April 15, 2021

More Time In Arizona

 Sadly, vacations don't last forever :-(

After we left Lost Dutchman State Park we went to The Resort RV Park in Mesa, Arizona.  It was an easy 30 minute drive from the state park.  Our work sites, we had three of them, were all within a half hour of the resort.  The park is huge!  It has nearly 800 spots, some of which are for RV's.  I can imagine they're quite busy during the winter.  They offer a large swimming pool, Jacuzzi, laundry, dog park, pickleball courts, tennis courts, a post office outlet and so much more.  They even have plenty of activities to keep residents and visitors entertained.

site #392, all sites are back-in
We ended up staying there two weeks.  Dog owners are separated into a small section in the back of the park.  You must drive your dog to the dog park (at the front of the resort) because they aren't allowed on certain streets.  They do, however, have an access gate at the rear of the park which leads to a street.  Many dogs are walked out there but I didn't see any evidence (if you know what I mean).

There are quite a bit of outdoor activities to do in the Phoenix city area.  It can be as simple as visiting a neighborhood park, riding horses, backpacking, bicycling, going to an outdoor museum or one of our favorites - taking a walk with the puppers :-)

One afternoon we went on a hike at nearby Papago Park.  It's short buttes sure make an interesting hiking area.  Although the parking lot was nearly full, we didn't encounter many people during our visit.



such a cool place to hike

We didn't have much time there.  But it was for a good reason.  Just down the street from the park entrance we saw a huge (drive through style) area where Covid vaccines were being given.  I parked across the street from the entrance while Ron went and spoke with a volunteer.  He said come on in!  :-)  Maneuvering our beast through the zig-zag of cones and ropes was a slow process but I handled it well.  Yippee!  We each have our first Covid vaccination shot!!  

Another day we drove to nearby Usery Mountain Regional Park.   It's actually on the same street as our RV park so it was super convenient.  The park is over 3600 acres, has a campground (we'd fit, barely), plenty of hiking/riding/biking trails, an archery range and even an outdoor fitness area.

Wind Cave Mountain from Blevins trail

A popular hike is up to the Wind Cave.  It's 1.5 miles, considered difficult and has plenty of switchbacks.  We may try this hike sometime in the future but we felt that Rufus would have a hard time so we decided to venture to the south end of the park.



even some rock scrambling too
We ended up hiking 4.25 miles.  We started on Blevins trail and made it a larger loop by adding Cat Peaks trail.  While on Cat Peaks trail we got a good view of The Superstition Mountains in the distance.

There are plenty of cactus to photograph too!

The cactus skeletons are interesting

there are nine fitness stations

long shadows after a full day :-)
While staying at The Resort, we did a thing...
some assembly required!


We got an E-bike! :-)  It was packaged very well!  The directions aren't the best but Ron managed to put it together after work one day.  The neighbor was nice enough to sign for it and call us when it arrived :-)  Once it was assembled Ron took it for a test drive.  He managed to get it up to 27MPH!  The speed limit inside the park is 15.  He's such a lawbreaker...  I can see lots of fun adventures with the bike.  This is primarily for me to use as Ron already has a mountain bike.  

That's it for now.  When we leave Mesa, AZ we're planning to do some desert boondocking outside of Yuma on our way back to Sacramento.

As always, feel free to click on the photos for a larger view.  All links open in a separate window.

 

March 21, 2021

Vacation At Superstition Mountains

Although we live in an ever rolling 5th wheel, we rarely feel like we're on vacation.  That's because our rolling home is our home - does that make sense?  The day to day stuff that makes up life for us is the same as it was when our home didn't have wheels.  There's still bills to pay, meals to be prepared, work to be done, chores, laundry.  Well, you get it... 

Ron and I needed to visit Arizona for work.  We already knew from last year that we didn't want to work in Arizona in the summer!  We just didn't have a hard set date.  Then I found out Debbie and Steve of  Down The Road With Steve And Debbie would be at Lost Dutchman State Park in March.  You can read about their adventure here.  I figured it wouldn't be easy to get a reservation because it's such a popular place.  I went online, played around with arrival and departure dates and snagged a three day reservation in the dry camping (boondocking) section.  We were set for a Tuesday arrival and Friday departure.  Knowing that Steve works on the weekdays I tried for another reservation for the following weekend-no such luck.  But I did snag another site, also in the boondocking section, for the weekend prior :-)  We were all set for a six day vacation!

Saturday finally came!!  This was our view of the Superstition Mountains when we first drove into the park.  So many words: WOW!!  GORGEOUS!!  AWESOME!!  MAGNIFICENT!!

Our first site, #127, was in the back section closest to the mountains.  It was a back-in spot, on a slope and according to Ron "a bear" to get into.  The view was so worth it :-)


Debbie invited us over for dinner that first night.  Boy were we ready for some good food, great company and adult beverages :-)  Debbie had reserved their spot a year ago for 10 days.  They are in the section with water and electric hookups.  There is a fresh water fill and waste water dump station near the campground entrance/exit.

site #98, home for Debbie and Steve

 Our morning view with coffee mug in hand is unmatched by any other to date!

I simply can not get enough of these mountains!

happy hour on the deck :-)
One evening we all went on a short hike with the dogs leaving around 5:00.  We got back to the campground after sunset.  Good thing we had a couple of headlamps with us!  It was a good practice run for the much more challenging Flatiron Trail. 


 

Most days went as follows: morning and afternoons on our own and then we'd get together for dinner, drinks and campfires.  This way Steve could work, Debbie could catch up on her blog posts and Ron and I could relax :-)  We went out for dinner one night to nearby Dirtwater Springs.  Debbie and I each ordered the Liquid Marijuana (no drugs but 3 shots of liquor) while the guys ordered a beer to go with our burgers and wings.


Our second site, #34 is a tight pull through spot in the middle of the campground.  We first tried to pull in, but ended up backing out, moving to the front of the spot and then backing in.  Being a giant isn't always easy...  

we were determined to make it work!
Debbie had been telling us about the Flatiron Trail.  It's one of her favorites and she's completed it several times.  We got a late start, meeting on the trail at 11:30.  The sun was out.  And so was the wind.  

looking forward to the hike

Debbie and I as we start the hike

the Thumb

looking down on the thumb

Ron taking a breather while he waits for us


what a hike!

The hike starts out nice and wide.  There is a defined trail to follow.  As soon as we start moving more vertical the trail disappears.  You're basically identifying where you can put your next foot.  I was pretty much on all fours for most of this part.  I think Ron is part mountain goat (LOL) - he makes it look so easy.   I was so thankful that Debbie was there to show us the way!


almost there!

In the above photo Debbie is at the point where we decide to stop and turn around.  It took us about two hours to get to this spot.  We made it about 3/4 of the way to the peak.  After this point it's probably another hour or more to get to Flatiron Peak.  If we kept going, we would be returning in the dark and that isn't safe considering all of the climbing we had to do just to get this far.

more uphill climbing necessary

We were all satisfied with how far we went on the hike.  Now Ron and I know what to expect and when we come back we'll make it to the top!!  I was especially happy with my hike because at one point I was ready to stop.  The wind was very unnerving as it made my hat flap in all directions.  But I took it off and kept going.  Yippee for me!

Ron and I thoroughly enjoyed our vacation!   
evidence of the night before :-)

we all loved our time together!
Rufus enjoyed his vacation too!  Although he couldn't go with us to Flatiron (dogs allowed but it's steep, remember) he had plenty of walks in the park and on other trails.  Plus, he has access to the deck when the weather cooperates.  He's such a lucky dog!

Our departure day was a bit overcast and some rain drops fell prior to hooking up.  I managed to get a nice photo of the Superstitions in the clouds.  


Until next time...



March 16, 2021

2020: The Second Half Is Better Than The First Half!

*This is the second half of 2020.  It's a long one!  My previous post covers the first half of the year.  I was just too preoccupied during the year to write...

What a ride!!

June to October 2020  

This is what 23 states, 127 nights, 45 campgrounds, and 10,500+ towing miles looks like:

Our average driving distance between campgrounds was 231 miles.  Our shortest drive was a mere 32 miles in North Carolina so we could stay closer to Ron's folks a little longer.  Our longest drive was 539 miles between Albuquerque, NM and Oklahoma City, OK.  We really wanted to see Benji!  

https://www.rvtripwizard.com/app/visit/Q1pJNlQ2dmtaVjZndUlTSHNUSEZmdz09

https://www.rvtripwizard.com/app/visit/Q1pJNlQ2dmtaVjZndUlTSHUSEZmdz0We had work in 10 states when we hit the road in June!  The only state we didn't get to (for work) was New York.  By the time we would be in the area the governor made it unlawful not to self-quarantine for 14 days.  With just one job and no other source of income in the state, we decided to forego this one.  During our entire trip, we took care due to Covid.  We wore a mask, washed, sanitized, social distanced and used other precautions to ensure our safety and the safety of those around us.

Work locations in California kept us busy for the first week after leaving Sacramento.  Knowing we would be gone for an extended time frame, we decided to let go of the RV rental spot we had.  We figured that when we returned to the area again, we would be able to stay at one of the RV parks around town. 

We had several contracts in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.  Our sales calls from a previous trip paid off :-)  Note to self: avoid working outside in southern Arizona in June!  The heat was almost unbearable!  To top it off, at one job-site the wind had kicked up (from nowhere...) and took our two shade awnings for a ride.  We caught up with the first one right away.  Only minor damage.  The second one took a little longer to gain control of.  It suffered a mangled leg.  How funny it must've looked watching us that afternoon...

With work done for awhile, we drove hard from Arizona toward Oklahoma.  Someone special was waiting for us :-) 

We stopped in Oklahoma to see Alex, Kana and Benji on our way up to Michigan.  Benji is getting more mobile and he's walking all over :-)  We had some fun with my camera.  He likes taking selfies with Oma!

 

This was a quick stop.  We just had the one day to spend with them.  But the good news is that we'd be getting our new home very soon!  We plan to see Benji again in about a month :-) 

Three long driving days later and we were in Michigan.  We had put a deposit on a new home for us back in February.  It would be unlike anything we had towed before and we were up for the challenge!  We had already arranged a week long stay at an RV park within a 30 minute drive from Lakeshore RV Center in Muskegon, Michigan.  Turns out we needed a couple of extra days.  The transfer was more involved than we anticipated.

Here's a photo of our new home on wheels

Ryker

 from manufacturer's website
 

We had first seen the Heartland Cyclone 4007 floor plan in Sacramento in fall 2019.  Up until then we didn't think we'd like a toy hauler as much as we did this one.  The logistics involved in the transformation from travel trailer to 5th wheel were numerous and sometimes overwhelming.  Before we could even pick up Ryker we had to put Rainier on a diet.  He lost 500 pounds in about 30 minutes with the removal of the commercial shell.

 


We were given a very long end spot, plenty of room for moving time.  We had our work tools and materials in the truck bed so those were the first items to go into the U-Haul.  Next we boxed up our household items and put them into the U-Haul.  We had ordered a hitch from the same company that took off the shell.  They removed the shell and installed the hitch the same day.  We had to wait a few extra days for the tonneau cover to arrive at the shop but it too has worked out great.  Finally, we were ready to pick up Ryker :-)  

Moving in was fairly easy.  There is quite a bit of storage room inside and under the front bedroom.  Plus, we have a loft in the garage for Costco sized paper products!  We made a storage box for our materials in the garage anchoring it to the floor.  We strap down our big tool box, air compressor and generator.  Our rig came with an on-board generator but we also have a portable one for working on-site.  I haven't gotten any decent inside photos so I'll have to make that a separate post in the future.  We really love our new home!  We especially like all the windows.  It brightens up the whole space! 

Several moves, weeks and work sites later and we're back in Oklahoma City.  This time we get to spend more days with Alex, Kana and Benji :-)  We show off our new home and we can tell everyone likes it.  Benji really enjoys jumping from the bottom stair to the floor :-)  We spend time relaxing at their home.  No projects for Alex and Ron this time around, which is nice.  One evening Alex invited friends over.  We enjoyed a BBQ dinner and then a good game of Catan.  I think it was the first time I won :-)  


One morning Alex, Benji and I went to the park.  Benji sure enjoys when we say: Ready, Set, Go :-)  Our time went by quickly and before we knew it we were heading east again.  Five days just isn't enough time...

Our next stop was Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock, AR.  A simple paved lot along the Arkansas River.  We arrived early enough to walk over the bridge.  We had no idea what we'd expect to find.  The Clinton Presidential Library sits at the other side of the pedestrian bridge.  It was closed for the day so we had an adventure in the surrounding park and nature area.

perfect spot for the night

 

Rufus enjoyed his walk too :-)

 

Clinton Presidential Library has a unique architecture

Our next work commitment had us once again in North Carolina.  This is the third year we've worked in the Greensboro area.  We originally contacted customers in the area because Ron's folks live nearby.  Due to Covid, our visit with Erika and Guenther was limited.  We visited their house only once, wearing masks the entire time.  We were their first guests since March!  They visited us at the campground to see Ryker (the new rig).  We sat outside, 6' apart, wearing masks and didn't share any hugs :-(  It saddens me just thinking about our visit...  

We really wanted to stay nearby for a few more days so we secured a spot near Pilot Mountain.  Greystone RV Park is a small private campground just a few miles from Pilot Mountain.  There are only 10 sites and each one has a view of the towns namesake.

front cap view of the knob
 

We first saw Pilot Mountain just after Erika and Guenther moved here in 2010.  In fact, we walked around the perimeter of the knob on that visit.  With only two days here this time, we opted to visit the town of Mt. Airy.  From this website, Mt. Airy, North Carolina, is best known as the birthplace and boyhood home of actor Andy Griffith. It is affectionately known as “Mayberry” after the fictional town in the television sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960 to 1968. It is said that the town of Mayberry was modeled after Andy's hometown, Mt. Airy. 

So on a rainy August afternoon we ventured to 'old town America'.





 

Hopefully next time we're in the area the weather will cooperate so we can get out of the truck and walk around.  The following day is my birthday.  I usually don't make a big deal about it, but Ron and I were so glad when Erika and Guenther came over for a visit.  They even brought a small cake :-)

Erika, Rene', Guenther and Ron

Ron and I stopped by Virginia Beach for a day to see Mike.  Even though he and Jessica are divorcing, we'd like to keep him in our lives as he's Emmett's dad.  It was a quick visit.  He loves the rig and he was happy to spend an afternoon with us.  Plus, a yummy homemade dinner is always nice!

We've had our Harvest Host membership for about a year now and had never used it until leaving Virginia Beach.  Now that we have an onboard generator we can actually boondock!  We stopped in at Messick's Farm Market for a night.  For those that don't know what Harvest Hosts is, it's a membership based network of farms, wineries, museums and even golf courses (added cost) where you can spend a night for free. 

all tucked in for the night

 
view from our living room window
 
The only caveat, and it's a good one, is that you patronize the business somehow.  We had no problem spending a few dollars at this location!  
 
our haul: jelly, sausage, sandwiches, tomato and homemade ice cream!

 
 
 
Their homemade ice cream is the best we've had in a long time.  Dogs even get a free serving of vanilla along with a biscuit :-)  We highly recommend visiting this location, even if you don't plan to spend the night!  
 
Weeks pass while working in Pennsylvania.  Not much fun stuff going on here...  
 
When we leave PA, we plan a one day visit with my friend Tracy.  We met at a summer camp in Colorado when we were both in high school.  She's from Ohio, I'm from California and we've remained friends since.  Our communications began as letters back and forth, she came to CA once and spent time with us when Alex was a toddler, then came social media.  The years flew by as our lives progressed with marriage, babies, kid's sports and life in general.  The years flew by as we spent the evening talking.  Next time we'll definitely visit a bit longer!
 
cheers to 40 years of friendship!
 
After Ohio it was back to Michigan.  We had a couple of slide repair jobs and friends to visit.  This time we took some time out to visit nearby Lake Michigan.  We all enjoyed our walk along the beach and in the surrounding dunes.  
 


 
We stayed long enough to view the sunset. 
 


Ron and I have known Bob and Debbie since we first moved to Sacramento in 1990.  They owned a small plastic material business and we were customers of theirs.  They have since retired and moved to Michigan, which is where they are originally from.  They came to our place and then we went over to their place.  Debbie showed us around their neighborhood in her golf cart.  What a fun time we all had!
 
Debbie and Bob


Now that most of our work is finished it was time to scoot on over to Idaho.  We wanted to make the move quickly so I booked us three Harvest Host stays: Potosi Brewery in Wisconsin, the Living History Farm in Iowa and Mac's Creek Winery and Brewery in Nebraska.  All three were wonderful hosts and our stays were quiet and relaxing.  A couple of overnights at KOA's and we were in Idaho.

Our first stop in Idaho was to visit Samantha and Jason.  Oops, forgot a photo :-(  They live in southern Idaho near Twin Falls.  We stayed at Heyburn Riverside RV Park, a small city park right along the Snake River.  Big sites and plenty of area to walk Rufus.
 
our end site, #14, was quite spacious



covered pedestrian bridge along the Snake River walkway

plenty of room for off-leash running

We had a fun time visiting with Samantha and Jason!  Dinner out one night then getting tours of both of their work locations the following day.  Jason works at a large machine shop.  Both Ron and I enjoyed seeing the large scale production machines and the results of those machines.  Samantha works in a large office building.  She showed us her office and even I wouldn't mind working there!  The building is fairly new and amenities include two conference rooms, a fitness center, their own copiers that can produce multi-page catalogs along with a large outdoor pond and fountain perfect for relaxing lunches in the summer sun.
 
Of course, after our time with those two it was time for more fun with another two: Jessica and Emmett!!  Emmett was with his babysitter when we first arrived into town.  We planned to meet Jessica there but she had to work overtime.  We were thrilled when Emmett came right up to us and wasn't shy at all :-))  We hadn't seen him in nearly a year, although we video chat often.  I can't believe how big he's gotten!
 


breakfast of champions!

 
His favorite part of the campground was the playground!


Rene', Ron, Jessica and Emmett

 
We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Emmett while Jessica was working.  We played on the playground alot, walked around the campground with Rufus, played in the leaves, helped Opa sweep the deck and we even went to Jessica's work so he could get in a few hugs from her :-)  In the evenings she would join us for dinner before going home with her very tired little boy.  We wish we could've stayed longer but it was already early October by this time and we had one more job in Washington state that we had to complete before the weather turned bad.
 
Washington state turned out to be just fine weather wise.  Now that all of our playground repair work is done it's time to make a bee-line south on I-5 back to Sacramento, California for fabrication and local slide repairs.  Three more boondocking sites and we can settle in for the winter.  Our first month is spent at Cal Expo RV Park, then six weeks at Loomis RV Park, then back to Cal Expo for another month to finish off 2020 and start the new year.
 
We sure had a great time traveling all over these past months!  Thanks for coming along with us :-)