February 28, 2022
Today wraps up another month and we’re still camped out in the Sky Islands area of Arizona and we still love it here. We’ve reached a very comfortable point where we know where to find everything we need, there are some familiar faces we see in town, and there’s a feeling of being at home. Nearly every day I wonder if it is time for us to move on. I talked about this a little bit last week too so you know it’s been on my mind. Of course, there is excitement about exploring and getting to see new places. After all, that’s the whole reason we live in an RV. There is also some comfort in the idea of having a home and not having to learn a whole new area all the time. I seem to have gotten into a winter slump where I’m just a bit lazier. I’m also enjoying having a sense of community and comfort in knowing the place we are in. I have learned that many people who travel full time will give it up when they experience decision making fatigue. That is, they get sick of finding new places to park their home and learn how to get the business of their life done in new places all the time. While I’m not at that point at all, I do think that it is nice to settle down every so often for a month or two. It’s not so easy to motivate yourself to plan a vacation while you’re already on vacation. There are still some sights unseen in this area that I have been putting off in my attempt to relax and enjoy the lifestyle rather than treating it like a time limited vacation where I need to pack it all into a short period of time. The day is coming though as we get glimpses of warmer weather and start to think about what our next destination will be. One day this week we again had snow and quite a bit of it too. There was also a very windy day in which we need to take down a Wifi antenna and fix the solar panels on the ground when the wind knocks them over. Knowing that’s it’s still cold in the places we want to see further north keeps us here too. Sure, there are also very warm days here, but maybe not so warm in northern AZ or Utah just yet.
We kept our exploration close to home this week and took some dirt roads we hadn’t explored yet through the National Forest we are camped in and nearby. I convinced Luke to get a cowboy hat so he could be cool like the cowboys we saw at the rodeo and he was all in. His ears burned a bit in the sun the day of the rodeo as he only had a baseball hat to protect him. We found an authentic western wear store where he chose a hat and the shopkeeper steamed and fitted it to his head. I found a snazzy western shirt for me that I love too. Within minutes of leaving the store though, he decided he hated the hat. He’s not a cowboy and felt like he had just bought nothing more than an expensive costume. Maybe it will grow on him or it will just be a fancy souvenir from our time here. At least he ended up making a funny video about his experience buying the hat. I also had some video inspiration hit and decided to do a funny cooking show in which I show people how to make simple meals and do not try to appear to be an expert at all. If you want to chuckle at our videos, check them out at https://www.youtube.com/c/MacNeilsOnWheels/videos
We never know what we will find when we go out exploring. The same is true any time you are in a new place. It’s not as if there’s a lot of information you can find about “what is down forest road 5468”. We just go for it and hope we don’t get the truck stuck somewhere as some of these primitive dirt roads are not well maintained. We have noticed though that the roads are better if there happens to be a big business like a mining operation down a road or if it’s a road that border patrol uses a lot. For one we explored this week, that was not the case. We passed one ranch which did not seem to have any buildings or livestock on or around it. I googled the ranch once we had reception again and learned that some ranchers were murdered there, apparently twice over the years. The murders were not solved, but believed to be perpetrated by illegal drug smugglers from over the border. Aside from this, we found a car partially buried in the sand, destroyed, and full of bullet holes. We also found a crumbling adobe structure and some tipped over ports potties. We had fun making up stories about what may have happened along this road as we drove along.
The mountain views are still breathtaking. I am wrestling with myself daily as I change my mindset from being a tourist to slowing down, establishing some connections, and appreciating the place I am in. Then I prepare myself to switch back into trip planning and being a tourist mode for the next portion of our journey, whenever that may come. Last night, we got a call that one of Luke’s brothers had died in a work accident. He will fly home for the memorial service whenever this is planned and I will stay in the RV alone for the first time as we cannot easily and cheaply both fly home together. This would mean storing the rig somewhere and figuring out how to fly with dogs (one of which shits himself anytime he is near a crowd and unable to escape). It’s not something we want to contend with anytime soon. With the price of diesel at about $4.50/gallon and expected to go up, driving back to Massachusetts with the RV would be pretty expensive too so this is the way it’s got to be. We agreed that we will set up at a nearby campground for my first time in it alone so I don’t have to worry about any power concerns or safety issues. Anytime someone close to us and close to our age dies, we cannot help but think more about the shortness of life and our own mortality. So far, my 30’s and early 40’s are the time when I re-examine my beliefs and values and realize how little I know and understand so I can seek to learn and understand more. I think this is true for everyone. We become more certain of what is important during these years and structure our life so we can embrace our values. We become less confident that we know everything and that what we think or believe is always correct. I have a friend who started a newsletter and wrote about maturing as an artist and a person so his thoughts about this are in my mind today as I write this. With that, I’ll leave you with a beautiful Mountain View.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents the journey through her photography and blog to share with others.