There is a great deal more to do in Winslow than stand on a corner. That said, the Eagles song, “Take it Easy” has made this town famous and people come from miles around to stand on this cute little corner and take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures! Not only did this song put Winslow on the map, but the town has taken it to a whole new level. There is a “Sleeping on the Corner” motel, and with the stop being right on old Route 66, there are tons of gift shops and touristy stops that have a distinct 70’s feel and are focused on everything Eagles and Route 66. It is definitely a fun little place to check out. Here’s our photo to prove we actually did “stand on the corner”, as well as a few other photos from Winslow.
We stayed at Homolovi State Park which is an archaeological site which preserves and protects the history, lands, and artifacts of the Hopi people. I really, really enjoyed our stay here, but it was a bit too hot for Greg’s liking. We arrived on a Sunday and the following day the temperature was 108 degrees. The park ranger said that was the hottest day EVER recorded at the park. The humidity is in the single digits to teens though, so as long as you are in the shade it feels nice. If you are in direct sunlight though… it feels hot. Let’s just say it’s a good thing we have two a/c units because they were both running 24/7! There are two large areas of pueblo ruins at the park as well. One of them had originally consisted of and estimated 1,200 to 2,000 rooms before it was destroyed by looters and others who dug the sites out with no care for preservation for the purpose of selling what goods they could find. Here are some pictures of our site and from around the campground itself.
Only about 10 miles from the state park is “The Little Painted Desert”. We drove there to check it out, not really expecting much of anything. Boy, were we surprised!
While staying at Homolovi, we decided to take a day trip into Sedona to celebrate my birthday early, since we were supposed to be relocating on my actual birthday. Turns out we relocated earlier than expected. Our electricity kept going out at the park and we’d have to reset the breaker to get it to come back on. We have a good surge protector, so that wasn’t a big issue, but it took about 20-30 minutes for it to come back on and that means an inside temperature gain of 5-7 degrees after going that long with no a/c. Greg was NOT happy about this. Also, we didn’t want to leave Popeye (our goldendoodle) home alone EVER while we were there for fear that we would lose power and not be there to turn it back on. That could be deadly and not a chance we were willing to take. So, I made some phone calls and “it just so happened” that the RV Park we were already booked at had a cancellation and was able to get us in earlier and we talked Homolovi into refunding us for the days we had prepaid so we could leave early. They were very gracious about it. God is always in the details. Instead of being at Homolovi for a full two weeks, we ended up being there for nine days. Anyway, back to Sedona… Here are some pictures from our day spent there… which I LOVED!!!!
We are now at an RV Park in Williams, which is close to the Grand Canyon. I so prefer state parks or at least a campground, but again we have full hook-ups here and it’s a great home base for paying frequent visits to the Grand Canyon. We are staying here for a full month, which is longer than we’ve stayed anywhere. All three of us are ready to slow down and settle in each area for longer periods of time. Plus, it’s generally cheaper when you are able to take advantage of their monthly rate. We have basic shopping and a cute downtown touristy area right here in Williams, yet are only about 25 minutes from Flagstaff where there is an abundance of shopping and even a Whole Foods. Here is our current setup:
Finally, as I mentioned above, Sunday 7/3 is my birthday. I actually turn 50, so it’s a BIG one! The year of 2016 is quite a momentous one for our family. Greg and I were married at 17 and had our first child at 20. So not only do Greg and I both turn 50 this year, but our oldest has a milestone birthday as well as he is turning 30! But wait… there’s more. Once all of our birthdays have occurred in 2016, all of our ages will be multiples of 5 as follows. Greg and I will be 50 and our kids will be 30 (Robby), 25 (Brittney), 20 (J.Jay) and 15 (Eljah). How cool is that?!?!? So if someone asks me, “How old are you kids?” I can say, “15, 20, 25, 30!” Pretty cool, if you ask me. It won’t last long though because J.Jay turns 21 in February of 2017, but it will be fun while it lasts. Speaking of birthdays, I do want to show you my birthday present. I have been looking for just the right gecko to hang in our home since we hit Texas. I’ve seen tons of them, but none of them spoke to me. Greg finally found him yesterday and I knew when he texted me his picture that HE WAS THE ONE! He bought him for me for my birthday! Check him out:
I am happy to be able to settle in a bit and order curriculum for Elijah’s upcoming school year, do some planning, and just take a bit of a break since we will be in the same location for a full month. J.Jay is flying into Phoenix on July 5th for two weeks, so we will NOT be visiting the Grand Canyon until he gets here. To say that Elijah is excited for J.Jay’s visit is a MAJOR understatement. We are all excited, but Elijah can’t wait to be able to spend some time with his best friend, especially since he is someone OTHER THAN his old parents!
Until the next time… Happy Trails and Sunny Sails!
P.S. The contract on our house back in South Carolina fell through so Greg and I have firmly decided to keep the house as an investment and rent it out. Greg has been contemplating doing this all along, but I have been fighting it as I really just wanted to be DONE with it and not have the stress of being long distance landlords. Part of my dealing with the multiple sclerosis is to try to do as much as I can to avoid stress since I know and fear the havoc that stress wreaks on my health. When it comes right down to it, I’m a wimp and would rather avoid as much of that havoc as possible! That said, it’s not always possible and not always wise, but it is a major weakness of mine. One of many. The house not selling simply made no sense and anyone who has been to our house agrees. God has blocked every potential sale and now this contract fell through unexpectedly. It is now crystal clear to us that the ONLY reason that beautiful house has not sold this entire time is because it was simply not God’s plan for us. He always knows best, so I’m done with fighting it. So, onto Plan B, which probably should have been Plan A, but it took us (especially me) a while to catch on (and give in) to God’s plan. Pray we get some good, responsible tenants in there who will be blessed by, love,and care for the house as much as we did.
We had a crazy, whirlwind of a week in New Mexico with everything from riding the 2nd longest tram in the world up to Sandia Peak, to two visits to world renowned Santa Fe, to a flood on our anniversary (see my previous post if you missed it), and it was all wrapped up with a major bout of doggie diarrhea on our Scenery Swap Day leaving New Mexico heading to Arizona. (Enough about that, let’s just say it happened in the truck, while said dog, aka Popeye, was sitting on top of Elijah! Somehow the ummmm “target area” included the truck seat, the back of the seat, Elijah’s shirt and shorts, his pillow, iPad, iPhone, headphones, Nintendo 3DS, and one of his Harry Potter books. Let’s just say it was not a pretty sight…. or smell. Yeah… enough said.)
As you can see (or you will soon when I stop talking and start posting some pictures), our week in New Mexico included a little bit of everything. We had some major highs and some major lows, all wrapped up into one week. My last post focused on some lows, so this one I’m going to go back to my usual optimistic self and focus on the highs. Speaking of high, we had a view of the Sandia Mountains, including the 10,378 foot Sandia Peak right from our campsite at Albuquerque North KOA, which was actually located just north of Albuquerque in the quaint little town of Bernalillo which is dotted with adobe homes nestled all over the desert mountainous landscape. So, if you like adobe homes, chili peppers, and all things New Mexican (which I do) Bernalillo is gorgeous! Again, check out my previous post to see pictures from our campsite.
The first thing we did when we arrived was ride the Sandia Peak Tramway, which is the 2nd longest tram in the world as well as the world’s longest “aerial” tramway! We headed up on the tram at around 7pm local time and did some exploring and hiking once we arrived at the top. We didn’t come down until the 2nd to the last tram, which was just a few minutes before 9pm. One the way down we were able to see Albuquerque all lit up at night. Although it’s hard to capture this on camera, it was like icing on the cake. Here are some pictures from the tram ride and the view while we were up there:
Here are some pictures taken from around the Albuquerque and Bernalillo area.
Greg and I went to Santa Fe for our 32nd anniversary, but had to return early due to the flood I mentioned above. Check out my last post for the details. Since our first visit was a bit stressful and hurried, we went back with Elijah later in the week for another visit. We went to the Santa Fe Plaza and Greg and I drove up to the Santa Fe ski resort our first visit. Check it out:
Although we saw everything we really wanted to, we still left wishing we could stay a bit longer. We liked the area much more than we expected to. That seems to be the case quite often lately. We were on a time schedule to get our domicile stuff done in Texas, and now we are on a time schedule since we are flying our son, J. Jay, into Arizona in July while he’s on summer break from college. We are now in Arizona and will be for six whole weeks. We are staying two weeks in a Homolovi State Park in Winslow, then we will be spending one month at Canyon Gateway RV Park in Williams. Greg and I have decided that we are going to slow down considerably from here on out.
Until the next blog… Happy Trails and Sunny Sails!
You may think after reading my blogs that every day is picture perfect and life in an RV is bliss. And although I will post some pretty pictures at the end, the point of this blog is to give you a realistic view of this lifestyle, especially when you are not retired and doing this while still working and raising kids (or as in our case a man-sized teenager.) I can’t stress enough the fact that we are NOT on vacation. It may appear as though we are, but remember… you are only seeing the highlights. Let me set you all straight by sharing some of our lowlights, especially since we’ve had quite a few lately. I’d truly hate for anyone to embark on this lifestyle with stars in their eyes thinking that this life is easy and fun and that it’s all about the pretty pictures.
Before starting this lifestyle I truly believed that this change would afford me more time to rest and relax. Not only has this NOT been the case (for any of us) for me, my “duties” have increased rather than decreased. Not only do I still have to keep up with the finances (both personal and for our business) everything involved in homeschooling (right now I should be planning our next year instead of writing this blog!), planning meals, grocery shopping, and cooking, I have added to my duties the job of full-time travel agent! In addition to all my other responsibilities, I now am responsible for finding and booking our campsites, in addition to finding the best, cheapest, and most educational things to do in each area. This may sound easy, but the amount of time and research this all requires is significant. For every location I research not only the availability for our size rig (we are considered a “Big Rig” because our 5er is 41′ long and our truck is a long-bed dually which makes our total length right around 60 feet long), but also the cell service for both of our carriers (T-Mobile & Verizon) by utilizing their coverage maps and by calling campgrounds directly to verify service with them. It’s vital for us to have good internet service for my hubby to be able to work. I also research the nearby shopping (or at least how close or far) since Elijah and I have Celiac we have to be strictly gluten free and I have to make sure we have access to good stores, or stock up before leaving an area for the next. I also research the lay of the land, topography (Google Earth) of the campground, compare the costs and amenities of all we are considering that actually have availability and have met all of our criteria and all this before I even book one! We stay at each location from 1-4 weeks so this means as soon as we arrive at our destination (if not before) I have to get busy working on the next location so that we have a game plan with reservations. I can’t book too far in advance since we want to be flexible, so this also means we may not be able to stay in the area that’s our first choice.
After leaving Amarillo we had planned on going up to Colorado. We had promised since we left to fly our 20 year old son, J. Jay, to wherever we are for a visit during his college summer break. We were going to fly him into Denver, so I was on a search for a campground to stay at for a month (or at least three weeks) within an hour of the Denver airport. After researching for hours (and hours and hours) I was unable to find ANYTHING that met all of our criteria. We ended going back to the drawing board (or in this case, the map) and we changed our plans completely. We decided to stay near the Grand Canyon in Arizona instead and fly him into the Phoenix airport. We talked to our son and he was even more excited about the Grand Canyon than Colorado, so I started all over again looking in that area. Hours later, I had us booked for 2 weeks at Homolovi State Park in Winslow, AZ (which is about 58 miles east of Flagstaff), then for 1 month at Canyon Gateway RV Park in Williams, AZ, (which is about 34 miles east of Flagstaff and very close to the Grand Canyon) which is where we will be based during our son’s visit. We aren’t sure where we are going next, probably up to Utah. Figuring that out is yet another thing I should be doing right now instead of writing this blog! Anyway, all this to say there is a great deal of time, effort, and often frustration involved in the process and none of it is as easy as it looks. But hey, after all is said and done we are going to be spending some quality time at the Grand Canyon, so I’m certainly not complaining!
Speaking of booking campsites, we had very little success finding a place to stay here in Albuquerque (where we are as I write) and after Greg helped me out with some of the research, we found an RV Park that said they had “plenty of space”. And although they had some bad reviews, they now had new owners and were turning things around. They wouldn’t let us make a reservation, as they said they always had space. That should have been our first clue. Greg got involved in this booking and felt we should try it out, they have new owners and “how bad can it be?” The answer is BAD! Sunday, June 5th was our “Scenery Swap” day and this is the first time yet that we traveled to a new destination without a firm reservation in place. We had a Plan B, but it was all the way up in Santa Fe and we really didn’t want to pull the 5er all the way up there. We arrived at what Greg tells me looked like a scene out of Breaking Bad. (I’ve never seen the show, but he has and is adamant about the comparison, especially since the show was filmed here in Albuquerque.) It was not only run-down, it was truly awful. All the “trailers” were old and looked like they had been there for years, the only people we saw were very ummmm…. scary looking. Let’s just say it was not at all safe for us to even consider staying there and it looked (okay maybe it just felt like it) as if there was a drug deal about to go down! We turned around and drove out. I got back on my Allstays app and started calling every single campground in the area (all of which I had already called and was told were booked) to see if any had a cancellation, since it was the same day. I finally found that the Albuquerque North KOA in Bernalillo had a cancellation and had ONE space open for five days. We reserved it immediately over the phone and headed there. Even though we needed a place for seven days, we figured we’d figure the last two days out later. We drove about 20 more minutes to a wonderful (albeit expensive!) campground with all the amenities and a gorgeous view out our back window of the Sandia Mountain Range. This is the first KOA that we have stayed at and it has been a great experience. The staff here are super nice and when I checked back with them Tuesday to see if they had a cancellation, they did. We’d have to move to another spot, but we were fine with that. They then called me on the phone about an hour later and said they moved some people around so that we could stay in our same spot for the last two days as well! We hadn’t even asked them to do this. To say we were thrilled is an understatement. I have officially added KOA parks to our got to list when researching campgrounds. Here is are some pictures of our site and the campground:
But remember, it’s not always a pretty picture! Wednesday, June 15th was our 32nd wedding anniversary so I talked Greg into taking the day off of work so we could go up to Santa Fe, just the two of us, to celebrate. It’s only about an hour drive. We were both excited and left around 10:00am. Elijah was happy to be left home alone for the day, and although we’ve never left him alone for an entire day since moving onto the fifth wheel, we have gone out many times and left him alone for a couple hours or so at a time, so we had no reservations about doing it this time. We had a beautiful drive up and headed to Santa Fe Plaza which is in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, to get some lunch and then to walk around and take it all in. We had just sat down to eat our lunch when my phone rang. Elijah was frantic and yelling that the entire RV was flooded! I got him to take a deep breath and explain what happened and it turns out he had left the water on in the bathroom sink after brushing his teeth. Even though we are on full hookups, Greg had closed the tanks the night before to build up water so he could dump the black tanks. So, with all the tanks closed (and already close to full) Elijah was in the living room when he looked up and saw water about an inch deep in the entire upstairs area of our home! The bathroom was flooded and so was our bedroom. So… the rest of that day was spent with us trying to assess the situation and instructing him how to open the tanks, then to use the towels to soak up all the water, wring them out and repeat. Again and again and again. I wanted to go home immediately, but Greg didn’t, so we stayed longer while Elijah dealt with it and kept in contact with us, but at this point my heart was not in our romantic getaway and I couldn’t enjoy anything as I just wanted to get back home and see everything for myself and deal with it sooner rather than later. After a strained couple of hours, realizing that neither one of us could even enjoy the sights in Santa Fe and feeling stressed out beyond words we began the arduous journey back with neither one of us being in a very good mood. By the time we got home, Elijah had cleaned up the water quite well, although the carpet at the entrance to our bedroom was still SOAKED. We got more of the water up and were very thankful that we are in such a dry climate when this happened (the humidity level is in the teens) so it should all dry out fairly quickly and (with much prayer) we shouldn’t have any mold issues.
Living in an RV means dealing with holding tanks. Grey tanks, black tanks, fresh water tanks… they all have their issues and the levels must be checked and kept track of daily. Even when you are on full hookups, you always keep your black tanks closed (otherwise you will form the infamous poop pyramid, which you do NOT want to know about!) and then you close your grey tanks to add lots of water a day or two before you need to flush your black tank. The purpose of this is to provide enough gushing water when dumping your black tanks that it carries all of the solids (aka poop) out as well, else it will just sit there in the bottom of the black tank…. and stink. YUCK! When we aren’t on full hookups we have to dump all tanks once per week, being careful to conserve water usage so they don’t fill up even faster. All this to say… even as sophisticated and easy as they are designed these days, there is no getting around the fact that everything involved in dealing with the holding tanks are one of the major downsides to this lifestyle.
Anyway, back to our anniversary… Greg and I ended up being in terrible moods and being short with each other (and Elijah) for most of the afternoon and evening. We attempted to go out to dinner, but even that was strained. We were so exhausted and stressed out that we ended up just going to the only local place that had gluten free offerings, The Range Cafe. Eating at a “cafe” was not either of our idea of a romantic anniversary dinner, but neither of us were feeling very romantic at the time anyway. I ordered a burger on a gluten free bun, which was good but I was so stressed that my stomach was in knots and I couldn’t even eat half of it. I ended up bringing it home to Elijah. Greg had a “Brinner” plate (their version of breakfast for dinner) of Eggs Benedict (not gluten free) which he said was very good, but was also eaten mostly in silence. I honestly don’t think we said more than ten words to each other throughout the entire dinner. We were simply too frazzled and exhausted and it was way too raw for us to see any humor in the whole escapade. This morning (the morning after) Greg encouraged me to go to the pool and then he brought me over a bagel with cream cheese, lox, red onion and capers so I could eat it poolside. How sweet! He apologized, as did I, and although we didn’t have an ideal anniversary, we both agree that it was certainly memorable! The fact is, marriage is not about the anniversaries, it’s about all the days in between. And even though yesterday was a bad, bad day. The majority of the days in between are good, good ones.
This life also involved lots of chores such as laundry (today I had to do four loads, two of which were the towels used to mop up the water!) and shopping always in areas you are unfamiliar with and never knowing if they will carry food items or brands you are used to. Both of these particular chores are not as easily done on the road as in a sticks and bricks home simply because the facilities change every single time you do them. There are always surprises, and things are rarely as you expect. That said, I do choose to be happy and I always try to look on the bright side, because after all, happiness is a choice!
So, now do you believe me when I tell you that this life (or any life for that matter) is not always a pretty picture? I did promise you some pretty pictures, so I am going to share with you some pictures (okay, so they aren’t inherently pretty, but they are cool and of something we really enjoyed) of the free RV Museum we visited while we were still in Amarillo. We thought we’d check it out for something to do, although neither of us really expected much. It turned out to be quite the find. It was very enlightening to see RVs from the 30’s through the 70’s restored to their original conditions. I definitely recommend you check it out if you are ever in the Amarillo area. It’s at the Jack Sisemore Traveland dealer. When you go inside, just ask them and someone will direct you to the museum in the back. Check it out…
On another good note, I do have some excellent news to share. Our sticks and bricks house is officially (which is better than saying finally) under contract! As long as everything goes smoothly we will be closing the end of July. Woohoo!!!! Now THAT’S a major answer to prayer.
I will be blogging again very soon and this time with lots of pretty pictures of the gorgeous Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas. Elijah and I are going to go back to Santa Fe tomorrow while Greg is working, so he can see it as well and so I can get some more pictures. I just felt like I needed to post this first just to keep it real.
Even with the hard days, it’s all more than worth it. The 18th of this month will be our four month full-timing anniversary and I have ZERO regrets! My health is improving every day (especially with this dry heat) and I can’t imagine ever going back to a s&b house. We also got a new 10″ memory foam mattress as the ones that come with new RVs are terrible and it was getting to the point that my back was hurting 24/7. Our wonderful new mattress coupled with the dry heat has me sleeping like a baby. I absolutely love full timing and the good far outweighs the bad. This new traveling lifestyle seems to be a perfect fit for all three of us. (Four, if you count Popeye.) One thing is for sure, this life is never boring.
This post is going to be 90% pictures and only 10% words. I know how wordy I can get lately, so I figured I’d clarify that right up front so you don’t click away.
We are currently in Amarillo, Texas and we are loving this area. The weather is a perfect mid 80’s during the daytime with the humidity being in the teens the majority of the time. It gets down into the 60’s at night and with the low humidity that feels downright cold! We chose this area because we wanted to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which we did. Twice! We would have LOVED to have stayed inside the park, but there is no cell signal down in the canyon and that is where the campground is located. Greg has to work, so we need cell service to have internet. In light of this, we stayed in Fort Amarillo RV Park & Resort which is only about 15 minutes from the entrance to Palo Duro Canyon. I know, I know… I’m getting wordy. Pictures, lots of pictures are coming! These were all taken at Palo Duro Canyon, inside the park:
Here are some pictures of Fort Amarillo RV Park where we are staying:
As for ambling Amarillo, below are some pictures from around the town. I like this area WAY more than I expected too. This destination has been my favorite in our journeys thus far.
Sunday we are off again. We are going to Albuquerque, New Mexico for one week and then we are heading to Arizona and to the Grand Canyon area where we will hang out for six whole weeks! Woohoo!!! The first 2 weeks we will be staying at a state park, then we will be in an RV Park close to the Grand Canyon for an entire month. I am very excited to be able to spend some quantity as well as quality time in the Flagstaff area. In the meantime, be on the lookout for my next blog from New Mexico.
Happy Trails and Sunny Sails from….
P.S. You should be able to comment now. I was getting TONS of spam comments and changed my settings to make it so strict that I then got zero comments. 🙁 I contacted GoDaddy and was able to install some security and an anti-spam add-on which should alleviate the major spam comments I was getting. All this to say…. comment! Please!!!!
Neither Greg nor I are big city fans, but it seems to me that one simply can not be a bona-fide resident of Texas until you spend some time in Dallas. Oh and did I mention… We both got our driver’s licenses now as well so we are officially bona-fide Texas residents! Yee-Haw!
Before I get tell you about Dallas though, I wanted to share about our experiences staying in our very first ever RV Park. Although I am still adamant that State Parks are my favorite, I’m not sure if Greg and Elijah continue to share my sentiments. They seem to like both equally, they each have their advantages, they are just very different. I did a detailed comparison below. If details bore you, skip down to the pretty pictures.
As you can see, they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Although I still highly favor state parks, staying in a RV park definitely has it’s perks. As I’ve said many times before, we are not retired and very dependent on cell service for our internet to be able to work. Therefore, it has become blatantly obvious that RV parks are going to be playing a significant role in our lifestyle as well.
Our next destination is a good example. As I type this, it is Scenery Swap Day and we are driving to our next destination: Amarillo, Texas. Although we REALLY want to stay in Palo Duro Canyon State Park since Palo Duro Canyon is the 2nd largest canyon in the United States (of course the first being the Grand Canyon) it’s not a good option for us as there is absolutely no cell service in the canyon AT ALL. And the campground is located at the base of the canyon. There is another state park not too far away, but they have little or no cell service either. So, we are staying in at Fort Amarillo RV Park and Resort which is a nice RV Park with lots of amenities including excellent cell service and free WiFi, yet still within an easy drive of Palo Duro Canyon. If we were retired it would be a different story, but we aren’t and won’t be for years to come so utilizing RV Parks provides us a way to have the best of both worlds.
Now on to the pretty pictures. Dallas was a fun city to explore. We literally went from swamps with alligators swimming right behind our 5th wheel in Jasper with only one Walmart, to a sprawling big city with a Costco, Trader Joes, and best of all the newly discovered Central Market (which is like Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Fresh Market and Disneyland all rolled up into one!) Although I prefer God’s beautiful creation, when you are strictly gluten free having access to these amazing stores is pretty awesome as well. Anyway, enough talking… How ’bout some pictures?! First, here is Cowtown RV Park, where we are staying in Fort Worth:
Here are some pictures from around Dallas:
Remember that phenomenal Central Market store I was telling you about? Here’s just a little teaser…
I have so many more pictures and I’d love to show you around Fort Worth also… but there are only so many hours in the day. That said, the Fort Worth Zoo is the best zoo any of us have ever been to, bar none! But I’m simply too tired to keep going and this blog post is already too long. I finished this blog post as we were en route to Amarillo so I may or may not blog about the zoo. (Greg says he will do a blog on the zoo, so we’ll see how that pans out.) We will only be in Amarillo for one week before we head to New Mexico, so I’ll be busy seeing everything first, then I’ll get busy showing it all to you.