Less Than a Month

Yellowstone prep is starting! We keep checking temps currently in Yellowstone, and they probably will be just a little bit higher only by our arrival on April 9th. Temps now are lows like -10 degrees to teens with highs in the low to mid-thirties. Our plans are to build a skirt to go around the bottom of the trailer to help insulate the tanks and pipes. We purchased Reflectix, a material with reflective fabric on one side that will face the underneath of the trailer and reflect back the heat which will be provided by a space heater which we just received. A second electric space heater was ordered for use inside the trailer in lieu of the propane heater. We’ve done this to help conserve propane since we’ll have electricity. I’ve been receiving emails about arrival for employees. We will need to camp at an RV park outside the West Yellowstone entrance on the 8th of April as I will be checking in at 7:00am the following morning at the Human Resources office in West Yellowstone for orientation and the start of manager training. We’re anticipating that Michael will handle getting the trailer in place once we know the location of the RV park inside Yellowstone that we’ll call home for the duration of our stay. Yep, we are getting excited! We will probably move up our departure date from Texas from April 2nd by a couple of days to make the drive a little more comfortable in terms of hours driven per day. Our stay in Sam Houston National Forest in east Texas has been really enjoyable. Typically we see very few if any people where we are. But, the last few nights other campers have joined us nearby! Michael has grilled our dinner several times and we continue to stay outdoors as much as possible. The black swallowtail butterflies are out in force, plus we see gulf fritallaries, long-tailed skippers, checkered whites, zebra swallowtail, several monarchs and a few we can’t identify. We hear what we think are pickerel frogs often. Fast moving dragonflies that we can’t ID are around too, and bats are out in the evening. We know by checking online that ruby-throated (and other) hummingbirds are in the state so we’ve hung a nectar feeder hoping we will attract some. Black swallowtail butterflies: Bird migration is happening! We hear, but haven’t yet seen, black and white warblers, brown creepers, pine warblers, and yellow warblers. Red-shouldered hawks still call from high in the sky. The other night two great-horned owls (male and female) were calling back and forth for quite awhile. We hear other familiar bird song, but our birding by ear skills are a bit rusty for spring migration! Blackberry flowers are in bloom, but we’ll be gone before we can harvest any. Every morning we see these very neat cup-shaped webs in the adjacent field: Web is covered in pollen. Two neighborhood guinea hens, owned by a man who has a home in the forest! A beautiful day in the forest on this 19th day of March. with temps around 80 degrees, but a great breeze to keep things comfortable! Nights have been mild. Last night we had severe thunderstorms with a bit of hail! The lightening flashes were non-stop for about a half hour; can’t remember seeing something like this recently. Once the storm moved on, the humidity dropped and it was pleasant sleeping weather. Lots of new growth in the trees! Time for a short hike on the Lone Star trail! See you soon!

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Texas Visit

Every year we return to Texas, where we are domciled, to handle vehicle inspection, medical appointments, trailer maintenance, etc. Happily we are in the Sam Houston National Forest boondocking. It’s one of our favorite spots!

We had a bit of a health scare with Michael recently so we were glad to be here on our home turf. After a few days of constantly being out of breath, we finally went to our primary care doctor. Michael had a head cold about a week or so before but was over it. So we erroneously diagnosed his shortness of breath and cough as a chest cold. Turns out he needed a 5 day hospital stay, and thankfully he is doing well now. Unexpected excitement!

And I have been working through my hip issues, with no firm diagnosis yet.

When we hit the road 3 years ago, our focus was on the traveling part and getting settled into the nomadic lifestyle. We kind of forgot about the realities of life! We have learned otherwise. Different challenges that we have faced while hopping around the country have been more and more manageable as time passes. It takes some time to figure things out, but being adaptable has made these hurdles less intimidating.

The Rpod is fine, thank you! We just bought new tires for her/him and will get them installed soon. The current tires aren’t that old, but one became damaged and isn’t fixable. Plus these were what’s called a load C tire. Adequate for traveling, but a load D is more adept at handling the trailer weight and whatever obstacles come our way. We decided on Goodyear Endurance, one highly recommended by the Rpod community.

In the past month it has rained seemingly every day, but we are in a stretch of sunny and mild temps. Spring is in the air as we see flowers starting to bloom, butterflies flitting about (black swallowtail seen today, and a few Gulf frittilaries), and yay, birds are beginning to migrate through! Had a thrush (species unknown due to distance) today and we hear chipping sparrows and red-shouldered hawks. This time of year brings the dawn chorus and we love hearing the bird song as the sun rises! We also have pileated and red-belly woodpeckers near us and we hear their calls and hammering regularly. Morning walks are becoming the norm!

On dry days we sit outside with our morning coffee.

Yellow/green pollen is suddenly everywhere thanks to all of the pines surrounding us!

Big fire (?) ant hills are everywhere and these teeny ants pack a mean punch when they bite!

Nevelle hanging out with us!

Our Yellowstone adventure is only about 5 weeks away! We expect to be on the road April 2, if not earlier, as my store manager training begins on April 9. We keep track of the current weather there now, along with average temps and snowfalls and snow and cold is the norm. By the time we get there, there will still be freezing temps, so we are noodling around ideas to keep our water and waste tanks from freezing. One strategy is to put a skirt all the way around the bottom of the trailer to keep some of the cold out. Use of a space heater under the trailer, and heat tape (who knew?!) on the tanks and pipes will hopefully thwart any problems with the tanks. Reflective panels will be cut to match the shape of the trailer windows and will be inserted inside to ward off some of the cold. We are excited though for this experience in Yellowstone!

Places we’ve been!

Will see you soon!

Catching Up!

I was able to finally publish a post from a few weeks ago! I kept running into issues, but all is resolved now. Apologies for the delay in posting the previous entry!

We are camping in Coldspring, TX after departing Escapees Campground, once again in one of our favorite national forests. While here we had a neighbor for the first time, a young man traveling in his vehicle while taking a gap year off. When he departed, due to heavy rain and lots of mud, he got stuck. He came back to us asking if we could pull him out. That was all Michael! And the awesome Tundra! Glad Michael could help him out.

Days have ranged from sunny and around 60 degrees, to today, January 31, where it will hit 70+ degrees with lots of sunshine. Nights have been cold though, so we’re dressing warm to sleep.

Due to the Yellowstone job, I have had to add “business casual” attire to my collection of t-shirts and jeans. That’s the dress code for store mangers. Fridays may be a jeans day for store employees, but that is yet to be decided. I’ve completed paperwork for the job and we’re getting excited. We’ll be living in the Rpod there with full hook-ups. Prior to heading out in March, we’ll have to do a major shopping for everything from toilet paper to food, since the nearest shopping is apparently 2 – 3 hours away, at a Walmart! There are some small grocery stores at Yellowstone, but we’re guessing that items there won’t be cheap. Maybe I’ll get a discount!?

Right now we are doing tasks around the trailer and working on getting our new trailer tires onto the trailer. Michael can do it, but we’re looking into a local shop as well. I am visiting doctors to resolve some health issues and we’ll get the truck inspected. We anticipate leaving Texas in mid-March to arrive on April 9th at Yellowstone. But, happily, dear friends Jane and Charlie will be “nearby”, ok, in Arizona, so we may visit with them first before heading north! Got to figure out the mileage.

Sorry for no pics this time around. Just wanted to touch base with you all to catch up!

See you soon!

Challenges & Comfort

We have had our real first taste of winter camping, something we didn’t plan on. In Texas, at the Escapees RV Campground, very cold temperatures had settled in. In east Texas, we didn’t expect snow either! But it happened, even if it didn’t measure up to a nor’easter!

View from our trailer of snow and ice on January 16th.

This cold weather has lingered in the 20’s during the day and teens at night, but today is the day temps are starting to rise a bit to a balmy 42 degrees! We will take it! Tomorrow, Friday, January 19, we’ll reach 50, and, yay, we hit 69 degrees on Saturday and 71 on Sunday! Go figure this crazy weather. The challenges with this cold weather are freezing pipes and tanks on the trailer. Unfortunately, our black water and gray water tanks have frozen, so yesterday when we went to dump our tanks, nothing came out. This is a big “uh oh”. We poured hot water down the toilet several times with no success, and the same with the gray water tanks. So we are using the campground restrooms until this issue passes. With warming temps coming we are hopeful all will thaw out. One benefit of being an rpod owner is the Facebook rpod owners group. Talk about an active group! I posted the problem on the site, and I received loads of responses on what to do. Things like using electric blankets around the exterior waste pipes, to something called heat tape which we will look for and carry with us going forward, to head further south (like that suggestion!!). Today we’ll hook up our hose to the tanks and hope that the higher temperature will begin to thaw things out. We have been running our heat regularly, not only to stay comfy, but with cabinets open to keep pipes warm. Heat runs on propane and we ran out at last night around 9pm. Off to Walmart we went to exchange our empty tank for a filled one. So these are our challenges for now.

It’s been great being at Escapees as we have full hookups, including electricity. It’s nice to have as many lights on as we want and to use our microwave! Going backwards, one of the towns we passed through on our way to Livingston was Comfort and I loved it there! Over 20 years ago we cycled through there on our loaded touring bicycles but I didn’t recall the charm of the town and surrounding area. In town there are cool shops and a popular coffee shop called High’s (on High St.) for breakfast and dinner. But what really caught my eye was a needlework shop called The Tinsmith’s Wife in a lovely historic home. Until it opened we hung out at High’s. Then I entered needlework nirvana! I spent an hour or so wandering through this old house with rooms transferred to knitting, cross-stitch, and needlepoint mini-shops. I bought a colorful needlepoint canvas of a cat that I am already working on. Nice group of ladies there and Terri taught me several new stitches. A great way to relax for me.

Needlepoint!

Charming Comfort, TX:

..Our big news that I alluded to in my last post! Michael and I are heading to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for six months!! I was hired as a store manager at one of 12 stores in Yellowstone, by Delaware North Companies. They tell me the store, across from Old Faithful, is their highest revenue store! Oh boy, no pressure there! We are very excited as we’ll really get to know the park, The Grand Tetons, and Jackson Hole. Surprisingly I am looking forward to working retail again — I love working with a team and dealing with customers! We need to be there by April 9th, and my contract runs till the end of October. Earning an income is especially important so we can continue to build up our nest egg. So that’s the scoop! See you soon!

Yes, We Have Left Arizona!

Happy New Year greetings from Texas! Make this year a happy one, finding time for those memorable moments. We wish you the best and thank you for traveling along with us! Sometimes it’s hard to move on. We had come to Arizona for a one month visit and stayed for two! It was tough leaving Mt. Lemmon and the Molino Basin Campground due to their beauty, and we really like all that Tucson has to offer, so picking ourselves up to head east towards Texas wasn’t easy. But that’s one aspect of full-timing that we like…flexibility! Thimble Peak, Mt. Lemmon We left Arizona on New Year’s, and spent our first three nights at a rest stop in AZ, but close to the border of New Mexico. As an aside, we were breaking the rules that were posted: maximum stay was 24 hours. But we were able to spend these days in milder temps rather than diving right into the cold weather. So, as a caveat, “do as I say, not as I do”! Michael had been checking the weather regularly to figure out the coldest locations and then planned our route to do shorter daily miles so we could stay behind the coldest weather that was east of us. Last night, spent in the Las Cruces, NM Cracker Barrel, was darn cold!! For the first time we actually ran our furnace through the night. It cycled off and on during the night keeping us and the kitties comfortable. Now in Texas, we are at another rest area and temps will be in the upper twenties, so the furnace will be running again! At least it isn’t 10 degrees out with snow and wind!! (Thinking of family and friends on the east coast getting hammered by a bombastic cyclone, or whatever it’s called.) While driving through NM, we saw cloud formations that were so unusual we could only think “Roswell”! If we didn’t know better we would have suspected UFO!! Check these photos out: Doesn’t that round circle, dead center, look UFO-ish? Very weird! The clouds were “bumpy”! And this one large opening looked like snow had been plowed! This diagonal “cloud” came right to the ground and didn’t change formation for quite some time! Stairway to Heaven? Larger than life Roadrunner in NM. On I 10 east; Franklin Mountains, we believe. New Mexico. So, why back to Texas at this time? Our truck inspection is not scheduled until April (we want to change that if we can to February, so time for spring birding and travel won’t be impeded by an inspection). I digress! We’re back for some doctor appointments. Those of you who know me may recall I had a hip replacement back in January 2014. Four years ago! Wow, time flies. But I digress again! Anyway, the hip basically has bothered me ever since the surgery, getting worse as each year goes by. And, sadly, my left hip had reared it’s ugly head, and I have pain there. Tie this in with chronic back issues, and you can see I am not a happy hiker. So it is time for me to take charge and leave the pain behind. I will be seeing a couple of orthopedic doctors for an evaluation and hopefully some resolution. I hope no surgery is in the cards, but it has become difficult to do simple walking. I forced myself to do a few short hikes with Michael while in AZ, but I suffered! So, here’s hoping my new year is filled with more pain-free moments. We may have some exciting plans for the summer, but I’ll hold off revealing anything until we have gotten it all figured out. Sorry…not nice of me to leave you hanging! But you’ll know soon enough one way or the other! And how can I sign off without a cute cat photo? Rice sleeping in her favorite spot! See you soon!

Cold…

When we got to Tucson AZ, it was warm. But we weren’t on the mountain yet. Then we came up the mountain. It was still mild with pleasantly cool nights. Then last night came about, the Thursday before Christmas, and boy, it was cold! In the 20’s! We can’t say we were warm, that’s for sure. Multiple layers…that was the way to go. I slept in a t-shirt, flannel shirt, mid-weight fleece, and a primaloft jacket, with long underwear, jeans and socks. Plus add a knit hat and gloves, and I was pretty much ready to jump out of bed and start my day! Once I was under a comforter though, I was not too cold, and we did turn the furnace on in the middle of the night for a bit to take the edge off the chill.

There are trailers out there that are billed as four season. It has to do with construction and an undercoating under the trailer that is meant to keep the rv comfortable temperature-wise. The pods don’t have that so the floor gets kind of icy feeling! And speaking of icy, our windows did have ice on them this morning inside the trailer!

We’d like to put a rug down, but when we tried it, the three cats had a field day scratching it and creating pulls. So that idea is not practical. But in actuality, we are rarely in the cold, so a few nights here and there are manageable.

WARM…

Today will be 75 degrees, yesterday was close to this, and suddenly we aren’t sleeping in multi-layers anymore! On this Christmas Day we are reveling in the bright sunshine! To all who celebrate Christmas, we wish you a Merry Holiday!

BYE ARIZONA…

On this Wednesday, December 27, we are pulling out of Molino Basin campground and leaving AZ, heading to Texas. It’s been a wonderful time here, but it is time for a change! We’ll miss the mountains and desert.

See you soon!

Sometimes You Get Stuck

And I mean it in a good way!

We can’t tear ourselves away from Mt. Lemmon in Tucson! It is gorgeous and quiet for the most part, we’ve had sunny days, cloudy days, temps around 75 during the day and 40’s at night, only a bit of rain, starry skies on those clear nights, and the bluest of blue skies most days. Why leave when we have no comittments to be elsewhere?

Which brings me to the conversation Michael and I had this morning. Being full-time for over 2.5 years, we realize that our modus operandi has changed somewhat. In the beginning of our travels, we thought we had to make tracks, always seeking out new places and getting to the popular parks and attractions. But along the way we discovered that speed traveling isn’t our thing. Rather, it is the slower pace, the small obscure places where we often land, and spending time getting to know the destination that gives us the greatest happiness and satisfaction.

On a daily basis we are thankful we are loving this lifestyle!

Barrel cactus.

Saguaro cactus.

Tucson in the distance.

Here it is, several days later, and it is cold today {12/17/17}. Temps have been in the low 40’s at night and 60’s during the day. We had rain last night and this morning, and there’s snow on top of the mountain! As we take advantage of our hotspot to do some work, a pickup truck piled with snow drove by! We’re at a vista overlooking the city and the clouds are so dramatic, but every now and then the sun makes an effort to shine.

View from Ba’ad Do’ag scenic vista, General Hitchcock Highway, Mt. Lemmon:

I haven’t talked about the Rpod in a while so here’s an update. We own a 2016 179 and share the trailer with three cats. Overall, we have been pleased with the pod. Lately, though, a few relatively minor things need our attention. Weather stripping is coming off a window, some of the wood-like wall covering has peeled off at a corner near the bed, the cover to the electrical outlet outside blew off and and is being replaced, and our kitchen sink and faucet are loose and will ultimately be replaced. Since we live in the trailer full-time, these things are to be expected and are easy fixes. But the screw in our relatively new trailer tire doesn’t make us happy. We’ll be changing out the tire with the spare and then will research if the damaged tire can be fixed.

The two things we miss are a larger “dry bath”, since our “wet bath” is on the small side. A “wet bath” means the shower, toilet and tiny sink are all together, and when we shower, the entire bath gets wet. We do lust for a larger bathroom at times with its own separate shower! The other item is a walk-around bed. In our pod, the bed is surrounded by three walls, and making the bed is like an Olympic event! We’ve given up on having the neatest bed; we just toss on the bedspread and call it made!

My newest hobby is needle work and this project is a whimsical portrait of our three cats, custom made for me by Etsy shopkeeper, Dioramatist. It is now hanging on the wall. Presently I am needlepointing a gift for my mother-in-law, and next is a very cool embroidery project with a traveling/camping theme.

Nevelle checking things out!

Upcoming plans: we hope to camp here on Mt. Lemmon until after Christmas. Then, we head back to Texas, which wasn’t our plan, but there’s a medical issue that needes attention {thankfully nothing too serious}. We might head to Big Bend National Park in Texas after. We’ll keep you posted!

Hope the start of the holiday season is making you happy. Best to you for a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!

Will be back soon!