Wow, the five-month mark has come…and gone. Since the beginning of November, we’ve stayed in Ashland, West Virginia; St. Charles and Grain Valley, Missouri; Castle Rock, Englewood and Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Deming, New Mexico; and San Tan Valley, Arizona. The tally since July 9: We’ve been to 26 states and traveled more than 18,000 miles. Whew!
November was all about family for us. We left West Virginia and made our way to St. Charles for my nephew’s wedding – our second wedding in five weeks. It was wonderful being able to spend time with everyone and, once again, we feel so blessed to have been there for such a special event.
RVing in Missouri in November is a gamble, but we were willing to risk it to be there. Mother Nature apparently thought this was pretty funny; we ended up leaving a day early so that we could reach Grain Valley ahead of a storm front moving in from the west. Weather-wise, it went downhill from there. We enjoyed a few days with Scott’s family, but another pending storm made it a brief stay.
With winter settling in, naturally we headed to Colorado to spend two weeks with the kids. Mother Nature really got a kick out of us this year. You might be wondering what it’s like to stay in an RV when it gets down to 6 degrees. Without getting too technical, it’s freaking cold. After struggling with frozen water pipes for a couple of days, we bailed and headed to a hotel. With Jackson. Which is when the sinus infection kicked in. Good times.
Scott was able to fix the water lines, but we didn’t spend a lot of time in the RV. If the frigid temperatures weren’t enough, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Campground in Larkspur is right on I-25. During the summer there are some beautiful sites nestled in the trees. Those sites aren’t accessible in the winter, so you stay at the bottom of the hill, right next to I-25. The only thing that kept me from being able to throw a rock and hit the interstate was the train. (Okay, that and the fact that I throw like a girl and have been known to throw a ball and somehow hit myself with it, but that’s not the issue here.) The train did drown out the highway noise, but I’m not ready to call that a silver lining just yet. Trains, interstates and frozen pipes, oh my.
On a more positive note, we loved spending Thanksgiving with the kids. Getting to stay with our daughter in her toasty home for a few days was definitely a bonus. I was also able to attend a media event in Denver and a business meeting in Glenwood Springs, and squeeze in visits with several friends. In the end, it was worth it, but it will be awhile before I’m ready to camp in cold weather again.
(A couple of notes about the experience. There are ways to better winterize an RV. Since we were just staying a couple of weeks, we did not go to the expense. The people at the Jellystone Campground were very friendly; you just need to know that there’s a major interstate and a train involved.)
Since the beginning of December, we’ve been snowbirds. We are spending the winter southeast of Phoenix, a few sites down the road from my father-in-law. This is the longest we’ve been in the same spot since leaving home. There are definitely some benefits to staying put for a while. No time spent setting up and breaking down camp. No 600-mile days pulling the camper and worrying whether the new site will be easy to find and get into. There’s no sense of urgency to see everything at once since we’ll be here for a while. I am starting to know my way around the area and can make my way to the grocery store and back without the GPS. It is 65-70 and sunny most afternoons, something I’m not taking for granted after the November we had!
Did we learn some lessons the past few weeks? Yes. Don’t count on good weather in November. Don’t book a campground without doing your research. I’m usually a stickler about research, and now I know what happens when I’m not. Do keep your sense of humor, even when your teeth are chattering. Do spend as much time with family and friends as you can.
And on that note, we’re back in Colorado spending Christmas with the kids. There’s been some beautiful, fluffy snow, and it’s supposed to get down to -10 before we leave, but we did learn our lesson and left the camper in Arizona this time.
Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for more Tales From the Empty Nest. Happy holidays!