Certainly not the California we think of…

Last summer (2016), we sat with our big U.S. atlas book and perused pages of the southwestern states and researched the web figuring out where we were going for the winter months.  On a Facebook RV group page we frequent, a poster mentioned a cool RV Resort in Nevada, not far from Las Vegas, that looked like a good place to anchor down for a couple months.  We called Wine Ridge RV Resort and was greeted by professional and friendly staff who helped us pick a site that was big enough for Liberty and made a reservation for November and December.  

Once we got there, it was perfect for us!!  Our aft picture window where our Nomad Cats nap and watch for wildlife backed up to a beautiful view of the mountains. The site was a spacious pull-through that was long enough for our almost 42′ 5th wheel, Idaho Tote with XT225’s and Captain America.  

After we set up, we took a walk around the resort to see what it had to offer; which it did…LOTS!  We will save that for our RV Park Review blog later, so please stay tuned.  The next day, we jumped in Captain America to check out what the city of Pahrump had to offer…Home Depot, two grocery stores, a few diners, a few fast food places, a few other RV resorts and parks, a couple casinos, several gas stations, etc.  The city even had a VA center.  

Billboards entering the city from Las Vegas boast the city’s reputation as one of the RV meccas for snowbirds because of its milder and drier weather.  There is plenty to do if you want to venture out or just the perfect, quiet place away from the big city lights of Las Vegas to take in nice afternoon naps in camp chairs.

After a few days of situational awareness and geographical research, we checked out a little old mining town, Shoshone which was about 30 miles from Pahrump. As you see, there is absolutely nothing to see on the way to or fro.  Nothing.   

I mean…NO-THING…

…so, what’s a girl to do?  Take a nap, of course!  

Oh wait, I gotta take a picture first to show proof we were in California! (Good thing we didn’t have any produce in our lunches!)

So then I drifted off to catch a few zzzzzz’s.  Because well, there was NOTHING to see and there was no signal on our phones for me to surf the internet or check our emails.

Meanwhile, 20 minutes later, we neared Shoshone, Dan woke me up from my cat nap.  He pointed out right before the town’s main intersection, there was a odd looking, out-of-place, geological wonder on the right side of the road we just had to check out.  There was no designated parking area so we just pulled off to the side of the road. It is registered by the local Historical District however, there was evidence of disrespectful past visitors (broken bottles, leftover fireworks, etc.). 

Aside from that, we could literally feel the history with every step; wondering who lived here and why? What drew them to such an unforgiving terrain and arrid temperatures; especially in the summer months?  We were only a few miles away from where Death Valley and Mojave Desert bordered.  The formations and terrain reminded us much of our very first hiking experience in western Nebraska at Toadstool Geological Park three years ago.  

Captain Dan hiked several steps ahead of me because I was nursing a back injury and severe sciatica.  I told him to go ahead and enjoy his climbs and hikes while I vied to get some good photography shots.  The contrast of the white sandstone structures stood out against the vivid blue sky.  It was beautifully perfect. 

 He really enjoyed exploring all the holes and entrances.  He left no grain untouched.  

We learned this used to be a place where the miners and railroad workers lived back in the day. There were small dugout dwellings that lead from each of the entrance holes.  There were some smaller dugouts where we think they may have had small cooking fires or ovens with updraft shoots or chimneys where the smoke could rise.  There were also upward tunnels with eroded steps that led to other rooms.  He had to be careful with each step because the sandstone proved slippery and uneasy footing.  It didn’t help matters that we forgot our trekking poles.  If you plan to come here, please take note.  Oh, and add a gallon of water for each person too.  We seemed to have forgotten that too.  We were rather new to this whole ‘desert thing’. We know better now…..NOW *rolling eyes*

After we finished visiting the geological dugouts, we drove into the town just a mile down the road.  Shoshone is a rural, unicorporated community in Inyo County, California that was founded in 1910.  It is at the southern end of State Rt 894, off of US RT 93, just west of the Great Basin National Park.  Its been noted as the southern gateway to Death Valley National Park. It’s population was a meer 31 in it’s 2010 census.  The town’s amenities are just north of the southern intersection of California SR 127 and 178.  Shoshone was a stop on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad which was shut down in 1940.

It was such a small town but it had the zest and personality of a small city.  The citizens of Shoshone are proud of their town…all 30some of them.  Coincidentally, the day we visited, there was a small craft fair that we walked about and talked with the locals.  I bought a pair of earrings made by a Native American as my memorable souvenir. (RV travelers note…our souvenirs must be small…no…make that ‘tiny’).

We got to chat a little with a couple of Shoshone’s Bravest.  These first responders were eager to show off their new ambulance that their town just procured.  The past years, they solicited for funds to buy it through raffle tickets and other community fundraisers and grants.  I can’t imagine having enough taxes and revenue to support public safety so they did what they had to do. They loved it when I asked if I could take their photo by their new apparatus.  

Afterwards, we meandered down Main Street in the heart of Shoshone Village (oh, trust me, it wasn’t far!)  to the only happening place in town; the ‘world famous’ Crowbar Cafe and Saloon.  Its a well known stop for bikers and travelers because, well…its the ONLY place there to eat.  We didn’t eat there however, we did read and hear from others who have that the food is pretty decent.  But it sure did look like quite an inviting place to dine amidst the palm trees.  There’s a small dance floor and a outdoor band setup.  This little hidden gem was built in the 1930’s and continues to serve homecooked meals in a traditional western atmosphere.  We promised ourselves we’d stop in for some grub and grog next time we go to Pahrump.

The Charles Brown General Store & Gift Shop (yes, I know…the sign says ‘market’) was only one store there that we patronized by by buying a couple bottles of water, some jerky and browsed the locally made Native American handcrafted souvenirs.  This was a “one stop shop”…gas, propane, groceries, booze, souvenirs, hardware and coffee all under one roof.  I guess when they have such a small town with few citizens and visitors, it’s all they need. This place was smaller than Mayberry.

Notably though, Shoshone Village has been a stopping point for film crews from Los Angeles who frequent(ed) Death Valley.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention that there is an RV park with hookups (meh!), a campground and the Shoshone Inn (again…meh!).  Supposedly there is camping, swimming, hiking, birding and many other activities but I’m thinking they are referring to neighboring Death Valley National Park, Ashland Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and the town of Tecopa just nine miles down the road which is a whole different world in itself (something about it’s hot springs).  It has its own little Visitor’s Center and Museum (and gift shop) and post office (right next door to the Charles Brown Market) as well as the Death Valley Health Center.  Also worth noting, the town does have its own little Shoshone Airport for small planes and helicoptors just in case you want to zip on in for a visit.  It records about 58 flights a month.

So, let me tell you, Shoshone isn’t just any ordinary tiny town.  It boasts rich history of mining and the beginnings of the railroad.  We walked over to Dublin Gulch…which is a ghost town.

The miners sure left their mark in more ways than one.   Because of the desert location and lack of building supplies to build homes or huts, they carved out little cave rooms aka ‘dugouts’ to live in…

…and left remnents of their cans of beans…lots and lots of these piles of rusty old cans were everywhere (tetnus anyone?). It must of been an interesting place sitting around the campfires eating their beans and talking about their days.  

Now why all those cans?  Well, think about it.  Its not like the area is fertile to grow their own food and if there was a growing season, it was very short.  Add in the lack of abundance of water…well, they were left with eating out of cans because really, did they even have enough water to do the dishes?  TRUE STORY!!!

But they do make perfect homes for small desert wildlife, don’t you think?

Oh, and lastly, they perished there…


Many have been intrigued as to why we go these little towns like Shoshone Village.  We are eager to learn about America and are interested in how people lived, worked and prospered to make our Country what it is today.  Its these little towns that help fill in and connect the map dots.  We enjoy sharing what weve learned and experienced with our family, friends and followers.  We hope by sharing it will entice and encourage others to leave their own backyards and go on untraditional vacations and journeys.

This IS ‘small town’ America.  These are the places where our Country’s blood, sweat and tears have fallen that we don’t learn about in history books, read about in newspapers, travel magazines or even the world wide web.  These people were/are equally important and deserve to have their stories told. 

Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder…

Since hitting the road two and a half years ago with our 5th wheel RV, we’ve
visited and/or stayed at several campgrounds on military facilities aka known as ‘FamCamps’.  Our percentage of staying at FamCamps vs. other parks/resorts is about 65%.  They are an approach to help reduce the cost of vacations, weekend excursions, PCS moves, TDY and leave travel by offering military families and retirees the use of military facilities.  Though ‘FamCamp’ is technically an Air Force term, we (Liberty Crew) apply it to all military campgrounds.  We are extremely grateful that we have this privilege as it allows us a base security, enables continued military comraderie, usage of other facilities (ie. commissary, PX/BX, medical facilities, etc.).  

When we are parked at them, we have been opportuned to see some beautiful memorials, an  invitation to a military ball, and attended a ceremony or two.  Recently, we added attending an Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation at Lackland AFB in San Antonio,
Texas.  Even though we are retired military, we’ve not forgotten where we came from.  We still feel compelled to continue our duties of patriotism, honor and extending
appreciation to our new(est) generations who now stand on that wall of freedom who protect our

Since Liberty was moored at Lackland AFB FamCamp,
we learned when the Air Force ‘boot camp’ graduations were and promised ourselves to attend one before leaving San Antonio.  The graduation ceremony was within walking distance from the FamCamp so that made it even better.  
The event was/is held outdoors at the War Birds
Park and Parade Grounds which in itself, has an amazing display of Air Force “War Bird” aircraft that helped our Country defense 
(future blog post…stay tuned!).

If you’ve never attended a military event, we encourage you to go; whether it’s a graduation, deployment ceremony
or homecoming…GO!  In our opinion, there is no greater display of patriotism than
honoring those who give their selfless
service to our great Country.  Afterall, if it weren’t for them, our Country wouldn’t be.  

At such events, you’ll be seated amongst other military Servicemembers, military spouses, children, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and
extended families of our Heroes.  We give
as much respect to them as we do to our military men and women because, through our own experiences, their dedication, devotion to duty and success is much owed by the support from back home.  

The Families:

The Friday I went, I walked over with my DSLR camera and sat on the top bleacher seat between two families; “Luis’s Family” (from Southern California) and “Austin’s
Family” (from Wyoming).  It was a coincidence that both of these new Airmen were flag bearers for two state flags which made it easy for me to look for Luis and Austin.  As I sat with the families, I WANTED to
learn a little about them prior to the ceremony beginning.  I shared with them that I was in their same shoes 14 years ago when our own son graduated from his Army Basic Combat Training at
Fort Knox and I appreciated how special this was as a mother and as a military Veteran.  Luis’s mother told me that Luis was her 4th
child to enlist…WOW!  FOUR children who are serving our Country at the same time in the same service! 

Alex in the center of the photo
poised and proud of her Airman
I also chatted with Austin’s mother and his young bride,
Alex.  As I watched Alex took me back to my
young military wife days of excitement and pride.  I promised them that I would take lots of
photos of the ceremony so they could  enjoy it instead of snapping
photos.  Theyve given me permission to 
share some of them.  

We were amongst 700+ other families of many different backgrounds who came to see their Airman muster on the field, “Pass in Review” marching the
field and Airmen’s Enlisted Heroes Walk to reaffirm their Oath of Enlistment.

The Ceremony:

Posting the Colors
Marching in the National Ensigns and State Flags
Alex and Luis are in there somewhere

The Band led the parade

One of the companies passing in review

One of the MANY companies passing in review

Look for Alex with the Wyoming flag and Luis with the Arizona flag!
The March:

The field was huge; larger than a football field that’s parametered by a paved sidewalk with the War Birds historical aircraft positioned around the parade field.  

Where the first set of bleachers were located, their ‘march’ begins on the Enlisted Heroes Memorial; a symbolic 32’ x 32’ walk that is comprised of 1024 inlaid tan bricks.  To date, approximately 175 of those bricks are etched with the Heroes names at the beginning of the bomb run with their rank, decoration and war participated.  These heroes earned the Medal of Honor, Air Force Cross or Silver Star.  You could feel their story as you read each Hero’s name.

Every graduate marches over these bricks to remind them of the journey they are about to embark on as new Airman of the United States Air Force and to reflect on the significance of their enlisted heritage; realizing there are heroes amongst them as well as heroes past. 

After the ceremony:
Its celebration time!  
Mass exodus of families from the bleachers.
The new Airmen must stand in formation to wait for their
families to come for them.

It was an incredible honor to meet Luis and Austin.  Both were very young; I’m guessing right out
of high school or early college.  As
expected, both were quite handsome in their Air Force blues, extremely
professional with their military bearing was exemplary.  

Luis in the middle with his family
As I took Luis’s photo with
his family; he was quite apprehensive of hugging and kissing his mom because of military protocol  of ‘No PDA’
(public display of affection) however, I affirmed it was
okay to hug and kiss his mom; especially for pictures.  He looked a bit relieved.  After leaving his
family, he loosened up a bit and I even got a hug from Luis and a thank you for photographing this important event.

Luis’s proud Mom and Dad
I noticed he let out a little grin as his Mom kissed his cheek.

I caught up with Austin’s family before everyone dispersed.  Austin and his wife, Alex, grabbed a few moments a short distance from their family to pose for a photo
or two of them together.  They were so
grateful.  I hurriedly snapped their
photos and hugged them as I left; not wanting to take anymore of their precious reunion
moments away from them…I ‘understand’ having been a military wife for over 30
years myself of those priceless private moments.  

A bittersweet reunion

Alex with her Airman, Austin

A congratulatory kiss from Austin’s wife and his Mom
Austin’s family

These are just a few of the many photos I took that wonderful day.  It was an honor to share these moments with two amazing families who have embarked on their own journey; one of…duty, committment, honor and service. 

If you’re in the San Antonio area, include a Friday in your visit so you can witness another 700+ men and women march into their new rolls as United States Air Force Airmen and perhaps you’ll meet some our Nation’s next great generation.

If you are reading this Austin and Luis, blessed thoughts to you both in your futures as Airmen.  Dan and I wish you success and pray for your safety in all you and journeys you embark on.  Semper Paratus!

Blogger’s Note:  When I post ‘Airman’ or ‘Airmen’, I did not purposely disqualify or exclude women.  As a woman Veteran myself, changing labels or titles for the sake of gender, in my opinion, does nothing but create division and lessens cohesiveness.  

Remembering the Alamo!

Remember the Alamo!!  

Did you know March 6, 2017 was the 181st Anniversary of the Siege of the Alamo.  

How many of you, without Googling, could tell what happened there and why the Alamo is such an important historical site?


Let us help you out a little…

…the Alamo is the home of the 1836 battle where heroes, Esparza, Crocket, Bowie, and Travis died fighting for freedom.  Their sacrifice helped birth Texas and globally, put it on the map.  Their call for aid and refusal to surrender in the face of overwhelming odds stirred America and the world.  The seige lasted 13 days but there’s tons more in history to learn about the 13 days of siege of the Alamo.

Since it has such a great historical importance , we will just direct you to here to the Alamo website:  

Today, the Alamo is the heart of San Antonio and is Texas’ most visited historic landmark and we made it a point to visit it, inside and out.  Its not a far walk to the Riverwalk, so put this on your San Antonio To-Do’s.

The one thing that just surprised us was just how small it really is…the building that is and inside the fort area.  In movies, it shows a much larger image but the fact is, it’s quite small and takes up very little real estate.  It’s located in the middle of the city amongst towering modern buildings and shopping all around it.  The amazingly beautiful, architectured 300-year old former Spanish mission-turned-fortress is a great exhibit open year-round; free for school groups, families, travelers and all who visit and experience first hand the battlefield and hallowed grounds.  Literally, the hair on the backs of our necks stood up as we walked graciously with each step.

Here, in its current state:

About the buildings ——> HERE

The night we took these photos was actually a rarity to enjoy this…no people.  We consider ourselves lucky as we have walked by it several different times of the day on different occasions only to see it swarmed with visitors making it difficult to get good National Geographic type photos.  These are OUR photos.  

The Entrance

The outer ‘fortress’ wall and gate

Click on the photo to get a better look to read

This is what it normally looks like during the day, so you see what an incredible gift it was to get to see it ‘naked’.

Though we didn’t get to attend the 13 days of interactive living history events to commemorate the 181st anniversary of the 1836 siege and battle of THE ALAMO this year, we DID get to go last year this time when our son was in town visiting.  

We went on a 1-hour guided tour by Alamo History Interpreters exploring the story that made Texas famous.  We learned about the events and heroes that endured hardship, gallantry and valor. Our ‘guided tour’, cost us $30 but was well worth the money, took us along the original footprint of the Spanish mission and ended inside the Alamo Church.  The exhibits were very well done with artifacts and chronological historical lineage on plaquards.  Just a note, no photography inside the building of artifacts is permitted.

So, today, we tip our hats to Texas history today!!  Never forget THE ALAMO!

8 Ways to Forge Friendships While RVing

The day before Thanksgiving 2014, we signed papers and handed over our keys of our home, one shell-shocking question hit us like a ton of bricks…the one question we hadn’t thought of during all the selling, minimizing, and prepping for our RV travels…

How will we meet people and forge friendships?

Being we are both fairly outgoing, we kind of let our own personalities take the reigns. We’re not new at this game.  As a military family for 30+ years, it’s the life we’re accustomed to so, you could say this comes a little easier for us.  Through our experiences so far, we thought we’d share our list that future or new(er) RVers who struggle with ‘getting out there’ can build their amazing relationships, have fat address books and look forward to reunions after.

1)   SMILE & WAVE – Bees are attracted to sweetness, right? It’s a no brainer, we all are drawn to happy people.  When we are in a new location, we smile in hopes that we get noticed as ‘those happy people in the big Landmark’ (our identity at parks).  Don’t be that grumpy one that looks the other way or grumbles as others wave to you.  Be approachable!  Strike up conversation while walking your cat (or dog), polishing your coach or lounging by the campfire.  For what it’s worth, IT WORKS!  Try it, you’ll see.

2)   INVITE – When we have or are planning a campfire, outdoor TV game or just sitting out for cocktails, we love for others to drag their camp chairs and cocktails over to sit with us.  Okay, so you may like the rival team…we can drink to that!  We’ve also been invited over ourselves and of those, we’ve become lifelong friends.  In other words, don’t be shy.  The worst they are going to do is decline.  If they do, suggest the next day. If they decline again, it’s their loss.

Our Marine Corps friends, Ed & Gail whom we met at Malmouth AFB
in 2016 and met up with again at Gila Bend, AZ in early 2017.
3)   PARK & RESORT ACTIVITIES – So, you’ve just pulled in, parked and set up with your chairs and carpet out.  Now you’re wondering, “what next”.  “Oh look, a pickle ball court!”, “Hey, they have two pools and a jacuzzi!”, “Wow, they have Wednesday night dinners in the club house!”.  Come on!  Don’t sit inside and watch tv.  Go out and meet people!  Aren’t the activities the reason for staying at these places.  You pay for it so use what you’ve paid for.  

4)   PLAN & SHARE OUTINGS – You’ve noticed the decals all over your neighbor’s car roof carrier and they’re screaming, “we’re hikers”.  Invite them over for a cold beverage and ask if they know where the best hikes are.  I bet soon, you’ll be hiking together even if it’s just a short one to grasp each other’s level.  On another note, you notice the “I love my Labs” sign in an RV window and you have Labs too.  Go see if they want to walk your pups together.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.  We always ask the one’s who’ve been there for awhile where the best eats are and oftentimes, end up going to dinner or lunch with them.  Oh yes, and ask to borrow that cup of sugar.  We’ve met the coolest RV peeps doing this.
Hiking with our friends “Timily” (Tim & Emily) 
from OwnLessDoMore
at Red Rock Canyon in Nevada
5)   ATTEND RV CLUB RALLIES, CONVERGENCES & SHOWS – Join your RV manufacturer owner’s club and other RV clubs like Escapees, Family Motor Coach Association, etc.  We are members of Heartland Owners Club and Xscapers and Escapees.  This is where we meet a lot of our friends.  We tend to break off into different ‘interest groups’ (ie. favorite type diners, ADV/motorcyclists, RZR or Jeepers, etc.).  At the Xscapers Quartzsite Convergence 2017, we organized an ADV Ride with others who also ride. We had a blast!  Now we are Facebook friends with a couple. 

For a comprehensive listing of RV Clubs and Associations, visit RV-Camping’s site HERE.
Xscaper ADV Riders at Quartzsite 2017
6)   SOCIAL MEDIA – Before we started RVing, we joined about a half dozen RV groups on Facebook.  For the first few months, we just read, listened and learned.  Then, once we bought our toyhauler, we were making friends on Facebook and be messaging where we could meet up. We started following others blogs and communicated where the best places to go are.  We learn so much from each other.  Our Facebook page is…drum roll…Always On Liberty if you wish to follow us too!
Networking with on Facebook for over 2 years,
we finally met in person
 RV Outlawz buds Denny & Veronica
7)  GO SEE OLD FRIENDS & FAMILY – Because they’re going to have two friends and those two friends will have two friends, and so on and so on!  We went to San Antonio to meet up with our Army comrades, Leon and Barb.  We met a whole bunch of their Army friends and soon after, we all ‘went to the ball’.  Now, we visit with several friends who live in San Antonio each time we go back.  Our schedule is always full there…all because, “they had two friends…”
Even WE got to go to the Ball!
U.S. Army MedCom Ball 2015
8)   TRAVEL CARDS – After you’ve traveled a bit, you’ll notice others have these cool looking business cards we call Travel Cards.  We exchange them like kids exchange baseball cards.  We have a business card small file book that we keep them in.  We write on the backs where we met them, date and type of RV so it rings our noggins a year or so down the road.  If you don’t have them, get them!!  Even if you don’t have a blog, simple contact information is all you need.  For ours, we don’t list our phone number(s) or address. That’s a personal choice.
So, as you see, making friends is not hard to do when you RV full-time.  In fact, the more you travel, the more friends you’ll make and the more destinations you have later for reunions!  Before you know it, you’ll be making plans with friends to caravan or meet at new destinations.

10 Things we should have known before going full-time

We’ve lived and traveled in our RV for going on 3 years and absolutely wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Our lifestyle is incredibly amazing.  We’ve been told people want to ‘be us’.  While we adored our previous sticks and bricks home, we love the tiny-house simplicity, liberation and freedom to go when we want and where.  We are blessed with so many people who come into our lives through our travels and remain friends for life.  But that doesn’t say there aren’t things we’ve missed or day dream about that we had living in our former ‘S&B’ (sticks and bricks) home.  We’re being honest here.  In this lifestyle, you trade one for another.

This lifestyle brings a whole new set of challenges.  That military mantra ‘overcome and adapt’ has followed us.  It’s okay though, it’s what makes us stronger to enjoy the reason why we are doing this whole nomadic lifestyle.  We consider ourselves lucky to be doing this but that doesn’t erase some disappointments or things we’d wished to keep.  This is a brutally honest, hearts-on-our-sleeves blog piece.  Don’t think for a minute that we’re complaining but, if you’re ever contemplating a nomadic lifestyle whether it be RVing, sailing, backpacking across the country, etc., you might want to know before cutting the cord:  

  • Soaks, Salts & Suds – I miss my big jetted tub!  I used to take 2-3 baths a week with my favorite soaps, salts and essential oils; whether it be therapeutically or simple relaxation.  Now, I’m lucky to get one every 2-3 months.  If I visit a friend or relative, I always ask, ‘may I?’ and when we get a hotel room, I splurge and get one with a big soaking tub.   

  • Endless Hot Water – It goes with the bathtub soaks.  Admit it, long showers rock…where it meant using the entire water heater tank in our former sticks and bricks, that we could stand in the shower for a good 30 minutes of pulsating hot water on my back and shoulders, but I digress.  Now, our showers are limited to about 5 minutes unless we use the bathhouse where we are parked but then there’s the whole privacy thing. We sacrifice one for the other.

  • Down The Drain – Doing dishes back then was so much simpler with one less step.  Now, we scrape our dishes well or wipe them with a napkin before washing them.  Weird I know, but we watch everything we put down our plumbing and tanks.  If not, we’re in big trouble…perhaps bigger and more costly than when we had our S&B.  On the same note, if we’re not hooked up to sewer, we then are very conscious of how much we put in our gray tanks.  So, even that five minute shower gets cut to about two.
  • Friends and Family – This is probably the biggest ‘low point’ but we try not to dwell or think about it.  Our families are in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and elsewhere and Lisa’s best friends are in Florida, Maine, and Kentucky.  We make it a point to fly or drive to see our families and friends.  It takes extra planning because of where we may be parked, who will care for our nomad cats and how we get there.  

  • Forever Neighbors – We knew exactly who had coconut sugar or special spices to borrow from in our former neighborhood.  If a neighbor needed a babysitter, we were always there to help them.  The Early Wyne Ladies gathered every month for Bunco, baby and wedding showers, cooked for sick neighbors, and took care of each other’s neighbors and pets while we would step away on vacations or trips.  We miss the annual Kentucky Derby parties, Halloween Parties at Kim & Jim’s, Christmas Parties at Amy & Paul’s and New Year’s at whomever was bold enough to volunteer.  We’ve even hosted a few.  We miss the neighborhood community we had.  We knew we could depend on each other without worry.  

  • Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker – It might sound like a fairy tale we lived in however, this part was important to us.  We got our meats and groceries from our small Kentucky town Country Mart, our pastries and baked goods from The Tea Cup and whatever handcrafts, I bought from locals I knew.  We don’t have that anymore.  I miss it.  But it won’t keep us from not finding the best in the places we visit.  We make talk with the locals wherever we go to find their recommendations. We enjoy visiting Farmer’s Markets everywhere to compensate.  
    Dave & I chatting at our favorite bakery
    the Tea Cup in Taylorsville, Kentucky

  • Girlfriend Dates and Outings – nothing like all my peeps packing into our former home in funny themed pajamas to scrapbook until 4 am, lunch dates at the local cafes, and ‘playing the ponies’ at Churchill Downs with ‘da girls’ at Kentucky Derby time.  But on a good note, I’ve met some fabulous lady friends whom I’ve gotten to know to do ‘girlfriend things’ with on the road.  Some of us have grown extremely close because of what we have in common.   

  • Doctor, Dentist & Chiropractor – They knew us and our health like their own familys’.  They knew our stories and personals.  The knew how to treat without having to go through continuous comprehensive exams every visit.  Our military medical care is perhaps, one of our biggest challenges on the road, but we make it work.  We have to.
  • Our Nomad Cats’ Veterinarian – As with our own Doctor, our fuzzyheads miss Dr. Shelley and the staff at Elk Creek Animal Hospital.  They know them well and have been their patients since they were frisky kittens.  Doc Shelley diagnosed Kandi’s Feline Hyperesthesia and understands her need for separate visits to get her immunizations because of her allergic reactions if taken all together.  He also knows that Krissie is a Prima Donna, loves to be held by him but hates opening her mouth for him.  On a good note, each year we return to Kentucky to get their well-kitty checks and to play with the staff.  

  • Home for the Holidays – Most look at this as a heartbreaker but we make the best of it. I can honestly say, ‘we’re used to it’ because of our former military lifestyle being stationed away from our families. We love the holidays and we love our families.  But because of where they weather, location and time of year, travel is most times difficult, especially when we are parked a couple thousand miles away.  We try to situate ourselves where we may meet with other RVers in the same situation or choose a location near(er) to other family or friends.  Its hard to be alone but really, we’re not.  
    Our ‘RV Family’ OwnLessDoMore‘s Emily & Tim and son, Dane
    joined us for Christmas dinner at Wine Ridge RV Resort
    in Pahrump, NV

So, this is the story many don’t read, hear or “cautioned”; what most full-time RVers won’t talk about.  Its things we need to learn and experience on our own.  Even the coolness of our travels has it’s challenges, but we have two choices.  We can quit and go backwards or we can stand tall, suck in our guts and point our hearts to true north and enjoy the opportunities God has provided us with.

Our First Quartzsite Experience

In January of 2017, we boondocked in Quartzsite, Arizona with the Escapees Xscapers. Sadly, the weather was just plain snotty, cold, windy and rainy.  It reminded us of pre-winter days in New England.  Supposedly, we’ve heard that sort of weather is not typical that time of the year, but I digress.

So, what actually IS and WHERE is this place called “Quartzsite”?

Quartzsite is the Rock Capital of the World but to us RVers, its the Mecca west of the Mississippi where RVers make at least a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to. Quartzsite is located about 18 miles east of the Colorado River at the junction of US 95 and I 10 in southern Arizona.  

For the first two months of each year, this town blows up with popularity. Its famous Rock/Gem Show and Swap Meet as well as the RV Show are the town’s claim to fame. Its notoriety has grown to epic proportions as does its population from 4000+ residents to an estimated million visitors… (I’m just quoting what we’ve heard from area residents). It has become known for the largest gathering of RV’s in the whole world. We equate this to a bike week for motorcycles but for longer and with more people.

Now, if you happened upon Quartzsite during these two months, you’d see hundreds…no…thousands…no…make that tens of thousands of every possible kind of camper and RV known peppering the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) desert land ‘boondocking’ everywhere.  

You’d think we (RVers) had lost our marbles because, why would anyone buy a hundred(s) thousand dollar home-on-wheels with all the amenities to go live it up in the dry dirty desert?  Well, that question remains; we all do it for different reasons.  

 Quartzsite is an annual meeting place for some and a pilgrimage for others.  Some do it to get away from the daily grind to party it up while other more adventurous crowd goes hiking, dirt biking, or ATV riding. The usuals though, go rock shopping, RV shopping, and converge with big groups, etc.  

One thing we’ve learned; there is no right or wrong at the Q.

Captain America pulling our Landmark Liberty
 to our boondocking site near Dome Rock at the Q

Okay then, what IS ‘boondocking’?  

Also known as dispersed camping, dry camping or living off the grid, its when people, who live in homes on wheels or fabric houses go out and park in the middle of nowhere to live with limited or no amenities or hookups. That whole ‘let freedom ring’ thing. And, because its on BLM land, we really do it for free (up to 14 days per BLM).  There are no campground or utility fees unless you opt for one of the local campgrounds or RV parks.  

For us, our first Quartzsite experience was actually the perfect time to get away from the television because of the upcoming Presidential Innauguration. We had talked about trying this whole boondocking thing before and what better time than to start where there are amenities should we fail miserably at it.

So, being this was our first ‘long term’ boondocking adventure (more than 2 days at a time), this was a genuine learning experience.  

Owning our Landmark 365 fifth wheel with a residential refrigerator, convection oven, induction cooktop, keurig coffee maker, and other electricity suckers surely presented some huge power challenges. With a little ingenuity, patience and nerve, we got ourselves through.  

We called our friends…

A couple days after our arrival, we contacted our Heartland RV friends, Emily and Tim of OwnLessDoMore, who weren’t very far away and asked them to join us. They too, were new boondockers, so we did this whole experimentation gig together. Tim and Captain Dan worked on figuring out our dry-camping electrical power while Emily and I either relaxed, blogged or attended an Xscaper member-presentation or two…or bitched about having no electrical power.

Oh, about that ‘electrical power’…

Our coach was equipped with a 1000 watt inverter (because we have a residential refrigerator). Our battery bank lasted only about six hours which meant we needed to run our generator a few times a day to charge two batteries to keep running off that inverter. As we’ve shared in a previous blog posting, our Wen Generators have been our saving grace to allow us to boondock and going off the grid. 

But we also had to run the generator at meal times because, like I mentioned above, our coach is ‘all electric’ (convection oven and induction cooktop). We had to monitor our electric usage and not have it running all day or night. 

We also needed to run one of the generators during the night to supply power to a CPAP machine that requires humidification for one of us so that presented a whole other added issue.  

Since, Dan installed a 12volt DC outlet close to the bed so we could plug in the CPAP to feed off of the battery bank so we don’t have to run a genny during sleeping hours. 

Sounds simple, right?

To do that though, meant we had to beef up our battery bank from two 12volt house batteries to four 6volt house batteries when we got back to Texas in the next months.  We figured approximate cost for that mod would amount to a cool grand ($1000). We estimated that would enable us to run on battery power from 18-24 hours barring use of the convection oven, induction cooktop, and both AC’s. (Note: at the time of writing this, we don’t have solid data yet).

Though we enjoy owning a full electric coach, our issue of cooking while not tethered to an electrical source meant we needed to fire up at least one of the generators just to boil water.  Seriously???

So, anytime I needed to use any appliance that produced heat or excessive power draw (i.e. Keurig, induction cooktop, convection oven, etc.), both generators needed to be paralleled to power the higher wattage appliances. *sigh*  

Sooooooo, that beautiful and super-convenient Keurig coffee maker I loved so much became a huge inconvenient pain in the behind! In fact, as I have learned, Keurigs are the worst energy hogs!  Additionally, anything that has a heating element of some sort replicates.

So, we had to look at plan B; pre-making our coffee when both generators were on and storing the hot coffee in our thermos.

Well, Plan B didn’t work as well as we wished as the coffee in the thermos didn’t really keep them hot-hot until the following morning (24 hours).  So we moved onto Plan C; a French Coffee Press that Emily lent us.  Well, that made the most awesome coffee but it sure took a ton of water to clean, which then, we entered into a whole other issue; water conservation!

So, those are just a few things we learned on how to survive out there in the Arizona desert in our ‘all electric luxury’ 5th wheel. 

Now, about this whole DESERT living… 

The desert around Quartzsite is not the pictoral desert of beautiful, rolling hills of sand dunes you’ve seen in magazines.  The Arizona Desert is actually craggy and rocky with small mountains and ridges with tons of washes where torrential rain water collects in rocky trenches. What may look flat from a distance is actually deep trenches and troughs. Oh, and when it rains, you best not be anywhere near them as they flood quickly which is one of the reasons why ‘we’ parked up on high ground.

There are Saguaros Cactus, Chollas, Prickly Pear Cactus and Barrel Cactus along with small Mesquites and Junipers peppering the landscape.  Its scruffy and quite ugly actually which leads to the question ‘why would anyone really want to go there?’ 

Well, as they say, ‘when in Rome, do as Romans do’ and we did just that. We, as RVers, went to Quartzsite because it was just the thing RVers do…at least once.

On a good note, despite the cold, wet and windy weather we experienced, Quartzsite boasts awesome scrappy terrain full of single track and double track trails; the perfect playground for Jeeps, dirt bikes, ATVs & RZRs. Being ADV riders, we took full advantage and rode through the washes and trails; as solos or with other fellow adventure riding Xscapers. 

Lisa being her rebel self
Captain Dan at the base of Dome Rock
Our Xscaper ADVer group is ready to roll

So, there you have it.  Now you know what Quartzsite or ‘the Q’ is all about and our ‘First Quartzsite Experience’. We learned a lot. We failed at some and succeeded at others but we came out alive knowing what we need to do to prepare ourselves for next year.