Hope on the Horizon

Our previous post alluded to Hope on the Horizon. In fact Hope rode with us as we left Denver on Saturday, May 9, 2020 towards the Pacific Northwest. Our sights, dreams, and Plan C were counting on Hope! Thankfully Colorado lifted its shelter-in-place order that morning. This gave us increased confidence that we were okay to leave. What a relief. After 52 days of sheltering-in-place as part of Colorado’s Stay-Safe-at-Home measures, we were ready to get Plan C on the road with “AZ IF the Truck” towing “Tranquility the Trailer.” Yet, perhaps you are curious: “What was it like to hunker down in Colorado during the interim?”

Our Stay-Safe-At-Home Stage

Beginning on March 20, 2020, two days after arriving in Denver, we noted the number of novel coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, cases were at 15,000 for the United States. Keeping tabs on the cases in Colorado, Idaho, and Washington were important to us over the next seven weeks. We felt reassured knowing that Tranquility the Trailer was safely stored and just chilling with a very full RV storage lot at Dove Valley Storage. Needing to keep our mental and physical health healthy, we walked dozens of miles on the sidewalks in the neighborhood where we were staying. Barb’s home provided more than ample space to hit the pause button. The views from her back windows and deck gave us solace with opportunities to watch different birds, snow falling on the landscape, gorgeous sunrises, rains followed by rainbows, and then spring blooms and green grass. With her large kitchen, we made more involved meals, unlike in the trailer, which limited more elaborate meals. Indeed, we were extremely thankful for Barb’s hospitality during her absence. In return, it was nice to be able to keep tabs on her home for her.

We loved being near an open space from Barb’s deck.
Another snow falls in the Denver area. We ended up with 8 inches.
A stormy sky with moisture to the east sported a full rainbow from the setting sun over the Rocky Mountains to the west behind us.
Near midnight with a full moon over the lake beside Barb’s house. Tomorrow we’ll leave for Idaho and Washington.

Our outings were few, dictated by the governor’s orders. We managed with bandanas and coffee filters, which we slid between the bandana layers for added protection. Thankfully we could shop during early shopping hours designated for 60+ of age or at-risk individuals. Whole Foods was within two blocks and our best place for groceries, with fewer shoppers and better protocols early in the game. In order for Steve’s Mom to stay safer, we shopped and delivered her groceries. For us, some dental care and lab work couldn’t be postponed, so we managed safely with our providers taking extraordinary measures. In April we had a socially-distanced sidewalk visit near Stephanie and Shane’s high-rise apartment building to get some of our mail from them and to have a brief conversation. The weekend before we left Denver, we had them over for a socially-distanced pre-birthday lunch for Stephanie with Shane, her, and us on the deck. On one of our last days in Denver, we ordered takeout from 5 Guys and had lunch with Steve’s Mom, socially-distanced on her driveway. For all of us, it was quite difficult to not have our usual hugs and not be inside one another’s homes. More than anything, we were all trying to keep each other healthy.

Without fabric and sewing machine, we resorted to bandanas and a coffee filter between layers.
We had a socially-distanced pre-birthday lunch for Stephanie on Barb’s deck. Our 2nd time to see them, but still no hugs.
We love you Mom! It’s hard to leave. Still no hugs. We had a meal on her driveway, socially-distanced.

We had numerous phone calls or Zoom sessions with family members and friends. Those were a boost for our psyches, sensing the feeling was mutual. It seemed that we were all needing those connections and time to anchor to loved ones, albeit virtually. We challenged ourselves with a couple of jigsaw puzzles. Projects included scanning family documents and photos. Devouring the news seemed to be an obsession, yet thankfully it wasn’t cable news. We tried to limit news watching until 5pm local news followed by national news and finally PBS NewsHour. Each morning we jumped onto our New York Times, NPR, or Guardian apps to get different news sources. The detriment of this pattern of news binging was the added anxiety as the reports of rising numbers of cases and deaths was relentless. 

We had a family Zoom meeting. Jeremy and Michelle in Pullman. Steph and Shane in Denver. We’re in Grant’s Ranch.
During our 52 days in Colorado, our daily cocktail hour included good chocolate and decaf coffee while watching the news.

Preparing for Plan C

Before we left Denver, we shopped ahead for groceries and other supplies. We weren’t planning to shop in Moscow, Idaho or Pullman, Washington upon arriving there as we were on a mission to diminish the amount of contact with others during these uncertain times. Surprised at that number of shortages of certain categories in the Denver area stores, we erred on the side of being as prepared as possible before leaving Denver because Moscow and Pullman had fewer stores.

Knowing that we would soon be leaving our beloved state of 10 years, we had one brief outing to higher elevation before we left Colorado. On May 4, we packed a picnic lunch and drove U.S. 285 into the mountains. Once at the summit of Kenosha Pass, we parked so we’d have a view over lunch. Kenosha Pass is where we’ve taken countless hikes and snowshoed. The gold aspen in the autumn and purple and white columbine in the spring are breathtaking. Whenever family or friends came from out-of-state, this was one of our favorite places to take them. It doesn’t take too much of a hike to achieve expansive views of South Park’s valley rimmed with beautiful mountains under sapphire skies.  Thank you Colorful Colorado for the memories!

A last hurrah! We ventured to Kenosha Pass for a truck picnic lunch at one of our favorite hiking and snowshoeing trailheads.

Besides, keeping close track of COVID cases in Colorado, we included Wyoming and Montana, through which we’d drive and stay; and Idaho and Washington, where we’d conclude this trip. Having Colorado plates and in the event that there were checkpoints where we’d need to provide proof of our destination, we had reservation details along with us.

While many campgrounds in those four states were either closed since it was still early in the season or closed due to the pandemic, we needed to plan ahead for our stays. Sometime in mid-March we received an email from KOA corporate that many KOA campgrounds across the U.S. were doing their best to remain open knowing that there were snowbirds on the move to northern states or Canada plus full-time RVers. Although many KOAs had limited service and all but the offices were closed, so no restrooms, laundry facilities, camp stores, pools, cabins. Some KOAs are open year-round, while others are seasonal. This communication from KOA provided a boost for us. We knew that our route would take us along interstates from Denver to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Being acquainted with several KOAs on the route through prior stays, certainly helped. We called ahead to verify that they were open. Then using our KOA app, we reserved for one-night, pull-through spaces in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Buffalo, Wyoming. In Cheyenne, our paperwork was taped to the office door. In Buffalo, Steve had to step into the office for less than two minutes. We knew that the KOA in Deer Lodge, Montana was open, but we planned to call them after our Buffalo stay in case the weather was unfavorable.

Pacific Northwest Bound

Friday, May 8: Last minute shopping, laundry, a trip to the storage unit to grab a few items, taking a load to the trailer (we had taken quite a bit to Barb’s for our extended stay), and top off AZ IF’s (the truck) diesel, made for a full day.

Saturday, May 9: We were up at 6 a.m. to make a final grocery run to Whole Foods, launder linens and towels, clean the house, water plants, and load the truck with the remainder of belongings. At RV storage, we hitched up Tranquility the Trailer and pulled out by 1pm for our 125-mile drive. Arriving at the KOA in Cheyenne, Wyoming with a pull-through site with full hookups was a good call. We opted for a shorter drive that day because we knew we would get a late start and the trailer needed some attention. First, we needed to de-winterize the trailer after having to winterize it when we arrived in Denver during a cold snap. Secondly, we needed to get the fridge and freezer turned on. Next, it was time to move items from the truck to the trailer yet again. Lastly, we were exhausted and needed a good night’s sleep!

It feels like a never-ending story of loading and unloading. Now we’re moving from Barb’s back into the trailer.
We are ready to leave Dove Outdoor Storage in Colorado bound for Idaho.
Leaving the KOA in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Sunday, May 10: Happy Mother’s Day calls came from Stephanie and Shane in Denver and Jeremy and Michelle in Pullman. We were treated to a 300-mile day with sunshine, NO WIND (this is atypical for Wyoming), and Sirius Radio over the many miles. We kept tabs with another full-time couple, Beth and Bruce, who we met just briefly the year prior at Kartchner Caverns State Park in Arizona. We follow one another on Instagram and Facebook plus have exchanged messages. Interestingly, they were spending a couple of nights at the KOA in Buffalo, Wyoming, our destination for the night. A few minutes after we pulled into our site and were situated with our hookups, they came over for a socially-distanced chat. It was great to see them even briefly. Knowing that we had two more big days of driving, we vegged on a movie that evening and hit the hay a bit early.

Happy Mother’s Day from Wyoming! Diane’s behind the wheel and taking calls via Bluetooth from our children.
We had a pull through site at the KOA in Buffalo, Wyoming. We’ve stayed here four different times.
We were very pleased to see fulltime RVers Bruce and Beth. We all follow each other on Instagram and Facebook.

Monday, May 11: We were up early.  We had 427 miles to cover to get to Deer Lodge, Montana. The forecast called for potential snow near Livingston, which we’ve experienced on the pass between Livingston and Bozeman before. No thank you. We kept our fingers, toes, and eyes crossed. Fortunately, there was just a dusting of snow. As we traveled along I-25 and then I-90, we called the KOA in Deer Lodge to request redeeming our KOA ValueKard points and that we didn’t see how to do this through the KOA app. It was then that we learned that redemption had to be done in person and the city of Deer Lodge was having water issues, so there would be no water hookup. Bummer! Because we opted not to add more water to our fresh water tank in Buffalo, we had to conserve water for one more night and morning. Gulp! Once we arrived in Deer Lodge late that afternoon, we were greeted by winds and gloomy skies. Only one other RV was in the campground. The KOA owner was cheerful, welcomed us, and apologized for the water issues.

Steve’s behind the wheel from Livingston, Montana.
As we travel I-90, it’s not uncommon in May to have snow on the pass between Livingston and Bozeman.
We spent the night at the KOA in Deer Lodge, Montana. There was only one other rig. It was a blustery night, so early to bed.

Tuesday, May 12: We were up early again. Although, without much water in the tank, there were no showers to take nor dishes to wash. Off to tackle another 330 miles on the last consecutive day of driving. Through the western part of Montana and across the panhandle of Idaho we appreciated the valleys, the open spaces, Clark Fork River, and the ranches. We traversed the mountain passes of the northern Rocky mountains and descended into Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It was there that we exited I-90 to take route 95 south along the western Idaho border. The beauty of the forests thick with Douglas Fir, Lodgepole Pine, Engelmann Spruce, et al gave way to the rolling Palouse Hills the further south we drove. It was with great relief that we pulled into the Rambler RV Park near Moscow, Idaho. We could be here for an open-ended period of time based on our pre-arrangement with the owner. It was a fairly nondescript park with some sites serving as a longer-term situation for some RV owners. Unfortunately, the water quality of our water hookup was not the best. We paid a brief visit to see Jeremy and Michelle and to fill our water containers to add water to our fresh water tank.

We’re driving across the panhandle of Idaho. The clouds seem to cling and sift through the tall trees.
1,200 miles from Denver, we arrived at the Rambler RV Park in Moscow, Idaho. It’s only 10 miles from Jeremy and Michelle in Pullman, Washington.
The by-product of needing fresh water for our tank was seeing Jeremy and Michelle, socially-distanced and masked.

Wednesday, May 13: Over breakfast, Steve developed a Google maps route from the list of 15 rental properties that Diane created. In the afternoon, we set off for Pullman to drive the route, make notes, and take photos. En route to one of our final drive-bys, we noted a For Rent sign on a lawn. This address wasn’t on our list. We noted the contact number and Steve called it later. Bingo! We had an appointment for the next day for a walk-through with the owner.

We’re up early and can’t wait to drive past homes for rent in Pullman today.
View of Rambler RV Park and Tranquility the Trailer on the far side.
We noticed this place for rent, which actually wasn’t on our list yet.

Thursday, May 14: We met Jo, the owner, to walk through the condo. Within 15 minutes, we sensed that this would be a good fit for us. She had two other parties scheduled for a visit and noted that she would make a decision in the next day or two. We asked for an application. As soon as we were back at the trailer, we completed the application and sent it to her. We put out calls/texts to family and friends who would be references. Thankfully the application was easy to share via email, so no need to arrange another appointment. Plan C seemed to be unfolding at the speed of lightning…or was it the Speed of Sanity?

We just finished taking a tour of the condo that we noticed yesterday. We like it!
Feeling a cause to celebrate, Steve took us through Dutch Brothers Coffee drive-thru in Moscow. First coffee purchased since March 14!
The view was beautiful between Moscow and the RV park with the green crops on the Palouse and the stormy sky.

There WAS Hope on the Horizon! Plus, We Moved During a Pandemic!

In our next post, we will share what happened on May 15 and a bit of our journey on what it’s like to get situated into a new home and new community during a pandemic after full-time RVing for 22 months! It’s definitely been interesting! Stay tuned!

Stay healthy. Be well.

Diane and Steve

Living Life at the Speed of Sanity


Vanished…Yet Hope on the Horizon

These times during the COVID-19 Pandemic have up-ended our intention for adding new updates to our 12mph blog. Thanks for hanging with us!

On Friday, March 6, 2020 with a smidgin’ of phone service available at our campsite at Kartchner Caverns State Park, we placed a call to an RV park in Santa Fe, New Mexico to secure the final reservation as part of an upcoming 12-month, 56-stay, 31-state trip. What a huge relief! It had taken us months with dozens of hours in coffee shops or public libraries for WiFi in order to accomplish this immense task. Unbelievably, we began making some of our reservations in October and November 2019. 

Lovely March 6, 2020 enjoying our beautiful campsite in Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson, Arizona. Sunshine. Mild tems. Blue sky. Arid climate. Tranquility the Nash Trailer. AZ IF the Ford F-350. Life is Good! The last reservation was made!

Why plan so far in advance? We learned during our first year of full-time RVing that it was necessary for us to plan nearly a year prior to reserve in private, state park, and national park campgrounds depending on their reservation window. Reminders were added to our Google calendar as to when the reservation needed to be secured. We devised a list of all 50 states and the earliest a reservation could be made in each state park campground. Another rule of thumb was national parks are typically six months in advance UNLESS they are managed by an outside vendor who can take reservations sooner i.e. Florida Everglades National Park. Another list indicated when to make reservations for private and national park campground stays. Then from these lists, we knew when to reserve. It was kind of bizarre to be making reservations in Texas for March at the same time we were making reservations for a campground in Georgia for a November visit. Plus, we reached out to family and friends months to a year in advance, mainly because of planning for an entire year for an extended trip not likely to be done of this depth or breadth again. Details, details!

On February 26, 2020, Bernard’s Coffee Station in Globe, Arizona had good WiFi. We spent one afternoon making more reservations. Globe was a 30-minute drive from Tonto National Forest where we had no cell phone service. Plus Globe had a pretty good laundromat where we did laundry before Bernard’s.
Bernard’s provided ample table space to sprawl. Plus their vegetable soup and sourdough bread, and of course coffee, oh my!

The evening before, we would review the campground website (namely county, state, or national parks where one selects a specific campsite) to see which sites would work for our situation using advanced search filters: hookups required, length of trailer, and having one slide. With the campground map that included site numbers juxtaposed with a Google map of the campground in satellite view, we’d look at each potential site. We often were able to discern which site provided the most direct sunlight. Sometimes this was desired and other times we’d be looking for shade. We also learned over time that if possible, a longer site really made it easier with our big pickup truck. A list of sites was created and kept handy for reserving bright and early the next morning.

The morning that we’d need to reserve, our alarm would be set 30 minutes prior to the time and time zone for the earliest a reservation could be made. (Sleepy-eyed in Arizona for the Florida reservations). Learning early in the reservation process that it takes roughly 10-15 additional seconds for the “I’m not a robot” CAPTCHA to complete before the reservation is submitted was a helpful caveat. Unbelievably we lost a couple of reservations to others making reservations early in the morning. Kind of crazy! Yet it worked fairly well and our year was planned! Whew!

This was a simple way to keep track of reservations in tandem with Google calendar and documents was to use a legal pad and make our own calendar. We couldnt locate a planning calendar when tucked away into more remote areas.

The trip was created with several goals in mind: visit family and friends; camp near the southern edge of each of the five Great Lakes; prefer county, state, or national park stays; conduct genealogy research; visit numerous cemeteries related to Diane’s heritage in OH, PA, NY, CT, WV, and MA; help Diane pick up VT, NY, MA, RI, and CT for her list of states visited; have Thanksgiving with cousins; spend December-March along the southern Atlantic and Gulf Coasts; welcome Christmas and New Years in the Florida Everglades; take a couple of day-trips to the Florida Keys; spend a month in one place near Gulf Shores, Alabama; tour NASA near Houston; visit Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Barb’s home in Denver metro where we sheltered in place for 52 days.
Morning view from Barb’s back window. It was a drastically different view that what we were enjoying a week prior in the Benson, Arizona area.
On March 20, 2020, it was 23 degrees yet felt like 15. This wasn’t Arizona anymore!

Fast forward to March 19 in the midst of Plan B and the first three days of sheltering in place at our friend’s home in Colorado. We spent hours over those days emailing or calling all family and friends, campgrounds, state parks, and national parks to cancel our 56 stays. It took two weeks for the last of the credits to be applied to our credit card. It seemed absolutely surreal that everything was cancelled! Not one reservation remained on the books or in the works. The good news is that we were able to recover 89% of what we put down as deposits, some stays being completely pre-paid in-full. It’s still a loss, but it could have been worse.

Beginning March 19, we began keeping our list of reservation cancelations for 56 stays in 31 states over 12-months.

Vanished. Just like that 56 stays were off the calendar!

Yet, the good news was that there was hope building on the horizon! By Friday, March 20, we had a gut feeling that we needed to keep the engine moving and commit to the next plan, our Plan C. Knowing that we wanted to find a home base abode to rent in Pullman, Washington, we explored our camping options between our arrival in the Pullman area and actually finding a place to rent. Not only were we in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also knew that there may be other full-time RVers needing a longer term site or an influx of snowbird RVers heading north prematurely. We discovered several longer term RV park communities in the surrounding towns. The closest was in Moscow, Idaho, 10 miles from Pullman, placing us strategically with easy access to Jeremy and Michelle and looking for a home. We paid a month’s non-refundable deposit on March 23 in order to hold a spot for an open-ended time at the RV park with our arrival set for May 12. This was a huge relief. At least we had an anchor at the other end.

Throughout our 52-day stay at Barb’s home south of Denver, we kept tabs on the home rental market in Pullman. Thankfully between Trulia, Zillow, and Craigslist, we had a nice list of 15 rentals by the time we left Denver. Trying to imagine what a home-base would look like after having downsized as much as we could, we knew that we’d like ample space to resume projects once we were settled. A three-bedroom or 2 bedroom plus den would provide room to spread out. Having at least a one-car garage would be helpful for storing much of what was in the pickup bed, bicycles, etc. A yard that would require minimum upkeep would certainly make it conducive to hitch up Tranquility the Trailer and at least enjoy some camping trips in Washington, Idaho, or Oregon.

How did the hope on the horizon turn out? Stay tuned for the next post!

Diane & Steve

Living Life at the Speed of Sanity….even after full-time RVing!




Our Rapid Changes as Full-time RVers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Much like other people, we were rapidly faced with a conundrum during the week of March 9, 2020. We had been following the COVID-19 Pandemic outbreak with watchful eyes as much as we could. Unfortunately, inTonto National Forest and at Kartchner Caverns State Park, we had little to no TV reception for the better part of three weeks and cell service was challenged except for texting.

March 2: We had arrived at Kartchner Caverns State Park, near Benson, Arizona for a two-week stay. Friends from Texas were due to arrive on the 4th and stay not far from us. There were reports of a couple of COVID-19 cases in Phoenix at that time. We tucked that information aside. Family texted us from Los Alamos, New Mexico that when they grocery shopped, some shelves were depleted of products and that there were long lines at check-out. We thought it odd that this was happening in a smaller city in New Mexico. And, there were no reported cases in New Mexico as far as we knew.

Thank you Kartchner Caverns for a second fabulous stay!
Arriving at Kartchner Caverns State Park, the early March semi-desert grassland with mesquite trees welcomed us.

March 3: With company coming, Diane headed to Benson’s Safeway supermarket to purchase some additional food. It struck her as odd that when she pulled into the parking lot, it was 80% full in early afternoon on a Tuesday. Once inside, she noticed grocery carts piled high with toilet paper, paper towels, Gatorade, Chlorox bleach, cereal, meat, baking ingredients, bread, etc. She thought, “Gosh, could this be in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic?” After shopping for what she needed on the usual list and a bit extra for our company, she joined the ranks of being prepared by also selecting pain relievers, Muscinex, cough drops, Saltine crackers, and Jello just in case either of us contracted the virus. Once in line at the cashier, it was perplexing the number of people waiting in line with grocery carts brimming with groceries. It was spring break time, which may have explained the number of people, yet the types of purchases didn’t look like spring break items.

March 4-7: To our delight, our company arrived. We enjoyed day trips together. One day to Tombstone with its overflowing Big Nose Kate’s Saloon crowd for lunch. Another to the bustling town of Bisbee with retirees and spring breakers crowding into little shops and outdoor cafes. We treated our friends to a cave tour at Kartchner Caverns, which included 25 other visitors. 

Our friends, Kaila, Steve, and sweet dog Stan visited us from Texas.

March 8: Our friends left to return to Texas. Our day was spent hiking and then preparing for a concert venue later that evening in Sahuarita. At the concert, we sat next to two cousins in a lovely auditorium with 1,000 other concertgoers. We soaked up the music of the concert band, which included two other cousins playing in the band. Afterwards the six of us went out for dessert and coffee at Denny’s restaurant. It was very enjoyable. Although we flinched at any coughing that we heard in the audience or at the restaurant.

Cousins: Paul, Luci, Lorna, Mike, Diane, and Steve. We are blessed!

March 9: The news headlines on our New York Times apps indicated COVID-19 cases in Washington state, namely in the Seattle area, were mounting. Having been away from the news the past few days, we were wondering where this pandemic was headed. Additionally, we received news that a family member in Iowa was critically ill and hospitalized, thankfully not with COVID-19, yet of great concern. It reinforced the challenges of our full-time RV lifestyle including the distance from family and our not being in a position to quickly be there to lend support, if needed. To relax before turning in for the night, we took an evening stroll of the campground with the full moon adding some extra light.

The March 9th full moon while at Kartchner Caverns State Park was veiled with a thin layering of clouds.

March 10: We took a six-mile hike into Coronado National Forest on the Guindani Trail. It gave us time to explore a canyon, enjoy the sound of a narrow stream, witness the beauty of early wildflowers, and experience the scent of blooms. There’s nothing like stimulating one’s senses in nature! Additionally, we began considering what COVID-19 might mean for us, our family, and friends.

Hiking along the Guindani Trail we crossed the mountain stream 23 times. This stream originates in the Whetstone Mountain Range of Arizona.

March 11: We needed a town day to do laundry and find reliable Wi-Fi. We opted for Sierra Vista. One laundromat was packed with people plus all washers and dryers were taken. Luckily, there was another laundromat with only two other patrons. Two hours later we were at Livia’s coffee shop, which was a welcomed and familiar refuge, having spent two afternoons there last February (2019), while staying at Kartchner Caverns. At Livia’s we continued making reservations for our March 2020-March 2021 Extended Trip through the Midwest, New England, East Coast, and Gulf Coast. It felt great to have nearly all 50 stays booked or arranged for 12 months!

March 12: The news brought additional COVID-19 statistics and growing concern. Our thoughts shifted to questioning whether we needed to consider and execute a Plan B. To have a lower-key day seemed to match our general mood. Over lunch at Benson’s Horseshoe Cafe & Bakery, we considered the “what-ifs” of our full-time RV lifestyle in the midst of a growing pandemic. Most importantly was not to contract the virus, nor spread it. Our “What-ifs” took several explorations of thought in conversations throughout afternoon and evening. We were definitely “seeking wisdom between a rock and hard place.”

What-If, perhaps we stay the course and finish the next four weeks of stays in Arizona and the one week in New Mexico, since we already have reservations. 

What-If, we really should consider heading to Colorado because that’s where Diane’s health insurance is tied geographically; unlike Steve’s insurance which is Medicare and a Medicare Supplement that can be used throughout the country. 

What-If, we keep saying that we should change our domicile state/residency while we are full-time RVers rather than keeping our Denver residency with its higher vehicle registration fees and vehicle insurance rates. 

What-If, maybe we need to take a year off, cancel our extended trip, change our state of residency, find a place to stay with the trailer for several months, and then resume full-time RVing.

Our late afternoon walk with the clouds portrayed the mood of uncertainty that we were having in the midst of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

March 13: It was Friday the 13th. (Just noted it, don’t believe in it having ill-will.) We learned that friends, who were camping at a New Mexico state park, had a knock on their camper door from the ranger. The ranger said that the state park was closing the campground and everyone needed to leave that morning. Receiving this news really drove home our decision. Off we returned to Livia’s Coffee Shop for Wi-Fi to explore Plan B, for time was of the essence with our stay at Kartchner Caverns concluding on Monday the 16th. Our next two-week stay was Patagonia Lake State Park in Arizona. 

On the Friday the 13th, we spent a few hours at Livia’s Coffee in Sierra Vista further discerning Plan B.

Our Plan B After considering the What-Ifs, we came to the conclusion that none were an option. Instead, we decided that it was time to return to the Denver area where Diane would be near medical providers tied to her health insurance, should care be necessary. A call to our dear friend, Barb, had us asking if we could stay at her unoccupied home in a Denver suburb. “Yes,” she said. “You are welcome anytime.” (Thank you, Barb! We also stayed at her home for a month in November-December last year.) A call to the RV storage that we used in 2018 had us asking if they had a space open for an open-ended time beginning on Wednesday, March 18. “Yes, they did have a space.” Clarity arose from the What-Ifs. We decided that not only was it time to strive for a new state of residency, we were ready to embrace having a home base that didn’t depend on family or friends to provide. As much as we appreciate having stays in their homes or on their driveways, we really could see ourselves with a solid place to hang our hats in between travels. At some point during the summer, our goal is to rent a house in Pullman, Washington where we’ll be near our son and daughter-in-love.

We had phone calls with our family, Jeremy & Michelle and Stephanie & Shane to gain their input as to our plan. Given the COVID-19 situation and our not having a home base, they were quite supportive. Needing to pinch ourselves seemed appropriate as our world tilted.

March 14: Steve called and canceled our upcoming reservations at Patagonia Lake State Park. It felt odd that we were concluding our winter stay abruptly. We took advantage of the gorgeous weather and beauty of Kartchner for a last big hike and picnic that took us to the overlook and beauty of the San Pedro River Valley surrounded by several mountain ranges. We were grateful, yet feeling a bit emotional that plans changed so quickly. Yet, we knew in our guts, this was what needed to be our Plan B.

From the overlook on the Foothills Trail, we had a PB&J lunch with views of the San Pedro River Valley and the mountain ranges.
Steve practices Social Distancing in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 15: We began shifting gears by breaking down camp as much as we could and canceling other reservations for our Fool’s Lake State Park and Gilbert Ray Campground stays. To decompress from the day, we took a short hike near dusk to enjoy the desert landscape and a stroll around the campground one more time. After dinner when the crowds might be less, we went to the Walmart in Benson to pick up additional items for our pantry, not knowing what grocery stores would be like in the Denver area. Walmart looked like a giant warehouse with pallets down larger aisles, Walmart employees were working at break-neck speed to restock shelves that were depleted. We couldn’t believe our eyes! We thanked every employee we saw for their efforts. One said, “Our truck from the warehouse arrived several hours late so we are actually behind in restocking overnight.” Bless them all.

Our faithful full-timing duo as we began breaking camp: Tranquility the Trailer and AZ IF the truck.

March 16: Denver was 850 miles away, meaning two long days and one very short day of driving. It was of no surprise to us the number of vehicles that passed us with Canadian license plates or those from the Midwest or Colorado. Many people who were “snowbirds” in the south leaving their winter stays early or perhaps spring breakers heading home. Our goal was to overnight park at a rest area south of Santa Fe. Once we arrived, we found ample space for trailers and truckers. Santa Fe was near enough that we could see the city lights. 

On March 16 we awoke to sunshine in our faces! We were all loaded and hitched, ready to leave Arizona and Colorado bound. It was an emotional day as we considered the pandemic unfolding and some level of uncertainty as to our long-range plans.
Thankfully the rest stop closest to Santa Fe, New Mexico was open and there was ample room to park overnight. It was somewhat comforting to see the twinkling lights of Santa Fe in the distance.

March 17: We waved from Interstate 25 towards our siblings and their families in Los Alamos and Santa Fe, as we passed their exits. We were greatly disappointed that the change of plans had us unable to visit this time. Thankfully we visited them in January as part of our Vehicle Registration Escapade! By late afternoon, we pulled into the KOA in Fountain, Colorado, where we’ve stayed before. Once we knew our Plan B, we made reservations ahead as we weren’t sure of the demand for campground stays in the midst of the COVID-19 exodus. This placed us a couple of hours to RV storage so we could time our arrival the next day without hitting Denver metro traffic.

The morning of March 17, we waved at the Los Alamos and Eldorado exits, which would have been the routes to visit two of our sisters and their families. But…not this time!
Thankfully we could reserve ahead at the Colorado Springs South KOA in Fountain, Colorado.

March 18: We finished packing items that would be difficult to access with the slide retracted. Off to RV storage we went. Because snow and cold temps were forecasted, we packed up anything liquid or aerosol that could freeze. Steve winterized the trailer while Diane thawed the freezer and packed up the frig and freezer contents. While unloading Tranquility the Trailer once at RV storage, we had a few tears and feelings of sadness. We couldn’t believe how quickly life had changed in less than a week. We shifted items from the truck bed to the trailer and vice versa. We knew that we’d return the next day for more clothes and other items needed for what could be an extended stay at Barb’s.

Up early on March 18, we finished packing up liquids, aerosols, food from the pantry, frig, and freezer.
A few hours later we were checked into RV storage east of Denver. Steve winterized the trailer’s water system due to projected freezing temps.
The great shifting took place, moving items from trailer to truck and vice versa.
The moment has come to say, “See you later Tranquility!” There’s a level of uncertainty as to when we’ll load up our belongings and head north, but likely in early May.

April 8: Fast forward and it’s been three weeks ago that we flipped the battery kill switch on Tranquility and left it nestled quietly in storage next to other seemingly lonely rigs. In these three weeks, it’s been gut-wrenching and heart-breaking to watch the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths rise around the globe and in the U.S. Equally concerning is the rise in unemployment and businesses closing. Like many other states and communities, we have been living under a Stay at Home order in Colorado since late March. For the meantime, we stay hunkered down in Barb’s beautiful home that is 10 times larger than the trailer AND with a view of two lakes, cottonwood trees, and a hawk perched like clockwork on a high branch. Geese and ducks, herons and magpies, even a solo pelican keep us entertained with their honks or quacks and evening glides on the lakes or walking among the cattails. 

And….in due time we were unloading our belongings at Barb’s home, 20 miles west of RV storage.

We drive to Whole Foods once a week for groceries during the 7-8 a.m. 60+ age shopping hour. Thankfully being just 25 minutes from Steve’s Mom, we’ve been able to deliver groceries to her twice. And, Steve’s made a run to Walgreen’s once. Otherwise, we adhere to Stay at Home measures to protect ourselves and others. 

From Barb’s front door, we have a 2-3 mile route by sidewalk in lieu of hikes. We wave, smile, and say hello to others on the same trek. This is our temporary community! Many we now recognize because we’re all striving to get fresh air and exercise. Colorado’s ample sunsine and bluebird skies bring healing warmth to our souls. Daffodils are blooming and flowering trees are bursting with sweet blossoms. As a way to be in community much like the Italians on their balconies singing, some of our evenings include stepping onto the deck and howling with others in the community as part of the Howl at 8PM effort. Our Colorado governor likens the effort as to a pack, all in this together, plus providing a way to acknowledge the sacrifices of medical first responders in the line of fire with COVID-19, the many patients, their families, and the essential businesses and employees that continue to provide for everyone.

Colorado Governor Polis issued a “Stay at Home” order that originally was due to expire on March 26, but as of now extends to April 26. We know taking measures saves lives. We took this photo on one of our first walks in Barb’s neighborhood.

Our prayers and warm thoughts go out to everyone. May you and your families and friends have good health, escaping COVID-19. May those in the biomedical field collaborate to find an immunization for COVID-19 as well as a therapeutic measure that will reduce the severity and length of COVID-19 for those who contract it. May our economy bounce back with rigor. And, may all of humanity reflect on the fragility of life and the interconnectedness that binds around the globe despite the distance. “Together. All for one, one for all.”

We anticipate heading to Washington in early May. Until we meet again….happy trails to you, separated by at least 6 feet!

Diane & Steve
Trying to embrace life at the Speed of Sanity!