The Great California Escape – Eight Weeks Under our Belts

The Great California Escape – Eight Weeks Under our Belts

We began our great escape from California almost eight weeks ago. The trip has been loaded with blessings and sprinkled with challenges. I last posted about our travels after we visited Ohio. We went there to see friends that we met on last year’s trip to Florida. We have been blessed to meet the most wonderful people on our RV excursions over the past four years. It’s been great to have folks to visit all over these beautiful United States.

From Ohio, we headed to Pennsylvania on route to pick up our tow vehicle in Maryland. We sold practically everything we owned before departing the not-go-golden state for good. With the recall of gruesome Newscum going down to defeat, we couldn’t be happier to be out of it. We sold all of our vehicles because we didn’t intend to give California another penny for registration, and my car was not flat-towable. As I mentioned in my earlier post, we saved over a thousand dollars on the motorhome registration alone when we switched it to South Dakota, our new legal domicile. We have to return to the state every three years and stay at least 24 hours in Pennington County to keep our residence up to date. If you are thinking about becoming a full-time RVer and have questions about this process, please email me, and I’ll be glad to offer advice.

Tommy had been searching the internet for a flat towable car that had all of the proper towing equipment included since we left California. He’d done a lot of research, and we have talked to many fellow RVer’s. The Blue Ox system has had fantastic reviews, and it’s what Tommy was hoping to find. He saw a few possible matches, but they were never anywhere near us. Last month he found a 2009 Ford Explorer with one of the top Blue Ox tow packages in Maryland. The gentleman that was selling it was going to New York for a week. So, it wasn’t a problem for him to wait for us to make the drive from Ohio. The date was set. I found a KOA close to his house to stay at while we took care of the transaction. Talk about a blessing! This car is so clean that it looks brand new. Mac, the car’s owner, takes care of his stuff. We are thrilled with our purchase.

Back to our drive to Maryland. The drive to Ohio had been stressful, and we hoped for a more pleasant exit from the state. It didn’t start out very well. Despite doing plenty of research on Google Maps and RVTripWizard, we ran into some problems. We’d chosen what looked to be the best route, and I had a picture of it on my phone. We entered the destination address into the motorhome’s GPS, and the blue course it offered seemed to match the one on my phone. Off we went, and it was a beautiful drive. The county roads that lead to the highway were windy and small, but the views were gorgeous. Beautiful scenery doesn’t impress Tommy one little bit when he’s driving a 40-foot motorhome at a snail’s pace, tight turn after tight turn. He was handling the situation pretty well when Samantha, that’s our GPS guide’s name, told us to make a left turn on Crooked Road. Could the road get more crooked, we wondered? On the approach, we saw that a huge truck and trailer were backing up into the road, and it looked to be having difficulties. I hopped out of the rig and went to ask the man giving the truck driver directions if turning there was a good option. That’s when I noticed that it was a dirt road. Needless to say, he suggested that we didn’t take the Crooked Road. He told me that he was sure we’d find a better option if we kept going straight. One catastrophe was avoided because of God’s timing. A truck blocking the road wound up being a blessing.

We had three days to get to Maryland, and I hadn’t booked any stays in between because I wasn’t sure how far we’d want to go. What I did know was that we needed to do some serious shopping. I don’t remember the last time our refrigerator was that bear. We headed towards Pennsylvania and were on Hwy 36, which looked to be in the middle of nowhere. In Coshocton, Ohio, right off of the freeway, was a super Walmart, Yahoo! We have been trying to boycott Wally World as much as possible because we are angry about them replacing all of their checkers with self-check cash registers. We feel like their loyalty is misplaced, and they are doing severe damage to working Americans with this policy. Not to mention that self-check is a pain in the butt. We have stood in long lines in the only check stand operated by a human being because we refuse to scan our own groceries. If you have any produce in your cart, it’s not a game you want to play. Not only was this Walmart almost empty, but three checkers were waiting to serve us. We walked right up and put our groceries on the conveyer belt. Our checker was very pleasant, and we were out of the store in record time. Blessing number two. Thank you, Jesus. We had a fully stocked frig, and it wasn’t even 10:30 a.m. What a wonderful surprise.

On travel days, we try to stop and get a nice lunch. I hate cooking after being on the road. We usually have leftovers, so I don’t have to worry about fixing dinner. Low and behold, on I-77 in Kimbolton, Ohio, we found Jackie’s Family Restaurant. I’d Googled restaurants near me, and it wasn’t too far off of the interstate. As it turned out, it was pretty easy to park the motorhome. That in itself was a huge blessing. You never know when you bring up a restaurant in your search engine if you can park close to it. We’d attempted to go to another restaurant where parking was a challenge. Tommy did his thing, and we found a spot. After walking to a place with five-star reviews, we were greeted by a sign on the door that said a water main had broken, and they were closed until further notice. With our heads hanging down, we headed back to the motorhome. We stopped at another restaurant that we’d passed on the way, and it too was closed because of the water main issue. It was another 30 miles to find Jackie’s, and we were glad that we did. Tommy had liver and onions for the third time on this trip, and it was the best that he’d eaten. I had a great burger served by our lovely and overwhelmed waitress, and we left with happy tummies. The service industry is in dire need of people that want to work for a living. We are always sure to tip well and be patient and kind to the great people serving us.

We felt so accomplished, and since we had three days to make our journey, I suggested to Tommy that I start looking for a place to spend the night. I found the Spring Valley Campground in Cambridge, Ohio. They had just received a cancelation for one of their larger sites. It was only $38.00 for the night, and it was a great little campground on a small lake. Since we didn’t need to leave early the next day, I was able to take a fantastic walk and got to see more horses. I do love my horses. I couldn’t pet them because a sign next to the electric fence said they might bite. It was a lovely final morning in Ohio. It is by far the greenest state we have ever seen, and we’ve been to 39 of them. We will definitely be returning to it. It may even be a good option for an extended seasonal stay.

I’d made some calls to RV parks in Pennsylvania the day before, and many were booked up. I left messages at a couple of parks and emailed one. I told Tommy that I may had blown it by not having a destination to stay at for Friday and Saturday nights and when we’d gone to bed, I had no idea if we’d find a place to stay. The following day when I opened up my email before my walk, there was a message from the Saunderosa RV Park in Mercersburg, PA. The message said that she’s had a cancellation and could put us in a nice big site for two nights. They were also having a festival on Saturday. It was a fabulous park on a small lake. The seasonal campers had their sites set up beautifully. It was a pleasure walking around and checking them out. There were Trump signs all over the place. I thought Pennsylvania was a blue state? I’m looking forward to them doing a recount of the November election votes.

The Tractor Festival was fun. We tried the hatchet toss, which we weren’t very good at, had a smoothie made with a local distillery’s vodka, and grabbed lunch to take to the motorhome. We’d enjoyed the miniature golf course so much on our first night there that we played again after we ate dinner. The stay at this park was a huge blessing. We have experienced many God-incidences on this trip. He always makes a way for us.

We were staying at the Washington DC/Capitol KOA to meet up with Mac, the soon-to-be ours Ford Explorer owner. It was only 118 miles away, so it should have been an easy trip. Like Ohio, Pennsylvania has many small windy county roads. Once again, we’d done plenty of research on the most desirable route. We were taking it slowly through lots of twists and turns, and I noticed that there was a sign that pointed to the left with the country road number that we were on. Since Samantha didn’t say to turn, Tommy went straight. Within a very short distance, we found out that it was yet another dirt road. Thankfully, Tommy found a place to turn around, but it was no easy feat. If we had our tow car behind us, we would have been in real trouble. We managed to make it to our destination before noon and were set up by the time Mac showed up with the Explorer. As I said, we were delighted by the condition it was in. Mac was accommodating in showing Tommy how to hook up the towing equipment. Not only was the car pristine, but he included the correct attachment for our bicycle rack. He was pleasant to work with. After spending quite a while with Tommy on Sunday, he returned Monday to take Tommy to the DMV to handle the paperwork. My honey said that they walked right in and had everything handled in minutes. That wouldn’t happen in California.

We stayed at the KOA for three nights and enjoyed our stay. The pool was closed for the season, which was a drag. When it’s 85 degrees outside, a dip in a pool would be enjoyable. The folks that worked there were pleasant and helpful, and they had a great laundry room. I washed our bedding and took a fabulous walk around the beautiful neighborhood. The houses in Pennsylvania are huge! On my return trip to the RV, I noticed a pool table behind the covered swimming pool. I’d purchased a set of balls and cue sticks last year.  We found ourselves in many campgrounds with pool tables but couldn’t play because of COVID restrictions. I’d begun to wonder if we were ever going to use them. Tommy kicked my butt, and we called it an evening.

We are currently at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia, visiting grandkids and great-grandbabies. It’s been quite interesting so far, but I’ll share those stories in my next post. Happy trails, and keep praying and believing. God’s not done with these beautiful United states yet. I believe that great things are ahead for our county. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

God bless, Cat

The Great California Escape – Week Two

The Great California Escape – Week Two

We had such a great time with our pal Teresa and her mom Pat in Idaho Falls. We have been so blessed with wonderful friends. On our way to Idaho Falls from Caldwell, where we enjoyed the company of the Roland’s, we stopped for lunch at Jakers Bar and Grill in Twin Falls. As soon as I saw the billboard sign advertising the restaurant on the interstate, I told Tommy that we had to eat there. You see, my brother’s name is Jake, and I’ve always called him Jakers. It was a great meal that fortified us to finish the trek to our storage facility in Idaho Falls.

As I said in my earlier post, everything we own that wouldn’t fit into our motorhome is in our 20-foot box trailer that housed my Jeep on two cross-country trips. Now the trailer is parked safe and sound at a facility about six blocks from our pal Teresa’s house. Teresa will drive by it often. It blesses my socks off that I found a place so close to her house. It is a God thing because I had no idea it was so close to her when I arranged for the unit. God shows Himself to us through these little blessings all of the time.

We had many views of the Snake River on our drive, and it is truly amazing. We stopped for two nights at The Village of the Trees RV Resort in Delco, Idaho. It was a cute little park that was easy to access from highway 90, but road noise was not an issue. It was beautiful when we arrived, so I set up Paddy’s playhouse. He was so happy to get outside. The weather report said there was a ten percent chance of drizzle that night, so I went to bed without bringing in his beds and items that I wouldn’t want to get wet. At 11:00 p.m. I woke up to pouring rain and ran outside in my nightgown to stick as much of his playhouse under the pop-out as humanly possible. I neglected to grab much of the bedding that had already gotten wet, and I spent the next morning spreading everything out to dry. Our stay there was enjoyable, and $30.00 a night for full hookups in a beautiful park couldn’t be beaten.

I had asked Teresa to scope out the Snake River RV Park close to her because the reviews were not very good. After seeing it, she called to tell me that she would gladly stay there. It had two bar and grills within walking distance and was very close to her house. I tried making a reservation for over a week, and they never had a cancellation. Teresa called me and said that she had called every RV park in the area. The only one close to her was in Shelley. The North Bingham County Recreation Area is about 20 minutes south of Idaho Falls. She’d gone there to check it out, and the manager told her to have me call right away because they only had one site available for our stay. I reluctantly made the reservation because they didn’t offer sewer, and we are glampers in every sense of the word. Tommy drives me crazy, worrying about how often I go to the bathroom if we don’t have a sewer hookup. It makes for a stressful stay.

I called the Snake River RV Park again in a last-ditch effort about 40 minutes from Idaho Falls. I was informed that they still didn’t have room for us. The receptionist told me that they had a sister park in Rigby close by. She gave me the number, and I called the Yellowstone Lakeside RV Park. I was thrilled to secure a spot for our four-night stay. It was north of Idaho Falls, and they offered full hookups, so I canceled our stay at the other park. Thankfully, they hadn’t taken a deposit, and they were great about withdrawing our reservation without a fee. With our campsite reservation handled, we headed to the storage facility. We got our trailer situated in its spot without any problems. After securing it, we stopped on the way to the RV park for a nice Chinese lunch.

The name Yellowstone Lakeside Park was deceiving. It wasn’t lakeside, and it didn’t have any amenities to brag on. That is unless you have a dog. The dog washing station was quite nice. It was, however, conveniently located and had full hookups. It was only 18 minutes from Teresa’s house. She came and picked us up and gave us a tour of Idaho Falls before taking us to her house for dinner. We had a great visit with her and her mom, Pam, before heading back to the campsite in her car. She graciously let us borrow her car since we still don’t have a tow vehicle. We are currently keeping our eyes open and checking Craig’s List and RV forums for a used car with a tow package.

I took a nice walk from the RV park, not knowing exactly where I was headed, and wound up with a great surprise. Adventuring out of the park, I passed a couple of horses while trekking through a small ranch. It took me to the road that led in front of the RV park, and that led me to the Jefferson County Park. It was a beautiful place where we would have loved to stay. It, too, didn’t have sewer, but it was $25.00 a night cheaper than where we were staying and much more pleasant. The Yellowstone Lakeside Park is a glorified gravel parking lot. This county park, blocks away from it, was on a small lake. It had a slide in the middle of the lake, roomy sites, food trucks along the lake that sold tasty snacks six days a week, and a creek running through the back of it. The walking and biking trail around it was nice too. I told the sweet gal at the gate that didn’t charge me the $6.00 walk-in day fee that I would give them a great review and would most likely be back for a day visit with some friends.

Teresa planned lots of great stuff for our visit to the area. On our first full day, she took us to Island Park to have lunch at the Lakeside Lodge and Resort. After a fabulous lunch and tasty beverages, we headed to Johnny Sacks Cabin. It’s an incredible log cabin in Big Springs that won Idaho’s Historic Preservation Award in 2010. It is a must-see if in the area. From there, we went to Upper Mesa Falls. It was amazing!! Teresa was going to take us to the lower falls too, but we didn’t think they could outdo the upper falls, and we were spent. It was a full and fun day. We went back to the RV tired and happy. We needed to rest up for our trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the next day.

Jackson Hole is only a two-hour drive from Idaho Falls, and it is very scenic. Teresa and Pam were amazed by how low the Snake River was in many areas. I guess many parts of the United States are experiencing a drought. I digress. Jackson Hole is a bustling little town, almost too bustling. Tommy and I were both praying for a great parking spot, and we were blessed with one. Teresa and Pam wanted us to experience the Silver Dollar Bar for lunch. I bypassed the LONG line at the door of the restaurant and found four seats at the bar. Favor, once again. Thank you, Jesus. The bartender was slammed, but she still managed to give us excellent service. We enjoyed a tasty lunch and had a great time. From there, we headed to another must-see while in Jackson, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. It’s full of eclectic items, including lots of taxidermy and horse saddle bar stools. The service was good, but the drinks were pricy. It’s what I would expect in a tourist town. The bar was huge and full of happy customers. It was great that out of hundreds of visitors, we saw very few masks.

We had talked about going to the Jefferson County Lake the next day to enjoy a swim on our last day, but after two very full days, we put the kibosh on that idea. Instead, we went to one of Teresa’s favorite spots for Happy hour and another excellent meal. When we arrived at the Smokin Fins, Pam was at the bar saving seats for Tommy, Teresa, and me. The bartender knew her and Teresa well and went out of his way to make us all feel special. They had quite a variety of food. Tommy had sushi, and I had tacos, and everything was delicious. It was an excellent final day in the area.

Our next stop was Melrose, Montana, 178 miles away. We try very hard to stick to the 200-mile, two-day-stay plan. If we go much further, it makes Tommy cranky. I picked the Sportsman Lodging and RV Park because the next stretch of RV parks was over 200 miles from us. I use RVTRIP Wizard in conjunction with RVParky to find our destinations. I love the fact that the Wizard shows you where RV parks are on your route and all the information you need to make your decisions. It lists the amenities, reviews, tips, and the weather in the locations. When I choose our parks, I put them on my list and have an outstanding record of our journey. It also shows you where fuel stops are, and you can add your favorite grocery stores and more to your route. At $39.00 a year, it’s an excellent value. RVParky is free and a great place to check out reviews and RV parks in the area that you are headed.

We got the last spot at the Sportsman, and it was between two giant trees. It was a little tricky to get into, so the park owner came out and helped Tommy back into the site. The Venus and Mars conundrum comes seriously into play when attempting to help Tommy park the motorhome. I was relieved not to be in charge. It was a cute little park with a bar and grill within walking distance. Since we haven’t purchased a tow vehicle yet, this amenity is vital. The Melrose Bar was a fun place. The bartender was so sweet. Not only did she tend the bar and cook the food, but she handled the gas pumps too. There were some video gambling machines there. I lost $8.00, and Tommy won $10.00. It was a fun way to kill some time. We had a pleasant visit with some folks staying in the same park, and it was an enjoyable day. The fried chicken and gravy fries that we took back to the motorhome were surprisingly delicious.

We only got to stay one night at the Sportsman because they were booked up. We were off to Big Timber, Montana KOA, bright and early. We are KOA members and have stayed in many of them, but this one was like no other we had experienced. We always joke about KOAs and trains. Fellow KOA campers totally get it. The first time we hear a train whistle, we laugh about it. Highway noise can also be an issue at KOA’s because most of them are very close to them. The Big Timber park was, however, like nothing we have ever experienced. It was the first time we couldn’t get a sewer hookup at a KOA. I needed to do a load of laundry and figured that I’d do it in the park’s facilities.

We were crammed in like sardines.

We survived the lack of a sewer hookup, but the train and highway noise was horrible. I’m a light sleeper, and it is hard for me to return to slumber once I wake up. I lost count of the trains that sounded like they were right outside of our door. I think the conductors get paid extra from KOA management for hitting the horn additional times. Needless to say, after a two-night stay, I was fatigued. On the bright side, I did get our laundry done for only $3.00.

Despite the problems with Big Timber, I booked us into another KOA in Miles City, Montana. It has been a much better experience. By the grace of God, we are in one of only two sites that have satellite reception. The park is very nice, and the staff is excellent. We were led to our site, and it has a huge patio, table, chairs, and a fire ring. It rained off and on, so we didn’t get to enjoy it much. I couldn’t get out Paddy’s playhouse because of the rain. Try explaining that to a cat. Especially an ornery one like Paddy. The rain very seldom matched up with the forecast. We got a window of opportunity to walk into town, and it was great. Miles City is a cute little town with lots of shops, restaurants and bars, and casinos. They aren’t casinos like Reno or Vegas. They are quaint little places with video games. I put $20.00 into the Hold Your Horses Keno machine and left with $120.00. Tommy left $2.38 lighter than when we walked in. Not bad for a fun afternoon. We went to the Montana Bar from the Silver Star Casino, a historic establishment founded in 1908. We had a nice lunch, and the server was delightful. Bonus, I used some of my winnings to pay for our lunch.

I hope I didn’t drag on too much and bore you. I love hearing from everyone that takes the time to read my blog and check out the pictures of our adventures. We’re off to North Dakota today. It’s one state that we have never been to. If you have some places that you think we should see, please let me know. We’re flying by the seat of our pants this time around, and getting reservations has sometimes been challenging.

God bless and happy travels, Cat

The Great California Escape – Week One

The Great California Escape – Week One

We became full-time RVer’s when we vacated our house in Shingletown, California, and moved into our motorhome on our property. In June of this year, we sorted through all of our belongings, purging ourselves of everything that we possibly could. We talked with many full-timers on the cross-country trip that we embarked on in November of 2020. Everyone we spoke with advised us to GET RID of EVERYTHING! They all said that spending money for a storage unit for things that we will never use again was a complete waste. We took that advice to heart. We had an estate sale, a yard sale, and donated truckloads of stuff to a local thrift shop that gives their proceeds to the care of abandoned animals. I may have gotten a bit carried away. While we were still staying in the house, I asked Tommy to boil some pasta for our dinner, only to realize that I sold every saucepan we owned in the yard sale.

Despite the massive purge, there are still some things that need to be stored. You can’t throw away precious pictures and photo albums. There are important papers that need to be held on to. There are some mementos and collectibles that are impossible to part with. Everything we had to keep and wouldn’t fit into the motorhome is packed into the 20-foot box trailer we used to tow my car behind the motorhome. My Jeep, which I purchased three months before we decided to move from a fifth-wheel to a motorhome, was not towable. My Compass was an all-wheel-drive automatic. We made two cross-country trips with my car in the trailer, and it was often a hindrance and pain. The great guy from Norcal Estate Sales who did a fantastic job for us also purchased my car for his ex-wife. Yes, I said he was a great guy. He sold Tommy’s truck, too, so we don’t currently have a tow vehicle. We are going to purchase one after we set up our domicile address in South Dakota. We will NEVER give California money for vehicle registration again.

We are a part of the mass exodus from California. We are sick of the crazy politics, taxes, and the flat-out insanity of our birth state. Tommy is a third-generation San Franciscan, and I was born and raised in California too. We are sad to see the state that we loved turning into a cesspool and are leaving it in our rearview mirror. Our house hasn’t sold yet, so a return may be imminent, but that is in God’s hands. Shingletown is very rural, and our property is utility-independent. We opted for solar, and since we left every winter, a PG&E connection was not something we cared to do. I think that it may be making potential buyers nervous. For whatever reason, it hasn’t sold, but we are not stressing over it. We have faith that it will sell when it is supposed to for the right price. We have an excellent house sitter, and when the property sells, we can do all of the paperwork online, so we are free to start our adventure.

Our first destination was Idaho. We have friends in the state, and many of them escaped Hollister to move there. We are also storing our trailer in Idaho Falls for half of what it would cost to keep it in California. We made our first stop in Hines, Oregon, for a one-night stay. We were hit by a swarm of cicadas about the time we crossed the California, Oregon border. It was absolutely insane! It sounded like the RV was being pounded by golf ball size hail. We could barely see out of the windshield and had to stop a couple of times to attempt to get the insects off. When we reached Hines, we were exhausted from driving for almost seven hours. We don’t usually travel that far in one day. But, we wanted to be in Caldwell, Idaho, early to begin our anniversary celebration with our pals, the Roland’s.

Angie and Bruce escaped California for Idaho last year. They have a beautiful, completely paid-for home in Star, Idaho. They are retired, but Bruce still does consult work. To pay the crazy taxes in California, he would have had to work a lot more, which is the case for most retirees in the state. There is a town close to the Roland’s with over 65 transplants from Hollister, California. Not just from the state of California, but Hollister. It speaks volumes about the need for conservative, tax-paying citizens to relocate to enjoy their golden years. We continue to pray for California and all of our family and friends there. We are praying for the low-life Newscum to be replaced, but it will take a lot more than getting rid of him to bring revival to California. Thousands of people in influential positions will need to be replaced from school boards to city councils, board of supervisors, and an overhaul in congress. Sorry, I’ll get off of my soapbox now.

Our first stop at the Sand’s RV Park in Hines, Oregon, was an interesting one. The “park’ wasn’t a place to brag about, but for a one-night stay, it was perfect. It was a short distance from the highway and easy to find. We thought we were in the parking lot and found out that we had actually pulled into one of its sites. We didn’t even see the pedestal with the power and water. The owner came out and greeted us, and he was a pleasant man. The nightly fee was $22.00, including tax. For full hookup, you can’t beat it. We didn’t hook up to the sewer, but it was available. There was a restaurant within walking distance which was a huge plus. After a long day on the road, the last thing I want to do is fix dinner. The Apple Peddler had good service and decent food. It was SO refreshing to be waited on by someone that wasn’t wearing a mask. A few people came in wearing masks. I’m sure they were all from California.

We arrived in Idaho on July 24th and spent three wonderful days with our pals savoring great meals and each other’s company. We enjoyed their favorite restaurants and their church, and no one was wearing masks. It’s so great to be out of California. We stayed at the Ambassador RV Park in Caldwell 20 minutes from their house. The park was beautiful and very well taken care of. I didn’t take the time to enjoy the pool but it was spotless. The staff was friendly and accommodating. The park had lots of amenities and was only $45.00 a night. That is probably why we almost didn’t get a reservation there. They were booked solid but I kept calling and we managed to get in. If you want to RV in Idaho I’d make reservations well in advance.

We are currently in Declo, Idaho, where we spent two nights at a lovely park next to the Snake River. The sites are large and long enough to accommodate our 40-foot motorhome and our 20-foot trailer. There is a small grill that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a pretty well-equipped store. Tommy had biscuits and gravy with eggs, and I had a chorizo and egg burrito for breakfast on our first morning here, and it was tasty. Bonus, it was only $8.50 for breakfast. We have full hookups, and the place is beautiful. It is only $30.00 a night, which makes it even sweeter. We were only going to stay one night, but reservations in Idaho Falls made it necessary to stay two. I’m glad that we did. Yesterday was the first day in forever that we could sit outside without being baked, even under the shade of our awning. Paddy was over the moon to be able to finally hang out outdoors. We had a pleasant visit with the lady at the campsite next door and took a great walk along the river. If you are looking for a stop between California and Idaho, the Village of the Trees Resort is a great choice.

That’s a wrap for week one. I’ll let you know how the trailer dropping excursion goes in Idaho Falls. We are meeting up with our pal Teresa who grew up there. We chose the spot from the internet, and we’re hoping that it’s a nice place to leave our belongings. It’s gated, locked, and reasonably priced. Teresa took care of our home in Hollister on our first cross-country trip. She and her husband Lee were a blessing beyond description. We had a koi pond, a pool, lots of yards to tend to, as well as two outdoor cats. They made it easy to enjoy our trip without stressing over our house. God blessed us the same way in Shingletown, where we have great friends looking after our property and home there too. We would like to make this exit from California permanent, so please pray that our house sells soon.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. I’ll talk at you soon. God bless, Cat

Despite the Crazy World Blessings Abound

Despite the Crazy World Blessings Abound

Despite the Crazy World Blessings Abound

I love it when God blesses me with answered prayers. I’ll get to that story in a bit. We left our home in Shingletown, California, a little more than two weeks ago for our Winter 20/21 snowbirds’ road-trip. Getting out of California is a blessing, but we haven’t experienced warm weather yet. We are currently in Cornville, Arizona. Our water froze two days in a row. Despite the afternoons being very pleasant, temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees, the mornings are chilly.

When our water froze the first time, the projected low was 34 degrees, so Tommy didn’t think there was a need for precautions in that area. After it happened, I read the Thousand Trails paperwork. The publication informed campers that the Cottonwood temperatures usually listed on the weather report are always slightly higher than Cornville, where the park actually is. When you look at a listing in any RV app for the Verde Valley Thousand Trails RV Park, it says that it is in Cottonwood. An FYI for you fellow RVers, when trying to put the address into Google Maps for directions, Cornville kept popping up, and I thought it was incorrect.

Where Thousand Trails Parks are concerned, Verde Valley has the most spacious sites we’ve ever experienced. I added this park to our itinerary when we decided to leave home a week early, and I am so glad that I did. It is the only dedicated Thousand Trails park in the entire state of Arizona. The other affiliated parks are Encore RV Parks, which aren’t free to stay in with our membership. All you Thousand Trails owners know what a large financial investment it is initially. If you are frugal like me, getting the biggest bang for your buck is essential.

If you are an RVer or a future one that has been considering joining the Thousand Trails family, I’ll briefly explain how the membership works. We have what I believe is called the Elite membership, which gives us access to hundreds of campsites across the country. We upgraded from the basic membership last year because the Elite allows us to stay for 21 days in the parks before moving on. We can go right to another TT location. With the basic membership, we were only allowed to stay for a week, and once we stayed for four days or more, we weren’t allowed to camp in any park in the system for a full seven days.

After making cross-country trips in our motorhome in 2018 and 2019, never staying longer than a week in any one location, we were ready to take a more leisure pace. There are more opportunities to get to know your fellow campers or full-timers in the parks with an extended stay. COVID put the Kibosh on that in 2020. Before this crazy year of lockdowns, face masks, and social distancing, it was common to be walking past a neighboring campsite, say hello, and be invited to sit by the fire and enjoy a beverage with complete strangers. The camaraderie is one of the best parts of RV travel. We miss it terribly.

The beginning of this year’s trip was supposed to include a two-week stay in Sun City, Arizona. I would leave Tommy and Paddy there for one week and join my pal Susie in a Scottsdale Resort. For years, my pal and I have vacationed together for my birthday week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I can’t wear a mask for four hours on a plane, so that trip went out the window. Hence, the Scottsdale plan. It would have been a short flight for Susie from San Jose to Scottsdale, and she’s okay with wearing a mask. But, once California went to Purple or Tier 1 Corona Virus guidelines, Sue wasn’t comfortable making the trip. I didn’t blame her one bit, and I canceled our Scottsdale timeshare reservation.

You may be wondering where the blessing is that I referred to earlier in my post? If you aren’t an RVer, you may not grasp how amazing this is, but I’ll share it with you anyway. Once I knew that we no longer needed to stay in Sun City, an Encore Park that would cost us about $280.00 for our two-week stay, I wanted to stay longer in Verde Valley. With a spacious site and plenty to do in the area, including enjoying hiking trails, I wanted to utilize our 21-day option. Not only was it going to save us money, but it would also save a lot of hassle. We could only stay in an Encore park for two weeks and then we couldn’t camp in another one for a week. We are staying at the Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort in Mesa, Arizona, for the holidays. It’s very close to my mom’s new house in Apache Junction and my brother’s home. We would have had to move three times instead of once. Between the fuel and camping savings and not needing to pack up and move, this would be a win, win.

When we checked in here at Verde Valley, I asked the man at the front gate if we could extend our stay. He didn’t see anything available on the computer. He didn’t think the odds of someone canceling their reservation were good. I prayed fervently that God would provide a way for us to stay. On our first full day here, I walked to the office and once again inquired about a more extended stay. I told the man working the front desk that we would be willing to move to a 30- amp site if necessary. He told me that he didn’t move people from 50 to 30-amp sites and that there wasn’t anything available for a 21-day stay. He did give us three more days, and I was happy to get them. When I apprised him that I would be praying for a cancellation so that we could stay longer, he pretty much told me that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in the Mohave Desert of that happening.

If you know me at all, you know I’m not a quitter, and I don’t give up easily. On our second morning here, I took one of the nature trails, not knowing where it would lead me. Low and behold, I wound up behind the office. I decided to pop in and ask how park employees would recognize that we were hoping for a longer stay if someone canceled. There was a different man in the office. When I explained the situation to him, he told me that he might have to move us to a 30-amp site to accommodate the more extended stay. Apparently, he didn’t have the same rules as the first guy.

To make a long story short, Scott, who just happened to be the park manager, was able to extend our stay until December 20th. Someone had a hold on a site that got dropped, and he was able to do some jockeying around and keep us right where we are. The blessing of staying in the park and not having to move from our beautiful 50-amp site is amazing. We can run our fireplace and small electric heaters when it gets cold and save our propane. There will be no packing up to move, and I am over the moon.

You might think that we just got lucky. I don’t believe that for a minute. I believe that God answered my prayers and arranged for things to go the way they did. I’d accepted the fact that if things didn’t go as I’d hoped, we would have to move. Our lives are in God’s hands. I’m so grateful when my plans line up with His. It doesn’t always work that way. But, I’ve learned that His ways are always better than mine.

I’m enjoying the nature trails. There are plaques identifying plant life and lots of room to roam. We had some great Chinese food and did a little shopping in Cottonwood, a short drive away. There is a winery within walking distance with live music and a barbecue on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays. It’s a beautiful setting, and I can’t wait to experience it. We can make a day trip to historic Jerome, sign up for a Jeep or winery tour, and I can even go horseback riding. I’m so grateful for this beautiful place. I plan to share a lot more pictures in the coming days on my Facebook page RV Road Trip with Tom, Cat & Paddy. Be sure to join it if you want to ride along with us on our journey. I share lots of information there that helps fellow travelers.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 Believing and receiving. That’s what I’m doing. How about you? Are you bold enough to ask for what you want? I encourage you to pray often. I pray about everything. I even ask God for a good hair day. He loves hearing from you, and He loves blessing His children. If you haven’t already done so, invite Him into your heart and life and experience His mercy and grace. You will be so glad that you did.

Thanks for hanging out with me. I look forward to sharing more travel tips and stories soon.

God bless, Cat

On the Road Again! Travel Tales

On the Road Again! Travel Tales

After spending almost seven months getting our new home settled in Shingletown, California, we are finally back on the road. We are officially retired, glamping, snowbirds. In Hollister, we were blessed with some pretty fabulous weather, and I am a cold-wimp. I do not like being chilly. Last week the temperatures dropped so quickly that it even took the folks who lived in Shingletown for decades by surprise. I was wearing shorts and a tank top on my walks one day and bundled up in layers including, gloves and a beanie the next. Did I say that I don’t like the cold?

We’d initially planned on starting our road trip after Thanksgiving. However, we decided to hit the road early and head to warmer climates. Escaping California and our tyrannical governor Newscum was a bonus to our early exit. Sadly, the election proved that there are still too many people in California who vote for the same worthless government officials repeatedly. I told Tommy that if Pelosi and Waters were re-elected, we were leaving California for good. Enough about politics. This is a travel story.

God blessed us once again with excellent house sitters so that we can relax and enjoy our four-month snowbird escape. We are going to put our Thousand Trails membership to good use. I was a bit tired of the drive south on I-5 and suggested that since we were leaving early, we head east and visit our pals in Grass Valley on the way out of California. God blessed us with the best travel weather that we could have hoped for. Tommy did not want to drive our 40-foot motorhome towing our 20-foot trailer with my car in it over any ice and snow. I didn’t blame him one bit. When we left Shingletown on Thursday morning, it was cold but sunny. The drive to Grass Valley was scenic and dry.

We hadn’t seen our good pals Betty and Phil since we visited them at their home in Tennessee during our cross-country trip last year. Yes, believe it or not, they left California for Tennessee and then returned when the humidity was too much for Phil. Now he is ready to leave the state once again. Retiring in the crazy, expensive state of California is not a sensible option. For now, they have a beautiful home on two wooded acres. We had a pleasant visit with them, and our stay at the Nevada County Fairgrounds RV Park was pleasant. The park has a small man-made lake, and despite being close to the highway, it was quiet and tranquil. It was reasonably priced, and we had full hookups. We clampers love full hookups. Throw in a lake for me to walk around to get in my 10,000 steps a day, and I’m a happy camper.

We are headed to Las Vegas to see some friends that escaped California and have a wonderful new home there. We try not to drive more than 250 miles in a stretch to avoid cranky situations, but there wasn’t much in the way of RV parks between Grass Valley, California, and Vegas. I found an RV park in Hawthorne, Nevada, that was great for a stop-over.

The Whiskey Flat’s RV Park is right on Hwy-95, but surprisingly quiet. The receptionist was friendly, and the price was very reasonable. She advised us that the park would be full and that the internet would be slow if lots of folks were using it. Sure enough, we watched the place fill up, and by the time I made my walk around the area, getting my daily steps in isn’t easy on travel days; there were only four spots left. On my walks around campgrounds, I always enjoy checking out license plates to see where people are from. This park had lots of Nevada plates, but Idaho, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Montana, and California were represented there.

It’s great being back on the road in our motorhome. We all missed it, maybe Paddy most of all. Our fur baby has been so lovable since we hit the road. He’s back to sleeping with us at night, something he only did only twice in the months we lived in the house, and sitting on our laps in the morning and evenings when we are in our recliners. He rolls all over the tile floors when I extend the pop-outs before I roll out our rugs. I was hoping to attach a video of him because it’s so darn adorable. He looks SO happy while he’s doing it. I couldn’t seem to drop it in but you can see it on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/ML9ZMPP9N_g

It was nice taking a different route, even though there was very little to see on the hundreds of miles on US-95. Fair warning, if you are traveling between Reno and Vegas, fill your tank before heading out. There was a gas station in Hawthorne, but Tommy thought that Tonopah was closer than it actually was, so we didn’t fuel up there. That led to some extra stress on our journey. When I brought up the fuel subject, and Tommy expressed that he “hoped” we had enough to make it, I was a bit concerned. I found it comical that unbeknownst to each other, we were praying constantly and fervently that we would make it to town without running out of fuel. Once in Tonopah, panic struck when we were almost out of town before we spotted a gas station that we could get the rig into. I’d seen a Texaco sign that said truck stop, and there were plenty of trucks parked at the back of the enormous parking lot, but we didn’t see diesel pumps for trucks. Thankfully, a trucker was walking by, and Tommy asked him where we could get fuel. The two diesel dispensers for trucks are not easily seen, but thank God they were there. The Texaco was the last fueling station for 94 miles, and we would not have made it that far. Tommy never waits until the tank is empty to fuel up. We’ve made two cross-country trips in Buford, that’s our motorhome’s name, and have never added more than 75 gallons of diesel. We put $250.00 in the tank, which got us almost 90 gallons. We have a 100-gallon tank, and despite the gauge reading full with $250.00, we don’t know exactly how close we came to running out. We have vowed never to let that happen again.

Our third stop was Pahrump, Nevada’s, Lakeside Casino, and RV Park. I’m thrilled to have booked a two-night stay here because not only is it gorgeous, but after the LONG drive here, we needed a couple of days to unwind. HWY-95 is well paved, and the inclines and declines are so gradual that you don’t even realize that you’ve climbed or descended thousands of feet. It was strange to be looking at nothing but desert, sand, cactuses and then see a sign that tells you the elevation is over 6800 feet. Throw in the many designated areas for putting chains on your tires, and it seems surreal. God’s traveling mercies continue to amaze us. It’s almost December, and we managed to miss snowfall.

When we arrived in Pahrump, it was a balmy 70 degrees. We passed many RV parks on the way to the one I’d picked, and Tommy was sick of driving, so he started to give me a hard time. I was beginning to think that I’d blown it until I saw this beautiful park. It is situated around a man-made lake. It’s a five-star park but very reasonably priced. It’s as clean as can be, has many trees, and even the full-timers take great care of their spots. I haven’t seen the casino because I can’t wear a face mask. With my claustrophobia, two minutes with a mask on is sheer torture.

I love to gamble, but not enough to endure a mask. Tommy checked the casino out and found it unbearable. He said there was a mask-Nazi working the place. People can pull their masks down to smoke or drink but must immediately put it back over their faces. His glasses kept fogging up so he couldn’t see, and when he mentioned it to the mask-cop, she told him to put shaving cream on them. He asked her if she had any, and she told him no. He said that the smoke was terrible, and he came back smelling like an ashtray after only a short visit. COVID is going to wind up saving us money. If Las Vegas rules are the same as they are here, I won’t be leaving any cash at their casinos either. How is it okay to let people take off their masks to blow cigarette smoke in the air but force you to keep one on while enjoying a beverage?

Today’s drive is a short one to the Las Vegas Thousand Trails. We are excited to see our friends and their new home. I thought that we had to check out on Thanksgiving Day, but come to find out, I’d confused my days of the week. Thankfully, I’d booked the correct dates moving forward. I had a panic attack when I thought I’d messed everything up. I use the RV Wizard app, and I swear by it. If I had looked closely at the days and not just the dates, I could have skipped some scary moments. It’s an excellent application for tracking your trip, including fuel stops, so that you know how far you’ve been, how far it is to where you are headed next, and when you should stop for fuel. You can name your trips, and they are saved on the app so you can look back and at them. It’s a great way to remember where you went and how you got there.

I plan to share our travel tales regularly. If you know someone that is RVing or is interested in doing it, be sure to share my blog posts and invite them to join my Facebook group, RV Road Trip with Tom, Cat & Paddy. I’ll share lots of tips and reviews about parks and travel and updates about mask requirements and other Rona BS. Sorry, but I think these lockdowns and forced behaviors are doing more harm to our countryman and our economy than the disease itself. With a recovery rate of over 99% and an at-risk group easily identified, the pandemic has been blown way out of proportion. This is my personal opinion. Don’t get mad at me if you disagree, and I’ll promise not to be mad at you if you believe masks are called for. One of the great things about America has been the right to voice your opinion. Sadly, that right has been eroding, and the censorship we’re currently experiencing is a threat to life as we know it.

So sorry, there I go with politics again. It’s hard to avoid it in these crazy times. I am so grateful for our health, and our families, and our home on the road. We are more blessed than I can say. I believe that the only way to get through these turbulent and scary times is to remember your blessings, pray regularly, help others whenever you can, and be grateful.

Happy trails and God bless you all.