Difficult as these last few weeks have been, we’ve found ourselves quite thankful for several things. After a certain amount of experience, you begin to appreciate how bad things could have been if circumstances were just a tiny bit different, and that has been on our minds a lot recently.
Location, Location, Location
Most obvious is that we were only an hour south of Tucson when we found ourselves in need of an emergency veterinary clinic for Dixie. Just a couple weeks before, we’d been crossing west Texas, and if you know anything about West Texas, you know why we were relieved to not be there when everything happened. While the drive certainly wasn’t bad, there is NOTHING in West Texas.
It’s hours of this….
I took this picture because: “Hey! Mountain!!!”
Tiny towns pop up every so often, but you’re certainly not going to find an emergency veterinary hospital in the booming metropolis that is Van Horn, Texas. Here’s us parked in Van Horn:
Trust me on this: there are no veterinary neurologists in Van Horn.
Alas, when Dixie needed help, at least we were only an hour away from Tucson, a large city with a very capable veterinary practice that had the facilities to try to help her. We know we got her the best care available, which provides us some measure of comfort.
We were also quite fortunate to have good friends in the area. We knew no one in Arizona, but, lucky for us, our friends and fellow RVers, Celena and Shoam, whom we’ve hung out with several times around the country, had specifically planned to meet up with us in Benson and Tucson. So, throughout this whole ordeal, they were close by.
Before Dixie passed away, we went hiking a number of times…
we spent a day exploring famous Bisbee, Arizona…
and we watched the Super Blue/Blood Moon with them and their neighbors, Ed and Therese….
When Dixie passed away, their presence became even more vital to us. We really lucked out meeting them on the road. We have a lot in common, conversation flows freely, and we just enjoy each other’s company. What that meant in this situation was they gave us a reason to get out of the house, talk about other topics, and have some fun.
We went out for dinner, did some more hiking, invited each other over for meals at our respective homes, and spent hours talking about all kinds of stuff. While Kevin and I certainly would have tried to stay busy without having close friends around, I think the fact that they were there made it that much easier to get up, go out, and stay engaged.
Plus, there were new friends to meet and keep us occupied. I’ve been reading MonaLiza’s blog, Lowes Travels, for years. She and her husband, Steve, have a lot of the same interests as us and they have traveled extensively, so I often check her blog first when we’re going somewhere new and I need ideas. We had emailed each other around Christmas and made tentative plans to meet up while we were all in Tucson. When Dixie passed, I briefly considered canceling our meet-up because I just didn’t know if we would be up to putting on a happy face and going to meet new people, but I also knew it would be beneficial for us to stay busy and keep socializing. In the end, I was so glad we didn’t cancel. We met MonaLiza and Steve for lunch and then a trip to a local brewery and just had a fantastic time chatting.
A couple days later, she invited us to their RV park for a happy hour with several of their other RVer/blogger friends. That evening, we got to chat with Sue and Dave (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) and John and Pam (Oh The Places They Go).
This whole group has been on the road for years, giving them the kind of experience that is so helpful to relative newbies like us – especially when discussing travels in the western half of the country – an area that is completely unfamiliar to us. By the end of the evening, we were positively buried in fantastic information about RVing in general and many of the specific locations we’ll be visiting this spring and summer. Not only did we learn a lot, but we really had fun talking with them and sharing our experiences. The evening just flew by and, before we knew it, it was late and we were discussing our hopes to meet each other again out on the road.
And if you want to see proof positive that folks in this community are just good people, check out the pile of brochures, maps, and magazines Mona Liza gave us, along with two pages of handwritten notes for the places we should go while we were in Tucson… and San Diego… and Utah (all of which, she knew, are coming up for us).
And, separately, she handed us a bag of approximately 432 lemons picked from the lemon tree growing behind their RV.
It was like some perfect metaphor for our lives at the moment. Making lemonade out of the lemons we’d been handed…
Never underestimate the power of friends – old and new – to help get you through crappy times.
We were also thankful to be in Tucson. To be honest, we weren’t sure we would love the desert southwest, but Tucson is a great town and we truly enjoyed being there. In fact, we liked it so much, we already booked a return trip for next winter.
What was so great about it? Well, first, it was warm and sunny just about every day….
We cannot imagine having gone through all this if it were cold and gray and damp and miserable. Tucson’s spectacular weather unquestionably positively impacted our mood.
Second, I’m a huge proponent of the “sitting on your ass feeling sorry for yourself will get you nowhere” school of thought, and Tucson made it easy to avoid doing that. We set our alarms, got our butts out of bed, went hiking, ran errands, and tried new things.
(Ok, the “new thing” was just In-N-Out Burger, but it was new, and it was delicious.)
Third, the opportunities to take advantage of the great outdoors were seemingly infinite.
One of our favorite days was when we went to the top of 9,157 foot Mount Lemmon with Celena and Shoam.
When you start driving up the mountain, you’re surrounded by Saguaro cacti. By the time you get to the top, the temperature will have dropped 20 degrees and you’ll find yourself surrounded by pine trees and looking at a ski resort.
Unfortunately, they’ve had almost no snow up there this season, but you can still ride the ski lift to the very top to take in the scenery.
On the drive back down the mountain, we stopped at a number of scenic overlooks.
If you find yourself in Tucson, we highly recommend a trip up this mountain for unexpected scenery and dazzling views.
Before writing my last post, we had only told a handful of friends and family about what happened with Dixie. I wanted to write a proper tribute and that meant going through a lot of photos, crying, writing, crying, editing, crying, finding more pictures, crying, deciding I had too many pictures, crying, second guessing everything, crying, reconsidering the photos I’d removed, crying… you get the picture. Honestly, the day the article went up on the site, I was exhausted by all of it and just happy to hit “publish.”
To say we were overwhelmed by the response would be an understatement. We woke up to not only a lot of comments on the article, but a pile of emails and texts from our friends, family, former colleagues, and fellow bloggers.
I often make fun of social media because there’s so much nonsense involved in it, but there are also huge benefits that come along with having a presence online. We connect with different people on different platforms and it was honestly comforting to see all of these people we know or “know” sharing stories, expressing sympathies, and offering us support while we are out on the road. It really did help. And we really do appreciate it.
Helping Other Doggos
We also knew that finding a way to help other dogs would make us feel better so I did some research and found a small German Shepherd Rescue in Phoenix and reached out to them to see if they could use any of Dixie’s things. While we are holding onto her most prized (ie: drooled on and ripped apart) possessions, we had a lot of items that could help other dogs (specialized harnesses for dogs with back and leg problems, a ramp, food for dogs with sensitive stomachs, a THOUSAND poop bags (Amazon was having a sale – it made sense at the time), flea and tick medication, heart worm preventative, etc.). Happily, they wanted ALL of it. So, we gathered everything up and donated it all to the rescue. It was bittersweet, to say the least, but we know it’s what Dixie would have wanted.
That is SUCH a lie… Dixie DEFINITELY would not want to share any of her stuff with another dog, but…. it sounds better this way so that’s what we’re going with.
As an added benefit, when we dropped the stuff off, we got to meet some of the Rescue’s special needs puppies and give them some love and attention.
The last several days of our time in Tucson were marred by rain, wind, and Kevin not feeling well. In addition, we realized there’s a problem with the plate on the Xterra that keeps it attached to the motorhome when we’re towing it, and we’ve concluded that the Xterra may have some significant age related engine issues that we need to address. So, in an abundance of caution, we’ll be driving the RV and Xterra separately until we can get the tow set-up fixed, and we’ll be blowing even more holes in our budget as we send our poor, put-upon, Xterra in for some much needed TLC.
It seems as much as we loved Tucson, our visit there really did a number on us.
So, as we continue our trip westward, we are, undoubtedly, a bit bruised and battered. As I’ve said in the past, just because you’re traveling around the country in an RV “living the dream” doesn’t mean life doesn’t kick you in the shins once in a while. But, we will get through this rough patch as we have others: with a little creativity, a bit of optimism, a healthy sense of humor, and the (very much appreciated) support of our friends and family.
Until next time….
Where we stayed:
Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson, AZ
Catalina State Park, Tucson, AZ
Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, AZ (review coming… at some point)
So glad you found so much comfort and help within the RV and online community. I read all the blog posts people send you and there truly were some heartfelt, genuine posts to help you through this time. It’s nice to see so many good people out there. Makes me feel better, too ????. It’s great that you are getting out there and enjoying where you are – doesn’t mean you aren’t still grieving and don’t miss her, but at least you are picking up and moving forward. I love the sunset pics!! Good luck with the Xterra and glad Kev is feeling better!
Yeah, we’re glad too. I was honestly surprised by how heartfelt so many of the comments and communications we received were. Everyone is busy and has their own lives to deal with and yet so many people took the time to really reach out. And to have people we’ve never even met make a real effort to connect with us, offer us any assistance they could provide, and make us feel a little better meant a lot. SOME people even put us in touch with their friends who had gone through something similar and really understood what we were going through. Imagine that!! 🙂
Been following your blog for some time now, really enjoying your writing and sense of humor. Losing a fur BABY is tough and my prayers are with you guys. We are in Lake Havasu, AZ and if you are headed this way, would love to treat you to the sites of our town. We even have FHU next to our home if need be.
One of the unknown sites is Desert Bar, which from what I hear is a blast.
We are currently getting ready to head East in May with our RV. Looking forward to being a Nomad.
Well, it is a small world indeed because that’s exactly where we are at the moment. Of course, we’ve got a pretty big pile of stuff on our plate to deal with while we’re here, but we may actually try to go to the desert bar this weekend. We’re sordof taking things one day at a time and seeing what we can get done. But if you want, just send me an email and I can let you know if we’re actually gonna make it out there and maybe we can meet up. My email is [email protected]
In the meantime, congrats on the upcoming move to fulltime RVing. May will be here before you know it!
This is your Aunt Krissy, so sorry that it’s been awhile, I’ve been so busy with work and an online training course. My sister Penny informed me about Dixie. I’m truly very sorry for your loss, just 2 days ago we lost our beloved Zoe, our 13 year old German Shepherd. I can’t even begin to describe our heartbreak but I know that I don’t have to to y’all. You are all to aware due to your loss of sweet Dixie. I know in my heart that we will see our sweet babies again. Please know that I love you both. Safe travels????
Hi Krissy. We are SO sorry to hear about Zoe. Yes, we really do understand how you feel right now. Our first GSD was 13 when she passed and it’s so hard to watch them slow down. These dogs just move into your heart and take over the whole place. And I know I am completely biased, but I really think Shepherds are special and it makes it even harder to lose them. We miss our puppies terribly and definitely like to hope and think we will see them all again. I hope you all take care of yourselves. These first couple days are really, really rough, but it does get a bit easier with time.
Oh, the loss of a pet is always so hard! So sorry to hear about Dixie. That was pretty funny about “what she would’ve wanted“. ???? Well, I hope this doesn’t Marr your vision of the west. It’s amazing out here!
I cannot tell you how grateful we’ve been to be out here. The bright blue skies and giant, open vistas really do put us in a better frame of mind. It’s been therapeutic for sure.
The best thing about RVing is the community. Sure, I love exploring new places but it can be even more fun when shared. That last photo sums it up nicely. We did the same thing when we lost Bear and donated a bunch of stuff. Tough time!
If you need a mechanic, we can recommend one in LHC. Look forward to meeting up!
Yeah, we are definitely finding that out. Interesting places are always more fun to explore with good friends by your side. Plus, those good friends keep adding to our ever-expanding list of places we need to go and things we need to see. At the rate we’re going, we’re gonna have to live in in an RV for the next 20 years to see it all!
Best of luck moving forward. We feel your pain with Dixie. Tucson looked great. Enjoy the rest of the west…..huh… that rhymed.
Best moving forward.
Thank you very much. So far, we’ve really enjoyed exploring out here. There is so much variation from one place to the next. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by all the different types of topography we’ve come across… and if the blue skies and sunshine keep constant, we’ll be even happier. Hope you all are doing well!
So happy to hear you found the sunny weather, hiking, and friends to be therapeutic during your grieving. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, we’ve lived here for 20 years & still find new hikes, cool bars, & touristy stuff when we come back in the winter.
If you’re coming north, check out Cave Creek!
I know your budget probably really took a hit with vet bills & car troubles, we find camphosting for a free site once in awhile really helps. We can save around $1000 + per month to either pay for expensive maintenance, put back in savings, or pay for future expensive parks we want to visit. We prefer 1-3 months stints, any longer, we get antsy!! And I choose beautiful places with lots to do. Next summer we will be at Delaware Seashore State Park May-July, right on the ocean.
Just a thought you may want to consider at some point. State/Regional Park’s are the best to volunteer IMO. We have met some great people.
Hey! I was just looking at Cave Creek and the other regional parks in that area (McDowell, Usery, etc) for next year, but we can’t book them yet because it’s too early. But yes, we definitely hear very good things about all of them and they seem like great places to set up for a while, especially this time of year. I’m gonna book one or a couple of them as soon as the window opens up. We would definitely consider camp-hosting at some point down the line. Especially when you can get a spot at a great park at a time of year when you want to be there (the Delaware beach in summer sound about right). From what we’ve heard, each job and each park is really different, so we’ll have to do our research, but it seems like a great option.
Yes, all parks & jobs vary. Currently we volunteer at Spur Cross Conservation Area, about 20 min. from Cave Creek Regional Park where our free FHU site is.
We work 2 or 3 days per week, collecting fees for the park, giving hiking recommendations, and selling souvenirs. It’s actually fun, meeting people from all over the world who are coming to the desert for the first time. It’s a good fit because we can be outdoors, and can talk about the unique beauty of the Sonoran Desert. In addition to the site, we also get free propane & laundry. The only downside is the length of commitment-5 months.
We are very selective on where we volunteer & the type of work, as we don’t really NEED the extra money, but sure is nice to save some a few months!!
Don’t hesitate to email me with any questions. Deb
Laura I am enjoying your writing so much you really have a gift. I feel the same as you about our RV experience but the way you put it into words makes me smile. Keep writing, I look forward to your “Chapters”.
Aww thanks Cathy! I appreciate it. This is a fun outlet for me and it helps me remember what we did (I have a lousy memory). Hope you guys are doing well! Please give the pups some extra belly rubs for us.
Another great, heartfelt post Laura. It was lovely meeting you both at MonaLiza’s and look forward to crossing paths “down the road”.
‘You’ve learned one of the most amazing things about this RV/traveling life….an amazing, powerful and totally unexpected thing. A thing that you didn’t know you’d need, a thing that you didn’t know existed. The kindness of this huge community of like minded, crazy folks who have chosen to live life on the road. Kindness that manifests itself in many ways, but always appears just when you need it. All you need to do is just stay in touch and we’re all here.
It was lovely meeting you both at MonaLiza and Steve’s. We look forward to crossing paths again “down the road”. Happy travels!
Hahahaha! Well, it really was lovely meeting you both……that’s what you get when you don’t proof read your comment before you post it!
Haha! Don’t feel bad. I still screw up my comments even WITH proofreading them. 🙂
Anyway, we had heard many good things about the community aspect of RVing before we took off, but it really is something to experience when you’re out there. I am definitely glad I started following the blogs I did because they’ve introduced us to so many great people. Same with being on Instagram. We are consistently blown away by how nice people in this community are and how they will bend over backwards to help each other out. It’s another nice perk of this already pretty great life.
Glad to hear you will be returning to this area next winter. There is an endless array of possible places to explore both on foot and in the auto. Bisbee is a great little town with neat restaurants and several hikes in to the hills in town, and make sure you try the 1000 Step Challenge which really shows you the house variety. Tucson takes many visits and then many more 🙂 The perfect winter stop!
So glad you had friends in the area to help you through the lose of your beloved Dixie. Keeping busy with new and old friends was your silver lining. Hope Kevin is feeling better. Safe travels as you move on. Hope our paths cross again soon. Our blog is always up to date so let us know if we are passing by:)
I had actually heard about the 1000 step challenge before we got to Bisbee, but, somehow, our desire for tacos and margaritas overpowered our desire to walk up a 1,000 stairs. Neat how that happens. 🙂 Anyway, we will most certainly visit that town again as we only saw a portion of what was there. We actually wouldn’t mind staying at the RV park right in town which would take away any excuse we might have for not walking all those steps. 🙂 And I agree 100% on Tucson. It will be many, many more visits before we get to do and see everything. It really is the perfect place to hunker down for winter.
I’ll keep an eye out on your blog. As large as this country is, we all do seem to travel certain routes, so I am sure our paths will cross again. Safe travels!
Time is definitely a healer but the company of good friends is such a soothing balm. Silver linings aside, I can only imagine how much you two miss your girl. Hoping the mental walks down memory lane keep getting easier.
Thanks for the great post on Tucson!!!
Virtual Hugs 🙂
Thank you… Yeah, the passage of time certainly helps. I find myself turning into a weepy puddle much, much less often than I did earlier this month, sooo… progress!
Tucson was great and we are looking forward to returning next year. Speaking of which, I am bummed we missed crossing paths with you guys out here We seem to be on the exact opposite paths, just a couple days off (we’re heading to Joshua Tree next).
So close, but not quite…. Hopefully down the road….
When I read your comment “that’s what Dixie would have wanted”, I thought to myself “really”, so when I read the next sentence I laughed so hard! Despite all you are going through you still make me laugh 🙂 I’m glad that you have found ways to get out and do other things and have good friends to help support you. If you are in the Yuma area in the next week we would love to get together, otherwise I hope our paths cross next year!
Haha. Yeah, not only would Dixie not have been happy with sharing her stuff with another dog, I’m pretty sure she would have bitten us if she saw us giving away her favorite canned food. 🙂
Close, but no cigar on Yuma. We drove through Quartzite yesterday and then north to Lake Havasu. We’re here for just a couple days and then moving on to Joshua Tree. Hopefully we’ll have better luck crossing paths down the road….
What a lovely, heartfelt post. I’m so glad you’re making the friendship connections that make this RVing life so rich. Exploring and seeing new places is a blast, but it’s ever so much more rewarding when we meet up with others who choose this nomadic life. You’ve even been hanging out with some of our favorite traveling buddies! I’m super jealous that we weren’t there, too, for that happy hour in Tucson. 🙂
You are so right—this life we’ve chosen of “living the dream” doesn’t mean that we get to escape the difficulties of this human existence. But it sure makes it easier when there are like-minded souls who are there to offer support.
Carry on, and keep on enjoying this beautiful life. Dixie would want you to.
I couldn’t agree more. I think the biggest downside to it is just that these interactions are so fleeting. We’ve met several people and thought, “if we all lived in the same place, we’d be hanging out together all the time.” That’s why I am so impressed that this particular group, of which you are a part, makes consistent efforts to see each other and spend time together. It’s what we’re trying to do a bit more of with the people we’ve gotten to know. It takes more effort, of course, but really building relationships takes time and shared experiences, so we just have to keep putting the effort in to make sure we cross paths.
Another fantastic blog post. You are such a skilled writer and the pictures are amazing. Your writing comes across so effortless and it flows so well – it makes me feel like I’m hearing all this while we’re having a conversation over a couple of beers. You’re so talented and I truly enjoy all of your posts. You guys continue to be in our thoughts and I’m happy, again, to see that you’re finding your way through all of this in a balanced way to keep yourselves sane. Continue to take care of yourselves and -as always- safe travels!
You are way, way, way too nice to me. If you keep saying all these things, I am going to get a GINORMOUS ego. So, please, tell me more about me.
Anyway, thank you very much for being so complimentary. I do appreciate it. It would be nice to actually sit down over beers and chat about all of these things. Luckily you are now set up smack dab in the middle our standard route from east to west, so I am sure we will have that opportunity at some point. Hope the new house is coming along well!
I got nothing. Just wanted to send ❤️
We’ll take it!
We are glad Steve and I were good distractions during this time. Dixie was part of the RV community that we also felt your pain of her passing.
Wow, I have not seen great photos of the setting sun at Mt Lemmon, you captured it so well! And you have painted Tucson to be a great winter destination, love it.
Steve chuckled when he saw the brochures I gave you made it to your post, ha ha ha, he said I made you a recycling bin 🙂 in a good way. Hope it helps you navigate and manage your explorations down the road.
Steve… so cynical…. Ha!
You’ve saved us tons of time having to research all this stuff and the maps/road trip guides are awesome. Too bad we didn’t get to cross many things off your Tucson list. There is just so much there and Kevin got sick at the exact wrong time. Dammit Kevin… Well, at least I won’t have to do much research next year. I will have a list ready to go!
We had heard that Mount Lemmon was a good place to go hiking, especially when it was hot in the city, but we had no idea the views would be so spectacular. And luckily we got the tip about Windy Point at the exact right time. Otherwise, we might have just driven right by and not realized what an incredible lookout there was.
I’ve thought of you often and am so glad you have been comforted by friends and the knowledge that you did the best for Dixie. Your post made me laugh and cry!
Yeah, the laughing/crying combo thing has been happening a lot around here recently. It has definitely been an emotional roller coaster at times. But we’re getting there… one day at a time. Hope you are doing well!
We love you too, Shelby!!
Howdy! We want to send you belated condolences in losing Dixie. Having lost Bogie last July, we certainly can appreciate what you are going through. We’re still in Quartzsite and have made several trips to Havasu for puppy shots ( don’t ask). You undoubtedly drove past us as you transitioned to Havasu. Anyway, we missed an opportunity to meet you guys. Sounds like you were blessed to be surrounded by fellow travelers in Tucson to help with your grief. Take it from us, it will diminish and be replaced by fond memories. Although we have a new puppy that is almost a clone, we constantly are reminded of Bogie. The new guy is Quigley. We love him but Bogie will remain in our hearts.
Hi Ed! I am sorry that we missed you…. we definitely were in the same neighborhood for a bit, but now we’ve moved on to California. Hopefully we’ll end up in the same place at the same time somewhere down the line. We’d definitely love to meet Quigley (and you guys, of course.:)) And yes, we were very very fortunate to be where we were when all of this happened. It’s hard to imagine having gone through it if we were dealing with different circumstances. While it was obviously hard to be thankful for much at the time it was all happening, in retrospect, we realize how important all of these factors were. Anyway, thanks for your comment. I hope you all are doing well and enjoying the sunshine.
We met Monaliza and Steve last March on a hike at Navajo National Monument. I didn’t know they were bloggers until they were leaving. They were great fun and I started following them.
We will be leaving the San Diego area in a week or so heading tenn Tucson. I’ve never been there, so I’m sure it will be a great adventure.
Wow! What a crazy small world – for 2 reasons. First, that you met them on a random hike and second, that you’re heading to Tucson. We’re here now, but leaving on Thursday. ☹️
Tucson is a great place though for travelers. I’m super behind on my blog, but plan on writing a list soon about all the stuff there is to do here. There’s a thing called the Tucson Passport that you might want to look at. Even if you don’t get it, it lists all the various places to go and things to do here. Also, the weather has been awesome lately! Hope you have a great time!!
Comments are closed.