The year 2018 was all in all, a good one for us. Every year, I like to take stock of the year before, looking at both the good and the bad. As full time travelers, we get lots of questions about our life on the road. This post might answer a few of those questions as we look back on the happenings of 2018.
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.
It has been family time in Georgia for the past three months. I cannot believe that time has passed so quickly. When we showed up here at the end of March, there weren’t even leaves on the trees.
Now we are in mid summer. The coach has been parked in my daughter’s driveway snug as a bug, waiting for us to take on our next adventure. But I have to say that this adventure here has been exciting also!
I mean, just look at the nice backyard that we have gotten to enjoy this summer!
My daughter was concerned that we would have a bit of trouble getting used to living in a regular home for a few months. So, they prepared a nice little apartment in the basement of their home for us. We have been quite comfortable here.
We have the coach right nearby if we need anything, and are able to plug the refrigerator into an outside outlet. A perfect spot for a few months visit.
Of course, this post will be peppered with baby photos. The main reason for our visit was our new granddaughter, Esme. She was born on April 20.
Being grandparents has been a wonderful experience. Esme is good-natured (with the exception of the occasional evening tantrum), and such a beautiful little girl.
We will miss her so much when we hit the road again. Life changes sometimes make for even more life changes. We will roll with it and be visiting Georgia much more often than we have in the past couple of years.
The great thing about our lifestyle is that we are (for the most part), free to decide where and when we will be living.
So what have we been doing these past three months besides loving on that baby?
Well, of course we needed to check out some of our local favorite places to eat. I mean, you gotta eat, right? There is nothing better on a hot Georgia day than a raspberry chocolate chip shake from Steak ‘N Shake.
We left Tucson in mid March and headed back to Atlanta, GA. The main reason? Well, we were expecting the arrival of our first grandchild! Our trek to Atlanta took us through some great stops and I will definitely take the time to share them with you here over the next few weeks.
When we travel long distances, we like to go with the 3-3-3 Rule. Basically, it means no more than 3 hours of driving per day; or 300 miles per day; or arrival at a campground no later than 3:00 PM. Following one of those options each day means that Dave doesn’t get too tired and at the same time, we both get to enjoy the sights along the way.
So the route home to Atlanta took about three weeks, and included stops in Alamogordo, NM; Carlsbad, NM; Galveston, TX; Mobile, AL; and Martin Lake, AL. Stay tuned for more posts about the sites that we visited along the way!
We parked our coach in my daughter’s driveway and began baby watch. Meet our daughter, Amanda and her husband, Daniel. This photo was taken about a week before Esme was born.
Our daughter went into labor on Wednesday and it was wonderful to be there with her for this amazing experience.
Esmeralda was born on April 20, 2017 at 8:35 AM after a long sleepless night. She weighed 6 lbs. 1 oz. A beautiful perfect little baby girl!
She looks like a little doll, doesn’t she? Me? Well, I look like I’ve been up all night. But it wasn’t nearly as exhausting for me as her mom!
Baby Esme is a beautiful addition to our family! She is the first grandchild on my family’s side, and the first girl grandchild on Daniels family’s side.
Did I mention before how excited we are to be here? That is one of the best advantages of full time RVing!
We will be in Atlanta until around the end of June when we will start our next campground job. I am currently working on making that one official and will let you know as soon as we have something on paper.
In the meantime, we are enjoying the Atlanta area, our wonderful family and our beautiful granddaughter!
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?
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.
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?
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!
Luck was with us and we actually got photo bombed!
But seriously. It has been an amazing experience here.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are less than three weeks away from leaving the Williams, Arizona area and heading to our next destination. It has been a wonderful five months here and we do plan on coming back one day! I think we are both going to miss this beautiful part of Arizona.
We had a fun surprise this month! Both of our daughters came to visit us. Our youngest and her husband flew in from Atlanta, and our oldest and her boyfriend drove in from Oklahoma City. It was a wonderful family reunion!
They stayed in a beautiful cabin on our KOA campground and we showed them the area while they were here. The Grand Canyon and Bearizona were favorite destinations. We also taught the guys the fine art of s’more making over a campfire.
And…we found out that we are going to be grandparents!
So that changes a whole lot of plans. You see, we are currently scheduled to work the winter at Tucson KOA, and then work Polson KOA in Montana starting May 1. With the baby arriving around the beginning of May, we are scrambling to make a few changes to our schedule in order to be in the Atlanta area for the birth.
One of the main advantages to living in a house on wheels is the fact that you can be anywhere you want to be. Stay tuned for more info as we figure it out!
Now that we are beginning our goodbye’s to the area, I wanted to post a little about the historic town of Williams. Williams is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”, and is the very last town on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40 in 1984.
Unlike many other towns that died a quick death after the interstate, Williams has continued to thrive on tourism. Based about a 50 minute drive to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Williams offers fun restaurants, shopping, and a unique look into the past.
In the beginning, Williams, like so many other towns of the Old West, gained a reputation as a rough and rowdy settlement filled with saloons, brothels, gambling houses and opium dens.
On our way across country from Atlanta, GA to Williams, AZ, we made several stops. One of which was to spend a couple days in Oklahoma City, visiting with my oldest daughter, Laura.
We stayed at the Oklahoma City East KOA. Check out this amazing site! We were so impressed by how beautiful this little campground was- and how well kept! Frankly, if it wasn’t for the scary tornado potential in the area, we would consider working here.
But there is the tornado thing and the fact that we really don’t have a basement. And I’m sure that is something that I just have to get over now that I live in a virtual tin can, but at the moment I am good with heading west.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
My daughter took us on a tour of the area, including a drive out to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, roughly 100 miles south of Oklahoma City. It is the oldest managed wildlife facility in the United States.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was important in saving the American buffalo from extinction. In 1907 the American Bison Society transported 15 buffalo, from the New York Zoological Park to the refuge. At that time, buffalo had been extinct on the southern Great Plains for over 30 years.
The buffalo herd now numbers about 650 on the refuge!
One “rule of thumb” when you are around wild animals. If you hold up your thumb in front of them, and you can still see them, you are too close.
And as you can tell from the photo, wild animals come in all forms!
Our tour of the mountains included a trip to the summit of Mount Scott which offers amazing views of the Oklahoma countryside.
And of course a visit to Meer’s Restaurant- a popular place in the area famous for it’s giant Meer’s Burgers. Because we had to eat, right?
Here is a short video of our visit! To see is in large screen, click here.
We are finally back on the road, heading to our summer destination, Williams, AZ. I wanted to talk a bit about some of the things that have been going on behind the scenes. Traveling with animals is a joy, but keeping them healthy while doing so can sometimes be a challenge.
I firmly believe that if we hadn’t been traveling that I would not have noticed Ralph’s symptoms so quickly.
You see, one of the things about the RV lifestyle is that we are all well aware of each other’s daily routines. Walking the dogs three times a day, along with extra potty breaks here and there had become routine after a year on the road.
We knew what was normal.
And then suddenly, Ralph couldn’t hold it any more. He was dribbling everywhere. He had to go every 2 hours, day or night. We were alarmed at the change.
At the time, we were in St. Petersburg, FL, so we inquired about a good vet in the area and then took him for an exam.
He was diagnosed with bladder stones and Diabetes. They preformed emergency surgery to remove the stones blocking his urethra and those in his bladder.
After recovery, they put him on insulin. Two shots a day. And I’m the chosen one to give them to him. Me. The person who has never given a shot before.
But I drew short straw because neither has Dave and he doesn’t do poop, yak, or apparently shots either.
The vet says it’s easy! (As he pokes Ralph with a needle numerous times while Ralph just sits there looking like he’s thinking about his next milk bone).
So that evening, with our new supply of syringes and insulin, I made my first attempt at giving Ralph his shot. Dave held him, I grabbed a fold of skin and injected him.
Ralph very nearly bit Dave.
OMG. I don’t think we can do this! I turned into a blubbering idiot, while Ralph hid under the table. I didn’t want my dog to be afraid of me. But twice a day for the rest of his life, I was going to have to do this.
I called my oldest daughter, who just happens to draw blood for a living. She talked me through how to hold the needle and give the shot quickly.
It would take some practice. Lots of practice.
I’m a night owl, and can go back to sleep in a heartbeat, so I ended up with night shift duties. Ralph still was dribbling, was drinking tons of water, and losing weight.
Consistently for 6 weeks, Ralph had to go out every two hours. He was now down nearly 5 pounds. His ribs were showing. Despite increasing the insulin dosage about every week under the vet’s direction, Ralph’s health was deteriorating.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The streets are decorated too! What do you do when there are no fir trees around?
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
We get asked a lot about what it is like living full time in a RV. I talk about how much fun our adventure has been so far, and really it has. It is so exciting to enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful country. Our new lifestyle has resulted in better health for both of us, much less stress, and excitement around every corner.
But in an effort to keep things real for those of you that might be considering this particular lifestyle, Dave and I wanted to point out a few things that are not so great about full time RV living.
Granted, we have only been full timers since April of this year, and I imagine in another year, our priorities may be different and our list of things we love and do not love might change. But for right now, here is our top 8 things that we do not love about RV living:
The Poop Issue
When living in a RV, one has to deal with poop on a much more personal level. Both our poop and the dogs poop. While the bathroom in our RV is definitely several steps above a port-a-potty, I have to admit that it is still a toilet situated over a poop holding tank.
A poop holding tank that is full of…well… poop.
We have two holding tanks. The gray water tank holds leftover dishwater, shower water, etc . The black water tank has the job of holding the poop. Every few days, Dave flushes out the black water tank with water from the gray water tank. He then adds a bit of water and a tank treatment which helps keep odors at bay and breaks down things.
In general, the bathroom smells fine. But dealing with poop is much more labor intensive than simply flushing a toilet.
This is coming from someone who goes on eight hour plane flights and never uses the bathroom once due to the fear of accidentally getting locked in there with all that blue water and the potential of turbulence. Heck, I can’t even use the public restrooms without having to run some water in the background!
The hubby says, “Then just use the woods!” But I pee on my socks every time…
Too much information? Ha! Sorry…
Walking the dogs
While we are talking about poop, we cannot leave out the dogs. I have to say that I do miss the days when we could just put the dogs out the back door and let them do their business.
Granted, walking the dogs is good for all of us. But they do need walked several times a day, rain or shine. Waking up in the morning with rain pelting the roof and knowing that I have to go out in the pouring rain and stand while Ralph takes ten minutes deciding what area he would like to pee in definitely puts a damper on my morning.
Unlike Faith, Ralph took a while to get comfortable going to the bathroom on the leash. And to this day, he has to circle an area for a while before he finds the perfect spot.
And whatever you do, do not watch him. He will quit in mid-poop. And then we will have to start all over again!
Oh, and then there is the fun bit about carrying fresh warm poop bags to the dumpster.
Yeah, I knew about this going in. Working full time at the campground, running several websites and crafting in between, leaves me not so much time to do those things I really do not like doing in the first place. As a perpetual procrastinator, I tend to leave dishes until the last possible moment. Resulting in emergency dish washing in order to get dinner on the table.
Problems with the RV
Currently, the steps to the front door go up on their own accord. Which could be a potential issue when we are ready to go to the next campsite, and they choose not to go up that day.
Two televisions turn them selves on occasionally without our help- usually coinciding with the slamming of the front door.
We called out the local repair guy and both the steps and the televisions worked seamlessly. Of course!
The awning goes in on its own. Granted, it has a sensor that will pull it in when it gets windy. Apparently, it’s definition of wind is different than ours and if we do not shut the motor off, it rolls itself in quite dramatically while we are trying to sit in the shade with our iced tea.
Last week, I went to take a shower and we had no hot water. The electric hot water heater decided not to work. We are fortunate to have a gas alternative and switched to that. When we called the RV repair guy out, the electric heater started right up.
He thinks we are crazy.
Mosquitos and other pests
Uggghhh! In this part of the country, mosquitos are pretty darn plentiful. And much to my dismay, they absolutely love me. The scent of mosquito repellant is now my new perfume.
While working at the front counter the other day, an errant mosquito flew in and bit me right on the nose. Much to Dave’s enjoyment, I ended up looking like Broom Hilda the rest of the evening.
Unfriendly and inconsiderate campers
There I said it. There are those that have absolutely no camping etiquette. They are the ones that park their car in the small area that you call your front yard. They take short cuts through your campsite, dropping trash and making tons of noise along the way, setting off both dogs into a noisy bark-fest. And then complain that your dogs are barking.
Tyler Kealey plays “Mama’s got a Squeeze Box” by The Who as part of his video a day challenge in 2014.
They play loud music past midnight. Sit outside playing an accordion, electric guitar, or drum set (yes, all the above has happened in the past few weeks alone!). Who the heck brings an accordion while camping? Well, somebody did last week.
Not sure what they were playing, but Dave and I both had The Who’s Moma’s Got a Squeeze Box stuck in our heads for a week.
Now you do too.
Lack of Space
Again, I knew this going in. There is not much space for crafting and I spend more time looking for my supplies than actually doing the craft. Really! I tried to be organized. I labeled many containers and stored them all over the camper. But when I am looking for one particular tool or paintbrush or fabric swatch, I spend the next hour searching all compartments until I finally run across it.
Coming up to Maine from Atlanta, we encountered lots and lots of terribly maintained roads. In a car, you do not notice them as much, but when driving a huge motorhome, each bump and ridge is magnified ten-fold. Dave said that I need to mention in particular, parts of I-85 North and the entirety of I-84.
Our coach shook so much over I-84 that when we finally reached our destination, not only was our bedroom door entirely off it’s hinges, but only one of the televisions would come on.
Unless of course, we slam the front door.
So that is our top 8 gripes for right now. I have to say that for every gripe, there are ten things we love. I mean, just check out this view. How could you not love that?
Living in a RV full time is not for everyone, that is for sure. But for us, I think it just might work!
We are smack in the middle of the busy summer season here at the Bar Harbor Oceanside KOA. With 50 to 70 check-ins a day, Dave and I have found ourselves working long hours. Granted, it will slow down in about a month, but in the meantime, our schedules are pretty busy.
We eat when we find a moment… and some meals are just plain peanut butter and jelly.
Work Kamping this time of year means dealing with crowds, tired campers, children on sugar highs, problems with guests not getting along, occasional backed up toilets, and all around craziness. I work the office and it seems that everyone shows up all at once and dealing with 10 checkins at a time, with RVs lined up as far as you can see, can be quite intimidating.
Dave and I both work hard to keep the guests happy. Sometimes it is as simple as helping their children learn how to use the rental bikes, or directing a guest to our favorite restaurant. Sometimes it is much more difficult than that. There are some folks that just won’t ever be happy. We just do our best.
Working long shifts means that I often end up working in the evenings and early morning on my websites. Of course, there are worse things than sitting by a campfire and writing on my website.
The dogs have been doing well. Of course one main thing we had to all adjust to was the fact that we have to regularly take them for walks rather than just put them in the backyard. Yep, living full time in a RV means that you are quite familiar with everyone’s daily routine.
Sometimes a little too familiar.
So I learned something new this week. Never wrap the leash around your finger. You see, when a 20 lb. Chihuahua/Pug happens to notice a squirrel in the distance and accelerates from zero to fifty in less than two seconds flat, the finger has a bit of problem keeping up with it.
I ended up with a badly dislocated finger, and torn tendons. Oh, and my wedding rings didn’t fair very well either. Someday when I can get a ring back on my finger, I’ll have a jeweler reassemble them.
Let’s just say I finally got a day off. LOL!
Work Kamping isn’t for everyone, and there is definitely a lot of work involved. But, there are good things too! Like getting off after a long tiring day and being stopped by the Lobster Guy on site who just so happens to have a couple lobster dinners ready for you!
(Ignore the dirty dishes in the photo- dirty dishes are a common occurrence during the busy season! ) LOL!
There are the times we get to enjoy a good dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants in the area with our friends and coworkers!
…trying out new and delicious meals. (Crab Cakes courtesy of The Burning Tree Restaurant in Bar Harbor).
…and the fun of exploring this beautiful area of the world!
This season at Bar Harbor KOA has been very exciting for us. It is our first taste of working at a campground. While not everything runs as smoothy as we would like, we wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.
The beautiful sights of Mount Desert Island are something we will remember always. Last week, we took a break on one of our days off and hiked one of the trails along the shoreline of Acadia National Park.
Rock Climbing? Well, maybe that is something we just pretend to do.
The vistas are amazing here. And the journey to get here is worth the effort.
We are half way through our Work Kamping experience here and will be moving on in October to our next destination. Where that is, we currently do not know.