Sunday, February 18, 2018

Why do you Fulltime RV?

As we approach the anniversary of our 4th year on the road I could not help but reflect on our journey so far and if other's were similar or vastly different. There are a number of reasons why people hit the road and live fulltime in their RV’s. The sense of adventure, financial, to be closer to children, grandchildren and other loved ones….the list could go on and on. For us, the answer to that question is all of the above. We have always been ones to live on the more adventurous  side of life…. hunting, fishing, horseback riding, ATV’ing, really anything that will allow us to be outside. There is no doubt that living in your RV can be cheaper than living in permanent structure. We have not always found this to be the case but for the most part for us, it is cheaper than living in a sticks and bricks and our ability of visiting our kids, grandkids and other loved ones is certainly a huge benefit of being on the road fulltime. These are all great reasons to hit the road but for us, none were our main reason. 
If we were to be honest with ourselves Barb and I would both agree we went on the road to escape. Like many, we more or less lived for our jobs, lived to pay our mortgage and basically get by week to week, month to month. We both had careers that we liked, but personally for me, I did not like who I was doing what it took to be good at it. Priorities were wrong, thinking was selfish and I took way too many things in life for granted.
I will never forget the picture below taken by good friends of ours in Wisconsin. It was taken March 9th 2014, two days after Barb’s last day of work and the first day of our new adventure. So many unknowns lay ahead of us……

Look at all that snow!
Hitting the road was a chance to start over again and it is probably the best thing we could have done for ourselves personally and as a couple. Today, almost 4 years later we have absolutely no regrets, we are happier than we have been for years, have seen some incredible places and met some great people. We would do it over again in a heartbeat.
What started out as seeing as much as we could as fast as we could has evolved over the past couple of years. One of the best things was seeing something different every week and the ability to move on a whim....If you didn't like your view, pack up and move! If your neighbor has a noisy generator, pack up and move! The reverse was the same, if you loved the area you were in, stay a few days longer. Then without even really realizing it we found ourselves planning return trips to the places that we enjoyed the most rather than looking for new places and experiences. It is a Catch 22 really as we have had some incredible experiences and developed great relationships with people that we want to do it every year. More than once I have told Barb that if it wasn’t for this thing called winter I don’t think we would ever leave North Dakota and Ontario. So now our travels have evolved to visiting these two locations and exploring other places until winter passes and we can get back north. With the purchase of our property in South Dakota we have another place that we love and cannot wait to return to.  I am not sure if this is good or bad, typical or something unusual but it is where we are at right now.

So what will the next 4 years bring? I am sure that we will find ourselves spending more and more time in South Dakota as we build our house and explore more of that area but we still plan on getting up to North Dakota, Ontario, visiting our kids as well. That’s the great thing about this lifestyle, you are pretty much in control of your own destiny.  If we were able to mirror the highlight adventures of the past year again and again we would be very happy. We would like to do those while adding a few new ones to our list and we will probably try to do just that. 
But back to 2018….

The day after the kids left we headed up to Bouse to watch the Parker 425 with friends Tracy and DeLano. We had never been to Bouse let alone the race. From Quartzsite we drove east on Plamosa Road for about 20 miles into Bouse then another 6 or so miles to our viewing area. Tracy and DeLano had brought their rig out to one of the spectator areas several days before the race to save a good viewing spot about 100 feet off the course. The course itself is over 140 miles long and the racers make several laps over 6 or more hours.
The wind cooperated so the dust was being blown away from us which offered a great view of the racers as they went by. Just as cool as the racers were the helicopters following them and filming the event. They would fly by less than 100’ over the racers and wave as they went by.

Harry and I were also able to get out to play a round of disc golf and attend the Fun Fly Day at the local RC Airport. Did you know they have multiple discs for disc golf? Vicki and Harry's son is on the disc golf tour and uses 12-20 different discs in a round. We each used three; a driver, a midrange disc and a putter for the closer shots.  
Harry teeing off

The "Holes" were old washer tubs
A soft crash landing

With its inverted wings this one looked like it was flying backwards

Unfortunately, those were the highlights of the past 2 weeks as we put ourselves on a self-imposed quarantine. We started not feeling well Superbowl weekend with sore throats and congestion. I was able to fend off this round but Barb was down for the week. Soon after she started feeling better, I got worse. Looking back I can definitely say that my bout was much worse than hers as she was still able to make dinner and other things around the rig while mine was so bad I could barely get out off the couch and needed to be waited on hand and foot. I slept in the living room all week so she could try and get some sleep but when you are sick like that the rig seems to shrink…..

We spent both our anniversary (32nd) and Valentines Day not feeling well so we took rain checks on those and will celebrate them later.

When Barb started feeling better, she would sneak over to happy hour in the afternoons. I would sit it the rig and watch everyone over there laughing and having fun, every once in a while they would wave over towards the rig and laugh some more. That tells you how compassionate they are!
How dare they have fun without me!
I finally got out of the rig last night as Vicki and Harry made Tri-Tips for everyone so I snuck over to join the group only to find my chair well outside "germ range" of everyone!
Ya, that is my chair away from everyone else!
Dinner was great and it felt really good to get out into the real world. Now that we I am starting to feel better Barb is taking a vacation. What warm weather destination is better than Arizona this time of year you ask? Well, Minnesota of course! Actually, I don’t think she cares where it is as long as she can get away from my hacking for a week! But in reality she is heading up there to do some training for her former employer as they are rolling out a new system. It was a lot of work but I think I played the pathetic card perfectly as everyone has volunteered to invite me to various meals throughout the week. Maybe they are compassionate after all.......

Friday, February 2, 2018

Little Creatures in the Desert!

The start of week 2 in Quartzsite brought several changes to our desert community. Faye and Dave headed west to Phoenix, Steve and Deb headed east to Lost Dutchman and our daughter Jessica arrived from Pennsylvania with two of our grandchildren adding two more little creatures to the desert!
Our little desert Creatures!
It has been a long time since I have seen Jessica, Dylan and Kendall. Jessica looked like the same great daughter I had last seen in Salt Lake City a year and a half ago before they left for Pennsylvania. Dylan and Kendall however have grown a lot in that time. Kendall was barely walking and talking last time I saw her and now she is running around like crazy and talks none stop! She is such a cutie! Dylan has grown about a foot (well it seems like it) and like most boys his age, is into video games and army men.

The day they arrived they did not get here until almost 3:00 and had been up almost 12 hours so we spent the afternoon just chilling and letting the kids run off whatever energy they had left.  About 6:00 we headed over to Steve and Dianne’s for a farewell happy hour for Steve and Deb but the long day got the best of the three young ones so they headed back to the rig for some well-deserved rest while Barb and I stayed and toasted to Steve and Deb’s future travels. Several bottles made an appearance and toasts were made, Barb, still feeling the effects from several nights ago passed on all alcohol.

You know what happens when you fly an 8 year old from the east coast out to Arizona? They are wide awake at 4:00am! Jessica and the kids took the bedroom while Barb and I slept in the living room. About 4:00 I heard movement in the bedroom and pretty soon the door opened and we heard the pitter-patter of little feet across the room. Although I could not see him I could feel his presence hovering over me. I knew Barb had to be up too but we both just laid there quiet as little church mice. Maybe, just maybe if we were really still he would go back to sleep. Soon I felt hands on me as he tried to figure out exactly where we were. Once he found our heads he shouted “Grammie where’s your iPad?” Well, he probably didn’t shout it but at 4:00 in the morning it certainly sounded like a shout!
We had many busy days filled with activities, lots of walks in the desert, rock painting, visiting the Big Tent, the High Jolly Monument and a few happy hours around the fire roasting hot dogs and marshmellows…..
Jess and Baby K at the High Jolly Monument
Barb and Pam roasting a couple of dogs over the fire
Perfect roasting coals!
It was so great to spent time with Jessica and just talk. Makes us very proud to see her doing so well not only as a mother but in her career as well. Back in Pennsylvania she has a job as a Nurse Manager for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a very stressful job I am sure.
Another day Dylan and I headed out to the RC airfield to watch some of the guys fly their planes. Dylan immediately wanted us to go buy one so we could fly it. I am sure I would last less than a minute before crashing it into the ground. In fact we did see one guy crash his which Red said had to be worth a couple thousand dollars.
Coming in for a landing

What is left of the plane that crashed
Speaking of Red, one afternoon he came over about 3pm and asked me if I could come over and help him with something. We got around the back of his rig and he turns around with a smile and said “Want a beer?” Heck ya! Evidently Steve, Harry and Red were having a beer and they figured I needed one and Red wandered over to get me.
One of the highlights of the week for me was the hike we did up to Palm Canyon. This is our favorite hike in the area and we try to do it at least once a year.  I was skeptical at the onset at exactly how far we would make it with the two little ones in tow. The first ½ mile to the “Palm Sign” is described as moderately easy and we made it to that point without any problem so we carried on to see if we could make it to the palms.

Scrambling up the loose rock

Climbing up!

Almost there!
The last ½ mile is described as “a very rugged climb” and we had to lift and carry Kendall in several spots. Dylan, on the other hand, is part mountain goat and just climbed up many of the rougher spots. The entire way up Kendall kept saying two words; "So High!", over and over again as we were climbing she would look around and say "So High!" After about 40 minutes we made it to the top! We sat down, had a snack and enjoyed the view before heading down. 
Jess and Barb resting on top

They both found "brooms"!

Dylan and I are tiny specks in the middle
The climb down was a lot more precarious so I ended up carrying Kendall on my shoulders the entire way. Even though she is ~ 30 pounds I was glad to get her off my shoulders when we got back to the truck!

The next day we hiked up to the top of “Q” Mountain and then over to one of the mines to check it out. The two little ones certainly are troopers and don’t seem to mind walking and looking for “treasures”
Top of Q Mountain

Dylan checking out an abandoned mine
It ends up there is a lot to do with kids in the desert. Quartzsite has a great little playground that we spent two afternoons at and Red and Pam were nice enough to borrow us their side by side for an hour.
Dylan jumping off a swing

They really enjoyed geocaching (a.k.a. finding treasures). Barb set the filter on her GPS to find only larger caches that might have toys in them. When they found a cache they could pick a toy and when they found the next one they had to decide if they wanted to keep the toy they already had or trade and leave a toy. For those of you who have geocached in this area before, you know that many of them are on jeep or 4 wheeler trails out in the desert. Fine if you have one of those vehicles, but Barb said she got some strange looks driving our dually out there!
More desert treasures!
The second to the last day of her visit Jessica joined us for our 2nd annual beer tasting with Steve and Dianne. Harry, Vicki, Red and Pam joined us as well and tasted a few along the way as well. One thing we learned is that we have very varying tastes. Barb, Steve and Harry seemed to match up pretty well on the darker beers while Red and I seemed to like the lighter flavored beers. Jessica seemed to like all the beers!
The favorite was Shake Chocolate Porter 
Parts of the week went really fast, other parts, not so much. Kids fight, kids fuss, and have sooooo much energy and require so much energy in return. As I watched Jessica, I had to wonder how she does it. Then I remember that we did it too but were much younger than we are now.  She is a great mother with a lot on her plate and made both Barb and I very proud.
They have been gone less than a day, the dogs are resting peacefully, the rig is its usual self with a place for everything and everything in its place and is eerily quiet. But in a way it is too quiet, we miss them already.....

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Back in Familair Territory.....Quartzsite!

La Posa South LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area) in Quartzsite is going to be our home for the next month and we were anxious to find a spot to call our own. We were a month later in arriving than we were last year and with “The Show” starting in just two days the place pretty full already. Luckily, we had a couple of secret agents keeping an eye out for open sites and a site was opening up where a lot of our friends were the day we happened to be arriving. So with tables and chairs at the ready Vicki and Harry as well as Deb and Steve watched the occupants packing up and as soon as they pulled out they sprinted over and placed their furniture in the vacated spot in the hopes that it would still be available when we got there. As luck would have it we pulled in within 15 minutes of the old tenants leaving and we were able to slide right in!
And what a great spot it is, as we are within 100 yards of not only Vicki, Harry, Deb and Steve, we were also within 100 yards of Steve and Dianne, Jim and Brenda (our South Dakota neighbors), Jerry and Linda, Red and Pam as well as Cindi and Roger!

Just a sea of rigs to the southeast

And to the southwest
Once we got settled we wandered over to Steve and Dianne’s for happy hour (we did not waste any time!) It is good to see our Quartzsite friends again! Les and Sue even made a guest appearance on their way by!
Vicki and Harry

Deb and Steve

Les and Sue
Steve and Dianne
The next night Dianne made a huge pot of chili and we had another late night around the fire. As we sat around the fire talking smart we made plans to attend the RC plane swap meet at the airfield the next day after Red had breakfast. The next thing Pam knew most of us had invited ourselves over to their place the next morning for biscuits and gravy before heading out.

There were a lot of cool planes at the swap meet but none of us ended up buying anything. 

Prices ranged anywhere from $100 - $500 per plane
This guy had quite the set up!
There has been a lot of speculation on how the LTVA’s would be impacted by the government shutdown. Would they turn off the water? Would they close the dump stations? Would they make everyone leave? The answer questions were yes, well maybe and I don't know. The first thing we noticed is that the offices were closed and no one was being checked in and no permits were being issued. As a result people were coming in for free. There was also a notice posted saying the area was closed, you could stay, but all services were going to be turned off. No water, no dump stations and no garbage service. Everyone was panicking, rushing to the water and dump stations for one last time before they were shut down. Ourselves included. The day that the services were scheduled to close the government struck a deal and reopened so in the end only the garbage pickup was turned off for a couple days....

In line for the dump station at sunrise

When they finally did pick up the garbage they had to bring out a frontend loader
Even though the government may have shut down, the socializing did not. One evening we traveled over to Plomosa Road to visit friends Dave and Maxine along with Tracey and DeLano. We had met both of them a couple of years ago while doing the road mapping job. Although we have seen Dave and Maxine a couple times since then, we have not seen Tracey and Delano in a couple years. It was great catching up with them and meeting Tracey and DeLano's bird Petri.

Maxine and Dave

Tracy (right) and her sister who flew down from Saskatchewan
DeLano and Petri
The next night Pam hosted a "Hobo Soup Night" with many of our LaPosa South friends. Everyone brought a soup ingredient and dumped it into a large pot. Some brought meat, some brought corn, others brought onions, tomatoes, celery.... a literal potpourri of ingredients. Although everyone raved about how good it was, I am not that adventurous and stuck to my cheese and crackers.
Pam, the Soup Queen!

It was our largest gathering so far this season with about almost 30 people in attendance. Al and Donna Ferguson stopped by for a bit and Faye and Dave have now joined our little community for a few days. We have been following each others blogs for years and this is only our second time getting together since meeting them in Alaska in 2015.

Faye and Dave

Barb chatting it up with Jerry, Pam and Linda

Donna and Al
Once the sun went down Barb and I snuck away to walk the dogs and get some beauty rest as the next day we were up bright and early for a day trip to Mexico with Harry! Wait, weren't we just in Mexico last week? Why, yes we were but Harry needed to make a quick trip down to see the dentist so we asked if they had room for two more.

This trip Barb wanted to see about getting new lens for her sunglasses. She had been quoted over $400 for just the new lens from her optometrist here in the states. She went to Best Optical in Los Algodones where they did an eye exam and she got new lens for $79. We are curious how well these hold up compared to her old lens but the over $300 savings is substantial.
Part of Barb's eye exam
While we were there we ate at a small restaurant with great shrimp tacos. We would highly recommend it if you are down there.
Great shrimp tacos!
When we got home, Rick and Kathy Rousseau stopped by for a visit. Apparently they had tried to find our rig the day before and ended up in the nudie section. I am not sure if Rick was really looking for our rig or just an excuse to explore that area.

As if we did not have enough activity for the week, Thursday night we saw Steve and Dianne outside their rig so we walked over to say hi. Soon Harry and Vicki walked over then Steve and Deb. Somehow we got to talking about different types of booze and next thing we knew there were about a dozen booze bottles gathered around the group and we had in impromptu booze tasting. Big mistake! I would tell you that the night ended with me guiding Barb back to the rig where she spent the night on the floor with half her body in the bathroom and half in the hallway but she probably would get mad at me so I won't tell you that.

About 2:00am I woke up and was very hungry and realized that we had not had dinner. Do I risk getting out of bed and stepping over her in the hallway? Would she bite my ankle as I went by? I instead decide to tough it out a few more hours until breakfast. At 2:30 she woke up and climbed into bed. Would now be a good time to ask what's for dinner? As I played several scenarios of asking this question through my mind none of them ended with me getting something to eat so I opted to say nothing. As soon as she was asleep I crept out of bed and got some crackers, huddled in a corner and quietly ate them while keeping one eye on the bedroom door. She was very, very slow the next morning and actually throughout the day. I did what I could to make her feel comfortable but for the most part I just kept my distance as I learned long ago not to poke a cranky bear.
She should have stopped at one!
A few of the bottles we sampled that night
Friday night Steve and Dianne had a get together to welcome their Canadian friends Dave and Leslie. They are from Alberta and have been following our blog for quite a while. Many of the usual suspects were in attendance, all told there were over 20 people there including Jim and Cec from British Columbia who also parked in the area and have been following our blog. It was great getting to know all of them a little better.

Dave, Leslie and Dianne

Jim and Cec
Barb was still not feeling well so we called it a night quite early and got her to bed.

Week One is in the books here in Q. I don't know how it could have been much busier but I think we are about to find out as today Barb is headed to Phoenix to pick up our daughter Jessica and our grandchildren Dylan (8) and Kendall aka Baby K, aka Special K (3) who is coming to visit for a week in the desert.

Wish us luck!