Archive for category Destinations

Yosemite National Park-Part I

Yosemite

Let the hiking commence!

Jeff was a Californian for the first 23 years of his life and one of his most shocking statements was that he has never been to Yosemite. Being a mid-west girl myself, I have a much better excuse why my eyes have never gazed upon El Capitan, Yosemite Falls or Half Dome. But to live within 90 miles of this National treasure and never to have seen it. Well, that’s just plane hard to believe!

Yet here we are, California surfer dude and Illinoisan tomboy, taking in this place together for the very first time. It was spectacular! That first view of Half Dome and El Capitan will forever be engrained in my mind. It’s emotional and spiritual and amazingly beautiful!

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WOWZA!

Being in Yosemite this year is especially spectacular since El Nino’ dumped abundant snow. Its spring and the snowmelt has added volumes of water to all of the falls in the park making for waterfall-palooza everywhere you look. Even the parking lots have incredible views!

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Sams loves El Capitan!

It being Memorial Day weekend, I had made a weeks reservation at Yosemite Ridge RV Resort a couple of months in advance. Though the National Park entrance is just 13 miles from the RV Resort, it was still another 30-some miles to Yosemite Valley floor making our commute 45-60 minutes one-way.

We spent our first day (Friday) taking a drive to the Valley floor to get the lay of the land and get information for hiking Half Dome. Then we purposed to avoid the valley floor Memorial Weekend. What a good decision that was! By the time we were driving back to the RV Park each day the lines into the park were backed up for 3 miles.

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Hike to Mirror Lake

We stuck to perimeter hikes out Hetch Hetchy to Tueeulala and Wapama Falls (5 miles round trip). The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir provides water to the Bay area and is so pure, no filtration is required. A ranger told us that they cannot tell you its ok to drink out of it without filtration, however, it exceeds EPA standards. The spray from the waterfalls over boardwalk trails were a real treat since it was getting really warm that day.

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Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

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These falls are big!

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We are about to get wet

The next day we hiked to the Toulumne Grove from Hodgdon Meadows (10 miles). This is where a grove of Sequoia Redwoods stand. We were virtually alone until we reached the grove on this trail, which was on an old paved logging road and part of the original road into the valley.

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Tree Giants

The really cool part of this hike was seeing the Tunnel Tree that was carved out of a fallen sequoia around 1881 as a tourist attraction. The park entrance road drove right through this tree and a toll was collected! Things like this triggered the National Parks ranger program to prevent future destruction of the majestic redwoods and park resources. Because of the discovered Sequoia grove, the park entrance road was later re-routed to where it is today.

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Tunnel Tree at Tuolumne Grove

One of our bucket list hikes, second to The Grand Canyon, has been Half Dome. It’s a long day hike (16-18 miles RT depending on where you park) with the last 500 feet of climb up “the cables” to reach the summit.

A permit is required from Sub-Dome and above. There are only 300 permits issued per day with 60% of them available via online lottery up to 6 months in advance. The other 40% are issued via lottery a day in advance.

Since the 60% permits were already issued during our time there, we took a chance and tried the other 40% permits by diligently applying online DAILY at a $4.50 fee with each try…only to receive our Dear John letter every night at midnight.

Since that wasn’t working we found out that there are additional Half Dome permits available, but only if you apply for a backcountry camping permit. These are very limited also and are given out at 11AM on a first come first serve basis for hiking the following day.

In order to have a chance with this strategy we arrived at the backcountry office at 6AM to claim our spot in line and hope they had permits left by the time we reached the desk. Even at 6AM we had 12 others ahead of us and it wasn’t looking good.

But fortunately we had two groups ahead of us that were offered to start their hike THAT DAY which freed up 6 spots for the following day…and we got the last two permits!

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SCORE! We got the last two permits. Sorry folks!

WE GET TO HIKE HALF DOME BABY!!!!

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Hello beautiful!

 

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Ramping Up and Winding Down

Zion National Park

Angels Landing, Zion National Park

Ooooof! More excuses why I have been very tardy in keeping up with my blog!

Working with an RV company, the full-on RV season has arrived and our show responsibilities have ramped up.

So instead of trying to catch up with multiple posts I’m going to cheat and summarize the last two months of travel in one. That’s the way we catch up around here!

Zion National Park…A Thing of Beauty

Continuing our visit to the Canyonlands we headed over to Zion National Park. I thought since we were visiting during the early season we wouldn’t have any trouble finding camping around the National Park. After checking the recreation.gov website for camping within the park I found 1 campsite left for 3 nights at the Watchman Campground. Not the week stay I was hoping for but we had to take what we could get.

With our Zion Ultra trail run scheduled we needed some additional reservations closer to the venue. I got reservations at the Zion Canyon Campground behind the Quality Inn Hotel in Springdale. It was literally just across the Virgin River from the Watchman…for double the price.

Zion National Park

Tight quarters but great views at Zion Canyon Campground

Zion National Park

The picturesque Watchman Campground

Our first day at Zion we decided to take a drive through the park traveling through the tunnel on 89A. I’m so glad we did this because we had planned on going out this way on our way out of town. We didn’t realize there was a tunnel for one thing. Secondly, they have a height restriction of 13’2″. Thirdly, if we could have fit (we are 13’ 8”) we would have needed a park escort in order to drive down the middle of the tunnel while traffic was blocked. Lastly, they charge a $15 fee to do so.

Zion National Park

Not enough headroom for us tall folks

Despite all that, it was a beautiful drive and gave us a little taste of what was to come during our weeks stay.

Two days before our race we decided to take in an easy hike and headed to the Emerald Pools. There is a high, medium and low pool and we hiked to all three. This is an easy hike and we purposed to leave before 8 AM to avoid any crowds. This time of year you can only access the Trailheads via the shuttle system that we picked up at the visitors center.

There are flashing signs all over town about the National Park parking being completely full by 10AM until 3PM, so we wanted to be sure to get an early start. We waited for the shuttle with 4 other people to head to the TH’s. But when we returned around 10:30 the lines just to get on a shuttle were about a ¼ mile long. It was crazy!

Zion National Park

Boy oh boy…go really early or prepare to wait!

Angels Landing

If you have ever seen pictures of Zion you more than likely have seen Angels Landing. This hike’s iconic knife edge assent with the aid of chains and the infamous Walter’s Wiggles were enough to make this one of our most unique and exciting hikes we have ever done.

And the view from the top… Simply amazing! It’s a great place to have a mid morning snack or a picnic lunch with plenty of room to move around (mild crowds). But if you are scared of heights this hike is not for you!

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WARNING…You are crazy doing this hike!

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Be sure to do this hike early morning before the crowds kick in. The chain section is for one rear end at a time and even early we had to share the road with A LOT of people including small children and terrified adults. There aren’t too many spots to just pull over and let someone pass, so expect to hang out on the side of a cliff waiting for your turn.

Zion 100 Ultra

The Zion 100 Ultra offered a 100-mile, 100k, 50 mile, 55k and half marathon distance. Jeff signed up for the 55K while I signed up for the half marathon.

We were watching the weather closely the week leading up to the race and as the race got closer the chance of rain increased. So much so that the race director offered the option to back out of the race even though they were going to have it rain or shine.

But nothing could prepare us for…mudageddon!

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5lbs extra weight right there!

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Super slop…just no way around it!

It started to rain about 1AM and rained off and on through the entire race. The rain made the trails a soupy sloppy mess and the course had to be altered at the last minute. I finished my half while Jeff pulled out at mile 22 of his 55k. The mud was relentless and we were both exhausted!

We took a rest day and walked to town for lunch the day after our race. Sam was glad to get outside.Though we love our National Parks we hate that you cannot take your dog with you on the trails. We understand the safety concerns and the trails are really too crowded for both people and dogs. Zion does offer one paved walking trail that pets are allowed on and we were thankful for it.

We really wanted to hike The Narrows which is water/river hiking. But spring runoff had the river running too high and wild to do this trip. We hope to come back in the fall for this one.

Zion National Park

The Narrows…not assessable this trip

The little town of Springdale is within walking distance of the Zion campgrounds and a delightful place to grab lunch, ice-cream or coffee. It’s quaint and friendly, but I can only imagine what it would be like to get around in the height of summer tourism. Springdale is bracing itself for the estimated 5 million visitors expected to Zion this year, so if you are planning a trip pack your patience.

Lee’s Ferry, AZ

After leaving Zion we stopped over at Lee’s Ferry campground in Utah. What a gem of a find!

Lee’s Ferry is the only place for hundreds of miles where you have easy access to cross the Colorado River. Back in the mid 19th century it was the site of Lees ferry that provided a way to cross the Colorado River for those making their trek out west.

The water is smooth and calm here and is where all Grand Canyon rafting trips start their journey.

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Grand Canyon float trips getting ready for 18-21 day trips. Look at those skies!

The little first come first serve campground is situated on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. As with all the Canyonlands, the full beauty of Glen Canyon is revealed in the sunrise and sunsets and boy did it put on a show!

The rock formations glowed with the dawn and dusk sun so be sure to set up your chairs and take in the view!

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The beautiful Colorado River at Lees Ferry

Phoenix, KY, IL, MO, AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, NV

 Yup…in a matter of 9 days we crossed 9 states and 3 time zones. We flew to Louisville to pick up the Dometic show RV and drove it to National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.

This kicked off 5 weeks of non-stop driving and we are almost finished with our show responsibilities for this round. It has been a whirlwind for sure but next week we will be taking a weeks vacation in the majestic Yosemite National Park.

Stay tuned!

Zion National Park

Zion 100…you kicked our butts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello Moab

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After a 3-week visit back to Nashville and Bentonville Arkansas…or as I call it, the land of humidity, we flew back to our RV in Mesa.

We had lunch with our RV buddies John & Becky and Don & Debbie at Liberty Market in Gilbert. There was so much to talk and laugh about and so little time before we all headed off into different directions. We are going to miss these guys but are confident we will see them out on the road!

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One last ice cream with friends

We pulled out of Mesa for the last time Thursday, March 10 and started our northern trek to Moab. We would have taken our time for the 488-mile journey but Jeff and I signed up for the Canyonlands Half Marathon & 5Mile run on the 12th.

Our plan was to stop half way, but I find that after we have been in one place for a while, we don’t mind putting in some miles on our first day back on the road. We drove 428 miles (9.5 hours) and got within an hours drive of Moab, stopping in a truckers lot in small town Utah for a free overnight.

Neither Jeff nor I have ever been to Moab and when we pulled into town I felt…disappointed. I guess I had pictured a quaint little mountain town like Breckenridge or Tahoe. But my first impression was…junky.

I hate to say that out loud especially now that we have stayed for two weeks. After experiencing all that the great outdoors Moab has to offer, I’m a fan…sort of.

We were in Moab during the Easter Jeep Safari, when 5,000 jeeps roll into town for this annual event.   Jeff and I worked the Dometic booth at the expo showcasing their mobile cooling products. The patrons were fun and everyone remain completely clothed!

Moab

Jeeps rounding up for an adventure

We camped at the Sand Flats Recreation Area, home of the famous Slick Rock off road trail system. This is a mecca for off-roading anything. Jeeps, ATV’s, dirt bikes and mountain bikes and they flow constantly through this campground…all hours of the day and night.

It wasn’t our customary dispersed camping. That, leave your shades up, silent paradise that we strive for. But more of the dusty, loud, drive as fast as you can in a 25 mph speed zone, don’t care how loud my radio is at 1AM and the rules don’t apply to me type of camping.

But despite the noise, here are the highlights for Moab.

Moab Half Marathon (Jeff) & 5 Mile run (Deb) and Monument Valley Half Marathon

This race takes place on the very scenic HWY 128 that runs along the Colorado River. The city shuts down Hwy 128 where 2300 entrants were shuttled by bus from downtown Moab to the start of the race. We had the entire highway to consume while running through the canyons.

I’m not sure but it felt like the race was all downhill…my kind of race for sure! Either that or I was just taken in by the surroundings. Colorado River flowing on my right, shear red cliffs everywhere I looked, Native American drummers out on the course and lots of local support.

Also, Jeff decided to enter the Monument Valley Ultra Half Marathon the following weekend…It was spectacular!!!

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Hiking Slick Rock Loop

Slick Rock was just out our RV door, so we laced up our shoes and got after it. This is a 9.5 Mile loop over petrified sand dunes that make Slick Rock what it is.

Contrary to the name, Slick Rock is not actually slick, but very sticky. That’s what makes it the mountain bike & 4×4 mecca that it is. The texture of the rock makes these trails very tacky which is great for rubber to hold on too. It’s a good thing because this trail has some vertical climbs that defy gravity.

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Slick Rock Trail overlooking the Colorado River

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Share the road

The mounds of petrified dunes are endless and all look the same. So I was thankful for the very well marked trails by white stripes painted along the surfaces.

We had to share the trail with mountain bikes and dirt bikes, which isn’t really my preferred nature experience.

We found that the best time to hike/run Slick Rock was before 8AM. By the time we finished up the parking lot and trails became full with people there to enjoy their adventure too.

The Arches National Park

Jeff and I also headed to The Arches National Park. We toured the visitor’s center and watched a very good movie on how arches are formed, then headed to the Delicate Arch trailhead.

The Arches National Park

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch is probably the most photographed arch in the park and requires a strenuous 1.5 mile one way hike to get to. We arrived about noon and the parking lot and trail was crowded. The majority of the trail was wide-open space so there was plenty of area for the crowd to spread out. That is until you get to the last ¼ mile where it is a somewhat narrow trail on the side of a bluff.

Once we rounded the final corner we caught view of this amazing arch that has a natural amphitheater built into its surroundings. You can sit and ponder life or visit with others from all over the world. It really was a beautiful sight to see!

While Jeff went off jeeping one day I drove back to The Arches and hiked Devils Garden loop. It’s a 7.5 mile hike that gives you an opportunity to take in 7-8 arches.

Let me tell you…this trail did not disappoint!

It is probably my #2 most beautiful trails that I have ever hiked (#1 Grand Canyon).

Arches National Park

Balanced Rock

The Arches National Park

Hiking along the fins

The Arches National Park

Partition Arch framing beautiful scenery

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Landscape Arch

The rocks in this area form as fins that the trail traverses up, over and in between. Each turn around a corner showcased another view better than the last. At one point I just had to stop taking pictures and keep moving.

And the arches…most framed views just like a pretty portrait. WOW!

We made one last trip to The Arches on Easter Sunday morning for a sunrise service then to the Eklectic Cafe for a birthday breakfast (yea me).

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Easter Sunrise Service…glad we didn’t sleep in!

Jeeping Steel Bender

We met a very sweet couple, Jeff and Jennifer, in our camping section, who have been coming to the Jeep Safari for 20 years. Jeff asked my Jeff if he would like to ride along on a group 4×4 ride. How can you say no to something like that!

Jeeping is nothing either of us have experienced. The trails are steep and rugged and with a a name like, “Steel Bender”… they are not for the faint of heart. You creep along with 10-12 other jeeps, each driver challenging themselves to take the hardest route. Things fall off and jeeps break down all from the strain of being tested.

After 8 hours Jeff learned a lot about the jeeping community. If he ever trades in his bicycle a jeep may be a consideration.

Moab Overall

I think my ultimate struggle with Moab was just the shear natural beauty of the area that makes up the Canyonlands while having a feeling of destruction and wear.

It was both beautiful and sad at the same time.

The nice thing about RV’ing is we can move on from here and have a totally different type of experience just waiting around the corner!

Until next time Moab (maybe)….

Moab

I wonder what is over there…hummm!

 

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Migration South

Sedona

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. My last entry was about our epic hike at the Grand Canyon back in October. I started typing my next post when something went drastically wrong leaving me unable to keep typing!

After Jeff and I left the Grand Canyon we headed back to Flagstaff where we dispersed camped at one of our favorite spots by Lake Mary. The alpine forest, miles of forestry roads to get lost on and hiking on the Arizona trail are some of my favorite reasons to camp here.

We did try a new location just north of Flag after calling the Forestry Department. “There are plenty of camping spots up there”, they said. “Good access”, they said. But after an hour of narrow roads and only two camp spots that were impossible to get in to, we decided to “go with what we know” and pushed on to Lake Mary. Trouble was, we were up a creek without a paddle. Or in RV’ing terms…down a narrow road without a turnout! After carefully backing up a 1/2 mile we finally swung the 5’er into to weeds to get turned around.

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Contemplating how to get this thing turned around

I’ve found the most challenging parts of dispersed camping is that you never know what you are getting you and your rig into.

One persons opinion of “plenty of clearance” is usually nowhere close to the reality of our specific rig. If someone has wedged a 30,000lb forty-foot motorhome in a spot, then I have a bit more confidence in their recommendations. But NEVER take the word of a non-RV’er unless you want to find out what serious heartburn is like.

Lake Mary works out well for a Triathlete in training. The pool at the college is an easy 10 miles away and Lake Mary Rd is a major thoroughfare for cyclists and runners. Perfect for Jeff to continue some high altitude training for the Arizona Ironman.

Arizona Trail

The Arizona trail just steps from our campsite

While Jeff trained, I hiked a portion of the Arizona trail just steps from our camping spot.

The Arizona Trail is a National Scenic Trail that runs from the border of Mexico to the Utah border, traversing the North/ South length of Arizona for 800 miles. It was officially opened December 16, 2011.

The section I hiked was near the Lowell Observatory and Marshall Lake. It was not particularly scenic with primarily flat hiking through cattle fields.

Sam dog is a great little hiker as he follows the trail very well. If I come to a part where I’m not sure where the trail is I just follow him…he knows every time. But he did step off the trail briefly and ended up with a big cholla ball stuck to his front leg. When that happens he tries to keep going because he HATES when I pull those dang things out. He hollers like you wouldn’t believe and comically when I pulled this one out to his great displeasure it flung out and stuck his back leg, doubling the experience. Once we start moving again all is forgiven and Sam stayed on the trail.

We decided to pull out of Flagstaff a day early since wet weather was coming in and we were on soft ground with low batteries. So we pulled up the jacks and headed to Sedona.

There is free dispersed camping available west of town on Forestry Road 525. We camped here last year and learned if you travel about 5 miles back on the washboard roads you are treated with some spectacular views and close hiking trails. We had some great days of sun and got the batteries charged back up to 100%.

Sedona 2015

Scene out our front door

Sedona 2015

Sam tearing it up and turning a nice shade of Sedona red

Sedona is incredibly beautiful and is one of my top 5 places to see thus far in our travels.

Hiking is spectacular in Sedona, but it is also very popular. If you are looking for a get away from it all experience you will have to travel a little further out of town. But what I love the most about hiking here is the sandy red soil contrasted with the green scrub bushes, Junipers, Arizona pines and Pinon Pines. Mix that in with the scent of toasted pine needles on the trail, red rock views at every turn and warm sun and you have yourself hiking nirvana!

After paying a $5 day use fee Sam and I set off on Soldier Pass Trail. This trail is a great loop with incredible views of the red rock formations, slabs and the city. We hiked the trail counterclockwise; since I have hiked this trail clockwise a couple of times before.

Sedona 2015

Trail dog Sam leading the way

The initial accent takes to you to some red slabs with wide-open views. It’s a great spot for a picnic and photos before heading up natural stairs towards Brin Mesa. At the top of Soldier pass the trail flattens out and turns from red to a light sand color. I wanted to take the Brin Mesa tail for an out and back, to log some additional miles.

The Brin Mesa trail takes a steep decent back down the other side of the mountain. I always laugh at myself after descents like these because my mind automatically thinks about having to hike back up. Like the Grand Canyon  my mind blows up the imagined accent to be much more difficult than it actually is. Then I’m always surprised when I get to the top wondering if I still have “the hill” to go. Silly self!

I mistakenly thought the Brin Mesa trail would actually take me to a mesa. But once I ran into a forestry road, my turn around point, I was informed by other hikers that the actual mesa was off some other offshoot from Soldier Pass. I’ll have to catch that one the next time.

Back on Soldier pass, Sam and I started down the west side of the mountain back into red soil. It was getting hot by now and my two bottles of water were starting to get low. Thankfully we reached more slabs on this part of the trail. The slabs have some natural pools that form from bowl shaped indentations in the rocks. These pools had collected fresh water from recent rains, which Sam found refreshing for consumption and wading in, leaving the remaining water in the bottles for me.

Closer to the west side Soldier Pass Trailhead near “The Sinkhole” it gets pretty noisy from jeep tours and ATV’s that are allowed on the trail here. We jumped off Soldier Pass at this point and took the Jordon trail heading east back to our parking lot.

Sam found another pool that was pretty murky and large and waded in to cool his dogs. Problem was it was very deep. To both our surprise he disappeared underwater only to bob back up sputtering. He wasn’t too thrilled about going scuba diving but he was super frisky after that. I guess his bath really cooled him down.

Sedona 2015

Sam cooling down in a shady spot

We ended up hiking 8.5 miles over 3 hours…what a great time!

After a week in Sedona rain and snow moved in. It was stunning to wake up to a ring of white snow on the red rocks at the higher elevations. But to maintain our shorts and flip flop temps we moved on to Phoenix/Mesa…. where things turned very interesting!

Flat Iron

What the heck!

 

 

 

 

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The View From our Window is Finally Changing

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The Domani’s view for 3 1/2 months. Nothing to see here folks!

I love watching HGTV. Having been a General Contractor and dabbling in interior decorating, I have to say that I’m addicted to real estate and rehab shows. House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Addicted To Rehab, Property Brothers are all of my favorites.

I guess that is why Jeff and I felt ok about purchasing an RV project. There is a certain thrill and satisfaction that comes from making something out of nothing. But I have to say, this project has been one of those labors of love that is often seen in rehabbing an old Victorian home along some of our countries most historical main streets.

The old dilapidated, leaning home that people thought was a total tare down is resurrected into a magnificent showpiece, lovingly restored back to its former glory. Usually at a cost that exceeds what new construction would have run all in the name of love.

I think that is where we are at with our Domani.

Carriage Domani

Damage only a mother could love!

We should have probably taken a bulldozer to her the day the roof was pulled off. But she had bones, class and character that couldn’t be overlooked nor found in new construction. And now that we are nearing the end and we have had a chance to spend some quality time with our girl, she has made an impression on our hearts. She has become our labor of love!

After 3 1/2  months of pulling our hair out restoration, it’s all finally coming together. And we couldn’t be more pleased with our home on wheels.

Things I love about the Domani:

Counter space: Every RV’er knows that countertops are a premium in campers. Though still small by housing standards, I have twice as much counter space than before. And, they are solid surface rather than plastic.

Lobster Pot Sink: These sinks are popular in Airstreams. Frankly, I have not heard of too many people liking them. But me? I’m a fan! It’s deep, it’s wide and there is plenty of room to wash a pan without mopping the floor at the same time.

Bedroom Door: It’s the simple things that contribute to happiness. Having a door that closes off the bedroom from your spouse watching howling piano playing puppies on facebook at 4:30AM is one of them.

Open shower & sink, enclosed toilet: We have an open shower/sink area to the bedroom with an enclosed toilet closet. Jeff and I are both vertically endowed, so having a sink area that allows brushing our teeth without hitting our elbows feels palatial.

Carriage Domani

Open bath, elbow room and a bedroom door. What more could a 6′ tall girl ask for!

Closet & Cabinet Space: The Domani is only 32’ long so there was some bedroom closet space sacrificed along the front of the coach that typical 5th wheels have. But I do have a tilt out laundry bin and 24 upper cabinets in the living room/kitchen that more than make up for it.

Full Length Mirror Closet Door: I didn’t know that I wanted a full-length mirror until I had one. It’s very helpful when you are putting on a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops to make sure that the fit is just right…. she says sarcastically!

Carriage Domani

Bedroom with Closets, Cabinets, tilt out laundry and full length mirror

Storage Bay: Holy mother of storage! Jeff and I both could fit in there with enough room to roll around in. I’m thinking of turning it into my office.

Larger Frig: Who doesn’t like more refrigerator space. Our frig now has an extra shelf over our previous frig, which is like going from an apartment sized refrigerator to a side-by-side.

Carriage Domani

Big Sofa. Big Windows!

Big Windows: In the Domani we have lots of big open windows and skylights that let the light flood in. We removed the old smelly accordion blinds and are replacing them with MCD roller shades (more on that in the next post). The views are going to be great once we get this baby out on the road!

Sofa and Two Chairs: Before, we had a jack-knife sofa which was adjacent to the kitchen. So when we wanted to put our feet up they ended up on the kitchen counters. (The multipurpose kitchen sink/ottoman). Now we actually have a sofa long enough to stretch out on and two very comfortable chairs. The space between the sofa and chairs is cavernous so no more footsies with Jeff while making dinner.

What now?

We are disappointed that we did not make it to Iowa for RAGBRAI this year. The repairs just kept us stationary a while longer.

We have now moved on to the MORryde parking lot for a new hitch, basement slide out tray and new axles and will hopefully finish up here end of next week.

Carriage Domani

MORryde’s cozy camping lot

We have our sites set on getting our girl back to Arkansas for a wedding in September before heading out west for the fall and winter.

It’s been a long time coming and we are itching to get on the road. I’ve booked our campsites for the Xscapers Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and the Grand Canyon, both in October, which gives us some sense of hope that we will be rolling out of Elkhart very soon. We’ve kissed the frog and she has turning into princess charming. Now lets ride this thing off into the sunset!

Can’t wait!

Carriage Domani

Finally out of that dang shop & riding off into the sunset MORryde’s parking lot.

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On The Road Again

St. Louis

St. Louis Arch

We’ve spent the last two weeks traveling out west and back again.

Our trip started with driving to St. Louis to drop Sammy-do off at my Mom’s for a little paw sitting. Sam loves going to his grandma’s because the food scoop overflows, the squirrels are plentiful in a fenced in back yard and the cute factor gains a little extra loving. We hate traveling without him, but it’s comforting to know he is being super spoiled while we are gone.

While we were in St. Louis Jeff and I decided to try something new. We took a running tour of downtown. After 3 hours and 6 miles I learned things about St. Louis that I never knew. We went with St. Louis Running Tour, THE ONLY running tour in St. Louis. Our tour guide Joe showed us iconic buildings like Union Station, The Arch and Cardinal Stadium. Joe also gave the behind the scenes facts and sometimes seedy drama that unfolds during the development of the new frontier.

It is a run and it is a tour so there are lots of stops to talk with bursts of running to the next destination. Our longest stretch of running was no more that ¼ mile, so if you do this thinking you are going to get your 4-6 mile solid run in, you won’t.

We didn’t take the tour for the run, but to learn & see more about the city that I grew up around…while getting a little low-key exercise. Definitely a very fun morning with Joe!

Hardware Show

The super awesome CFX refrigerator/freezer by Dometic

That afternoon we flew off to Las Vegas for the National Hardware Show. Dometic had a huge display of their new portable refrigerator/freezers (CFX) that run off of 12V, 24V or 120 and their super insulated coolers. They are great for tailgating, RV’ing and boating. We have a CFX frig/freezer that is the best! You can set it to freeze or refrigerate anywhere from 50 degrees down to -8 degrees. That’s a lot of frozen solid ice cream…on 12volts of power no less! It makes up for the small refrigerators that RV’s typically have.

Las Vegas is an interesting town and one that neither of us is particularly comfortable in. I recharge in tranquility and nature. So when you go out for a run at 5AM and the street department is already at work with jack hammers and the all night partiers are just reaching their peak volume, my soul is just piled on with more noise that I went out to decompress from. Throw in a couple of propositions from some ladies of the night (Jeff) and we were ready to get rolling.

From Las Vegas we drove the Dometic RV back to Elkhart Indiana. We were going to hit the central, most direct route through Colorado, but with forecasted snow in the mountains we redirected to the southern route. Our first stop was in Flagstaff where we drove though sleet, snow and rain.

Saturday morning we woke to 1” of snow. The sun popped out and we decided to wash the Vegas grime off our running shoes with a trail run before hitting the road. We stayed at the Flagstaff KOA and they have access to trails right out the back gate. It was a stunning 5-mile run as the sun filtered through the snow-covered foliage. Now this is what I’m talking about! Running through the woods fully alive…nothing is better for the soul. I love this KOA for its convenience to town, trails right out back and very little road noise.

Our other stops

Albuquerque, New Mexico– Long push day to the KOA. Very nice park with level sites, good spacing but very close to the highway. I was able to get a 3.5-mile walk in just within the park by making 3 loops. It was a big RV park! We met a group of French Canadians who where traveling together. One of them had a Heartland Edge, similar to our Ironman Can we just sold. We are hoping to come back here in October for the Xscapers very first Convergence at the Balloon Fiesta.

Amarillo TX

Oasis RV Park just down the road from the Cadillac Ranch

Amarillo, Texas-Oasis RV Resort. This was a really nice RV park as well. Very level and spacious sites with weight room, hot tub and pool. We didn’t use any of the amenities and reviews are mixed on this RV Park as it relates to smell. There are a couple of VERY LARGE cow farms nearby. So the prevailing winds has a directed correlation to the type of experience you will have here.

Luckily the temps were cold and the wind was blowing from the North, so we had no issues of smell.

Tulsa, Oklahoma-Long push day to KOA at Will Rogers horse racing track. This is mostly grass covered RV parking. A lot of the sites were flooded with the recent rains, so we were upgraded to a raised gravel site that backed right up to the horse track. We arrived at 4pm so we were able to catch the last 3 horse races.

It was entertaining as the horses made their 90-second run (if that) around the track, then a water truck and 3 tractors made their way around grading the course with diligence and speed. Their job took about 15 minutes that was repeated after each 90 second run. We found it quite humorous and had more fun watching the tractors than we did the horses. I know…we are strange that way.

We went out for a run the next morning at 6AM to soothing country music over the loud speakers while the horse trainers were already out running the horses. We definitely felt like we were back in our part of the country where people wave as they drive by. If you are from the country you know the wave…one or two fingers just barely lifted off the steering wheel just to give you a friendly hello.

Tulsa OK

Horse Races at the Will Rogers Downs KOA Park

St. Louis, Missouri-Long push day to Mom’s house. We got to see our fur baby and stayed two nights so that Jeff could put in a solid workday that didn’t involve the swerving and jostling that comes with driving a can of marbles down the road at 70 mph. It was hard to leave Sam again especially when he was lying in front of doors, at our feet and around our shoes to ensure that he is not left behind. 😦

Elkhart, Indiana-Long push day to our final destination, MasterTech RV. They are doing the work on our personal RV project. The slide on the Dometic RV decided to stop working in Albuquerque so MasterTech is going to work on it for us. And they provide free parking with electric hookups.

It’s been a long trip with a few memorable moments. Now that we are here in Elkhart we get to check on the progress on our personal RV project over the weekend. The water damage on our roof was much more extensive than we originally thought…but everything is fixable.

More on our project in the next post. Until then…get out and play!

Elkhart, IN

The new rolling crib will be good as new…we hope!

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Quartzsite. All Things Interesting

Welcome to the carnival of Q

Welcome to the carnival of Q

The big Q is over and we are on our way back to Arkansas. Quartzsite was a big success for many who sell their wares for a living.

Many of the items sold in the big tent are the same things you see at most of the RV shows. LED light bulbs, towing products, sewer hoses, telescoping flagpoles.

But there were a few booths that caught my eye and thought their products were something to write home about.

Quartzsite AZ

They ran out of my favorite blend so I made due with rocky road and chocolate chip

ICE CREAM

I know, not very unique in its own right. But the ice cream “booth” was packed from the moment it was open until it closed. These guys are here every year and a sought after treat by the patrons.

The owner was ornery and a bit unfriendly. But what he lacked in personal sweetness was made up for in his generous proportions of scooped creamy deliciousness. Everything was $4 no matter 1 scoop or 2, cup or cone. And the helpings…ginormous!

You pay the man first and collect your ticket and stand in one of 8 lines that form in front of ice cream freezers. There are 12 flavors to choose from and you can mix your scoops. My favorite?  A scoop of black cherry and a scoop of chocolate. Ooooohhhh myyyyy!

THE ULTIMATE TRIP

Quartzsite AZ

The Ultimate Road Trip Planning Guide

One of the bucket list trips for most RV’ers is a journey to Alaska. It’s a trip that requires a bit more planning for those of us who tend to wing it. http://www.NorthtoAlaska.com makes the planning easy by providing free information on 3 major routes.

Canada and Alaska got together to promote tourism to their country and state. Canada realized that many people were driving through their country (naturally) to get to Alaska without making it a destination as well. So the two got their heads together to outline various routes, attractions and overnight accomodations for RV’ers. The information can be used for the solo traveler or if you prefer to go with an organized group, they will hook you up with others looking to caravan.

The volunteers were very knowledgeable and have driven these routes themselves. They were ready to share their enthusiasm for their country/state and their love of RV travel.

It is a great service and all free. www.northtoalaska.com. Check it out!

Sorry Tony, this is all I have to remember you by!

This is NOT Tony or his product but reminded me of his flare for life!

COOK TOP GRILL 

Ok. So this product may not be new or revolutionary. But our booth was right behind Tony and he himself was unique. He makes a nice living demoing different cooking products 12 hours a week at festivals and RV shows, Quartzsite being his biggest and longest show. (So bummed that I didn’t  get a picture of Tony)

Tony was demonstrating a Stove Top Grill right behind our booth. And with the prevailing north to south winds our little curtain could not contain the smell of garlic and bacon. ALL. WEEK. LONG!

The Stove Top Grill works on gas or electric ranges, gas grills or campfires. It had a drip pan to prevent flare-ups, was easy to clean and small enough to store in your camper.

His humor and strategic use of fatty pork and garlic draws his customers to his booth all the while charming them with his easy personality and quick whit. This guy was goooood!

Of course being booth neighbors netted us an endless supply of tasty samples that would mysteriously appear on a toothpick through the curtain like magic!

SNOW REGION GIFT SHOP

This booth was selling beautiful cashmere scarves for $15 (two for $25) and yak wool throws for $35. I was drawn to this booth for the quality of the products at very reasonable prices. I picked up a beautiful yak wool throw that was super soft and extra warm. Watch out for the shedding. My hiking pants picked up the fibers and coated them before I knew what was happening. I was ensured that this would stop after my first washing.

They are machine washable but must be line dried.

The owner, Loden Tsering (Sorry, no website) was a sweet gal and I found out that her parents were from Tibet. They fled the country for India during the Chinese invasion (1951). Loden was born on their way to India. She has lived in California now for about 6 years and travels to festivals, trade shows and farmers markets to sell her beautiful Tibetan products.

Quartzsite AZ

Dog tired after a nine day show

Well, those where my vendor highlights for Quartzsite as we finish up at the big show. This is one of those places you need to experience for yourself at least once, if you can bring yourself to terms with the crowds, plentiful scooters and dogs in strollers.

It has a carnival atmosphere with flee market vibe full of interesting people who are traveling this amazing country in their home on wheels.

Quartzsite 2016…we will be back!

Ditto!

Ditto!

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