Real Talk: RV Life Edition

I know we can make this life look so enviable. We shoot and edit photos of beautiful locations, fun adventures, or picturesque roadschool moments and post them to our IG and blogs. We gush in blog posts about how perfect our current location is or how much fun we had at the latest National Park we visited.

The truth is this life can be hard. I share 300 square feet with one adult, one six-year-old, a 65 pound dog that is mostly deaf and mostly blind, and a cat. And this time of year, that adult is only here about 10 days a month.

That means I’m solo-parenting a moody, growing, opinionated, insanely intelligent six-year-old. In 300 square feet. We can’t go to a splash pad every day. We can’t go hike Zion every day. We can’t go to a new park every day. Sometimes it gets boring if we need to have a day of laundry and cleaning or run errands all day.

It gets hard.

The worst part is not having a babysitter. Now, I know most people would say it’s pretty easy to fix that, but I’m not most people. We don’t have any family anywhere near our summer Utah location, and I have pretty high standards about who I’m willing to trust with my child. I think it’s a combination of the struggle it took to have him, knowing he’s the only kid I’ll ever have, and my own anxiety, but I’m not just going to find someone on and cross my fingers that the worst won’t happen.

So, it gets hard.

I’m sure that most days he’s just as ready as I am for a break. He’s done hearing me ask him to put away his toys, or to finish his meal, or to brush his teeth. Some days he just wants to go do something fun. Some days I just want to be able to get my hair cut at the salon that doesn’t allow children. Some days I just wish Ben was here to defuse the situation (#riverguidewifeproblems).

So, it gets hard.

Then, I remind myself how much better this life is for us now.

When we still lived in a big rental house in Southern Arizona I worked full-time as a teacher and yearbook adviser and rarely saw my son. I worked 14-16 hour days teaching literature, helping kids learn to take action sports photos, staying after school until 10PM to chaperone them while they took those photos, and meticulously editing every single letter and punctuation mark in the yearbook. All to help pay the $400+ summer power bills. Now I see him every day and it brings tears to my eyes that I can finally raise my one and only little boy that I worried I might not ever have.

When we still lived in a big rental house in Southern Arizona, we only saw Ben about 5 days a month during his summer river season. We have doubled the amount of time we see him by going mobile and being so close to his summer work location. That extra time is priceless for this little boy of mine who calls his Daddy “buddy” and lights up with joy each time he comes home off a river trip. That extra time is so valuable to the man who was just as worried as I was about possibly never having a child to call our own.

It gets hard, but somehow it’s so much easier when you think about all that you had sacrificed in your old life to show you how much you would benefit from this new one.

Day Trip to Page

Last weekend we were looking to get out and explore, and were trying to think of new places that weren’t more than two hours away. Ben and I had recently both realized that neither of us had ever been to Horseshoe Bend before. A day trip to Page, Arizona sounded perfect! Our first stop was the Glen Canyon Dam. We walked over the bridge to get a view of the dam and the water on the other side.

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If you know Rivers, you know he LOVES visitor centers. He was so jazzed to head inside and look at maps and all of the informative displays.


When Rivers was done checking out the visitor center, it was time to head to Horseshoe Bend. Ben and I had both prepared ourselves for the experience to feel like waiting in line at Disneyland, and we were pretty spot on. The parking lot was crazy (more on that later) and there were tour busses dropping people off by the hundreds. Once we made it to the cliffs, I queued up in line to get to the edge to shoot some photos.


Let’s point out the obvious, you can’t see the unbroken flow of the water around the bend. That’s because I’m deathly afraid of heights and wouldn’t get any closer to the edge knowing how many random people were just inches behind me!


I was definitely a little bummed that the sky was pretty washed out, but I’m sure we will be back here again some day to try to get some better shots. After I was done getting my photos we were on the hunt for a random person who looked like they knew how to work a real camera and might be able to get a family photo for us. We ended up finding the sweetest woman with a beautiful accent. She nailed the angles and I couldn’t be more appreciative that the Universe put her near us at just the right time.


All decked out in our gear from Keep It Wild!

After the family photo ops it was time for Rivers to play in the sand. He had brought a Matchbox dump truck that he was desperate to put to use with all of the sand around.

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Then it was time to head back to the truck and look for some dinner in Page.


We returned to the parking lot to find a surprise. Someone had literally parked right in front of the truck. We would have been completely trapped and parked in if one of the cars beside us had not left. To put it simply, people are crazy. If the people in the little yellow car had been planning to stay until sunset, we could have been trapped in our space for hours…


While Ben was in the process of trying to get us out, a car came along and tried to park in the empty space we were going to use to help us navigate out of our situation. We both ran up to their car windows begging them to find another spot so we could leave! They looked confused and didn’t seem to have noticed that we were parked in by the little yellow car. Once we were out, we were all able to laugh about it. I was pretty proud of myself for refraining from leaving an angry note on their car, especially since I still think they deserved it!

After the parking debacle we headed into Page to get some dinner. We went to Big John’s Texas Barbecue and it did not disappoint! We ate our food so fast that we forgot to take a picture. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s no Little Miss BBQ– that’s for sure. I don’t think I will ever have that caliber of barbecue anywhere else in my life.

All in all, it was a great day with my family exploring somewhere new. If there is one gift that RV life has given me that I appreciate the most, it is time exploring new places and making memories together.


Life Update: Why I’ve Been a Blog Slacker

Hi guys… Is anybody still here? I know it’s been a place full of chirping crickets and not much else for months on end. So, here’s the life update, otherwise known as my explanation for being a blog slacker.

To put it simply, things did not go as we originally planned.

We moved the RV to its summer spot in Hurricane, Utah last June. We were super excited about being in beautiful southern Utah and our proximity to amazing places to explore. We fell in love with our RV park and I got Riv signed up for swimming lessons. We were settling in nicely and finding a routine.

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Our spot at WillowWind RV park.

Then Ben broke his foot at work. He was rigging at Lee’s Ferry and stepped just the wrong way. Boom. Broken foot. Cue first event we didn’t plan for. He obviously could not go on that trip he was rigging and then also missed the trip after that, which meant two trips worth of tips he was missing out on financially. Since I’m not working in order to homeschool Rivers, that’s a big financial hit. It might not be a big deal to a family that sold a huge house and used the profits to finance their fulltime RV life. But that’s not us. We need Ben’s summer income to finance our winter adventures, and everything else. Pretty quickly our conversations turned to what we would do this winter instead of the travel we were originally looking forward to. It would definitely mean a very different first winter in RV life.

Ben healed up well without surgery and was back on the river by mid-July. We continued back into our routines once Ben was guiding again. Lots of trips to Zion and swimming lessons, library visits and splash-pad park days. I’ll be catching up on my backlog of posts and sharing some of the adventures we had over the last 8 months in future blog posts.

The season ended without any more mishaps and we made the decision that Ben would need to do winter work for Western to make up for the lost income during river season. So we moved to the warehouse yard instead of setting out on six months of travel. I’m not going to pretend like I wasn’t bummed. We had such grand plans for our first year of this new lifestyle, and they were gone. I had to turn it all on its head and realize how lucky we were. There are actual 30-amp electrical hookups, sewer and water all available in the warehouse yard, how cool is that! Plus we had an easy, convenient place for Ben to work, just 50 feet outside the door of the RV. The big bonus was for Rivers. He got to spend some quality time with some quality human beings in Ben’s coworkers. Not long after we pulled in and set up house in the warehouse yard, river guides started showing up to do winter rubber work. Riv decided these were truly his people and spent every spare minute trying to hang out with them. I have to give a big shout out to Mickell, Mark, Daniel, Steph, Emily, Mackay, Brian, Stephen, RD, Aimee, and of course Corey for playing with my kid and tolerating his lack of volume control! He loves you guys so much and hasn’t stopped talking about all the fun he had with you this winter.


So, we’ve been here in Fredonia living life, homeschooling (mostly unschooling, but more on that later) and adventuring on the weekends when Ben is off. It’s not the big grand adventure we planned, but it has been full of quality time with awesome people, so we definitely can’t complain about that. In just shy of four weeks we will be heading back to Hurricane to get settled for Ben’s river season again. He has a great schedule this year that he is really looking forward to. I also have a chance for the first time in NINE YEARS to go on the river with him again. I’m still trying to talk myself into it, because I haven’t been away from Riv for more than three days since he was born! Ten days away from him sounds pretty sad to me right now. I’m sure I’ll get myself hyped about it in time.

All of this is to say, I’m back! I have literally 25 blog posts lined up to work on. I am finally prioritizing time to organize and edit the photos, and get all the words in order. In the meantime, I’ve also been trying to get better about posting on IG, so head over there for some visual updates of what we’re up to!


Fall Colors on the North Rim


Last weekend we took a quick day trip up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to catch a glimpse of the changing colors. It’s so amazing to actually experience a change in seasons.  It was nice to wear hoodies and run around in the crisp clean air.


Rivers got a chance to earn his second Junior Ranger badge and he was so excited to take his pledge with the sweetest park ranger.


I think the highlight for Rivers was spending time with Ben. It’s hard for him to deal with his daddy being gone so much during the summer, and he was just ready to run around and play.

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After a game (or ten) of tag in the parking lot, we hit a couple trails and viewpoints.

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On our way back out to Fredonia, we stopped by a spot with some amazing Aspen trees, hanging on to their last glowing yellow leaves.

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If you have never been to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I highly recommend it. There are some amazing overlooks and trails, and the lodge itself has some spectacular views. If you visit during monsoon season you have a good chance of seeing a storm roll in over the edges of the canyon through the frame of the picture windows in the lodge.


People and Places of Days Past

I fell down the rabbit hole tonight. Past pages of texts and Facebook messages and photographs and people and places of days past.

It started with college and so many of the lessons learned, about myself and books and other people’s feelings. Lessons about true friendships and fake ones, trust and betrayal, brokenness and healing. I probably don’t give those years enough credit when I take stock of the past. They were tough and beautiful. They were an incredible struggle but also somehow so satisfying in their proof that I could trudge through on my own.

It was indeed a coincidence that led me to the next chapter.

It transitioned rather quickly into the life I lived surrounded by airplanes and humans who were gifted with the ability to fly. What a world that dropzone held, full of hippies and rich college kids, self-proclaimed sky-gods and the slighted that had found a place that welcomed their difference. A place that I didn’t think I fit, and yet somehow it was where I finally found myself. I remember some of the amazing people I came to know there, too, the ones who found me and held up a metaphorical mirror so I could finally see myself clearly. I can see their faces and hear their voices so vividly and in such detail, even after sixteen years. I met some incredible humans in that small desert town, a mere 9.1 miles from the only place I’d ever known as home. It was so close all that time, but I really did have so very far to go before I could really find my way there.

My time there can often be described as cinematic. Moments were so epic in lighting and cast and soundtrack that they couldn’t possibly be real. They had to be moments of fiction I wrote for myself to make up for the past. Sunsets and sunrises with strangers-turned best friends. Desert parties with zebra hats and RV hangouts. Houses filled with steady beats and black lights and body paint. Coffee shops and tip money and peanut butter wheat bagels. The mundane everyday mixed with the exhilaration of human flight. The joy of first skydives and the finality of death. Quite the dichotomy that was definitely not lost on me.


Two Months In

The full-time life has been surprisingly easy to get used to for all three of us. I’ve been thinking about all of the random things I’ve learned during the first two months of our full-time RV life and thought I’d compile them here.

  • You don’t need that much stuff to get by in life. We packed essentials and a few luxury items, but many of our interior storage cabinets are empty.
  • Living tiny isn’t hard. We did two additional purges from the RV while we were stationary in CG & close to our storage unit.
  • Riv is happy in any living situation as long as he has his bike, his scooter & tons of vehicle toys.
  • RV parks with pools are awesome, especially in the summer in AZ.
  • Two RV ACs will not keep up in 100+ degree temps in AZ.
  • I actually like the coziness of our tiny space.
  • A small RV fridge will keep you from over-buying perishable food & wasting it!
  • Our pantry fits way more stuff in it than we thought.
  • It would have been nice to have a convection oven/microwave combo, our regular oven heats up the RV way too much to use it in the summer.
  • The dinette is awkward and the couch is pretty uncomfortable. I’d like to remove both & have seen some cool alternatives that other full-time families have used in their modifications.
  • Doing dishes by hand is as annoying as it used to be when I was a teenager doing them at home. I miss my dishwasher!
  • Do not wait to buy a small vacuum for your RV. We finally got one last weekend and it is so much easier and so much more thorough than trying to use a normal sized one.
  • If you are a germaphobe like me you will hate RV park laundromats. Buy this unit for your RV. We don’t have interior hookups in our RV but we are installing it in our outdoor kitchen.
  • A fireproof safe is a great place to store your important paperwork that you will need on the road.
  • Don’t store crayons or other melty things in cabinets that are mounted on one of the outside walls during an AZ summer.
  • You absolutely can run the AC and a blowdryer at the same time if you have 50 AMP service in your RV.
  • Command hooks & strips will become your best friends when your interior walls are made out of glorified cardboard.
  • You might take on traits of your retired neighbors and start doing puzzles in your free time.
  • You can bake a cake in your RV oven, but you might need a pizza stone to distribute the heat more evenly.
  • Peacocks are way louder than you would guess they are, but they can also be super friendly.
  • Rivers will make new friends easily, but the goodbyes will always be hard.

Here are some photos from the first couple months.

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Our Maiden Voyage- to Mexico!

We bought our rig in November and didn’t pick it up until January. Even after we drove all the way to Prescott to pick it up, we didn’t get to take it anywhere fun or test it out right away, it went straight to storage. Insert sad face here. From the moment we signed off on our final paperwork and knew it was ours, we couldn’t wait to actually go somewhere in it! I had been scheming and planning in my mind where we could go to have a quick trip to experience it and learn all its quirks before it was our full-time residence. In December I messaged my aunt Helen to see if she could give me some info on RVing in Rocky Point, Mexico. It’s a destination I’ve traveled to many times with my family growing up, but we normally rented houses. I knew Helen had been to Rocky Point in her RV before, so I knew she’d be able to recommend a great RV park. I figured that since Ben & Rivers would have the same days off for Spring Break, we could maybe take it to Mexico for its maiden voyage.

In a perfect streak of luck Helen happened to be planning a trip herself at the same time to take grandkids there for their break. I quickly texted my other aunt  & uncle to see if they would want to make it a big family trip and bring their RV also. Pretty quickly the dates were agreed upon and Helen offered to handle the reservations since the process was a little antiquated. The Playa Bonita RV Park is located right next door to the hotel of the same name. It has great reviews on Trip Advisor and of course my aunts both agree it’s a perfect place right on the beach.


The entrance to Playa Bonita RV Resort

You definitely can’t beat the cost of $24 a night for interior spaces. It has full hookups and 30 amp included in the price. The temps were perfect when we were there in March so we didn’t bother to inquire about the extra cost for 50 amp that is listed in their office. The one tip I will offer if you plan to stay is to make sure you have a really long water hose. Our connection was on the opposite corner of our slot from our intake and we ended up having my aunt bring us en extra hose since they were arriving a day later than us.


The distance to the beach from the nose of our rig.

This is an awesome place to take kids. Rivers spent most of his time at the beach, playing in the sand, looking at tide pools and searching for shells and hermit crabs. I would recommend sand toys, beach chairs and an umbrella or easy-up for a comfortable beach hangout.

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Other than beach time, we also went into town to the Malecón a few times. It’s a great place to buy fresh seafood and tortillas and also pick up some souvenirs. There are plenty of restaurants in that area too, many of which are kid friendly.


Family photo at Casa del Capitan 

Enough words, here’s what you really want: PHOTOS!

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That Feeling

You know– that feeling you get once everyone is buckled in tight, all the bags are carefully packed and you drive off into the fuzzy early morning light to somewhere exciting and new. It’s sort-of like butterflies and electricity all mixed together. The feeling of anticipation and excitement for a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before. The nostalgic feeling of another visit to somewhere you love and are so happy to visit again. The knowledge that you are setting off to make memories and enjoy time with your family; no work, no stress, no obligations – no strings attached.

That feeling of freedom.

Freedom from the responsibility and monotony of the everyday.

THAT feeling.

That’s the reason we chose to do this.

The freedom to enjoy our family before it’s gone.

That feeling is the best feeling.


The Search Is On

We started the RV search by googling until our eyeballs almost fell out and clicking through a ton of listings on We then decided we needed to look at some of these things in person to really get a feel for their size and floor plan. We headed out to La Mesa RV (LMRV) in Mesa, Arizona to check things out. We immediately ran into Bob who was an incredibly knowledgable guide through our next four trips to explore models. In all we made three trips to La Mesa RV, one trip to Glendale to a big RV show put on by the valley LMRV dealerships, two terrible but informational trips to Worldwide RV in Mesa and one incredible trip to Affinity RV in Prescott.

In the beginning we were thinking we wanted to do a custom sprinter van conversion. We both liked the idea of it fitting easily into parking spaces and looking pretty normal on regular city streets. Then we remembered that Rivers owns like 4,000 Hot Wheels cars and there was no way we were going to survive in a footprint that small. Then we moved on to class C options. They seemed really cool and our favorite was the Winnebago View. Those weren’t going to work out because Rivers needs to travel properly restrained in a car seat and they don’t offer that option (legally, anyway). We finally settled on the safest method being a 5th wheel or travel trailer and a truck to tow it. As much as that sounds like narrowing things down, not so much.

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There is an incredible amount of options and choices in the world of towables. We started out looking based on price. The travel trailers (TTs) are much cheaper and in some cases have more spacious floorplans. The interior ceiling height was fairly low, though, which is a problem if your husband is six feet tall. We did entertain the idea of getting a TT for a while and found a ton of models we liked. It was nice to have Bob as our salesman, and once he had the full story of our plans to fulltime in it, he really knew what direction to guide us in. We really liked Bob for his no-bullshit style and the amazing wealth of knowledge he had. He was very honest with us about a few brands that he felt were cheaply made and would not stand up well to full-time occupancy no matter how careful we were.

On trip number two to LMRV Bob showed us a bunch of travel trailers and of course we fell in love with a few. Our original favorite was the Dutchmen Denali 371BH. It had a bunk house for Rivers to have his own space, a bathtub, a kitchen island with lots of storage and nice solid surface countertops. With two opposing slides in the living room and kitchen area, it provided a really open feeling to the space we knew we would spend all our time in. Then Bob wanted to show us some Keystone brand options. Our favorite Keystone TT was the Keystone Outback Ultralite 293UBH. This model was cool because it had three beds in the bunk house and a small dinette. We thought it would be a great space for Riv to color or play with vehicles on the table top. It also had a bathtub, which was an original necessity on my list that I had to give up once I realized how impractical it was. We also noticed during this trip that the TTs didn’t offer much extra storage space. Considering we would be fulltiming, storage was a big necessity. We left that day feeling like we were definitely headed in the right direction of finding the right setup for us.

After looking at so many towable options Ben set out to research towing and the kinds of hitches available for TTs these days. He had memories of traveling with his family when they had a TT they towed to the mountains, and was hoping that time & technology offered a more stable/less swaying option. During his research he became pretty convinced that with as much as we would be moving around during our winter travels he would prefer towing a fifth wheel (5er). We also learned how much more headroom it would offer for him, so we decided to hit up LMRV again.

On our fourth trip to the dealership we found out Bob wasn’t there because he was busy getting things ready for the company’s big RV show they would be hosting that weekend at University of Phoenix Stadium. We were then warned that inventory was low on-site since many of the rigs had already been moved to the stadium in preparation for the show. One of Bob’s colleagues showed us a couple of 5ers they still had and we made plans to hit up the RV show to have a better selection to consider. Since we had a few days before the show we used the LMRV website to look at the brands & layouts we would want to see in person.

Next Post…The Rv Show



A New Journey Begins


We are becoming full-time RVers!


That’s a pretty typical response that we’ve received from the few people we have already shared this with. We seem to be greeted with one of two reactions: people either think we’re crazy, or they think our plan is awesome. Many people plan or dream of a lifestyle like this for years, but I can’t say either of us had really put too much thought into it before. We are incredibly excited about this new plan, especially when you consider how quickly it’s fallen into place.

It all started on a Tuesday afternoon at the end of October. We had traveled up to Flagstaff to do some hiking over Ben and Rivers’ fall break. As we hiked along, stopping to take pictures and collect beautiful yellow leaves, Ben posed a question that pretty much came out of nowhere.

What if you could quit your job and we could just travel during the winter?

Obviously that sounded amazing, but how could we afford that? My simple response almost startled Ben.

I’m down. Figure out the details and I’m in.

He said he’d run the numbers before and if we weren’t wasting our money each month paying high rent, outrageous summer power bills, and all of the other house-related expenses it was completely possible on his river guide income alone. This meant we would have to be stationary for the six months out of the year he was running his river season, but that we could spend the other six months traveling anywhere we wanted. We chatted though scenarios and options for the rest of the hike. By the time we got back to the car and the cell service, we were both googling RV types and prices.

A mere six weeks after Ben asked me that random question on a hike we owned both an RV and a truck to tow it with. Six weeks. We really are crazy and apparently efficient! I will share more about the research and buying process in the next few posts.