Gypsy Tour…Colorado – Round Two

There are times you can’t avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. We were getting ready to leave Utah (which I loved) when Dan told me he was concerned about the injectors in the truck. Now, if Dan’s worried, it’s time to get on board with him. So, we had to make the tough decision. We could either continue west 500 miles to Reno to see my son and family or go 500 miles east and get the truck up to snuff for the rest of our travels this year. As much as I hated to do it, we made the sensible decision and postponed our Reno stop. If we don’t take care of our ride, well, the cost of towing a truck and travel trailer could put a lot of traveling on hold.

Once we were back in Colorado, we pushed forward to have the truck checked out. Dan needed to change out a few things, but thankfully he’s got that mechanical talent. We also had some medical items to take care of…not fun, but having your driver, i.e. my husband, sick isn’t either. Needless to say, the amount of time in doctors offices, mechanic garages and auto shops has pretty much gobbled up this past month. The bad news is the truck, and my husband, are getting older…the good news is both are fixable. Just takes time, patience, and a whole lot of TLC.

It wasn’t all “not-so-fun” stuff. I did get to spend some time with my favorite 8-year-old granddaughter, Ember. As luck would have it Noodles & Co. is also one of her favorite lunch spots. It didn’t take us long to agree on where to eat that day. 

The best way to get a little R&R from life’s little issues is to head for the mountains, and that is just what we did. A few days at Henderson Mines in Clear Creek County, Colorado is just the place. The mine is a large underground molybdenum mine. I had to look it up, so here is what molybdenum is – “the chemical element of atomic number 42, a brittle silver-gray metal of the transition series, used in some alloy steels” – so there you have it. It is an old haunt of ours that Dan introduced me to when we got married.  We’ve camped there in the summer, hunted there in the fall, and snowshoed there in the winter. Even our new road companion, Wally, loved the camping trip. Such a goof, he decided he not only wants to be a cowboy, but he needed a feather in his cap. 

Colorado feels like a second home to me. Between family and so many good friends, we stay very busy and love every minute of it. The weather keeps us indoors a lot right now because of the heat, but the evenings are cool enough to enjoy hanging out on the patio while you listen to the rumbling of thunder from the lighting that fills the sky. There has been a few really good soakings, but it turned what was brown and drab in April when we were here last to a lush green beautiful state.

We will wrap up this trip with an evening of movie and dinner, our treat, for my stepdaughter, Shannon’s, 33rd birthday celebration. Then in the morning, we are heading west for a long-awaited visit with my son and family. I’ll post some shots from our camping trip over the weekend, too. Again, we didn’t get to see everyone, but we’ll be back through on our way to Michigan in July.

Gypsy Tour – Utah

We had two main stops planned in Utah – Zion National and Bryce Canyon. Neither disappointed us. The rain came in the day we planned to hike around Zion, so we did a drive-thru instead. It is a magnificent display of rock cliffs that will strain the best of necks. There were spots you could see the lava rock as it formed layers.  Luckily, the rain stopped long enough for me to get some photos, but by the time we got back to the RV park, the rain was in full force.

The next morning we woke to beautiful sunshine. While I was getting ready for the day I could hear Dan outside talking to our neighboring RV owner. Apparently, they had a leaky sink, so Dan stepped in to help them out. If you know Dan, you will know he never turns down the chance to help someone out, and traveling has not changed that quality. Once introductions were made all around, Mel and Colleen shared information on where they planned to stay in Bryce so I could call and reserve a spot. I love having a place recommended…kind of leaves that “risk” factor at the door. For the next two days, the four of us spent some time together enjoying dinner, shopping, and getting to know each other. We have gained lifetime friends. Another befriending of Dan’s was this little guy.  He was so used to people, all he cared about was a little nibble of food.

The first day at Bryce Canyon, Dan and I were able to get a couple of hours of hiking in before the last shuttle left.  It was amazing, to say the least. The next morning we decided to drive to St. George and Hurricane to see what it had to offer. Our possible two-hour round trip turned into four, but that still gave us time for another hike. We started at Peekaboo and worked our way through Navajo. For anyone who has done this hike…good for you, because it kicked my you-know-what. This shot is from the top of the Navajo switchbacks that about did me in. Unfortunately, I still had more climbing to go, but this will give you an idea. Yes, those are people below making their way up the path. By the time we finished the hike and were back up on flat ground, I spotted the bus and we lucked out for sure…it was the last one of the day. Trust me when I say I did NOT want to walk all the way back to the RV park…God had his eye on me and clearly took pity. All-in-all we did the majority of the hikes available, and two days later my calves are still a little sore, but I am glad I did the hikes. For me, it will likely be a one-time event…lol. Unlike the young couple who take endurance to a new level. They flew into Los Angeles from France and had ridden their tandem bike all the way to Bryce Canyon. Their plan is to ride throughout the United States…wow, now that is taking biking to new heights. I’ll be following their blog to see how they do.

Our final couple of days were spent with my stepdaughter, Jessica, in Salt Lake City. She came in for a work project, and the three of us were able to squeeze in some time together. We visited the Bonneville Salt Flats and Temple Square. Both had so much history and beauty to enjoy.

Utah did not disappoint in any way…it’s truly beautiful and so was the time we had with Jessica along with the people we met and spent time with while visiting. Thanks, Utah for all you had to offer.

 

Gypsy Tour – Arizona

Funny how it seems I just get comfortable and it’s time to go, guess that’s life on the open road. Since I don’t always have WiFi, I thought I better get this written and posted. Anyhow, here is the scoop to follow the last two sets of photos from Arizona I posted to Facebook. As we made our way to Arizona, we traveled to the Petrified Forest National Park. I don’t know where the wind was hiding the day we went to Sky City, but it popped it’s little-old-self back out and tortured us for the day. Did I let it stop me from taking pictures…heck no. But I’ll admit by the time we were done driving through the park my hair was a sandblasted sculpture of something…not sure what though. Dan was able to keep us on the road, thankfully, and we found a dirt parking lot in Tuscon next to Walmart to hold up for the night, thanks to my sister, Robi, and her directions.

We spent the next three days being spoiled with great food, wine, and vistas as David and Robi showed us what their city and surrounding areas had to offer.  We did a four-stop wine tasting with David, Robi, David’s sister, Chris, and her husband, Buster on Saturday finishing with a yummy roast David had prepared with all the trimmings. Sunday was a full day of driving to the peak of Mt. Lemmon, and back down. It blows my mind when I see the saguaro cactus forest and the rock formations. Then you get to the top and you are looking at pine trees that suddenly put me back home in the PNW. Okay…so not as dense a forest, but it did bring me home a bit.

My last full day near Tucson was spent with my sister, Robi, having a sisters’ day in Tuboc. It is an artsy little town filled with all types of art that will blow your mind. The colors, designs, and creativity were amazing. Robi and I had a wonderful lunch at a Mexican restaurant that was delicious. That evening Dan and I went back to their house for another great dinner.

Next stop on our agenda was Spring Valley and the little town of Mayer to visit family members of Dan’s good friend, Steve. They greeted us with open arms and had us set up in their family mini RV camp they named “Flood Park” and rightfully so since last year they had a flood try to take out everything in its path. The mountain behind had been ravished by fire leaving nothing to stop the rainfall from rushing down the hillside and overflowing the river and into their backyard and beyond. They have repurposed the land beautifully and we sure appreciated the campsite for a few nights. This was my first time meeting them, and we quickly became friends. Chrystal and I will always stay in touch, and I can’t wait to spend time with her and Bob again. Hospitality is their middle name.

Next stop was Grand Canyon. I will forever remember the emotions that rise to the surface when I first laid my eyes on, as Dan would call it, the big hole in the ground. The air was smoke filled at Grand Canyon due to the fires, but I’ll eventually clean the photos up more, but wanted to share a few with you. Here I am pretending to fall off the ledge at Grand Canyon. There is a place you can hike down to where there is no guardrail to protect you. I knew this might be my only time at the park, so I didn’t hesitate to make the hike. I’ll admit it’s a little scary both ways, and you are very conscious of the fact it would be the end if you aren’t careful. But it was worth it. I did scare this young couple, who apparently thought I was really falling. I felt bad, but it’s all part of the adventure.

The next day we traveled to the lower area of Antelope Canyon…what can I say other than it blew my mind.  The lower tour is not for people that get claustrophobic or have aversions to metal grate stairs. You go down about 120 feet below and then you work yourself back up to ground level. Of all the places we’ve visited, this park takes top billing so far. I can’t say enough about the amazing sights. I have enough photos to make a full-size travel book…lol. I loved all of it. This shot, if you look, is called Seahorse…can you see it…can you see it?

So, now you have the scoop on a few fun places to hit if you travel to Arizona. Again, I am in awe of the beauty this state has to offer. A big shout out thanks to family and friends that made this state shine…love you all and we’ll see you next time through.

 

Gypsy Tour – New Mexico

I was out of WiFi range and my hotspot isn’t what its cracked up to be. I used my phone data sometimes just to be sure there wasn’t an apocalypse going on I wasn’t aware of…thankfully, that isn’t the case. I wasn’t quite sure how I would blog these travel adventures, but as I’ve gone along I have decided I’ll try blogging state by state. I was excited to travel into a state I’d never been to, so when I saw the “New Mexico” sign, I was pretty stoked. Our first stop was Santa Fe, but only long enough to grab a coffee and find a campsite for the night. We struggled with the corners getting into McDonald’s, but coffee was calling Dan’s name. Thankfully, with a little imagination, we managed to find a place to park. And it was worth the stop since a nice customer took time to help us with our navigational questions. After the gentleman gave us some insight into his city along with other helpful info, and with coffee in hand, we were soon on our way to our chosen spot for the night.

Since being self-inducted into the world of RV’ers we have (hopefully) learned our lesson when it comes to picking out campsites. This place gave us back our confidence. It was clean, safe, and friendly. We enjoyed a quiet night once we stopped, possibly due to our road-tired bodies. Dan, someone who never gets the flu or virus, picked up a bug and needed rest. So, we settled into a movie night and then a good nights sleep. Santa Fe will be checked out a bit more next time through since it appeared to be a lovely place.

The next day we hit the road and headed to Albuquerque for a couple of days. The drive to Albuquerque was beautiful. The terrain changes from one point to another as you come into the valley. The next RV site – Enchanted RV Resort was going to be our destination of choice for the next couple of night. Again we chose right. It turned out to be clean, friendly, and a welcome site.

But wait, there’s more…as soon as we pulled into our slot, we noticed another tire that looked, as Dan called it “soft” – his term for low on air. Sure enough, it had a screw in it and was leaking air, so off to the tire shop we went…again.

While we waited a couple of hours for it to be repaired, we drove to Los Lunas to visit friends from Denver, Roy, and Carol. They had recently moved to a beautiful community in this little city. It was great seeing them again, and hearing about the adventures they encountered while having their new home built. Since they had been there long enough to know the back roads from Los Lunas to Albuquerque they guide us back. Thankfully helping us avoid the traffic issues west bound due to construction.

The following morning we had plans to visit Sky City, but the wind kicked up to a point it wasn’t safe. There were times I thought the wind was going to pick us up and we’d find ourselves in Kansas…it was insane. Sometimes it would slow down enough that I only worried it would start skipping our home on wheels down the road, but everything held tight to the ground. The wind, however, had a sister-in-crime…the sand. Because of the sandy terrain, the outdoors became a dust bowl like I’d never experienced. If you went outside your eyes and bare skin were pelted with sand. When you escaped back inside you had to drink water to wash the sand out of your teeth. I can’t help picturing the sand we breathed into my lungs and only hope it won’t have a lasting effect.

Luckily by morning, the wind stopped and the weather was great. As we traveled to our tour spot for the day we took in the blue skies, warm sun, and friendly people. Sky City had been a friends’ recommendation, and we were not disappointed. The Acoma Pueblo consists of four villages, Sky City being one of them. It is built high on the ridge overlooking the valley. We were taken by bus up the hillside where Steve, our tour guide, provided the history of the village and its people. I didn’t really know what to expect, but what I found was that I was overwhelmed with the emotion history can evoke. Maybe I’m partial because when I was twelve my boyfriend was Native American and we were madly in love. But truly, the village is beautifully rich with its Native American history and I highly recommend the tour. I learned so much listening and absorbing first hand about the Native American culture of this Acoma tribe. I love that everything has a meaning…whether it is a design, a bead, or mother earth. There is a purpose for everything, and everything is given the respect it deserves.

The next morning we packed up and headed down the road to Arizona. All in all, I loved New Mexico. It is beautiful and filled with history I truly enjoyed. The topography is different than my past travels, even Colorado…so it’s like traveling to a new world. I didn’t get to see everyone or everything, but it was a fun adventure I’ll always remember.

One of the advantages of being retired is you are free to come and go as you please. So, if I missed a scenic road, and for family, I didn’t get to visit this round, I hope to come through again sometime.

Thank you to everyone who made our visit to New Mexico so wonderful.

 

 

 

Rolling On…But Wait

I thought I’d only be blogging our life once a month, but as it turns out I have too much to say, and I never know when I’ll have WiFi…so I hope you won’t grow too tired of my babbling. Before I get to our Colorado Springs events, I want to share the day Dan and I spent with his good friend, Tony, while we were still at my stepdaughter’s home. Tony became our “Senior Tour” guide for the day since he was familiar with the place. We headed out for a two-hour drive to the Pawnee Butte National Grasslands. I mentioned this on FB, but I thought I’d share another photo.  On our way to the Buttes, we stopped and took shots of the valley, and of an old abandon farm. We traveled on to the Buttes and though half of the travel was on a dirt road, it was well worth it.

On the way back we stopped at a local cemetery. The history was amazing as you read headstone after headstone of children and families that died from the Spanish flu in the early 1900’s. My heartstrings pulled even tighter as I spotted graves with only a piece of cement for a headstone, or just a bag of cement, now broken and hardened in the weather, because not everyone could afford a proper headstone in those tough times. Their devastation was a daily experience, and I couldn’t help but shed tears of sadness. 

We left the Denver area and headed to Colorado Springs to start our real travel adventure. First stop in Colorado Springs was the Garden of Gods. It is a natural rock formation park that will have you dropping your jaw. Unfortunately, the entrance we took didn’t sport the sign the other entrance did that specified NO RV’s etc…and let me tell you, between Dan’s F350 and a 30’ trailer we found ourselves trying to maneuver 50’ of metal around corners not designed for anything other than a vehicle. Our final nasty turn took out a tire…as we expected. So, after Dan pulled over the best he could and changed the tire our next stop was…you guessed it, a tire shop. But that is only the beginning of our “Friday the 13th” tale.

Next was finding a place to camp. We started calling RV parks, but one after the other was booked up. Finally, one gal gave us the number of another park she thought might be able to help us out. Thankfully, we thought, they had a spot so we made our way there a few minutes before he closed the office. Our eyes opened wide as we took in the view of a homeless community stationed along the sides of the driveway leading into the park entrance. I try not to stereotype people, but after the three break-ins to Dan’s truck in Washington, and the police telling us it is “homeless” getting what they can to sell…well, you can imagine our concern. However, we needed a place to park so we paid for two nights. Turned out the inside of the park was what we found to be more of a concern. During our stay, we witnessed two drug deals go down close to our camper. My upbringing gave me a lot of insight, so I know what I’m talking about. This told us we may come back from our day trip to find our tires gone…an expression I wasn’t too happy to hear come out of Dan’s mouth.

The next day we decided not to let our current living conditions stop our plans for our day trip. We took what might possibly have been our last look at our home on wheels, took a deep breath and headed to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. They have the most amazing giraffe exhibit I’ve ever seen. It is below ground so the giraffe’s heads are your level. People could feed them and even pet them, which I did, of course.   The zoo is built on the side of the mountain, and every exhibit is amazing. The reptile exhibit has beautiful glass art along with other art inside the glass cages. The whole experience made you smile. And bonus…since you are on a mountain, you enjoyed panoramic views of the valley below. I loved it all. Then we went back to the Garden of the Gods so we could pull into the different parking lots and take photos.  We entered from another side this time and there we found the notice about no trailers. Live and learn…lol.

Bonus – when we got back to the RV Park, all tires were still intact, and so was our home. The lesson we have learned quickly is that cities are not made to tow trailers around. That it is best to go outside the city to find camping areas, drop the trailer and enjoy the sights. Another lesson is to check all park reviews before signing up for more than one night, or any night at all. But the biggest lesson is to be patient with each other and to quote Sue Aitkins from Life Below Zero (one of my fav shows) “Don’t take it personal” – and she would be right. It’s simply a learning curve and it will get better.

What does courage look like…

My next blog was going to be filled with tales of our travels and adventures on the road, but my heart was busting open with the need to share a story with all of you. Over these past few weeks, I have witnessed courage on many scales. But nothing compares to the courage of our dear friends, Rick and Theresa Gibson, and their granddaughter, Payton.  Five years ago these grandparents received a call and were quickly on a flight to their granddaughter’s location. Their grandchild had become victim to Baby Shaking Syndrom. They remained by her side as their one-year-old was fighting for her life. Payton continues to be a fighter filled with courage and strength today. This little girl has endured multiple surgeries, illness, being poked, stuck with needles, and doctors working on her the majority of her life, yet she smiles. I marvel at her endurance as her Papa holds her up to walk around the backyard. Then with her sweet smile, she easily convinces Papa, Grandma, or both to sit on the ground and play with her and her toys. I don’t know how this young child taps into such courage and strength. The medical complications that accompany this syndrome will bring you to tears. The fact that she will never walk on her own, or that only half of her brain is being used. It is also the seizures, a frightening and complicated situation. There is the liquid medicine because she can’t swallow pills that Payton must take regardless of the taste. The capsules they call “sprinkles” that are carefully empty into a small container of applesauce. This is a daily routine no child should have to endure, yet, Payton does. All because she cried when she was a child, and her mom’s boyfriend couldn’t cope. Instead of walking away, he shook this little girl almost to her death. The courage to fight for her life is nothing that can be contained, and nothing short of a miracle. She continues to smile as she pushes through to keep muscles exercised and to learn words and tasks. She is an angel. But like any typical child, her “halo tips” now and then, a loosely coined phrase from Theresa. She is a strong-willed six-year-old, and though I didn’t witness it, apparently she has a set of lungs to prove it.

The boyfriend received a forty-eight-year sentence for his crime. He will be eligible for parole after he has served eighteen years, but Payton has no release from her prison. She was given a life sentence of disabilities for his crime. A crime that could have been avoided. I have watched her progress via Facebook over the past five years and have been amazed at her smile and spunk. Yesterday was the first time Dan and I had an opportunity to travel to their location to visit and to meet this little lady in person. Her smile is as contagious in person as it is in pictures. Her beauty is radiant and her spirit filled with love for her Papa and Grandma.

However, that is not where the story of courage ends. Though Payton’s mom is in the picture, she is not Payton’s only caregiver. Payton is blessed with wonderful, courageous, loving, and selfless grandparents. Rick and Theresa didn’t hesitate to make the decision to adopt/share custody for this little girl and take on her care full-time. Knowing Payton’s mom wasn’t able to emotionally handle the situation alone, they didn’t question what their destiny would be. Over the past five years, they have endured the unknown with courage I can not imagine. They have been Payton’s everything. There wasn’t a hint of hesitation in this decision. It wasn’t as if Rick had to convince Theresa to raise their granddaughter, or Theresa to convince Rick…there was not even a blink of an eye. They fought with everything they had in them. Then signed on the dotted line and brought their little girl home. That is the real story of courage here. Courage built on faith and love.

As a grandparent, I have been blessed with many babies to hold in my arms. I’ve enjoyed the hugs, kisses, and time with each of them, but then I was able to pass the little cuties back to mom or dad and go on with my freedom. I have the option to sleep until 4am or 9am. I have the option to go out to dinner, or a movie and not worry about a sitter. I can choose to be adventurous or have a quiet evening at home enjoying a good movie. I have options. Theresa and Rick have laid down their lives for their granddaughter and without hesitation. They simply changed their priorities, and with love in their hearts. With all the trials and obstacles they face daily for Payton’s needs, they have not escaped their own personal trials of surgeries, illnesses, and anything else life could throw at them. But they have persevered. They have overcome, and have come out the other side with even more courage and faith than before. To say I admire them would be an understatement. We have hunted alongside these two people, stayed in their home, broken bread, shared laughs and told stories. It isn’t a matter of just admiring them, we love these two people for their courage, strength, and unshakable faith. Rick and Theresa put “Grand” in grandparent in the most selfless way anyone can. As a grandparent, I know I would step in if needed for my family. I only hope that I would step up to the plate with as much courage and faith as Rick and Theresa have done.

Recognizing others courage for the strength and faith that it is will remind me daily of my own blessings. My heart is overwhelmed with Rick and Theresa’s patience and love for Payton. And I will take away the knowledge that my travels may, at times, be less about the scenery, and more about the people who impacted our lives.

As the Snow Flies…

Yes, the snow has fluttered to the ground on more than one occasion since we arrived in Colorado…but that is to be expected. As an example of a typical day in Colorado this time of year – I’ll have my cup of coffee at 6am when the temp is a cool 28 degrees, by lunch I’m in a T-shirt enjoying seventy degrees and sunshine. Then dinner rolls around and I’ve put my jacket on as I make my way from dinner with friends at a local restaurant to the car dodging snowflakes the size of fifty-cent pieces.

But let’s talk about something other than the weather. Dan and I have been on the go since we arrived the night of March 9th. We have had family time with my stepdaughter, Shannon, her husband, Brandon, and two of their three little ones, Ember and Kaidence. I smiled as I heard Kaidence excitedly ask as I walked in the door, “Are they here yet?” Her grandpa is her favorite person, but her love for me is easily felt with the hugs and smiles she gives me when I lift her into my arms. We’ve stayed busy with potty training (the two-year-old, not Dan…hehehe). There was grass seed to lay, and time spent babysitting to fill our days. Dan has done his normal puttering to keep busy when he wasn’t helping in the house. He’s never without something to do, much like myself, but I didn’t hesitate to leave the yard work to him as we prepared for Kaidence’s 3rd birthday party. All-in-all it has been good. Our time with Shannon, Brandon, and the kids has been filled with good laughs, busy dinners, and, as always, great private stepmom/stepdaughter conversations while we pamper ourselves with pedicures.

Dan and I have used our “grown-ups only” time wisely. We’ve done dinner and a movie (Game Night…so good). We have had lunches with friends. Dinners with other friends. We attended a birthday party for a friend’s son who turned sixteen. Earlier that same day, we were with little Kaidence at her third birthday party as the yard filled with fans of the bouncy house and their parents who have grown up before my eyes. We enjoyed an evening of dessert and great conversations with more friends. We even had an opportunity to have dinner with our nephew from Michigan because he was on a job assignment near Brighton, Colorado. All of these events were filled with fun moments of getting caught up since our last visit, sharing plans for future travels, and simply enjoying each others company. We spent Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday at our old church, Crosstimbers. I consider Crosstimbers my “home church” because when I’m inside those walls, I am with my second family. I am drawn to Pastor Russ’s every word. I feel the combined love of God in every song we sing together, and love for each other in every hug from friends I have missed since my last visit. The community built in Crosstimbers is like no other I’ve experienced. For that reason, I’ll always visit my “home church” family. I’ll hold onto all these memories I’ve made on this trip with my friends and family. We still have a few days to go, but we want to thank everyone who made time to see us, break bread with us, and shared stories with us…we love you all.

It has been a whirlwind of fun, but life sometimes tosses those lemons at you…and bam…it gets you right in the center of your heart. That day, March 28th, came when I got a call from my baby brother, Bill, asking if I was sitting down. Never a good start to a conversation. He informed me that my Aunt Elajean had passed away an hour before. I leaned back in my chair and felt the sting of heartbreak hit. Not just because she was my aunt (technically step-aunt) who had been in my life since I was eleven, but because of the great lady she was to everyone around her. I spent time as a teenager babysitting her younger kids when needed. Their farm was a place of safe comfort for me, so I’d use any excuse to visit them in Kirkland. Aunt Elajean and Uncle Don had eight kids, almost matching our eleven. If you couldn’t find someone to play with you on their farm you simply were not looking hard enough. Over the years I lost touch with most of them, but through Facebook many of us reconnected. Even Aunt Elajean was on Facebook, so reconnecting with her was a bonus. We could talk about my childhood, and enjoy sharing memories of the farm, my Uncle Don (funniest man around), and my stepdad (Elajean’s brother) for hours.

Elajean gave me insight into life from her vantage point. One day she began asking questions about my mom. Their lives were so different she never had a chance to really get to know her before she passed away in the early 70’s. I recently told Aunt Elajean how much I appreciated her caring enough about my mom to ask and understand. I loved Aunt Elajean’s kind heart, her witty humor, her adventurous ways, and her love for God. I appreciate that she became a fan of my books and told me she enjoyed them, and not just because I was her niece. Before Dan and I went on the road she and I planned a visit. I told her I would be over earlier than planned and I hoped she didn’t mind. She told me no, it would give us more time and she loved to hear my stories. That was Aunt Elajean…always happy to hear about anything you had to tell her. Her unselfish heart made everyone that knew her love her even more. Dan and I have a lot of friends our generation and younger, but also of the generation above ours. I’ve rarely walked away from a conversation with someone older without learning something. My older friends have helped teach me to listen, to learn, and to understand life. Even at eighty-eight, Aunt Elajean was young, because her spirit was young. Unfortunately, the frailty of the body sometimes can’t keep up with the spirit and mind, and though her mind was quicker than most her body could no longer keep up. I won’t be in town for her service, but she and I talked about it enough to know she would be okay with my absence. I know she’s smiling down on all of us because she is home with the Lord, and that is a blessing and something we can all take comfort in knowing. I have no doubt she is still watching, listening…and perhaps even reading. R.I.P. Aunt Elajean…you will always be loved and remembered.

I’ll wrap up this travel blog by reminding all of us to enjoy your time with others, old friends and new. Don’t let an old argument or misunderstanding stop you from picking up that phone. There will always be roads less traveled, and some traveled far too much. There will be good days, bad days, rainy, snowing, and sunny days…but it’s the days when we are sitting quietly and someone comes to mind making us smile that really count. It’s those memories that give us hope that no matter where we are in the world, someone out there in the universe loves us.

 

Enjoying Colorado Sun

Well, here we are at our first major stop, which I’ll get to later. It’s a true learning experience on where to stay and where NOT to stay. We have Good Sam’s, and Passport America. Both have information that can be useful when determining where to park for a night or two. However, when you are new to the game, and trying to figure out where in a city (you are completely unfamiliar with) the RV park is…well, that becomes a challenge.

Our first night was at a Walmart in Penelton, Oregon, and though we would have been warmer if we had started the generator we opted not to since it was one night. Oops, wrong decision…it was very…and I mean very cold. But we survived, and once we were dressed we headed down the road to the closest place that served warm coffee. Thank you, Flying J, your coffee rocks.

Our second night was great. We got into Mountain Home, Idaho. We took the business exit looking for Walmart to pick up supplies when suddenly I spotted “with my little eye something that” said Mountain Home RV Resort. We were both ready to shut down for the night, so after our Walmart stop, we decided to check it out. It was fairly empty, so no problem getting a spot. The people were wonderful. They had pull-throughs (an added benefit for our length) and the place was really clean. It was a chilly night so we hooked up to power and set the furnace for a comfortable night and slept great. We woke up to beautiful sunshine…a great bonus. After coffee, I was off to the showers. They provided private rooms with showers and toilets, and a nice size counter. All-in-all it was awesome. I’m serious when I say these people and this RV Resort have set the bar pretty darn high in our eyes. Before leaving, when I inquired where to find more parks of this caliber, they gave us some great advice for future places…a website called RV Reviews…but not all parks are on it.

Which leads me to our next night. We found our way to Utah, and were headed to St. George when we received a call from Dan’s daughter asking if we could come earlier than planned (which was March 20th)…of course, when children ask for help, we are there for them as much as possible. We hadn’t gotten so far on our current highway that we couldn’t redirect our path, so we finished our steak dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, and after looking at our Passport America book of parks, found one that only required a ten-mile backtrack. So, off we went. When we found the place, it was a wake-up moment. First off the office was closed. It was clearly a trailer park, (which is fine…under most circumstances), but had spots for RVs too. There was no one around to help, however, there was a sign posted on the door. I stayed in the truck while Dan went to see what was up. He came back and said there was no info to help. We drove through the park, since there was no turn around spot, and took in the sights. It was very seedy. After our prior nights stay, this was well below our experience, and our standards. Dan said later he pictured us waking up with all four tires taken off our truck…not a vision I care to share. So, we didn’t stick around or inquire with the locals how to set up for the night.

We found our way to the nearest rest stop and tested out if our generator would possibly keep going through the night to keep us warm. It lasted until 3am, but Dan willingly got up and put more fuel in without my even stirring, and I woke to a warm and cozy home. We made our way to our destination of Northglenn, Colorado. We will be here helping the family out, and visiting friends as schedules allow for the next few weeks. Then the adventure will continue. I will post a few photos on Facebook soon.

So far, I have learned to trust my husband’s instincts. My husband is a mountain man and a survivor under any condition, but our safety is his utmost priority. I would trust him with my life in the mountains, and in the city as well. Especially when he told me there was a number to call at that trailer/RV park, but there was no way he was going to risk our staying there, so he simply didn’t tell me there was contact information. And for that, and him, I am thankful.

Almost Pavement Bound

As we wind down to the last few days before we hit the traveling trails I look back at what these past six weeks have involved. It’s been a lot of errands, fine-tuning, storing of items not required, and spending time with family and friends. Dan has equipped our travel trailer with a wood burning stove to ward off the dampness and chill of the PNW and anywhere else we need it. Propane is great, but if you run out, don’t have the electric hookup or your generator goes on the fritz and isn’t able to provide the power to run the furnace, you might need another way to stay warm and dry. That is when I rely on my husband and his “out-of-the-box” brain. His style may be a bit redneck at times, but he hasn’t disappointed me yet, and he gets the job done.

This lifestyle may not be for the faint of heart unless you do the one/ two-week travels and then back to your solid foundation home. Adjustments can be taxing on anyone, and I am not above those troubling times. I’ve had to work hard on my OCD when it comes to neatness. One item out of place, or extra items on the table and the place looks like a hurricane hit it…yes, that is an exaggeration, but small spaces equal big messes in my view. Day after day my OCD has been a struggle. One of the hardest has been the inability to have a perfectly made bed. My bed doesn’t have to just look good, it’s made to perfection. It’s always been my reward for a hard days work to crawl into a perfect bed and snuggle in with a good book. I’m learning to deal with an imperfect bed, but getting to this point hasn’t been pretty. If you knew how many times a day I wanted to quit this adventure you’d surely be disappointed in me. Add my husbands healing – or attempt to heal – foot issues causing crankiness, and well, it’s been interesting. I am temperamental at times, but a lot more than usual. The edginess that has filled this travel trailer could be cut with a knife. But with every storm, there is a calm, and that is when I finally let it go for a while and realize everything is temporary, and to simply sit back and enjoy the ride.

In less than a week the real adventure will begin. Soon having a perfect bed to crawl into at night won’t matter. The process to secure everything to eliminate a disaster in the trailer while driving won’t be an issue. The lack of order will be (somewhat) liveable. All the adjusting will be managed and replaced with days in the sun, and evenings with a glass wine lounging in our gravity chairs under the awning or a star-filled sky. Leaving my daughter and granddaughters will be the toughest, though I remind myself it’s temporary. Leaving other family members and friends is never easy either, but it’s our children that hold our hearts the most. Thankfully, they still make airplanes, so if I get too homesick I’ll fly home for a visit. By the time I write my next blog, I hope to have some fun adventure to share with you.

I look around and see so many homeless and I berated myself for being so self-absorbed to worry about whether my sheets are neatly tucked in or not. Life has a way of humbling us and bringing us back to reality. I am lucky to have a warm (thanks to my husband) home, wheels included, and good food in my belly. Will this really keep my OCD from creeping in now and again…nope…but hopefully regrouping my thoughts and priorities will be ever so slightly easier to attain.

 

Happy Trails…Almost

Okay, here is the deal. We’ve been at our temporary parking spot in the driveway where my daughter and granddaughters live (with permission from the homeowner) for about ten days due to a minor medical issue that is plaguing my husband’s foot right now. And when I get hit with a blessing I call it what it is…a blessing. This delay has given us time to detail our new home. Time well needed, and time well spent. This first “travel blog” may come off as a “B**** Blog” – but let’s deem it an “Information Blog” on the learning curve of being a travel trailer owner. A curve we couldn’t see clearly around…lol.

Due to being newbies to this life, we envisioned packing up and being on the road the day we signed off the final walk-through of our apartment. But with Dan’s foot that wasn’t the case…thankfully. We had a bit of a shock the second day in our travel trailer when we woke to a condensation issue we were not expecting. I’m not talking a drip or two on the windows, nope, it has become a major issue we have had to deal with. Now, mind you, our camper is beautiful, and I love many features on it, but having moisture so high inside that you can feel the damp air isn’t cutting it. I have done a lot of research and joined a few forums to get the answers. And the consensus is that this condensation issue is everywhere, with every travel trailer I researched. It will, of course, go away once we are out of this cold, and wet weather because we won’t be blasting the inside to keep warm, while Mother Nature throws everything she has at us that she deems necessary as normal conditions known to the PNW. By the way, my husband calls the Pacific Northwest the Pacific NorthWET…yep, he’s got something there. Unless we spend all of our time in arid states, this could be an issue…so it is one to be dealt with head-on.

So, first, we tried one of those packs that are filled with crystals to absorb the humidity…didn’t help that much. We ran fans, opened vents (the few chances we had with no rain), and bought a few more crystal packs. We bought a gage to monitor the humidity and no matter our attempts, we’ve stayed at 63%-78%. We have to get it down to 50% and below to remedy this issue, and that won’t happen here in Edmonds, Washington…that’s for sure. We will eventually be in sunny climates but we can’t ignore what is happening right now if we want this place to last.

Dan is more than a pretty face, thankfully. He’s exceptionally knowledgeable, and hands-on crafty at engineering solutions, too. He can engineer just about anything we need. And he inspects everything thoroughly.  Upon inspecting the bunk where I lay my head at night, the sheets were soaked. As were the walls of every exterior wall. TMI, I’m sure, but between his back pain causing him to thrash around at night waking me constantly, we don’t have our eyes closed in the same bed…otherwise, neither would sleep. I am his priority, so he was determined to find a way to fix this moisture issue. Now, when you have paid this much money for a “home on wheels” you don’t want to see moisture/humidity destroy it. All I could envision was mold growing between the walls ruining the construction of our home. I visualized rusted metal flaking away leaving gaping holes for rodents living in the woods to crawl in and make a home. Yes, that may be dramatic, but hey, it could happen.

He created an egg-crate solution to keep air moving around the bunks’ exterior walls.  The egg-crate was genius, this is step one, and it is beautiful at the same time.

And that led to checking and fixing wires and pipes that needed securing. Here he is with his drill gun and eagle eye fixing another issue. 

Bonus to Jayco for all the pretty features they have, and for the strong construction they do have, but when you are married to a perfectionist he will track down every little thing that should and shouldn’t be when it comes to anything to do with plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, and construction…and he has. When we looked at this model, along with the dozen others, this make/model shone through. But until you live in something full-time, you can’t see the true workings.

That said, I am very grateful for the time we have now to get the storage, construction, and moisture issues worked out. My daughter, Kristin, will be helping determine the best “tote” plan for my clothes, etc…since everything that is capable of absorbing water and stored by an exterior wall will require being kept in totes. Oh, and by the way, I broke down and have purchased a dehumidifier that will arrive on Tuesday. That was upon the advice of multiple experienced travel trailer owners. I will update you with the results after we have some time to let it work.

On a more colorful note, I spotted flowers for sale at the local grocery store yesterday bringing me hope that winter will, as always, come to an end and spring will replace the cold with beauty and new life…she has never let me down yet. I do hope my next blog is filled with a more fun adventure…but until then, my friends, I hope you are staying warm, dry, and happy.