The Bike Rack Saga

I have held off writing about this because I wanted to see how it all turned out, but now I think we are at the end and great news have a solution so let me go back and walk you through this. It is a story about how a relatively simple thing got complicated because we were moving from place to place and since this happens more often than we would like I wanted to share it with you. Plus it details the solution we found for storing our eBikes.

If you remember back in July we made the decision to buy Lectric Bikes and part of that decision was based on the idea that we would be able to store them folded in the bed of the truck, at the rear, so they were always available when we were driving around, and of course they would also be there when we were towing the 5th wheel. However, once we got them and added baskets and a few other things, they were taller than the bed rails, which meant we couldn’t use our new tonneau cover, and it would also mean lifting the king pin pretty higher to get over them, and then lower it to go into the hitch, which is risky and problematic. So Lee decided that he would put them on a hitch mount bike rack on the back of our RV but after he bought one for $120 (we later sold it for half that) he realized that it was not strong enough and there was no good place to attach it.

Most fifth wheels made today have bumpers for a carrying rack, but ours did not so Lee set his mind to solving that puzzle. Eventually he decided to buy a steel bumper cut to spec ($125) and pay a local welder to come out and weld it on. When we were in Cathedral Gorge, he was able to find a steel supplier in St. George, a two hour drive each away to get the bumper. Another drive to St. George to pick up the carrier rack that cost $500. Finding a welder turned out to be much harder than expected. He talked to numerous people (including park rangers) and finally right before our two weeks at the park ran out he got a guy to come out and do it. He was so relieved to have it done that he didn’t really look closely at the work, but this is what he ended up with for one hours work and $385.

This thin metal bars holding the bumper were simply not sturdy enough

Looks pretty solid right? Well unfortunately after the guy left and Lee put on the bike rack, not so much. You could shake the rack with your hand and there was about 6″ of deflection with no weight on it. The support bars were welded to a crosspiece that held the receiver, instead of the frame, so there was no rigidity to it at all. Add that to the fact that the support bars were mounted in the wrong orientation, so there was no strength in them. And the carrier is 2′, plus the 1′ of the support bars meant all the weight, over 200lbs of it, would be hanging out 2-3′ from a substandard weld. The entire setup was unsettling and definitely not what Lee had in mind. He called the guy back and told him we were going to a neighboring state park and received a commitment that he would visit us at some point to redo it. After 10 days he had cancelled and blown us off, and we were left with a rack that he couldn’t trust to put the bikes on. Lee has explored getting his money back through Venmo but frankly that is a longshot and will probably never happen.

While we were in Echo Canyon Lee tried to get a second welder to come, but again no luck there. Meanwhile he was also working on a solution for how to actually secure the bikes to the carrier. Since he couldn’t initially find anything online (Lectric bikes have wider tires than a standard bike so all of the easily available solutions wouldn’t fit) he contacted a fabricator and after a few phone calls back and forth and some discussion they worked out that he could get them made. On the day he was supposed to pick them up, the guy called to tell him the project was done, so he headed that way, he was already 1 1/2 hours into the two hour drive when the guy called him back to say a mistake had been made, that his job was NOT done. We extended our stay another 4 days to give him time to get the materials and make them, and when they were finally done, he wanted $400 for something that likely took an hour and about $75 in materials. Lee was pretty angry about that, especially considering he had wasted half a day driving there and then we extended our stay top give them time to do the job. After a few texts back and forth Lee just walked away from the deal. That’s not normally something he would do, but the guy was really taking advantage of him.

The entire time this was happening Lee was getting more upset and our remote location coupled with not knowing people in the area turned something relatively simple into a several week long irritation. Our next opportunity to get work done was in Las Vegas and we hoped that in a bigger city our experience might be different. We put the bikes inside the rig when we traveled (a huge pain in the ass) and took them out and locked them up when we got there. Lee started to lose hope after he made call after call and kept getting blown off but finally ran across a guy who had relocated from Ohio. He was an RVr, had done similar jobs in the past, and said he would come out and take a look. The only bad thing was he wasn’t available until Lee was on his trip to Columbus but I understood the problem and what we were looking for and felt confident I could handle it.

Turns out the guy was excellent and just shook his head at what the first welder had done. He described it as “substandard work that no competent welder would have done.” He also said it was clearly inadequate for the application and would a serious danger on the highway. He completely disassembled the other work and proceeded to do an excellent job explaining his method to me prior to doing the work. It took a little over four hours and he only cost $350 and was worth every penny because when the job was done I pushed down with my full weight and it didn’t budge.

I still didn’t feel 100% about the job though until Lee came home and put in the tire holders and then put the bikes on rack. Voila it worked and as happy as I am to have a solution the aggravation was extreme on this one. I have to believe something like this would have been easier if we lived in one place but then again who knows. People run into this kind of stuff everywhere when they try to color outside the lines.

My only advice to you is get all the pieces in place before you start a project like this and make 100% sure your tie down methods are solid. We stopped a couple of times on our first trip out and Lee will have to continually check as we travel. Not only are the bikes $1500 a piece but 160 pounds of bikes hitting the highway at 70mph could cause a lot of damage. Overall it’s the best solution he could come up with but its at times like these I wish we had a toy hauler or Class A 🙂

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Heart Rock, Arch Rock, Split Rock, and Skull Rock

Joshua Tree has lots of cool piles of rocks and because you don’t have to stay on trail you can pull over almost anywhere and explore them. It’s a wonderful playground for kids because there were so many places they could run around and thankfully the rattlesnakes only come out in the spring and summer here. But if random rocks aren’t your thing there are some great “named” rocks for you to see and we saw them all.

The easiest named rock is called Skull Rock and is right off the main road through the park. There is lots of parking there and almost always a crowd, but its worth a quick jump out to see it.

Split Rock is another picnic area that also has a two mile hike from the spot. Of all the hikes we did this was by far the hardest with poorly marked trails and really difficult footing in some places. I actually left the trail towards the end and went straight across to the parking lot because I was just done in. Personally not a fan of any trail where I spent more time watching my footing than looking around and that was definitely the case for me on this one.

By far my favorite hike was Arch Rock. Not only does this lead to a super cool arch it also leads to Heart Rock as well which was amazing. Deb and Steve visited there a couple of years ago and she told me about it, but then it was not on a trail and you had to find it. Thankfully when we went they extended the trail to heart rock and it was pretty easy to find because other people were standing there. The path itself is a little confusing because the parking area is on the wrong side of the road, but the trail itself was well marked and easy to walk. I loved it and it was one of my favorite hikes ever.

After seeing heart rock we wandered back towards the Arch which was a little hard to find. Listen for the voices and look for the people though and you’ll get there. I actually climbed up some pretty big rocks to get to the top and crazy Lee went all the way up above it. Very cool place and the people were super nice with everyone taking turns taking pictures of each other.

First Time at Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree has been on my list of parks to visit for a very long time, but deciding where to see it from can be a little confusing. The main part of the park isn’t really that large, but the entire span is big and there are three separate visitor centers/entrances. Ultimately we decided to stay in 29 Palms (more about that later) and we initially entered through the West Entrance Station. I was surprised that the entrances only had one paying gate, but thankfully there was a ranger who saw our National Parks pass and waved us through. It was Thanksgiving holiday week when we visited but I was a bit surprised by the traffic at the entrances.

Despite the $30 day fee (covered by our annual National Parks Pass) this park is extremely limited in the services it provides. Water is available in only a few areas in the park and there are no restaurants or Gift Shops inside. Instead the Visitors centers are located outside the park and can actually be a little hard to find. The only restrooms are vault/pit toilets and although we saw them we never saw more than one in any location. They were also universally ill cared for on all three days we visited with one (at Key View a popular spot) having a broken door that wouldn’t stay closed. Don’t get me wrong I loved the park but the bathrooms were a real issue and I truly expect more from a National Park with this many visitors.

The first day we went in we left Jack at home because we had read that none of the trails allowed dogs. As we often do when first visiting a park we drive the main roads, getting the lay of the land. One thing that is really interesting about the desert is from the road it often looks incredibly boring, but once you get out and walk a little (and there are tons of paths and trails) it’s really quite beautiful. Joshua Tree certainly did not disappoint in the beautiful surroundings category.

Joshua Tree is known for rock climbing and we saw people climbing all three days. We also did some scrambling ourselves and Jack even got into the action the second day when we came back to drive the secondary roads. Those were marked in grey and well graded but we took the rangers advice and stayed off the 4×4 roads. Those had deep sand and our truck would not have done well. If you want to bring your dog I absolutely recommend going on the secondary roads, because there are lots of quiet spaces on them where they can get out and run. As long as the dog stays within 100 feet of the road you are fine and frankly I wouldn’t wander farther than that anyway unless on a very well marked trail. It’s easy to turn a corner in the rocks and lose sight of your vehicle which is why bringing water is key even if you are going on a quick walk. There is also very little cell coverage in park and we used our map extensively.

One of the big draws of the park is the Joshua Trees but to be honest for me they weren’t as impressive as I thought they would be. They are actually two types of Giant Yucca plants named Joshua Trees by the Mormon settlers. Don’t get me wrong a few were pretty special but the rock formations were amazing! There were several campgrounds tucked into the rocks as well. The winter is their season and everything is booked well in advance but for us there were just a few sites we would have fit into anyway. Almost all the sites were for tent campers or super small truck campers and they were mainly taken by young climbers. Even if you find a site that might work remember there is no cell and the roads getting to the site itself are NOT big rig friendly. Hate to say your better off camping outside the park and to get the in the rocks experience go to City of Rocks or Goblin Valley instead.

I know its incredibly awesome but the site parking is only for cars…and smaller ones at that.

Overall the weather was fantastic and only got hot when we went out on a couple of hikes (more on them in the next post). We ended up driving all of the accessible roads, many are dead ends but totally worth going down and back. The views are very different depending on which way you are traveling on the same road so its worth going on everything twice! Key View is definitely an area you don’t want to skip because it gives you views of the valley and the mountains off in the distance.

We even went all the way down to Cottonwood Visitor Center which was a bit of a bust (they were only taking cash and we didn’t have any) and then we drove around the park and back to 29 Palms. This was a long and sometimes boring drive but we always like to see all areas of a park accessible by car. Shortly after leaving the south entrance we also got to see the large BLM boondocking area which is between Joshua Tree and Highway 10. This is a large and well maintained area and we saw lots of people staying there. Best of all there were two bars of ATT so its definitely a place we could stay if we ever came back again. Lots of huge spots available.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Eating Our Way Through Las Vegas

My main reason for coming to Las Vegas was so I could meet my Mom. She has a time share in Las Vegas and it was a good place for us to meet up. Lee wanted to fly back and see his Mom (and get his annual physical) and Las Vegas is a great place to fly out of. So Lee left and Mom flew in so it was nice that we had some one on one time.

I should start by saying my Mom is 75 but she is in great shape. She wanted to walk the strip and see all the changes to the casinos and over the next few days we did exactly that. We went 5 miles one day and 6 miles the next and I have to admit I was pretty pooped out. Still it was nice to see all the changes and since we picked a great restaurant everyday, walking helped keep the pounds off. Here are some pictures.

I had a list of restaurants I wanted to try, but since I was trying to be reasonable about costs we chose places that had a lunch menu. This helped keep costs down and since we shared our choices we got to try some pretty cool things. Most of the meals were really great although a couple were disappointing. First we ate at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant and we shared a fixed price meal with French Onion Soup, Beef Wellington, and yummy desert. The ambiance was great and the service was also really good.

Another day we ate at Border Grill and that was probably the most disappointing meal. My quesadilla was so soggy I couldn’t eat it but they did take it off my bill. I was super disappointed because this restaurant had been on my list for awhile but I wouldn’t go back. I did get to go to Lush in Mandalay Bay though and buy some face cream which was nice.

While we were walking around we also did tons of window shopping and I was on the lookout for a new pair of sunglasses. I looked at pairs as much as $300 but eventually settled on a $40 pair from a little kiosk. It’s all about the fit for me and since I have a small face large sunglasses just look goofy. It was fun having something to look for though and it gave us an excuse to go into a lot of shops. I would have to say the Caesar Forum shops are my personal favorite.

On Mom’s birthday we had a really special day. I bought us pedicures at the Venetian Canyon Spa (which included access to their VERY nice spa area for the day) and we had lunch at Emeril’s Delmonico Steakhouse. The Emeril meal was one of the top 5 meals I have had in my life and very reasonably priced at $50 for a three course lunch. The service was also outstanding and the popover rolls were to die for. Seriously if you can afford one meal in Vegas I recommend this restaurant highly.

Another day we ate at Yardbird which was also very good and then had a buffet at MGM. I have to say of all our meals the buffet was the worst and I would not recommend it. Rather I would eat in the Italian Market at Park MGM which looked absolutely delicious. Park MGM is also non smoking which is a rare find on the Las Vegas strip.

Our last meal of the week was our one and only evening meal. We both wanted to try Martha Stewarts new restaurant and although the decor was awesome (based on her farmhouse) the food was incredibly pricey and not that great. The only exception was the bread basket we paid $14 that was worth every penny. Personally I wouldn’t come back.

The bread basket was a work of art and delicious

As of this writing Mom is home and Lee is back so we are headed to Joshua Tree. I am “citied” out and glad to be back in a more remote area plus a new National Park for us to explore.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Eighth Year – The Emotional Arc

As amazing as this year has been from a “seeing new things” perspective, there has been an emotional impact on our family. I am going to be really honest in this post, because I think family relationships are something most people in this lifestyle don’t talk about much, and I would just ask that in return for that honesty you try to judge me as little as possible. Trust me, I am already judging myself, and I really don’t need anyone else piling on.

After spending so much time in the past two years traveling from one kid to another we were at a crossroads. Should we head back out west and see our kids and grandkids less, or should we forgo the west and continue with the loop. Lee and I had multiple conversations about how we could find more balance in our lives, and then we had a couple of family incidents that helped make things clearer.

I should start by saying that during that time we were pretty disappointed with some of our visits to family members. We understand that folks have lives to live and our coming into town shouldn’t completely upend those lives, but we also found ourselves being really hurt by how little people seemed to want to go out of their way to spend time with us. In order to make it easier on people we tried to extend our stays to a month at a time, so folks didn’t have to cram our visits in, but oddly this made it worse. Having your parents as “guests” can put pressure on people, I get that, but we hoped by being as flexible as possible we could mitigate that. Unfortunately we found that these visits were unsatisfying for both us and our kids and put strain on the relationships.

In all fairness those relationships were already strained as the last eight years had taken their toll. At first our kids were very supportive of the fulltime lifestyle, but as time dragged on I think they are somewhat over it. It’s tough not to have a home base where kids can gather and holidays can be celebrated and we were definitely not able to provide the grandchild assistance that many adult children can count on. We tried as much as possible to be available remotely, but physical separation can have an impact on any relationship and ours were no different.

To be clear I don’t think these relationships were perfect to begin with when we went on the road, but the problems that existed before were exacerbated by the separation. They haven’t come right out and said it, but I imagine our lifestyle can look selfish from the outside and breezing into town occasionally and expecting them to drop everything didn’t help. The problem was we could see what the alternative looked like and it wasn’t great. If all three kids lived in the same place it might have been a harder decision, but they live in three separate states and none of those states are places we want to permanently settle. Trust me, we talked about it, a LOT.

So we settled on a compromise where we spent time with each kid in succession, but as I stated earlier that left everyone unsatisfied. And what no one seemed to realize was it actually cost us quite a bit to do that. We love the west and there were so many places we hadn’t explored yet that spending time on the east coast involved some sacrifice on our part. When that sacrifice wasn’t even acknowledged things hit a breaking point and there was a pretty big family fight. I raised my girls to stand up for themselves and have each others back but what I didn’t expect was that they would point that solidarity against us. The end result was incredibly painful for all of us and resulted in some major family rifts that may never be completely mended.

I didn’t write about this as it was happening, heck I could barely talk about it, but as I look back over this year it has to be colored by what was happening within our larger family unit. If you would have asked me eight years ago I would have said my family always comes first no matter what, but my answer now would be a little different. Lee’s heart attack, the places we have seen, and just getting older have changed my perspective. We got married very young (21 and 23), had three kids right away, and spent over 25 years doing the best we could to raise a family. Objectively we certainly could have done a better job, but we also could have done much worse, and the bulk of our lifetime has been focused on other people. This may be a natural transition which might have happened if we would have stayed in one place, I’ll never know, but this lifestyle has opened us up to so many things and changes in us personally that our priorities have shifted.

My goals when we started were to strengthen my marriage and find a place we could eventually settle permanently. Our marriage has certainly been tested in the last several years but for better or worse we are closer than we have ever been. Living in 400 square feet will do that to you! We still haven’t found our place, but we do know clearly what we don’t want, which I suppose is some progress. What I didn’t expect was the richness of the life itself and the impact it has had on my own personal growth.

To some this all probably sounds pretty selfish and honestly maybe it is. All I can say is it seems like the time for some selfishness. The trick will be as always finding the balance. Lee and I can only trust ourselves and each other to figure out what that looks like for us. And we can only hope our children will ultimately forgive us for taking this time for ourselves. As we have learned over the last year other people have choices, but so do we. To sum it up we have the right to live our lives. That’s what everyone else is doing, after all.

It seems kind of weird after all that to end on pictures of who we met over the last year, but I always end the emotional arc posts that way, and want to be consistent. I am also going to add some pictures of just us.

Taking Oliver for his first pony ride
Seeing Gene and Eileen in Venice Florida when I flew down to visit my mom
Having lunch with my Mom, Uncle Don and Aunt Susie in Venice, FL
From Left: Kelly, Bill, Dave, Sharon, Greg, and Cori at the Center for Mental Wellness in Texas
Yellowstone
Seeing Casey and Julie
Deb, Steve, Lee, and I at Cathedral Gorge

Hanging out with Mom for her 75th birthday in Las Vegas and a fabulous birthday lunch at Emeril’s Delmonico Steakhouse!!!!

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Eight Year – By The Numbers

Wow, just wow, we have completed our eighth year of full-timing. It honestly does not feel that long, possibly because the lifestyle year to year has changed so much. This year we made the somewhat difficult decision to head back west (our family is all east of the Mississippi) because there were so many things we wanted to see. Lee’s heart attack, plus the last two years of COVID and family obligations has put us in a bit of a traveling loop, but we intentionally charted a path that would take us to places we haven’t seen before.

We started in Charleston (Christmas with our grandson) and then moved on to Geneva, AL and Biloxi, Mississippi to finally get those state stickers. We spent some time in Texas with our friends Cori, Greg, Bill, and Kelly and then moved on to Houston and Fort Worth, TX and Hot Springs Arkansas. Hot Springs was great because we got that state sticker as well and checked another National Park off our list. Lee also was able to get some information about his maternal great great grandfather’s life and death from the US Marshal’s museum. Then it was on to Yellowstone for a glorious summer and finally Salt Lake City and then down to Las Vegas. Along with getting three state stickers we checked several National Parks and Presidential Libraries off our list this year!

We ended up with 179,420 miles on the truck for a yearly total of 20,850 miles. Interestingly enough this was only 3,000 more miles than we traveled last year but we covered so much more territory. We are lucky that my job remained in place which gave us the funds to travel at this pace, because gas prices were at record highs (for our full timing years) and the costs would have forced us to travel less if we didn’t have the steady income.

Major Home and Truck Repairs, Modifications, Upgrades and Improvements

We also took advantage of that corporate money to complete some improvements and I have listed those below.

February – We finally broke down and bought a residential, or Electric Refrigerator which has changed our lives in a VERY positive way. All in it cost roughly $3K (and further expenses down the road for boondocking with it), but overall I am very happy we made the change. (And a massive shoutout to Greg and Bill and David for helping us get it into the rig!!!)

March – Lee replaced the ceiling fan and made other mods which totaled around $2200.

June – Lee and I bought new lenses for our cameras taking advantage of the discount he received from his summer job working at a camera store. These three lenses costs $2400, but if you have seen our Yellowstone pictures you probably agree with us they were worth it.

August – We bought Lectric bikes and tons of accessories. There are pros and cons to this purchase, but I will say they were cheaper than buying a second car, although the jury is out on if we will get enough use out of them to make the $3K purchase worth it.

October – We bought a Honda gas generator to help supplement our solar panels and support our new electric fridge for $1100. We have been talking about getting one of these for years, but the electric fridge really forced the issue and it was either the generator, more solar panels, or new batteries. Although the generator is loud and a little smelly it is relatively cost effective and enabled us to boondock while I was working.

November – Lee bought a $400 heavy duty bike rack for the back of the RV and paid $130 for a piece of steel to mount it to. That would have been fine but the welder we paid $350 to did a poor job and now we are paying a second welder to come out and fix his mistakes. This is all around having a safe place to put the ebikes so add that cost to the total.

Tire Replacement Analysis

Once again we bought truck tires for roughly $2K in November and since I brought it up I want to talk about tires a bit. One of the costs of this lifestyle that I didn’t really account for was how frequently we would have to replace tires. And we aren’t replacing them early either. We wait until the treads are very low and we even get a couple of cracks before replacing them and I am always surprised by how frequently that occurs. We never buy foreign tires either after having a couple of serious blowouts in the first year with the cheap imports version that came with the rig. Instead we buy Michelin brand and try to get them at Costco when we can, although that isn’t always possible.

I went back and looked at the blog to try and see how often we had gotten new tires and found the following. While I was in the middle of that Lee said he had a spreadsheet (Yay Lee!) so I am providing both the spreadsheet summary and the individual tire related posts.

June 17, 2015 – We got our first flat tire hitting a curb, and the experience of getting someone to come out and fix it was pretty unpleasant. It took a long time, and was very expensive. That’s when we realized that not just anyone could fix a flat on an RV or a dually…special equipment and expertise was required. We were so new and naive, lol. We bought a Rapid Jack (which later we learned didn’t work very well at all) and thought we were all set. We also purchased two front truck tires and got an alignment this month. All in spending over $900.

August 28, 2015 – Our second RV flat tire was in the middle of nowhere Montana. I am serious about that. A passing train actually stopped and asked us if we were OK. Yes, I did mean choo choo train; a freight train stopped, and the two engineers climbed down and walked across a field to us to check on us. Again, getting service was a painful experience and it was at this point we decided to replace our foreign E-rated RV tires with American G-Rated ones. That replacement cost an additional $1659, but we never went back to cheaper tires after those two experiences.

April 25, 2016 – When we were preparing to go to Alaska we checked our four rear truck tires and realized they would need replacement while we were in Alaska. Based on Bill’s recommendation we went ahead and got them changed before driving up at Costco and had a good experience there. The cost was $988.

January 7, 2017 We took the truck in for service and needed two front tires and an alignment. This was super frustrating because it was the third time in a few years, but as much as we were traveling we needed to have good tires and alignment. The cost this time in Texas was $492 so at least it was cheaper.

May 19, 2019 – We were at a truck stop with a tire place and Lee stepped in and got sold on replacing our tires as we waited. We chose convenience over quality and WOW did that not turn out well for us. We bought cheap imports tires for $1500 and what a huge mistake that was. First they installed our tire pressure sensors wrong and we ended up getting a flat tire 20 minutes down the road from where the tires were installed. It didn’t help that is was raining heavily when all this happened so we were on the side of a busy highway for a couple of hours waiting for them to come and fix their mistake. Then we got to the RV park we had another flat tire and we ended up going to Les Schwab who finally fixed the problem. (What really sucked was we had to replaced them a little over a year later. NEVER again with the cheap tires.)

September 14, 2020 – We had a blowout with one of the cheap tires from May 2019 on the RV and the TPMS didn’t even go off. It’s worth mentioning that we have NEVER had a blow out with American made tires, another reason to stick with them. Any time you are stuck on the side of the road waiting for a repair truck is not fun and we have almost always been in very inconvenient places when this sort of thing has happened.

September 23, 2020 – Lee made arrangements for us to upgrade to H rated tires on our way out of Columbus but when we arrived at the tire place they said we had the wrong lug nuts for the new tires and rims they ordered for us. It was going to cost an additional $500 for the new lug nuts alone so after some conversation we decided to walk away from the deal. At this point we were feeling VERY screwed by tire places and had had enough.

September 30, 2020 – We found a place to replace our G rated tires and it was $2200 but at least we finally were back on American tires. The entire experience was incredibly stressful and just goes to show that with a home on wheels tires are not something to take lightly.

November 2021 – Lee replaced all 6 truck tires in Las Vegas and although the $2K price tag was not great the service was excellent.

(Hey all, this is Lee. I’m going to add a thought here, because this topic comes up a lot in the full timing community. Tires are important and expensive, so people talk about them all the time. The phrase used more often than any other is “China Bombs” because ostensibly they are made in China and they explode all the time. It’s racist and flat out wrong. It’s not that they’re made in China, it’s that they’re junk. Doesn’t matter where they’re made, junk is junk. I’ve never heard anyone call an American tire that blows out an America Bomb. That’s what makes it racist. Another thing people need to remember is that this is their own fault. We all know that manufacturers make rigs as cheaply as they possibly can, and when people take delivery of these things, they know the tires are garbage, but don’t replace them. They wait until one blows, and then blame the tire. Even brand new American cars come with garbage tires on them. We just ordered a brand new 2023 F-350 and I know for a fact that when we pick it up I will need to replace the tires immediately, or TAKE THE RISK. So the next time you hear someone talk about their China Bombs, ask them why they kept them in the first place. – Lee)

Top 10 Things We Did (In no particular order)

I could fill up this list just with Yellowstone adventures, but I am going to try and spread it out a little bit. It’s nice to have a year where it is hard to make this list instead of a struggle to find ten things which the last couple of years have been more like. Don’t get me wrong we always have good years but this one was really amazing. Think about it this way: seeing Old Faithful and The Grand Prismatic didn’t even make my top 10!

Visiting three presidential libraries in succession was a real treat.

Hot Springs National Park was really cool
Yellowstone bears…never get tired of seeing them.
So many waterfalls but the Brink of the Upper Falls was truly spectacular and probably my ultimate favorite
Meeting a cast member from the show Yellowstone, in Yellowstone park, right after seeing a grizzly bear. Pretty special!
Finally made it to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and also got to see Julie and Casey!
The Tetons were like being in a painting
Remote camping and beautiful fall foliage in Great Basin National Park
The surprising oasis in the desert of Ryan-Kershaw State Park
Exploring Cathedral Gorge with Deb and Steve

I often judge my life by the “highlight reel” at the end of the year and well, just wow. We are extremely grateful that we have been able to live this lifestyle for the last eight years. We will keep going until we find our place that we want to stop, or finances/health force us from the road. For right now we are still going strong and feel very blessed to be so!

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Country Mouse, City Mouse

Whenever we move from a remote area to a city I am always struck by how different they are. We have done it enough at this point that Lee and I know we have to brace ourselves for a shock to the system and this time was no different. It may sound a little weird but keep in mind I haven’t had McDonalds or been in a Walmart for weeks…actually I haven’t been in a chain store of any kind for weeks and now I am surrounded by all the choices. Plus of course people…so many people and their cars and it can be a bit startling.

The other thing that’s interesting is I haven’t see a person of color in weeks. Southeast rural Nevada is all white people (that I saw) so being in Las Vegas with so many types of people was interesting. Las Vegas has an Asian district, mosques, and lots of Hispanic billboards and signs. There were no Spanish language billboards in southeast Nevada, actually come to think of it there were no billboards at all! And the traffic. Well the less said about that the better, but we were used to having roads mostly to ourselves and that is definitely not the case here. Lee is not a fan.

When we come to town we either stay at the RV park at Circus Circus, which Lee prefers, or we stay at the Las Vegas RV Resort, which is pretty decent but does have a ton of rules and busy bodies, or “camp squirrels” as Lee calls them. As soon as something new shows up they have to come investigate and offer chattering opinions. I get it, with this many people crammed into a relatively small space you need rules, but it does seem a bit extreme. Poor Jack can’t run around anywhere here, although they have a very nice dog park and he does seem to enjoy hanging out with all the puppies here. Still I am sure he misses seeing the bunnies in the state park, but like any good RV dog he is pretty flexible. Probably more flexible than we are.

There have been a surprising amount of changes to Las Vegas since we were last here in 2018. The town seems to have rebounded from the COVID impact and there are even a couple of new casinos to look at. The biggest is Resort World, which had barely started construction four years ago, and now towers above the strip. We went and checked it out and it was OK but I personally prefer the themed casinos. There are also some other changes like less free attractions and having to pay for parking that I was not a fan of and of course the prices on everything are higher.

That’s one other surprise from rural to urban, the prices are not as much cheaper as they usually are. Gas is about 40 cents less a gallon which is nice, but food prices are almost as high as in rural areas. There are also help wanted signs almost everywhere (which you rarely see in rural areas), but there is also a large homeless population which again is something rarely seen in the country. And of course the sound of sirens. Not one day has gone by without hearing them, and I don’t think I heard one in the country. And airplanes, and helicopters. We definitely prefer the bugling of an elk or the snuffling of a bear.

I know I keep harping on this, but we only drove 190 miles and the differences in lifestyle are astounding. Since election day is right around the corner, I can’t help but think about how those two disparate experiences are impacting the election. Anyways, you get it, so I will just share some pictures with you. My Mom is arriving here on Weds and Lee is going back to Columbus to see his Mom and Dad on Thursday so I will have more to share later. Plus we are coming up on our eight year “road-a-versary” and I need to start working on those posts!!

Here are some pictures of some of the new things we have seen. We visited several casinos that are under new ownership. Oh and real quick before we dive into that we got 4″ of snow in the desert before we left. I have never seen hat much snow in the desert and the most interesting thing is how strong the sage smell was. It was really beautiful and Jack had fun playing in it.

A couple of things we noticed was that at night not everything was lit up on the strip. After doing some research, leaving part of the lights off is a statement about climate change by some companies. The other thing we noticed that there was some serious consolidation of ownership of casinos. This was not surprising considering the impacts of COVID. MGM resorts (runs 13 properties but the real estate is owned by VICI properties. Three Native American tribes have also entered the strip with the Palms, Hard Rock, and Virgin Hotels all being owned by three separate tribes.

Speaking of the Palms that was probably my favorite remodeled casino with a really cool vibe and the wonderful A.Y.C.E (all you can eat) buffet. We went over one night and although the price at $40 was a bit steep the food was really good. Especially desert! I rarely feel like I get my money’s worth out of a buffet but This was good enough I felt it was worth it.

I had one bite from each desert and it was yummy but I definitely over indulged!!

My other favorite remodel was The Sahara. This was really pretty although a little on the fancy side.

OYO and Westgate are also under new ownership and we went and checked those out as well. It’s easy to see which casinos they are putting money into and which they are just taking money out of and as always they have casinos that serve all different income levels.

The only new casino that has managed to open is Resort World. This HUGE complex next to Circus Circus is really nice, but I do miss new Casinos having a theme of some sort. Basically this is a fancy hotel, but we did really like the giant video ball they have in their mall. That was super cool.

The last new thing we went to see was Area 51. This area is off strip but is and area that seems to appeal to families with teenagers. It has some very cool and unique attractions but it is super pricey ($55 per attraction or packages for $139 a person). Lee and I walked through and ultimately decided nothing offered was worth the price for us. Lee even said that the place made him feel old. I had to agree.

Next up Lee is headed back to Columbus to see his parents and get his annual physical. I am staying and meeting my Mom for her 75th birthday. Plus I have finished our annual updates which should be coming soon.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

Supporting our Blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time in Spring Valley State Park

The last state park we visited in Nevada was Spring Valley State Park. This park isn’t that far from Echo Canyon and the drive is really pretty. Cell coverage is really spotty along the drive though and we were surprised to come across a couple of small communities along the way. There is also a stretch of BLM land outside the park with a BLM campground and an overflow lot where you can stay for free if you are willing to forgo cell coverage.

The park itself has a marina, two campgrounds (one for big rigs and the other for small tents and campers and a couple historic buildings and hiking trails. It also has some fabulous unique rock formations and would have been a wonderful place to spend a week or so if it had cell coverage. We visited a couple of times though on the weekend and really enjoyed it.

The historic buildings were really cool and one day we got lucky and Kyle, a friendly park ranger, allowed us to go inside one. He mentioned that he would be perfectly content living there if they would let him.

The absolute best part of the park though was the beautiful rock formations. We have seen lots in our travels but these are really special as the water carved the soft volcano tuff rocks. Absolutely fantastic!! Jack loved running around, although I definitely recommend good shoes because the trail was harder than it appeared. So worth it though.

Jack loved it

I know this park is really out of the way but if you are a fan of rocks I highly recommend it. To be honest though it has been weeks since we have been near civilization and I have to admit I miss it. Next up is Las Vegas and meeting up with my Mom for her birthday.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Echo Canyon State Park


After Steve and Deb, we decided to move out to Echo Canyon State Park. Another gem in the Nevada state Park system (seriously this is one of the nicest parks we have ever stayed at), this one has full hookups. Since we have the Nevada State Park pass it was only $10 a night and we wanted to check out this area a bit. Unfortunately they shut down water at the sites on Oct 21st due to possible freezing temps, but we came with a full tank and the bathroom water and outside spigots at the bathroom run year round. So Lee was able to use our portable bladder to refill our tank as needed without moving the rig.

Gorgeous HUGE sites that are incredibly clean and well maintained.

There are two campgrounds in the park. The lower one only has water at the sites and most of the sites had spotty internet, but on the hill I am getting 2-3 bars of AT&T. We picked a site that doesn’t have a view of the reservoir, but it is a short walk over to it and we have a nice ravine behind us. Jack’s pretty happy because there are lots of bunnies in the area although we do have to watch out for the occasional sticker bush. It is also one of the quietest parks I have ever been in with very little road noise and in the evening a stillness I really enjoy. And because we were the only people there fore most of the time, we were able to let Jack run around off leash a bit.

Aside from the reservoir the park also has a couple of hikes including the canyon hike which we did one weekend. There is a surprising amount of vegetation down near the water and we all had a great time exploring.

If you are looking for a place to just chill I highly recommend this park not only for its own sake but its proximity to Spring Valley State Park which I will cover in my next post.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Pioche, Slot Canyons, and Steve’s Birthday

We always have a great time when we are with Deb and Steve and this visit was no exception. Since they love old mining towns we took a trip to Pioche one evening and explored the old mining equipment (all over the town), a wild west era cemetery, and ate at a local bar. The cemetery in particular was very interesting because they had an entire row of graves who were people killed in gunfights or were shot for their claims. As romanticized as the west is in many movies, you forget how brutal it could be and this cemetery really showed that.

These mining carts still hanging all over town are really cool and in surprisingly good shape for their age. See the bullet holes!

The absolute coolest thing we did though was explore the slot canyons in Cathedral Gorge. We all love slot canyons and although these are relatively shallow there were tons of them. We spent a couple of hours exploring them and got the most beautiful pictures. The coolest thing is you really can’t tell from far away they are all there, so we walked along the rock border and explored most of them.

Love love this picture

The best time we had though was celebrating Steve’s birthday with him. Over the years we have been able to celebrate birthdays with most of our friends, but Steve is usually with family on his. Over two nights we have a couple of great meals, a campfire, and some huckleberry margaritas…yum. So very glad we got to spend time with them and we all promised it would not be three years before we met again.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes