It’s 110 (bleeping) degrees Fahrenheit outside today without a cloud in the sky. It’s hot! Who would’ve thought Al and I would still be sitting in Phoenix, Arizona during the first week in June? Certainly not I. Thank goodness we have a flexible mindset and were able to readjust our plans after this most recent delay.
But it’s fricken hot 🥵 No sugar coating it by saying it’s a dry heat. Even an oven is a dry heat. Oh well, this ain’t our first rodeo experiencing extreme desert heat. We lived in Las Vegas, Nevada in the nineties. You learn to adjust.
Our initial plan was to depart Phoenix in mid-May and point the RV toward Wisconsin, but a few things happened that derailed those plans. First and foremost is that nasty virus that shut the country down … shut the world down. We wanted to wait for some level of normalcy to return (even just a glimmer) before we hit the road.
In reality, we didn’t mind changing our departure date until after Memorial Day Weekend because one of Al’s sister’s recently (April) moved to Phoenix. We were enjoying visits with her and her husband and assisting any way we could as they settled into their new home. So a couple of extra weeks in the valley spent with family would actually be fun.
Extending our stay turned out to be a good thing, a very good thing, as I encountered a potential little hiccup in my health. A couple of medical tests later followed by a teleconference with my doctor and we were once again good to go and set a new departure date. (I’m fine BTW)
The truck was ready. The RV was ready. Al and I were ready, and after one final gathering with the family to say our goodbyes, we’d be hitting the road a couple of days later, or so we thought. The day prior to rolling, Al lost a crown while eating a relatively light lunch. No peanut brittle involved. Well, he didn’t exactly lose it, it ended up in his hand instead of being securely attached to the tooth in his mouth.
Poor Al! However, after three uncomfortable hours in the dental chair enduring some major work, he’s doing great and currently waiting on the permanent crown to be ready for installation. Turns out, that old crown and root canal were most likely older than the dentist. Now that’ll make ya feel old! 😆 So obviously, that tooth was something that needed to be taken care of before traveling and we’re glad we were still in the valley when the crown fell out.
As soon as Al gets his new crown installed, my crowned king and I will be hitting the road. Fingers crossed 🤞 we won’t encounter any more faux pas. We’ve already encountered one too many for my taste!
Is it me, or has this winter weather been absolutely crazy? Talk about challenging winter weather conditions all across the United States, and for those living south of the equator, I hear you’ve had your own weather challenges. Crazy stuff, huh!
We’ve been comfortably parked in an RV Park on the far north side of the Phoenix valley since early October. I use the term “comfortably” loosely. Although, we are enjoying the RV park, our RV site, and the great neighbors, the weather has been anything but “comfortable”.
I love my RV, but living in a tin can RV during cold and rainy weather isn’t much fun. Sure, we’ve had some nice days which were perfect for hiking, but the inclement days seem to be more frequent this winter than previous years. And don’t even get me started with the wind, hail, and flash flooding.
With all that said, compared to other parts of the country, I really shouldn’t complain. The upside to all the extra moisture we’ve received here in the desert southwest over the past few months will be a colorful reward – a kaleidoscope of spring wildflowers.
Last year the desert was dry, brown, and sad. This year, she is green, plump, and happy. So, even though the weather has been colder and wetter than I’d prefer, I know there’s an upside. Can you believe those blooms have already started showing up … and it’s only February? March is going to be amazing!
Last week in Phoenix, it actually snowed. Not the fun pretty kind of snow, but rather, the slushy irritating kind we call graupel. This stuff I didn’t enjoy, but I did enjoy a snow outing last month.
Snow in Arizona
Even this desert dweller occasionally longs for white fluffy snow. Yep, I miss snow every once in a while. So, in January, after a substantial snowfall in Sedona (mere rain in Phoenix), I hopped in my little red truck and took the 90 minute drive up the hill (Interstate 17) for a day of fun in the snow. I love Arizona’s diversity!
After about three hours of traipsing in the snow along ice-covered trails, I’d had my fill of winter … especially after a near fatal fall on my derriere. It all happened in slow motion. While my feet where sliding hither and yon, my arms were flailing in all directions in an attempt to steady my balance …. all the while, at the forefront of my mind was my trusty Panasonic camera and saving her from a deadly fall. In the end 🤭, my naturally well padded bottom took the brunt of the fall while Panny survived unscathed and ready for more shutter clicking. Disaster averted! We don’t need to talk about the softball size bruise on my …..
So yeah, I’m good with winter weather and won’t need a snow fix until next year. I’m ready for spring. How about you?
Weather – a photo prompt
For this week’s photo challenge, let’s share images of what the weather looks like in your neck of the woods.
Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations
Wednesday is the day I like to share a photograph(s) centered around a theme. Photo challenges/themes are a great way for us to share our love of photography and engage with other like-minded people. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR, or something in-between, I hope you’ll join in on the challenge. Share and connect!
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.
When jello jiggles
We’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.
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.
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.
Is it spring break?
With spring breakers in town, law enforcement are seen on ATV’s, boats, and trucks. Always on standby for any partying mischief
The town caters to Spring Breakers. This photo was taken in the morning while the college students were still sleeping
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.
An awesome skate park at Rotary Park, Lake Havasu City
lots of parks for children to enjoy
Several golf courses around. Trouble on the links, Lady?
model airplane club
a popular mode of transportation
You’ll see all kinds of vehicles
Oh yeah! I’m one happy camper out boating.
dreamy Lake Havasu
outrigger club – Lake Havasu
Toys, toys, and more toys! It’s all about the toys around Lake Havasu City …. Boats – you’ll seeeverything 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.
hiking up and down the stairs at the London Bridge is a good workout
Al descending the stairs at the London Bridge
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.
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.
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.
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.
Grocery 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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
That 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.
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.
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 😋
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.
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?
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.
So 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.
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
Is there such a thing as too much sunshine? I grew up in the Midwest and I remember well the days that would turn into weeks where the sun stayed hidden behind a thick layer of cloud cover. The month before we packed up and moved west, we experienced an entire month with seeing the sun shine. Talk about depressing!
That gloomy weather made it a lot easier to say good-bye to family and friends as we packed up our family of four plus furry dog and moved west to the unknown. We didn’t have jobs. We didn’t know a soul. All we knew was we weren’t meant to stay in the Chicago suburbs.
We purged more than half our stuff. Items we couldn’t part with, like our canoe and a few family heirlooms, were stored at Al’s sister’s farmette in northern Illinois. We packed up our full size van and a small pull behind U-Haul trailer and off we headed west to Las Vegas, Nevada ….. in January, no less. Our larger pieces of furniture were moved by Mayflower.
Yeah, there were a few people who thought we’d lost our marbles moving from Chicago to Las Vegas in the dead of winter with our young children – 3 and 5 years old at the time.
When you know in your heart that it’s time for a change, time to move on, why procrastinate? Al and I share a favorite scene from the movie Paint Your Wagon ….
Elizabeth: Then simplify your life, Jacob. Sell me. Jacob Woodling: But Elizabeth: you don’t know what you’ll get. Elizabeth: But I know what I’ve had.
It’s a line Al and I share regularly when discussing a change, a change of any kind, “I don’t know what I’ll get, but I know what I’ve had“. Sure, there’s always that fear of the unknown, but Al and I have never allowed fear to hold us back. Although, I assure you there was a fair amount of fear with an incident or two crossing the Rockies in the middle of January with two small children and a dog in tow.
The highlight of that cross-country move happened in Colorado. The Eisenhower Tunnel located 60 miles west of Denver, Colorado on Interstate 70 is over a mile and a half long and sits at an elevation exceeding 11,000 feet. The moment we exited that tunnel, we were greeted with the most spectacular sight. Laid out before us were stunning snow-covered mountains in all directions along with the brightest blue sky I had ever seen. I’m sure my mouth dropped open in awe.
On Interstate 70 near the town of Frisco, Colorado, is a scenic pull-out. (I highly recommend this stop when traveling westbound on Interstate 70) We stopped here to stretch our legs and take in the amazing scenery. We no sooner exited the vehicle when all four three of us started complaining, “The sun, the sun! I need sunglasses!” I don’t think I’ve ever seen such brightness in nature. I started seeing spots like I’d been hit with the flash of a camera.
Although, Mr. Aviator Husband always sported cool dude aviator shades, the kids and I rarely found the need to wear sunglasses in the mostly overcast Chicago suburbs. Ah, little did we know, but this lack of sunglasses habit was about to change 😎
Three days and 1,800 miles later, we arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada, and our introduction to life in the desert southwest began. We went from an average of 189 days of sunshine a year to over 300 days. Oh yeah, bye-bye seasonal depression … bring on the sunshine!
But is there such a thing as too much sunshine? It’s a question I’ve recently been asking myself. Now that the forest fire is contained and the air has cleared, I’m getting back to exploring the Prescott area with my camera. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d return to the RV complaining to my husband about a boring blue sky. But that’s exactly what happen the other day.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t dare swap these lovely blue skies for the grey gloomy ones in the Midwest. It’s just nice to change it up every now and then. We’ve gone over six weeks without a drop of rain and hardly a cloud in the sky. I find myself collecting sunglasses and stashing them in all the necessary locations …. a pair in the car, one or two in my purse, another pair on my desk. They seemed to have multiplied and partnered up with my old eye cheater glasses that I also have lying around every where 🤓
Ah, so much sun, but patience is a virtue. I keep my eye on the sky. I’m longing to photograph one of those amazing desert sunsets, and I need a smattering of clouds to fulfill my quest. Considering it is officially “monsoon” season here in Arizona, I shouldn’t have to wait too long. I keep the camera at the ready.
And finally a storm rolls in. It didn’t exactly produce the shot I was envisioning, but I’ll take it. The storm passed through rather quickly, but it smelled wonderfully refreshing while it lasted. And now that I’ve had that quick little fix of storm clouds, bring on the sunshine. Yeah, I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much sunshine or having too many pairs of sunglasses 😎
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!
“Don’t worry”, I yelled over my shoulder to Al while swiftly walking to the truck. I had my camera slung around my neck, water bottle in one hand, and truck keys in the other. I was on a mission that morning, and I wasn’t about to let a little weather curtail my fun.
The vast vistas allowed me to see more than 100 miles in any given direction, but with such openness comes wind. Northeastern Arizona is the windiest section of the state. The relatively flat, lightly vegetated mesas, buttes, and valleys do very little to slow the movement of air.It was calm at the moment, but I kept in mind, winds in excess of 40 miles per hour are common around here and gusts over 60 miles per hour aren’t unusual. Hang on Toto!
Before climbing into the truck, I scanned the skies to the west. The ominous line of clouds still looked pretty far away. I figured, I’d have at least an hour before the storm hit. However, I failed to take into account the driving time needed to get from one end of the park to the other.
The Petrified Forest National Park encompasses more than 230 square miles (600 square kilometers) with only one main road going through the center. The 28 mile scenic drive takes visitors from the northern entrance located off Interstate 40 to the southern entrance off Highway 180.
It was late August 2016. We spent the night at the Crystal Forest Gift Shop near the southern entrance of the park. The gift shop allows free overnight camping in an area off to the side. There’s even some picnic tables, but absolutely no other amenities of any kind. It’s free and considering we’re self-contained and self-sufficient this location worked perfectly for my photo excursion into the national park.Since I was starting at the south entrance, I needed to plan my stops carefully keeping the weather and my priorities in mind. The day before, we had entered the national park via the north entrance with the RV in tow and I was able to get a quick overview.
Petrified Forest National Park is very doable with any size RV. Some pull-outs are a little more big RV friendly than others. Regardless, to really delve into this geologically fascinating park, it’s best to explore without the RV and constraints of finding adequate parking.I hadn’t been in the truck driving more than fifteen minutes when hubby called with an urgency in his voice. He informed me of a severe storm heading our way. A semi-tractor trailer had flipped over on Interstate 40 due to a wind gust just east of Flagstaff and those high winds, hail, and torrential rain were heading our way. All I managed to say to hubby before the call was dropped was, “Ok”. You can assume cell phone coverage to be spotty in this remote park in Arizona.Hurry Ingrid was at the fore front of my mind as I continued on my quest. I wanted to touch those fossils and even though there were plenty of petrified logs where we were camped, I wanted to see a forest of them. Wood turning into stone is a rarity and takes special conditions for the process to occur. There’s only a few places in the world to find petrified wood and I was exploring one of those places.
Most of the petrified wood around here is made up of mostly solid quartz. The rainbow of colors is produced by impurities in the quartz. Over 200 million years ago, logs washed into an ancient river system and were quickly and deeply buried by massive amounts of debris and sediment. Oxygen was cut off. Minerals absorbed into the porous wood and crystallized within the cellular structure turning wood into stone.
There are several areas within the national park that have a concentration of these huge petrified logs. The petrified trees lie strewn across the hills and are broken into large segments. The smooth ends look like they were cut with a chainsaw.
Who Cut the Wood? During the gradual uplifting of the Colorado Plateau, starting about 60 million years ago, the still buried petrified trees were under so much stress they broke like glass rods. The crystal nature of the quartz created clean fractures, evenly spaced along the tree trunk, giving the appearance of logs cut with a chainsaw.
Although the petrified wood is the primary draw to this national park, I had one more quirky stop to make before returning to the RV.
The famous old Historic Route 66 road used to go right through Petrified Forest National Park and there’s a popular landmark showcasing the location. This 1932 Studebaker is a fun place for a photo-op. The original telephone poles (seen to the left of the car) remain standing in the very spot they were originally installed all those years ago.
The weather may have cut my visit short, but it was just enough to pique my interest in a return visit. I found the fossils and the process of their creation rather fascinating, much to my surprise. Just one more place going on the must return list 😉
My visit was a week before my birthday and as such a little souvenir shopping was in order. As much as I would’ve liked a nice chunk of petrified wood, the size and weight wouldn’t be conducive to life in an RV. I opted for a lovely bracelet that I found at the Rainbow Visitor Center Gift Shop.
Please, please, please NEVER take rock from national park land. Not only is it against the law, it undoubtedly would impact the abundance of fossils for all of us to enjoy today and in the future. Purchasing polished petrified wood that was harvested on private land supports the park system and local economy. And much of it is very inexpensive, unless you want a huge chunk, then that’ll cost. The bigger the piece, the more expensive and the heavier. My cute bracelet, similar to the one shown below, cost less than $25 and is a lovely daily reminder of my adventurous morning.Fortunately, the worst of the storm bypassed our immediate location, but we did endure some nasty gusting winds and torrential down pouring rain. I returned to the RV unscathed, to a relieved husband, and looking like a drenched puppy. The minute there was a break in the weather, we hooked up and rolled in the opposite direction from those threatening clouds. Hmm, where to next?
I’ve discovered that there’s a major difference between going on vacation versus living a mobile lifestyle. A vacation has a definitive beginning and ending with very little to no flexibility. A mobile lifestyle offers oodles of flexibility.
As a matter of fact, flexibility is key to enjoying this full-time RVing lifestyle. After all, we’re pulling/driving our home full-time and arriving to our next destination safely and fully intact is always the goal. With that said, a key component to a long travel day is the weather. The ability to change travel plans on a whim based on the weather is wonderful.
Al and I had allowed ourselves fourteen days to travel the 1,165 miles (1,872km) from Rockport, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona. That gave us the flexibility to roll with the weather, as well as give us options; get to Phoenix a week early, or take our time meandering along the way, or extend our stay in Rockport, which we seriously thought about – considering I wasn’t quite ready to bid farewell to the scenery OR the birds.
But that weather…. winter weather at that, made the decision for us. We hit the road while good road conditions prevailed. Plus, we usually prefer driving through major cities on a Saturday or Sunday. Sunday morning (January 31st) had us navigating through San Antonio, Texas toward the northwest part of town without issue. We settled into the Elk’s Lodge for what we thought would be a quick overnight stay.
That evening, we easily made a change of plans while reviewing the weather and road conditions for Interstate 10. High wind warnings accompanied by brown out conditions (blowing dirt) followed by freezing rain along Interstate 10 in west Texas and New Mexico had us hanging out in San Antonio for an extra night, then two.
Ah, what’s a gal to do parked in a less than scenic parking lot without a vehicle at her disposal? How about visit the neighboring mall for a little retail therapy and architectural photography? The Shops at La Cantera did not disappoint.
The weather was gorgeous which allowed me to hike this beautiful outdoor mall a couple of times. While strolling the mall, I enjoyed the window shopping, the trickling sounds of water features, and the fragrant smell of all the lush vegetation.
Although the mall had all the usual stores, the architecture was anything but boring. There was a unique feel – a combination of new, yet old. I think it was the blending of materials and angles that attracted my attention. One minute I was walking on concrete, then the next I was moseying across cobblestone pavers, then it was on to ceramic tile, or stone, or slate…. and that’s what was happening just under my feet.
Overhead was another visual delight; a combination of canopies, overhangs, or open blue sky adding another layer of ambiance. Each store front had its own special detail, wall color, and finish. Some of the stone used throughout the outdoor mall had a resemblance to that of the Alamo.I must admit, for a split second I felt a little guilty about being in San Antonio and spending all my time at the Shops at La Cantera. This city offers so many fabulous things to see and do, but since we weren’t unhooking the truck from the 5th wheel, driving anywhere was not an option. Plus, during previous visits to San Antonio, we’d already visited the River Walk, Alamo, and Missions.
The Shops at La Cantera is a rather large mall, which allowed me to get in plenty of exercise, but lead to working up an appetite. The day before departure, I retrieved hubby, and we were off to visit Penny at the Cheesecake Factory. Their large size entrees are perfect for taking half the meal home providing lunch on the road the following day. Yum!
Our flexible schedule allowed us to avert inclement weather, and extend our stay in San Antonio. The delay was indeed pleasurable and I might have even pulled out of town with a few new items in my already full closet, but I’m not admitting anything 😉
With blue skies and dry roads, we were on the road again. And for anyone who has ever driven across Texas knows, it goes on for what seems forever. We try to avoid staying in Van Horn, Texas, but we were on a mission to head west as quickly as possible in an attempt to avoid the next wave of weather expected to hit this part of the country.
It was a 6-7 hour travel day between San Antonio and Van Horn, Texas (431 miles or 694 km). We found a less than memorable campground to overnight in since the Walmart is out of the question. Yep, no overnighting at the Walmart allowed in this town. Van Horn? – you know the saying, “if you can’t say anything nice……..”.
The next morning, we along with the rest of the RV’s were quick to exit Van Horn. We made it through El Paso and into New Mexico and I was hugging rocks by early afternoon ……