Salty Desert

Last week we found ourselves needing to find better weather. We had been around Salt Lake City, UT and in the upcoming week the temps were going to drop and rain and/or snow was in the forecast. EVACUATE! EVACUATE!

We only wanted to go as far as would get us out of the crappiest of the weather since we’re trying to stay close to SLC to meet up with Mike’s daughter as much as possible these next few weeks. It seemed the whole state was going to get sacked and going north just made matters worse. So we decided to head west to the Bonneville Salt Flats.  You may be familiar with this place because of the famous Bonneville Speedway where they set land speed records. The forecast called for some rain one day but was otherwise much better than just about any place else in a 2-3 hour driving radius of SLC.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. But here we stopped at the viewing area they have on westbound I-80.

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You can get out and walk on the salt. I can’t really describe it, although you may have seen pictures of the flats on TV at some point.

We set up camp on BLM land adjacent to the flats. The first time we arrived we parked right at the BLM sign where there was a large gravel lot. We arrived late in the day/early evening and didn’t really have time to drop the camper and scout around first.  We could see a gravel road in a few directions and figured we’d check it all out later.

Then the weather came.

The first week we were here it was cold (for us) only reaching into the 50’s. It was cloudy and boy was it windy! One night we had to pull the slides in because of the wind gusts up over 20-30 MPH. If you’ve never been hit with wind gusts in a camper…. it’s scary! Especially at night when you’re trying to sleep. You just don’t sleep. I kept thinking we were going to blow over or the jacks were going to break… every terrible scenario went through my head.

By Thursday the weather was getting a little better – slightly warmer temps and the wind wasn’t quite as bad. We headed across the state line to Nevada to a small little town called West Wendover, NV. The town consists of a main road with about 5 or 6 large casinos on either side. It’s actually pretty neat and literally 4 miles from the Salt Flats.

That night we dolled up and headed to the Montego Bay Casino, partook of their $18 buffet and gambled at our usual penny slots! We had a great time except I have sworn off casino buffets for life. Except maybe another visit to the Wicked Spoon in Las Vegas, but that’s another story….

Friday morning we took care of camper business, ex. dumping the tanks, filling up with gas for the generator, filling propane tanks, etc. Then we headed back to the flats but to a different spot.

About a mile down the gravel road we found an awesome spot. It’s secluded, but on the road, behind a large rock outcropping. The ground here isn’t white salt like the flats but a light colored powdery dirt. Saturday morning was so great we were lying out like we were at the beach! But with no ocean….

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Even the cat got in on the beach action!

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Saturday afternoon we decided to head to town to make a stop at the hardware store. As we were there we saw some ominous clouds to the west heading east (our direction). We got in the truck and started back on the highway, in a hurry, since we’d left windows open and slides out on the camper. As soon as we drove through the cut away in the mountain that separates NV and UT we got hit with unbelievable wind gusts that were trying to push our one ton truck off the road!

In the rear view mirror we saw our rolled up soft truck bed cover go flying up, catching wind like a boat sail! I think we both forgot the cover was even there since we keep it rolled up against the rear of the cab and it’s never come unfurled before. And now it’s flapping against the truck bed, with the heavy metal catch bar threatening to break out the back window!

Mike pulled over on the highway, which he really didn’t want to do in high winds, rain and cars and trucks zooming past at 80 MPG (or faster… 80 is the speed limit on this section of road.) We both jumped out to try and latch the cover down but the wind kept grabbing it and there was no way we could get it secured. We tried shoving it around and under the fifth wheel hitch just to keep it contained until we could get back to the camper.

We jumped back in the truck, soaked and proceeded with caution lights flashing. We only had about a mile to our exit. But even once off the interstate we could see the storm moving closer to our camper in the distance. We had to get back!

Going slower than we’d like we limped back to the camper, raced to close windows and pull in slides. Luckily the storm hadn’t hit the camper with full force yet. But the soft truck cover got blown around more and more on the way home… it was ruined. But we’re ok with that since we didn’t use it much anyway. Better that than a broken truck window or camper damage!

Yesterday was a pretty day but windy again. Not enough to pull in the slides but too windy to be able to sit outside and enjoy the nice weather. But today is looking fantastic and tomorrow even better!! We can pretend we’re at the beach and relax. Or hike! There are plenty of paths/ATV roads to hike. And don’t forget geocaching! People seem to have gone great lengths to get some hidden waaaaaay out here and beyond! Hopefully the wind will stay away and we can enjoy this calm, relaxing place!

Time to Get Back on the Horse

I haven’t blogged in almost a year! Before that it had been several months….. When you first start RVing it’s like you’re on vacation and have a million stories to share. And then you finally get in a groove and either you don’t appreciate the stories you have to share or your just get lazy about writing about it.

I was both lazy and distracted to see all the stories we have to tell. I keep forgetting that my “everyday” is not everyone else’s “everyday” and might actually be interesting! We have traveled quite a bit this past year and are currently outside of Provo, Utah. It’s gorgeous, I won’t lie.

The other part of my blogging was taking pictures with my Canon Ti5 and posting here. But I wax and wane with using the camera. I’ve been getting better with it the past few months. But sometimes it’s hard to bring it along when you just want to hike or bike ride because I’m constantly stopping to shoot. Mike swears he doesn’t mind but sometimes I do! Especially when I’m biking I like to get on my road bike and RIDE! And I would never take it mountain biking because I rarely come home in one piece and I wouldn’t want to ruin my camera.

Speaking of mountain biking. We were in Page, Arizona about two weeks ago and biked the 10 mile Page Rim Trail. It was fantastic! You can hike it or bike it and it runs the edge of the rim around town with beautiful views of Glen Canyon, Lake Powell and the stunning18342795_10154408822195474_6770848968407107273_n rock formations out further in the desert. If you mountain bike there are some technical sections, or if you’re like me, you haul a$$ up and down the rocky sections and then wipe out on a flat section. Yes,this is the bruise about day 3 or 4. I hit so hard it squished tissue out from the side of my thigh to a fat lump on the back side. But less than two weeks later it’s almost gone!! I have never had a bruise heal so fast!

Another big change we have done in the past year, actually just since January of this year, is we joined the Elks Lodge. Many Elks lodges across the country allow RV dry camping for members only and some even have hook ups! They charge a nominal fee, even the locations with hook ups. We started boondocking (dry camping) for a large portion of our travels this past year and the Elks were a great addition to alternative options to state parks and expensive private campgrounds. Plus we get to meet great new people at every location! It’s a win-win!

I don’t want to overwhelm you or me with relaying a year’s worth of info so I’ll finish up here and share some photos.

Some Utah photos:

 

Payson, AZ:

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Page, AZ and the Glen Canyon:

Toadstool Trail (HooDoos) north of Page, AZ:

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Granite Dells, Prescott, AZ:

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Time Slips Away

I bet you thought we’d given up on RVing, didn’t you. I haven’t blogged in almost a YEAR! What has happened to me??

We are still RVing our little hearts out. We’ve been around the country almost 2 times! We’ve stopped at some familiar haunts and discovered new ones. We’ve had trials and tribulations and also a heck of a lot of fun! But we’re still at it!

When we first started this adventure almost a year and a half ago we were buzzing from place to place. A few days here, a few days there, maybe even stopping for a week! But that pace gets tiring really fast. It’s not difficult, per se, to pack up and move. But all the time driving (which equals less time working) and gas money between stops is exhausting.

We initially had to take some time to figure out exactly how to work while on the road. This wasn’t a function of logistics as much as developing a new business plan and executing it as well as working together. And once we really got the hang of it it became apparent that we should sit tight for a while to accommodate all the conference calls and work that needed to get done.

Due to the El Nino conditions this year we skipped California.  We cut our stay in Florida short this past winter and headed west sooner. We’ve been hashing (our beer drinking running club) a lot more across that country than we did last year! We spent more time in southern Utah, including a whole week in Moab in March. Which brings me to the first serious break-down we’ve had on the road.

Breaking down in the middle of a road trip in any vehicle can really put a damper on things. If it’s your camper that breaks down, well, that’s even more concerning. But when your HOUSE breaks down….that’s a whole new can of worms.

We were headed to southern Utah, killing a bit of time (luckily) before we were to meet Mike’s oldest daughter and her boyfriend in Moab for a week, complete with all four of us running a half marathon! As we were passing through the northwestern tip of Arizona, while driving in the Virgin CANYON we had another RV pass is making gestures. Oh boy, we have a flat tire on the camper. When you’re driving a camper with three axles you don’t automatically know you’ve blown a tire.

But where to pull over?? We were driving through a windy gorge! Luckily we found a pull off most likely used for construction vehicles. Just big enough for us to safely get off the road. But where were we?

Murphy’s Law states you will have car trouble in the middle of a canyon with no cell service.

We got out to take a look at the damage and Mike immediately realized we didn’t blow a tire. The tire was about to fall off!

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We unhitched the camper, knocked the tire off and headed out to find help. Did I mention there was a concrete barrier between the lanes of traffic? We could only continue going the way we came and had no idea how long until we were out of the canyon or how far we’d have to go to get back to the camper.

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Luckily we were only 2 miles from the end of the canyon and the Utah state line and the town of St. George, Utah. We found a mechanic, relayed our issues and were told to go pick up the camper and limp back to the garage. And we did. Slowly at 30 MPH. Through a winding gorge.

What turned out to be a tire falling off was actually a whole host of issues the mechanic found under there. Lucky for us this “minor” tire issues alerted us to a bunch of things that could have gone wrong soon that could have resulted in some serious, really expensive issues. Like… and axle falling off!

We were sidelined for a few days but we weren’t complaining! The mechanic was great and walked us through everything to make sure we knew what he was doing and what he found. (I’ve never had such a great experience with a mechanic before!) and the town of St. George is beautiful! We walked and biked the paths in town for hours every day we were there.

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Once everything was repaired and replaced we headed out! We eventually made our way to Moab and ran the Canyonlands Half Marathon through a beautiful canyon on the edge of Arches National Park.

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We’re now in South Carolina. Hanging at my dad’s for a bit while the weather is moderate and sunny. Ok, with an occasional spring shower….

I’m going to try and record our travels again. It’s so easy with Facebook to just drop a quick update. But I want to make sure my Aunt Dotty gets to hear about our travels since she’s not on facebook!!

 

A little recipe challenge.

I’ve seen a recipe for a “one pot pasta” dish that seems to have everyone excited. I’ve seen it recently but it appears Martha Stewart published it first in her magazine quite a while ago. But hey, better late than never! I found the recipe here on Food52.com.

I shared the link to the recipe on Facebook and had several people comment that they wanted me to let them know how it turned out. They had seen the recipe before but were too chicken to give it a whirl. Although one friend had tried it, said it was “pretty darn good”. And she’s a food blogger!!

Living in a teeny weenie camper… I would be dumb not to try it.

So here is my review.

The directions tell you to make this dish in a flat sided pot. I happen to have one of those – so far so good. However, they tell you to lay the linguine flat in the pan. My pot is just slightly smaller than the noodles so I had to break them in half. I really hated doing this but….

The other awkward thing about the recipe it that it calls for 12 oz of pasta. But my box of pasta was 16 oz. So I cooked the whole box anyway and added a bit more water. More on that later.

The rest of the recipe is pretty self-explanatory. I added about 1/2 cup extra water to compensate for the extra pasta as well as extra tomatoes and basil. I knew from the beginning that there was no way this would cook in 9 minutes, as claimed, on my camper propane stovetop. I didn’t time it but it wasn’t too much longer once the water started to boil. You are supposed to toss the pasta and other ingredients as it cooks but this was a bit difficult since my pot was already so full.

Here is my finished product. I does make it’s own “sauce” but I think mine is a bit too much because I may have added too much extra water. (At least compared to the picture posted with the original recipe.)

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Overall it was a winner, although we all agreed it could use some kind of meat. Some garlic shrimp tossed in would make this spectacular. (But now you’re dealing with 2 pots…) Next time I’ll probably make it in my stock pot which is the closest thing I have that will give me enough room to comfortably toss the dish as it cooks. I’ve also read there are several other one pot pasta and sauce suggestions posted somewhere. I’m going to look for that! Because a one pot recipe is a winner in this camper!

Summer Relaxation

Relaxation… Maybe just slacking! I haven’t blogged in months! Sorry folks! But I’m here to give you the scoop!

This summer’s biggest project was doing some work on the camper. Specifically replacing the floor of our bedroom slide that had water damage and installing “wood” floors (vinyl “planks”) throughout the camper and getting rid of the carpet! I started a post on this a while back but wanted before and after pictures. But the post sat and sat… and I still don’t have the pictures all together so I’ll just tell you that we made the upgrades and post specifically about it later.

Mike’s three kids couldn’t coordinate schedules for us to take all to the beach at the same time – an annual event. So darn it all – Mike and I had to “endure” the beach on two separate occasions! We took the youngest two to Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina. This island is a treasure! South of Charleston, it’s a quiet haven covered in live oaks and drapey spanish moss. Small town feel, nothing at all like the popular Myrtle Beach. I was worried the kids would get bored because they are used to going to Myrtle Beach with lots of other kids around and lots to do and see. But I think we kept them occupied.

The state park has two campgrounds, one on the beach and one set in a live oak forest, about a mile up the road. (And when I say “the road” I mean the road, the only one leading in and out of town.) If you’re camped at the live oak campground you get free admission into the SP beach area. At first everyone was groaning because they are used to renting a golf cart at Ocean Lakes in Myrtle Beach and jetting to and from the beach on it with all their gear. But they quickly realized that our 8 foot truck bed holds a heck of a lot more stuff than just trying to hold on to a few things on a golf cart! They got over their disappointment of not having the cart.

When I booked the spot about 6 months before our trip there were no available spots big enough for us in the beach campground. (Of course if you’re in the that campground you just walk out to the beach.) Which is how we ended up in the Live Oaks. However we agree the Live Oaks campground is much prettier than the beach. Plus there is access to all kinds of trails in Live Oaks. We ran on the trails a few times and also crabbed off some of the low bridges that connects the trail through the marshland!

Crabbing lesson: go to the grocery store. Ask for crabbing lines and a net and don’t forget to pick up some chicken or turkey necks. Other “throw away” parts are acceptable too. (like chicken backs we used this time.) Find yourself a little bridge or dock in a saltwater marsh at high tide. Attach a poultry piece to the end of the line (a cotton line with a triangular hook on the end and a weight) and throw it over the side.

And wait.

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Some people prefer to crab with traps. But if you’re with kids or someone who has never crabbed before using the lines are more fun. A trap you throw in, leave and come back for it later. But the lines are more like fishing. Once you feel a tug you have to pull up your line very slowly or else the crab will notice and let go. Right before you pull it out of the water you scoop it up with your net and drop him in the bucket you brought along.

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Then it’s off to make Low Country Boil! Potatoes, corn, sausage, shrimp, tons of seasonings and, of course, your crabs!!! And if you’re as lucky as we were you get Justin, my chef-y little brother, to make it for you!!

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The crabs are small and you have to do a lot of work for a little bit of meat. But it’s the experience, right??

Our next beach adventure was about two weeks later with Mike’s oldest daughter. We took her to the eastern shore of Virginia, specifically, Kiptopeke State Park. This is another gorgeous park! Lots of trails, boat dock and private beach! They even have concrete ships out in the bay for a reef! It’s just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from Virginia Beach. We did drive over on two occasions. But be warned – the toll for the bridge is expensive!!!

But this was a great excuse to get the jetskis out and use them for the first time since we picked them up earlier in the summer.

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After the beach we headed to Long Island! But that’s another story.. stay tuned!

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A Race Across Central US

When you’re new to full-time RV livin’ you have many things to learn. Like when to be and where. What parts of the country are best what times of the year and where to avoid driving (or definitely go) during certain times of the year. For example, it’s probably best to try NOT to go over the Rocky Mountains in January or February. You can try hauling your ginormous camper through snowy, slushy roads, but wouldn’t it just be easier to plan to wait until late spring or summer?? If you have the ability, why not?

Mike and I had decided a long time ago to spend the summer back on the east coast. We were already late. Memorial Day weekend we were supposed to fly Mike’s son, Z, to Charlotte to take him to look at southern colleges. But we hadn’t made it that far so we flew him to Denver instead. Luckily he’s only a sophomore so we still have time. One of the reasons we were still out west was the rain and tornadoes across the central plains. No one wants to drive camper through that if they can help it.

After hanging out in Santa Fe a bit the weather across I-40 seemed to be opening up and we decided to follow the clear skies. But that also meant driving days and days to get to my relatives in West-By-God Virginia! We have now been driving three days since Santa Fe. Currently we are outside of Knoxville, Tennessee at Melton Hills Dam, a TVA campsite. Last night we were in Memphis at the Agricenter and I got to meet up with some good family friends, camping buddies of my dad and me, and the dad and sister of one of my BFF’s if high school. (if you didn’t follow that, it’s ok. It’s kinda complicated…) How fun to drink a beer with your friend’s dad… Here I am, almost 40, but I was never old enough to share a beer with Dave growing up. I hope to meet up with his son (my HS BFF) and his wife and kids later this summer. It really is extraordinary catching up with friend’s, living this lifestyle. I doubt I would have ever had the opportunity otherwise. (although how I got away without taking a picture of all us is beyond me! Next time!!) But I will recommend the Flying Saucer in Memphis! A bazillion beers, great food… I can’t say enough!

We have to make a stop at Camping World tomorrow to get a tire and brakes checked. I don’t have high hopes. Speaking with my MBA cap on, I think Camping World has the market so cornered that they’ve ruined it. I’ve come to expect less-than-stellar service, especially being a full-timer. Then again, the local mom-and-pop shops are a bit scary to those of us that travel ALL THE TIME and don’t know them. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s excellent service, sometimes it’s questionable… so to be safe we go with a national company so at least we feel we have some sort of recourse when it all goes down the drain. I challenge someone with the know-how and wherewithal to start a national competitor to CW, maybe just for service. It would make me feel better crusin’ around the US!

Next stop (after Camping World) WEST VIRGINIA!!!!!

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Lewis Weber, Lewis Webster, are you UP,Shur?? (inside joke for anyone who had Coach Sauro Sr. for WV Civics in 8th grade…)

A Slight Detour

Sitting in rain reminded us why we live in a camper in the first place. We can go ANYWHERE we want WHENEVER we want. Specifically to avoid unpleasant weather. Once we had decided to leave Denver early and head east we thought it prudent to check the forecasts around our intended path across the US. If you recall a week or so ago, most of the entire US was covered in rain.

We didn’t have many choices. So we went chasing sun and warm temperatures. Because we can. 😉

That led us to the southeastern corner of Colorado. And a reservoir out in the middle of cow towns. (See what happens when you don’t immediate blog? I can’t find one reference to where we were!! Sorry!) Not the first time, we essentially had the campground to ourselves since the Memorial Day crowd had already rolled out.

We kept watching the weather. Texas was getting clobbered. Our good friends, Tim and Rebecca (The Nouveaux Honkies) had been in Austin recording their latest album. They were trying to make their way west while we were trying to make it east. As it worked out we met up in Santa Fe for a few days!!

Although one big party, it was not meant to be. Tim had a terrible stomach bug – potentially from drinking contaminated water before leaving Texas. And Rebecca wasn’t feeling 100% either. But we girls made the best of it! We parked side-by-side at the Santa Fe Skies RV Park, a quaint park on the south side of town. It’s a great campground, especially if you have dogs! They have a fenced-in dog park area as well as a 3/4 mile trail that loops around the property. Although meant for the dogs, many people walk and jog it too. Out here, everyone gets along!

While Tim slept off his terrible sickness and Michael was in serious programmer “coding mode” (aka: needs complete silence to concentrate. I do not comprehend “complete silence”…) Rebecca and I headed out to explore Santa Fe. Two afternoons we spent going through clothing boutiques (Rebecca is a clothes shopper. She has to have cool threads to wear on stage!!) kitchy souvenir shops (just because you have to if you’re a tourist, jewelry stores (southwestern opals are amazing! I had no idea all the colors!! The turquoise is phenomenal too!! The craftsmanship….), olive oil and balsamic vinegar shops (because I can seriously shop for food items!), and second-hand stores (because NO ONE can resist inexpensive, used clothes. Even me! ).

The clothing stores we both found to be a bit outrageous in price. But that’s because I’m cheap. I don’t know Rebecca’s excuse. 😉 The clothing stores downtown (in the historic area) cater to affluent, money-dropping tourists. Neither of us fit that bill. (and even if I did I subscribe more to Warren Buffet’s way of living. I might have money and splurge on a few things, food!, but seriously, I ain’t got time to be showin’ off and all…) Also, many of the stores we first went into we geared towards women of a certain age and style – which didn’t fit either of us. Eventually we found the cute, edgy stores that really fit Rebecca. I loved looking at clothes and was even actually tempted to purchase a cute dress! But alas, no need to bother when I live in an RV. :-/ I have a few sundresses that suffice. A sacrifice to my way of living… haha!

But I do have to call out one particular store that had BOTH of us wandering around for hours! We first walked into the store because the sign outside said “Vintage Clothes” or something of that nature. It was a second hand store trying to be fancy, I suppose. Rebecca started looking at clothes, then price tags. Tank top, $90. AT A SECOND HAND STORE?!?!? I guess that’s what you pay for “vintage”? It took me all of 2 seconds to ascertain this was not my scene. As cute as the clothes were I did not need to drop that kind of money nor did I have anywhere to wear such “expensive” clothes.

Side note – funny how your perspective changes. I wouldn’t have blinked to drop $90 for a nice tank to go under a suit for work. But y’all, I live and work out of an RV. I don’t need threads like that anymore.

While Rebecca was still sorting through the vintage clothes I walked around the corner to kill time. I saw there was a pottery shop in the same building. But around the corner was not pottery but a WALL of COWBOY BOOTS!!! New and used!!! Mens and Womens!

By now you’re probably wondering, “what is this store?” It’s called Double Take and you must go! Walls and walls of cowboy boots! and further around the corner…. a true THRIFT STORE!  A HUGE ONE! Clothes for all, shoes, jewelry, bags, games, you name it! (at reasonable prices you and I are accustomed to.) Holy Moly!

Rebecca is a clothes shopper and I’m not, really. So she was really lagging behind me. I had already gone through the whole store and she was still in the boots. I saw an upstairs sign that said “Furniture”. Turns out, neither Rebecca nor I need furniture – we both live in RVs. But I happen to LOVE looking at furniture. (figures…) So I head upstairs to kill time.

Furniture, knick-knacks, linens, the pottery! What did I find in the this deceptively huge store? I bought a set of queen sheets for the extra bed – for $25. I told the guy I would have bought them even if they were Hello Kitty or had outrageously tacky 1970’s flowers all over them. But as it turns out they were just common ‘ol khaki-colored. Matched our interior perfectly! Not bad for $25!

I don’t have any great pictures to post. I have a few on my Canon but until I can figure out how to upload, back-up-not-necessarily-sync my files they are being held hostage on the memory card. And Mike, Rebecca, Tim and I didn’t take a picture together because who wants their picture taken when they’re suffering from bad water??

I’ll leave you with this – the Nouveaux Honkies recently replenished their merchandise and I was able to finally get my hands on some t’s. They have different artwork, but this design is one of their new ones, and one of my favs. It’s got an RV on it!!!

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Where we capture our shenanigans as we work and play, traveling the US, living out of our camper!

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