September 12, 2012
Retirement RV Adventure Part Two
After 6 days in a Flagstaff RV park Betty and I packed up and headed for Show Low, AZ, about 140 miles away. I wanted to see how comfortable I felt in driving a 25 foot long, 12 foot high vehicle over both Interstate and mountain roads. I am happy to report there were no problems. Aside from various rattles, which I gather are common to any RV, the vehicle handled well. It was necessary to stop for a bathroom break at one point but there no need to find a rest stop. I just pulled over and used the on board facilities. I'm sure RVers wouldn't find that unusual, but Betty and I thought it was the ultimate in convenience!
Frankly, I am kicking myself for waiting so long to try RVing as part of my satisfying retirement. For quite some time I had thought this would be a fun experience but had never committed to doing it until last week. Like many things in life, we lose out on great experiences due to simple inertia. I just had to finally take the steps to make it happen.
The first seven days of this trip have been everything I hoped it would be. Using a rental RV to see how Betty and I would react has been the perfect first step. While I have heard horror stories of folks who have had nothing but problems with rentals, our experience has been virtually flawless.We quickly figured out how to drain the gray and black water as required, flush the hose, adapt to a different type of refrigerator and make dinner on a three burner propane stove. Our decision to use the shower facility at the campground meant the waste water tank never became full. I will admit I tried the shower in the RV once, but it is a tight fit for someone 6 feet tall.
We quickly settled into a very nice routine of waking up later than at home, turning on the furnace to warm things up a bit, and heading to the nearby shower room. Breakfast took place at the picnic table outside our RV door followed by some work on the laptop, reading, and talking about our day.
Then, we'd go to one of a dozen nearby trail heads for a easy hike to stretch our legs and allow Betty to indulge in her true passion: photography. At this time of year the fields around Flagstaff are blanketed in yellow and purple wildflowers. As you can see, the sunsets are amazing.
After lunch at the RV afternoons would be spent in walks, reading, a nap (yes!), wine and cheese, and then dinner. Evenings included movies on Netflix or a trip to downtown Flagstaff to window shop, share an ice cream cone, or listen to street musicians.
One day we decided to go to the Grand Canyon. It had been probably 15 years since we had been there. Only a two hour drive from our RV park, we simply jumped in the car and heading north. The day was perfect and the park spectacular. Because it was a weekday in September the crowds were almost non-existent.
We noticed tremendous improvements in the visitor center area plus the resort and shopping districts since our last visit. The trails that hug the actual canyon rim had been fully paved with several extra overlook areas added. Of course, we drove through both RV facilities located at the park for future reference!
Last Sunday we stumbled on a Route 66 festival in one of the parks downtown. Dozens of old cars, all restored to mint condition, along with a large farmers' market, and street fair filled our afternoon.
One of the joys of travel is to find events like this festival and make it a part of your day. It wasn't planned - we weren't even aware it was happening. But, seeing the tents, people, and cars, we just had to stop.
The RV park is Show Low in about 50% larger than the one in Flagstaff and contained many more seasonal or permanent trailers. Some of them had front porches and small storage sheds. We had a spot near the office and shower rooms so our plan to not use the on board shower was still OK. This park didn't have WiFi available everywhere but luckily we were within range of the system in the office. One thing I have determined: WiFi is a requirement of any parks we frequent in the future, for both blogging and entertainment options.
We will end our adventure this Friday and head home. But, this will not be our final RV trip. Both of us found something that fits us well and gives us pleasure. We are already planning our next trip: California in February, with Bailey our dog. Because of that I will reserve a 30 footer and see if that extra room makes for an even better living arrangement. Adding a dog to the RV we had for this trip would be just a little too snug.
What lessons and insights has this trip given me? Enough to fill another post or two. Look for those thoughts sometime in the next week or so.
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Posted by Bob Lowry