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A Review of 2016 on the Road

We left Atlanta in April of 2015 for a life on the road.  Over the past nearly 2 years, we have enjoyed lots of great sights, met lots of fun people and experienced living in a 400 square foot “tiny home” with 2 dogs and one bathroom.

And this is just the beginning!

santa fe new mexico
Santa Fe, NM

We get asked a lot if we will ever settle down again in a regular home.  At this point in time, we have no plans for that.  We have absolutely no regrets.  We love our new roaming lifestyle and the fact that as we work-camp across the country, we get to actually experience each area as the locals do.

traveling in amarillo texas
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX

With the year 2017 on the horizon, I wanted to do a review of the past year on the road along with some of the trials and tribulations that went along with it.

Many ask about our financials, so I will go into that a bit, along with a few things we have learned and experienced as we traveled this year.

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Total Mileage this year

We began our year working in St. Petersburg, FL at the St. Petersburg KOA.  Our job ended there near the end of March.  Our next job would begin around May 1 in Williams, AZ, but we needed to make an extended stop in Atlanta due to health issues with our dog, Ralph.

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Our route took us to Orlando, a short pit stop in our favorite campground on Tybee Island, then onto Atlanta for a total of 633 miles.

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route to williams

We then traveled westward through Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and finally Williams, AZ, right near the Grand Canyon.  This was a total of  1,798 miles.

where-are-we

Our job in Williams ended on October 31 and our job in Tucson began on November 15.  We took the long way with a detour through Laughlin, NV and Lake Havasu City, AZ, adding another     520 miles.

Grand total miles on the coach for 2016 was 2,951 miles.

Click here for more!

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Life in Tucson

As full time RVers and work campers, we find ourselves moving with the seasons.  Most campgrounds hire for a six month long season.  You can work longer if you’d like as long as the campground is open all year.  Unfortunately, in the wintertime, most of the campgrounds in the northern section of the United States close due to inclement weather.

Our new home...
Our new home…

And not to mention, our coach has issues with below freezing temperatures.  In the future, we have learned that when buying a coach, you need to get what they call a “Polar Package”.  This includes not only heated floors, but extra insulation and a heated undercarriage.  These were things we didn’t think about at the time, and as usual, we learn the hard way.

With that said, we move to warmer weather just as the snowbirds do.  In fact, I guess that makes us snowbirds too!  LOL!

Our view from our front yard
Our view from our front yard

We find the majority of our work camping jobs on the internet and in May, we ran across an opening at the Lazy Days Tucson KOA for kitchen staff.  After several seasons of working the front desk, reservations and check ins, we decided we would love to have a small break.  So we applied.  I figured we would either love it or hate it, but either way- we only will be there through the winter.

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Sunset on the campground
Sunset on the campground

Why stay in Arizona?  Northern Arizona was absolutely beautiful with its pine forests and high mountains.  We wanted to also experience the desert of Arizona.  Tucson is located in southern Arizona very near the Mexico border.  Here we can experience the local desert, beautiful Saguaro forests, local Indian and Mexican influences, and much more.

Thanksgiving dinner at the KOA
Thanksgiving dinner at the KOA

We arrived here in the middle of November and enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving celebration with everyone on the campground.

Tucson KOA is a huge campground with around 500 sites.  Every site is gravel, with a poured concrete patio and and a small asphalt driveway for your vehicle.  And every single site has at least one fruit tree.

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A little break from the real world at Lake Havasu

Our contract at the Williams Circle Pines KOA ended on Oct 31, and our new job at the KOA in Tucson began on Nov 15.  That gave us about 2 weeks to take a break as we make our way down to Tucson.

Bet you wondered what happened to us.  I’m a bit behind on my posting!

Over the summer, many of our guests had come from southern Nevada, Laughlin and Lake Havasu.  They had come to Williams to get a break from the heat as that area of the country sees triple digits all summer.  We decided that we would check out that area of the country in a round about way to Tucson.

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Our first stop was the Laughlin Avi Casino KOA in Laughlin, Nevada.   Laughlin is located on the southernmost tip of Nevada along the Colorado river where Nevada, California and Arizona meet.   The town is known as a fun casino town.

where-are-we

It is about a half day drive from Williams.  And all down hill.  We went from over 7000 feet above sea level in Williams to about 500 feet above sea level in Laughlin.

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While we missed the heat of the summer, it was still nice and warm there.  I enjoyed sitting under the palm trees and working on my laptop in my beautiful new back yard.

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On our second day there, we took the London Bridge Jet Boat tour down the Colorado River from Laughlin to the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.

This is a great way to see the area from the water.  The trip takes about 2 hours to get to Lake Havasu City, you get a 2 hour break there to check out the bridge and grab a lunch, and then take the 2 hour ride back up the river.

And best of all, it was very affordable at about $70 a person.

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We really enjoyed the boat tour and our tour guide was incredibly informative.  Check out the green tint of the water behind Dave.  It was really that green!  Apparently from minerals in the water.

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Leaving Circle Pines and heading to new Adventures!

We have been on the road now about a year and a half.  And the adventure has just begun.  Selling the house and nearly everything that we owned was difficult.  Leaving our friends and family behind was too.   But I have to tell you that we have absolutely no regrets.

Life on the road is everything we thought it would be.

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We often are asked how we can support ourselves on the road and I have to say that fortunately for us, we are able to handle most of our bills with income from my websites.

However, we do need a buffer.  And that is where KOA has come in.  We are doing seasonal work at various campgrounds in order to supplement our income while we see the country.

Last week we left Circle Pines KOA in Williams, AZ and I have to say that it was a sad farewell.  We not only loved this surprisingly beautiful area of the country, but made a bunch of new friends in the process that we definitely will miss.

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And we absolutely loved working for Bruce and Lori.  They made campground work an adventure.

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rv life camping etiquette

Our cool shady spot underneath the tall pines is now just a memory.  I would have loved to stay through the winter, but our coach does not love cold weather.  So it is onto to warmer regions.

We are currently at Lake Havasu for a brief vacation and then moving onto our winter job in Tucson, AZ.

But as I like to do, I’ve created a video of our memories from this beautiful campground on the high plains of Arizona.

Next week as a final chapter, I will be posting the top 10 Things to do in Williams, AZ.

Want more videos?

If you would like to see a bit about the parts of the country that we have visited so far, you can see our other videos here:

Our Season working at the St. Petersburg KOA

A Compilation Video of our Summer at Bar Harbor!

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Autumn in Northern Arizona

We we planned our move to Arizona for the summer, the last thing I was expecting was to see beautiful leaves in the fall!  It’s a desert, right?

Wrong.

autumn in northern arizona

Depending upon the altitude, Northern Arizona is a mix of tall pines and hardwoods such as Aspens.  So with Fall in full bloom, we took advantage of a few days off and checked out the local foliage at the San Francisco Peaks.

A perfect way to say goodbye to this beautiful part of the country.

autumn in northern arizona

You see, we will be heading out of Williams this week and on to our next destination.  Time flies when you are having fun, right?

bear-warning

And there appears to be bears in the vicinity!  Who knew?

All this time we have been here, the only wildlife that we have come across besides those animals at Bearizona and the petting zoo was the occasional Abert Squirrel!

autumn in northern arizona

Luck was with us and we actually got photo bombed!

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But seriously.  It has been an amazing experience here.

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Lot’s of things are happening at the Circle Pines KOA as we finish out the season.  They erected  a new huge sign for the entranceway.  Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

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We spent this past week telling all of our friends and coworkers goodbye.  Starting a season can be exciting, but finishing one out can be sad. We may run into some of our friends again along the road.  It is a small world after all.

But part of being a seasonal worker is making new friends along the way.

So what have we been doing these past few weeks besides checking out leaves and saying goodbye to our friends?

plumbing-problems

Well, there were plumbing issues.  Seems that we should have named our coach “Always Something”.  Fortunately, Dave and Ralph had it handled in no time.

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And speaking of Ralph.  His diabetes has not been under control. About 3 months ago, he suddenly lost his vision.  The local vet recommended a specialist down in Phoenix.  We had to mull it over a bit as the cost was pretty high.

One of Ralph’s favorite past times is sitting in the window watching the squirrels.  When his eyesight deteriorated, not only was he running into things, but his demeanor changed.  He became depressed and not his normal self.

We were told that we had to get the diabetes in check before they could do anything about his eyes.  So, we spent the last few months keeping him on a strict prescription diet and having his glucose levels checked weekly.

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On October 5, we finally were able to get the surgery done.  Ralph had two new lenses put in his eyes.

Yep.  We bit the bullet and spent the money.  Ralph is one of the family after all.

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Recovery from the surgery takes about 6 weeks total.  And for many of those weeks, we had to keep him in the “cone of shame” full time.  This meant that I had to hand feed him.  And he had to learn how to get around with that huge cone on his head.

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A few weeks ago, we finally got to see his big brown eyes again.  I think he is really enjoying the fact that he can see his old nemesis  the Abert Squirrel.

He has a few more weeks of recovery, but he can already see better than I can.

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So that has been our last month in Williams.  Saying goodbye, fixing problems with the coach and helping Ralph recover from surgery. Oh, and I’m putting together a video of our season here.  I should have it ready this week.  So stay tuned.

We will be leaving the area this week and heading onto Laughlin, NV and Lake Havasu City for a short break before we go to our next job in Tucson, AZ.  I have to say that we will both miss the Williams area.

And who knows, maybe we will come back one day!  It totally could happen.

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An insiders look at Campground Etiquette

As full time campers and work campers, we have come to the conclusion that for the most part, other campers are awesome!  We all have so much in common.  We love the outdoors, we enjoy cooking on the grill, we enjoy the stars at night.

But there is always one bad apple in the barrel.  Isn’t there?

rv life camping etiquette
Circle Pines KOA, Williams, AZ

The problem is that most campgrounds this time of year become very full.  A larger campground such as the one we worked in St. Petersburg, Florida has nearly 500 campsites.

Filled to capacity, you are looking at the very least, 1000 people crammed into one campground!  St. Petersburg KOA was full to capacity the entire winter season that we were there.

The closer people camp together, the grouchier they become.  It’s just a fact.

rv life camping etiquette
St Petersburg/Madeira Beach KOA, FL

That is why campgrounds have the need to post rules.  Usually you will receive a pamphlet of rules along with a map of the campground upon arrival.  Some of those rules may seem a tad restrictive, but I have to tell you that there is a reason for every one of them.

As campground workers, we are more than aware of some of the biggest pet peeves of those that camp around us.  Here is our list of the top 10 complaints that we receive at the campground and how to avoid being the bad apple.

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Top Ten Rules of Campground Etiquette

life at the campground
Bar Harbor Oceanside KOA, Maine

10. Quiet time is not just a suggestion

Many of the campgrounds that we have worked at post quiet time as 10:00 PM at night until 7:00 AM.  Why?  Well, some folks want to sleep at night.  Common courtesy is at play here.

Yes, we are all on vacation, but do respect your neighbors and keep the noise down after 10:00 PM.  Most campgrounds try to enforce quiet time as best as possible, but we cannot be at all places at all times.

Click here for the rest of the list!

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Christmas in Florida

We have been settled in St. Petersburg, Florida for about a month now.  I am still behind on posting, but wanted to take some time to catch you up on our travels.  In the past month we have visited our favorite place, Tybee Island, GA, attended my daughter’s wedding in Atlanta, and even endured some RV problems.

st petersburg florida koa

But we finally made it to our winter destination, St. Petersburg/Madeira Beach KOA.  We will be here until March or April, when we begin to head west.

st petersburg florida koa

I have to tell you that I miss the snow.  As pretty as Florida is, I would prefer to be trekking through several feet of pure white snow.  But the RV and Dave both would like to have a warmer winter.

We arrived to 95 degree weather with nearly 100% humidity.  Looks like the RV and Dave both got their wish.

Our new spot is quite beautiful and the campground is like a little resort, so I really do not have a lot to complain about.  They tucked us in with the snowbirds who all seem very nice.   And we even have grass!

st petersburg florida koa

Ralph and Faith like it too.  They both have lots of things to keep their interest.  In fact, there are so many lizards running around here that it is hard to get Ralph to take a poop without getting distracted.

And Faith has an issue with herons (those tall legged white birds with the long necks), so there is always plenty of excitement when I take them outside.

st petersburg florida koa

We are working at the campground here.  I am in the office and Dave is working on the grounds.  And…we are getting the place spiffied up for Christmas!

Dave put up all the blow up decorations this week, and then spent quite a bit of time freaking Ralph out over this outhouse Santa.

Ralph is not a fan of Santas exiting an outhouse.  Just saying.

st petersburg florida christmas

The streets are decorated too!  What do you do when there are no fir trees around?

You improvise.

st petersburg florida christmas

We felt the need to decorate the coach too.  Since we had no nearby fir trees to decorate, Dave and I picked out a tiny tree at a local Christmas tree stand.

Charlie Brown would be proud.

st petersburg florida christmas

Our tree turned out great!  We ended up with just enough room in the living room for it.  The little table is actually my printer box covered in blankets.  (I’m the master of multi- purpose!)

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Oh.  Did I mention there is a beach nearby?  It is 2.5 miles from the campground to Madeira Beach.  There will be plenty of beach photos in the next few months.

We have yet to located any great eating places to share with you, but I’m sure we will have a top 10 list before we leave the area.

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Since ice cream is my second hobby, I do feel the need to mention this fun soft serve stand, Twistee Treat.  There are actually a few of them in the area, all shaped like giant ice cream cones.

st petersburg florida

And apparently, I have my new challenge for this leg of the trip.  Trying each and everyone of those awesome flavors!

Oh, and by the way.  That is a medium size cone there.  Can’t even imagine what the large one might look like.   I think I’m going to like Florida.

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On the beach there are snowmen.  This will probably be as close as I get to snow this winter.  I’ll take what I can get.

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And the sunsets here are beautiful too.  Christmas in Florida can be quite beautiful!

If you squint a bit, that white sand could be snow.  Right?

Stay tuned!
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The White Mountains of New Hampshire

We officially left the state of Maine on October 2.  What a fabulous six months we had!  We met so many wonderful people and enjoyed an amazingly beautiful area of the country.  And now the adventure continues!

dave driving with dog

Dave wanted to check out the White Mountains in New Hampshire.  Faith was much more interested in seeing if there were any roadside hotdog stands.

Since Dave was driving, those hotdog stands would have to wait until another day…

moose crossing sign maine

It wasn’t too long and we left the state of Maine and all it’s Moose Crossing signs behind.  Did we ever see a moose?  Well, no.  Lived there six months and the closest I got to a moose was this sign.

traveling in new hampshire

And I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t see a Fall leaf change too.  Fortunately, we got to see plenty of colorful trees on the way to New Hampshire.   Fall is definitely here!

mount washington new hampshire

Dave wanted to ride the Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington.  So, we chose the closest KOA, which happened to be Twin Mountain KOA.  This was a beautifully maintained privately owned campground at the base of the White Mountains.

We enjoyed talking to the owners who told us that they purchased this particular campground sight unseen several years ago.  Since then, they had done many upgrades including beautiful private tent areas and even a caboose as a “cabin” rental!

mount washington new hampshire

So what the heck is the Cog Railway?

It is the world’s first mountain climbing rack and pinion railway.  It is the second steepest railway in the world with an average grade of over 25%, and a maximum grade of 37.41%!

The three mile trek up Mount Washington takes about 40 minutes as you ascend to the summit peak at 6,288 feet above sea level.

mount washington new hampshire

The Cog Railway originated in 1852 when after becoming lost near the summit of Mount Washington, Sylvester Marsh decided to create a better way for people to reach the highest mountain peak in the Northeast.

One Hundred and Forty Years later, The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a National Historic Engineering Landmark!   The vintage steam engines, replica coaches and biodiesel locomotives are well worth the visit.

We loved the running commentary from the brakeman on board who filled us in on the history of the railway, the mountain, and other fun facts.  And then there was the cool optical illusion of the trees and structures along the side of the tracks being extremely tilted.  (When in fact it was us that was tilted!)

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And then there was Mount Washington!  The summit was cold and clear and we could see for miles!

mount washington new hampshire

In fact, in the photo above if you look where the sky meets the land on the horizon, there is a strip of blue there.  That is the Atlantic ocean!

mount washington new hampshire

Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 ft (1,917 m).

The mountain is famous for dangerously erratic weather. On the afternoon of April 12, 1934, the Mount Washington Observatory actually recorded a windspeed of 231 miles per hour (372 km/h) at the summit.  This was the world record for most of the 20th century.

Like most big mountains, it makes it’s own weather and conditions at the top are often poor.  We were fortunate to arrive on a clear day as more often than not, clouds cover the peak.

At peak of the mountain, there was a museum to enjoy which included an exhibit titled “Extreme Mount Washington“.  This video is a bit about the exhibit and the crazy weather that Mount Washington loves to share.

mount washington new hampshire

And here above the clouds is the Appalachian Trail!  One of things I’ve always wanted to do is take that trail from Georgia all the way to it’s end point in Maine on Mount Katahdin.  I didn’t realize that not only did you have to tackle that huge mountain in Maine, but you had one quiet a bit larger just a state away!

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The state of New Hampshire dressed up and greeted us with beautiful leaves, amazing weather and a wonderful start to our trek heading south.

Dave has a good idea every now and then.  But don’t tell him I said so.

Onward to Massachusetts!

A Compilation Video of our Summer at Bar Harbor KOA!

It is so hard to accurately describe how beautiful it is here in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Over the past five and a half months, I’ve done my best to document some of the sights and sounds of the area.  We have made so many wonderful friends here at the Bar Harbor KOA and will miss every one of them.

Here is a compilation of some of the highlights of our time here along with my friends and coworkers who made the time that much more enjoyable.

Enjoy…

To view on a larger screen click here!

For more information about the Bar Harbor KOA, be sure to check out the KOA website!

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Pemaquid Point Lighthouse and life on the campground…

Our youngest daughter is getting married in November.  Since Dave has to walk her down the aisle, it was necessary this week to take a trip back into civilization and get measured for a tuxedo.

fitted for a tux

So we made the two hour drive south to Augusta, Maine, where the closest Men’s Wearhouse was.  We were not looking forward to the drive and the fact that it would take up a whole day off to accomplish.  A two hour drive for a fitting that took all of ten minutes…

Now what to do?

We decided that since we were in the general area, maybe we should check out Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.  After all, on the map it was just east of Augusta, and a trip up the coast would be beautiful!

pemaquid lighthouse maine

And the lighthouse was beautiful, of course.  We arrived after hours, so were not able to tour the inside, but were able to spend plenty of time enjoying the scenery.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was originally commissioned in 1827 by John Quincy Adams and built that year. Due to poor workmanship (salt water was used in the mortar mix), the lighthouse began to crumble and was replaced in 1835.

Most lighthouses in the US were converted to the Fresnel Lens in the 1850’s, and Pemaquid Point received it’s lens in1856. The lens is one of only six Fresnel lenses still in service in Maine!

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Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park is managed by the Bristol Parks Commission.  And…it is the lighthouse on the Maine State Quarter, making it the first lighthouse to be featured on a piece of US currency!

pemaquid lighthouse maine

Coincidentally, this particular lighthouse is a top destination for weddings with its beautiful rocky cliffs and crashing waves.  The lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the Maine coast.

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While taking photos, the whole scene seemed very familiar to me.

pemaquid lighthouse maine

And then it occurred to me that I had painted the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse back in 1998 in a series of lighthouse paintings for a calendar!  It had hardly changed at all!

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Beautiful rocky shores, deep blue waters and a setting sun make this trip totally worth it.  We were very glad that we decided to make the stop.

Our boring trip to Augusta turned out to be pretty fabulous.

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…and then we had to go back to work.  The park at Oceanside is full to capacity and has been so since the beginning of July.  The boss says excitedly that this is a record year.

We are just tired.  LOL!

life at the campground

Of course, the campground still has it’s beautiful scenery to enjoy.  On our days off, we can wander about the rocks at low tide with the dogs and look for shells.

…and rescue tiny crabs from Ralph’s mouth.

life at the campground

The summer here is nearing it’s end and the wild apple trees on the campground are just full of apples.  I was told that they make great pie, so I am waiting for them to ripen.

life at the campground

One of our guests had a dog that could have been Ralph’s twin.

life at the campground

Ralph thinks he looks much younger and cooler, though.

eating a huge sandwich

Oh…and in our down time, we apparently enjoy taking uncomplimentary photos of each other.  This is Dave’s take on my humongous BLT courtesy of one of the local restaurants…

eating a huge sandwich

….and a little morning scariness to keep it real.

Because life is a sitcom, right?