<11/21 - 11/23: Again, we had a strong desire to "get away" for the weekend. The weather has cooled off around Phoenix, so we headed to our favorite desert boondocking spot. This spot is is only about 50 miles from home, yet in an isolated area. We spent the weekend just relaxing, taking walks, playing cards and reading. We also enjoyed a nice scenic drive through the desert, but I didn't have any desire to go geocache hunting this time. It got pretty chilly at night, down to the 40's. On Sunday, we stopped by the large Mesa Swap Meet. We bought a glass etching for the door window of the motorhome. It looks pretty nice.
11/1 - 11/8: The day after we returned from Lost Wages, we flew out to Orlando, FL. We made the trip to attend the Fall meeting with Southeast Publications. We're brand new and wanted to get as much information as possible. It was a very informative trip. We did have one day free and visited Disney's "Epcot" center. We really enjoyed the day, but were exhausted after 11 hours of walking around. We still didn't see it all!
10/25 - 10/31: Part of a working vacation, we headed to Long Beach, CA. Since we stayed at Connie's parents house, we didn't take the "Roadrunner" on this trip. We were in Long Beach for training with Southeast Publications. We'll be contracting jobs with Southeast Publications while we travel fulltime in our RV. Since we had a few days left in the week free, we headed to Las Vegas for a little R & R. We had a good time, but didn't win anything. We're not much into throwing money away gambling, so we threw it away on a 'Cirque du Soleil' show instead. We recently heard of their show called ""Zumanity", which is for adults. A good show full of nudity, but not as creative and unique as their regular shows. Wished we went to see "O" instead.
10/10 - 10/12: It's been awhile since we've taken the "Roadrunner" out on a trip. We combined this weekend's trip to Cottonwood in the motorhome with a square dance fest. We stayed in an Arizona Sate park, called Dead Horse Ranch . For $19 night, we got the last campsite including water and electric, with a dump site. An okay park, they are expanding with an additional 80 RV sites and two more lagoons. The weather was cooler than in the Phoenix area. We spent the weekend playing games, reading, looking for a geocache, and going to the Saturday night square dance. We had a nice weekend, but would have been nicer if we were boondocking by ourselves somewhere. Since the campground was full, there was a lot of noise from other campers. The camps spots are about 30' apart. At least the Roadrunner performed great this trip!
9/12: We started to head out for a nice boondocking spot in the Coconino National Forest near Pine, Arizona. We were about 20 minutes away when the Serpentine belt broke on the motorhome. This is the 'fan' belt that also runs everything else. We lost power brakes, power steering, alternator, and more. It was pretty scary cresting a hill and not having brakes! Luckily, there was a small pull-out right there and we safely made our way off the highway. Coach-Net, our emergency road service came through for us again. It took awhile to find a large wrecker, but a HUGH semi tow truck showed up after a couple hours and towed the motorhome over 100 miles back to Phoenix. Everyone recommended a good Ford Truck repair facility, as something more serious may have caused the belt to break. So the motorhome is in the shop and we're stuck in the Phoenix heat again this weekend. Oh well - it could have been worse. Since the motorhome is in the shop, I'm having the squeaky wheels also looked at. Everything should still be under warranty, as we only have 10,000 miles on it. Update 9/22/03: Got the motorhome back from Sanderson Ford in Glendale, AZ. The idler arm was broke and was the cause of the belt breaking. They believe the broken idler arm was also the source of the high squealing noise we got at high RPM's (this started about 1500 miles ago). We'll see if the noise has gone away. However, they couldn't find the cause for the slightly squeaking front wheels. Sanderson Ford was real good about everything. All repairs were under warranty.
8/27 - 9/2: Since it was Labor Day weekend, we made an extra long weekend out of it (6 days). I headed up early to the Granite Basin Recreation Area and stayed in the Yavapai Campground ($10, dry) near Prescott, AZ. Connie, Leslie and her fiancé Andy joined us for the weekend, as well as Larry's Dad who lives up there. We enjoyed a long, relaxing weekend of exploring, reading, geocaching, and trail riding in the Jeep. It was nice visiting Larry's Dad all weekend. There was some rain, but nothing like we had a couple weeks ago in the White Mountains.
8/13 - 8/17: Since Connie got a few days off work and I was recently laid-off, what do we do - we get away! Since we enjoyed our trip last month to the White Mountains in Arizona, we decided to head back. Last month's trip, we stated we wanted stay away from campgrounds on our next trip up here. This time, we boondocked near Springerville. We found another wonderful location off a forest road in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Another FREE and beautiful spot! . We were about 1.25 miles from the nearest highway on the edge of the forest of spruce, pine, and aspen trees. We looked out onto a large meadow where sheep grazed in the mornings. We finally got away from the desert heat. Temperatures were in the 70's during the day, and got down to the high 40's at night. We didn't pack well for the cold and wore the same pair of jeans all week. At night, I needed a few blankets AND a comforter to keep me warm. I also needed the heater to take the chill off the mornings. It wasn't that cold, I'm just acclimated to the desert heat right now. But it did feel good. We wished the weather would have been nicer, though. It rained every day, with some strong storms, and a hail storm that caused us to pull of the highway. We did enjoy a lightning show (although Connie got worried). We only had one evening without rain to enjoy a campfire. After a few days, we started to get worried if would be able to get the RV out of her spot. By now, it was pretty muddy. However, the rain slowed down and we were able to slip and slide our way back to the main dirt road without incident. We spent the week geocaching to some beautiful locations, 4-wheeling in the mud, reading, and playing games again.
7/25 - 7/27: Finally! We again attempted to find a weekend hide-away to escape the 100°+ heat, and we succeeded! We headed to Show Low (AZ). To be ready for the heat, we choose to stay in the Fool Hollow Lake State Park , which provided electric for the A/C. Most sites have water, 30 amp electric, and sewer for $20 a night. We chose a site overlooking the lake and didn't have sewer hook-ups. However, there's a free dump on the way out. Sites are not stacked on top of each other, but many are double sites. The park was about 75% full. We enjoyed the cooler weekend geocaching, hiking, fishing, exploring, and playing cards (Connie's been winning too much!). Unfortunately, Connie got injured when she disturbed a bee hive. She got stung a few times and pulled a muscle while panicking to get away. We had a few rain storms in the evenings, which made for cool weather. We'll have to return to this area and find a boondocking site. Although we liked the park, we missed being by ourselves.
7/4 - 7/6: Still trying to escape this 100°+ heat, we again headed up the mountains. This time, we headed North above the Payson, Pine, Strawberry (AZ) area. This brought us to the Mogollon Rim area. This is another scenic area in the pine trees, but the temperature still stayed in the 90's during the day. While Geocaching, we had previously seen some areas that would make good boondocking camp sites. Although the holiday had brought out more camper's, we found a large, secluded area for our "Mountain Cabin". It was another wonderful, level, quite area. I especially enjoyed watching all the stars at night. It so happens, this area was part of the Coconino National Forest, the same National Forest we stayed in last weekend. Another FREE and wonderful spot! . I definitely need those solar panels! We hate running the generator, which breaks up the solitude of the moment. This weekend included a movie night on Friday evening, Geocaching most of Saturday (takes us to new and exciting locations), a picnic in the forest, star gazing, reading, and playing cards. We're allowed to stay 14 days in this spot, and we know we can last at least 11 days on our 100 gallons of water and sewage tanks (probably longer). We both wish we could stay the entire 14 days, but we still have jobs to get back to by Monday morning. On the return trip home, there was a 3+ mile traffic delay. We felt real sorry for whoever owned the motorhome that caught fire and was burned down to a skeleton.
6/27 - 6/29: For this weekend trip, we headed North to our "Mountain Cabin in the Pines". That is, we took the motorhome out of the desert and up to the mountains. Many of my friends have a mountain cabin, or a house near the ocean. But they're limited to that one vacation spot. With an RV, we can move our vacation home to different settings. This weekend found us South of Flagstaff near Munds' park. We just headed up and pulled into the Coconino National Forest. After driving 2 miles on a dirt road, we found a wonderful, large and fairly secluded spot to pull over and setup "camp". Of course, it wasn't camping. We watched a DVD on Friday night, running the generator. I was reading (for the third time) Stephanie Bernhagen's book on Full-Timing, titled "Take Back Your Life". I happened to be reading about Boondocking (which is what we're doing again this weekend). In her book, Boondocking was described as "having the S's (Silence, Serenity, and Scenic views) without the three R's (Rules, Regulations, and Rates). This spot sure matched that description. Nobody around and wonderful views of the pines trees. And it was FREE! Wonderful spot! . While driving around, we saw numerous other places large rigs could fit. About 20 miles away, we passed some campgrounds. For $10 a night, you got pit toilets, a dumpster, and neighbors. We enjoyed our secluded spot better. We're learning that Connie and I greatly enjoy Boondocking. I'll have to get those solar panels and batteries installed soon so we can watch movies without the generator.
6/13 - 6/15: While the Phoenix area has consistently been above 100°every day, AND there was a Square Dance festival in Payson, AND we hadn't been out in the Motorhome for a month... I needed to get away! Payson is only 90 miles away, at a higher elevation in the Pine trees. It was still warm up there, in the 90's each day. Knowing it would be warm, we stayed at the Oxbow Estates RV Park so we could run the A/C. Water, Electric, and Cable for $20 a night. This was a nice, small RV park. Nothing fancy. We enjoyed our stay, but it would have been much better if they weren't working on widening the road next to us (noisy and dusty). Also, the electricity was extremely low, sometimes below 100 volts. We were staying with some other Square Dancers, so we enjoyed their company. Of course, we went Geocache hunting all three days. The Payson Square Dance Festival is a quality event. Over 300 dancers attended this year, which included dancing, food, and fun!
5/16 - 5/18: We headed into Mexico to attend a Geocaching Event Camp out in Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point). We stayed at the Playa Miramar RV park along the beach. Full hookups for about $24 a night (6 people). Electric was a very high voltage (>130 volts), so our power monitor kept shutting off the electric all weekend. The RV park is also next door to a popular bar, so noise was a factor at night. As with most RV parks, spaces were lined up next to each other with no landscaping. On our next trip to Puerto Peñasco, we'll try another RV park that's farther out of town and should be quieter. The campout was a lot of fun, visiting with old friends and making some new. This was our 'trial' run bringing the RV into Mexico. Nothing to worry about! Our daughters came along on this trip and also brought their boyfriends. So we had a small army with us. To save us tripping over each other, I had the boys sleep in a tent outside. The highlight of the weekend (for us), was that our oldest daughter got engaged! Our future son-in-law, Andy Smith, had asked and given Connie & I advanced warning. He proposed Friday evening after sunset along the beach. Leslie said "Yes"!
4/26 - 4/28: We hosted a Geocaching Rally in our local, favorite desert boondocking spot. It turned out wonderful, with over 50 people attending. We spent the 3 days there with wonderful friends and great food. We met a few full timer RV'ers, who only reinforced our enthusiasm for wanting to make our home on the road. Read more about this spot on the 3/21 - 3/23 log entry.
4/19 - 4/20: Connie's family has made it an annual event to get together at her Grandma's house for an Easter get together, dinner, and egg coloring contest. This year, we stayed at the Western Horizon's Casa Grande resort in Casa Grande, AZ. Although we're not yet member's of Western Horizon's, they let us stay for $25 a night, since it was slow season. It was convenient and had full hook-ups. RV's are parked close to each other with almost no landscaping, so it's not our ideal type of park. However, it'd be a good park to spend the night at if I was paying less than $10 a night.
4/7 - 4/11: We joined the Escapee's RV Club almost 2 years ago. We've enjoyed visiting a couple of the club RV parks, but never had the chance to participate in any of the events. We spent this week attending the Escapee's Spring Escapade. We also wanted to meet members of a sub-group (called a Birds of Feather or BoF) we joined called the Boomers. The Boomer's are mostly fulltime RV'ers of the Baby Boom age. We immediately felt comfortable being with all Escapee members. On the first night, we met with the Boomer's in a mall parking lot. We crammed 14 people into our RV for happy hour before we all headed out for dinner. This RV rally was held at the Lancaster, CA fair grounds. We had a wonderful time meeting lots of friendly RV'ers. Most of them are fulltimers, living and traveling in their RV fulltime. Since we plan to also fulltime in 1 - 2 years, we enjoyed meeting with them and listening to their stories. We attended various seminar's, won some prizes, danced, and just had fun. We got to meet with Larry & Betty Listner again, who we originally met a couple years ago at a Life On Wheels RV rally in Idaho. We also accidentally ran into long lost friends Randy & Debbie LaBrash, who we last saw 16+ years ago. We belonged to a Jeep club with them 20+ years ago. We didn't know they fulltime in their RV now. Sometimes, it sure is a small world! Although we had electrical hookups, we had to depend on our own self contained water and holding tanks. We learned we can go at least 9 days before they get full. On the way back home, we spent the weekend in Quartzsite, AZ again. It was nice just relaxing and driving in the desert looking for geocaches. Although it was only a week, Connie & I felt real comfortable living in the Motorhome. We could easily imagine we were already home in it and didn't need to rush back to work. Someday......
3/21 - 3/23: I knew of an area that was on Arizona State Trust Land that would make an ideal spot for boondocking. For $20- a year, a recreational use permit allows the entire family to camp on this land for 14 days at a time. There's literally thousands of acres of State Trust Land all over Arizona. This aea is located only 50 miles from home; it would be an inexpensive way to get away. We headed out and found a wonderful, quite, and secluded spot 3.5 miles from the nearest highway. We loved it! This free spot is now claimed as our "own" private spot (at least when not in use by others). Free, but no hookups. Sure wish I had solar power installed now, rather than later. Comes with great views of the desert, the mountains, and a trillion stars. Wonderful! .
2/27 - 3/2: We headed to Tucson, AZ this weekend. We attempted to get into Gilbert Ray campground, which is in the Tucson Mountain County park. However, it was full at 6:30pm. We headed down to the local Desert Diamond casino and spent the night blacktop boondocking. In the morning, we were able to get into the Gilbert Ray campground. A nice county park in the desert, next to Saquaro National park. Electric sites are $12 a night. We had a wonderful spot, overlooking the desert. We had coyotes come to within 30' of the RV. Too bad it rained almost all weekend, but we still had fun. We visited the nearby Titan II Missile Site Museum (real interesting) and nearby Old Tucson movie set. Why does time fly by when we're having a fun, relaxing weekend?
2/7 - 2/9: Our feet got itchy again and had to get away for the weekend. We didn't want to drive far and were just looking for the beauty of the desert, peace and quiet, and to enjoy each other's company. We headed off to our favorite local county campground at Usery Mountain Recreation Park in Mesa, AZ. Electric and water sites for $18 a night. There's no dry sites available. All the other times we've been here, the park had about a dozen spaces taken. This weekend, all 70+ spots were full. We were lucky to get one of the last few open spaces. Luckily, all spaces are large and accommodate the bigger rigs. Spaces are spaced about fairly well. We played cards, played the "golf-ball game", took plenty of walks, played with the dog, and went square dancing. We heard the coyotes singing at night and saw a few of them early Sunday morning during our walk. We planned to take a 3.5 mile hike up the mountain, but we never had the time. We also drove through the nearby Lost Dutchman State Park, which we've planned to camp at some day. We weren't too impressed. Spaces are close together, and the dry camp sites are $12 a night. We also visited the nearby Goldfield mine tourist spot. It's free to walk around the old town with all the old mining stuff and to look around. Although this is near home, it's the first time we've been there. It was an enjoyable morning. Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and check out. This county park charges $5 to dump, even if you're a registered camper. However, a couple miles South, there's free RV dumping at the Conoco gas station.
1/23 - 1/26: Every winter, Quartzsite turns into a sea of RV's. During "Snowbird" season, thousands of RV's settle in this valley for free camping, the RV show, and lots of swap meets. It's a great sight to see all of the different RV's, with some serious boondockers full of solar panels and extra water tanks. This was our 3rd year visiting Quartzsite and the RV show. We dry camped (boondock) in the BLM short-term area called "Hi-Jolly" . No hookups, but it's free. It does get noisy at times, with everyone running generators. The BLM long-term area allows you to camp for 7 months for only $100. This includes a place to go dump waste water, trash dumpsters, and maybe a place to fill up on water (it gets dry during the busy months). There's plenty to do in the area. Good friends (old and new), geocaching, 4WD trails, swap meet browsing, star gazing, playing games, and taking naps was how we spent the quick 4 days. In a few months, not a single RV will be seen in the area.
1/10 - 1/12: Picacho Peak State Park is only an hour drive from home and we had never been there. We spent a relaxing weekend in the over-flow camping area without hookups. It was great! We had the entire loop to ourselves. The campsites are nice, and it appears they are putting hookups into each site. However, the current electric campground has the spaces next to each other in a parking lot fashion. Not very private. We liked the dry camping spaces, which are $12 a night (a little high cost). Electric/water sites are $21 . Kind of expensive for hookups that place you 5' from your neighbor. The park has some Civil War history and real nice hiking trails. The park is about a mile from the freeway and the trains, but you still hear the truck horns and train whistles.