Goodbye, Arizona. Hello again, Texas!

After spending three months with family in the Arizona desert at Eagle View RV Resort in Fort McDowell, the time came for us to head to south Texas for my first workamping job at Llano Grande Resort and Country Club in Mercedes, Texas. More on that later.

Before leaving the beautiful desert, we saw on the news that snow had fallen in Payson, a little over an hour from the park. So we traveled north out of the 70-degree, cactus-covered desert into the 35-degree, snow-covered forest. It turned out to be a wonderful day trip with fabulous photo opportunities. We both love the look of snow, as long as we don’t live in it and have no reason to own a snow shovel.

eccentric-2eccentricWhat a difference a couple of weeks makes. Now we’re in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the most southern part of the Lone Star State. The beautiful cactuses have now been replaced by magnificent palm trees. Behind us is a former channel of the Rio Grande known as a resaca. We get an almost daily view of pelicans and other birds much different from those we saw in the desert or where we lived in the Texas Hill Country in our stick and brick. Fortunately, the sunrises have been just as majestic as those we’ve seen in many places we’ve traveled over the past nine months. eccentric-6The valley or RGV is known for its amazing birding. Our park is adjacent to Estero Grande State Park and we’ve made the first of many visits to discover what types of birds are here. eccentric-7We’ve also driven to the community of McAllen, Texas, and visited Quinta Mazatlán World Birding Center, another well-known birding location with a rich history and home to a 1935 Spanish style mansion and a collection of beautiful furnishings and art.  We haven’t been disappointed.eccentric-8eccentric-5Of course, no time in the valley would be complete without a trip to South Padre Island to put our toes in the Gulf of Mexico. This time, we took the dogs, Hannah and Sadie with us. They both seemed fascinated with the waves but chose not to do anything other than put their feet in the water. No doubt, we’ll be back since we’re in the area for three months. eccentric-3For now, we’ll settle with having shared our name with other beach goers. We’ve also written our Eccentric Nomads’ name in the snow in Payson and spray-painted it on a Cadillac at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo. All have now disappeared but we will always know we were there and we have the photos to prove it. Safe travels!eccentric-4

A Top 10 List to Celebrate 2016 in the RV

What an incredible year it’s been, especially over the past nine months. Our decision to go full-time in our RV occurred much earlier this year but our journey started in April. Since it seems to be a tradition to put together a Top 10 list at the end of the year, I thought I would give it my best shot and try to sum up 2016 for the Eccentric Nomads.

10. Taking a leap of faith

It’s one thing to talk about selling your home and most of your possessions. Actually carrying it out is something that requires full commitment. When we put the house up for sale and the next day received numerous offers from buyers, we knew we were in 100%. Our 2,100-square foot home would soon be a memory and our fifth wheel with less than 400 square feet would be our new home. We closed on the sale quickly and never looked back.house-to-rv

9. Oh the weather outside is…pretty darn good

Fortunately, we’ve tried to stay in comfortable climates throughout our travels but we’ve been able to experience some interesting weather extremes. They include dense fog in the Arizona desert, heavy rains and strong winds in Texas, excessive heat almost everywhere, spectacular rainbows, and freezing temperatures. We’ve also taken day trips to see snow, since we’d rather travel to see it than have it fall where we’re staying. As Dan has said many times since we’ve been on the road in the RV, ‘I want to go into the local hardware store, ask them if they carry snow shovels, and when they don’t even know what they are, we’ll know we’re in the right place’. weather

8. Limited space = limited souvenirs

One lesson we’ve learned since selling almost everything is we really don’t want a bunch of stuff. That said, we did decide we should have something besides photos to remember places by, so we’ve collected numerous magnets from attractions that we add to the refrigerator. Other things we’ve purchased came from states we’ve visited including a cigar store Indian made by a Native American in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an authentic Native American dream catcher we picked up in Williams, Arizona along with a paper mache faerie on a swing. And since we sold almost all of our Christmas decorations and the rest are in a small storage unit in Texas, we bought a ceramic nativity scene in Terlingua, Texas. Not sure what else we’ll collect along the way but we do know whatever it is, it will need to be small.phototasticcollage-2016-12-19-15-18-08

7. Starry, starry nights and moon shadows

I started shooting photography five years ago, and knew nothing about using a DSLR camera. I’m still learning every day with my Nikon cameras. I’ve had a particularly great time figuring out night shots and we’ve stayed at many parks with dark skies and incredible stars. I’d never seen the Milky Way until we started traveling in the RV and we’ve seen it in several places including Santa Fe, NM, and Coldspring, Bandera, and Fredericksburg, TX. night-skymoon

6. Capturing incredible sunrises and sunsets

While the night skies have been fantastic, the sunrises and sunsets provided God moments everywhere we went. Check out just a few I’ve included below.sunrise-sunset

5. All creatures great and small

So many animals crossed our paths, sometimes literally, like the bobcat in Fort McDowell, AZ, or the black sheep with a flock of white sheep that crossed in front of our truck in Williams, AZ. Symbolic? Possibly. Of course, Dan was more excited about the rattle snake he saw in the middle of the road in Fort Davis, TX. In fact, he was excited enough that he backed up so he could take a photo of it. I stayed where I was as I’d learned a little about rattle snakes the year prior in Sweetwater, TX, where a rattle snake wrangler shared how quickly the snakes could move. The rattle snake wasn’t our only encounter with a snake in Fort Davis. While I was stalking a road runner on a hike, I captured it on my camera as it caught a small snake and beat it against a rock. Dinner anyone? large-animalssmall-animals

4. Enjoying culinary delights

When I first talked about traveling in the RV with a friend who had done the same thing years ago, I told her I was planning on losing weight. She wished me the best but cautioned that it didn’t happen with her. Guess what? It didn’t happen with me either. We’ve done a lot of cooking in the RV but we’ve also enjoyed an outstanding culinary adventure. From the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market to steak at the Big Texan (no, not the BIG steak), we’ve both learned this country is not lacking for wonderful restaurants. Dan has had his share of Indian fry bread and I’ve had a variety of pancakes, including one in Wickenburg, AZ, that was bigger than my head. food

3. Having our four-legged companions with us

No journey would have been nearly as enjoyable if we couldn’t have our two dogs, Hannah and Sadie, with us. We had no idea how they would like the traveling but they seem to love it. Visits to the dog parks have brought joy to them as they make new friends, sniff new behinds, and play until they can go no more. But their favorite time of day is after I’ve made homemade buttermilk biscuits for breakfast and the buzzer goes off to let them know they’re done. sadie-and-hannah

2. Oh, the places we’ve been

While we’ve only visited four states so far, we’ve seen so much. Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas all provided us with wonderful adventures. Some items were checked off our bucket list. Visit the Grand Canyon – check. See the Petrified Forest – check. View the Milky Way – check. So many of the more than 200 places we visited we’d never known about, but certainly would include many on our bucket list.arizonanew-mexicotexas-and-oklahoma

1. Spending time with each other, catching up with family and friends, and collecting memories to last a lifetime

While all of the items above made the Top 10 list, nothing tops sharing these adventures with your best friend who you’ve been with for 18 years. Along the way, we’ve spent time with all of our children and grandchildren, caught up with good friends, and reconnected with a number of family members. Dan even had the opportunity to play Santa Claus for the family. friends-and-family

All in all, it’s been a wonderful 2016. We’ve lived simply and loved life, as we said we would as Eccentric Nomads. As we close out the new year, we wish all of you a Happy, Prosperous, and Safe New Year. May your dreams become realities. May you choose to live simply. And may you always love life. Safe travels!dan-and-diann

An RV Christmas with An Eagle View

For the past three months, we’ve been parked at Eagle View RV Resort  (Asah Gweh Oou-o) at Fort McDowell, Arizona. It’s not our first visit as we also stayed here when we started our full-time RV journey in April of this year. And we have no doubt we will join them at Eagle View again in the future.

Located in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Tonto National Forest, the resort has truly been a wonderful base for us. Staying here has allowed us to take numerous day trips from as far south as Tucson and as far north as Payson, along with many communities in between. Aside from the large RV sites, we’ve taken advantage of many of the amenities including the large laundry room, clean showers, exercise facilities, and Dan’s favorite thing – the pool table in the clubhouse. While we haven’t used the swimming pool and hot tub, many of the others camped here certainly have enjoyed it. We’ve even visited the Fort McDowell Casino across the street a couple of times. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to win, but the Indian Fry Bread offered by one of the restaurants in the casino almost made up for it.new-phototastic-collage9

As a photographer, I’ve enjoyed every minute here. When we arrived in October, the first thing we saw were two bald eagles flying high above the park. Since that time, one of those eagles has landed along with many other winged animals, providing me with so many incredible photo opportunities.

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One of our favorite animals to see are the Salt River Wild Horses. I’ve been able to capture them near the park, as well as nearby at Tonto National Forest. They are absolutely stunning and we make sure not to get too close to them so as not to scare them away. We want them to remain wild so keeping our distance is extremely important.new-phototastic-collage2

Many other animals are here, too. We never saw skunks, snakes, or scorpions and that’s okay with me. But we did see free-range cattle, peccaries, butterflies, and even a bobcat, although that was really just luck and I was only able to capture a shot of it as it was running away.new-phototastic-collage4

Sunrises and sunsets in Arizona have never disappointed. With mountains all around us at Eagle View, especially Four Peaks, which is part of the Mazatzal Mountains in the Four Peaks Wilderness, we’ve enjoyed amazing skies both day and night. new-phototastic-collage5

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Our girls, Hannah and Sadie, have loved it here, too. It’s been so much fun to watch them relax  in our little fenced portion of our RV site and at the wonderful dog park, where we’ve met many other RVers through their dogs. new-phototastic-collage7

I suppose many would have a challenge not being in a home on a firm foundation during the holiday season, but it’s been wonderful for us. While we’ve spent Christmas away from our former stick and brick homes in the past, most of the time, we decorated the house even if we weren’t going to be there. I can only hope the people who bought our eight boxes of Christmas decorations at our last garage sale before we got on the road are enjoying their holiday this year. I know we don’t miss all the stuff. And, yes, we did do some decorating and it’s been pretty limited  but it absolutely works for us. new-phototastic-collage11

Yesterday, the Eagle View staff hosted a lunch for the resort visitors. They put on a great spread catered by Phil’s Filling Station Grill in Fountain Hills, Arizona, which is just a few miles down the road from the park. new-phototastic-collage

We had the opportunity to visit with fellow campers, enjoyed music from one of the young ladies staying here with her family, and felt the true spirit of Christmas through food and fellowship. This was yet another reason we love Eagle View.new-phototastic-collage8

We hope wherever you are, your holiday is wonderful and everything you want. We know ours certainly will be. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Prosperous and Safe New Year to you and yours!