Bend, Oregon

We actually stayed in the Bend area August 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th, 2016. This post is a bit belated due to no internet at the time.

In just four days, it’s impossible to experience everything that Bend and the surrounding area have to offer. But we did our level best. We rolled into town and are actually staying in Redmond, Oregon about 15 minutes north of Bend at the Deschutes County Expo and Fairgrounds, which includes a very nice RV Park. No sooner had we set up and unhitched the Jeep, and we were headed back to Bend.

In addition to the seemingly limitless restaurants, Bend has become known for its sheer number of micro breweries, the most famous of which is Crux. Officially named the Crux Fermentation Project, this place comes highly regarded by bloggers that include Nina and Paul over at Wheeling It, and is not to be missed. So, first stop…Crux.


The first thing we noticed is Crux’s most unlikely location. It is NOT on any main drag, or even adjacent to the other breweries in closer proximity to the Descutes riverfront, although it is not too far. It’s actually in more of an industrial area, with its own building and outdoor park. We had to ask someone how to get there, although we could have Googled it.

Crux has an extensive menu of beers. Way beyond any expertise we had in beer types and selection. So, it only made sense that we order their “taster tray”, which includes a selection of six “samples” of any beer on the menu for $10. Believe me, this is a sweet deal. Although you might expect shooter-size glasses of each sample, they were significantly larger. Our choices? Crux Pilz (German Pilsner), Tough Love (Barrel Aged Imperial Stout), Crux Farmhouse (Saison Ale), Unkonventional Kolsch (Kolsch), Vicky’s Got A Secret (India Pale Ale), and Freakcake (Barrel Aged Oud Bruin). We split the tray since we had no designated driver. In the end, Vicky’s Secret was our “winner”. But we drank them all. 🙂

Crux has self seating, high tables, high stools. We chose a long table that seats ten that was empty for the moment. But not for long. We sat on the end, and were soon joined by a family that included two couples, their teen-aged children, and “Pat” their grandmother. We soon were fully engaged in conversation with pretty much all of them. Little did we know that this would not be the last time we would meet. Stay tuned.

In addition to restaurants, breweries and shopping, Bend is probably best known for the multitude of outdoor activities and its scenery. And then, there is The River. The Deschutes River to be exact. It runs right through the center of town.



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Oregon’s Secret – The Wallowas-Part I

August 22nd, 2016

Wallowa, Oregon -Wallowa River RV Park

In the extreme northeastern corner of Oregon, is a mountain region known as the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the Eagle Cap Wilderness, otherwise known as the Wallowas. It is an isolated forest-covered mountain range in which many of the peaks are above 10,000 feet. In winter, the snow on these peaks reminds one of the Swiss Alps. In fact, there is an area here known as Little Alps. Here is a borrowed photo that depicts late spring or early summer in the Wallowas.

WallowasSurprisingly, this beautiful region of Oregon is a secret, even to Oregonians we have met who had never heard of it. It IS fairly remote. It’s not an area that you pass through on the way to somewhere. You have to want to come here. In our case, we were turned on to the “Wallowas” by other bloggers, particularly Nina and Paul Fussing of Wheeling It fame, with her wonderful blog post as a result of visiting here, as well as the spectacular photos and descriptions by Emily and Mark Fagan over at Roads Less Traveled.

As you approach the Wallowas from the west, Interstate 84 will get you to La Grande, Oregon, where state highway 82 will take you east and north up and over the northern shoulder of this mountain range. Then the fun begins. You find yourself driving over a high plain of farmland and the the road starts dropping down into a deep and narrow canyon that eventually brings you to the eastern flank of these mountains, the first town of which is Wallowa.

We are staying at Wallowa River RV Park in Wallowa. Their daily rate is $30 for full hook-ups and a pull-thru site. Excellent ATT cell coverage and Wifi. If you stay a week     (7 days) the rate is $165, equivalent to just less than $24 per day. That’s what we will be doing, and then use the Jeep to see the sites. Wallowa is one of four towns on the eastern and most spectacular side of the Wallowas. The others are Lostine, Enterprise and Joseph, all within close proximity to each other.

Our site is on the Wallowa River as it cascades over rocks and small boulders, separated only by lawn and trees bordering the river. It’s quite beautiful. Here are a few photos taken inside the park.WRRV Site 1_20160823_100239

We are in Site #1. Here is a photo from the rear of the park looking all the way to the front. Our site and motorhome is visible as the last (first) one in this row. River is on the right running along the grass and trees. As the photo shows, the park really DOES look like a “park”.

                                                                              WRRV 1_20160823_084328

Here is a view of the river, running full force 24/7. What a great sound to go to sleep by.

WRRV River Front_20160823_083018



I’ll make this post short. Next, we will be exploring the area from here south through the towns of Lostine, Enterprise and Joseph, a 30 mile one-way distance. Perfect for a leisurely drive.

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Carson City, Nevada

August 10th, 2016

Washoe Lake State Park, Carson City, Nevada

Another belated post. Still trying to get the hang of being without internet for periods of time. Last night was our first here at Washoe. We traveled yesterday from Lee Vining, California, located at the bottom of Tioga Pass, which is the East Entrance to Yosemite. We took a day trip while there and drove to the top of the pass and entered Yosemite. The eastern portion of Yosemite, which is the high country well above Yosemite Valley, is becoming my favorite area. It is wide open country compared with Yosemite Valley but SO beautiful for so many reasons.

The drive north from Lee Vining, following U.S. 395, is beautiful as well. Particularly, the Bridgeport, California and Walker River areas. Once you clear those heading north, you arrive in the Carson Valley at the foot of Lake Tahoe on its eastern (Nevada) side. Carson Valley includes communities of Gardnerville, Minden and Carson City. Washoe Lake is at the north end of Carson City.

As I sit hear looking out the window at the mountains to the west, which are the same mountains that cradle Lake Tahoe, no one would suspect what is beyond. Washoe Lake is at around 5,000 feet + in elevation. The mountains rise another 3,000-4,000 ft. Who would guess that several miles just beyond the ridge line exists a lake that is about 20 miles long and 10 miles wide. It certainly must have been a surprise to early pioneers who passed through this area heading to California, having left the Oregon Trail and heading south and west.

Included in our travels yesterday was another getting to know you episode with our new-to-us Pace Arrow Vision coach. For some time now, we have been experiencing a “Check Engine Soon” light, which we had decided was related to our gas cap not sealing correctly. Our reasoning was due in part to the fact that the engine and drive train were running just fine. Unfortunately, I was not able to connect my diagnostic scanner to the port as yet because the “port” has been hidden somewhere up under the dash near the steering column. I have heard stories that the chassis manufacturer (Ford) makes locating the diagnostic port harness convenient as to its location, and the motorhome manufacturer just wants it out of the way while building the rig. So, they tuck it away. Such is apparently the case with our motorhome. Eventually, I will locate it. I know about where it is. Just haven’t taken the time necessary to get to it.

Anyway, yesterday I had pulled off the highway into a neighborhood after just entering the Carson Valley. The “why” of it is a whole other story for another time. But as I got back onto the highway, the motorhome sputtered, and the overdrive light at the end of the shift column started blinking. I have never seen that particular light blink on other vehicles I have owned with the same setup. After a moment or so the sputtering clears up, and the light stops blinking. So, we continue on to Walmart to re-supply. After shopping, we start to leave. I turn the key. Nothing. I try the “Auxiliary Start”. Nothing.

To make a long story a bit shorter, we go back into Walmart and buy a battery to use as a jumper. We didn’t really have to, we had the Jeep as a “jumper”. But, we thought it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra for the road. So, I get out the jumper cables and open the Start Battery compartment. As I go to place the jumper cables, I touch the Positive cable clamp and immediately see that it is just resting on the battery post. Not tight at all. Quite loose actually. I grab a wrench and tighten it and guess what? The engine fires right up AND the “Check Engine Soon” light goes out. Realize that this light and a similar sputtering that occurred at the time, has existed since we bought the motorhome almost two months ago. Has this battery clamp been loose all this time and only made intermittent contact? Maybe. But it is fixed now, and my only problem at the moment is whether to return the battery to Walmart, or keep it as a spare.

Getting back to Washoe Lake, many full-time RV bloggers have mentioned staying at this location. All of them have liked staying here, even though it is dispersed camping. I can see why. It is a nice campground with picnic table canopies and paved asphalt parking pads. A nice setting out in the country, but actually very close to town with all the amenities there. And speaking of the lake, several bloggers have reported in the past that the lake was actually empty due to drought conditions. I can report that it is NOT empty at present. We plan to walk the Beach Trail to the lake this morning. We’ll see whether it is back to full level. I suspect not. But at least there is water in it once again.

EDIT: We have taken our morning hike and discovered why it is called the “Beach” Trail. There really IS a beach, complete with fine sand, sand dunes overlooking the lake, and a myriad of prehistoric sea shells strewn throughout. Amazing further evidence of an inland sea millions of years ago. Also, once we got to the “beach”, we could better see that the lake is quite low. Although it is not empty as has been reported earlier by others, my estimate is that it is probably only about 20% full at present at best. We’re gonna need a lot more snow melt and runoff from the adjacent Sierras before it is completely full once again. I suspect that won’t be too soon.

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A Couple of Days in Lee Vining, California

Lee Vining is best known for two things. One is that it overlooks Mono Lake, a large, shallow  shallow, saline soda lake formed at least 760,000 years ago. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salt to accumulate in the lake. The other thing that Lee Vining is known for is that it sets at the bottom of the road that leads to Tioga Pass, the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. We stayed in Mono Vista RV Park in Lee Vining, a very nice little park. We wanted to take a day to drive up to Tioga Pass, and then visit some of the sites in the high country of Yosemite. Staying in Lee Vining is perfect because it is so close to the park entrance, although the entrance is at a 10,000 foot elevation. Quite a climb up the Tioga Pass Road. This borrowed photo does not begin to reflect the sheer and exhilerating ascent or descent. Woohoo!

Tioga Pass RoadOnce on top, however, the high country eastern portion of Yosemite is spectacular.

Tioga Pass_Tenaya LakeJust west of Tuolumne Meadows, this is Tenaya Lake, cradled by glacier sculpted granite that is awesome to see up close.

A bit further on, at Olmstead Point, you can get a view of the other side of Half Dome.Tioga Pass_Half Dome


All of this and more within an hour of Lee Vining…once you get through the line of cars wanting to get into Yosemite…even at 10,000 feet.

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Hiking Convict Lake in the Sierras

August 5th

Today we hiked the Loop Trail that circles Convict Lake, just south of Mammoth Lakes, California. There is easy access to Convict Lake from U.S. 395, which partially explains why SO Many people visit the lake. Mostly for the fishing, but also for the sheer beauty and a feeling that your deep in the Sierras, even though your just 2-3 miles from the highway.Convict Lake

The hike itself is about 3.4 miles if you start at the trailhead. It is rated as “moderate”because, although the trail rises and falls as it circles the lake, there is not a tremendous amount of elevation gain. Even so, “moderate” or even easy to some may not be the case to others. For us, who are woefully out of shape, this hike was more of a training exercise now that we are on the road full-time and was a perfect length and workout. And the nearly constant and changing view of the lake as we hiked made it quite enjoyable.

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Crowley Lake, California

Sign_ReducedAugust 3rd

Crowley Lake, California (near Mammoth Lakes)

Today was moving day. But not too far. About 75 miles. We had decided to stay a total of 3 days at Boulder Creek RV Resort (park), just south of Lone Pine, California. Why 3 days? Who knows? Chock it up to retirement, and not really being in a hurry. It worked out well. We were able to visit the Museum of Western Film, check out Movie Rd. and the various locations where scenes were filmed in the Alabama Hills as well as checking out future boondocking spots there, and took a drive up the Whitney Portal Road that takes you on a switchback up to the Mt. Whitney trailhead deep in a granite and heavily forested canyon at some 9,000 ft. Just beautiful, for a relatively short drive from Lone Pine.

So anyway, today we moseyed up 395 to Crowley Lake, just south of Mammoth Lakes, about 10 miles further up the road . We could have stayed in Mammoth Lakes at Mammoth Mountain RV Park. But at $59 per night, we thought we could do better. So, we’re sitting on the slope of the Sierras at a BLM campground known as Crowley Lake Campground. It is dispersed camping, but we don’t mind. We have an unbelievable view in nearly every direction. Directly in front of us is Crowley Lake, about a mile distant and several hundred feet lower than our site. Crowley’s claim to fame is that it is “Mecca” to folks coming up from L.A. for “opening day” of trout fishing on the lake in April of each year. The lake itself is a dam’d up portion of the famed Owens River, one of the best trout fishing areas in the world. Today, in early August, the lake has nary a boat on it. But come back in April and the lake will look like a parking lot, what with the sheer number of boats on the water.

For $2.50 per day with our Senior Pass, staying here was a no-brainer. And although we were worried whether there would be any campsites in the middle of summer, we should not have been concerned. The campground has 47 sites, and ALL of them are first come-first served. So, arriving in the early afternoon in the middle of the week allowed us to select from half the sites. Even though our new “coach” is nearly 37 feet long, even with our former 32 foot Bounder, we have always intended to spend a good deal of our time boondocking. So we were glad to find several sites that were deep enough to accommodate us. It’s hard to believe that we could stay here the entire 14 day limit for a total of $35 with our Senior Pass. No electrical, no sewer, no water at the site. But who cares? We’re equipped. Woohoo!!

I mentioned that our front view overlooks the lake. Our backyard is the Sierras, with gradual upslopes of green sage brush evolving into pine forest and granite peaks at higher elevations. Combine all this with the limitless views across large expanses of open high country and beautiful cumulus clouds in all directions, and it’s…priceless.

The one downside is that we have no internet nor any cell service. So, I’m writing this in my Open Office “Word” program, for further transfer when we once again can go online.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, no sooner were we settled in than a fire broke out up near Mono Lake to our north. Fire_ReducedThey reported that it started at about 2:30 in the afternoon. By the time I took this photo toward evening, it was well underway. Interestingly, another fire broke out the next day, much closer to the south of us. It wasn’t too long before we had a front row seat as helicopters and flying cranes began using Crowley Lake to get water to be used in fighting both fires.

While staying at this campground, we took several day trips with the Jeep. On one of those trips, we came across these guys up in the Mammoth area on the road that takes you to the Mammoth Mountain Main (Ski) Lodge.

DeerWe spent a total of four days at Lake Crowley, using it as a base of operations for day trips that included some Jeeping, as well as hiking.

The Mammoth area is well-known to us, having lived just about 250 miles south for the past 25+ years. So, we wanted to revisit some places, and explore some new places. One of those new places was the campground at Crowley Lake. It’s not the most developed campground we have stayed in, but the location was right, the price was unbelievable with our Geezer pass, and the view from our frontyard was priceless.

Lake Crowley

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Heading North – Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California

August 1, 2016

Many full-time RVers spend time in the Alabama Hills, adjacent to the town of Lone Pine, California, which is on Highway 395 as it runs north and south along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. And although it is a boondocking (dispersed camping) destination for RVers, most come in the cooler times of the year, either in the spring or in the fall. As full-timers just starting out in the summer time, we found ourselves arriving in the area at the end of July. Temperatures here at this time of the year are above 100 degrees most days.

For the past few days, we have been staying at Boulder Creek RV Resort just south of Lone Pine. For years, we have passed through this area on our way to Mammoth Mountain further north to go skiing in the winter, or fishing during other times of the year. We seldom spent much time in Lone Pine other than to buy gas or food before continuing onward. Because we are working on our new found retirement attitude of “what’s the rush”, we decided to spend some time exploring the area.

The Alabama Hills are probably primarily known for two things aside from there sheer and unique beauty. One is that they serve as a foreground to the majestic Alabama Hills_Movie RdSierra Nevada range immediately to the west that includes Mt. Whitney, and the other is that the Alabama Hills have been used as the setting for countless movies and commercials going back to the 1920s. It is safe to say that most of the western “cowboy” movies of the last century were filmed in and around the Alabama Hills.

In the town of Lone Pine is the Museum of Western Film, which is a must-see for anyone who grew up in the 40s, 50s and 60s as I did,Sign watching western movies. Why we have never stopped and toured this museum in all the years we were driving up and down U.S. 395 through this area, I will never know. But today Sharon and I put a stop to it and we’re glad we did.

The museum is a treasure trove of western movie and TV memorabilia, including some of my favorites, the Lone Ranger and Tonto.Lone Ranger 2

Although there is no admission fee, per se, you ARE asked for a minimum $5 donation per person. But, in my opinion it is well worth it to spend some time contemplating those “thrilling days of yesteryear”. And a hearty “Hi Yo Silver”.

Lone Ranger The museum also pays tribute to more contemporary movies, and even commercials, that have been filmed,    in part, in the Alabama Hills, including Ironman, Star Wars,  Gladiator and, most recently, Django.Django

It’s amazing to find out the sheer number of films that were filmed in the area, and the stars we’ve come to know and love on screen. Russell Crowe, Robert Downey Jr., Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Hopalong Cassidy,  Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and one of our earliest of “Cowboys”, Tom Mix, are just a sampling of actors who have lived and worked in the Alabama Hills.

When in the area, The Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History is worth a visit.

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Leaving Jojoba

Originally written on July 29th.

After 28 days here at Jojoba Hills, we finally had to pull up the levelers and get back on the road. So, yesterday was moving day. Although we DO have a planned destination for about a month from now, we have one more stop to make before leaving the Los Angeles area. Sharon’s dad, who is 95, lives in a community about 10 miles from downtown L.A. Since we plan to be gone for some time before returning to the area, we ventured into the land of freeways and loons to set up camp for a couple of days with a 36 foot coach parked in a 38 foot driveway. Woohoo!!

We will have fond memories of Jojoba Hills. We enjoyed our stay, met a lot of RVng folks and made some new friends. The amenities in the community are outstanding and, although we were there for a month, we still did not take advantage of all that was there. Nevertheless, we DID make daily use of the pool. An easy choice when temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees or more everyday that we were there.

And although we were tempted and encouraged by many members, we did not put ourselves on “The List”. The list is a waiting list of those intending to acquire a lot at Jojoba Hills. Although you don’t actually own it, you will have a lease for as long as you want, with a unique feature. When you relinquish the lot back to the membership, you get your money back . Whatever you paid for it, is what you get back. So, at least your principal is protected. Not a bad deal.

During the “season”, the list grows and waiting times can be as long as a year or more. Right now, there are about 30 folks on the list, and waiting times are running around 3-6 months. We took the official tour during our stay, which is required before buying in, and as attractive as this community would be as a home base, we are just starting into this full-time thing and feel that we’re not ready to make any “base” decisions right now. But we WILL be back.

While staying at Jojoba, we were often asked where we would be headed when we left. Our standard answer was “we’re not sure, but it will almost certainly be to somewhere cooler.” We would go on to say “probably north toward the Oregon coast.” However, upon reflection, this particular time of the year, end of July, would have us mixing it up with families still on vacation EVERYWHERE, and most assuredly along the Oregon coast. So, we came up with another plan which we will detail in a future post. But here is a clue…

GNPIn the meantime, we overnighted in Pico Rivera, California in Sharon’s dad’s driveway, ran some errands for him and generally hung out. On Saturday morning Sharon made a wonderful blueberry pancake and bacon breakfast for her dad and his wife Carol, and me too. We invited them “over to our house”, which they had not seen.

Realizing that they were in good hands with a number of relatives to help out with shopping and upcoming trips to the doctor, we decided to get on the road once again. So, Saturday evening we drove up out of the L.A. Basin to Palmdale/Lancaster in the High Desert about 80 miles away..We stayed at our first Walmart in Lancaster, Ca. These days, for almost any topic, you will find that “there is an app for that”. One of the apps we found at lists details for every Walmart, listed state-by-state, providing information as to whether you can park there overnight, along with experiences of others who have actually stayed…or not. Although there were several Walmarts in the area, not all allowed overnight stays. This one did, and we found it by using the Allstays “Walmarts”app that we found.


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Jojoba Jeeping

Originally written on July 15, 2016

Well, we’ve been here at Jojoba for about two weeks now. Two more weeks to go. We have had a great time so far. Met a lot of folks, had some fun times in the pool and spa. Shared some meals and have taken a few day trips. One to the beach at Oceanside and Carlsbad. Another to Julian, a historic town up in the mountains south of here about 40 miles and, of course, several trips into Temecula for shopping.

Jojoba Hills is on the eastern side of Palomar Mountain and the famous Palomar Observatory. Pretty much every view within the park here includes the numerous ridges leading up to the farthest ridge line leading up to the summit of Palomar Mountain. The mountain is literally across the highway.

As I have been soaking in the pool here, I often have found myself looking at the side of the mountain and, in particular, the various “jeep trails” cut into the hills, switch backing their way up. As I looked at the various sections of the trails that were visible from here in the park, I wondered if any of them went all the way to the Observatory. Going online to Google Maps, I found that one in particular DID go all the way to the top, almost right into the parking lot of the observatory. That’s when I decided that we should go “jeeping”. So, today was the day.

Fortunately, the road (trail) to the top starts about a ¼ mile up the highway from Jojoba Hills. Pretty convenient. Almost immediately, the pavement ended and we crossed a dry river bed. It wasn’t long before we started climbing. And climbing. And climbing. This entire region is one of hills, mountains and rocks, some of the rocks too big to be called “rocks”. Here is an example of a few “rocks” along our route.Rocks

Although, in this photo the road seems innocent enough, smooth and wide, things quickly changed. And although I was too busy driving to take photos, trust me, we were soon climbing on nothing much more than a goat trail in places.



Rock 2Here’s an interesting rock in need of a name. What does it look like to you? We named him “Kong”.

Oak GroveAs we were climbing, our GPS kept indicating that we were about to intersect with Oak Grove Truck Trail.

Very soon, we saw in front of us the reason for the name “Oak Grove”. This was a very extensive grove of healthy and very mature oak trees that probably took several minutes for us to pass through. Once we did, we climbed even further and came upon the Palomar Mountain Fire Tower. Vehicles are not allowed on the spur road that climbs up to the tower. You have to walk about a 1/4 mile. We chose not to make the climb, continuing toward our goal, the Palomar Observatory about another mile further up the jeep trail.Palomar Fire TowerUnbelievably, within about 1/4 of a mile from the observatory parking lot, we came upon a locked gate preventing us from progressing any further. No advance warning. Nothing. We had no choice but to turn around and head back. This after about 12 miles of “jeeping” to the top. Here is aGoogle Images and Yelp stock photo of where we had intended as our destination.

Palomar Observatory

And below, is another Google Image satellite view of our route up Palomar Mountain. The white arrow on the left marks the location of the fire tower at an elevation of ab. The rightmost white arrow marks the location of Palomar Observatory. From the fire tower, at an elevation of 6100 feet +, views are unrestriced from Mt. San Gregonio and Mt. San Jacinto to the east, Mt. Baldy to the north, San Diego to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Google Satellite View_Palomar Trail

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Downsizing – Not quite there yet

As mentioned the other day, we packed a lot of “must have” stuff into our Pace Arrow Vision 36B just prior to heading out last Friday as full-timers. So, yesterday, today and probably for the next few days, we have been going through boxes and storage containers throughout the coach in an effort to separate reality from “must have”. Sharon is working on the interior, while I am concentrating on the basement compartments. This is but one photo example.

Basement Organizing 2When we pulled out of the Apple Valley driveway for the last time, EVERY basement storage compartment was full AND we had major clutter going on inside the coach. Obviously, for the long haul, this is not going to work for very long. And so, we’ve begun downsizing once again. Does it ever end? In any event, now is the time while we’re here parked for the month of July and somewhat near our storage unit in the Hinterior clutter 2igh Desert.

The good news is that since I began this post, we now have two basement storage units completely empty with more to follow, and the interior is SO free of clutter that we actually had dinner at the dinette table pictured at left.

The other day, I actually was giving thought to changing the “Preparing for a Fulltime RV Lifestyle” byline associated with this blog since we are now officially full-timing it. Maybe we’re still in the “preparing” stage after all. 🙂

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