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(Continued from the last page.)


One of the humorous downsides to the way we live is occasionally losing all sense of time and place. Literally.

More than once we've awakened in the dark and wondered where the heck we are! We don't usually like to stay in one place for more than two or three weeks, and we usually move even more often than that.

We enjoyed three nights at this wide-open, free BLM dispersed camping site near Safford, AZ.
Jim's heading toward our camper (at far right) after a bike ride on nearby country roads.  (3-25-12)

You've probably heard the saying, "Every day is Saturday when you're retired."

It's common for us to have to look at our watches to see what day of the week it is. Other retired full-time and extended-travel RVers have commented on this, too, so we know we aren't the only ones who do this.

View from my desk window at the Safford BLM site; Mt. Graham is in the background. (3-25-12)

Must be Saturday! One of our neighbors is either going to take a bath in the tub
in front of his van or he's going on a motorcycle ride . . .   (3-24-12)

It gets even worse than having trouble remembering what day it is.

This past winter in the southern California and Arizona desert even the month and season eluded us more than once! One reason -- it was so warm some days that it was difficult to fully comprehend that it was January or February.

The same thing sometimes happens in the summer at high altitudes in the Rockies when it's 35 F. and snow remains on the peaks. Waddya mean, it's summer??

This is summer, right? August in Alaska Basin on the west side of the Grand Teton Mtn. Range.

And this is winter?? Workers pick cauliflower in Imperial Valley, CA.  (1-10-12)

We both got disoriented during our winter trip for other reasons, too.

Some days I was:

  • working on last summer's journal entries from Colorado and Wyoming,
  • writing current daily journal entries about our activities at Imperial Dam, Tucson, Lake Roosevelt, and other places in the desert Southwest,
  • AND doing research for this summer's trip through Canada and Alaska.

There were times when I had to stop what I was doing, look outside, look at the calendar on the wall, and re-orient myself to where I was and what season it was!

Our home for 10 weeks at the beginning of this year:  about an acre of desert at the Imperial Dam LTVA
in southern CA.  We were there so long we had a nice sign made for our driveway!  (1-29-12)

Jim experienced the same type of disorientation because he was reading several books and watching a couple of series of movies about various wars in different epochs and on different continents -- John Adams and the Revolutionary War in the U.S., WWII in Europe and the Pacific, Viet Nam.

I had to laugh when he shook his head about being disoriented to time and place because it's the same phenomenon I was experiencing, too.


About four years ago we started thinking how nice it'd be to sell the house and travel full-time in our camper. We'd love to have the additional freedom and $$$, fewer miles to drive, and no worry about our property while we're gallivanting all over the country. 

Our timing for that desire couldn't have been worse; that's when the U.S. housing market began to tank and it still hasn't recovered.

Big house, little house  (4-3-12)

We talk to local real estate agents about the housing market in Roanoke every spring and have them run comps on similar properties with acreage in our county that have sold in the last 6-12 months but the prognosis hasn't improved. We came within an hour of a listing agreement last spring, then changed our mind. We just can't bring ourselves to sell our house in a total buyer's market since financially we don't have to sell it.

We're part of the large shadow inventory of homeowners who'd like to sell their houses and move on with their lives, but don't want to take a big loss on what they thought was a good investment.

We didn't want to try to sell the house this spring because we have a big summer odyssey to Alaska planned. We need to be here when it's listed for sale, not 5,000 miles away. Maybe next spring . . .

Part of this year's crop of irises  (4-27-12)

We love exploring this great country of ours and will continue sharing many of our travel experiences in this journal. As long as we're healthy enough to travel and have the desire to do so we'll continue our nomadic lifestyle in our 36-foot Carriage Cameo 5th-wheel and its possible successors.

You can read more about our RV lifestyle in the January 2 and January 3, 2011 entries I wrote last year. Not much has changed in that regard.


One of the few changes regarding our travel has been an increase in spontaneity, especially since we aren't tailoring our destinations around foot races any more. Our travel plans and activities are becoming more fluid. Frankly, we often make it up as we go.

I recently read in one RVer's blog that her travel plans are "like jello" because she and her husband make modifications along the way.

Ha! During our Winter 2011-2012 trip our plans weren't even viscous, let alone solid!

"The Girls," two of the tame burros that roam the Imperial Dam LTVA  (1-7-12)

Over the years we've learned to be more spontaneous and free-spirited in our quest for adventure. Part of that is innate -- our continual desire to learn, see, and do new things -- and part has been gained from experience, an increased confidence in our ability to adapt to whatever we encounter.

We love to explore, whether on foot or wheels, and always hope to be pleasantly surprised by what we find.

Sometimes that is serendipitous, sometimes not. I figure it's usually worth the risk.

We were pleasantly surprised by the Lake Roosevelt area in Arizona.  (3-27-12)

Here of two examples of what I'm talking about:

1. We used to make advanced campground reservations on most of our trips when our schedule involved particular races we were running or working.

That has changed over the years, especially recently. Our travel plans no longer involve the structure of time and place that ultra running races gave us. We have even more freedom to choose when and where to go and we sometimes make those decisions on the fly from one day to the next based on what we hear, read, or see.

That looks/sounds interesting . . . let's go there instead! 

That kind of spontaneity sounds great, but it does cause us some anxiety. I love both the uncertainty and the anticipation.

We lucked into a nice spot at the end of a row when we went back to Davis-Monthan AFB in
Tuscon, AZ in March. It's first-come, first-served and stays pretty full during the winter.  (3-17-12)

When we're pretty sure when and where we're going we make reservations but only if we think there might be a problem getting a campsite.

For example, when we leave for our summer trip in a few days we plan to head first to the USAF Academy campground in Colorado Springs. Since we'll be there when the cadets graduate, the campground is 99% likely to be full.

So we made reservations there a few weeks ago to assure ourselves of a spot. There is no cancellation fee if we want to modify the days we reserved.

USAF Academy cadets enter the stadium for graduation in May, 2010.

However, if the weather forecast doesn't look good for Colorado Springs when we want to go there, we might head for Rapid City instead. That's pretty fluid, right?

Another reason we don't usually make campground reservations is our preference to boon-dock (camping without electrical, water, or sewer hook-ups) whenever we can on free or inexpensive public lands out West, such as BLM and LTVA campgrounds.

In our experience you can't reserve a spot at those places; they are first-come, first-served.

Camping at Imperial Dam LTVA is almost free for up to seven months from Sept. 15 to April 15 each year.
Here "The Girls" hunt for snacks in the fire pit while Jim checks the angle on the solar panels.  (1-7-12)

Jim added four new solar panels in February, increasing our wattage from 160 to 480 watts.

2. Because of our spontaneity I don't list detailed tentative travel itineraries on this website.

That's not because we don't want people to know our plans; it's because our plans so often morph along the way!

I will be presenting our grand summer plans to visit Alaska in another entry but they will be vague. We know from our research most of the places we want to see there and in Canada but we can't predict the weather, how much snow will be left, or how long we'll want to remain in each place.

Therefore, the only reservations we currently have are at Denali National Park. Even with fuel prices (still) at a premium this year there will be plenty of people visiting Denali's campgrounds when we want to be there. We don't want to run the risk of not being able to stay inside the park.

 Above and below:  Teton sunrise (behind me) and moonset at Mount Moran  (9-12-11)

The only problem with making advanced reservations is not knowing whether Denali AKA McKinley will be socked in with clouds when we're there. That happens the majority of the time because the mountain and its range create their own weather. But since we have eight days reserved at two different park campgrounds, the odds of actually seeing the 20,330-foot peak are pretty good.

During the rest of the trip we'll be playing it mostly "by ear" unless we start having problems getting campsites because they're full when we arrive. That could happen if we find ourselves in a "bubble" of other RVers, particularly caravans of them.

I'll talk more about our summer trip plans in another entry. Vaguely!

Our first destination is Colorado Springs. This is Pikes Peak
as seen from the New Santa Fe multi-use path. (7-30-11)

Next entry: interesting new places where we spent the winter of 2011-2012 (a synopsis to hold you over till I have time to write individual entries about each place)

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil