Trip to Denver: Household Retrieved

While we had settled into the condo as best we could by the end of May, we needed to keep our sights on a trip to Denver. As mentioned in prior posts, the bulk of our household left from our 2018 downsizing was in climate-controlled storage with CubeSmart in the Denver area. It would take easily ten days to make the trip and move out of the storage unit.

Our first step was to discern the size of a moving truck i.e. U-Haul or Penske that we would ultimately need. Diane revisited the household inventory list and photos of numbered boxes. One of the reasons we rented a climate-controlled space was because of family heirlooms, artwork, archives, and photos that were more sensitive to temperature extremes. Some of these items would ideally ride back to Pullman, Washington in either the backseat of our air conditioned pickup or in Tranquility the Trailer, which is nicely insulated. While our CubeSmart unit was 10 feet X 10 feet, we hadn’t packed it to the ceiling. 

Next we confirmed with our daughter, Stephanie, and son-in-love, Shane, in Denver, their availability later in the summer. Steve began to research moving truck rentals based on dates. We estimated that we would need at most a 20 foot U-Haul truck with an “attic” over the cab of that truck. Bingo! Steve had some dates for us to consider.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we weren’t keen on staying in hotels, eating in restaurants or fast-food places, or using public restrooms. Instead, it made good sense for us to travel with our trailer in order to remain self-contained. This decision led Diane to reserving campsites for ten days. The key reservation was for the Denver area. There aren’t many options for camping except at two state parks. Both are extremely popular and weekends especially, book a year in advance. We were in a unique situation where between our truck and trailer combo, we are 53 feet in length. AND, we wanted to fit the 20 foot U-Haul in our pull-through site. Nabbing a reservation for a four-night stay at Chatfield State Park outside of Littleton, Colorado, beginning on a Monday and leaving on a Friday, worked out well. Using Google maps’ satellite view, Diane was able to locate a campsite to easily accommodate all three vehicles. 

For the trip down and back, we opted to reserve sites at KOA campgrounds. Especially along this particular route, we’ve stayed at several KOAs before. Reaching out to each KOA by phone first was helpful. A caveat to our return trip would be traveling with an additional vehicle. We needed to ascertain if there was an overflow parking area where the U-Haul could be parked without incurring additional fees. A few phone calls later, we had reservations in Butte, Montana; Buffalo, Wyoming; and Cheyenne, Wyoming going to Denver. On our return we only stayed in Buffalo and Butte. The fantastic news was both of their KOAs had an overflow lot where we could park the U-Haul at no charge.

Steve reserved the U-Haul for a one-way trip from Denver to Pullman. For the distance, we could have the truck for five days. We knew that the truck needed to be unloaded and returned to the U-Haul in Moscow, Idaho on Monday, August 3. It meant that we’d have to really push ourselves on our return to Washington, but we were open to that plan. Our trip schedule was finally determined, leaving on Friday, July 24 and returning to Pullman, on Sunday, August 2.

Leaving Pullman, Denver Bound

The trip to Denver was non-eventful. Although the best part was being back on the road, towing the trailer, and watching the beautiful landscape unfold across Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Our stay in Cheyenne, Wyoming was a perfect pause. On Monday, we were able to time our arrival through Denver to avoid the glut of afternoon traffic.

The Tobacco Root Mountain Range of Montana in the distance.
The Bighorn Mountain Range near the Montana & Wyoming Border.
A pause for bathroom break provided this view of the Big Horns in Wyoming!

On Tuesday we drove to CubeSmart storage and began our work of dismantling the archive shelves, packing loose items into boxes, and loading items that could ride back to Pullman in the trailer. 

Prep work included breaking down shelving and packing up loose items.
We’re organized and ready for loading in the morning!
Our photo collection & albums were stored in the antique cupboard.
We filled cubbies and closets in the Trailer with heat sensitive and fragile items.

Fortunately, the weather was nice so that we could take walks at Chatfield State Park on two evenings. We’ve stayed here on numerous occasions and love the setting.

This familiar view greeted us at Chatfield State Park, Colorado with Chatfield Reservoir and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
We enjoyed a couple of evening walks at Chatfield. The trails are near the campground.

On Wednesday evening we picked up the U-Haul truck. We immediately drove to Stephanie and Shane’s apartment building where Steve, Steph, and Shane moved the sofa, loveseat, and two lamps. The apartment manager gave them permission to hold the elevator in order to get two loads down to ground level. Whew! 

Early risers! We were masked and at CubeSmart Storage early on Wednesday morning ready to tackle more organizing and moving smaller items to the trailer.
After getting the 20′ U-Haul, we drove to Steph and Shane’s high-rise apartment building in Denver.
Using the elevator, Steve, Shane, and Stephanie brought down furniture to the U-Haul.
The sofa and loveseat were a challenge in the elevator! Whew! We were grateful for everyone’s muscles.

Thursday morning had us up early so we could arrive at storage by 7am. We sensed that a Thursday wouldn’t be as busy as weekend days, plus the earlier the better to avoid as many other people as possible. We were worker bees for five hours. Diane rolled carts to and fro while Steve loaded the carts and unloaded them into the U-Haul. We were two very exhausted “puppies” by the end of the day.

Up early again, we were at CubeSmart to load the U-Haul.
And, the U-Haul is packed! It took us five hours. Thankfully there are elevators and dollies.
And, the pickup truck bed is packed!
And, the backseat of the pickup truck is loaded.

The toughest part of this trip from an emotional standpoint was not getting to have the typical time we so enjoy with our family due to COVID-19 and respectfully taking precautions. We were able to have several visits with Steve’s Mom over morning coffee and lunch. Seated apart on her driveway with her in the garage worked out. Stephanie and Shane came to our campsite at Chatfield State Park on the last evening. It was nice to share a meal with them and have conversation. Yet still, it wasn’t enough!

Stephanie & Shane joined us at our campsite for dinner.

Up at the crack of dawn, we set off just at sunrise. Steve drove the U-Haul truck. Diane drove the truck-trailer combo. Despite trying to avoid traffic, we ended up in the thick of it for an insane stretch AND the sunrise was right in our eyes. Yet, once we shifted from I-70 and were a few miles north on I-25, the traffic seemed to settle into a manageable pace.

Up at 5am and off we go at 5:30 from Chatfield State Park.

The drive to Buffalo made for a VERY long day. We tried to switch driving vehicles for 60 miles or so, but Diane’s back wasn’t pleased. Needless to say, Steve had quite the ride with the U-Haul, which struggled on inclines, had no cruise control, and when the engine RPM increased, the air conditioner decreased.

Late that afternoon we arrived at Buffalo KOA in Buffalo, Wyoming.

Two more long days with a night in Butte, found us back in Pullman on Sunday afternoon. Once Jeremy and Michelle knew that we were at home, they immediately drove over to lend their support. In about an hour’s time, they completely unloaded the U-Haul and helped Steve with the pick-up bed. 

We took plenty of stretch breaks across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
We arrived home, taking up 80′ along the street curb.
Let the unloading begin!
Jeremy & Michelle completely unloaded the U-Haul in less than an hour’s time!

Aww! Now we’ve become fairly settled. We will let the COVID-19 pandemic play out, hopefully with good health and a future vaccine we can resume travels to visit family, friends, and special places in the U.S.

In the meantime, be well. And, if we encourage you to Subscribe so that you’ll receive an email notification when we have a new blog post.

Love,
Diane & Steve

Living Life at the Speed of Sanity….even in one place!

Cattail Cove State Park, Arizona

After changing travel plans for part of November and December, 2019, we caught up with our original schedule on December 30 at Cattail Cove State Park south of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Last June we spent a day looking at January-April 2020 and made reservations at Arizona State Parks. Reservations can be made 12 months in advance. As it turned out, because we were behind on reserving, there were a few state parks into which we couldn’t book and a couple in which our stay isn’t as long as we hoped. Arizona continues to be a popular Winter Haven!

Cattail Cove State Park, Arizona.
The state park’s amphitheater area was decorated in a desert theme for Christmas.

Our 10-day stay at Cattail Cove State Park was lovely. The campground is tucked along a cove on Lake Havasu. Mature trees provided shade, which was especially welcomed during the afternoons. The first three days we were in a campground loop where many of the sites were close together. Our last week was scheduled for a site in another loop with more space to each site. The park staff were some of the most attentive who we’ve met over our various state and national park stays. The comfort stations a.k.a restroom and shower buildings were spotless. The grounds were immaculately kept. And, we were greeted by friendly smiles, hellos, and wonderful conversations.

Our 2nd campsite at Cattail Cove State Park with some welcomed shade for the warmer afternoons.

We arrived in the area a day after rainy weather. Beginning with our first day, each morning we were welcomed by prevailing sunshine and bluebird blue skies. Occasionally we would have clouds. Jet contrails criss-crossed the sky by the dozens each day. Often their lingering patterns created a more intense sunset. Overall the stunning colors of the sunset were mutually noteworthy to many fellow campers during evening strolls or hikes. The sunsets treated us to some of the most brilliant that we’ve witnessed since beginning our full-time RVing.

Cattail Coves white-sand beach complete with ramadas for shade and a few palm trees!
The colorful evening sky on our last night at Cattail Cove State Park.

One of the most appealing parts of our Cattail Cove stay were the numerous hiking trails. Getting back into our hiking groove was at the top of our list after an intense six weeks prior to arriving in Arizona. During our stay, we hiked 35 miles over the hilly terrain. Within a 2-5 minute walk we could access two trailheads. The trail nearest the lake had several stretches of sand, reminiscent of hikes along Lake Michigan dunes. The wind off of Lake Havasu could be stiff enough to create white caps.

The winds caused some small waves and white caps on Lake Havasu.

As for memorable hikes, we joined 43 other people for the state parks First Day Hike on January 1, 2020, led by rangers and park staff. We occasionally paused along the trails where they shared tidbits about the terrain, the habitats, and the history of the area. 

On January 1, 2020, First Day Hike at Cattail Cove State Park.

The trail that we hiked most often was Whytes Way, which ran closest to Lake Havasu with commanding views of the lake, mountains, and hilly landscape. Occasionally little whiptail lizards would zip across our path and scurry beneath vegetation or into a small hole leading to their homes. There were stretches of the trail that had us trekking through sand, so a good workout for our legs. The outer terminus of this trail was Whytes Retreat on BLM land, complete with a vault toilet and picnic table beneath a ramada for shade. The picnic table was near lake level, serving as a pleasant pause to hear the lapping water and watching waterfowl busily diving for lunch.

Whytes Retreat with its ramada, picnic table, and even a vault toilet along Lake Havasu.

Other hikes took us over and around some of the hills. Barrel cacti, saguaro, palo verde, mesquite trees, brittlebush, and buffalo grass were the most popular vegetation. 

The typical desert terrain and vegetation throughout the Cattail Cove area.

For a more interesting and lengthier hike, we took Ripley’s Run. We walked through some washes, up some stretches of jagged volcanic rock giving us views over the desert, and rock scrambling through skinnier spaces between walls of the washes. In the sunlight we quickly warmed up, yet once in the shadows of the rock faces we cooled easily.

On Ripley’s Run we encountered tighter areas or places to climb down some rocks.

Several days we also hiked McKinney Loop and Whytes Trail to add more mileage. It was fantastic to get into the fresh air, the stiff breezes off of the lake, and clear our minds of a busy stretch in November and December.

Overall, we will recall the contrasts between the desert and lake along Whytes Trail. The entire hiking system was pretty solitary and one can see why mountain lions might enjoy this area. Despite the solitude, we occasionally met fellow hikers, all of us commenting on the beauty. On one late afternoon hike with sunset quickly approaching, we came upon two hikers, who we sensed appreciated us buddying up with them to lend our assistance with one of our trekking poles and taking the remainder of the trail at their pace until all were back to the trailhead.

Yes, we had our share of “town days” in Lake Havasu City for laundry, truck/trailer wash, refilling L.P., taking our recycling to the Republic Services community recycling station, making new acquaintances at a local Starbucks, grocery shopping, and taking in London Bridge, to name a few.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.
We dropped off the recycling that we’d collected over a few weeks. Thank you Republic Services for providing a community recycling center in Lake Havasu City, Arizona! Many campgrounds have no recycling our very limited recycling.
We spent 45 minutes washing the truck and trailer in a large carwash bay that could accomodate the height and width of our trailer.

Thank you Cattail Cove State Park and Lake Havasu City for making such an enjoyable stay!

 

February 29, 2020 = 19 Months as Full-Time RVers!

Say it isn’t so? And, especially on this Leap Day! Now where have those 19 months of full-time RVing gone? Certainly they are full of countless stories, of traveling highways and byways,  of spending nearly 24/7 time together, of experiencing sunny days and cloudy days, of soaking up time with family and friends along our Speed of Sanity travels, of visiting a different laundromat every 10-14 days, of relying on coffee shops, public libraries, or our Verizon Hot-Spot for Wi-Fi, of frustrating times with little to no cellphone service, of sharing silly moments, and of hugging away tearful grief when we’ve lost dear ones.

One of the dozens of laundromats! Wash N’ Fluff in Globe, Arizona has been one of the cleanest!

More than anything, we continue feeling deeply grateful for this time of our life when we can travel as we do. No, we don’t have the many comforts of a stick and brick home, yet we take extraordinary comfort in coming home to our little mobile abode after a day of adventuring or tending to the many tasks that full-time RVing requires of us. This IS home.

A priceless morning, million-dollar view just 60 feet from our campsite of Roosevelt Lake in Tonto National Forest, Arizona, on February 29, 2020. (FYI: the campsite fee is $12.50/night thanks to our Lifetime Senior National Park Pass & 50% discount).

Part of our full-time RV lifestyle permits flexibility that we appreciate having. Yesterday we arrived at Tonto National Monument to hike up to the cliff dwelling only to find that two chartered busloads of enthusiastic 4th graders pulled into the parking lot behind us, were also taking the hike. Sensing that space in the cliff dwelling was limited, we opted to head back to our abode and then head back to Tonto NM a few hours later. When we returned to the park, we had the cliff dwelling to ourselves and one ranger! (Admittedly, we sure miss seeing kiddos after years of teaching and working with children. It would have been fun to join their field trip!)

Hiking to the Lower Cliff Dwelling at Tonto National Monument near Roosevelt, Arizona on February 28, 2020

Thank you to our family, friends, and many acquaintances made along our journey for your love and encouragement!

Here’s to many more “Happy Trails” to everyone!