First Time on Palm Springs Tram

It’s pretty common that when we get to a new area people who have been here before reach out and give us recommendations. Several people recommended the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway so we immediately added it to our list. A variety of factors, including dense smog, stopped us from going until our very last day but since the tickets can be exchanged for different days and times that worked out OK.

Essentially the Tramway is an 11 minute 2-1/2 mile round trip from the valley station (2,643 feet) to the Mountain Station (8,516 feet). The weather change is extreme and the scenery as well going from desert temperatures to alpine conditions with some snow in the winter. Although this is a real treat for the locals, we have seen lots of snow in Yellowstone, but Lee was interested in the tram and I thought it was worth a trip. Plus we paid a little extra and included a buffet style dinner at the cafe at the top. Plus the Mount San Jacinto State Park is at the top and we heard the hiking trails are pretty nice.

Unfortunately we ended up arriving a little on the late side and since the trams were running every 12 minutes or so didn’t make it onto one until 4pm. We didn’t account for the time it would take to park and then get the bus to the base station and all that took about 30 extra minutes.

Each tram can hold up to 80 people but thankfully going up it was probably half of that. We got a nice spot by the window and adjusted pretty quickly to the rotating floor (think Disney ride) which Lee wasn’t a fan of. I liked the rotating because you got to see a little of everything but when you pass a tower the tram swings. They do a nice job of letting you know when this is coming, but the swinging sensation that high up was pretty unsettling for me so I will apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures. I was fighting a lot of sensations when I took them.

On the way up the tram operator (who was excellent) talked to us and there was a nice recorded message about how this was built. All in all it was much better than I expected and when we reached the top it was pretty cool. It was crazy windy though which ruled out hiking for us, but we went outside and saw all the different views and took pictures. It was 40 degrees and the wind had a serious bite so I would recommend a hat and gloves which we didn’t bring.

The sunset was very pretty but when we went inside those areas were packed. We got in line for our buffet which started at 4:30 but they didn’t actually open until 4:45. This was the most disappointing part of the experience because the food was fine but the people setting up the line were moving at a snail’s pace and had an attitude that we were waiting. The food was fine though and we found a decent seat in the corner to watch the lights down in the valley.

All in all it was OK until we had to go back down. Going down in the dark in a totally full car was way worse than going up and unfortunately we were stuck in the middle. They did play some upbeat music which I appreciated but there was a rowdy group in our car (they had obviously partaken of the bar up top) and every time we passed a tower and dipped they made a ton of noise. For me it was incredibly unpleasant and my nerves were pretty raw when we made it to the bottom. I am not saying you shouldn’t try it if you visit Palm Springs but be honest with yourself about heights and tight spaces.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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November Budget 2022

I know its been awhile since we have posted a budget, but when Lee was working Yellowstone between the work and all the things we were doing putting the budget numbers in the spreadsheet fell off the list of important things to do. Now he has to go back and play catchup though because I need the info for both my annual budget review and our taxes so he completed November. I am going to post this one, but not go back to the other ones although all of the information will be available on the annual summary coming soon. I know many of you read these budgets religiously but the monthly versions are a bit of a chore.

I do however promise that the annual information will continue to be comprehensive and for those of you who are researching the lifestyle will show patterns of spend. For those of you who are new to the budget I am sure you are going to look at the total and think I can’t afford this. Keep in mind I am making really good money right now (and Lee is working as well) so we are still spending within our means. If you are interested in what this lifestyle looks like on a smaller budget check out the other years budget on our Budgets Page.

Inflation is hitting us just like other people and fuel in particular has been a killer with prices well over over $5 a gallon. Campground fees have also gone up and although we kept it reasonable when staying in Nevada State Parks, Las Vegas was around $50 a night. Groceries were high because we were in remote Nevada and food prices were definitely crazy. $8 for for an 18 pack of eggs high and it was either pay the prices or drive 1-1/2 hours to the nearest Walmart.

Home repair costs were around getting the bike rack made. We also got hit with $1900 in tire replacement so it was a perfect storm of inflation, maintenance issues, etc. As a side note the $1000 in dining out was the week I spent with my Mom eating our way through LAs Vegas and it was worth every penny 🙂

This is a high month even for us, but since we look at our spending more on an annual basis now rather than month to month the real test will be how the year turned out. I would love to say we are making more and banking more but aside from increased 401K and HSA contributions that’s really not the case. Next month we are headed to LA and definitely going to spend some money but again we can afford it and are going to enjoy this time we have exploring new areas.

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

First Time in Borrego Springs

When you become part of the full time RV community you start hearing about places to visit that you have never heard of before. I think of these places as part of the fulltime RV experience especially because its unlikely I would have even heard of them or visited if we hadn’t started this lifestyle. The desert sculptures in Borrego Springs was definitely on that list ever since we learned about it from fellow RV Dreamers Steve and Dianne when we first visited Quartzsite. Even though it was over an hour drive to get there from Indio we knew we had to go so we headed out on Saturday.

To be honest I didn’t know much and we only had some general directions but thanks to our Roadside America app we had coordinates. As we started out it was just desert with the occasional patch of palm trees and surprisingly a strong smell of pot along the road we took. We saw lots of greenhouses off the road and I assume they were marijuana growing facilities although it was somewhat hard to tell.

Next we hit BLM area and eventually the Anza-Borrego State Park. There were TONS and I mean hundreds and hundreds of RV’s on the BLM land and most were ATVing. I don’t know much about ATV’s but this was obviously a popular area and it was clear why when we saw all of the trails. There also was very strong cell coverage despite being in the middle of nowhere and we were amazed at the big group gatherings we saw kind of everywhere. It wasn’t quite as busy as Quartzsite but it was close so if you’re into ATVing and don’t know much about this area I would definitely look it up.

I want to warn you though the drive was long and services minimal so make sure you gas up and have water and snacks before you go. Finally we reached the desert metal statues and wow were they incredible. The main sea serpent (which crosses a road and is huge) is the big draw but there are many newer statues strewn along the desert. There is no clear path or map so we just drove from one to the next and had a marvelous time. It’s completely free and incredibly amazing and we are so glad that we went.

The detail on the serpent was amazing but there were others that were smaller but equally detailed. In particular the statues with curved pieces of metal to simulate hair were amazing.

After seeing the sculptures we went into Borrego Springs which is a great little town. It’s the kind of place I would love to live if it wasn’t so remote. We had a nice lunch and went into several of the shops. There were many sculptures that you could purchase but unfortunately most of them were too big for us. I especially enjoyed Borrego Outfitters that had a little bit of everything and highly recommend going in if you are in the area.

On the way back to Indio Lee wanted to stop at the Salton Sea and I was up for it. We had a hard time finding a public access point but eventually found our way to the pier. According to Wikipedia, “The current lake was formed from an inflow of water from the Colorado River in 1905. Beginning in 1900, an irrigation canal was dug from the Colorado River to the old Alamo River channel to provide water to the Imperial Valley for farming… a series of cuts were made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow.”

Unfortunately as the Colorado River has dried up so has the sea, and although it was a popular resort destination in the past now it is a shell of itself. We even talked to a woman who bought a house on what was then the shore and took a huge loss when she sold it. The area also smells pretty strongly of fish because the water is so shallow and the community has started a big planting initiative to reclaim the dried lake bed and stop sandstorms. It’s not all negative though because the area is great for para biking and we saw at least 8 different people flying their motorized carts over the sand and lake.

Borrego Springs definitely lived up to its press and if you would like information on more of those places we never would have seen if we weren’t fulltime RVers please see some of my previous posts below in no particular order.

City of Rocks

Quartzsite

Wall Drug

Winslow, Arizona

Giant Ball of Twine

Enchanted Highway

Very Large Array

Golden Spike Historic Park

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

First Time in Palm Springs, CA

As we travel the country, I am always excited to visit a place that I have heard about but never seen. Palm Springs was definitely in that group for me because it is a popular retirement destination and I am always curious if that might be a place we would ultimately settle. We have driven past Palm Springs and seen the many windmills but that views doesn’t come close to describing this area. Actually once we got off the highway we haven’t seen a windmill and instead have been in a lush desert oasis.

Palm Springs is actually a series of small towns that run along the mountains. Each one has it’s own vibe but they also share the Coachella Valley identity. There is money in this area (we saw two different people driving Rolls Royces) but there are also working class families especially in Indio and Coachella.

After looking at the options we decided to stay at the Elks Lodge in Indio. It has over 50 sites with 30 amp, water, and an onsite dump station. It also has a great restaurant open daily and a large lodge with a game room. The $25 a night was MUCH more palatable than the $60+ for RV parks and since Lee got an unexpected work trip out of town I wanted a place to stay that was affordable and safe. The Elks definitely fit the bill.

We weren’t really sure how to explore the area, so ultimately started at Palm Springs and worked our way down on Palm Canyon Drive. It turns out this is a cool route to take as it goes along the mountains and the original downtown of Palm Springs. The downtown is a great mix of original 60’s buildings and some newer developments definitely designed to capture an Urban Living crowd. The people we saw were a mixed age group and it was hard to tell if they lived here or were vacationing.

I also recommend driving by The Gardens in El Paseo which has very high end shops including Tiffany and Gucci. This area was definitely wealthy with lots of country clubs and high end car dealerships. One thing I thought was odd was those dealerships were largely packed with vehicles. We had seen barren car lots all over the country but these were practically pre-COVID full. Draw whatever conclusion you want from that 🙂

Another great stop along the road was the Palm Springs Art Museum. We didn’t go inside but did look at the outside art installations including a super coup giant statue of Marilyn Monroe.

High on my list of things to see was a visit to the Desert Memorial Park to see Frank Sinatra’s and Sonny Bono’s graves. Lee is a huge Sinatra fan and I really wanted to see Sonny Bono’s so off we went. Turned out both sites we relatively unassuming so it took awhile to find them, but we saw both and paid our respects. I really loved the simple epitaphs on both of them.

Another fun thing to do in this area is visit a Date Farm and get a date shake. There aren’t as many of these open to the public as I hoped so we visited Shields Date Farm. Turned out this was a great choice as it had a cool gift shop, restaurant, and garden. The dates shakes were yummy (tasted slightly nutty) and we walked in the free gardens as well. The gardens had all kinds of local plant life along with statues showing the life of Jesus along the way. It was all very well done and absolutely worth a visit if you are in the area.

In particular I liked the information about the date palms. Turns out there are males and females. All the males do is pollinate and one can cover around 50 females. The females are broken into multiple limbs which are pretty cool. They also had examples of date ladders which were moved as the trees grew taller. Nowadays cherry pickers are used.

I also enjoyed the flower section. It’s nice to see blooms in December. Again they focused on plants that can handle the desert heat which we learned can reach 120 in the summer. YIKES!! The weather is fantastic in the winter though and I can see why people snowbird here.

Beautiful
My favorite statue of Jesus. A little bird landed on his head while we were there.

I really like the area although the summer heat is definitely to extreme for me to settle here. Next up a trip to Borrego Springs!

Next up we head south of Joshua Tree to explore Palm Springs and Coachella Valley.

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

First Time in 29 Palms

As I mentioned before when visiting Joshua Tree there are multiple places to stay. We had choices of BLM land (free no services), campgrounds (full hookups), or Elks Lodges (partial services). Ultimately we decided to stay at the Elks Lodge in 29 Palms and this was a good experience. We have stayed twice at Elks Lodges since becoming members but our friends Kelly/Bill and Deb/Steve have stayed at the ones in California and we decided to give them a try. The $20-$25 a night fee is WAY cheaper than the traditional parks and with water, 30 amp electric, and dump stations we had some services available to us.

The 29 Palms Elks is a big parking lot but has nice views of the mountains and the people were really nice. It was a sandy lot so Jack enjoyed running around there and we got lucky and stumbled across a local craft show the first weekend we were there.

Between seeing the park we also spent time exploring the northern part of Joshua Tree which is a series of small towns ending in the unincorporated Wonder Valley area. It’s a mixed bag for sure but has some charm and since 29 Palms has a marine base with about 2000 soldiers there is enough local traffic to keep some small businesses going.

We often use our Roadside America app in places like this and it leads us to the coolest stuff. This time it led us to an incredibly cool The End of the World sign which is a huge installation in the desert. We loved taking picture there although I will say there was someone else waiting for their turn and Lee said it was just our luck to be alone at the End of the World and someone else shows up!

Using the Roadside America app we also stumbled across this funky art gallery with an eclectic mix of outdoor road art. It’s a great way to get people to stop though because we met the artist and she said she had seen several groups already that morning. It’s worth a look if you like this sort of thing, I kept thinking Lee’s Mom DeDe would love this place.

The best part though was our friend Linda’s daughter lives in 29 Palms. She works at the military base and Linda and Rick came up from their volunteer gig to spend Thanksgiving week with them. They also stayed at 29 Palms and her daughter invited us along with some marines from the base to her dinner. The food was excellent and the company was great and we were so grateful to get to share in their meal. It was our first time eating a Thanksgiving dinner outside. The weather was gorgeous.

Rick and Linda

Next up we head south of Joshua Tree to explore Palm Springs and Coachella Valley.

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

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