one family's experiment in life in a travel trailer

workin’

Well I better update my big exciting news from last time– our excitement was that I started working full time with my husband! How cool, right? I thought that when I gave up my full time job in Indy to join him on the road, I would be putting any career plans on hold for awhile… But I was able to be hired on with his crew for a safety attendant position.

We ride together to work every day and found a great babysitter for both kids. It all fell into place so easily, it was meant to be! It was the first time my one year old son has ever been to a babysitter for longer than an hour or so… The first few days were really rough as he adjusted to being away from us… Lucky our babysitter is so patient and understanding and she toughed it out and things started to get better.

After a month of work at the refinery in Sinclair, WY, we received word that we were headed next to Cripple Creek, Colorado. We took this last week to drive home and visit family in Michigan and Indiana before our next job starts. As I write, we are in Nebraska on the return leg of our journey to get back to Saratoga, WY and pick up our trailer and get everything packed up. Today (Saturday) we still have quite a bit of driving ahead of us. Tomorrow will be spent finishing packing and driving the 6 hours to Cripple Creek to our new RV park.

I’m excited to stay in Colorado– I’ve heard nothing but good things about the scenery, people, and weather. The closest “big town” to us will be Colorado Springs I think. I can’t wait to get settled. Once we are there, we are going to try to find child care once again so I can continue working for the company.

So ready to be done driving… We have spent a LOT of time in the car in the last week, but it was so great to visit family that we haven’t seen since Christmas. Here are a few pics:

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Baby Zeke at my in-law’s house

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Norah at my in-laws with a present, of course…

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Baby boy and I before getting family pictures done!

home sweet home

Dare I say that Saratoga is beginning to feel like home? I think it’s because my husband and I both come from very small towns, so a small town feels comfortable for us. Saratoga has less than 2,000 people.

The last few week has been really nice! On Friday, Norah attended a dance workshop at the community center here in town (Platte Valley Community Center) put on by a dance studio out of nearby Rawlins. For only $5, kids could attend from 12:30-4:30 and learn dance stretches, moves, and then perform a little routine at the end for parents to attend. The dance studio in Rawlins will soon be expanding to Saratoga, so if kids are interested, they can start taking actual lessons in about a month.

Norah has never done any type of dance or gymnastics, so I was excited to see how she did. She had a blast! Four hours is a long time to keep the attention of a three year old, but she did great! Michael got out of work early due to crappy weather so he was able to watch her for most of the day and see the “recital” at the end. If we are able to attend classes when they start in Saratoga, we will definitely be signing up.

Saturday Michael had to work but on Saturday night, we went out to a GREAT restaurant in Saratoga called Bella’s Bistro. We didn’t know what to expect when we pulled in, but it turned out to be quite an upscale restaurant! We were totally under dressed and had both kids with us, but the staff was so pleasant and insisted we stay. We ate delicious Italian food and Michael and I shared a whole bottle of wine (that’s literally never happened before). It was so so wonderful and my babies behaved so well. I was so proud and it was nice to have a real, sit down, fancy meal. I highly recommend Bella’s Bistro to those in Saratoga or surrounding areas. It’s expensive for our budget, so we will be saving it for special occasions :)

I’m going to sign off for now, because I want to save the exciting news for its own post!

Sinclair

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Drive by photos of the Sinclair Refinery where Michael is working

brrrrr

Wyoming has certainly been giving us a welcome to remember. Friday was cold and windy– so windy in fact that Michael only could work half a day and then had to come back home to Saratoga. Saturday was sunny but cold in the morning. We decided to get out and do some exploring. Just as we got bundled up, it started snowing and the skies turned grey. Ugh! We drove a few miles away to the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery. They give daily tours, but I think we must’ve missed them because it was totally empty! Doors were unlocked and there were signs explaining everything, but not an employee in sight! We gave ourselves a self tour but I really wish there would’ve been someone there to explain everything to us.

Basically this is where female and male fish are spawned and the eggs are fertilized and cared for until they develop eyes, then those fish are sent to state and national rivers, lakes, streams etc to stock them for fishing! It’s an awesome concept and this was one was founded in the early 1900’s. We saw tiny little baby trout, slightly bigger trout but still smaller than minnows… Then HUGE fully grown trout that were in giant troughs. They were born in 2004 and they are spawned every year from 2010-2015. I won’t bore you with any more useless fish facts but it was really interesting to us, and I hope we can go back when we can actually go on a tour and learn more!

After leaving the hatchery, we went to Saratoga Lake and day dreamed of summer :) Really, we drove around the lake and checked out the little campground there and the beach area (currently covered in snow). It looks like a nice lake with ATV trails all around it. We don’t own an ATV of any sort currently, but my husband is drooling over a Razr… There are certainly trails all over here that we could explore.

On the way back, we saw a huge herd(?) of what I thought were deer, at first but Michael informed me they were in fact antelope. I’m still not totally convinced.

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There is no shortage of wildlife here at all! Truly beautiful.
After leaving Saratoga Lake, we spent an hour driving around Saratoga. For a town of less than 2,000 people, there is a lot to see! We drove out past the private airstrip, drove around the neighborhoods and checked out tons of huge houses! I hopped on Zillow.com to check out some houses for sale and WOW. The houses in Saratoga are crazy expensive! We saw houses listed for anywhere from $330,000 to $2,100,000! A lot of them are on huge parcels of property with 7+ bedrooms and are very rustic looking… Log style siding, multiple fireplaces, etc… Definitely my husband’s style and mine, to an extent. We followed the GPS to go get a better look at some of the addresses, but unsurprisingly they were in a gated community (on a golf course, nonetheless) and were only available for sale to golf club members. Michael heard from a safety instructor that yearly memberships to the country club were $50,000. I guess if you can afford that, you can afford one of those houses!

So we drooled over houses we couldn’t afford and pointed out some that we could. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon since it was too cold to be doing much else. Michael got hungry for an early dinner at 4 so we decided to go check out a pizza place we drove past earlier. Unfortunately they are closed between 2-5 so we had to keep looking. There is an old hotel/restaurant downtown called the Hotel Wolf that has amazing reviews online. However they didn’t open until 6! I think this is common for small towns, but we finally found someplace that was open, Del Rio Cafe.

It was a small little restaurant that looked like it was someone’s house, or attached to their house. It was clean and totally empty! We ordered breaded green beans, cream cheese poppers, a chimichanga, and chicken strips. Service was only average even though we were the only ones there) and food was average but affordable (except my breaded green beans which were excellent!)

I think plans for the day include our weekly grocery shopping, which we will probably do in Rawlins. The one grocery store here in Saratoga is very overpriced so I think we will need to go elsewhere to stick to a reasonable budget!

There’s also something exciting in the works that I can’t talk about yet, but hopefully can announce soon!

Happy Sunday everyone

a long hiatus

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post. Actually yes I can totally believe it- the holidays were exceedingly busy. Once again I fell off the blogging train EVEN THOUGH one of my New Years Resolutions was to write more posts. I really enjoy recording all of our adventures so here I am, at the end of February making another effort to be a better blogger. Let’s see if I can recap the last few months…

1.) We went HOME for the holidays! All four of us flew out of Phoenix airport Dec 22, saw my parents in Indy briefly, drove up north to Michigan to visit Michael’s parents and sister and finally back to Indy later that week. Michael flew back to Phoenix since he didn’t get much time off work, and the kids and I stayed at my moms house for a few more weeks to spend a little more time. The Midwest was hammered with terrible storms during our visit, which hampered our plans a little, but it was amazing getting to see my family and letting them soak up some time with my awesome kiddos. I did find that I missed my husband and our trailer terribly! The trailer truly feels like home and I missed having our own space. It was an awesome visit and the kids did great on the airplane, even when we flew back alone. They’re such travel pros.

2.) We moved from our lovely town of Duncan, AZ! Due to some … Let’s call it “unrest” at the job site Michael was working at, he made the decision to leave and continue at another location. So we said goodbye to the beautiful Arizona scenery and most importantly, the people we had met! We formed friendships with Lee and Laurie, who we rented our RV spot from. We formed friendships with Terry and his wife Brittany, one of michaels co-workers who started out renting our old trailer from us and became our neighbors at the Rv park. And of course we formed friendships with Amy and her husband Luke. I met Amy on Facebook when we arrived in Duncan, and she quickly became a treasured friend. Our daughters became excellent playmates and I was grateful that she included me in so many local activities. Without her, I would not have met as many people or had nearly as much FUN in Arizona. She really welcomed my family with open arms. It was hard to leave her, but I hope our paths will cross again someday.

3.) En route to the next location, post-Duncan, we once again found ourselves in Honeyville, UT at Crystal Hot Springs Campground. For whatever reason, going to Utah always feels like coming home. Michael worked for 3-4 weeks at the shop in nearby Tremonton. As usual, we had a good time during our stay. We enjoyed the awesome natural hot springs at our campground. We did some shopping in Logan, Salt Lake City, and Murray. We went out to dinner at our favorite local restaurant, The Grille in Tremonton. We checked out lots of RV dealerships in search of our next upgrade ;) We even attended a huge RV show on Valentines Day at South Towne Expo Center. I did some spring cleaning and donated old toys and clothes to the local LDS mission center. Before we knew it, our “time” was up and we received word that we needed to head east to Wyoming!

So here we are, in Saratoga WY! Michaels job is west about 45 minutes, at a refinery outside Rawlins. We could’ve found an rv park closer, but the 45 minutes drive is WELL worth it because this is the best park we have ever stayed at! We are at Deer Haven RV Park and I could not be more impressed.

First of all, at $450/month it is totally affordable priced. Second, there is WIFI! This is definitely a huge deal for us since we do all of our bill pay online. In addition to that, we don’t have satellite tv so using wifi for Netflix is a great alternative. There’s also free cable here at the park, which we haven’t hooked up to yet. Saratoga is known for their certified blue ribbon trout fishing, and there are public access locations all over town. However our park has private fishing access for residents only, which Is totally awesome! We can’t wait to go fishing here.

The town is small but nice! We have already been to the park twice. It’s been a little cold and windy, but nothing we couldn’t handle. We already have a local PO box and are having our mail from Arizona forwarded here…. One of the many things that must be done when moving to a new location :)

I don’t have many photos on my iPad, where I’m writing this post from, but here are a few recents:

Getting ready to leave Arizona, Michael hooking up to the trailer and me ready to follow with the baby– Norah rode with dad in the truck!

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My little guy is growing up fast, no longer a baby… He will be a year in one month…

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And of course my handsome husband :)

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Oh yeah did I mention the DEER?! This place truly is called deer haven for a reason. Every day we have seen dozens of deer right next to our trailer. Huge bucks and does just a few feet away. We have walked up next to the fence and they just stare at us or prance away. From inside the trailer, we can get a great look at them through the window without disturbing their activity. Norah is so excited and impressed every time she spots one. It almost feels like we are home in Michigan.

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I’m enthusiastic and optimistic about our time here in Wyoming. I can’t wait to settle in.
Let’s not wait 3 months before we get together again, ok? :)

turkey day catch-up

Hi readers! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I didn’t expect our family to have any plans, but we actually got to have a fairly traditional Thanksgiving! Our friend Lee, who we rent our RV spot from, invited us to accompany him to his family Thanksgiving in Safford at his grandmother’s house.  We joined him and we were all welcomed with open arms.  There was a little 5 year old girl there, who Norah immediately befriended and played with the entire afternoon. It was strange to spend a holiday basically surrounded by strangers, but they were so friendly and understood that our little family was far from home and they did their best to make us feel included. It was truly special and a Turkey Day we won’t soon forget!

Michael had a nice little break for the holiday, but has been hard at work ever since.  The last week has been fairly stressful for him and he comes home from work exhausted and sometimes discouraged.  He’s recently taken on a huge leadership promotion and I know it is physically and mentally taxing.  On top of that, he’s been battling a sinus infection, which he caught from Norah.  They both saw a doctor and are on amoxicillin. They’re slowly but surely improving.

We are getting closer and closer to Christmas.  I have to be a little tight lipped about our plans, but I do know that this weekend, the 16th, we are all taking off for PHOENIX because Michael is going to “Crane School”! Aka, national commission certification for crane operaters (NCCCO).  This is a BIG deal! His wonderful company is funding the training and test taking, and will be a huge asset for him.

So we will take the RV to Phoenix for the 16-20th and stay at an RV park there while he goes to classes.  I can’t wait. I’ve never been to Phoenix– although the kids and I will be flying out of Phoenix airport when we go home for Christmas.

The kids and I have been spending lots of time lately with our new neighbor, Brittany and her baby Zayden. Since her husband is gone at work all day with mine, we do a lot together like laundry and shopping or just hanging out at my trailer.  In addition, the kids and I have been hanging out with Amy (the first friend I made in Duncan). Aside from our weekly storytime/craft.snack , we go to her house for playdates.  She has 4 girls and babysits other children, so Norah is always THRILLED to have playmates.  I really enjoy Amy’s company; I respect her a lot and get along with her so well. In fact, we are going over there tomorrow to do some canning! She is going to show me how to can chicken! I can’t wait! 

Here are some photos of my precious kiddos, and Brittany’s cutie pie Zayden over the past week as we enjoy friendship with co-workers and neighbors!

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Zeke and Norah

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Zeke and Zayden in our trailer

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Bored at the laundromat!

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Zeke – 8 months!

OH and how could I forget to mention?! While we didn’t do any crazy Black Friday shopping in department stores, my dear husband did some secretive BF shopping of his own… He traded my 2004 Pontiac Aztek with over 110k miles on it… for a brand spankin’ new 2014 Ford Escape Titanium! It was a huge surprise for me and I couldn’t be more thrilled! It’s fully loaded, twin turbo, and 4wd. I’ve never ever had a brand new vehicle and it’s so gorgeous and a BLAST to drive. I love the features like voice activated climate control, back up camera, heated seats, push button start, and automatic rear hatch. I’m in LOVE and so grateful for me sweet husband’s thoughtfulness.  Here are a few gratuitous car photos!:

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Thanks for reading everyone! I’ll try to keep updating, but as you can see, we have lots of excitement coming up as the holidays near.  Be safe and kind!

 

Tucson for a day

Who knew it SNOWED in Arizona? Not me! I expected a mild and vacation-like winter as we were posted in Arizona this winter but I was dead wrong! 

Beginning Friday, the temperatures dropped and the precipitation started! Michael was immediately snowed out Friday morning after being at work for an hour. Same story Saturday…and Sunday…. SO his weekend of overtime was quickly demolished! It was cold and sleeting so much that the kids and I barely left the trailer while he was working. 

By Sunday morning, after the THIRD snow day, we were all a little stir crazy so Michael called me on his drive home from work to inform me he had been snowed out again, but to get myself and the kids ready because we were taking a road trip.

We all drove to Tucson for the day and had an excellent time.

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Michael and his co-worker Terry went to the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, and his wife Brittney and their son Zayden joined me and my kids for a day of shopping. Tucson seems like a very nice place! Of course we didn’t see all of it, and didn’t do anything touristy, but it seemed clean and pretty and everyone was friendly. 

We did our shopping at Target, Old Navy, JCPenney, etc… instead of tackling a mall. Sometimes mall + small children is a little overwhelming, especially on the Sunday before Black Friday :) But I was content to shop PERIOD! I realllllly wanted to make it to the Goodwill OUTLET (yes, OUTLET!) in Tucson, but we ran out of time. Next time…

All in all, Brittney and the kids and I had such a fun time shopping. We scored some awesome deals, which always is good! The guys enjoyed their “guy time” playing poker and watching football at the casino.

It was a long drive back to Duncan (almost 3 hours!) but it was an enjoyable little getaway. I hope if we return, we are able to see and explore a little more. Whenever we are in an area, we try to see the bigger cities and attractions that are within reasonable distance– Tucson is the closest to tiny old Duncan.

Tomorrow begins Michael’s 3 day vacation for Thanksgiving. We don’t have any special plans, except to eat whatever meal we choose for our “Thanksgiving Dinner” and spend time with one another. But hey, that’s what it is all about, right?

Blessings!


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