About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Yuma – Observations

IMG_20170206_111228881What is RV'ing? To travel to new and exciting places so you can park and fix the things you broke while traveling to new and exciting places.

In the urban dictionary a snowbird is an elderly yankee who travels south when it is too cold in the northern climes of New York, Ohio or Michigan. Meriam-Webster generalized the brand more by saying a snowbird is “one who travels to warm climes for the winter”. While this last definition makes it difficult, I maintain Chris and I are not snowbirds but rather declare we are Weather Explorers. Further, we specialize in discovering and residing in mild to moderate weather areas. This tough job is fraught with risks such as mornings with frost and even the odd chance of having to use an air conditioner.

Probably easier to simply think of us as storm chasers without the storms.

Being weather explorers in constant search of our speciality we find ourselves residing in places typically associated with the snowbird genre. As a result we also quite often become erroneously classified as snowbirders. To clarify this common case of mistaken identity, Chris and I have come up with several characteristics to assist the observer. While some of the differences may be very subtle, two techniques have a proven track record and by using just these you can quickly spot snowbirders in their natural environment - out in the wild so to speak.

row_end1When first encountering what you believe may be a weather explorer or snowbirder you will need to make a gender assumption. If the gender is believed to be female, your next observation will at the head. If male, your next look should be directed at the feet. The reason will become clear shortly.

Weather explorers, particularily those with a mild to moderate weather speciality tend to not worry too much about their hair. Headgear such as hats are not for style but to provide shade or protection from variances in the weather (usually encounterd during moderate conditions – see rain). Snowbirders on the other hand are usually well turned out and take great care in not developing “hat hair”. When hatless, the female snowbirder can be quickly categorized by the purple, blue, or pink hair tints. Note, some experience is now required to distinguish intentional coloring from unintentional consequences of attempting to hide grey or white hair.

The male snowbirder is easily spotted by the combination of knee socks and sandals. A confirmation of this will be the bright plaid long golfing shorts worn in combination. Conversely old, worn, flip flops are a virtual sure sign of a weather explorer.

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Obvious snowbird trap. No challenge. Avoid when possible.

There are many other differences and we highly recommend those of you who wish to perfect your observation skills to identify potential snowbird gathering areas. We recommend honing your skills while still challenging yourself by avoiding the obvious areas such as flea markets, anywhere in Florida, or Branson Misouri. Here are three common and easy ways to spot gathering areas:

First up, look to the grocery stores. Areas with multiple stores in fairly close proximity will need a bit of scouting out to ensure your time is not wasted. Yuma Arizona is a fine example with multiple Walmarts, Albertsons and some other grocery stores. A really quick and easy way to see if the store caters to the locals or to a snowbird population is to visit the cereal aisle. Any store that is fully stocked with sugary, cartooney covered cereal boxes yet has a descimated shredded wheat shelf (or other fiber type cereal) will definitely be a target rich environment heavily frequented by snowbirds.

Another dead give away? This one applies to stores having food court or other fast food type restaraunt within. The first clue will be if there is a line of shopping carts outside of the eating area with groceries bagged and waiting. Almost guaranteed, if you take a peek inside you will hit the jackpot with a plethora of snowbirds in their habitual light cotton plaid shirts, bermuda shorts and socks inside their sandals. For the most part, they will all be having a small ice cream cone.

A bit tougher one is the restaraunt and can require some research combined with on-scene scouting. Establishments offering buy one get one free, all you can eat, or have a history of serving very generous portions that can be split will be excellent candidates. If the parking lot is full between 4:30pm and 6:30pm yet empties out completely by 7:30pm your chances have improved expotentially. With this in mind, understand thepossibility of snowbird spotting is dramatically reduced the closer you approach the 7:30pm nesting time.

There are so many other ways to spot the snowbird and Chris and I encourage you to discover your own particular style. Just know there are also Weather Explorers like us out there and we aren't afraid of snow or bad storms; we just prefer to stay within our specialty.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

How Much is that RV’er in the Window

IMG_20170125_162736A common question we've received and one of  the most popular on RV'ing forums is “How much does it cost to RV full time?”. The answers typically vary as wildly as the daily weather in Idaho. Why? Simple. Different people do different things – sort of like the never ending debate on how to hang toilet paper.

 

For us a few things to know: We rarely boondock. Not because we don't care to but because I'm still unsure and when it comes to taking a new RV too far off the beaten track I would prefer to have a mentor handy (and some solar, got to get solar). Sure, we'll do a Walmart lot in a pinch and we even did a rest area in Marfa Texas while looking for the mystery lights but as for a regular adventure, it will have to wait a while. A few other things to know are:

We are camp hosts and volunteer at national and state parks. In return we usually receive a free, full hookup site for the duration.


We are members of Thousand Trails (TT) and pay yearly dues for camping in system campgrounds for no additional cost. (Nominal surcharge for 50 amp service in some select parks). Great deal for us when staying on the WA, OR, CA coast.


We do utilize Passport America, Good Sam, and Escapees memberships which give discounts ranging from 10 to 50% off campground fees.

What we budget for comes out to $1860 per month (except campground fees). This includes saving for anticipated expenses such as new tires in 7 years, replacing batteries as they go and other general maintenance. Some months we spend to the budget but most months we come under, banking the surplus for special nights out and stuff. (Can never get enough stuff)

Some examples of our expenditures last year:

Fuel: 7236 miles. 9Mpg at an average cost $2.49/gallon yields $2002.00 for the year.
CG Fees: $1431.59 (includes yearly TT dues). This equates to $286.32/month (Hosted seven months no charge)
Gas (jeep toad 28mpg): $511.68
Propane: $120.35 (two notes here: avg cost: $2.59/gal (ouch!), significant use increase due on-demand hot water and colder weather)
RV oil and filter change: $500

Of course there was more such as insurance, toys, gifts, gift toys and mandatory ice cream but I'm sure you get the idea and hopefully that will answer the question in part.

2017 plans

IMG_20170128_143735035_HDRWe began this year surprising ourselves and ending up in Yuma Arizona. Originally we had planned to hit up the San Diego area, visit some friends in SoCal (yes, Pam and Erica I mean you!) and generally vagabond it around the southwest the first two months awaiting for my sister and brother-in-law to make it down south but as seems to be the case with plans and us, they flew out the window - just a little bit. It began with our intended to stay at the Thousand Trails Pio Pico campground outside of San Diego. We had reservations for 3 weeks but upon arrival were so disappointed we quickly cancelled, turning it into only one very unpleasant but thankfully short overnight stop.

IMG_20170201_150248610We ended up in Yuma the next day at the Kofa Ko-op and luck was really with us as we were able to get a site on arrival. Pure luck at the height of the season as it was. Nice site, full hookups and some of the most friendly people you'll ever meet are here. We've enjoyed it so much those plans of vagabonding around aren't even a consideration anymore. So, we'll make ourselves at home, grab a date shake and kick back, enjoying the 70+ degree temperatures and loads of sunshine.

For hosting this year we'll be once again at the Lincoln Rock State Park outside of Wenatchee Washington. We hosted there last year and were very fortunate to have been invited back for the months of April and May.

In June we'll be moving up the road just a bit to outside of Pateros Washington and hosting at Alta Lake State Park. We've never been there so hope to sneak a peak sometime while at Lincoln Rock.

While not hosting at all we'll still have some very packed months come July, August, and September. July we'll return to the RV dealer to begin the process of finalizing our punch lists prior to our first year warranty expiring. Not a lot on the list right now, just stuff that wasn't cleared before we left last year and are a bit bothersome. I'm sure we'll be staying sort of in the area (+/- 500 miles), while this is going on but we have “planned” some breaks to attend our family reunion the first weekend of August and of course, being over in Oregon to observe the total eclipse and a forced visit to some hot springs.

That leaves September where we may not have clue where we'll be but we do know we'll be celebrating our 38th anniversary and my lovely bride's (mumble)th birthday. I do believe we'll try for the Canyonlands, Bryce, and Zion parks for short stays as we make a grand loop back to Coos Bay Oregon where we'll be hosting again at Sunset Bay to close out year.

I made the new year's resolution of writing a blog entry once a week and promptly failed at it for the month of January. As a mitigating circumstance please know just how difficult it is to become motivated when the sun is out, the weather warm and the to-do list has been “misplaced”.

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Sunrise through the  windshield Kofa Ko-op

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Coming Full Circle

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Why we return to Sunset Bay despite rain, floods and all the rest.

Another week passed from our last blog entry before we were able to depart Sunset Bay. We spent the time helping out with the other hosts, even if shirtless Steve refused to allow us to lend a hand cleaning the yurts. With our daily walks through the park, I'm pretty sure we would have had to start an archeological dig to find any more litter.

The day for repairs finally arrived and Porter's RV of Coos Bay did an outstanding job; first in getting us in on short notice after finally getting the parts and then completing the jobs in less than a day. Rather than travel on the weekend, we opted for a final relaxing layover in the park to get travel ready and yes, to test out the repairs. Sort of a mini vacation where we tested more of the local eateries, wandered the beaches and just goofed off.

With only three months with the new rig I have yet to develop the confidence to comfortably drive in tight conditions. Conditions like those found on highway 101 in the redwood forests. There is one short stretch I recall where there are sharp curves, no shoulders and giant redwoods right up against the roadway. A bit stressful in our previous 34 footer and one that gave me nightmares when I considered my now over 55ft tow length. Call me a wimp, I don't mind. I'm a stress free wimp who took highway 42 instead to connect with the interstate.

Speaking of the interstate. I just have to mention how absolutely pleased I am with the job Henderson's Line-Up did for us back in October. The long (boring) stretches of road really demonstrated how much less work I now have to do to keep the motorhome heading straight and true down the road. The greatest challenge I now face is resisting the temptation to simply get up and get my own cup of coffee and where, after four hours of driving I used to start looking for places to stay, it now feels more like we just got started.

5thwheelI titled this blog “Coming Full Circle” and that is what we have done. Our year started with us in southern California for the first time and we are ending year back in the same area, setting up for our travels further south and east to chase the 70's. Oddly enough the weather has been a repeat as well with rain mixed with snow. The difference is we have triple the windows to look out and admire the scenery.

Looking back, the year has been full of firsts in things we've seen and done and I hope we've captured them in our previous blog entries. Then there are the places we've been to before. These gems have unveiled new facets of themselves revealed only to those already familiar. Complacency however, was not allowed. A place we had taken for granted reached out this year and provided us with a whole new unforgettable adventure. Added to this we have strengthened old friendships and discovered long lost friends we had never met before.

Snow in the hills!

They say 2016 was a year filled with turmoil. Perhaps in the big scheme of things this was seemingly true but in our world life has been – life. We've had ups and downs but I can honestly say the vast majority have been ups. And the downs? Well, if you wait a bit sure enough along comes an up to wipe the down away or at the least make it seem not so severe. It may take a while but it does happen. Life is like that – it goes on.

Enough speechifying!

2017 already looks like it holds a great deal of promise. For us, the first three months will be hanging in the south so I can wear out my flip flops. We have pretty much decided Quartzsite is not for us this year but there are plenty of other places to visit. No firm plans yet, we'll let you know once we know.