WheRVe we been? Our travels, 4th quarter 2019

‘Twas a rolling feast!

We pureed pumpkins near the Mexican border, got stuffed with turkey near the Canadian border, and baked cookies for Santa after a return trip south.

But that’s what happens when ya roll from a SoCal Halloween, to a PNW Thanksgiving, to a desert Christmas.

Yes, it would have made far more sense to just stay in the southwest for the duration, but then we would have missed out on Thanksgiving with family (hadn’t seen our older boy and his girl for more than a year), and that was important enough to us to make the schlep back and forth through the brrrrr.

Here’s the summary of our 4th quarter travels, from Escondido to Port Townsend to Tucson, thanks to a little help from Google.
RV miles traveled this quarter: about 3512
(Map does not reflect our exact routing, hence the mileage discrepancy.)

Escondido, CA, Oct 1 – Nov 4: What an orange blur October was. Our workamping experience at Pumpkin Station really deserved a blog post of its own, but I just didn’t get there. The quick facts:

  • We worked 10-11 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the entire month.
  • Service industry employment was basically new territory, since neither of us had worked directly with customers since college days. Quite a learning curve, that.
  • Although our job title was Assistant Managers, we really had our hands in all kinds of tasks necessary to keep the business running: hay rides, tours, petting zoo, sales, stocking, cleaning, decorating, phone calls, hiring, scheduling and more.
  • Our compensation included a salary and W/E hookups on-site with regularly scheduled tank pump-outs.
  • Errands like laundry and grocery shopping meant late nights out after the work day was done, since we didn’t have weekends off.
  • And that meant we used very little fuel and spent very little money during the month we were bound to the farm. Another bonus? Free home grown pumpkins after we closed for the season. I didn’t have to buy a single can of Libby’s for my holiday baking!
  • It was both exhausting and rewarding, and we haven’t ruled out a return in 2020.
– The pumpkin patch as viewed from the upper fields
– A hungry goat (they’re always hungry)
– One of many school field trip groups
– Our site management team
Tim can now add toddler entertainment, hayride driving, tent re-stabilization, and goat-proofing to his list of marketable skills.
I get to add sunflower gathering, cashiering, petting zoo maintenance, and price gun wielding to mine.

Las Vegas, NV, and Savannah, GA, Nov 4 -12: So what did we do to decompress after a month of working together day in and day out? We took separate vacations!

Tim held down the fort in the Las Vegas area (and even moved the fort successfully from one site to another without me) while I flew to Savannah, GA, to join the girls for our 25th annual gathering, which we call FriendFest.

The ten of us met when our husbands were serving as naval officers aboard the same ship in the 1990’s, and we’ve gone on our own “deployment” every year since 1995. We eat until our pants are tight, drink until we stumble, laugh until we pee, and we’re gonna keep doing it until we can’t keep doing it anymore.

– Tim’s boondocking site in the desert, near Lake Meade
– Front and back of custom made FriendFest t-shirts, and perfect party napkins for our crew of retired Navy wives

Port Townsend, WA, Nov 14 – Dec 2: Although heading north in the winter is not our favorite thing, we do it to spend time with people who are some of our favorites. Fun fact: This trip made it so that we hit all four corner states in a single calendar year. Bam!

We stayed on the Olympic Peninsula to be closer to our son and his girlfriend, which meant taking an early ferry across the sound to spend Thanksgiving with Tim’s sisters and their families, who live north of Seattle.
I used my challah dough recipe to make a turkey to go with the turkey!
Oh. And on the way north, I learned a good lesson about using other vehicles to judge back-up distance.
Spoiler alert: I got it wrong.

Southern AZ, Dec 7-31: We had no specific destination in mind upon leaving WA, so our goal was to head south until we could stand outside without coats on.

First stop: Ontario, OR
Nope.
Second stop: Hill Air Force Base, UT
Still no.
Third stop: Page, AZ
There was no snow at Horseshoe Bend, but we still needed coats.
And hats.
Success!
In southern Arizona, they know how to put the mmm in warm.
We stayed at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Painted Rock Petroglyph Site near Gila Bend, and the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Famcamp in Tucson.
We celebrated Christmas by baking cookies like we thought our boys were still at home to help eat them, and by setting out our few decorative items.
And when I opened our blinds on Christmas morning, I realized I’d just missed Santa’s takeoff!

Where to next? Our experience at the August Escapees Hangout in Maine was so rewarding that we’ve signed up for two more in early 2020.

In mid-January, we’ll join a team of RVing volunteers in New Mexico at the Escapees Carlsbad Caverns Cleanup Hangout. Per the event description, we will “help the National Park Service preserve the wondrous formations of Carlsbad Caverns. On Monday through Friday of this Hangout, we will spend 4-5 hours each day underground, deep inside the heavily-visited parts of the caverns, cleaning lint and other debris from the formations.”

And to keep life in balance after our work time, we will then go spend part of February at play, at the Escapees Baja Mexico Hangout, with toes in sand, margaritas and tacos in hand.

Follow us on FacebookInstagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go.

¡Con sueños de la playa, hasta la próxima!


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.

I did a dumb thing (and nobody got hurt).

Blame it on hormones. Or Mercury in retrograde. Or the children. I don’t care.

I honestly don’t know why I thought it was the ideal moment to try backing up the RV for the first time. 

(I know. I did all that practicing for the upgraded driver’s license last year, but that was with a friend’s flatbed trailer, which I could see behind. That’s not possible with our 5th wheel, which is why I’ve heretofore been too chickenshit to try it.)

Anyway, our site was a giant parking lot at a remote casino in northern CA, for a quick overnight.

There was only one other vehicle in it. 

Sure, it was after dark, but there was plenty of room beside that big rig, and all I had to do was go straight back. 

I knew I could do that. 

In fact, I’d already done it quite successfully on the opposite side of the lot, but after Tim guided me all the way back, he realized he’d backed me up to a closed gate, and we didn’t know if or when someone might need access, so we moved. 

I declined Tim’s offer to spot me in the second location, because I knew I’d be done when my front end lined up with that semi’s cab. Easy peasy!

But also a big mistake. 

That is when we were reminded that some big rigs are shorter than others. 

Some are even shorter than we are. 

Like this one. 

So yeah. I backed into the fence. Because another compounding factor? Wire fences are pretty much invisible in the dark. 

I didn’t feel it — at all — but Tim definitely saw it when he got out to check my position. 

If I’d pushed any farther, there’d have been some flattened fencing — and two red-faced Rohrers exchanging insurance information with the casino manager come morning. 

The truly embarrassing part was that I know better. I paid more attention to my overconfidence than to two critical rules. (Hell. I couldn’t even see those rules, blinded as I was by that sparkly outfit Overconfidence was wearing.) 

  1. Take extra safety precautions after dark. 
  2. Always — always — use a spotter when backing up. Yes, even if the lot is the size of Connecticut. And especially after dark. 

So now my sense of embarrassment is the size of Connecticut.

There’s no photographic evidence of the actual smoosh, but I took a morning-after shot, showing that I’d had to make a forward roll of shame.

Oh, and one showing where I’d scraped the paint off Tim’s bike frame, although that might actually be from a far older boo-boo. Neither one of us is sure.

And uh, one showing that I bent our bike rack pretty good. Dammit. We really like this one, and it took no fewer than three prior duds to get to it.

The fence took no damage; my ego sustained a fairly large bruise. 

And that’s why I’m sharing this story. 

Let it serve as a reminder that things like this can happen to any RVer, new or seasoned. 

It could have been worse, and thankfully, Tim and I go easy on each other when it comes to such incidents, by which I mean we know full well that we take turns being the bonehead. 

This time, it was my turn.

15 reasons we acted like kids at summer camp in Maine

Take my money!

Although I thrive on our usual “roll by the seats of our pants” style of unplanned travel, I also enjoy an occasional event or trip for which all we have to do is pay a fee and show up on time, because someone else has done all the legwork and planning for us.

And that is exactly the experience we had last month, at the Escapees Downeast Maine Hangout in Sullivan.

Hangouts are a brand new addition to the Escapees slate of social events for RVers, and since we already counted the program directors as friends, and knew we’d be in the right part of the country, we registered for the Hangout in Maine as soon as we heard about it. Also? I’d never been to Maine!

The week’s schedule was packed full of events. None were mandatory; all were thoroughly researched; and all were described in a printed packet containing detailed instructions on locations, times, and any additional fees.

I think you’ll see pretty quickly how that 8 days in August felt so much like summer camp to us. In roughly chronological order:

1. We went on a group excursion to a historical site.

A visit to Fort Knox was combined with…
one to the adjacent Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory.

2. We went to a lobster bake.

I mangled and ate my first whole lobster!
The folks at Bar Harbor Lobster Bakes were very patient about helping out us newbies, plus there were instructions on our place mats.

3. We went blueberry picking.

The proprietor of Beddington Ridge Farm taught us how to use a rake to collect berries, and although it felt a little like cheating, I used it after picking my first container by hand. Definitely went faster!
I’ve still got 2 pints of these wild blueberries in my freezer. What should I make?

4. We went biking.

Views from the Schoodic Loop Road were breathtaking.
And speaking of breath, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced cleaner, fresher air than we did in Maine. The sea! The pines!
Aaaahhhhhh.

5. We sang camp songs and other hits at karaoke night.

I taught our fellow attendees a song I remembered from my own summer camp days.
It’s about a skunk.
Let us all give thanks that there is no video or audio of this moment.
(Photo credit: D. Goldstein)

6. We went hiking.

Tim and I hiked several miles on our own in Acadia National Park, then joined our group for a ranger guided tour along the Ocean Path.
We obediently flashed the official Hangout sign — the Hawaiian “hang loose,” or shaka — when we saw the camera.
(Photo credit: D. Goldstein)

7. We admired the sunset from atop a mountain.

Our group spread blankets and unfolded chairs at the perfect time to view the setting sun from Cadillac Mountain.

8. We went on a boat tour.

All aboard! Acadia By Sea gave us a different view of places we’d hiked and biked, plus an education on the area’s wildlife and history.
We saw harbor seals, harbor porpoises, bald eagles, osprey, cormorants, and two historic light houses.

9. We got ice cream!

This triple scoop of guilt came from Udder Heaven in Bar Harbor. It was our first stop for ice cream, but not our last! At least all that hiking and biking burned off some of it.

10. We went to a local festival.

Wild blueberry season in Maine means lots of wild blueberry festivals.
Tim and I celebrated this one by running in the annual 5-mile race, which benefited a regional cancer charity. We also treated ourselves to some home grown goodies.

11. We went kayaking.

Our 6-mile guided group tour rewarded us with even more fantastic views, and an upper body workout to balance all the walking, hiking, running and biking we’d done.
Have I mentioned that we had a lot of excess calories to burn?

12. We saw real live lumberjacks in action.

If you ever get the chance to attend Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show, do it.
It’s a bargain, it’s family friendly, it’s entertaining as all get out, and let me just add that lumberjacks sport very pleasing physiques. Very.

13. We stayed in a campground.

Acadia Seashore Camping & Cabins offers RV hookups, tent sites, and even two cabins and two rental RVs.
The owners are friendly and attentive, and the campground boasts views of both bay and mountains.
We’d go back!
Flanders Bay

14. We obeyed the directions of our camp directors.

OK, so David & Cheryl of Landmark Adventures were already friends of ours, and by “obeyed the directions of,” I really mean “posed for selfies and enjoyed all the fun with.”
(Photo credit: D. Goldstein)

15. We shared potluck meals with our fellow campers.

I made a “lobster roll” out of my family famous challah dough. Because Maine.
And it made sense to bring the state’s most famous CRUSTacean to brunch.
(Photo credit: M. McIlraith)

And that wasn’t even all! I didn’t post pictures of the campfires, blueberry recipe contest, craft class, outdoor movie night, star viewing, or all our new friends (44 people in 25 rigs).

We even left with mosquito bites on our legs, just like summer camp when we were kids.

Oh, and you’d better believe we signed up for another Hangout. Next year: Mexico!


Disclaimer: This blog was neither solicited nor compensated by the Escapees RV Club, nor any business mentioned or linked to herein. All opinions are our own; all mistakes are Emily’s (and I’ll correct them if you ask nicely, after I finish smacking my forehead and sighing grumpily).

None of the above: a sojourner meanders through the 2020 Census

We were recently introduced at a gathering as “sojourners,” and that pleased my inner word nerd because it’s a term that isn’t used so very often, and it carries with it a sense of romanticism and history.

Also? I’m pretty sure nobody’s ever called us that before.

And then I got to wondering about wandering. What makes a sojourner different from any other type of person on the move?

Based on my travels from one online dictionary to another (see what I did there?), the meaning hinges more on the destination than on the journey — which seems odd, because the “journ” part is right there inside the word. 

A sojourn is defined as a brief or temporary stay, thus  sojourners are people who spend a short time in one place. 

That’s not an inaccurate way to describe us. Between stints as sojourners, we are travelers — or nomads, wanderers, vagabonds, itinerants, and/or peripatetics. Maybe even pilgrims or hobos, depending on our purpose, and how long it’s been since we last showered and changed clothes. 

No matter what you call us, or what we call ourselves, I have a feeling that completing our 2020 Census form might be a little tricky.

I’ve taken a look at the Census Bureau’s proposed questions, and those involving residence do include “mobile home” as an option, but it’s clear from the list of responses that they mean the kind of mobile home that stays in one place. (“Hello, we’re from the government. Have you experienced an oxymoron today?”)

Anyway, I’ve lifted a few images from the document linked above, and I think you’ll see pretty quickly that in some cases, we’re just gonna have to choose whichever answer is least untrue.

Hmmm.
Our home is owned with a loan, but we also pay rent in the form of campground and RV park fees — unless we’re boondocking or work camping, and then we don’t pay rent at all. And what about the rent we pay for our storage unit?
Shit. Next?

Not sure how to answer this one either.
Do I measure the size of our current RV site?
The acreage of the entire park?

I guess for 18a we’re gonna have to go with an average, as our monthly rent varies widely. Or do I put the amount of our loan payment there?
18b is an easy no, and 19 makes me want to ask, “Wait. How much is it worth? Or how much would we actually get for it? Because we have a proven track record of being shitty at selling things.”

Yes, but it wasn’t parked here, and the address I dig up and give you for wherever we were on this date last year is not going to match our official mailing address.
Oy, this.

Finally some easy ones.
Yes to all!

“Similar debt.”
Ummm, maybe?
It’s more like an auto loan, I guess. Monthly payments and all that.
Scrolling on…

A ha!
A box with our name on it! Best I can tell, this is the only census response that allows for a dwelling that is not actually a building. Even though the question asks you to describe the building. Help!

One.
Let me introduce you to our sole vehicle, a 1-ton dually we call the BFT.
OMG, we’re going to trigger all the federal alarms.

For starters, it’s not a building, you guys. See above.
And the year it was built differs from its actual model year.
Do we even answer this question?
Sheeeesussssssss.

So there you have the points I’m pondering.
Even within this post I’ve wandered — from finding the definition of a single word, to trying to define our home, so that we can check the right box, while living a life that most people would describe as outside the box.

And yes, we will get our Census in the mail, at our official-on-all-the-things address, just like the rest of you. So they will find us. (See Question 9 in this post.)

But depending on where we are, how much fun we’re having, and when we actually call to have our mail forwarded that month, there may be a delay…

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 3rd quarter 2018

It was summertime, and the living was busy, and holy hell did we put on some miles. We really need to stop saying things like, “Sure! We can be there by Tuesday.” Somebody please slap the truck keys out of our hands next time we do.

Here’s a summary of our 3rd quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 5711.

Our starting point in July was Coeur d’Alene, ID.
From there, we headed east across MT and ND to MN, then back to Coeur d’Alene via SD.
After that, we spent a little over a month traveling around western WA, and concluded with a cannonball run back to Texas.
(Actual route varied. Source: maps.google.com)

Coeur d’Alene, ID, June 22 – July 7, and July 22-31: The third quarter began where the second ended, and was interrupted by a two-week jaunt to Minnesota and back (coming up next). While in CDA, which is where Tim’s family lived for a few years in the 1980’s, we spent a lot of time doing outdoorsy stuff with family and friends, to take advantage of the area’s lakes, mountains and rivers. One of Tim’s old high school buddies owns all the best toys, and he treated us to both 4-wheeling and kayaking!

– Biking the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha
– That day one 4-wheeler, 1 dune buggy, and 3 adults got covered in what felt like all the dirt in Idaho
– A much cleaner day, renting a pontoon on Lake CDA (photo by Tim’s dad)
– And another day on the lake, this time in kayaks

Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota & Wisconsin, July 7-22: Tim’s got a cousin in the Minneapolis area. We’d made tentative plans to visit last year, but for one reason or another, we didn’t follow through. So this year, we committed to making it happen. Granted, MN isn’t really right around the corner from ID, but at 1300 miles, it was as close as we were going to get in 2018, so off we went on Mad Dash 1. Cousin David made it well worth the time and expense by taking a few days off from work to serve as our tour guide, and even helped Tim fix… ugh, I’ve already forgotten, so… whatever the hell was broken on the RV or truck that week.

We covered a lot of ground.
– Went down the WI side of the Mississippi River, and back up the MN side, stopping to explore along the way
– Visited another one of Tim’s old hometowns, the charming Prescott, WI
– Drove up to Duluth and took in Gooseberry Falls and the historic Split Rock Light House

On the way to MN and back, we
– Ran under a rainbow in North Dakota
– Dropped in on the cabin Tim built as a teenager in Montana
– Paid our respects at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in MT
– Spent our 26th anniversary hiking at Custer State Park in SD, including a trail that offered a distant view of the backside of Mt. Rushmore. (No butts. I was disappointed.)

Western WA, Aug. 1 – Sept. 1: Despite having spent most of April, May and June in Washington, there were still more things we wanted to do and people we wanted to see there, so we went back! Ahhh, freedom. We started with a show of Tim’s father’s photography at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mount Vernon, then skipped from fairgrounds parking in Enumclaw, to golf course parking in Chehalis, to a private RV park in Hoquiam, and managed to squeeze in not one, not two, but three backpacking trips — one from each location. Wild blackberries were at their peak, and I could not turn down all that free dessert, so do not judge the amount I’ve still got stashed in my freezer. Come on over, and I’ll make you a cobbler. Maybe two.

– The work of Doug Rohrer, photographer, and co-op artist of the month for August 2018
– I only picked 7 or 8 quarts, but only because our freezer is so damn small
– Stared in awe at Mount Saint Helens, and we highly recommend a trip through the exhibits at the Johnston Ridge Observatory (photo by kind stranger who said we looked very picturesque sitting there)

One of the reasons I decided to give backpacking a try was to be able to see places that can be accessed only by long-distance hiking.
We hiked 13.5 miles to get to this scene: the Enchanted Valley Chalet in Olympic National Park.
Worth it.

Port Townsend, WA, Sept. 1-8: A big draw for Tim, the annual wooden boat festival, opened on Sept. 7. But we needed to be in Austin, TX — 2200 miles away — by Sept. 13. Our older son and his girl live in Port Townsend, so we’d get to hug them again, and we’d also gain the chance to see some Navy friends who’d just moved back from Germany, if we could just. make it. work. To make a long story very short: where there are wheels, there’s a way. We just had to spend some really long days on the road.

– The Steamer Virginia V, photographed because we once lived in VA, and because our son, who is a licensed captain and festival volunteer, got to drive her!
– Father, son, and sailboat bonding
– Please note that my headband, by Tavel Designs, has little sailboats on it. I’m so nauti!
– Our boy and his girl
– Military family friendships endure through miles and years of separation. The last time all of us were together, the three “kids” in front were a second grader, a preschooler, and a toddler.
Heart: full

And then we made Mad Dash 2, from WA to TX in four days.
Although I don’t recommend it, and I hope we never again make choices that would cause us to repeat it, I will say that we prepared well, and that enabled us to handle the trip well.
And by prepared, I mean we stocked up on healthy, easy-to-grab road foods; we were honest about when we needed to stop for breaks; we treated ourselves to one restaurant meal per day; we shared the driving, and set reasonable limits; and we steeled ourselves mentally and emotionally beforehand for 4 days that just wouldn’t be much fun.
(Source: Apple Maps)

But we’ve had a lot of fun since our arrival!
– Snarfed more than the recommended daily allowance of breakfast tacos.
– Made a trip to the beach, where we met my brother’s family‘s newest kitten
– Put our arms around our younger son and took the “starving” college student out to dinner
– enjoyed a happy hour that turned into six hours of food and fun with our friends, Marc & Julie of RV Love (photo by my mom)
Also, we’ve both been poked, prodded and prescribed during our twice annual round of medical visits here in San Antonio. All is well, and we are grateful.

We just don’t get views like this here, though. Washington’s waterways win.

Where to next? Ummmm, not sure yet! The roads are as wide open as our calendar, from late October until next spring, when we’ll return to Texas for more family time, more medical appointments, and two big graduations. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!


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.

2Q 2018     1Q 2018      4Q 2017        3Q 2017        2Q 2017        1Q2017        2016