We have the Fix!

We have the Fix!

I’m deep in thought as I slowly move the paint roller across the wall. I do some of my best thinking while painting. As I tackle this little remodel project, I listen to music from Tom Petty and am put in a reflective mood.

Along with the wheels in my head turning, my body is being physically challenged. Doing anything in an RV tests one’s contortionist skills and I’m certainly testing mine in this 3 foot 4 inch by 2 foot water closet (toilet room). As I bend over the toilet (with the lid down, of course) to paint behind and around the toilet, I brush up against a freshly painted wall with my bare shoulder. Ah, time for a quick break!

I step over to the medicine cabinet mirror to wipe the paint off my shoulder and notice the round faded scar on my upper right arm … a scar from a smallpox vaccination that I received as a child. Hmm, smallpox? Another nasty virus!

A reflective mood!

A change in travel plans

A virus, a pandemic, a health concern, makes one think and reaccess priorities. Back in January while sitting in Arizona, I was thick in the research phase of our summer excursions. I had all these grandiose RV travel ideas that would begin from our summer home base in northern Wisconsin. These out and back trips would take us into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Minnesota’s Northshore. I love Lake Superior and never get enough time exploring her shoreline. So, I couldn’t wait for summer to roll around and dive back into this beautiful part of the country with camera in hand.

By the time May rolled around, it became obvious that this new Covid-19 virus wasn’t just a normal flu bug, and therefore, it definitely wouldn’t be travel as usual. We had already pushed back our Phoenix departure date a couple of times and eventually started rerouting our journey and timeline to Wisconsin with consideration for restrictions due to the pandemic.

It was time for us to simplify our RV travel plans for the summer. A problem with the RV grey tank while en route to Wisconsin made simplifying those plans easy as well as necessary. Long story short, we fixed our RV ourselves and avoided the need for hunting down an RV repair facility that could get us into the shop in a timely manner … a real problem these days, plus we saved ourselves some serious moola in the process.

Under the belly of the RV – “I think I can fix this.”

The new RV travel plan

Our plan for the summer is not to travel, but to stay put on lakefront private property. Oh darn! Guess that means we’ll need to paddle the canoe more or give the pontoon boat a frequent workout. I believe Al and I are of an age where we don’t feel the necessity to be on the go exploring all the time, and we actually relish the quiet solitude found here in northern Wisconsin.

We’ve lived a blessed life filled with extensive travel and careers we loved. If we don’t make it back to the UP or Northshore this summer, we’re okay with that, and hopefully next summer, things will be back to travel as usual.

Ah, but we haven’t totally hibernated. We’ve taken little jaunts up to Duluth for shopping and hiking, but mostly shopping (Home Depot). Since we’re hanging with family this summer and not moving around, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to freshen up the RV with a little remodeling … hence the painting of the bathroom. I originally wanted to do a major remodel which would include replacing the flooring but nixed that idea once the Midwest summer heat and humidity set-in in full force. I think it might be wise doing most of the projects when we’re back in arid Phoenix. Too much humidity could play havoc on those projects.

Problem Solving

In addition to the RV projects, I managed to repair some damage to the pontoon boat bimini. I brought my sewing machine with me to Wisconsin thinking I might crank out some new face masks, which I still might do, but the machine came in quite handy to accomplish repairing a few rips and replacing zippers on the pontoon canvas bimini. Once repaired, it was lake time. Thank goodness for my sewing skills … thanks mom.

Although all the repairs and projects have kept us pretty busy, we’ve still managed to get in plenty of fun-time with Al’s sister and her husband. After all, it’s their property that we’re camped on for the summer.

So what do four baby boomers do when they hang out together in the hinterland? Of course, there’s the boating and splashing in the lake like twelve-year-olds. Then there’s the eating and drinking accompanied by problem-solving conversations and more drinking. Have I told you how my culinary and bartending skills have improved significantly with all the practice I’m getting lately?

When the weather is bad, we’ll watch a movie or sit on the screened-in deck and watch the storm clouds pass … more drinking and world problem-solving ensue. Along with light-hearted jovial tales, we’ll discuss more serious topics which brings me full circle to the beginning of this post about that smallpox vaccine scar on my arm.

Sitting on the deck watching the storm!

While the four of us discuss current affairs, we can’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. History seems to be repeating itself in little ways. We come up with a list of events from our past that impacted our lives.

  • In the ’60s/’70s, the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam War. Today, it’s the Middle East and soldiers are thanked for their service. Back then, those serving in the military were spat on, had raw eggs thrown at them, and were verbally assaulted. Hanoi Jane and folks that protested the war or dodged the draft were forgiven, but Vietnam Vets have never forgotten.
  • Viruses; I personally had the chickenpox, mumps, and German measles (rubella). In the sixties, polio still existed in the U.S., although rare. I remember a young classmate who wore braces on her legs from having had polio. In the ’80s, we were introduced to HIV and Aids. This was a scary time as there were no meds or treatments for this perplexing virus. The diagnosis was a death sentence and many of us lost at least one friend due to Aids.
  • In the late ’70s, my high school was evacuated a couple of times due to racial riots. In 1991/92, riots broke out over the treatment of Rodney King.
  • During my high school years, the war on drugs was in full force. Random school locker searches by teams of law enforcement officers accompanied by drug-sniffing German Shepards took place monthly. And here we are in 2020 and the war on drugs continues.
  • In the ’70s and ’80s, the airline industry was in turmoil and furloughs were a part of their business model. I predict the airline industry is in for another rough patch and history is on the verge of repeating itself, unfortunately.

How much has really changed over the past sixty years? People are people and you can’t legislate morality or respect. During our happy hour conversations, we share our opinions and potential solutions for the problem … whatever the flavor problem of the evening might be… one of us can usually come up with a fix cause we’re a group of edumacated mature individuals.😆

Now implementing our fix may not be perceived in a favorable light, but hey, it’s only a thought and we’re usually under the influence of spirits while coming up with these ideas.

Since the four of us grew up just west of Chicago, one evening we came up with a solution for the soaring crime and violence in the city … all the southside Grandma’s need to embrace their inner Paul Kersey character and take their communities back from the gangs. Can we get the Hill Street Blues to go along with that plan? Okay, kidding … or am I? Did I mention, we may have watched a couple of Charles Bronson movies during last week’s tornado warning?

Okay maybe some of our solutions are questionable, but perhaps someone like Sigurd Olson was onto something with his profound and thought-provoking words.

Joys come from simple and natural things; mist over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water. Even rain and wind and stormy clouds bring joy. We humans need wilderness. It is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium … only when one comes to listen, only when one is aware and still, can things be seen and heard – Sigurd F. Olson, Listening Point

So now ya know what life is like around my neck of the woods. How’s life treating you?

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Wandering Wednesday – Water

With temperatures heating up and an abundance of sunshine gracing the skies, it’s time to hit the water. I love hanging around a picturesque lake or soft sandy ocean beach. I’m not the greatest swimmer, but I do enjoy and embrace all kinds of boating. You’ll even see me jump at the chance to float down a meandering river on an inner tube … throw in some tiny rapids, and the ten year old within me will emerge complete with giggles and screams.

Oh yeah, I never tire of the sight of a beautiful body of water!

reflection at the Grand Tetons Wyoming
Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Considering nearly 40% of the United States population live in coastal counties, counties directly on the shoreline, I’d say I’m not alone in my passion for water.

Jackson Lake Grand Tetons Wyoming
Jackson Lake – Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Photo inspiration

For this weeks photo inspiration … theme … challenge (whatever we want to call it) I’ve chosen WATER. Let’s share some favorite water images.

Lake Havasu Arizona sunset
sunset over Lake Havasu, Arizona
San Diego cruise ship pulling into port
San Diego – cruise ship pulling into port

From my archives

Digging through my archives I came across a couple of old photos that brought back fond memories ….

Boundary Waters Canoe Area northern Minnesota Canoe trip
Canoeing – Boundary Waters Canoe Area – northern Minnesota

We loved our canoe trips to northern Minnesota …. especially to Gunflint Lake which is located north of the town of Grand Marais and Lake Superior. I wish the quality of this photograph was better. If you look close, our 2 year old daughter is sitting between my legs while our 4 year old son sits in the center of the canoe. The white blob behind our son is our first Brittany Spaniel dog, Dallas … great dog who loved these adventures.

We started these camping / canoeing vacations to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area years before we had children. Once the children arrived, they added another element and joy to our adventures and never stopped us from embarking on these excursions.

open bow boat
I loved this little boat – so many fun times spent out on the water. Me driving while Bear sits behind me.
Horsetooth reservoir Fort Collins Colorado
I’m not sure who enjoyed the boat rides more – Bear or me!

Share and connect …

Feel free to join in – comment and share your “water” photos!

Upcoming prompts to keep in mind …

  • Next Wednesday – Flowers
  • the following Wednesday – Patriotic (think fireworks, picnic, flags, etc)
  • then – Food
Lake Powell
Lake Powell

(affiliate links)
 Inflatable Sport Kayak

Beach Chair with Storage Pouch and Towel Bar

A Mirror of Reflections

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s September already.  Our summer flew by, and although our travels didn’t exactly go as planned, we are not complaining.  Actually, we couldn’t have planned our summer any better.  Sometimes winging it can turn into an amazing adventure.

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

The travel God’s smiled on us regularly as we changed directions on a whim.  I mean literally from one second to another we were changing our minds on where we should go and pulling into campgrounds without reservations…. not ideal in the peak of tourist season.  One minute we were in crisis mode pointing the RV in an easterly direction, and the next, with the crisis averted, we found ourselves turning around and heading north; traveling with no real rhyme or reason other than some impending obligations.

Jackson Lake, Wyoming
Jackson Lake, Wyoming

The flexibility and freedom of traveling in a RV can be liberating, exciting, stressful, wonderful, scary, perplexing, and of course, relaxing …… it’s kind of like a rollercoaster of emotions, but minus the word relaxing.  As much as I love a good rollercoaster ride, I’ve never found one to be relaxing – exhilarating yes, relaxing no!  And RVing can be an exhilarating journey.

Jackson Lake, Wyoming
Jackson Lake, Wyoming

Along with seeing spectacular scenery this summer, we met some wonderful people.  More than once we were referred to as “seasoned”.  On July 1st, we entered our fourth year of full-time RV living.  Our one to two year intention of living in the RV full-time has since turned into year four.  I’m not sure when we progressed from “newbie” RV’er to “seasoned” RV’er, but here we are,  still enjoying the journey, and willing to share our school of hard knocks knowledge with any “RV newbie” who asks.

Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado

I’ll admit, three years ago as a relative ‘newbie’, I would never have handled the winging it style of travel we embarked on this summer.  I’ve always been a planner and usually have a game plan laid out weeks in advance, and most times, months in advance.  I think, over time, we’ve developed a level of RVing confidence. We have confidence in knowing we’ll always manage to find a place to overnight, even if it’s just a parking lot.

Loved visiting the ducks at Schbacher Landing, Grand Tetons, Wyoming
Loved visiting the ducks at Schwabacher Landing, Grand Tetons, Wyoming

There are days I do miss a home base.  A place to go back to and regroup, but I still haven’t found that spot I’d like to call home.  So the search shall continue.  I do know it won’t be Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Although amazingly beautiful, and I look forward to returning, my blood is too thin to tackle that weather.  More than once we awoke to temperatures in the 30 degree Fahrenheit range along with a fresh dusting of snow on the peaks and this was in mid July …. beautiful BUT brrrr!

I don't think I'd ever tire of this view, but I couldn't live here - too cold...brrrr!
I don’t think I’d ever tire of this view, but I couldn’t live here – too cold…brrrr!

The moment I realized this weeks photo challenge was mirror, I knew I had to share some images from our summer excursion ….. photographs depicting reflections.  I’m still struggling with my computer issues, thus my lack of blogosphere presence may continue, but now that we’ve decided to slow our travels down a tad and spend the next two months hanging in Prescott, Arizona, I’m hoping to finally upgrade this dinosaur of a laptop.

Yellowstone Bear World, Idaho
Yellowstone Bear World, Idaho

Once I bring home that new laptop, I’ll start writing about our interesting travel stops.  Not only do these photographs depict reflections, as I review them, I reflect on our memories, on our journey, on the adventure.

Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
Slate River Road, Crested Butte, Colorado
Slate River Road, Crested Butte, Colorado

My biggest dilemma was narrowing down the photographs to just a few, which was not an easy task for me.  We managed to visit some stunningly beautiful places during the past few months.  We started in Arizona last April then ventured into Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and now, five months later, have returned to Arizona.

I was excited to see a Pelican fly by - Pelicans in Wyoming?
I was excited to see a Pelican fly by – Pelicans in Wyoming?
Lots of ducks
Lots of ducks
Mountains and Wildlife - love it!
Mountains and Wildlife – love it!

Yep, we had one heck of a rollercoaster ride this summer ….. wouldn’t change a moment….. not the highs, the lows, or the upside downs.  Stay tuned for all the stories!

Adventure Comes in Many Ways

Once I realized how much I like to use the word adventure, I began to wonder if I was using the word correctly, which lead to a little Googling.  Here’s a definition I came across that resonated with me.Lilacs

  1.  an undertaking usually involving unknown risks
  2.  an exciting or remarkable experience
  3.  engaging in an exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.

After absorbing this information, I feel I am indeed using the word adventure correctly.  With that said, allow me to share part of this summers adventure – my exploration of unknown territory.Idaho

First we’ll need to backtrack…..  When Al and I sold the house and moved into the RV full-time three years ago, it wasn’t a dream or something we’d given much thought to.  There was no plan, no budget, and no bucket list of destinations.   From what I’ve gathered, most folks embark on this lifestyle via a well prepared plan including goals, budget, and destinations in mind.

Arco, IdahoWe on the other hand moved into the RV full-time on a whim.  You see, life had not only thrown us one curve ball, it had thrown us a bunch of curve balls.

We were faced with several losses and challenges which drained us emotionally.  Instead of sitting on the front porch feeling sorry for ourselves, we decided to throw caution to the wind, jump in the RV, and wing it.

It’s been an interesting ride and definitely an adventure, but every now and then, I have felt lost….. certainly not physically (well, except for last week when I got ‘turned around’ so badly, I actually admitted to being lost.  Ah, but that’s a tale for another post).  I’m not sure if that lost feeling is part of the grieving process or just part of normal life.

wildflowersWith that said, I started talking to Al about temporary work otherwise known as Workamping in the RVing community.  There are all kinds of positions out there geared toward the RVer and temporary seasonal jobs.

The term “Workamping” is actually a blending of the words work and camping and is a registered trademark of Workamper News ;  a great website matching up RVer’s with work assignments.  Another popular website is CoolWorks, and then there’s word of mouth and forums.

Last winter when Al and I realized we had no summer travel plans in mind, we decided to look into Workamping opportunities.  Although we did get called for a few locations, we chose the Idaho job.  One – we’ve never been to south central Idaho and two – we were introduced to the RV Park owners at a social gathering in Phoenix.  After a three-hour luncheon with the owners, it was determined this could be a win-win situation for both couples.

our home for the summer
our home for the summer

We now have a month under our belts working at the Mountain View RV Park in Arco, Idaho, and I can honestly say that up to this point, this has been the perfect scenario easing us into the Workamping experience.  It has been a win-win for both couples.

Since Al and I ran our own business for fifteen years, we’re self-starters, and we’ve stayed at enough RV Parks to understand what needs to be taken care of.  We asked the owners for a quick list of priorities, then jumped right in and started taking care of things.

What things, you ask……….

There's always lawn mowing. Al was having fun riding a tractor again. Not sure how long he'll consider it 'fun'.
There’s always lawn mowing. Al was having fun riding a tractor again. Not sure how long he’ll consider it ‘fun’.
Getting out the tools, had Al doing a little Tim Allen male grunting
Getting out the tools had Al doing a little Tim Allen male grunting
With music playing in my ears, there was a little dancing while painting going on
With music playing in my ears, there was a little dancing while painting going on
We all know by now that I enjoy baking. This day, I made pies for the restaurant.
We all know by now that I enjoy baking. This day, I made pies for the restaurant.

On a daily basis, Al and I will ride around the park in the golf cart making sure garbage is picked up, the bathrooms are clean, and campers are enjoying their stay.  I’ve even waitressed in the restaurant a couple of times when they got short-handed.  Do you know it has been over thirty years since I last waited on tables?  I jumped right in and acted like I knew what I was doing and had so much fun that I volunteered to waitress regularly.  I know, is that crazy?  I enjoyed meeting and talking to the locals coming into the restaurant for a meal.  They are all eager to share the beauty their home state has to offer, giving Al and me plenty of ideas to explore on our down time.

Exploring the backcountry near Mackay Idaho.
Exploring the backcountry near Mackay Idaho.

And there has been plenty of down time allowing us to explore the area….  Craters of the Moon National Monument, drive the old mining roads near Mackay, take a trip to Twin Falls to watch Base jumpers at the Perrine bridge and see the stunning sight of Shoshone Falls.  With so much going on, where will I ever find the time to blog 😉

I’m not sure why Al and I are so enjoying the Workcamping gig, but we think it has something to do in knowing the position is temporary.  We also realize we have the freedom to pack up and move on anytime we’re unhappy.  That sense of freedom is liberating.  After all, it’s not as if we’re trying to build our resumes 😆

For a few days next week, we’ll pack up the RV and take a vacation from our Workamping duties.  Oh yes, this summer is definitely turning into a summer filled with exciting and new explorations….. adventure all around and in many different ways!Craters of the Moon

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences – Eleanor Roosevelt

 


Sisters on the Fly: Caravans, Campfires, and Tales from the Road

Repeats are great!

The anticipation of pulling up jacks and rolling down the road to a new location is always exciting, but returning to familiar territory can be equally enjoyable.  There’s something comforting about revisiting a place.Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado
our daughter, Ashton

This summer we find ourselves once again calling Denver home.  Last year we stayed in Westminster (northwest of Denver) at the Westminster Elks Lodge.  At the time, our daughter lived just a few miles away making it super convenient to hang out with her.  The location was also ideal to head into Denver regularly and explore the city, which we took full advantage of.

Last summer also included a few visits to Rocky Mountain National Park.  RMNP offers one majestic view after another with wildlife sightings almost guaranteed.  Gosh, how I love this place!

Elk in rutObviously, our main reason for returning to Denver for the months of June and July were to spend time with our daughter.  Last year Ashton moved to Highlands Ranch (south end of the Denver area) which meant the Elks Lodge in Westminster was no longer a convenient option for us to stay.

That was fine by me since the lack of views and high density parking were not my favorite.  Now, we had the  perfect opportunity to check out some lovely state parks.

Our first stop on the agenda was Chatfield State Park, located southwest of Denver.  We spent ten days here last year and liked it so much that we ended up booking a two-week reservation in the very same site for a June visit.  The views from my campsite were exactly what I was craving.

Denver, Colorado
the view out my RV door – site 74 at Chatfield State Park

I’ll jump at any opportunity to camp with a water view.   Add in wildflowers and wildlife…camping in Colorado

Denver, Coloradowell, it just doesn’t get much better.  Since, I’d been feeling a bit under the weather, this was the perfect place for me to lay low, recover, and enjoy the scenery.

During my working days, I was one of those people who would go on vacation and would need a vacation to recover from vacation.  I’ve never been one to lay at the beach or pool while sunbathing or reading.  Oh no, no lying around when there are things to do, sights to see, and adventures to be had.

Denver, Colorado
downtown Denver

To some degree, that hasn’t changed much.  Before we even travel to a new place, I usually have a list of things to see and do.  If nothing else, at least a trail map. That doesn’t mean we’ll carry out the items on that list, it’s meant as a rough idea of what an area has to offer.  The kids have plenty of travel stories involving their mom (moi) dragging them off in the rain to go zip lining in Maui or learning to ski in a blizzard.  No sitting around for this family when adventure awaits.

Denver, ColoradoThat said, I was really excited to return to Denver for the summer.  I had such a great time here last year that I compiled a list of places new and old to visit and even picked up the latest edition of 5280, a great magazine for anyone visiting Denver.

However, my health had other plans in mind and this summer I find myself joining the ranks of loungers near water reading.  Because I explored so much of Denver and the eastern Rockies last year, I’m actually enjoying the down time and of course it helps to be camped in some pretty awesome spots.

Chatfield State Park
Chatfield State Park, near Denver, Colorado – site 74

I really like Chatfield State Park …… mountains, water, wildlife, wildflowers, and sunsets.  The park was experiencing some serious flooding during our stay.  So serious that the western side of the park was closed, as were all the boat ramps.

camping in Denver
western entrance (Wadsworth Road) into Chatfield SP – the day use area is totally under water. The water is supposed to be on the other side of those trees. The trees should not be under water – picnic area and swim beach.

We even lost the ability for sewer for an entire week causing us to make a trip to Cabela’s to dump our tanks.  In other words, the park had no flush toilets anywhere, no showers, and no dump station.  We even experienced some power outages.  I felt badly for the staff as none of this was their fault and yet some campers and boaters were hostile.

camping in Denver
We’re looking at the swim beach, what’s left of it and the partly submerged restrooms. It gets worse!
Colorado State Parks
the same beach restrooms are almost totally submerged just a few days later. Check out the buoy’s in both photos.

Colorado State ParksFor us it was all part of the adventure and we were even refunded the difference between a partial hook-up verses a full hook-up.  I think it helped that we’re comfortable dry camping.

Paddlers were loving it.  With the boat ramps closed, the only boaters on the water were either kayaks, canoes, or those that rent a slip at the marina.  Even the weekends were quiet at this normally crowded reservoir.

Colorado State Parks
this is the main road heading toward the Wadsworth entrance turned kayak launch.
Colorado State Parks
the Platte River covers the main road toward the Wadsworth Road entrance

Roads and trails were underwater throughout the park.  This all took place the last two weeks of June, and as of this writing, the water has receded and all roads are open/assessable and all facilities are back in operation.  Colorado sure experienced an unusually wet May and June in 2015 making for a nice showing of wildflowers which Miss Hummer was loving.hummers

Chatfield ReservoirSo although I haven’t been out and about exploring much lately, my repeat stay at Chatfield State Park was great.  I relaxed outside watching the world go by, or rather hummers whiz by, I played around in the RV kitchen experimenting with some new recipes, we enjoyed lots of visits with the daughter, and even managed to fit in a little socializing.

Next up, we move camp over to Bear Creek Lake Park…….

To check out my first attempt at making Barbacoa click here.  And here’s the two latest additions to my library.

My Paleo Patisserie: An Artisan Approach to Grain Free BakingPlate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling

I never thought food photography would be so challenging. Let’s face it, anyone can take a photograph of a plate of food and post it on Instagram or Pin it, but making the food look like an appetizing morsel instead of tossed cookies takes a little more work …… as I’m finding out!

Colorado State Parks
I could get used to this view!