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Full time downfalls

Of course full time RVing has lots of pros. But there are a few cons too. Exercise, for instance.

I told myself I’d have all the time in the world to exercise when we were on the road. That’s partially true – I do have more free time. But I never considered how much of a routine you can get into at home. A routine that I’ve found impossible to find on the road.

The easiest exercise for me is running (although probably my least favorite). But sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to find a new route in an unfamiliar place. But I try.

I like to road bike and mountain bike. These are significantly harder to do. Not many places in the US are bike friendly. Not to mention that Mike hates to ride on the road. So that forces us to find paved bike trails. *If* we can find them they are usually great! Most often then not they just don’t exist.

Weight lifting is my favorite. I have not been on a lifting program since we started full timing. Almost 4 years!!! My body is screaming at me too. Where there was once tight, strong muscle there is now atrophied mass and and unusual amount of cellulite. Swimming is good too but we aren’t always close to a YMCA. Which is also the reason I haven’t been lifting consistently.

Here’s the thing. When you live in a house with someone you presumably have 2 cars and go about your own routine. In a camper, when you’re always moving around and have 1 vehicle, this routine is non-existent. If I want to run in the morning, instead of just going, I wait until Mike is ready. That’s not usually until the afternoon. By then I’ve lost motivation and it’s usually hot as balls. I’ll do it but it absolutely kills me.

If I want to bike I also wait for Mike. But he doesn’t like riding on roads so it’s a hunt to see if/where there are trails.

If I want to swim I have to find a pool. And Mike really hates it soooo…

Is it Mike’s fault for me not working out??? NO! Absolutely not! It’s my fault for not just doing what I know I need to do when I need to do it. Mike might want to go for a run with me but I need to do it when I need to for my body. (Usually in the am).

This is an interesting trap I have found myself in that I didn’t expect.

So I’m trying to turn this sinking ship (aka – my large ass) around. This morning, in SC, I got my butt out for a run before it got too hot.

Did it feel good? Honestly, no. It did not. I felt like a fat, sluggish, 2 ton bouncy ball bumpin’ down a dirt road. Every step hurt my joints. My heart rate would skyrocket after about 100 steps forcing me to walk a bit. Which, by the way, if seen by a bystander, they probably couldn’t tell the difference between my “run” and my walk.

Was it embarrassing? ABSOLUTELY! Times like these I’m glad I’m alone.

But I did it. And I need to do it again tomorrow. And if my joints hurt too bad in the morning then I’ll just walk. Because this unhealthy “situation” I’ve gotten myself in is NOT sustainable.

(This is my face for the “Julie, get your shit together” talk.)

Meeting Fellow Travelers

I haven’t posted in forever. However, after a fantastic convo with Elise, an dental student starting at U of L (Louisville) in August, I feel the need to make a post.

What a great time talking about traveling, people of the US, etc. over craft beer!

I thoroughly enjoy talking with people who also share the love of exploring. Elise, if you read this, never stop exploring!!! And share your adventures with everyone! We can all try and encourage adventure and travel! Cheers!!

Need to Buy Stock in Tires

Welp! When you’re driving a huge fifth wheel camper on the interstate and there is something in the road (scattered across a few lanes) your only real choice is to hit it. Swerving and/or slamming on brakes are NOT options.

And so we ran over a big twisted sheet of what appeared to be corrugated metal.

And now we’re waiting for roadside assistance to replace a flat camper tire.


EDIT: we got lucky! The Ram is a fricken beast! (Little crack in the under bumper). The belly cover under the camper saved us from getting a rip in any of our tanks. (Cuz no one wants literal crap leaking all over the roads) and lastly, an outter bin – that we dont even use – got a slash. Speaking of slashes….. the far back trailer tire got the worst of it.

Is that manure?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had booked us a couple’s mud bath and massage at Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort¬†while in Calistoga, California. Neither of us had had a mud bath experience so hey, why not do it together?

Before I go any further I first want to say it was quite the experience and you¬†should¬†“do” the hot springs and a mud bath while in Calistoga!! It was a fun bonding experience, for sure! As a matter of fact, if you think there is any remote possibility of you being in Calistoga STOP READING NOW. Just go experience this yourself. I don’t want my post to color your possible decision as to whether or not to splurge on this unique spa adventure. However, if there is no way you’re ever getting to that part of the country, don’t like spa treatments in general or are just dying to read about our hilarious encounter… READ ON!

I don’t have any other Calistoga spas to compare to but the Golden Haven staff was great! We got there a little early so we could enjoy their mineral water pool and whirlpools before our mud bath began. We put our clothes in a little locker and donned our bathing suits and the robes they lend you and headed into the water. It’s billed as “pure, natural, mineral water…from the geothermal hot springs that run underneath” their spa. Ok, neat. But to me it was just a pool and a hot tub. Maybe with an unusual smell. (But not as unusual as Grandma’s sulphur-y smelling well water in West Virginia when I was growing up.)

When it was time for our appointment we were escorted to a couples mud room by our spa attendant, Bianca. In the mud room was an L shaped concrete tub filled with mud, a huge double shower and a double jacuzzi.

I know your first question, and yes, you get into the mud completely naked. Bianca assured us they filter out the mud and heat it to 160 degrees to “clean” it between each guest. But I’m not sure I buy it. Oh, I’m sure they¬†do something to try and sterilize it between guests… But guys! It’s MUD! How clean can it be to start with???

Our instructions to get in the mud: strip, sit on the side of the tub and sling our legs over. It’s really thick, so once you’re on top of the mud you have to shimmy to submerge yourself completely.

I’ll admit I was envisioning “mud” like a smooth mud clay facial mask. This was not that. It was thick and lumpy with an interesting smell. Reminiscent of manure. Cow manure, to be exact – not to be confused with horse manure…. And it pretty much looked similar in consistency too. Once Bianca was out of the room Mike and I looked at each other then started laughing. Yes, we were going to strip naked and go for dunk in poo. To be fair, it was actually peat moss mixed with mineral water and some other things to be therapeutic. But it’s really hard to wrap your head around climbing into a steaming tub of liquid dung.

I sat on the edge, as instructed, swung my legs over and literally sat on top of the mud. It was that thick. I shimmied and shook, but I really had a hard time getting my boobies and shoulders covered! At some point you just give up and start slopping the mud over top of yourself to cover up. I was interested in being covered before Bianca came back in to further our “spa treatment”.

The spa has this down pat because no sooner had Michael and I giggled and wiggled our way into the mud, Bianca was back. She adjusted our back supports (aka, kickboards from your childhood swimming lessons) to make sure we were comfy and then painted a clay mask (yes, a smooth clay that I would have expected) over our lower faces and an ice cold compress on our forehead to keep us from overheating. We have 10-12 minutes to marinate and ruminate over our current situation.

Mike and I were laying foot-to-foot in this L-shaped tub-o-moss. (C’mon, let’s call it what it really is!) Eyes closed, I was quiet. Presumably because I was trying to relax since me and “quiet” don’t go hand-in-hand. Actually my mind was going a hundred miles and hour,¬†wiggle your feet down in Julie, they’re floating up. Ooh, not too far! That’s HOT! Remember Bianca said there are heaters at the bottom of this thing. Don’t touch the heaters! But where are the heaters? She said they were too deep to actually touch? So why in the heck did she warn us about them? My boobs are cold. Is there still mud on my boobs?¬†I peek an eye open to see I’m I’m still completely covered. Yep, I’m covered. But I smoodge a few handfuls of warm mud over my chest to keep it warm.¬†My shoulders don’t seem deep enough. What in the hell is this supposed to be doing, again?¬†

I try wiggling my shoulders down deeper. I slowly roll the peat through my fingers. It’s slightly lumpy. Has very small bits of twigs in it.¬†Yep, stills smells like manure. I try to relax and remove the notion of me and Mike sitting in big, hot tubs of poop.

Then I really get distracted and all I could think of for a few minutes was how I was sitting in a big, hot tub of poop, naked!!!

I try and clear my mind, a kind of meditation, if you will, to push out all thoughts of mud, poo, any lingering questions. And I just listen to the sound of the bubbling jacuzzi behind my head.

This whole time Mike has not made a peep. Finally he mutters, “I’m sweating balls over here. How much longer?”

Apparently that was our 10-12 minutes because Bianca reentered, brightly asking us how it was. We giggle. We admit we felt like we were sitting in steaming pile-o-crap. Seems we’re not the first to have that thought.

We thought getting¬†in the mud was interesting…. Getting out…. Bianca instructed the¬†easiest thing to do is rake the mud off your¬†arms¬†and¬†chest then sling a leg over the side or just roll out. Then go ahead and get in the shower and rinse off. I’ll be back in in a few¬†minutes¬†to clean¬†up the tub while you’re showering.

There is no dainty way to get out of a tub-o-poop. It’s heavy! I tried raking it off my arms and chest like she said but my legs seemed trapped by bags of quicksand. I opted for the lose-all-self-respect-and-roll-out-like-a-beached-whale technique. Although, I’m sure there wasn’t any technique involved. I was trying not to slop mud all over the floor but it’s impossible. She said she was coming back to clean up, right?!

I really have no idea how Mike fared with his extraction process. By the time I finally got up off the floor, yes, the floor – I sort of just plopped out – he was already standing, slinging the extra mud off himself.

Have I mentioned how much laughter was involved through this whole process so far? Really, if you can’t laugh at yourself or can’t stand to be laughed at, DON’T DO THIS! All it really is is a fully engaged comedy hour.

We got into the showers and we each had our own humongous 18″ diameter rain shower head. Interestingly, we each also had a hose with a garden sprayer on the end! This one:


Yes folks, you do get mud in all your crevices…. Mike was facing away from me so I started rinsing off his back except I forgot to check the setting on the nozzle, and almost water blasted a layer of his skin off. He was trying to help me reach my butt crack but all I could get out was “Spray down honey, not up! SPRAY DOWN honey, not up!!!” He thought I was clean but when I raised my arm to rinse the sweat out of my hair he had to spray off a giant goop of mud that had hidden in my armpit. (How does one even hide mud in their armpit?!)

Were were laughing so hard it’s any wonder we got clean at all. Somewhere in the middle of this Bianca did come back in to clean up. I hope that’s not the first hootin’ and hollerin’ she’s heard from the behind the shower curtain! Although for her sake, I hope anything she has heard from other clients has from light hearted giggling and fun… not a couple trying to squeeze in a quicky, because, ew! MUD!

We still had TWO more steps to our mud bath. From the shower we got into the incredibly hot jacuzzi. They did provide ice water. And although a nice relief, I had to get out of the water after about 10 minutes. It was just too intense for me. Mike followed suit. We had about a 5 minute wait in our robes before Bianca was back for us again.

The last step of the mud bath is to take you to a small, dark room with two massage tables laid with blankets. This would be a familiar environment for any of you who frequent spas. It’s¬†this¬†step where the room has soft music playing, low lights and aromatherapy fragrances filling the air. We got all tucked up in the blankets by Bianca with a cold compress on our foreheads to allow us to¬†slowly cool down.

Annnd, they leave you there for about 30 minutes.

They expect some, or most, customers to fall asleep. Neither of us did, but we were quiet. Bianca came back in to “wake us up” for our scheduled massage we had afterwards. Which was¬†totally awesome!!!¬† But like a massage most of you have probably encountered before.

After our massage we were able to take a shower and then walk the quarter mile, in the starlight, back to our RV. That’s the best nights’ sleep I’ve gotten in a loooong time.

Mike and I did agree that, although we can’t see ourselves doing it again, we’re glad we did “do the mud bath” while in Calistoga. It’s a bucket list check off.

– Sat in poop….. check
– Blasted¬†each other’s private parts with a hose nozzle….. check
– Damn near died of jacuzzi heat stroke….. check
– Paid to sleep in a strangers’ blankets….. check
– Laughed so hard through the process I *may or *may not have peed myself…. PRICELESS!

Prescott’s Granite Dells

I was able to research these strange, captivating rock formations found here in Prescott and the surrounding area. They are called Granite Dells¬†and were formed from erosion over the past 1.4 billion years! The unusual shape is caused by “spheroidal weathering” and the Dells are high in uranium. Houses built here have to closely watch radon levels coming from the rocks!




Call Me Grease Monkey *wink*

Living out of an RV has it’s own list of unique challenges. And I’m here to keep all my family and friends informed of our day-to-day living situation. Partly to help ease the jealously we instill when posting pictures of sunny Florida or Arizona while the rest of you are buried under 4 feet of heavy, wet, disgusting snow.

Currently in Phoenix it has been hot as hades. Well, for March, anyways. I’ve been told it’s typically in the 70’s this time of year. But the two weeks we’ve been here it’s been in the 80’s and 90’s. The nights get a lovely temperature of cool that is perfect to sleep with the windows and screens open. But in the late part of the day? Whew! The heat builds up in here and I keep checking the dog and cat to be sure we don’t have animal jerky.

20150323_150529 20150323_162502

The cat wilts so easily.

We haven’t bothered to turn on the A/C much. We have a little window fan and then we switch on a bigger fan in the “garage” to pull out the heat out through the ceiling. That’s been working but we finally broke down and flipped the generator on to run the A/C a few times. (We’re currently plugged into my friend’s regular ‘ol house plug. We need plugged into 50amp in order to run our heavy users, like our A/C.) However, our generator has been sounding a bit sick lately.

The number one rule of a generator – USE IT! We suspect the previous owners didn’t use it much. Based on the rough idle it was clear the carburetor needed cleaned out.

Thank god for YouTube!!!

I found this awesome video based on our model of generator. It walks you through how to clean the carburetor! Michael has been exceptionally busy with work lately so I was on my own. It sounded a million times better after I cleaned it. I will admit to cleaning it again the next day and letting the cleaning solution sit a lot longer. Just to be sure…

But then it would stall out.

I wonder when was the last time anyone checked the oil… or changed it…..

Ugh, it was low and so, so dark and dirty. I used the manual to do this one. But I did need Mike’s help in getting the oil filter loose. Stupid, tight filter. I couldn’t get it to budge. But seeing how hard of a time Mike had trying to unscrew it, I didn’t feel so helpless.

So now it’s running MUCH better. I’ll admit to a hiccup here and there so I’m having “a guy” come and look at it anyway. When you live in this thing you need to be sure it’s running in top condition. We might need something replaced, not just cleaned. But it is nice to know that I can figure out some easy engine “stuff” too!!

Oh GPS, I used to love you….

We had a Garmin but gave it to Mike’s daughter when we bought our new Ram in December. It came with in-dash sat-nav. Mike hadn’t been thrilled with the Garmin’s method of giving directions anyway. He missed turns all the time and blamed it on the device. I just think he can’t follow a GPS…. But he’d been conditioned to follow Apple maps on his iPhone which still puzzles me that the app didn’t direct him into a lake on occasion….

It seems Mike gets along better with “Janice”, our Ram GPS system. We named her so because it seemed a fitting name for a pushy know-it-all. (Apologies if you are a Janice and are not, in fact, pushy and a know-it-all.) I now call her “Janet” because, although I couldn’t put my finger on it when we first got the truck, I realize the voice and method of direction-giving reminds me of a Janet from my past. I’ll leave it at that.

Janet/ Janice usually is pretty good as far as sat-navs go. But as anyone who’s ever used a GPS system knows, there are always hiccups in the system. We found a doozy around Fort Lauderdale on I-95. I tell you this to possibly avoid the same issues.

Imagine a “spaghetti junction” and then knock it down a degree or two. Several sweeping sections of interstate and highways intermingling in one place. It’s Florida, so it’s not built skyscraper high like in Texas. But lots of “Right lane for I-95S” then that lane splits into 95S and a local highway. Sort of confusing. But not if you have sat-nav, right??!

Unless it appears the state of Florida has done an immense amount of construction and renamed/rerouted/relabled a bunch of exits and your GPS has no idea any of this has occurred.

You know when your GPS tells you to follow 95S (even though that logically doesn’t seem right based on where you’re headed) because it’s next direction is to “stay left onto 95 NORTH!” Um, 95N has it’s own exit now and unless I jump an overpass with this truck AND MY FIFTH WHEEL, we just missed the exit.

It’s one thing if this type of hiccup happens once. It’s a freaking comedy when you can’t get where you’re going because direction after direction is incorrect. AND you’re pulling a 5th wheel. As you know, there is no last-minute lane changing to grab the correct exit when hauling your rig. So we were back and forth, north then south, up and down I-95. Finally we just gave up and kept driving.

Where were we headed? To Seminole Casino Coconut Grove (or some such place.)

Where did we end up? Seminole Hard Rock Casino – because we passed it on the highway, gave up and just went there instead. It worked. Free overnight parking. (But not really “free” after all the money we spent at restaurants and bars. Oh, we may have gambled away a whole $15…..)

So, why didn’t I pull out my map and navigate? Simply because all I have is an atlas. And we’re in no hurry. It was quite the joke after a while. All a day in the life of RVing!

The Condensed Version

I bet I know the questions you’ve been dying to ask but are too afraid to ask them. “Are they still RVing? Did they break up? What’s going on? Why haven’t there been any blog posts?”

I’m happy to report the following:

Yes, we are still RVing!! We are currently in south Florida, around Jupiter. It’s gorgeous here!

No, we did not break up. As a matter of fact, we are now engaged. ūüėČ

There has been quite a lot going on and I’ve been exceptionally lazy and unmotivated to post about it all. Sometimes when you live through it you just don’t want to talk about it over and over. But things have settled down so I’ll condense it.

We spent the holidays with my dad in South Carolina. We had been thinking of eventually upgrading our camper to something bigger than our 26′ pull behind. The two driving forces were 1) a bigger cooking area and 2) a bigger space to accommodate the two of us and a big dog. (A cat really doesn’t take up much room.) We had¬†very specific things we wanted in the camper and we wanted to buy used so we figured it would take us close to a year to find what we wanted. In the meantime we thought it best to get a bigger truck to be prepared for when we found the perfect camper and wouldn’t be stuck without a way to tow it.

So we bought this beaut! A 2014 Ram 3500 Dually Laramie. She’s AWESOME!

Ram LoRes

Well, she was until this happened a few days later on the interstate, with less than 500 miles on her. Luckily we weren’t towing anything.


I will spare you the days and days of details and finger pointing between Ram, the tire manufacturer, etc…. But in the end it turned out to be caused by valve stem bolts not being tightened and therefore the stem coming out and blowing out the tire. The bolts were loose on two other valve stems…. I’m still dealing with the dealership in NC to try and get it rectified. (you know, like getting myself reimbursed for a new tire, etc… ) It’s been tough because we bought the truck in NC and we are full timing RVers so it’s hard to get anything taken care of but I’m sure we’ll get it done!

In the end it was a good idea we got the truck because as luck would have it, we found the perfect camper. In Georgia! So New Year’s Day we headed to Macon. I had already wheeled and dealed with the sales person via text¬†and email over the previous several days. Had sent him 22 pictures of our trade and exactly what we were willing to pay. After a few days he sent me a worksheet that he had said was signed by the manager.

DEAL! We were driving to come and get her. I texted him when we were a few hours out. He said ok, he’d meet us there.

We showed up and were told our sales guy didn’t work on Thursdays. Um, he said he was going to meet us.

Crickets. You could hear crickets chirping. Sales reps looked at each other. We looked at them. They looked back at each other. Finally one had the mind to step in and say that he’d take care of us until our guy got there. Perfect.

But our guy never showed up.

So another condensed version, we got a new sales rep, had to spend the night in the parking lot of Camping World Macon and our original sales rep got himself fired. On the upside, the staff (by now everyone knew what had happened to us) was exceptionally friendly and treated us great. They hooked us up with power at night in the parking lot. Our new rep, Tressa, would even knock before she left at night to see if we needed anything.

So now we are the proud owners of a 39′ Keystone Raptor 5th wheel toyhauler.

Raptor LoRes  Raptor2 LowRes

After our fun “upgrade” we headed to Naples to participate in Mike’s first and my third triathlon!!


I believe Mike is hooked. He keeps asking me when we are going to do our next one!!

And to round out our news update – January 28th is my birthday and also when we went on our first date. Michael decided it would be an excellent day to also ask me to marry him.


So that is the condensed version that brings you up-to-speed. Hopefully I won’t slack off from here on out. We plan on being in south Florida for a few more weeks so we’ll see what fun adventures are waiting!

My first breakdown

I won’t lie. Living out of a camper with a dog and a cat isn’t the easiest life. Can I say “FUR”?! Everywhere. On the floor, on the bedspread, in the sheets, on the counters, on the gas stove top…. I know, I make it sound like we live like hooligans, but I swear, we don’t! I’m sure it was this way in our house. But spread out over a lot more square footage and therefore not nearly as noticeable.

I had my first breakdown the other day. But in order to justify it I should first explain the argentine ants.

We are currently staying at Cedar Hill State Park in Texas. Great park! I highly recommend it. Site 128 is a great location for a long camper, 5th wheel or RV. Did I mention they have 50/30 amp service and sewer at a lot of sites?! (including 128) This site even has water access to the lake.

But the park also has argentine ants. I had no idea what those were. Apparently when you check in they are supposed to give you a little sheet explaining how to keep them out of your campsite. Which, by the way, is sprinkle Sevin dust around your site. We received no such warning. So a few days later those little suckers had crawled up through our electric line and into the camper and started to swarm out of the crevices of the ceiling DURING our conference call with a CPA.

Do you know how hard it is to have a professional conference call on SPEAKERphone while quietly trying to swat down armies of ants from your ceiling? And comprehend the exceptionally important information being given to you over the phone??

That phone call couldn’t have ended fast enough and I was back on the phone with the front office asking how in the heck to control these critters. I was not excited about the answer even though I knew what was coming.


I’m not fanatical about NO CHEMICALS but I really don’t want to be spraying chemicals into a tiny camper with two humans and two pets in such close proximity. And I’m not comfortable sprinkling Sevin dust (a pesticide) around a camping area with a dog constantly tied up and walking around, not able to tell the difference to step over the dust ring. But so be it. I’d rather that than a camper full of ants.

So I got the spray, which says it’s ok for pets once dried, and just sprayed where we saw the invaders, not around every single opening, as per instructions. Plus it said the spray could be used inside and out, so I decided to spray the heck out of the electrical entry (not the outlet) and cord instead of sprinkling the dust. Although I bought it, if needed.

So I thought I had the ants under control. I started to breathe easy when a I saw a new trail snaking down behind the stove.


That was it. That when I realized how dirty everything was and I lost it.

The ants broke me.

Dog and cat hair was everywhere. The floor was filthy. “OUT!” I yelled to Mike. “Take the dog and get out! I MUST clean! I can’t take it anymore!”

I kicked them out. They went out for a walk and hadn’t been gone 15 minutes when it started to downpour.

I felt terrible. I called. I asked if I should come get them but he said no. They were fine. And so I continued to clean. And clean. And clean.

And even though the camper reeked of wet dog by the time they got back it was rid of hair, ants and filthy floor scum.

And I felt better.

Lifelong RV Living Prep

I didn’t realize it, and I’m sure he didn’t intend it, but it occurred to me this morning that my dad has accidentally had me in “RV Living Prep” my whole life. I was reminiscing about¬†all the camping and backpacking dad and I did when I was growing up as I was strolling to the showers not just an hour ago. The first shower I’d had in a few days….

Yes, our camper has a shower. And it works great too, I might add. But for those of you not accustomed to this lifestyle, a shower fills up our gray water tank quickly, regardless of the extra low-flow shower head and the “off” switch I added. So it’s easier to use the local facilities and save our contraption for when we’re dry camping.

We are currently at a state campground so you can see why childhood memories of camping popped up so easily. We’d camp at a campground. Or even backpack into the wilderness, carrying everything we needed on our backs. Our adventures always happened in the summer. Dad was a teacher. We’d hit the road and just keep going June through August. We’d hike for hours, sweaty, gross…. set up camp for the night and do it all over again. We don’t need no stinkin’ showers!

Little did I know that this stink and grim tolerance would suit me as an adult. Not that we’re living a disgusting, fly-infested life in our camper. All truth be told, it’s probably cleaner than my house was. When living in such a small place you really have the urge to wipe every surface after every use. But sometimes I feel a little grimy. I blame it on the close quarters. But I can handle it. Sometimes better than Mike. But then again, it’s one hundred percent easier for a guy to jump in a shower and “rinse off” than a girl. There’s no “rinsing off” with medium length hair and legs to shave. I can skip the legs but only a time or two… unless Mike wants to get shredded¬†in the middle of the night and bleed out.

So I’d like to give a big thanks to my dad, Randy, for all the outdoorsy camping and backpacking adventures that prepared me to tolerate the “unusual conditions” I’m currently living in.

Thanks Dad.
Growler Carrier
me and dad posing with the growler carrier he made us!!)