Category Archives: Campgrounds

Summer Relaxation

Relaxation… Maybe just slacking! I haven’t blogged in months! Sorry folks! But I’m here to give you the scoop!

This summer’s biggest project was doing some work on the camper. Specifically replacing the floor of our bedroom slide that had water damage and installing “wood” floors (vinyl “planks”) throughout the camper and getting rid of the carpet! I started a post on this a while back but wanted before and after pictures. But the post sat and sat… and I still don’t have the pictures all together so I’ll just tell you that we made the upgrades and post specifically about it later.

Mike’s three kids couldn’t coordinate schedules for us to take all to the beach at the same time – an annual event. So darn it all – Mike and I had to “endure” the beach on two separate occasions! We took the youngest two to Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina. This island is a treasure! South of Charleston, it’s a quiet haven covered in live oaks and drapey spanish moss. Small town feel, nothing at all like the popular Myrtle Beach. I was worried the kids would get bored because they are used to going to Myrtle Beach with lots of other kids around and lots to do and see. But I think we kept them occupied.

The state park has two campgrounds, one on the beach and one set in a live oak forest, about a mile up the road. (And when I say “the road” I mean the road, the only one leading in and out of town.) If you’re camped at the live oak campground you get free admission into the SP beach area. At first everyone was groaning because they are used to renting a golf cart at Ocean Lakes in Myrtle Beach and jetting to and from the beach on it with all their gear. But they quickly realized that our 8 foot truck bed holds a heck of a lot more stuff than just trying to hold on to a few things on a golf cart! They got over their disappointment of not having the cart.

When I booked the spot about 6 months before our trip there were no available spots big enough for us in the beach campground. (Of course if you’re in the that campground you just walk out to the beach.) Which is how we ended up in the Live Oaks. However we agree the Live Oaks campground is much prettier than the beach. Plus there is access to all kinds of trails in Live Oaks. We ran on the trails a few times and also crabbed off some of the low bridges that connects the trail through the marshland!

Crabbing lesson: go to the grocery store. Ask for crabbing lines and a net and don’t forget to pick up some chicken or turkey necks. Other “throw away” parts are acceptable too. (like chicken backs we used this time.) Find yourself a little bridge or dock in a saltwater marsh at high tide. Attach a poultry piece to the end of the line (a cotton line with a triangular hook on the end and a weight) and throw it over the side.

And wait.


Some people prefer to crab with traps. But if you’re with kids or someone who has never crabbed before using the lines are more fun. A trap you throw in, leave and come back for it later. But the lines are more like fishing. Once you feel a tug you have to pull up your line very slowly or else the crab will notice and let go. Right before you pull it out of the water you scoop it up with your net and drop him in the bucket you brought along.


Then it’s off to make Low Country Boil! Potatoes, corn, sausage, shrimp, tons of seasonings and, of course, your crabs!!! And if you’re as lucky as we were you get Justin, my chef-y little brother, to make it for you!!

Edisto 2015

The crabs are small and you have to do a lot of work for a little bit of meat. But it’s the experience, right??

Our next beach adventure was about two weeks later with Mike’s oldest daughter. We took her to the eastern shore of Virginia, specifically, Kiptopeke State Park. This is another gorgeous park! Lots of trails, boat dock and private beach! They even have concrete ships out in the bay for a reef! It’s just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from Virginia Beach. We did drive over on two occasions. But be warned – the toll for the bridge is expensive!!!

But this was a great excuse to get the jetskis out and use them for the first time since we picked them up earlier in the summer.


After the beach we headed to Long Island! But that’s another story.. stay tuned!


A Race Across Central US

When you’re new to full-time RV livin’ you have many things to learn. Like when to be and where. What parts of the country are best what times of the year and where to avoid driving (or definitely go) during certain times of the year. For example, it’s probably best to try NOT to go over the Rocky Mountains in January or February. You can try hauling your ginormous camper through snowy, slushy roads, but wouldn’t it just be easier to plan to wait until late spring or summer?? If you have the ability, why not?

Mike and I had decided a long time ago to spend the summer back on the east coast. We were already late. Memorial Day weekend we were supposed to fly Mike’s son, Z, to Charlotte to take him to look at southern colleges. But we hadn’t made it that far so we flew him to Denver instead. Luckily he’s only a sophomore so we still have time. One of the reasons we were still out west was the rain and tornadoes across the central plains. No one wants to drive camper through that if they can help it.

After hanging out in Santa Fe a bit the weather across I-40 seemed to be opening up and we decided to follow the clear skies. But that also meant driving days and days to get to my relatives in West-By-God Virginia! We have now been driving three days since Santa Fe. Currently we are outside of Knoxville, Tennessee at Melton Hills Dam, a TVA campsite. Last night we were in Memphis at the Agricenter¬†and I got to meet up with some good family friends, camping buddies of my dad and me, and the dad and sister of one of my BFF’s if high school. (if you didn’t follow that, it’s ok. It’s kinda complicated…) How fun to drink a beer with your friend’s dad… Here I am, almost 40, but I was never old enough to share a beer with Dave growing up. I hope to meet up with his son (my HS BFF) and his wife and kids later this summer. It really is extraordinary catching up with friend’s, living this lifestyle. I doubt I would have ever had the opportunity otherwise. (although how I got away without taking a picture of all us is beyond me! Next time!!) But I will recommend the Flying Saucer in Memphis! A bazillion beers, great food… I can’t say enough!

We have to make a stop at Camping World tomorrow to get a tire and brakes checked. I don’t have high hopes. Speaking with my MBA cap on, I think Camping World has the market so cornered that they’ve ruined it. I’ve come to expect less-than-stellar service, especially being a full-timer. Then again, the local mom-and-pop shops are a bit scary to those of us that travel ALL THE TIME and don’t know them. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s excellent service, sometimes it’s questionable… so to be safe we go with a national company so at least we feel we have some sort of recourse when it all goes down the drain. I challenge someone with the know-how and wherewithal to start a national competitor to CW, maybe just for service. It would make me feel better crusin’ around the US!

Next stop (after Camping World) WEST VIRGINIA!!!!!


Lewis Weber, Lewis Webster, are you UP,Shur?? (inside joke for anyone who had Coach Sauro Sr. for WV Civics in 8th grade…)

A Slight Detour

Sitting in rain reminded us why we live in a camper in the first place. We can go ANYWHERE we want WHENEVER we want. Specifically to avoid unpleasant weather. Once we had decided to leave Denver early and head east we thought it prudent to check the forecasts around our intended path across the US. If you recall a week or so ago, most of the entire US was covered in rain.

We didn’t have many choices. So we went chasing sun and warm temperatures. Because we can. ūüėČ

That led us to the southeastern corner of Colorado. And a reservoir out in the middle of cow towns. (See what happens when you don’t immediate blog? I can’t find one reference to where we were!! Sorry!) Not the first time, we essentially had the campground to ourselves since the Memorial Day crowd had already rolled out.

We kept watching the weather. Texas was getting clobbered. Our good friends, Tim and Rebecca (The Nouveaux Honkies) had been in Austin recording their latest album. They were trying to make their way west while we were trying to make it east. As it worked out we met up in Santa Fe for a few days!!

Although one big party, it was not meant to be. Tim had a terrible stomach bug – potentially from drinking contaminated water before leaving Texas. And Rebecca wasn’t feeling 100% either. But we girls made the best of it! We parked side-by-side at the Santa Fe Skies RV Park, a quaint park on the south side of town. It’s a great campground, especially if you have dogs! They have a fenced-in dog park area as well as a 3/4 mile trail that loops around the property. Although meant for the dogs, many people walk and jog it too. Out here, everyone gets along!

While Tim slept off his terrible sickness and Michael was in serious programmer “coding mode” (aka: needs complete silence to concentrate. I do not comprehend “complete silence”…) Rebecca and I headed out to explore Santa Fe. Two afternoons we spent going through clothing boutiques (Rebecca is a clothes shopper. She has to have cool threads to wear on stage!!) kitchy souvenir shops (just because you have to if you’re a tourist, jewelry stores (southwestern¬†opals are¬†amazing! I had no idea all the colors!! The turquoise is phenomenal too!! The craftsmanship….), olive oil and balsamic vinegar shops (because I can seriously shop for food items!), and second-hand stores (because NO ONE can resist inexpensive, used clothes. Even me! ).

The clothing stores we both found to be a bit outrageous in price. But that’s because I’m cheap. I don’t know Rebecca’s excuse. ūüėČ The clothing stores downtown (in the historic area) cater to affluent, money-dropping tourists.¬†Neither of us¬†fit that bill. (and even if I did I subscribe more to Warren Buffet’s way of living. I might have money and splurge on a few things, food!, but seriously, I ain’t got time to be showin’ off and all…) Also, many of the stores we first went into we geared towards women of a certain age and style – which didn’t fit either of us. Eventually we found the cute, edgy stores that really fit Rebecca. I loved looking at clothes and was even actually tempted to purchase a cute dress! But alas, no need to bother when I live in an RV. :-/ I have a few sundresses that suffice. A sacrifice to my way of living… haha!

But I do have to call out one particular store that had BOTH of us wandering around for hours! We first walked into the store because the sign outside said “Vintage Clothes” or something of that nature. It was a second hand store trying to be fancy, I suppose. Rebecca started looking at clothes, then price tags. Tank top, $90. AT A SECOND HAND STORE?!?!? I guess that’s what you pay for “vintage”? It took me all of 2 seconds to ascertain this was not my scene. As cute as the clothes were I did not need to drop that kind of money nor did I have anywhere to wear such “expensive” clothes.

Side note – funny how your perspective changes. I wouldn’t have blinked to drop $90 for a nice tank to go under a suit for work. But y’all, I live and work out of an RV. I don’t need threads like that anymore.

While Rebecca was still sorting through the vintage clothes I walked around the corner to kill time. I saw there was a pottery shop in the same building. But around the corner was not pottery but a WALL of COWBOY BOOTS!!! New and used!!! Mens and Womens!

By now you’re probably wondering, “what is this store?” It’s called Double Take and you must go! Walls and walls of cowboy boots! and further around the corner…. a true THRIFT STORE! ¬†A HUGE ONE! Clothes for all, shoes, jewelry, bags, games, you name it! (at reasonable prices you and I are accustomed to.) Holy Moly!

Rebecca is a clothes shopper and I’m not, really. So she was really lagging behind me. I had already gone through the whole store and she was still in the boots. I saw an upstairs sign that said “Furniture”. Turns out, neither Rebecca nor I need furniture – we both live in RVs. But I happen to LOVE looking at furniture. (figures…) So I head upstairs to kill time.

Furniture, knick-knacks, linens, the pottery! What did I find in the this deceptively huge store? I bought a set of queen sheets for the extra bed – for $25. I told the guy I would have bought them even if they were Hello Kitty or had outrageously tacky 1970’s flowers all over them. But as it turns out they were just common ‘ol khaki-colored. Matched our interior perfectly! Not bad for $25!

I don’t have any great pictures to post. I have a few on my Canon but until I can figure out how to upload, back-up-not-necessarily-sync my files they are being held hostage on the memory card. And Mike, Rebecca, Tim and I didn’t take a picture together because who wants their picture taken when they’re suffering from bad water??

I’ll leave you with this – the Nouveaux Honkies recently replenished their merchandise and I was able to finally get my hands on some t’s. They have different artwork, but this design is one of their new ones, and one of my favs. It’s got an RV on it!!!

2015-06-04 20.56.56

I hate rain

I used to live in Colorado. I loved it! The mountains, the sunshine, the people.

Did I mention the sunshine?

How about the beautiful snow-capped mountains??

I have been going on and on to Mike about how awesome Colorado and Denver are. I couldn’t wait to get from California, back across the Rockies, to introduce him to this amazing part of the country. We timed it just right, too. The snow appeared to be finished for the season as we worked our way through the high-walled gorges and then through the ski resort towns. Arapahoe Basin seemed to still have some snow on her surface – I could make out the moguls on the slopes – but the ground was clear. The Eisenhower Tunnel was clear and open. These are the things you consider when crossing the Rockies, especially when towing a 16,000 camper!


Colorado does a great job of keeping motorists informed of road conditions! If you’re heading through the area I highly recommend this site to see if the roads are clear. You can choose your interstate and it gives you the conditions by mileage section. Very helpful on long hauls!

I had us booked to stay with friends for a few days then on to Chief Hosa Campground in Golden. I could hardly contain myself! Finally getting back to Colorado, seeing friends, knowing I was spending Memorial Day weekend in Golden AND we had tickets to a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater! This couldn’t get any better!

As we rounded the edge of the pass the sky started looking cloudy. Then rainy.

We drove into Denver in rain. ¬†Denver boasts 300 days of sunshine, more than San Diego and Miami Beach! And we arrive in rain. But not worry – just hang around a day or so¬†and it’ll clear up, right??


Our plans had us in the front range and Golden for seven days. IT RAINED the first FOUR DAYS! Turns out, it’s been one the wettest Mays Colorado has seen in quite a while. Rivers were flooded, farmer’s fields were swampy messes, some people living on old farm houses on rivers evacuated. It was not a normal time to be in Colorado.

To make matters worse, we flew Mike’s son, Z, out to Denver for Memorial Day weekend. He flew three quarters across the country to sit in a camper and watch movies. At least for the first two days of his three days with us. Whoopee :-/

Finally, on Z’s last, full day, it started to clear up. We did a little hiking, headed into the town of Golden and prepared for the concert at Red Rocks that night. The forecast was predicting heavy rain but we figured we’d go, stay as long as we could and leave when the rain got too bad.

Hiking above Golden:



Side note – If you’re in the Denver area check out Red Rocks and see who’s playing. If it’s someone/a band your even marginally interested in GO! This is, by far, hands down, the best music venue! It’s a natural, rock amphitheater. The acoustics are unbelievable, the scenery of the sandstone monoliths framing the panoramic view of Denver is breathtaking. Just go.





We ended up staying for most of the concert! The rain never came! (at least while we were there!) We had to head out since we had to get up at *ahem* 4am the next morning in order to get Z up, ready and to the airport for an early morning flight home.

Even though the rain had let up we were getting tired of the “wet” and we needed to start heading east for the summer. We decided to skip town a day earlier than planned. Mike promised me we’ll be back to Denver!! (preferably with drier conditions!)

Wine, Wine, Wine, OH MY!!

At some point it is our intention to head back to the east coast for the summer. It makes sense we’d want to take a different route back east than the one we took to get here, right? Growing up on the east coast we’re both spoiled with interstates and expressways¬†everywhere. Even though I have lived in the ‘burbs my whole life I have never lived further than 10 minutes from a major interstate. We could jump in the car and be¬†anywhere in no time flat.

Not so out west. See the map below? Getting back east from California can really only be done on¬†a few routes. All the southern ones we’ve done getting out here or during the kids summer vacation. Mike said he’s not interested in going through Las Vegas again. Only because we’ve “been there, done that”. He wants something new.

Western US map

He knows I love wine – so he suggested we head north to wine country for a short stint then head back via a northern route, then perhaps I-80 or I-70.

I believe my exact words were “HELL YEAH! Don’t have to ask me twice!”

I started doing research on where to RV in Napa Valley. Finding RV spots isn’t exactly as easy as booking a hotel. I found places in Napa and Calistoga. I wasn’t familiar with Calistoga but I was able to make a reservation online rather than having to wait to call for “regular workday business hours” since I was doing this all on a Saturday. I didn’t have a few days to wait to call on Monday see if there was availability since we had to leave our current campsite on¬†Monday. So we are living here at Calistoga RV Park¬†during our time here.

Now this, folks, is livin’ life by the seat of your pants! ūüėČ

I knew nothing of Calistoga before we got here. It’s at the north end of Napa Valley so we had an opportunity to drive through Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and then to Calistoga. We essentially toured Route 29 through the valley. But what I didn’t know, until a friend of mine heard we were staying in Calistoga and clued me in, is that Calistoga is known more for their natural hot springs than wine!

Sure enough, this cute little town has a plethora of spas. I read this in the history section of Calistoga pamphlet.


So, it’s the Saratoga, New York of California! Kinda…

Of course I booked us a spa treatment!!! Tonight we have a couples mud bath then massages at Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort. I’ve had a lot of different spa treatments (a lot paid for by a former employer for product research!! No, really! True story!) but I’ve never had a mud bath. This will be interesting. We sit in a mud bath, rinse in a hot mineral water¬†shower¬†then get wrapped in blankets. Hmmm…

From the website:
“The combination of clay, peat and hot springs mineral water in the mud bath relaxes muscles and joints, detoxifies, and leaves the skin soft and renewed.¬†¬† While you relax, your attendant will apply a clay facial mask and a cold compress.¬† The mud bath will be followed by a hot springs shower and refreshing soak in your private jacuzzi that uses the natural hot springs water that comes from the geothermal aquifer under our spa.¬†You will next be escorted to one of our blanket wrap rooms.¬† Here you will relax, cool down, and maybe even drift off to a blissful sleep.”

When I booked our reservation I was told we should bring our swimsuits because we also have access to their hot springs pool.
“As you enter the pool area on cool days, a blanket of steam rises from the waters – an inviting sign for you to come in and enjoy the warm hot springs. The pool is heated by our hot springs mineral water, which emerges from the ground at between 140-150 degrees.”

I CAN’T WAIT!!! *jumping up and down in excitement*

As if that’s not enough to immediately fall in love with this quaint little town, we had a blast just strolling Lincoln Avenue (aka: the main drag) last night. We’re going out again today so I hope to get some great photos… but this town was settled in the mid-1800’s. Lincoln Ave. is lined with historic buildings housing shops, restaurants and spas. We decided to grab drinks and appetizers at a few places and just walk around.

What an adventure!

First stop, Hydro Bar & Grill. A glass of wine and their Thai Curry Mussels. They were delicious! Even if I couldn’t figure out why they added toasted sesame oil to the dish.

Next we hit up Pacifico Restaurante Mexicano. I know, I know. We’re in wine country and we just went into a Mexican place and yes, I ordered a margarita. But hey, I figured I’ll get my share of wine in the next few days! We had shrimp ceviche, chips, salsa and guacamole.


It was all delectable! The salsa was freshly homemade, as was the guac. And the ceviche…. mouth watering and a good sized portion too! Since we were at the bar during happy hour the ceviche was only $5!!!! A cereal bowl full of it!! I’m not used to getting that much ceviche in an order nor paying so little for such good eats!

And to top it off – we ran into three guys at the bar from Ithaca, NY! Cornell grads!! One lives out here in California, the other two were out for their annual visit from Manhattan! I will say they were looking a bit worn… We did meet them while trying to do a tequila shot. I say “trying” because the third friend didn’t even attempt¬†to get it down. Talk about a glazed-over look in his eyes! They explained they’d been enjoying each other’s company since Tuesday. And by “enjoying” I mean they’d been drinking the Napa Valley out of wine and spirits for the past three days.

Oh, but our fun didn’t end there! We strolled a bit and hit up the brewery at the Calistoga Inn. The bartender, and I’m assuming brewmaster, we at the bar and we chatted them up. They gave us the scoop on Calistoga, where to go, what to do. So friendly! And wouldn’t you know it, the brewmaster is originally from Rochester, NY! ¬†And then the guy next to Mike struck up a conversation with him and he is from Long Island! We ran into more New Yorkers last night than Californians!

I had an amazing glass of wine here, the first of many, I’m sure. Only 200 cases made, and now, Calistoga Inn is the only place left where you can get it! :-/


At some point during our chattiness with these guys, a gentleman sat next to me, and quietly ordered a beer and an appetizer. I finally pulled him into our conversation and noticed his European accent. He’s from Switzerland! And when I asked what brought him here to the US? THE CIA!

The Culinary Institute of America, of course!

We finally decided it was time to head home. We had about a 1/2 mile walk ahead of us. As we were walking by a restaurant I stopped to look at the menu and a couple passing by mentioned the place had great pizza. The next thing we knew we had been standing and chatting at the corner of the street with them for a bit. They too, had been to Golden Haven for a mud bath! After about the third or so cross walk sign all four of us finally made it across the street and kept on chatting.

Joe and Erica are from Reno and raise labrador retrievers. But Joe has an IT past and Erica interacts with SAP at work (and isn’t in love with it)¬†so we essentially stood on the sidewalk for probably an hour 1) pitching our IT services 2) explaining how we work and full time RV. They were in love with it! It’s so fun to meet people who want to do this RVing thing too!!! They even invited us to stay at their place in Reno next time we’re out that way!


Telling people you live in an RV is a great conversation starter!! (or stopper, depending on the kind of people you’re talking to.) And you get to meet the most wonderful people along the way from ALL OVER!

So Cal and Lovin’ It!

Disney was nice but we headed to San Diego to do a triathlon!!! A few months back we were interested in doing another triathlon so I started looking for one while we were in Phoenix in March. However I couldn’t find one that had an outdoor swim that early in the season. (by outdoor swim, I mean in a lake or other body of water. I did find some that had you doing laps in an indoor pool before you headed out on your bike. We weren’t interested in that.) I finally¬†stumbled across a tri in San Diego after we were scheduled to be in Anaheim. We were in!!

Our last tri was in January in Naples, Florida. I will dispense with the excuses and just say, we did not train for this triathlon. I do not endorse this at all. Luckily it was a short swim and bike (250 meters and 10 miles, respectively) before the usual 5K run. Our Naples race was a 750 meter swim and a 12.1 mile bike ride with the 5K run (3.1 miles).

For those of you who aren’t familiar with triathlons, there are many different lengths. You may be familiar with the Ironman, which is the equivalent of an ultra-marathon! The distance we do is called a sprint. For comparison, a full Ironman distance is 2.4 mile swim (3.86km), 112 mile bike ride (180.25km) and a marathon run (26.2 miles/ 42.2km). You will never catch us doing an Ironman, or a half-Ironman for that matter. And if you read me mention the Irongirl… that’s just a sprint series for women only. Don’t be confused!

The tri was at South Shores Park at Mission Bay¬†in San Diego. I booked us an RV spot at the opposite end of the bay at Mission Bay RV Resort, the closest place I could find. It literally is an asphalt parking lot – exactly what we try and avoid – but there is a definite California vibe here that even Mike loves! So much so that we extended our reservation for two extra days! It sits across the street from the water and beach and a park. There’s been a Hawaiian festival going on in the park the whole weekend we arrived!

We got up early, donned our tri suits and squeezed into our wetsuits, lucky they still fit! We got in that bay salt water and tri-ed out little hearts out. Sometimes it’s just knowing there’s free beer that the end that keep you going!



But we did it! And we’re still walking with no major injuries!

But we were exhausted, COVERED in salt so we headed the few minutes back to our campsite to shower and rest.

Side note: that was the saltiest ocean swim we have ever done! Much more so than the Gulf of Mexico swim we did in Naples! You can’t see it in the pictures above but we had salt marks all over our suits and our skin, hair, eyebrows,¬†everywhere, was crusted with salt!

After our nap we headed over to the Hawaiian festival to walk around and grab some much deserved grub! We thought it would be fun to take Indy with us since he’d been inside all morning by himself. It was a beautiful day, light breeze…. When we got there Michael took Indy to walk by the water while I stood in line to get us 2 big Hawaiian combo platters! There was rice and shredded pork, pork wrapped and cooked in some type of leaf, a soup with what looked like rice noodles and something that looked like salmon ceviche. A feast!!

We found an empty picnic table and, after shooing away the gulls and tying Indy’s leash to the table leg, we sat down to enjoy our meal. We had only been able to sample a taste of each item¬†on our plates when we heard “DOG! Hey, loose dog!!”

Sure enough, Indy was sauntering away from us! Somehow, when we had our faces buried in our food, he had managed to get out of his HARNESS!! Mike casually got up and started walking towards him, calling his name, hoping he’d just walk back to us. We know that if you run after him he definitely runs away! But nooo…. that little pooper, once he realized we knew he was free, took off! And Mike followed, in his Crocs and socks!

I sat there dumbfounded, not exactly sure what to do. At least Mike had Crocs on that wrapped around the back of his feet. I had on the soccer slip-on style Crocs and running was out of the question. ¬†Did I mention this park sits¬†right on the edge of I-5?!? I tried not to panic. I kept telling myself that either Mike would get him or someone, with all these people at this festival, would grab him. He did run right for the parking lot. (right towards the interstate….)

Right about then I see Mike walking back through the grass, holding Indy by the collar. (which is separate from the harness he got out of.) I got up, unhooked the harness from the lead and took it to Mike where he was talking with some people who appeared to have helped him, and we harnessed him back up, explaining to the astonished crowd that THIS was the harness our Houdini dog got out of. No one believed it. (it’s quite a complicated harness!) ¬†Seems Mike caught him because someone in the parking lot opened their car door and Indy ran up to them and tried to jump in! Figures…

We started to walk the 50 meters back to our picnic table when we saw it. The table – and our food – covered in gulls! We had just started eating. We had been starving and they were eating all our food!!! ($30 worth of festival food, might I add…)


That was it. Indy was grounded. Time for him to go home. ¬†When Mike got¬†¬†back to the festival we started over with our food. But somehow it just didn’t taste the same when you still have the taste of fear of your dog running into traffic in your mouth…

Work and Disney. Yes, they can both happen!

Again, apologies for the long absence but we do  work. We have to fund this extravagant lifestyle somehow!

Last week we spent several days at a “nerd conference” in Anaheim at the Disneyland Resort Convention Center. I say “nerd conference” lovingly, because hey, WE were there! Proud nerds ourselves! The show was a conference based on the IBM hardware platform in which we make our money so we can’t complain!


And yes, they served beer and wine at the reception – we didn’t sneak it in or anything. I promise!!

After several days of exhibiting we hit Disneyland and California Adventure. As you may already know, they are exceptionally smaller than Disney World in Florida, which is great if you don’t want to get overwhelmed. I have been to these parks several times as my best friend used to live close to Anaheim. Which is lucky since it seems Disney didn’t have their sh*t together this time around. The “happiest place on Earth” was quite the disaster.

Mike and I are roller coaster fiends. But that’s hard when you show up at Disney and the Matterhorn, Indian Jones and Big Thunder Mountain are ALL closed! I believe that’s all of their roller coasters, except Space Mountain! Lucky for them I had a 2-day park hopper pass for us so we were able to ride Big Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones the next day when they reopened. But I.J. seemed to be going down a lot… That always worries me….

My favorite ride in California Adventure is Soarin’ Over California. Although not a coaster, I just think it’s neat. I had been talking about it for weeks leading up to our trip! But it was down. Apparently it’s been down for months for refurbishment. Bummer…. But Cars Land is now open – that had been under construction last time I was there! So we headed over to ride Radiator Springs Racers!

Except a quarter through the ride…. it broke! And we had to get escorted off. At least in return they gave us Fast Passes to come back later in the day.

If this had been our first trip to the Disney Parks it would have been a huge FAIL! Luckily it wasn’t and we had a good time just walking around and people watching. If it were a Six Flags or other amusement park I wouldn’t have thought twice about all the hiccups. But it’s Disney!

For the RVers out there, we stayed at the Anaheim Resort and RV Park. It’s not an official Disney property. There doesn’t seem to be a Disney RV park in California. And it is a “parking lot”. But the staff is exceptional and the park is on the ART transportation route. That means you can buy cheap bus passes to get to the parks and surrounding attractions.

I may have poopooed Disneyland and California Adventure here because this one time it wasn’t up to par. Changing of the seasonal guard, maybe??? But it’s definitely worth a trip if you have kids and don’t want the brain hemorrhaging that is Disney World. Plus, California Adventure serves alcohol so you can walk around, wait in line, etc with a margarita, microbrew even a fancy glass of wine. And there are fantastic high-end restaurants and lounges. ¬†One night we just had appetizers and drinks in the lounge at Carthay Circle in California Adventure, and it was to die for. 1920’s art deco-ish decor. Artfully crafted cocktails…. I had the Aviator.¬†¬†Well worth it! Another night we had drinks before dinner at the Alfresco Tasting Terrace. Almost, but not quite, like you’re dining in Napa…

Grand, Towering Sequoias… and no photos of them….

We spent a few days dry camping at Pioneer Point campground at Lake Isabella, CA at the bottom tip of Sequoia National Forest finishing up some work reports. We wanted to be close to the park so when we did finish with work we could head up in the hills and sightsee for a night then head back to civilization before prepping a few days before our big trade show in Anaheim. We would have LOVED to have sat in the forest, writing our reports under the canopy of the giant sequoias, but alas, there is no cell service deep in the park and we had lots to accomplish before a mini-break!

I scoped out a route and researched all the campgrounds. Most on the route to the Trail of 100 Giants don’t even open until Memorial Day weekend. But I found one waaaay up north that was open year-round. I circled it on the now-known-to-be-terribly-inaccurate National Park Campground map we were given at Pioneer Point (another year-round open campground) and we headed out to dump our tanks, refill will water, food and fuel. We were good to dry camp another 3-4 days, if needed.

We headed north¬†further into the canyon, following the Kern River that would eventually take us to the Giant Sequoias. The road was steep, twisting, turning, hugging the side of the mountain, as we climbed in elevation. Take note – Lake Isabella elevation is 2513. The vistas were breathtaking. Literally. There were no guardrails. NO GUARDRAILS. Not even rocks placed at the edge! We were climbing hugging the mountainside, which I immensely prefered, but Michael said he would have liked to have been on the other side of the road. When hugging the mountain, rock protuberances hung out high above our heads, sometimes over the white line. No problem if we were in a sedan. But Mike had to swing wide in those instances and ¬†we had to keep an eagle eye to be sure we didn’t scrape the side of the camper! And around those tight curves? Luckily there was very little traffic since he had to spend a lot of time in the oncoming lane.

Neither of us had ever seen a giant sequoia. I had read about them a few weeks ago – the Redwoods and Giant Sequoias are two different trees. Both are “giant” type trees. The sequoias are found in the lower half of California and are smaller than the redwoods found in northern CA. We had to drive quite a ways before we started to see any tree that was unusual to either of us. We had long lost our cell signal so I had no way to research while in the car. And I had not remembered to look any of the info back up before we left to refresh my memory. We were on our own!

Let me remind you we are hauling a 39 foot, 16,000 pound fifth wheel camper behind a Ram 3500 dually. That truck is a BEAST! She drug that camper around those West Virginia-like hairpin turns at 5-10% grades with ease. But these were no ordinary east coast hairpin turns. I grew up driving through WV backcountry and what we drove through in the Sequoia National Forest – all I can say is WOW! Can you see the tiny road on the ridge? That was us climbing….

Kern Rive google map

Finally we started to spot these reddish barked trees. Not so large at first, but we had never seen anything similar before. Then the trunks started to get bigger and bigger. I had to keep reminding Michael to keep his eyes on the road! Luckily by this time we were in forest and not hanging off the side of a cliff! They were pretty giant! But we both concurred not as enormous as we anticipated.

We finally got to Trail of 100 Giants, which I thought was just a scenic road. (Misinformed by the useless National Forest map.) Apparently there is an actual trail. We decided we’d get to our campsite, which we estimated was another 30-40 minutes ahead of us, drop the camper and come back later that day or in the morning. So we kept driving. And climbing and twisting and turning. We reached our peak elevation at 7200 feet.

And then we started down.

6000 feet. Same twisting, winding, switchbacks but now with 16,000 pounds pushing on the truck. We have trailer-brakes and a jake brake on the truck. But we were going so slow the jake brake wouldn’t engage. So Mike was on the brake pedal a lot. I dare you to open up the map below and¬†really look at how squiggly that yellow line is. That is the road Michael was driving¬†down. At a serious grade.

Camp Nelson google map

We hit 5000 feet.

We pulled over at a turnout and took a nap for about an hour (aka, let the smoking truck brakes cool down). I kept looking at my map. Where was this campground? All the other national park campgrounds were so well marked. Why hadn’t we seen this one? Maybe we just hadn’t hit it yet.

So we kept driving. Going down. We’d stop so I could take a picture now and then and give the brakes a rest. It didn’t help that at this particular junction it did not help my nerves that the dash now told us our trailer brakes had disconnected.

We stopped, I checked the connection. Pulled the plug out, plugged it back in. Nope, still not reading. No wait, yes it is! No, no, it’s not. Seems we have a short. Great timing!!¬†As were were driving Mike could hold the trailer brake tester on the dash to engage those brakes before stepping on the truck brake. Folks, we were going about 20 miles per hour. This was some intense driving.

So as¬†Mike focused on driving these steep, winding hairpin turns while trying to save as much of the brakes as possible, I’m trying to spot any traffic coming in the opposite direction from afar and call it out and trying to figure out wherein the hell this campsite is….. (remember, no cell service. can’t just pull up the site and check directions.)

4000 feet, 3000 feet, 2000 feet…. and we were out of the park.

Folks we just climbed up 4,700 feet and¬†back down 5000 feet in one day. We never did find that frickin’ campsite. Obviously we needed to turn off on a road somewhere that I didn’t make a note of. So we kept driving. We ended up camping at Tule on Lake Success, unfortunately not looking very successful at the moment. It too, appears to be a victim of the four-year Californian drought. But the campground if flat with electric and water hook up and a dump site before we head out.

And since we never got to our original campsite we definitely do not have it in us to drive all the way back through that to walk the Trail of 100 Giants. And that, folks, is why I have no pictures of giant sequoias. But I will regale you instead with some other photos I took along the route, including secluded meadows, waterfalls and scenic vistas, the last photo, taken at Lake Success, outside of the park, where we end up spending the night.








VEGAS BABY!! … with teenagers….

Our trip was quickly wrapping up. I’ll be honest. I had mixed feelings. We had a great time with the kids and Uncle Dan!! But it’s a delicate waltz living with one person full-time in a camper. This pounding Celtic jig the five of us had been doing around each other in our small space for the past week was starting to wear on me. Not to mention, the jig was being stomped¬†out in fine terra cotta-colored dust and sand that was coating every inside surface. I’m no neat freak but this was unbelieveable!

After reviewing our route we decided to boondock it another night on the way back to Las Vegas so we wouldn’t be in such a hurry. But that left me scuttling in the truck looking for a place to stay. This time we wanted something to do – not just a pull over for the night. My trusty atlas outlined the Valley of Fire State Park right across the edge of the Nevada border. It was a first-come, first-serve campground so we hoofed it there as fast as we could.

When you full-time you get all kinds of experiences. But the best ones are the ones you never expect or don’t plan. And this was one of those times.

This park was hidden away. We kept driving and driving, wondering why it was called the “valley of fire”. And almost as we turned a corner we saw it – out in the middle of nowhere these gigantic red rocks burst from the ground! Huge, jagged forms EVERYWHERE! and RED! And you could CLIMB on them!!



Remember how I said this group likes to climb rocks? Did I mention Indy, my dog, is a natural rock climber, too?!





Do you see them ‚ÜĎ ? Waaaay, waaay up at the tippy top? That would be Michael, Z, Uncle Dan and Indy….

And of course, we can’t forget¬†‚ÄúS Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection, Valley of Fire State Park, NV”

Valley of FIre SP UT

That night we all sat outside looking at the stars. The sky was so clear that far out and away from city lights. If you have never had the privilege of viewing stars out in the country you need to make it a top priority. There is nothing that will remind you how small and insignificant you really are in the scheme of the universe. It was this deep thinking that had all of us sitting out in camp chairs, looking up at the night sky, contemplating the cosmos that night. Uncle Dan summed it up nicely when he acutely observed, “Looking at so many stars makes you realize that you’re only just a tick, on a tick, on a tick, on a tick on an elephant’s butt.”

The next morning before we left we headed further into the park and saw Rainbow Vista. Any guesses as to why they call it that?



And I realized if I flip the screen on my fancy pants camera I can take really high resolution selfies too!


We were sad to leave and marked this in our campsite journal as a place to DEFINITELY return!! One night just didn’t cut it. But we had to get back to Vegas because we had a show to see!!

Friday night we all hit the town to see Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil at Aria!! I think¬†Z and I were the most excited of the bunch. Neither of us had seen a Cirque show before and I know I was really looking forward to it! Before we hit the show we hit, none other than, a¬†buffet!! It’s Vegas! You¬† must eat at least once at a buffet!

Now I scoured the buffet lists and I found several that ignited my culinary flame! But alas, they were usually $40+ per person. And Michael was paying for 4 of us. Let’s face it, a picky 13 year-old and a 16 year-old are NOT going to appreciate these particular choices. So I went looking for one that was cheap and close to Aria. That left The Buffet at Excalibur.

I am a foodie. I love gourmet food and home cookin’ alike. But when you go to The Buffet you are getting what you pay for. At $26/ person (it was a little more that night because it was ‘seafood’ night), it’s food is ‘eh’, but satisfying. You aren’t going to get food poisoning. (at least none of us did) But I didn’t find anything¬†outstanding there. Let’s say, for me, it was uneventful.

However, for everyone else, it was a HIT! Z got to try “sushi” and he LOVED it! (None of it contained raw fish. They had cucumber rolls and something filled with an overly-mayonnaised fake crab. But he didn’t know the difference and was delighted.) Since it was seafood night they had boil and peel shrimp, skinny crab legs, mussels and a few seafood-inspired dishes. And S, who¬†claims to detest seafood, loved the buffet because she could pick at her salad, mashed potatoes and gravy and then the dessert bar and no one would yell at her for not eating anything. (Even though her father forked over $26 for this privilege.)

So maybe The Buffet didn’t hit my snooty food mark but it won in everyone else’s book. According to Z it was “the best meal he ever had!” (mumbled with food in his mouth as he continued to shove it in by the forkfull.) So I’ll count it as an overall win.

Zarkana. It. Was. Amazing. If you’re in Vegas, go see it.

And the last, current, installment of¬†‚ÄúS Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection, The Las Vegas Strip.”

Vegas Strip

The next, and final day, consisted of going to a water park in Vegas. The kids got to don bathing suits before hitting the plane later that night back to cold Syracuse. We thought this would be a great idea since temperatures were to hit in the 80’s that day. Well… it wasn’t exactly as we had expected. The temps reached the high 70’s. But it hadn’t been consistently hot enough to really warm up the water. It was FREEZING! I hit a few slides than called it quits. Michael and Dan hit a few more than me. Other than that we let the kids play until closing.

We put the tuckered out kids on a plane that night and let them sleep the night home, all the way back to New York. It was a great trip! And now, almost 2 weeks later, I still don’t have this camper completed rid of red dust and sand. But that’s ok. It was worth it!

Utah is……

I know, I know. I’m kinda dragging out this whole vacation posting thing. And S, if you’re reading, I know, there’s not enough about you in it. ūüôā But the thing is, I have real work to get caught up on, RV packing up and moving to do, campsites to immediately find, pictures to go through… on top of that I’m also trying to reach back a week or so and even remember what the heck we did. Yes, there were funny moments – none of which I feel I’m capturing here. (yet, anyway). But I really want to make sure I, at minimum, get down what we did and where for posterity. Along with the photos, of course.

The lesson learned: Blog while you’re vacationing. Even if you can’t post it you can write it. Then it doesn’t turn into such a chore when you get back. And you really do capture the funny stuff to share!

After our night in the secluded beauty of the rainbow rocks, we continued to our next destination, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Escalante, Utah. I had booked us a few nights at the state park that sits inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Let me be honest – I had no idea what this park was about. Several months ago, when we decided on this vacation, I sat down and started combing state and federal parks for a site that a) was available and b) could fit our rig. A 39′ fifth wheel is no small camper. Campground after campground was coming up booked (it was spring break, after all) or could not accommodate a camper our size. When this park had an opening I snagged it. I figured we were close enough to other parks that the worst situation was that we’d drive everyday to a park and just use the campground as a base camp.

Man did we luck out!

It’s called the Petrified Forest state park for a reason! DUH! First there were rocks and boulders EVERYWHERE! And what did I say keeps a Boadway happy? Climbing on rocks and boulders!! Second there was a fantastic path up the side of the hill through an area covered in petrified wood! I had no idea it would be so colorful!




And the scenery was breathtaking.



That’s how we spent one morning. That afternoon we headed to Calf Creek to hike the three miles, one way, to the Lower Falls. It was just a 10 mile drive east of our park. The drive itself was indescribable. Marbled canyon walls, steep, hairpin turns. Unfortunately not enough great places to pull the big dually over to take photos. There’s the Kiva Koffee House between our camp and the falls on Hwy 12 that sits atop a hill, surrounded by all of this gorgeousness. It has wraparound windows for an unobstructed view. However we went to falls on a Tuesday – the day the Koffee House is closed. I have no idea what their coffee is like but I’m certain you need to stop for the phenomenal views!

At Calf Creek we meandered the three miles to the falls. Interestingly, a lot of the trail is sandy. Sand so fine, in fact, it’s like powdered sugar the color of terra cotta! Sounds neat. Crap to hike in. But still a hike that it worth it!



There were ancient pictographs too!!


And getting close to the falls…


And the falls!!!



And more in the “S Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection”


That was enough excitement for one day! I think we all slept like the dead that night. Which was a good thing because I had it on good authority that Bryce Canyon is waaaay better than Zion National Park. Convenient – since we were a lot closer to Bryce Canyon anyway.

That is, of course, so long as it’s not’s SNOWING!!!

Yes folks, the kids that left Syracuse, New York to get out of snow woke up to light flurries. Oops! Although no one was in the mood to hike in it, it made for some great pictures. That’s after the mad raid for warm clothes through MY closet. S was swaddled head-to-toe in my oversized long sleeve performance shirts, fleeces and jackets. Z was in my Adidas workout pants, flood waders for him, and my Clemson sweatshirt. (because you know, 16 year old boys are too cool to be too warm and cozy, but humble enough to wear ridiculous looking highwater athletic pants.) And Uncle Dan had on a pair of my funky designed spandex running tights under his shorts. Michael swears he will never look at me the same way in those (previously sexy) running tights again. :-/

We may have driven through Bryce Canyon but I took some pictures (and on the way there!!)

We pulled over the side of the road to capture this snow system moving across the distance!


Bryce Canyon in snow.





Another long day and we were pooped. We needed our rest because we were headed back to Nevada and Las Vegas, baby!!