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 NINE…buffalo, moose, and bears oh my

1,390 miles

14 hours per day

For 96 hours (a total of 4 days in case your like me and suck at math)

On Highway 2

That’s right friends we made it

A L A S K A

The final frontier

If you want to go back and re-read the introduction from beginning to end with your best Will Arnett vocal impersonation I encourage you to do so. I just did it in my head and I must say, It sounded amazing. And one more thing, when you read the line “The final frontier” make sure to use your lower register and move your eyebrows up and down in a really sinister way… just try it. It really helps in getting the message across.

Hmm where to begin. Do I start with the 4 days driving on half gravelled/half paved spine crushing roads. Should I open with a bragadocious piece of information about my finishing 3 audible thrillers within four days. Maybe I should begin with how overly enthusiastic we were when the trip began and how our attitudes for adventure quickly waned by the end of the second day. Or maybe, just maybe, I start with the end of the story where we were all willing to give Cecilia her own Tobagon complete with a group of Alaskan Huskies so that when she yelled, her directions would not only be welcome, but expected.

I guess it doesn’t really matter where I begin, as long as I accurately convey that 1,390 miles of half paved/half gravelled spine crushing roads will test the patience of even the most enthusiastic of road trippers and potentially jam your vertebrae together to pinch a large collection of nerves. We put in 12 sometimes 14 hour days on highway number 2 and it was every bit as treacherous and beautiful as they say.

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Along the way we had lessons in Science everywhere we looked, with all the wildlife roaming free around this vast landscape. We saw moose, buffalo, and many many bears. It was something to see these animals up close. It was intimidating to see how big they were and we were in an RV…which sits up pretty high.  The girls were enamoured with the animals facial expressions. We thoroughly entertained ourselves with made-up inner dialogues of each group:

Abby suggested the moose needed to cross the road to meet up with other moose peeps for their journey to camp…moose guarding camp of course.

Groups of buffalo looking to change-up their scenery would begrudgingly follow the leader of the pack. According to both Phoebe and Abby their dialogue went as follows:

Buffalo number 24 says to Buffalo Number 25 all the way in the back of the pack, “Do you know why Fred is going back this way?”

Buffalo Number 25 answers, “Fred pooped his pants and needs new underwear.” But it doesn’t end there, continue to repeat the poop line six or seven times and with every proclamation as if on cue, high-pitched giggling ensues.

We ran into some luck and actually saw a buffalo pooping on the side of the road, so that was the highlight of the day. Who am I kidding, it was the highlight of the entire trip…for the girls.

Both girls agreed the buffalo were heading to the nearest mall…for the Buffalo underwear…don’t want to be caught with turtle tracks in your undies!! The conversation went on for a lot longer than I care to record here. You should feel secure in knowing hours of “belly gas”  conversation which led to both topics of  belching and the always popular farting were discussed at length. Or more like ad nauseam. I hope with all of the “issues” those poor buffalo were afflicted with, they have finally recouped from their flatulent bellies. Fingers crossed on that one folks. Fingers crossed!

Of course all along our journey we saw several families of mamma bears and their baby cubs going scavenging and foraging for the upcoming school year. “They are hoping to find new satchels, computers, and shoes” that was my contribution. Not quite as exciting and scandalous as gaseous buffalo and camp-bound moose, but by the fourth day I wasn’t overly concerned about my creative responses. I just wanted to get the BLEEP out of the asylum on wheels.

Greg even swears he saw a reindeer with big fuzzy antlers which my friend Elena and I have named Boots. Unfortunately my friend Elena isn’t with us on our journey, but I pretend she is by texting her every five minutes to give her updates on our tremendously exciting lives. She’s super jealous.

Just kidding. She’s not jealous.

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For the first two days of our journey Thursday and Friday, I drove the entire time just because it was a workday for the hubs. So he used one of his many audible tokens to give me a 13.5 hour audio crime thriller by Author Gillian Flynn called Dark Places. This is the same author who wrote Gone Girl.

From the moment the book began to four hours later, I took my first bathroom break, which is unheard of for me. I’m usually an every two-hour potty break kind of girl. I drink a lot of water.

A LOT OF WATER.

Needless to say, I finished the 13 hour book just as we were pulling into our first stop-over on our very first day. I was dumbfounded for an hour or so, still completely enveloped in the world created by the author. I then promptly begged Greg to get the authors third book Sharp Edges.

The next day, Friday, 9 hours came and went and just like that. All the characters I had become so invested in, were gone. Poof. Into thin air. Never to materialize into the film going on in my mind. I had to shake these characters off. I was too tightly wrapped up in their world. I was too affected. Too emotionally involved. Attached. Invested.

It was time for a third crime book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The summer of 1999, after graduating from my undergrad program, I moved to New York. I was terribly lonely and subletting a room with fellow classmates from previous years. I stole In Cold Blood from my roommate Jonathan, and read it on my subway commute to midtown everyday…because reading crime novels is a great way to lift your spirits. I wanted another book like Gillian Flynn’s previous two. So this is the book I picked. Let me just say, it was creepy in the summer of 99 and it was creepy this past Sunday when I finished the 14 hour book in one day.

In between listening to books, Greg and I would pause to solve all of the worlds problems and try our very best to ignore the screaming, whining, crying jags from the girls.

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After the first 14 hours of driving on Thursday Cecilia was over all the cool coloring books, crafting supplies, small fun little toys, and little books we had bought specifically for this trip.

Abby and Phoebe are old enough to switch from one activity to another but Cecilia really likes it when I am at her beck and call sit with and show her how to use the stickers and color in her coloring books, when I read books to her, and finally when I play with her.

I love getting her started on all activities…but then I am ready to let her play/practice on her own. She was not down with that philosophy…at all…and would frequently yell loudly voice her protestations.

And after the second day of her declarations, we were all over it. Honestly, I am surprised I still have hair. BUT, we made it.

We are in ALASKA.

I’ve waited my whole young adult life to visit this land. I keep pinching myself, it’s so hard to believe. I’ve built it up so much in my mind…what the trees would look like, the crisp weather, the fresh smell of that crisp cool weather, the sound of nature, miles upon miles of untouched non-homogenized lands, and of course the people who call this unspoiled state home.

As soon as my spine heals, I am going to soak up everything Alaska has to offer. I want to experience everything. But not if it’s dangerous. No danger here folks. If the bears, buffalo, and Moose could just sort of…I don’t know…maybe hang out around the perimeter while the Spranger’s are here…that would be great. Totally awesome. Seriously, completely awesome.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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 FOUR…The Septuagenarian Police

…And, we’re still in Arizona.

We left the glorious casino parking lot in Sedona, Arizona on a frigid 56 degree Sunday afternoon. We returned to a park we had previously bunked in for 2 weeks. 

Wait…let me back up. All parks, including state campgrounds, have their own “unique” rules and this park was no exception. In fact, it might be the park with the most restrictions on the planet. The most RIDICULOUS restrictions on the planet.

This park, located in Tonopa, Arizona (pronounced ‘toe’ as in hey guys look at my toe: ‘No’ as in No, you may not go to the store; and ‘Pa’ is in Pa is that you?) But you have to say it really fast. The first time I saw the name, I resorted back to my high school church youth group theme song ‘Constantinople’ from They Might Be Giants. I was pronouncing Tonopa like they do in the song along with a little bit of my own southern flare, Constantinopa. The pronunciation goes something like this, (Toe as in hey guys, look at my toe; Nope as in Nope, you make not go to the store; Ah as in Ah, I see, thank you for explaining it to me.)

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I thoroughly enjoyed pronouncing it this way, punching those explosive vowel consonant  combinations with my enthusiasm. The first time the town’s name left my lips in the local Wal-Mart, I was immediately rebuffed by a small group of people who had surrounded me. These Arizonans were filled with questions like, “Oh my gosh, can you say that again…Where are you from…Where are you staying again…Oh you poor thing…That’s not the correct pronunciation…etc.” Much like those foreigners who come to North Carolina and Tennessee and pronounce ‘Appalachia’ like (Apa; Lay as in Lay the blanket down; Sha…I have no sentence for this utterly annoying sound.)

Luckily, the group was kind enough to give me the correct pronunciation.

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So, back to the campground with its “unique” set of rules. So their rules only allow people to stay for three days or one month. No more, no less. So, if your waiting on a part from La Mesa RV and they say, “It will arrive in four days Ma’am”…we can stay there for three days, but on the third day we have to pack up our things and go. They also only allow two people per RV to stay over night, so if you have kids, your pretty much boned. Four weeks ago, when we stumbled on the campground, their unique “rules” were not displayed in the open anywhere. With it being the weekend and the office being closed, we just pulled into an open overnight space and set up camp. We were planning on staying for a month knowing the slowness of most RV companies.

The following morning I woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing. It was the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground from the front office with a screeching, “Angie, Spr..Spring..ker, this is the front desk letting you know you have three too many people in your RV and therefore we cannot honor your request to stay. Im so sorry. Check out is 11:00 am.”  I explained my situation and they VERY RELUCTANTLY allowed us to stay for two weeks, way beyond their “better judgement”.

Somewhere in that exchange, they may or may not have said, “But you cannot return to the campground EVER AGAIN.” If they made that statement, I didn’t hear it.

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Which brings me back to the infamous “Monday” February 20th. When we pulled into the same campsite on Sunday afternoon, I filled out my pay information and indicated on the  envelope we were intending to stay for a mere ‘two’ days. TWO days. TWO.

Picture this, a mother and her child sleeping cosily in bed and the sun shining through the morning window. When my phone rang and caller id, displayed “Phoenix Arizona” on the smart screen, I assumed it was the RV center calling for us to come on in so they could finally fix our broken jack.

Alas, it was the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground. A scary, feeble, coarse voice on the other line screeched out, “Angie???” “Yes” I said. She sternly introduced herself, “This is the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground…and I understand your back in the park?” “Yes, we are. We came in last night, we are still waiting on our piece from the RV company. We should only be here 2 days. I hope this isn’t a problem.” To which the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground replied in her scary feeble crotchety voice, “Well, yes it is a problem Angie. I told you, you could never come back to the campground. We helped you and extended your stay the first time and that was enough. We need you to leave. You are not to come back.” Stunned, I replied, “Really…we’ve paid, we won’t cause any trouble, you have plenty of room, it’s not like we’re blocking business…there are miles of empty slots…and we’ve paid already, are you sure you don’t want that money?” “Check out is 11:00 am sharp” the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground barked…and then I heard a dial tone.

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I felt like a teenager who had been reprimanded for smoking pot or sneaking out of my mothers basement to go meet boys who had just been released from prison. As we were pulling out of the parking lot for the last time EVER…I imagined the Septuagenarian administration making a mandatory change of the rules to add, THIS IS A 55+ RV COMMUNITY ONLY, as most RV campsites in Arizona do already.

So to sum up the events which transpired Monday February 20th at Tonopa, Arizona: We were officially kicked out of our first campground. I felt a rush of emotions: anger, embarrassment, annoyed, confusion, still sleepy, rushed, panicked, and finally disbelief.

I took the girls to the park while Greg prepped the RV for departure. In case we were going to be on the road for a couple of hours, I wanted them to get their wiggles out.

I have nothing against the average well-behaved and respectful Septuagenarian. It’s the Septuagenarian who are generally angry, that rub me the wrong way.

Luckily, we were able to find another campground in Yuma which had an opening for the following 2 weeks without many ridiculous restrictions. This campground is also run by Septuagenarians, but they seem very nice. I guess we’ll see.

Without a doubt, this was the most interesting Monday I think we’ve ever had.

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And I spoke with the repair company…looks like we will be here for another 2 weeks.

yeah.

 

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY THREE…We won the lotto

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!!!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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