Why We Love Phoenix

Why We Love Phoenix

I love the diversity of our RV lifestyle. We’re able to live in a major city one day and move out into nature the next. And when we come across a city such as Phoenix that offers both environments in relatively close proximity, I say this is an RVers dream … jackpot!

“May you live in interesting times.”

BUT … Life is anything but normal these days and I’d be remiss if I jumped right into the content of this post without mentioning a couple of things.

March is usually the busiest and best month to visit Phoenix, Arizona. Wildflowers are in abundance adding vibrant color to our desert landscape, not to mention the beautiful blue skies and near-perfect temperatures that are enjoyed by all. But not his year! Not only has the weather been schizophrenic leaving us wondering what has happened to our wonderful March weather, but the coronavirus has turned the tourism and stock markets into a volatile frenzy.

bee on purple lupine wildflower

Walmart empty isle, no toilet paper at Walmart
Walmart – Where’s the toilet paper?

The Phoenix valley’s robust tourism industry has been severely impacted by potential visitors canceling reservations left and right. Resorts that are normally booked solid and charging premium rates are now half empty and offering discounts. Baseball spring training has also been canceled and all the stores are out of toilet paper. Out of toilet paper! Really?

Ah, but let’s all revel in the fact that this too shall pass and life will return to normal eventually … soon, I hope. For now, I’ll immerse myself in summer trip planning and images of wildflowers. The wildflowers are a given, but our summer travels could be in question if current conditions were to continue.

I’m sure we can all agree that there’s currently too much uncertainty right now that might affect our travels. However, I’m optimistic and think in another month things will turn around, and therefore, our summer travels will continue as planned.

So, let’s get back to talking fun stuff!

An RV friendly city in Arizona

There are so many things to see and do in a big city; museums, restaurants, stores, sporting events, other events, and the list goes on, but the solitude and beauty of nature are always a strong pull for me. What if we can enjoy both?

It’s a rare treat to find an RV friendly city, and when we do, we like to plan a lengthy stay allowing us plenty of time to immerse ourselves in everything big city life has to offer. Since our children live in Phoenix, Arizona and Phoenix is RV friendly, this city has become our winter home.

Golden yellow poppies with a bee flying

The Phoenix valley is not only super popular with RVers but equally popular with all kinds of other visitors; snowbirds, vacationers, convention traffic, seminars, etc. Peak tourist season is January, February, and March … March is the busiest due to Spring Break, excellent weather, and baseball spring training (Cactus League).

The lodging options throughout the Phoenix valley are abundant and diverse. For those of us with RVs, we can find everything from scenic campgrounds to full-on RV Resorts complete with resort-style pools, pickleball courts, and golf courses. For non-RVers, there’s everything from inexpensive hotels, to vacation rentals, to mega-resorts, and everything in between.

An RV camped at Lost Dutchman State Park with the Superstition mountains in the background
Al and I camped at Lost Dutchman State Park located on the far east side of the Phoenix valley in the town of Apache Junction.

If you plan on visiting the Phoenix area and are looking for an RV spot for less than a 2-week stay, I would highly recommend Lost Dutchman State Park. It’s one of our favorite campgrounds. We love the views, hiking trails, and location. Lost Dutchman State Park offers a feeling of being in the backcountry, and yet, shopping and restaurants in nearby Apache Junction are less than a 15-minute drive away … the best of both worlds.

Coming in second to Lost Dutchman State Park would be one of the campgrounds in the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation system. Our personal preference is either Cave Creek Regional Park or Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Our friends prefer McDowell Mountain or Usery Mountain. McDowell Mountain Regional Park is well known for its biking trails while Lake Pleasant is known for its water recreation. There’s definitely a little something for everyone around here.

And of course, there are plenty of private RV parks throughout the valley. So many, that I couldn’t possibly list them all. Most are 55+ communities but there are a few that aren’t age-restricted.

I can't adult today

Valley Talk … The term “Phoenix valley” refers to the actual city of Phoenix as well as her dozen-plus surrounding suburbs. It makes communication easier. You might hear folks comment, “That’s in the east valley (meaning Scottsdale, Mesa, etc.) or that’s in the west valley (meaning Glendale, Goodyear, etc.). Then there’s the north valley near the town of Anthem where I am currently parked. Most people in the U.S. know where Phoenix, Arizona is located, but not everyone has heard of Mesa, Glendale, or Anthem. Therefore, by using the term ‘Phoenix valley’, people have an easy grasp of where in Arizona one is talking about.

Things we like to do in the Phoenix valley …

There’s a never-ending schedule of art shows, craft shows, sporting events, or other events to attend throughout the year in the Phoenix valley. I always discover some unique event worth checking out. Although hiking and photography top my list of favorite activities, there are so many other great recreational and educational opportunities to explore. Yes, RVing in a major city definitely has its pluses.

Scottsdale farmers market
The Farmers Market in Old Town Scottsdale is a great way to start a Saturday morning. I’ll admit, it usually feels a little strange attending a Farmers Market in the middle of winter, but keep in mind, you won’t find a Farmers Market around here during the summer months when temps sore into the 100 degree plus Fahrenheit range. It takes most northerners a little time to wrap their heads around a Farmers Market in the middle of winter, me included.

Corporate conventions and various educational seminars are held throughout the year in Phoenix or Scottsdale. I always keep an eye out for these special events for us to attend. One of our favorites is attending educational TD Ameritrade seminars. We’ve even had the pleasure of meeting Joe ‘JJ’ Kinahan. If you’re a trader or CNBC watcher, then shaking hands with a “celebrity” like JJ might be a real treat like it was for me. We’ve also had the opportunity to meet some of the various traders/instructors from the Think or Swim trading platform. They are always a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Desert Botanical Garden butterfly display
My daughter taking a selfie with a Monarch butterfly at the Desert Botanical Garden
Chili and Chocolate Fest
We enjoyed a cooking demonstration while attending the Chili and Chocolate Festival at the Botanical Garden.
western history
Lots of western history just begging to be explored.

Family and friends Spending time with family is our favorite pastime while visiting Phoenix

Let’s get social

Because Phoenix is such a popular travel destination for RVers and non-RVers alike, we never know who we might bump into. It’s always a pleasure connecting with my social media friends in person. Every winter, we enjoy numerous get-togethers with blog readers, blog writers, or folks from other social media platforms. Over the years, we’ve developed some amazing friendships via social media. Phoenix is the perfect city to physically connect with like-minded people.

Golden yellow poppies with a bee flying

Nature around Phoenix

Although I enjoy most aspects of big city living, I have a need to be close to nature and wildlife. Fortunately, with plenty of parks and open space located throughout Maricopa County, I’m still able to get my nature fix while living in a big city.

There’s some amazing scenery in this part of Arizona. Just outside of the city, in the east valley is one of my favorite scenic drives. Driving the Apache Trail makes for a perfect day trip, but before embarking on this drive, do your homework. The stretch of road between the town of Tortilla Flat and Lake Roosevelt is a gravel road and can be pretty rough in spots. A high clearance vehicle is usually recommended. Always check with the local ranger station for up to date conditions regarding Route 88/Apache Trail.

Have you ever visited Phoenix, Arizona? What’s your favorite city to visit?
And please stay healthy and safe out there!

Golden brittle-bush in the foreground Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale AZ in the background

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How to Take Great Photos with any Camera

How to Take Great Photos with any Camera

Photography has surged in popularity in the past decade with the emergence of social media and smartphones. Even though we’re all taking more photographs, many of us assume we’re limited in our talents due to our equipment. I’m here to say it’s not about the equipment, and you can create great, even amazing, photographs with any camera.

three sandhill cranes in a fieldI’ve had an interest in photography as long as I can remember, but my true passion didn’t emerge until we hit the road full-time in our RV several years ago.

After wearing out a couple of point and shoot cameras, I upgraded to a Bridge camera. I still suffer from camera envy and may one day switch to a Mirrorless Camera, but for now, my Lumix(s) fits my needs … certainly not professional-grade cameras by any means.

We’ve slowed down our travels somewhat and now spend our winters settled in an RV Park in Phoenix, Arizona. I enjoy this RV community and the friendships that have developed.

Although I don’t engage in many activities at the RV Park, I do co-host a photography group … a group of like-minded RVers who share a passion for photography. Not only have I learned a few things, but I’ve also been able to teach and share a few tidbits of my own photography knowledge.

I still consider myself a novice photographer, or rather more of a photo snapper and try to improve my skills with every click of the camera.

Being involved in the RV Park Photo Group has served as a great learning experience for everyone involved. Our group consists of every level of shooter along with every level of camera. Yes, we are indeed a diverse group of photo enthusiasts.

close up of a young deer

Here are a few tips that our RV Park Photo Group discussed on how to create more professional-looking images with any camera.

15 Beginner Tips – How to take better looking photographs

1. Learn your camera inside and out. This might mean diving into that owner’s manual and actually reading it. If you don’t have a manual, no worries, a Google search will come to the rescue. And don’t forget YouTube tutorials. It really is necessary to know how all the settings work and what they mean.  Even if you won’t use all the features, it’s important that you’re comfortable navigating the camera’s menu and settings with ease, especially in the field.

Always half-press the camera’s shutter button before taking the shot. On an iPhone, simply tap the screen for your desired focal-point (a little yellow box appears around the item when you do). Once you know where your camera is focused, you can decide if this is where you want the focal point to be in the image, and if not, start over.

One of the best things I did when I first bought my iPhone 8+ last year was to attend some free seminars at the local Apple store. Needless to say, there were a few ah-ha moments by many of the attendees … me included.

a shadow of a cross reflected on a church

2. Shoot regularly. The best way to improve your photography and get comfortable with your camera is to shoot often. Considering digital photography is free, there’s no reason not to spend hours behind your camera clicking away. Learn to love the delete button but always delete in your computer (unless you’ve taken a complete dud, like your lap or something 😆).  You’ll be surprised by how an image might appear on your LED screen versus your computer screen. Sometimes it looks better in the camera and sometimes an image looks better on the computer. So give the photo a chance and review it on your computer screen before deleting it.

Experiment with different subjects, different camera settings, and different light. Over time you’ll develop a style and voice that will be authentic to you.

bee on a pink flower
Taken handheld with a bridge camera – Panasonic Lumix FZ200

3. Stabilize your camera to achieve sharp photos. Obviously, the best way to stabilize a camera is by using a tripod, but that’s not always convenient, especially if you’re lazy like me and leave the tripod at home. So, the next best thing to do is to use a wall, fence post, or another stable surface to minimize camera shake. Learn to hold your camera correctly and pay attention to your breathing when pressing the shutter. And be sure to have stabilization turned on when handholding and turned off when using a tripod.

4. Use the Camera’s “scene” modes. Cameras and phones are smarter than ever before. Therefore, take advantage of the camera’s preset scene modes. The various modes optimize your camera’s settings and do the thinking for us. Depending on your camera various modes may include; landscape, food, action, portrait, night, and more. I love using these settings, but I always shoot the same image in P (program) mode or A (aperture priority). Remember, taking digital images is free. So shoot away and shoot the same subject using different settings.

On my iPhone 8+, I use the portrait mode to capture food or flowers and create great Bokeh (blurred background).

pinkish red roses in bloom
Taken with iPhone 8+ on Portrait mode

5. See the light. Before clicking that shutter, observe and assess the light. The first step to creating better photographs is understanding light. Think about how the light interacts with the scene and subject. Is the light highlighting an area or casting unique shadows? Light plays a vital role in the mood and interest of a photograph and is the most important element in creating a great photograph.

birds in a dead tree with a setting sun and orange sky
Photography is all about the light … and a little luck!

Composition guidelines for newbies

6. Rule of Thirds. This is one of the most common tips when it comes to improving your photographs. It’s an easy technique and will aid in making an image more interesting. Think about cutting the frame into thirds by using both horizontal and vertical lines. Then place your point of interest over the cross-sections of the grid.

I have the gridlines always turned “on” on both my camera and my iPhone. By doing so, it aids in composing my image and keeping my camera level. Actually, when I attended a seminar at the Apple Store, the first thing they recommended was to turn on the gridlines on the phone.

a hiker and wildflowers at Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, AZ
The trail serves as a leading line while the wildflowers create an interesting foreground. The rule of thirds definitely applies in this image and the single hiker is an odd number of subjects creating balance.

7. Leading Lines. This is probably my favorite form of composition. I’m always looking for leading lines to photograph. This type of composition draws the eye into the image.

8. Interesting foreground. Adding an interesting foreground object will give depth to a photograph, especially in landscape photography.

9. Patterns are a repetition of objects, shapes, or colors. Patterns are everywhere if we once train our eyes to notice them.

texture in photographs
Look for patterns in nature.

10. Negative space. When shooting people, animals, or birds, always leave a little extra room in the image toward the direction the subject is looking. This creates interest and mystery. The viewer may wonder what the subject is looking at.

11. Rule of odds. While composing an image, try to include an odd number of elements in the frame. This is a common practice in interior design. With an odd number of subjects, the image becomes more balanced.

12. Include a frame. A natural frame around the main subject will add depth to the image by drawing the viewer’s attention into the photo. Think about a window or tree framing a subject.

a tunnel frames the winding road
The tunnel serves as a frame around the winding road.

13. Move your feet. Learn to shoot from different angles and varying heights. Moving your body closer to or further away from your subject can often create a more dramatic shot. Walk around looking for a unique perspective. Don’t rely on a zoom lens … move your feet and body and explore the subject’s surroundings.

flowers in front of an official building in Denver
Photograph your subject from a different angle.

Final thoughts for beginner photographers

14. Get good at processing. Every image needs some amount of processing, some images more than others. Embrace the process, learn the software, be creative and comfortable with whatever program you use. I’m a huge fan of Photoshop Lightroom while others prefer Photoshop Elements (similar to Photoshop, but geared toward beginners). These days, there are a number of photographic editing platforms to choose from. Some are free and some subscription-based. Find something that works for you and get good at it.

15. Slow down and don’t rush the process. Take the time to think about what is going on in your viewfinder before pressing the shutter. Think about the composition and what you’re trying to capture. Understand the creative process and make intentional decisions. Learn to tell a story with your photos. See the light, the lines, the moments, the little things, BUT be willing to put the camera down awhile and truly experience your surroundings and then photograph whatever makes you happy.

Happy Clicking!

Gambels Quail
Taken with a point and shoot camera

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Pinterest pin how to take better photos with any camera

How to Stay Healthy and Energetic when Traveling

How to Stay Healthy and Energetic when Traveling

Traveling full-time, part-time, or some-time can be exhilarating but at the same time exhausting. Finding a travel style and pace takes time and practice and will most likely change as you and your desires change.

Long before Al and I bought an RV, we usually traveled by air to our destination, and on occasion, we tent camped. Even when we were younger, whether we were flying or road-tripping, finding a pace that wouldn’t wear us out was always a priority. After all, the whole purpose of traveling was for us to explore and immerse ourselves in new places and that would require good health and plenty of energy. Most times, this was easier said than done!

For the better part of a month, I’ve battled a nasty cold that has kept me housebound, or rather RV bound. All that downtime had my mind wandering aimlessly. I was focused on feeling better. I was reminded of how important it is for us to listen to our bodies. During my illness, my body seemed to crave soup and vegetables. And of course, being the smart gal that I am, I listened to my body and fed it what it wanted.

Japanese Garden

So while downing gallons of warm nourishing soup, (okay, maybe it wasn’t gallons, but I bet it was close 😆) my mind drifted to places I’d like to visit and photograph. My poor camera has been sitting idle in the camera bag for weeks, and that does not make for a happy camper around this RV. Although I’m finally beginning to feel better, I’m still struggling with a lack of energy. Even with an addled mind and lack of energy, I’m still fantasizing about RV adventures.

Energy? … During our travels (and we’ve traveled a lot), Al and I have learned plenty of lessons the hard way … including the importance of food, rest, and listening to our bodies. By fueling ourselves properly and getting a good night’s sleep, we can put in ten-hour driving days. Now mind you, that’s not preferable but sometimes necessary.

Pinterest pin, tips to stay healthy and energetic when travelingI think we’ve all experienced those long road trips … grab some junk food, wash it down with some carbonated soda, and call it good. And an hour later, we’re either ready for a nap or just not feeling well, and we certainly aren’t enjoying the adventure of rolling down the road when we feel less than optimal.

Our bodies are constantly sending us messages in an attempt to find a happy balance. Are we smart enough to listen? I truly believe, the best thing for overall health is to learn what our bodies are telling us. Therefore, we can make better decisions that’ll help keep us healthy, energized, focused, and ready to discover what’s around the next bend.

When we feel great, we can immerse ourselves whole-heartedly in exploring new places, new environments, and new adventures.

And get that camera clicking again!

7 Tips for health and energy when traveling

1. Eating for fuel. Just like we try to put quality gasoline in our vehicle so it’ll perform optimally, we need to do the same for our bodies. This means being aware of what our body needs and eating when we’re hungry and stopping when we’re full.

Step away from the potato chips and no one will get hurt. Mindless snacking while sitting in a car or airplane due to boredom doesn’t do anyone any favors. That’s not to say, the occasional snack needs to be avoided, but in moderation and only after the body has been properly nourished.

When I know we’re getting ready for a stretch of long travel days, I meal plan ahead of time. Obviously, one of the best things about RVing is bringing my kitchen along. I’m able to keep items easily chilled and when it’s time to eat, all we have to do is find a convenient place to pull over. Badda bing Badda boom, lunch is served!

Bruschetta
Bruschetta board at Postino’s in Scottsdale, AZ. Great place for Happy Hour or Sunday Brunch. Smoked Salmon and Pesto – Ricotta, Dates, and Pistachios – Brie, Apple, and Fig Spread – Proscuitto, Fig, and Mascarpone.

2. Hydration is probably the most important thing we can do to maintain our health and energy, and not just while traveling, but every day. If you’re feeling tired, drink a tall glass of water. If you’re feeling hungry, drink a tall glass of water. If you’re having trouble focusing, drink a tall glass of water. I think you get the idea!

Paying attention to our water intake is even more important when visiting higher elevations or dry arid climates. If you once start feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated and probably feeling somewhat fatigued. Water is the only nutrient that has been shown to enhance performance for all activities including the most demanding endurance activities. So drink up!

I'm a Pilot coffee mug

3. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining health and energy throughout the day. I think many of us may underestimate the effect disrupted or shortened sleep can have on our overall well-being.

Things to consider … avoid exposure to bright screens like phones, computers, or tablets right before going to bed. Studies have shown, the light from these devices interferes with our natural body clock making it more difficult to fall asleep. And speaking of body clock, try to stick to a routine. Al and I go to bed almost every night around 10:00 and get out of bed every morning around 6:00 making for a solid eight hours of sleep.

Avoid caffeine after a given time of day. This is where listening to our body comes into play again. Personally, I stay away from anything caffeinated much after 3:00 in the afternoon. Most people aren’t quite as sensitive as I am, but this is something to take note of and be aware of the effects of caffeine on you personally.

4. Move! Last summer while enduring some very long driving days as we transitioned from northern Wisconsin to Phoenix, Arizona, Al and I frequently stopped at rest areas to stretch our legs. Energy begets energy! If you’ve been sitting for hours on end in a car, RV, or airplane, simply standing up and doing some squats or getting in some walking will immediately get the blood flowing and make you feel more energized.

Don’t forget to get in some deep breathing while you’re at it.

5. Laugh! Al and I are the kind of people that seem to find humor in most situations. We don’t take life or ourselves too seriously. Studies have shown that laughing can boost energy and be a stress reliever. So, while you’re sitting on the side of the road in a broken-down RV waiting for assistance (if you can even get assistance), pull up YouTube on your phone and watch some silly videos. Laugh! Life is too short not to.😁

Or if you’re like us and tend to break down in places without cell service (no internet), then all you can do is laugh at the situation, or make fun of your partner. We’ve been traveling in our RV since 2011 and have made a ton of RVing mistakes. At the beginning of our RV journey, these mishaps and mistakes would overwhelm and stress us and now we just shrug, tackle, and laugh.

Our favorite word to say after an incident is “recalculating“. Not only do we need to reaccess our schedule, but we need to be honest about how we’re feeling. Once again, we listen to our bodies! We may change the pace, grab a healthy snack, hydrate with water, coffee, or tea, or better yet, eat chocolate. Oh yeah, my fave!

6. When all else fails, eat chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better! Chocolate has caffeine which is a quick pick-me-up, and it also has flavonoids that have been shown to boost cognitive skills and improve mood. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m all in for improving my mood and functioning brain. So, we always have a stash of chocolate in the RV.

By the way, I’ll take one for the team, and eat your share of chocolate if cocoa ain’t your thang!🤣

7. Listen to your body and do a mental check-in. We need to check-in with ourselves and travel companions regularly to access how we’re feeling. This is the perfect time to get real with what our bodies are telling us. And this holds true for our furry travel companions as well.

When we worked in the airline industry, we used to call it “get home-itis” (The determination of a pilot to reach a destination even when conditions for flying are dangerous). Don’t fall victim to “get there-itis“. When feeling tired, that’s not the time to ignore what your body is telling you and push through. This is when mistakes and accidents happen. Listen to your body! Be clear on how everyone is feeling and make simple changes as needed.

Pace yourself, drink water and eat more chocolate. If you’re not feeling your best and you’re driving, pull over … if you’re on a cruise, forgo that shore excursion … if you’re flying, take a nap. If you don’t feel well, do whatever is necessary to regain health and energy.

“The single biggest difference between people who get what they want and people who don’t is energy.”

By listening to our body, we can enjoy our travels while also benefiting from good health and plenty of energy. All it takes is a little inner reflection, planning, and flexibility.

Do you have any travel tips to help maintain health and energy?

old bicycle in a flower garden

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Why I miss a Home Base | A Major Decision

Why I miss a Home Base | A Major Decision

The life of a nomad can appear glamorous. All you have to do is spend a little time on social media and the stunning images will have you longing to live a life of full-time travel. Yet those beautiful photographs don’t usually tell the whole story. I know I’m guilty of sharing predominantly the upside to RV living. Let’s face it, most people prefer to hear and see the positives of those living the nomadic life and ignore many of the realities.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told we’re living the dream which always makes me cringe. Ah, photographs, videos, and stories might appear like many nomads are indeed living a dream (and many feel they are), but in reality, there are days it’s far from a dream and more like a nightmare.

single lane tunnel in rearview mirror
RV won’t fit in that tunnel.

Travel fatigue, decision weariness, and sensory overload are real things.

My RVing friend, Laura at Chapter 3 Travels, recently wrote an article about travel burnout and the realities of living in an RV full-time. It’s a great read, and I would encourage any RV newbie or wannabe full-time RVer to read it.

Laura says … Because RVing has gotten so popular, and because a bunch of yahoo bloggers are all “blah, blah, blahing” about it online, there are more RVs on the road than ever before. What has not kept up is the supply of campgrounds. Ergo, supply and demand doing their thing means prices are going up and competition for choice sites is tougher than ever. Even worse, back in the olden days, there were plentiful options for boondocking on public lands. Now, many of those places are so overrun with RVers that public lands are actually closing down.

I couldn’t agree with Laura more and I accept the title of yahoo blogger knowing that she’s standing alongside me sharing that title.😁

Yep, traveling in an RV full-time ain’t what it used to be! Long gone are the days of traveling on a whim without reservations. Oh sure, Al and I still wing it when transitioning between locations, but we’re also willing to overnight in parking lots when campgrounds are full. (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, Casinos, Truck Stops, Rest Stops) Those transitional travel nights are the only time we wing it.

Unfortunately, all the planning and scheduling that’s necessary has taken some of the fun out of RVing and that sense of freedom has changed. RVing full-time can be very stressful!

RV traveling down a deserted road in Utah

Why we got a year-round RV site

We’re in our seventh year of living the nomadic life … living in an RV full-time. A lot has changed over the years, including us. We’ve changed the way in which we travel. We’ve changed our goals and priorities. We’ve definitely slowed down as our equipment and our bodies have aged. Say it isn’t so! But to be honest, we’ve always traveled at a slower pace than a lot of other full-time RVers. Perhaps that’s why travel burnout has taken a little longer to hit us.

Even at our slow pace, we feel downright tired. Tired of planning. Tired of making never-ending decisions. Tired of researching. Tired of wondering if we’ll break down. And tired of worrying.

Now mind you, we’re not done with RV travel. Nope, not even close! We still love the adventure and socializing with like-minded friends, but we feel even the most adventurous need a break from a steady diet of travel. This is why many full-time RVers, Al and I included, start missing a home base … a place to go back to on our terms and regroup. A place we call ‘home’.

Sandhill cranes standing in reflection water
We love hanging out with like-minded friends.

Over the past several years, we’ve actually put contracts in on a few houses but were always relieved when negotiations stalled. We soon realized, we weren’t quite ready for the commitment of a sticks and bricks dwelling and that’s when the thought of an RV lot came to mind. We first heard about RVers owning their own lot several years ago through the Escapees organization.

At the time, we were relatively new to Full-time RVing and the thought seemed ridiculous to us. After all, the whole point of RVing is to travel. Why would anyone want to sit in an RV Park for months at a time? Well, after years of living life on the road, we finally get it! And now we’ve decided to rent a year-round RV site.

Why we chose the Pioneer RV Park in north Phoenix

Since our children live in Phoenix, Arizona this is where we spend the most amount of time throughout the year, and because of that, we made Phoenix our legal domicile several years ago.

Considering Phoenix is a winter hot spot for snowbirds, having a reservation in this entertaining city is an absolute must, especially during the most popular months of January, February, and March. Also, prepare for the city to explode in population during those prime months making traffic potentially difficult, but the good thing is with that influx in people, there’s no shortage of like-minded folks to mingle with and meet, and personally, we like that … just another upside to Arizona.

wild iris

This is our third winter camping at the Pioneer RV Resort near Anthem, Arizona and it feels like home. It’s now our home base and a place we have the freedom to come and go without concerns of reservations or fears of backing in the RV. We know exactly which site is ours. It’s a place we can leave our second vehicle and a place where we feel a sense of community.

We decided to contract for an annual site last spring after our first six-month stay at the park. Six months in one location? Wow, we didn’t think we’d last that long without hitch-itch setting in, but we did. We also felt more relaxed than we had in years. Renting a year-round site seemed to solve most of our travel fatigue without making a long term commitment.

I’ll admit, paying the monthly rent on an RV site all summer while we were away, did grind at me, but when put into perspective, it’s not so bad. Let’s face it, if we had purchased a sticks and bricks house, we’d be paying property taxes and all the other things associated with homeownership every month including the months we are away traveling. So, this is no different and our monthly rental cost is significantly less expensive than most monthly expenditures for real estate.

crabapple with droplets of water

For now, this works and solves some of our weariness. And with a mere thirty-day written notice, my rental obligation is nullified. This is the perfect solution for two people with location commitment issues.🤣 Perhaps if we didn’t have children, we might have chosen a place to purchase real estate by now. Or maybe, we’d still be drifting around. One never knows!

A lot of our RV friends that hit the road full-time when we did have either come off the road altogether or have gone part-time or have purchased lots at the Escapees parks or other similar parks. Then there are others who rent annual lots at various RV parks throughout the country as we’ve decided to do.

This changes everything!

So, with a monthly commitment, Al and I won’t be rolling much in the next year or two. We know we’ll be spending 6-8 months living in Phoenix, and during the hot weather months, we’ll escape the heat by traveling north. We’ll probably spend 3 months this summer back in Hayward, Wisconsin doing a repeat of last summer. We enjoyed that visit with family so much so that we’re already looking forward to this summer’s trip.

Will I miss our winter travels? Absolutely! But the travel downtime and the knowledge of knowing where we’ll be sleeping is very much needed at this stage in our journey. 2021 might look the same or we might shake things up. Aren’t choices wonderful?

So, now you know our plans. We’re always open to connecting. So, if you
find yourself in the Phoenix area, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Happy trails!

mallard duck
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February | Love, Baseball, and Wildflowers

February | Love, Baseball, and Wildflowers

The month of February ranks pretty high on my list of favorite times of the year. It wasn’t always that way. Nope, that didn’t happen until we started spending winters in the south. Here in Phoenix, Arizona, February marks the beginning of spring-like conditions.

Fairweather temperatures, sunny skies, and budding vegetation are telltale signs that the end of winter is near which always brings a smile to my face. Bye-bye winter, hello spring!

February weather in PhoenixSeriously, what’s not to love about February in the desert southwest?

February is the month the desert comes alive. Vegetation of all kinds come out of winter hibernation.

Plants are starting to bloom and by the end of the month, the desert explodes with color from wildflowers, cactus blooms, and budding trees and will continue well into April.

This time of year, the citrus trees are loaded with ripened fruit just waiting to be picked. And let me tell you, delicious doesn’t adequately describe the taste of freshly picked citrus.

My palate is indeed spoiled after picking my own oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. How will I ever eat store-bought citrus again?

Cactus League | Spring Training

February also marks the beginning of baseball spring training. Due to spring training and the gorgeous weather, mid-February and into March are the most popular times to visit the Phoenix valley.

It’s also the most expensive. RV Parks are booked well in advance and hotel room rates are nearly doubled in price. So, if getting up close and personal with your favorite ballplayer is high on your bucket list, be sure and plan well in advance for your Phoenix, Arizona visit.

There are ten stadium locations spread across the valley making it convenient to attend at least one baseball game during any visit. For a Cactus League schedule, click here.

Valentine’s Day in the southwest

Ah, but February isn’t just about baseball and wildflowers. It’s about love. Yes, spending Valentine’s Day in the desert southwest can be very romantic. There’s usually at least one chocolate festival to attend somewhere throughout the valley.

And as much as I love chocolate and indulge regularly, one of my favorite activities and challenges is to spot heart-shaped items while out hiking. I have a couple of friends who collect heart-shaped rocks … something I’d also love to do, but due to space and weight constrictions in my RV, rock collecting is not an option for me. Thoughts of The Long, Long Trailer and Lucille Ball come to mind.

Heart shaped cactus

With thoughts of Valentine’s Day nearing, I begin wondering what Al and I might do to celebrate. Would we celebrate? Perhaps a walk under the moonlight would be a romantic gesture. There are no shortages of great trails around Phoenix to do just that. Realistically, with my poor night vision, I’ll take a pass on night hiking but I would consider the short hike up to Hole in the Rock at Papago Park to watch the sunset, but sharing this cozy spot with twenty-some other people might fall shy of my romantic expectations.

My thoughts are leaning more towards a quiet evening out dressed in something other than hiking attire … maybe! Living in a major city offers a variety of cuisine options. Between Phoenix and Scottsdale, there’s no shortage of award-winning restaurants with food ranging from signature southwestern dishes to interesting international fare and every option in between.

owl couple
Happy couple hanging out together!

I love trying out new restaurants and usually focus on ordering a dish I don’t normally make at home. Then my quest is to try and recreate said dish at some point in the near future back at the RV … with the proviso that Al and I enjoyed the meal.

Ah, with no shortage of romantic options in Arizona, I’m sure Al and I will come up with something to do! How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

                         How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
                                By: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

                         How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
                         I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
                         My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
                         For the ends of being and ideal grace.
                         I love thee to the level of every day’s
                         Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
                         I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
                         I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
                         I love thee with the passion put to use
                         In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
                         I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
                         With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
                         Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
                         I shall but love thee better after death.

love is in the air

What is your favorite month of the year and why?

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Valentine’s Day Tower of Hearts
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101 Famous Poems

One of a Kind Sights in Arizona

One of a Kind Sights in Arizona

While resting on a large boulder, I try to quiet my mind and take in my surroundings. I’m on one of my morning nature hikes. The sounds of birds chirping, water trickling in a babbling creek mere steps from my feet, and the sun warming my body remind me why I enjoy wintering in Phoenix, Arizona.

It’s January and there are no harsh snowstorms for me to worry about. The occasional rainstorm accompanied by high winds is about as bad as it gets. Sure, the temps on rare occasion may drop into the 30 degrees Fahrenheit range (-1 celsius) for an overnight low, but those nights are few and far between. Even then, the days will warm up into the 50s and 60s … perfect for me to lace up my hiking shoes and hit the trails.

America’s fifth-most-populated city is home to red-rock buttes, beautiful scenery, and the kind of cactus most people see only in cartoons. I don’t know about you, but when I used to envision a desert, thoughts of dull, boring, remote, dry, hot, and maybe even dangerous came to my mind. Boy, was I wrong! The Sonoran Desert is anything but boring … it’s still hot and dry, but never boring, dull, or unattractive.

Saguaro Cactus and a lake reflection at sunset at Lake Pleasant Phoenix Arizona
Lake Pleasant, northwest of Phoenix, Arizona

A few desert facts.

Did you know deserts cover about 20% of the Earth? Deserts are characterized by extreme environmental conditions with little precipitation. Yet with minimal rainfall, they are able to inhabit plant and animal life. I’m totally enamored with deserts, especially the Sonoran Desert here in Arizona. Deserts are a fascinating ecosystem, but not all deserts are created equally. There are four types of deserts;

  • hot and dry (Arizona’s Sonoran Desert)
  • semi-arid (America’s Great Basin)
  • coastal (Atacama Desert in Chile)
  • cold (Greenland)

The Sonoran Desert in Arizona is real.

As a child growing up in the Midwest among lush green vegetation, I never had any aspirations of living in a desert. As a matter of fact, I thought those images of red rock bluffs, three-armed cactus, and ever abundant tumbleweed were a fabrication of cartoonists. I remember watching the cartoon “The Road Runner” which took place in America’s southwest. Ah, poor Wile E. Coyote!

a wild coyote walking through the neighborhood

The thought of art imitating life wasn’t something I had considered. The scenery, vegetation, and animals drawn in the cartoon seemed surreal to me, but real they are. You can imagine my excitement when I saw my first ‘real’ road runner, not to mention laying eyes on the strange yet beautiful landscape of the desert southwest. And the night-time howling of a coyote always brings a smile to my face. Yeah, living in the desert can be exciting.

a wild road runner on a boulder in Arizona
Road Runner in Arizona: beep, beep!

image of the Sonoran Desert with hot air balloons in the sky

The star of Arizona

Although there are so many things that make a desert special, the real star and main attraction of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the saguaro cactus.  It took me weeks of living among these beauties before I was even able to pronounce the name saguaro correctly – pronounced: sa-wha-ro.

saguaro cactus with interesting clouds Phoenix ArizonaEach saguaro cactus is unique and appears to have a personality of its own.  The Sonoran Desert’s bi-seasonal rainfall pattern results in more plant species than any other desert in the world, and it’s the only place in the world where you’ll see saguaro cactus growing naturally.

The saguaro is a large, tree-sized cactus that can grow as tall as 70 feet (20 meters) and is native to the Sonoran Desert.

Saguaros have a relatively long life span, averaging 150-175 years of age with some living as long as 200 years. It can take 50 to 70 years just for a saguaro to develop one side-arm.  Arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity … more arms lead to more flowers and fruit.

Saguaros are very slow-growing and may only grow an inch or two in its first eight years.  The growth rate is determined by climate, precipitation, and location.  Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater and the cactus will visibly expand.  This might explain why the desert feels so alive after a rainfall.  The cacti are doing a happy dance!

Every saguaro cactus seems to have its own individual personality; some cute, some not, some look like proud soldiers, some like a cartoon character and others look tired, twisted, and weathered, but no two identical.a forest of saguaro cactus, Tonto National Forest, ArizonaWhat is a Crested Saguaro?

Why are some cactus crested?  Saguaros rarely grow symmetrically and often grow in odd or mis-shapen forms.  The growing tip on rare occasions produces a fan-like form which is referred to as crested or cristate.  Biologists disagree about why some saguaro grow in this unusual form.  Some thoughts; genetic mutation, lightning strike, or freeze damage.  For whatever reason, their pattern growth is fascinating.

Happy Holidays and Cyber Friends

Can you believe 2019 is coming to an end? I don’t know about you, but this year really flew by. I’m actually sad to flip the calendar. We had a fantastic year shared with friends new and old and saw sights that were also new and old. Returning to some favorite stomping grounds in 2019 was definitely one of several highlights for me.

This past month, Al and I have been spending time with friends and family and loving every moment. As we get older, the holidays are a sharp reminder of those no longer across the table from us. And although their laughter is truly missed, the loving memories will remain forever in our hearts.

a burning candle surrounded by pine cones

However you celebrate the light in your life, I wish you the very brightest of holidays. Al and I raise a glass to you and yours and wish you another year filled with fun adventures, memory-making, and lots of time spent with family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cyber friends I met in person in 2019

Gosh, I hope I haven’t missed anyone. The past couple of years, I’ve slacked off on my blog posts and don’t always share the amazing people we meet living this RV lifestyle. My goal for 2020 is to do better 😏. I’d also like to mention the fine folks out there that don’t blog yet have reached out to us via email. We are always grateful and humbled by complete strangers opening their homes to us.

I love my cyber community and every time I toy with the thought of ending my blog journey, I’m reminded by the amazing friendships that have been forged via this medium with bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Nope, I think I’ll keep writing and sharing my photos as long as you all continue to stop by.

Thank you for visiting and thank you for your friendship ❤

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

three ladies share food on Thanksgiving
Joodie from ‘Chasing Dirt, Mona Liza from Lowes Travels, and me on Thanksgiving Day. A big thank you to Joodie and Mark for hosting!

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Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot: 60 Easy One-Pot Recipes for Fast Weight Loss
Resistance Bands Set – Workout Bands
National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S.

Gift Ideas for Him and Her Under $50

The holiday season is once again upon us and shopping for gifts is in full swing. I think I’m one of those rare people who enjoys the whole holiday shopping frenzy. It doesn’t matter if I’m strolling through stores or scrolling on the internet, I enjoy the Christmas gift shopping process.

Snow Mountain Ranch, renting a winter cabin in Colorado, #cabininthewoods
Are you in the holiday spirit? I am! When our children were young, this is where we used to spend Christmas – Granby, Colorado

This year, our small family has decided to keep Christmas gift-giving simple and stay within a budget-friendly range. As I was jotting down ideas and switching from my recipe search to gift idea search on the internet, I thought I’d share some products that I came across which I believe would make great gifts for him or her. Maybe you’ll find this post helpful with your own quest for the perfect holiday gift. (This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The cost is the same. I appreciate your support.)

Gift Ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Whether I’m RVing in our 5th wheel with my husband or embarking on one of my crazy camping adventures with my daughter, there’s some equipment that I feel are an absolute must-have for any outdoor enthusiast. At the top of that list are a headlamp and flashlights. Tripping over a tree root in the dark is no fun … at least that’s what I’ve heard😉 And flashlights and headlamps make great stocking stuffers or box fillers.

A great gift idea for anyone, whether you RV or not, is an Emergency Weather Radio. You never know when a life-threatening storm will head our way. Weather conditions are definitely something we want to be kept up to date on and we can’t count on a Cell phone or WiFi signal working during those severe weather conditions. Another must-have and great gift idea for anyone is a multi-tool. My husband uses his regularly, and we gave both of our adult children one a few years ago for Christmas. My daughter used her multi-tool during our Zion camping trip … and maybe we used a few things from our first aid/survival kit as well, but I’ll never tell.

Gifts for enjoying the outdoors in comfort.

With the necessary stuff out of the way, let’s talk about some fun stuff. Although, these are still necessary in my book. I’d be lost without my outdoor camping chair and throw blanket … gotta be comfy watching those sunsets during happy hour. We use and abuse our canvas chairs and end up replacing them every couple of years or so. Do you have a sports fan who loves tailgating? These chairs are perfect for camping, tailgating, and going to the beach.

And let’s not forget about quenching our thirst. I love these adventure enamel camping mugs for my morning coffee or campfire hot cocoa, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stainless steel tumblers that are perfect for cold or hot beverages. Wine, anyone? These make the best wine glasses! But my most treasured beverage container is the large travel bottle that I take everywhere with me filled with hydrating water. When ya live in the desert half the year like I do (Phoenix, Arizona), staying hydrated is important.

Living in a tiny home like an RV where space is limited, storage is always an issue. It’s not like we have extra space to store multiple coolers. I found this collapsible cooler bag last year and absolutely love it. It came in super handy on Thanksgiving Day when we visited some fellow RVers and needed to bring/transport cold beer and deviled eggs.🦃🍺🌵

The cooler bag is also perfect for taking to the beach as are these versatile Turkish Bath and Beach Towels. Since these towels fold up small and dry fast, they are perfect for any traveler wanting to take their own towel along. Speaking of traveling, when my daughter and I visited Disneyland and she engaged in the Play Disney App, the app used up quite a bit of her phone battery. Fortunately, she had one of these External Cell Phone Battery packs to recharge her phone. Guess who put one of these on her Christmas list?

Gift ideas for air travelers

My son and his wife enjoy cruise ship vacations which usually require air travel and a little more forethought when it comes to packing. Here are some gift ideas I’ve gathered with them in mind.

Last-minute gift ideas

Ok, let’s face it, there are some people that are more challenging to shop for than others. When all else fails, I turn to food. Ah, but it’s a good idea to know the gift recipient’s tastes, dislikes, and potential food allergies.

Happy shopping!

Do you enjoy holiday shopping? Have you finished your shopping list? 

Wholesale Warranty

A Love Affair with Blueberries

A Love Affair with Blueberries

The rolling hills, lush vegetation, and beautiful Lake Superior shoreline make visiting this part of northern Wisconsin well worth the out of the way drive. I’ve always been curious about the south shore of Lake Superior and have long wanted to visit this far northern part of the state. I finally had the opportunity recently and was not disappointed.

Bayfield, Wisconsin is considered the Berry Capital of the State and also known as the Gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Bayfield’s local agriculture produces some of the largest crops of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries in the Midwest.

Blueberries on a blueberry bush

Summertime is berry season on the Bayfield peninsula. That means fresh, locally grown berries are ripe for the picking. You can either pick yourself (most cost-effective) or you can purchase pre-picked berries. The “Fruit Loop” drive not only immerses visitors into the picturesque landscape but introduces them to the local farms and farm stands along the small country roads.

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and more

Al and I spent our summer camped on his sister’s lakefront property near Hayward, Wisconsin. Considering the quaint little town of Bayfield is located an easy hour and a half drive away, my sister-in-law and I decided to take a day trip up to the town to pick blueberries. She had never gone berry picking before. Ah, I’d need to fix that. (We called ahead to check on the status of the blueberries before making the drive. The second week in August 2019 was perfect for picking blueberries. We also kept tabs via the Orchard-Reports.)

Our first stop was at the Blue Vista Farm. I fell in love with this place. The property is stunning with its historic barn, and flower garden. And then there’s the orchards, butterflies, and birds along with clean air and puffy clouded blue skies. Seriously, I could spend a summer here and easily run out of film 😆. My sister-in-law literally had to pull me away so we could continue with our Bayfield explorations.

Blue Vista Farm – To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image.

After picking roughly 5 pounds of blueberries at the Blue Vista Farm, it was time for us to head to our next destination; Erickson’s Orchards & Country Store. Here, we weren’t interested in picking any more fruit. Nope, our visit was totally centered around their baked goods available in their country store.

We had visited Bayfield a few weeks earlier and had stopped in at Erickson’s. It was at the tail end of strawberry season and blueberries weren’t yet ready to pick. So, we settled for a sampling of baked goods and a bottle of local wine. And wow! So, now it was time for a repeat purchase, but instead of strawberry treats, it was blueberry treats. Yum! Many of these farms also offer additional products such as jellies, jams, preserves, and honey that we’ll consider during another visit.

Fish Tacos BlackenedWith our stash of freshly picked blueberries and a box full of baked goods safely stored in our cooler, we headed into town for lunch at the Bayfield Inn. Their rooftop restaurant offers beautiful views and casual dining.

The town of Bayfield is home to one of the remaining sustainable fisheries on the Great Lakes. Local fishermen bring in a daily catch of salmon, trout, and whitefish.

With whitefish being the most popular, many of the local restaurants offer it on their menus cooked in a variety of ways.

I ordered the White Fish Tacos blackened and they were absolutely delicious. So tasty that I’ve tried replicating them at home. I’ve gotten close to their recipe, but I’ll need to keep working at it and Al will continue to suffer through my culinary experiments. I don’t think he’s complaining.

Shopping

After lunch, my sister-in-law and I did a little strolling up and down historic Rittenhouse Avenue. Bayfield is a small town and each shop offers something different and unique. Of course, my T-shirt addiction didn’t allow me to walk away empty-handed. 😏 And my sister-in-law couldn’t resist a purchase at the Candy Shoppe. Their fruit wine breads and chocolate turtles were to die for and we hear their homemade ice cream is pretty tasty as well.

Gardens

I think one of the things that surprised me the most during my visits to this historic Wisconsin town was the gardens. From residences to shops and even marinas, they all pride themselves in providing lovely flower gardens complete with yard art. It was so enjoyable to just walk around the town taking in the sights.

I’ve loved every single visit I made to Bayfield this past summer. Al and I even managed to take one of those 3-hour boat tours around the Apostle Islands. And we couldn’t have picked a better day to do so, but I’ll save that adventure for another post.

Bayfield, Wisconsin
Bayfield, Wisconsin

What I’ve been working on!

We had an absolutely fantastic summer and a busy one at that. I’ve been so busy especially these last few weeks that blogging has been put on the backburner. Not only have I enjoyed adventures with family, but I’ve also been trying my hand at video. Not very successfully, I might add. Video will never replace my love of still photography, but it may enhance this blog as well as challenge me creatively. I do have three videos ready to upload to my not yet created YouTube Channel. That’ll need to wait until I’m settled into my winter location. Yep, we’re in travel mode right now transitioning between northern Wisconsin and Phoenix, Arizona. In the meantime, I thought I’d share this silly little trailer I threw together in iMovie. More adventures to come!

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Basket with Double Drop Down Handles
Cotton Kitchen Towels
Stainless Steel Tumbler with Lid

Summer’s Last Hurrah

Summer’s Last Hurrah

This is Labor Day weekend here in the United States which usually marks the end of the summer camping season for many. Fortunately for us, we get to continue RVing and head south for the winter. I’m extremely grateful that I’m able to follow my feathered friends and migrate with the seasons, but I’m not ready to move on … just yet.

Prior to this summer, it had been years since I’d spent any time in northern Wisconsin let alone stay this far north into September. And this past week has served as a reminder as to why the camping season comes to an end after Labor Day Weekend in the north woods. It has been downright cold at night. I’m talking in the 45 degree Fahrenheit range with daytime temps struggling to hit 70 degrees F. Plus, the leaves are already showing signs that fall is just around the corner as they tease us with hints of gold and red. And it’s only the first few days in September! That said, there is a raw beauty to the landscape and a clean crispness to the air that I’m absolutely loving. Bring on the sweatshirts!

Kreher Park Campground in Ashland Wisconsin
Kreher Park Campground, Ashland, WI

We really enjoyed this town!

So, with summer weather clearly in the rearview mirror, my thoughts drift back to some great finds that Al and I discovered this season … one of which was Ashland, Wisconsin.

Located in northern Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay lies an interesting little town called Ashland. It was once a center for lumbering, mining, and Great Lakes shipping but today Ashland is a popular destination for tourists and anglers and is known as “The Historic Mural Capital in Wisconsin”.

This community of around 8,000 has eloquently preserved its history by painting murals on many of the downtown buildings creating a fascinating walkable history book. In fact, it may have more murals per capita than any other place in the Midwest.  There may be large cities with more murals over a wider area, but Ashland packs a concentrated punch of murals in the town’s center.

The murals in this south shore town are special to locals because they portray folks who once lived in this small community.  Some of these people had an influential role in the town while others were merely everyday people who contributed to everyday life. You could easily take in most of the murals on foot in about an hour depending on how long you spend at each mural and how quickly you walk.

Images of Ashland … to enlarge photos, click on any image

10 Things to do around Ashland

  • Go on a Mural walk downtown
  • Bike or hike the trails
  • Fish
  • Visit a waterfall
  • Cruise the Apostle Islands
  • Kayak
  • Shop the historic town
  • Take a scenic drive
  • Birding
  • Visit an orchard and pick your own

Wonderful Bike Trail

We really enjoyed walking around the downtown area and admiring the murals, but we also discovered the town’s amazing bike trail. We don’t have bikes anymore so we stuck to hiking portions of the trail system. Sigh … this was one time I truly missed my bicycle. This bike trail is perfect for my kind of biking; paved and gentle hills.

The bike trail even passed right by our awesome Lake Superior lakefront campsite.

Campgrounds

Al and I have been spending the summer on private property at his sister’s lakefront home near Hayward, Wisconsin. Not wanting to overstay our welcome, our plan all along was to do some out and back trips over the course of our three-month summer stay. We enjoyed a great trip down memory lane when we visited the north shore in Minnesota in July and we were hoping for an equally fun trip.

I had spent hours mapping out our journey into Michigan’s Upper Pennisula. Blog posts and campground reviews were read. Stops, sites, things to see and do were clearly noted in my notebook. We bid farewell to sister and brother-in-law with the intent of returning in 7-10 days.

Our first stop was in Ashland; only an hour and a half drive away from the family. This would be merely an overnight …. or so we thought. The drive to Ashland was scenic, well as scenic as the same lush forest on a two-lane road gets. Once we arrived in town, we quickly found and drove through the county park campground where I had planned on staying. Kreher Park Campground is a first-come, first-serve kind of place and we missed snagging the last site by mere minutes.

The other option was the small county park at the opposite end of town also first-come, first-serve. After talking to the camp host at Kreher Park, we didn’t have high hopes for finding an open spot in town that night but we decided to drive through Prentice Park Campground just to make sure there weren’t any openings.

Great campsite at Prentice Park Campground

Luck was on our side and we snagged the one and only open site which was also one of the best. Prentice Park only has a total of seven sites. One for the camp host and a couple of others were taken by monthly RVer’s leaving only four sites that rotate. So yeah, we sure got lucky.

The next morning, we returned to Kreher Park CG just as an RV was pulling out of a lakefront site. Score! Someone was doing a happy dance. Can you guess who? 😁 The previous folks also left behind a stake of firewood … more happy dancing.💃

That evening as the sunset over Lake Superior, Al and I enjoyed drinks while a lovely campfire kept us warm. Ah, life is good! That’s when Al asked, “Where are we going tomorrow?” “What do you mean?”, I quizzically responded. “Well, don’t you have a whole trip planned out for us to explore the U.P.?” “Oh yeah, that. How about we just stay here? And on that note, the plans were quickly changed!

The view from my campsite at Kreher Park

So all those hours of trip planning were canceled in mere minutes. Ah, no regrets on my part. Camping along the shores of Lake Superior was a goal of mine since we pulled out of Phoenix at the end of May. All the notes are saved and archived for next summers excursion. Yeah, I have a feeling we’ll be back next year.

A note about Kreher Park Campground: it is a first-come, first-serve CG with E/W only and an onsite sloped dump station. Most sites are unlevel, mixed sizes, and gravel/grassy. There are local construction workers renting sites on a monthly basis which makes this small campground even more difficult to find an open site. Have a backup plan and Walmart is not it (no overnighting at the Walmart). There is boondocking at a boat landing near the power plant for $20 a night but the air smells from the plant. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of camping options around here for RVs of a larger size. Small travel trailers and tents rule in the north woods.

The Best Drinking Water

One of the many reasons I wanted to camp near Lake Superior was for the drinking water. I grew up near Chicago and most municipalities in Chicagoland get their drinking water from Lake Michigan. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan are cold and deep and the water is clear and delicious.

These days, we find ourselves spending most of our time in Arizona and the local drinking water for most municipalities comes from the Colorado River … rich in minerals; minerals that cause calcification in our RV plumbing AND in our bodies. Intense filtering is necessary.

The moment we were set up at the Prentice Park Campground, Al opened our freshwater holding tank to let it drain (it was only a quarter full anyway). We then filled up with the excellent water at our campsite. Later, we were told the water came from an Artesian Well. This was the clearest and tastiest water that we’ve seen come out of a spiggot in years. It’s hysterical how Al and I are treating that fresh water in our tank as a precious commodity. “NO, you can’t use it to flush the toilet”, we both scream! 🤣

Artesian Water – We filled every empty container we had.

Turns out, there’s actually an Artesian Water fill-up station (not for RVs – you’ll need a campsite) at Prentice Park as well as at the Maslowski Beach along Highway 61. We filled up any empty or half-empty water containers we had in the RV. Seriously, this is the best water I’ve tasted in years and I’m so glad our freshwater tank is filled with this stuff.

A Cruise on Lake Superior

Our five days in the area were not only very relaxing but provided some fabulous sightseeing. High on my bucket list was a visit to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. My previous visits to Bayfield (gateway to the Apostle Islands) were either filled with other adventures or the weather was somewhat inclement. Once again, we lucked out and enjoyed a perfect day for a cruise around the Apostle Islands. But I’ll share that in another post!

Bad weather was rolling in – time to lift the jacks

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Camping Hatchet
Sven Folding Camp Saw
Telescopicing Campfire Forks