Wordless Wednesday – Life Saver

Make the call.

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A Tiny Treasure of a Park

A relatively new state park in the cool mountains New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle

On our recent week-long trip to the Enchanted Circle area of New Mexico, we had the opportunity to visit several places to take our RV on future trips.  One little state park we found was pretty and one we would consider for a night or two on a return trip.

Eagle Nest Lake State Park is not a big park, but it occupies some prime real estate on the west side of Eagle Nest Lake, which is quite beautiful.  It is a relatively new state park, only founded in 2004.

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Main entrance to Eagle Nest Lake State Park
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Visitor’s center area

 

We took the opportunity, after paying our day use fee at the gate drop box, to tour this little park and check out some of the RV sites.

We started our tour at the visitor’s center, but it was locked up on that Wednesday morning.  In fact, we never saw a park employee anywhere in the park during our visit.  It looks like a very nice visitor’s center, and I wish we could have checked it out to see what was offered inside.  There were about six RV campers in the campground, but they obviously could not use any of these facilities, at least on the day we were there.  (I will give some credit here for at least keeping the park open for day visitors and campers, though, unlike the national forests in New Mexico who just seem to pretty much close up shop after Labor Day and completely lock their parks and campgrounds up to everyone.  Ugh.)

For anyone with a boat, there is a boat ramp next to the visitor’s center to give easy access to the lake right in the park.

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Visitor’s center
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Wish we could have seen inside the visitor’s center, but it was locked up.😦
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A little info on the park

 

There are some nice, tall trees in the day use area, along with beautiful lakeside covered tables.  A picnic here would be a lovely experience, for sure.  We were the only people in this area during our visit, too.

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Unlike the day use area, there are no trees in the RV campground, which is unfortunate.  The draw to camping here for us, though, would be the great lakeside sites with the nice covered tables.  These particular sites are also pull-through sites and looked to be pretty level.  And as if to try to make up for the lack of trees here, the yellow and purple wildflowers were absolutely beautiful!

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There is a small area of private residences just behind the state park, including the campground, so if you want a campground that is away from more developed areas, this one might not be for you.  All of the RV sites are dry camping sites, too.  However, for a small nightly fee, camping by a beautiful lake with mountains behind it, a covered table at the site and cooler summer temps is still a good deal to us!  I think the nightly fee was about $10?

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The tiny town of Eagle Nest sits at the north end of the lake and is easily seen from the visitor’s center area.

 

 

The town of Eagle Nest is nearby, and Angel Fire is only about ten miles away to the south. When planning a visit to this area, it would be worth checking to see what businesses are open and what businesses are closed in each community, especially if visiting in the off-season on a weekday.  The little town of Eagle Nest was pretty much buttoned up on this same day when we went there and hoping to check out some restaurants and shops.  There is a Lowe’s grocery store in Angel Fire, if needed.

This was a fact-finding, or RV park-finding, trip for us, and if/when we return to this area again, I think we might spend a night or two in this pretty little park.  The nightly rate is so cheap, and it would put us a bit closer for day trips to Eagle Nest and Red River, as compared to staying in Angel Fire where we stayed during our trip.  Our only disappointment was finding the park facilities to be locked up with no one on duty, but for just a night or two, we would probably be fine with that.

We also paid a quick visit to two campgrounds at Cimarron Canyon State Park, Ponderosa Campground and Maverick Campground.  I was driving the car and did not take any photos, unfortunately, but we really liked that park.  Just like Eagle Nest Lake State Park, the sites are dry camping, but we would most definitely consider camping there for a few nights.  The draw to that park for us is a true forest camping experience with access to the Cimarron River and some nice hiking trails.  Larger RVs use the Ponderosa Campground in that park, but smaller ones have a few more options in campgrounds.

Since I have no photos to share of this pretty park, here are two helpful links.

Photos of Cimarron Canyon State Park

Campsite Photos – Cimarron Canyon State Park

I have more to share on our trip soon.😉

Our Enchanted Circle Vacation

Our first RV trip to this beautiful area

We enjoyed a nice vacation in the mountains of northern New Mexico last week, our first time to vacation in this area in our RV.  Northern New Mexico is a further drive for us than southern New Mexico, but we wanted to spend some time in that area in our RV.  I’m so glad we did!

We certainly visited this great area to just relax and enjoy being out in our RV again, but we also wanted to check out RV campgrounds for future trips back here, too.  I will share a bit about what we found as far as RV options in this post, after first giving a little background on why we no longer attempt to camp in another part of the state.

We love visiting the mountains of New Mexico for a cool break when the weather is hot at home, but since we started vacationing by RV five years ago, we have only visited the mountains of southern New Mexico in our RV, specifically the national forest campgrounds in the Cloudcroft area.

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The Cloudcroft area is beautiful, but, unfortunately, we’ve found it is not really a great place to visit in the RV in summer months.

 

While it is a pretty area and closer to home for us, we’ve found that the mountain area of southern New Mexico just does not seem to work for us in our RV for a few reasons.  The national forest campgrounds are definitely the best campgrounds in the forest, but we cannot reserve a site in them ahead of time.  Also, all but one of these campgrounds are closed after Labor Day, which is actually the best time of the year to visit this area weather-wise when the daytime temperatures are more moderate than in summer months.  We’ve also looked into most all of the private campgrounds in this area, but none of them are appealing to us, and most are usually booked on weekends anyway.  To sum it up, it is very hard to find suitable sites in this area in our RV.

We’ve decided to just pass on visiting the southern New Mexico mountains area in our RV for now until better options are available.  We have always loved visiting Ruidoso and Cloudcroft and have done so for decades, staying in cabins or lodges there.  It’s just not a good option in our RV and with our dogs, which is sad.  We love this area a lot, but we don’t love taking our RV there right now.  The folks that run the national forest campgrounds in this area need to keep their campgrounds open longer, since they definitely have a monopoly on the good RV camping options in the area.  They also need to allow some sites to be reserved in advance.  Shutting these lovely campgrounds down on Labor Day is just ridiculous.

After visiting northern New Mexico and the camping options there last week, we found some nice options for our RV.  Unlike the national forest campgrounds at Cloudcroft, some sites in the national forest campgrounds at Red River can actually be reserved online.  However, just like the national forest campgrounds at Cloudcroft, most of the campgrounds are closed after Labor Day.  I just do not get this at all.  The campground that was open, Fawn Lakes Campground in the Carson National Forest, seemed to only have sites for smaller RVs and probably could not accommodate ours.

There are two private RV parks on either side of town in Red River that we would consider, and both sit on the river not far from town.  Our first choice would be Roadrunner RV Resort, and our second choice would be River Ranch.  Both are pretty nice parks but experience high demand in the summer months with people reserving far in advance, and once again, sites are pretty close but do-able.

The other possible downside for us to the Red River area is Highway 38 into Red River, which is a pretty steep climb both ways (almost 10,000 feet) to cross Bobcat Pass, the highest elevation pass in the state of New Mexico.  We encountered a long road construction delay on this stretch of road, which delayed us over twenty minutes.  We were also forced to creep up and down the pass behind a lead truck, and we were very glad that we were not in our RV.  We certainly smelled hot brakes when we finally arrived in town.  Fortunately, they were not ours.

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Following a lead car far ahead of us down Bobcat Pass into Red River, we were delayed 20 minutes in arriving there due to road repairs.

 

I suspect this is the time of year for road repairs in this area before winter sets in, as we ran into a similar delay on our drive over the pass to Taos on another day.  While the drive to Red River in our RV is do-able for us, we may just opt to base camp elsewhere and make this a day trip on future trips to the area, just as we did last week.

There are some nice state park options available, especially at heavily wooded Cimarron Canyon State Park.  While this state park only offers boondocking options, like the national forest campgrounds, the park is open year-round.  In the summer months, some sites can also be reserved online.  It’s a beautiful place, even though Highway 64 runs through the middle of the park.  The park stretches for miles on either side of the highway along the Cimarron River, and in our 38′ RV, we would fit in the Ponderosa Campground.  We pulled into this campground to check it out on Saturday morning, and the camp host could not have been nicer to us, giving us some helpful information for a return trip someday.  He wanted us to stay there that night, but we needed to start our drive home.  I didn’t take any pictures while we were briefly stopped there, but photos can be found online.

Eagle Nest Lake State Park is another option in our RV.  Again, it is boondocking camping only, but many of the sites sit on the edge of scenic Eagle Nest Lake, which is quite beautiful with mountains just across the lake.  The colorful wildflowers were especially pretty there, too.

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Overnight camping sites at Eagle Nest Lake State Park, no hookups but very pretty!

 

There is no tree shade at these overnight sites, but the weather is typically cooler than southern New Mexico, often at least fifteen degrees cooler.  We also found a private campground with full hookups just outside this park that we would consider if sites are available, Angel Nest RV Retreat, since the state park is within easy walking distance.  I believe this park is open until sometime in October, too.  In the tiny town of Eagle Nest, we would also consider Lost Eagle RV Park, which sits in the middle of town within walking distance to businesses there, probably just for a night.

We also checked out Coyote Creek State Park, which is deep in the Carson National Forest on Coyote Creek south of Angel Fire.

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Reservation RV sites near the river at Coyote Creek State Park

 

This park offers some hookups, including electricity, and it was pretty much empty on the day we visited.  RVs need to drive to this park from the south, though, as there is a six mile stretch of road from Angel Fire to the park that prohibits vehicles over ten feet in length, and for good reason!  We even joked as we drove to the park that this road reminded us of driving the epic twisting road to Hana on Maui.  I might avoid this park if there is a chance of flooding, but otherwise, it would be a nice, quiet place to camp for a few days.

One thing we noticed at some of the state parks on this trip is that they seemed to have no paid staff on duty when we were there, which is not a good thing in our book.  We are spoiled to well-staffed state parks in Texas, I guess, but this fact definitely was noticeable to us.

We actually opted to base camp at Angel Fire RV Resort for the week, and while it is fairly expensive for RV camping, we found it to be well worth the price we paid for the high quality facilities there.  Sometimes we opt for a non-RV trip for a week of vacation each year, but this year, we opted to make our vacation week a RV trip, bringing the dogs along.  Not boarding our two dogs saved us $60 a night, which is about the nightly cost of sites at this park.  They gave Hubby a discount on his round of golf since he was a resort guest, and we also received two free tickets to ride the chair lift to the top of the Angel Fire ski mountain, a $24 value.  These little perks helped to justify the nightly rate a bit.  Hubby really needed Wi-Fi for some business needs on this trip (unfortunately), and the Wi-Fi service was excellent at our site.  I thought that this park was in the town of Angel Fire, but happily, it actually sits about three miles out of town, and the views from our site were just beautiful.

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Evening campfire at Angel Fire RV Resort

 

RVs need to avoid Highway 434 to the south of Angel Fire, the road to Coyote Creek State Park, so we drove into Angel Fire via Highway 64 from Cimarron and Eagle Nest.  The staff at the resort will ask RVers to send photos of the RV if it is over ten years old for pre-approval, and this was not an issue for us, as they sent us an immediate approval once I sent our photos.  We even saw a pop-up camper there during our stay.  Given the fact that most private RV parks with full hookups in this area are not cheap, we would have no issue paying just a little more money and staying at this park again.  I think on future trips, we may opt for a brief stay at one of the beautiful state parks, in addition to some nights at Angel Fire RV Resort, to enjoy a more traditional forest camping experience, too.

One more thing we noticed on this trip is the dog-friendly experience we had in the Angel Fire area.  Unlike southern New Mexico, there are some dog-friendly trails and businesses available, and it was nice to take the dogs on a two-mile hike in the forest, something we cannot do at Cloudcroft and Ruidoso, as dogs are forbidden on those trails.  The camp host at Cimarron Canyon State Park also told us that the trails there are dog-friendly trails.

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A beautiful dog-friendly trail in Angel Fire

 

We put 1300 miles on the car on our trip, and we saw so many great sights in the area.  I’m working on photos and will try to share more about our trip here soon.  We can’t wait to return to this beautiful and mostly uncrowded area!

Time to Load the RV

Our “Summer” is now upon us… finally!

We are leaving on Friday for our first full week of vacation since May 2015, and I am more than ready, especially since the worst of the summer heat seems to now be behind us.

Since we bought our new-to-us RV back in May, our second RV, we’ve enjoyed two weekend trips and one slightly longer trip over the 4th of July, but those shorter trips are just not the same as a full week off with a weekend on either end.

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Our 4th of July trip was a great break from the summer heat.

 

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A quick weekend test trip in early June
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A quick weekend out to the canyon with friends in early August during a little break in the heat
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An epic first-time hike in one of our favorite state parks!

 

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Yes, this is a rattlesnake seen on our last trip.  They are seen often on the trails at in and around the canyon.  Great care should always be used when hiking in areas where these guys are present, including carrying a snake bite kit.

This will be a solo trip for us and the dogs, and it will also be a slightly different RV trip for us, as we will enjoy both rural camping and camping in town for a change to allow us to take advantage of some activities and dining options nearby.  We will also be able to do a bit of fact finding for possible future trips back to this area in the RV, too.

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Our “synchronized sleepers” taking a nap in the RV on a cool day at the canyon… in honor of the Olympics going on that day, of course!

Our upcoming trip will be our first longer trip in this particular RV, and it will also be our first test trip in colder weather.  We’ve really had to give some thought to suddenly going from hot summer days to cold nights near freezing and cooler days next week.  We normally don’t make a trip in cold conditions until the winter months, so our packing efforts are quite deliberate in hopes that we don’t forget something important.

The following discussion came after several recent visits with fellow RV friends who also vacation by RV regularly.  Some are new to RVing and some are not.  We all face the same challenge of code restrictions that limit the amount of time our RVs can be parked at home, only 24 hours at a time.  While we all approach our loading process in much the same way, we all vary our loading processes just a bit, too. Below, I’ve shared information on our own approach that works quite well for us.

We just vacation in our RV at this point in our lives, and our loading process for each trip varies, depending on our destination and the weather forecast.  We must do most of our loading while the RV is in covered storage, as we cannot park it at our house except for very short periods of time, due to restrictions in our area.  We are actually fine with this process, as we’ve learned to load the RV in storage pretty efficiently over time.  We’ve also found that we are able to get away faster on our trips by simply departing from the storage facility, rather than leaving from our house and fighting more traffic.

Preparing the RV and loading prior to a trip basically looks something like this for us.  Checklists definitely help expedite the process, and this list is not necessarily everything we do… just the main things.

Immediately after returning from a trip:

  • Wash all RV linens and return them to the RV right after we return from a trip.
  • Make the bed so we are ready to go if we want to make a trip with short notice.
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Our custom-built mattress is so comfy and makes traveling in the RV all the more enjoyable because “good campers need good sleep!”

Weekend prior to departure:

  • Get gasoline and/or propane for the RV and check all fluid levels. (We filled up for only $1.83 per gallon!)
  • Wash the RV, and/or clean the windshield and other windows, as needed.  (We power wash the windshield and hand wash the front of the RV when we arrive at storage at the end of a trip in the non-winter months to get the bugs off, but it still gets pretty dirty in storage at times, even though it sits in covered storage.)
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While Hubby hooks up our utilities when we first arrive at our campsite, I grab the tall step ladder and clean the front windshield.  Not only does that get the bugs off from our drive, it allows us to see better when using our sunscreens over the windshield while parked, rather than keeping the front curtains closed most of the time.

During the week prior to our trip:

  • Unload any items that we will not need for our upcoming trip from inside the RV and from the basements.  (RV weight management)
  • Load any items that we need for our trip that we’ve stored at home, except food items, including refreshing first aid items.
  • Load a few jugs of water inside for the drive because we never carry water in the RV holding tank while driving to minimize that weight.
  • Load clothes and shoes… and coats!  (We adore camping in cooler weather, especially after a hot summer.)
  • Load non-refrigerated foods and prescription meds. (We load our meds at least a day early so that we lessen the risk of forgetting them.)
  • Plug in the RV to charge the house batteries.  If storms with lightning are in the forecast, we sometimes opt to not plug in until the risk is lessened, even though we have a good surge protector on the RV.
  • Turn on the refrigerator when plugged in, giving it at least 24 hours to reach proper temps.
  • Clean kitchen and bathroom and other areas, as needed.
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The kitchen in our new-to-us RV and the custom rug I had made for the wood floor.  The rug has a padded backing to keep it from scratching the floor.

Day prior to departure:

  • Check air in the tires and add air, as needed.
  • Verify that the fridge and freezer are at proper temperatures and adjust the thermostat, as needed.  (We keep a thermometer in each section.)
  • Buy fresh produce, preferably at one of the farmer’s markets seasonally, if possible.
  • Load food and supplies for the dogs.  (We carry their food in sealed containers.)
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A few fresh veggies for our trip from a local farmer’s market. That fully ripe cantaloupe smells so good, and I can’t wait to feast on those fresh black-eyed peas with a little Tabasco sauce!  Those are yellow zucchinis, not regular yellow squash, and they are quite sweet.  I can only find them from one grower at the farmer’s market.

Day of departure:

  • Load refrigerated and freezer foods.  (I stage these items on a shelf by themselves in the fridge and freezer at home because it’s definitely not good to go off and leave food behind that I missed, especially on trips where we don’t bring the car along and/or when we are camped in very remote locations.  Been there, done that.)
  • Load small electronics and camera bag.  (We keep extra chargers in the RV.)
  • Attach the trailer to the RV, if we are taking it.
  • Leave car(s) in our covered storage as we depart in the RV.

The longer the trip, the earlier we generally start the loading process.  For our ten day trip coming up, we have actually completed most everything up to the items we take care of on the day before or day of departure, with the exception of our food.  This gives me more time this week to work planning our menu and cooking in advance for our trip, as well as writing a blog post about it all!

We no longer load any items in the RV fridge or freezer until shortly before we leave.  We have a RV neighbor who shares our set of plugs in storage that routinely does something to throw the breaker on our set of plugs, even though we’ve reported this many times to management.  Also, we just feel better loading all those items closer to departure because we take food safety seriously, especially on our RV trips.  And even though we don’t have any issues with squirrels or other animals at our storage facility, we never keep food in the RV that might attract them if we can help it.  We’ve heard horror stories about chewed wiring, etc., especially from squirrels, and that’s yet another good reason for us to load in storage.  We have many squirrels in our neighborhood and in our own tree in front.

Fortunately, we do not have a long drive from our house to the RV storage facility, so loading while in storage is a viable option for us.  If we lived further away, though, loading in storage would be more problematic and time-consuming.  We also have several good shopping options near the storage facility, if we need to pick up any items and carry them straight to the RV in storage instead of bringing them home first.

On another RV related subject, we have already made our camping reservations for….

Thanksgiving!

Yes, this is still August.

I am amazed at just how early people are now reserving their RV sites for both Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday weeks, and we were fortunate to think of making our reservation for that week before we totally missed out in securing a site reservation.  When we started traveling by RV five years ago, we had no trouble getting a site for Thanksgiving, but that’s definitely no longer the case.

Autumn is now our Summer in so many ways.  It is the time we tend to take our RV out as often as we can find a way to do so because it is the very best time of the entire year weather wise.  The weather is already cooling off and some seasonal monsoon rains are showing up once again.  Such is the case now and for the past two weeks, and we definitely have RV travel “fever” once again.

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As I’m writing this, it’s only 75 degrees in the late afternoon, and it’s been raining gently on and off for the past three days.  Everything is greening up once again after two very hot months this summer with little rain, and we are ready to take advantage of this great weather in our RV!

I’ll be away from the blog for awhile during our trip, but I hope to return with some good photos of a truly beautiful area and maybe even some helpful RV tips on traveling there.

 

Making Memories

“Life is all about making memories”

Five years ago this month, shortly after we purchased our first motorhome, I found this “making memories” canvas at a local home store and knew it would be a perfect addition to our new cabin on wheels.  It has hung in the bedrooms of our two RVs ever since, and I suspect that no matter what RV we have in the future, we will always have this picture hanging somewhere inside to commemorate the spirit of our RV adventures.

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However, “making memories” is a phrase we used in our travels decades before we ever purchased our first RV.  In fact, we have a very long history of referring to “making memories” when we travel.  For that reason, I immediately knew this canvas would be a great fit as we began our RV travels.

“Today’s moments are tomorrow’s memories.”
— Unknown

My earliest recollection of hearing the “making memories” phrase when traveling dates back to a week-long vacation with some good friends and all five of our combined very young children for a week of vacation at a lake in East Texas one summer in the late 1980s.  To say that this trip was laden with unexpected events would be an understatement.

Here are just a couple of “memories” from that fateful trip.

We took my father’s 1960s era red and white Larson Lapline outboard boat with us, and late one evening while taking a cruise on the lake with all nine of us on board, the motor shut down.  We never could get it started again and had to use the water skis and an oar on board to paddle back to the dock, which fortunately wasn’t too terribly far away but still far enough that it took a while to get there.

We adults were exhausted from paddling and there was some brief talk of a ruined vacation.  Then…

… my sweet friend, who remains one of my very best friends today and has a great sense of humor, reminded us all that we were just “making memories,” and from that point forward, that phrase stuck like glue to our vacation escapades.

On that same trip, we all dined out at a nearby seafood restaurant one evening.  As we arrived, a big summer thunderstorm blew up, and before we knew it, a tornado was headed our way.  The restaurant staff warned everyone to stay inside and take cover, and panic quickly set in among the guests.  All we could safely do was follow their advice to stay put and take cover, and fortunately, the small tornado veered off in a different direction and did very little damage.  As we resumed our meal and the talk at the table immediately went to the many unfortunate circumstances of our trip, my friend reminded us that we were just “making memories.” 

And she was so right.  To this day, we enjoy recounting that trip with those dear friends and the “series of unfortunate events” that we encountered.  Without all those memories, we might not remember that trip at all now.

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Ever since that memorable trip, we’ve continued to use the phrase “making memories” when unexpected things come up while traveling, both the good things and especially the challenging things.  We’ve had our fair share of “making memories” on vacations over time, for sure, including our RV vacations over the past five years.

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We’ve taken many friends and family members to far West Texas over the past five years to introduce them to the glorious scenery that is far West Texas at Davis Mountains State Park, and we look forward to showing it off to even more people in the future, including the small town of Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory star parties.

 

Some of our fondest RV travel memories to date are the times we have traveled with family members and friends.  When we bought our first RV five years ago, we never anticipated that others we knew would soon follow our lead and buy their first RVs.  Now, it seems that we have found, quite unexpectedly, a great balance of traveling by ourselves with the dogs and occasionally traveling with others, and at this point, it is a perfect fit for us.  And what great memories we’ve made with all of these great people over the past five years, too.

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Caprock Canyons State Park continues to be a go-to RV park for us to share with family members and friends.  Once we take someone here and show them the park and its treasures, people always want to go back again.  We have so many fond memories with loved ones here and look forward to “making memories” with our favorite people and on our own over the coming years in our “home” park.

 

There is just something so special about traveling with those you love the most and getting away from everyday routines, even if only for a weekend, taking time to connect and enjoy each other’s company.  Young parents today would be wise to remember this, too, even if a staycation is more appropriate financially.

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Lake Brownwood State Park, with its rich CCC history, continues to be another favorite place to visit in our RV, especially in the spring when the bluebonnets are in bloom.

 

It’s really all about spending uninterrupted time together, and most of us have to plan our schedules carefully to actually achieve it these days.  It needs to be a priority in our lives on a regular basis.

“We didn’t realize we were making memories.  We just knew we were having fun.”
— Unknown

A group of guys on Hubby’s side of the family has decided to resume yearly tent camping trips together, something they used to do as a family group as they were all growing up when tent camping was all they could afford.  Now, they can bring along the next generation of sons with them, and their first trip is scheduled for late September.  Even though Hubby is a little spoiled to the RV, he is looking forward to resuming this fun tradition with our son for the first time… in a tent.

I can only imagine the memories those guys will make together, including a few I will probably never hear about.  They all have busy lives and careers now, but I’m so glad they are once again taking time to be together and continue a long time family tradition.  Good for them.the-best-thing-about-memories-is-making-them

We are looking forward to “making memories” in our new-to-us RV very soon as we are finally ready to resume travels this fall as the weather cools off.  Our long, hot summer is hopefully winding down, schools are back in session and our travel plans are mostly in place with our inaugural long trip scheduled to begin on Labor Day weekend.  I’m glad we had the summer to really put the RV through some paces here at home, as well as making a couple of quick test trips.

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Northern New Mexico is quickly becoming one of our favorite RV destinations in the summer months, especially when family and friends join us as they did over 4th of July this year.

 

Now, it’s finally time to get this RV show on the road once again… and start “making [even more] memories!”  😀

 

Inspiration in Tough Times

It’s tough right now.

Tough seems to be the operative word right now, but I’m still finding some great inspiration during these tough times.

I.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to watch many of the Olympic competitions in Rio over the past week, many of them live as they happened which is always a special thrill.  Watching these highly disciplined athletes from all over the world strive for excellence is always an honor, and once again, I’ve been moved to tears at times and have also cheered a few of them on from our living room, including athletes from other countries, too.

I also saw “Phelps Face” live on the evening it aired.  I was cracking up watching it and was not at all surprised when it went viral and produced some absolutely hysterical memes afterward.

Phelps face

Olympic athletes are definitely tough people, including and especially the Paralympic and Special Olympics athletes, and their personal stories are incredibly inspiring.  So many of them have overcome very tough circumstances to be where they are and do what they do.

If only our politicians were as inspirational as our Olympic athletes are.  Sigh.  I guess we can dream…

No doubt the Olympics tend to bring out the best in people during the games, even we spectators that are simply watching on our televisions thousands of miles away.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  1 Corinthians 9:24

II.  The weather here at home has been tough over the past five weeks, with no rain and typically hot weather for this time of year.  Despite the hot weather, the yard work has not gone away, and I’ve had to be more diligent in working in the yard to get those chores done and still try to avoid the worst of the heat each day.

I would much rather enjoy the cool(er) mornings with a good cup of coffee, but I also don’t want to work in the heat later.  The plants, grass and trees still need water to keep them from dying in this heat, and I’m their water source right now until the weather cooperates once again.

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Without a doubt, caring for the yard in recent weeks has been pretty tough.

My little reward for all this hard work is enjoying our little outdoor paradise and the wonderful beauty of nature just outside our doors each day, something we haven’t always had here at home in years gone by when we didn’t have the time to tend the yard as we do now.  Right now, though, we just enjoy it in the cooler part of the day, but hopefully soon, the weather will moderate, and we can enjoy it much more.

All ten of our Red Rocket crape myrtles are in full bloom, and they are absolutely gorgeous, despite the very tough hot and dry weather.  This is something I’ve come to look forward to each summer in early July, and once again, they did not disappoint, having grown even more since last year.

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Birds have to be tough survivalists in the weather we’ve been having lately, but sometimes it doesn’t work out for them.  For the second year, a little nest in the tree in our backyard failed.  A dove built the nest and seemed to be thriving before we went on our trip over the 4th of July weekend, but when we returned, it had failed.  Once again I am very sad, too.  Nature isn’t always kind, by any stretch.

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Doves are visiting in abundance, as well as robins, cardinals, house finches and blue jays, thanks to our beautiful trees and bird feeders, and I love to hear the doves cooing in the early mornings to greet a new day.

 “Flowers are appearing on the earth. The season for singing has come. The cooing of doves is heard in our land.”  Song of Solomon 2:12

III.  One of our local sportscasters is once again doing something fun as the high school football season will be underway soon.  He interviews a different coach each day about their players and their upcoming opponents, and he actually tracks the number of times each coach says the word tough in the interview.

This sportscaster has found a creative way to keep viewers interested in all the interviews, not just the ones that concern their home team, and it’s fun to watch each evening.  One coach recently uttered the word tough 28 times during the interview, too.

Hats off once again this year to a very creative sportscaster!  Who knew tough could actually be quite funny!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ” Proverbs 17:22

IV.  A dear friend and her elderly mother are both going through a very tough time right now.  Her mother became seriously ill about three weeks ago and is not expected to live.  She moved her mother to a private nursing home with Hospice care a few days ago, and I’ve been on call for her each day to help as needed.

It seems that I’m now the “go-to” person when friends need advice to care for their parents toward the end of life, since I’ve already “been there and done that” several times.  I’m so happy when I can help others with the knowledge I gained and resources we used and/or learned about as our own parents all fought their own terminal illnesses.

Without a doubt, this is how God uses so many of us… by simply sharing our personal experiences and testimonies with others in this way to help them in their own struggles, and I always give thanks when I’m able to help someone else during a tough time… because I *have* been there and done that and know how I desperately needed help myself.

If there is any good that can come from enduring tough times ourselves, it’s being able to grow in our own faith and also help someone else lessen the effect of their own tough times by loving and helping them through it.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

V.  Our country is in a tough spot these days, for sure.  It’s sad when there just seems to be nothing good on the horizon for our nation on a macro level, but the good I’ve seen manifest on a micro level lately has truly been uplifting.  This is where we can actually make a difference anyway.  Spewing hate and division on a macro level accomplishes nothing good but does afford a few loud voices some attention, unfortunately, as well as a lot of misinformation… and I do mean a *lot* of it.  In times when it’s just so tough to find out what is true and what is not, we have to dig deep to look for it.

Perhaps we should just show what we’re made of each day on a micro level, and maybe, just maybe, some day things will improve on a macro level, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Bible and Cross

I need to remind myself every single day that God is still in charge, too,… “our refuge and our strength” in times of trouble. — Ps. 46:1

And to my sweet friend in Louisiana who sometimes reads my posts here, I continue to pray for you daily as you and your family an pets endure the horrific flooding and possible loss of your home/cars/etc. Our tough times pretty much pale in comparison to your tough times right now.  I am once again reminded to never take anything in this life for granted and to ever be thankful for even the smallest of blessings each and every day.

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Have a blessed week, friends, and look for blessings, joy and inspiration all around you, no matter where you are! 😀

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

It’s So Hot…

It’s so hot right now…

… our tropical plants are begging to come back inside the house because they can’t take the heat.

… the weather forecasters underestimate the high temperatures for each day in the weekly forecast.  They never, ever, ever forecast 105 degrees or higher, and that’s probably  a blessing in disguise for us, even if it is living in denial.

… I feel like breaking out in song when a random cloud actually blocks the sun for a few seconds.

… the dogs think they’re being punished when it’s time to go to the backyard to do “business” in the afternoon.

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The dogs were not happy as I made them sit outside in the heat to take their picture after their recent grooming.  Girly Girl’s expression (on the left) pretty much says it all.  But that’s $178 worth of grooming sitting right there and definitely warrants at least a photo.😀

… we can’t even escape to the mountains a few hours away because it’s as hot there as it is here.

… running errands anytime after 10 a.m. is not a pleasant experience, and getting out between 3-6 p.m. is… well… just a little crazy.  I never said we weren’t a little crazy, though.

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I don’t function well when it’s 113 degrees outside, and getting in a car that’s been sitting in the sun outside a store in this kind of heat is a near-death experience.

… unshaded playground equipment can reach temps up to 188 degrees.  Truth!  There was a report on the morning news today that proved this fact.

… firing up the oven, or any other heat producing appliance, just does not happen.  At. All.  This is officially “dining out” season.  After all, we need to help support all those businesses that are missing the college kids this summer, right???

… clothes dry in half the time by simply hanging them outside vs. using a regular clothes dryer.  This a really good thing, since using the dryer inside the house is really not an option anyway.  Dryers produce heat, and we also need every penny we can save to put toward our electric bill to run the life-sustaining A/C.

… RV travel is not even a fleeting thought in our minds right now.  We are not gluttons for unnecessary punishment.  One time, we actually RV camped down in the canyon at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in July, which is quite possibly the hottest place in the universe in July.  This was in our young and foolish days about four years ago, and we quickly learned that we’d made one of the worst decisions of our married life.  Thankfully, we survived.

… living in a grotto is pretty much a requirement.  Curtains closed, lights off, doors opened as little as humanly possible equals a winning plan.  If I didn’t know otherwise, I would swear everyone in town is away on vacation.

… the birds fight for drinks from the hose dripping water under our big tree.  I’m really not sure how much water is actually making to the tree roots for that reason.  I would run their birdbath, but the water actually gets too hot for them to drink!

… I’m not sure how we actually survived in our house before we had our solar attic fan installed a few years ago.  That thing is a blessing straight from Heaven.

… Facebook friends regularly post about how miserable our state is this time of the year.  They are absolutely correct.  In fact, some of the funniest weather memes ever show up this time of year for that reason.

… the grocery stores put Gatorade front and center for customers to find easily.

… the patches of milkweed in our backyard are finally dying a slow death.  Bye, bye.

… spending time reading a good book in the afternoons provides a nice break from the heat.  I can even pretend I’m back in elementary school earning more sticky stars for my summer reading chart.  (FYI, I’m reading The Lunar Chronicles books, thanks to the recommendation of my sweet librarian friend and an unexpected $30 settlement credit from Barnes and Noble that paid for the first four ebooks.  Nothing like free summer entertainment!)

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I’m halfway through reading these four books, and what a creative and delightful read they’ve been so far, a perfect summer book series.

 

… mowing the yard, even early in the morning, is a real sweat-producing workout.  I willingly took this chore on myself a few years ago and…

What. Was. I. Thinking!!!

Still, I haven’t missed a week of mowing yet this season with my brand spankin’ new lawn mower, and I’m now thinking that I’m pretty much Wonder Woman for doing that.  We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes.  If nothing else, it’s a great excuse to head over to Chick-Fil-A for a large diet lemonade when I’m done.

… I’m remembering fondly the crippling foot of snow we received back in early January… yes, the same one I fussed and fussed about for more than two weeks afterward.  Oh yes, yes, yes… please bring it back already!  I’m pretty sure the dogs would agree, too.

… we were inspired to finally make plans for our fall RV travels while also hoping that the usual break from the stifling heat actually shows up in September.  Sometimes the heatwave surprises and lasts well into October, though, so we are hedging our bets and headed north once again on our next long trip after Labor Day.  The mere thought of temps in the 70s during the day and in the 30s overnight in just a few weeks makes me feel all giddy inside.  We will even need to take coats!

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We are so ready to get this RV show on the road again!

 

There is actually a tiny glimmer of hope for a bit of a break from this weather madness this week.  Supposedly, we actually have a little chance of rain, and the high temps will only be in the low 90s???  If so, it will feel like winter has returned because that is over 20 degrees cooler than some days we’ve had lately!  Hope is always a good thing, and we’ll gladly take whatever relief we can get at this point.

Sometimes we just need to laugh a little and just get through the day as best we can.

Stay cool, friends.  This heat wave, too, shall pass.

I hope.