Adventures of Steve, Patti, Sami and Ozzie

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Still Hanging Out in Southern Texas!

As another Fourth of July holiday has passed, we’ve realized just how far we have traveled on this  journey of ours.  Our first 4th of July we watched fireworks over the St. Mary’s River in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.  Our second was in Salt Lake City, UT and this 4th of July we spent in southern Texas amongst the oil fields.  This had to be the first time we have never heard or seen any fireworks on the 4th, EVER!!  It was dead silent…except for the ongoing oilfield traffic and hum of the generators that keep us with power.  Not that the dogs minded at all, the loud noise of all those fireworks usually freaks them out pretty good.

We are approaching our 12th week working the gate here.  Traffic has been busy so the company has kept the night guard on, which is nice in that Steve and I have the same 12 hours off and can have normal meals together and sleep at the same time.  Trying to tip toe around while working when the other person sleeps is kind of hard to do in the motor home.

Weather wise, it’s been hot!  Although I think we are getting a little used to it now.  It also helps to know it’s not long before we can start traveling and seeing some new sights again.  It’s nice to be stationary and settle in somewhere for a while, but we do get that itch to move on after a while.

Even though for the most part this job can be monotonous, there are the few exciting things that happen.  Like the semi truck that took out our fence one morning or the collision between two semis just down the highway.  One of the semis crossed the center line.  I practically jumped out of my skin it was so loud, thankfully no one was hurt.

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Finally got the Javalinas on camera crossing the road.  There had to be a good dozen of them.   They look like wild pigs, but are actually smaller and can be just as mean especially with little babies like these guys have.

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We don’t see the coyotes all the time, but these tracks let us know they are around!!

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There are new bugs to deal with as the spring turned into summer.  Now there are flies, ants and an abundance of giant grasshoppers! They are huge!

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No big spiders or snakes in the last couple of weeks, but we did have a scorpion by our door step. He was pretty small and met with the bottom of my shoe!

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We have yet to figure out what this thing is, it was the size of my thumb and really ugly.  Only saw it the one time though.  Someone said it was some kind of cricket, but it doesn’t look like any cricket we have ever seen.

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This guy comes out after it rains, or maybe downpour is a more appropriate word around here!  It doesn’t rain a lot but when it does, it really comes down and there are puddles  and small lakes around for days!

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These two had no shame…get a room!!!

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Still discovering a lot of weird ugly spiders!

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We’ve been through so many different phases here from drilling to fracking to coil tubing.  There is a lot we don’t understand yet and wonder if we ever will, but it’s definitely been interesting.  Some of the trucks as are as big as a house.

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The whole border issue is big news down here.  The illegal immigrants from Mexico are crossing the border by the hundreds every day.  There was a train that derailed the other day with 1300 immigrants crossing over into the US, most of who were riding the top of the train, last I heard, no one was hurt.  Most are just walking across the border turning them selves in, others are still using Coyotes (smugglers) in which they pay a lot of money to help them cross into the border and into the states.  We haven’t had any come to our door yet, but the other guard has.  They are hot, tired, hungry and thirsty from walking miles and miles in this extreme heat, however it’s hard to tell if they are just looking for a better life here in the states or if they are part of the cartel.  Border patrol has pretty huge presence around this area since we are near such a major highway and responses quickly when called.  They seem to be on top of it when there are illegals in the area and search the ranch even in the dark of night.  With all that slithers and sneaks around here after dark, you wouldn’t catch either one of us out in all the brush.

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This will probably be our last post while gate guarding so here are our final thoughts on this experience…….

While it’s dusty, dirty, hot and sometimes tedious work, it’s also peaceful and relaxing in its own way. Beyond the highway noise and the trucks rolling by are cool animals and nature we have never seen before.  It’s given us time to catch up on books we’ve wanted to read, given us the craziest farmer tans ever…(yes we pretty much resemble raccoons) and we’ve had time to figure out what we want to do next.

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So the question is….Would we do this again? Absolutely!

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Until next time…..Happy Summer!

Steve, Patti, Ozzie and Sami


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Gate Guarding, TX

It didn’t take very long before we found ourselves crossing the state line into TX and back into CST.  The Guadalupe Mountains were beautiful and the temperature dropped to a very comfortable 80 degrees as we passed through.  This part of Texas is very sparse and there isn’t much around at all.  We were on one road for which seemed like forever, and only passed one car, oh…and drove over one snake.  It was so remote that we couldn’t even pick up a cell signal. As we got further south, it turned into more ranching area with lots of sheep, goats, cows and horses, but not a lot of homes. Here and there were little towns that time seemed to have forgotten, but a few folks still lived there in homes that have seen better days.

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It was Friday, and our goal was to be in Carrizo Springs by Sunday.  Monday morning we were to report to our new gig, Gate Guarding for the Oil Industry in Southern Texas.  We didn’t know at this point where exactly we were going; only the name of our gate and that it was somewhere close.  But we got the call the following day and everything was all set, were to report to our gate at 10 a.m. Monday.

But before reporting to work, Sunday night we stayed at one of the nicest little RV parks in Carrizo Springs – SB RV Park.  It was newer, mainly gravel with some areas of grass; however it had a pool and a new one at that!  They also offered free Direct TV, even giving you the receiver and cables to hook up your TV with.  Seeing that we were only there for one night, it just didn’t pay to set up our dish ourselves so we took them up on it.  We took advantage of the pool seeing it was so hot out and we knew it would be sometime before we had the opportunity to be around a pool again.  We will definitely head back there for a few days when we are done with our gate.  And if anyone is in this area and needs a park to stay at, you have to stay here!  The owners are the nicest people you will ever meet and most of the guests there are folks that work in the oil industry.  Besides the pool they have full hookup, a workout room, laundry room and they sell ice, which is a plus with the temps out here.  www.sbrvpark.net

So what is Gate Guarding?  Basically in a nutshell, this area is full of oil rich ranch land that companies lease to drill and frack for oil.  Each area is fenced and needs to be monitored as far as who comes in and out of the gate to the property, usually 24/7.  They hire folks who have an RV to live on site and track vehicles that come in and out and to basically keep an eye on things.

We are set up right off a pretty busy highway and inside a 10 foot high fence with a gate that is closed in the evening until morning unless we open it for trucks.  We run 24/7 off a generator, fresh water holding tank and septic holding tank.  It gives us all the regular comforts of being hooked up at a campsite.  The only thing I wish we had more of is shade.  We use our awning unless it’s really windy, but by 3pm it’s usually in the 90’s and if we can’t use the awning, it’s almost unbearable out for a while as we have no shade and it will only get hotter as the weeks pass.  Also dust gets everywhere out here….in your eyes, your nose, your mouth….we should have purchased stock in Johnson Co. for all the Pledge we are using inside to dust with and we don’t even open our windows much if at all.  The dust tornados are pretty cool to watch though, some small some really big.  I haven’t managed to get a good picture of any but have been in the middle of a few.

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Some of the days it’s quiet here with not much going on, other days it’s very busy.  Either way, it never fails, if you try to make some thing to eat, use the restroom or just cool off inside, a truck comes and you need to come out and either check them in or out.  But we are pretty used to it now.  I work days, Steve is on nights, but that will all be changing here soon.  They are about to begin fracking and that means we will be very busy with traffic in and out and also means we should be getting another couple in here to help us out.  It will be nice to have 12 hours off together and be on the same shift.

Today the last of the drilling rigs moved out.  It’s amazing to watch how they lower these huge rigs in almost one piece and then the next thing you see is it coming out in pieces on trucks to be moved to another location.  They have just about finished moving it out and the prep teams for the fracking are starting to move in.  But we have a few days before it gets to crazy.

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Other than that, we can honestly say that we now understand why they say “Everything is Bigger in Texas!”  Well at least when it comes to spiders and bugs in general…they are huge!  At least the snakes we saw were already dead (even though they were only 10 ft away from the front door of our motor home!) but the spiders, they come out at night!!!  Steve was sitting outside last night reading his book by the spot lights we have to photograph the trucks and no more that 12 inches from his foot, out marches a Tarantula.  This is the 3rd one of those we’ve seen.

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The first two met their end with the end of our broom, but as ugly and as creepy as they are, we just scoot them away now.  Plus our new buddies the Road Runners who have a nest behind us and are actually quite friendly, like spiders, so we will let them determine their fate.  The Road Runners are expecting baby RR’s, the nest is right behind our motor home.  If you look really closely, you can see the white egg in their nest in the tree.  Not sure if it’s just the one or if there are more, but I can’t wait until they hatch.  One of the workers here told us that a few Gate Guards before us actually tamed a few Road Runners and they would sit on the chairs outside with them during the day.  I love looking at them, but not looking to share my chair with them any time soon.

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If you look in the trees, at the middle of the picture and then look down, you can make out the egg(s) in the nest.

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There are lots of other cool birds around here. There is a pond up the road and Egrets hang out around there, there are Flycatchers – they have the really long tails, hawks and lots of Vultures. They like to circle around the highway in the morning and look for road kill…Yuk!

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Lots of other interesting creatures as well, spiders, bugs, beetles, rabbits, deer, armadillos…something new almost every day!

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These are like the Texas version of a boxelder bug.  They are everywhere, trying to fly into your ears, in your clothes, etc.  They drive us nuts!!!

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The different crews that work here are really nice and treat us well.  Took a while and a lot of evil looks due to the Packer plates on the Jeep and the Packer hats we wore to keep the sun out of our eyes….but they eventually came around, ha ha!  It has to be hard for these guys that work out here; they are on duty for 14 days straight and then have 14 off to be with their family.  I’ve seen the living units they live in being hauled off when the rigs moved, they aren’t anything to write home about.  There isn’t much to do around here either.  The area of Carrizo Springs is 14 or so miles away and other than a grocery store, a Wal-Mart and a few restaurants there isn’t much else.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice little town, but it’s grown faster than it can keep up with in the last couple of years due to the oil industry.  And the temperatures they have to work in are unreal.  They have these covered stations that have benches on either side with a fan that is 6 ft around that they can sit in front of to cool off….why can’t we get one of those at our gate I wonder???? Hmm…  But I’ve gotten a really good tan, from the elbow down, knees down and on the face everywhere but where my eyeglasses are…can you say Raccoon eyes!  Ha Ha!  I’ll have to work on that!  Steve doesn’t get to much sun since he sleeps during a good part of the day.  The days tend to be busier and how he sleeps with all those trucks going in and out is beyond me.  The generator helps though, kind of creates a “white” noise that you become accustomed to.

So that is it what we have been up to.  We’ve been here for just shy of 3 weeks so far, whether we will stay in this location or be moved remains to be seen,   but it’s definitely an adventure and you can’t beat the sunrise or sunsets!

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Until next time…..



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Carlsbad Caverns, NM

It was just a little over two weeks ago that we visited Carlsbad Caverns.  It truly is an amazing place and I can honestly say we’ve never seen anything like it before.  We took a lot of pictures and unfortunately many didn’t turn out because it was so dark, but we did manage to get a few good ones.

The Caverns are located in New Mexico in the Guadalupe Mountains. There are two ways you can enter the caverns, first is a 1.5 mile walk down (equal to 79 stories) to the natural entrance of the cave and the other is an elevator ride down 850 feet.  We had hoped to do the walk down but arrived too late in the day.  Once we got to the end of the elevator ride, we entered a whole new world.  This world was dark, damp and very cool.  The temperature of the caverns is roughly 56 degrees year round.  The self guided tour is about 1.4 miles of pathways through the caverns and takes about 2 hours.

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The great thing about this National Park is that they have a pet day care so we were able to leave Ozzie and Sami in an air conditioned area while we toured the caverns. It’s been a long time since either has been in a kennel but they did pretty good.

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This is the Great Room, it’s huge!

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There were Stalagmites and  Stalactites, as well as formations named Columns, Draperies, Soda Straws and Popcorn.

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This place was just massive, it’s so hard to explain it.  If interested, click on the link for more professional photos –  http://www.nps.gov/cave/photosmultimedia/index.htm

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It’s really important that you stay on the path while in the cavern.   If you stray off the guided walk and try to explore on your own, you risk the rangers not seeing you on their last walk through, and if they don’t see you by closing, you stay there until the nextmorning, in the dark and all alone!!  And although they say that the bats no longer inhabit that area of the caves, we heard them flying around in there and no thank you!  That is the stuff nightmares are made of!!!

We left the caverns and headed south…Hello Texas, here we come!

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White Sands and Little Green Men!

New Mexico – Someone told me once this was a beautiful state and while we only had the opportunity to see a small portion of the southern part of NM, they were right.  It definitely has some “must see” and “bucket list” places.

We stayed a few nights in Las Cruces, NM before heading off to visit the White Sands National Monument which was about an hour northeast of Las Cruces.

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As we drove closer to the monument, we weren’t really sure what to expect. We had found out that in the general area was the Trinity Site which is where the world’s first Atomic bomb was detonated on July 15, 1945.  Its exact location is 60 miles north of the White Sands Monument and is only open to the public twice a year, the first Saturday in April and October.

The area surrounding the monument is also a missile range where they do testing.  This can cause closures to the monument as well as Hwy 70 in which we were traveling on, however we lucked out…no missiles being tested and we were able to check it out.

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Entering the National Monument, we went through border patrol, but were not searched; others were not so lucky and were asked to pull aside to be inspected.  So far we were really not impressed but as we drove into the area further it changed just like that!  It was truly amazing.

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Most of the pictures did not turn out well even though it was a beautiful sunny day.  The sun reflecting off the massive amounts of white sand was almost blinding and made the sky appear very dark.  And it appears we have a shadow in our camera, sorry for the dark fuzzy spots on the left hand side.

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So what is all this in the middle of the desert?  The dunes are waves of Gypsum, a soft white mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulfate covering 275 square miles.  It is known to be used as fertilizer and also used to make Plaster of Paris.  But not the Gypsum from this area, it’s considered illegal to take any samples out of the park area (other than what stuck to your tires!)

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I almost wished we would have gotten a picture of Sami and Ozzie on the dunes…all you’d see is their black nose and eyes as they blended into the sands.

Just as it appeared, the dunes disappeared and we were back to the desert.  We traveled west to visit somewhere you just have to go when in New Mexico…Roswell.  We only had the night to visit so we knew we would be limited to driving around just to check out what it was all about.  The drive there took us through Lincoln National Forest and the Land of the Mescalero Apache Tribe.  They must be very religious people as we saw more churches on this stretch of road than we ever seen before.

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Roswell is really a nice little town, with a population of 48,477.  Lot’s of little green men, a UFO museum, a McDonalds shaped like a UFO and a good portion of the stores and billboards use the “alien theme” but that’s really about it.  It’s more of a touristy place to go.  I am sure that the museum and all that other stuff would have been fun just to check out, but we just didn’t have much time to explore.

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We made it through the evening with no abductions or sightings of anything strange in the sky, so we headed on  south to Carlsbad, NM.  We were looking forward to checking out the Caverns and it was worth it…..WOW!

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Goodbye California! Goodbye Arizona!

The biggest trouble with blogging (or with me and blogging), is falling behind in posting pictures while the experience is fresh in your mind.  I was all ready to sit down and dump the photos from the camera to the computer and start blogging about what was going on and realized we had a whole other set of photos already on there just waiting.  So before we get to where we are, we will start with were we’ve been.

After leaving Temecula, we knew ultimately where we were headed and that meant we wouldn’t see the Pacific Ocean again for some time.  We had planned to stop in Oceanside, CA for the day and walk the beach, but the weather wasn’t really cooperating.  We did, however, get to snap off a few pictures and then headed south.

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We drove south from Oceanside until we hooked up with Hwy 8 which took us pretty close to the border with Mexico and eventually into Arizona.  The terrain really changed along the way and it looked as if someone dropped tons of boulders and rocks every where, but soon it changed back into the desert again.  People come out this way with their dune buggies and dry camp “boon dock” here, the border is right over that sand dune.

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GOODBYE CALIFORNIA!  Made it into AZ and Yuma.  This area is really popular for the easy access across the border and for cheap medical, dental and prescription medication – which from what I understand you don’t need a prescription to get it either.  We stopped for lunch and keep heading east.

In Gila Bend, we stopped for 2 nights at this small truckstop/rv park called Holt’s Shell.  Yes it was a gas station and it was small, but had all the hookups we needed and gave Steve a break from all the driving he’s been doing.  Yeah, I know you are all asking why don’t I drive….I did it once, that was good enough for me!  It really is intimidating if you aren’t used to it to be behind the wheel of a vehicle so large that you don’t feel that you even fit in between the lines of your lane, even though you do.   Some day I’ll try it again…. But I am getting off subject.  Here are some pictures of the cool metal art work at Holt’s Shell where we stayed.

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It was time to move on again, next stop was Tuscon for the night.  We were getting deep into Cactus country now!  The dogs were getting tired of all the driving, Ozzie passed out in the most peculiar position at my feet.

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We drove passed the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, it’s one of the world’s largest non-government funded aerospace museums displaying nearly 300 aircraft spread over 80 acres.

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Not really sure what these are but they look new?  There were hundreds of them.

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If we haven’t mentioned it before, California is huge on hiring people to carry signs, banners, sandwich boards, you name it…they are on the corner of practically every shopping area.  Sort of like Liberty Tax people back home in WI, But in CA, it’s to the extreme.  There were poppers, break dancers, people singing, you name it…as if they were hoping to be discovered by some producer.  And it’s not just for tax companies either, restaurants, stores..etc..!  But this one here in Tucson was a first…wonder if there is a Girl Scout Cookie Stand somewhere near by…. ( ok if you are lost by that last statement, it was pretty big in the news here a few months ago about a girl scout who set up her cookie stand near a marijuana dispensary and made a killing in sales).

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We still had a lot of traveling to do before getting to our final destination for the next few months so we said GOODBYE to  ARIZONA!  We were excited to be heading somewhere neither of us have been before….New Mexico!

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To be continued………..

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What’s new and introducing RVillage!

Boy I knew it had been sometime since we’ve blogged, but didn’t realize just how long it had been until I logged in today.   It’s been a crazy couple of months!!

Quartzsite, AZ was a great experience.  It wasn’t the typical place where we took day trips to see the sights and experience nature and try to capture it in pictures.  No, this was more of an experience on the human level and meeting people from all over the country,  from all walks of life and talent (or no talent) of any or every kind.  We worked and lived in the middle of the desert on a gravel lot where the population went from nothing to over 250,000 people over the course of  a little more than a week.  We met folks from Northern WI, who ran a popcorn stand…they had the best popcorn!  Then there was the young man from Europe who originally carved his craft in South America and came here to sell in the middle of nowhere.  The German guy who was a full-time RVer,  he somehow made his living doing shows selling stretchable lids and grill mats.  So many wonderful and some very talented people.  All so nice and willing to sit down and tell you their story.

Before we left the area, we did hit one small little RV show.  I don’t even know if it was advertised, but when you saw this, you knew you had to stop.  If any of you have watched those extreme RV shows on TV, this may look familiar.  I only wish we could have gone inside.

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There were  some amazing coaches there, it was just fun to browse.

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After a few very interesting weeks there, we headed back to somewhere we really never thought we’d return to…Las Vegas.   Since last December or so, we had been going through the interview process for something very cool and very new called RVillage.




RVillage is a new social media website for RV’ers.  Whether you’re a full-time RV’er or weekend RV’er,  RVillage allows you to connect with other people at the RV park you are at, find people with like interests, create get togethers and  make friends and connect with them even after you leave the park.  Another cool feature is  that you can route your trips on the map, find other RVillage members  or RV parks you may want to stay and local advertisers of places you can eat or get your RV serviced.   This is pretty cool and there is nothing like it out there in the RV industry and it’s totally free to RV’ers and RV parks.

So this is now what we are doing , we spread the word and find local advertisers for the site.  This is an awesome opportunity to travel the country and also support ourselves doing it.  Plus we’ve been planning a trip back to WI and if all goes well we may be saying hello to friends and family members in a few months.

But back to what else we’ve been up to.  We finished up in Vegas with the training, tried to get some repairs done on the motor home (that’s just a whole other story and for the sake of our health, I am not even going to get into that) and had to think of where we wanted to be when this website launched.  It just made sense to head south and back to California again, but we had some places along the way we definitely we wanted to stop at.

First – The Hoover Dam.  This was the first time we ever got our motor home inspected by guards.  We had every compartment searched, our tow vehicle and they even came inside and searched around.  But that went pretty quickly and then we were good to go.  Very beautiful area and we were glad we stopped to see it.

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Second – Lake Havasu.  I don’t know if we really knew what to expect but it was a beautiful area and some really nice and pricy homes.  There were a lot of boat dealerships there as well, I guess when all the snow birds leave, the younger crowd takes over and the lake is crawling with boats.  The campground we were staying at was nice, we could see the Lake if you walked to one side of the park, but it was tight.  I think we had 5 inches between our slide and the neighbors slide.  We would definitely come back through this way..just not in the summer months.

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After Lake Havasu, we headed south back through the Quartzsite area.  Did some free camping on BLM land there.  It was very peaceful and the stars at night were amazing.  Steve loves boondocking and it’s starting to  grow on me. Now that we are all so connected to our computers and smart phones for most of the day, the power thing is hard.  We just need to figure out solar and how we can get that to run just basic things.  Otherwise, the generator works great to power everything.  It’s not that loud, but if the wind blows wrong, you get the exhaust smell.  I am sure we’ll get it figured out.

After Quartzsite, we went back to Desert Hot Springs and Sky Valley for a visit.  After almost a year of being away, it seemed like only yesterday we were there.  We had such a nice welcome back and it was good to see old friends.   After that, we wanted explore more of the area.   Did a little more boondocking and then stayed at a nice county park on Lake Cahuilla.  Nice area, huge pool..but it doesn’t open until after Easter.

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So that is about it.  We have been doing more boondocking  the last few days until we move on tomorrow.  We are looking forward to updating more often on places we haven’t seen on our trip back to Wisconsin.

Hopefully see you all soon!  Stay tuned.

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Ringing in 2014 in Quartzsite, AZ

Overall, I think that we were in Vegas for about 2 and a half months.  Thinking back, I can’t believe that we celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas there.  Time goes by so fast lately.  Even though we celebrated most of the major holidays in Vegas, I think the biggest thing that happened while we were there was the arrival of Britney Spears and her new show at Planet Hollywood.  They even closed down the strip when she arrived.  We passed on getting tickets to that one.

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But finally we decided to move on and south to warmer weather.  After looking at a few options, we decided to head to Quartzsite, AZ.

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We crossed the Colorado River in Parker, NV.

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Quartzsite is a very small AZ town with only a little over 3000 year round residents, however in the winter months that population explodes with RV’rs.  Many come for one or all 3 shows that take place on the Tyson Wells grounds.  The first is the Rock and Gem Show, the second is the Sell-A-Rama and the last is the Art & Craft Fair.  The first show starts January 3rd and the last one ends Feb 9th.  We have been here for almost a week now and it’s fun to see all the vendors who are coming to set up for the Rock and Gem show.  Buyers will come from all over the country in the next few days and this place will be packed.  We started walking around and checking out all the rocks, gems and jewelry..some are down right pricey, but hear that they are actually quite reasonable which is why so many people come to the show.  There are other items for sale here like clothes and tools, heck you name it you can find it.

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Believe it or not these big rocks sell for $300-500 a piece!

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Beads everywhere…from everywhere!

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Buckets of rocks..well not just rocks, but whatever they are people are buying them.

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Found this cute little outdoor bar between some of the tents.  Called Beer Bellies “Adult Day Care”!  They have an outdoor jam session going on most of the day.

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Looking for custom tables?  Maybe a sink?  No worries, just bring lots of cash and you’ll find what you’re looking for.  This coffee table is a steal at $675!

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Other neat stuff for sale.

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Now it’s been awhile since we had Fair food, and there is quite a bit of it set up here, but I don’t think I would ever spend $30 on 6 cinnamon rolls!

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So this building is where we are going to spending a lot of our for the next few months.  We were able to find some decent work out here to keep us busy through March.  Great people, lots of shopping, nice weather…can’t ask for more than that.

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Lastly, a picture of our site..minus one bike…someone in Vegas had a good Christmas when they cut through the lock and stole Steve’s bike.  But, I am sure we’ll find him a new one at the Sell-A-Rama!  ;0)

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Happy New Year to all our friends, family and blog followers.  We hope that 2014 brings you much success and happiness.

Until next time…still Living the Dream!

Steve, Patti, Sami and Ozzie


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