White Sand Dunes, Season 1 Winter Wrap-up
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
In this post and video I’m wrapping up Season 1 of my RV living over the winter time. I took some time away from making videos and photography for a couple of reasons during the winter.
1) I was completely exhausted from my whirlwind trip from Seattle to the East Coast and back. I did a lot of driving and sight-seeing, which was completely fantastic and amazing; however I was so excited I packed a lot into those trips in a very short amount of time.
2) My job is always busy, but year-end and beginning of the year is even more incredibly busy in the accounting and asset management world. Sometimes it’s hard to manage both the job, traveling, taking care of myself, the Story Chasing website and YouTube channel (as well as social media) AND I was learning so much about RV life and meeting so many others in the RV world from the Xscapers convergences I was participating in.
So unfortunately sometimes I get a little behind.
Which leads me to why you’re seeing the winter videos and photos all in one post and video.
Now in order to get you all caught up to almost real-time – I’m about 3-4 weeks behind in videos for safety purposes – and into Season 2, I’ve completed a winter wrap-up video which marks the end of Season 1 of Story Chasing.
Season 2 of Story Chasing
Just a quick note to let you know what’s coming up in Season 2.
I have a big surprise coming up in a couple of videos that will drastically change how I travel. Care to guess what the surprise is? I've been hinting at it in some videos.
By popular demand, I’m going to delve into some more educational and inspirational videos and posts on topics that encompass my background in finance/accounting/business and holistic coaching. These topics are right my alley with experience and topics I’m super passionate about sharing.
By the way, some of these topics are not just about RVing. Your dream may be to travel on an airplane or a boat or start a business. My dream just happens to be RVing so many of the topics will be based on achieving your dreams, whatever dream that may be, and some will include RV life topics.
Here's just a list of some of the topics I'll cover in Season 2:
- How to work remotely
- How to start a business to finance your dreams
- How to manifest your dreams – and not just logical ones
- Transitioning from a sticks and bricks lifestyle to RV life
- Budgets for RVing
- Budgets for any dream you have – not just RVing
- Travel hacking
- Minimalist Living
- Saving money for your goals
- Inspirational interviews from people living their dreams and how they accomplished these goals.
- Learn the Create. Do. Live principle
- Solo travel
- …and I didn’t forget….more travel videos as I follow my quest to complete all 300 of the National Geographic Scenic Highways & Byways.
Leaving the East Coast
I finished up my summer months at Mark & Grant’s house in the Catskills Mountains and headed to Charlestown, West Virginia to visit my sister and brother-in-law.
It had been awhile since I had seen them and it was so amazing to hang out with them in their beautiful home, catch a Navy game, cook together, and do some hiking. I really missed them and am looking forward to hanging out with them again in the near future.
My brother-in-law also fixed my LP alarm by just replacing it and then wiring it better. Before it was just taped together and he actually soldered the wires together. That seemed to do the trick and I didn’t have any more problems! That was a relief considering the amount of issues I was having constantly with the alarm going off.
Between the RV being too big for me to adventure off to places I really wanted to visit and the heat and humidity – it was September now and still hot – I had to leave and leave quickly back to the West Coast.
My plan had been to travel all down the East Coast to Florida and then cut across during the winter along the southern states, but with Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, there was damage all up and down the coast, people fleeing Florida and staying more north. So I decided to leave.
It took me about five days of driving from West Virginia and through, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, and Kansas before I landed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The winds through Kansas were horrendous and I was going pretty slow in order to keep the RV on the highway. I couldn’t wait to get out of those winds. My arms and shoulders were aching from the death grip I had on the steering wheel.
Exploring Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico
The winds finally died down and I left Colorado Springs to Salida, Colorado to enjoy some boondocking on BLM land off of the Arkansas River. That’s not a typo. It really is the Arkansas River. I actually had to look it up.
What’s the Arkansas River doing in Colorado?
Well turns out the Arkansas River starts in Colorado and is the snow melt from the mountains then travels 1,469 miles from Colorado, to Kansas, to Oklahoma, and then Arkansas.
It’s a beautiful river in Colorado!
Where I was at in Salida, there were places all the way from Leadville, Colorado and down to Salida and beyond for river rafting on the Arkansas River.
Salida’s elevation is 7,083 and it was already starting to get a little chilly there in September, but I will take that little bit of chill any day over the hot humid air I experienced on the East Coast.
After a couple of weeks in Salida, it was time to slowly start making the trek to my family's home in Argyle, Texas so I dropped down south to Alamosa, Colorado for some more boondocking at San Luis State Wildlife Area, which is actually a free area to stay now.
At some point in time the water came back as unsafe to drink, so now the park is open to anyone for free, but with a permit. It still has campsites, dumpsters, bathrooms, picnic tables and fire pits at each campsite, and a grey and black water tank dump area. Score!
Besides all of the amenities at San Luis State Wildlife Area, the surrounding view is incredible of the snow-capped mountains and Great Sand Dunes National Park.
This, so far, as been one of the best places I’ve boondocked for free. The weather was pretty perfect except when the wind came, but I hunkered down and worked until it was time to move again.
I dipped further southeast and into the Texas panhandle in Fritch, Texas at Lake Meredith National Recreation Center. It’s another free boondocking spot like San Luis State Wildlife Area right off of Lake Meredith.
I felt like I was really scoring with beautiful places and incredible amenities, until……
The wind, and rain, and lightening, and thunder, and then I swear it was a tornado in the middle of that night that shook the RV on all sides at the same time. It might have been a micro burst, but I literally thought I was going to die and my RV was going to be hurled off the side of the cliff and into the lake.
In case you’re thinking I just might have been overreacting, I wasn’t the only one. All of a sudden, everyone else in the parks headlights came on and people were leaving in the middle of the night.
This is the Texas panhandle where weather can be erratic, drastic, and unpredictable. I thought I was safe because it wasn’t tornado season, but I was seriously mistaken.
I took shelter in town at a local gas station where the winds were still bad, but I could seek better shelter in case there was a tornado.
The next day I left the area to my sister's house in Argyle, Texas so I could see her, my mom, brother-in-law, niece and nephews, and my aunt and uncle.
They live out on a rural piece of land next to a cow pasture so there was plenty of space for my RV and doing some moochdocking in their drive way. I didn’t get to see my sister as much as I would have liked since she was traveling for work, but I had a great time with my mom and family celebrating birthdays, eating out, shopping, just hanging out and talking, and feeding the cows.
Yep, the owner of the cow farm pasture gave me a big bag of treats for the cows.
I was a little grossed out by their slimy tongues so I put some gloves on to feed them. Well, they would stick their big, long tongues out to get the food from me and I would get slimed!
I enjoyed it though. I’ve never been around cows before like that so this was a first and to be able to hang out with them and feed them was quite the moment.
My niece, Reese, was also keeping me in shape with her stretch routine outside my RV. I told her she needed to come on the road with me and be my trainer everyday!
It’s now November and time to start heading west to keep warm and eventually end up in Quartzsite, Arizona for the Xscapers annual bash in January.
I found a gem on Holloman Lake which is actually on an Air Force base. If you don’t mind the occasional helicopter buzzing by, this is a great location and very close to White Sands National Monument.
It’s also another free boondocking location and perfect for staying for a while or just overnight and is only a five-minute drive to the national monument.
White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument was pretty cool and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was my #20 Quest from National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways.
The white sand dunes were really tall in some areas and you could find people sledding down the sand, walking, hiking, and I even saw a marriage proposal there.
I sure didn’t seem that hot, but around 80ish degrees and the sun beating down, it was hot! Interestingly though the sad was cool to the touch. I found a great spot to picnic, flipped off my shoes and traversed a white sand dune with Lily.
It couldn’t have been a better day with a perfect blue sky, the sun shining, the white sand dunes, birds flying in the air. It was truly picture perfect.
Lily, unfortunately was feeling so good. She was having stomach issues again and I was worried so I left that day to Albuquerque, New Mexico to get her checked out at the Banfield vet hospital. Turns out that she was okay, just some stomach upset and gas because I apparently changed her food too quickly and it upset her stomach. Yikes.
She did get better after feeding her a bland diet and just keeping her on the same food for a while. I’m glad it’s nothing serious.
Once I knew Lily was okay, I took of for warmer temperatures once again. I had woken up to 28 degrees in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is just way to cold for me so off I went to Sedona, Arizona and then on to Lake Havasu, Arizona where I stayed for several weeks on BLM land again.
I met some really great people there and even spent Thanksgiving with another solo male RVer and a French family on holiday. It was all rather impromptu and we dug out whatever we had in our fridge. It turned out to be such a grand feast with talks of travel and differences between our countries. I feel like I say this all the time, but meeting people like this on the road and getting to know them just for a moment is an incredible experience.
Some go on their ways and some I stay in touch with after we leave. I feel like I’m gathering a collection of friends in every state and some countries to visit when I’m in the area.
Lake Havasu, and most of Arizona actually has some of the most colorful sunrises and sunsets. The downside to Lake Havasu, well, it’s not Lake Havasu’s fault, but a mouse decided to enter my vehicle and tear apart a bag of Lily’s dog food and then kept me up all night as I tried to “catch” that little sucker and throw him out.
The only catching that happened was when I bought a mouse trap the next day and he was dead by morning. Sorry little mouse, but leaving poop and urine on my kitchen counter and eating my dog food is not cool. I was also scared he would get to the wires and start nibbling on those. That would have cost a small fortune to fix.
It was time to leave and head further south to Quartzsite, Arizona for the annual bash in January. I actually got there about a month early to take advantage of the incredible boondocking and just hunker down and work so I could take some time off in January for the bash.
This little town isn’t a place I would settle down into, but for the winter, it’s great to make use of all the boondocking land and they are really set-up for RVers since so many RVers frequent this town for the RV show, RTR, and other club rallies during the winter.
The only downside is the grocery store. There’s not a huge selection, prices are high, and organic is almost non-existent. You can travel to Blythe, California or Parker, Arizona to grab groceries, but each place is over 20 miles to 30 miles depending on where you’re boondocking.
Xscapers 2018 Annual Bash
The bash ended up being right in the same location I was already boondocking in Quartzsite. It was my first meeting with other RVers and of course with Xscapers.
Xscapers is a subgroup of Escapees and is generally for RVers who are full-time, active lifestyle, and many still work, but work remotely. There are individuals of all ages at convergences and just some pretty cool people to get to know.
This bash changed my RVing life and introduced me to more education on RV living and friends to meet up along the way.
We had a blast listening to guest speakers, eating, drinking, partying, campfires, group activities, and there was even a hot air balloon.
I woke up early to see them put the set-up the hot air balloon and watch them take off in the early morning. I’ve never been that close to the action so it was an incredible moment to watch the whole thing unfold.
Watch the video when they start to fill the balloon with hot air from the fire and the helpers holding the ropes back while the balloon is on the ground still.
Overall, I had so much fun am truly changed by the wonderful people I met, the speakers, and the organizers of these events.
Between the Xscapers bash and traveling to California in February, I had a couple of work events in Scottsdale, Arizona, and bopped around the area until I met some friends in Cambria, California.
My skin seriously needed the moisture and I was craving the ocean water! After all these months in the desert my skin was lizard-like no matter how much lotion I applied and I longed to be near the open water.
The ocean was a welcome sight to both Lily and me. I dipped my toes in the water while standing on the sandy beach and Lily – though not so keen on jumping in water – tilted her head forward and up to smell the ocean water, feel the breeze on her little head, and let the sun glisten as she squinted her eyes at the bright sun.
I know what she was thinking – this is heaven mom – let’s stay here awhile. So we did – about a week almost and just enjoyed the hiking, the walks on the beach, and visiting with my friends in their Air Stream.
It’s now March and it was time to head back to the desert, but this time to Moab, Utah for another Xscapers convergence.
I’ve never been to Moab before and I had so much fun. Fun hanging out with all my new friends from the last Xscapers bash, offroading in Jeeps, site seeing, and we even got snow one day.
There is so much beauty in Utah and I can’t say enough about this wonderful place. There’s a lot to see, so many National Parks, hiking, offloading (I wanted so much to buy a Jeep after that event), and lots to explore.
I’ll definitely be back here soon to explore some more
All I can say is I can’t wait until our next conference!
I hope you’ve enjoyed Season 1 of Story Chasing and I’m looking forward to Season 2 and see how it unfolds. Every day is an adventure of some sorts and I never know sometimes where the road takes me and who I’ll meet.
I’ve learned this last year to not plan as much and more spontaneous. You kind of have to be when you’re one with nature, weather, and of course all the new friends you meet.
If you’re interested in any specific topic I’ve named above, for Season 2, or you have other topics you’d like me to discuss, please leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear your ideas and what you’re interested in.
Also – what are YOUR goals and dreams and do you already have an actionable plan in place to accomplish these goals?
Video/Audio Equipment Used
Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging
Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video
Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.
It is so good to hear that you are loving your adventure!
Looking forward to the next season.
God Bless you. Stay safe and happy travels. 🌈
Hi Linda – Thank you so much for checking in. Hope you’re doing well too.
Oh those white sands! Gorgeous videography, narration and music Amber, seriously. I need to get out to White Sands… I’d like to see that Bleached Lizard and Rubber Rabbit Bush! What beauties. I was thinking I’d see you lift off in that hot air balloon! What fun…. Can’t wait to see what next season brings!
You’d love it there Traci! Really beautiful in such a different way. I never did see that bleached Lizard! darn it! Uh no..I’m adventurous but I haven’t gotten the courage to get in a hot air balloon yet. Did you do this one time? Thank you so much for the compliments on the video. I know it’s been a work in progress, but I’m getting there. You should hear and see my new microphone and headset set-up. It’s like “butter” compared to my old little apple microphone/headset that comes with the iPhone. 🙂