Prescott, Meteor Craters, and My Buddy Bud

We FINALLY left Arizona!  It’s hard to believe that we were at the same RV park for two full months.  We enjoyed our time there immensely and loved the area more than we expected to. Greg and I also were able to use our time there to get a great deal of heads down work  accomplished.  I finished planning Elijah’s 9th grade homeschool year and Greg has been working like crazy on software development projects.  All that said, we are all more than ready to hit the road and move on. As I write, we are driving to California.
But first, let me tell you a little about what is at this point my favorite town yet.  Prescott, Arizona.  What’s to love about Prescott?  The question is, What’s NOT to love about Prescott?!  In my humble opinion, it offers the best of everything.  The elevation is not too high, yet not too low at 5,000 feet, so the weather is ideal year-round (ideal for me anyway!).  There is a Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and every other mainstream store you might want. The town itself looks and feels very new, clean, and inviting. It has two beautiful lakes and best of all, it is all GORGEOUSLY nestled among thousands of granite boulders.  Instead of telling you, let me show you.
Elijah and I took a day trip back almost all the way to Winslow to go to Meteor Crater where many years ago a huge iron-nickel meteorite estimated to have been about 150 feet across and weighing several hundred thousand tons, struck the rocky plain with an explosive force greater than 20 million tons of TNT!  Out of the just over 200 meteorite craters on earth, this one is the most well-preserved in the ENTIRE WORLD! Probably due to being in the desert of Arizona which has a dry climate with very little water, which makes sense as water is the biggest source of erosion.  Check it out…
That is the Meteor Crater on the left. The Visitor Center/Museum on the right, and you can see rain in the background.
That is the Meteor Crater on the left. The Visitor Center/Museum on the right, and you can see rain in the background.

Elijah is loving all the wildlife out here.  He is constantly reading and researching and becoming extremely knowledgeable to the extent that it astounds even me.  Anytime I even begin to feel guilty for not being physically closer to my grandkids, grown kids, and our parents (and I do feel guilty more often than I care to admit), all I have to do is think about how much Elijah has learned and grown (intellectually) in just the past six months to reaffirm to myself once again that we are right where we are supposed to be. That said, I am also incredibly grateful for FaceTime and that I get to “see” all three of my granddaughters at least one a week…  and sometimes even more!  Back to Elijah though, during our adventures Elijah is gaining more experiences and knowledge than he ever possibly could if he was still sitting in his room playing video games back in our South Carolina house.  These experiences have already been invaluable to him (and thus, to me!) and we are only six months into it.  I dare say that he has learned more in these past six months than he’s learned in years prior to us leaving.

Speaking of six months into it, we just celebrated our 6 month anniversary of being full-time travelers on August 18th.  I am continually amazed at what a perfect fit this lifestyle is for all three of us.  I am so thrilled that we followed through and didn’t give up even during the difficult times.  These last six months have been filled with more stress than usual with the transition of learning the nuances of living tiny and in an RV, dealing with our house not selling, than accepting a lower offer only to have it all fall through just before closing, and all things involved in supporting two homes.  We now have our house leased out (new tenants moved in 8/15) and the transition period is finally over and it feels as if our stress is a little less every day.   If we are this content with this lifestyle considering all the stress of this past six months, imagine how much better the next six months will be!
People often ask, having gotten rid of so much stuff, what do you miss the most?  I can now say, I do not miss a single thing, with the only possible exception of my dishwasher.  LOL  Greg does miss his inversion table though.  He wants to find one that is lightweight and ultra compact as it really helps his back. Not only do I not miss anything I sold, gave away, or stored I I even went through my kitchen and got rid of some more dishes yesterday.  I realized that I hadn’t used them since we left and there is no reason to carry around that weight.  It was hard for me to part with a lot of my stuff when we were first downsizing, especially my kitchen stuff.  I have changed so much.  Now, I realize how little I need to live happily.  So without much of a thought I chucked a set of dinner plates, dessert plates and matching bowls that were porcelain, heavy and unnecessary.  I also got rid of a huge beautiful platter that I simply couldn’t part with when we originally left (even though I had another large platter).  Funny how my mindset is so different.  Now I’m like, “Why in the world did I keep this?!?!”
I’ve said this before, but this lifestyle is not less work, for me it’s quite the opposite. I have yet to have a chance to be bored as I always have something (usually several things) that needs to be done.  There are different tasks when you live in an RV, like keeping track of (and regularly dumping) your tanks, monitoring, refilling and emptying my ice maker, cooking every single meal, washing dishes (although I have a good system, this is one task I really do not like), and defrosting the freezer!  RV refrigerators have to be manually defrosted regularly.  This is quite a job and one that I’ve already done three times.  I read about a tip to make the job easier next time, I hope it works!  Check it out:
Remember Bud?  Read this post if you haven’t already. Anyway, I didn’t see him out yesterday and I had to make sure I could see him one last time to say goodbye. I walked up to his trailer and he immediately threw open the door before I could even knock.  “I came to say goodbye.”  I said, and he said, “I knew you were leaving tomorrow, if you hadn’t come by soon I was going to try to walk down to your trailer!  Come in.”  So I took a step back into the 70’s into his neat, clean, vintage trailer and sat and talked with him for at least 30 minutes.  He had his wife’s ashes in a box with her picture on top of it sitting on his couch. We talked more about him wanting to die and heaven and what he believes.  He showed me brochures he was recently give by Mormon’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and more and said, “How do I know which is true?”  I explained to him about grace versus works and the validity of the Bible itself and that all he needs to do is believe and accept God’s gift of Jesus.  He nodded and said he did believe.  I asked him if he would pray with me and he said no.  I asked him if I could pray for him, and he said, “Please do, but later after you leave.”  So, although I don’t have total assurance of his salvation, I know that God has been working on him and God knows his heart.  His heart is searching for the truth.  I sure hope he finds it (if he hasn’t already) before he dies.  I asked him if I could take a picture of us together so I could remember his smiling face and he loved that.  He wrote down his phone number for me and I wrote down mine for him.  As I got up to leave he started crying.  It took everything within me not to lose it myself.  He said, “I sure am going to miss you.  You are a special young lady.”  To which I responded, “I am going to miss you too and I promise to pray for you every single day.”  He smiled through his tears and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on his face.  To say that he is forever entrenched in my heart is an understatement.  I seriously love that sweet old man and feel strongly that he is the reason God kept us in that RV park for so long!  Please, please remember Bud and keep him in your daily prayers.
We are now crossing the Mojave Desert, so I better wrap up this, yet another long blog. California has been our goal and agenda since we started planning this trip, but more about that in my next blog. For now, prayers and blessings and…
Happy Trails and Sunny Sails.
P.S.  I wrote this entry offline on Thursday, 8/25 while driving but we had no internet signal at the gorgeous COE campground we stayed at 8/25-8/29 so I couldn’t post it until now.  We are in California and loving it!  Look out for my next blog coming soon!

Volcanoes and Cliff Dwellings and Elk… Oh My!

We are STILL in the Williams, Arizona area, but not for long!  I am happy to report that all reservations have been made and we are heading out on August 25th to go to California.  We are first going to be staying near Sequoia National Park, and then at a resort right on the southern end of Lake Tahoe!  California is the state that Elijah has been looking the most forward to.  He was born there, yet remembers nothing about it as we moved away when he was less than a year old. We already have 5 weeks of campground stays reserved and I am sure we will be there for quite a bit longer than that.

As for this area, we are STILL finding brand new things to do.  Over a week ago, Elijah and I went to Walnut Canyon National Park right outside of Flagstaff.  We were totally blown away by it and then when we spoke with the park ranger we were were told about two other “sister” national parks that were within 30 miles of this one.  So we ended up having a marathon national park day and we visited all three of them that same day!  The second one was Sunset Crater Volcano National Park (which although he loved them all, this one was Elijah’s favorite), and the third one was Wupatki National Park.  By the day’s end, Elijah had hiked almost 7 miles! Most of which was without me as Popeye was not allowed on any of the trails inside those three parks.  :'(  I had hiked over 3 miles myself and we both had an awesome time.  We came home and told Greg about them (who had stayed home to work) so Greg and I ended up visiting all three of them again that weekend, without Popeye.  Elijah opted to stay home for our second visit as well since Greg and I were overdue for a “date day” and he was still recovering from all the hiking he had already done anyway.  Here is just a sampling of the MANY pictures taken at each park over the course of both days.  First for Walnut Canyon National Monument (which was my personal favorite of the three)

After we left Walnut Canyon we headed to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  This one was both Elijah and Greg’s favorite:

Once you entered into Sunset Crater National Park area, if you just keep going on that same road you will get to Wupatki National Monument.  The road is shared by both parks and extends for 30 miles.  There is a visitor center and museum at each end for each park.  Same setup as the Petrified Forest & Painted Desert National parks I wrote about in a previous blog post which you can read if you click here.  Wupatki had more intact pueblo dwellings than we have seen anywhere.  To say that we all loved this park as well is an understatment. There are no words for this place other than COOL!!!!  Check it out…

And now for the elk!  Elijah is enamored with them and has researched and learned seemingly everything there is to know about elk.  He says they are his “spirit animal”  Look at what God sent us on our 5th trip (yes, that’s what happens when you stay at the same place for an extended period of time! We just can’t seem to get enough of it!) to the Grand Canyon.  First, here is a super cool close up and personal video of our new beast of a buddy, Mr. Bull Elk.

Here are some other places that Elijah and I also discovered around Flagstaff.  There seriously seems to be now end of things to do and see around here!

An now for a glimpse of our normal every day life.  I have spent much time on the computer lately, I have much I want to get done before we head to California.  I’m about 90% done with my homeschool planning for the year and then I have some tax stuff and business stuff I must attend to.  Remember, it’s not all fun and games!  Here are some shots of our daily life:

 

What do you do when you need some warranty or service work done on your RV and you live in it…  full time?!?!  Well, when you have an awesome manufacturer like Grand Design, it’s easy peasy.  We had some warranty stuff that needed attending to and since we saw this RV Mobile Repair truck several times right here we asked them if they did warranty work.  They do!  We called Grand Design and went over everything and they approved everything, sent us the parts asap and we were able to schedule Cory and his lovely wife to come right to us to do the work.  How convenient is that? We only had to pay a small fee for their trip here, Grand Design covered all the rest.  So, if you are ever near the Flagstaff or Williams area and need some RV work done, call Cody Herring at Aspen RV Services.  His number is (928) 606-2082. They did excellent work!  Thanks, Cody!

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Next blog I will tell you about our latest (and maybe greatest?!?!) find… Prescott!  It’s my favorite town/city so far.  Here’s a sneak peak:

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But that picture is just part of the drive in… it doesn’t even begin to do it justice.  Tune in next time to learn all about it!  Meanwhile…

Happy Trails and Sunny Sails!!!

Bearizona, Lava Caves, and Popeye’s New Best Friend

We seem to have accidentally stumbled upon the best place to spend the summer in the entire United States of America.  Well, we think so anyway.  We have been in Williams, Arizona for one month now and we have decided to stay for at least another 3 weeks, if not another month.  This is already the longest period of time we have stayed in one place since we began full timing 5½ months ago and we simply are not ready to leave yet.

Our RV Park is at 6,770 feet in elevation, so not only are we not experiencing the extreme heat being complained about by everyone else in the country, rather the temperatures have been delightful.  Since we arrived the highs here have been in the upper 70’s to mid 80’s and the lows have been in the 50’s-60’s.  I just looked at our forecast for the upcoming 10 days and the highs are now down in the 70’s every single day, except Friday, which shows a high of 66 degrees!  Even though it rains here fairly regularly, the humidity somehow doesn’t rise.  It’s raining right now yet the humidity is 26%.  The humidity here ranges from the teens to 20’s.  While it seems everyone else is complaining about the heat wave I’m sitting here feeling guilty more often than not in jeans and a hoodie!  Although we can drive a short distance and experience extreme (although dry) heat any time we want, we are living in what most would consider ideal temperatures.

We do get rain here quite frequently, but it reminds me of Florida afternoon showers.  We’ll have blue skies with puffy clouds and then it will just start pouring down rain and thundering out of the blue (literally).  It usually only lasts an hour or so and then the blue skies return.  Another odd thing is that this rain does not affect me like the rain back east does. I have arthritis in my entire spine (due to complications from scoliosis surgery when I was 16) and back east I can “feel” it before it even starts raining and it can take a few days for the pain to go away.  Surprisingly, the rain here doesn’t affect my back at all. I don’t know why, but I’m not complaining! In light of this, I honestly don’t mind the rain here at all, although I would prefer the temps to be a bit warmer.  It is borderline too cold for my liking, but too good to complain. A funny anecdote about the rain here is that the locals call it “monsoon season” during the months of July and August.  Maybe since it rarely rains during the other months, it doesn’t take much for them to consider it a monsoon.  I personally think it’s hilarious.  Oh, we also have experienced three hailstorms since we’ve been here.  Quite bizarre, but apparently the conditions are often perfect here for hailstorms to be common in the summer months.

The weather is not the only thing keeping us here.  Honestly, we have yet to have a chance to get bored.  Between all the work Greg has to do, all the homeschool planning I have to do, and all the places still on our list to visit, we aren’t even close to ready to leave yet.   So far our biggest problem is finding the time to get out and experience all the places and things we want to do around here. There are  A LOT!  Somehow we always manage.  😉  We honestly had no idea that this area offered so much.  It seems the longer we are here, the more places we discover that we want to visit, hike, or experience before we leave. Such an unusual dilemma!

Since the day after we arrived and Elijah saw the billboard for Bearizona, he has been begging to go.   We tend to gravitate towards the free and cheap things to do and Bearizona is neither of those, so we’ve been putting it off.  Last week Greg was super busy with work and I think he just really wanted us out of the house so he said, “Why don’t you two go to Bearizona by yourselves today.  Take your time and spend the whole day there.”  Well, let’s just say Elijah and I flew out the door before he could change his mind.  Bearizona is literally only 2.5 miles away from us and Elijah had already researched it extensively and knew everything there was to know about it before we even arrived.  Rarely does something one looks so forward to actually end up meeting up to your expectations.  This not only met his (and my) expectations, it exceeded them by far!  Their website says “Bearizona is approximately 160 acres. Visitors will drive through more than three miles of Ponderosa Pine Forest viewing North American animals in natural habitats when they visit. More animals are exhibited in Fort Bearizona, a beautiful 20 acre walk-thru area, along winding paths which is more of a “zoo” type setting.”  We ended up staying the entire day there and not only did we experience every inch of it, we actually drove through the wildlife area a total of four times!!!  It rained later in the day while we were there and I’m actually glad it did.  Since the rain doesn’t hurt me anymore, it actually really added to the experience.  We got to experience the animals at various times and in various conditions.  The drive through area has lots of rules and disclaimers.  There are severe  cattle guards in between each area (very far apart, totally round and wired with electric shocking devices) and there was even a person at a booth just before the area where the wolves (and then the bears were in the next area) who’s sole purpose was to remind every car as they passed to keep your windows up and if any wolf or bear approaches you to keep your vehicle moving.  They made it very clear that they are not responsible for any damage to you or your vehicle.  It all seemed fun and safe until we saw a bear rip the side mirror off a Honda Accord right in front of us!  Let’s just say it got very real at that point and I was super glad that we were in our big truck, and not that little rental car we had previously.  This entire day was memorable to say the least.  Instead of telling you, let me show you:

When Greg and I went into Flagstaff he picked up a free tourist magazine called “99 Things To Do in Northern Arizona”.  In that magazine we discovered lots of things that we had no idea were close to us.  So far, the best of these finds is a huge natural lava tube cave less than 20 minutes from us.  The cave is a mile long and is called Lava River Cave.  It is a natural, non touristy type cave which is actually located 8 miles down a gravel road.  There weren’t even any signs at the beginning of the road to indicate that we were on the correct road, but once we got closer there was finally a sign.  The cave is 42 degrees inside all year long.  So we came prepared with jackets, flashlights, and of course hiking boots and decided to go spelunking!  To say that this was the hardest, most intense hike of my entire life is a major understatement.  (I hurt for two days afterwards, but I don’t regret it for a second!)  Check it out…

This was definitely one of our top ten things we’ve done.  Elijah said it was second only to the Grand Canyon itself.  Greg and Elijah went back again just the two of them and hiked the entire length of it about a week later.  If you are ever in this area, this is definitely a MUST DO activity.

Almost every evening after a hard day’s work and dinner, we reward ourselves by taking a drive around the Williams area to see deer and/or elk. This is such a beautiful area.  We have seen hundreds of deer and elk and are starting to learn the best areas to go.  We all love driving around all the unpaved BLM roads as we rarely even see another human being and it feels like we are truly out in the middle of nowhere.     Here are some pictures taken on some of our drives:

Here are also some more pictures from around the Williams area, downtown and a hiking trail that actually ended right downtown:

 

As you can see, we are really enjoying this area.  For any of you other RVers out there, I also wanted to share a tip we recently discovered that has improved our lives significantly.  We were using the water pressure regulator that came with our rig in the care package from our dealer.  Newer RVs are designed to allow a psi of water pressure up to 100 psi.  It is highly recommended though that you use a water pressure regulator to make sure you don’t spring any leaks or put excess stress on your pipes with excessive pressure.  The one that came with our care package was a 40-50 psi regulator.  That’s pretty standard so we didn’t think much about it.  That said, our water pressure has been nothing short of pathetic.  I did some research and realized that we can safely have a higher pressure and they sell RV regulators up to 60 psi.  Greg and I went to Camping World and found a 50-55 psi regulator on sale and with our Camping World discount it was only $17 so we bought it to see if it would make a difference.  Well…  what a MAJOR difference it made!  Check this out:

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Wow!  Not only can I now do dishes much faster and more efficiently, our showers went from ho-hum to amazing!  When we are boondocking or needing to conserve water we can switch it out and put the old one back on, but as long as we have full hook-ups I am happy to be living large.

For those of you still praying for my old friend, Bud (see my previous blog post if you don’t know who Bud is), don’t stop now! With all the rain as late he hasn’t been out as much.  Since my last post I’ve taken him some of my homemade pizza after he told me he wanted to get a pizza at dominoes and it would have cost him $15 so he never got it.  (He thought my pizza was a bit “greasy” lol) And I got him to agree to let me bring him a couple of my homemade cookies (which he LOVED!) So although to my knowledge, he hasn’t opened his “gift” in Jesus yet, I’m still trying to love on him and am praying that he will become saved before he dies.  BTW, when I took him the pizza I noticed he had a hand written sign by his front door on his window that said in thick black marker, hand written (his handwriting looked eerily like my dad’s handwriting)  “IF FOUND DEAD…”  followed by instructions of what to do.  He came to the door so quickly both times (I think he saw me coming) that I couldn’t take the time to read it fully, but it just really hit me how serious he is that he is literally just waiting to die.  Please, please keep praying for his salvation.

Wait…  what about Popeye’s new best friend?!?!  We went to the Grand Canyon yet again, and this time we took Popeye.  Here he is with his new best friend:

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Happy Trails and Sunny Sails from our home to yours…

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Elijah took this amazing picture right after a rain storm. This is at our campsite, right in front of our 5th wheel. I named it “The Tumbleweed That Couldn’t Tumble”