizona

Looking across the ravine to see if the snake is still on the trail.

I certainly felt somewhat relieved seeing Mr. Diamondback on the move. Remember, I have to hike back this way 😲 This rattlesnake encounter did take some of the joy out of the rest of my hike and I was almost ready to call it quits, but I’m a stubborn gal and I was on a mission to see the red bridge. Thus, it was onward and upward …. figuratively AND literally.

hiking Prescott trails, Arizona

Eek – all those nifty places for snakes to hide. “Please Lord no more diamondback encounters”.

Red Bridge Willow Lake Prescott, Arizona

The red bridge looks more pinkish than red thanks to the Arizona sun

I made it to my destination; the red bridge. I was tempted to continue hiking a little further, and probably would have had it not been for the snake encounter. It was already 85 degrees Fahrenheit at ten in the morning. With the heat and sun shining, this was ideal snake weather and one diamondback meet up was more than enough.

Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona

Red Bridge – Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona

After a little rest and several photographs later, it was time to turn around and retrace my steps. To say I was on edge or a little jumpy would be an understatement. Each little rustling of vegetation from lizards or grasshoppers would have me whipping my head around in search for the cause of said movement, and lets not even talk about the sounds of crickets or birds.

lizardgrasshopper

 

 

 

 

 

It really was a beautiful day and Willow Lake is a wonderful place to hike, but I couldn’t relax and enjoy the return hike. I was on edge and just wanted to get back to my car.

Prescott trails

I laid my pack down next to the white trail marker to help show the grade – steepness

I navigated the areas of the trail where I was concerned about the steepness of the boulders with a quickness and ease that surprised me. And to think, earlier I thought I’d be scooching back down this trail on my derriere.

Willow Lake trail Prescott, Arizona

follow the white dots – hiking up to see if Mr. Snake is still there!!!

When I retraced my steps on the trail near the rattlesnake encounter, I felt nervous and heard a large sound in my ears. It was a familiar sound, yet unfamiliar. It was so loud that it nearly drowned out the sounds of birds chirping. I stopped for a second to figure out what it was and soon realized it was the pounding of my heart.  “Geez, Ingrid. Get a grip. It’s only a snake”.  “Ah, but not any old snake”, I replied to myself.

critters on the trail

careful of sneaky critters on the trail!

Okay, now I’m talking to myself.  I vowed, when I got home, I’d do some Googling and investigate what to do when encountering wildlife. I felt pretty sure of myself and what to do, but a little review might be helpful and perhaps make me feel a bit more confident in the future.

hiking in Prescott, Arizona

The stick on the trail made me jump thinking it was a snake

I made it past the rattlesnake sighting only to have a hornet keep buzzing around me. Must’ve been the sweet nectar oozing from my pores. Between the heat, blazing sun, and nervous fear this gal, who normally doesn’t sweat, was sweating indeed.

And although I managed to avoid a snake bite or hornet sting, I did return to the RV with a dozen itchy tiny welts from mosquitoes.

At least these were itty bitty mosquitoes when compared to the huge ones found in Minnesota.

hiking in Prescott Arizona

So here are my thoughts on safety guidelines. Although today I’m talking about wildlife, I use the same personal guidelines when visiting a city. Thus, whether I’m in the wilderness surrounded by boulders and vegetation or in a metropolitan area surrounded by concrete and roads, a little street smarts goes a long way.

  • learn an animals habits and potential dangers
  • stay calm and back away slowly
  • appear tall and confident
  • allow a wide berth
  • do NOT turn your back
  • do NOT act threatening or provoke
  • be prepared and always have an exit strategy
  • carry pepper spray/bear spray

I know this is a basic  guideline and each animal reacts differently, but in all cases, I’d say most important is not acting threatening or provoking. So what would I have done if bitten by that rattlesnake?

  • First, distance myself from the snake
  • Second, sit down and stay calm. Try not to move.
  • Third, call 911 (when I’m out and about, I’m always checking my phone for reception) If my phone won’t work, use my whistle or scream for help (I try never to hike remotely when by myself. Although this day, I didn’t run into another hiker on the trail. Thank goodness I had good cell service)
  • Always be familiar with your location and surroundings so you can give good directions should you need rescuing. I stopped at every trail post noting my location.
  • If not dizzy, slowly make my way back to the trailhead
  • Get to a hospital as soon as possible.
  • Additional info on snake bites here and here

Willow Lake Prescott Arizona

Have you ever come across wildlife unexpectedly and feared for your safety?

Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife, A Guide to When, Where, and How

These are affiliate links!

Unusual Neighborhood

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

watson lake Prescott Arizona

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

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

camping in Prescott Arizona

RV Fairgrounds – a bit on the unusual side – different

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

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

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

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

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

unusual place to exercise

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

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

Horse racing in Arizona

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

abandoned race track

Yavapai Downs – unusual place to exercise

horse racing

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

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

unusual weather in Arizona

Monsoon season in Arizona – unusual and dramatic

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

Prescott Arizona

Did you do any impulse buying on Amazon Prime Day? I know at least one person who did 😗

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

A Solo Stroll

The monsoon season has officially arrived here in Prescott, Arizona. It’s curtailed my hiking and explorations somewhat, especially when there’s lightening present. But the drama in the sky is luring. The other afternoon I ventured out with no real plan in mind. With camera in hand, I thought I’d swing by one of my favorite spots in Prescott, Arizona … Watson Lake.

Watson Lake Prescott Arizona

It was late in the afternoon with ominous clouds looming. The park was relatively empty. I began aimlessly strolling down one trail and then down another. I was alone, but I was never really alone.

The quiet solitude allowed me to take in the sights and sounds around me. I was in my element, and if it hadn’t been for the severe storm, I could have stayed until nightfall. The highlight of my day was coming across a bobcat in the middle of the trail. She was on the hunt and very focused. She knew I was there, but could’ve cared less. She glanced at me once and immediately returned to focusing on her prey.

Lynx

108 mm – What a rare treat to come across this beautiful bobcat. She was in the middle of the trail and wasn’t about to move. She was intent on her hunt and very focused.

I waited and watched this elegant cat for awhile. However, she obviously exuded more patience than moi, and I soon found myself walking in another direction. I hadn’t ventured far when I heard her success. Tweetie bird’s beautiful chirping was halted in mid chirp along with some serious rustling of the bushes. I quickly swung back to the previous trail where I had spotted her, but saw no signs of the majestic cat. Although, I knew to keep a very safe distance, and didn’t walk past my original spot where I photographed her.  Ah, the circle of life!

A collage of what I saw along the trail that fine day illustrating I was never alone ……

Fingers crossed the storms aren’t too severe this afternoon and I can head back over to Watson Lake and visit with the locals while getting in some trail hiking. In lieu of exercise, I’ll settle for more shutter clicks 😁

Update – Oops in my exuberance to share these photos, I failed to do my homework on the cat I encountered along the trail. Because of the ears, I assumed it was a Lynx when in reality I believe it’s a bobcat. Thanks Laurel for pointing that out 😏

This post was written in response to the WordPress photo challenge = collage

YI 4K Sports and Action Video Camera (US Edition) Night Black

%d bloggers like this: