Glacier National Park

While Kathy and I were working (volunteering) at the USACE Fort Peck Montana Downstream Campground, we took a few days to visit Glacier National Park. Although we could have driven to the park, we decided it would be fun to take the Amtrak train.

The Amtrak Empire Builder runs daily from Chicago to Seattle and back again. The number 7 train runs westbound through Glasgow Montana at about noon daily and delivers to Whitefish (W. Glacier area) about 9pm.

The “Empire Builder” route from Glasgow to Whitefish

The return (number 8 train) runs eastbound daily and departs Whitefish at 7:30am arriving back in Glasgow around 3:30pm.

Round trip tickets are $108 each, a rental car (2019 Chevy Malibu) cost us $35/day and the room at a nice new Best Western (w/ king bed, fridge, microwave) was $94/day. Although the trip by train is more than driving in our own car, the trip was far more relaxing and enjoyable.

Riding on the train allows you the opportunity to move around at will from your car to either the lounge car, the panorama view sightseeing car, or the formal dining car. They have sleeping cars too, but we didn’t have an opportunity to see those.

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

Renting the car (with unlimited mileage) we were able to drive just under 600 miles in 2 days seeing both West Glacier and East Glacier. We were not, unfortunately able to take the “Going to The Sun Road” all the way across from west to east because 22 miles of the road were still closed due to not being cleared of snow yet (this was the end of May!). As a result (as you’ll see in the video below) we had to take Route 2 the long way around the bottom of the park from one side to the other.

Our Amtrak Trip to Glacier May 2019

Thanks for riding along with us on our adventures. Soon after our Amtrak ride to Glacier (celebrating our 45th anniversary) we packed up our coach at Fort Peck and moved on east to our next Workamping/Volunteer gig at Spearfish, SD. Post on our experiences there follows shortly.

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What Happens When We Can’t Travel Anymore?

Living full-time in an RV can be exciting, getting to travel across this great nation of ours, seeing all sorts of sights and meeting all kinds of great people.

If you’re a “full-timer” as those of us in this group like to call ourselves, there are things to consider when going full-time like;

  • Where will our “home” be?  Where will we go back to (occassionally) ?
  • What do we do about getting our mail?  (Next post will cover this)
  • What state are we going to be domiciled in for medical insurance?
  • What happens if one of us needs recuperation time after a surgery?
  • What happens when this life on the road just gets too hard for us?
  • What happens to us when we can’t travel anymore?????

This is the question we’re going to talk about in this post.    

Some full-time RV’ers might go “back home” and maybe live in their RV for some time at their children’s property, that is, if they are fortunate enough;

  • 1) to have children,
  • 2) that have property large enough to accommodate the RV, and
  • 3) that have the electric, water, and sewer hookups for the RV.

Other full-timers may have the resources available to buy a home or rent an apartment to allow them to move out of the RV (either temporarily or permanently) so they can get the help they need for daily living.

BUT … If you are an Escapee RV Club member you have another option.

The club founders, Kay and Joe Peterson saw the need for another option for full-time RV’ers.  Joe and Kay were full-time RV’ers themselves and started the club in 1978.  As I understand it, Joe was an electrician and they, along with their 5 children traveled the country following Joe’s work while Kay ran the household and raised the children.

Here’s 3 links to just some of Kay’s many books she wrote while on the road.  Kathy and I had the honor of attending a convention where Kay (at 94) spoke and she was truly a remarkable woman and a wonderful story-teller.  You really should give yourself a treat and read at least one of her books.

I apologize … I digress.  Now back to the point of this post.

So Kay and Joe, being full-timers themselves must’ve pondered this same question .. “What happens when we just can’t travel full-time anymore?”

And as a result, and with the help of many club members and volunteers, the C.A.R.E. Center was born adjacent to Rainbow’s End RV Park and the Escapees National Headquarters office in Livingston, Texas.

Let me tell you about it and what a cool concept it is.  I’m told there’s nothing else like it in the country.

The C.A.R.E. (Continued Assistance for Retired Escapees) Center is yes, a building.  But it’s so much more than just a building.

When an Escapee RV Club member finds the need to get off the road, whether because of the need to recuperate from an illness or medical procedure, or maybe they just need a little help to live comfortably, they can move their RV to CARE.

You say “It looks like an RV park to me”.  Yes, it’s an RV park and again … so much more.

When full-time RV’ers decide to come off the road, they really don’t want to move into an apartment or an assisted living facility – instead (just like anyone else) they want to stay in their own home.  And remember, this travel trailer or motor home IS their own home and very often has been for many years.  They’ve seen the sights, made hundreds of new friends and even now want to live in an area where they can still be around like-minded people.

CARE provides their residents with a site that will accommodate the size of their rig, they provide 3 home cooked meals each day along with weekly laundry service and lots of activities in the CARE Center building.

This is not an assisted living facility, but rather a program that assists those who can still live independently.  Residents walk from their rig to the dining hall for meals and to the activity room for; church services, jam sessions, use of the computer WiFi, exercise equipment, and lots more.

Activity Room with seating for church service, comfortable seating for reading or computer work

Lots of seating can be moved to accommodate musical groups

CARE Center dining room where residents can get 3 great home cooked meals every day of the week

There are CARE volunteers who typically (but not always) live in the park and help the residents with some of their chores like; swapping out propane tanks, repairing sewer hoses, sweeping off their deck, or any number of what we feel are small jobs but might be difficult for the CARE resident.

In addition, CARE provides FREE transportation to wherever a resident might want to go (within 30 miles).  That might be a doctor appointment, a trip to the local grocery, beauty shop, attorney or bank.

CARE operates 5 different vehicles to transport residents wherever they need to go within 30 miles of home

So you’re thinking “Wow, this really seems like a great concept – I wonder what they charge?”

C.A.R.E. is a not-for-profit 501c3 tax exempt corporation. They have a small (but professional) staff and the Volunteer Coordinator (Crystal) does a fantastic job recruiting and utilizing volunteers so their abilities and talents are best utilized. As a result, the CARE Center fees (at the time of this writing) are $1000 per month for a single person and $500 additional for a spouse or partner. The only additional costs to the resident are; electricity, cable or wifi, propane gas (for heat or cooking). Water, sewer, and trash removal is included in the rent.

There is no contract, all they ask is the monthly fee up front. If the resident, for any reason, decides that it’s just not for them, they put the key in the ignition the next month and move on down the road.

All in all, CARE is a wonderful “other option” for those full-time RV’ers that have come to the point of needing a little extra help.

AND, it allows those that have come to love the lifestyle now stay with that lifestyle and live among other like-minded wanderers.

You know what they say … “Not all who wander are lost”

Safe travels to you until we meet again ….


Care & Feeding Deep Cycle Lead Acid Batteries

There are many more technical videos on You Tube about lead acid batteries, but this short video just shows how I take care of mine so that they take care of me when the need arises.

I try to check our battery water level every 30 days, but it often runs 60-90 days between watering. We are most often hooked to shore power in a campground or RV park and the Trace Engineering Converter/Inverter does a good job of monitoring the voltage and adjusting the charge accordingly so that the batteries do not “cook” and burn off a lot of the distilled water.

What about you? Do you find it easy to check your batteries regularly? Do you use an automatic watering system? Maybe you’ve switched to AGM batteries so you don’t have to worry about watering? Let me know what you do to maintain your system.

Part 2 – N’West Michigan Road Trip – Mushrooms, Tunnels, Bears, and Indians – Oh My!

We left Charlevoix the next morning after a comfortable stay at the Maple Leaf Inn and continued north on M-31 toward Petoskey.  We had an opportunity to go along Lake Charlevoix on our way to Urgent Care (that’s another story altogether) when we happened along some of the famous “Mushroom Houses” we had heard about.  You can read more about these famous homes and the self-taught architect that designed and built these beautiful homes by clicking here.

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Heading out of Charlevoix on M-31 along the south edge of Little Traverse Bay, we arrived in Petoskey (famous for Petoskey Stones) and we happened across their Farmer’s Market.  Since we don’t have a lot of room for storage, nor do we have a large refrigerator, the only thing Kathy bought was a bar of hand made soap. Here’s a few pictures from the market, everything was so colorful and attractive!

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Moving on up the road out of Petoskey, some friends of ours here at the park told us about State Route 119 and the “Tunnel of Trees“.  It sounded fascinating and we wanted to stay along the lake shore, so off we went due north on SR 119.  Video below.

The Tunnel of Trees starts at about Harbor Springs and ends at a small hamlet called Cross Village where we found the famous (and out of the way) “Legs Inn” restaurant.  Unfortunately for us, the restaurant doesn’t open until noon and we got there just a little too early, but we did take the opportunity to walk the grounds and check out some of the history of the place.  There are beautiful gardens out back with patio seating and the original designer, Stanley Smolak had an eclectic flair and utilized the local Odawa Indians to help him build the Legs Inn.  See more about the Legs Inn at this link.

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Beyond Cross Village (on M-119) we worked our way east and north on up to The Headlands International Dark Sky Park, McGulpin Point Lighthouse, stopped for ice cream in Mackinaw City and then on over the bridge.  Although the day was clear and sunny in the city, the fog was heavy at the bridge and visibility was poor if not non-existent.

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We ended up the day heading on down I-75, then over to Kalkaska where my folks had lived in their retirement years and are buried at the Garfield Twp Cemetery.  Kathy and I drove around the area reminiscing how we used to come up here to see them when the kids were toddlers (they’re now 39 & 40).

All in all it was a great trip.  Seeing new sites along with revisiting some places we used to frequent and bringing back pleasant memories.  A great way to spend a few days in northern Michigan.


Workampers Northwest Michigan Road Trip

One of the nice advantages of the workamping lifestyle is that we work (at the RV park) part time in exchange for our site and utilities.  “Part Time” is key for two reasons.  First, we’ve worked full-time for forty years or so and don’t want to do that any longer … after all, we are “retired” in that we quit working full time, started collecting our Social Security and pensions earlier than most (at a reduced rate) so that we could change our lifestyle and explore this great country of ours.

Secondly, working part time allows us a few days a week to hit the road and explore what’s around us.  If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve seen; the beach and state park at Ludington, the Pere Marquette River, the Village of Idlewild, Bitely, and more.

This week we headed out Thursday morning for a three day trip along the “baby finger” of Michigan bordering Lake Michigan where we enjoyed towns and villages like Manistee, Glen Arbor, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Cross Village, Mackinac City and finally back down through Kalkaska and Cadillac.  The map of our three day trip is below.

If you’d like an interactive link to the map so you can zoom and pan on any specific area, here’s the link.

Day 1 – Manistee to Charlevoix

Our first stop was at Manistee.  We didn’t walk the town, but we did head to the beach and on the way back through town, we stopped to admire the Ramsdell Theatre.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get inside to see, but got a couple of outside pix.  I wouldn’t have stopped there, but was curious about the large brick windowless tower poking up out the back of the building.  Once we stopped and found that it was a theater, the tower to the rear made sense.

Pigs really DO Fly (at the Ramsdell Theatre sidewalk in front of the box office)

Coming attractions at the Ramsdell Theatre

Ramsdell Theater, Manistee, MI – On the National Register of Historic Places

The Ramsdell streetside .. Note the high tower at the rear where they pull up the curtains and backdrops

The public beach along Lake Michigan at Manistee, MI

Our selfie at Manistee Public Beach Park

This is a decommissioned rail car ferry. It’s hard to see, but it has train tracks inside for the cars to ride on

The stern of the ferry opens wide to allow the train cars to be rolled on to the deck

Relaxing along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Orchard Beach State Park just north of Manistee

Historical marker at Onekema on the east side of Portage Lake

The park at Onekema overlooking Portage Lake

We continued north along M-22, often catching glimpses of the mighty Lake Michigan

Selfie at Inspiration Point (Arcadia Dunes Beach at Arcadia)

The Kindness Rocks Project at Arcadia Beach

It was a beautiful drive up M-22 along the lake.  Since it was a weekday, very little traffic and almost nobody else on the beaches we stopped to check out.

We continued up M-22 out of Arcadia, through Watervale and Alberta and on into Frankfort where we were able to pull in to the public park at the marina, break out our cooler and have a light lunch of tuna salad on crackers along with some cottage cheese and washed it all down with a few gulps of ice cold lemonade while watching the boats bobbing in the water and the sea gulls dive for their lunch (in the harbor, not at our picnic table!).

Leaving Frankfort, we headed on up through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore across Glen Lake into and out of Glen Arbor and into Leland where we knew from previous visits we would find the historic “Fishtown“.  It’s mostly just a tourist trap now with lots of shops filled with collectibles and souvenirs, along with a few cafes but also is an active harbor for pleasure vessels and charter fishing operations as well.  You can easily spend a lot of money in Leland.

Years ago we had continued north on M-22 all the way to the Grand Traverse Light adjacent to the Lelanau State Park at the tip of the baby finger.  It’s a nice trip up with a wonderful little museum in the lighthouse and I’d recommend this to anyone visiting the area.

Now, I KNEW that Leland was a tourist spot, but we thought maybe we’d get a room there for the night and be able to walk the sidewalks and rub elbows with those further up the economic ladder from us.  NOT!  We found a motel online and our smartphone said that they had only one room left, so we darted up the street to get there and check in.  The nice young lady behind the desk told us the rate was $391 (per night!) and NO, that did NOT include a few rounds of golf!

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Soooooo, we headed out of Leland, through Sutton’s Bay and on to Charlevoix where we hoped to find a room for the night.

We found the Maple Leaf Motel (only 10 rooms) on the south end of town where our host Cindy welcomed us to the last room available, and as promised we found the room to be clean.  I asked Cindy where we should have dinner tonight and she recommended the new “Cantina” restaurant located in an alley off the beaten track.  She also told us about the 80th annual Venetian Festival going on in downtown this week.  We decided that all sounded like a great night so off we went …

The harbor at Charlevoix, getting ready for the band at the Venetian Festival

The Venetian Festival at Charlevoix

Dinner menu from the Cantina restaurant where we had dinner

Cantina “Street Corn” grilled, rolled in Chipotle Mayo, then rolled in cheese – Yummy!

Kathy’s Chicken and Shrimp Tacos

My beef and bean burrito

Mural on Rexall Drugs downtown Charlevoix

A man and his dog on the paddle board in the harbor

A 2 hour cruise out into Lake Michigan on a catamaran

Some shots of folks enjoying the festival food at the harbor and listening to the live band in the amphitheater

This ferry coming in from Beaver Island (watch the video below)


Kathy wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel.  But she also wanted ME to GO ALONG!

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m “skeered of heights”.  I can’t even climb up on top of the motor home.  I can handle a six foot ladder, but that’s about all.

It might not look it, but I’m shakin’ in my shoes

A shot from atop the wheel (Skeered)

A street performer downtown Charlevoix during the Venetian Festival

The video below shows a group of kids having a ball on the hill.  It would be a really tough climb with a sled in the snow.

We got the last room in town, $85 / nite. Not a lot of fluff, but a clean room

Resting back in the room after dinner and the festival downtown

That’s it for now, the next post will be from Charlevoix through Petoskey, Cross Village and the Tunnel of Trees and then up across the bridge (and back) and then down to Kalkaska.


Goodbye Arizona

This morning we’ll be heading out, leaving all our new-found friends at Rancho Verde RV Park at Camp Verde, AZ.

This park was our first workamping experience and we came here full of excitement but also a little anxiety not really knowing what to expect.

We’ve been blessed.  We were very quickly accepted as part of the “family” here at the park.  The owners and managers have been wonderful to work for and we’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone here.

Some are full-time residents, while we’ve had a fair amount of those that come and go every few days.  We’ve tried to make a point of meeting as many as we can because in life, it’s the people that make the difference.

So now it’s on to Florida to visit friends and family, then back up to Ohio by the 1st of April where we’ll spend a few weeks with the kids and grandkids, and then up to Michigan in May where we’ll be workamping for the summer near Ludington.

I’ll try to post more as we travel east and north, but it’s often more difficult because of some limited wifi and less time to sit at the keyboard – more driving and sightseeing stops.



Our Day Trip to Petrified Forest

We didn’t plan this trip – we just woke up and while watching the TODAY show, we talked about where we could go and what we could see all within a day’s drive out and back.

We decided to head north and visit the Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert, the Meteor Crater, and whatever else we might be able to squeeze into the day. Here’s the map of the trip we took running counter-clockwise.

Just below is the video of the entire trip.  I usually try hard to keep my videos short because, if you’re like me you really won’t want to spend the entire 20+ minutes watching the video just to see what’s next.  I was able to condense our entire 8 hour travel day down to a 20 minute video, but nonetheless … if you don’t have that much time, then scroll on down the page and watch the slide show of the still photos I shot.

Here’s the slide show.  If you’re viewing this in an email, you may not see the slide show.  To see it, just click on the name of the post at the top of the page and you’ll be taken to our web site where you can then see the slide show.

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We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog.  Do you purchase any products from Amazon?  If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar.  By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more.  We’d really appreciate your help.

Thank you,

Herb & Kathy


The North Rim is AMAZING!

We had our first few days off this week and we wanted to get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before it closes to all traffic on October 15th.  We left early Tuesday morning and set out for the 6+ hour drive.  As you can see by the map below, you have to drive AROUND the canyon to get to the North Rim.

We drove on up to the gate at the South Rim and paid our ONE TIME $10 fee for our LIFETIME Senior Pass for nearly ALL Federal lands.  If you are 62 or over and are not aware of this senior benefit, check it out here.  It’s one heck of a great value.  While we paid $10 for a lifetime, others at the gate were paying $30 per car for a one day pass.

On our way up from Cameron to Lee’s Ferry, we crossed over the “new” Navajo Bridge, built in 1995 replacing the earlier bridge built in 1929.  When it was built in 1929 the next closest crossing of the Colorado River was over 600 miles away!

Can you imagine having to travel in the 20’s in this area of the country?  The story of the bridge(s) is really interesting and you can see and find out more by clicking on this link.

After visiting the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center and walking across the “old” bridge to take a few pix, we got back in the car and continued up Route 89 to Jacob Lake where we had a nice lunch at the Jacob Lake Inn.  All the serving staff were young folks and I asked our waitress if they were all living on-site.  She told us there are about 75 staff “kids”, they are all attending college and they live in dorms back behind the inn.  She said it’s a great way to spend the summer and earn some cash and make a lot of new friends.  They all seemed to be having a good time while they worked.

The trip north brought RAIN all the way.  A light drizzle down to a gentle mist, but rain nonetheless.  When we finally arrived at the North Rim it was still drizzling and down in the 50’s.  Lots of folks around us were dressed in long pants and sweatshirts along with hiking boots.  We (of course) were in our shorts and tee shirts.  A little out of place but no matter, we were eager to get checked in and scope out the surroundings.

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The lodge (building architecture) was amazing.  Built in the early 30’s, then burned down to the foundation four years later, this site sat untouched for six years.  Finally in 1938 it was rebuilt using the original stone foundation.  We didn’t have a reservation for dinner so we opted to go to the “deli” to eat and had terrible pizza.  But that’s ok, we were ready to hit the hay, it was getting dark and the fog at ground level was thick as pea soup.


We had so hoped Tuesday night when we went to be that Wednesday morning would be better weather and our prayers were answered.  It was still a little foggy but clearing.  We went on to the lodge for breakfast (by the way, there is NO lodging at the Lodge) and enjoyed our meals while catching glimpses of what was to come as the clouds moved in and out of and around the rock formations.

So I took about a hundred or so pictures as we traveled the North Rim seeing Cape Royal and Point Imperial, so I’ve set some of them into this slide show so you can get a sampling of what we saw.  The morning sun broke some fog/clouds and the longer we stayed, the more we saw.  It was a beautiful morning to be alive.

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We stayed until about noon on Wednesday and then headed back home to Camp Verde.  On the way though, we wanted to stop and check out Lee’s Ferry which is the spot that the early pioneers used to cross the Colorado River (before the Navajo Bridge was built in 1929)

We got a real treat when we realized we could pull right on down to the river and step on in the cool, clear, fast-running water!  Lees Ferry is the only place within Glen Canyon where visitors can drive to the Colorado River in over 700 miles of canyon country, right up to the first rapid in the Grand Canyon. A natural corridor between Utah and Arizona, Lees Ferry figured prominently in the exploration and settlement of northern Arizona. Lees Ferry is now a meeting of the old and the new. Check out the pictures below.

That’s the recap of our trip to the Grand Canyon North Rim – what a sight to see.

Keeping busy learning the ropes (video)

An update on our workamping experience at Rancho Verde RV Park in Camp Verde, AZ

Kathy’s been working in the office learning from Cindy taking phone calls reserving sites and answering callers questions, then she registers the guests when they arrive.  We then guide the newcomer to their site, help them back in, and offer to help hook up their utilities for them.

I’ve been out cutting grass today, helping George replace the thermocouple on the laundry hot water heater, and yesterday George showed us how to do the “flood irrigation” of the grounds.

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I’m going to load this video (below) of the flood irrigation in action.  It’s really cool to see it in action.  First we go down below to the creek-side and fire up the pump.  The large silver galvanized pipe (around 12″ diameter) then pumps a tremendous amount of water up to the stone cistern up topside in the campground.  George shows us in the video how the cistern fills very quickly and water pours out one side to flood the grounds all around the office.  When that side has been flooded for an hour or so, then he closes the gate and the water continues to come into the cistern and floods over the top and on down to the other side of the park.

There are valves around the park where we can connect hoses and/or turn on valves to operate sprinkling systems.  Different parts of the park are operated on different days.  This keeps the park nice and verde (green)

The reason that this water cistern is even here is because this park (before the mid 90’s) and much of the surrounding area was all farm land and this irrigation system was installed years ago to help keep the valley fertile.

And it’s still serving a useful purpose today.


Happy to be in Camp Verde

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, got settled into our space, and started our orientation process pretty quickly.

Kathy and I will be “workamping” for the next six months at Rancho Verde RV Park in Camp Verde, AZ and what a beautiful small park it is.  We’re excited to be here and we look forward to our new lifestyle experience.

The park is small (just 40 sites) and has green grass and large shade trees between each site, neither of which we expected to find in Arizona so it’s a real pleasant surprise.  Camp Verde is located just east of I-17 about halfway between Phoenix and Flagstaff.  Right now (mid-September) the daytime temps are in the 80’s and low 90’s while the nights fall to the low 50’s and high 40’s.

Here’s just a few pictures of the park entrance, the office, our site, and one of the rows of RV’s.  About half of the sites are long-term (months to as long as 12 years) with the others being daily or weekly.

George and Sigrid are the park owners and Steve and Cindy are the park managers.  All four folks are wonderful people and while Cindy has been working with Kathy in the office to get her up to speed on the reservations process and billing software, I’ve been learning from George and Steve about all the systems that need either scheduled or “as needed” maintenance, (fresh water / irrigation water / black water / electrical pedestels / laundry equipment, etc.).  They’ve got a very well-equipped (and organized) shop with all the tools and materials necessary to allow us to take care of most maintenance needs on our own.

After Oct 1st, there will be a 3rd workamper couple here so we’ll each (couple) will work 2 days on and 5 days off with each of the three couples working every 3rd Sunday as well.  With a full complement of workampers, the owners will be able to take some well-deserved time off and not have to be here all the time.

Kathy and I have only gone into town (Camp Verde) once so far to pick up some groceries.  It’s a cute little town and we look forward to going back and taking more time to see all that it has to offer.  We’ll also be spending time doing a lot more sightseeing near towns like Jerome, Cottonwood and more.  We already have plans to go up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon next week because that are closes for the season on October 15th.

All in all, we are thrilled to be here and continue to look forward to this new lifestyle experience.

More later,