Yellowstone 2013

About Us

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Jerry: Photographer. Artist. Runner (trails&ultras). Kim: Graphic Designer. Runner. Swimmer. Cyclist. Arri: Friendly. Cute. Lovable. Full of energy. We are heading for the open road to live a life full of unknowns but with rewards that will enrich our souls.

Friday, April 18, 2014

On The Road Again

After a 5:15am wake-up call and leisurely showering, we pulled out of Leaf Verde RV Resort at 7:02 Wednesday morning. With our early departure, there wasn’t much fanfare, and we had already said all our good-byes the previous couple of days. Plus, they weren’t sad good-byes, as we will be back there for another winter come November. It’s a good gig, really. I work at the office, which offers me hourly pay and a free site. I work with fantastic people, the park is spotless and we’ve made friends. Jerry gets to shoot photography for some of his former clients, which pads our bank account. There is a good gym a mile down the road along with good grocery shopping. And, Phoenix is 30-40 minutes away. Why not keep coming back?

I do believe Wednesday was our smoothest driving day ever! We took our time driving to Las Vegas, stopping often to let Arri out and grabbing cold beverages out of the refrigerator. Directions were easy and we pulled into the Las Vegas RV Resort mid-afternoon. Let me just say, I think if you work at a RV park, you become a harsh critic when it comes to the service and overall impressions at other RV resorts.

The greeter as we pulled in was very friendly and radioed our name to the office. The office staff was great and we were quickly being escorted to our site. No fault of the escort or staff, but the park streets are tight and some of the corners and turns are difficult for a 40' rig. Jerry and I don’t waste time and we  quickly got unhooked and had started to set up our blocks, when Jerry noticed we had left deep dents in the asphalt from our back fifth-wheel tires. Looking further, there was quite a bit of water standing in the rocks around the water spigot. Then Jerry stepped and his foot sank into the rocks. Jerry told the escort he did not think it was safe to put down the jacks of our 16,500lb. home onto such soft ground. Perhaps there is an underground leak, Jerry told the escort. Begrudgingly, the escort called to the office and they moved us to another site, not nearly as nice as the first one. Jerry had even joked to the escort, “For the inconvenience of having to hook back up, we should get a premium site.”

Here I go…our escorts at Leaf Verde are awesome! The one we had here in Vegas…not so good.

I was excited that the Las Vegas RV Resort has a fitness room. A treadmill, a couple bikes, an elliptical trainer, a weight machine and some free weights. Perfect, I thought, especially since this park is not in the best of neighborhoods. So yesterday morning I headed over, thinking I would do an hour run on the treadmill. I turned on the television to Good Morning America, hopped on the treadmill and had only been going 5 or 6 minutes, when an older couple comes in. The wife grabs the TV remote and says to me, “Are you watching this?”

“Yes,” I replied. What I wanted to say was, “No, I just turned it on for the hell of it.”

“Oh, I watch the Today show.” And with that, she changed the channel. She climbed aboard one of the bikes and proceeded to ask, “How long are you going to be on that thing?”

“An hour,” I said. There was no way I was getting off early! I was determined to outlast that lady if it was the last thing I did. And I did stay on, until the treadmill belt started jumping and randomly slowing down and then speeding up.

“They try to fix it, but they don’t,” said the woman. “They’re too cheap to have a professional fix it.”

Here I go again...Leaf Verde is smart enough to realize a fitness center is a BAD idea. First of all, I can definitely see certain guests getting possessive about the equipment and the cost of maintaining the equipment could add up. I think they realize it would create endless problems and headaches. This morning, Jerry and I ran outside and took our chances with the neighborhood.

The straw that did the camel in happened yesterday evening. Jerry and I were walking Arri and she stopped to squat. Some woman, who said she was an employee, yelled at us, saying dogs have to go to the bathroom in the dog areas.

“We weren’t told that when we checked-in,” I told the woman. “So you’re saying we can’t walk our dog,” I continued?

“You can, but they can’t go to the bathroom,” she shot back at us.

I’m sure every dog owner will agree, that is completely not possible! We do have a dog park at Leaf Verde, which many guest love, and we also do have pee stops around the park, but we also tell people at check-in, “Dogs are welcome anywhere in our park, but please keep them on a leash and of course, pick up after them. Thank goodness the owner of Leaf Verde is a dog lover!

It’s very interesting seeing Vegas again, after at least 10 years. Just from our afternoon yesterday exploring the new resorts on the strip, it is obvious Vegas is no longer strictly a gambling and buffet eating adult playground. It has become a family vacation destination packed full with every store imaginable, every restaurant you tastebuds crave and whatever type of show you have ever wanted to see. It is as if the casino areas of the resorts have taken a back seat to all the other attractions. Speaking of shows, we are leaving in a couple of hours to see Love, the Cirque Du Soleil Beatles show at the Mirage.

Monday, April 7, 2014

RV Empty Nester

This past week my feelings of being an “empty nester” have really taken hold, as the park is quickly clearing out. Every day a handful more pack up, come into the office for their final meter read, confirm their reservations for next season and say good-bye. I would be lying to say that we aren’t a little happy when some of the guest leave, but truthfully those are far and few between. More often, after taking care of the paperwork, the good-byes include hugs and well wishes until we see them again next season. Many ask me, “Where are you guys going again this summer?” I happily reply, “We will be working at south Lake Tahoe, on the California side!”

Working the front desk a couple of weeks ago, on a relatively uneventful Thursday morning, a woman walked into the office. I looked up, said hello and asked, “How can I help…!” Then it registered who I was looking at. Our boss this summer, Wilma!

“Hi Wilma,” I exclaimed!

I knew they were going to stop by, but it was a week or so earlier than I had expected. I checked them in for four days and selected a site near our fellow CLM employees and friends. We really enjoyed getting to know our summer boss and learning more about what our job will entail. We were quickly able to tell that she will be a lot of fun to work for and enjoys playing just as much as working. We said we would see them soon before they pulled out, as she needed to get to Lake Tahoe for their manager meetings.

Our departure date is a week from this Wednesday, on April 16th. While we have had a great winter here in Phoenix, we are excited to get going and even more excited to experience what this summer holds!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Art For The Soul

I think most of you know that Jerry is a commercial photographer, shooting architecture and people. That’s what kept food on our table and a roof over our head during our “bricks and sticks” years. And even while we are in west Phoenix this winter, Jerry has been extremely busy shooting for some of his old clients, who are overjoyed that Jerry is in town for a few months.

But not everyone knows that Jerry is, and continues to be, a fine artist. In the mid 90’s he participated in Art Detour Phoenix, showing his work in one of the many Mystery Galleries. This weekend was Art Detour 26. A self-guided tour of Phoenix’s galleries and artist’s studios.

The Phoenix art market is by far, very conservative. It is not New York or Los Angeles or Miami. It is always an uphill battle for cutting edge and contemporary artists to establish a reputation in the art world, by being based in Phoenix. One of the shows today was banned from the Herberger Theatre Gallery for being too controversial. The R. Pela Contemporary Art Gallery showed the work this weekend and I was anxious to see it and make up my own mind. While the photographs made me pause and think, “Hmmm…interesting,” the subject matter was not gruesome or X-rated, nor would it make me cover a child’s eyes.

One of our favorite shows was Apache Skateboards by artist Douglas Miles. The amount of work shown by this artist was impressive and the quality was equally as fine. On the lighter side, The Braggs Pie Factory Gallery had a show entitled, Mutant PiƱatas. It was fun to walk underneath these pieces and question, “What was the artist thinking when she did this?”

While the work on the inside of the buildings was pretty good, the mural work on the outside of the buildings in the “artsy” part of downtown Phoenix was exceptional. And while I don’t condone “tagging” on public surfaces, Jerry and I both appreciate the talent of good mural artists and feel it is definitely an art form all its own. One such talent we met and talked was Ishmael Duenas. His mural work has spilled onto canvases (the piece show is a collaboration and the city buildings are Duenas’s work) and if the work he showed this weekend is any indication, he should have a successful career.

One last note to everyone who read our last blog post…the invisible dog’s leash got tangled up the other day. The owner had to stop and untangle the leash before proceeding.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why RV Parks Are Like HIgh School

Think back to your high school days. What group did you belong to? The jocks? The nerds? The popular kids? The kids everyone thought were weird? How about the mean girls? You might think you have long outgrown the social groups of your teenage years, but I am here to tell you…they still exist. Check into any RV park for a month or longer and you too, will re-live your glorious high school days. In the form of 60-year-old plus snowbirds. And with a front row seat, working at the front desk of a RV Resort, I can witness the four years most people would rather forget.

Let’s start off with the weird group. The winner in this group was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago and while I am very disappointed that I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, several people have substantiated the acts of this woman. She walks around the park each morning with one of those “trick” dog leashes that makes it look like one is walking an invisible dog. She stops along the way to let her invisible dog go to the bathroom and even acted “put off”while another guest let her real dogs go to the bathroom at one of the “relief stops” that are spread throughout the park.

Then there is the group that everyone is familiar with. The jocks. Those testosterone filled boys who walked the halls with their letterman jackets. 50 years later those same boys are now gallivanting through the desert that adjoins the RV Resort, playing “Gopher Golf.” I am not sure what the appeal is to hitting a golf ball around in a dirt field, especially when there are beautiful golf courses a few miles away, but I suspect the fun will end when the owner hears that a RV was hit and dented by a wayward ball.

The other mainstream click of every high school are the popular kids, oftentimes also a part of the party kids group. Everyone wants to be a part of their group, but only a select few are ever allowed the sacred membership. At our location, the popular kids are not even U.S. citizens. They are visitors from our northern neighbor, Canada. Each day they congregate at a different RV for drinks, food and loud, raucous laughter. A few days ago I experienced a moment of inclusion, or so I thought, as they waved me over as I was walking home from work. This is it, I thought. Maybe I will be asked to be an honorary member of their group.

“Would you like these two, leftover moose burgers,” they asked?

“Um, sure,” I said. Even though I am still not a part of the “popular group” I must admit, Jerry and I loved those moose burgers!

Then there are the mean girls…

The woman standing at the counter pointed to the cigarettes and held up two fingers. “What kind,” I asked?

“I don’t have this one trained yet,” the woman told her friend. “Pyramid 100s,” she said.

“What color,” I asked?

The woman looked at her friend and said, “I guess this one can’t read either.”

Working in the office I quickly learned that all Pyramid cigarettes are 100s. Red, blue and the green menthols. I looked at her, literally biting my tongue and held up for her to see, a red and a blue box.

A second example that mean girls grow up to be mean women took place a few days prior to the above example. I smiled and greeted the woman who came up to the front desk to pay for her soda. Handing me her money she said to me, “Your teeth are so white. Are they real?”

This third example would put even the meanest high school girls to shame. My running friend here at the RV resort has been attending one of the exercise classes that are offered. A woman standing nearby one day, said to my friend, “I see you’ve been doing this class for awhile. Why are you still fat?”

I can assure you, with 377 sites, not everyone here is weird, mean or living in the past. There are plenty of friendly, fun, normal folks. And some of them even come into the office. But would that be fun to read about? I think not!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our RV Decor

When the front office manager here at Leaf Verde RV Resort began bringing fruit/veggie smoothies to work for a mid-morning snack, I immediately thought, “Gee, I wish I could make smoothies. And that cold cucumber soup that I love. Did someone say gazpacho?”

My bright red blender with the glass container was something I gave to my sister-in-law, thinking I wouldn’t have room for it in our fifth-wheel. What was I thinking? Not wanting to be accused of being an “indian giver” (excuse the politically incorrect phrase), I told Jerry I wanted to get a new blender.

Let’s just say that we have already enjoyed cucumber soup twice and my morning smoothies with frozen berries, almond milk, spinach and flax seed are quite yummy!

After weeks of waiting for the company to replace the chair that was delivered with the incorrect fabric color, we finally are able to enjoy our re-designed living room. Now I know our fabric choices might not be for everyone, but we love the way the brighter colors have livened up our boring, beige fifth-wheel. We also decided to bite the bullet and invest in a good mattress for our RV. The mattress that came with our Heartland was not very comfortable and already after a year and a half, it sagged in the middle. So, of course, with a new mattress we had to get new sheets and a new comforter set. We love the way the green and white have brightened up the brown bedroom. To go along with our new comforter, the world’s best mother-in-law found an absolutely perfect accent pillow for us at an antique store near her home in Pine, Arizona.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Quartzsite Experience

What do you get when you cross a carnival, a circus and a flea market? Quartzsite!

After running the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon with my Leaf Verde RV friend Robbie on Sunday, Monday morning Jerry and I, along with Jerry’s Mom, got a 7:30am start and headed out to Quartzsite to see what all the fuss is about. From our domicile spot at Leaf Verde RV Resort in Buckeye, it is an easy, 100 mile trek west. Miles before exiting, we could see Quartzsite off in the distance, a blip off the I-10 that gains thousands of new residents for a mere few months each year. As we got closer, we could see boon docking RVs off in the desert, forming modern day wagon trains. Upon exiting, we were confronted with Quartzsite’s morning rush hour. RVs of every shape and size, trucks and tow vehicles backing up the intersections and lining up to either enter or exit the I-10. Navigating into the parking area, the side streets were filled with quads, golf carts, bicycles and pedestrians making their way to the giant tent.

We headed into the big tent first, anxious to see it with our own eyes. Even at 9:30 in the morning, it was quite crowded. It reminded me of walking through the midway at a carnival, with barkers buying for our attention.

“Does your gray tank have an odor?”

“Come and try our pain relief lotion!”

“Ladies…the easiest way to clean your ceiling fan and blinds!”

“You look like a super model in one of my hats. Honest.”

Making it out of the tent alive, we headed next to the outdoor booths. Not that the products they were peddling were any better, but at least there was some fresh air and some room to move as we walked up and down all the rows. Jerry stopped at a key cutting booth and was able to have a couple extra keys made for our underside storage bins and we did stop and talk to the vet who claims he can clean a dog’s teeth without anesthesia or drugs. He does it by wrapping up the dog like a papoose and placing the dog on its back. He says the dog is then in a submissive position and he can open the dog’s mouth for cleaning.

After lunch at Silly Al’s, which allowed for great people watching, we made our way across the street to the flea market booths. Neat stuff. If we still had our bricks and sticks home. We love rustic and primitive antiques and our home was filled with this type of decor.

Many people love the atmosphere of Quartzsite. They meet up with friends and enjoy the camaraderie. Would we go again? Probably not. But I’m glad we can say we went once.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Shooting Straight

As I stare at the blinking cursor against the white screen, I am again paralyzed with conflicting thoughts and emotions. You might have realized that I haven’t posted in awhile, but it is not for lack of trying. I have sat down a few times to write something, but soon decided it was not interesting enough or that it had too negative of a tone. Each time, I ended up deleting the paragraphs I had written, turning the computer off with disgust. So here I sit again, wrestling with one of two directions to take. Either I write an honest post or I write what I think people want to read. So for good or bad, I’ve decided to take the low road and write a truthful version of what has been going on with us.

1. Work
If you think work camping jobs are laid back, easy and stress free, I can tell you firsthand, they are not. Perhaps we just haven’t found one yet, but thus far, I have not had a job in our RV lifestyle where I am respected for my education and my professional work experiences. As a college- educated woman, designing for high profile clients at graphic design firms and also managing a big name, retail athletic shoe store, I am flabbergasted at the attitude towards me and the other work campers that we are nothing more than discardable, entry-level peons. The attitude toward us is that we are incapable of making even the simplest of decisions, as if choosing a few overnight RV sites are beyond our mental capability. To avoid saying something I might regret, I hurried to the storage closet to grab the vacuum, hoping that I could do that task without incident. While I do feel fortunate to have a job here in Phoenix that not only pays me hourly, but also pays for our site, I come home each day shaking my head in disbelief. If I could stress one thing to employers of work campers it is this…take some time to find out about a work camper’s professional life. Use their experiences to your advantage and their strengths to empower them, instead of treating them like uneducated, second rate drudges.

2. Friendships
Pulling into our old neighborhood last week, I was hit with a deep wave of sadness that settled in the pit of my stomach. Although I really wanted to see our neighbors who lived across the street from us, driving around our Scottsdale stomping grounds was very hard. “Look, that’s a new restaurant,” I said to Jerry pointing to a building as Jerry made a left hand turn. To me, the grass in our old neighborhood seemed greener, the trees more full, the stores…better. It was wonderful to see our close neighbors, and I realized how much I missed their friendship. We could knock on their door anytime, as we often did, for a quick dip in their pool or just to bend their ears.

It has been really nice to find a “running buddy” here at Leaf Verde RV Resort. We run together a couple time a week and this coming Sunday, we are running the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Tempe/Phoenix. I’ve missed having a running friend. Someone who you can chat with about any topic, since barriers do not exist while running many miles together. While I don’t mind my solitude runs on the treadmill at the gym, having a friend to run outside with has been a welcome bonus this winter.

Yet, I still feel as full-time RVers, the lack of close friends. Part of the problem is the disparity of our ages and the ages of most of the other RVers we come in contact with. Even my running buddy is a full decade older. As Jerry and I walk around Leaf Verde with Arri, our lack of friends becomes even more apparent. Most every afternoon, friends gather outside for happy hour. I must admit, I often feel left out. I was even more troubled by the fact, that Jerry’s poker buddies got a group together over the weekend to play, but didn’t let Jerry know. As full-timers, we are just shy of the age group and not quite part of the “in crowd.”

3. Style Points
Jerry was in utter disbelief when he went to pick up our new furniture a couple of weeks ago. Our over-sized chair did arrive, but our loveseat had not. No one knew why we had been called before all the pieces had arrived. With delivery arrangements set, Jerry drove home with our chair. But when he unwrapped it, he quickly discovered it was the WRONG color! For the loveseat we selected a red fabric, but for the chair we selected the same fabric in BLUE. Not red! After a call to the store, it was found to be the manufacturer’s error. So right now we have a red sofa and a red chair in our rig. When our blue chair is delivered, they will swap it out for the red one. While not the end of the world, it is just another case of “can’t anything go smoothly?”

What I can say, however, is that our new furniture, our new end tables and accent pieces now give our fifth-wheel a much warmer feel. It is definitely now “our style.” We love it so much, we have put our dining room table and chairs up for sale and we have already picked out the new set we want to get. Hopefully it will sell as quickly as our sofa and chairs did.