I want to thank everyone who reached out to me after my last post, both directly and by leaving comments on this blog, Facebook, etc. Initially, I didn’t have time to sit down and respond to the comments because we were so busy with everything, and by the time I did have time, there were so many, I was overwhelmed by the idea of it. I always respond to comments, but this time, it was just more than I could handle. But, rest assured, I read – and very much appreciated – each kind word left for me.
I’m going to be playing a bit of catch up with the blog for a while, and things will be out of order for a couple weeks since I had started some articles and then put them on hold, but we’re not doing NASA level science here, so I’m assuming it’ll be OK.
After Portland, we traveled down the coast of Oregon to the Redwoods in northern California – all of which I’ll talk about in a future post. After leaving the Redwoods, we headed back into Oregon to the little town of Ashland. Though we only got to spend a couple days there, we loved every minute. (Thanks to our friend, Laurel, we knew exactly where to spend what little time we had. Thanks Laurel!)
Ashland is a small town with a bustling downtown area full of independent shops and restaurants, a huge Shakespeare theater scene, a gorgeous downtown park, tree lined residential neighborhoods, and a friendly, welcoming vibe. Walking around, it was immediately apparent that Ashland is like an effortless version of Portland… it’s progressive without being pretentious, outdoorsy without being phony, artsy without being snobby. Basically, if everyone in Portland would stop trying so hard, Portland could be like Ashland. In the meantime, I hope Ashland never changes because it had such an authentic and welcoming feel.
I didn’t take many pictures while we were there, but the ones I did take usually involved the changing leaves. Fall in Ashland is gorgeous and we happened to be there during a particularly beautiful period of weather.
Our too-short visit to this idyllic little town convinced us that we need to come back and explore more. It is, truly, a special place.
While on the east coast, I got to perform an archaeological dig in my old bedroom that unearthed some seriously awesome 80’s paraphernalia….
Along with evidence of my cutting edge music taste, circa 1989….
And pictures from that time I was a Chiquita banana or something for my dance recital.
Speaking of costumes, we donned some new ones when we joined my brother’s family for trick-or-treating on Halloween.
But first, I had to find one that a) would be warm on a chilly New England evening, and b) wasn’t trashy… which is harder than you might think.
I considered going with a law enforcement theme considering it’s a subject near and dear to my heart, but I was afraid some real officer would see me wearing this SWAT costume and arrest me for impersonating a police officer…
Then I went looking for child friendly characters and found that these, too, had been corrupted
Sexy Big Bird? Really?
They’d even managed to corrupt our RV’s namesake purple dinosaur, Barney…..
Though, to be fair, it appears that Barney is eating this young woman’s head.
In the end, I chose a safe, warm, and non-streetwalker-themed Batgirl outfit, to go along with the rest of my family’s crime-fighting crew…
(and my niece who went as a Greek Goddess….)
Anyway, after all the hard work was done (adults chatting with one another and enjoying adult beverages while the the kids acted as the ‘candy retrieval team’), we got to share in the spoils. Good work, kids!
Peace in the Desert
Between September and October, we flew to the east coast 3 times: once from Portland, once from Ashland, and once from Phoenix. Between the last two flights, we drove the RV from Ashland to Phoenix, which is a long haul even without all the flying. By the time we got back after the final trip, all we wanted to do was sit in one place and relax. McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Scottsdale was just what the doctor ordered. The campsites are enormous, the views go on forever, and the weather was perfect. So, we extended our stay by a couple days and made the most of the downtime.
Before we started traveling, I’d read blogs by folks singing the praises of life in the desert, and, honestly, I didn’t get it. I just couldn’t see the appeal of what appeared to me to be a somewhat dull landscape. But now, after having spent a bunch of time in southern Arizona, you can add me to the chorus. I don’t know why, but pictures just don’t seem to capture it.
The air seems cleaner, the sun warmer, the sky bluer than anywhere else, and just about every day ends with an epic sunset…
And, if all that isn’t enough to turn you into a desert convert, just imagine a world where every day is a good hair day.
Magic, I tell you.
Anyway, a couple days in the desert really helped us feel better, and, if all the sunshine wasn’t enough, a visit with some lovely people helped even more. We first met Sue and Dave in February and since then, have followed one another’s blogs and Facebook pages. When I saw they were at another Maricopa County park (Usury), I reached out to see if they had time to meet up. They invited us over for a lovely evening of dinner and conversation, and we were finally able to meet the famous Lewis – a dog who has more personality than most people we know. Luckily, Lewis decided we were A-OK and, unsurprisingly, decided to cozy up to Kevin.
(Don’t worry Pam, Kevin’s not trying to replace you… though, you might want to sneak Lewis some extra treats next time you see him, just to make sure.)
Finally, we made a quick stop in Las Vegas to see our friend, Julie, run her first half marathon. Vegas has long been one of our favorite places. Yes, everything is stupidly overpriced, yes, it is often amateur hour, yes, it can be smoky and dirty, and yes, there are a lot of idiots running around, but… there’s just something about it that we love. The over-the-top everything, the endless one-upmanship of the casino hotels, the massively entertaining people watching, and the endless options for shows and concerts… All have made this city in the middle of nowhere one of our most frequently visited destinations over the years.
I mean, really, where else can you find the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty – wearing a hockey jersey, a little bit of ancient Rome, and some of the most beautiful dancing fountains in the world, all within a 10 minute walk?
The night before the marathon we all visited the Neon Museum, which is an organization that collects and attempts to preserve the old signage from various Las Vegas hotels and casinos. Some of the signs go back to the very beginning of the city’s existence while others arrived in recent years. Interestingly, we learned that hotels and casinos do not own the signs that adorn their properties. Rather, the signs are owned by sign companies that lease them out to the properties. When buildings are torn down or refurbished, the signs are removed and, often, sent to this facility.
Those that arrived decades back were, predictably, in much worse shape than newer ones. Preservation has only recently become a focus in Las Vegas, so many of the signs had been picked apart and allowed to deteriorate.
But others were in excellent condition, looking as impressive as ever.
In order to see the signs, you have to go on a guided tour. It’s pricey, but very worthwhile. We learned a lot about the city’s history, the challenges it faced during different periods, and the figures, both known and unknown, who made the city what it is.
As for the Vegas Marathon, on race day, the city does the unthinkable and shuts down the Vegas strip.
Unlike other marathons, this one is run in the evening, giving the more than 40,000 participants the incredible experience of running along the Vegas strip as the lights come on.
There were a fair number of people in costumes, though not as many as we expected, and a lot of couples getting married at a “run through wedding” at the end of the race.
Altogether, it was quite the sight to see and we’re very proud of Julie for getting it done!
We spent the rest of our quick trip hanging out and catching up with our friends from D.C. It was a short visit, but we had a great time!
Back to the Pacific…
In real time, we’re back on the California coast for a quick visit, after which we’ll return to Arizona to winter in the desert. (Yeah, that’s right.. I just used ‘winter’ as a verb. What are you gonna do about it? Ha!!) Anyway, we’ll be back in the lovely desert before you know it. Can’t wait!
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Nice post! Glad you are getting back to your schedule. Ashland sounds awesome. I think we New Englanders often forget that Fall’s beauty extends beyond our boundaries. Vegas marathon is on my list. Sorry we couldn’t meet you this year. Enjoy California. You know how jealous Jeremy is…. I got spoiled seeing you so much over the last few weeks/months, albeit under unpleasant circumstances. Miss you lots. Can’t wait until you are back this way again – or until I find a marathon near you ????
Walking around Ashland totally reminded us of New England. You’re right, most people don’t think of the Pacific Northwest as this gorgeous fall location, but it really is. You would absolutely love this town. We miss you guys too. We just need to do a better job of spending lots of time together when everything isn’t blowing up around us!! 🙂 Fingers crossed for all good vibes this summer!
Ah, the desert! To me, it is such a healing place. I’ve always loved it. I’m glad you are finding some peace. Vegas has never held much appeal for me. I’m just not into the crowds, but I’d love to visit the neon museum. I had no idea they didn’t actually own the signs. Happy Thanksgiving!
Yeah, the Neon Museum was surprising all around. I didn’t understand why we had to go on a guided tour in order to see the signs, but they really teach you a lot about the city and why it is the way it is. Highly recommend it. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!
Happy to hear that some joy & peace has returned to you. Agree, the desert is my happy place, hard not to smile when everyday is sunny! We’re in FL while the Emerald Coast is gorgeous, it’s been too chilly & rainy for our taste. Think next year we’ll return to “winter” in the desert!! Now, I want to go to Vegas! Wishing you & Kevin a Happy Thanksgiving.
Ya know, we had great weather luck when we were on the panhandle two years ago, but I remember talking to people who’d spent prior winters there and they said it totally depends. One year will be lovely and the next will be awful. Sounds like you guys have gotten a crappy hand dealt to you this year. Actually, from what I see on Facebook and Instagram, the desert southwest may be the only place that isn’t having awful weather this year. Hopefully it will improve soon, but yeah, in the future, I think the desert will be our number 1 choice for winter. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!! Here’s hoping for blue skies and warm temperatures!
Good to hear all is better, the desert can be such a healing place…glad you’ve found its beauty. We’re enjoying the TX coast but AZ holds a special place in our hearts and we look forward to our winter their next year. The sign “musuem” looks cool, something for whenever we get back Vegas. Happy Thanksgiving!!
Yup, you can absolutely put us in the category of desert converts! Crazy how that happens. But it really is special and we really do look forward to getting back there now. I hope you guys have a fantastic Thanksgiving as well!
So many think-alikes! The soft-porn Halloween costumes? WTH society! When did all the female choices become lingerie-characters?
The inexplicable appeal of the “barren” desert? I’ve always said driving through it looks like scrubby nothingness, but when you get out into it, pure magic. Like you, until we were in it the first time, I never in a million years would have thought it would speak to me.
Getting puppy fixes from friends & camp neighbors? Yes, please! We accost more strangers with pets than we should admit.
We part ways on Vegas, but I sure enjoyed your enjoyment of it, and well-done to your marathoning friend ????
Here’s to safe travels and soothing sunscapes
Yup, I can totally understand why people despise Vegas… there are so many things about it that I would hate in any other city, but…. there’s just something about it I love. Go figure… As for the desert, I’m glad to know we aren’t the only ones who didn’t “get it.” All I know is, right now, we’re really looking forward to getting back there. Maybe some day we’ll be able to figure out what it is that creates the magic so many of us seem to recognize, but for the time being, we’ll just be happy to soak up the sun. As for dogs, I totally covet my neighbors’ dogs… hopefully god won’t judge me too harshly about the whole thing. 🙂
Phoenix, Scottsdale and Sedona are a few of my favorite places. I absolutely feel a sense of peace there that I can’t quite explain. Now I need to plan my next trip 🙂
Sedona is one of the places people speak about most frequently and it has been on our list for a long time. We’re planning to head there this winter, so we’re looking forward to it!
I’m so happy you enjoyed your visit to Ashland—you captured the spirit of the town so well. Lots of quirkiness, not much pretention! Next time, I hope we’ll be in town so that we can show you some of our favorite places. The Ashland Halloween parade is something to behold…you guys hold onto those costumes because you’ll need them! I’m impressed that you found a Batgirl costume that wasn’t pornographic! One year we wore pig noses and ears and wrapped ourselves in a tan blanket—sexy, huh?
So glad you’ve had peaceful time to allow the desert to work its healing magic. Can’t wait to see you there!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving—are you making perfect deviled eggs? :-))
You know, Kevin and I were talking about just that when we were there – how incredible Halloween must be in Ashland. Take a whole bunch of super creative people who are active in the professional theater scene, and you can only imagine the level of creativity that comes out. So cool. But… with all due respect too those fancy theater people and their fancy costumes, who doesn’t love pigs in a blanket? No one.That’s who!
Thank you again for all your on-point advice for Ashland. We really loved it and can’t wait to get back! And yes – deviled eggs are on the menu, for sure!!!
I totally agree, Ashland is a place to return to. We had a lovely time there a few years ago, except for the triple digit temperatures!
I’m glad you’ve discovered the allure of the desert. Not everyone does, but it’s a landscape that has called to us ever since our first visit in 1971. It is so peaceful and serene.
Lewis looks a bit cowed in your picture. I want your readers to know that he was giving me (seated just out of the frame) the big innocent eyes, “I’m not pestering Kevin mom, honestly, he like it when I crawl up in his face….he likes it!”
All your Halloween costume needed was stilettos instead of sneakers and it would have qualified as one of those costumes you rejected!
I think we completely lucked out with Ashland weather – it was like 70 degrees and sunny every day we were there. But yeah, even if it was super hot, it’s still just a fantastic spot, and worst case, you can head up into the mountains, which is always a nice option to get away from crazy heatwaves (one that we took advantage of last summer when we were in Grand Junction and it was about a thousand degrees).
Lewis really is one of the most expressive and entertaining dogs we have met… which is saying something because we meet a lot of dogs… He’s so much fun and got us our much needed puppy fix for the month, so thank you!! Speaking of which, we will see you guys again soon! Looking forward to it!
Oh my, now that you’ve really explained the lure of the desert ????, we’re going to have to go-and for the healing! We’re east coasters because of family but we just might have to take 6 months off to get to Arizona! DH likes to travel slo-mo….
Yup, we are east coasters too and the trip from there to here is most definitely long, but it truly is a special place and well worth making the trek for. I really didn’t understand why so many RVers head west and stay there, but now it all makes sense to me. If you can convince the DH to come out this way for a season, I bet you’ll love it!
We also love the desert and plan to spend next winter there, this year we are trying out the gulf coast. Glad things have reached some equilibrium, you guys have had a tough 2018, stay strong and look forward.
We loved the Gulf Coast when we visited there, but we had pretty good weather. Hopefully things will improve in that department for you guys. I know it’s been real rainy and chilly in a lot of places there. And yeah, we’re more than a little ready to put 2018 behind us….
People at home often ask why we would want to go and sit in the dusty dessert, they just don’t get the appeal. And I think you are right that pictures don’t show the clean air, blue skies, and of course gorgeous sunsets and sunrises almost every day! I know how hard it is to recover emotionally from the loss of a parent but hopefully your time in the southwest helps. Let us know if you are around Yuma, we would love to meet you.
Yup, it really is hard to capture in words or pictures, but no doubt about it, it is a special place and I can think of nowhere better given all the things that we’ve dealt with recently. It really did work out well in that regard. As for Yuma, we may actually cross through there at some point this winter depending on our route. If we do, I’ll let you know!
We are in Mesa, AZ now. Let me know when you are back in the area!
Yes! I am hoping we will finally cross paths this time! I’ll keep you posted when we get back there!
This is the first time I see Batgirl in those shoes! but Captain America looks good. We too love Ashland, and we got there at the peak of fall colors. Our visit there was shortened too due to some emergencies in CA. And that is my excuse that we have to revisit that little town.
What? you like the desert now? It did not take long 🙂 And I think you will like it more now that their monsoon last summer and storms poured buckets of rain, turning it into a green desert, of which I know I will really be missing and be jealous of.
I can’t believe the Vegas strip is shut down for a few hours! I will be in Vegas this Christmas I might just check out that Neon Museum.
Have a great Thanksgiving in sunny SD!
Haha! Batgirl likes comfy shoes… she’s too old for this high heel crap!
We absolutely noticed how green the Sonoran desert was when we were there. It was pretty green last winter too, but this was really noticeable! We loved it! It is beautiful no matter what, but when the color really pops against the bright blue sky, it’s spectacular! And yes, you should absolutely check out the Neon Museum. I think you would really like it! Lots of fantastic photo opportunities – day and night. Because they tour the property in groups, you won’t have a ton of random people wandering into your frames. It makes getting good photos much easier.
Hi from Dana Point.
That’s for the desert fix. AZ is one of our top 5 states! We will be at Doheny State Beach until New Year’s Day. Be fun to meetup if your in the area.
Jeff and Deb
Hey! That might be possible though not this week or next. Let me send you a direct message. Would love to hang out if we can find a time that works!
Hopefully, this spring we will get to Ashland for a visit. We hear so many wonderful things about the area from Laurel and Eric and many other bloggers. It just hasn’t been on the path until now.
I am so glad to read that you finally get why so many of us LOVE the desert. My favorite part is the wide open space and the endless views. Something one never sees in the east. Having mountains surrounding you is an awesome site.
As I was reading your segment on Lewis, I was thinking that you better not get to friendly, and then, I came to your comment addressed to me. Too funny! Lewis told me that he didn’t forget me while he was loving Kevin:)
Sorry we didn’t to catch up when you were in Vegas. Sometimes there is just too little time and too many people. Let us know if you get back this way when we are int own.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and Kevin!
Yes – that occurred to me too. We weren’t that far from you guys, but we were tied up the whole time and didn’t want to jet off when our friends flew so far. I am hoping that we’ll all be in the same place this winter and can actually hang out with you guys again… Once we get back to Arizona, we’ll be bouncing around Tucson, Phoenix, and Sedona . Hopefully we’ll cross paths then??
I have no doubt you will love Ashland. It’s just one of those places I can’t imagine anyone DISliking. And yeah, I think you’re right about the desert – it’s not just the open spaces and the clean air, but you ALSO have these gorgeous mountains surrounding you. It’s like the perfect combination of landscape features. Plus – all that sunshine and warmth in the winter? Perfect!
Oh, and say hi to Lewis for us!!! 🙂
We are in awe/terrified about your gigantic relo from Ashland to Phoenix. Anywhoo, glad you are back in the desert and back on track! Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t give the friendship bracelets to anyone else until we meet in the spring. 🙂
I’m making a whole new set of them as we speak!!! 🙂
As always a great commentary on your adventure. I don’t know how you do it. Truly amazing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Happy Motoring!!
You’re too sweet, Ron! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well!
Glad to hear you’re doing well, and love the Chiquita banana recital photo! LOL! I guess we all have a photo or two like that from our younger days. What part of AZ will you be in this winter? We’re going to be in Tucson mid-Dec through Mid-Feb.
Hey! We’ll be bouncing around Phoenix and Tucson most of the winter, so we should definitely cross paths. Sweet! I’ll email you our specifics so we can figure something out!
Gah! We were in Las Vegas during marathon weekend! Would have been fun to run into you! We were also expecting more costumes. 😉 I love the desert…nice that you get to spend the winter there. Our Zags are playing in Phoenix on Sunday–you should go cheer them on!
Oh man… that’s crazy that we were there at the same time! What are the chances?? I’m sorry we missed you! Hopefully we’ll have better luck next time.
We won’t be in the Phoenix area for a couple weeks so we won’t catch your game, but I promise I’ll root for them from afar!! ????