Utah Rocks!

Utah has welcomed us with open arms and has turned out to be an instant favorite for all of us.  I know, I know…  we have a lot of favorites.  Seriously though, we really like Utah.  It rocks….  literally!  There are rocks everywhere, but I am pleasantly surprised that there is so much more here than just rocks.  There is an abundance of farm lands, snow-capped mountains galore, forests with beautiful green deciduous trees, arches, canyons, gorges, lakes, and even waterfalls.  And of course, rocks! But not just red rocks…, there are also white rocks, grey rocks, brown rocks, green rocks and black rocks! As far as wildlife, just having been here less than a week we’ve already seen several herds of both elk and deer, jack rabbits, squirrels, and some gorgeous birds.  We even have a striking resident Black-billed Magpie who has a nest right here in our campground.  Unfortunately, I have yet to be able to get a good picture of him.  We really need a camera with an optical zoom so we can get some better pictures of all the amazing wildlife we get to see!  Speaking of wildlife, we had no idea that there are moose that live all around here as well!  How exciting is that?!?!  We are now back to taking nightly drives (just like old times) on the hunt for wildlife.  We really, REALLY want to see a Moose in the wild.

We are staying at Butch Cassidy RV Campground, which is in Salina, Utah. We are only staying here for two weeks as this is a RPI campground and that is our limit. RPI stands for Resort Parks International and is another campground membership that came with our Thousand Trails upgrade.  We can stay in RPI affiliated resorts/campgrounds for $10/night.  Some have a resort fee which can add $3-5 per night.  So at most we would pay $15/night.  Here at Butch Cassidy we have a huge 50 amp site with full hook ups (meaning sewer as well) and we are only paying $10/night.  There is a limit of two weeks that we can stay at most RPI campgrounds at that rate, but that’s fine with us.  Since there are no TT campgrounds anywhere in the states of Utah or Idaho, we are using our RPI membership as much as we can to still be able to stay at nice campgrounds for very little money.  After we leave here, we are relocating to another RPI park for one more week before we head up to Idaho as we want to have three full weeks to explore Utah.  Here are some pictures of our campsite and campground.

Salina (pronounced “Sa-line-ah” by the locals) is a small town with not a whole lot to offer except an adorable tiny grocery store, an excellent T-Mobile signal, and 360° of breathtaking scenery.  Perfect. As I said above, we are back to taking nightly drives looking for wildlife and considering that 67% of the land in Utah is federally owned land, there is BLM land to drive on and explore galore!  That was one of our favorite things about Arizona (which is 42% federally owned), but Utah has even more options for spotting wildlife in their natural habitat.  Here are some shots from around this area.

And now I’ve saved the best for last.  This campground is a good day trip distance from several National Parks.  Since everyone really wants to go to Bryce before we leave and I really wanted a day to myself, I decided to drive to Capitol Reef National Park for my very own day drive.  This was not one of the parks on the top of the list for neither Greg nor Elijah and it’s 81 miles away.  With Zippy, that’s not only doable, but fun! This is the farthest away I’ve yet to venture on my own, and boy am I glad I did. What an amazing place! When I went into the museum, which is the old homestead house, I was talking to the volunteer there and it turns out that he is Dale Gifford, the grandson of  the most recent owner! He grew up there and didn’t move away until he was in high school.  He showed me a picture in the museum of himself when he was only about 4 or 5 years old.  He showed me all the memorabilia and how and when they used it.  He said this is the first and only day he’s ever volunteered there.  What a privilege that I came on the very day that he was there!  Check it out:

Just a couple more pictures that I want to share:

My next blog will be about a park we have been looking forward to for a long time and are VERY excited about…  Bryce Canyon National Park!  Stay tuned as that blog post will be coming soon.  Until then….

Happy Trails and Sunny Sails from Moses, Exodus, Zipporah (aka Zippy), Greg, me (Pamela), Elijah, and Popeye.

The Pull of The Old – The Thrill of The New

This past month has been one of the most stressful ones yet, thus I haven’t written in a while.  The stress hasn’t had to do with our travels as much as various family issues/events.  Before I go into all of that though, let me get you caught up on our travels.  After staying in Benson, Arizona for 5 weeks (which is a long time in one place for us!) we were able to get back into Verde Valley (my personal favorite Thousand Trails campground) in Cottonwood, Arizona for another 2 weeks to extend the warm temperatures a bit longer. We decided to stay here again for two reasons.  First, to be closer to the Phoenix airport.  Secondly, we were biding time in Arizona to allow for the states farther north of us to warm up a bit more.  As I mentioned previously, Saylor has been very antsy to go back to her Mom, so we booked flights a few weeks ago out of the Phoenix airport for her and I to fly back east so she could be reunited with her mom the last week of March. We wanted to time it while we were staying in Cottonwood so we were still close enough to drive to the Phoenix airport. I also wanted to see my other grown kids, my new grandson, my mom & stepdad, sisters, a friend or two, etc. so we were thrilled that Cottonwood was able to get us back in there for two weeks during their busy season.

The week prior to our flight back east was a very stressful one with various events occurring in the life of my daughter which culminated in Saylor and Brittney (my daughter) not yet  having a stable place to live.  My son, Robby, graciously offered to open his home to them which was a major blessing that I hadn’t seen coming.  Saylor and Brittney are now living with my oldest son and his wife along with their three kiddos in the Winston-Salem area for the time being.  And when I said that was a major blessing, what I really meant was that is a MAJOR blessing!

Just before our flight took off, I got word that my stepdad in South Carolina had been rushed to the ER.  By the time I arrived in North Carolina he had been admitted to the hospital and was not doing well…  at all.  He is 82 years old and his health had been slowly but surely going downhill for quite some time.  On Tuesday, March 28th, the day of our flights, Greg drove Saylor and I the one hour and forty minutes from our campground in Cottonwood to the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.  Saylor and I then had a four and a half hour flight to Charlotte, where we were met at the airport by Robby, Brittney and my other granddaughter, Nai’a. From there Robby drove us another one and a half hours back to his house in Winston-Salem. To say that I was tired at that point was an understatement, but it turned out that this was only the beginning of a week of nonstop go-go-go for me.  I got up early the next morning  (the three hour time difference helped me pull that off!) to get in a little playing time with my grandkiddos; Nai’a, Sereia, and Fisher, before leaving just after 9am to drive the three hour trek to Greenville, South Carolina.  (Robby let me drive his car down there…  THANKS, ROBBY!) I drove straight to the hospital and then spent most of the day there visiting my mom and stepdad.  I was blessed with an invitation by a special friend, Anna Lisa Haskell, to stay at “Hotel Haskell” for that night (Wednesday) and I was thrilled that although I was pushed for time I was still able to get in a nice visit with her and her family before I hit the hay.  (Actually, it was not hay, but rather a very cool murphy bed and a comfy one at that!)  I returned to the hospital the next day only to learn that they were releasing my stepdad (way prematurely, as he is back in the hospital again even as I write!) so I spent most of that day (Thursday) at their house trying to help out. He really needed (and still needs) twenty-four hour care that is impossible for any one person to pull off, much less my 79 year old Mom who deals with health issues of her own.  That was an exhausting, back-breaking and stressful day in itself which l won’t go into, but one that left me with more empathy for my Mom than I ever imagined and more sadness for the state of health of my stepdad than I can even put into words.  His name is Newberne and my mom is Lucille and they are both still in much need of prayer. Although I was not able to get in all the visits that I had planned on and wanted to while in South Carolina, I am grateful that I was able to see J.Jay at college (took him to dinner and visited his dorm room, unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of us!); all three of my sisters; and one of my nieces, Allyse, during my visit as well.

I drove the three hours back to Winston-Salem late that Thursday evening so I could spend some more time visiting with my grown kids and my granddaughters and my ‘still new’ grandson, Fisher, who had just turned four months old shortly before my arrival there.  Finally, I flew back to Arizona early that same Sunday.  To say that that was a very full five days is an understatement!  Less than forty-eight hours after arriving home I came down with a nasty cold that unfortunately I have still to this day.  Not a biggie, just a head cold with an ongoing sore throat and feeling more tired than usual.  The only bummer is it’s now been almost two weeks and the annoying cold still lingers.   All of that said, neither the extreme stress nor my immune system being compromised by this cold, has led to the typical result (for me) of a multiple sclerosis flare up.  Looking back I realized that prior to this cold, I have not been sick at all for over six months! (A broken nose from my fall does not equal a sickness.) Being full-time travelers has enabled us to spend this entire winter in a dryer, warmer climate which resulted in the first winter in ten years (yes, I counted, TEN) that I have NOT had a single multiple sclerosis flare-up…  not even one!  I have had a few ms-y days and issues here and there, but not one true flare-up.  As I deal with the recurring guilt of not living back east to be there as often physically for my grown kids and for my aging parents, I realize that if I was still living back there I would not be able to be much help anyway! I’d be spending most of my winter the same way I spent the last ten – down and out, in ongoing pain and miserable in flare-up after flare-up. The pull of the old is strong and the guilt of being so far away from loved ones as we travel is something that I  personally deal with regularly.  That said, I remember how miserable I felt each and every winter and I am honestly and selfishly grateful to be able to winter in warm, dry climates at least for the time being. I also pacify my guilt with continually reminding myself of the fact that I’ve flown or driven back east a total of four times since we left; and we’ve flown J.Jay, our son who’s a full-time college student, out to visit us two times just in the first year since we left!  Although that frequency can’t possibly continue to be the case in the future (we simply can’t afford it!) that reality of this past year still has to count for something!

That was a great deal of detail having very little to do with our travels, but having everything to do with why I haven’t blogged in over a month!  After my return ‘home’ we finally left the state of Arizona and are currently staying in Las Vegas, Nevada at Las Vegas RV Resort for two weeks.  This is honestly not an area we like nor want to spend much time in (it is nicknamed Sin City, need I say more?!?!) but it is a sensible means to an end.  There is a Thousand Trails RV park here that with our membership only costs us $3/night for a 50 amp site.  After having spent so much money of flights and other family related issues (such as a new engine for J.Jay’s car!) the ability to utilize our TT membership whenever we can and spend less money on campgrounds is a blessing.  Also, we are continuing to bide our time until the weather in Utah really does suit our soul.  The temperatures are still a bit too low there for us to head there too soon.  We needed to stay in Nevada as a good halfway point and to have a couple more weeks for Utah to warm up, for my health’s sake.  While here we are mainly hunkering down to get some much needed work done (not only Greg, but me as well as after having had Saylor for six months I am behind on literally EVERYTHING!), we have ventured out a bit to explore some of the beautiful sights in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas.  So far we’ve visited the Valley of Fire State Park as well as Lake Mead Recreation Area.  Both of which were impressively beautiful, to say the least.  Apparently there is more to Vegas than the strip.  Check it out…

We did, of course, check out the strip.  The area has been cleaned up a lot more than the last time we visited many years ago (17 years actually), especially during the daytime. It’s definitely a sight to see…  just not my cup of tea.  Here are a few pictures we took…

As I said above, we are staying here for only two weeks at Las Vegas RV Resort.  It’s very tight and crowded, but it serves the purpose.  Here are some pictures from our campground (if you can call it that) and the surrounding area:

I recently read an article in an RV magazine wherein someone answered the question as to why they like to travel often with, “I’m in love with the thrill of the new”.  This resonated with me deep down to the depths of my being.  Although we travel full time for several reasons, I realized right then and there that I too am completely and totally in love with “the thrill of the new”.  This is one of the reasons why I am especially excited about our upcoming summer as most of it will be totally new territory and new adventures for all three of us.  We are heading to Utah in one week and will stay there for a month, then we head to Idaho, then Oregon for June and part of July, and then we’ll round off our summer the end of July and August in the state of Washington.  The thrill of the new is calling our names.  Stay tuned as I promise to blog more and share our new adventures as we experience them.  One state at a time…

Until then, from me (Pamela), Greg, and Elijah… Happy Trails and Sunny Sails!