WheRVe we been? Our (lack of) travels, 2nd quarter 2020

I thought I’d be tapping out this quarterly update from the UP, at a rustic campground in Marquette, where we’d planned to spend this week with friends.

But… pandemic pause.

Every event we’d registered for between July and September, between Michigan and Washington, was canceled.

So we’re still in Texas, waiting to tie up a few loose ends, and trying to figure out what’s next.

I feel a few of you nodding your heads and smirking in solidarity, and I appreciate that we’re not alone in having our plans change, and change, and change again during this pandemic.

We are thankful that for us this endurance test has so far been only inconvenient and frustrating, not devastating.

We didn’t lose jobs, we didn’t watch the jobs we did have become an unrecognizable marathon of awkward teleconferences, and we didn’t have to monitor our children’s online schooling.

Hell, we didn’t even have to explain the pandemic to our kids. Every day. In a hundred different ways. To infinity. Some of you did, and probably still are, and you deserve all the top shelf margaritas.

And we’ve remained virus-free, as have our family members.

Those are all very precious gifts.

So now that all the gratitude’s been typed out loud, here’s my briefest quarterly update ever.

We went three places.
T.H.R.E.E.
From Kerrville, to Livingston, to San Antonio, which was less than 600 RV travel miles.
Last quarter? 3,236.

Here’s another telling image for ya. Below is a screen cap of my notes for our quarterly travels, recording each place we slept and approximate miles traveled.
1st quarter 2020: 17 stops
2nd quarter 2020: just the 3
For the past year, we’ve made between 11 and 18 stops per quarter. Ack.

April: We were supposed to be in San Antonio for all our routine annual medical and dental appointments, but every single one was canceled or switched to a phone consult (by our providers, not us), so we stayed on as camp hosts at Kerrville-Schreiner Park for a few more weeks — our third spring season there.

It’s pretty.

May: We were exactly where we were supposed to be! We’d signed up in July of 2019 to spend the month of May 2020 volunteering at Escapees CARE, a unique respite facility for RV’ers in Livingston, TX. We were worried that the pandemic quarantine would preclude our being able to serve, but we got the all-clear, and that resulted in one of the most gratifying workamping gigs we’ve ever experienced. Here’s where you’ll find my words and pics.

Unquantifiable, the rewards of devoting our time and energy to the people of CARE.
We’ll do it again.

June: We were supposed to be checking some middle states off our travel map as we made our way to a few scheduled stops in MI and WI, but instead, we re-booked almost all the appointments we’d had to skip (see April), and came back to our home base of San Antonio. It’s dog breath hot, and the city’s become a COVID-19 quagmire, but we got the most important pokes, prods, and scans done before things started shutting down again, and we’ve been able to see family and friends in small groups — good medicine, both.

We haven’t really gone out much since we’ve been in San Antonio,
so I don’t have a lot of photos from the month of June.
But we’ve been doing more outdoor cooking than usual,
so here. Here’s a picture of our dutch oven cobbler.

Where to next: We’ll probably try making our way north, to spend some time cooling off in the mountains of CO, MT, WY and/or UT. Following each state’s rules for COVID-19 prevention is a priority, and we will take great care to make sure we travel safely. Or we might just throw our hands in the air and forget about it, and give in to the universe’s persistent nagging that this summer we should probably just stay put. You’ll find out when I blog about this quarter in October.

Or you can follow us on FacebookInstagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go (or don’t).

Please stay well, y’all. Please.

Here’s hoping for this view from the passenger side, soon.

We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 1st quarter 2020

I’m departing from the usual format for this update because… well, because we’ve all had to depart from our “usual formats” this spring, yes? Sheesus, this.

I’ll borrow words from our friend, Joodie, at Chasing Dirt, “There is no way to blog today without some talk of The Virus, but I don’t really want to talk about it in any appreciable way. I have nothing to tell you that you don’t already know or aren’t hearing and seeing in about a thousand other places a million times a day. I have been wrestling with whether or not to continue to blog right now at all, not because I don’t have anything to share, but because I don’t want to seem callous or naive about the current state of our world by sharing anything else.”

Same.

Joodie, like me, is a person who needs to write (and you’ll get to “meet” her if you stick with me and keep scrolling). What I don’t need, not always anyway, is for my writing to be seen. So with that in mind, I’ll start with my customary travel map, and after that, just one pic from each of our major stops along the way to this COVID-19 Spring.

We went back and forth and around and around a lot,
from AZ to NM to AZ to CA to Mexico to CA and then across AZ and NM again to TX.
RV miles traveled this quarter: about 3236
(Map does not reflect exact routing.)
Tucson, AZ, 12/20/2019 – 01/06/2020
A day at the Desert Museum with our friends, Andrea & Shawn of 40FootHouse
Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, AZ, 01/06 – 01/12
Quiet, secluded boondocking in the grasslands
Whiskey Mountain RV, Phoenix, AZ, 01/12 – 01/17
Had repair work done, and spent some time staring at this clock in the lobby.

Carlsbad Caverns, NM, 01/18 – 01/25
Service project! Cleaned the place with paint brushes. Read this post.

Alamogordo, NM, 01/25 – 02/02
Ranger-led sunset hike at White Sands National Park
Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area, AZ, 02/02 – 02/04
Boondocking and a hot tub
Phoenix, AZ, 02/04 – 02/11
Dinner meet-up with Kevin & Judy, who were our co-managers at the pumpkin patch in CA, back in October
Gila Bend, AZ, 02/11 – 02/13
That’s Joodie and her husband! There on the left!
We didn’t know they were staying at the Gila Bend Famcamp when we pulled in, and they didn’t know we were coming, but Joodie spotted us, and we were thus able to spend some quality time together.
She wrote it up here.
San Felipe, BC, Mexico, 02/14 – 02/24
Ten days of tequil-aaaahhhhh
(and lots of tacos, relaxation, and fun with friends, all of which you can read about here)
Borrego Springs, CA, 02/26 – 03/06
Boondocking in the desert, with PCT hiking for Tim, and recovery from the “San Felipe Flu” for me
Kerrville, TX, 03/08 – present
Our 3rd springtime gig as camp hosts is stretching quite a bit longer than the planned 3 weeks, so that we can continue to help contain the spread of COVID-19 by staying in place.
Also? We’ve doubled our occupancy by sheltering our younger son and his girlfriend with us.
Hooray for full hook-ups!
And when I look back on this season, what I want to remember is that when it felt like everything else in our world had stopped, the bluebonnets still showed up.
And bluebonnets don’t have to worry about social distancing.

Where to next: We’ll ride out April here in Kerrville, and we’re just going to have to wait and see which of our plans in May, June and July are still viable. Same as everybody else.

Please stay well, y’all. Please.


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

From My RV Kitchen: Sinful Chocolate Fudge Pie

We encountered a bump in the road two weeks ago, with a catastrophic fuel pump failure in the BFT, stranding us just south of Dallas. Luckily, we were able to have The Toad towed to a park with hookups, so we could live somewhat normally for the duration.

But after five days of trying to keep my spirits up by making lemonade out of our proverbial lemons, I decided I needed something stronger to soothe my soul.

Chocolate.

There are times when only chocolate will do, and this was one of them.

Beware:  This pie is so sinfully rich and intense that you may want to draw the blinds and turn up the volume on the TV to disguise any embarrassing noises or facial expressions you might make while eating it.

Yes, it’s that good. Remember the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally? That.

Sinful Chocolate Fudge Pie

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels, melted

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp. instant coffee

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Microwave chocolate in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted; set aside. (Alternate: melt over very low heat on stovetop in heavy saucepan, stirring frequently.)

I prefer melting chocolate on my gas stovetop to the microwave method, as I’m less likely to scorch it that way.
You use the method you’re good at.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

It’s gonna look like this.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.

Add chocolate, coffee, and vanilla extract; mix well.

Chocolate going in.

I used my very precious pure Mexican vanilla, purchased in Mexico on a recent vacation.
You can find it in the states too, but read the ingredient list: if it has anything other than water, vanilla bean and alcohol in it, don’t waste your money. You’d basically be buying vanilla-flavored corn syrup.

Stir in flour and chopped walnuts.

I used walnuts.
You use whatever nuts you like, or leave them out.

Pour into pastry shell.

That nice glossy uncooked batter yields a nice glossy top crust after baking. Underneath it?
Gooey fudgy moan-inducing filling.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until pie appears set. (I used my gas oven for this pie. I have not tested it in my convection oven.) Toothpick test is unreliable. It will come out coated with filling, which is exactly what you want. Don’t be fooled into over-baking!

Cool pie on rack, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

My version is adapted from this original recipe.

(Author’s note:  a version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.)

Home for the month: not lake side, nor even lake view, but kind of lake near

After ten days of “leave at 8:00, commute 45 minutes to Norfolk, work on house all day, drive 45 minutes back home, shove something edible in our faces, get clean, go to bed, and repeat,” we took today off to explore our home at Davis Lakes Campground.

Here we are. Our spot's off to the right, near the recreation area. And the dumpsters. The spots around the lake are all parallel parking for better views, although "parking" seems like too temporary a term for some of the set-ups we saw.

Here we are.
Our spot’s off to the right, near the recreation area. And the dumpsters.
The spots around the lake are all parallel parking for better views, although “parking” seems like too temporary a term for some of the set-ups we saw.

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Many lakeside encampments blur the line between temporary and permanent, with patios and other covered structures built on.

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The Plunging Swirling Hole of Transport to the Middle of the Earth! OK, so it’s probably just a drainage thing, but there’s no fence around it, which is astounding, because if I were 8 years old? First place I’d go.

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Best part of camping here: daily bunny outside our doorIMG_5869

Funniest part: signs

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True story: the odometer in the BFT hit 99,999 as we rolled by this sign a few days ago.

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Every RV’er needs to review the departure checklist. No spouse left behind! Well, not by accident anyway.

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Um… this is a section of our lease. It very clearly and consistently follows the “If you’re not sure when to use an apostrophe s, just use it everywhere” rule.

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No fish were using the sinks today.

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… of gravity?

Worst part: lack of time and/or warm enough weather to enjoy the lakes

Don't let the sunshine fool you. It's 67 degrees today. So not beach weather. Talk to me when it's 20 degrees warmer.

Don’t let the sunshine fool you.
It’s 67 degrees today — not beach weather. Talk to me when it’s 20 degrees warmer.

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But hey, I’ve got a sassy new shirt to wear when we do get a chance to spend a day on the lake. Thanks, B!

After 2 days and 800 miles on our butts, 6.5 miles on our feet felt wicked good

We’ve stopped for a 3-night road break on our way from San Antonio to Norfolk.

(You haven’t heard? We’re selling the other house.)

The Toad is all set up here at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, AL, and it. is. lovely. After two months of living in military RV parks with few trees and with burn restrictions in place, it’s refreshing and restorative to spend a few nights under these tall beauties, falling asleep to the crackling sounds and toasty smells of neighboring campfires.

Home for 3 nights

Home for 3 nights

We walked all over the park today, covering a little more than 6 miles in distance, and 150 years back in time, to the Civil War — errrr, I mean the War of Northern Aggression, now that we’re sitting here in the heart of the Confederacy.

Come join us…

From our campsite near the, we walked the perimeter of the park counterclockwise, from

From our campsite between the train tracks and the office/museum loop, we walked the perimeter of the park counterclockwise.


Historic cabin along the creek

Historic cabin along Mill creek


The old furnaces date back to 1830, and they produced iron for Confederate military necessities during the Civil War.

The old furnaces date back to 1830, and they produced iron for the Confederate military during the Civil War.


That's me there in the doorway, for perspective.

That’s me there in the archway, for perspective.


View of the charging bridge into Furnace 1

View of the charging bridge into Furnace 1


Close-up of some of the works at the ironworks

Close-up of some of the works at the ironworks

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When we stopped to read this sign, I said to Tim. "Hey. I've heard of Montevallo. Mom & Dad have some old friends there." Remember that. It's gonna come back later.

When we stopped to read this sign, I said to Tim. “Hey. I’ve heard of Montevallo! Mom & Dad have some old friends there.”
Remember that. It’s gonna come back later.


Along the Iron Road Trail was a spur that led to this marker, which allowed us to stand in three counties at once! It also tells me which county each of us peed in afterwards. Look. We were in the woods, there were no facilities, and... you know the rest.

Along the Iron Road Trail was a spur that led to this marker, which allowed us to stand in three counties at once!
It also tells me which county each of us peed in afterwards.
Look. We were in the woods, there were no facilities, and… you know the rest.


We couldn't walk that far without stopping to visit the old slave cemetery. It was sad in its starkness. Those rocks in the background served as headstones. I know.

We couldn’t walk that far without stopping to visit the old slave cemetery. It was sad in its starkness. Those rocks in the background are the headstones.
I know.


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The grist mill is long out of use. Probably because people stopped buying grist.


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After we finished our walking tour, we wandered into the Alabama Iron & Steel Museum to read up on everything we’d just seen. I happened to glance at the shelves in the gift shop, and that’s where I saw this book. Remember I said my parents had friends in Montevallo? That’s him. I very nearly peed again. Um, hi Norman and Joan!


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All that walking worked up an appetite, and even though I’m not a big burger fan, I’ll support a local business that boasts the best (Yelp users concurred). I had a much harder time choking down that apostrophe.


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Thanks for joining us on today’s walkabout! One more day of rest tomorrow, and then we’ll hit the road again on Saturday.