… 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.
… 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.
… 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!)
… 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!
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.
Today is the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Since the headlines don’t even mention this monumental occasion today, I wanted to share it here.
If you would like to relive the first moon landing in a virtual way, why not open the “Relive Apollo 11” Twitter page from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and follow along as you can throughout the day?
While I’m not a fan of Twitter in general anymore, feeds like this one are actually a lot of fun and share this history in such a creative way. Every year now, the “Relive Apollo 11” Twitter feed shares this memorable event in a “real time” way, taking us back to events as they happened over those historic days. Today would be a great day to follow along, since the moon landing actually occurred on this day.
I’m following along and hope you can, too! Here’s the website!😀
I mentioned in my previous post that I finally had a great opportunity to capture the Milky Way and a few other fun nighttime photos on our recent trip to northern New Mexico, and I wanted to share a few of them today. I took these photos after we watched the awesome fireworks show in Raton earlier that evening on the 4th of July.
I hope you will view this post on my actual site and not in the WordPress reader today, as these photos will show up much better there.
While Hubby and I have witnessed the amazing dark sky stars many times on our RV camping excursions over the past five years, I’ve really never had a good opportunity to photograph them for various reasons. On this trip, however, I finally had that opportunity, even though I didn’t have my tripod. I simply improvised by setting my camera on picnic table at a nearby campsite that was not being used, and I propped the end of my lens on a little box, using my cable release to hold the shutter open for about 30 seconds on most of the photos.
Three of the young adults with us were outside with me as I was taking the photos, so we decided to have a little fun doing some light painting. It was the first time that any of us had attempted this, and we had a lot of fun.
Here is one of the better light paintings of the night, just as it came out of my camera. So fun!
Finally, I ended my photography exercise that evening by capturing a nice photo of our RV under the beautiful starry sky. It is a photo that I will treasure always, and I hope it helps to visibly show just one reason why we dearly love RV camping in the remote areas that we tend to frequent.
This brief exposure to night photography only makes me want to go out and try it even more. The young adults with me had a great time, and I wish more young people would take up photography as a hobby. It seems like such a great fit for many that I know personally, and I know that those three will always remember our fun time together, just as I will.
We enjoyed a great holiday trip but had a challenging drive home to due weather once again.
We enjoyed a fun holiday trip over the 4th of July long weekend, meeting our son and some friends to go RV camping in northern New Mexico. The weather was cool and beautiful and was such a welcome relief from our July heat at home.
We had a total of four RVs in our group, and this was our first trip to camp with that many couples and a few grown kids in the mix. We shared lots of good food and laughs over the course of three days, and I think a good time was had by all. Of course, we always miss our “Lil’ Firecracker” daughter on this holiday, since it is also her birthday.
One of the couples in our group is still pretty new to camping in their trailer, and they quickly discovered that their sewer hose wasn’t long enough. Fortunately, we were carrying a new hose extension, so we just gave it to them. I was happy that we were able to help them out because there wasn’t a store anywhere nearby where they could buy one.
Northern New Mexico provided us with cool nights, warm days and a daily afternoon shower or two. On one day, though, the afternoon showers actually became afternoon storms with some pea-sized hail in the mix. Fortunately, everyone managed to get their awnings put away before it hit, and no damage was done to any cars or RVs.
We certainly enjoyed this trip in our new-to-us RV, as it is much roomier than our previous RV inside. It was especially nice to have the extra room while our son stayed with us, as well as more privacy between the living room area and our bedroom.
For the second time, we attended the amazing fireworks show in Raton, having attended it for the first time in 2014. We were happy to return and take more friends with us this time, but, unfortunately, our son had to drive home on the afternoon of the 4th and had to miss it. We secured a fabulous spot early to watch the show, right in front of the historic train station where Amtrak stops in town. This is such a neat area of this town, too.
I opted to leave my good camera behind at the RV, and I’m kicking myself now that I chose to do that. We were so close to the action, and at it seemed that the fireworks might literally land in our lap at times. Next time, I will not make that mistake, if we are fortunate enough to attend the show again in the future. I challenged myself to do the best job I could do with my phone camera, and I managed to get a few decent shots, even though they hardly compare with what I could have captured with my good camera, tripod and cable release. Still… I’m fairly impressed with what my little phone camera was able to do, too.
After we returned to camp for the night, the stars were out so nicely on a dark sky night, and I captured some neat long exposure photos that I will share in my next post. This was the first time that I photographed the Milky Way, so it turned out to be a “bucket list” photography experience for me. I posted one of these photos in my previous Wordless Wednesday post, too.
The most interesting part of our trip was definitely our drive home.
Traveling by RV is just not the same as traveling by car, and the longer we travel in our RV, the more we realize just how different it can be and how we must be willing to adapt, when necessary.
Once again, Mother Nature stepped in to play havoc with our drive home on Tuesday, the 5th. While the weather was pretty great over the holiday weekend in New Mexico, the very next day, a terrible heat wave quickly hit along our drive home and caught us a bit unprepared, along with other travelers. As we approached Amarillo shortly after lunch, the temperature was already over 100 degrees and only looked to get hotter, possibly much hotter. The RV air conditioners did their best to keep up, but when the outside temp on our RV house thermometer showed 107, we threw in the towel and decided to pull off at an RV park where we had previously stayed. (It’s a great park with top notch facilities.) We could also see storms building quickly closer to home.
The weather only got worse as the day progressed, and we are so glad that we opted to pull off for the rest of the day and just wait it all out. Storms closer to home became quite intense with rain, hail and very high winds. By dinner time where we were stopped, the winds from the back of those storms gusted up to 60 mph at times. It was also the first time that Hubby actually had to help me shut the door to the RV, as the wind from the south was catching it just right and made it very hard to close. Closer to home, two trucks were actually blown over by those high winds, too.
It was definitely not a day to be driving a high profile vehicle, and when the winds became so rough, we finally decided to just keep our great site for the night, get a good night’s sleep and head home early the next morning in time for Hubby to go on in to work. It was a pleasant drive the next morning, and Hubby was at work shortly before 9 am. I was done with laundry by noon, so it worked out just fine, was definitely less stressful and was much easier on our rig, for sure.
When traveling by RV, sometimes you just do what you have to do, and this was surely one of those times. While we have pulled off on a few other trips for a few hours, this was the first time that we were actually delayed overnight. Fortunately, we had a good option to take, and we took it. We were definitely not the only RV travelers that took that option to pull off, judging by how many others were pulling in right behind us.
We’ve pretty much decided now that if we are going to travel in our RV in the hot summer months, we need to only drive before noon… or even earlier depending on where we are driving. The weather was not forecasted to be *this* hot, so we cannot depend on the forecasts.
More and more, I just don’t see us ever taking to the road as full-time RVers. While we could likely be quite content to go on some extended road trips or possibly full season trips, I think we are both discovering that we are “fair weather” campers, especially where heat is concerned. I just want no part of it, to be honest.
Of course, I’m writing this on the heels of this one driving day, which turned out to be the hottest day in two years in the Amarillo area. Give me a few days/weeks, and I will probably just laugh about it. I’m not there yet, though, because as I’m writing this, it is still 113 degrees outside at our house.
Today’s post is a little exercise in just writing some “random thoughts” that come to mind, so let’s see what comes to the forefront, shall we?
Summer is officially here as of yesterday, but summer actually showed up in a big way here last week with some pretty brutal temperatures and heat indexes with higher humidity levels. While others downstate often suffer from high humidity this time of year, it is not such a common occurrence where we live. Let me just say how glad I am for that fact, too! Whew, it is pretty much torture to combine heat and humidity, and for us, that is pretty much anything higher than 30%!
We had a nice Father’s Day, and I hope you all did, too. Son joined us for a nice lunch out, which was actually a combined celebration for us for Father’s Day and our 37th anniversary last week. We splurged and went to a restaurant that we only visit for special occasions, and it was such a treat! I tried Tres Leches cake for the first time because our meal came with a free dessert for Father’s Day, and I am now on a serious hunt for a similar recipe. No, it’s not on my diet at all, but it was so, so good! I know it had plenty of calories, but I didn’t feel stuffed after I ate it.
I’m feeling a little melancholy right now. A dear friend informed me that she is going to be moving out-of-state, and I’m sad to hear this. She is really my best friend at this stage of life, and I’m going to miss her terribly. It won’t happen for awhile, as she has many things to take care of, including moving her mother and selling their home here. On the upside, they are moving to a beautiful area in Utah, and it will be a nice place to visit as we are able to do so.
I’m also melancholy about the general state of things in our country and in our world right now. There is so much hate… so much hate. I honestly can’t believe some of the things I’m hearing people say these days. Social media can be such a good tool to stay in touch with people and share some “light,” but these days, I think it is more a tool for the hatemongers. Twitter is just a cesspool of hate and vile, and I’ve pretty much given up on it completely, except to follow a few accounts individually that are inspirational to me.
Speaking of inspiration, I’ve been studying the book of Daniel for a few weeks, following along via Max Lucado’s teachings via the Oak Hills Church video podcast on iTunes. It has been great so far, and I’m looking forward to finishing it up soon as it nears its conclusion. I highly recommend it to anyone desiring a little supplemental study this summer, and it is quite timely as well.
Some fellow RV friends have shared that by this time next year, they may be on the road full-time in their RV. They are ten years younger than we are, and they are ready to see if they can make it happen. This took us by surprise, for sure, as their youngest child will leaving the “nest” by this time next year. They don’t have a firm plan yet on how to do it financially, but it has got us to discussing this option again ourselves. We still think that we will need to do it in retirement, if we do it at all, so that it won’t stress us financially. But, it will be quite interesting to see if they go for it or not next year. I’ve learned so much, and continue to learn, from some of you full-time RVers that I follow here, and based on the large number of people doing it now, I really don’t consider it to be an alternative living option anymore.
Speaking of full-timers, I started following “Driving Miss Norma” on Facebook, and what a joy and inspiration that has been for me. If you’re on Facebook, be sure to check it out. Miss Norma is my hero, as well as her family and their standard poodle that travels with them. Just search for “Driving Miss Norma,” and be sure to read her story. It has brought tears to my eyes more than once as I’ve been following their journey.
We are looking forward to hitting the road in our RV late next week… finally! We are meeting three other couples, and it should be a really fun time. Our Houston-area friends are actually renting an RV for the first time, so this should be “very interesting!” Hopefully the heat won’t be too terrible.
Hubby’s best Father’s Day gift was finally fixing the big air horn on our new-to-us RV, and wow, that thing is loud! It only needed a new ground wire. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing! Ha.
As we are ready to resume RV travels, I’ve been trying to map out our remaining vacation days through the end of February. We’re considering a possible trip to Big Bend at some point, visiting both the national and state parks there, as well as visiting another new-to-us state park, which is also a goal of ours each year. I invite any helpful suggestions from anyone as far as making this trip in our RV, too.
Planning vacation days just seems to get more difficult every year, due to Hubby’s work travel requirements, but we will get them in somehow. At least RV travel allows us a little more flexibility when needed. It is a real blessing to have four weeks of paid vacation each year, but it is a challenge to actually take all those days, too.
Well, that’s pretty much it for today’s random thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and reading along!
After owning our new-to-us RV for four weeks, we are mostly finished with the projects we wanted to complete upfront. Working on our RV has become a hobby for us over the past few years, and it is something we both enjoy. If Hubby had a good shop, I think he would actually be happy working on RV houses for a living. Perhaps we’ve watched too many episodes of Flippin’ RVs? However, our new RV actually needed very few repairs and updates, relatively speaking for an RV that is 16 years old. In fact, this is quite possibly the best used RV we’ve ever seen for its age.
We have spent most of our spare time lately working on the RV, and we’ve made great progress. We also made two test trips in the RV to hook everything up. Our first “trip” was just a short drive to an area RV park for a few hours to give all the systems a good run-through, even though we tested all of them before we purchased it, and our second trip was this past weekend to a state park that had some 50 amp campsites open. Happily, all is going well so far, and we are pleased with our decision to purchase this particular RV.
We’ve discovered that this is a nice time of year to visit Lake Colorado City State Park, just before the real heat of summer hits. It is usually not crowded, and once again, the wildflowers were beautiful and wildlife was found in abundance, especially a variety of birds, including bobwhite quail and lots of cottontail bunnies. Our female poodle surely wanted to break free of her leash to take out after them, too!
An unexpected storm with some small hail blew through the park early on Saturday evening, and thankfully, we put all the awnings up on the RV just before it hit. We thought the bikes and our chairs would be protected under the picnic table cover, but as you can see in the photo above, most everything ended up in the mud after the high winds played havoc with them. The rocking chair was actually laid on its side on top of the table, and you can see where it ended up! My bike, seen in the mud, just got a little dirty and is fine.
We are starting out from the dealer where we purchased our RV with new tires, a new rubber roof and one new air conditioner in the bedroom. The furnace and generator were also serviced prior to taking delivery, and the refrigerator was inspected. Also, the entire fuel system was serviced, including the removal of the gas tank and thorough cleaning. The RV only had 7,000 miles and the 7000 watt Onan generator only had 58 hours of use. We knew the story of this RV, and we verified it through Carfax, even calling one of the mechanics listed on the report to talk to him. After doing our homework as best we could, we felt comfortable enough to proceed with our purchase.
In the rest of this post, I will share some of the updates we’ve been working on with a few pictures, even though they are just phone pictures taken mostly while parked in storage with the slide in and don’t reflect how nice and roomy it is inside with the slide pulled out. Having a long slide is something new for us, and we are loving the extra room.
Hubby has also done a few mechanical things as well, nothing major, but I won’t attempt to get into those here. Let’s just say it’s nice to have a mechanically inclined Hubby who has worked on cars since he was 16 years old.
One of the nicest surprises was discovering that our RV came with a set of custom sunscreens for all of the front windows, a feature that I don’t recall seeing before, even in new RVs. It also has awnings over all the windows that are not covered by the large awning, another feature that we don’t see in RVs very often.
We are certainly going to enjoy using these front window sunscreens because they help to block sunlight and keep others from seeing inside during the day, while allowing us to leave the front curtains open. At night, we will still close the curtains for privacy, but it will be great to leave them open during the day for a change to give us a more open feeling inside the RV. Having all this additional exterior protection from the sun from both the sunscreens and awnings will definitely help us when camping in warm/hot weather. They made a big difference this past weekend, for sure.
One of the big projects we tackled was updating all of the gold hardware and fixtures throughout the RV to an oil rubbed bronze finish. Nearly all of the handles were showing wear in the finish anyway, and gold and camping somehow just don’t work for us.
We’ve worked on updating the hardware over the past four weeks, and we are finally done. We simply replaced all of the bathroom hardware with a new set, including additional towel bars, but we actually painted all of the other hardware and fixtures in the rest of the RV. Taking one area at time helped to keep the project from feeling too overwhelming at once.
Our new RV bathroom actually has a tub and shower combo unit (Hurray!), and it originally came with gold trimmed shower doors. We removed those doors, and Hubby trimmed the edge of the unit with new white plastic molding to cover the screw holes and help to hold water inside. Once that was done, I installed a nice hotel-style shower curtain with a see-through mesh top that I found at Bed Bath and Beyond. It is so nice to go from a teeny-tiny shower that we could barely turn around in to a very roomy shower/tub combo that is much more comfortable.
Another project that Hubby opted to tackle right away, as preventive maintenance based on a previous experience in our first RV, was to replace all but one of the faucets and attached water lines and also install new water shut-off valves on each faucet, including the outdoor shower that is located in one of the outside basements. As part of this project, we also purchased new kitchen and bathroom sink faucets in a matching oil rubbed bronze finish.
Our son helped us swap out the old CRT style televisions for flat screens, and he also helped to permanently install our DISH satellite box and two Blu-ray players. This was definitely a big project, but he does this for a living and did a fabulous job on both televisions with Hubby’s help. We already owned a large flat screen television in our previous RV that was never permanently mounted, and we did not sell it with the RV. We only had to purchase the smaller television for the bedroom, along with another Blu-ray player, and I actually found close-out deals on each one.
Updating the bedroom was largely my project. We opted to have a custom mattress built in the Dallas area (contracted through a local store here) because we needed a queen short mattress. We didn’t care for the mattress options at Camping World (mostly expensive foam mattresses), and we previously purchased this same Sleeptronic mattress for the first RV and loved it. It took just over two weeks to get it here, and we are once again very happy with it, after testing it out last weekend for the first time. This particular pillow-top mattress is very comfortable, but it also has reinforced sidewalls, which is important for an RV mattress. We tend to sit on the bed in the RV more than we do our bed at home, and without that sidewall support, the mattress will break down over time.
This bedroom is larger than the bedroom in our previous RV, but even though it has so much nice closet space, it still does not have a slide-out. The queen short mattress works great, but I wanted to see if we could find a way to regain the extra six inches in length at night. I found the solution at Camping World, and it is a perfect fit with the new mattress. It is an Avena brand foam insert with a fitted zippered cloth cover that we place between the wall and the head of the mattress at night, and it is six inches wide, giving us the length of a regular queen size mattress at night. The next morning, we just remove the insert and push the mattress back up against the wall to make it easier to move around during the day. It is a simple solution that I highly recommend to others with this same setup in their RV bedrooms, and I think this insert may be a new item at Camping World.
Once our new mattress was in place, I finished out the bed with new bedding from Costco (sheets) and Bed Bath and Beyond (comforter/pillows). I was determined to find good deals on quality linens, and I managed to outfit the bed very affordably with all new linens, including four pillowcases, three accent pillows and 500 thread count sheets. I also purchased two Better Homes and Gardens closet organizer units at Wal-Mart to give us a place to conveniently store our shoes and a few other things.
Hubby installed two new LED 12v reading lights above the bed, one for each of us, and we found them at Camping World. We had similar lights in our previous RV, and we wanted to have them in the new one, too. He had to run the wire for the new light fixtures, and he did a great job, as usual.
The kitchen has a hard wood floor, not laminate, and it is in pretty much perfect condition. We knew that we would need to keep it covered most of the time to prevent it from getting scratched by the dogs’ toenails, and I also wanted to protect the carpet in the living area from wearing faster than the carpet under the slide-out while in storage.
We’ve had a nice Berber carpet remnant in a spare bedroom for quite some time, so I had two custom rugs made, one for each area. The rug for the kitchen floor also has a special backing to keep the rug from scratching the floor and prevent it from slipping. I absolutely love how the rugs came out, and they will help preserve both the wood floor and the carpet in those areas.
One of the features that we really like in this RV are the many lighting options we have inside, especially the recessed lighting above both the living area and kitchen. However, none of the fixtures had LED bulbs, so we upgraded two light fixtures to LED bulbs. At $20 each, that is all we care to do right now. We want to have a couple of LED lights available, one in each main area, to use at night when we boondock to help preserve the house batteries as much as possible between times we are allowed to run the generator to recharge them. (We also carry some small LED lanterns, too.) We typically don’t use our inside lights very much anyway, and just like our first RV, this one has lots of nice windows and well-placed roof vents. We also have a big skylight in the bathroom above the tub/shower.
Another feature that sold us on this RV was the visibility break between the living area and kitchen up front and the bedroom in the back. We held out hope that we could find an RV with this type of break to give more privacy when others stay with us. Many RVs today do not have this type of separation, so we feel very fortunate to have it in ours now. The concept of privacy of any kind in an RV came be a bit hard to come by.
In closing for today, I have one funny story to share as we are slowly becoming acquainted with our new RV.
We both kept looking and looking for the switch for the “back porch” light outside but could never find it, and we even contemplated calling the manufacturer to see if they could tell us where to find it. Finally, just a few days ago, I noticed that the light was on, but neither of us had turned it on. Later on, it was off again. I finally “connected the dots” and realized that the light comes on automatically when one of the basements underneath it outside is opened. Oh my goodness, what a good laugh we had when we finally figured that out!
Every day in an RV is an adventure, even if we’re just doing chores in it!