Oh 2018… what are we gonna do with you? On the surface, you were dreamy…. All national parks, new friends, delicious food, and jaw dropping sites.

There was Zion

and Bryce….


and Grand Teton….

There was Horseshoe Bend

and Joshua Tree National Park….

A Joshua Tree at Joshua Tree National Park

There were endless fields of wildflowers in Idaho….

and picture perfect waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge…..

There were massive cliffs bathed in the glow of perfect California sunsets….

and ancient Puebloan structures that have withstood the tests of time and brutal weather…

There was scenery right out of the movies of our childhoods….

and mountain views so lovely, they belonged on postcards…

There were towering natural bridges formed by millions of years of water erosion, enormous cacti reaching ever upward toward deep blue skies, and dunes of blinding white sand so large, they stretched infinitely in each direction….

We feasted our eyes on turquoise alpine lakes in Colorado, deep blue reservoirs in the Arizona desert, and moss covered trees so tall they blotted out the sun in Northern California.

We took selfies in the desert, and in front of the Hoover Dam, and on top of mountains we’d conquered, and at the purported intersection of four perfectly square states

And, if all that weren’t enough, we encountered a pistachio. The biggest pistachio of them all.

While the natural wonders we feasted our eyes on were breathtaking, the cities we visited didn’t let us down either.

There was the always-fascinating and obscenely delicious New Orleans….

A new beach-town favorite, San Diego….

The never dull Las Vegas

Las Vegas Paris Hotel

And the endlessly entertaining Los Angeles….

We continued the trend of meeting awesome people through Instagram and this blog, and made efforts to circle back around to friends we’d met previously. Some of these folks were there for us in big ways when we needed them, and we won’t forget their kindness.

All of this… and it’s a lot… justifies labeling 2018 as: “Freaken awesome!”  But…. we lost our dog. And I lost my mom. And, just to add insult to injury, she passed away the day before Kevin’s and my 15th wedding anniversary. Instead of happily celebrating our milestone anniversary, I spent the day making my mother’s funeral arrangements.

Before our terrible autumn, we spent a frustrating, and at times frightening, summer roasting in relentless triple digit heat while keeping a weary eye on the wildfires that seemed to surround us no matter where we went. And in the midst of all this, we faced a seemingly endless list of expensive repairs to our car which only added to an apparently limitless supply of budget busting expenses.

And the thing is, it wasn’t just us. Friend after friend endured horrific bad luck this year.  HUGE disasters, costly mishaps, significant health issues for them and their families.

What the hell, 2018? Why’d you have to be so vicious???

2017 wasn’t like this. 2017 was all about following the plan, doing what we expected to do, staying in budget. The world around us was not – literally – on fire.

I mean, if we’re using Miley Cyrus for illustrative purposes (because, why wouldn’t we?), 2017 was all:

whereas, 2018 was all:

Thanks a bunch, Miley.

BUT… that’s the nice, completely manufactured, thing about December. The new year is an opportunity to close one door and open another, even if only in our minds. And so, that’s what we’re doing. We’re watching 2018 disappear in the rearview mirror as we focus on new plans, new destinations, and, most importantly, a new family member in 2019.

A New Addition

Losing Dixie at the beginning of the year was kind of the first domino to fall in a long line of them, so it seemed fitting that we should start 2019 with a new furry sidekick.

As we got more comfortable with the idea of adopting again, we started talking about the specifics of what we wanted. We knew we shouldn’t blindly take home the first dog we met without thinking through whether he or she was a good match.

So, what was on our wish list?

  1. We wanted a German Shepherd
  2. We wanted a female
  3. We wanted our new Shepherd to have long fur like Dixie (counter-intuitively, the longer haired GSDs seem to shed less than their shorter haired cousins)
  4. We wanted a true puppy – like 12 to 15 weeks old – so we could properly train her, expose her to all kinds of situations, and avoid the socialization issues that are so common in shelter/rescue dogs.

Our original plan was to start really looking when we returned to Arizona, but I started poking around a bit while we were in southern California, and, well…. Kevin and I have never met a dog we didn’t want, so, meet our new dog, Thor:

a male, short haired, 1 year old German Shepherd, who was not properly socialized.

Honestly, the only thing we got right is that he’s a German Shepherd.

But look at him!

I mean, that’s a good lookin dog!! Plus, he’s smart, motivated to learn, eager to please, and, most importantly, ALL about the snuggles.

Speaking of which, and probably not surprising to any dog lovers out there, we are constantly finding ourselves agreeing with this statement:

It’s true! All YOU need is love and a dog.

All the DOG needs, on the other hand, is approximately 34% of your monthly budget…

Of course, I’m kidding. Actually, no, I’m not. These buttheads are expensive. But they are worth every penny! We’re getting him lots of exercise, working on obedience training, and trying to head off all the many, many, MANY personality quirks that make German Shepherds a giant pain in the ass a challenging breed to raise.

Meanwhile, between trips to Petsmart to buy All The Things, hours of research about the best dog foods and the best dog treats and the best dog toys, and engaging in PhD level studies on the history, methodology, and techniques of canine behavioral psychology and operant conditioning, we are learning just what it takes to raise an energetic, untrained, rambunctious one year old puppy.

“No, Thor, the leash is not a toy….”

“No, Thor, the bushes around the campsite are not a “make your own stick” shop.”

“No, Thor, those are not your ‘precious;’ They are my sneakers and I’d prefer them to stay in one piece.”

“No, Thor, you do not need to let us know about every dog that walks by…”

Deep breaths…..

Of course, the longer we have him, the better he gets, and the more we can relax.

“Man, Thor is such a great dog. He’s just entertaining himself and letting me get stuff done on the computer.

I feel like he’s truly settling in and starting to understand the boundaries we’ve set for him.

He really is a smart dog and he really does want to do the right thing.

We just need to continue being consistent and patient with him and I think he’s gonna flourish!

Wait… Is that the sound of chewing????”

….It’s a process.

Anyway, all things considered, he’s doing great, and we’re happy to, once again, have a furry roommate in our lives, even if it does mean our rapidly depreciating RV is depreciating just a bit more rapidly these days.

Here’s to lots more positive, fun, happy news in 2019…

From our pack to yours, Happy New Year, everyone!!


  1. Lol! I absolutely LOVE the giant pistachio!!! Yup. I’m done with 2018. It really sucked at the end. Ready to move forward to a happier. 2019. Gorgeous picks of your earlier travels!! Great to see those again. Hope Thor liked his Petco holiday cookies!! Looking forward to seeing you in the summer and to a family vacation. What could go wrong?? Lol!!!!

    • Yeah, I don’t know. Is it even safe for all of us to hang out together??? Perhaps we should notify Blue Cross and Geico first? Or maybe just go straight to FEMA??? Anyway, let’s all just hope for a positively boring 2019…. Happy New Year!

  2. I so can relate to everything in this post….losing a parent, a beloved pet, training a new one, chewing everything! And we visited the giant pistachio too! Here’s to less destruction and more fun at the dog parks!! I know it’s a cliche..but time does help. With loss and a new pup!! Happy New Year! I really hope that our paths cross sometime…..would love to meet in person!

    • Right back at ya! It would definitely be great to meet in person. And I agree, time certainly does help with all of this. And I can’t complain TOO much when the rest of our life is pretty great and we have this awesome community out on the road. It really was just a year of crazy extremes. As for Thor, the chewing seems to be an on and off thing. One minute he’s totally chill and relaxed, resting by our feet, and the next he decides he needs to destroy something. I’m hoping the more we keep him tired out, the less he’ll do it. And hopefully, we can get him to the point where when he does need to chew something, he chews a bone and not the sofa. 🙂 Happy New year!!

  3. Welcome Thor! Just look at the adventures awaiting you! Amazing places to visit, great food to eat and friends, old and new, to snuggle with. Your life will never be the same. Wishing you only the best in 2019!

    • Thor says: “Thanks Laura! I’m pretty excited, just a little confused about where the hell I’m supposed to pee since my parents keep moving away from my new favorite pee spot. It’s kind of weird, I’m not gonna lie. But, it’s all good. I enjoy exploring new places and I’m looking forward to learning all about this fancy country of ours! Happy travels!”

  4. Great post, beautiful photos! I hope 2019 is back to ‘Smiley Miley” for you and your family. That is a great looking dog! Looking forward to hearing of your travels and life on the road in the coming year with your new sidekick!

    • Thanks Maura! We’ve got big plans if Smiley Miley is willing to grace us with her presence again! Happy New Year to you and best wishes for 2019!

  5. What a gorgeous boy! And the pictures of the national parks are nice too ????. I hope the new year brings fun, peace, more love than you can imagine and good travels!

    • Thank you so much! You guys have had a huge year too and really big plans for 2019! I’ve loved following along to all the cool places you go and can’t wait to see and hear all about your overseas adventures. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019!

  6. I feel like you could have written that, changed a few names and that was our 2018. Worst year ever, one thing after another. Even in the final week of the year the hits keep slamming us. 2019 is just a few days away and so is our new pup. New RV, New truck… Maybe we can recover in 2019. All year I kept telling myself that if Britney survived 2007, we could make it through 2018.

    • HAHAHAHAHA! I mean, if you think about it, once she got through that terrible time, things really looked up for her, both personally and professionally. So…. I think we have a new hero to look to for inspiration. Miley is out, Brit Brit is in. 🙂

      Let’s hope 2019 will be a bit kinder to us all. I am sure Pepper is gonna bring you guys a lot of joy. Happy New Year!

  7. Beautiful pics of your travels, yes 2018 was awful, same here, but it’s going out with a bang and on a wonderful note with your addition of Thor!
    I sensed the excitement in your writing as you introduced Thor – CONGRATULATIONS. We know the heartache of losing a fur kid.
    Speaking of researching the BEST dog food, suggest you check out Honest Kitchen. Next fur kid in our family that’s all they will get, all human grade and made in the USA and it will be easy to travel with its all dehydrated.
    Wishing you a fantastic 2019, looking forward to following along!

    • Hi, Thanks for the tip about the dog food. That’s actually one I haven’t looked into, but I’ll check it out. Thor came to us with some intestinal parasites, so we’ve had him on the I/D food you get from the vet while we work on ridding his belly of these invaders. He’s finally getting back to normal, so we’ll start transitioning him to the stuff we bought and see how he does. But I’ll take a look at Honest Kitchen as well. And yes, we are very excited to have him be a part of our life and travels. Dogs really do make everything better! Happy 2019!

  8. Thor is indeed a beauty. Congrats on your new addition. I can so relate to the many ups and downs of the year and am gladly bidding farewell to 2018 and rolling out the red carpet for 2019. The night of my son’s wedding this past August, my dad had a stroke causing my sister to catch the first flight back to Chicago. Five days later, we bid farewell to a man who had lived an adventure filled 91 years. Not the way I wanted to remember that weekend.

    Here’s to a better year filled with beautiful landscapes, engaging friends, and plenty of furry hugs – Happy New Year!

    • Ugh, yes, your experiences with 2018 seem quite similar to ours… the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I am so sorry about your dad. Losing a parent is always hard, even harder when it comes at a time that is supposed to be filled with joy. I really do know how it feels. But yes, 2019 is here and it’s time to look forward. I wish you guys all the best next year!

  9. Isn’t this the truth! We started in 2016 with three cats. Now we only have one who is thinking about joining the other two any day. The good news is that I had all three for over sixteen plus years. ‘Sigh.’ As The Byrds used to sing, “With every season…”

    Looking forward to seeing what is in store for all of us as we live this incredible and fortunate life.

    Hope to see you down the road and Happy 2019!

    P.S. Love your posts!

    • Wow, 16 years is such a wonderfully long time to have a pet, but I can imagine it makes it so much harder to say goodbye. And living on the road is obviously fantastic, but it also complicates things when you’re caring for an older and sicker pet. I feel for you guys. I wish you the best as you travel this particular road. And yes, we would love to meet you for real at some point. Hopefully our paths will cross sooner rather than later! Happy New Year!

  10. Thor is just the tonic you need .. what s great time to have him come into your life. With all the natural beauty out there and Thor there to make you laugh, smile and cuss ( yep, puppies do that) 2019 should be a stellar year for you and Kevin.
    Hugs and happy trails!

    • Thanks Brenda! I hope you are right… and so far, that seems to be the case. There’s nothing like a puppy to make you forget about all your other problems (who’s got time for problems when they are busy policing and exercising and snuggling with their puppy dog??) Best wish for a happy and healthy 2019!

  11. Absolutely loved this post. You captured the highs and the lows of your past year so eloquently, and with humor (of course!). And your photos are outstanding! Despite the many big bumps in the road you encountered in 2018, you managed to see and enjoy so many beautiful places and meet so many new friends.
    We’re so happy we got to meet up with you in Tucson and hope to see you more often in our future travels. Thor is a beauty (and a lucky guy!). Love the family photo. 🙂 Wishing you a year of good health, fun times with friends, grand adventures, and no big bumps in the road!

    • Thank you so much, Laurel. This has certainly been a hell of a year, but the thing that sticks with us the most is our wonderful group of friends, both at home and on the road, who have truly helped us get through a rough year. Having people in your corner, providing advice and support and guidance, makes all the difference and we know how fortunate we are to have run into folks like you who helped us weather it all. I’m so glad we finally got to meet in person and had such a great time together. Hopefully we’ll see you guys again sooner rather than later. We wish you and Eric a happy, healthy, and exciting-but-only-in-good-ways 2019! Safe travels!

      • Yes indeed, good friends make ALL the difference! And I’ve gotta say, you guys are just as awesome in person as you are in your blog. We just have to convince Thor that Eric really and truly isn’t a scary person, LOL!! Happy, happy New Year!!

        • Haha. Well, if it makes Eric feel any better, Thor also believes the vacuum is his sworn enemy. Let’s just say he’s not a great judge of character just yet. ???? Don’t worry. We’ll keep working on it. Happy New Year!

  12. Ah, the dichotomy of life, especially when seen in the rearview mirror! While I wish for your 2019 to bring less heartache (a lot less) I’m still going to wish for it to bring you many more weird twists and turns. Not only because I love to hear what you say about them, but because it will mean your life is full. So, here’s to a 2019 full of wild beautiful life!

    • You make a good point. I guess if our lives were completely predictable, they would be boring and who the hell wants to read a blog about a boring couple doing boring things while not a single thing is on fire anywhere around them? No one, that’s who. Maybe if we can just keep the fires to a slow burn rather than an all out inferno, that would be good, yes??

      It’s been great hanging out with you guys a bit recently. Looking forward to more soon! Happy 2019!

      • Yes, you hogged the infernos in 2018, so no more for you! The grace and strength with which you battled the blazes is an inspiration for when the flames start licking at our heels, as they inevitably will. May we all come through as well as you have, still willing to take on more life with gusto and laughter. Looking forward to sharing some of the early days of 2019 with you!

        • I have no doubt life will kick you in the shin at some point, and I have no doubt you’ll roll with it when it does. A good sense of humor often makes all the difference, which is why I know you’ll be just fine. ????

  13. Welcome to life . I have had almost seven decades of it . It has punched , kicked , bite and disappointed me a lot. Would like to tell you it will get easier but it doesn’t , it’s just life . Oh by the way there are tons of great moments mixed in there along the way . So sit back and enjoy the ride , it’s the only ticket we get .

    • Yup, I know you’re right. If it was all rainbows and sunshine, it would be boring. And more importantly, I would have nothing to write about! Just gotta take the bad with the good and muddle though, I guess. Best wishes for a great, or at least not atrocious, 2019!

  14. Once again, a fantastic entry, full of wonderful pictures. recounting an age old truth. Some ya win, some ya lose. I can’t imagine how long it took to decide which ONE picture to represent each state park. You’ve had quite a year and I know 2019 will turn out to be a happy and healthy one for you three. I’m sorry sad circumstances have attached themselves to an otherwise happy occasion but time will round their sharp edges eventually. Our Christmas this year has been one of ups and downs (more downs unfortunately) but life goes on. Dave and I are fine, but extended family is not and they are staying with us so……
    At any rate, Here’s to a Happy New Year! We look forward to the further adventures of the charming and handsome Thor!

    • Hey, Sorry to hear the end of the year has been rough for you guys too. I’m tellin ya: 2018 has been something special. But you are undoubtedly right about the healing nature of time and the fact that everyone goes through these ups and downs. Hopefully we’ll have just a few less downs next year. I hope things improve for your family. Best wishes to you, Dave, and the fabulous Lewis for 2019!

    • Thank you so much! We are pretty excited we get to hang out with him every day! Happy New Year to you guys. Let’s hope it’s a great one!

  15. So, 2018 was a perfect example of how real life comes knocking on your door even when you’re “living the dream.” I’m glad you had each other to lean on!

    • So true. I’ve said it 1,000 times… just because you’re living the dream, doesn’t mean life stops happening. You just gotta deal with it. And sometimes living life on the road makes those things easier while other times, it makes them harder. We had a bit of both this year. Either way, you just gotta get through it and keep on moving. Happy New Year to you both. Look forward to meeting you on the other side of 2019!

  16. I echo Julie’s comment above and I may add, no matter what challenges or hurdles you have encountered, both of you managed to come out smiling and still “living the dream.” It’s a great feeling to look back at 2018, and pat yourselves, you made it thru!
    We won’t know what 2019 holds but I do know you are now well seasoned and no wrecking ball will keep you down.
    Thor is a handsome kid and looking forward to meeting your new family addition and by then he will be a well-trained dog!
    Cheers to a new year, to more new adventures, new challenges to tackle and good health!

    • What can we say about 2018 that wasn’t said better by the Beatles themselves? We got by with a little help from our friends… 🙂

      And yeah, I think there is a certain confidence that comes from getting through tough times in one piece. We may be a bit battered, but we survived the epic shitshow that was 2018 and now we feel a little better about our ability to handle whatever else life may throw our way. I know you know of what I speak.

      We can’t thank you guys enough. Let’s hope for smooth seas for all of us in 2019. Happy New Year!

    • Yes we can!!! If 2018 taught us anything, it’s that we can deal with a whole lot of crap. It would just be nice if there’s a little less of it next year. Let’s hope. Happy New Year!

  17. While 2018 wasn’t exactly kind to you and Kevin, you certainly were very, very busy traveling to so many awesome places. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. Some of our favorite stops:) Thor is beautiful!! I can’t wait to meet him. I know he will be excited to meet the Treat Lady!! Your expressions tells us just how loved he is. Wishing you, Kevin, and Thor a much healthier, happy 2019! You certainly deserve a turn in luck. Happy New Year! Hoping we can meet up in the coming year:)

    • YES! We would very much like to meet up with you guys again. We should compare schedules at some point and see if there is any crossover. We’ll (sadly) be heading east in the spring. Anyway, thank you so much. We loved the travel part of our travels this year. The sights in this part of the country are just incredible and we loved the amazing national parks we visited. We also loved meeting so many nice people like you guys along the way. Let’s hope for more of all that in 2019! Also, Thor is pretty excited to meet anyone named the “Treat Lady” and has informed me he will clear his schedule for you. Happy New Year!

  18. A handsome new addition to the family Thor is. It’s how we handle the low points that make us appreciate the highs. Hoping 2019 will bring you more highs than lows.

    • Thank you! You are 100% correct. The difficulties we faced this year have certainly helped us appreciate all the good stuff. We wish you guys the best in 2019. Happy New Year!!

  19. We are very much enjoying living next to a puppy at the moment… and then sending him home to destroy someone else’s home 😉 Glad 2018 is ending on a happier note, and here’s to a New Year that doesn’t suck for you. Looking forward to seeing you guys in the spring!

    • Yeah, I can see where puppies are kinda like toddlers… so cute and fun until they start destroying everything. Then, it’s nice to hand them back to their proper owners. 🙂 Anyway. hopefully by the time we see you, he will be a well behaved, well trained, well socialized dog with no destructive tendencies whatsoever. HAHAHAHAHA!! Yeah. That’s not gonna happen.

      Happy New Year!!

  20. Wow, furst off, Thor! Congrats. Now, you may be thinking, who in the world is this post from? You can thank or curse Jon & Cathy Kling for the www intro. They speak very highly of you two and I am so sorry to have missed you in the park! I am excited to see and read your adventures.
    Lessons learned from our first year semi retired and RV living are these, in no particular order because that would take time…
    * never trust google maps, “turn right” doesn’t always go as planned “do a u turn” should mean recalculating route in a 42’ fifth wheel.
    * down size your clothing and right size your comfy style. I thought I donated enough clothes away before we left, nope.
    * if you see a moment embrace it.
    * live your life and truly try not to say “maybe next time we can do….”. Or “I wish I would have….”.
    * meet your new neighbours and be genuine with all you meet. Hi Dave & Faye – our beloved Texas via Vermont – best in show for Christmas lights…. oh and our dogs favourite past time “Dave TV” as both dogs love to watch out the window and wag their tails with glee….” what’s he doing NOW!?” Excited to see their comments in your blog post! Small world….love it.
    * remember that life is a journey that is meant to show you dirt roads, no roads, paths to paradise, or dead ends… today is just as it is meant to be as it lays the foundation for our future. Chillax, all will work out as it should.
    Okay…some lessons, from our little trip from Fort McMurray, Alberta to Mustang Island, Texas. Wouldn’t change a bloody thing.

    • Haha! So much I agree with in these lessons learned. I think, chief among them, what a small, little, interconnected world we all exist in. With all the RVers out there, it’s crazy how many people we meet who know other people we’ve met in real life, or online through these blogs and social media. We actually met Jon and Cathy before we even left home since they, too, were from the D.C. area, and now we’ve hung out with them in Florida and Utah. It’s funny to think about the little connections we all have and to put pins in the mental map for where you’ve met along the way or which campgrounds you’ve both spent time in.

      In any case, there are so many lessons to learn, but yes, the biggest all relate to not wasting time, to embracing opportunities, and to rolling with whatever life throws your way. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but these should always be the goals.

      Anyway, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Best wishes to you for a happy and healthy 2019 full of nice people and fun adventures! Happy New Year!

  21. Those pictures are amazing Laura … you are so talented! And Thor, oh so cute 🙂 We wish the three of you a fun, adventure filled, safe 2019 and I really hope our paths cross this year.

    • You are too kind. Thank you. And I agree, it would be great to meet up this year. We came oh-so-close in Yuma, but missed you by just a few days. Hopefully we’ll have better timing next time! Happy New Year!

  22. 1st of all, So sorry for your losses. Agreed, 2018 was pretty sucky in the loss, weather, and repairs categories.
    Secondly, Congrats on a beautiful addition to your family, he is in deed very handsome. Funny how fate turns out, isn’t it?
    And last of all – your blog was wonderful and your postcard perfect pictures (all of them!) are so inspiring.
    Here’s to a happy and carefree 2019 for all!

    • Thank you very much. It seems like an awful lot of us were in the “good riddance to 2018” camp. I sincerely hope 2019 is kinder to us all. And I agree; so many things just seem to work out. Thor was not exactly what we were looking for, but he’s been the perfect dog for us. Thank you for your kind words. I wish you all the best in 2019!

  23. Thor is gorgeous! I’m so glad you have a new puppy–dogs heal everything. I also loved your Miley Cyrus analogy for 2018 and 2019–couldn’t be more true. Wishing you guys so many wonderful blessings for 2019 and hoping it’s a year going according to plan. Hopefully, our paths will eventually cross! Take care, Dawn

    • Somehow I missed a bunch of comments and am just seeing these now. Sorry for my super late reply.

      Anyway, Thor has been incredibly effective with helping us turn the page and refocus. Between being so much fun and being such a pain in the ass, he is keeping us too busy to worry about much else. 🙂

      Happy 2019 to you and your family!

  24. You visited some beautiful places in 2018, and captured some great photos. I’m glad there were some bright spots, even in a tough year. I hope you have a great 2019 with Thor!

  25. WOW!!! Your pics are simply AWESOME. Truly amazing sights you have seen! What an incredible life experience! And congrats on your new family member! Puppies are the BEST!

    • They really, truly, are! We’d gone way too long without one, but, we needed to really be ready to adopt again. Thor has been a great fit for us and we’re so happy to have him along for the ride (literally). Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic 2019… it’s certainly started out pretty great for you!

    • Thank you! He’s been a great addition to our family and we feel very lucky to have him (except when he’s being a butthead????).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here