Each year, as fall turns to winter, folks all over the country begin taking stock of their winter supplies, putting fresh gas in their snowblowers, and making sure their heater vents are clear. Holiday decorations are removed from storage, greeting cards are written, and children begin plotting their strategy for achieving Christmas morning glory… In the midst of all this hubbub and excitement, fulltime RVers sigh sweetly, look out their poorly insulated windows, taking note of the gray skies, leafless trees, and frost covered grass, look at their partners, look back outside, look at their partners, look back outside, lock eyes with their partners and exclaim: “we’ve gotta get the hell outta here!”
And so begins the great southern migration of RVers each year.
You see, RVing in cold weather is miserable. Driving a big rig in ice and snow is death-defying, freezing temperatures cause ordinarily reliable mechanical devices to break, and RV insulation is worthless.
Now, of course, there are some hearty folks who choose to live and travel in their RVs in cold weather states during the winter. They add insulation to their cabinets, they attach skirts to the bottom of their rigs to prevent cold air from swirling underneath, they purchase warming devices for their water hoses and storage bays, and rent huge external propane tanks to feed their furnaces.
God bless em. They’re insane.
We want no part of any of that. These days, we are happily, proudly, unabashedly, cold weather wimps. Call us ‘delicate flowers,’ calls us ‘wusses,’ call us ‘lame,’ call us whatever you want. Just don’t call us when it’s below 60 degrees because we’ll be curled up under the blankets, wearing 8 layers of clothing, frantically googling “signs of frostbite” because we’re pretty sure we’ve got it.
The upshot of all this, however, is that we are not alone in our winter weather wussiness. And because we are not alone in how we feel about cold weather, we are not alone socially, either.
The fact is, there are only so many places for people like us to to go in winter and so, for three magical months each year, the numerous people we’ve gotten to know – on blogs, social media and through shared friends, suddenly end up in the same couple of places, one of which is southern Arizona…
…but because I am woefully behind on my blogging, we’ll have to travel back in time to California first.
Return to San Diego
We had a ball the first time we visited San Diego, and made plans to return as soon as we could.
We had grand designs of seeing and doing all the things we missed the first time, but alas, most of our visit was gobbled up by bringing Thor home and getting him settled.
Which, as you can see, has been a real struggle to do.
The poor dog will just not relax and see this place as his own.
If he is any more stressed out about the situation, we may need to consider medication…
In addition to seeing our friends who live in San Diego, we spent a couple evenings with Sue and Dave, whom we first met in Tucson earlier in the year. We had a couple dinners and they helped us acclimate Thor to people coming in and out of the RV. From past experience, we know that German Shepherds can be freakishly territorial and we wanted to start having people over as soon as possible, but we also wanted those people to be dog savvy, and to not get mad if our dog accidentally/deliberately murdered them. Sue and Dave were totally willing to give it a try and, fortunately, everything went splendidly. Thanks again, guys!
We also headed up to Oceanside to meet up with Jeff and Deb whom we first met at this past summer’s Xscapers event. They were camp-hosting at one of the nearby state parks, so we met up for lunch right next to the beautiful beach.
Fun fact: Jeff and Deb are both fitness fanatics and Jeff just ran 60 miles for his 60th birthday.
Yeah, that’s right. 60.
If you ever want to feel bad about every Funyun you ever ate, hang out with these two.
Anyway, just by chance, I’d noticed we were right near another major American landmark so, after lunch, Jeff and I headed over to visit this famous piece of Americana. (Deb and Kevin did not care because, from what I can gather, they hate freedom.)
Of course you do…
Fortunately, this beacon of hope still stands. Unfortunately, it’s horribly dilapidated. But that didn’t stop us from getting a picture in front of it to prove we were there…
Upon leaving San Diego, we made our way across the desert to Tucson, a place we truly enjoyed last year. This year, we had a bit of a rough start when temperatures plummeted and we even saw snow….
Luckily, we had lots of old and new friends to cheer things up.
Mike and Kathie are from the D.C. area and were the first fulltime RVers we met, but somehow, we hadn’t seen them in almost two years, so we were very happy to hang out with them again. We’d met Andrea and Sean way back in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but hadn’t seen them since. And Mark and Joodie were totally new to us. I have been following Joodie’s blog for a while now and knew we’d get along great since we both crack ourselves, and each other, up.
In the meantime, I was very happy to finally be crossing paths with my blog buddy, Laurel. We’ve been following one another’s sites for years, and over time, had started texting as well. (We regularly trade pictures of hard boiled eggs and baby goats…it’s a long story…). Anyway, she has truly been a great friend, knowing just what to say and how to say it, offering stellar advice on where to go and what to do, and always being supportive. So, of course, we were both reasonably sure we were all gonna get along, but you just never know…
Spoiler: We had a great time!
And because everyone in this group is easygoing and fun, on Christmas Day, we all went over to Mike and Kathie’s gorgeous motorhome and had Christmas tamales while Die Hard played softly in the background.
Sadly, Eric and Laurel had to take off soon to head east, but the rest of the crew stayed around, allowing for more time to socialize.
In addition to being good friends, Mike and Kathie are also experienced dog owners, having fostered numerous labs before they began traveling fulltime, so they were really patient with our poorly behaved puppy…
and, they were willing to help us work with Thor on his socialization issues. Their lab, Opie, is incredibly calm and relaxed, so every day, we would go for a walk with them. Initially just following behind them, and then gradually decreasing the distance to see how Thor would react. Eventually that turned into Thor deciding Opie was his bestie.
Once we got through the initial introductions, Thor, awkwardly, tried to learn to play with Opie
Within just a few days, we’d grown confident that Thor would be just fine with lots of other dogs, as long as we introduced them slowly and properly. Phew….
In the meantime, once we headed to south Tucson, we were at the same campground with Mark and Joodie, so we got to spend a lot more time with them. Luckily, they, too, are very patient and were willing to let Thor gnaw on them and be annoying at regular intervals. Observe… the 3 stages of trying to eat dinner with us:
Stage 1: Assume that if you play with the dog a bit, he will stop being annoying.
Stage 2: Act natural as you conclude that your plan has completely backfired and the dog has now graduated to a new level of annoying…
Stage 3: Continue to be super polite while pleading with your eyes: “Seriously? Are you gonna do something about your dog??”
God, it’s awesome that our friends are so patient.
Anyway, I joined them to visit a local historic mission and for a hike at Saguaro National Park, both of which I’ll discuss next post. Many interesting discussions ensued – from current events to family stuff to other bloggers we follow. There are some people who are just easy to hang out with and talk to. Mark and Joodie are like that.
There are also some people who are just really freaken nice… Joodie? Yeah, that’s her. Look what she made us:
She paints individual rocks and leaves them in various places (where permitted) for others to find and pick up or leave their own. She made these ones for us based on our favorite color (purple, of course) and favorite thing (Shepherds, of course). Awesome, right?
The Taco Five-0
Speaking of things that should be easy, you would think going to a taco fiesta would be super easy, right? Of course! What could be difficult about tacos??
So when our friends, Rachel and Chris, pinged us to see if we wanted to go to a Taco Fiesta, our answer was: “A Taco FIESTA? Hell yeah!”
Little did we know that this taco fiesta was unlike other taco fiestas in that we would need to get by the Seal Team Six security apparatus to get on the grounds. Seriously – they were doing full on pat downs of everyone… no magnetometers, no bag checks, no wands… they were feeling people up right and left.
To get tacos….
Maybe there are marauding taco bandits in Tucson? Taco gang-bangers? Taco-terrorists???
Yeah, I don’t get it either.
Luckily, the tacos were delightful, and they even had carne asada fries which made getting felt up by random rent-a-cops #worthit
Three More Meetups
One of the first bloggers I started following way back when was Julie Chickery. She and her husband, Sean, write a lot about the “how to’s” of RV life on their site: Chickery’s Travels. They also appear at various RV shows around the country to teach seminars to would-be travelers about the ins and outs of this lifestyle.
We finally ended up in the same place (literally, the same campground) at the same time and got to meet up.. Turns out we have lots in common and had several stellar conversations.
In a perfect example of what I mean when I say you meet the best people this way, I had mentioned to Julie that I had never really used Pinterest. She has a pretty huge following on there and took it upon herself to start teaching me how to use it – complete with videos walking me through the process of finding and posting content and inviting me to use various collaborator boards to share some of my articles. I still have no clue what I’m doing, but I’m pretty sure, with a LOT of help from Julie, I’ll eventually figure it out. Pretty neat, huh?
We had two more meetups, neither of which I have photographic evidence of, so you’ll just have to trust me. We had a very enjoyable happy hour with Hilary and Barbara Ring (on Instagram as the rovingrings) who’ve been on the road about the same time as us, and we had lunch with Shannon and Ken of Zamia Ventures. They did a really interesting thing where they based their initial cross country trek on Lewis and Clark’s route – stopping at various landmarks along the way. I find this kind of focused, thematic travel intriguing and would love to see more fulltime travelers find some sort of thread to structure their travels around. Anyway, we only got to hang out the one time, but we’ll be seeing them in a couple weeks when we all land at the same campground.
So, that’s a rundown of the RVers we’ve been hanging out with these past several weeks. Next up, a post on some of the awesome things to do and see in Tucson. Stay tuned….
***Featured image courtesy of Shawn and Andrea at 40 Foot House. Thanks for the great group pic!!***
Where we stayed:
Catalina State Park, Tucson, Arizona
Lazydays/KOA, Tucson, Arizona
Pima County Fairgrounds, Tucson Arizona