We ended December in Tucson after our Christmas lunch with friends, two men, who happened to both be alone on that day.We invited them for a non-traditional Greek souvlaki dinner, and we had fun and laughed all afternoon, and talked a bit about where John and I were headed in just a few days.
We arrived in Mesa, AZ, at Cal-Am’s Valle del Oro RV Resort on January 1, which was at beautiful 2.5 hour drive, and were AMAZED.On just this day they were expecting 114 reservation check-ins!!This is the biggest RV Resort we’ve ever been to (1,700 sites), and even fancier than the Tucson property.
Our site is perfect and the neighbours are friendly.At one point we were talking to 3 complete strangers at the end of our ‘driveway’, and they were called Jerry, Harry and Larry!John, as usual, had me write names and unit numbers on a scrap paper and post on the fridge.
Not only is the park a 2 mile walk/cycle in perimeter, but the number of activities is amazing. My phone’s step counter went crazy high just wandering around looking. Activities include daily early morning exercise, hiking, pine needle basketry, wood carving, cycling club, leather art, golfing club, tennis club, wood burning, silversmithing, RC car racing, RC planes (complete with a hangar!), weekly flea market, weekly meal specials, lapidary, china painting, ceramics, etc etc.
We went home for a few days to celebrate our son Christian’s wedding, and it was a beautiful Winter Wonderland Fairy Tale come true. Welcome to the family, Caitlyn!
Next up, adventures in Mesa with our revolving door of visitors!
We’ve now been at Cal-Am’s “Far Horizons Resort” in Tucson, AZ for over 3 weeks, and are loving it.Due partly to the scenic location and partly the actual resort, we are having a blast. Highlights include canyons, mountains, cycling loops/hills, and the interesting “washes” (think dry desert rivers, which only fill with muddy water during monsoons). Add mild weather, no humidity and park amenities to round out the fun!
Far Horizons Tucson has so much to do.I promised myself I’d do something every day, and for the most part I’ve kept that promise.In fact, one day I did coffee hour, pottery, rock polishing, Zumba, back to pottery (for another coat of glaze), and a party in the evening – whew!John is enjoying the gym daily, frequent 50 mile bike rides, the hot tub, wood shop, and once braved the Sonoran Hot Dog featured at one of the parties. We play pool a few times a week, and I’ve almost beat him once!
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Rock polishing – a new hobby I’ve picked up!
My first pottery item!
We are usually busy during the day, and have to check the scheduled offerings to see what’s up for the next day.If we have free time, it seems like John is teaching everyone one of his favourite board games, Crokinole, which we bought on our way to the border in St. Mary’s, Ontario, at Crokinole CanadaSo far, we’ve heard of 4 boards being ordered online after John taught a few folks either by the pool club house, or at our site.
We are so tired at the end of the day, so that’s when we enjoy our books, hobbies, or I might bake for the next day. I thought our fatigue at day’s end was the time change (we’re 2 hours behind Toronto), but that just can’t still be the case – we’re busier than when we were working!
We’ve made some good friends at this park, including, as usual some four-legged ones – a special delicate (not!) sweetie.
As a cycling fan, John was interested to learn that Lance Armstrong used to train at Mount Lemmon, which is just minutes away (it’s 9,150 feet in altitude).One day I actually joined John on the 9 mile ride up (in the car..hehe) this steep and winding road, which led to a very tiny town of Summerhaven (pop approx 45).
For REAL activity, we went to Sabino Canyon one day.After taking the tram up to the top, I am still a bit surprised that I actually walked down. We had snacks, water, warm layers, and walking sticks, to get this unfit gal down 6 km. I was exhausted after the 1.5 hour trip, and heard from my ankles and shins a few days later. This indoor cat does not regret it, as was a beautiful experience.
The last item to report was a fun surprise:We (and some other residents) have some outdoor solar lights which ‘appear’ to flicker like real Tiki lights. We were invited to a Tiki Street Party, complete with mai tais and ukuklele music, and it was so fun and educational.I asked and answered the same few questions with same 15 folks, and I learned so much more about the RV lifestyle.One common theme at this park was “…we came to visit friends, and 5 weeks later, we were hooked”.I hear this often, and although we’re not ready to settle down at one spot for winters, I can see why Arizona is so popular!
Next up, January in Mesa, AZ, and guests for February. But first, tomorrow is coffee hour, rock polishing, yoga and preparations for the 2 single neighbour men we’ve invited for Christmas lunch!
When we entered Texas on November 25, the first park was a scenic campground.We are members of 3 different discount groups, and this one is the most generous, allowing folks to camp for free (limitations apply), which we use occasionally to offset the fun and less frugal locations, which have more amenities and activities.Our site was on the water, and we finally removed our hoodies. We played games and did puzzles/crafts in the evenings, and took walks during the days.John even kayaked once.
This park seemed to be used like we would a cottage or a permanently parked mobile home/trailer in Ontario.
At one point there were 6 little girls, all under 8-ish next door, and another 3 at a second site, and yet another at a third site.These girls were heard at various times, and made us smile a lot:
“Hey, you guys, lets use these sticks as machetes and hunt the woods!”
“Hey, hey, how about, how about – HEY!!, I need help pulling up my pants, Mackenzie!”
(Parent): “OK, I still have 6 kids right?”
(Parent): “How many worms did you catch? REPLY: “Does the one in my hair count?”
(Parent): “Who wants to ride around in the back of the pick up? No, leave the machetes.”
On November 26, we were excited to enter Arlington, TX.After a quick sandwich in the bus, we headed to the best Walmart ever – full of Cowboy Fan Gear!!Located a stone’s throw from AT&T Stadium, we loaded up on some gifts and souvenirs, and our “mantle” has never looked so good.
Our friends arrived the next day, and everyone but me went to a tour of the Star (Cowboys training centre). That evening we enjoyed a cozy night in with homemade dinner.
On Thursday November 28, the gang went to the game super early.They took helmets, stuffed animals, homemade art – and they got autographs!!I enjoyed my crafts, napped with Romo (one of our cats), and watched the game – although it was a disappointing end for the Cowboys (booo..)
November has been wonderful so far – we’ve learned to enjoy the journey, not just pine for the destination.It actually makes me think like that in real life – and I’m more grateful for what we do have, vs longing for what’s ahead!
On November 1, 2019 we finally crossed the US border.
We spent mostly 1 or 2 nights on the road, since we had to be in Arlington, TX for American Thanksgiving for a Dallas Cowboys (NFL) game.We enjoyed natural rustic parks in Northern Michigan and mid Indiana, then walked the Clinton Bridge in Little Rock, AR.
These parks were tame compared to the Cajun Palms RV Resort in Henderson, Louisiana.Wooo-wee – when Alabama vs Louisiana State, everyone comes out!We met the owner of the resort, and he was a fun guy – here are a few gems I had to note:
“The bar is called Leroy’s after my beloved bulldog.He happens to be the twin of my ex-wife!”
“We pride ourselves on not allowing folks to get bored, so we have extra lawn mowers and weed whackers available for your use!
After this park, we tried something different, which was a Casino/RV Resort, still in LA.They had a beautiful atrium in the hotel lobby and in the pond were about 20 alligators, which we watched at their weekly feeding time.It was unusual, but they definitely surprised me with their cute “smiles” and sexy eyes, haha.Also, I lost a whopping $14 on the “Makin’ Bacon” slot machine!
Of course we had to try the famous New Orleans dessert while we were there.
Usually, the last few stops are different from the first few. Still fun, but we were ready to be home.
I flew back to John (after a family emergency in Toronto) to Jacksonville, FL and then we moved on. In historical Charleston, SC, we toured Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum area, including the on-land Vietnam re-creation.
Our next stop was Four Oaks, NC. Since we were approaching Easter, this should not have surprised us but it sure did. We had just sat down for dinner one night, and, behold – our neighbour, haha:
We continued north uneventfully, and I was glad that we made it home in time for Greek Orthodox Easter.Since I’m publishing this entry late, I’ll add that at the end of May, our daughter got married, and we so enjoyed reconnecting with friends and family in general.
Published late, but Year III entries starting soon.
Thank you to everyone who asks about our trips and follows the blog and my Instagram account, @stephanie.reid152
On March 1, we arrived at Tropical Palms RV Resort in Kissimmee, FL, which is very close to Orlando and all the theme parks.We went to karaoke night, watched the dramatic rescue of a flock of baby ducklings while we paused our mini-golf game, and cycled in near-by Celebration a couple of more times. There was a library and a gym, plus a snack bar at the pool. The hot tip on onion rings was right on!Mostly we’d walk the mile to Old Town (quite a few times), which was interesting and fun – plus March in Kissimmee had some of the hottest weather so far.
Old Town is an outdoor shopping mall and entertainment area, like a tiny olden days town. It’s been around since 1986, but feels more like 1956, with the interesting and old-fashioned shopping, restaurants, bars, attractions, and rides.
We’re still talking about a pizza we had at an Old Town restaurant (honey drizzled over greens and salty olives?!!), and all the food trucks you could imagine. We walked there on two separate evenings for a Classic Car show and a Muscle Car show. There were unique souvenir shops, and we took some photos of wood carvings that John thinks he just may get around to carving – one day.
March was a great example of many days that were too hot to be outside at all.I caught up on my crafts, John downloaded a few shows, and one SUPERFUN (for me!) thing we did at the Crayola Experience in an Orlando mall, was make our own colouring page.
John also went with relatives to famous Weeki Wachee River, where they kayaked in clear water and saw beautiful underwater scenery.I was meant to go, but flew home at the last minute for a family emergency.
I returned to a different airport than the one from which I left John, because he moved himself and the 2 cats (and did all the packing, navigating and unpacking) alone to Jacksonville, FL.That’s how we started April, and we’re done with the month-long stays. Our last few weeks coming up next.
The month of February was special for two reasons.First, our good friends, C and K came to visit us and check out the RV life, and second – it was our busiest month yet!
On Feb 2, our friends arrived, just in time for Super Bowl.We have a running joke with C because she is so little, that we HAD to try Costco’s Kirkland vodka – the bottle is almost bigger than she is lol. (No, we did not finish it that weekend!!)
With a long-planned Super Bowl snacky meal, John and K enjoyed the game and their American beer.C and I laughed and shared drinks in my “office” (bedroom, with iPad fun, and lots of laughs). C and K got us started playing pool, and after they left, John and I must have played 20 more times after they left, and I only won once.We had a great time with our friends, even though the weekend was short!!
We met relatives for scenic cycling in Celebration, FL, which is a neat little town, created by Walt Disney, which you can guess when you see how beautiful and perfect the streets and houses are – another happiest place on earth? We also made a lot of 4-legged friends, passing so many pups being walked. I can’t forget the Sandhill Cranes walking around like they owned the place – each time we saw them we’d laugh at their goofy gait.
We finally met up with old friends and had a 3-hour visit during a restaurant lunch, and and then a 2-hour McCoffee visit (we’re those old folks now).This wonderful couple watched our rig and our cats when we had a family emergency last year in March, and we hadn’t seen them in over a year.It was non-stop chatter and laughter, and we’re meeting up again this April in Raleigh!
In Frostproof we met another lovely couple from Missouri, and with them saw a Willie & Waylon tribute band that were excellent (except Willie wasn’t quite as skinny as the real thing lol), played Bocce ball, and triedto learn Bunko (fail). Yet another couple brought us some famous cinnamon muffins and shared their recipe for Chicken Dianne and I thanked them with a batch of homemade cookies.The RV life is really very friendly. By coincidence, my cousin and 12 of her husband’s relatives were in nearby Davenport for the Daytona 500, and we spent a day with them in their luxury rental house (3 master bedrooms, house sleeps 14!). This was a wonderful coincidence.
We enjoyed Bok Tower, a 250-acre garden, complete with a 205-foot tall Singing Tower with its carillon bells, which is a bell-type instrument of which there are only about 600 in the whole world.
One last neat thing we did was Spook Hill, an oddity of nature (..or..just science?), which is a small downhill-pointing road you park on, put the car in neutral, and watch as you roll backwards, UPHILL!
Frostproof revealed itself to be lovely and more than frost-proof.I took these shots one day around sunset, and am glad to have this memory of one of our best months so far.
February was busy in Frostproof, FL (if you ever go there, you must try Frostbite, the 50’s diner which will have you looking for Fonzie!) but we also took time for the gym, baking, crafting and researching (good wifi for a change!). We booked April from this park, which will lead us to Charleston, SC, to Raleigh, NC, and then right on home by May 1.
Next up, Kissimmee, FL.KissIMMee, if you want to sound local!
We spent the month of January in Venice, FL, at a park which was similar to a vacation all-inclusive. There were the usual Snow Birds, plus a lot of families who either spent the season there, or were full-timers (home-schooling is very popular with RV families). The town of Venice was also very “vacation-y”, and we enjoyed browsing/lunching on the main strip, which had some very interesting shops and restaurants.
This park had a lot to offer: weekend food trucks, a huge library, weekly woodworking, karaoke, water aerobics, and a free welcome dinner to kick off the season. I went to a flea market, made friendship bracelets with 5 of the “football kids” (see below), and John got into his woodworking – which led us to a show where the National Woodworking Champion was teaching a course! John kept up with his cycling, and even saw an alligator ON the path (said it was not much different than a log, lol).
All the families we met were really super. The kids were polite, calm and mature – and then, home-schooling let out around 2:30, haha. At first I enjoyed how sweet it was that a group of 4-9 kids were playing NFL RULES football on the street – just adorable. Then the ball hit the rig. Then again. And once more. John started to say that around 2 pm he was getting nervous because they were coming out to play soon, but it was such innocent fun, I’d watch for about an hour at a time.
As this was around halfway through our trip, it seemed one day as though John could be getting tired of all this togetherness. We do spend most days together, but we have separate hobbies, and my go-to joke is “when we have a disagreement, one of us goes into the car with a cup of herbal tea for 15 minutes”, lol. In the evenings our hobbies and “downloads” separate us happily for a couple of hours after dinner (unless Triple D is on!). We do go out for lunch about twice a month, and in downtown Venice, John found this pillow’s saying hilarious. I laughed out loud, so that must be a good sign.
RV sites generally range from luxurious to “we can’t even put out 2 chairs, as the next rig is so close”. One day we met Jade, a huge Goldiepoodle, because we had to move some of our outdoor belongings (ONLY our picnic table, stand-alone hammock, chairs, and carpet, lol) in order for her owners to drive their golf cart onto their toy hauler, so they could leave. This park did NOT have spacious sites, and 3 of us were oddly connected to the electrical pedestals near the rear of our rigs!
We gladly watched the couple’s two little boys, while the parents worked, and they put a hat on Romo, and told us we should visit them in “United-States-of-America-which-is-in-Michigan” – so cute! Oh, and Jade, the Goldiepoodle, has 2 -inch eyelashes, which must be TRIMMED monthly!!
Venice was great, and next up is Frostproof, FL for the month of February! Yes, Tim, I know I’m way behind..
Although we’ve been enjoying the RV life, we had booked our first cruise many months ago, which is why we HAD to be in Miami during December. On December 8 we met our daughter*, her fiancé, plus his parents and my Energizer Bunny Mother-in-Law to board the Norwegian Bliss.
We ate too much, tried new drinks (cucumber jalepeño mojito!), and danced to a different genre of music almost daily. We enjoyed great entertainment and partied at the ‘80’s Retro Dance like we were 19 (hehe, hello 1985).
The food was excellent and (too) abundant. We were both craving an apple as we pulled into the RV park – what might that tell you, haha?
It was a great experience, and we connected with our future in-laws in a warm and wonderful way – and generally had a blast!
* Special thanks to Cruise Director, Emily Reid for organizing this wacky group of 7!
Back on land, our site at Larry and Penny Thompson Campground was excellent, and situated in such a way that we saw everyone (and every dog) walk by multiple times a day. From our small buddies who were full-timing with their parents, to the wise and experienced couple across the street, everyone was so nice and welcoming. Jim and Audrey had so much to teach and tell us, as they’ve been RVing for 30 years! At 90, Audrey was perky and fun, and Jim knew all the best spots. They took us to lunch at their favourite diner, where Jim likes to “aggravate” the servers, haha! On our 2nd last day, the mom of the two tiny buddies actually bought and gave us an Instant Pot cookbook! The kindness of campers is one-of-a-kind!!
On one of the first days of December we toured boardwalk path, of the 1.5 million acres of wetlands that make up the Florida Everglades National Park. The alligators were out in the sunshine, and at least one looked like he was at the dentist. A few had “crossed the road” (paved path) to the dry side! We saw two babies (3 inches, at most), and heard a Park Ranger tell a group of kids that she’d been doing this for 2 years and had never seen a baby before!! Isn’t swampland beautiful?
After this kind of sight-seeing we went to see about the milkshakes at Robert Is Here. I’d been calling it “Bob’s Not Here” for a couple of hours, haha. We chose one of the 21 flavours, all made with fresh fruit – and it was delicious, along with our first ever Cubano (famous cuban sandwich).
What a neat place! Part cafe, part market, part petting zoo and a historical sight for old aircrafts and vehicles. We got a lesson in Turtle Love, which was actually funny – the male was squeaking like a mouse!!