TWO HUNDRED FORTY…Aquamanning in Fairbanks

Living in such a small space with the same people day in and day out you find out so much about yourself.

For instance last night I learned that when I vomit, I sound like Aquaman. At least that’s what Greg tells me. I’m sure it’s true. He never exaggerates and isn’t dramatic at all. I must point out my sarcasm in the sentence above, just in case you thought I was being serious.

After eating at a restaurant I came home and didn’t feel well. Two hours later I was heaving over the toilet while Greg was standing in the doorway totally concerned saying, “I can’t believe your really puking right now. Are you ok? Can I do anything for you?” I mumbled something about a cold wet wash cloth and two minutes later he’s at my side with a sopping wet cold dish towel.

“That’ll do” I told him.

A few minutes go by and I can see him out of the corner of my eye. I know that look. He wants to tell me something, but he’s trying to gauge whether I’m too vulnerable for a little jest. Once I tell him, I’m totally fine and that I hope think it’s just a one-time thing he begins to tread lightly with, “I’ve never known anyone to sound like that when they throw up. Are you sure your ok? I mean, did you throw up a lung or a kidney?” To which I encouragingly reply, “What do I sound like when I throw up?” “Honestly, you won’t get mad?” He waits for my head nod and continues with, “You sound exactly like Aquaman.” From here on out, anytime I use the phrase, “I Aquamanned last night’ or ” I did my best impersonation of Aquaman last night” you can be 100% certain I am referring to vomiting.

And with that, I bring you highlights from our 6 day visit in Fairbanks.

Beginning in high school I dreamt about living in Alaska. Sometimes I replaced Alaska with Colorado just because it seemed more accessible. My sophmore year of highschool, I met a friend at sleep-away tennis camp who was from Colorado. She was a lot of fun and had really wild long curly blond hair. Right then I knew Colorado must be a totally cool place.

I’ve never met anyone from Alaska. I watched Continental Divide with Blair Brown and John Belushi a gazillion times so I felt completely prepared to handle anything Alaska might throw at me. Never mind the small fact that the film took place in Wyoming.

At this moment in time, Fairbanks is a jumping off point. A great place to settle down for a couple of days while we figure out the path we want to take. Our plan is to travel down to the coast, Cooper Landing, Seward, and Valdez. I’m enamoured with small quaint coastal towns. On our first RV journey, I was anxious to see if coastal Maine and Vermont were as amazing as the picture books described. Of course, being in both Maine and Vermont, it put the picture books to shame. I was in complete awe of their way of life and the absolute stunning beauty that surrounded them. I can’t wait to immerse ourselves in the quaint Alaskan coastal towns and see how these individuals live.


So while Fairbanks isn’t necessarily an end destination for us, it did allow us to recoup from our mega road trip, celebrate Cecilia’s 6th Birthday which I plan to write about in the next post, and get an idea of what our next couple of weeks might look like.

I was correct too by the way…I only Aquamanned once last night! Thank goodness. I absolutely loathe aquamanning!!

Here we come Seward!

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN….don’t mess with me, I’m ebbing

Today almost became the day, where I remove the tops from our jeep, turned up the bass and blasted the Foo Fighters on the car stereo, bought a pack of Marlboro Lights from the closest gas station, put my favorite baseball cap on, and drove 45 miles north from Minot (pronounced ‘my not’), North Dakota until I reached Canada.

ALONE.

237 A.jpg

Yes, I envisioned myself running away from home. It happens once a year, where my sanity is taken to the edge of a Grand Canyonesque drop and dangled off to the side of its highest peak. I don’t smoke, but today I contemplated starting. Just a big fat inhale of nothing but carcinogenic badness and an exhale of Abby’s constant pleads for taking the summer off from school, Phoebe’s inability to concentrate on the most basic task, and Cecilia’s blatant and defiant deafness to my voice…it seemed like running away with my jeep, the tops off, music blaring, cigarette in hand was the better alternative.

237 j.jpg

 

But then Greg would be all alone with the inmates (as I always LOVINGLY refer to my wonderful children). If I could have my druthers, we would be running away together. And in this day-mare (like a nightmare and a daydream all rolled into one) our kids are seen in the last scene relaxing on the ground outside and bragging, “Wow, that was hard! I thought they were never going to leave. Ugh, they put up with so much…my kids will never do this to me!!!” and then they raise their chocolate milks to one another and eat their favorite peanut butter with pickle sandwiches.

The scene ends and lights fade to black.

237 d.jpg

Today was one of those days where I question my decision to not only home school, but live with all five family members in a 300 square foot mini-assylum-on-wheels. What was I thinking? I’m looking in our pathetic manufactured in Thailand bathroom mirror (that distorts my face…and not in a good way) watching myself age rapidly and not even recognizing the person looking back at me.

237 feature 4.jpg

After a shit (pardon my french) morning, I thought we could all use a little break, breath of fresh air, a minute or two in nature to recalibrate our rhythms. Oh, who are we kidding, Mommy needed to recalibrate her sanity. I am referring to myself in 3rd person. I had hopes of taking the kids to the park and taking pictures with my old friend, TANK (aka my Canon) in an effort to bring us all some much-needed peace. Nature always brings me to a good frame of mind.

237 k.jpg

NOT TODAY.

No cooperation from anyone what-so-ever.

The evidence is all around…every picture.

I was on the verge of a Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford moment, in the infamous ‘no more wire coat hangers’ scene in the 1981 classic film Mommy Dearest, when I waved my white flag of surrender high in the air.

  I  brought Cecilia back, set her up at the table with some goldfish crackers, ice water, and her fully charged iPad. I needed a break. I isolated myself in my bedroom, laid down on the bed, cried, and had myself a 30 minute pity party. And within 30 minutes, I was perfectly fine.

237 hh.jpg

Cecilia came into the bedroom, climbed on the bed, sat down on my lower back and bounced up and down for a while, then laid down beside me, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “Mommy, I need more water, ice, and fishies.” As aggravated and frustrated as I was with all three of our inamtes, they are so damn funny.

Such is life.

237 o.jpg

Ebb and Flow.

Clearly I’m ebbing right now…I am anxiously awaiting the flow.

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR…ombrophobia vs. heliophobia

On the 10th of June we celebrated our one year anniversary of being on the RV full-time. How did we celebrate you ask? Well, just prepare yourself for the feelings of inadequacy that are sure to follow. We happened to be in Las Vegas at the time, because we really missed the color BROWN

234 e.jpg

and we were meeting up with my mom.

The second to last day of our visit with Nana (my mother) also our annual RV anniversary, we ended up in…

DRUMROLL please

WAIT…

Rewind

234 k.jpg

In 2017, we have experienced winter in Northern New Mexico where we ran into snow and frigid 30 degree temps in early March. Summer in Texas, spring in Mississippi and Louisiana, complete with full-blown pollen, Spring, again with the pollen and summer again in Vegas, fall in southern Utah, Summer again in midwestern Utah. All of the times we have experienced fall and spring, the pollen wreaks havoc on my sinuses. Experiencing PND every other week is not my idea of a good time, but everyone else blasted through the first year without too many health issues.

Yes of course, we visited some ER’s along the way and Urgent Cares for little things like ear drainage and broken bones…but nothing major that landed any of us in the “critical care” unit of any hospital.

And of course, when I write “summer” I don’t mean high 80’s. That would be way too easy. No, I mean summer as in triple digit highs.

Note exhibit A below:

234 f.jpgThe same goes for cold weather…it can’t be just low 50’s. That’s just not how the west rolls. It wouldn’t be the “wild west” if the frigid temperatures were anything but mid 30’s.

Note exhibit B below:

234 h.jpg

The temperatures began planning around our visits. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. We have begun to plan our visits to certain areas, around the temperatures.

There’s something awkward about that last sentence. 

Okay,  fast forward to June 10th, our one year anniversary.

234 l.jpg

As I wrote before, prepare yourselves for the awesomeness that I am about to unfold: we spent the anniversary of our living in 300 square feet for one full year in the Las Vegas ER!

BOOM!

Nailing it!

WINNING!!

I know what your thinking, “Man, they must have gotten tanked!!” “Someone hit the mother-load!” “These peeps really know how to PARTAY!!” “I wish I could hang out with the Sprangers…they know how to celebrate!”

For those of you who might be impressed and might be reading this bog for the first time, go on and think that. You can stop reading now.

234o.jpg

 

For those of you who know us a little better, you can continue reading below.

The second to last day of our visit with my mom, Cecilia came down with the flu and was the poster child for Montezuma’s Revenge…which of course caused her to become dehydrated so she needed to have fluids intravenously. Everyone else in the house followed Cecilia’s route. Except me…but of course, due to the pollen issues, I’ve been battling my own sinuses for the past 6 months. My poor mother went home from her “vacation” needing a “vacation”. But really, when we visit anyone, our whirlwind of a family usually leaves people completely exhausted.

234 j.jpgAs I wrote before, we have experienced all 4 seasons multiple times in the past six months and we are all over hot weather. We need some moderate temperatures and if we could manage to stay away from pollen just for a month, my sinuses would be so appreciative. It’s been so sunny I haven’t even taken my camera out. Pictures where everyone is squinting…

Note exhibit C below:

234 m.jpg…is just not my idea of a “classic story” moment I want to tell or even remember.

I need some cloudy days people! I need a good rain storm. What do these people have against cloudy days? The western half of the US is a bit ombrophobic…if you know what I mean. To my dear friend Stephanie, I now know what you mean when you longed for cloudy days and rain storms all those years of living in LA, and I’m there! I’m on the verge of developing the horrible dreaded heliophobia. If you are a victim of heliophobia, do not, I repeat DO NOT move out west.

234 c.jpgDue to the extreme temperatures we now find ourselves in we are travelling through Moab, Utah, my brain stopped working about an hour ago. I hope this blog makes sense. If not, there’s always next time.

 

 

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY THREE…We won the lotto

kkk.jpg

As of February 10, 2017 we have officially been full-time RV’ers for 32 weeks which ultimately translates into 224 days, and 5, 376 hours. We are still in the desert…But we recently ran into a bit of luck at a casino. Yes you read that correctly. I said casino. I know what some of you may jump to right away, “Oh wow, they won a boatload of cash”. Alas, we did in fact win the lottery, in a big big way. Yes my friends, I am proud and happy to say the Cliffs Castle Casino located…somewhere in Arizona…awarded us with a whopping …

…Hang on, I have to back up a bit…

vvv.jpg

As I stated previously, we have been full-time RV’ers for 8 months and a week. Before we started this crazy journey, we had a loyal babysitter twice a week for 4 years. It was the same beautiful, smart, kind-hearted girl named Amanda. We all loved her. We had her twice a week. Did I say that already? It’s a hard pill to swallow going from twice a week babysitter for 4 years to 8 months of no date night to speak of.

A couple of nights ago, Greg and I were having a conversation about how we would just be so grateful for one night alone together. Just dinner, drinks, and conversation without interruption.

…which brings me back to our major lotto winnings last night…

We drove to this tiny little town in Arizona to visit Montezuma’s Castle. It was a cold rainy day and we spent something like 2 hours walking around the grounds and learning about the fascinating lives of the Hopi Tribe.

mmm.jpg

Since we were only staying one night, we decided to  boon-dock in a vacant parking lot just below the casino. Greg read somewhere about a kid arcade or something they boasted of. It was around 2 in the afternoon and Cecilia was asking for a snack. So we agreed he would take Abby and Phoebe to this arcade or toy store, whatever it was…while I stayed back with Cecilia.

nnn.jpg

I dropped Greg and the girls off and headed back to the RV with CC. We had just gotten inside our humble abode…Cecilia had asked to go to the potty (YEAH!), I took off my shoes, made myself a warm cup of tea, turned on the news, and prepped a small snack. Cecilia and I had just cozied up on the couch when my phone lit up. It was a text from Greg, which I ignored at first.

I was about to enjoy my first sip of warm tea and noticed my phone was lighting up again. “OK, something might have happened to him or one of the girls, even though I just left them 10 minutes ago”. I checked the message and it read,”Dude, get back up here now! Bring CC with you! They have a giant play center for the kids….BABYSITTERS!!! We can have some time ALONE!!!”

ppp.jpg

I jumped up from the couch, threw my tea in the sink, put CC in a new pair of socks and shoes and bolted out the door. “HELL YES!!!” I said to myself.

Thus winning the best prize I could have asked for in that moment.

Together Greg and I checked CC in and practically ran to the nearest bar where we talked non-stop and uninterrupted I might add, for 2 whole hours.

We peeked in on the kids twice. Both times they were all playing with friends and climbing this awesome giant jungle gym of nets, running around carefree, and dancing with the music. We didn’t feel guilty at all when we decided to have a 2 hour dinner at a nice steakhouse in the casino.

It was so refreshing. I felt so relaxed knowing the kids were having a great time, running around, using their gross motor muscles, and playing with other kids their age.

Suffice it to say, I was not surprised when I awoke this morning feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated. I am ready to begin again. Last night we definitely won the lotto…hit the jackpot…experienced a full house…had a royal flush…and any other term you can think of…

…great food, great music, great company, great conversation…and a blissful 4 hours alone.

jjj.jpg

Feeling appreciative today folks. 

I’m one lucky lady. 

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY…paradise vs. reality

In the wee hours of Monday, January 16th, we were all slowly waking up in our new existence. For the next week we are camping out just south of Tucson. We finally moved from paradise. It was time. We were ready. As ready as we thought we were, it is a little sad to wake up and suddenly, 1. you have a neighbor again, 2. you not only have one neighbor but many 3. the amazing view of the Colorado River has been replaced by a parking lot of other RVs and Finally, 4. the sand from our private island has been superseded with miles upon miles of asphalt.

b

g

When you stay on a private island for 2 months and 2 whole weeks, you have some mental hurdles to overcome when re-entering civilization: Getting out the door is the first step in the re-entry process, familiarizing yourself with the new town goes a long way, Grocery shopping at the local grocery store seems to quell my initial pangs of “Oh wow, I miss the campsite we just left!” I also noticed my habitual task of cleaning and straightening up once we get settled into our new existance…putting everything back in its place is a good way to create a “homey environment”. For me, cleaning and grocery shopping are my goto’s for making the process of getting used to an area a little easier.

f

Regular life keeps on going…and soon the private island longing turns into good feelings and positive memories. I am now free to reflect on what the private island gave to our little family. We learned so much about ourselves during our extended stay: it was our first experience with major holidays away from family and on an RV, making holiday’s more merrier for the kids was both laborious as well as easy: It took a lot more imagination and creativity to prep for the holidays but it was easier because it was a much smaller space; I got into the habit of waking early to do some writing; due to the fluctuating temperatures, I now prefer layering more than ever; and school works best when mommy has a plan! I’ve always known that last one, but staying in Paradise reminded me, we will just amiably roam around unless I have an agenda!!!

e

We were able to accomplish a lot of tasks and make some pretty amazing memories there. When we left Sunday afternoon, the feeling of excitement flooded my being. I can’t help getting excited and eager to see and experience new things with my family. But as always, when we pulled into the campsite late Sunday afternoon, I suddenly had a longing for the paradise we had left behind. There’s nothing new about this feeling. I have learned to recognize the pattern of ‘uneasy feelings’ when first arriving at a new destination. It happened with paradise as well: I was wary about the isolation of being on a river far away from the actual campground.

But it always turns out to be a positive.

h

Upon arrival of a new site, I always see my surroundings in a “literal” way. Which makes sense, I have no experience of the new place so I cannot draw from the good feelings I had when we visited here “that one time”. I only see what’s right in front of my face. Later Monday morning, when we took our morning walk around the campsite and the girls were riding on their scooters weaving left to right on the open roads, my “literal” view began to change to a more figurative one.

The figurative view allows me to look beyond the not-so-great aesthetics of our current surroundings and see it for what it allows our family to experience. The more memories we make in this area/town, the more warm feelings I will have toward this campground. It’s liberating to recognize a pattern for what it is…a recurring feeling…and it’s attachment to an emotional feeling I have. Once the pattern is identified, I can sit back and watch it  take an active role in helping it blossom into something more. I might add, there has yet to be an instance when the negative feelings persist.  Even the ugliest campgrounds have a special place in my heart.

i

TWO HUNDRED EIGHT…our own private island

It’s official.

There is a place in eastern California on the border of Arizona that gives Mount Shasta, California a run for its money.

208 2 (1 of 1).jpg

Let me be more specific…the camping spot we are currently in might just beat all other campgrounds put together. Mount Shasta is still one of my all-time favorite small mountain towns on the west coast. I’m talking about campgrounds only. We rolled into Arizona late Sunday night but backtracked to Cali the next day for a potentially better campground. Boy, was it worth it. Due to our experiences thus far, our hopes were not very high…this campground boasted of a water splash pad/park for the kids, Colorado River views, and private beaches.

“Well, I’m sure there’s a catch” I said to Greg, “They probably don’t have anything available…it’s probably one of those places you have to call a year in advance to book a site.” I tried to book a site online but the website was telling me “no availability” for the amenities I was checking off. “I will just call and ask” I thought. Even though when I’ve “just called”in the past, it has always been the same information as the website, no availability for the criteria I was checking off.

I am so glad I didn’t go with my head this time around. When I got the front desk on the phone, I was able to get everything I wanted and then some. We not only scored a River view in the middle of nowhere, we have our own private beach. We share a camping cul-de-sac for lack of a better term with 3 other sites, but have not had to share it since we’ve been here. I guess we nailed the time of year, although we will have to move one night next week. But even then we come back to an even more secluded part of the river with an even bigger beach. I feel so lucky.

208 3 (1 of 1).jpg

It is so magnificent, we extended our stay for a whole month…and with that came a discount.

W H A T?

208 4 (1 of 1).jpg

From the entrance of the gate, it is about a 3 mile drive to our site on sandy back roads. There are approximately 20 River Beach Cul-de-sacs or whatever you want to call them. Each cul-de-sac can have 4 RV’s. Right now, there are only 4 of us between 20 campsites. It is Glorious. If I wanted to go in the buck all day, which I don’t, I totally could.  We do have the occasional people who drive by to check it out. And every day, I find myself rubbernecking just to make sure the cars barreling down the deserted road aren’t turning into our special island. I know we won’t have it to ourselves for long, so we are all doing our best to enjoy every minute of it.

208 5 (1 of 1).jpg

At least for now.

ONE HUNDRED SEVEN…desert vs dessert

Greetings from Needles, California! Otherwise known as the desert. Not dessert, but desert.

I have not taken any pictures in a week. We Cecilia is dealing with Perioral Dermatitis yet again and we are anxiously awaiting for her face to heal. It’s frustrating and not something I care to share at this point. So, I am using photos from our July 2016 getaway into the mountains of Beach, NC. and listening to Phantogram.

Phantogram…thank you…now I’m in a good mood.

207 f (1 of 1).jpg

I have a somewhat embarrassing faux pas to admit, but if you know me, it probably won’t come as a shock. Somewhere along our travels, I have added a month to our journey. So I need to  rectify my calculations from a previous post. We have been on the road for 157 Days for a total of 5 months. There, I feel better. On December 10th, it will officially be 6 months.

157 days isn’t quite the same as 184 days I had written earlier. I kept counting the month of May. We didn’t even get this beast until June.

Any who…

207 a (1 of 1).jpg

Lately it seems a lot of my posts are about sleep or lack there of…this one is no different.

I had a difficult time falling asleep last night…I was so excited about being in warm weather and having a great campsite. And if I’m being completely honest, I had a difficult time putting my phone down. Damn Pinterest. So I made an executive decision to sleep with Cecilia. She’s a really good cuddler right now. It hasn’t always been that way, so I enjoy the little opportunities to snuggle up with her.

207 b (1 of 1).jpg

So I contorted myself to fit inside her single bunk just the way I do twice a day, every day for nap and bedtime. As usual, I fail to remember and correctly estimate the closeness of the top bunk. As I’m taking my right hand off the top, like clockwork (not cockwork as spell check wants me to write, which, by the way, isn’t even a word spellcheck inventor people) I bump the right side of my head. Last night was no exception. I pressed on the bump that has developed on my head like I do twice a day every day to try to relieve the pain. Once the pain had subsided, I settled downright beside her warm body. Her face was turned toward me and I bent my head down to smell her strawberry toothpaste breath. Totally worth the pain. It was wonderful. I took a deep breath, nestled close to her, and closed my eyes.

207 e (1 of 1).jpg

Unfortunately after the 4th time of being kicked in the legs and stomach, the 2nd time of being punched in the face with the backside of her hand, I decided to go back to my bed. In that moment, Greg happened to peek his head into her bunk looking for me. “Just checking on you” he whispered. I motioned that I was coming out. He gave me his hand to help me up, but it’s much easier if I just sort of fall out of the bed.

I like to slide my right leg out and plant my foot on the floor…followed by my right arm to brace myself and then I hike up my left leg to my chest and much like a glob of wet play-doh I just sort of flop onto the floor. Jello might be the better visual here folks. So let the sentence above read, much like a glob of jello, I just sort of flop on the floor. The dilemma I have with getting out of the bottom bunk is very similar to getting in. Clearly entering and exiting the bunks weren’t intended for a full-grown adult. Once in the bed though, it is quite comfy. At this point I am just trying to help my scalp/skull retain some of it’s natural shape.

Back to the adult bedroom.

The temptation to reach for my phone when I’m not even the slightest bit tired is so strong. I tell myself, “Just a couple of minutes on pinterest or reading the news” and before I know it, an hour has gone by. So, once I got back to bed, I chucked my phone into the bathroom and shut the door. And by chucked I mean I tried to gently throw it onto the counter, I usually have wicked aim, but missed it by about 4 inches hearing it flop onto the floor.

Fast forward to this morning and I wake up to…wanna guess? A cracked iphone screen you say?

And there in lies my rational for what my Monday might look like…a bit bleary.

207 j (1 of 1).jpg

No, just kidding. My screen didn’t crack. Are you kidding? I have to have a sheet of armer on that thing to withstand the beatings it recieves everyday from the Spranger girls.

Nope, it’s just a regular old Monday in the desert. Hope yours is a good one.