Cooper and I have been RVing, as vacationers, for the past several decades, mostly for weekends and up to two or three weeks at a time. We even volunteered as campground hosts on Rabbit Ears Pass out of Steamboat Springs, CO, for three summers. We thought we knew (and had) all the equipment and knew all the ropes to be full time RVers. WRONG. In the past month, since we embarked on this new adventure, we have been working (and spending big bucks) to make our RV more like a home than a hard-sided tent.
We left Steamboat Springs on Saturday, November 7th after a week of snow had piled about a foot of snow on all outside horizontal surfaces of our trailer, truck and scooters. (Next year we will leave earlier!) The temp was 15 degrees. We headed west, to Green River, Utah, for our first night out. The snow was mostly gone by the time we reached Meeker, CO, about 90 miles from Steamboat. Temps were rising and the sun had come out. Little did we know that we were heading into a really cold week of travel. The first night out (as the only RV in the park and the water turned off for the winter – should have been a sign) the temps got down to 26. The furnace ran all night (using up propane).
Sunday morning we were on the road by 9am, heading toward St. George, Utah. We were traveling pretty hard to catch up with Gail and Dave Hanley, fellow snowbirds from Steamboat. They have been our mentors on preparing for this journey and had the smarts to leave Steamboat weeks earlier than we did, taking two weeks to travel what we did in two days. We tried to stop at a cheese factory for tastings and a couple of other places along the route, but being Sunday in Utah, nothing was open, no people to be seen ANYWHERE. Church parking lots were very full, however.
We arrived at the Willow Wind RV Park in Hurricane (pronounced Her-i-cun), Utah, about mid-afternoon (since there was nothing open to visit along the way), and met up with Gail and Dave. Planning to spend 5 nights in the park, to catch our breaths and not use so much gas, we plotted our adventures for the time here. We also immediately went to Walmart to buy an electric heater for the trailer. Weather forecasts were for several cold nights in a row.
Hurricane (Her-i-cun) is very close to St. George (which is apparently a suburb of Steamboat Springs because of all the Steamboatians who live there. We caught up with several of them (the Kevin Kaminski family and the “Jellies” – the Cider Fixing jelly people (Heather and Sandy, Daryl and Ken) from the farmers market, and Chris Reitz) while we were there. We also spent a sunny day hiking in Zion National Park, and a cold, rainy day visiting the museum in Hurricane. The little museum was pretty interesting and the woman (a five-generation native of the area and very devout relative of several of the pioneers who settled the area) was extremely entertaining.
Next we (Barnetts and Hanleys) headed to Buckskin State Park Campground near Parker (Lake Havasu), AZ for another five nights. Pretty pricy for state park campgrounds ($30 per night and the senior pass doesn’t work in AZ), but right on the Colorado River. Very windy the entire time we were here. We did some touring, some hiking, lots of eating, and visited with more Steamboaters (Louann and John Roos) who are wintering just across the river. John, Louann and Dave pulled out the guitar, fiddle and mandolin and did an impromptu jam session one afternoon.
We are quickly learning that happy hour is pretty much a standard communal activity in RV parks. While at Buckskin, we shared one happy hour with a darling young (maybe late 20s) couple from Minnesota who have been traveling with their all-terrain pop-up camper for the last 5 months. They ditched their corporate jobs and decided to hit the road for a year. They are headed south to follow the good weather, but had recently been up in Idaho and Montana before it started to get cold. They have been researching the best grilled cheese sandwiches and tator tots along their journey. They even have a website, www.grilledcheeseandtatortots.com and stickers. They gave us one for our truck.
From Buckskin, the Barnetts and the Hanleys parted ways for a few days, Hanleys to visit with Gail’s aunt and the Barnetts to spend a few days with Jane and Wayne Garrison (former owners of the bowling alley) in Casa Grande, AZ. Jane and Wayne used to RV and have a parking pad with hookups next to their house. We were able to catch up on laundry, visit with more AZ RV friends we traveled with many years ago at yet another happy hour hosted by J&W, and spend several hours at the Mesa Marketplace, a HUGE outdoor market with hundreds of vendors selling all kinds of stuff we didn’t know we needed. We didn’t buy much but have been kicking ourselves ever since because several of the RV necessities we have bought and/or should have bought and are still looking for, were available at that market, at much more reasonable prices than what we have found them available for in Tucson.
Three days in Casa Grande and it was time to head to our final destination, Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson, AZ. With one stop along the way in Eloy, AZ, just south of Casa Grande to visit with Ellen and Tim Monsees (full-time RVers for years now, formerly of Steamboat Springs) at Skydive Arizona. They used to make parachutes and are very accomplished skydivers, having participated in several of the multiple-jumper formations (Guinness record jumps, I believe). The facility where they are located right now is, among other things, a training facility for military jumpers from many countries, several of which were there jumping while we were there. They told us of the training jumps that take place at night to get jumpers behind enemy lines or dropping off huge cargo packages. Visitors drive to the facility to sit in the bleachers and watch the jumpers jump. It was pretty fascinating. And the little bar/diner they have there has REALLY GOOD burgers!
Finally, on November 23, we pulled in to Desert Trails, our home from now through mid-March. Gail and Dave have been coming to DT for the past 5 years. Our original plan was to go to Bandera in the Hill Country of Texas, but decided to follow Gail and Dave here for our inaugural winter as snowbirds. Why? They said it was a funky RV park that used to be a water park. (Remnants of that past life are evident in several places in the park.) People who come here have been coming for years. There is a culture here that is very welcoming and extremely active, very much like Steamboat. Everyone is friendly and helpful. There is so much to do, it won’t all fit on the activity calendar. So far I have taken my first yoga class, joined a camera club (although my only camera is my phone), been to bingo twice, played Mexican train dominos, been to two live concerts (two per week in the park, with world class entertainment – REALLY, and FREE), checked out the gourding class, hiked in the desert, and ridden my scooter in nearby neighborhoods. You can’t do it all. There is just too much. No boredom in retirement.
So now we are pretty well caught up on what it took to get here. I started this post by talking about all the things we didn’t know we needed but that will have to wait for another time. I didn’t intend this post to be so long (and those in the future won’t be), but this is so we can remember what we did and where we’ve been, so for now, I guess we can all deal with it. Time for Happy Hour.