Sorting it out

There are 2 big things on our agenda this upcoming summer. First, a garage sale. After years of collecting, I’m now ready to, um, uncollect? Not sure if that’s a word. Maybe purging or cleaning out is better. When you have a 2400 square foot house, and it’s been only 2 of you for 5 to 8 years, there’s just too much space to shove things into closets and spare rooms. Our kids have been permanently gone for 5 yrs. Somehow they never seem to take all their stuff with them. Because we’ve had the space, I haven’t worried about it too much. But (there’s that word!), now we’re looking to possibly sell out in the next few yrs with a thought of downsizing and even maybe relocating to a new community.

As I’m going through boxes, bins and bags, it’s funny how it’s sooo clear when something needs to go. I opened a box that among other things, had 2 large rocks in it, about the size of my palm. They weren’t pretty. Why were they in there? Did of my kids give them to me because they were “special”? Or did I pick them up somewhere once and there was something special about the place? Who knows? I didn’t chuck them afar, just placed them outside. Can’t mess with the rock god’s, just in case ….

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Letting Go

We’ve been home about a month. My perspective on our trip of 3 months is now fully in the rear view mirror.

One of the first things I did was toss my old flip flops. They served me well but were so worn, large sharp rocks went fully noticed. That was very freeing.

I have gotten to see all 8 grandchildren since we got home. While it’s a bit crazy sometimes, they are all such good kids. They have loving, kind hearts. I missed them and that’s one of the hardest things about being gone. But obviously my children are doing a good job and they are in good hands.

Since I retired almost a year ago, I’ve been conflicted about renewing my R.D.H. license. Registered Dental Hygienist. This was who I was since I graduated from dental hygiene school at age 22. Dental hygiene programs are brutal. Hard to get into, hard to pass. Many long nights studying. Hard nosed instructors who seemed more like drill sergeants. 3 days of state and national boards. I persevered. I passed it all with blood, sweat and tears. The payoff was a 38 year career that helped us prosper but helped me, personally become a confident leader in the office I spent 28 years in. Fast forward to no office. No team to help oversee. Pass off your team, your responsibilities to someone else.

Anyway, I digress as I tend to do. I haven’t “filled in” once. And now, 10+ months out, I can’t imagine jumping back into the fray. In order to do that, “jump into the fray” thing, I would need to bust out some continuing education before July 10. But I wonder why? I guess my point is it’s time to let go. And it’s almost harder than leaving my position of 28 yrs because it means I’m really leaving it all behind. That means I’m no longer who I was for my whole adult life. And that’s damn scary.

I’m letting go. Moving on. I may no longer be a hygienist, I may not know exactly who I am but to figure it out, I’m letting go and stepping out in faith.

Post travelling weirdness

I step in the door to our home of 30 years after being on the road for 3 months. My first impression is, “Wow, it’s so clean!” Yay, go us, we were smart to leave it tidied up. Because it soon looked like a bomb had gone off in the unpacking process.

Second impression, part A: “It’s so big!” Our home is 2400 sq ft. Our 30 ft 5th wheel at 8 ft wide gives us 240 sq ft. 10%. We lived for 3 months in 10% of the space. Smh.

Second impression, part B: my master bath is probably bigger than our downstairs living area in the 5th wheel. I love my bathroom. We remodeled a few years ago and it’s my favorite room in the house. Heated tile, walk in shower. Heavenly.

When we left on our epic journey, we were expecting to come back with answers to our many questions. We definitely got some answers but many more still go unanswered.

One big question was should we sell out and go full time. The answer for us, at least at this time is no. We loved our travels and while I could probably go for up to another 3 months, I missed the grandkids, my house and just the familiarity of our lives with a bit of extra elbow room. We know we don’t need this big house, we knew that when we left, that we might want to downsize. One question I had was would we find that perfect location to relocate to? As I’ve said in previous blogs about Yuma, I really like it there. Probably not ready to sell here and buy there but I might be ready to spend a few months there in the 5th wheel, giving it a try. Easing into it. I liked all of southern Arizona too.

I do know that my joints, which had a wonderful 3 month break, are starting to scream at me again. There’s nothing like that dry, warm climate. I will do my best to never spend a whole winter in Washington again

Travelling with our 2 13 year old dogs was challenging. We have to use a ramp to get them in and out of the trailer and even with that, they slip occasionally so the in and out is stressful for all of us. Then there’s doggie poop bags. At home they do their business alone in the brush or in the woods. Always taking them on a leash got to be a drag. That’s a good thing about being home.

Sooo back to that bomb that went off. I know whenever you come back from a week or 2, there’s a lot to do. I can’t even explain how tired I was for 3 days unloading, then putting away stuff, then cleaning Helen the 5th wheel. She’s still a mess outside but it’s rainy (What? Raining in the NW?) I did remind the cowboy I do the inside, he does the outside. I don’t think he really meant washing or waxing alone but hey, he set the rules, hee hee.

I took a few clothes I didn’t use. I knew that would be the case. We as women always need this to go with that, and oh this is small, lightweight, won’t take up much room. Times 10. I actually would take a few more heavier clothes since the elevation and wind in New Mexico was colder than I anticipated. It WAS February and up to 8000 feet elevation. So next time….. See I’m already planning again!

Homeward bound

We left Williams, heading west, then north to Las Vegas, or Henderson. We found an Elks Lodge to dry camp in for the night. This was our view of the strip in the distance from Helen’s back window.

It was pretty spectacular in person.

The next day we drove through the desolation of western Nevada. I have tried to embrace the beauty in all the different terrains we’ve encountered. I have to admit, this terrain was a challenge. Kind of a lot of nothing. Miles and miles, hours and hours. Spent the night in a casino parking lot in Hawthorne, NV. The cowboy won a little money to pay for dinner. Me, I wasn’t so lucky….

That next day our plan was to drive up to Tulelake, CA at the California/Oregon border. But as we closed in on Sparks, NV, it was time for a break. To the Nugget!

The cowboy’s dad used to come to the Nugget annually so it was fate, to stop. We grabbed some breakfast and spun a few reels on the slots. Luck was not on our side though 😒

We made our way to Tulelake fairgrounds for the night. It was cold and there was snow in the forecast. Luckily we had planned for that with hookups. This was what met us in the morning. Brrr!

Snow had fallen throughout the area we had planned to travel and the temps weren’t looking good. We adjusted our route to a longer but lower elevation.

We had decided to head out to the Oregon coast for our last night. In hindsight, it was a bit more out of the way than we thought. But it was a pretty nice late afternoon once we parked.

The end of the journey. Correction: the end of the FIRST journey……

Williams, Az, gateway to the Grand Canyon!

I was going to the Grand Canyon! I wanted to see this, long before we ever bought a 5th wheel or planned this journey.

Well it turns out, from Parker, you gotta go uphill. Have a mentioned the cowboy hates pulling Helen up hills? So up we go. Hmm, there’s a light on on the dash. And the truck is making a knocking noise. There’s some loss of power. We limp into Williams and because it’s such a high elevation, there’s this white stuff on the side of the road…..leftover snow. While it’s not snowing currently, it’s also not melting. Time to find a park with hookups.

We stumble upon the Grand Canyon Railway park. With our Passport America, it’s a doable $25 a night. It was 2 blocks from Route 66 and downtown Williams, full of touristy shops. Which gave me a little to do because….

One day researching diesel mechanics, getting quotes. Next more research. Third day, taking truck in to chosen locale. The cowboy had to wait of course, with the promise it’d be done that day. Buuuttt of course it wasn’t so he got a loaner, naturally late in the day. On day 4, around noon it was done! $1100 later.

Off to the Grand Canyon! When we got parked, and made our way to the south rim, all I can say is, that first look is the epitome of the word breathtaking.

It’s a verticle mile down. There was a peek a boo view at the Colorado River waayyy down there. I’m not going to try to wow you with any crazy facts and figures. My words just can’t describe this wonder of the world. My pictures don’t do it justice. You have to see it. Its an experience, it is an emotional thing. Hard to explain.Put it on your bucket list.

Massive amounts of people flow into this park. Thanks to our senior pass, our entrance fee was 0. Yay for being old. I would guess that this was a slower season, a bit cold but sunny. Still, plenty of people. Not like the amount of crowds they get in later spring and summer. It was manageable but it would be so cool to have it all to yourself. Not happening….

All is good in the world. Right? Truck is fixed, I check a bucket list item off. But no.

We get back to the 5th wheel, I’m putting some groceries away and Colt is outside with the cowboy and Banjo. Somehow, he wanders off. Ok he does this and always wanders back. (He’s private about doing his business) We both walk the length and width of the park half a dozen times. No Colt. Of course he only has his license on, no tag. I make one more trip by the bathrooms and put up a sign, lost dog, etc. A couple of young gals walk by me and say “are you the one missing the dog, is this him?” They show me a picture. Yup there he is, in her phone. Apparently he went to the hotel across the street. He probably would have come back but they held him there thinking they were helping. Which they were and all was well. So now the running joke is watch out for hotels cuz Colt likes to go visiting.

I thought we might never leave Williams because we’d have had to stay, contacting shelters, etc. That was an awful 2 hours. Scary. We love our boys 🐾🐾. We had decided to start for home the next day and with everyone together, and that’s what we did. Rambling home.

Parker or rather, Earp

After leaving Yuma, we headed north along the Colorado River to Parker. Actually the campground, Crossroads Campground, we stayed in was Earp, CA across the river from Parker. This is a BLM campground so with the Senior pass, for us, it was $2.50/ night dry camping. There are several sites that are right along the river but high bank so we avoided those. No sense in tempting Banjo to break a leg getting to the river. There was an access close so he was happy to dunk and swim.

Here I must interject a plea to the boondocking community. Please don’t run your generator for 6 hours a day. Please buy an inverter type, not a cheap contractors generator that sounds like a freight train. I get that batteries need recharging. Ours did too. But starting at 7 am till noon kinda ruins that peaceful morning, sitting with a cup of coffee, gazing at the river. You know who you are! Be considerate.

Earp is home to many wild burros. In the evening mostly they would come wandering through the camp. Sometimes 6 together, sometimes just a guy by himself. We did see a mama and a real young baby. She was pretty protective, staying clear of the other burros. They were all pretty docile but they are wild and you are discouraged from feeding them.

Everyone says if you’re in Parker, you have to go see the desert bar. Ok, I say. We’ll go. Well the roads a little rough. Ok, we have a truck. Oh Nellie!

It’s called the Nellie E Saloon. It was built at the site of an old mining camp. And it’s remote. Really remote. Bone jarring road. But we made it. Along with hundreds of others, which was one of the amazing things. People ride razrs out there all over the place and they get thirtsy. It’s all solar powered. They’re only open Saturdays and Sundays noon to 6. You better bring cash too or you’re out of luck. We were there on St. Patrick’s Day and the “chapel”, a 3 ft deep “building” was decked out for a wedding. They were making sure everyone not setting up stayed clear.

It was really cool and as usual my pictures don’t capture it. There was a live band and it was just a lot fun. Beer was fairly cheap and of the canned variety. The food prices ranged from very spendy ($17 for a pretzel, must’ve been gold-plated) to moderate, $13 for a pulled pork sandwich. Probably wouldn’t go again without an ATV or something of the sort. But it’s definitely a must see once. People drove passenger cars out but I don’t think I would…..

While in the Parker area, one of my friends from home was in the area. We got together a couple times with them, once at our “house” and once at their condo and pool, and that was fun.

I liked being by the river but there were a lot of jetskis and loud boats starting to rip up and down the river. I can imagine as spring break season hits, it probably is a zoo. I think I’m turning into an old lady. I only like my peace and quiet!

In hindsight, this was my last bit of warm weather. Next we head east a bit to a bucket list item……

Benson and Tombstone

Our next stop was Benson, only 40 miles away. We belong to Escapees, a camping group that has its own parks and co-op parks in various parts of the country. Benson’s Saguaro SKP park is one. They had a special for $50 and you got a large site with full hookups including cable TV. As you can imagine, it’s pretty popular for that price. They have a large dry camping area you can stay in for $5/night while awaiting the full hookup site. We figured we’d stay 2 nights dry and if it wasn’t going to open for full hookups, we’d move on. Voilà, that morning, they had a site for us.

So what’s the draw besides the price? It is its own community. They have it all there. A big beautiful clubhouse, with activities galore, an exercise room, a book library, a dvd library, Wednesday night movies, a really nice dog area, an outdoor park, a workshop and even a blacksmith area. They have scheduled bingo, bridge, pool, quilting. You name it, they probably do it. They had a Roy Orbison impersonator one evening that was quite good and a lot of fun. While I was a little young for Roy, it was fun and all the other folks were way into it, right in their wheelhouse.

Everyone is really friendly for the most part. Lots of people are lease holders, which means they bought their lot and either live there FT or winter there. If you are a leaseholder you can improve your space with a casita, which is a 288 ft or less outbuilding. Some are quite elaborate with kitchens, couches, bathrooms while others are simply another work or guest space.

I really liked the idea conceptually but while the park was beautiful (landscaping team was amazing), it just wasn’t the place for us. There’s a lot of rules and we tend to be a bit more lax in this regard, lol. And after being there for a longer period of time, I found some of the women to be a little click-ish.

So what do you do in Benson? We went to Tombstone, the old western town. Home of Wyatt Earp and the shootout at the OK corral. “The town too tough to die”. Wood sidewalks, dirt streets, workers in the saloons and shops in full western era wear.

We shopped, drank a beer in Doc Holidays saloon (overpriced can of beer without much aura), watched the reenactment of the shoot out. A better place for that beer is Big Nosed Kate’s saloon. A fun, touristy day.

After a week in the Benson area it was time to move on. Riley’s gotta ramble…..

Back to Arizona

We left New Mexico and Pancho Villa State Park, heading west to Sierra Vista, Az. Even though we had power and water at the state parks, it was nice to be in a bigger urban area with almost any store you could ask for.

One day we made a trip to Bisbee. Bisbee is an old mining town built on steep, narrow, scary streets. Scary for me because “the Big Show” as I call the Ford f350, seemed to barely fit through. Of course I wasn’t driving but my BP was elevated!

We went on the Copper Queen mine tour, where they took us deep into the mine. It was built in 1917 and closed in 1975. They gave us hard hats, lights and vests and we straddled a little train that took us 1700 ft under the surface. We learned about mining from our guide who actually worked in it until it closed. He regaled us with personal stories, mostly true from what I could gather. Overall, it was worth the $13 ticket price.

It was fun poking around the gift shop but like most tourist-y things, they weren’t giving anything away!

Besides visiting Bisbee, we mostly caught up with our living situation. The oil was changed on “the Big Show”, the “house” was cleaned, groceries restocked, bills looked after. Even a meal out.

Being on the road for months still requires the same things you have to take care of at home. I find instead of doing something weekly, say pay bills, I do it when I get to it, when we’re not on some exploration. Thus I have no idea what day of the week it is. It’s not really a vacation, its life, just on the road.

Next up: Benson, Az

New Mexico state parks and more randomly discovered history

We’re driving along, still don’t know where we’re going after leaving Alamogordo, our most easternmost locale. The cowboy, while driving (eek!), looks at my tattered map. “What about Rockhound State Park?” Um ok, I don’t know anything about it because to tell you the truth, I thought we’d drive further. So off we go.

It turns out New Mexico state parks are real nice and you get power and water for $14/night. The park is full….but wait there’s a group site they are packing folks into, making our own “group”.

One of the best parts for me was the friendship we struck up with the single gal parked next to us. She and I hit it off, we shared a meal, sat around the fire. Jan is traveling alone from Ohio in her class C motorhome, license “SHESHED”. Gotta love it.

In spite of the name, Rockhound State Park, we didn’t find any geodes or thunder eggs. Oh but we tried! We did find some “pretties”, with unique color or “sparkles” which are supposedly quartz. Oh well, I’m still hauling rocks home.

Anyway after 2 nights we decided to try another New Mexico state park, only 35 miles away, called Pancho Villa State Park. It’s in Columbus, NM only 2 miles from Los Palomas, Mexico. Jan joined us and we made a couple trips to Palomas.

Yes, it did involve margaritas. It’s really small, with one main store, no dickering for goods, but we introduced Jan to Mexico, so that was fun.

There are museums both in the state park and right outside of it. Columbus is tiny. But it holds a big place in history. This is the town Pancho Villa raided in 1916 where several (16?) people were killed but strained Mexico/America relations. The following picture is from Cootes hill, the army outlook (for all the good it did, lol) Campground in the near distance and Mexico beyond that.

So who knew? Obviously the residents do, but here is yet another place we’ve stumbled upon, where we’ve learned history we didn’t know about. And it’s all so interesting. I’m turning into a history geek. One who doesn’t retain much tho….

Where in the world is Alamogordo?

We left Rusty’s RV ranch in Rodeo, NM as the raindrops started. As we approached the main highway, the cowboy says “left or right?”. West or east. Both directions led to rain. Hmmmmm. So after a quick mental game, we went right or east.

I really want to be spontaneous but my OCD likes a plan. After all, Helen is a big girl. You kind of have to have at least a backup plan, right?

So we headed to Alamogordo, NM. Huh? Who has heard of that? Probably New Mexico residents. We rolled into the old BPOE. Being a member of the Elks provides you with a built in group of folks as well as a place to land within a city setting. I do enjoy a free BLM site but being close to grocery stores, museums and of course the Elks lounge is a bonus.

My main draw to this area was the White Sands National Monument. It did not disappoint. It had rained off and on, the wind blowing like crazy but off we went.

You can see the sky was black with clouds. We managed to stay dry tho. The visitors center had an interesting movie about how this area came to be. It’s gypsum that drifts into dunes. People were sledding on it. It was bright in spite of the gray skies, so I can’t imagine if the sun had been out.

So ok, I saw my big attraction. But wait! The Elks to the rescue! While chatting with a local, it turns out we are in Billy the kid territory! Have I mentioned the cowboy was born in the wrong century? This stuff is right up his alley.

The next day, in 100% rain, we drove north of Alamogordo to Lincoln. We saw the courthouse where Billy escaped and shot a Marshall, learned about the Lincoln county wars, and filled ourselves with history that makes Tombstone seem tame. We toured Fort Stanton that was built to help the Apache attacks on settlers in the area.

As we climbed east of Lincoln, we see pines and firs. Who thinks New Mexico has this? It was so surprising and beautiful. The pass was 7000 ft!

We reluctantly left Alamogordo knowing it’s an area we want to explore more. We have about 1 month before we need to seriously start the trek home.

As we left, again we really didn’t know where we were headed. Just west. Rambling on……