1/2/2020– 1/4/2020: Almond Tree Oasis RV Park, Coalinga, CA
We started 2020 with a quick two day stop off I-5 that basically served as a break in our travels from the San Francisco area to the Las Vegas area.
While in town, we had the added bonus of meeting some family members I’ve wanted to meet for years, the Wyatts!
1/4/2020 – 1/20/2020: Las Vegas RV Resort / Walt Disney World
Next, we arrived at the Las Vegas RV Resort only to find out that we didn’t actually have a reservation. Luckily, after a period of nervousness, it all worked out! We were super grateful since most of our stay here we were actually going to be in Florida.
After the holidays, we decided to spend the winter exploring the warmer areas in Arizona and New Mexico.
We chose to fly out of Las Vegas for our Florida trip so that when we came back to the rig, we’d be coming back closer to where we wanted to explore. Plugging in here was almost entirely to protect the rig, keep it close to the southwest area of the US, and to give the cats a cool place to hang out for ten days. (Also, flights and RV parks were cheaper out of Las Vegas than where we were before in San Francisco.)
So, the RV was parked, the cats were introduced to their new sitter, and we then flew to Tampa and spent a night with my parents.
We then woke up the following day and took off toward Orlando for what was an epic week of family time!
This was the period of highs for 2020! This magical week included a day trip to Sea World where we rode all the rides and ate dinner with sharks, feeling like James Bond villains:
Cheered on our family from Wales, and the rest of the American Cancer Society runners, during their half marathon:
Ran a full marathon with our family from Wales:
And then preceded to wake up the next four mornings in a row to hit up all four parks together:
We did it all! We even made it to Star Wars land where we encountered Kylo Ren, and I quickly got the hell out of there and left my sister-in-law for dead. 😂 Sorry, Sabrina!:
The entire trip was incredible! However, I’m also not 100% sure how my body did it. Must have been all those Florida hot tub sessions!
The last day, all of our family left, but we still had one more day in Orlando. We had initially planned on hitting up Fort Wilderness, maybe go to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and check out the Disney RV park. But we were so worn out, we ended up just getting a hotel room near the airport, and consuming tons of junk TV and food instead.
We got back to Las Vegas, knowing we wanted to stay in the southwest warmth until winter was over, but having no specific plans beyond that. We decided to head to Lake Mead for a week of recuperation and future destination planning.
1/20/2020 – 2/23/2020: Lake Mead RV Village
When we came back to Las Vegas, one of our cats was pretty sick. It was a bit of a shock to me. She got better after a day or two, but we realized we can’t leave her with a sitter for that length of time anymore.
After Vodka (the cat) got better, Barrett then got sick and slept for what I swear was three straight days, which I’ve never seen him do before. Then, a couple of days later, I got super sick and was out of commission for almost two weeks. Our other cat Squirt was the only one who seemed to come out of the trip unscathed. But eventually, we all started to feel better. So, we sat down and figured out our travel plans for February through June.
We decided we would leave Nevada at the end of January.
This is where our year started to turn on us. What was supposed to be, “Let’s spend a week or two by Lake Mead, relax, catch up on work, make some future travel plans and then continue on…” turned upside down.
First, my phone’s logic board just up and quit one day. We had to head into Las Vegas and spent most that day errand running and getting a new phone. Simple enough.
But then, we decided to go see the Hoover Dam the day before we traveled onward. On the way, while waiting in the Hoover Dam security line, our truck just stopped. Barrett turned to me and said, “The truck stopped.” My first gut reaction was, “Well yeah, we’re in a line.” Barrett quickly says, “No, the truck is completely stopped. It won’t turn on.”
So there we were, in the middle of barricades and cones, waiting to enter the Hoover Dam area, completely stopped. Barrett tried multiple times to turn it back on. Nothing. We got out, popped the hood. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. We were baffled. The groups of people behind us started getting out of their cars, asking us what was wrong. It was a mess. So logically, Barrett walks up to the security stand and asks for help.
Somehow, I still have no idea how Barrett managed to sneak up on and scare this man. He jumped and grabbed toward his gun. Barrett quickly clarified that we just needed help. They came down and helped push us out of the way so the accrued line could keep moving.
I jumped on the phone, got us a tow. The folks at the Hoover Dam sent out the bomb-sniffing dogs to take a few laps around our truck. This all happened in a manner of minutes, but to me, it felt like an eternity.
We then proceeded to sit there and wait three hours for a tow truck, because while pushing the truck out of the way, we managed to push it under a freeway overpass, which ended up confusing multiple tow companies. But eventually, we got a tow!
The next day, while waiting to hear back on the truck, we decided we had to do something other than just sitting around and worrying. So we went and saw the Hoover Dam by boat instead. I was still trying to pretend what happened with the truck would not be a big deal, and doing my best to enjoy the surroundings.
But, we got a call at the end of the boat ride, and that was not the case. The truck problem was not small.
Part of our fuel system blew up, sending metal shards throughout the whole thing. Our entire fuel system, along with some other parts, had to be rebuilt. We were going to be hanging out at Lake Mead for a while.
In case you have the same truck as us, here’s an article that will shed some light on what exactly happened to our truck. (I can’t guarantee reading it is going to help you sleep better at night… but it may help you realize you should probably start using fuel additives earlier than we did!)
We came back from our amazingly beautiful vacation (which I kept feeling like I didn’t even deserve for some reason) to what felt like complete chaos. Everyone was sick. Our Austin tenants suddenly decided to break their lease early. I was now playing middleman between GMC and our extended warranty company. My phone broke, and then it actually broke again. EVERYTHING was falling apart all at once, and the entire time felt utterly unsettling.
To top it off, the campground we were at would not let us extend and stay in our spot. At first, they implied we needed to go elsewhere. We were calling around to tow companies trying to find someone who could move us to another RV park. We figured worst comes to worst we could get a tow from our insurance company. But then the campground found an extended stay spot for us that was available for months. We were so relieved. We found a friendly neighbor to help move us.
Then, a week or two later, one random afternoon, they decided it was time to give someone else the spot and that we only had 45 minutes to move along. We reminded them we had no truck to use to move us along and were able to agree on extending a bit longer. Which was great, but the rest of the time we were there, I was nervously worrying whether or not that would happen again.
We did, however, go on to make the best of a cruddy situation. GMC gave us a convertible Camaro as a rental! That was pretty cool and a reasonably significant change for us!
So much of a change, that one of us went on to get a speeding ticket… 😫
But that didn’t stop us from taking our new Camaro friend out on a few adventures! We took it to Valley of Fire State Park for some classic road trip fun:
And explored some more hikes around Lake Mead:
We even took it out for a weekend of Valentine’s Day fun on Fremont Street!
One more exciting thing that happened during this time was that we got an opportunity to partner with Escape campervans for a 3-day journey to Death Valley! (More content coming up on this trip later.) This trip was amazing! I whole-heartedly believe this spontaneous adventure was necessary to get us through our tough time and cannot thank them enough for letting us play in one of their campervans for a few days! Also, Death Valley is beautiful and highly underrated, in my opinion.
Want to get away and play in your own Escape Campervan rental for a few days? I highly recommend it! Use this link to book and you’ll get 10% off your daily rate.
Still, even with all that fun and beautiful scenery, the period at Lake Mead felt unnerving. I am, of course, never looking for pity when I share these stories. At the end of the day, I love the adventures and stories that RV life gives us. But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that those few weeks were really hard on us. Our moods were all over the place. We were getting testy with each other and anxious for regained control of our time and space.
Eventually, though, we did regain control, fixed everything, and then immediately got the hell out of dodge!
2/23/2020 – 3/2/2020: Big River, CA (outside of Lake Havasu, AZ)
Sweet, sweet freedom!
While in Big River, we explored the surrounding Lake Havasu area for a couple of days. We hiked SARA’s crack:
Fed some wild burros and saw a gunfight show in Oatman, AZ:
Took a very bumpy ride to a desert bar in the middle of nowhere:
And even met up with our friends Meghan and Aaron for a day of catching up and exploring in Joshua Tree National Park:
Things were starting to feel back on track.
The hard times that occurred in Lake Mead generated many conversations between us about the future of RV life. While here, we also decided to reassess all of our future plans we made for March-June. We knew we needed to take a moment to cut out some of the fat and ask ourselves what was still fitting. Were we still focusing on the end goal of finding our future home and doing our best to not get distracted by “all of the things?”
Since Colorado was high on our possible part-time home list, we decided to cut down on a few upcoming stops and get to Colorado in May, instead of June, staying in the warmth of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico for the remainder of winter and some of the spring.
3/2/2020 – 4/30/2020: Tucson, AZ
Okay, now we’re in March, and we all know things are about to change in a few weeks.
We first showed up in Tucson as we do any other spot. Excited to explore the area, with a list ready of places we wanted to see! And we actually did get to visit a lot of those places before all of the closures started.
We hiked in Saguaro National Park, joined Anytime Fitness (since we see them EVERYWHERE, whether we’re in a big, small, or micro-city), and took a tour at Biosphere 2 (which was awesome):
And went on an incredible hike with my friend Lindsay’s parents Jeff and Diane:
We even saw a show at the Gaslight Theatre!
But then, obviously, everything changed. All of our Utah and New Mexico plans from mid-March until the end of April were scrapped, just like everyone elss’s plans.
We instead stayed put where we were in Tucson, spending most of that time hanging out inside the Cougar with our cats, biking the Julian Wash Greenway Trail, hiking the trails around our campground, around Tucson & in Saguaro National Park, working, going live on Insta, and once again, reassessing.
All of the trails we covered in the National Park and the surrounding area during the “Stay at Home” period include:
- Douglas Spring Trail to Bridal Wreath Falls
- The Mica View Trail, to the Pink Hill Trail, to the Loma Verde Trail to the Cholla Trail, to the Cactus Forest Trail Loop
- Agua Caliente Hill Trail
- Hope Camp Trail
- Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail
- Part of the Arizona Trail: Marshall Gulch to Aspen Trail
- Molino Basin Trail
- Green Mountain Trail
The last few days in April brought high temperatures of 105 degrees. Since we only have 1 rinky-dink air-conditioner that cannot keep up with that kind of heat, we took it as a sign that it was time for us to resume RV life and head out of Tucson.
Our initial plan was to start by staying within Arizona, which had far less strict coronavirus rules than other US states, by moving up to the cooler climate of Flagstaff and Sedona.
4/30/2020 – 5/2/2020: Flagstaff (& Sedona), AZ
Once we arrived in Flagstaff, we were all super happy to be back in the cool temperatures and pine trees!
When we got there, we met up with some friends for a social distancing hike near their Flagstaff boondocking spot. The views were beautiful, and honestly, it was also wonderful to converse face to face with friends, for the first time in almost two months.
While in the area, we also took a day trip to Sedona. A lot of the #Instafamous trails were closed, but the one I really wanted to hike, Bear Mountain Trail, was not! I was excited because this trail was recommended to us months prior by a hiker we met in Havasu. He said it was “the most beautiful hike in Sedona!” I’d have to imagine he was right because I can’t imagine another one being much better!
Then, we heard Colorado was opening up to visitors and decided it was time to try to get back on our part-time home search!
We took a bit of an extended path to Colorado that went through Monument Valley because I had always wanted to see that spot. We spent most of that drive cruising through a weekend curfewed Navajo Nation. The only things that were operating were gas pumps. We saw two people outside the entire time and countless closed businesses and stands. It was definitely one of the eeriest drives of my life. It put the realities of how hard that area was hit in severe perspective.
5/2/2020 – 5/6/2020: Vallecito Resort – Bayfield, CO
Our first RV stop on our Colorado lake town tour was at an RV resort near Vallecito Lake. We were planning on staying in the area until mid-May but ended up shortening our stay due to non-existent internet, as well as realizing pretty quickly that the surrounding area was a bit too small for us to consider living in part-time.
It was, however, beautiful!
While in this area, we actually had better cell service and internet at the public picnic tables around the lake than at our campground. So we spent a great deal of our time picnicking and working around the lake.
We also spent one day hiking the local Vallecito Creek Trail, which I highly recommend if you’re ever in the Durango area!
5/6/2020 – 5/16/2020: Durango, CO
Ok, I’m not going to lie, our move from the lake into Durango was another move that felt a little odd. The state of Colorado had started opening to visitors, but what we didn’t realize was that Durango’s county had not fully (even though the RV park accepted us). We spent the first few days feeling like invaders.
However, a few days into our stay, the town did start opening up.
While there, we went on a day hike on the Colorado Trail to Gudy’s Rest to get the beautiful view pictured above. This is a hike that’s also open to mountain bikers and was reasonably busy the day we hiked it. We spent a lot of our walk jumping off to the sides, but the view at the end was phenomenal and worth it! 😃 Restaurants never opened while we were there, but we did get some fantastic take out, including a Mexican restaurant called Switchback Taco that was run by a couple from Detroit!
5/16/2020 – 5/30/2020: Ouray, CO
Next, we arrived in Ouray THE day they were opening the town for visitors. We again spent the first part of our stay feeling a bit uncomfortable.
However, we had three super impressive experiences while in Ouray!
- We hiked the entire perimeter of the town on the aptly named Perimeter Trail. It was wildly beautiful. We saw multiple waterfalls, mountains, meadows, amazing views of the town, and deer.
- We rented a jeep for a day of traversing the local jeep roads. This was incredible, we literally took the jeep over a mountain! (Which we had never done before.) And we arrived on the other side into Silverton, only to find out they had just opened to visitors on that day. We had a beer at a bar for the first time in months.
- We also took a day trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I wish we would have stayed the night here and walked down to the bottom because I believe that’s the most beautiful way to see this park. Nonetheless, the Warner Point Nature Trail, Cedar Point Nature Trail, and Oak Flat Loop Trail were all lovely, and we had a very peaceful day here.
As for the Ouray RV Park, this is an RV park you stay at for the location to town and the awesome 2-mile walking loop right outside your front door! You don’t stay there for the RV spot. I hate to say it… we had nothing but good experiences at the park and with the staff… but the spots here are the tightest we’ve ever encountered. I could hear conversations on either side of the RV almost at all times.
When it was time to leave, you almost wouldn’t have known the town was ever shut down. Shops were bustling, and restaurants were opening. The only thing I feel we really missed out on in this area was the gorgeous Hot Springs complex in the middle of town. We’ll definitely have to go back and experience that someday!
At this point, it was starting to feel like summer.
Honorable Food Mention: Taco Del Gnar in Ridgway, CO. I’m not much of a foodie, but I’ll be dreaming about those tacos for a long time! 😋 Yum!
5/30/2020 – 6/3/2020: Montrose (& Crested Butte), CO
We were never originally going to stay in Montrose or Crested Butte. Crested Butte was walloped with COVID early. They completely shut down the town to tourists and were warning of $5000 tickets if you tried to come in, even if you had a second home in the town! We figured we were going to miss it, but then our friend messaged us and told us the town had re-opened. So, we decided a visit was necessary before moving along.
We figured we could make it easy on us by parking the rig in Montrose. That way, it would stay on our path to our next destination, and then we could simply take a day trip out to Crested Butte to visit with our friend Val before moving along to Grand Lake.
She gave us an epic tour of the town, including a stroll through the farmer’s market, a fantastic lunch on the patio at Coal Creek Grill, and a drive to a ton of scenic mountains and lakes spots! We spent the rest of the evening consuming all of her alcohol and snacks while playing Uno for many, many hours.
When leaving Crested Butte, though, we had some concerns about our brakes. So we decided to stay put in Montrose for a few more days and get them looked at before moving along to Grand Lake.
The Montrose campground also had a trail directly outside of the entrance, which has quickly become one of our must-haves for any campground spot we now book.
6/3/2020 – 6/13/2020: Grand Lake, CO
Updates are coming later on this spot, but Winding River Resort is now my new favorite RV park!!!