Opinion — A Class C RV really was my best buy

Why I chose what I did when making my RV decision

Okay, so everyone’s situation is different but in my humble opinion my Class C was definitely the best way to go based on what I’ve seen around me in my travels. Here’s why.

First, my experience with camping and RVing:

  • Went with parents in popups and trailers
  • Started taking my son tent camping in the late 80s
  • Took my dogs tent camping in the 2000s
  • Bought a truck, added a shell, put mattress inside, in 2014 
  • Bought a motor home in 2016
  • Went full time in 2018
  • Bought a travel trailer, which is stationary, in 2020
How we used to camp

I’d never camped anywhere but state parks, state and county beaches, or national parks until I got my motor home in 2016. At that time, I became exposed to private RV parks like Thousand Trials and KOA. Between 2018 and 2021, I have reviewed over 75 RV parks in 16 states. So, needless to say, I’ve seen quite a bit along the way.

Here’s one thing I’ve noticed. Let me set the scene up for you. I park my motor home, if I’m staying longer than a few days I might check to see how level the fridge is. Otherwise, I don’t bother with blocks. I go outside and plug the 30 amp in, then come back in and turn on the AC, if weather requires. Now, basically, I can leave it if I want to wait to dump my tanks and if I want to use my own fresh water supply. Usually, though, I’ll go ahead and hook up the sewer hose so I can leave the gray tank open and I hook up the water hose so my water pump doesn’t have to work. I don’t have any slides to contend with (more on this later).  Total time — about 6 minutes.

Then, someone in a travel trailer or 5th wheel will come in and park near me sometime later that afternoon. They start setting up. 30, 40, or 60 minutes later, they are still outside doing stuff. WTF. How long does it take? I guess it takes awhile. You have to park, unhook your truck, lower the stabilizers, set blocks everywhere, level, chock, open slides, etc., etc. Whew! People are going to argue with me but I have seen this time and time again every time I’m traveling. Maybe you are the exception and that’s great.

Then there’s the slides. My motor home doesn’t have slides. I can use the bathroom while stopping to fill my gas tank. How convenient is that? In my travel trailer, I can’t even go through the front door once the slides are closed. One time, when leaving for an extended trip, I was all closed up and forgot to put the Swiffer away. Nowhere to put it once all the slides were in. I ended up taking it with me in the motor home for 2 months. 

This morning, I witnessed an elderly gentleman in a popup camper getting ready to leave for the day. It literally took him 45 minutes to unhook, pack up, close everything up, hook up his truck, and start to pull out. Then, he left to go use the RV park bathroom before hitting the road because his rig was already all closed up. And he pulled in last night way after me. That’s at least 90 minutes of setting up and taking down for about 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Is it worth it?

Many Class B motor homes, unless they are B+, have wet baths. That means that you squeeze in to a tiny space to use the toilet and when you want to take a shower, the toilet takes one with you. I even saw a few older models (Rialto) where the shower/toilet combo slides out to use and then slides back in. Not for me. I like having my full size dry bath and I like being able to use it whether I’ve got power for a slide or not.

I’ve given up a bit of inside space by not having a slide but did you know that the same size motor homes that have bedroom slides actually have a lot less outside storage? That’s because my bed is a platform bed and the outside storage is underneath. If you check the numbers, you will see that there’s a lot more cubic square feet of storage in my slide-less model at 24’. Something to think about, for sure.

Besides the fact that I didn’t want to pull a trailer because I have a severe fear of the trailer starting to sway and pulling the truck off the road, I had my pets to consider. In a trailer or 5th wheel, you have to crate everybody and put them in the truck every time you drive. When I first went full time, I not only had a cat and two dogs, but I also had a parrot. With the Class C, I can just jump in the driver’s seat and drive off after attaching the dogs to their seat belts. No discombobulating the cat or the bird. Which reminds me, if you have slides, you also have to be very aware of where your cat is at all times.

And here’s the difference between a motor home with a small car vs a truck pulling a trailer. First, I prefer to drive a small car around town or to take day long sightseeing jaunts. It’s just easier for me than a big truck. When a motor home pulls a car, the motor home is the bigger object and the car just follows. It doesn’t try to fight with the RV or sway back and forth. When a truck pulls a trailer, the trailer is bigger. If it gets out of control due to high winds or a bad road, it will take the truck with it. Once again, people will argue with my reasoning but for a single elderly woman traveling alone, I had to make the safest choices for me. My MH Ford F-450 with cruise control is a real dream to drive long distances and I don’t even know the car is behind me unless I check the mirror.

Motor home and tow car

I didn’t consider a Class A the year I bought because, from what I read, they weren’t as safe in front end collisions as a Class C. Later, I was glad for my choice because chassis service is also easier to find usually. Mine is just a regular Ford truck with a house plopped on the back. It’s the same truck that is used for commercial delivery vans.

I didn’t consider a Class B because most of them were almost the same size as what I bought (22’ to 24’) and the cost for a new one was literally two times more. The reason is the way they are built. I didn’t want to spend way over $100,000 for something that was smaller, where we’d be squished together as we traveled the USA. At the time, I had a 60 pound dog, in addition to all my other animals.

My situation in 2018:

  • Full time with no house or storage unit so I needed plenty of storage area
  • Traveling alone so needed to feel safe and able to do everything myself
  • Pets that needed consideration
  • Comfortable with a kitchen and full bath, as well as a queen size bed (for sharing with the animals, of course)
  • Able to use everything without opening slides or unhooking vehicles
  • Had to fit in my driveway for two years before I sold my house (I didn’t want to pay for storage)

And my final choice, a brand new 2016 24’ Class C. One year later, I got a 2014 Nissan Versa set up as a tow car.

When making the momentous decision to purchase or finance your RV, make sure you consider all the situations and circumstances you will be facing so you can make the best decision for you.

Enjoying the life

Final Good-Byes

I have had to say good-bye in two places the last two months that were a big part of my life. One good-bye was at my son’s residence he’s been at the last 4 years and a cause for celebration as he and his wife move for new jobs and one was for my father’s memorial send-off and the end of a huge light in my life.

If you’re like me, you hate to say good-bye, even if it’s for a short time. From high school on, I lived in Northern California for all but five years. So when I decided to leave California upon retirement, even though I got many well wishes, family and friends were sad and insisted I visit often.

During this time my son and his wife were stationed in Oklahoma so upon retirement, I set out with my motor home for more extended visits to this midwest state. In my travels from 2018 to 2021, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with them even though I hated being in such a large, crowded place as Oklahoma City.

My daughter-in-law got a new post in early 2021 and my son was left alone for several months to pack up and sell the home, take care of their dog (my grand-son), and follow her to their new assignments in Alaska. Well, I knew that it would be a lot harder to visit them in Alaska as I travel with two pets so I spent the last month with him and helped with movers and doggy babysitting. I was so glad to be able to spend this time with him before their move 3,700 miles away from my home base in New Mexico.

I won’t be back to Oklahoma now. There’s no reason for me to be there. I have many fond memories and tons of photos and I have closed that chapter in my life. My son and I said our good-byes and he set off in the car with their dog for Anchorage and I set off in my motor home for Northern California.

I had traveled back to Sacramento in the motorhome and had flown back once to this part of the country but I knew in my heart that this April trip would be my last trip to California. It had been my home base for 45 years and now I was making my final trip. In January 2021, my 90 year old father passed away from cancer. No one knew he was sick and it was very quick. I had planned to fly out a few times in 2020 and kept postponing thinking that the virus situation would get better soon. Of course, it never did.

There were three people that I spent my time with in the three weeks I was there. I spent a lot of time with my stepmom, who was married to my dad for over 30 years. We had to go through stuff and there was a lot of stuff. My dad and I had a lot of mannerisms in common, including over-planning when taking a trip, but keeping things for years and years was not one I shared with him. There were boxes of things I couldn’t say no to because I missed him so much. He had kept papers and photos going back almost his entire 90 years and even further with historical documents tracing ancestry. I’m not sure what I will do with this stuff, packed into the corners of my motor home, when I return to New Mexico but I wasn’t ready to let go yet.

I spent a few partial days with a friend I’ve known for over 15 years when we lived next to each other and worked for the same school district. Now my life has changed a lot and I think we both knew that I wouldn’t be back to that part of the country. I invited her to come and visit but she has a farm with many animals to care for so it’s not really a possibility.

I spent a little time with my sister and visited her art gallery in a neighboring foothill town. My sister and I are close but we keep in touch over Facebook and text messages mostly. I also invited her to come visit and she said she definitely would consider it. As an artist, I know she would enjoy exploring interesting places in New Mexico. She has obligations currently though and might not even be able to travel for many years.

My father had a military internment at the Veteran’s National Cemetery on April 27 and I was so glad I went. I was glad I was able to support my stepmom and her three grown children, who thought of my dad as a surrogate father. I saw and briefly spoke to my brother whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in over 20 years. Might be the last time. I hated that I couldn’t say good-bye to my dad in person but I felt a little closure at the military service.

A week later, I was packing up the motor home. I was very homesick and anxious to leave and yet I knew in my heart that I would be seeing these people for the last time and that was hard. My stepmom was so sad to see me go and she knew that she probably wouldn’t see me in person again. I also invited her to come see me and stay with me for awhile but she’s not able to travel and her three children are in her area and can take care of her.

People say you are starting a new chapter in your life but right now, it doesn’t feel like that. It just feels like a lot of things have been taken away that I won’t get back. I remember the exhilaration and a little trepidation when I crossed the California border into Arizona for the first time after selling my house. In another two days, I will be crossing that border again, probably for the last time. The finality does leave me a little sad.

Updates to the Blog Pages

I don’t know how many of you use WordPress. Sometimes I love the convenience of it and sometimes it can be very frustrating for me. I like to customize things my way and am used to desktop publishing, going all the way back to the 90s. The WordPress templates, while enormously convenient, don’t always allow for making changes in a user-friendly way.

After publishing my second travel book on Amazon Kindle, I decided to change up the blogs a little bit. The end result is not exactly how I started out envisioning things but I’ve reached workable sites that contain the information I wanted. I had an RV Review site and a Sightseeing site and after publishing my Sightseeing book, decided to take down the site, Sightseeing Aboard. That involved changing menus, links, and descriptions. Instead of all the same content on a blog, I now just have a link to the Kindle book.

I hadn’t taken a look at stats for awhile either. Even though I don’t advertise and most of my writing is for my own benefit (kind of like keeping a journal), it is nice to see people migrating toward the stuff I publish.

  • Animals Aboard — currently at 148 followers. Most viewed post “Long Term Stays in Your RV” at 515 views
  • Author Tina Mischke — 77 followers. Most viewed post “TMS — Too Much Shopping” at 163 views
  • Tina Mischke’s Cozy Mystery Blog — 8 followers. This is a very new blog and I haven’t promoted it at all
  • Sightseeing Aboard — no longer active. 17 followers
  • A Healthier Journey 2020 — no longer active. 34 followers

Although my writing takes various forms, I try to keep things categorized in such a way that they will fit into one or more of the above. It can get really confusing for the reader if your stuff is all over the place, making it hard to find or read about a subject.

My generic categories are:

  • RV Park Reviews
  • Traveling with Dogs Articles
  • Nonfiction Essays, mostly about writing or travel
  • Information on fiction writing — upcoming or in progress books and stories

Of course, some idea is going to hit me one day that I have to write about and it won’t fit into any of the above. The great thing about WordPress is that you can add as many blogs as you want at no additional charge.

The site, Animals Aboard, is very resource heavy and I recommend using the little search magnifying glass at the top unless you just prefer browsing. That site, which was my first, now has 117 published posts.

Things are always a work in progress and I will consider any suggestions that readers may have to make things easier, less confusing, or to fix mistakes.

Happy Travels!

When You Shouldn’t Have a Customer Oriented Job

At the ripe age of 63, I feel that I’ve earned the right to lecture a little bit and pass on some of my “worldly wisdom.” I’ve had good and bad service over the years, as I know many of you have experienced yourselves. I’ll admit I’ve also been difficult myself more than once and kudos to those retail and service people who take it in stride and carry on. It takes grace to de-escalate someone’s bad mood rather than to create more chaos. I had a most frustrating experience at the Moore, OK CVS Pharmacy this morning and there was no reason for the incident other than the clerk’s bad mood.

It takes a certain skillset, a thick skin, and a pleasant character to be that clerk that customers remember when they leave the store with a smile on their face, even if they had a disappointing shopping experience or couldn’t get a service issue resolved. I wish everyone could be like this because I certainly appreciate it when a stranger says, “Yes, I understand you have a problem. What can I do to help?” rather than blaming others or hitting me in the face with their bad mood.

I was looking for one item and didn’t want to go to Walmart. I tried Dollar General first. They had a few things I grabbed but not that one item I came for. Next up the road was a CVS Pharmacy and right next door a Walgreen’s. I’ve been to this Walgreen’s to pick up prescriptions and you can’t walk through there without being greeted by at least two or three employees, asking how you’re doing and if they can help. Always a pleasant experience.

Then there’s CVS. Maybe they have bad management or horrible working conditions, I don’t know. But something was definitely off and it wasn’t me. I grabbed the item I needed and went to the front to check out. It appeared abandoned but I wasn’t in a hurry so I looked around a bit, searched for a bell on the counter, looked around some more. Finally, a supply stocker who was leaving saw me and shouted to someone in the back. As the clerk rounded the corner, she mentioned that she couldn’t see me. I joked that there are small people in the world and maybe they should get a bell. From that moment on, it was the transaction from hell.

I got an earful about how she was the only one working, and then one rude comment after another. I mentioned that I was used to clerks saying, “Yes, ma’am,” and agreeing with me when I made conversation not arguing with me. I had just left a very pleasant experience at the Dollar General with a personable young clerk and was in a good mood. To my benefit, I remained calm and kept my tone at a conversational level, mostly because I felt sorry for her, more than anything else. Something was going on and it wasn’t something I started.

I’m not a saint. I’ve been a very difficult customer in the past, defensive, self-righteous, and angry. Someone who works with the public should never take their personal feelings out on the customer, no matter how difficult the customer is. That’s one reason I never seriously considered a career working with the public. It’s not my forte. But this time, I gave her no reason to treat me the way she did.

After throwing the money at me without counting out the change, I calmly said to her that there will always be difficult people in the world, those with mental health challenges, those with addictions, and just angry people. As a customer service representative, she should be able to remain pleasant and not get defensive. I’m sure my little “speech” just went right over her head. I can’t imagine working in a job you hate and are not suited to, no matter how hard times are.

We have to be the best we can be no matter the chaos around us. I’m proud of myself for learning to let things roll off and almost always leaving a store with a smile on my face in my senior years. Maybe I’ve left someone else with a smile too more often than not. I hope so.

How Many States Have You Visited?

Sightseeing In Twelve States – Reviews & Photos

I’m currently working on a new photo and descriptive text book subtitled 33 Cities Across the USA in an RV.

I’ve always been a traveler, starting with the Air Force life until I was in high school, then following graduation, I set out on my own. Although I moved a lot, it was mostly between two states, Oregon and California. I took a few trips to Mexico and Florida during that time. Then, I retired, sold my house and set out in my motor home and really let loose.

All along, I’d been planning to write reviews of the places I stayed and how amenable they were to travelers with pets. That blog is called Animals Aboard and has about 68 reviews of RV Parks, state parks, and even a little boon docking (camping without hookups). When I realized that I’d seen a number of sites and taken dozens of photos that weren’t RV park related, I began my sightseeing blog.

This new book will be an update of the sightseeing blog, full of descriptions, reviews, and photos of places you can see while on the road, with or without a recreational vehicle. In fact, some of the places were more easily accessible for me after I got a small tow car and I include information in the descriptions about parking availability, no matter how you are traveling.

My plans last year had been to add six new states, the mountain states, but, of course, that didn’t work out. Not in the original plans was settling down but that’s exactly what I did, acquiring a full time RV lot in New Mexico. I still have plans to add reviews and photos to both blogs though. Fingers crossed, I will be able to do my mountain states this year. Toying with the idea of heading to Florida next year. But as we all know, things can change. That’s what makes life interesting.

Look for Sightseeing In Twelve States on Amazon Kindle this spring.

TMS — Too Much Shopping

Or all the things I’ve bought since I got my RV that I no longer use

I wish I could give some advice to new motor home owners or those getting excited about their first foray in the RV world. There were so many, many items that I thought for sure I really needed and ended up not using. These items were given away, sold or indefinitely stored. To be honest, at this point (my MH is almost five years old), I’m not even sure I can remember everything. So, just to give you an idea and maybe help you in making your own decisions, I’ve listed the ones I can remember.

There was an inexpensive plastic container from Camping World, $20,  that is used to keep your fresh water hose all coiled up nice and neatly and conveniently ready to use at a moment’s notice. The only problem was that my hose didn’t go in to it nicely like the picture. All the fighting with the hose just made my back more sore. I ended up gifting it to a young couple at Percy Quinn State Park in Mississippi who were camping with their brand new travel trailer. I now use a Home Depot bucket for my hose.

Then there was the more expensive folding bicycle and cart attachment for the dogs ($300 total). I guess I thought I would get exercise while camping and take the dogs with me at the same time. The trouble was, the bicycle was hard to handle and didn’t really fit in the outside cargo storage of the motorhome. The cart was a little easier to manage but also took up most of the storage and was difficult for me to get in and out. 

We only camped at a few places where there was smooth sidewalk or road to use these. I’m not very good at riding a bicycle (I had forgotten over the years) and so I ended up using the cart for my senior dog who had trouble walking far while we rambled along behind. In the end, I realized this set up was impractical and cumbersome. It was much easier to just walk and to take the oldest dog in a little stroller. I was able to sell the setup to a young father with two children who was happy to inherit my buying failure.

Probably the most expensive not used purchase was the electric three-wheeler. Before I left California for the full time life, I was concerned that I would be traveling in a motor home with no car and how would I get around for laundry, shopping, and the like? My brilliant idea after researching mopeds, tow cars, etc. was an electric bike. Remember, I can’t ride a bike. So I had to get a three-wheeler. Also, it wouldn’t have done me any good if I couldn’t take the dogs with me so it needed a large basket.

I did my research on brands, reviews, and my price range and found a good deal on a bike with the specs I needed. I don’t remember the name of the company now but the bikes featured at Ewheels is the model I got. You could not imagine how heavy and unwieldy these are until you are trying to load it onto a cargo carrier on the back of your motor home. It was physically impossible for me. I ended up spending money on a ramp that was long enough to give me a fighting chance. Even then, I often needed assistance to get it loaded. And for some reason, it would take me about an hour each time to ratchet all the straps. Total spent approximately $2000, with the bike, ramp, and carrier plus the straps, the tarp, the locks, and stuff.

I used the Ebike for about six months and then advertised it and all it’s paraphernalia for sale. A woman responded, liked what she saw, and offered me $500 for everything. What could I do? I let it all go.

Also right before I went full time, I decided to get some work done at Camping World. In addition to routine maintenance, I had them install a tire minder system for me ($400) and a back up camera ($170) to go with the Garmin GPS I’d previously purchased. Total bill with all the installations and stuff was over $1000.00.

Wanna know what’s funny? I quit using the tire minders because they kept giving me false readings and heart attacks. When you’re driving down the highway on a Sunday  afternoon in Georgia when nothing is open, you don’t want a red light beeping at you saying “losing pressure! Losing pressure!”  

 I bought a heavy duty air compressor at Lowe’s and it’s one of the first things I pack into the outside storage when taking a trip now. And I check my tires manually before leaving and on the road.

 I never used the back up camera either and it actually hasn’t even worked for a while now. I spent some money at Camping World a few years later to see if they could diagnose the problem while I was there for annual maintenance and they were unable to fix it. What do I use instead? The best way to see what’s behind you when backing up is a Fresnell Lens from Amazon, less than $20.

Off the top of my head, here are some things that are no longer used:

  • Level Mate Pro — $140; a bubble level does the trick just fine
  • Three different bird cages ( trying to find the right one for parrot comfort and to fit in the motor home — $250; the bird traveled with us for 6 months and then went to live with a friend.
  • Cat playpen — $60; cat never used it.
  • Outdoor 8 panel play yard for dogs — $62; gave away to a senior couple with little dogs in Myrtle Beach. It was too difficult for me to open and close and too heavy.
  • Expandable rainproof cargo bag — $46; didn’t need after I sold the Ebike.
  • NOAA weather alert radio — $35; never worked properly and I discovered a phone app that I can use. I’m rarely parked somewhere with no cell service.
  • Suction cup window mount cat perch — $25; cat was too big
  • Rand McNally deluxe motor carriers road atlas — $40; practically every single road is highlighted in yellow and it’s very difficult to use easily.
  • External dvd drive for my laptop — $35; I just never watch my old DVDs anymore
  • Collapsible laundry baskets (2) — $40; they were too big and too heavy
  • Four step pet steps — $40; too steep for my poodle mix. I got the same brand in 3 step and he’s still using them to this day. NOTE: sometimes it’s more expensive to return things through Amazon than to just keep them!

Some of the things I’m still using that were bought for the RV:

  • Instant Pot
  • Command caddies and shelves
  • Camco heavy duty leveling blocks
  • Garmin RV
  • Kobalt air compressor
  • Bissel cleanview mini vacuum

You get the idea. Too bad new RVers can’t try stuff out for a while and then return what doesn’t work for them. Or maybe I should not buy everything that everyone else has until I’m really sure it’s going to work for me?

Tiny Living Revisited

It’s pretty funny when one considers a thirty-five foot travel trailer as expanded quarters. But when I first moved in to my new trailer in September, it felt HUGE to me. That’s because I had spent the last two years and four months living full time in a much smaller motor home. I don’t need a lot but I was starting to feel the frustrations of constantly stepping over stuff or having to climb to get something. Having no floor space, especially when you are sharing with two pets, could eventually wear on the nerves of even the most strident minimalist.

If you look at the floor plans of the 24 foot motorhome vs the 35 foot travel trailer, you may at first not see a lot of difference. However, one of the major differences is the slide outs. Take a look again at the floor plans and now look at the floor space itself. The beds, toilets, dinettes are approximately the same size, but in the travel trailer, I actually have real floor space that I was lacking for over two years.

Now that I’ve been in my travel trailer for a little over four months, I began to make lists in my head of things that were different for me. I think it was one morning when I was standing near the heater by the queen bed and getting dressed. The thought occurred to me that I couldn’t stand up in the bedroom before and take my time getting dressed, with my clothes laid out neatly on the bench at the end of the bed. That’s because the motor home bedroom has no floor space! I felt quite indulged at this thought and revisited the appreciation of my new floor spaces.

Now here’s a funny difference. I was never able to use the toaster oven in the motor home without the smoke alarm going off, even when I had windows open and the stove fan running. That’s because the only counter space in the whole motor home is a little pop up shelf that is right under the alarm. Smart design, you’all.

In the travel trailer, I actually have enough floor space that I was able to buy a little kitchen shelving unit that matches the decor and holds my toaster oven, Instant Pot, and Vita-mix. I’ve used the toaster and its oven numerous times, with or without the fan running, and never had any problems at all. I’ve gotten quite spoiled and it will take a real re-adjustment when I go back to motor home living in the summer.

Finally, I never realized how much of a difference there is between 30 amp and 50 amp power supplies. I got in the habit quickly with the motor home of turning one thing off when needing to turn another thing on. For example, I was never able to run the AC at the same time as the microwave. And when I was running an electric heater (more efficient than the propane heater that comes with the RV when I’m hooked up to shore power and don’t want to keep filling a tiny little propane tank), I had to be very careful what else was turned on at the same time.

I even melted my power cord to the surge protecter one time when I’d been hooked up for many months during a hot summer and when I went to leave, couldn’t get them separated because the rubber was all glued together. I’m not sure if that was because I was running the AC almost 24/7 or because there was a malfunction with the power box.

I’ve become almost spoiled in the travel trailer. I still want to be mindful of my usage and I have a really nice, heavy-duty surge protector, but still, I can cook while the AC is running. I can do my laundry (yes, there’s a built in W/D) while running the electric fireplace. And while those are running, I can even go make some popcorn in the microwave without fretting about being conservative. I might have to be careful not to develop some bad habits but it’s so nice not to have to worry about all the little things.

So even thought the travel trailer is only a little under 36 feet long and 8 feet wide (with slides in), it still feels like a mansion to me. How have you embraced tiny living?

The winter abode

From wandering vagabond to esoteric hermit — Crossing things off my bucket list in 2018 and 2019 and now I’m not

My lifestyle really changed in the spring of 2020. Before March 23, I was a carefree soul who traveled full time. I had my dogs and my cat and my motorhome and no particular place to be. In 2018 and 2019, we had racked up 16 states, over 60 rv park reviews, and over 30 sightseeing spots reviewed and photographed for posterity. (If you are interested in all my reviews and photographs, you can start here: animalsaboard.com).

I joked that I was a professional sightseer and I really enjoyed that moniker. There weren’t too many places along our way that I couldn’t enjoy without the dogs and the few places I did want to explore without them, (such as museums and live shows), I found it easy enough to leave them tucked in to their special spots in the motor home with their favorite toys for a few hours.

What was great about 2019 was a difference in me from 2018. In 2018, I was new to cross-country motorhome travel and was still learning a lot. I was able to overcome some fears and take some chances but mostly I played it safe. In 2019, now that I was more comfortable, I took the dogs and explored places that were a little more off the beaten track or just places I wanted to see that I had bypassed the previous trek across the US.

I was able to cross off the following from my initial bucket list when I first set off in June 2018. I know that pride is one of the seven deadly sins but I was really proud of myself for doing these things that had been on my mind for years previous. I would have to say, and I speak for the dogs too, that we enjoyed every single minute and never had any regrets.

  • Route 66 and the requisite trading post stores along the route — we traveled either the original route or a nearby highway from Southern California to Oklahoma City. I got some great photos at really iconic places I had been wanting to see in person, including the Giganticus Headicus and the corner in Winslow. I also bought a kachina doll, a serape, some leather boots, and sent several gifts home to friends and the folks.
  • The Gulf — I remember the very first day the dogs walked down the boardwalk and saw the Gulf Ocean for the first time. We were in Galveston. I spent a glorious 2 weeks playing in the warm sand and taking long walks along pristine pocket beaches. I also made a good new friend there that I’m still in contact with on Facebook.
  • The Louisiana Bayou — Besides the food, one of my favorite authors sets all her books in this area in cute little made up towns like Sinful, Louisiana and Mudbug. My only regret is that I booked RV Resorts instead of state parks most of the time and who knows if I’ll ever be back down that way. But what we did do was pretty memorable. The huge historical plantation Rosedown gave me many exquisite photo ops and memories. Another memorable day was the boardwalk hike among the alligators at Percy Quinn State Park in Southern Mississippi.
  • Myrtle Beach — I had been telling people I would go to Myrtle Beach one day for probably ten years. And we finally made it. I booked a rather older historical rv park right on the beach in the north area and I’m glad I was here and not at one of the more pristine fancy parks. We spent three great weeks exploring on foot, walking on the beach every day, or in the rental car, driving to sites and I took in a few shows without the dogs. This was my first exposure to “snow birds.” I got to know my next door neighbors, who had a house in Massachusetts and spent October through April every year in this RV Park.

There were several things I did in 2019 that I’m so glad I didn’t pass up. It started off with spending my birthday in a place that had fond memories from my childhood and then I got to see my neighborhood in New Mexico from the 1960s.

  • Calico Ghost Town — I had been here just passing through with a relative in the 90s and had always wanted to come back. Being able to spend a week in this quaint, Knotts Berry Farm vibe place was a memory I’ll cherish for a long time. And in the 1960s, my family had lived just down the road in Apple Valley. The best thing about Calico Ghost Town? All the attractions are dog-friendly.
  • Petrified Forest — I believe I was only about 5 or 6 the last time I had been here. It seems that when traveling from Southern California through to Oklahoma, which I was doing to visit my son, and planning stops every 200 or 300 miles, I kept missing this stop. So this time, I deliberately planned a stop with 4 days at the nearby KOA (Kampgrounds of America). We took a driving tour of the whole park and I checked out both visitor’s centers and gift shops while the dogs waited for me.
  • Roswell International UFO Museum — I found out later that the museum is actually dog-friendly but it was probably better for my crew to wait for me in the motor home in the parking lot. I’d been wanting to stop here for a long time and I wasn’t disappointed.

Unfortunately, some of 2019 didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned. One place that is still on my bucket list is the Thumb of Michigan (again a place-setting for one of my favorite authors). I made travel arrangements from Oklahoma City all the way north and east, ending with 4 weeks at Lake Huron in two separate state parks. Then, disaster struck. I ended up staying in Oklahoma for tooth surgery and spent the rest of the summer recuperating. I had to cancel all travel plans for up north.

I did spend 2 months in Branson, Missouri, another bucket list place, that fall. Again, I wasn’t disappointed. We had some great adventures and memories while there. Then, it was time to start heading to my winter digs again. I was sad about not seeing Michigan but was headed to a restorative month back at the Gulf Coast through Thanksgiving and then on to my winter spot in Southeastern Texas.

By winter 2019, I already had plans and reservations through spring and summer 2020. And by April 2020, I was on the phone and email cancelling everything. My plan had been to spend two months visiting my elderly folks in Northern California, including getting to celebrate my dad’s 90th birthday in April. Then, at the end of May, I had plans to attend my first ever large RV Rally in Wyoming, with over 1000 people expected. I was going to spend the rest of the summer of 2020 exploring the Rocky Mountain states, which would all be new to me.

Instead, I spent from December 2019 to July 2020 in the same place in Texas, about an hour northeast of Houston. I finally left at the end of July and spent a month back in Oklahoma City to visit my son. From there, I thought maybe it would be safe to start traveling back to California. I was getting worried that I wouldn’t see my dad at all before it was too late. His health was really frail throughout 2020.

Traveling is still not advised so again cancelled plans to see my dad. In the meantime, I ended up at the top of a waiting list for a co-op RV site in New Mexico so I decided to pack in the traveling lifestyle for awhile. I moved to New Mexico at the beginning of September 2020 and bought a larger travel trailer to live in. My motor home is still in storage waiting for the day I can take her out again and get back to seeing this great country of ours. But for now, I must entertain myself with internet adventures, some writing projects, and my arts and crafts.

Cat Truisms

What I’m saying is nothing new. Cat owners for millenniums have known the following. These truisms are so “true” that there are thousands of cat memes on any one of these three on the internet, all garnering a chuckle or at least a knowing smile from cat-owners the world over.

But as I was reflecting on the habits of my own nine year old smoosh the other day, I thought it would be fun to make a list. So here goes:

  1. “The cat bowl needs to be filled MeOW!”
    If the bowl of dry cat food is at the halfway mark or lower, you can be sure that your little fur ball will find a way to let you know that he’s currently starving to death over here.

    Sometimes I’ll try to fool him and just shake the half a bowl of crunchies and mix it up a bit. That usually doesn’t work.
  2. “May I present my butt for your pleasure”
    Nothing new here but with the recent advent of working from home, there are now circulating the funniest video clips of cats being absolutely sure that they are granting you the privilege of seeing that fuzzy butt-ness up close and personal.

    I seem to garner the majority of my opportunities to inspect said behind while I’m working on my laptop. Or while I’m laying on the couch reading. What’re you gonna do?
  3. “If it’s smaller than me, I can push it off and watch it land”
    There’s a YouTube video called Thug Cat Knocks Glass Off Table that I used to show in my classroom often because it’s just so darn funny.

    Whenever I can’t find something that I know I had recently on my dining room table (where I do most of my work), like a pen or paperclip or something, I start foraging around under the table in amongst the dog blanket paraphernalia. I usually find what I’m looking for. 

I know there are more that just the three I listed above. Cats might be the single most popular pet on the planet. Can you think of any more cat truisms?

I Live In An Abandoned Town

In the desert, structures and remnants of lives don’t ever go away completely. The skeletons of abodes, fences, abandoned recreational vehicles, old barns can be seen dotting the landscape amongst the tumbleweeds and creosote. I first noticed this when I spent two years driving back and forth across the country in my motor home. I traversed Interstate 40 and Interstate 10, sun-bright yellow land contrasted by blue, blue skies flashing by at sixty or sixty-five miles an hour. I travelled less used byways and county roads at a much more leisurely pace through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, slowing to gawk at derelict motels or restaurants abandoned alongside the road.

Several months ago, I decided to park the motorhome, buy a trailer and settle down in one spot, Lakewood, New Mexico. I was now in the middle of a couple hundred acres of grazing cattle and about two miles from the nearest highway. I can cross over a set of railroad tracks to get to the little post office set up in a trailer but there are no buildings or other businesses to speak of. At least I didn’t think there were. The reasons I picked the spot had nothing to do with the history or the landscape but when I learned about the thriving community that was this place a hundred years ago, I was hooked.

Now the freight trains just blare their horn and pass through during the night. But there was a passenger stop along the route at Lakewood, originally called McMillan, with a saloon, drug store, and post office, in the late 1890s (http://genealogytrails.com/newmex/eddy/dayton.html).  

In 1911, The Lakewood Canning Factory was built. The building is still standing although the business closed permanently in 1922. I’ve driven around trying to find the remains of other town buildings but it’s all private property now with secured gates.

If you do a current Google search on Lakewood, NM, you will learn that the population in Lakewood (zip 88254) is 31. There are 1 people per square mile aka population density. I don’t think that takes in to account the mobile home park I live at but otherwise, quite true. I believe there are more abandoned buildings and vehicles than residents in these parts. But it’s alive with history and, if you’re observant, the pieces left behind.