Tag Archives: scenic views

The 5 Most Epic US Travel Destinations of 2018

This is a Guest Post from Kyle Rutten.  I will have more updates this week!

The United States has a wealth of world class travel destinations fit for any personality. There are stops with amazing history and culture, jaw-dropping protected wilderness reserves, and completely unique and quiet getaways spots. Whatever your sensibilities, you can find an amazing vacation without having to leave the country. In this article, we’ll break down some of our favorite spots of the year to help get your gears turning on your next adventure. Let’s dive in.

1. The Rolling Destination: Colorado RV Trip

If you want to maximize novelty, an RV trip is the perfect way to do so. In fact, putting ourselves in a novel environment trips a circuit in our brain that evolved to increase focus and creative thinking in order to improve survival when we’re on the move. It’s this effect that makes so many of us love travel, because of the “feeling” we get. The best way to maximize that feeling is to maximize the novelty we experience.

Hence, an RV trip. You can fly into Denver and rent a rig from one of the premier, privately owned Colorado RV dealers in the area. From here, head west for the trip of a lifetime. About an hour up I-70 you’ll find yourself surrounded by countless adventure options.

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Hiking, camping, rock climbing, rafting, zip-lining, fishing, kayaking, and so on. If you are looking for the most action in one trip, this is the way to do it.

2. Take a Retreat in a Tree House

If you’re looking for some quiet time to recharge rather than nonstop action, go chill in a treehouse for a few days. Treehouse Point in Fall City, Washington is one of several tree house getaways in the United States.

There are yoga classes and numerous hiking trails to enjoy. Or you can cozy up with a book and let yourself decompress. The area is surrounded by pacific northwest greenery that will calm the worst of nerves. If you’re looking for a reset in your life, this is the place to be.

3. Rad History: Dry Tortugas National Park

On a tiny island off the coast of Key West Florida you can find Dry Tortugas National Park. Within the park is the extremely unexpected Jefferson Fort. A massive, 16 acre brick fortress that takes up the entire island it resides on.

The fort was a controversial build during the early days of our country, with some experts seeing the location as completely unfit for a naval installation. However, the decision was made to construct the base in order to secure the area for merchant vessels. It was believed that merchant vessels in the area were mission critical to the survival of the union at this time.

Whether you are into history, or just want a bit of the island charm, the Florida Keys are a must see.

4. Every Night’s a Party in New Orleans

If nightlife is your thing, it’s hard to find a better place than The French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Every night, Bourbon Street comes alive with jazz, blues, hip hop, folk and other genres of high-energy live music. Drinks are always at the ready, and the open container laws of the town make the place feel like the party simply never stops.

During the day, there is also plenty to take in here, including some of the best food you will ever put in your face.

Pro Tip: Forget about your diet in New Orleans and eat as much as humanly possible.

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5. Nature’s Grand Finale, Autumn Colors in the San Juans

Every year as the Rocky Mountains make their preparations for winter, millions of Colorado aspen trees turn a vibrant gold. The spectacle attracts tourists from all over the world and is truly a sight to behold.

The perfect hidden gem for witnessing this phenomenon is taking a ride on the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Enjoy a charming ride in an enclosed rail car, with food and drink available. The train winds through 45 miles of some of the most stunning wilderness Colorado has to offer. Time the trip right, and you’ll get to see a sea of aspen trees bursting with their seasonal gold. It’s a ride you will not soon forget.

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The United States is a difficult place to top in terms of travel options. No matter what kind of activities you enjoy, there is always a place you’ll love. Travel is an important way to gain a fresh perspective in life and touch that ever-elusive feeling of joy and meaning.

It’s for this reason that we are firm believers that you shouldn’t wait to “find” time to travel, but rather “make” it. Hopefully this article has inspired you to get out there and have an adventure, the world is waiting!

Kyle Rutten is a freelance content creator for B&B RV located in Denver, Colorado.  In his free time, he enjoys hiking, exploring the wilderness and taking advantage of the active lifestyle that Colorado’s mountainous terrain offers.

Apache Trail and Tortilla Flat- Beautiful Arizona

It’s been a busy season here in Apache Junction and with my new Social Media Director job, and six websites to maintain, I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind here on The Traveling Sitcom.  We will be here in Arizona for five more weeks and I hope to catch up on at least the highlights of this beautiful area over the next few weeks.

We are going to start with the amazingly beautiful Apache Trail.

Yes, we are finding the time to explore.  After all, that is why we went into full timing in the first place.  The Apache Trail and Tortilla Flat were first on our list of must sees.  And apparently we liked them because we have driven this route several times now.

Named after the Apache Indians who once used this route,  the Apache Trail, or AZ 88 as it is officially known, links Apache Junction with Theodore Roosevelt Lake,  traveling through the Superstition Mountains and the Tonto National Forest.

Known as one of the ten most dangerous roads in Arizona, we had to check it out.

But before we hit the actual trail, we made one stop…

Tortilla Flat

Tortilla Flat was originally a freight camp, home to a small community for years. Only a small part of the town remains, but what’s left is touristy Old West.

The town, population six, is Arizona’s smallest town with a post office as well as a voter’s precinct.

Quite literally, Tortilla Flat is just a wide spot in the road.  But we had heard a lot about it from those that visit here every year.  We were told to try the hamburgers at the restaurant there.  They were supposed to be epic.

Hamburgers, you say?  Well, we certainly needed to check that out.  I mean sometimes you have to make a few sacrifices in the name of tourism.

Walking into the Superstition Saloon and Restaurant is an adventure in itself.  The first thing you see (besides the kitchy saddle barstools) are thousands and thousands of dollar bills on every single wall and ceiling in the place.  According to our waiter, over 500,000 in dollar bills.

Interesting enough, this saloon was rebuilt after the 1987 fire which destroyed almost the entire town.   At that time, the saloon had been blanketed with dollar bills that burned with the building.

The tradition has lived on.

Okay, I’m sure you are wanting to know about the burger.  Yes, it was awesome.  We will be back.

The rest of Tortilla Flat consists of an old one-room school house, an ice cream parlor, two gift shops and a post office.

We tried out the Prickly Pear Gelato before we left town.  An interesting flavor, similar to strawberry, but not as strong.  Not sure I’d get it again, but I can now say I had it.

And now to check out Apache Trail!

 

Armed with our maps and our sturdy KIA Soul, we ventured onward, determined to get a taste of this road that we had heard so much about.  We had pavement for a few miles past Tortilla Flat until we got to mile marker #220.

And then our adventure began.

We passed a scenic lake, took a few photos and at this point were not too intimidated by the road ahead.

And then the hairpin turns and the switchbacks began.  Our little KIA climbed and climbed.  Rail guards were few and far between and in most instances as we climbed the narrow road, there was nothing between us and the edge of the cliff but a few feet of dusty road.

It may seem a little late to mention this, but your car should be in good working order before taking this trip. This is not an area that you want to break down in.  There are also restrictions on size and weight of vehicles on the Apache Trail. It is not recommended for RVs.

Our little KIA was not informed of this ahead of time.  We didn’t want it to freak out.

You see, there is no cell phone coverage here, and very little traffic.  Which is good in a way because the road is so narrow and every blind corner is an adventure in itself.

But the amazing scenery is worth the journey!  Every inch of it.  The forty mile route took us about 4 hours.  By the time we got to Roosevelt Dam, it was nearly dark.  And our KIA was no longer silver.  More of a muddy brown.

We have since taken this trip two more times.  The Apache Trail is a definite must do if you are in the area.  Put aside a day and check it out.

Motorcycling the Desert

Another thing that has been keeping us busy this season is motorcycling with a group from the resort.  Turns out there are lots here that have motorcycles and about once a week somebody organizes a ride.

It’s the most use our motorcycle has gotten since we hit the road three years ago.

The desert offers so much to see.  I honestly never get tired of looking at the beautiful vistas.

I have lots more to show you and hope to share it over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

 

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Full Time RV Living- The Highs and Lows

Three days ago, we hit the road heading to our next destination, Boston/Cape Cod, MA.  It was a rainy day in Atlanta and was going to prove to be a rainy trip to our first stop in Gaffney, SC.  But we were headed out ahead of the tropical storm that would hit the gulf coast the next day.

Upon our arrival in South Carolina,  we discovered that the full wall slide will not go out. Apparently the motor has broken (for the second time in two years). This means that our roughly 400 square foot motorhome is now about half that size.  

Then I dropped an entire glass jar of pickles on the floor resulting in pickles and broken glass everywhere.  The final straw? We forgot Ralph’s insulin in Atlanta. 

We had to unhook the car (did I mention it is pouring rain?), go to Walmart for the insulin and then spend the evening trying to make my coach floor unsticky.

And to think we left this sweet thing to deal with faulty equipment, pickle juice and rainy Walmart runs.

This is our second issue with the slide mechanism on this coach.  Winnebago is aware of the problem.  Apparently the motor which operates the slide is too small for the weight of the full wall slide.  They have solution.  Which means a trip to Iowa to the Winnebago Industries facility.

So there you go.  Plans are changed instantly.  As full timers, we are getting used to the highs and lows of this lifestyle.  With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of those highs and lows in order to put this past experience into perspective.  I mean, at least we aren’t stranded on the side of the road, right?  (Knock on wood).

Let’s Start with the Lows

Broken Finger

living full time in a rvThis little incident that happened at our first campground of residence in Bar Harbor, ME.  Word to the wise, don’t wrap the leashes around your finger while walking the dogs.  You see, an errant squirrel can cause quite a bit of havoc.  One little 20 pound dog totally broke my finger.

Medical insurance is not what it used to be.  We are currently on Obamacare and with the latest changes and the fact that we have next to no selection for healthcare, we are limited to seeing only doctors in our home of record- Atlanta, GA.  That doesn’t help us much when we are dealing with a broken finger in Maine.

We ended up paying for this injury in full.  On the bright side, I have to say that the folks at the hospital in Ellsworth are amazingly friendly.

Bad Employment Experiences

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With any job you have to expect that you are not going to get along with everyone.  There will be things you don’t particularly want to do.  There will be days that you won’t want to go to work and days where everything seems to go wrong.

More often than not, those experiences are balanced by good experiences, people that you love to work with, great employers, and beautiful places to work.

We have been lucky in the fact that in the two years that we have been on the road, we have only experienced one place that made us regret our decision to work there.  But I have to say that we learned a whole lot from that experience.

Pet Illness


Our dog Ralph has been through the ringer this past year.  In early 2016, he was diagnosed with bladder stones and diabetes.  He had surgery to remove the stones and then was put on insulin twice a day.

Learning to give him shots was pretty traumatic for both of us.  And getting his diabetes under control was a whole other issue.  It wasn’t long before he went blind.

After much thought, we opted for eye surgery to remove his cataracts.  It took months of recovery and a huge dent in our wallet, but Ralph can now see again, and his diabetes is under control.

Click here for a look at the Highs from the past two years

Bat Central: Carlsbad Caverns

We left Tucson in mid March and headed back to our hometown in Georgia for the birth of our granddaughter.  On the way, we tried to take the time to visit some great places.  Our last stop in New Mexico was Carlsbad Caverns.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park is the show cave, Carlsbad Cavern, oh, and the bats.

Personally, I’m not a fan of caves.  I have claustrophobia and the thought of being hundreds of feet below ground makes my teeth hurt.

But Dave wanted to see this particular cavern because he had heard so much about it.  And we certainly couldn’t just drive right by without taking a look.

The entrance includes a large visitor center building that contains a cafeteria, interesting museum, gift shop, and two elevators that can take you down to the caverns below. 

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It is at this point that you have to make the big decision.  Do you want to hike down into the cavern on your own, or take the easy way out and grab the elevator?

We chose to hike down.  After all, how difficult could it be?  The ranger said that it would take several hours to hike the four mile path down into the caverns.  We would end up being 75 stories below ground.

At the entrance to the cave is a huge amphitheater, created for crowds to watch the evening show of up to 300,000 Mexican Free-tail bats as they emerge from the cave in a huge cloud of blackness.

Yes, seriously.  There were bats.

The path zig-zags down into the darkness below.  Ready for our new adventure, we started the hike.  Carlsbad Cavern is the fifth largest cavern in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world.  And as long as the bats minded their own businesses, we would be perfectly happy to take in the views!

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As we descended into the cave, it was amazing to look up at the pathway that we had already traveled.  The descent is steep, and honestly if you have bad knees, I wouldn’t recommend it.

It is a steady downward descent for 75 stories.  Craziness.

This passageway continues into narrower tunnels where the first extensive collections of stalagmites and stalactites are found, including named features such as Devils Spring, Queen’s Chamber, Kings Palace and the Boneyard.

Note that I am now carrying my jacket.  It is surprisingly humid in the caves.  I believe it was around 90%.  And warm.

The surroundings become steadily more scenic, with small side-caves filled with intricate rock forms.

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We stopped often to take photos and small breaks from the walk down. Unlike many caverns that I have visited, Carlsbad was not brightly lit with different colors.  They maintained the natural look with low lighting.

The lighting was just enough to enjoy the amazing scenery.  Once reaching the bottom of the shaft, you enter the huge Big Room.  It is here that you can further explore, visit an underground gift shop, and then make the next big decision.

Do you want to climb all the way back out or take the elevator up?

We chose the elevator.  You can feel free to call me a wimp.  LOL!  As for the caverns themselves, I highly recommend a visit!  Amazing rock formations, lots of history, and tons of bats!  You can’t go wrong there!

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A visit to White Sands National Monument

Well, lets backtrack a bit.  I want to tell you a bit about the sites that we were able to visit on our way from Tucson to Atlanta.  We took about three weeks to cross the country, which gave us time to do a few tourist things.  Our first major stop was the little town of Alamogordo, NM and White Sands National Monument.

Crossing into New Mexico from Arizona, we were not sure what to expect.  Arizona had been a big surprise.  Where we had expected nothing but desert, we found mountains, forests and amazing things to see and do.  New Mexico just might surprise us too!

White Sands National Monument is a unique experience.  There’s really no other place like it on the planet.  It’s the world’s largest gypsum dunefield, with miles and miles of stunning white landscape.

Surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides, the basin of white sand dunes is roughly 275 square miles.

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Driving into the park, you follow a road that increasing becomes packed sand.  With the constant movement of the dunes, this roadway needs to be plowed daily and driving along it, reminds me of a freshly plowed snow covered road.

Gypsum rarely occurs as sand because it is water-soluble. Normally, rain would dissolve the gypsum and carry it to the sea. Because this particular basin has no outlet to the sea, it traps dissolved gypsum from the surrounding mountains.  As the water sinks into the ground, it leaves crystals of gypsum.

It is hard in photos to give perspective of the size of this place.  In the photo above, Dave and I are standing on a dune looking down at our car below.

An interesting note:  White Sands National Monument is surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range, a military testing area for the U.S. Army.  Most of the dune field lies within that missile range. The world’s first atomic bomb was detonated at the Trinity test site in the missile range, just 65 miles north of White Sands National Monument in 1945.

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Because the park lies completely within the White Sands Missile Range, both the park and U.S. Route 70 between Las Cruces, New Mexico and Alamogordo are subject to closure for safety reasons when tests are conducted on the missile range.

Miles and miles of white sand.  But unlike actual quartz based sand crystals, gypsum does not get hot under the summer sun.  In fact, the dunes are great for downhill sledding along with hiking.  Just be sure that you follow the signs and bring plenty of water.

The desert can be a beautiful, yet deadly place.

High in the clouds: Cloudcroft, NM

Now lets take a look at where all that gypsum comes from!  Just a short drive in the other direction from Alamogordo, high up in the mountain range is the town of Cloudcroft.  Located at 8,600 feet above sea level, Cloudcroft is one the highest towns in the US.

Following the winding road to the top takes about 30 minutes, with lots of places to pull over and enjoy the vistas.  In the photo above, you can see White Sands National Monument in the distance.  The rock that Dave has his foot on is gypsum.  Here is where White Sands begins.

Back in the early 1900’s, Cloudcroft was a major tourist destination.  Due to the altitude, it was the perfect place to get away from the desert heat.  A rail line was created to bring those tourist up from Alamogordo.

Climbing from the valley into the mountains required numerous trestles, switchbacks and grades as steep as 6.4 percent.

With the arrival of US Route 82 to Cloudcroft around 1945, traffic on the railroad line diminished. Southern Pacific discontinued passenger service in 1938, and freight service in 1947; abandonment of the line came soon after in 1948.

The only evidence of the railroad line today is the remains of the trestle over Mexican Canyon, as seen above.

Our visit to New Mexico had just begun.  Our next stop along the way east would be Carlsbad Caverns.  We heard they had bats.  Can’t miss that!

Stay tuned!

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The Science of Tucson

We are currently on our way back across the country to spend a bit of time with my daughter and her family in Atlanta.  In the meantime, I wanted to finish up talking about the Tucson area with one final post.

There is so much to see and do in this beautiful area of the country.   Earlier we covered the amazing Biosphere 2.  This week I wanted to talk a little about Pima Air and Space Museum, the huge aircraft boneyard, Titan Missile Museum and the amazing Kitt Peak National Observatory.  All are within a short driving distance of downtown Tucson!

Kitt Peak National Observatory

For those that love the science of observing the stars or those that just love a fantastic scenic view, a drive to Kitt Peak National Observatory is something you should not miss!

Kitt Peak Observatory includes 24 optical and two radio telescopes, and is the largest, most diverse group of astronomical instruments in the world.  It sits at 6875 feet above sea level overlooking the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

And talk about an amazing view!  The drive from Tucson is a little over an hour and the road up the mountain includes lots of switchbacks and a bit of steepness.  But it is very worth the drive.

Kitt Peak was chosen because of it’s high percentage of clear weather, low levels of humidity, and the fact that there is very little light pollution in the area.  A perfect place for an observatory!

One of the most interesting structures was the McMath-Pierce telescope.  It includes a tower nearly 100 feet high, and a shaft that slants two hundred feet into the ground.  The purpose?  McMath-Pierce telescope is used to study the sun!

The McMath-Pierce is used to study the structure of sunspots, as well as sunspot spectra. A sunspot is a temporary cool region in the sun’s photosphere.   This telescope makes it possible to look directly at the sun.

Kitt Peak is also famous for hosting the first telescope used to search for near-Earth asteroids, and calculating the probability of an impact with planet Earth.

Click here for more!

Local Secrets of Tucson

Yesterday, we left Tucson and are currently heading east towards Atlanta.  We plan on making a slow trek back.  Our daughter is due to have our first grandchild soon and we would love to be there for that.

It was an unplanned exit, as we had intended on staying in Tucson until April 1.  Unfortunately, our job there did not work out.  I will go into it more at a later date.  Things are too fresh right now and Dave and I are planning on decompressing a bit as we head back across the country.

In the meantime, I would love to share with you a few of the local secrets of Tucson.  We truly loved the area, and will go back one day.   Arizona was home to us.

Unique Local Food of Tucson

As with most southwestern towns, Tucson has a large abundance of Mexican restaurants.  We tried as many as we could while we were in the area.  All were good and each had their own unique flair.

Guadalajara Restaurant offered the unique aspect of making your salsa for you at your table.  Not only was it fun to watch, but your salsa was made to our own specifications.

Want it extra hot?  No problem!

We loved the mariachi band, the festive atmosphere and of course the food!

Sonoran Hotdogs

Our coworkers, Rob and Connie from Circle Pines, spend their winters in Tucson.  They told us not to miss the Sonoran Hotdogs.  In fact, they made a point to take us out to their favorite place to get them.

The best thing about work camping is making lifelong friends.

So, what is a Sonoran hotdog?

It starts with a hotdog wrapped in bacon and grilled until it’s crispy. It is then stuffed into a hand made split-top roll called a bolillo (pronouced boh-lee-yoh). It is topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, grilled and raw onions, mayonnaise, mustard and jalapeño salsa.

It is literally heaven in a bun.

El Güero Canelo, is perhaps the most famous maker of Sonoran hot dogs in Tucson.  Seriously, if you are in the Tucson area, don’t miss out on Sonoran Hotdogs!

Want pizza?  Grimaldi’s is a great place for just that.  Huge is the word.  And tasty too.

Raspados

And finally, we need to get dessert, right?

Raspados is the Mexican version of “scraped ice” or snow cones.  They are made with layers of shaved ice, homemade syrups, fruits, candies , ice cream, and sweetened condensed milk.  While standard flavors like strawberry, banana, plum and pineapple are popular, there are also exotic combinations such as the chamoyada with lime, tamarind candy and spicy chamoy sauce.

Don’t leave Tucson without trying one.  They are amazing!

Sentinel Peak (Also known as “A Mountain”)

From downtown Tucson, you can see the big white “A” on Sentinel Peak located just southwest of the city.  The A is a 160 ft. tall structure made from basalt rock, constructed in the early 1900’s by students from the University of Arizona.

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The secret is that you can actually drive up this mountain, see the A up close and personal and look down at amazing views of downtown Tucson!

The perfect time to check this view out is either a sunrise or a sunset.  Since we don’t love getting up early, we hit it one evening during an amazing sunset.

Touching the A is considered good luck.  So naturally, we did.

And then we enjoyed the sunset over Tucson.  Sentinel Peak was surprisingly busy for the sunset viewing.  Apparently, this is not such a secret after all…

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Mt. Lemmon and life in Tucson

Well, its been a couple of weeks since my last update and life in Tucson is a bit cold (especially at night) and a bit frustrating at times, but I have to say it is a beautiful area to live this time of year.

We really love the fact that we can step right outside our door and pick fresh oranges every day for orange juice.  We are definitely getting our share of vitamin C.

As for the work thing.  Well, it could be better.  I’ve written about work camping before- The Good, the bad and the ugly.   We came to this campground to work in the kitchen.  We thought it would be a nice break from working guest services; a job that we have consistently been doing for the past few years.

However, it seems that working in the kitchen, at least at this campground was not working for us.  We asked to be moved back to customer service and they moved us to the front office a little over a week ago.

So, with that said, we are making the best of our stay here and enjoying the area.  And looking forward to our move onto the next part of the country.  LOL!

Tucson has some pretty amazing sunsets.  This photo was taken from our doorway.   I have to say that it truly is a beautiful place to live.

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This past week, we decided to take advantage of our couple days off and take a drive up to the top of Mt. Lemmon.  From the campground, we can see it rising above the city of Tucson.  This time of year, you can see the snow at the summit.

We wanted to touch some snow.   So off we went.

Mt Lemmon Scenic Byway is the only paved road that leads to the top of Mt. Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Range. It is said to be one of the most scenic drives in southeast Arizona.

Because the road starts in the Lower Sonoran desert and climbs to high forests, it offers the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada in a short stretch of 27 miles.

Here at the base of the mountain, we were surrounded by Saguaro cactus and desert scenery.  It would change pretty quickly.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Only in Arizona- The Tumbleweed Christmas Tree!

Yes, at first glance it looks like a normal Christmas tree in the center of town.  But Chandler, Arizona creates something unique and beautiful each year.  Something that you can find nowhere else in the country…

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This beautiful tree is made up of thousands of tumbleweeds!

Yes, thousands of them!  It takes around 1,000 of these tumbling dead bushes to create the massive 30″ tall tree each year.

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Local tradition holds that Chandler’s Tumbleweed Tree was the brainchild of Earle Barnum.  He came up with the idea for the tumbleweed tree after seeing a tree built with local pine boughs in his hometown in Indiana.

How do they make a Tumbleweed Tree?

Starting in the fall, the tumbleweeds are gathered and then placed around a chicken wire frame.  They are then sprayed with flame retardant white paint, sprinkled with over 65 pounds of glitter, and strung with lights.

This wonderfully unique tradition has been carried on for over 60 years in the town of Chandler.

Of course, once we heard about it, we had to see it!

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There was lots to see and do in the town area surrounding the Tumbleweed Tree including great little shops and restaurants.  Naturally, we had to try out one of the restaurants.

The sacrifices we make for this website.  LOL!

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We decided to check out Crust Restaurant, a local Italian eatery.  From inside, we could watch the tree as darkness began to fall and the lights were lit.

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We had some amazing pasta dishes at Crust.  We enjoyed a fresh board of Tomato, Basil and Parmesan Bruschetta, along with our main course of Grandma’s Pasta- a yummy mix of pasta, meatballs, sausage, ricotta and marinara!

Definitely worth a return visit!

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And as darkness fell, the Tumbleweed Tree grew even more beautiful!

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We really enjoyed the lights in the square.

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After all, it is pretty hard to decorate an RV.   The lights in the streets were amazing.

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This is our second Christmas living full time in our coach.  And one of the things I love about that is that we can experience Christmas just a bit differently each year.

Last year, we were on the beaches of Florida, and this year we are enjoying a Tumbleweed Christmas tree!

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And back at the campground, the doggies are settling in just fine.  Faith and Ralph have decided that the campground was pretty nice about supplying them with an official “doggie sidewalk”.

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We brought a few more of the old traditions back to our coach including whipping up a big batch of Old Fashioned Potato Candy.  (You can find the full recipe on my other website, Suzy’s Sitcom).

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Faith and Ralph (and both of us) wish you all an amazing, happy and healthy holiday season!

Next week, I plan on doing a review of our past year on the road!  Stay tuned!

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