Ten Years and Counting!

By my number (which could be off….!) this is my 384th post on this blog. The first entry was posted before Bob and I even hit the road, shedding our sticks-and-bricks house for our home on wheels back in May of 2009.

Counting on my fingers, that means this is our tenth summer as full-time RVers.

We’ve experienced a lot, including watching the world of RVing change right before our eyes.

Back in that first leg of our journey, on our way from the Great Lakes to South Dakota to establish our residency, I published a post about a stay in Illinois, writing, “…this is what full-timing is all about, after all: deciding to ‘stay awhile’ anywhere we like because there’s more we’d like to experience.'”

Maybe because it was 2009 and so many people were still reeling from the housing implosion and recession, but we had no problem getting places to stay and there were few enough RVs on the road we nearly waved at everyone we passed.

Hard to imagine today, huh?

But when we stopped at Glacier National Park that August, we were floored by the number of people swarming the trails, crowding the visitors’ center, and generally taking up all the parking spots. With construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, traffic was a nightmare.

In that first year, I was amazed to meet people who returned annually to the same spots. With so much of the country to see, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to beat a path to any one place (or maybe two).

Now I understand.

Let me see if I can explain.

At least in our case, we found the increasing crowds and noise a turnoff. While many full-time RVers opt to spend as much time “off the grid,” boondocking away from most people, we like our amenities, appreciate the organic milk and produce found in larger groceries, and yet still want to be able to get outdoors to enjoy nature.

Before we started RVing, we spent most of our vacation time out East, so we were glad to have more time exploring the far end of the continent when we became full-time RVers. We’ve liked it so well we’ve only been back East twice, and both times we made sure we got out to the Outer Banks, our favorite spot on that side of the Mississippi.

We found ourselves making a general loop around the western states — spending the winter in the desert Southwest and the summers tromping around the mountains, or watching seals along the Pacific coast…

…and we’re still making that loop. But we’re always adjusting things. This past summer we stayed in the Hell’s Canyon area (on the Oregon side) in the spring rather than late summer, which meant we were there when wildflowers were still in bloom…

…and snow still capped the higher peaks:

It seems that every time we re-visit an area, we see more or we see it differently because of the timing of our visit. We’ve become such familiar faces in some places that we’re greeted like old friends when we return: “How’ve you been? Where have you been traveling? How long are you back for this time?”

And it’s always fun to realize we’re spending a birthday someplace we hadn’t been before. Of his last ten birthdays, Bob has spent his in eight different states; I’ve spent them in six different states, including Alaska. One year, I had some amazing Huckleberry Cake in Montana.

Yep, there’s a lot to appreciate about the full-time lifestyle. But would we recommend it to those of you considering ditching your sticks-and-bricks houses to venture out on the road?

More on that next time!

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Posted in Animals, Attractions, Cool Experience, Flowers, Food, RV Parks & Lifestyle | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Exploring Story Molecules

Maybe you’ve noticed the posts here have been fewer and farther between. But that’s not because we haven’t been out there on the road, having adventures. It just means I’ve been doing more work on other things than attending to this blog.

Since last fall, we’ve gone through some heart-stopping, scary, and frustrating experiences (including one near-death experience and having an RV moved, which turned out to be almost the same thing…).

I’ll even write about some of those… if I get over the trauma enough. The good news is we’re both fine, no real harm done, but that doesn’t mean it was any fun to get through.

So if I can’t get things posted here, why not write a guest blog? I have Deb Sanders to thank for her invitation to share some thoughts on her blog! It gave me a chance to reveal how story molecules bombard us, sometimes forming into full stories.

You can read my post here.

Deb herself is great at this. A fellow RVing author, she pens mysteries and romances. So if you haven’t discovered her books yet, a visit to her site is worth the time.

If you’re interested in reading fiction by other RVing authors, you’ll want to check out my series of interviews, all posted on my companion ellenbooks site.

(See? I have been busy. Just not here.)

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What You See Is What You Get

Clearly this blog is lagging pretty far behind where we are today, leaving a lot of time and miles in-between. To bridge that, I thought I’d share some glimpses into travel on the road. It’s easy to get wrapped up in destinations — where we stayed, what we saw, the restaurants we visited — while ignoring the one of the main reasons we travel via RV: to see the country (the number one reason is to avoid snow and freezing weather).

But it’s amazing what you see when you just look out the window, even on a rainy day:

Back in mid-September of 2017 we drove from Medora, ND, south to just outside Rapid City, SD. It’s not a long drive, but I managed to snap a hundred photos out the windows of the Winnebago in those few hours we were on the road…

…like this sign, which suggests what we’ve discovered are the priorities for too many fellow RVers:

It’s always fun to see things on poles, right? Continue reading

Posted in Animals, Cool Experience, On the Road | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

On the Ridgeline

The summer of 2017 went down as another year when we seemed to be dodging Western wildfires. In September we drove east from Joseph, Oregon, through Idaho and across Montana, boondocking a few times along the way, to get to Medora, North Dakota, at the edge of the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We’d lost the wildfire smoke about fifty miles west of Medora, but by our fourth day there, the smoke was already closing in.

We took a day off hiking to drive to Dickinson to pick up groceries and poke around, but by the time we headed back, the sun was shrouded in smoke.

We don’t like smoke. Smoke screws up an otherwise nice photo. Most of all we hate what smoke does to our lungs, throat, eyes… But we were also determined to do all the hiking we could.

Continue reading

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Wind Canyon

Once upon a time, if someone had said “canyon” and “North Dakota” in the same sentence, I would have told them they were nuts. Everybody knows North Dakota is a vast stretch of flat prairie.

Oops. Everybody knows that — except North Dakotans and smart people.

This past September we spent a week exploring the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, North Dakota. Because I was able to hike on this visit, we walked everywhere we could.

The trail wound along the high edge of the Little Missouri River…

…leading to gorgeous views of the river: Continue reading

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Veins of Coal

Back in September of 2017, we made our second visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in South Dakota — this time to hike (since I couldn’t manage that in 2016). And what a great place to hike!

After the three-mile Petrified Forest trek we opted for something shorter and at least as interesting — the Coal Vein Trail, just shy of a mile and stunning.

Continue reading

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Petrified!

Back in 2016 we visited the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota for the first time. We wanted to hike a few of the many trails, but I’d fallen coming out of the RV and twisted my ankle pretty badly, so hiking was out of the question.

So in September 2017, chased out of the Hell’s Canyon area by increasing wildfire smoke, we drove back to North Dakota. This time, we were determined to hike.

The Petrified Forest Trail had haunted me the most over the previous year, so we hit that one first. It wound up…

Continue reading

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Dragons — in Oregon!?!?

Some RVers are destination travelers: they know where they want to go, what they want to see. Some jackrabbit from one attraction to another — they want to visit all the oddball tourist attractions or follow their favorite sports team around the country, see national parks or local museums. Others are working, plying a trade, so they move from on job building roads or buildings or pipelines to another.

There’s a middle ground, where an RVer hears about something like the eclipse, then plan a travel route to be in the path of it, or maybe be in Pendleton, Oregon, when the big roundup is going on.

Some of us have favorite spots we’ve found in our journeys and we enjoy returning to them, and if something neat happens while we’re there, well, then… how cool is that?

That happened to us this past August, while we were in Joseph, Oregon. I saw something in the local newspaper about “Dragon Races” and, as it turned out, one of the managers or the RV park where we were staying was on the local racing team. We had to go! Continue reading

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Pea Body Review

Many thanks to Denise Fleischer for her review of Pea Body at her GottaWriteNetwork blog! You can read it here.

More info on Ellen’s novels and short story collection is at ellenbooks.com — where she’s been doing a series of interviews with other RVing novelists.

Back here soon with some final notes on Bob and Ellen’s Great RV Adventure for 2017 (yep… late as usual!)….

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Our Annual BEST EATS Awards — 2017!

Every year about this time we give a shout-out to the best restaurant experiences we’ve had. Bob’s such an awesome cook (see our Best Of the Best post if you want to make yourself REALLY hungry) we’re spoiled, which means if something makes our BEST list, it’s pretty darned good.

We posted our first BEST list back in 2011 (!) and over the years, the list got pretty long, some of the restaurants went out of business and the quality in others dropped…. We haven’t been back to many of the places where a specific meal or menu item caught our palate, so the BEST list now focuses on places we’ve visited over the last year or two.

Let us know if you’ve been to any of these places or add your own BEST EATS to the comments so everyone can check them out! Continue reading

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