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Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

2019 RVing Women Convention

Getting there…

There are moments in any journey that are less than fun and easy. I accept that. Over the months, however, I have solved many problems on my own. Sometimes I had to sit down a while and think or go online and research. In the end, some problems fixed themselves. I figured out the rest. This time, the problems are ones I can’t resolve on my own and that makes me feel helpless. Now is one of those times.

Just a SCRAPE!

When I left Oklahoma, I drove down a beautiful street, shaded by tall oaks that were at least forty years old. I always watch to make sure tree branches don’t scrape the side of my rig. I watch overhead, too, for low hanging branches. I missed one though, up there in the deep shade of the trees. There was a scraaaaaapppppe along the roof and it scared Einstein. He ran to the front of the RV and leaned against my seat…for five hours. I stopped at a rest area and used the washroom here in the RV. I have a small half bath between the living area and the bedroom. I looked at the toilet seat and saw debris on it. “What?” I asked and looked up. That’s when I saw that the vent was gone and there was sky. The color probably drained from my face, replaced by the color of the wintery sky overhead. Oh no.

From Cold to Warm in One Day

Temperatures in Texas and New Mexico were in the forties during the day and twenties at night. I decided to go due south and get away from the cold. Once I was down on RT 10, the weather was in the seventies. I reached Tucson on Tuesday and was thrilled with warm weather and cool evenings. I stayed two nights at a campground called Lazy Days KOA. It was a beautiful campground with friendly staff. There were citrus trees at every campsite. Scattered throughout the campground were tall contraptions that looked rather like suspended expressways. They were solar panels.

I saw orange, grapefruit, and lemon. My site had a lemon tree. Some were ripening up, but most were green still.

While spending two very leisurely days at the Lazy Days KOA, I basqued in the warm sunshine and my eyes feasted on the blue sky.

Thursday, the 31st, was the day to head on over to the Pima County Fairgrounds, about thirteen miles from the Lazy Days KOA. It was an easy drive. It think it is wonderful that many county fairgrounds around the country are opening up their campgrounds to be used year round. During a big event, you may have to leave. There are full amenities at most locations …30/50 amp electric, water, sewer hookups. Prices are very reasonable. I could easily stay here at this campground. There are no trees in the campground and the ground is hard packed and mostly gravel. Many campgrounds in the Southwest are like that. There is a great dog park. Einstein deserved a dog park, so I picked a campsite just a few feet from the park. The dog park has grass and there are other dogs to play with most of the time.

Einstein’s Dog Park

On my first night here, I walked over to the Cantina. It serves food and has a bar. In the evening, some of us play Hand and Foot (a card game) in the Cantina while we have supper. There are lots of tables in there, as well as an outdoor garden seating area.

There was a beautiful sunset that just took my breath away. This is an untouched photograph, taken with my cell phone.

I think this is a good place.

Travel Days Coming Up!

Travel Days Coming Up!

This Post is Meant for…

…those who need to know how to break camp. Anyone is welcome to read it, but that is who I intended it for. I hope to make a video about it soon, but I have been lazy and focused on art instead.

The following is a detailed description of the process I follow to break camp and move on. I have it written in a list and I have walked around with that list in my hand, using it as I broke camp. I still have the list and just before I drive off, I scan it to see if I’ve missed anything. I’ve done this process so many times that I know the list by heart. I check the list, because I’m only human and I don’t want to miss anything. I once knew someone who started driving away from his site. Another RVer ran beside him, waving his arms. My friend rolled down his window and the man said, “You’re awning is out!”

I used to have an Airstream travel trailer and, even though it was very different from my current motor home, there were still many similarities. Inside stowing and outside chores. I’d have to say that my motor home is easier for setting up and taking down camp.

Tucson, Arizona

I leave for Tucson, Arizona on Sunday. This is Wednesday evening. As usual, I’m a little anxious. I’ve been here in Oklahoma since about September 7th. That’s six weeks and I’ve gotten pretty settled in. When I stay somewhere for more than a couple weeks, I take the plastic bins out of my little pantry I put them on top of the bed over the cab area. The bed, when I’m traveling, is up against the ceiling. When I’m stopped like I am now, I let it extend down about two feet. It makes great storage.

Interior Prep

The area under the bed is covered with what used to be the bedspread that came with the RV. I put Velcro on it and Velcro on the side of the cab-over bed. The windshield and side windows of the cab area radiate cold in the winter and heat in the summer. The quilted bedspread fits perfectly where you see it and keeps the main living area of the RV much more comfortable.

Travel Day Approaching

So when travel days are approaching, I take all of the things off the bed. The plastic bins get put back in the pantry. Having them out like you see above makes it easier to find things. Each bin is labeled with what it contains. They stack in the pantry. I have command hooks along the metal part of the bed so that I can hang hats or jackets or a grocery bag. Once all the stuff on the bed is stowed away, the whole rest of the RV is easy to prep.

There’s a shelf under the TV in the living area. It holds my electric pencil sharpener and my Homepod (for music). I stow those in the clothes drawers. I don’t have a lot of clothes, so its a good place to stow things that are breakable.

Its a good idea to check the contents of the refrigerator. I place a couple of tall items in between the drawer and the filtered water pitcher.

After I check that the contents of the fridge are good, I screw in the lock that holds the freezer and fridge door shut.

The galley area (kitchen) have things that I can leave right there on the counter. Some items have a bit of blue sticky putty (like teachers use to stick papers on the wall of the classroom) and that prevents things from tipping or sliding. My white Bialetti hot pot is something I don’t have secured down. I put that on the bed behind a couple of pillows. The Keurig…I put on the closet floor with my hanging clothes. It’ll be safe there. Anything else, I just stick it in the left sink. I keep a plastic bin in that sink. It fits perfectly and I can wash dishes in it. Its light enough that if its filled with rinse water, I can take it outside and pour the water on plants. I have two plants and I put those in the sink as well.

The white boxes hold my art supplies when I am on the road

My little rolling cart with my art supplies can be secured to the back of the driver’s seat with a bungy cord if I’m going a short distance. If its a multi-day drive, I empty the cart, stowing things into their original bins over the dining table. The cart itself I will lay across my bed.

Bathroom Prep

My RV has two bathrooms. Why? Good question. The answer is logical, but I don’t feel I need the small half bath. Its purpose is that when I’m on the road, my slide-outs are pulled in. The one in the bedroom causes the bed to go right up against the cabinets on the opposite wall, preventing me from reaching the large rear bathroom without climbing over the bed. So the half bath is on the left side of the RV, just before the bedroom. It’s never blocked in by a slide-out.

To get the rear bathroom ready for travel, I don’t have to do much at all. I have two small clear plastic boxes on top of the window. They are held down with Command Strip velcro and it has worked great.

I have a wooden box that I keep odds and ends in. I put some of the sticky blue putty under each corner and it has held the box in place.

Day Before Travel

On Saturday, the day before I leave, I’ll make sure my grey and black tanks are empty and I’ll check to see if I need to add any water to my freshwater tank so I can use it en-route. I’d be able to flush toilets and rinse out dishes. Sometimes I stay at places along the way, for the night, where there are no connections for electric, water, or sewer. I might stay at a Cracker Barrel if they have RV / Bus parking. It’s free. I eat breakfast in the restaurant as a courtesy to show my gratitude.

Dry Camping – no hookups

There are many places to stay where you can dry camp (no hookups) for the night. I’m able to do everything I need to when dry camping. I can shower. I can use my propane furnace.

Generator

My RV has a built-in generator, so I can turn that on and run it all night if I need to. It uses very little gasoline from the RV gas tank. I can run air conditioners, TVs, etc. I can run the generator while I’m driving if I need to. Lets say its really hot and the air conditioner from the front of the RV (the cab air conditioner) isn’t reaching Einstein in the back area. I can run the generator and then keep the temperature comfortable for him by using the cabin air conditioning. That is my last resort, as gasoline is expensive these days. Its nice to have the option however.

Good use of the generator

I’ll use the generator if I want to stop at a restaurant to have a hot meal (that I didn’t prepare). Leaving Einstein in a non-air conditioned RV would be very bad. Its no different than leaving a dog in a car in the summer, engine off, windows rolled up. I have a sensor in my RV that alerts me with both a text and an email when the temperature in the RV is too high for Einstein.

RV Temperature Monitor for Pet Safety

Day of Travel

On Sunday morning (the day I leave). I’ll take care of Einstein…give him his medicine for his thyroid, walk him, and feed him. I fix myself a bowl of cereal, and while I eat, I look at my Allstays app on my phone. It shows me all I need to know for my route. I can see campgrounds, whether they are KOA types or state parks, national parks, Cracker Barrels, etc. It shows me where I can get gas. It tells me details about all the places as well. Ratings. Pricing. Amenities. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Gas Stations

I like to pull up satellite images of gas stations to make sure that I can fit. Because I tow a small Jeep, I can’t back up. So gas stations where the pumps face the store are pretty much out of the question for me. I have to pull way forward so that my gas fill is at the pump farthest from the store (because my gas fill is in near the back of my RV). If its not going to leave me any turning space, I’d be in a pickle. I’d have to unhook the Jeep, move it out of the way, back up the RV, and get out of there. Then I’d need to re-hook up the Jeep. Not something I want to do.

Campground Choices

I have a travel journal and in there I note two or three campgrounds that sound good, plus good gas stations along the way. They will be at various distances from my starting point. As I drive and begin to tire, I pick whichever one is near me. I pull into a rest area or gas station so I can call the campground to make a reservation.

Where Einstein Rides

After stowing the last items inside the RV, I put the table down so its a bed. Einstein travels on there. It has seat belts so I can secure him in. His seat belt has a long three foot tether on it so he can move around a bit. He wears a dog harness that goes around his shoulders and belly rather than around his neck. He’s able to get a drink of water from his dish. His food and water dishes are non-spill dishes so the water dish can have water in it even on the road.

Last Interior Items

I turn off the air conditioners if they’re on. I turn off the water heater, TVs, and any other items that I might have going.

Water hose (blue) and septic (orange)

Exterior Prep

I move outside and turn off the water tap, then unhook my hose from the tap and letting the water drain out before unhooking from the RV. I unhook the cable for cable TV, coil it up and stow it. If I had the septic hose hooked to the campground septic, I empty my tanks, if I hadn’t done so recently. I make sure the hose is empty. I can flush it out by hooking a non-potable-water-hose to a special intake that sprays water into the black tank until I can see clear water coming from it. At that point I unhook from the campground septic and from the RV. I put caps on each end, coil it up and stow it. Lastly I disconnect the power cable. My RV uses 50 amp electric, because I have a 35 foot motor home and it has two air conditioners.

This is my wet bay – water and sewer

Water Hose

The blue hose is called a water-ban hose. I don’t know why. Campgrounds usually close once water lines can freeze. Those that stay open may have their water lines at each site wrapped or mostly underground. My blue hose is heated. I plug it in to the campground’s electric pedestal at my site or I can plug it into an outside outlet on my RV exterior. I’d rather hook it to the pedestal so I’m not using some of the 50 amps I get from the campground. I have two of these blue hoses and together they mean I can be as far as 75 feet away from the water source.

Sewer Hose

The black and orange hose is the septic hose. These hoses go through that opening and then I can close the compartment door. My grey and black tanks are in the ceiling of this compartment. Being able to keep the wet bay closed up means that my tanks stay warm and are unlikely to freeze overnight. If I’m worried about the water in the tanks freezing, I can put a small space heater (I have a Broan) inside the bay and run the cord down through the hole and plug it in. I’ve had to do that many times.

Using one of the same tire-pressure gauges truckers use, I check all six of the RV tires and all four of the Jeep tires. I keep the Jeep tires at 40 psi and the RV tires at 90 psi. That is the cold pressure, meaning before the vehicle has been driven or towed. Once you start moving, the air inside the tires begins to heat up and you won’t get an accurate pressure. I have an inexpensive air compressor and it is a simple process to top off my tires.

Slide-outs, Levels, Cab Area

The last things I do are to pull in the slide-outs. Its as easy as flicking a switch. Once those are in, I hit another button and all of the leveling jacks are raised up. There is a curtain that covers the windows next to the driver’s seat and the passenger seat. I slide those towards the rear of their tracks and a cloth wraps around each one and it is snapped into a locked position. The front windshield has a blind that electronically rolls up and down. So I put that in an up position. Not all the way to the top. If I leave it down a foot or so, it acts as a sun-shade. Depending on where the sun is, it can be raised or lowered a bit more.

I stow the comforter (that you saw in the first image) that hung from the over-cab bed. I raise up the bed so it is against the ceiling.

Prepping the Cab Area

Finally I pour a few peanut m&ms into a cup and put it in the cup holder to left of the driver’s seat. I put a thermos of coffee or tea in the cup holder that is on the driver’s right. Me. I’m the driver. The area where the speedometer and other monitors are is large and I can sit my cell phone there in case I need to use the GPS on it. I don’t usually need to do that. The RV has a really nice GPS. I had to enter in the length, height and weight of the RV. It won’t plan routes for me that have bridges that are too low or roads that are too narrow for me. It shows me where campgrounds are, truck stops, rest areas, etc.

Do a Walk-around

Before I get into the driver’s seat and drive away, I do a walk-around. I check to make sure that all the doors to my storage compartments are shut and locked. Are my levels are up. I make sure the slide-outs are fully in, that all my hoses and cords are put away, and nothing is left laying outside. Sometimes I put a plastic table cloth on the campground-provided picnic table. Don’t want to leave that behind. I make sure I’ve left the campsite as clean or cleaner than it was when I arrived.

Time to Head Out

It’s NOT frightening to drive my motor home. I’m cautious, trying not to exceed 65 mph. Sixty is best, for the sake of miles-per-gallon, but I’ve gone 65. That means everyone on the road is passing me. Hopefully they don’t do to me what they do to one another…pull into my lane just in front of me. I don’t slow down as quickly as a car. Cars on entrance ramps expect everyone to move over so they can merge. That isn’t always possible for me. I try my best to accommodate, but I will not put my vehicle or myself in danger.

At last

Now you have it. It sounds very complicated. It really isn’t. You become accustomed to all of this quickly. If there are two of you, one can do the inside stuff and the other can do the exterior stuff. I love being on the road. I do my best thinking and daydreaming when I’m on the road. I’m a careful driver. I’m conscious of my position within my lane, where the cars are around me, taking curves cautiously. I use cruise control, but mainly on flat terrain and straight stretches. There are lots of those in the West. I go up mountains slower, down carefully, letting the engine help slow me.

I’ll arrive in Tucson on October 31st. I’m excited to get there. I’ll be attending an RVing Women convention. I have gone once before…two years ago. It was an absolute blast!

Happy Trails!

Day After…Vegas

Day After…Vegas

Yesterday I left Las Vegas. It was an eventful day.

I woke very early so I could tear down camp and get the RV to Camping World for the vent covers to be installed. It was relaxing while I waited. Einstein kept me company in the lounge. He drew a lot of attention. Everyone loved his name and how sweet he was. The work was done promptly and I headed back to the Oasis RV Resort to get the Jeep.

When I went to hook up the Jeep, the right arm of the hitch wouldn’t extend. I tried forcing, pulling, pushing…nothing. I texted Sharon, who was three spaces over from me. She was awesome. She drove out to the front of the campground where I was. I told her I was trying to at least connect it to the Jeep so maybe I could push and pull with the Jeep itself. I had moved the Jeep backwards and forwards by millimeters and could never quite get it. I had it close. With Sharon there, we were able to just pull on the bumper to move the Jeep and we got the pins in. I moved the Jeep a bit and the arm loosened up as I hoped. We got everything hooked up, said good-bye (Sharon, if you’re reading this…thank you so much! You’re awesome!!!), and I headed west. When I reached the California border, the tire monitor started bleeping frantically. It said the right front tire was low in pressure, the right front tire was too high, and the back right tire sensor was malfunctioning. I pulled off the road at a gas station (few and far between out there). I got out my little tire pressure gauge and hand-checked the front tires. The left one was perfect. The right one was indeed a bit high, but within safety margins. I let a little air out and then the monitor told me the tire was leaking air. I figured it was because I made it leak. LOL.

I spent that first night at a campground in Bakersfield called Bakersfield River Run RV Park. It was a family owned RV park. The nightly cost was about $47, but they did take Good Sam. It was super nice. I hadn’t seen grass that lush and green since the beginning of January. When I took Einstein out, he leaped backwards when his feet touched the grass. He then stepped gingerly onto it. After that he was good with it and takes it for granted now.

Bakersfield River Run RV Park
What I LOVE about Full Time RV Life

What I LOVE about Full Time RV Life

I’ve been full time for about eighteen months now and I’d have to say that the “love” part of the title is a new aspect of this life.  I think its been happening a little at a time, but just in the last couple of days did it dawn on me that, yes, I love this life.

The BEST of ME!  The people I meet and the friends and family that I visit see me at my best.  Because I have my own house with me (bed, favorite foods, hobby supplies, etc.) I am so happy.  I have my own bathroom (two actually, though I don’t really use the small half bath) so all my own shampoos and gels and mousse…its all there.  For night time, I have my eye drops and saline nasal spray, breathe-rite strips, water…all I need in case I wake in the night.  I don’t have to pack and unpack anything.  It’s always there; just like at home.  I’m always well rested, because if I’m not I can go into my little house and take a nap.  I’m never bored.  I have all my favorite things to do right there with me.  I’m an introvert, so when I need me-time, I just go out to my place for as long as I want or need.

The BEST of EVERYONE ELSE!  When I feel like meeting people, all I have to do is step outside my RV.  I can take Einstein to the dog park or for a walk.  I meet a lot of people that way.  I meet them at the laundry room and the game night at the clubhouse.  I get to at least say hi and how are you when I go to the grocery or pet store.  I always get to know the people next to me in RV parks.  For instance, right now, the folks beside me are very creative.  She does amazing lettering on canvas.  He does stained glass.  When my windows are open, I can hear them laugh and talk about what they’re working on there at the table outside.  Sometimes passers-by stop and talk with them.  They’re full time in their RV and they love it.  She’s a cancer survivor and he’s retired from UPS.  They are so happy to be alive and to have the chance to travel and explore the country.  I have friends in the area and we get together to go sightseeing, have dinner, do art.  When I’m tired I can just head home and get some quiet time to myself.  My life feels more in my control than it ever has before.  Back at the cabin, it was much more difficult to encounter new people as the cabin is quite isolated.  It was a bed and breakfast so it was also harder to get time to myself.

A NEW FRONT YARD as often as I like!  When I lived in one place my front door always opened out to the same view.  Now it WAS a nice view of forest and long winding driveway.  During my life I have moved a lot.  I get restless quickly.  Now I can stay in one place for a while…be it a field, the desert, a driveway, or a campground.  When I feel restless I can just move on.  I can stay near a big city, a small town, or wilderness.  If I want to do some boondocking, I stock up on food, water, and propane on the way and I can stay anywhere comfortably for two weeks.  If I want comfort from cable TV, electric, water hook-up and septic hook-up, I go to a campground.

CAMPGROUND CULTURE!  I’m at an RV resort on the south side of Las Vegas right now.  I’ve been here for about five weeks.  I have a little over a week left.  I will miss it.  I’ve met a lot of other full time RVers.  Most live there at the resort so they all know each other.  They all have interesting stories to tell.  When I’m sitting at my dinette table, I face the road and I can see people walking their dogs (so many little white dogs!), stopping to talk together, stopping in front of an RV to ask the owner, who is also outside, questions about their “rig” or the stuff they’re towing or doing.  With my windows open I can’t really hear the conversation, but I hear the murmur of the different people and its comforting.  Everywhere else I have lived, people don’t come outside.  They stay indoors.  At the resort, people treat the outdoors like another room of their RV.  Its an silent guideline that if their chair is facing away from the street, they are not really looking for conversation from passers-by.  If their chair faces the street…come on over!  Kids ride bikes.  On warm evenings, RVers and friends gather outside around a contained fire, sharing conversation and sipping livations.  There aren’t a LOT of children at this campground, but there are some.  I enjoy hearing their laughter as they play together.  Today at the dog park, there was a little boy and he wanted me to know all about his dog.  He said Golden Retrivers are his FAVORITE dog.  Mine is a Golden.  His little mixed breed dog (Rusty) was just eight months old he told me.  All of this awesome culture makes my life feel large and full.  I love it.

THE FLAVOR OF AMERICA.  In Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck wanted to travel the country to see if it was the same as the America he’d written about.  It was 1960.  He was quite famous.  He wanted to travel anomimously without attention.  He seemed disappointed with the America he met in that trip.  It was becoming “vanilla”; becoming blended.  No longer were its spaces unique from one another.  People were changing.  Culture was changing.  By the end of his journey he may have been sad and was glad to, at last, be home.  He began his travels with great gusto and preparation; great expectation.  In the end he just wanted to be done.  My travels have been quite different from Mr. Steinbecks.  I knew already that America’s states and towns had become blended families.  They lost their distinctiveness way back when interstate highways gathered them all together and peppered the exits with chains like MacDonalds and others, seen all across the country.  You can travel anywhere and get the comfort food of your favorite restaurant or grocery store.  You can gas up at your favorite stations.  I was glad of that.  In my childhood, family vacations were flavored by places to eat that were few and far betwee or unknown.  My childish heart wanted to eat where I knew exactly what I was getting.  

So my travels have introduced me to the very thing that John Steinbeck couldn’t find.  I’ve discovered uniqueness across the country.  In Ohio, when I got out of my quad cab dually and walked towards the Giant Eagle grocery store, a young man collecting shopping carts several aisles away called out, waving, “Welcome to Giant Eagle!”  That made me happy.  I wasn’t used to such cheerfulness and “I love my job!”ness.  My waitress at the local Pizza Hut in that same area engaged me in conversation off and on throughout my buffet pizza meal.  I was used to waiters and waitresses who only made conversation at the very end of my meal, perhaps to ensure a better tip.

In Indiana (Elkhart) I found every store I visited (whether I purchased something or not), every restaurant…all the folks were genuinely friendly.  It did my heart good.  In Montana, at a very tiny campground (like 8 spaces) the campground host with his long gray-gold “Wild Bill” curls made me feel welcome and safe.  The man sitting at the picnic table with his little white dog (campsite next to mine) made me feel welcome as well.

I have encountered some who seemed to hate their jobs and hate strangers or tourists.  I’ve met those who were simply courteous and professional.  Overall, I’ve found warm welcomes.  I’ve seen similarities between all the places, but also uniqueness.  Quincy, California has a Subway restaurant, but no other chains and no department stores or car dealerships.  On Halloween the whole town dressed up.  Shop owners wore costumes and played the part.  Bob Ross (costume) greeted everyone at the little children’s clothing and toy shop.  Crossing guards wore tutu’s.  The Chamber of Commerce had a table set up in the park to give out candy.  The library had a plant sale going on.  I loved it.  Sweet Lorraine’s had the world’s best bread pudding.  

The campground in Eugene, Oregon was owned by a landscape artists and boasted lush green lawns, cute round metal tables and chairs at each campsite, a vegetable garden, a dog grooming station set amongst the trees…a great and beautiful place.

Everywhere I went I found a nationally shared personality and a uniqueness.  I thought maybe John Steinbeck would have loved it.

FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT!  Wherever I go, I usually find a couple of favorite places to eat and shop.  Right now I’m at Blaze Pizza.  Its not far from the RV resort and its a favorite of a lot of people.  There is a line to the door and almost every table is taken.  There are families here and everyone is talking and laughing and consuming delicious stone-fired pizzas.

MEETING OTHER RVers…It warms my heart to meet others who live in their RVs.  They are a whole different people than those who live in houses or even take vacations in RVs.  It warms my heart to see RVs where the owners love it and have their routines and division of duties, their new life with the companionship of one another and shared enjoyment of the life.  The couple in the 5th wheel next to me are friendly and comfortable with their new life.  Enjoy sitting outside at a table working on their crafts.  He does stained glass nightlights and she does canvases with beautifully painted quotes that inspire.  Three spaces over, Sharon is a retired special ed school teacher who is, at this moment, out driving her RV for a driving lesson.  She gave me two outdoor chairs so that I can sit outside in the fresh air on these blue-sky-warm afternoons.  Back in Forest City, Iowa another solo woman RVer shared dinner with me one evening and we talked about our travels and how we overcame the problems that happened from time to time.  She gave me an iron (I love cotton shirts and they are always so wrinkled after being washed) and a small caddy to hold my shampoo and body wash.  In Alberta, Canada I gave my host Sue a purple storage container (she LOVES purple) and I gave Archie my Krispy Kreme Donuts mug.  Just before I left they gave me a bottle of my favorite hand lotion.  I do small pen and ink drawings and have given a few of those away.  It feels right and good sometimes to give something away.  In the desert near Quartzsite, Arizona I sat around a campfire each evening with other women RVers.  We shared stories and laughed together.  Debbie had a little tiny camp shovel and was in charge of stiring the coals and moving the sticks of wood around to keep them burning.  There was something comforting in those shared evenings.

BONUS FEATURES of the campground I’m at NOW!  They have a really nice booklet they give you at check-in.  It has a map of the campground and of the city.  It includes ads for services specific to RVers.  In two days I’m having my RV washed and waxed by a company called Red Rock RV Washers.  They have trucks right there at the campground.  They bring their own water.  They hand-wax the RV.  I don’t normally splurge on such a luxury, but a wash and wax prolongs the life of the RV.  I had the little Airstream I traveled with last year washed by them and it looked so fantastic afterwards that it just lifted my spirits and made the little trailer happy, too.  The resort also has vendors that do all sorts of repairs, including engine repair.  There is pretty much nothing that can’t be done.  Not many resorts have that kind of service.

Until I came here, I had two dogs.  We were together for the last eighteen months.  Einstein and Emma.  Emma has been a good companion while we were together in the RV, but if I left, she barked so much that once (in Eugene, Oregon) I got a call from the office about it.  If someone walked by with a dog, she barked a lot.  If I had to go anywhere, I couldn’t leave the windows open on a warm day because of her barking.  She was extremely difficult to walk.  Campgrounds have SO many dogs and Emma doesn’t like any of them.  She would scream out her barks and twist and try to get out of her harness (she did once – scared me pretty badly).  So about ten days ago I found out about a no-kill shelter and I took her there.  I felt like a louse.  I think you can imagine how I felt.  I knew I had to do it though.  It took me a few days to get over it.  Each day I felt a bit better and knew that I’d done the right thing.  Since she’s been gone, Einstein has been better behaved.  He can be left in the RV with the windows open and doesn’t bark.  He walks and doesn’t go crazy over other dogs.  He can be taken to the dog park and gets along well with everyone.  The RV is cleaner.  Its not as crowded.  The food (Einstein has to eat a special, expensive food) lasts longer.  People aren’t afraid to come into the RV.  I have to admit its been great and is probably a lot of the reason why I love RV life more now.  I think Einstein is happier, too.  Emma really tried to bully him into submission.  When I leave here next week, I’ll truly be leaving Emma behind.  She was going to be put into a foster home until she was adopted.  I know she’ll be much happier in a real house. So there you have it.

Ohio in April

Ohio in April

I don’t have a towed car, so my visit to family in Ohio required either a campground close to Sherry’s house or being able to park right in her driveway.  Often driveways have a slant or are far from electrical outlets and water.  There are several campgrounds in the area, but none were open until May 1st.  That left just the driveway option.  I drove all the way not sure it would work out, but it DID!  The driveway slant was minor and the RV’s auto levels did their job!  There was water and electric so that I was able to use adapters and connect the RV to one outlet and hook my separate 20 amp outlet to the other.  That gave me a separate outlet to use for a heater.  I wasn’t sure if the 15 amp service would power the gas furnace AND other things like computer and lights.  It exceeded my expectations.  I was able to find an easy balance.  The heat was only needed at night so during the day I was able to use everything else I needed.  Even on a particularly cold day, I was able to use the furnace and everything else.  It was awesome.

My visit was so absolutely fantastic.  We did lots of relaxing, some shopping, went to a movie (I Can Only Imagine), and had a girls pajama party (movies, pizza, popcorn and all while wearing our pajamas).  I got to spend time with Sherry and her sister Norma (and Norma’s awesome little dog, Maggie) and met a new friend, Bonnie.

The RV celebrated some new additions; a surge protector for out at the post (on sale!), a silver ware tray that actually fits, a mug that will keep my tea hot, and a coffee table in which the top easily lifts up to become a computer desk.  It gives me more options for where to work.  There is the fold out wooden desk up at the passenger seat, the dinette, and now the table by the couch.  That’s where I am at this moment. 

On the way to Ohio, Einstein stepped on the water bucket and tipped it over.  Water everywhere!  At the Camper World store I found a bowl that is unspillable.  When I put water in it the first time, Einstein kept trying to bite it and pick it up.  I’m not sure where that came from.  So far no spills.  We’ll see how it works when we’re on the move.

Yesterday I came 17 miles south of Sherry’s place so I could empty my tanks and get propane.  I arrived around 1:00 and there was someone waiting for me to put propane into the RV.  He then guided me with manipulating the RV and get turned around to head to my campsite.  This is a KOA campground; my first time at a KOA.  It’s an active place with people coming and going.  I ended up paying for two nights.  I was supposed to head home today, but my hair appointment isn’t until Tuesday so I could stay an extra day.  I really needed this extra time. 

The dogs are used to being in the RV and the routine.  They are difficult to travel with.  Emma wants to be looking out the front window.  I’m glad that she likes that, but she gets in the way and Einstein wants to be up front, laying on the engine cover.  Sometimes he manages to get in between the passenger seat and the dash.  He whines and pants and gets in the way of my being able to see the camera monitor and controls for heat and fans.

After spending a week or so with Sherry, my tanks needed emptying.  I found a campground about twenty miles south of her place that is actually open – a KOA.  It would have been too far for her to be driving to fetch me every time, but it’s close enough to safely drive to with full tanks.

Here at the campground, Emma loves to sneak into the cab area and watch out the front window for strangers and their pets.  I put the divider up out of the way for a while and she just parked herself up there to watch for action outside.  I made the divider from the bedspread that came with the RV.  I don’t use that kind of spread, but didn’t want to waste it.  The “Moving Forward Adventure” folks did something similar.  I think they used the curtains from their apartment.  They now live full time in their RV.  They found that when they drive after dark, the light from the living area reflected in the windshield and was a bit distracting.  We found the same thing and so followed their awesome example.  Emma found a LOT of things to bark at, so I put down the divider.  She still finds a way to sneak into the cab from time to time.

The campground has cable (a wonderful treat for me…with HGTV!) so I’m sitting at the couch with my computer on the desk and HGTV right there in front of me.  Its so nice that I’ve decided to stay an extra day.

So.  My trip to Ohio has been awesome.  I’m sad to have to leave.  I did just fine without a car to drive.  It forced me to stay put and accomplish some work on a current children’s book layout project.  The project is a little more difficult than I expected, because I want the book to be fantastic.  I spent several hours on one page.  I want the book to have an overall theme with its layout, but I do want to make each of the amazing illustrations the absolute best it can be.

However, I think I’d like to have a car.  When I’m visiting someone who is willing to drive me to the places I need to go, that’s great, but usually I’m going to be at a place where there is no one to transport me anywhere.  I try to buy everything I need ahead of time, but my whole purpose in traveling is to experience wherever I am.  The campground itself is probably not my goal.  It’s my place to sleep and unwind.  Sometimes it might be possible to catch public transportation from the campground, but I have seldom encountered that.  When we’re at Disney we’ll be sure to have most of what we need food-wise, but there are camp stores at the campground.  Items are pricey, but at least they are available.  We won’t starve.

So there you have it.  Ohio in April.  I give it a thumbs up.  I want to come back SOON!

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

From the rest area along route 95,  I headed straight to Vegas.  No more rest areas for me.  I reached the city during early rush hour and dark despite my efforts to get there earlier.  I hooked up electric and water and got down to business.  Time to feed the dogs and myself.  This campground is called Oasis.  There were many campgrounds to chose from.  The others were on the smaller side and reviews were mixed.  One mentioned the homeless population in the area growing twenty fold.  They also said that the windshield cover of their motor home disappeared.  The cover was custom made for that particular vehicle, so was not really going to be taken by someone else with the same motor home.  I elected to try Oasis, which has probably 800 campsites.  The photos were impressive.  There was one unfavorable review that dealt with pets.  I tried to find something else, but ended up deciding to try a really grand place like Oasis.

High winds followed me here.  My first night here was a repeat of the previous night – roaring wind and sand blasting.  In the morning it was still going on.  Not a good day for having awnings out.  I had a reservation for four days and was determined to stay put for all of them.  The second day the weather was wonderful. 

My Airstream is named Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse, which took him on many adventures.  Rocinante was thoroughly coated with road salt from the last month’s travels in the North.  Oasis has all sorts of RV services.  I saw several motorcoaches getting washed by a company called Red Rock.  I called them and made an appointment for them to come this morning to wash Rocinante, who, afterwards, looks better than new.

There is no more wind.  Today the weather was so wonderful that I got my bike out and went for a ride.  It was a t-shirt, shorts and flip flop day.  There is no wind, so it was also a good day for awnings.

I walked over to the main building.  It has a really nice restaurant.  The staff was helpful and attentive.  The food was very good and priced right.  As I was eating I noticed that the lobby had bookshelves loaded with “exchange” books.  I peeked out at the swimming pool and could see several people swimming.

Yes.  This is an awesome place to stay.  The dogs have behaved.  I’ve slept really well.  The WiFi is 5G!  The cable TV has a LOT of channels.  Its wonderful.  I was supposed to leave this morning, but extended to Sunday morning.  If I want to stay beyond that, I’ll have to move to a different campsite.  That would be okay – a lot of work, but okay.

Yesterday I needed some groceries.  The frig and cupboard were empty.  On the way to an Albertsons I stopped at a Japanese restaurant with a choice of Hibachi grill or tables.  I wanted a table, but you could only get some of the menu items if you sat at a Hibachi grill.  So I sat by myself at a large grill.  The food was really great and the staff were, once again, very attentive.

The friends I am here to visit arrived from their travels today.  They had a thirty hour flight, so headed straight to bed.  Tomorrow we’ll talk about the coming days.  They said I can stay with them, but I have two dogs with me, so will probably stay right here at the campground or at a campground closer to them.  We’ll see what tomorrow holds.

I do really like it here.  I know summers are brutally hot here, but I sure am enjoying early winter.  Its hard to believe that tomorrow is December.  Wow!

 

Hawthorne, Nevada

Hawthorne, Nevada

I headed towards Las Vegas, intending to go as far as Reno or perhaps a bit south.  I did my research the night before, having a couple of campgrounds written down, along with phone numbers and amenities.  My preferences, even if only for a single night, are WiFi, Cable TV, full hookup, and pull through site (I’m not good at backing up yet).  The campground south of Reno was my location of choice.  I usually end up driving so many hours that I pull into campgrounds after dark.  This campground was going to be pushing it.  It was only supposed to be maybe a three or four hour drive, but for me it would be five or six.  That’s what it ended up taking.  However, I did arrive at the campground (Whiskey Flats Campground) before dark.  It was my first campground in a desert environment.  The first thing I noticed when I got out of the truck was that it was warm, sunny, and dry – all at the same time!

I liked it so much that I asked the registration clerk if I could possibly stay two nights.  He said he would reserve the space and if I decided not to stay I could just leave.  During the night, I woke to the sound of roaring wind outside and the sound of sand pummeling the outside of the trailer.  It went on all night and was still happening in the morning.  I decided to move on.  Surely Las Vegas, with all of its tall buildings, wouldn’t have the wind and sand.  Right?!?

Quincy, California

Quincy, California

I went from Eugene, Oregon to Quincy, California, where I stayed for about a week.  I found a campground there that had internet and good cell signal, so I stayed a while so I could work on a couple of projects.  The campground was called Pioneer.  It was a nice campground. 

The scenery around Quincy was breathtaking.  There were a lot of cloudy days, making for interesting cloud formations down around the mountains.

While in Quincy, it was cold enough at night that I wasn’t able to stay hooked up to water for the first few nights.  I put water into my freshwater tank and unhooked from city water.  Thank you to Reen for that tip.  It worked beautifully.

I was there for Thanksgiving and had my first experience with baking pies in the Airstream.

I was loathe to leave Quincy.  It was a great place.  I was able to relax, get my work done, and I discovered some great places to eat.  The scenery was awesome as well.

Eugene, Oregon

Eugene, Oregon

Before heading south again, I spent maybe nine days in Eugene, Oregon.  I had been hoping to have internet and cell signal.  In Eugene, I stopped at a campground, thinking it was for just one night.  When my trip to Seattle fell through, I stayed an extra couple of nights. While there, I was out exploring the town and saw a Best Buy.  I stopped by after getting some supper.  I was hoping to find a lap desk for my keyboard and mouse.  I really struggled with having desktop computer with me in the trailer

I tried tucking the CPU in a corner of the bedroom (haha – there are no corners in an Airstream). I had to climb over the bed to get to the little three legged chair that  faced the wall-mounted TV.  I tried putting the CPU under the dinette and hooking it to the wall-mounted TV by the couch.  Too far away and had to turn my head, as the bench seat faces the wall across from me.

I tried putting the CPU by the refrigerator and sitting in the three legged chair facing the TV.  The dogs hated it.  They got stranded on the couch.   My last attempt was going to try a lap desk, while sitting in the three legged chair.

I didn’t find a lap desk at Best Buy, but since I was in the computer section, I saw that they had a huge selection.  A salesman asked me if he could help and I asked if they had gaming laptops.  I had a gaming desktop and found it lacked what was needed to do anything BUT play games (without adding additional items to it).  They had MSI laptops – the BEST gaming laptops.  The most powerful one they had was a good price, but wasn’t really good for much more than gaming.  It had a normal hard drive and the C drive was a 256 GB Solid State Drive.  I wanted this laptop to do more than play games.  I wanted it to edit and pretty much do everything my iMac does.  An MSI computer that could do that for sure was one that had to be ordered in to the store from another store.  It was going to take seven days.

The campground I’d been in had no WiFi and if I was going to have to hang around for another seven days, I wanted WiFi!  So I researched and found a campground on the south side of Eugene that had WiFi.  I moved there the next day.

Eugene, Oregon was beautiful with amazing mountains all the way around it.  There were lots of stores and restaurants.  I went to a mall and saw two movies.  The campground was lush with thick green grass and all sorts of special trees and bushes.  That lushness comes from almost constant rain.  While I was there, we had two days with sunshine and that was only part of the day.  The temperature was nice and everyone there was out walking and spending time enjoying the great weather.  While I was out looking for a post office, with everyone out walking, the dogs barked a lot.  The campground office called to tell me that you could hear the dogs barking all the way to the office.   THE DOGS.  Was I ever going to get used to the dogs in this trailer?  Were they ever going to settle down.  Would Emma ever learn NOT to bark at everyone who passed by and at every dog she saw, even if from across the campground?  Was Einstein ever going to get over his separation anxiety?  At that moment, it seemed like a lot of NO answers.  I was ready to just go back to Maryland.  My friend Reen called me and we talked for a long time.  She had some great advice and encouragement.

My computer came the next day.  Bam!  I was going to be fine.  Having the laptop would make everything in the trailer flow better and be less of a headache.  I would keep going and tackle one thing at a time, as I’d been doing.

Maryland to California – 2017

Maryland to California – 2017

Leaving Maryland

When I pull out onto the highway with my trailer, I feel so amazing.  Airstreams are rare and draw a bit of attention.  At one gas station I parked and was walking in to get something to drink.  A group of people standing outside wanted to ask me all sorts of questions about the trailer.  After getting my drink and going back out to the truck, an SUV stopped beside me and rolled down their window to ask me questions.  The woman said, “I want to go with you!”

Indiana to Colorado and Points In Between

Since leaving Indiana, where I attended the RVing Women 2017 convention, I have travelled through several states, including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, and Oregon.  Except for California and Oregon, I merely passed through each state.  I was trying to get to Seattle, Washington, so pressed ahead as best I could, setting miles-traveled-per-day goals for myself.  At first I tried to be very spontaneous and would drive until I was tired and then would find a spot to stay overnight.  Rest areas are possibilities, but when I found one, it was usually full of trucks.  Truck stops are another possibility, but truckers prefer RVers stay away as overnight spots.  They have fewer choices and our taking up valuable parking spaces means some of them have to keep searching for a spot.  I respect that.  I found a Cabela’s one night, but was not able to find any other RVers and was uncomfortable with being the only one so I moved on.

Wyoming

As I headed west, the weather got colder and colder.  When I got to Wyoming I hit snow and by the time I pulled into a Walmart Supercenter in Laramie, there was ice.  The first thing I did was go into the Walmart and purchase an inexpensive winter coat and some gloves.  I also bought a dog bed.  The two dogs won’t always share the couch and the floor gets very cold.  I put the dog bed under the dinette and Emma took to it immediately.  Einstein became quite jealous and laid with his back to me.

Because it was so cold in Laramie, I decided to start using campgrounds in the colder climates.  That meant having to pick out a campground before leaving in the morning.  It also meant having to go a fixed amount of miles and arriving whenever I arrived.  No more stopping when I was tired.

California

When I made it to northern California, where I was to spend time with a friend, I was ready for a rest.  A few days of good conversation and good food refreshed my soul.