Friday, June 21, 2013

The Run-Down of our Run-Around

It has occurred to me that we have done quite a lot in the last couple of weeks and you guys don't even know about it...Shame on me! (as I slap the back of my hand).

Shall I catch you up to speed? I think I shall!

We were in Williams, for exactly a week, with Bob & the gang. We rode into town on the bicycles one more time, without Savannah...sorry Gloria! It was nice to have some "adult" not like that, get your mind out of the gutter! Just time by ourselves without the baby. We rode into town and did more of a touristy ride through this time, it was fun! We even got some ice cream...Bob would be so proud! haha

[gallery ids="4947,4948,4949"]

We left Williams and drove to the Grand Canyon with all of the best intentions of staying for a few days to a week...but as Miss Cheri says, "Plans are set in chocolate pudding!" And, she is right. I actually think our plans are set in water or in the wind...they're always changing! We did however make it to the Grand about 5 o'clock in the evening! We walked the South Rim and mozied around the Visitor Center (that closed at 5 p.m.) for about an hour, then decided to drive to Flagstaff to camp instead.

Panorama G.C. 700

[gallery ids="4952,4954,4953"]

 We camped on some land about 13 miles outside of Flagstaff, that I'm going to call Camp Cow Patty. We had actually scoped this place out before, (remember the day we left Sedona, went to Flagstaff to camp but then came back to Sedona?)...that's when we found this spot. We decided to come back to it even though we only got a 3g signal, it's a nice big area and thought maybe even the R.T.R. could be held here. We camped there for 2 days. The reason I call it Camp Cow Patty is due to all of the cow traffic along with the cowboys "wrangling" them in the early a.m. We were pretty much camping with the cows! It was pretty funny though. I was taking a shower the first day we were there and J' said, "You have a peeper! Look over your shoulder."

[caption id="attachment_4958" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Peepin' Cow Peepin' Cow[/caption]

 I hadn't laughed that hard in a while! As much as I LOVE cows, it was getting Rollin' Bug 500 Walking thru 500to be a little too much for us with them always walking through camp, plus Savannah couldn't contain herself around the poo-poo and I was getting tired of bathing her every half hour! Dis.gus.ting! We know this is their home so even though we liked our spot, we decided to move on...maybe even get a 4g signal.

[caption id="attachment_4961" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Camp Cow Patty Camp Cow Patty[/caption]

We got some coordinates from a friend and ended up driving to all of them, and then some, trying to find that perfect spot. After many hours of toolin' around, we found a pretty good spot up by Marshall Lake. Our spot sits around 7,500 ft. elevation, so were definitely going to get some cooler weather. We were also able to get a great 4g signal and all of the major network tele' channels. Another plus, we have to laugh about, is that we parked right by this awesome tree...

Camp Marshall 500

the tree had (we found out later) Mice living in it. Lucky for Savannah, she could smell them. The whole time we were there if we didn't know where Savannah was...just look at the tree! She goes totally mental over critter smells. The funniest thing is once... if she captures one, she's so grossed out by it moving around and doesn't know what to do with it, most of the time it gets away. She's such a girl!!

[caption id="attachment_4964" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Nutbag Nana Nutbag Nana[/caption]

While we were here we saw a bunch of different groups of Mule Deer, they look like Camels without the hump...they are huge! Savannah and I saw a family of about 8 of them one night and then a couple the next morning. Jackin' Rabbits 500 Mule Deer 500Along with the Deer we also watched many a Jack Rabbit feed upon the grass in the fields in front and in back of the van. When I would get close to them, to get a good picture, they would freeze like a statue sometimes it was hard for even the naked eye to see...that is if it weren't for their big pink ears! I love their long ears, so stinkin' cute!!

Monsoon season has started so the weather has been changing quite often. It's VERY windy here, not sure if it's monsoons mixed with the elevation and/or time of year...? It's crazy though, I don't think we've ever experienced anything like it.

[caption id="attachment_4969" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Monsoon Sky Monsoon Sky[/caption]

...neither has Savannah! Weirdo.

Monsoon Bug 500

We will be moving on soon to the Summer R.T.R. A place where friends can reconnect as well as meeting future amigos. It's a pretty fun little event that Bob throws twice a year, once in the Summer and once in the Winter. We have met some pretty amazing people at the gatherings and are excited to keep connecting with magical people. It's pretty awesome to meet like-minded individuals and hear of all of their experiences &'s very eye & mind opening. I think everyone should experience "this" at least once in their lives. It's beautiful in the "space" we live.

We hope you can join us one day.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Learning is Fun! Our "Awning"

Welcome back to the Learning is Fun! Series.

Today we're going to have fun with a little bit of our camp set-up. I might miss some things you might want to know, and if I do please let me know...this is our lifestyle so the things that we look at every day have become the norm and I don't even notice half the stuff anymore!

Today you will have the pleasure of hearing all about our tarp/awning. Lucky you! (Dan this is especially for you!)

We are getting better at this lifestyle all the time!!

Makeshift Pole 500 Shaver Lake Camp 2012 500

Last Summer we camped with a tarp up...but we used live trees (that were still standing) as well as trees that had fallen... with lots of bungees, to hold the tarp/awning up. When you need shade, you get very creative!

This Summer, we figured we'd do it "right" and get the few items needed to make a great awning for our Summer camp(s) you never know when it's just going to be you and the van (no trees).

We went to The Home Depot and bought 2 x 10 ft. PVC pipes that are 1 1/2 inches, they cost about $5.50 a piece. We also bought a 9 x 12 brown tarp, that averages in price around $14.00. That was pretty much all we bought, due to already having rope, rebar and a drill.

Once we found a place we knew we'd be "living" for a minute, it was time to try out our new buys! First, we cut the 10 ft. PVC down a foot...then two more to 7 ft., keeping the larger scrap pieces. J' drilled a hole through the top of the long PVC, then tied a rope inside of the middle of the tube. The rope will now be on the PVC until untied. The pieces of rope, that are attached to the pole, are fed through two corner grommets of the tarp.

[caption id="attachment_4918" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Up close Up close[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4919" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Farther away Farther away[/caption]

On the opposite end of the tarp (closest to the van) the tarp is hooked onto the "Z" bracket of one of our solar panels and the other side is hooked onto the milk crate on the top of the van (where we keep our solar shower). The "hooks" we use are actually just bungee hooks taken off of the bungee cord and tied to a piece of rope.

[caption id="attachment_4922" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Z Bracket Hook Z Bracket Hook[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4923" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Milk Crate Hook Milk Crate Hook[/caption]

Now, are you asking yourself...."Okay... but how does it stay on the ground and not fly away when a gust of wind comes?" I betcha you are...and I have an answer! See Learning IS Fun! In the pictures you will see a Blue piece of rope going the opposite direction of the tarp...this is where (half of) the magic happens! Once the tarp is in place at all four corners and the poles are where they need to be, to have a nice taut tarp ("taut like a tiger"~ Gold Member), we loop the blue rope over the rope that's already attached to the PVC. We then take two pieces of rebar (about a foot or so long), one piece we put inside of the pole that's actually holding up the tarp,

[caption id="attachment_4930" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Rebar me Baby 500 This goes inside![/caption]

with the other piece we tie the blue rope around it, pull it taut, then stake it in the ground. This is how it stays on the ground and doesn't fly away like a hot air balloon on a windy day. We've had some raging winds and it's held up to every single one of them! This brings up why we drilled the holes and tied the rope inside of the PVC...No knots + No untying = Super easy take down, especially when it counts to be fast!

These days, and I think it might just be the time of year, it has been pretty windy almost everywhere we've camped for the last two months, so we decided to do something a little different with the awning. This new way helps with the big wind gusts as well as the afternoon sun not blazing me to death!

I bet you're asking...."What in the world did these crazy kids think of now!?" haha And if you're not...C'mon man, get with the're supposed to be having fun!

Alright, alright, I'll tell you...

We brought one side down! gasp Life changing right!?

[caption id="attachment_4925" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Slanted Baby 500 We brought it down![/caption]

 Remember those 2 ft. "scrap" pieces of PVC? We use one of those instead of the long ones for this artistic beauty of an awning.

[caption id="attachment_4926" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Short Poles need love too! Short Poles need love too![/caption]

 We've also started putting up one of our older tarps as a helps with the sun, the wind and my's a win-win-win! We just tie the two together with, guessed it blue rope!!

Camp Cool 500

[caption id="attachment_4928" align="aligncenter" width="350"]The Cool Camp The Cool Camp[/caption]

To keep the "wall tarp" from flapping all day, we use more rebar!!! Super simple, right!? We just put the rebar in the ground where it needs to be and tie rope around it, we make sure it's tight enough to not flap...then make sure that there is plenty to see around the rebar so clumsy over here (pointing at me) doesn't trip, fall and break her face! (There are 3 of them back there).

[caption id="attachment_4935" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Back Bar Back Bar[/caption]

So, did you ever think it would be that much fun to learn about tarps and awnings!? I bet you didn't! But now you know where to come for the fun! haha And yes, I'm a total dork!

This concludes this portion of Learning is Fun! Join us for our next segment on Laundry at Camp!! It's sure to be a nail biter! haha




Thursday, June 6, 2013

Off like a Herd of Turtles

We've been boppin' around so much lately that I don't even have time to keep up with myself these days! I'm going to have one heck of a time backtracking sooo I'll do a quick "Wedgie" to catch everyone up so I can write some posts about other things...other than our dailies!

One morning, I was sitting in our camp gazing at our awesome view, looked over and I saw the cactus next to me had a perfect heart "paddle". It indeed made my day and made me realize you can find love anywhere...even in some "dangerous" places...i.e. my cactus!

[caption id="attachment_4886" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Perfect. Perfect.[/caption]

We (my tribe and Camp Mellow, Bryce) left Sedona and headed toward the Flagstaff area. It had just turned too hot all of a sudden, sitting anywhere but in A.C. was exhausting...and that rarely happens. We had heard that Bob and some others were out toward Williams so we headed that direction.

Camp Willy 500 Wind Block 500We ended up on some really nice, quiet public land and only about 3 miles from town. Williams has Historic Route 66 going through it so there's tons of cute shops, restaurants and things to look at!

While we were so close to town, Bryce was a sweetheart and let me borrow his bike so J' & I could ride into town together...but not before J' tried it on his own...and then made a basket for the Nana Bug to come too! Did I mention our dog is spoiled rotten?

Bikin' Bug 500 Milk Crate 500J' took one of our milk crates with some nuts & bolts and bolted down the milk crate onto the bike rack, then Savannah has a carabiner connecting to her harness to keep her inside the crate. The first attempt was a little wobbly because she didn't know what was going on and she wasn't locked in tight enough, but after getting used to the bumpy roads, she rode like a champ! Now we all get to ride into town as a family.....awwwwwwww.

[caption id="attachment_4896" align="aligncenter" width="350"]The beautiful town The beautiful town[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4893" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Savannah is so chill...think she likes bike rides? Savannah is so chill...think she likes bike rides?[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4894" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Making History! Making History![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4895" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Riding home...such a good girl! Riding home...such a good girl![/caption]

We had a ton of fun riding in and around town together. It was nice doing something like that with all of bike doesn't do much for a family of three! Thanks to the B-man for letting me take his cool new bike, it was hella fun...I felt like a kid again!


Bikin' Mama 500

When was your last play date?



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Learning is Fun! How we Watch TV. Plus, the Goods on our Antennae

This type of post is a little different for me due to more specifics than creative writing but I guess some of you out there would really like to know about how we do some things. So, I'm expanding my writing repertoire for those curious folks out there.

Learning is fun matrix

And of course I have to make it mine, so I am calling this the...

Learning is Fun! Series

The first topic on our list...

T.V., television, the boob tube, the tele

Here, I try to answer some of your questions and satisfy the curiosity that some might have...

Can YOU have t.v. in your home on wheels? 

If you want t.v. bad enough, you'll have it! When we first started out we bought a Phillips portable 9 inch digital HD TV with FM tuner that we paid $111.00. We actually bought it on the road in January 2012, due to football season! It came with a cute little antennae that looked like a metal stick but in no time at got broken so, we bought a rabbit ears antennae for $30.00 at a  Flying J.

Baby Phil TV time 500

Even though the screen was small, we were still entertained, in the van, when the sun went down. The antennae tried to bring in channels but at the most we would only get 2-4 and 3 of them would be Spanish habla espanol, no bueno! 

Time went on and in July we bought ourselves an Anniversary/Birthday present...a new T.V.!!

We gifted ourselves a Sansui 19 inch super slim LED-LCD HDTV. What a difference the extra inches make!!

[caption id="attachment_4844" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Hellllooooo.... Hellllooooo....[/caption]

At that point (July 2012) we were still using our rabbit ears to bring in the channels. Right around the Winter R.T.R. (January 2013), in Quartzsite, is when the biggest change in our T.V. reception changed drastically. We bought a new antennae, that we now call The Black Ops looks like we're honing in the Mother Ship! haha

"The Black Ops" is a ClearStream4 HDTV Antennae. We receive over the air digital and HD programming with no fees. We bought our antennae off of Amazon for about $75.00 in January, they are on sale now at Amazon for around $90.00The dimensions are: 9.1 x 28.2 x 20.1 inches and weighs roughly 7.4 pounds. The antennae has a range of about 65 miles...the main reason for getting it!!

In Quartzsite this Winter...and again football season at its peak, we had no channel if we tried really really really hard. We actually drove into Ehrenberg for the weekends, roughly 20 miles away, to catch the games! Plus, I missed the whole entire season of MY favorite show, The Biggest Loser... it just wasn't cuttin' it for us.

[caption id="attachment_4850" align="alignleft" width="150"]Install Install[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4849" align="alignright" width="150"]Hi-5 Hi-5[/caption]

We bought this new antennae, while at the R.T.R., and became the talk of the camp! It was a definite conversation starter for t.v. goers and all of the men, whether they like t.v. or not!!

Here is how we've hooked ourselves up with some tele:

A quick peek at our set-up before getting into the details.

[caption id="attachment_4853" align="aligncenter" width="224"]The Black Ops The Black Ops[/caption]

(Image Ant. 2) The antennae comes in a box with all of the pieces that you need to put it together, it took about 15 minutes for my handy man. Out of the box the antennae (the black circles) are black but the "grill" and the metal pieces that connect together are silver, we have spray painted all of the silver pieces a flat black. The antenna is placed on a regular one inch piece of PVC pipe that we have also spray painted flat black...(.97 cents at Walmart). We purchased a cute little solar light at the Dollar Store and placed it at the very top of the PVC, ya know...for low flying planes!

[caption id="attachment_4855" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Night Light 500 Ant. 2[/caption]

(Image Ant. 3) In this picture you can see where J' has fit the PVC pipe into the 90* elbow. There are 2 rebar rods, about a foot long, inside of the PVC to reinforce it during hard winds. The PVC is held onto our cargo basket with 2 U-bolts that we picked up at Radio Shack for about $3.00 a piece. In this picture you can aslo see the RG6 rated coax cable running down the length of the PVC into the roof of the van...the next picture is better for the cable.

[caption id="attachment_4854" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Elbow PVC 500 Ant. 3[/caption]

(Image Ant. 4) J' drilled a hole through the roof with his 18 volt Dewalt drill and a Titanium bit to feed the RG6 rated coax cable through to the inside of the van. The hole was filled with silicone caulk...and seems to be holding up pretty good!

[caption id="attachment_4857" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Running RG6 thru roof Ant. 4[/caption]

(Image Cab.5) The coax cable being run through the ceiling of the van, down along our interior trim to the T.V.

[caption id="attachment_4856" align="aligncenter" width="350"]RG6 Coax cable run 500 Cab. 5[/caption]

(Image TV 6) Our glorious 19 inch nightly entertainment!

[caption id="attachment_4860" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Front TV 500 TV 6[/caption]

(Image Back 7) J' drilled a couple of holes in the back of the t.v., at the top and fed a small piece of rope through the holes of the t.v. We use the rope to hold the t.v. in place instead of a mounting bracket...too many crashes onto our heads while getting water! We also installed a pigtail (the black cord taped to the back of the t.v.), so as not to pull on the fitting on the t.v. Believe us, you do not want a bad fitting when you're trying to watch the rose ceremony of The Bacherlorette and the cord accidentally gets moved!

[caption id="attachment_4859" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Back TV 500 Back 7[/caption]

(Image Stg.8) Showing how the rope acts as a mounting bracket.

[caption id="attachment_4861" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Pull my string 500 Stg. 8[/caption]

 Hopefully those images will help clear up any questions about how our antennae is set-up, when we put it up outside...which is most of the time. However, there are times when we don't want to put it up, can't put it up or are just not sure if we can or if we should. For those times, we will take The Black Ops off of the PVC pipe and place it on the front dash. I do not have pictures of this, because we've only had to really do this a time or two in a casino parking lot, but I'll run down how we do it.

We have pretty big sun shades up in our windows at all times, when we are parked. We also have two separate black pieces of fabric we put on the sun visors and push them to the side windows so the side windows are blacked out too. The antennae fits right on the dash board and is balanced by the steering wheel. I am accident prone so I make sure to wrap the corners in a towel before doing this so 1- the antennae doesn't rip the sun shade (yes, I learned the hard way) and 2- so the other edges don't poke ME in the eye ball...or Savannah (yes, I learned the hard way!). Even with the antennae up there, Savannah can usually still sleep on her bed that sits in the drivers chair. Doing it this way, the antennae is out of the way, it can't get broken and isn't outside bringing peeping eyes onto the scene.

All in all, we love our Black Ops and our t.v., we don't wish for satellite although it would be nice to get the History channel and TLC and some others, we love the ongoing cost....FREE!

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask and if I don't know them J' will!

I hope everyone had fun learning today. You can catch us back here...some day...some time!


Learning here