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!”
And so, Rachel and Chris, Joodie and Mark, and new friends Erin and Shae, joined us as we headed for a day of magical taco goodness.
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
Awwww, you’ve officially lost all your New England blood! You used to love snow! You do realize I ran 22.5 miles in 20 degree temps which had a “feels like” temp in the teens yesterday, right? Just need to layer up and keep moving!!! Lol. Glad you are having a great time and getting to see such wonderful people! Looking forward to when you make it out east – in the warmer weather, of course! Don’t forget, if you ever went really crazy, the comfy chair by the fireplace is a great way to weather cold New England weather ????
Yup, it’s true. I have officially lost my winter skin. It happened slowly over several years, but then really kicked into overdrive when we started traveling. I still do like to see snow though, especially from the inside of a nice warm house, sitting in a nice comfy chair, next to a nice roaring fireplace, when I know I don’t have to actually go outside in it. Otherwise? That’s a whole lot of “NOPE!!” right there!
As for your running in this nonsense, you are a crazy person. That’s all I’ve got. I wouldn’t want to get out of my car in that kind of weather, much less go for a run. NUTS, I say!!
My rule when we first started full time was the temp can never be less than my age! Although I have to say, we’ve seen some pretty chilly temps here in mid-Florida and I haven’t seen 30 in years!
Looks like everyone had a great time meeting/catching up. Sorry to see poor Thor so miserable, lol.
It sounds like it’s been as cold in parts of Florida this winter as it was here! Our weather improved a lot the last couple weeks, actually up until today when it started raining again, but it was darned chilly for a bit there. Of course, on the other hand, I guess when any of us consider how cold it was in the rest of the country this week, we really can’t complain TOO much.
And yeah, speaking of those who have nothing to complain about, Thor is resting comfortably on our sofa at the moment. It’s a tough life, but someone has to live it. 🙂
Very good axiom for life!
Oh my, that’s a lot of socializing! What a life we live….not only do we get to travel, see awesome places, follow the weather, we meet so many incredible people that we just click with! After a few tough months, I’m so glad to see your smiles!
As always, fun post.
Seriously… it is an AWESOME life. Even when things are tough, there’s still so much to be thankful for. I think it’s easy to connect with the people we meet because we all have so much in common and so much we can learn from one another. Plus, out on the road, everyone has an incentive to make new friends. Navigating the social side of things can certainly seem overwhelming initially, but once you find your groove, it’s fantastic.
What a blast, and way to make us jealous about missing out on more time with you guys! Seriously, we were so happy to finally meet up with you. Was there ever a time that you were worried about finding friends on the road? Haha, no more!! You are obviously friend magnets. Now your only worry is going to be whether you will ever again have time to yourselves!
So fun to see your photos of all of your socializing and fun times in Tucson. And I’m glad to see that Thor is settling in so well to his new forever home. His conversation with Opie is absolutely hilarious!
We’re looking forward to seeing you guys somewhere on the east coast this year. We’ll expand Thor’s socialization skills to include men with beards, hats, and sunglasses, LOL!!
Ha! Funny you mention having time for ourselves since we are now hunkered down in an “undisclosed location” not talking to anyone. 🙂 We did really kind of need a break after all that socializing. Not that we’re complaining, of course…It was great. We’re just tired and we want to work on our other neglected projects for a bit. As for Thor and his aversion to beards, hats, and sunglasses, Eric will be happy to know that he has now given the third degree, including growling and barking, to about 20 different men. Fun fact: No matter how many times he does, it doesn’t get any less embarrassing for us. (Insert eye roll here). We definitely need to work on that. 🙂
WOW! you have become a social butterfly or simply a social magnet! Winter is truly the time to hobnob with other like-minded folks. I just wished I was there but on the other hand, our weather in southwest FL was a bit better than southwest AZ 🙂
I wonder if we will ever meet Thor and if we do perhaps by that time he has become social like his parents and warm up to us.
Yeah, I think you guys definitely did a bit better weather wise than we did, though we sure would have loved to have hung out with you here! And I have no doubt that Thor will love you guys… he’ll probably just be annoying about it. His only major fears these days are of men with beards, hats, and sunglasses, so as long as Steve doesn’t decide to grow a beard, we’ll be all set! Hope you guys are still somewhere sunny!
I think this is your best post of all time! Hee! When we took off in September, I had hopes of someday meeting up, and it has been a kick in the pants for it to have happened so soon and gone so well. Not only have we been blessed to connect with you guys, but you are responsible for bringing many other wonderful folks into our lives. “Thank you” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Thor is obviously inheriting your sense of humor! The pic where everything is in focus except the ball of blurriness that is Thor is hilarious. It’s also no wonder he loves Opie — that boy is sweetness in a fur coat. (His people ain’t too shabby, either!!) We loved meeting Thor — seriously– and he is one lucky pup to have found such a loving home with you.
I wonder if we should collaborate someday in the future and publish a blog post of our hysterical texts? Probably only funny to us, and Princess Markle would sue us, anyway. Those royals are so touchy!
If I befriend a coatimundi before we meet again, will you still love me?
Haha. It is interesting to ponder whether other people would find our conversations as hilarious as we find them. I’m pretty sure the answer is yes, though, and that’s all that matters. 🙂
It’s also funny to consider how the people we meet are often connected. So many of our friends have come through other friends. It’s a small community – especially when you focus on the people who blog or are active on social media. One connection leads to another which leads to another. It all kinda makes me want to break into a rousing rendition of “It’s a small world”… but I won’t… because that song is terrible.
And it’s now stuck in your head.
You’re welcome! 🙂
Please stop telling everyone that Southern CA and AZ are the place to be during the winter — we had enough trouble getting reservations as it is. I mean, people are wearing all sorts of winter jackets and hats in your photos. It’s obviously cold and uncomfortable here, just like many other places in the country.
See you at Dead Horse Ranch!!
You’re right. I should have told them all the cool kids hang out in Wisconsin in the winter. HA! That’d fix em! Alas, I still think it would be tough to find a space in southern Arizona. It is a pretty magical place after all. So magical, millions of people are willing to call it home even when it’s 120 degrees outside. Crazy….
Anyway, safe travels to you and we’ll see you soon!
So glad we finally got to meet!
I too am a cold weather wimp now. In fact, just yesterday Sean & I agreed to go back to Florida next winter because it was just too cold here this year. LOL!
LOVE the rocks from Joodie! She’s very talented. A few years ago a painted some fairly pathetic lady bug rocks when I was in Lakeland, FL as it has is well known for the painted rock treasure hunts.
Yeah, I don’t know where I first heard of the painted rock practice, but I know I’ve seen enough of them to know I would be terrible at it. I have no artistic talent whatsoever, but it’s impressive to see the beautiful things other people create!
And I’m with you on the cold weather too. Hopefully we’ll all have better luck next winter, wherever we may be. Being in an RV when it’s really cold is NOT fun.
Anyway, it was great meeting you both and we look forward to seeing you again sometime soon!
Love being able to wear shorts in the middle of winter, great time to be in AZ. Have fun and give Thor a belly rub for us…
Yes! Once it warmed up and we were able to break out the shorts and t-shirts, we were so happy! Oddly enough, it got really warm this past week when the rest of the country was freezing to death. Go figure…. Anyway, hopefully it’s toasty in Houston!
I looooove the conversations and interactions between the two dogs! I’m glad that we aren’t the only ones who “know” what our dog is thinking.
Agreed this is a lot of social time – glad you’re having a little alone time now to recharge. Enjoy!
A reader from MN
Aka, yes, it was mofo cold here this past week and I dream of warmer places
…By warmer places, I mean anything over 40 degrees
Oof, Minnesota was like Ground Zero of the polar vortex this week… I can’t even imagine what that was like. And I don’t want to…. But yeah, I’m sure anything over 40 must feel tropical at this point!
Anyway, yes, Kevin and I have entire conversations with each other “through” the dog and spend hours imitating what we are sure he is thinking… Wow. When I say it out loud, it makes us sound kind of nuts, huh? 🙂
This post just makes me conclude that you guys have too many friends – I don’t think we’ve gotten together with this many people in our entire 3 years of RV’ing ???? I hope you’re spending all of your time in Phoenix napping.
I think this was just a crazy confluence of everyone being in the same place at the same time. Most of the year isn’t like this. That’s why winter in AZ is so fun…and exhausting. And yeah, we are spending most of this week just getting caught up on other projects we’ve been neglecting, and hanging out with the dog. This week’s rain and chilly temps are actually kind of welcome.
We’re not embarrassed to admit that we’re card carrying members of the “delicate flower club”. We’re definitely winter wusses having lived too many years in the grey and cold east.
Glad to see you’ve relaxed and are really enjoying all “his puppyness” has to give. He’s such a doll boy. I particularly loved the shots of his scoots in Catalina – such a baby he still is!
You’ve been in such beautiful places, it’s just a darn shame that you haven’t had anyone else to share it with.
I see you’ve discovered one of Dave’s favorites – Vivace’s Fish Soup! He’s looking forward to having it while we’re in Tucson this month…mmmm.
The whole reason I ordered the cioppino is because of Dave! He raved about it so much, I saw no other option, really. And it was delicious! Really, one of the best I’ve had. So, thank you, Dave!!
As for Thor, he is definitely keeping us on our toes, but more because of normal puppy stuff. He’s been fine with people coming over, and knowing that we can work with him with other dogs is a big relief. Obviously, it’s more work than we’d have with a properly socialized puppy, but it’s not impossible and that makes us feel so much better. Thank you again for all your help!
And from one east coaster to another, here’s to many more winters full of sun and blue skies!!