Life

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving

Nancy and Dan
I think what I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving was this opportunity to travel and see so many family and friends that we have not had a chance to visit in way too many years. We spent the day with my roommate from senior year of college. It had been around 15 years since we had seen each other. They are here in Henderson and really are the reason we are in Vegas. We had a wonderful meal and did lots of catching up. Of course we ate too much and by the time we left we felt like we were waddling out to the car.
Nancy and Janie


Yesterday we just spent time around the rig and at the casino a little. They have a great Mexican restaurant and tonight it was free. Free??? Yep, I am up $80 on the slots! Yea for me. I look at gambling as entertainment so I give myself a certain amount to spend. If it all disappears no biggie, but if I double my money (or more) I cash out. Between penny and quarter slots I am ahead so I bought my sweet husband dinner. That's right penny and quarter slots --I am truly a big spender(lol).


Today Nancy and Dan came to our house so we could show them how we live. Dan has been researching 5th wheels for several years so he has lots of questions and was really quizzing John on our rig and how we made our decision. Dan would love to full time but Nancy isn't so sure yet. Time will tell but John liked having a captive audience. It is also nice to have someone here who is truly excited about how we live not just curious and puzzled by the whole thing. We haven't done much of the tourist thing in the area yet but maybe Monday or Tuesday, we are staying until Wednesday morning as we aren't due at Zion River Resort until December 1st. Once again I think we will find too many things to do and too little time to do it; we may just have to come back again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Vegas baby!

It is Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. Crazy huh? We think it is a little nutty but it is on the way to our destination for December: Zion River Resort. The other plus it has is my former college roommate Nancy. I don’t want to say old roommate because that would make me old too and as we all know I am certainly not old.  We are planted at Sam’s Town Casino and RV park. The drive in was easy and the park is not too bad. Parking is pretty close together but it is clean and the roads are wide.
MGM Grand
Sam’s Town has a shuttle service to the Strip and that was great because we had plans to meet fellow bloggers Evelyn and Kevin at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and it was nice not to have to drive. We had never met these two face to face so I was hoping we would recognize each other. Luckily I have an ace in the hole; I have John. One thing I have learned is that he is very recognizable with his white hair and beard. Yep, that is what Evelyn recognized. :) We had a great visit and enjoyed our lunch. It is so fun getting to know our cyber-friends. The food at Maragitaville is good too and if you like margaritas get the Perfect Margarita. It may cost $10 but you only need one. It is the best one I have had since back in Cedar Rapids at Hacienda Las Glorias. They are very similar but this one may have even been stronger. Mm-mm good.
Margaritaville
Since we were already there we spent the rest of the day just walking through all the casinos. I haven’t been here for probably 20 years, what a change. John was here in August for a business meeting so he was more familiar with where things were. So many new casinos since my last trip and the prices are astronomical. As John says it takes the fun out of a cold beer when you pay $7 for one. The shows are so expensive too. I just cannot see paying over $100 for a ticket to anything.  We are searching for what we want to take the boys to at Christmas and we think the Improv is the winner. You can get tickets for less at some outlets on the strip the day of the show, and that may be a possibility too. We’ll see. We definitely decided 2 days in Vegas with the boys will be plenty.
The weather has taken a turn. Very windy and cool yesterday. Had to unhook the water connection because there is a chance that it will dip below freezing in the next couple days. I would complain but I think 32 was the high back home. By the time we head to Utah it is suppose to be getting warner again (50-60’s). When the sun is shinning I think that is just about perfect. Lots of people think we are crazy heading there for December but I am looking forward to it. Even a little snow would be ok. It is the Christmas season after all. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Flowers in Bellagio Conservatory
Happy trails..........

Monday, November 22, 2010

London Bridge (John)

I’ve seen sunny days that thought would never end. James Taylor probably wasn’t inspired by Iowa’s weather to write those lyrics, but I was reminded of them as we drove through the South West. It rained tonight, briefly, for the first time in over a month. It’s been sunscreen and shorts everyday, so it’s nice to get a break now and then.
London Bridge

Along with the weather, we’ve been enjoying some of the local sights. Local to this part of Arizona includes the London Bridge. Not a replica; the actual bridge. Apparently it was falling down so London packed it up and shipped it over here where it now spans the Colorado river in Lake Havasu. At one end of the bridge is a microbrewery that makes a decent stout and an outstanding seasonal ale. Barley Brother’s Brewery. The bridge is kinda cool too.
Walkway along the river near London Bridge

This has been the first time our Kindles have been unable to connect to the ATT network. No TV either, since we depend on our roof mounted antenna. Verizon works, so the cell phones and the internet keep us entertained when we’re not hiking around the local country side. We can read books already loaded on the Kindles, so I stole Janie’s and have been reading some romance novels by Nora Roberts. The bride quartet. Hot stuff. And there’s a Walmart in Parker, the closest town to where we’re camped at Buckskin Mountain. Shopping at Walmart can be entertaining. They had DVD movies for $5; half the cost a single ticket to the theater in Phoenix. So I picked up Pale Rider and Doomsday.

We’ll be in Vegas next week for Thanksgiving. The Kindles will be back online, and there will plenty to do but a $10 movie is going to look cheap. I guess I could watch Doomsday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Campground Reviews

Just caught up on our campground reviews for Dream Catcher's in Deming NM, Roper Lake in Safford AZ, and Cave Creek Regional Park in Cave Creek AZ. Sometime I just have to catch up on my homework. :) The link to Notes from the Flamingo on on the right side of the blog. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Allergies and Beer

I come from the land of allergies. Iowa is a high pollen count state and ragweed runs rampant but I never had much trouble. A little stuffiness in the spring and that was about it. People in Iowa move to the SW because of their allergies. But me? No, I waited until I got here to experience these demons. Now it is not as bad as many of my friends back in Iowa but what the heck, why do I have to be weird?  It seems there is at least one part of every day I find myself sneezing and stuffy, luckily it is not all day. John says I am just allergic to no work and warm weather. I don’t think soooooo. 
London Bridge in Lake Havasu City
Visited Lake Havasu City today. We found a great microbrewery right by the London Bridge. It was actually an accidental find as we were just looking for a place to park near the bridge. It was lunch time and what better place to have lunch than where they brew their own beer. Now John loves all kinds of crafted brews and he had drug me on board but I am a little pickier than he is. I like ambers, pale ales, and recently I have discovered the brown beers. John likes them all but has a leaning towards stouts. So with our sandwich and soup combos he had their stout and I had their seasonal Pirate John’s Nut Brown Ale. I kind of liked the name too. Can’t you just picture John as a pirate. (rofl) This was a good beer. So good I talked John (or maybe he talked me) into buying a growler to go. So here we sit with our chips and Pirate John’s Nut Brown Ale. It is a good night.
One more find in Lake Havasu City. I have been jealous of John’s new hat; petty I know but I’m a girl and I like hats. Well, in a gift shop I found a new hat! It cost half of what John’s did so I figure I can get one more hat and that will about even it up. I’ll get a photo with it soon; too busy drinking this fine beer right now.
Happy trails............

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The land of RVs

RV Park across from us on California side


Monday when we drove into Buckskin Mountain, which is north of Parker AZ, we had a new experience. Once you turn onto Highway 95 from I10 suddenly about every other vehicle you meet is some type of RV. This turn off is at Quartzsite which many people would call the epicenter of RVing. As we drove north toward Parker and the Parker Strip in the direction of Lake Havasu there actually are more RV parks than sticks and bricks housing. This all follows the Colorado River and across the river is California which also is one RV park after another. It is amazing. There are a couple big parks right across the river from us in California that look nice and have quite a few park models (mobile homes) but also lots of RVs and some of the RV parking is right on the beach. I’m not sure I’d pick this area to stay in but it does have some appeal.

Buckskin Mountain Park, our RV on bottom left
The thing that would keep me from staying here is the noise. They have a lot of jet skis that are incredibly noisy during part of the day and I can’t imagine what that will be like on the weekend. We also have see a lot of RVs with boats coming into this park so you know the river gets heavy recreational use. This park also just seems to be noisier than the last few we have been to. Tuesday morning I think half the park chose to leave around 7-8 am. That will wake you up; lots of diesel engines around here. It’s just too early for us retired folks. We are lucky if we get around and leave on travel day before 10 am. That’s enough complaining. If that is our worst problem, I think we can deal.
Buckskin Mountain Trail
Today we went out for a hike. There are some beautiful trails here with wonderful views. One trail takes you up by some old mine shafts (copper was mined here for awhile, though they must not have been very productive mines since the largest shaft was only 28 ft deep). The hikes are moderate climbs, definitely makes you work but nothing too difficult. There were a few drop offs that made me a little nervous, as I am mildly afraid of heights, but I decided I needed to get over it or I would miss a lot of great things. When I get a little anxious I just choose carefully where I am looking and that seems to work for me. The views here are beautiful - it is a gorgeous country we live in.
View from the trail
Happy trails............

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good bye Phoenix, Hello Buckskin Mountain

Out on the Go John Trail -what an appropriate name! 


John and Jean
After 2 weeks in the same place, the longest we have stayed anywhere since leaving Iowa it was time to move on. We did get one last visit in with John’s step-mom Jean and we did a long hike at the park but now it was time to go. Cave Creek is a wonderful park and I am sure we will return.
We headed west again and now we are at Buckskin Mountain State park on the border between Arizona and California just south of Lake Havasu on the river. It is a little different than Cave Creek. The sites are much closer together and not nearly as nice but the surrounding scenery is beautiful. As John would say we are in a little bowl of rocky hills. No TV this week! Even the internet is running slow. There were spots when we got here but really not that many, you can tell this is a busy park.  We finally decided on one, it is ok but most of the really good sites were occupied. John did a great job backing in, I think our communication is getting better and things are going more smoothly that way. We don’t get nearly as stressed out about it as we use to.
Our site at Buckskin Mountain
We walked down to the river to watch the sun set and our neighbor here came by and we talked for quite awhile. Francis and her husband are from Alberta, Canada and are here for the winter, headed to a resort in Yuma.  The other travelers along the way are part of what make this experience so great.  They share about all kinds of things and it is nice to still have “neighbors”. I think we have found Rvers are the best sort of people.
We are also glad to get out of the city for a little while. Next week we will be in Las Vegas so we are going to make the most of this more rural setting. 
Moon over the mountain here at the park
To all our friends back in Iowa, sorry but it is still shorts weather here. Take care and stay warm.
Happy trails..........

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blogs, Bloggers and followers

Cave Creek campground from the Clay Mine trail
We got into the relax and do nothing mode yesterday so thought I'd blog about something that has been on my mind. Every morning I log onto the internet to read blogs. When we first discovered this lifestyle of full time RVing it was through Howard and Linda Payne's site www.rv-dreams.com. It was totally a revelation that people lived this way. Through their site and journal I began to find the blogs of others. Some of those were full-time RVers already, others we like us and considering the lifestyle, others were working toward the day they could full time and others were snow birds who have both a sticks and bricks home as well as traveling. Within all those groups the diversity is amazing. Couples who are retired, couples who are working out of their RVs or volunteering for a site,  single men and woman, families, same sex couples, all of whom we have gotten to know from their blogs and whom we appreciate very much.  When we started to get ready for this journey it was these men and woman and their insights that kept us going. We needed their wisdom as we went along. Now I look to them for places I want to visit and the still the knowledge of this lifestyle as we follow our dreams. The more you read the more you get to know these people and as time goes by they become friends even though you have never met face to face. As we continue to travel we are beginning to actually meet them face to face as well. When you do it is often like getting together with an old friend you haven't seen in awhile, the familiarity is already there. On the left side bar of this blog (like many others) you will find a list of blogs we follow. The list is longer than what shows and changes day to day as those people update their blogs.  It is through lists like these that I have found many of my favorite blogs and about once a week when I am out cruising the web, I will someone else's list to find new blogs. I am sure it is going to be a never ending process. So I hope along the way others will use our list to tune into some of our cyber-friends and their writings.


As for followers that is just an amazement to me. I expected it to be a small group of family and friends from back home and that was it. Well, thank you to the family and friends who do check in on us because we miss you all. Most of our followers however are fellow bloggers who like us are always out meeting and learning from each other. The group has grown over the last year and I want to thank each of you and my greatest hope is that we will meet you all out on the road. We do have others we know who are "followers" but are not on our little list, thank you also for stopping by and sharing in our travels. To all of you thank you and..


Happy trails........................

Thursday, November 11, 2010

John's New Hat

On the road from Prescott AZ

Yesterday we took a little road trip up to Prescott. We thought about going all the way to Sedona but decided on Prescott instead. There is a microbrewery there that gets good reviews so decided to check it out. The drive there is beautiful, it is up in the mountains at about 5,000+ feet. Enough of a grade up that John got to try out his new exhaust break on the way back.
The Gazebo in the town square
The Prescott area seems big and sprawling enough but downtown Prescott has a very small town feel. The Prescott Brewery is right downtown by the Whiskey Row which is kind of their historic and touristy area. Right in the middle of it is the town square with the court house, gazebo and several statues.  The middle school was not far away and as middle school students do they were hanging out on the town square and being pretty goofy. Boy do I remember those days with my boys, in CR they hung out at the local mall. The brewery was a nice brew pub and we tried their chili which I must say had a nice bite to it. The beer was pretty good to. John had the Porter, I tried the Amber and then we split a Walnut Brown beer. 

After lunch we had to go check out all the shops and wear off the beer before driving back. The shops are a mix of art, jewelry, and clothes with a few funky gift shops in the mix. But what we did find was a real prize--a new hat for John.
I wanted to find something with a wider brim than his usual ball cap. John’s family has a serious skin cancer history and I am pretty protective of his skin - I’d like to keep him around awhile longer. He lost both his mother and youngest brother to melanoma and his dad had both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas removed from his face. So you can understand my concern. Now that we are where the sun shines most of the time and we are out in it daily, more coverage is in order.
Finding a hat shouldn’t be too difficult ,right?  Well for John it is. You see he has the Dean head which is an oversized noggin - hat size 7 3/4 to 8. Not very many places carry hats this big. Ahh but I found a hat shop with a fella that new his hats and had just what we were looking for. We found the perfect hat! Now I think I found a hat that makes him look even sexier than usual. Oops sorry, my kids hate it when I say things like that (lol).
John's new hat.
Don’t know what is up next, no plans until Monday when we will move again but I am sure we can find a few adventures.
Happy Trails..............................

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

John's Truck revisited (or John loves his truck!)

When we first began this adventure we decided to sell the house first, then buy the rig. If the house didn’t sell, then no harm. Six weeks later the house was sold so we signed up for a one year lease on an apartment. Plenty of time to figure out what we wanted to do for the RV.

What we wanted to do was get a 5th wheel and a truck. We were thinking of a smaller 5th wheel, so I figured a one-ton diesel should do it. A Chevy would have been my first choice, but what we found found locally were two white Ram 3500 diesel quad cab pickups. One was new (in 2009) and the other was was a 2007 with the older Cummins 5.9L diesel. So we got the 2007 truck because it had the engine I wanted and it already had some stuff that I would have had to add to the new one. But one thing the older engine didn’t have that the new one did was an exhaust brake. No problem: I could add it later.

So now it’s later and we’re looking at the mountains and I’m remembering I don’t have an exhaust brake. We also had the rig weighed and it came in heavier than I thought. Still within tow limits for the truck but I didn’t have the margins I thought I would have. I needed a bigger truck with an exhaust brake.

But that wasn’t going to happen. So I called Banks Engineering to see if I could get their exhaust brake installed while we were in Phoenix. No problem. And I couldn’t help but notice they had several performance packages for the 5.9L Cummins. Maybe I could gain back some of that margin along with some horsepower.

Banks Engineering recommended an installer in the Phoenix area and a week later I had a diesel with an exhaust brake and some extra horsepower. The performance package included a new exhaust system and a digital controller that could change the engine tuning, display various engine performance parameters and even included a GPS function so it could display current location, time, altitude and direction (navigation maps may be available in the future, but weren’t included with this package).
The new tail pipe, isn't it cool!

So now I can slow the truck down without using my foot and I can select to view various gages on the controller to distract me when I’m driving. Or I can use the controller’s quarter mile timing function that includes a drag track style countdown. Just crank up the horsepower, put your foot in it, and review the results. I think it even graphs the results.
And the new exhaust system sounds great.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cave Creek, family and friends

Our site for the first week.


I haven’t done as well writing this week. We have been on the go ever since we arrived here in Cave Creek AZ. We are in the Cave Creek Regional Park just north of Phoenix.

Our site week 2
This is a beautiful Maricopa County Park. It was recommended to us by a couple we met at Roper Lake and they we right. The sites are large and you have plenty of room between you and your neighbor. It is clean and well kept and the shower houses are very nice. The sites have water and electric. The first week we had a site that was great for watching the sun set but had little shade, even the awning didn’t help us. Of course it was 90 degrees during the day time all week, so we didn’t pick very well in that aspect so after a week we decided to move to give us a little relief from the sun. However this week the highs are only suppose to be in the 70’s. Wouldn’t you know. We needed to dump our tanks anyway so we chose a site that is a pull thru or more correctly pull off but it gives you plenty of room and I like the view.  We decided to stay another week as we were so busy we didn’t get to discover much of the park or surrounding area.
John, Jean, Gail and Alan
 So what were we doing? Visiting lots of people and getting some new things on the truck (I’ll let John tell you about that- he love’s his truck). John’s step-mom, Jean, lives in Scottsdale along with his step-sister Gail and husband Alan, step-brother Tom and step-brother John. Jean has had a rough couple years undergoing treatment for melanoma and considering all she has been through she looks great and we are so glad to get to spend some time with her. We had lunch with her and Tom as well as dinner at Gail’s house. They have been incredible hosts.
Toni, Janie, & Dan
As well as family we have a couple friends here. Toni and Dan are a couple that I have know since high school but haven’t seen in maybe 30 years.  Toni noticed on Facebook that we were in the area so invited us to have lunch with them, they are in Chandler. It was a treat connecting with them again and had lots of fun catching up on all the people we know from high school days. Also in Chandler is a fella that worked with John but moved to this area about 15 years ago so we emailed Dean to see if we could get together. He invited us to dinner. We got to meet his son and daughter - Dean was a single guy when he left CR. It was fun to see him as a dad and it was evident that he is a very good dad who loves to spend time with his children. Dean is also great on the grill. Dean, that steak was amazing!
Tatiana, Dean and Dean jr.
Today after moving we went to do laundry. We were actually running out of clean clothes. It is just one of those jobs that has to be done. There is a couple in the park that also have an Excel and we have talked with them several times. They have been camping in this park during the winter for several years so they have been a good source of info and helped us find the laundromat. It isn’t exactly close but it was clean and very reasonably priced. Now it is just kick back time. The skies have clouded up and it is actually cool and breezy so I think we will veg our inside this evening. Tomorrow our plan is to do some hiking here in the park.
Happy Trails..............................

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

John's thoughts on New Mexico

Good thing we don't have a boat??


Leaving New Mexico
Before we left New Mexico, we decided to visit a few wineries. The first one was in Roswell, where we met Dale the wine guy/bartender. He was skeptical about the aliens landing in Roswell, despite the preponderance of evidence in the Roswell alien museum. He also explained that New Mexico had 44 wineries. To help us keep track, the wineries were handing out stamps that we could paste in our winery passport. If we visited all of them, the state of New Mexico would send both of us on a wine cruise. Roswell’s had an alien face on it. Cool. Only 43 more to go.

The next one was in Carlsbad, where we found a good Shiraz and where to get the best Chile Verde. Too bad we didn’t have time for the Chile Verde. If you want to find the best restaurants in town, don’t bother with the chamber of commerce’s web site (the first two restaurants we tried from the Carlsbad web site weren’t even open). Just go to a local winery, sample some wines and by the time you leave, you’ll know everything the locals know. However, the locals didn’t know anything about any stamps or winery passports.

Guadalupe  mountains as we leave New Mexico
So we left Carlsbad for Demming. Demming had two wineries. In the first, we found out that the wine stamp promotion didn’t start until November 15th. Still, the wine was worth it even without the cruise, and we really didn’t have time to visit all of the wineries anyway. This time we also bought some of the “mild” salsa they were serving with the wine samples. I didn’t ask if they had a hot one.

So we were leaving New Mexico with some New Mexican wine and some very hot mild salsa.