Hiking a Slot Canyon with Friends

Last week, I took the best hike ever! First off, the hike involved a slot canyon, and second the experience was shared with friends. Yes sirree, it was an awesome morning filled with amazing scenery and lots of laughter.

Up until we started RVing full-time five years ago, I had never heard of a slot canyon. I had no clue what folks were talking about, but by reading blogs, I was introduced to Antelope Canyon. The photographs intrigued me to the point that I had to see and experience this magical sight for myself.

What is a slot canyon?

The first time I heard the term slot canyon, I remember asking myself, “What is a slot canyon?” I was totally clueless. So what exactly is it? A slot canyon is a narrow canyon formed by rock wearing away by water rushing through it. The split rock crevasses are polished by water and time and are a photograper’s delight. A slot canyon is much deeper than it is wide and many slots are formed in sandstone and limestone rock …. the perfect conditions here in northern Arizona and southern Utah.

Water Holes Canyon slot

The most popular and world-renowned slot canyon in the United States is Antelope Canyon which is located in northern Arizona near the town of Page. Folks come from around the world to see this unique and stunning red rock slot.

Since Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Indian land, the only way to experience these canyons is via a paid tour. Tours are usually not my thing, but ever since I hiked my first slot canyon at Kasha-Katuwe, I was eager to hike one of these red rock wonders. I pondered the thought of a tour …. but then ….

Friends plan a hike together

Mona Liza on the left, Faye in the middle and me on the right

So let me set the stage for you ….. A couple of months ago, these three RV blogging pals began discussions on a potential rendezvous.  You see, Mona Liza and I met online via our blogs over five years ago. A couple of years later, I introduced Mona Liza to Faye, another friend I met via blogging.

friends made via bloggingOver the past few years, the three of us have crossed paths rather happenstance. I’ve bumped into these ladies separately in Texas, Arizona, Colorado and even Idaho.

The three of us have serendipitously  found ourselves camped in Texas and Arizona while Faye and Mona Liza have stumbled upon each other in Utah and Canada.

This past winter, Faye and I spent a month camped at the same RV park in Phoenix, Arizona, but it had been quite a while since either one of us had seen Mona Liza. Thus, a little planning was in order. Since Mona Liza (and her honey bunch, Steve) had a well planned RV travel itinerary scheduled with firm reservations, Faye and I did a little rearranging of our own schedules so the three of us could meet up.

After comparing notes, it was decided Page, Arizona, would be the best place for us to connect even though we’d have less than 48 hours to hang out together. With that said, we didn’t waste any time. During our first happy hour, we discussed potential hikes for the following day.

We all love hiking slot canyons and our first consideration was the Wire Pass Trail, but that would require at least an hours drive north into Utah and the group didn’t want to waste our short time together driving. Plus, Mona Liza and Steve would be heading out-of-town and traveling the next day anyway.

hiking near Page, Arizona

Our group – me center front, Mona Liza on the left, my hubby Al in the red, then Faye, Steve, and Dave

Unanimous decision

After a short discussion over drinks, we agreed on Water Holes Canyon for the hike of the day. Since this self-guided slot canyon trail is located on Navajo land, a permit is required. Obtaining the permits turned into a little laughable fiasco since much of the info we found online seemed to be outdated.

As of this writing, the only place to purchase a permit to hike Waterholes Canyon is at the  Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park Office located on Coppermine Road, 3 miles south of Page and next to the LeChee Chapter House. The cost is $12 per person and the office is closed on weekends.

Note: The state of Arizona does not participate in daylight savings time. We never change our clocks. BUT the Navajo Nation does. Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll want to verify and double check the time so you arrive at the appropriate time for any tours or stopping by a Navajo business. Nothing like keeping tourists on their toes!

the trail from the parking lot to the canyon

With permits in hand, we hit the trail around 9:00 a.m. (Arizona time). The trail is clearly marked with rocks leading from the tiny parking area down into the canyon. Once we navigated the steep descend into the canyon, we took a left heading east.

The trail also goes to the right, but once you pass under the highway bridge, you’ll need some serious Canyoneering skills…. as in ropes, ladders, strong upper body strength, rappelling, experience – I think you get the picture. So take my advice and go left, east of the highway.

Once you pass under the Hwy 89 bridge, the trail is for experienced hikers with canyoneering skills.

The trail starts out wide and sandy. Our group ooh’s and ah’s at the unique red sculpted sandstone. It was a beautiful morning with few other people on the trail …  just yet.

Eventually the canyon starts to narrow … hence the term slot canyon. More ooh’s and ah’s were heard!

As the trail narrowed, there were a few obstacles for those of us a tad more vertically challenged. But we all excelled in a our team building efforts.

The most challenging part of the entire hike for me was that first ladder because it wasn’t quite tall enough for my comfort level. Thank goodness I had help at the top. Mona Liza needed help being pulled up as well.  The two ladders strapped together made for a rickety setup and we all took caution climbing it.

Once past the ladder, the slot canyon continued to wow us with her beauty. With three out of the six of us carrying cameras, there was plenty of stopping. With all the stopping to admire the canyon and snap photos, there was no cardio workout for this group.

Dave and I compare camera settings

Photographing a slot canyon can be a challenge due to the light, but that’s also what makes it so interesting. I’ve heard great things about the Indian guides at Antelope Canyon instructing photographers on the best camera settings. Dave said he learned a  lot about his camera and the best settings from his guide when they hiked Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon a couple of years ago. Hmm, I may need to take one of those tours yet.

Depending on the time of day you visit, the colors of the rocks can vary greatly. So I highly recommend taking the time to admire the ever-changing light.

A word of caution …. Be sure to check the weather before embarking on any slot canyon hike. Remember how a slot is formed …. rushing water. You’ll want to avoid a flash flood, which can occur even if the rain is many miles away and upstream. This is not something to be taken lightly and even experienced hikers have lost their battle with a canyon flash flooding.

Once we reached the end of the trail (near the overhead power lines), it was time for us to turn around and view the canyon from a new direction. The hike is just as amazing on the return, but this is also when we starting running into crowds. Seems as the day progresses, it can get busy.

Time to climb back out of the canyon. We need to join Al up there!

The climb back out of the canyon is a bit steep and this was another area where I was glad I wore good hiking shoes for traction. In the above photo, the hike up is around that bend and up to where Al is standing. Seems I failed to photograph the trail back up 😏

But here’s one of Dave’s photos showing us hike down, and showcases the kind of rock we had to walk on. This could get real slick if wet. As it was, the rock is dusted with sand and gets a little slippery in spots.

slot canyonWaterholes Canyon is about a 3 mile (total) out and back hike. I loved it! It was so much fun …. partly due to the stunning scenery but a bigger part due to the wonderful camaraderie.

Yep, this was one great hike … a great hike with great friends. Doesn’t get much better!

I’m so glad we rearranged our travels so we could all connect for this fantastic hike. Unfortunately, as full-time RVers, it’ll be awhile before we bump into each other again. Seems we’re all heading in different directions this year.

Laughter and adventure near Lake Powell – Thanks for the memories!

slot canyons

Hiking a slot canyon with friends

Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment. – Grenville Kleiser

(affiliate links) Good hiking shoes are a must for this trail for sure-footed traction. Al and I love our Merrell’s…..

Merrell Men’s hiking BootMerrell Women’s
Compass T-Shirt

Advertisements

The Trip to Lake Powell

I can’t think of a better way to start the day than by watching a beautiful sunrise while drinking a tasty cup of hot strong coffee.  Throw in some stunning scenery and it just doesn’t get much better.

sunrise at Lake Powell

It’s Easter Sunday and while enjoying the view this morning … and the sunrise and the coffee, I couldn’t help but feel grateful and did a little reflecting. You might say, I was feeling a little spiritual. Since I’m not one to get too serious about things here on the blog, let me just say, it was the perfect way to spend my Easter morning.

We arrived in Page, Arizona, last Sunday, and the week has flown by, but then again, we’ve been very busy …. and social.

slot canyons

Hiking a slot canyon with friends

Our travel day

Last Sunday we bid farewell to Lake Havasu City. The drive from Lake Havasu City to Page, Arizona was just a little over 350 miles (564 km) and took us just shy of eight hours in driving time. I must add that in addition to stopping for gas, we spent over an hour stopped northeast of Flagstaff for lunch and to check out some boondocking spots for future reference in the Coconino National Forest near Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

Coconino National Forest

Our stop for lunch – Coconino National Forest near Sunset Crater

That stop would add to an already long day and for a split second we thought about overnighting right then and there (well, not exactly ‘there’ because there was a sign clearly stating no overnight parking 😔). We could’ve gone down any number of dirt roads in the national forest and found a place to camp, but at 8,000 feet in elevation at noon time the wind was already brisk and cold requiring us to don a coat. Therefore, we knew once the sun went down, the temperature would plummet …. burr.  Time to keep the wheels rolling.

We don’t usually drive that kind of distance in one day. After all, we live on RV time and prefer to meander. Initially we planned to break the drive up by spending the night near the south rim of the Grand Canyon and boondocking in the Kaibab National Forest where we did last September, but the weather there was also too cold for our desert acclimated bodies – near freezing temps overnight. Therefore, the weather kept us on the move.

By the time we arrived in Page, we were exhausted and more than ready to park the RV. If we were traveling with only one truck, we could easily switch drivers making the long day less tiring, but since we were traveling with both trucks (Al in the F-250 pulling the 5th wheel and me in the Toyota Tacoma), it made for an exhausting day.

When we travel outside of Arizona, we usually leave the Tacoma at our sons home in Phoenix, but since we’ve hung around Arizona all winter, we’ve been traveling with both trucks. As our week progressed, we were glad we had the Tacoma available for a little back country exploring, but that tale deserves its own post.

Getting stuck in the sand

When we finally arrived at the dispersed camping area north of Page and Wahweap Marina, we were eager to assess the road and get the RV parked. The Lone Rock Beach area is a popular spot with day users and campers alike. Located along the shores of Lake Powell, this would be our fourth time camping here.

Lake Powell, Page Arizona

One of the things we learned during our second visit here is the lay of the land is ever-changing. The sandstone buttes, mesas, and monoliths that make the landscape so incredibly stunning are formed from wind and rain, which means you can expect a regular dose of wind around here.

cairnsAnd all that wind, likes to rearrange the sand.

One year, the best packed road leading down toward the water might be to the left of the restroom building while another year it would be best to take the road to the right. Folks get stuck in the sand here all the time and this year it was our turn.

In an attempt to make his princess happy and give her an optimum view, Al attempted to find a nice spot closer to the water than where we’ve previously camped. After all, there were Class A’s and 5th Wheels bigger than us camped at the shore. Unfortunately, the packed gravel like areas are mixed in with the pure sand areas making it a guessing game about finding a good place to park.

It was near dusk. The wind was howling and whipping up the sand. We were exhausted from the long drive. Al stopped the truck and RV so we could talk about exactly where to park (remember he wants to make his princess happy), but what he didn’t realize was when he stopped, the 5th wheel tires were in a soft sandy spot. Once he tried to drive forward, the rear truck tires started spinning and digging deeper into the sand.

Lake Powell, Page, Arizona

Teenagers from the class A came to our aid.

Two teenagers camped in the Class A motorhome came running toward us with a shovel and wood blocks. This was one time I was glad it was spring break with kids everywhere. Between rearranging the sand with the shovel, using the blocks under the tires, and locking the hubs into four-wheel drive, Al managed to pull out of the sand and kept his momentum going until he found a solid gravel like area to stop.

Lone Rock Lake Powell

We kept the truck and 5th Wheel hooked up for the next two days while waiting for our friends to join us and then deciding together where to park our RV’s for the coming week. Little did we know, we’d be sharing some great adventures. What a week!

Here’s a hint of some of those adventures ….

Those tales will need to wait until I have some down time to write about them. Right now, we have some more exploring to do with our friends before it’s time for them to move on. Such is the life of an RVer!

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday! 🐰🥕🌼

(affiliate links)

 Folding Shovel

 

 

Arizona Benchmark Road & Recreation Atlas

Goodbye Lake Havasu

After almost three months of hanging around Lake Havasu City, Arizona, the itch to roll became too strong to ignore. So today we said goodbye to Lake Havasu City. We’ve hitched up and the wheels are rolling in search of new scenery. However, we won’t be venturing too far from the Colorado River. We’re actually going from one man-made Colorado River lake to another.

sunset at Lake Havasu

The sunsets are always beautiful!

When jello jiggles

lighthouseWe’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Lake Havasu City. It was never our plan to visit western Arizona this winter, but when hurricane Harvey hit our favorite Texas Gulf Coast town square in the middle  …. well, let’s just say the jello jiggled  and we were onto plan B.

When an RVer says, “Our plans are written in jello“, they basically mean their travel itinerary is flexible, ever-changing and not firm. Your lesson for the day on RVing jargon 🤣

Once our friends, the one’s we met last summer in Prescott, heard we weren’t going to Texas, they encouraged us to come spend some time with them on their property in Lake Havasu City (sure, twist my arm).They were eager to share their town with us and show us why they love living in Havasu.

When Al and I sold our Colorado home on a whim five years ago, we thought we’d only be doing this full-time RVing thing for a year or two. Thus, we’re always looking at real estate, especially me. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. Hey, you can’t take the home builder/realtor out of me just because I live in an RV. I still love architecture and home design.

golf course

Golf is popular in Lake Havasu City

With that said, our search to find a new home base started the minute we sold that last house. But if we’re being honest here, this RVing gig is kind of addictive and the thought of putting down roots in one location usually finds us hitching up and rolling before putting any ink to paper. To say we can’t (don’t want to) make a commitment would be an understatement.

float plane

We feel very fortunate to have stayed and explored some beautiful parts of this country, and when we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in an area, we think about the possibility of a home base. That certainly doesn’t mean we’d ever give up RVing. Nope, we enjoy RVing way too much to stop anytime soon!

What we like about Lake Havasu City

For starters, there’s a lake here along with a ton of other recreational opportunities. All that recreation makes for a great destination for a variety of people. During winter months, the town attracts retirees from colder regions around the U.S. and Canada. During spring months, the community fills with university students on spring break.

Whatever hobbies or interests you may have, it’s most likely happening around here. There are all kinds of activities available for all ages. There are clubs to join for those living here and festivals to attend for locals and tourists alike.

If you enjoy gambling, there are a bunch of casinos up and down the Colorado River and many offer live entertainment including top name talent.

A variety of competitions take place in Lake Havasu City. Just a few of the events include the International World Jet Ski Races, a pyrotechnics convention, a speedway, professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, charity events, a balloon festival, and more.

Toys, toys, and more toys! It’s all about the toys around Lake Havasu City …. Boats – you’ll see everything from kayaks to jet boats and everything in between. Cars – hot rods, sports cars, old cars. 4×4’s – Jeep’s, ATV’s, UTV’s. Aircrafts – large and small. RVs of all shapes and sizes with plenty of RV parks, state parks and boondocks to camp.

Weather – From October to April the weather is wonderful and perfect for outdoor activities. The mild winter weather is a snowbirders delight.

A regular part of our day included a three-mile out and back walk along the Bridgewater Channel. Al and I would start our walk at Rotary Park and walk under the iconic London Bridge and turn around at the Lake Havasu State Park. Hiking the stairs at the London Bridge became part of daily exercise routine.

Bridgewater Channel

walking along the Bridgewater Channel is a popular activity

Housing and property taxes are relatively affordable and most lots have room to park those toys. There are some great hiking trails at the south end of town at Sara Park, and where there’s water, there are birds. So even though I didn’t get a chance to do my usual bird photography along the Gulf Coast this winter, I still managed to capture a few bird photos along the shores of Lake Havasu.

lighthouses of Lake Havasu City

Location – the location is great for connecting with like-minded folks. We kept very social during our stay, not only with our Havasu friends and their friends, but with other RVers. With Quartzsite only an hours drive to the south and Laughlin an hour to the north, there’s always someone passing through or stopping in Lake Havasu City.

Our latest meet up was with Debbie and Steve when they spent a week in the area. Then a week later when Al and I needed to make a Sam’s Club run up to Bullhead City, we reconnected not only with them but also with their friends.

RVers meet up at Bubba Gumps in Laughlin, NV. We meet some of Steve and Debbie’s friends. From left to right – Craig, Steve, Debbie, Al, me, Steve Dianne, Jo

The downside to Lake Havasu City

Weather is not only a huge plus half the year, it’s also a negative. Summer gets hot around here. Lake Havasu City is lower in elevation than Phoenix, Arizona, which means summertime temperatures soar into the 100 degree Fahrenheit range regularly. Lake Havasu City holds the all-time record high temperature in Arizona history with 128 °F recorded on June 29, 1994. However, on December 31, 2014, snow actually fell on the town.

The desert landscape around here is rather barren. You won’t find any majestic saguaro’s or desert wildflowers, but you will find plenty of rock. The longer I was here, the more I was bothered by the lack of vegetation.

Shopping is limited. However, Havasu pretty much has everything I need these days. The biggest draw back for me personally is the distance to the nearest city. The closest major city is Las Vegas which is a 2 1/2 hour drive away while Phoenix is a 3 1/2 hour boring drive away. That means I can’t just pop in on my kids for lunch in Phoenix. Yeah, a bit too far away for a spur of the moment visit with one of the kiddos.

London Bridge

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Recommended businesses

When we spend a prolonged amount of time in a new location, we have the opportunity to learn about the area and that includes where to shop and good places to eat. Just in case you find yourself visiting western Arizona, here are some businesses in Lake Havasu City that we enjoyed and feel comfortable recommending.

Palm treesGrocery stores: I’m usually fond of shopping at a Kroger Grocery store (aka Fry’s or Smith’s in Arizona) but in Lake Havasu City, I prefer Arizona’s local supermarket brand, Bashas. The produce is fresh, local (when possible) and reasonably priced. Safeway comes in second. There’s also a RV friendly Walmart in town for non-perishables.

Repair shops: During our drive from Phoenix to Lake Havasu City, we discovered we had a broken shackle on the RV. Once we set up camp and reassessed the situation, Al decided he didn’t feel comfortable doing the job himself. After all, we were on private property plus set up on gravel. With a little research, we scheduled the work with  Adrenaline Trailers. They were more than happy to sell us just the parts, but we decided this seemed like a good time to have the bearings repacked and the trailer brakes tested along with having all the shackles replaced. They did a great job, although they were a tad messy with the grease.

My truck needed general maintenance. This was the second time I used this small, two-man shop for service on my Toyota Tacoma and both times I was pleased with the work and the price. I even recommended E & J Auto Repair to fellow RVers, Laura and Kevin, for needed repairs on their Xterra. They too were pleased with Ed’s work. He doesn’t have a website but he can be contacted at – E & J Auto Repair, 1600 W. Acoma Blvd #60, Lake Havasu City, AZ (928) 854-9399.

Lake Havasu Arizona

Lake Havasu, Arizona

RV Parts: The top rubber seals on our RV slides were starting to deteriorate from all the extreme sun that we experience here in the desert southwest. We have used rubber conditioner, but being exposed to over 300 days of sunshine a year and 70-100 degree F temperatures takes a toll on our equipment. (I know, tough job dealing with all that sunshine 😁) The folks at Sunshine RV were very helpful in making sure we ordered the right rubber slide seal for our RV. Sunshine RV became our go-to shop for RV parts. A new propane valve and shower seals were part of our purchases.

Computer Repair: Whiz Kid was extremely helpful when I encountered some computer issues.

Car wash: Our equipment was in dire need of cleaning. Mesquite Car Wash is owned and operated by a husband and wife team who enjoy RVing. As a matter of fact, they spent a year RVing full-time and would like to hit the road again if they could find a good manager for their business. Al and I had both our trucks detailed and the RV washed. They even have a nice outdoor sitting area and an inside ‘tiki shed’ with TV for entertainment while you wait. Good job and super friendly staff!

Restaurants: Lake Havasu City offers a nice variety of local establishments as well as some of my favorite chain restaurants. This is a tourist town after all. On the local front, our first stop had to be Mudshark Brewery for their Vanilla Caramel Porter and Burger Monday special. Al  loves this porter and first discovered it being sold at Total Wine & More in Phoenix. Once Al realized the maker of this tasty porter was located in Lake Havasu City, a visit to Mudshark Brewery became tops on the ‘must do‘ list.

Next up was Hangar 24. Monday through Thursday during lunch they offer all their burgers at a special price of $7 and after 7:00 p.m. the appetizers are $5. The food here is really good, and I insisted we eat here one more time before heading out of town. A fun bonus for me was the ’70’s/’80’s rock music playing in the background. Guess with all the silvers in town, they considered the lunch crowd when choosing what music to play.

Hangar 24

Hangar 24 has a very casual party atmosphere with picnic table seating, occasional live entertainment, and even an outdoor swimming pool. Yeah, you read that right … a brewery/restaurant with a swimming pool. I’m pretty sure this is a popular spot for spring breakers. Silvers for lunch and breakers at night …. smart marketing!

Barley Bros Brewery

Barley Bros Brewery has a great location – check out the view of the London Bridge

I had heard mixed reviews from fellow RVers about Barley Brothers Brewery. So we decided to check it out ourselves. The location is prime. Talk about a view! Of the four breweries we sampled, this one seemed to be the most expensive and didn’t offer any specially priced items. Although we enjoyed our meal and drinks, we enjoyed the view and location more.

College Brewery Lake Havasu City

Meeting up with Steve and Debbie at College Brewery

Near the end of our Lake Havasu City visit, we met Debbie and Steve at College Street Brewery and were pleasantly surprised with the happy hour prices … good food, good drinks, and of course, good company. Steve’s flight of beer was $6 while my margarita was under $4. College Street Brewery turned into one of those restaurants we would definitely return to for happy hour.

Overall, Al thought Mudshark had the best beer. We both thought Hangar 24 had the best burgers. College Street Brewery had the best happy hour and Barley Brothers offered the best view!

The end of our visit

We had a great time hanging around Lake Havasu City and know we’ll be back … just not during the summer months. Hmm, after writing this post, perhaps Lake Havasu City should go on the short list of places to consider when we’re ready for that home base. It’s a thought!Lake Havasu Arizona

(Affiliate links)
Shop All-new Kindle Travel Gear
Home Staging
 Decorative Throw Pillow Covers

 

 

 

Boondocking – Love it or Hate it

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

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

boondocking Lake Powell

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

Definitions

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

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

Back to that conversation …

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

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

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

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

camping in Utah

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

Through the eyes of a photographer

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

J. Robb State Park sunset

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

Boondocking is hard work

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

Lake Powell beach

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

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

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

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

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

camping at Lake Powell, Utah

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

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

camping at Lake Powell

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

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

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

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

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

Would you be willing to give up comforts for scenery?

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

(affiliate links)

120 Watt Off Grid  Portable  Solar Panel Suitcase

Propane Grill

When a Bar is more than a Bar

When a visit to a bar is as much about the experience as it is about the beverages, it’s time to grab some friends and make a day of it. The Desert Bar is one of those places that’s quirky, unique and fun, and the drive to get there is part of the entertainment.

Desert Bar Parker Arizona

The main road leading into the Desert Bar

We were first introduced to the Nellie E. Saloon, otherwise know as the Desert Bar, five years ago, and when blogging friend, Laura, expressed interest in going, we were quick to invite ourselves.

bloggers strolling along Lake Havasu Arizona

Al, me, Kevin, and Laura

We met Laura and Kevin of Chapter 3 Travels for the first time a few days earlier for a tasty lunch at the Mudshark Brewery followed by a stroll along the Bridgewater Channel here in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The Desert Bar is one of those places where the more the merrier. So gather your friends and prepare for the fun to begin with an interesting drive for starters.

Getting there is part of the fun

The Desert Bar is located in the desert southwest boonies in the heart of the Buckskin Mountains just north of Parker, Arizona.  Once we turned east off Highway 95 on Cienega Springs Road, we continued into the undeveloped desert on a rough, dusty dirt road for about five miles (which took about thirty minutes …. yep, 30 minutes to drive 5 miles).  Although driving a truck was a plus, I’d venture to say an all terrain vehicle would be the perfect mode of transportation.

UTV and the Desert Bar

perfect mode of transportation to get to the Desert Bar

We did see vehicles of all kinds traversing the rough road, but personally, I wouldn’t recommend a low clearance vehicle. It shouldn’t be a problem for a  CRV,  SUV, or any kind of truck. We drove our Toyota Tacoma and Laura and Kevin drove their Nissan Xterra with no problem.

Desert Bar road

For the more adventurous or those off-road enthusiast, you have the opportunity to drive to the Desert Bar via the “back way”. Nothing like experiencing more extreme hills, rocky terrain and unique desert scenery. You might even find the landscape dotted with old, abandoned mining shafts and relics. Obviously, the back way is for 4×4 vehicles only.

Desert Bar

These folks drove in the “back way” … over them thar hills!

The Desert Bar is an open air establishment and powered 100% on solar.  The bar is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to six.

Desert Bar Parker ArizonaWe went on a Sunday afternoon and this place was buzzing with activity … drinking, dining, dancing, and live entertainment.

I thought the live entertainment was really good and with plenty of people dancing, I think others shared my opinion.

There were three different food vendors to choose from that day and each offers a specialty. Al and I went with the hamburgers, and were not disappointed. Yum! There were two bars that are both fully stocked, and although the choice of beer is limited, our margaritas were tasty.

Desert Bar, Parker, Arizona

The Desert Bar – powered 100% on solar

Desert Bar solar

Solar panels act as shade cover from the intense desert sun

live entertainment at the Desert Bar

I really enjoyed the live entertainment. The band played a little bit of everything.

In 1975, Ken Coughlin built the Desert Bar at the site of an old copper mining camp. Although the remnants of the original mining camp are mostly gone, the western spirit lives on. The parking lot is located on the very site where the mining camp once stood. At first, the saloon was a three-sided enclosed room, not much bigger than a small storage shed. Today, while maintaining its Old West character, the owner continues to expand it along with adding more vintage relics adorning the landscape.

Not a church, but yet a church

Another novelty stands outside of the saloon in the bar’s parking lot. What appears to be a “church” rising from the desert floor, is more of a façade than an actual building. The well-aged patina of its copper roof, adds unique character to this one of a kind structure.

The church is constructed of solid steel with walls and ceilings made from stamped tin. There is a tiny inside area. On the interior walls are plaques bearing the names of people who donated money to help build it. There are no actual services held here. The structure simply provides a picture perfect backdrop with old west appeal.

During our first visit back in 2013, we did see a couple renewing their vows on the church steps …. complete with minister, witnesses, flowers and dressed in old west wedding attire.

A true taste of Arizona

If you ever find yourself in western Arizona, consider visiting the Desert Bar. It’s an entertaining, fun one of a kind experience in the desert southwest!

Desert Bar, Parker, Arizona

one of a kind bar

(affiliate links)
Unbreakable Elegant Wine Glasses
Home Brewing Kit
 Fraulein  Novelty Apron Bar Maid T-shirt

Cost of Full-time RVing – Part 2

This is a continuation of my previous post on what it costs to RV full-time. In my last post, I shared my budgeting list and began to break down that list by sharing costs and additional information to consider for living a nomadic life.

full-time RVing

By keeping track of our expenses, I’m able to see exactly what it costs us to travel and live full-time in the RV. It allows me to compare living a minimalist mobile lifestyle to that of our former life in a sticks and bricks dwelling.

Continuing down the budget list

RV and vehicle maintenance and repairs – With so many diverse RV’s (recreational vehicle) on the market, it’s impossible to generalize this expenditure. So much depends on the type of equipment chosen and its age. It’s also one of the most important things to consider when shopping for a RV. Sure, you might be able to afford the RV, BUT can you afford to maintain and repair it?

Larger RVs cost more in every way. So if you have a smaller budget, buying a smaller RV will set you up for success and be less stressful over the long term. Also the more expensive the RV, the more complex it is to work on. A simpler RV will allow any semi-handy person to save money by doing their own repairs.

The most expensive option is a Diesel Motorhome with a towed (toad) vehicle. Not only is a diesel motorhome the most expensive RV to buy, it’s also the most expensive to maintain and repair. Annual service (oil change, filters, etc.) on the motorhome can cost upwards of a $1,000 annually. New tires can cost well over $4,000. For comparison sake, new tires on a travel trailer or 5th wheel might average around $700 and normal service for a diesel pick-up truck can average around $300 annually (depending on how much you travel and frequency of oil changes). That’s a big difference to consider if budget is important to you.

hummingbirdThe least expensive option is a gas vehicle pulling a travel trailer. The smaller the trailer, the more options you’ll have for a tow vehicle. We’ve seen travel trailers being pulled by a variety of vehicles … everything from a basic pick-up truck to a van to a SUV and even a 4×4 Jeep. The simpler the equipment, the more economical the maintenance and repairs.

Van dwelling is becoming more and more popular and can be a cost-effective option, but you’re also giving up a great deal of space. Al and I would consider a van for part-time travel, but we would never consider the small space for full-time, not if we both intend to stay alive 😆

Expenses are somewhere in the middle for a gas motorhome with a toad (towed car) or a diesel pick-up truck pulling a 5th wheel or travel trailer. These are very popular options. We’re definitely happy with our set up and most years our maintenance and repair costs are minimal. In 2016 we spent $710 on our 2005 F-250 which included two new batteries, and $40 on our Fifth Wheel RV. Not too bad!

Lake Havasu Arizona

2017 wasn’t as kind on our budget. Our truck needed new injectors, repairs from damage incurred by a pack rat, and a few other major things. So along with normal maintenance added to the major repairs, we spent $5,100 on our truck.

The RV – in ’17 we replaced most of the window treatments and repaired a few other items totaling $450 for the year on the 5th Wheel.

Note: Always have an emergency fund and be prepared for breakdowns. Repairs and maintenance are part of the RVing lifestyle regardless of the RV and its age.

cost of Full-time RVing

RV and vehicle insurance and registrations – These fees vary significantly based on equipment and your home state (domicile). Some states charge a flat rate for licensing while other states charge based on value. The same holds true for insurance rates. Where you live (domicile) and what you drive will be the deciding factor on costs.

Another cost that might need to be added here is a payment. I guess if you’re hitting the road with a full-time location independent job, a RV payment is a mere replacement of a mortgage payment and interest might even be tax-deductible (check with a professional tax specialist).

Personally, I couldn’t fathom enjoying this adventurous RV life with the stress of debt hanging over my head. New RV’s depreciate rapidly (poor investment, and yeah, we bought new, but paid cash) and there are so many good quality older RVs which provide a good bang for the buck. Chances are even if you do buy a brand new RV, you’ll still do some remodeling. There’s a big difference between using a RV for vacations versus moving into one full-time. When you live in a RV full-time, it becomes your home, and as such you’ll want to personalize it. So if you can’t afford to pay cash for a new RV, consider buying used, maybe even a fixer upper and tap into your inner Joanna and Chip creativity.

Mail service and domicile – There are so many factors to consider when choosing a domicile. In the U.S. we all have to have a legal residence for the purposes of a driver’s license, registering our vehicles, healthcare, voting, homeland security, etc. The domicile you choose will have a significant impact on your budget as well as your healthcare.

cost of full-time RVingThe three most popular states for domicile for full-time RVing are; Texas, South Dakota, and Florida. All three states do not have a state income tax making them desirable. South Dakota is falling out of favor with a lack of health insurance options for those under the age of 65.

When Al and I were transitioning into full-time RVing, we set up a Texas address with the Escapees RV Club. However, I soon realized that in order to keep my health insurance, we needed to keep a Colorado address. This is when family in Colorado stepped up and we used them for our mail service and domicile for the first two years on the road. We are forever grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for helping us out. We’re now based in Arizona, and never did use that Texas address.

Note: I am not an attorney, CPA, or any other professional, and acknowledge I may not know what I’m talking about 🤪 Therefore, do your homework before making any decisions on domicile. There are legal consequences to consider.

My personal advice would be figure out your healthcare needs first. Most insurance companies, medicare, and the VA, require elective procedures be preformed in your home state (domicile). So let’s say you need knee surgery … ask yourself what would be your ideal location for dealing with a medical situation? Would it be in your current home town? Near family or friends? Or maybe it doesn’t matter?

Once you answer those questions, you can research other factors including costs of vehicle licensing, taxes, and if a vehicle inspection is necessary. Most states also require you spend a certain amount of time in their state as a domicile requirement. So will your domicile state be one in which you intend to spend a fair amount of time visiting? Please do your homework, ask questions, and research!

Mail service companies can be found in just about any state, but you’ll want to check exactly what services they offer. America’s Mailbox and Escapees specialize in handling mail for full-time RVers, but some UPS Stores offer similar services and all give you an address that is not a P.O. Box. Please, do not consider using a “P.O. Box” address for full-time RVing. P.O. Boxes are not recognized as a legal residential address.

Full-time RVing cost

Clothing, shoes, and personal items –  Most RVers will tell you that you can expect this expenditure to be a fraction of what you once spent. It’s all about space and needs.This is another category that will vary a lot from person to person. We spend a lot less on clothing and shoes than we ever did living in a standard sticks and bricks home. One – I don’t have enough closest space in the RV to be adding items …. sigh! and Two – this lifestyle has us dressing simply. Simply does not necessarily mean cheaply. I spend more money on hiking shoes than I ever did on dress shoes. But today, I only own two pair of hiking shoes versus the dozens of dress shoes once housed in my former large walk-in closest. Fortunately, the RV has plenty of room for several pairs of flip-flops, sandals, and tennies. This gal has shoe needs after all 🤫

Storage facility – Ah, the cost of storing crap personal heirlooms. Do as I say, not as I do! We moved into the RV full-time on a whim and thought we’d only travel full-time for a year or two. Therefore, we have two 10 x 10 storage units back in Colorado full of stuff. We’re now into year five of full-time RVing, and still paying for that crap stuff to be stored … sigh!

We all have personal mementos, heirlooms or other things we don’t want to part with, so getting a storage unit makes sense. However, be ready for storage rent fees to be increased each year. If you have children, this would be the time to pass down those family treasures.

My recommendation …. purge! If you do find after a year that RVing full-time is not for you, then you’ll have fun redecorating a new sticks and bricks home. I know when I finally do get my stuff out of storage that I’ll end up getting rid of half of it anyway 😣 Al and I are in discussions on how best to eliminate at least one of those storage units, but every time we talk about it, we end up with margarita’s involved and no solution determined 🍹 Ah, to go back in time … learn from my mistake, save money, and purge!

costs of living full-time in a RV

Medical expenses and health insurance – sorry folks … I don’t feel qualified to help on this subject. You can try this site for starters. You might also want to check out how this young couple is dealing with a healthcare issue.

Membership fees – You’ll find through trial and error which memberships are most cost-effective for your needs. We love our Escapees RV Club membership and this is the one membership we’ve maintained from the beginning of our adventure. It is also important to have some sort of Roadside assistance (AAA, Good Sam, Coachnet). Other memberships you might add to your budget; Amazon Prime, Passport America, Harvest Hosts, Campground memberships, just to name a few.

Entertainment – Park passes, museums, concerts, movies, satellite TV, streaming services, etc.

Miscellaneous – pets, alcohol, haircuts. Depending on your interests and habits you might have other costs in this category that I haven’t thought about or we don’t use.

Let’s review that budget list …

  • Camping Fees
  • Gasoline and Propane
  • Groceries and dining out
  • Phone and Internet
  • RV / vehicle maintenance
  • RV / vehicle Insurance and registrations
  • Mail service and domicile
  • Clothing, shoes, personal items
  • Storage facility
  • Medical expenses and health insurance
  • Membership fees
  • Entertainment
  • Miscellaneous

Cost of living in a RV full-time …

So now that we’ve reviewed all the costs associated with full-time RV living, what exactly does it cost? As I mentioned before, one size does not fit all, but I can give you some averages.

The average cost of full-time RVing seems to range from $2,500 to $4,800 a month. We know some folks who manage to live on less than $2,000 a month while others need well over $6,000 a month. Just like living in a traditional home, it’s all about the way you like to live which will ultimately determine your budget. Hope this post was enlightening and helpful.

What Will Your Full-time RV Budget Be?Full-time RVing costs

(affiliate links)
The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying

 

Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide To Money
Streaming Media Player

Cost of Full-time RVing

Every now and then, I’ll receive an email or comment asking what it costs to RV full-time?  I know a lot of people are either curious for the sake of general curiosity or because they have a genuine interest in the lifestyle. Seems folks either think you need to have a lot of money to travel full-time, or they think you’re down and destitute and the lifestyle barely costs anything. With that said, full-time RVing can be as expensive or inexpensive as you choose. It’s all about personal preference.

Lake Havasu State Park Arizona

The first thing to consider when it comes to breaking down monthly costs is the type of  RV you have (or will have), and whether or not you’ll have a  monthly payment or pay cash for the equipment. The next considerations are how often you travel, where you park, and the activities you do in the places you visit.

Budgeting for full-time RVing is a very personal thing with lots of variables, and one size does not fit all. I’ve put together a general list of items most RVers can expect to pay to sustain the nomadic life of full-time RVing.

Budgeting list

  • Camping Fees
  • Gasoline and Propane
  • Groceries and dining out
  • Phone and Internet
  • RV / vehicle maintenance and repairs (perhaps a monthly payment)
  • RV / vehicle Insurance and registrations
  • Mail service – domicile
  • Clothing, shoes, personal items
  • Storage facility
  • Medical expenses and health insurance
  • Membership fees
  • Entertainment
  • Miscellaneous – pets, alcohol, hair cuts, etc. Depending on your interests and habits you might have other costs I haven’t thought of or that don’t pertain to us.

Full-time RVing

Monthly expenses

Camping Fees – Similar to living in a fixed location, you need to consider monthly rent. There are quite a few options available. There are people who boondock year-round and only pay small fees to dump their holding tanks and take on fresh water. A bunch of RVers enjoy workamping in exchange for a free place to park, and then there are others who enjoy all the amenities of a RV Park and budget accordingly.

egretIf you boondock (camping on public lands with no facilities) or you work camp (volunteer at a campground, State Park, National Forest, Wildlife Refuge) in exchange for a free campsite, your camping costs can be zero.

Private RV Parks can range on average between $300 to $900 a month. On the other hand, those looking to splurge might pay upwards of $1,800 or more a month for a fancy resort-style RV Park. Location and amenities are the major factors in such a fluctuation of fees.

Al and I tried work camping once and didn’t find the risk/reward to be worthwhile for us personally. Be sure and do your homework and know what you’re signing up for when you agree to work camp (aka workamp which is a trademark of Workamper News ). The thought of a free campsite is enticing, but do the math and understand the physical demands! Plus ask yourself, “Is this a place we would gladly pay to stay? Is it worth the risk for the reward gained?”

Let’s do the math …. Many state parks now charge about $30 a night (or more). If you were to stay a month, the cost would be $900 for the month (30 days times $30). If you decide working in exchange for a campsite would be ideal, keep in mind these state parks require couples to work 20 hours a week – per person. Thus, between the couple it’s 40 hours a week or 160 hours a month. (Two people for the price of one campsite. A single person would be required to work 20 hours for the same campsite. If you ever wonder why parks prefer couples, you just got your answer. ) So back to the math …. $900 a month divided by 160 work hours = $5.60 an hour per person. For an individual it would be $11.25 an hour ($900 divided by 80 monthly hours).

Colorado wildflowersSome folks love volunteering and don’t care about the numbers, while others are dealing with long-term injuries incurred while work camping.

In lieu of work camping, Al and I manage our monthly rent budget by utilizing a combination of options. When we stay in a private RV Park we go for a monthly stay or at the very least, weekly. The monthly rate is always the most economical.

Daily rates are usually the most expensive unless you’re able to utilize a discount membership rate through an organization like Escapees or Passport America. The nightly discounted rates quite often apply for one night only and are not available on weekends or holidays, but each park is different. So be sure and call ahead for clarification. We’ve actually stayed at places up to three nights at the discounted rate.

We love staying at National Parks, National Forest Campgrounds, and Corp of Engineer Parks, all run by the Federal Government. With Al’s old fart’s card (America the Beautiful Senior Pass), we usually pay half of the nightly fee. There are also special benefits for military personal, veterans, and the disabled. We love those discounts, but not all federal places offer the special discounted rates. As the government turns over the managing of these campgrounds to private management companies, these companies are given free rein to charge what they want and to honor or not honor any special passes. We’ve even noticed these private companies charging higher camping fees for holiday weekends.

State Parks and Regional Parks are always a campers delight, but too many nights at a rate of $30 – $60 a night can really put a crimp in anyone’s budget. This is when a little boondocking (aka dispersed camping) can help off set those monthly expenditures, but dispersed camping is definitely more work and requires much more forethought living off the grid and is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.

As you can see, there are so many camping options with a wide range of fees. It took Al and me well over a year of full-time RVing to find our groove, but that doesn’t mean we don’t change it up on a whim and end up throwing the budget out the door, but we always end up back on track.

Since Al and I enjoy the diversity of private RV Parks, state parks, regional parks, and boondocking, by mixing things up in 2017, we managed to keep our monthly rental expenditure under $400 a month. This works for us, and we feel we handled our campground budget well in ’17.

Next on our list

Gasoline and Propane – Gasoline is entirely dependent on how much we travel and the price per gallon we pay. Obviously this number can fluctuate a lot, and it’s something we have no control over other than to drive less when gas prices sky-rocket. But what fun is that?

gas prices in Death Valley

gas prices – February 2012 in Death Valley …. ouch!

Propane use also varies depending on how cold the weather gets, and thus how much we use the furnace. We also use propane for cooking and our refrigerator when we’re not hooked-up to electric. If the weather is cold and I’m baking a lot, then our propane will need to be filled more often. Propane prices also fluctuate.

Last year, we spent about $125 on propane (for the entire year) and an average of about $325 a month for gasoline. Not too bad, but we did slow our travels in 2017. With the exception of our winter excursion to the Texas Gulf Coast, we spent most of the year meandering around the state of Arizona. In previous years, we traveled further with trips to Idaho, Wyoming, Texas, Illinois and all parts in between. In 2016 we spent around $350 a month on gasoline and in 2015 it was closer to $410 a month.

Farmer's Market

Groceries and dining out – We find these costs to be very similar to what we used to spend living in our sticks and bricks home. We don’t go out to eat very often, but when we do, it’s usually to socialize or learn more about an area. We enjoy looking for local places that offer lunch specials or visit a local brewery or winery.

Part of the fun of traveling is exploring new places which includes local farmers markets, dining out at local restaurants, and meeting new friends. Connecting with fellow bloggers is always so much fun. And not all my blogging pals RV and yet we seem to have a lot in common. One (of many) upsides to a nomadic life is the people we meet.

Phone and Internet – Staying connected is vital to us. I have an iPhone 5, Al has a dumb flip phone, and we have a Verizon hotspot with 30 Gigabytes of data. If we’re not careful by monitoring our daily gig usage, we can easily gobble up those 30 gigs in a couple of weeks. Therefore, we’re currently shopping around for other plans, including the unlimited ones.

This subject makes my head spin and again there are so many variables. I know RVers who spend around $100 a month for phone and internet while others spend well over $300 a month. It just depends on your needs.

To be continued …

In my next post, we’ll work our way down the rest of that budgeting list 🤑

sunset over Lake Havasu

(affiliate links)
The Total Money Makeover Workbook

 

How To Retire Early: Your Guide to Getting Rich Slowly and Retiring on Less

Laughlin and a Wildlife Refuge

After our little side trip to Oatman, we were back on the road heading toward Laughlin, Nevada. With tummies full and a perpetual smile plastered across our faces, we wondered why wild burros had such a heart warming impact on us. I think most of us will agree, baby animals are absolutely adorable and these little burros were so incredibly cute that I couldn’t help but smile.

wild burros Oatman AZ

There’s something entertaining about wild burros roaming about!

wild burros Oatman, Arizona

This little one was taking a nap, or at least trying to.

Continuing down the road

We arrived at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Laughlin, Nevada, right around 1:00 in the afternoon. The gal behind the counter was super nice and did her best to find us an available room with a king size bed, but none were quite ready for check-in.

Golden Nugget Casino Laughlin Nevada

Golden Nugget Casino Entrance

Golden Nugget Laughlin NV

So with a little time to kill,  Al and I headed to the lower level for dessert at Bubba Gumps. Not only was the dessert delicious, the outdoor dining was sheer perfection.

Bubba Gump dessert

OMG – so good!

Bubba Gump dining in Laughlin, NV

the outdoor dining area was perfect – overlooks the Colorado River

We found the ambiance of the outdoor dining at Bubba Gump so delightful that we returned a few hours later for dinner and discovered their early bird menu. I ordered the fish tacos (yum), and Al ordered soup and salad. Al loves a good New England Clam Chowder and he said this was some of the best he’s ever had. His Caesar salad was also very good. The next day, we returned for lunch and ordered fried shrimp and more clam chowder. Yep, I’d recommend dining here especially if the weather is perfect for sitting outside, which fortunately for us, it was.

Casino in Laughlin Nevada

Laughlin, Nevada, is pretty small, and Al and I soon found ourselves feeling a tad bit bored. We’re not much into casino gambling these days, especially after having lived in Las Vegas in the mid 1990’s. So we strolled up and down the river walk and in and out of the casinos several times a day getting in some exercise and doing some people watching.

It perplexes me the number of people who smoke cigarettes. I’m reminded gambling, smoking and drinking seem to go together. It was obvious, many of these smokers were dealing with failing health. Sad! I guess not everyone knows how to make healthy choices … that or they don’t care 😪

Laughlin Nevada

getting in our steps along the riverwalk as the sun was rising

We also took the opportunity to check out all the available RV parking opportunities in the area. Most of the casinos offer dry camping in designated sections of their parking lots. There’s also a RV Park with full hook-ups right on the main drag.

Laughlin, NV

most of the casinos allow boondocking in designated sections of their parking lots

On the east side of the Colorado River is Bullhead City, Arizona. This is where Al and I ran a few errands by stopping in at Sam’s Club, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Just north of Bullhead City is a great campground called Davis Camp. It’s located right along the water and just below the Davis Damn which forms Lake Mohave. Al and I stayed here during our first road trip with the 5th wheel back in 2012. Further up the road is Katherine’s Landing on Lake Mohave. Although the lake looks inviting, the campground here not so much. But from what we’ve heard, this is where the campers in the casino parking lots come to dump their tanks and take on water.

Laughlin NV

Laughlin along the Colorado River

Laughlin Nevada

With our explorations of Laughlin and Bullhead City complete. Al and I were eager to hit the road and return to our RV, but a stop along the way was in order.

pelicans in the desert

Pelicans in the desert?

Stopping at a wildlife refuge

Our route back to Lake Havasu City would take us along the Havasu Wildlife Refuge boundary. I had high hopes to encounter a bunch of birds. Oh, how my camera and I have missed photographing the birds at the Texas Gulf Coast this winter.

Havasu Wildlife Refuge

Havasu Wildlife Refuge

I didn’t prepare to take bird photographs on our little jaunt to Laughlin, Nevada, and therefore left my favorite camera behind. Oh well, this wasn’t a serious photography outing anyway. My point and shoot camera will have to do.

We made a few stops at the Havasu Wildlife Refuge, and although I found a raw beauty in the landscape, the birds were rather elusive.

Havasu Wildlife Refuge

Havasu Wildlife Refuge … in search of birds

During our second stop, I did spot some ducks off in the distance. I walked over to the palm tree on the far right (seen in the photo above) and just then a cormorant flew by.

cormorant in flight

cormorant flies by while a coot bobs in the water

I continued to stand at the water’s edge scouring the landscape. I spot a lone egret in the distance in one direction and some ducks floating in the water in the other direction.

egret Havasu Wildlife Refuge

a lone egret in the distance

Red Heads

Red Head Ducks

Although we didn’t spot an abundance of birds, I did enjoy my quick visit with what few birds we did see. Perhaps if we had a kayak, we could see more of the refuge and possibly more birds.

pelicans Havasu Wildlife Refuge

It’s strange seeing pelicans in the desert. I associate them with the ocean, but I’ve also seen them in Colorado.

All in all, we enjoyed our little vacation. It was a nice three-day get away, but we were glad to get back home to our RV.

Havasu Wildlife Refuge

(affiliate links)
All photos in this post were taken with the
 Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70  and edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

It was shortly after 6:00 in the morning as I sat in the comfort of my RV waiting for the sun to rise. While enjoying my first cup of coffee and contemplating my plans for the day, I admired the view out my large rear window and couldn’t believe my luck in snagging such a great campsite.

Lake Havasu

My view at six in the morning. I’m sitting on the Arizona side of the Colorado River glancing over to California.

I was camped at Lake Havasu State Park in western Arizona. It was the second week in January and although it was a mere 48 degrees Fahrenheit outside at six in the morning, I knew by noon the temperature would be closer to 70 degrees and sunny. Now this is my kind of winter … a gal could get used to this!

sunrise Lake Havasu

A little more light as I wait for the sun to rise.

Al was thoroughly entertained by my morning antics. Every ten minutes I was jumping out of the RV with the camera and tripod in hand trying to capture the amazing light. Unfortunately, some things just don’t resonate in print.

I loved the stillness and quiet of the morning and eventually began to stroll down the beach in search of photo-ops. I’ll admit, I was more focused on savoring the moment than I was on taking photographs.

Lake Havasu State Park Arizona

Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona – morning fog

As the sun began to rise, there was a low hanging mist in the distance. Since it was still relatively early in the morning, there were few other people out and about. It was just me and the birds and I was loving it.

birding at Lake Havasu State Park

An egret flies by while the coot in the foreground squawks. A variety of ducks are floating in the distance.

I managed to capture a photograph of the first ferry run of the morning. This ferry operates daily taking passengers from Lake Havasu City over to the Havasu Landing Casino run by the Chemehuevi Indian tribe. (pronounced; chem-a-wev-e)

Chemehuvei Ferry Lake Havasu

The Chemehuvei Ferry in the distance

During a previous Lake Havasu City visit, Al and I along with our friends hopped on the ferry one morning for the quick boat ride over to the California side of the lake. The cost is a mere $2.00 per person. However, the local newspaper always has a coupon for egreta free pass which we of course took full advantage.

Since none of us is into casino gambling, we opted to enjoy breakfast with a nice lakeside view at the Havasu Landing Casino followed by another fun ferry ride back to the Arizona side of the lake. Hmm, might have to do that again sometime.

After spending two wonderful hours strolling along the shores of Lake Havasu watching the morning unfold, I arrived back to the RV just in time for breakfast …. al fresco style.

With such a fabulous campsite and view, it would be wrong to not take advantage of that picnic table.

Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona

Lake Havasu State Park – site #10 – the lake is behind me

Unexpected Arizona …

Most folks would never associate water and boating with Arizona, and that’s just one reason visiting western Arizona is such an unexpected surprise … a very pleasant surprise. Thus, making it a popular tourist destination.

Lake Havasu Arizona

sparkling clear waters of Lake Havasu

The sparkling clear water is a recreational invitation. There are a wealth of hidden coves and beaches perfect for all kinds of water activities; fishing, water skiing, paddling, or even high-end power boat racing. You’ll see it all here.

Lake Havasu City

I so want to do this!!!

Lake Havasu boating

Boating on Lake Havasu is a popular pastime around western Arizona and my fav!

But there’s more available activities than those associated with water … although anything to do with the lake is my personal favorite. Lake Havasu City is host to a variety of festivals and championship competitions. For a complete and up to date list of events visit Go Lake Havasu.

And then there’s golf, off roading, hiking, gaming, birding, scuba, pickle ball, disc golf, skate park, and a weekly flea market. In addition there are a bunch of interesting sites to see. For starters, there’s the famous London Bridge and all the lighthouses. I’m still working my way around trying to photograph as many of the lighthouses as possible.

lighthouses of Lake Havasu

One unique event I stumbled upon was Buses by the Bridge. This quirky event united VW bus owners from around the world. What an eclectic group this was!

 

Popular tourist event …

The annual Winter Blast is the most popular event of the year bringing in thousands of visitors for the three-day weekend. It’s held each February over Presidents Day weekend. If you enjoy fireworks, then this is the show for you. Pyrotechnic vendors come from across the country to display their pyrotechnic products and skills and the spectators benefit from the fantastic show – four full days of amazing fireworks displays.

Rockabilly Reunion

Rockabilly Reunion – Car Show and Music Festival – Feb 16-18 (2018)

In conjunction with Winter Blast is the Rockabilly Reunion. This is a 1950’s themed music festival and car show. This is one hopping weekend in Lake Havasu City and reservations for any kind of lodging are a definite must.

There’s dispersed camping (aka boondocking) north and south of town, but you can expect to be elbow to elbow even in the desert during this weekend. The rodeo grounds also offers dry camping for this event but reservations are necessary.

During our first road trip with the fifth wheel RV back in 2012, we tried to find an available campsite in Lake Havasu City during Winter Blast. We were complete RVing newbies at the time. Fortunately for us, we found dry camping available at the Crazy Horse Campground during this very popular weekend. We sure learned a lot during that road trip.

Rotary Park Lake Havasu City Arizona

Rotary Park Lake Havasu City

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Lake Havasu City then and continue to enjoy each and every subsequent visit. Although I was feeling under the weather a good part of January, I’m doing much better now and hope to be out and about exploring more of western Arizona soon. My camera has sat idle way too long!

sunset Lake Havasu

Good night from Lake Havasu!

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

Ok … I gotta share my newest kitchen gadget. Al loves popcorn, but we refuse to buy the microwave kind – read the ingredients. Microwave popcorn can always be found on those “don’t eat” lists for obvious reasons. Bad stuff! Anyway, making popcorn on the stove top can be kind of a pain … more so for me needing to dig out the oversized pot in my tight quarters. My friend introduced me to this nifty product (affiliate link) Cuisinart Microwave Popcorn Maker
It’s collapsible, hardly takes up any space, and makes great popcorn. The only downside is it doesn’t seem to pop all the kernels and doesn’t make a large amount. Hubby says, it makes only one serving. For most folks it’s probably enough for two.

Pros and Cons of RVing

Best thing about RV life …

Without a doubt, the best thing about RV living is the ease and spontaneity of travel. We get to travel with our own bed, kitchen, and bathroom in tow. And more importantly, I get to travel with a whole closet full of clothes and shoes. No more trying to stuff all my crap belongings into one carry on bag. Yep, there’s a sense of freedom and self-sufficiency that is unique to RV travel that I absolutely love.

Phoenix Arizona Sonoran Desert

The mere thought of traveling without my RV makes me cringe, and just thinking about stepping into an airport has me breaking out in hives, and this coming from a former Flight Attendant, but that was many moons ago. Today, home is where we park it, and our front yard changes as often or as little as we want it to. We travel on our terms, which is a very liberating feeling.

Saguaro cactus loveThat desire to change the view out our front door quite often revolves around the weather. If it’s snowing, we ain’t going! Oh sure, there are times I miss my Colorado winters, especially around Christmas, but then I think about the realities of shoveling and driving in the white stuff, and it’s all I can do to keep myself from embracing the cactus near my front door here in Arizona. “Oh dear saguaro, how I love thee … ouch!”

With mild, sunny weather in mind, we enjoy spending our winters in Arizona. It’s absolutely awesome being able to travel with the weather. If snow skiing is your thing, fantastic … we know RVers who winter camp. If you’re looking for warm weather like we do, those wheels allow us to roll in search of the perfect temps for our taste.

There are times, it’s a tad bit strange watching the national weather. Last week, while dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, I was watching the evening national news. The weather reporter was bundled up in a heavy winter coat, stocking hat, gloves, and being pelted with rain and wind as he discussed impending storms. I glanced out my RV window noticing  another beautiful sunset. There was a light breeze and increasing crispness in the air as the sun dipped behind the horizon. Thinking I might need to don a sweatshirt, I was ever so grateful bundling up in winter attire was a thing of the past for me.

Arizona sunset

It took me a moment to wrap my head around the fact that it was winter and folks to the north had already been dusted with a coating of snow.

Another thing that I find a little unusual is attending a farmers’ market surrounded by holiday decorations. Somehow, a farmer’s market in December seems a little off, but this is the perfect growing time in Arizona. The excessive heat of a desert summer is gone, allowing all kinds of produce to grow throughout the winter months.

Scottsdale Farmers' Market

I really enjoy the flavors of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and lucky for me, there are a bunch of farmers’ markets found throughout the Phoenix valley during the winter months.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Scottsdale Old Town Farmers’ Market which is open every Saturday morning until May. Talk about a great variety of produce and other gourmet goodies.

The aromas from vendor restaurants and food trucks were quick to grab my attention. My biggest dilemma was deciding what to eat for an early lunch. I also found a bunch of vendors selling one-of-a-kind gift items such as specialty jellies, jams, sauces, local honey and gourmet chocolates… yum 😋

accordion music

Local musicians often perform at the market, and artists also display their work there.  Dogs are welcome at the Old Town Farmers’ Market, and you might even find wholesome doggy treats being sold. This Scottsdale Farmers’ Market was very impressive and easily rivals one of my favorite farmers’ market located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Scottsdale Farmers' Market

Scottsdale Farmers' Market

I had every intention of visiting another farmers’ market yesterday, but my body wouldn’t cooperate which brings me to another subject …

Down side to RVing …

I know, what a surprise, there are actually cons to RVing. Thank goodness my traveling partner’s middle name is MacGyver. My husband, of more years than I care to count, comes in handy when things break. And break, they shall. It’s part of RVing. It’s not a matter of if things will break, but rather when, and are you prepared?

truck break down

And although we carry an assortment of spare parts and tools with us at all times, some things are beyond our expertise and professionals are needed. Breakdowns and repairs are probably my least favorite thing about RVing ….. BUT making the bed is right up there at the top of the list.

I swear, you need to be a contortionist or yogi to make the bed in most RVs. I love the smell of freshly washed sheets and there was a time I’d wash the sheets weekly, but trying to navigate the mattress’ tight corners tucked into a RV slide-out has me dreading this chore.  Hmm, is there a professional I could hire to do this? It’s like trying to do yoga in a square box requiring twisting and turning in ways that just aren’t natural.

Scottsdale Farmers MarketSo remember when I said I wanted to visit a new to me farmers’ market? Well, Friday I did laundry, including all the bedding, and by the time I was done making the bed, I knew something was wrong. I must’ve pulled something …. grrrr!

Contortionist I am not! What a surprise! Oh well, nothing a little ibuprofen, rest and an ice pack can’t fix, but it sure has gotten in the way of my fun … sigh!

In conclusion; if you’re thinking about RVing, remember it’s a fantastic way to travel and embrace new surroundings, but be prepared for breakdowns and start doing yoga NOW. You’ll thank me down the road 😆  No rainbows and unicorns this week.

Lake Havasu Arizona

Did you know cyber Monday has turned into cyber week? Hmm, what shall we shop for today? Hey, when you need to rest due to a pulled muscle, a gals gotta have a plan B as in, let’s go shopping! Thanks for doing your shopping by using these Amazon affiliate links. Are you done with your holiday list?
Back Pain Relief Kit  


Shop All-new Kindle Travel Gear
Prime Discounted Monthly Offering
Shop Amazon – Most Wished For Items