We’ve Been Busy! Holidays, Kayaking, Earthquakes, Family, Skunk Train, Live Crab, and Camper Overhaul!

December came quickly and we were getting into the Christmas spirit. Mike and I visited the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Festival of the Lights. Of course, our favorite features of the light show were the sailboat and the palm trees with flamingo displays, reminding us of the tropical environment we both love. We warmed up inside with some hot chocolate as we listened to some live Christmas music.

The following Saturday we headed for the harbor for our weekly rowing course, however the rowboat operates at a first-come-first-serve basis and was full by the time we arrived. So we went back home to grab both of our kayaks out of the utility trailer and were still able to get on the water. Kayaking into the harbor was definitely a different experience than the rowboat. First of all, we got great deals on both kayaks. In our minds, sometimes being cheaper with a little more effort outweighs the benefit of extra spending. So, of course, we had some minor obstacles. Neither kayak is made for the ocean, which means we are a little more vulnerable to waves. Mike’s kayak is a short, sit-in, kid-size kayak, making it slightly unstable when an adult uses it, which only makes it funnier to watch him try to keep his balance. My kayak is a sit-on kayak with a flat bottom, which makes it slower and more difficult to keep up with Mike. The combination of everything made our kayaking adventure a little more entertaining. So with Mike trying to stay upright and me paddling as hard as I can, we headed out of Dolphin Isle marina. We passed by some private property with several abandoned boats that look like they had been slowly sinking and the others didn’t look too far behind. We continued past the main marina and the Coast Guard, which lead us into the harbor where we spotted a fishing boat throwing scraps overboard. Then all of a sudden we see a huge sea lion lunge out of the water. Then we see a seal pop his head up with his eyes just staring back at us and watching our every move. One after the other, the seals and sea lions were everywhere! We learned to tell the difference between the two from talking to a wildlife volunteer at MacKerricher State Park a few weeks prior. Sea lions are capable of barking, walking on land, like to hang out in groups, and have external ear flaps. Seals are quiet, wiggle their bodies on land, usually hang out alone, and do not have external ears. After watching them swim and jump out of the water for hours, we headed back into the main marina where we found a group of sea lions sleeping (and snoring) at the end of a dock. I could have watched them all day.

The following week Mike and I were just relaxing after work, sitting next to each other on our bean bags in the truck camper when I asked him to quit shaking his leg. This is a common thing he does and something I commonly ask him to stop doing. I didn’t think much of it, but Mike spoke up and told me he wasn’t shaking his leg. I looked up at him, and sure enough, he was sitting perfectly still, but I still felt like the camper was moving. I got up and opened the door, and there wasn’t any wind. It took me a second, but thought could this be an earthquake? It lasted about 15 seconds. The next day, it was confirmed that an earthquake of 4.2 magnitude hit 13 miles from Fort Bragg. We can officially say we have felt an earthquake!

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The following weekend came and it was finally time to go home to Nashville, TN! I tried to go back home to visit in September and ended up missing my flight, so it had been 10 long months without seeing my family. I was so excited to go home. Our flight was leaving out of San Francisco, which was a 3 ½ hour drive and the closest major airport to Fort Bragg. I scheduled an overnight flight and took Friday and Monday off work so we could get there straight away on Friday morning and have 3 full days with my family and friends. The motivation to get there on this particular December weekend was a celebration of both my parents graduating with their Doctorates of Education together! They worked so hard for the last few years and the time had finally come! So Mike and I drove down to San Francisco on Thursday night, caught our flight to Chicago, and then Nashville where my sister picked us up from the airport. We met everyone at my sister’s house, including my parents, brother, nephews, brother-in law, grandma, grandpa and step-grandma. We relaxed on Friday, had our Christmas Friday night, followed by a walk through Cheekwood Botanical Gardens Christmas light show. Saturday was the BIG DAY. We had a nice gala at the university for lunch. We were able to sneak out before graduation and decorate my parents’ truck as a surprise. During the ceremony, I had a proud-daughter moment watching my parents walk at their graduation and receive their well-earned diplomas. Of course after graduation we had to get tons of pictures of them in their regalia. We also had fun watching their reactions when they came out to their truck all decorated with balloons and window paint. We had a big celebration dinner with games and cards back at my sister’s house to finish off the day. On Sunday morning, I got to see one of my best friends over breakfast. That afternoon we got new family pictures and visited at my parents’ house watching old home videos. The weekend went by so fast that Monday came way too soon. It was time for us to pack up and head back to California.

We made it back to San Francisco by noon on Monday, which gave us a little time for some sightseeing before rush hour hit. Mike always craves chicken wings, so I promised him before we headed back to Fort Bragg, where “they don’t have a wing place” that we could get some hot wings. We also stopped by the Golden Gate Bridge and snapped some photos before driving over it. We started heading back up to Fort Bragg and took the famous, curvy Highway 1 most of the way up the coast.

Christmas was the following weekend and my traveling co-workers and I decided to have a Christmas feast at one of their houses. It has been so fun working at a place where you can work and play well as co-workers and friends!

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For New Years weekend, we decided to utilize the beach and celebrate being on the coast! One co-worker brought the glow sticks, the other brought the long-exposure camera, and Mike and I brought the wood and matches to make one heck of a New Years Eve celebration!

In the midst of all the celebrating, Mike and I had some of our own celebrating to do. Mike had been doing so well at his job as an RV repairman. He was excelling like crazy, getting promotions left and right, and actually enjoying his job! It was so refreshing to see him light up and get excited about the work he was doing. On top of that, his boss, who had been awesome to him by offering those promotions and complimenting Mike on the great work he was doing, hooked Mike up on a great deal on a 2008 29’ travel trailer. Mike and I had been living in the truck camper fulltime for over a year and had been discussing more and more that it would be nice to have a little more space. The TT needed some work, but nothing Mike couldn’t handle. According to the original owner, the TT sat for a while with an unknown crack in the top of the front cap, which caused water to enter and rot the floor out in the bedroom. After buying the TT, Mike’s boss was gracious enough to lend us some space in his own pole barn on his property so we could work on it without worrying about weather or working on it in the dark. Mike took on this huge challenge, and with the help of his boss’ guidance, was able to finish the project in 1 month. This was definitely a proud girlfriend moment. Mike worked so hard the last month, completing the labor-intensive work in the evenings during the week and putting in long hours over the weekend. He did such an amazing job and we are both very happy with the all this new space!

The new TT was completed, which meant we had some rearranging to do at the campground. We were a little worried with how everything was going to turn out since we still had to sell our truck camper and only had enough space for 1 camper at the campground. And then “Serendipity Week” happens! Thanks to my co-worker for the expression, I now call it serendipity week because we couldn’t have asked it to go any better:

Thursday: Mike’s boss lets us move our TT from his pole barn to the work parking lot.
Friday: Truck camper is completely emptied and cleaned up, and everything gets moved into the new TT
Monday: Mike’s boss invited us to bring our truck camper to the work parking lot to help sell it
Tuesday: A guy came to Mike’s work to make a purchase and ended up getting into a conversation with Mike. Turns out he was the owner at the RV park in the harbor. Said he had one fulltime spot left. The spot was cheaper than our current spot, so Mike and I drove down to check it out after work. We took it! We got the TT moved into that spot that night.
Wednesday: TRUCK CAMPER IS SOLD! Then Mike’s boss let’s us move our utility trailer into his pole barn for storage. At this point, we had nothing left at our old campground, so we get a full refund on the time we didn’t use. We pick up our last little bit of mail there and we finally get our truck plates and registration that we’ve been waiting for since we bought it in October!
Thursday: Break in the new kitchen of the TT with a celebration dinner and chill out!

It was a heck of a week! A HUGE THANK YOU GOES TO MIKE’S BOSS FOR EVERYTHING! And to top it off, his boss decides to give Mike another promotion and his own work truck! Seriously, such a great week! And congratulations to Mike! All his hard work is definitely getting recognized and it’s paying off!

To end the week, we had train ride planned. My mom and dad got Mike and I tickets for a ride on any train of our choosing around northern California. So we picked the Northspur Flyer, part of the Skunk Train line, leaving out of Willits, which is about an hour east of Fort Bragg. After checking in and grabbing some coffee at a café down the street, we hear “All aboard”! So we gathered our things and headed toward the depot where we were greeted by the conductor and boarded the vintage 1925 motorcar. We took the back seat next to the wood burning stove and waited for the other passengers. Walking down the aisle way came a very well dressed 1-man band with a guitar in his hands and a harmonica hooked around his neck singing one train song after the next. All the passengers by this time were boarded so the conductor blew the horn and we were off on our train adventure. We made it up to Northspur after an hour and a half and had a picnic lunch. By recommendation of the concession attendant on board, we walked a few hundred feet north of the picnic area and found a naturally hollowed out Redwood tree that we could stand in. After getting a few pictures, we headed back to the train for the last part of the journey. After riding the back of the train for most of the trip back, we had completed our first train ride! It was such a special trip.

We drove back to Fort Bragg and were hanging out in our camper. Mike was on Facebook and read that the fishing vessel Princess was selling their freshly caught crab right off their boat in the marina. We had seen this vessel in the harbor a few weeks prior on one of our kayaking trips. So we decided to go out and buy some crab for dinner, while at the same time support the local fishing industry. Buying live crab was definitely a new experience! We walked down the dock to the fishing boat and asked if we could buy 2 crabs. The crabs were $6/lb and the crabs were about 4# each. They were huge! They asked us to take their picture with the crabs as part of their tradition for bringing in new catch. I was in the middle of taking a few shots with their camera while Mike was filming from ours when one of the crabs claws pinched one of the girl’s hair! As the other 2 girls helped get the crab out of her hair, Mike and I kept filming and taking pictures, which made for some pretty awesome footage. The crab finally let go, and after about 5 minutes of straight laughter, they bagged them up for us. We got the crabs home and put them in the sink. I pulled out the biggest pot I had and it still wasn’t big enough! So I made a quick trip to the Rite-Aid, which is the only place in town open in the evenings on the weekend, and bought the biggest pot they had and a new pair of tongs since all we had were plastic. I had never cooked live anything before so I phoned a friend who has done this before. She gave me great advice and about an hour later we were enjoying fresh crabmeat! I’m normally not a huge seafood eater, but this was absolutely mouth watering right out of the shell.

I am so incredibly content with life right now and having such an amazing time. It is truly amazing what new experiences and opportunities do for the soul.

To see ALL of this in action in YouTube form:

Click here for Kayaking the Harbor

Click here for The Holidays

Click here for The Camper Overhaul

Click here to watch Our Move

Click here for The Skunk Train

Click here to watch My Fight With A Live Crab

Exploring Fort Bragg, CA: Noyo Harbor, Glass Beach, Sea Lions, Rowing, Redwood Trees, and Thanksgiving On The Road!

After getting settled into our new campground, we were ready to explore our new city. Right in the center of Fort Bragg is Noyo Harbor. This working harbor is home to several fresh seafood restaurants that get their food from the fishermen who bring in their catch everyday. The fishermen dock their boats right in the middle of the harbor while they clean their boats and get rid of the scraps. The scraps attract birds, seals, and sea lions that just swarm around the boats waiting for their meals. Just next to the fishing docks is a viewing area to watch all of the activities of the harbor. This became one of my favorite spots to hang out. We also loved to drive to the end of the harbor and watch boats come in at sunset.

Just across the street was Noyo Headlands Park where we walked along the rocky coast and watched boats come in from the north part of the harbor.

On the south side of the harbor, we found one of the best places to watch the sunsets called Todd’s Point off Ocean View Dr.

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Down the street from our campground was a trail that leads to Belinda Point, a beautiful secluded point on the coast.

Just north of town is Glass Beach, an old dumpsite that the ocean has turned into part of the coastline. While the rock walls are filled with embedded tires and fishing line, the beach is full of small, rounded pieces of glass that are so smooth that it’s easily walked on with bare feet. There are 2 pathways to explore once you get to Glass Beach: the easy trail and the difficult trail. The first time we took the easy trail. We were slightly disappointed when we found a picked over beach, where there were more rocks, sand, and dirt than actual pieces of glass. We walked over to the other side behind some big boulders and it wasn’t much better. Later we found out, that the difficult trail was actually blocked off so it doesn’t look like a trail anymore. We went back and found that someone had blocked the trail with big rocks to make it look like the trail ended. We climbed over the rocks and down a rock wall. Once we jumped to the bottom, our feet landed in a foot deep of small, rounded, smooth glass. There was glass everywhere! We had gotten there by sunset, just enough light to make the glass shine. Our guess was that the locals were trying to save the glass from being taken by tourists, which happens frequently due to the location of the beach right off California’s famous Highway 1.

Wherever we go, we love to see what the local area has to offer. We happened to be in the right place at the right time when we stopped by MacKerricher State Park. We walked along the path toward the ocean and down the boardwalk and saw several seals playing in the ocean and relaxing on the rocks right off shore. One of the park tour guides was there and had several binoculars for us to use to get a better look. The next time we went to MacKerricher we brought our own binoculars. This time, just within a few minutes of looking offshore, we saw water spray up in the air and a whale’s back break the surface! We were witnessing the gray whales migrating south for their mating season. It turns out that the gray whales migration season started in early November and ends in April. Our next plan is to take a whale watching boat charter in February at the height of the migration.

Mike and I like to try a few local places to eat while we’re in new areas. We decided to try a place for breakfast, Laurel Deli and Desserts. The restaurant is located right in front of the local train station, the Skunk Train, and has it’s own train engine in the middle of the restaurant. After picking up a few brochures from the counter and reading about the history and the different train routes, we read about Humboldt Redwoods State Park. So after breakfast we decided to take an impromptu trip 2 hours north along Highway 1 to see these massive trees. As we headed further north, the scenery changed from a flat, rocky coastline to hilly mountain forests. We were also getting less and less phone and navigation signal, but luckily one of the brochures had a map inside. After the first hour of driving sharp 15 mph turns one right after the next, we decided to pull over for a short break. We couldn’t have picked a better time or place to stop because just a few minutes later Mike’s phone had enough service to get a call. It was one of the shops in town that he had an interview with a week or two before, and they offered him the job! He had been putting in applications and had other interviews with pending offers within the first 2 weeks, but this shop in particular was the job he wanted. So excited with that good news, we continued up north to the Redwoods. On the way, we tried to drive through the Chandelier Tree. We drove under the lowest rainbow I had ever seen. We toured through a home made out of one of the Redwood trees. And then finally we made it to the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile stretch of Highway 101 inside Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We stopped by the visitor center and learned where to go to see the biggest Redwood tree nearby. We drove just a few miles down the road, parked next to the river, and walked along a huge Redwood tree bridge to cross the river. Just a few hundred feet down the way, we saw The Giant Tree, The Flatiron Tree, and The Tall Tree. They were so massive it was difficult to capture the whole tree in 1 shot.

By November, Mike was talking about shaving his beard. If you don’t know Mike, Mike sometimes has these random ideas and agreements that he makes with himself. Back in April when we moved back to Havasu, he had this idea to grow out his beard. That’s 7 months of no shaving, trimming, clipping, or grooming. But one night to my surprise, he got out his trimmers!

We had been in town for about 6 weeks and had gotten to know the area a little better. We tried some new restaurants and our two favorites were Piaci’s Pizza for dinner and Cowlick’s Ice Cream for dessert. While we were at Cowlicks one night, we saw a free paper with local activities advertised. We’re always up for new things, so the next Saturday we drove to Dolphin Isle Marina where a small rowing club offered free rowing lessons. We walked down into the marina, where we met two of the experienced rowers. They gave us a 30-minute lesson before we started our journey into Noyo Harbor. We passed by a row of abandoned fishing boats and another marina before making it into the harbor. As we were passing by an active fishing boat, one seal swam up to our boat, and then another jumped out of the water, and then a sea lion poked his head out of the water and started barking! They were everywhere! This was a sight I had never seen before. They were absolutely beautiful animals and fun to watch swimming around our boat.

On our way back to the marina, one of the expert rowers told us that they were going to be decorating the rowboat for the annual Lighted Boat Parade the next day. So the following evening, we drove down into the harbor, had dinner at The Rough Bar, and watched the boat parade go by.

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For Thanksgiving this year, Mike and I got together with 2 of my coworkers. We’re all travelers and decided to get together for a Friendsgiving.

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I am so thankful for where we are at this point. Our first year was a rough one. We had some bad luck, but we also didn’t always make the best decisions. We definitely learned along the way, and now everything finally seems to be falling into place. When we first started traveling, we had no idea what to expect. I was just learning how travel therapy worked, and luckily I’ve liked all of my travel assignments so far. Mike was unsure what kind of jobs he would get, but he’s found work every place we’ve been. He really likes and is exceling at his current job as an RV repairman. We work the same Monday-Friday first shift schedule, so we no longer have a need for a second vehicle or rental car. We had so many vehicle issues starting out, but now we have a brand new 2017 Ram 2500. Our camper was having some major issues, but most of those have been resolved with the new water heater, furnace, and ventilation systems. And with all of these things going right, we’re finally in a place to start saving money for our future sailboat!

To watch these pictures come alive into video, check out our YouTube episode here!

Fort Bragg, CA: Camper Set up and Repairs

After a whole ordeal of a weekend, we BOTH finally made it to Fort Bragg, CA. We drove 12 hours from Lake Havasu City, AZ, which ended up taking about 15 hours with rest breaks, and finally made it to Fort Bragg by 3am Monday morning. We pulled into our campground but had a hard time backing the truck and trailer into our spot in the dark. We were both exhausted and not in the mood to deal with it, so we ended up driving down to the hospital and parking on the street for the night.
The next morning, I walked across the street to work while Mike took our truck and trailer back to the campground to get set up. We used our first week to rest, get settled in, and mingle with our neighbors.

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The first few weeks were an adjustment. We went from living in a dry, hot desert to a cold, rainy northwest California coast. Each climate comes with its own struggles. In Arizona, we had to adjust to the extreme heat. We used dual AC window units to stay cool and used a fan under a makeshift shade to keep the refrigerator running at optimal temperature. Now in Northern California, we had to adapt to our new environment and adjust for the wet cold.
With the colder climate, our first mission was to get warm. Our furnace had never worked right, so we ordered a new one. In the meantime, we just used an electric space heater. We had done our research on space heaters and found that they can potentially be a fire hazard, so we kept an eye on the outlets and shut off all power sources before leaving the camper to stay safe. We got the new furnace a few weeks later, and Mike installed it the same day.
Our second mission was to get hot water. Our water heater stopped working right before we left for vacation in Hawaii, so we ordered a new one of those too. In the meantime, we used the bathhouse at the campground. The first time I walked into the showers, I noticed a quarter machine on the wall. Apparently, it’s common in California to have pay-showers. We found out early on after testing each one that two of four quarter machines weren’t in working order, so we just used those and got free showers… our little secret.
Our third mission was to stay dry. Mike caulked around the windows and seams of the camper to ensure we had no leaks.
Our fourth and final mission was to combat condensation. Campers are notorious for condensation problems. We installed Hypervent under our mattress last year, which worked great. This year, however, we found standing water and mold starting to grow on the plywood under the mattress. After doing a bit more research, there were a few reasons I could guess why we were struggling with it a bit more this year: 1) obviously the climate, it was colder and raining much more frequently than our winter last year, 2) ventilation, we took the fan out of our camper when we moved out of it for a short time and never got around to hanging it back up, 3) ventilation (again), we had too much stuff around the edges of the bed, like extra pillows, blankets, etc., preventing air flow through the mesh of the Hypervent. So we took care of it by buying a bleach cleaning solution to kill off the mold, got our fan back out to dry the area, put all of our extra pillows and blankets in the trailer, and continuously used our dehumidifier every night. So far, this has worked!
Another issue we had was relying on small town electricity. One night, Mike picked me up for work and we were driving back home when we suddenly noticed it was darker than usual. First we noticed all the streetlights were off, the gas stations were closed, and then we pulled into the campground and realized our neighbors Christmas decorations were off. We had guessed someone hit a pole and knocked out all the power to this part of town. We got back to our camper and had no lights, no electricity, and no heat. One thing we have learned along the way was how beneficial a generator can be. After getting a few gallons of gas from the other side of town, we powered up the generator and were up and running again. Back in Havasu, we had upgraded to the Predator 3500 from Harbor Freight while Mike worked there for a few months and got his employee discount. This generator is perfect for our needs as it can power our entire camper, is extra quiet, and will last several hours on a few gallons of gas.
It seems like the repairs will always continue. We currently need to fix a small water leak at the hose connection. But we always find time to have fun too! When we aren’t working on the camper, we are out exploring Fort Bragg and the rest of Northern California!

Leaving Lake Havasu City, Vacationing in Kauai, Moving to Fort Bragg, CA

We had about 1 week left in Havasu before our work contracts were set to end. We were both excited and ready for our planned 2-week vacation to Kauai, Hawaii.

I was on my way to Kingman for work one morning, barely out of Havasu city limits, when smoke started coming out of the exhaust pipe. I started to pull over, and then the truck shuttered and shut off completely. I tried restarting the truck and nothing happened. It wasn’t even trying to turn over. Then I saw a message on the dash display that read “Stop safety now”. The whole time I’m thinking how is this happening again? We’ve had so many vehicle issues since we started traveling. We half-way expected our 1979 Class A and our 1996 Ford F350 to have their issues since they were older vehicles, but this is a 2009 F250 heavy-duty diesel truck with 50,000 miles on it. Why are we having these major issues?? I called Mike for help so he could come down to inspect the truck. Mike found several drips under the truck and a leak coming out of the exhaust. The truck still wouldn’t start after multiple attempts, so Mike called his friend who was able to come down with his flatbed trailer to load it up.

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We immediately hauled it back to the dealership we bought it from just 2 months prior. They remembered us pretty well because within those 2 months, the dealership already had it in their possession for 3 weeks for other major repairs, luckily still under warranty. When we got there they told us they would pay for diagnostics if we hauled it to the Ford dealer down the road. We left the truck with them, and we rode our motorcycles the rest of the week.

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We were planning on checking out of the campground by the following Friday. We wanted to take our camper/trailer to our friends’ house to save money on the campground rent while we were in Hawaii. Well the next week went by and we were getting ready for our move. We called the dealership to see if the truck was ready, but they told us it wouldn’t be fixed for another few weeks. So with no other choice, we hustled to make other plans. We asked Mike’s friend to move our camper/trailer for us and thankfully he said yes. While they worked on moving, I got a rental car to get us to the Vegas airport. We got everything moved with the help from great friends, and we were finally ready for our much needed vacation.

Our plane left Vegas at 2am on Oct 1 heading toward Honolulu. We landed in Honolulu and had 1 more short flight to Kauai. We arrived in Kauai early in the morning on Sunday. We had just booked an Airbnb on the north shore, so we picked up our rental car and headed up the main highway.

We checked into the Wyndham Ka’eo Kai hotel and received leis with the message “In Hawaii, we don’t lei ourselves. We lei each other”. So with that, Mike and I had our lei ceremony.

Our Airbnb ended up being a timeshare so the front desk scheduled us to meet with a representative to talk about deals, things to do in the area, and timeshare ownership. We really weren’t interested, but they offered $150 American Express card, so we spent 30 minutes talking to them and walked away with a loaded credit card. Bonus!

The resort was beautiful. We could see the ocean from our room. The hotel had a pool and spa. They also had chickens and roosters running around everywhere, reminding us of Key West. We immediately started exploring the north shore. The landscape was lush with beautiful plants and mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.

We found Hanalei Bay, which was a perfect beach for body surfing and sun tanning. While sitting on the beach, I just stared at the sailboats in the bay daydreaming about the days that we’d be the ones seeing the world by boat.

Later that evening, we were hanging out in our room. That’s when we heard about the Vegas shooting. Like everyone else, we were shocked. It was especially shocking since we were just in Vegas earlier that morning. The next few days, we just waited for more information and kept an eye on the news.

The second day we drove north to Tunnels Beach. We learned the north shore is famous for heavy rains, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time. We swam in the ocean despite the downpour, the lifeguard suggesting not to, and the “no swimming” signs on the beach. The riptide was pretty strong, so we didn’t go any deeper than waist level, but we had a blast anyway.

The third day, we heard about a tide pool called Queen’s Bath. We walked about a mile down a steep, muddy path. After passing a waterfall, a memorial of people who had died there, and a huge boulder blocking most of the crashing waves, we saw the famous tide pool. Mike immediately jumped in while I climbed down the rocky slope. After I worked up my courage, I eventually jumped in a little later. Some of the waves were big enough to come over the rocks to create an undercurrent, forcing us hold onto any rock we could get our grasp on before we got swept off the side into the ocean.

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The fourth day we explored the rest of the north shore, hitting up Anini Beach, Lumahei Beach, Haena Beach, and the Maniniholo Dry Cave. We tried snorkeling, found one lonesome coconut, and witnessed some surfing.

For lunch we hit up Happy Talk Bar and Restaurant for happy hour, known for 29 beers on tap and surprisingly beautiful views!

We ended up running into the same guy who met with us about the timeshares. We met his girlfriend and they invited us back to their car for some impromptu guitar playing.

Day 5 we prepped for our planned 3-day hike, which was supposed to start the following day. The Napali Coast hike was an 11-mile hike in and 11-mile hike out, with no amenities, leading to the Kalalau Beach. I love hiking and had read about this trail when planning for Kauai. The trail permits typically sell out a year in advance, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon 2 permits online that had been returned. It was rated as one of the best hikes in the Pacific. So we got our dehydrated food, camping supplies, and other gear ready to go and took it easy in the hot tub the rest of the day.

That night we both woke up to thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. The next morning, it was still raining. Not sure what the trail would look like, we went ahead and checked out of the hotel and drove to the Ke’e Beach trailhead. It was the coldest day it had been on the island. Being wet, cold, and windy, the conditions for an 11-mile hike were not ideal. We were also thinking about Mike’s recently sprained ankle that happened on our last hike in Zion National Park a few weeks prior. We decided to wait it out to see if the weather would calm down. After waiting a few hours of constant rain, we unfortunately decided give up on our hike. We headed to the west shore, where it was known for warm, sunny days. Later on in the day, I re-checked the Napali Coast website and it turned out to be a good idea to give up on the hike because of trail closures from flash floods. So now knowing that, it made me feel a little better that we made the right decision.

So heading toward the west shore, we bought permits to camp at Salt Pond Park for the weekend. We set up our pop up tent and were sitting on the beach in our lightweight chairs within minutes.

We watched the sun set and headed back to the tent to hang out the rest of the night. We were inside the tent just talking when all of a sudden we hear music close by. We peek out of the tent and discover a lot of people under the main pavilion in the park. It sounded like a small concert so we went to check it out. We walked up to a man playing guitar, several people at the picnic tables, lots of food, and people playing cornhole. We decided just to sit in the back and listen to the guitar, but before we knew it people started coming up to us and introducing themselves. Come to find out this party was a bunch of family and friends who come together every night at this park. They were so welcoming that we ended up hanging out with them Friday and Saturday night. They were all native Hawaiians and we learned a lot about them and their culture. They displayed a very tight-knit community, each contributing to the night in their own way. There was a group who each took turns playing the ukulele while the others sang songs in harmony. There was a group setting up and playing cornhole. And there were the older women making sure the kids stayed in line. I’m used to large family get-togethers every once in awhile or on holidays, but they did this every night! We also learned some lessons about their culture, like don’t sit on top of their picnic tables or you’ll get treated like one of the kids out of line. Haha. Wherever we go, we try to learn about the culture and value what we learn. We just learn as we go.

On Saturday we headed up to Waimea Canyon, which is considered the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and it did not disappoint!

We continued up the mountain and drove through Koke’e State Park, which had the Kalalau lookout, overlooking the beach we were supposed to hike to the day before. I still wished we would have had the weather to hike to it, but at least we got to see it from above.

Our next adventure was Polihale State Park. One of the ladies at Salt Pond suggested we go there. We always take the locals suggestions, and for good reason. I think I can speak for Mike too when I say the next few days at Polihale were some of our favorite days on the island. Polihale was a secluded beach with several miles of white, soft sand, no cell phone service, very few people in sight, and with the most beautiful night skies so clear we could see the Milky Way. It was a perfect few days just to spend time together, without distractions and no stress. We simply got to have fun on the beach.

To get there, we took our Chevy Spark and drove 5 miles on a dirt road away from the busy city. We drove as far as we could before the sand got too soft. This is where we popped our tent, walked down the massive sandy beach and jumped straight into the ocean with 6-foot swells, perfect for body surfing. We relaxed, walked the beach, watched crabs pop out of the sand, and sat in our blue beach chairs. These days were so long and perfect. The clear, blue sky turned into a long, beautiful sunset that eventually turned into a night so clear that the stars actually looked like they were flickering.

After 3 days of camping and only a few days left on the island, we decided to explore the only part of the coast we hadn’t seen yet. Poipu. So the last few days we spent visiting Shipwreck’s Beach, Spouting Horn, and attending our first luau.

It had been a wonderful two weeks. We had a dream vacation, but it was coming to an end. We were scheduled to fly out of Kauai leaving Friday night and arriving in Vegas Saturday morning. On Thursday, I finally got a call from the dealership with news about our truck. I was told it needed a whole new motor. What?! I was expecting the truck to be fixed in time to drive it to California for our next work assignment. We were supposed to leave on Saturday when we got back from Hawaii! They said the EGR cooler cracked and leaked fluid through the entire engine and out of the exhaust, causing the smoke. Wondering how we were going to handle this, they gave us 2 options: 1) they would pay to have the truck fixed, which would take a few more weeks to find and install a new engine; or 2) they would buy the truck back, giving us all of our money back, and close the original deal completely. We took about 0 seconds to decide what option we wanted. Number 2!! We decided to get rid of the truck before we had even more problems! The steering, the transmission, the 4×4, and now the engine has either had to be replaced or repaired since we got the truck 2 months ago! We just completely lost faith in the reliability in this truck. So we got the process started for the buy back.

This left us with our camper and trailer stuck at our friends’ house without a way to move everything to California. So our original game plan when we got back to Vegas consisted of: 1) Mike and I splitting up, 2) Mike would rent a car to drive back to Havasu, 3) empty and sell our camper, 4) have one of our friends haul our trailer back to the long term storage at the campground and leave it there until we drive back east, 5) I would have to get another flight out of Vegas and fly to Sacramento, which was the closest airport to Fort Bragg, outside of the wildfire zone, 6) get a rental car and drive the 4 hours from Sacramento to Fort Bragg to get to work by Monday, 7) get a long-term stay hotel room or short-term apartment somewhere, 8) then once Mike gets everything together in Havasu, he can fly out of Vegas to Sacramento and I could pick him up at the airport and drive back to Fort Bragg. Such…a…pain! But we had a plan.

Friday night arrived and we got to the Kauai airport in plenty of time for our flight leaving at 9pm. We were in the terminal and waited…and waited…and waited. The rainstorm had turned into really bad thunder and lightening storm, which had caused our incoming plane to turn around and go back to Honolulu. After hours of waiting, our plane finally arrived at midnight. This meant we missed our original connecting flight out of Honolulu at 11pm. We asked if there were other options to get back to Vegas, but the next flight out of Honolulu wasn’t until 3pm the following day. THIS meant that I would miss my flight out of Vegas to Sacramento. It was a mess. Hawaiian Airlines ended up putting us up in a hotel for the night in Honolulu and paid for our taxi service to and from the hotel. We got some lunch in Honolulu at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. the next day before heading back to the airport. We left Honolulu at 3pm Saturday and arrived in Vegas by midnight Sunday morning.

After arriving back to Vegas, I got my plane ticket to Sacramento, which was not until 7am. So Mike went ahead and got the rental car to head back to Havasu while I slept in the airport until my 7am flight.

The next morning, I made it to Sacramento to pick up my rental car and finally made it to Fort Bragg by the evening. I found a hotel that gave me rates for being a traveling therapist at the hospital and got settled in for the week. Mike made it back to Havasu and showed our camper to a few interested people. On my time off, I searched all over the city to find cheap housing. That apparently doesn’t exist in California, even in small towns.

While I was looking at housing, Mike was looking at trucks. We finally decided our next vehicle would be brand new. I have never bought a brand new vehicle, but we needed a reliable truck so bad and I was tired of getting lemons. We were both mentally exhausted dealing with break down after break down. Because we travel full-time, our vehicle is the heart of our operation. We can’t plan or get anywhere without a vehicle, and all of our previous vehicles were literally ruining our plans one by one. So within the first few days of searching, he found one that would work well for us at a dealership in Vegas. The dealership also offered a perk of flying me in for free to buy the truck. So Mike and I decided to meet in Vegas to buy the truck we wanted: a 2017 Ram 2500 diesel with a 6.7L Cummins, mega cab, and standard transmission. With that, Mike and I decided to keep the camper, take everything with us, and make it to work by Monday.

Our new plan worked. We bought the truck in Vegas, drove 2 1/2 hours to Havasu, moved our stuff back in the camper, installed the camper brackets and suspension airbags, loaded the camper on the bed, hooked the trailer up, found an available campground, and drove 12 hours to Fort Bragg…all in 2 days. We were exhausted, but we made it. We got our campsite all set up and started exploring our new city of Fort Bragg, CA.

 

To watch our YouTube episode, click here!

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Lake Havasu City, Arizona in the Summertime: End of Our First Year Traveling Full-Time

Everything was looking up for us. We finally had a working truck to get us place to place and a trailer big enough to store and organize all of our things. We weren’t stuck anymore! My extended work contract at the hospital was scheduled to end September 29, and Mike had put notice into his job. We were both excited to get somewhere new.

Aug. 23 was my birthday so Mike got the day off work. Our friends took us on their boat and bought me angel food cake to celebrate. Mike took me to dinner at our favorite italian place in town, Mario’s and bought me one of my favorite chocolates, Fannie May. Had an awesome day celebrating the last birthday in my 20’s!

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The following weekend, our friends were heading back east for a few months so we took them up to Vegas to catch their late Saturday night flight. We walked the strip, visited Margaritaville, and ate dinner at Guy Fieri’s restaurant. We sang some karaoke at Ellis Island before saying goodbye. They wouldn’t be back to Havasu until later in the fall so we knew we wouldn’t see them for awhile, so it was a hard goodbye.

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After seeing them off, Mike and I walked back to the truck in a casino parking lot off the strip. We were trying to save money where we could so we ended up sleeping in the truck. We left our camper at home because we still needed to apply airbags to help the truck suspension before we added the extra load. We both fell asleep with the windows cracked, but I woke up sweating like a hot mess so I woke him up and asked him to turn the truck a.c on for a minute. Shortly after, a security guard came out and told us we couldn’t sleep there anymore. We probably would have been ok sleeping there until morning without the truck running, but I just couldn’t take the heat anymore. So we got up and Mike decided it was easier just to head back to Havasu since we were both up. So we got back home in the wee hours of the morning.

The following weekend was my weekend to take a flight out of Vegas. I was anxious to get back home and visit my family and to see my growing nephews. It had been 6 months since I was home. Thankfully, Mike was able to see his parents in Vegas in July when they came to visit for a few days.

So Friday, we headed back up to Vegas since my flight was leaving at 6:30am on Saturday. We ended up getting a cheap hotel Friday night, took the monorail to the other end of the strip to see the gondolas at the Venetian, and walked down the strip for a bit, got lost, and jumped a wall to get back to the hotel.

We found the hotel, set the alarms, and crashed. The following morning, I woke up, looked at my phone, and it was 5:45! I apparently had slept through all 6 alarms. I had 45 minutes until my flight departure. Mike’s stomach was hurting and couldn’t get out of bed, so I got an Uber to the airport. I arrived by 6:05. I was in line for a few minutes, waiting for some people ahead of me. By 6:10 I got up to the counter when I attempted to check in. The attendant stated I had to check in 45 minutes in advance prior to departure and there was nothing she could do for me. I explained that I understood I was late, but expressed my willingness to run if I needed. She again stated she could not check me in. I was devastated. I was so looking forward to my trip back home. I ended up getting a taxi back to the hotel, where I told Mike what happened and called my mom to let her know. Mike was trying to cheer me up and suggested that we make a weekend trip to Death Valley. We had planned to go here at some point, so it seemed like a good time now since it was only a few hours away from Vegas.

We were on the road again. I was bummed all day, but Death Valley was beautiful…and hot. When we entered the temperature read 97 degrees. By the time we got to the center of Death Valley, it registered at 123 degrees. I was surprised to see that Death Valley offered so much diversity in its’ landscape. We visited the lowest point in North America at the Badwater Basin Salt Flats, sitting at 282 ft below sea level, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, one abandoned ghost town in Rhyolite, Zabriskie Point overlooking the badlands of Furnace Creek, and ate dinner at the Furnace Creek Ranch. There was much more to see, but it was getting dark and late and to stay in the lodge was very expensive. So after dinner, Mike drove the 4 1/2 hours back home. The weekend continued with kayaking, shooting guns in the desert, and jumping off cliffs near Castle Rock in Lake Havasu with some friends. I still missed my family, but I planned to attempt another flight in December.

The following weekend we decided to stay home and get some things done in preparation to move. We started organizing our new 28ft trailer, which turned out to be our new 26ft trailer. We started to take measurements for organizing  shelves and for the first time actually measured from front to back. It was 2ft shorter than advertised and as stated on the title. We had taken every other measurement, like the ramp doors, and the width between the wheel wells, and the height. But we didn’t even think to measure the length of the whole trailer. Lesson learned. It wasn’t a huge deal, but now we wouldn’t be able to fit a small second car in there like we had planned. But we continued packing and ordered everything we needed to get the new truck ready to load. We got the truck airbags for a stiffer suspension and a front hitch for the generator. We also finally got mini boat in the back of the trailer for stored coverage. We finally sold our 12ft trailer, which was the last piece of our initial set up. Overall, it was a successful weekend.

The next weekend, we took a trip up to Zion National Park in Utah. I had been talking about Zion for months. I’m part of many backpackers pages on Facebook and this place kept popping up with gorgeous pictures. We finally had the time and a reliable truck to get us up there. I had picked out 2 hikes and found some free camping on BLM land nearby. So we headed up Friday night, found a good camping spot 15 minutes from the south entrance of the park, set up our new pop up tent, and crashed.

 

The next morning we had breakfast at Oscar’s Cafe, which was right on the edge of the entrance with beautiful views of the mountains.

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Then we headed up the mountain, through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnels to Canyon Overlook Trail. This was a moderate, short 1-mile trail to look between the canyon walls. The trail was fun with different terrain, including steep steps, sand, narrow passages, and ending at this beautiful overlook of Zion.

 

We got a few pictures and started to head back to the truck for the next 5-mile, strenuous hike. Mike and I had a good pace walking down the trail, when I heard a slip and a thud. I turned around and Mike was already on the ground. He looked up and you could just see the pain he was in. He grabbed his ankle and said it rolled out from underneath him when he stepped down onto a sandy rock. I looked at it immediately and it was already starting to swell. I didn’t have any wraps or braces with me, but I was able to use my cooling towel to make a compression sleeve to add some stability for his ankle to at least get him down the mountain. Thankfully, another hiker noticed he was limping and offered some Advil, which helped.

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So we continue on, slowly walking down these sandy steep steps and narrow passages. And to make matters a little worse, Mike has never been super excited to do these long hikes that I always drag him on, but he goes with me because he knows hiking is one of my favorite things to do. All I could think to do was offer a hand and a piggyback ride. He appreciatively declined, and made it down the mountain and into the truck. Since it was his right foot and it already looked like a softball, I drove us down the mountain to get an ankle brace from the local market, HooDoo’s, and ice from Subway to bring the swelling down.

 

The swelling had gone down within 30 minutes, and he was able to bear weight on it without much pain, but the idea of another hike was out of the question. We decided to take the free shuttle bus around the park so we could still get some pictures. After a long day, we decided to head out of the park to get some dinner and much needed drinks to relax a bit. After dinner, we decided to go back to the market to get some wood to build a fire back at the campsite. Back at camp, Mike was just looking around exploring and found a mason jar with a note and some figurines under a tree. It was a geocache. We had heard of these before but had never gone out specifically looking for them. The note had 2 other couples’ names and where they were from. So we added our names and added our little smurf that we found in the new truck after buying it. We put our blog name down and hope to hear from whoever finds it next! The next morning we packed up and headed back home.

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The following week, the focus was on the upcoming few weeks. I still needed to find an assignment in California. I had narrowed the cities down to 2 and was starting to call nearby campgrounds for availability. I left a few messages and was starting to get calls back. One call I thought was a callback from a campground ended up being a automated message from a radio station offering a free 3-day cruise to the Bahamas. I figured it was a scam, but they said all I needed to do was answer 3 questions right about music. I had extra time so I thought what the heck and went through all 3 questions, which were:

  1. Name an artist related to the color purple: I picked Prince
  2. Who sang Just Beat It: I picked Michael Jackson
  3. Name the lead singer in Nsync: Justin Timberlake

I hear the ding ding ding! You are a winner and have just won a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas! I’m skeptic the whole time, until I get my confirmation email and confirmation  call from the cruise line. I also did some research on the radio station and it was a legit radio station giving away legit cruises. I actually did win a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas!! From Palm Beach, FL to Freeport, Grand Bahamas Island, we have 18 months to book our free cruise!

I also got the flight tickets and rental car set up for our 2 week vacation to Hawaii. Mike and I planned to take 2 weeks vacation in Hawaii between assignments and we made a deal. He’d go hiking with me for 3 days (with ankle brace this time) like I wanted, and then we can spend the rest of the time lounging on the beach like he wanted. And then I finally got the permits for the Napali Coast hike in Kauai! I had been trying to get these permits for a month! This hike is supposed to be one of the best in Hawaii and permits sell out a year in advance. I read on one of the backpacking sites on Facebook that permits may become available only if someone returns their permit for a refund. So I was watching the park website several times a day and 2 permits finally became available to grab! We’re set for vacation.

Now we just need to lock in a California assignment, pack up, and head out! More adventures to come!

To watch our FIRST YouTube episode, and review of our FIRST year on the road, click here!

Lake Havasu City, Arizona in the Summertime: The Good and the Bad

At the beginning of July we were still looking for the right truck. We found a red 2016 Dodge Ram 2500 with a standard transmission. It was the truck we had been looking for, the unicorn truck. It was a company-owned private dealer asking for loan payoff, which was the perfect situation. We went to the bank immediately and started the loan approval paperwork. Within a week, we were pre-approved and had scheduled to meet the seller. The only set back was the truck was in Stockton, CA, 8 hours away, but we decided to make a weekend trip out of it and leave Friday night after work. Mike and I spilt shifts driving and finally made it to Stockton at 3am. We were planning on meeting at 9am so we only needed a place to crash for a few hours so I googled the cheapest hotel nearby. We drove up, checked in, and eventually realized it was the kind of hotel that requires you to look for bedbugs and dead people lurking in the closets before lying down. But we were both exhausted at this point so up the 10 flights of stairs we went looking for our room. Finally found it and luckily no bedbugs or dead people so we were able to get some sleep. We got up, looked at the truck the next morning, and fell in love with it. It was beautiful and everything we wanted…still under factory warranty, perfect condition, 11,000 miles, even heated seats and steering wheel. We went straight to the bank ready to buy it, only for the bank teller to say we’ve been denied. According to them, I hadn’t worked for my employer long enough. I explained to them that I was in the same career field, but had just switched employers. The underwriters didn’t seem to care, even though all the other criteria for approval were met. They said there was no way I could be approved simply because of my employer change, even though I had been pre-approved. So we unfortunately had to give the truck keys back to the seller and return home in the rental car.

We were again back at square 1. Back to hours of researching for another truck. We were both done with it at this point. We had just gone through this process 8 months ago. It’d be nice if we wanted and could afford a brand new truck with all the options, but we didn’t want to spend that kind of money. Our whole purpose in traveling and living with less is so that we can enjoy more adventures and experiences without the worry of debt. Thats why we originally went with an older, cheaper class A RV. That engine broke down. Then we got our first ford, which was a little more expensive and newer than the RV, but still not as reliable as we had hoped. It caused us a lot of issues on the road and eventually caught fire. We obviously needed a more reliable vehicle to take us everywhere we wanted to go. All we needed was a reasonably priced reliable truck… and someone to loan us the money for it. You wouldn’t think it’d be that hard to find, but we were struggling.

So from Stockton we headed toward Havasu and were almost back in town when we stopped for gas. I went inside to use the restroom, but when I opened the door to walk back to the car I got hit with high winds full of sand. My eyes and my skin felt like they were getting pelted by pin needles. I didn’t even notice at first that Mike had driven the car up to the door to come get me, but I jumped in as quick as I could. We were in the middle of a haboob! Monsoon season had hit. The winds came on so strong and quick with lightening and thunder in all directions. We drove home to cover the boat with a tarp before the paint was stripped off. After a lack of sleep, being denied a truck, and being blasted with sand, overall it was just a rough day.

So the next day our friends made it better by taking us up to the gorge for the first time on their boat. It’s about a 30 minute boat ride up river to where the river narrows and is surrounded by rocks walls. The water is a little cooler and so refreshing. Apparently there is a high and low tide on the river because 2 boats on either side of us got stuck at the end of the day. After what felt like an hour of pushing and pulling on their boats, the ended up strapping to another boat to get free.

One day during the following week, I came home to what I now call “The Great Camper Flood of 2017”. I came home from work to water pouring out the back of our camper. I immediately shut off the water and drained the tank. The video shows the aftermath of the leak after I turned the water off.

I open the camper door to inspect the damage and more water starts to pour out. The carpet was soaked. The tank was full. I was trying to find where the leak came from. The sink was good. The connection to the hose was good. Mike came home and found that the clean water hose to the toilet had busted open, most likely from the heat. The good news was the carpet was soaked with clean water. Luckily the carpet is not stapled down and AZ heat dries things out quickly. So I put the carpet outside and started the clean up.

The next weekend, our friends invited us down to Parker to relax and stay in their RV for the weekend. What would we do without our friends? They’re awesome and are always up for a good time.

Their spot was within walking distance to the river where we hung out all day. We made friends with other travelers, who were fun and offered us tequila. After spending all day in the sun, we decided to go back and eat dinner at the RV. Mike fell asleep outside in his zero-gravity chair listening to Jimmy Buffet and Michelle took a nap inside. Jim and I were holding strong so we decided to head down to Fox’s on the river. It wasn’t before too long Mike and Michelle joined us for the night.

The next day Mike and I got the boat on the river. The water was rough from all the other boats driving past Fox’s at top speed, but we went for a cruise up to the dam and back.

The following week I got a call from the local car dealership in Havasu saying they found a 2009 F250 that met our requirements and wanted us to look at it. We weren’t thrilled it was a Ford, but we kept our options open since time was running out. After work, Mike and I went to test drive it. Before we got in, the dealership said that they just noticed the steering was off on their test drive so they would have to look into it to fix the issue. Mike and I figured we would go ahead and test-drive it to see what the issue was and Mike knew right away it was the steering gear box. They said they would fix it, but we wanted to know if there were any other issues so we scheduled an inspection with a 3rd party mechanic in town the next morning. The only other issue the mechanic found was the 4×4 actuator was failing. The dealership took the truck for the weekend, fixed both issues, and the next week it was ours.

The next day was our friend’s going away party. He was moving to California, so we went to the R Bar to celebrate him moving on.

A few days later Mike and I pulled out of the campground to go to dinner for Taco Tuesday and the tire blew out on my rental car. He changed out the tire for the spare in only a few minutes and we were back on our way for some tacos. I took it to Enterprise a few days later who switched me to the Dodge Caravan, the soccer mom minivan, or as I liked to call it, the party bus. I didn’t have that for long before they switched me to the Hyundai Accent.

The next weekend was another boat weekend. Our friends took us near Parker dam and then found a cove to hang in the rest of the day.

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The next week, I started working 4 10’s, so my normal days off were now Wednesdays. The following Wednesday, Mike also had the day off so we decided to get some things done. We had been searching on Craigslist all morning for a bigger enclosed trailer. Somehow since starting traveling, we had accumulated things along the way, like camping gear, snowboards, a boat, etc. It ended up being that neither one of us wanted to open our 6×12 enclosed trailer anymore, let alone find anything in there. So we decided we needed a bigger one. One trailer came up for sale in Riverside, CA, about 4 hours away, so we contacted the seller and planned to meet on Saturday. So we knew with getting a bigger trailer we needed a weight distribution hitch. Another search on Craigslist and Mike found one of those in Mojave Valley and asked the seller to meet that morning. We started to head up that way, but the seller stopped responding so we stopped by Topock for breakfast. We ate some pancakes and french toast overlooking the calm river sitting in naked-butt-chairs. By the time we were cashing out, the seller contacted us back saying he was finally home. So we got the hitch we needed for the new trailer.

We felt like we had done enough work for the day, so we went back to the campground, grabbed our boat, got on the lake, and headed up to the gorge. It was a beautiful, calm day. We found a little beach for our little boat and just enjoyed the day. This was the furthest our boat had ever gone up the Colorado river.

That evening on our way back to the lake, the boat started putting and we eventually ran out of gas. We never thought our little boat would run through a 6 gallon tank of fuel just going about 30 minutes north and back. The boat has no gauges on it, so we’re left with guessing how much we think we’ll need. We were wrong. So after being a sitting duck for a few minutes, a nice older gentleman stopped to give us a lift back to the launch ramp at Site 6. It was an entertaining ride to say the least. Our boat was so small it felt like we were tubing.

Saturday came quickly. We ended up driving 8 hours total to and from Riverside to get the 28′ enclosed trailer. We liked it because of its heavy-duty all-steel construction with 2 ramp doors, which works to be able to take the motorcycles and the boat out separately.

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On our drive home though, Mike started noticing it was getting harder to get the truck into gear. By the time we were almost home, it almost didn’t want to kick into first gear at all. We called the dealership, who ended up having to take out the whole transmission. It was just our luck again. Dang Ford’s. But the silver lining was the warranty. We were without the truck for a week, but it was all covered by the dealership.

Meanwhile, we were still able to enjoy the lake with our friends, go tubing, hit up the sandbar, and enjoy some island music from Jimmy Buffet.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona and the Surrounding Cities in the Summertime 

We came back to Havasu to experience the summer. This city is known for powerboats, racing, and all the water sports. My next assignment started April 3, so we took full advantage off having 1 more week off work and attended as many events as we could. We went to a car show, boat show, 2 freestyle jet ski competitions, and hung out with our friends.

Our second week back, I started working at the hospital in Kingman and Mike found a full-time job with a machinery company in Havasu. Kingman is about an hour away from Havasu, but even with the long drive, I was really looking forward to this assignment because I was going to be the primary aquatics therapist for the hospital.

I was settling in, had a great first week, and was on my way home. About half way home, I was on I-40 when I heard a horrible noise under the truck that sounded like a pin ball machine. The truck immediately starting jerking violently, but luckily I was able to slow down and pull into the median.  I got out to check what happened, looked under the truck, and saw oil leaking everywhere. It was still running, but I called Mike to see if he wanted to come look at it before I try to get back on the road. He drove the bike 30 miles out to meet me on the highway, crawled under the truck and started pulling the transfer case out in pieces. Apparently, this meant it was not drivable. The truck had struck again. Thank goodness for AAA membership because we had to get towed home that night. So we got home, and as Mike started looking at the truck more, he noticed the back of the transmission also got torn out. This was not good, but at least we had the bikes for back up transportation for now. We ordered the new parts the next day and waited for them to be delivered a few weeks later.

In the meantime, we drove the bikes down to Parker for the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Races. Our friend had access to the Whiskey River II top fuel hydro pit and invited us to come. The drag boats were absolutely incredible with top speeds of 250+ mph. And the guys changing out the motor between races were awesome to watch.

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The next day was Easter, so I went to church that morning, and then our friends invited us over for dinner and corn hole.

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A week later we went with a few friends to watch the U.S Freestyle Championship. The winner put his jet ski in the Kokomo pool and broke the record with 3 consecutive flips.

The truck parts had come in so the next day Mike and I worked together to get the new transfer case and transmission piece on. It took all day, but we were driving it again by the end of the day! #teamwork

A few days later was the Desert Storm street party, which kicked off the week-long poker run and shootout for some of the most well-known performance boats in the country. This is what Havasu is known for.

A few days after that, we got our own boat! She’s a 1977 Blazer Exel 10 1/2 foot mini boat.

Mike found her on Craigslist for a great deal. We bought her knowing the pull-start 25 HP Johnson motor wasn’t very reliable, but the boat was in excellent shape. The motor was extremely clean on the inside, but it hadn’t been run for a few years, so it just needed to be gone through. Mike and I were both tired of working on things by this point so we took it to an outboard mechanic in town. After getting the motor back, we took the boat out and ended up paddling back. It obviously wasn’t fixed. So after a few trips back and forth to the mechanic and to the lake, then getting towed in 2 more times, we ultimately took it to another mechanic. While we were waiting on the motor to be fixed, we bought a 48 HP Johnson. This one was double the size, with a key-start, and it powered up every single time. Mike and his friend from work worked really hard to modify the boat so the new motor would fit since we had changed from a short-shaft to long-shaft. But in just a short time, we were out motor-boating!

One Saturday afternoon, we were on our way to the Nautical to pull up on the beach and hang out there when another boat cut us off trying to swing in to dock. Mike had to hurry and pull the boat into neutral to slow us down so there wasn’t a collision. We had some choice words for the driver of the other boat, so he backed up an turned around to leave. Mike put the boat into gear, but then nothing. We weren’t moving. He tried again, and still nothing.  We were close to shore, so Mike got out and started swimming, pulling me and the boat along. When we got to shore, he pulled the motor up and noticed our prop was missing!

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It must have sheared off when we had to stop fast for the other driver. So Mike tried to go back out to the docks to see if he could find the prop, but the water was too deep and too murky. We couldn’t see anything. So once again, we got towed across the lake back to the truck and went home. Luckily, one of our friends works at a prop shop in town so we were able to get a good deal on another prop the following week. Since then, we’ve taken the boat out several time and it’s done great!

And we finally got the original motor back in good shape. So now we have a motor for our future sailboat dinghy!

Then we got a few kayaks and hung out at THAT beach with some friends.

The next week, our neighbor at the campground had a few friends over from California so we went to the lake on his boat and hung out at Copper Canyon.

A few weeks later, my friend from Nashville invited us out to LA for Memorial day weekend. On our way, we passed by what’s known as the Rice Shoe Fence in Rice, CA. Originally, travelers heading to the Colorado River on Highway 62 began hanging one old shoe on a tree. The tree was burnt down in 2003, so now travelers line an entire fence of old shoes, along with memorials, and other oddities.

We continued until we got just outside the south entrance at Joshua Tree National Park, where we tent-camped for free on BLM land. We drove through the park the next morning then headed to LA.

We stayed at Cinema Suites, an adorable bed and breakfast in West Hollywood.

We headed out to meet up with my friend, but stopped at Santa Monica State beach on the way. Traffic was crazy as we expected. It took us 30 minutes to find a parking spot, but we made it to the beach and got to dip our toes in the Pacific ocean. It was freezing! The air didnt help either. It was in the low 60’s, which was a 40 degree drop from what we were used to in Arizona. I had a dress on and Mike wore shorts and a t-shirt…we should have brought pants.

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But we got back to the car, cranked the heat, and headed to Pacific Palisades to meet up with my friend. Her friend was leaving the country for a month to work on tour with a band, so she was having a goodbye party. The house sat on a mountain with incredible views overlooking the ocean.

We hung out there the rest of the night and then decided to go out in West Hollywood with 2 of our friends. We parked on the road behind all the bars, as close as we could, since the temperature was dipping into the 50’s. We waited in line, having to sway back and forth to keep the blood flowing, only to be greeted by a doorman in a tuxedo who wouldn’t let us in because we didn’t have on pants!

What? I can’t show my knees?

We figured we didn’t fit in with this Hollywood crowd anyway, so we walked down the street to the only bar/restaurant that was playing country music and spent the rest of the evening there. When it was time to go, we walked back to the car, only to find a $50 parking ticket! We didn’t see any signs and there was no parking meter, but the ticket said the street was reserved for residents only. That was the final straw. We didn’t like CA anymore. Too many people.  Too many rules. We were ready to get back to AZ. So we got some Taco Bell, went back to the B&B, and left first thing Monday morning. We stopped by Pirate Cove in Needles, CA, ate some lunch, and watched all the boats come and go in the marina before heading home.

June 9 was Mike’s birthday so we went out with a few friends and celebrated him turning 29!

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Over the next few weeks, Mike and I had decided to stay in Havasu a little longer to enjoy the boat, our friends, and save up some more before we headed to CA. But the temperatures continued to rise up above 115. Riding the bike everyday was starting to get too hot, especially with all my gear on. The truck was up and running, but we were only driving it short distances in town. It had started to make a few more noises, so we wanted to get it checked out by a mechanic before racking up a lot more miles on it. So I talked my recruiter and he got me a rental car for the next month! A 2017 Chevy Sonic.

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The next weekend we spent celebrating our friend’s birthday. And of course hanging out at the lake.

Then on June 20, our truck caught fire.

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Mike and I had plans after work to meet at Wendy’s for dinner. I was there waiting for him when he called me saying the truck had caught fire. He said he smelled fuel when the truck started smoking, so he pulled over, popped the hood, then flames started coming out, catching the engine on fire. The fire department couldn’t get there to save it before it became a total loss. But luckily Mike didnt get hurt and we had full coverage insurance on it. After the fire dept. left, the sheriff waited with us until the tow truck came to get the truck. Then we left and finally got our dinner at Wendy’s. We passed the truck again to head back home when the tow truck driver waved us over. He had pulled some pieces out of the interior, which ignited another small fire on the pavement. He said if he wouldn’t have checked and started driving with our truck on his flatbed, the truck could have caught fire again going down the road!

We were without a vehicle again and back to truck shopping.

We went to several dealerships in Havasu to look at different trucks. This time we were looking for newer trucks with a manual transmission, which is hard to find. They didn’t have what we were looking for, so we expanded our search. We decided to go to Cottonwood, AZ to look at a 2016 Dodge with a manual transmission, but it was beat up on every side so we decided against it. While we there, we took some time to go to Sedona, go hiking, go down a natural rock slide, and of course hit up Buffalo wild wings for dinner.

Then we came back on Sunday and hung out with our friends on their boat at Copper Canyon.

Then for the 4th if July weekend, we enjoyed being on our friends boat and hanging out in the channel.

With all of the good seems to come bad, but Mike and I agree that living this lifestyle is completely worth it. We have met some really great people who will be our lifelong friends and who have opened up so many opportunities for us and made traveling an absolute blast. We’re going to keep on keeping on and live this life and enjoy the time we have!

Driving from Ohio to Massachusetts

Our final goal for our 2-month break was to see Dropkick Murphys in Boston on St. Patty’s Day weekend, Mike’s favorite holiday. So since we were already driving all the way to Massachusetts from Ohio, we wanted to explore as much of the New England states as we could. So we left a week before the concert and headed to Maine first.

When we were in Havasu, we heard how mild the winter was back east this year so we thought this should be the year to fulfill Mike’s goal to go to Boston for St. Patty’s Day. But with our luck, the week that we left the weather was calling for a snow storm so big that they named it: Winter Storm Stella. They said Stella was about to bring 3-5 feet of snow our way, but we decided to go ahead and just make the best of it. Bring on the snowball fights!

We just had one other minor problem. Our furnace quit working when we were in Havasu. So we ordered the part before we left and had it shipped to Mike’s parents house. We got the part just a few days before we were planning to head east. The problem was that they sent the wrong part. So with no furnace we knew it would get a little chilly, but we had our generator and a space heater and hoped for the best.

So we left Mike’s parents house on Sunday night, March 12. We like to drive at night to avoid most of the traffic, which means we usually miss most of the scenery. But we saw lights that lit up the entire sky at Hysol Park in Olean, NY, which was something that we wouldn’t have seen during the daytime.

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We made it a few more hours, just outside of Waverly, NY before we saw the sunrise and decided to stop to rest for a few hours. We found a truck stop, fired up the generator, and crawled into the camper. It was a whopping 11 degrees inside. It was so cold it hurt to touch the blankets, but we just bundled up the best we could. I curled into a ball and watched my breath until I fell asleep.

We woke up a few hours later, let the truck run warm up, and continued on. We were cruising pretty good until we heard a clunk every time Mike would punch the gas and let off. But we weren’t in a place to do anything about it, so we just kept going. As we were getting closer to the coast, we started hearing more news warnings on the radio about the upcoming weather. Now they were saying to expect 18 inches of snow and 50 mph winds. The snow didn’t worry us as much as the wind did. We were both from Ohio and used to driving in ice and snow, but the wind could potentially tip us over or push us off the road. But we continued, cautiously.

Mike continued to drive all the way through the night to Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, Maine so we could see the country’s first sunrise. The sun was a bit hidden behind an overcast morning, but it was still beautiful along the coast line.

We parked at Schooner head overlook and walked down a path where we found a hidden cave, Anemone Cave, which is only accessible in the mornings before high tide.

On our hike back up we heard a police siren going on and off a few times, each blast lasting a little longer. We got closer to the parking lot and realized the officer was positioned right behind our camper, blaring the siren at us. Mike yelled out to him to let him know we were walking up the hill. The officer thought we were sleeping in the camper since we had our generator running, and apparently overnight parking was not allowed in the national park. But we let him know we just came to see the sunrise and kept the generator running to keep some heat in the camper. After we explained ourselves, he understood the situation and there was no problem.

We were getting tired, so we headed back to Bar Harbor where we saw some legal overnight RV parking. As soon as we left the parking lot, the gas pedal seemed to quit working as the truck didn’t want to accelerate with the pedal all the way to the floor. So we pulled over, let it idle for 10 minutes, and tried again. It was fine, just needed to warm up. Or so we thought at the time. We drove a few miles down to Bar Harbor, parked the camper, and took a nap.

When we woke up, the heater was off so Mike went to fill the generator with gas since it only lasts 6 hours at a time. He opened the camper door and about stepped in a foot of snow with his flip flops on. Storm Stella had definitely arrived while we were sleeping. But we got the generator filled up and the truck started.

I mentioned the night before that I wanted to take pictures of a lighthouse in Maine, so we had planned on going to the Bass Harbor lighthouse, which was 30 minutes away on the opposite side of the island. We weren’t going to let a little snow stop us, so we started driving. We were one of the only ones on the road beside a few snow plows. But Mike got us to the lighthouse safely, which was so worth it because I had never seen the ocean in a blizzard. It was absolutely stunning.

We left the lighthouse and started looking for a place to eat, but no place was open on the entire island except for the Southwest Harbor Shell gas station. We filled the truck up and pulled into their lot. The RV overnight parking where we were before was still 20 minutes away and the storm continued to get worse, so we felt safer staying put for the night. We went inside the gas station, bought a pizza and snacks, went back to the camper, and watched a movie until we fell asleep. The next morning we were woken up by a knock on the door…it was another policeman. He told us that gas stations were not meant for RV’s to stay and asked for our ID’s, probably to make sure we weren’t runaways. We explained we only pulled over to get off the road for our safety during the storm. He understood and talked to the gas station owners for us. By then, the roads were cleared enough to leave, so we warmed the truck up and took off. We already had 2 encounters with cops on this island, so we wanted to get away as quickly as possible.

We were headed south and had planned to get lobster for dinner. We figured we couldn’t come all the way to Maine and not have some fresh lobster. But again we needed showers before dinner and the closest truck stop was in Turner, ME, about an hour out of the way. So we took U.S. Route 1 as far as we could along the coast to Camden before heading inland.

The truck noise continued when Mike would punch the gas or let off and it was getting louder. Then about 2 hours into our drive, the gas pedal seemed to stop working again. Mike held the gas pedal all the way to the floor and we continued to lose speed. Then the truck hesitated and ramped back up to normal speed after about 30 seconds. This continued to happen more frequently as we got closer to Turner. Mike already suspected that the first noise was the rear U-joint, and he thought the new gas pedal problem could be a dirty fuel filter. So we stopped by NAPA and drove down the road to Murray’s truck stop to fix everything. It was getting to be mid-day so we fired up the generator so I could make lunch while Mike worked on the truck.

Mike got the U-joint and filter changed, we ate lunch, and then we each finally got showers. Mike got his shower first, then came out and warned me that the water was only luke-warm at best. Maybe that’s why it was only $3, instead of the usual $10. But either way we were clean and definitely ready for some lobster. Mike got all fancy and wore his nice jeans, or as he likes to call them his “lobster-eatin’ pants”.

Through conversation at NAPA, the guys suggested Demilos in Portland for lobster. It was only an hour away, so we headed there. We noticed right away that the clunk noise was no longer present, which meant the new U-joint fixed that problem. But the gas pedal continued to occasionally go out. Mike was able to slowly gimp us to Portland just in time for dinner. We pulled up to Demilos, which turned out to be a floating restaurant in the middle of a marina. It was perfect. We were finally eating on the water, surrounded by sailboats, while Mike taught me how to crack open a lobster. This was the Maine experience we were waiting for. We were able to forget all the problems of the day and just have a nice dinner.

After dinner, we tried to make it as close to Boston as we could. We got to north Boston before the truck was running really rough, so we started searching for the closest auto parts store, which was the Advance Auto Parts in Revere, MA. By the time we got there, it was already closed, but we had until morning to further research the problem. We parked in front of their store, but this time we left a note on the dash explaining why we were staying overnight in their parking lot so we didn’t have another cop knock on our door. Before heading to bed, we researched different forums for other Ford’s with similar problems, in which most of them suggested to change a few of the sensors. There were so many sensors that all had similar symptoms if they failed. I mean there was the TPS, IVS, CPS, ABC, 123, I don’t know. We were both new to diesel engines and how they worked. The problem that came up the most in our research was the TPS. So the next morning, which was St. Patty’s day, we bought a TPS sensor, changed it, drove around the parking lot for 10 minutes, and no problems! We were both so excited to have fixed the problem ourselves and were both looking forward to the festivities downtown.

So we got back on the road heading toward the parade and not even 1/4 mile down the road, the gas pedal was doing the same thing. Apparently, the luck of the Irish was not with us. We were both fed up, so I started calling Ford dealerships and independent mechanics. All nearby dealerships were a 2-week wait minimum because we needed a diesel mechanic. So I got ahold of an independent diesel mechanic who said he could look at it the next day. The problem was that we had to drive through downtown Boston to get to the shop on the south side. We quickly found out that Boston is not an RV-friendly city. There are 2 main tunnels that lead to the heart of the city, which we were not allowed to cross because we had propane on the side of the camper. And then there are streets that have low clearance for cars only, but don’t have warning signs until the very last second. So we detoured all around downtown through St. Pattys day traffic until we got to the shop an hour later.

So because we had to leave our truck with the mechanic all weekend, we also lost our house. We packed up all of our clothes and valuables, booked the cheapest hotel room we could find, and Uber’d it there.

We got settled in the hotel, took a Lyft downtown to start the holiday festivities, and met up with a few friends who were in town from Havasu. Boston was so hectic. Several of the bars had long waits with high cover charges. Mike and I went to grab a quick bite to eat at Faneuil Hall since we hadn’t eaten all day and had planned to meet back up with our friends at one of the bars. By the time we were done eating though, the bar wouldn’t let us in to meet our friends because they were at capacity. So now separated from our friends, Mike and I walked over to Wild Rover and waited in line to pay $40 to get in, but at least they had an Irish band on the 2nd floor. Happy St. Patty’s Day!

The next morning while we were hanging out at the hotel, the mechanic called and told us he thought the turbo was going bad and wanted to take the engine apart. This was not good news. But Mike questioned the diagnosis and told him that we were going to come pick the truck up the next day.

Meanwhile, we got ready and headed to Agganis Arena for the Dropkick Murphys concert. The opening band, The Interrupters, was really good too.

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The next day, we checked out of the hotel and got another Uber to pick up the truck. Boston has no free space and very limited parking, so the only place we felt comfortable taking the truck was back to the hotel. Luckily, the gas pedal worked fine at slow speeds on the way back. The truck seemed to work better at slower speeds than highway speeds, so we still needed to figure out what was going on. Mike researched and worked on the truck in the parking lot for hours. He ended up posting his own forum asking for help online. A few people replied and told him to test a few different things. Mike ended up finding a fuel sensor leak on a few wires, which was eating away at the coating. He immediately drove us to NAPA, bought a cap, plugged the leak, cleaned the wires, used electrical tape to cover the wires, and DONE! We got back on the highway and the truck was running like a champ. We were so relieved. And I’m so thankful Mike is such a handy guy. He always figures things out.

We got the heck out of Boston and drove straight through to Ohio. We didn’t want to be stranded again if anything else went wrong, so we didn’t stop. We spent a few more days at his parents, picked up our utility trailer, and again headed west. We stopped through Terre Haute, IN to visit some of my family on the way, then we continued on until we drove past the CA state border. Our cross-county road trip from Maine to California was complete! We made it back in 3 days without any issues, which was shocking for us. So then we headed south toward Lake Havasu to start our summer adventures.

Driving From the Grand Canyon, Arizona to Ohio

The Havasupai Falls hike was absolutely incredible, but we were ready to continue home. Luckily the truck started after a few attempts and we were back on the road. We decided to stop by Harbor Freight in Flagstaff to get the Predator 2000 generator so we could plug the truck in for an easier start in colder weather. Then we continued on our way.

It was a little bit of a rough start. We drove through really heavy crosswinds in Arizona and 2 separate snowstorms in New Mexico. Semi’s were pulling over and cars were sliding off the road, but Mike was able to continue by driving 5 mph. We finally made it to Texas and were both wanting a shower and a night to eat out and relax. Mike was craving Hooters wings since all we had to eat was Mountain House freeze dried food, Nutella sandwiches, and granola the last few days. So I promised him we would go to Hooters for dinner. Before we could take showers and eat, we had to find a place to empty our tank since it was full of water from our showers after the hike. The bigger truck stops like Flying J or Pilot usually have RV dump stations, but I called all the truck stops on our route in TX and OK and they all denied having dump stations. We even called a few campgrounds right off the highway and they wouldn’t allow us to dump without staying the night. After a few hours of calling, we were both getting frustrated and hungry so we just stopped and paid for a truck stop shower. We finally got our showers, found a Hooters in Little Rock, AR. and found a dump station on the way to Nashville.

Then we finally made it to Tennessee!

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I was so excited to get back to Nashville to see my family and friends. I couldn’t wait to meet my new nephew who was just born in December, and my other nephew, who was 1 1/2, who had started walking since I had seen him. So we parked our camper in my sister’s driveway for a week and had a great time with everyone.

After a week of Nashville, we headed up to OH to see Mike’s family and our friends.

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We had a great time in Ohio. It had been 6 months so it was so nice catching up with everybody. Mike had some more things to sell so we spent a few weeks in his parents driveway until everything sold.

By this time we had been on break for over a month and we still had about 3 weeks left before going back to work. Mike and I decided we wanted to go back to Havasu for the summer, so I picked up another travel assignment as close as I could in Kingman, AZ. But we had 1 more big adventure planned for our break. So we packed up the camper again and headed to Maine.

Havasupai Falls Hike in the Grand Canyon

Our only planned stop from Arizona to Ohio was the Grand Canyon. We obtained permits for Havasupai Falls, which consists of a 3-day, 10-mile hike in and out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon to get to the infamous waterfalls. We still wanted to see the Grand Canyon from the top, so we headed to the South Rim first. We were almost to the canyon when we came within a few inches of hitting an elk that had jumped out in front of us, but thankfully we made it to the South Rim safely. We climbed up in the camper, slept for the night, and woke up to a beautiful view of the canyon where we spent the whole day.

The Havasupai Falls hike started the next morning, and the trailhead was still 3 1/2 hours away, so we decided to head out after dinner. One problem. The temperature had dropped so low that the truck didn’t want to start. We were finding out just how cold-natured diesels could be. Back at the campground, we were able to plug the truck in at night so the glow plugs were already heated the next morning and the truck would start right up. We didn’t have an outlet to plug into at the Grand Canyon, so it just got too cold. We tried to start the truck so many times that we ran the batteries down. Luckily, another Grand Canyon visitor was able to jump start us and we were back on the road. We didn’t want that to happen again, so we needed a generator. We wanted to get one from Harbor Freight because Mike would get an employee discount, but all of the Harbor Freight stores were closed by that time. So with no generator, we needed something to help the truck start a little easier after the hike. We decided to get 2 new batteries. Now the only problem was that the closest auto parts store was in Flagstaff, 1 hour in the opposite direction of the trailhead. We had to have them and the O’Reilly’s was open until 11pm, so we made it there right before they closed. By 3am, we finally made it to Hilltop trailhead.

We got a few hours sleep and woke up early to pack our bags. We had to bring everything we needed for 3 days: food, propane, cooking and eating utensils, tent, sleeping gear, etc. I had done one 4-day, 26-mile hike before in Tasmania, but I was still learning about ultra-light camping gear and how to pack lighter. By the time we got all of our gear loaded, our packs had to be somewhere around 60 lbs a piece. They were heavy. We got all the way from our truck to the start of the trailhead before we stopped and had to readjust our packs. This was going to be a long 10 miles.

But we started down the trail, dropping 2000 feet in the first mile walking back and forth on switchbacks. We got passed by several donkey trains.

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We continued 8 miles to Supai Village, where the Havasupai people live. We passed a few houses, the general store, and a rodeo arena. There were a few people out on their porches and some 8-10 year old kids playing in the street. We waved and kept walking. Next thing I know, one of the children runs passed us and turns around to tell me his name was Patrick. I introduced myself. And then out of nowhere the kid yelled “water!” and started grabbing for my water bottle hooked to my pack. Then 4 other little devil-children attacked me from behind and started grabbing my backpack, pulling me down. Mike had to come over and fight them off me. Then they started attacking Mike. It was 5 against 2, and they were ruthless. I didn’t want to yell or grab them because I didn’t want their parents to come out and accuse us of hitting their children, so all I could think to do was swing my body around hoping they would lose their tight death grips on my backpack. After a few minutes, they ran away and we escaped out of there. After we got out of the village, I looked at my gear and noticed my water bottle strap was almost completely torn through from those kids pulling on it so hard. I was pissed about the whole situation. But we continued on. We still had 2 miles until we reached the campground and it was getting dark.

We made it to the campground, set up tent, and we both passed out by 8pm.

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We set up in the dark, so when we woke up the next morning we saw the beautiful blue-green river and a wild horse grazing right next to us.

We spent the whole day exploring Mooney Falls, where we descended down ladders, rope, and rock stairs to get to the bottom where there was a picnic table in the water. We went swimming and headed back to camp. At camp, we found a natural spring for water next to our campsite, built a fire pit and found some wood. The next morning, we spent some time at Havasupai Falls on the way out of the campground. We hiked the 10 miles back toward the Hilltop, in the rain. We were soaked. And exhausted. But we made it back to the trailhead where our camper, a hot shower, and a bed was calling my name. We stayed in the camper at the trailhead that night to recover and planned to continue our trip home the next day. It was difficult but the experience was absolutely worth it.