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Two Months on Dauphin Island: Pros and Cons

I’ve been writing this for over a week now. Seems like the only time I can manage to put a blog post together is when we are on the road! We are on our way to Port Richey, FL and plan to spend the night at a halfway point in Chattahoochee, FL this evening. We left AL quite late, and unfortunately it looks like we’ll be setting up camp in the dark tonight.

Overall, we really enjoyed our time on the island this fall! Ive compiled a list of the notable highs and lows.

Pros:

Walking on the beach every day
Most days, I get an hour to myself and I use it to exercise and make phone calls at the same time!

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Dog friendly
Dag would’ve loved it here. It makes me really happy to encounter dogs of all shapes and sizes every day. Theo’s toes have been kissed by at least a dozen pooches since we’ve been here.

Wildlife everywhere
Ive seen tons of birds (the island is a bird sanctuary), raccoons, squirrels, possums, feral cats/kittens, lizards, crabs, moon jellyfish, turtles (land turtles are the only ones I’ve seen but apparently sea turtles nest here). This is one of the wild kittens:

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I named her Dauphine. She was my best buddy this past week and it broke my heart to leave her. 😿 I left a bowl of tuna out on the picnic table for her and I hope she gets it before any of the other critters do!

Ft Gaines
We got to spend a few hours here one morning. The masonry was incredible. Lots of great history to learn!

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Frequent heron sightings
They’re just so cool. Magical.

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Friendly RV park staff
Everyone I’ve interacted with has been very nice and helpful.

Being close to some family and old friends
My Aunt Renee and cousins Dennis and Stormie live about an hour away and we’ve been so happy to visit with them as much as possible. One of my oldest friends, Taylor, also lives about an hour away. I couldn’t be more thrilled to reconnect with her. I said it before and I’ll say it again, she’s the epitome of Southern charm, class, hospitality, and style.

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Cypress pine smell
When we first arrived I was blown away by the nostalgia I felt for my AL childhood. Our campsite smells exactly like my old back yard. Olfactory memory is a powerful thing!

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Office accepts deliveries
Amazon Prime. Nuff said.

Not really being affected by the seasons changing like I normally am
I’ve suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder for many years. As soon as the fall creeps in and summer’s officially over, a deep sadness clouds my soul. I’m not sure why, and for as long as I can remember I have never been able to shake it until winter is over. Come spring I am overcome with joy and the light floods my heart again. This annoying cycle has never failed. Until now! Maybe it’s because the temperature has been in the 70’s and 80’s since we got here. Maybe it’s because I get to enjoy daily beach walks and put my bare feet in the sand (grounding is a real thing). Maybe it’s the extra vitamin D I’m taking. Maybe my son Theodore is all the light I need.💗

Playground
Theo isn’t really big enough for all the playground things, but he really loves it! There’s a basketball court and he likes to watch me shoot hoops!

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Cons:
Humidity
Well, we are surrounded by water. But dang! I thought in October/November it would dry out a little. I was wrong. It’s sticky and makes me feel greasy. Nothing like taking a shower and stepping outside, then in 5 minutes feeling like you need another shower.

Mosquitos
Okay. I’ve loathed these blood suckers for my whole life (well, at least since my first experience with them). But living on Mosquito Island – oops, I mean, Dauphin Island – has taken this hatred to a whole new level of torture and paranoia. I’m tormented every single day. When those bitches bite me (only the females bite; they need the blood to nurture their eggs before they lay them) I get a huge welt and a stinging itch that lasts for over a week! I feel like I react more than most people do. I contracted an Arbovirus from mosquito bites in Mexico several years ago and my immune system hasn’t been the same since. I could keep going but I’ll spare you. Just know that if I never saw another mosquito again if be a happy camper.

Spiders
I’m sort of torn about spiders. They eat mosquitoes, so I should feel better about them. But I don’t. They freak me out. And we’ve killed at least one spider every day we’ve been parked here. The biggest one I’ve seen was in my bedroom, about the size of a large egg. It crunched pretty loudly when Adam smashed it. They’re mostly about the size of quarters, though, and some of them JUMP! They jump right when you try to squish them with a paper towel and they blend into our carpet. Worst nightmare. I doubt this problem will be any better at our next destination (Port Richey, FL) but I still have my fingers crossed for some sort of improvement.

Ants in the car
Ants everywhere! But in the car is especially annoying.

Stroller molding
Yeah. We thought we were so clever keeping the Bob in the bed of the truck (which has a topper when we aren’t towing the trailer). It was so convenient to always have it with us! Until we recently, after days and days of rain, discovered mold growing on the fabric. We have cleaned it but really want to treat the fabric and then park the stroller in the bright sun for a day before we put the baby back into it. This will probably not happen until we get to FL. Grrrrrr!

40 miles each way to buy decent groceries
I won’t make this mistake again. Shopping with an infant is an all day affair when the store is 80 miles roundtrip. From now on, when we stay in a place for longer than a couple of weeks, a good grocery store within a 30min drive is a MUST.

Daily power outages 
We’ve learned how to avoid them by not having too many things running at once, but that doesn’t make this campground’s faulty power any less irritating. For example, when we want to use the microwave, we have to first turn off the air conditioner in Theo’s room and make sure the dryer isn’t running. If you forget, and too many things are pulling electricity, the entire camper loses power. We know it’s a problem with the campground because we have special equipment to tell us why we lose power when it happens. Also because we haven’t encountered this problem at any other RV park we’ve stayed in with 50amp power.

Poor cell/tv signal
Comes with the territory, I suppose. We are parked in a forest on a tiny island. Hopefully the wind isn’t blowing too hard while your favorite show is on!

No pool
It would be really nice to jump in a cool swimming pool on the really thick, hot, humid days.

Okay, that about sums up the past two months on Dauphin Island! You know what I’ve learned? No place is gonna be perfect. There will always be pros and cons, so the best thing to do is always strive to stay on the bright side and appreciate the good things in life, no matter how small. It has been such a pleasure to have this experience and to share it with my little family.

Adam and I have decided to move back to Colorado next summer. We are really excited to be going home. More about all that soon. Stay tuned!

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Kansas Twisters

We are currently in Wichita, KS on the first leg of our journey to the south for the rest of the year. Our destination is Dauphin Island, AL, where we’ll be parked through mid-December. Since Adam works Monday through Friday, we need to stay a week in Wichita, followed by another weekend of driving, followed by a week in Perryville, Arkansas, followed by another weekend of driving, and then we’ll FINALLY be in Alabama. I’m really excited to be living on an island for a few months!

So far, the travel has been really long and crappy. For anyone who thinks the full time RV lifestyle is glamorous, don’t be fooled! Maybe it can be glamorous for some, but getting from point A to point B with a teething baby is my personal interpretation of hell on Earth. We stop often to feed Theodore and play, feed ourselves, use the restroom, fill up on Diesel, take a walk, stretch, etc. The frequent pit stops mean that we travel about 40 miles per hour, on average. The pace makes for really exhausting travel days.

On top of an epically long day yesterday, we discovered that the clock in Theo’s room had fallen off the wall while we were under way. When we opened the slides in the nursery, the clock got stuck in between the slide and the wall, smashing it to smithereens. Glass everywhere, shattered clock, a close call for sure; if Adam hadn’t caught it, the slide and/or wall could have been severely damaged. Super fun mess to clean up at 10pm with a screaming 8 month old!

After that, we discovered a nice chunk of our kitchen floor was missing. When the kitchen slide came in, there must have been a rock or something underneath the refrigerator that punctured the cheap linoleum and took a piece of it completely off. We found the missing piece and Adam thinks we can glue it back without much fuss. We’ll see. 

  

Today, everything went smoothly until we arrived at our destination in Wichita: K and R RV Park. We pulled into a dilapidated trailer park instead of our typical RV park. Immediately, Adam and I felt the sketchiness of the place, but we scoped out our reserved spot anyway, because we were tired of driving and wanted to try to make it work. While Adam cased the joint, I watched 4 mangy stray cats climb in and out of a torn window screen in the mobile home next door.  

 

When he came back to the truck to report there was no proper sewer hookup, I had already found us another place to park for the week: Air Capital RV Park. Thank goodness they have room for us! 

I paid $175 for the week at K and R in advance, and tomorrow Adam will call them to see if they’ll give us a refund. The photos on their website are very misleading. We’re paying $255 for the week at the new place. Expensive mistake. Sigh…

So, as we pulled into our new (better, safer, not at all sketchy) spot, we hit a parked truck’s bumper. The truck has no damage, but we will have to replace a light that was broken on the back of our fifth wheel. 

  
Needless to say, I could go for a stiff cocktail right about now. 

Four important lessons learned this weekend: 

1) Sweep the floors carefully and thoroughly before getting underway.

2) Take hanging things off the walls before getting underway.

3) Never pay in advance for a spot in a park you haven’t seen in person.

4) Don’t take unnecessary risks when attempting to maneuver a 60 foot rig in a tight parking situation.

I’m quickly learning that with living full time in a fifth wheel trailer and constantly subjecting your home and all of your belongings to towing abuse, there will always be something that gets broken and/or needs maintenance! I hate that the tone of this entry is so negative, but I wanted to share because I think others view our lives as some sort of fantasy. We aren’t on an extended vacation, folks! This is our real life, warts and all. We will all feel much better when we arrive in Alabama and get settled there.

On the bright side, Adam was able to install an air compressor in our truck while we were in Colorado. This means that we are able to air up the truck/RV tires as needed before we hit the road, which is a BIG deal, and makes us much safer. It took weeks to complete (and there are still some loose ends) and feels great to be (almost) finished with that project! Also, I was able to buy all the fabric I need to make new curtains for the RV windows. I’m thrilled with my choices and can’t wait to show you the results of my first sewing project!

Besides buying a new clock and fixing our floor, what does one do while spending a week in Wichita, Kansas? Any suggestions on ways to entertain myself and the babe while Adam is working would be much appreciated!

I’ll try to post again when we get to Arkansas. Have a good week, everyone! 

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Summer in the Colorado Mountains 

It’s been a while, y’all!

We’ve been busy reconnecting with friends and getting our Colorado on. Here’s a little photo tour of what we’ve seen so far:

The first group of pictures is within walking distance of our campground in downtown Fairplay.

This little chapel is such a beauty. She was built in the 1800’s!

  

A really cool, really old municipal building.

  

Kinda neat to see all the area’s cattle brands.

  

South Park City: a fully restored 1880’s town. It’s a museum, and we went one day but didn’t get to explore everything. Can’t wait to go back!

      

Downtown boutiques and art galleries.

  

Believe it or not, this hotel is still in operation. Spooky!

  

View of Fairplay Beach. This is the Middlefork South Platte River.

  

One of my oldest friends (J) on the train at the museum.

  

Is there anything cuter than a baby goat?!? This one was my buddy because I gave him a snack🙂

  

Adam relaxing in his Father’s Day camp chair. This is our “back yard” view at Middlefork RV Resort. We absolutely LOVE it here!

  

The sunsets here are unreal.

  

Nice shot of the campgrounds. Not too shabby, huh?

  

Taken on an afternoon drive in the middle of nowhere.

  

Montgomery Reservoir hike.

              

Can you spot the pup? Hi Jax!

  

Sleepy Hollow cabin. It’s this cabin that nobody owns and is in pretty good shape. Theo slept through his first Colorado mountain hike😉

 

I’m going to try to write more often. Maybe once a week if I can. I’ve got some recipes to share and we’ll be making some changes to the RV soon, so I’ll be sure to post about those! Adam needs a proper desk to work at (instead of working at the kitchen table) so we’ll need to tear out a bench that’s currently occupying his future office, and I just bought a sewing machine so I can make my own curtains. I don’t even know the first thing about sewing, so this will be interesting…

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far!

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Colorado Bound!

I’m writing this blog entry from the passenger seat of our truck. It’s hard to find time to write otherwise, so this works out perfectly.

Right now, the baby is sleeping but the cat is crying. Poor kitty. She doesn’t love the traveling part of this new lifestyle. To be honest, I’m not sure I do either. Like Roxy, I enjoy it most when we get to our destination and unpack all of our things and get back to our routine. I kinda hate that about myself. Hopefully this new chapter of our lives will force me to be more fluid. I’ve never really been that flexible, and there’s nothing like the uncertainty of a gypsy lifestyle to test those limits and teach the lessons I desperately need to learn.

So far the journey from Sanger, TX to Fairplay, CO has been alright. We had a great week in Amarillo! We were able to visit the amazing Palo Duro Canyon and we also got a lot done.

*Okay I have to just stop right here and tell you I almost had a freakin’ heart attack! Roxy is roaming around in the backseat and managed to roll the window down. Luckily Adam caught it before she flew out of the truck and we lost her forever. She also tried to escape while we were getting gas at a truck stop last weekend. Stress level just shot through the roof. This kinda shit is not good for my adrenal glands. If anybody wants a 13 year old cat who hates to travel, let me know. And don’t worry, the window’s child locks are on now.

Anywaaay… The biggest challenges we faced last week in Amarillo were a sewer problem (eew!) and getting the RV registered before leaving the state. I’m happy to report that both problems were taken care of, thanks to Adam and his mom.

We have to replace the cable that controls the valve on our black tank as soon as we get to Fairplay. Thank goodness the problem isn’t bigger than that. Adam worked really hard to figure it out after both of our toilets clogged. There’s no way I could live in an RV without him and his “I can fix anything” attitude!

My mother in law totally saved the day and got our trailer’s plates overnighted to us on our last day in the state. She selflessly spent time at the DMV for us and then rushed to FedEx to ship our package before the overnight cut off. All I can say is “wow.” I mean, nobody likes the DMV, and she went there for someone other than herself. Without her help we’d still be driving with expired out of state temp tags. Faith, you freakin’ ROCK! Thank you so much.

We plan to spend the night in Pueblo, Colorado tonight and then make our way to Fairplay on Sunday. Then we’re pretty much staying put till the end of August!

I want to get an interactive travel map plugin for the blog so that we can see our routes and adventures all in one place. I want the map to have little pins in places where we stop and then if you click on the pin you can get information about where we spent the night(s), how much money it costs, etc. Any suggestions?

Have a great weekend, y’all! Next time I check in I’ll be in the gorgeous Colorado Rocky Mountains!

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A Final Farewell

We’ve been working so hard to get the RV ready to leave Texas and head to Colorado. Last Sunday, May 17th, we were hit hard with the unexpected tragedy of losing our boxer and best friend, Dag Bennett. He was just about a month shy of 9 years old. His sad passing has surely put a damper on the past week’s events. Adam and I are grieving, and as a part of that process I wrote my sweet boy a letter to help me express my emotions. I hope anyone who knew him enjoys this final farewell:

Dearest Dag,

The day after we said goodbye I put your collar on my bedroom door handle so I could see it and think of you every day. I miss you each time I brush against it and hear the tags jingle.

When I leave home I catch myself feeling anxious to get back because I need to let you out. The heaviness of realizing that I no longer need to do that is crushing. Coming back to a quiet home after being away instead of being greeted by your bouncing excitement and wiggly butt is a piercing sadness I’ve never felt before.

Your dad and I have decided to name the farm in your honor, and even have plans to use your silhouette as our logo. We will buy a fruit producing tree and bury your ashes with the roots. Each time we enjoy a piece of fruit from the harvest we’ll think of you with all the love and gratitude our hearts can muster. We are completely heartbroken over the fact that you’ll never be able to romp on the farm the way we’d always imagined but we find a little peace knowing that it will be your final resting place.

I miss your hugs. I miss your constant need for affection. I miss our walks. I miss your facial expressions and especially those gorgeous brown eyes.

The smell of rosemary reminds me of you because you always peed on the rosemary bush in the back yard after you rubbed your face all over it. My sneakers remind me of you because every time I put them on you went crazy with anticipation of a trip around the block. The color yellow will always remind me of you because the day you got sick a yellow butterfly followed me all around the RV campground as I strolled and prayed that you’d be okay. When you took your last breath you were held by me, Theo, and your dad as you lay peacefully on a yellow blanket. You embodied the color yellow, forever full of sunshine.

You brightened my life in the very best ways. You were the best guard dog, always keeping us safe and sound. I’m so thankful for all the cuddles I got. I’m so glad I spoiled you rotten by letting you on the furniture and sneaking you bites of my food even though it made your dad mad. I’m so happy you got to meet and love on your little brother Theodore for 5 months. I’m forever changed because of you. 

Thank you for being so lovable, so annoying, so gentle, so clumsy, so unapologetically and authentically you. You were the first dog I ever had and, boy, did you set the bar high! You might be gone but you’ll never, ever be forgotten, Dag. Love you so much.

Until we meet again, 

Mama

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Nothing worth having comes easy.

Last week, Adam worked tirelessly getting details hammered out so that we could start moving into the 5th wheel as soon as possible. He took (and passed) his written and practical Class A driving tests, he got new (safer) tires put on, got the unit weighed and inspected for registration, and he installed an EMS unit (like a giant surge protector) to shield the RV from potential electrical mishaps. All while working 9-5! My hero.

We spent Saturday getting her relocated. We moved the 5th wheel from a storage lot in Lantana to a KOA campground in Sanger, Texas. We originally wanted to park in Denton, but both campgrounds were full, so we were forced to head further out of town. It’s actually great because moving further into the country allows for bigger parking spaces and a quieter environment.

Here are some photos of the camper/campgrounds in Sanger:

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On the other hand, our storage unit is over 30 minutes away now, so it makes the logistics of moving our stuff back and forth with a 4 month old baby very difficult. Way harder than we anticipated.

Anyway, we wanted to move the travel trailer so that we could plug in and get the air conditioning going, as well as open all the windows and air out the unit. The chemical smell was so strong when we received the trailer that I didn’t want to start moving in until we were able to get some fresh air circulating.

Late Sunday morning we went to our storage unit to get our kitchen stuff and cleaning supplies. Sounds simple enough, but it took a really long time since we had the baby with us and because what we needed was in the very back of the unit. Adam had to move everything out of the way to get to the kitchen stuff, re-organize some things so that next time we go it will be easier, then put everything back inside. I wasn’t much help because I was wearing Theodore on my chest in a baby carrier and he decided to take a nap. While he was snoozing I reflected on the big picture while I watched Adam work. I was mostly overwhelmed the whole time we were there, struggling with the fact that I am going to have to let go of all of my “stuff.” I know that it will feel really great to purge when it’s over, but in the moment I felt sort of panicked. Again, much harder than I thought it would be.

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By Sunday afternoon, we returned to Sanger with a load of boxes from our storage unit and started cleaning. Every surface of the RV is filthy with dust/dirt from construction. We spent a ton of time vacuuming everything (floors, walls, furniture, inside of cabinets and drawers) and then cleaning everything with essential oils. I used my Thieves cleaner in hopes of improving the smell and reducing some of the toxicity inside the RV.

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Monday night we went back and started to unpack our kitchen boxes and continue cleaning. We made good progress, but we have to work with the baby’s napping schedule and get him home before bedtime, otherwise the ride home would be absolutely terrible. I swear, nothing wears me down faster than a crying baby in the car.

So, now it’s Tuesday, and when Adam gets off work we are going to do the same thing as yesterday and hopefully finish the cleaning and kitchen nesting. If we could accomplish that we’d be doing great and might actually make our goal of being fully moved into our new home by Mother’s Day.

It’s supposed to rain for the next 6 days, which will make for an interesting rest of the move… If you could send out some good vibes to get us through this exhausting week, we’d sure appreciate it. No one said it would be easy. Nothing worth having comes easy, though, right?

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Have a good week, y’all! Wish us luck!

It’s all happening…

Our RV was delivered yesterday!

The plan is to:

  • Put new tires on her today (the tires that come standard aren’t the safest).
  • Hubs will take his special driving test this week and get a new license.
  • Buy a clothes washer and dryer and install it this week.
  • Then we’ll spend the rest of the week and next weekend emptying our storage unit. We are going to nest into the RV with the essentials and sell/donate everything else.

It feels so good to be taking such a big step forward. In a couple of weeks, after we’re all “nested,” we’ll be ready to hit the road! I’ll post more details as they unfold, and share as many pictures of the moving in process as I can.

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P.S. I’m already totally obsessed with remodeling it. I’ve got some big ideas😉