April 18, 2019

What we carry!


In an effort towards more informative blogging, we are giving you a full-disclosure kind of blog - everything you always wanted to know about WHAT WE CARRY IN OUR TRUCK!

When we were making preparations for full-time RV living we had to make some clear choices about what we wanted to bring along and, more significantly, what we had ROOM to bring along! This was important for our Airstream (we’ll do a full disclosure blog on that, if you’d like) as well as for our tow vehicle.

To begin, you should know we have a Dodge RAM Bighorn ¾ ton diesel with a 6’ 4” bed. We added a Thule cargo box, one we’d had for years on top of my car, that sits on our crossbars along with our bike racks, and above our tonneau cover (the blog link to all of that info is here).

A great Harvest Host spot in Oregon.

A quick boondocking stop means we don't have to unhook!

The Pads, outside of Death Valley National Park was a great overnight.
I don't think our truck gets enough credit for making this life possible! 
Seriously, it's a beast and has never (knock wood) failed us!

One of the first decisions we needed to make involved choosing what we wanted TO DO on our travels (which includes hiking, biking, photographing and paddling).  We love water, to be near water and, even better, paddling on water is one of our favorite outdoor activities. We chose to carry our inflatable paddle boards, largely for the packability, and also that they are so much fun!   Ours are from the 100% employee-owned Idaho company, Northwest River Supply,or NRS.  Mine is the “Big Earl 4”, (it’s 4” thick, 30” wide, 10’ 6” long and weighs 22 lbs). Mike’s is a little bigger, it’s their “Imperial 6”, (it’s 6” thick, 32” wide, 10’ 6” long and it weighs 27 lbs).  We, of course, didn’t want to be up a creek without a paddle so we each have lightweight paddleboard paddles.  Mike’s is a Werner paddle and it’s height is adjustable, mine is from Surftech and it’s length is fixed, sized for a shorty like me!  And, along with a hand pump, we bought an electric pump (NRS Bravo high-pressure 12 volt) that we can attach to the truck’s battery for a quick and easy, regulated fill.

Paddling on Lake of the Springs...heavenly.

The next best activity, particularly great after a day of paddling, is sitting around a fire. We absolutely love this Outland Firebowl!  It’s convenient, safe, easy to setup and use and, my favorite part, there’s no smoke!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of a wood campfire.  I really do!  But, I don’t love hauling firewood around with us, then spending the evening scooting my chair around to avoid the smoke blowing invariably wherever I am sitting, or the smell of a campfire permeating every fabric in the trailer!  This portable propane Outland Firebowl has been a fantastic addition to our "what do we want to pack in our truck"!

Hanging out in Mesa with friends and family!
Enjoying a night under the stars in Arizona.

Also after a day of paddling, or biking, or a do-nothing day, we like to eat! (I'm getting good at these transitions, right?!  I could totally write for an infomercial!)  We often grill our dinner outside on this Weber grill.  It’s a great size for a full dinner of meats and veggies and I also really appreciate the thermometer and flame regulator, because it works really well! (I’ve been “burned” by a few grills who really only had one setting, hot!)

We have a big outdoor mat...this black and white one we bought online at Amazon, because the one we had before was ‘too damn heavy’ (as per Mike, who had to roll it and load it up!) and tended to keep water rather than shed it!  This one is relatively inexpensive, super light weight and mold and water resistant...and, you can see it really easily from space!  If you’re full timing in your RV, this is one item I’d say to plan on replacing about every year or so.  Between the sun and the rain and the constant traffic, they do wear out, so for us, buying a less expensive one ($50) and replacing it once in awhile was better than splurging on a fancy and spendy ($200) one that would be a pain to maintain (our original one is in storage...lesson learned!).

Boondocking outside of Quartzsite, Arizona.

Gilbert Ray campground outside of Saguaro National Park is one of our favorites.

We love our zero gravity chairs (Target)! Our daughter called them our ‘old people chairs’ until she herself reclined in one! They’re kind of clumsy in the truck bed, but we make them fit by sliding them on top of everything. (And by we, I mean Mike!)

Sometimes it seems like a dream!  Thanks for the picture, Gene!

Just add cold beverages...
We also have a couple of folding Coleman camp chairs, handy for guests or when we invite ourselves over to your campsite! And we grabbed a foldable cheapie side table, one that you can find in any drug store along the way.  We also have a little bit larger outdoor table, ours is one we’ve had for quite awhile...the Aluminum Camp Adjustable Rolltop Table, from REI. It’s adjustable height makes it great for the BBQ or to set out a small spread or drinks.  I kind of wish it was a little bit bigger and taller, but that would just take up more room!

We use the Telesteps1400E ladder to clean and check out our solar panels and roof top.  Our solar installer, Lew, provided us with a great foam pad which fits nicely on the top and prevents scratches on the trailer. It’s aluminum construction, it easily extends and retracts with the push of a button (watch your fingers!) and we don’t ever have to borrow the neighbors!

Mike, tilting our solar panels at Trona Pinnacles!  (Maybe he's trying to collect energy from the Super Moon!)

Rounding out the truck bed, and filling all the nooks and crannies, we pack a tool box, for, ya know, basic tools, a small shovel for, ya know, or in case we get stuck...a bucket with a few odds and ends, my very cool REI bike basket (not shown ‘cuz it was on my bike) and a 6 gallon potable water jug.  We use the water jug when we are boondocking for a longer period of time – whenever we are in town or going past a place we can get good clean potable water, we fill it up and pour it into our holding tank to extend our water usage capability.

That’s it!  Now you know!  I’ve linked as many things as I could to make browsing/shopping easier for you!  If you have any questions, don’t ever hesitate to reach out, via email or Instagram or Facebook!  We’d love to help you get on your way too!

This is what it all looks like! 

Next up, we’ll show you what’s in our cargo box!

April 7, 2019

March 2019, Desert Hot Springs grandkids in California, back to AZ


Again, I think of many of these blogposts as simply a diary for myself...a record for the memory books!  But I'll also put a few tidbits in here for those looking to follow our travels themselves!  

In March, just to refresh my memory (since I am writing this is December!), we were still at Sam's Family Spa just outside of Desert Hot Springs.  It's a great place to hang up for awhile...the pool is my favorite, heated to that perfect temperature that makes you ease in without cringing and then you wanna just stay and float for awhile!  And FOUR amazing hot pools, all with different temperatures!  It's never overly crowded, it is flushed and cleaned every night, refilled in the morning with fresh mineral waters.  But the best thing about Sam's might be their soft serve ice cream!  

We were here waiting for test results and answers as to my strange and everyday worsening symptoms.  Kind of bouncing back and forth with the doctor in Palm Springs and the Mayo Clinic.  Waiting is the worst.  

So while we were waiting, we tried to enjoy the area a bit, starting with the heralded Palm Springs Art Museum!


The melting rug was really cool!

I took this photo through a glass sculpture, the artistic side of me feeling inspired!

This was a collage piece...made from tiny pieces of paper...
and the image was HUGE...so much work!

Spotted some hearts!

Us, on the steps of the museum!

One of the streets adjacent to the museum.

After the museum, we went to La Bonita's, again, a tiny little Mexican restaurant downtown that we've pretty much become obsessed with...and I think it's the fresh guacamole that started our addiction!  A cold beer and chips and guac...yum!

This is what I mean by hanging out in the pool! 
It's about the only thing I've found that really
alleviated the pain in my body.

We made our annual pilgrimage to Sam Cobb's farm for some fresh dates! 
Sam was there so we got to chat with him awhile...
and, even if you don't think you like dates, you'll love Sam! 
He's sweet and genuine and wonderful, so are his dates!


Hanging out this long did motivate me to do the deep cleaning
our home needed.  The good news, even deep cleaning only takes an hour or so! 
Tiny living isn't bad at all! 
Especially with all these windows and all the sunshine

We had our friends Michael and Susan (also Airstreamers)
over for dinner & drinks one evening...and we visited with them
several times during our stay, Susan is a retired nurse
and she was so sweet with her worry for me.



I received a few goodies from the Zen Den
...gizos/talisman to help me through this uncertainty.

We tried our first float tank experience...
another effort towards natural pain relief...and I loved it!

Mid month we set out to drive around the Salton Sea.  We'd heard about Borrego Springs from several travelers and I'd seen pictures from Salvation Mountain that I thought were worth a visit...

This is an art installation out past Salvation Mountain,
within an area called Slab City. 
Essentially it's an off the grid dry camping area,
but more than that, it has residents that live here, in trailers, year round.
The area we went to is called East Jesus...
a strange but fascinating, sort of post-Apocalyptic anti-establishment camp... 
It's hard to describe...but worth a trip!


I loved this!


This is Salvation Mountain. 
Originally one man's vision and creation which is now managed
by volunteers who keep people from destroying it and refresh the paint now and then...



The entrance to Sams...or exit, as we were finally doing mid-month.

Boondocking at Hi-Jolly, near Quartzsite, AZ


We landed at Mesa Spirit, the Thousand Trails park in Mesa, AZ.  After a few days, we took a quick flight north, so see ALL of our beautiful grandkids (and their moms, our daughters)!  Our oldest daughter had driven from Idaho down to Sacramento to spend some time with her sister, so it was incredible to see them all greeting us when we came in!

They are the best!







The four big kids!



We got to celebrate Ezra's 4th birthday with her!




Couldn't love this group more. 


These guys were troopers,
making an 11 hour drive without an overnight stop?!  



Back to AZ and we were greeted by this sky!


We had a few get togethers with Mark and Kelly and Marion...
as well as my cousin, Seth, and a few neighbors who had quickly become friends!

Catalina State park, outside of Tucson,
was a great place to be after tiring of the RV park feel!  
We ended the month at Catalina State Park, near Tucson.  It's a really nice campground that feels like you're in the desert, but is literally moments, just over a hill, from civilization!

It was a good, but frustrating month, feeling like I wasn't making any gains on figuring out what was going on with my health, but still enjoying the company and the scenery!

Most viewed blog posts