Wow! First blog post of 2016! Where do I even begin?? The New Year has brought some big changes and I’m excited to bring you up to speed.
2016 was a chance for my family to hit the reset button and approach the next twelve months a little differently. We were all in need of some R-&-R and new scenery, so my parents began to throw around ideas for a winter hiatus. Once we knew mom would be up for the trip, we bought a fifth-wheel toy hauler and set a date to jet out of Pennsylvania right after Christmas. Sayonara, face-slapping coldness!
It was settled! We were packed and ready to go, but there was one thing I HAD to do before we could leave. My Dad agreed to the adventure if mom and I chopped off our hair. Sounds brutal, I know, but I have to admit that we did complain about our hair all the time. I had been thinking about the big chop for a few months and this was the push I needed. So, we booked appointments and donated our fallen locks to sick children who needed wigs.
Best decision EVER! Not only did it go to a good cause, but I feel like myself a lot more. It matches my personality and style much better and that has made all the difference.
Mom was really happy, too! After a difficult year she was more than willing to "drop" anything that was weighing her down. Now we can see her curls!
After our mega makeovers, we set out for one heck of a trip. If I would've been driving, our departure would've looked a little something like this:
The plan was to spend January in Arizona and February in Utah. Then, head over to California in March for the beginning of the 2016 race season! Here are some photos from our drive to The Grand Canyon State.
Showering at truck stops, sleeping in Walmart parking lots, and driving a 36 foot camper through wind, rain, and rush hour traffic was quite an adventure... and we hadn't even reached our destination!
It was such a relief when we finally arrived at Catalina State Park. The view of the mountains from our site was spectacular and the weather couldn't have been better. Here are some first impressions of our new home base.
Tucson made a fantastic impression and the warm sun thawed out our icy souls that were frozen back in Pennsylvania. During our first week, I was able to hit the trails with my dad and officially begin the establishment of my tan lines.
Although we were in our winter paradise, it was only a matter of time until my dad began referring to our new lifestyle as "crisis management."
Perpetual Crisis Management
Anyone who has resided long-term in a camper will be able to relate... there are a million things to remember to do and even more that can go wrong. I started to realize how stressful it was for my parents when their dreams of sunshine and warmth turned to nightmares - it went a little something like this:
Dad: Stop! The antenna is still up!
Mom: There's something stuck and the slide won't go out!
Dad: The toilet won't drain!
Mom: I cannot use this oven made for a Keebler Elf!
Dad: Stop! We left the stairs down!
Mom: Why is it so cold in here?!
Dad: The propane is empty but the gauge says it's full!
Mom: Why does it say the toilet is full when we just dumped?!
Okay, they didn't actually scream these things in their sleep, but the potential disasters loomed in their minds. Our lives turned into perpetual crisis management loaded with disasters of all shapes and sizes. However, all we had to do was open the door, feel the warmth, and stare at the mountains or the sunset and we were instantly reminded of our joy to be here.
Crisis #1: Oh, Crap
We saw this one coming. You can't go camping and avoid the classic "crappy crisis." Of course, I imagined something more similar to the septic explosion scene from the movie RV.
Luckily THAT did not happen! Let's just say that the previous owners of our camper forgot to clean out ALL of their belongings. There's nothing worse than having to spend a couple hundred bucks for someone to suck out what's not yours. It was at that point when my dad declared that we were not allowed to use the facility in our humble home. Mom's eyes popped. "I did not just hear you say that!" If you don't know my mom, she's not the type that needs pampered at all. But, she actually played the "haven't I suffered enough already" card with her face. My dad can't resist those big brown eyes so, it was settled - girls go inside and boys take a hike.
Crisis #2: The Broken Showerhead
I thought nothing could be worse than the truck stop showers, but I was wrong. You see, there are two shower houses at the campground. One is sparkling clean and new. The other sprays water directly into your eyes and forces you to stand with your nose precisely one millimeter from a wall that you really don't want to come in contact with. AND, the water timer shuts off every thirty seconds. AND, the shower heads points the wrong way, soaking all of your clean clothes and towel. Nice. No matter where we are stationed, I make the trek to the farthest shower house because I like to feel clean after showering. Don't we all?
Crisis #3: LAUNDRY & Dirty Dishes
The laundry mat- a place I've never been before. Apparently there are two of them in Tucson. We chose the wrong one. It was late, it was dark, the thugs sitting outside smoking were a stark contrast to the "cheerful" under-the-sea theme inside. Three hours and 500 quarters later, our clothes still weren't dry (or clean). Lesson learned: wear the same outfit for 3 days so we don't have to do this again soon!
Crisis #4: The Loft Life
It's a head-bangin' lifestyle. It only took a few scrapes up and down my spine to remind me not to move at night - lol.
Crisis #5: Freezing in the Desert
We ran out of propane one night and nearly froze to death in the DESERT. That's so wrong. This is what I looked like in the morning.
Crisis #6: Leaning Into It
We can never get the camper perfectly level. When I go out in public, I walk like this now.
Crisis #7: Causing Mass Destruction
We have left the campground with the tv antenna up, the door flying open, and the stairs down.
Crisis #8: Elbow Room
Post-ride yoga becomes Twister.
Crisis #9: Oldies Aren't Goodies
I officially cannot listen to ANY MORE oldies music. I really tried to be open-minded and respectful of my parents because it's their space too, but I've reached the limit of my oldies tolerance. I've tried to dilute it with my own music, but then it just ends up sounding like this:
Crisis #10: CSI or Spanish Practice
After our initial setup, I cranked the TV antenna and scanned for channels. Only three came in: Two of which were in Spanish and the third played CSI twenty-four hours a day. I'm enrolled in Spanish 3, but I didn't feel like exercising my bilingual brain muscles just to watch TV. That's not very relaxing. And CSI isn't really my type of show. A lot of reading and writing was in my future.
Crisis #11: No WiFi
I REPEAT, NO WIFI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sure, it can be challenging to put it lightly (very lightly). But the more we practice, the easier it gets. After a few weeks, I think we even upgraded from Cat 4 to Cat 3 campers!
If you're still reading, I commend you for persevering through all of those crises and getting this far. I want you to leave on a good note, so here are some of my favorite photos from my most recent adventures. Enjoy!
Probably one of the coolest things I've done since I've been here is go to the top of Mount Lemmon. After my climbing intervals, we drove up to 9,000 feet and were astonished to see people sledding, skiing, snowboarding, AND putting snow in plastic bags to take home. What?! It was like entering a completely different world with the drop in temperature and green trees. Here are my all-time favorite photos!
At the end of my last rest week, I had the chance to do some riding with the coolest Canadians I know-Emily Batty, Adam Morka, & Peter Glassford!
During our last few days at Catalina, we soaked up as much sun as possible.
Well, there you have it! My first month of camping! On Friday, we're heading to St. George, Utah to check out the cool trails and Zion National Park!
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter (@ItsDarthVeda) for updates!