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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Three plus years of full timing....what have we learned

Zion National Park,  Utah, December 2010
Harris Hawk at Sonoran Desert Museum, Tuscon Feb. 2011

When we left Cedar Rapids it began our 4th year of living and traveling in our RV. The last three years have flown by and we are still not ready to go back to a sticks and bricks life. We have traveled a lot of the western US but even with time out there all three years there are so many places we have yet to discover. This year will be our first going south and east, all new places for me and many new ones for John. I think one of the things that I learn every time we find somewhere new is how beautiful this country is. If you slow down and take the time you will find amazing things everywhere. I think the thing I appreciate the most about this lifestyle is that freedom to take it slow.

BLM land near Quartzite, AZ in January 2011

Putah Creek, Winters CA in Jan.2013

Crater Lake, Oregon, fall 2012

Diamond Lake, Oregon, fall 2012
When we first took off we were excited to see new places and we moved along at a pretty good pace. We traveled 4-6 hours a day and maybe stayed 2-3 days at a time. It didn’t take long until we found that driving 3-4 hours was preferable and staying longer was more enjoyable. I think now our normal stays are a week at a time and at least once in the winter we will stay put for 2-3 months. Like most full timers we like to do most of our site seeing and travel in the off seasons of spring and fall when it is a little quieter and more relaxed. We have found ourselves on occasion, like a family commitment, traveling much faster and it certainly makes the trips less enjoyable.

Elephant Butte Reservoir, Elephant Butte NM, Spring 2012

Elephant Butte, South Monticello campground, Spring 2012

Heceta Head Lighthouse, spring 2013
One of the things that has surprised us is that we have enjoyed staying longer at times. Last winter in California, when we first decided to stay 4 months I was really worried I would hate it. The first two months because I wan’t working like John, I was dreading the rest of the winter but slowly I began checking out more things in the area and began to enjoy our stay. It was a beautiful place, and we met many nice people and really got to know the area. I think now I will go into those longer stays with a different perspective. I still started getting hitch itch after about 3 months but sometimes I think it comes on because I know we will be moving soon and it’s the anticipation. I’m the one who does most of the trip planning so as the time gets closer I am doing the research for our route and what to do and it makes me anxious to get moving.

Death Valley, California January 2011
Grand Canyon, Arizona, spring 2012

Lake Pend O'rellie, Idaho September 2012

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, Fall 2012
I was thinking back on some of the highlights of our travel. Friends often ask what our favorite place has been so far. The more we travel the more difficult that answer becomes because like I stated before there is beauty everywhere. Some of our favorites are Zion National Park. We were there in December and it was almost like having the park to yourself. Tucson was also a lot of fun, with lots to do there. Elephant Butte State Park in New Mexico. We love the South Monticello campground and it is one of the few places we have made return trips to and the second time we stayed for two weeks. That park is on a wonderful reservoir and is one of the most quiet and peaceful places we’ve experienced. There also is no light pollution to speak of and the night sky is amazing. The Grand Canyon is another highlight. I think everyone should see it at least once, photos just don’t give you the scope and perspective you get standing on the rim. The mountains have always been close to my heart. Driving through Colorado, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California was amazing. It makes me smile just remembering.
Patricks Point California Spring 2013

Canyon Creek Park in California from a trail on Lake Berryessa

Harris Beach Oregon, February 2013

Crater Lake in Oregon is another place that needs to be seen to be believed. There are photos of how blue the water is but seeing that it is as blue as that is just surreal. Speaking of Oregon, I think so far it is my favorite state. It has an amazing coastline, beautiful mountains and forests so what’s not to like? Heceta Head Lighthouse will forever remain etched in our memories. There are so many more places it’s hard to put them all in this post. It would go on for a very long time. So instead I am putting in my favorite photos from these last 3 years. I hope your travels, whether in an RV, a car, a plane, however you travel gives you as many special memories and that you see the beauty everywhere you go.

Happy Trails.........................
Heceta Head Beach, Oregon coast, March 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We are off and running.....well, really off and sauntering...

Evie the drool monster.

Fall is here and it was time to pack-up and leave Cedar Rapids. It was much harder saying goodbye this time, all because of one little girl. A few tears were shed but the other part of me was ready to get back on the road. Our summer trips to Wisconsin and Minnesota did help prevent our hitch itch to a point but it finally overcame us and we were ready to hit the road.
Mark,Janie & John
Originally we were going to visit John’s brother Mark in Belleville, IL, but instead he came and spent a couple days with us and met Evie. It was short but very fun visit. He tells the best stories. So instead of that direction we decided to visit our other son and his wife in NW Iowa. We had not spent much time with them so wanted a few more days. Previously we had stayed in Storm Lake but I found a county campground about the same distance from them with FHU sites for just $15. Its Hagge Park in Sac County. It is a nice little park but the flies we terrible so don’t know if we will go back or not. We did take the kids out to dinner one night and made dinner for them one night. It was fun to hear how the school year is starting for Melissa (an art teacher k-8) and how Gabe’s new job is going. A mom just needs to hug her kids once in awhile. :)

Currently we are visiting John’s other brother Walt and his family in the Kansas City area and Sunday we will meet my brother Dave and wife Kelley who live in Lawrence, KS for dinner. We have stayed here before and like this little Jackson County park called Blue Springs Campground. It is on the border of both Lee’s Summit, MO and Blue Springs, MO. It has FHU sites and is in a great location for us to visit everyone. 

I love visiting family but I am also ready for it to be just John and I discovering new places. We have a tentative outline of our trip. From here we will be visiting the Branson area, probably staying at Table Rock State Park. Next up will be the Hot Springs, Little Rock area of Arkansas. We also want to go to Memphis, Nashville, and probably the Smokey Mountains. I don’t have any reservations so we can change our minds if somewhere else catches our fancy. I do have a couple options of   places for parks but if any of you out there have stayed somewhere you want to recommend I would love that. Memphis and Nashville have been the toughest to find a park that sounds good. When I check many sound like they are not in the best of locations. This fall travel is all to places that neither John and I have been to so if you have suggestions please offer them, its always good to get feed back from those who have been there. We don’t have to arrive in Fort Walton Beach, FL until just before Thanksgiving, so all together we have about 8-9 weeks to discover the South. Found out our friends Jeff and Cheryl Bright will be Destin West in November so we are overlapping a little and will spend Thanksgiving together.
Emily and Evie

Mitch, Evie and Emily

Mitch and Evie

I think traveling will also get me back into the groove on the blog. We are here until Tuesday and then we will be off and running.....well off and sauntering really, we’d rather not travel too fast, have to slow down and smell the roses.

My photos today are from two chances I had to shoot photos of Evie and of the family. I am so going to miss that little girl.   
My sweet little granddaughter Evie. Will miss her so.

Happy Trails...............................................

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy Anniversary Honey!

Though this is a few days late, I wanted to commemorate John and my wedding anniversary.  This year we celebrate 29 years of marriage and 3 years on the road. Our anniversary is September 1st and on our about that date three years ago we left on this incredible journey. I wouldn’t change one minute.  We have a pretty crazy story. We met the first weekend of March in 1984 at a going away party for a mutual friend. Another friend of mine, Penny, actually wanted me to meet his friend Joe but John arrived first and sat down next to me. There was something there from the very start. I’m not sure either one of us could tell you exactly what it was but we both knew this was something different than what we had experienced before. The last weekend of April 1984, about 8 weeks later, we were engaged. We married on September 1st, about 6 months from the time we met. People often ask how we knew that this would work and I don’t think either of us has a real answer for that, we just knew it was right for us. So 29 years, two kids, one grandchild and 30,000 miles down the road we still know that this is how it should be. 
There is a song by Clint Black that is one of my favorites and I feel best describes how we feel about each other and our marriage. I found it on YouTube as a video that a fella had posted for his wife. In this case it is from me dedicated to John, the man who has made my journey so amazing. Honey, here is to the next 29 years!

Happy Trails........................