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You’re doing what?

How does someone decide to sell their house, most of their possessions to live in an RV and travel?

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.  Helen Keller

This wasn’t a rash decision or one made impulsively.  Actually, it evolved over a few years.

In 2011, we invested $30,000 in an embroidery business, thinking it would help to support us in retirement. I had always wanted to own a business, be in charge of my life, destiny. Guess, I got the entrepreneur spirit from my father.

We worked very hard for three years, tried several marketing techniques,  different niches, but in the end it was one big epic fail!   Despite losing so much money, it was a blessing because we found out what we really wanted to do. Did we really want to work 24/7 supporting a business? Not really.

When Jeff was forced into early retirement in 2013, we started talking about our life and what we wanted to do. Since,  I had only been working three days a week, devoting my time to the business we had accumulated mountains of debt.   We had discussions about our priorities, our passions, and what we enjoyed.

Obviously, family was the first priority.  However, the family connection we had always envisioned wasn’t happening.  We had moved to Arizona from our hometown in Illinois where most of our family was.  One daughter was in New Jersey with our three grandsons and our other daughter in Arizona was busy with her life.  After ten years of praying and hoping they would move back to Arizona, I finally had to give up the idyllic version of the Grandmother I wanted to be.  There would be no weekly sleepovers, attending school events, or holiday celebrations. It is what it is and I had to accept that.  We love our daughters and grandsons with all our hearts but we don’t see them very often, two times a year at best.

So, if we can’t have a life where we see our family on a regular basis, then what?

We started having more discussions on what else would we like to do, see, experience. And how could we financially support that?

What about retiring to a foreign country, perhaps Belize or Panama?  I love to research, so that’s what I did.  Retiring overseas…being an expat.  At first look, it was appealing!  Financially, it was doable.  But, my research revealed the downsides to being an expat, crime, humidity, bugs.  We had been in the southwest for almost 20 years and the thought of humidity and bugs was a downside.

One day Jeff brought up the idea of living in an RV and traveling,  OK, so do we sell the house?  Our stuff? How do we figure all this out?  I needed to do more research!  I read books, blogs, joined FB pages.  Google became my new BFF.

I found so much information of people living in their RV.  This is really a lifestyle and many people do it, not just old retired folks like us, but young couples, families with children.  People who want to explore, have a simpler life, not be tied down to their preconceived notions of a successful life.  They want an authentic life, simpler, not tied to possessions

The decision was made.  That’s  what we want.   A life with experiences, instead of possessions.

It wasn’t easy.  We had to sell our stuff, our house, buy an RV, change our address   The logistics were overwhelming, daunting at times.

The first step was to get out of debt.  Fortunately, I found a wonderful job at a new company in Scottsdale, called Accolade.  It is a healthcare concierge  system, helping people with their healthcare decisions.  It was a new nursing experience, not being “hands-on” with patients, but the work was rewarding and the pay was really, really good!  We got out of debt and started saving.  Did I say the money was really good?

The reactions to our plan were mostly positive, but there were some people who thought we were foolish, even irresponsible!  It didn’t sway us.  We have always been risk takers.

Thanks for stopping by….

White Sands National Monument

a magical sea of sand

DSCN0106I have wanted to visit White Sands every since I read “Gone with the Wynns” RV blogpost 3 years ago.

This is the largest gypsum dune field in the world, located in the Tularosa Basin in southern New Mexico.  The massive collection of gypsum resulted from changes in ancient landscapes that started before the time of the dinosaurs.  Some 250 million years ago, what is now New Mexico was covered by a shallow sea, but the sea’s level eventually fell as the area began to dry.  The thick layers of gypsum settled onto the old sea floor.  About 7,000 years ago , the gypsum began to form dunes, and they continue to shift today, some of them moving as much as 30 feet per year.

Unlike silica sand, gypsum does not absorb heat from the sun.  So even on the hottest day, the dunes are cool and comfortable.   Gypsum is actually a clear substance, the dunes appear white like snow because the grains are constantly banging into each other.  The scratches then reflect the sun’s rays making them appear white.

Sledding is a popular activity!  I just had to try it.

Hard to believe that any vegetation could survive, but there are many drought tolerant plant species.

The beautiful white wonderland against the blue sky is unbelievably surreal.  But it is real.  A must for every bucket list!

As my Canadian friend Judy would say, “Pretty cool, eh?”

 

 

Patagonia Lake, a birding paradise!

After leaving Kartchner we went south to Patagonia on the recommendation of our friends, the Galloways.  They stayed there a couple of years ago and actually saw a very rare bird, the Elegant Trogon.   More than 300 bird species migrate, nest, and live in the riparian habitat along Sonita Creek and it is ranked as a world-class birding destination.

Patagonia Lake was constructed in the late 60’s by a group of citizens incorporated as the Lake Patagonia Recreation Association.   The Association soon recognized they did not have sufficient capital to meet the demand of maintaining the lake and recreation facilities.  After working through lengthy, complex negotiations, Patagonia Lake was acquired by Arizona State Parks in 1975 and officially opened as Patagonia Lake State Park on April 1,  1975.

The 2.5 mile long, 250 acre lake is popular for fishing, boating, swimming, and birding.  6EF9F43D-3030-4CD8-B2F7-91081DA8167D

You can take a $5 avian boat tour.

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Swimming beach and day use area

 

Meeting up with friends we have met on earlier trips is always fun.  Last year we met Robin and Craig at Lone Rock Beach, Lake Powell.  And it just so happened that they were volunteering at Kartchner Caverns when we were there.  We got together for happy hour and then they came down to Patagonia for the day.  We shared travel stories, favorite campgrounds, and future plans.  Coincidentally, they will be in the Finger Lakes area when we are there in August and we have already planned on getting together.

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We also took advantage of the guided bird hike.  I know nothing about birding, can only identify the obvious robins, cardinals, and blue jays, but nonetheless thought it could be a learning experience.

Jeez, these birders are freaking serious with their $2000 pair of binoculars.  By the time I tried to focus on the willow straight in front, left of the limb next to the forked branch with my cheap $20 binoculars, the damn bird was gone.  They are ooohhing and ahhing about some brown crested flycatcher, not to be confused with the ash throated and I don’t see a thing!   Well, Jeff did manage to get a few pics.

I enjoy nature and wildlife, strenuous hikes and leisurely walks, but realized early on this was not for me.   You walk 20 steps, then stare into the trees for 30 minutes and wait and wait and wait.  It was kind of amusing to hear them politely debate whether it was a neotropic cormorant or double-crested one!  Lovely people, but just not our cup of tea.  We thanked them for their patience with our ignorance and bid our adieus.

All in all, a very nice park, sites are a mixed bag, some not very big or level.  We had a pull-through, however it was on a slope, not the easiest to level, but we managed.   If we were staying longer, I would have launched the kayak.

We’re off to White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.

 

 

Tombstone, AZ-The Town Too Tough to Die

Sometimes you just need to do the sappy, touristy trap thing.

Tombstone, AZ is one of the last frontier boom towns of the old American west.  It was rebuilt twice after two devastating fires and became a tourist attraction after WWII.

Its mostly known for the infamous shootout at the OK Corral between the Earp brothers, Doc holiday and the McLaurys and Clantons.   As with most tourist attractions, everything here is a fee.  We did opt for the enactment of the shootout, mostly for Rick’s enjoyment since he loves Western movies.

We found the Historama Theater interesting with Vincent Price narrating Tombstone’s history-the silver boom, fires, OK Corral gunfight, Geronimo’s Apaches, and assassination of Morgan Earp.

There are stagecoach tours, silver mine tours, and ghost tours.

We ended the afternoon at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon for lunch and a beer.   There was live entertainment and Rick even got to request his favorite Western song, “Happy Trails”.

So, it may not be one of those “bucket list”, must see kind of things, but it was a fun afternoon!

Happy Trails!

Kartchner Caverns….best kept secret!

reflecting_cavern_lake-300x225Can you imagine stumbling upon an untouched subterranean wonderland of creativity and keeping it secret……for 14 years?  That’s exactly what Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen did after discovering a breeze coming out of a crack at the bottom of a sinkhole, which led to a cave that had never been touched by humans.   The formations that decorate the cave are called speleothems which takes its determined form by whether the water drips, flows, seeps, condenses, or pools.

I imagine them getting together with their college buddies for a beer and one asks, “what’s new?”  They want to proclaim that they have just discovered a pristine, living cave, but they simply say, “Oh, not much!”   It must have killed them!!

Secrecy became an obsession, sneaking into the area carefully, hiding their gear so they could explore the cave for the next 4 years.  But, it was inevitable that somebody else could discover it and potentially be vandalized.  They discussed the paradoxical notion of protecting the cave by opening it up to the public, but with scrupulous safeguards.

It wasn’t until 1978 that they told the property owners, James and Lois Kartchner about their amazing discovery.  Working with the Kartchners for ten years, they decided the best way to achieve a tour cave would be through Arizona State Parks.  The discovery of the cave was finally made public in 1988 when the Karchners sold the area to the state.  Prior to the grand opening in 1999, the state spent $28 million on a high-tech system of air-lock doors, misting machines and other equipment to preserve the cave.

Karthner Caverns is home to:

  • The tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan-58 ft. tall
  • One of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites- 21 ft. 3 in.
  • The world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk.
  • The first cave occurrence of “bird-nest” needle quartz formations.

Disclaimer:  Cameras are not permitted in the Caverns, the pictures below have been borrowed by non-copy righted sites.

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Kubla Khan:  the tallest and most massive column, 58 feet tall

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Delicate soda straws

 

There are two tours, Rotunda/Throne and Big Room.  Both are a 1/2 mile in length, take approximately 1 1/2 hour to complete and are wheel chair accessible.

The Big Room tour is closed from mid-April to mid-October, as it serves as a maternity ward for about 1,000 female cave myotis  bats.

We were in awe of the beautiful colorful formations, but equally fascinated by the story of discovery.  These young men in their early twenty’s had the presence of mind, patience, and due diligence in the planning and protection of the Caverns for future generations.

The campground is just as nice with large, nicely spaced sites, some pull through.  As in most state parks, it’s W/E only but the dump station is easily accessible.

If you’re in the area, highly recommend going here.

Until next time…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Blog or Not to Blog?

What happened to 2017?  I stopped writing for the entire year, due to many reasons; we didn’t have unlimited data and frankly we were just busy living this new life, learning on the fly!

I attempted to post on FB about our travels and adventures to at least have a written record for us to look back on.

But, the other day when I was having lunch with a good friend, a more experienced full-timer and regular blogger, we discussed perks of blogging, namely connecting with other RVers.

We have met some amazing people on our journey, fellow Grand Design owners, camp hosts, and just friendly folks at the parks.  There is a special camaraderie among campers, especially Full-time RVers.  We share a wanderlust, a need to explore new areas and experience exciting adventures.  We get it!  Sharing stories around the campfire, admitting mishaps, and learning from each other.  It’s a mobile community and we love to connect and meet up.

We are leaving soon to begin our trek to the New England states and the East coast, I’ve decided to start writing again.  Thanks, Faye for the inspiration!

See you on the road!

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Why is this so difficult?  

I have certainly endured many more emotionally painful experiences in my life: the loss of my father as a teenager, my mother’s cancer & tragic accident, not living close to my grandsons…so why was this so difficult?
Not being in control of my body position was hard.   We want to be in control of our body, our space, our comfort level.
When you are told that you must remain in a face-down position for 7 days, 24/7, it does seem impossible.

The first two days were pretty tough, I hadn’t slept for almost 48 hours.  I just couldn’t get comfortable, despite the chair and head piece we rented.  I was tormented with guilt and shame…I didn’t have cancer or other terminal illness, was not enduring painful treatments, chemo or radiation, with awful side effects.  No, all I had to do was remain in a face-down position.  I felt guilty that I was being such a wuss and a bitch!  Poor Jeff & Rck

By day three, I figured some things out, plus a doctor friend prescribed a very low dose of Ativan that helped!  My face-down position never was comfortable, but tolerable with physical and mental adjustments! And the experience was enlightening on my strength & fortitude.  

I’m visualizing lying on white sand beaches, listening to the waves, hiking mountaintops to see the beautiful landscapes below.   I reminded myself that I still have control of my mind and thoughts.  

We are still planning on lift off October 23.

Until next time….

    Things were looking up until I had to look down for seven days!

    Sometimes plans need to be revised, updated, or simply just changed due to circumstances beyond our control.  It’s called life!

    But, WTF!!!!    I’m retiring.  Now, I have a hole in my eye?  Are you fricking kidding me?

    I noticed my vision was worsening, especially the last month.  But, if it wasn’t for Jeff’s pestering, I may not have gotten the eye exam.  I just figured I needed prescription glasses, not the cheap OTC readers I had ben using since my LASIK surgery.

    You can imagine my surprise and shock when the optometrist said you have a hole and need to see a retina specialist…soon.  And the news I needed surgery to save my vision.

    The procedure didn’t scare me, it was the required recovery for a positive outcome.  I have to remain in a face-down position, not just one day post-op, but for 7 days, 24/7.

    My initial reaction, hell no!  How could anyone do that?  Well, my attitude quickly changed when the provider asked if I preferred going blind in that eye!!!  Ok, that puts a whole new spin on things!!  Perhaps, we can consider it???

    I’ve always prided myself as being one of those people who “roll with the punches”,”take what is given me”, with the attitude, it is what it is, and with the understanding, the only thing we have control of is our attitude & reaction to what we are dealt with.

    I lost my father in a tragic accident when I was 15 and learned very quickly what strength, determination, fortitude, and courage meant.   When your priority is taking care of your mentally disabled brother, your distraught, unstable mother, while going to high school, you either break or become stronger.

    When I complained to my grandfather about the “plight” I felt I was in and asked him, “why me?”   His reply was, “my little, Debbie…life is like playing a game of cards, you play the cards you are dealt to the best of your ability, or you pass….your choice, but I hope you choose to play.”

    I have never forgotten my grandfathers words and I will never stop playing this game of life, to the best of my ability.

    After talking with the surgery scheduler, I felt better.  And I can rent a massage type chair and device for the bed to help maintain the face-down position.   I’m playing my cards!!

    So, I go tomorrow with a positive heart and know I can endure 7 days of being face-down!