It takes a lot of time and energy to live life to the fullest. This is the reason I haven’t written a blog entry since August! Part of me feels guilty for not blogging more often than I have this past year, but it’s only a tiny part. A teeny, tiny, teeniny (no, that’s not a typo… it’s my word!) part at that! It’s hard to feel guilt or regret when I realize that the reason I rarely blog is because I’m so busy living and enjoying each day. That is the story of my life lately, too busy to blog – I consider it a very good problem to have. I know I have said this a zillion times, but we are soooooooo not retired! In many ways we are busier living daily life in this lifestyle than we were before, but it’s a good busy and one that I truly enjoy. That said, I have been posting pictures and updates on our Wheels and Sails Facebook Page regularly as that is much easier and faster to just post in there each day rather than to take the time to sit down and write.
As you saw from my last post, we spent this past summer in the Pacific Northwest. Since my last post, we explored much of the state of Washington, spending a total of 8 weeks there in all. We then spent time in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and are now wintering in various areas of our “home” state of Texas until the end of January.
Though we have seen and done a lot of memorable things these past few months, some things are more memorable than others. One of the most memorable being our whale watching excursion in the San Juan Islands out of Anacortes, Washington. We saw two different pods of Orca’s (along with other wildlife) but were also blessed when three of them (a mom and her two calves) swam right up alongside our boat so we were able to enjoy them up close and personal. This was truly an experience that none of us will ever forget.
Another incredibly memorable experience for us was our visit to Yellowstone in September. This was a first for all three of us and again, something none of us will ever forget. We stayed just outside the park for a week so we went in several times. The first part of the week were were in short sleeves, but the end of the week brought their first snowfall of the season. This meant we got to enjoy the park as if it was summer (without the massive crowds) and as if it was winter! We couldn’t have planned it any better. We saw bison, mountain goats, elk, geysers, and more… all up close and personal. Yellowstone was one of our absolute favorite National Parks.
Since my last entry we also saw moose in Wyoming, spent time at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and revisited Palo Duro Canyon in Texas, which is an old favorite from our first year on this adventure. We did so much more than I can possibly write here and all while working (Greg has been working even more hours than usual the past several months!), homeschooling, and all things that need to be done in everyday life in our tiny yet perfect-sized rolling home.
As I said above, we are spending the bulk of this winter in our home state of Texas. Elijah turned 16 less than a month ago so we were finally able to visit the DMV and get his learner’s permit. Our plan while in Texas is to take care of all those things like DMV, vet visits, and other such necessary appointments. We are currently staying about 1 hour east of Houston in a campground off the Colorado River. We spent Thanksgiving here and will have been here three weeks this coming Sunday. Our next “Scenery Swap Day” is Sunday and we are going to be relocating to a campground off Medina Lake which is 40 miles northwest of downtown San Antonio. This is where we will be for four weeks, to fly J.Jay in during his college Christmas break and to spend our Christmas here. Fun times are always ahead! The end of January we will start slowly making our way to Florida, and then to end up in the Carolinas for the Spring of ’18. The key word here is slowly. We are still learning (after our whirlwind fall trip from Washington down to Texas) that slower is better and definitely a great deal less stressful when it comes to this lifestyle.
If you haven’t already, like and follow our Wheels and Sails Facebook Page to follow us more closely on our journey. I will definitely continue blogging, but I’m not in a hurry about it. I’m quite sure that by the next time I write it will be 2018 – a brand new year!
Happy Trails, Sunny Sails and a Very Merry CHRISTmas!
We are very much enjoying a warm winter in Southern Arizona. We are staying at Valley Vista RV Resort in Benson, Arizona, which is about 45 miles east of Tucson, 22 miles north of the famous town of Tombstone, and less than 60 miles north of Mexico (as the crow flies). We are enjoying everything about this area, but especially the warm, dry temperatures! We are planning a trip down to Mexico before we leave, so I’ll show you that in a later post. We have only been here for less than two weeks, but we have already explored quite a bit. First though, here are some shots from around our campground:
The very next day after we arrived, Elijah insisted we go to Saguaro (sa-WAH-row) National Park. This park has been high on his “must see” list since we started our journey. We learned that Saguaro National Park actually has two districts embracing Tucson from the east and west. Rincon Mountain District is located east of the city, while Tucson Mountain District is located to the west. Since we are east of Tucson we decided to visit Rincon Mountain first. Check it out: Here are just a few of the sights we’ve seen…
Elijah also wanted to visit the famous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum thinking it was more of a museum than a zoo. It turns out it was more of a zoo and a huge desert botanical garden and not really a museum at all. It was memorable nonetheless. Just outside of it was the west district of Saguaro National Park called Tucson Mountain District, so of course we had to check that out as well. Saylor was not at ALL interested in going (she was in fact quite opposed) so we left her home with Greg while just Elijah and I did this field trip.
Tombstone, Arizona, also known as “Town Too Tough To Die!” claims to be the most authentic western town left in the United States. We are only 20 minutes away and have already visited 3 times. They have gunfights, stage coach rides, and old western characters galore. Check it out:
Our latest find was an awesome park (that I had never even heard of prior to just a few days ago) called Chiricahua National Monument. I can NOT pronounce Chiricahua for the life of me, but this park is almost 12,000 acres of absolute beauty. With it’s abundant pinnacles, many liken it to Bryce Canyon in Utah. We were blown away! Pictures can not even begin to do this place justice. But I sure tried…
I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into our travels. Here are a few “around the house” shots as well as a “first time” picture. You’ll see…
Thanks for joining our journey. We will be here enjoying the warmth of Southern Arizona for another 5 weeks (3 more weeks here, then 2 weeks back in Cottonwood.) Stay tuned for future adventures…
Sometimes I fear that my blog paints an ideal and perhaps inaccurate picture of the daily reality of our lives. What you see every couple of weeks is simply our “highlight reel” but that isn’t what every day looks like for us. As I look back on the many incredibly busy and way too stressful days since we left South Carolina, I sometimes have to take a deep breath (and look out the window to see where we are) and force myself to just close my eyes for a second and slow down. The past couple of months have been even more stressful than usual as Greg is working like crazy and more often than not is downright exhausted. He is under more stress and pressure with his work than he’s been under in several years. He’s trying to figure out how to balance his workload with actually getting the exercise and the mental breaks that he needs in order to be able to keep up the pace and it’s a hard balance to find. He’s still looking for it. Elijah and I are fully entrenched in homeschooling his first year of high school, which is a full load in itself. As for me, it seems like (and feels like) I am always working and rarely take/have the time to slow down and just enjoy this life. Between keeping up our personal and business bookkeeping, ongoing homeschool planning and grading duties, cooking 2-3 meals every day, grocery shopping (always at different stores), weekly laundromat visits, being a full-time travel agent (researching and booking our upcoming destinations, which is not nearly as fast nor easy as you might think), making sure we don’t miss out on any of the educational (preferably free) things to do in whatever area we are at any given time, and… I could go on… and on…. I too crawl into bed every night good and tired. Although I would consider Greg exhausted lately, I only consider myself good and tired. The truth is, I wake up each morning with more energy than I’ve had in years. More on that in a second…
My point is, even though it may appear by reading my blog and seeing all the pretty pictures that we are just out having fun and on some sort of a permanent vacation 24/7; The truth is, as much as we’d LOVE that to be the case, it isn’t. Do you know why? Because we are not on vacation and we are NOT retired! This is our lifestyle… by choice! We gave up A LOT to be here. Our house, our stability, being physically close and easily able to spend time with our friends and family, especially our adult children and our soon to be FIVE grandchildren (thank God for FaceTime!), and so much more. We went from a very comfortable, cushy, stable and predictable life in 2,600 square feet with a nice sailboat on the lake, surrounded by familiarity; to an ever changing, never sure what tomorrow is going to bring, more expensive then we ever imagined it would be, unpredictable life in 410 square feet. We chose this lifestyle, knowing it wouldn’t be easy. Nothing worth having ever is. We are adamant about making it a priority to go, see, do, and learn as much as we can (especially Elijah and I) everywhere we go. We have to do this often because we are moving 250-300 miles to a different location every 2-3 weeks. We do all of this exploring IN ADDITION TO all of our daily duties of life. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t say (either to myself or someone else) we are NOT retired! We’d love to be retired, but we aren’t and won’t be anytime soon. Greg and I are only fifty years old and we have many more working years ahead of us. Greg absolutely must put in the hours to keep this boat afloat. Speaking of boats, some days it feels like we are sailing right along and other days we seem to be sinking fast, but we are all three in this boat for the long haul and are happy to be on the journey, even if we do have to do some bailing every now and then.
Honestly, the workload (for both Greg and myself) is actually heavier than it was back in our S&B house. But, we aren’t complaining and are very grateful that God has blessed us with all the necessary components to make this lifestyle not only a possibility, but a reality. We chose this life for so many reasons and I simply can’t imagine going back. I love this life beyond words, and I am confident in saying that both Greg and Elijah share my sentiments. (Although I truly think I love it the most!) Although I certainly am busier than ever, I am also much healthier and happier than I have been in many years. With the lack of humidity, the increase in Vitamin D, the hiking, the nature, the constant new sights and sounds, and spending so much time exploring God’s gorgeous creation, I am in less pain and have more energy than I have had in over 16 years… since we lived out here in California years ago to be precise! Thank you, Jesus!
And now for our highlight reel….
Elijah and I took a day trip to Carson City, Nevada. Check it out…
Elijah loves wildlife, so he’s beary happy that we are on bear territory now.
We are now staying at Tahoe Valley Campground , which is an Encore resort that I had them include in our Thousand Trails (TT) membership. (It’s not normally included.) We upgraded our TT Membership to Elite during our stay so we are staying here three weeks now instead of just two. We now can stay three weeks at each TT park and go directly from one park to the next and we don’t have to pay any daily fees, it’s all included in our membership. Our upgraded TT membership will save us major money on campground fees in the end. Upgrading was a no-brainer for us. Here are some pictures of Tahoe Valley.
And now for a funny story… When we were staying at Ponderosa RV Campground, we drove up to the Dutch Flat area to check out our next campground and make sure it had a good cell signal. Greg and I went, just the two of us for a “date”. Afterwards, we drove on down south on I-80 and found this restaurant “Joe Caribe Bistro & Cafe” in Auburn in my GF Finder App. (See picture below). It got 12 – 5 star ratings, and a “Celiac Friendly” rating. So we decided to give it a try. It was an inexpensive, small restaurant and their food was absolutely delicious. We ate there and loved it. Their claim to fame is their fish tacos, which is one of my absolute FAVORITE dishes. About 3 weeks later, when we were staying up at Dutch Flat Campground, Greg and I were in dire need of a date night. On our way south on I-80 (there are no GF friendly restaurants in Dutch Flat) I opened up my GF Finder app and found this brand new restaurant. I didn’t even recognize the name of it. So I said to Greg, “Let’s check this out. It’s called Joe Caribe Bistro & Cafe. It has great ratings and only two dollar signs, so it should be reasonably priced.” We drove there, pulled up and looked at each other. “What?!?!?!” We both cracked up when we realized it was the exact same restaurant we went to three weeks ago! Still laughing we went in and I enjoyed MORE fish tacos! We even had the same waiter (he remembered us) and we sat in exact same booth. Our meal was once again excellent. Too Funny!!!!!
Finally, here are some miscellaneous shots including our fall decorations. I call these “disposable” fall decorations since I spent all of $10 on everything at the Dollar store. I didn’t bring any of my seasonal decorations with me, so I just bought some leaves and picks, etc. and then I used bowls and my vase and other stuff that I already had, in addition to pine cones that we scavenged here locally. Works for me!!!
That’s the end of our highlight reel and I have to go jump in the shower and return to our daily reality. Go enjoy YOUR daily reality and thank God for His many blessings.
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!
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:
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…
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!!!!
We have had a VERY eventful week which resulted in our tiny home getting even tinier (well, it feels tinier anyway) and some very unforeseen circumstances. Honestly, there’s so much to tell that I’m not sure where to start. So… I guess I’ll start with the “& More” and then wrap it up with “A Few of My Favorite Things”.
First of all… Where in the world are we? I’m starting to feel more and more like a full-timer as more often than I care to admit, I will literally stop right in the middle of whatever I am doing feeling totally stupefied and think “wait… where are we? Although we are leaving here tomorrow, we are and have been in Alabama for a full two weeks now and we are staying in… you guessed it… yet another state park. This one is called Wind Creek State Park and it is located in the historic town of Alexander City, which is about 40 miles north of Auburn. First, here are some pictures from inside the state park. Remember, if you click/tap on a picture, they will get larger for better viewing. 😉
We have never previously spent any time in Alabama. Although it still looks very much like the south (SC/NC/GA) it has lots of farmland on gently rolling hills. It has a distinct country look and small town feel which we love. Here are some pictures from around this area in general:
Last weekend we wandered down an old dirt road to find the most beautiful picnic spot imaginable. We pulled off and truly felt as though we were the only people on the planet. Looking one way we had a hilltop view of Lake Martin and looking the other was an expansive view of the beautiful rolling hills. It was a moment to remember.
Now to even more of the more… Last Sunday I ended up driving 5+ hours from Alabama back to Greenville to pick up my oldest granddaughter, Saylor. Her mom is a single parent and is struggling right now financially and in other ways. We all three (Greg, Elijah and I) felt the Lord clearly telling us (nope, He didn’t ask – he told) to offer to take her for the summer. We just finished up with Elijah’s homeschool for the year so the timing couldn’t have been better. We knew this would give our daughter an opportunity to get back on her feet and to save some money since she won’t have to pay for day care or any care of her daughter for the summer. So… I drove down on Sunday and drove all the way back with my granddaughter on Monday.
Talk about an unexpected turn of events! Now we have FOUR people living in 410 square feet. Apparently God has bigger plans for us than being able to relax this summer. LOL We can clearly see how He had set everything up to make this doable for the summer. He provided us with the perfect rig for her to live with us without Elijah having to give up any of his space or room as the loft is plenty big enough to serve as her room and she LOVES it!
So, although we are all in need of prayer as this is not going to be an easy task, we know it’s a worthy one and one that God has made clear we are to do. Here are some pictures of this past week with Saylor:
FINALLY, for a few of my favorite things. Here are just a few of the things that make this lifestyle not only doable, but AWESOME!
How’s that for an INCREDIBLY LONG blog post?!!? Prayers are appreciated for us all, my daughter (to be able to get back on her feet); my granddaughter (to have an awesome summer – and to turn into a calm, chill child. Lol); my hubby, Greg (who still has to work during all this! Thank God for his private office in the MBR); my son, Elijah, (who has happily and with zero complaints given up his free time, peace and quiet in exchange for lots of babysitting); and finally for me. With my health issues, just pray that I can handle the additional stress well (give it to Jesus!) without a health crisis. Also, pray for the energy it takes to care for a five year old 24/7. Energy is always something I am lacking the most of. All that said, we are all super excited to have her with us for the summer. Let the fun begin!
Although I’d rather blog about our awesome backyard right now (Myrtle Beach!!!) I must honor my word and finish my post about organizing and decorating.
We have homeschooled for 22 years, but I am down to my last kiddo so our homeschool storage needs are not too severe. But again, organization is key to making sure our homeschool day goes smoothly. Greg has his office set up in our master bedroom (more about that in a bit) so we homeschool on the dining room table. I have everything we need easy to access and yet easy to stow away again when we are finished.
Greg has organized his office in the master bedroom and it all stows in the bed when he’s not working.
Finally, two things other things that are important to me are earrings (especially dangly ones!) and essential oils. I purchased these hanging jewelry holders from Amazon.com and I have them hanging in our master bedroom closet. Check it out….
As for decorations, today I only want to share our latest find:
That’s all I will bore you with. I could post pictures of my bathroom storage, more dishes, even my junk drawer! But that’s just too crazy… Who in the world organizes their junk drawer?!?! ☺️
So over and out from our backyard to yours. Oh, did I mention that we are in Myrtle Beach right now?