An Exuberant 4th of July in Othello, Washington!

July 2022 – We celebrated the 4th of July in the small farming town of Othello, Washington. And what a spirited celebration it was!

Crowd in Othello Washington watches the 4th of July parade

People line the main drag in Othello, Washington, to see the 4th of July parade!

Othello is in the heart of farming country in eastern Washington, tucked into a vast checkerboard of crop circles as seen from the sky.

Othello Washington Satellite Image Map

Othello is a lively community in a sea of crop circles.

There are around 8,000 residents, and much of the population is farm workers from Mexico or of Mexican descent.

We fell in love with Mexican culture while sailing Mexico’s Pacific coast for almost four years, and if there’s a group of people on this planet who know how to celebrate any holiday with gusto, it is Mexicans!

Even though a big storm was threatening and the sky was turning black, there was no way anyone was going to rain on this 4th of July parade!

4th of July Celebration

Party!

As we waited for the parade to begin, Buddy got a little extra loving from the kids around us.

Pup gets some extra loving

Buddy gets special ear rubs.

And then a group of four police cars turned on their sirens and slowly crept by us, leading out a really fun and unusual parade.

One of the first things to go by was an old car labeled “Bonnie and Clyde” followed by some kids riding bicycles. The woman standing next to me said her family had lived in this town since 1953 and that she had ridden her bike in the parade as a little girl. The roots in Othello, Washington, go deep!

Bonnie and Clyde plus bicycles

Bonnie and Clyde were pursued by kids on bikes!

Soon a beautiful Rodeo Queen, Miss Rodeo Othello, rode her horse past us.

Rodeo queen in 4th of July parade

Miss Rodeo Othello!

A crazy shark or fish was dancing around waving. The kids next to us waved back enthusiastically.

4th of July parade

A dancing and waving fish!

Kids watch the 4th of July parade

Note the little boy’s bag:
“One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” from Dr. Seuss!

This 4th of July parade was really all about the kids. And the kids were all about the candy being thrown into the crowd. A lot of kids came prepared with bags to hold their loot!

Kids run for candy in 4th of July parade

So much candy…and so little time!

Kid runs for candy in 4th of July parade

Score!!

There were discussions between the kids about who got what, and how to snag the particular candies you wanted before the next kid got ’em.

Kids at 4th of July parade

“…so you run from behind and grab it..!”

Kids run for candy in 4th of July Parade

“I did it!”

The farms in this area are huge, and it takes huge equipment to work the land. The little tractors of yesteryear are long gone, and several gargantuan pieces of farming equipment were shown off in the parade with great pride.

Big farm equipment in Othello Washington 4th of July parade

Massive farms require massive equipment.

Big farm equipment in Othello Washington 4th of July parade

The little ol’ 1950s era John Deere tractors we see at antique tractor shows have grown up…these monsters have air conditioning, GPS-based autopilot, stereo, etc. You name it, it’s got it!

Many families have farmed here for generations and some had floats in the parade. One family was so large they had two floats!

Family float at 4th of July parade

A longstanding farm family in this community has their own float (or two!).

I asked the gal next to me if her family was a farming family, and she said no, they had all been in various services to support the community of farmers: fire fighting, sheriff’s office, and construction were a few of their occupations.

Soon another massive piece of equipment native to Othello, Washington, rolled past. This time it was one used for construction rather than farming.

Construction equipment at 4th of July parade

Farm equipment isn’t the only massive gear in Othello…construction equipment is too!

Of course, lots of politicians floated by, hoping to secure a vote or two, and then the Adams County Sheriff’s team made an appearance. These guys have the normal cop cars we’re used to seeing, but they also get to ride around in a very cool side-by-side!

Adams County Sheriff side-by-side in Washington 4th of July parade

A slick ride for the county Sheriff!

I’m not sure what kinds of search-and-rescue operations this particular sheriff’s office has to perform, but they’ve got the gear to get you out of a terrible bind if you’re in one!

Adams County Sheriff Search and Rescue equipment 4th of July parade Washington

Imagine a search and rescue team arriving to help you in this!

We were loving this unusual display of things that are a part of day-to-day living in this small town in eastern Washington. 4th of July parades happen all across America, of course, but each one gives the town a chance to celebrate, honor and display the things that are unique to their communities.

We were also loving the antics of the kids and the crowd. This was not a shy crowd, and as the ground grew thick with candy, everyone ventured out into the street to grab a few pieces until the parade participants and the parade watchers all got mixed up together. Watching the kids with their bags getting fuller and fuller, I said to Mark, “This is better for them than Halloween!”

Kids and flags at 4th of July parade

All that impressive gear aside, the parade was really about the kids.

Kids get candy at 4th of July parade

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Overhead, a drone flew by, taking it all in.

Drone flies over 4th of July parade

Candid camera.

Next up were the cars.

Mark had caught sight of a few flashy cars before the parade when they were strutting their stuff and revving their engines all in a line heading to the parade start. Most of the cars were lovingly souped-up later model cars. A Nissan GT-R caught his eye, though. And a Plymouth Roadrunner, the only muscle car in the parade, brought a huge grin to his face. For me, I liked the Chevy Impala low rider that could raise and lower its front end.

Low rider in Othello Washington 4th of July parade

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Even better was the toddler in the crowd who had his own set of very cool wheels.

Toddler in toy car at 4th of July parade

The best set of wheels in the parade.

The parade ended with another round of sirens from a fleet of fire trucks and then we all wandered over to Lion’s Park. The sun began to come out, and with it the entire town came out to the park.

Lion’s Park is very large, and it was filled to the brim with food tents, various competitive events and kids swinging their hearts out on the swingsets at the big playground.

Buddy relished the lush green grass and rolled over and over with glee.

Puppy rolls in the grass

“The parade was cool, but this grass is cooler!”

A band was setting up and some teenagers were having a 3-on-3 basketball tournament where the two small teams played at a single hoop.

Suddenly, the lovely voice of a young woman singing the Star Spangled Banner came over the loudspeaker, and everyone stopped what they were doing to listen.

After she finished, we noticed that there were all kinds of yummy things for sale over in the very long line of food tents. The BBQ wagon looked tempting.

BBQ truck at 4th of July fair

Yum!

But it was the wonderful Mexican fare that got our mouths watering. We hadn’t seen these things since we were in Mexico nine years ago, and it was all so familiar and heartwarming to see it again.

First was the Mexican drinks. Mexicans make all kinds of delicious cold drinks that are really refreshing on a hot day. From “horchata,” a sweet rice based drink, to “Agua de Jamaica” (pronounced “A-wah day Ha-my-ka”) made from hibiscus flowers, they have endless tasty and unique cold drinks. And here they all were in a colorful row!

Mexican drinks for sale at 4th of July celebration

Delicious ice cold Mexican drinks!

Another booth was selling piña coladas in pineapples just as we saw on the beach in Mexico. Yum! I suspect they were virgin piña coladas at this family park, though, which of course they weren’t on the beach in Mexico!

Mexican pineapple drinks at 4th of July festival

Piña coladas served in pineapples.

And then there were mango slices in a plastic cup sold with a stick for stabbing them and popping them in your mouth. Again, we saw these refreshing snacks in many towns and on many beaches in Mexico, and it was a total hoot to see them here in a small farming town in rural Washington!

Sliced mangos mexican style at 4th of July fair

Sliced mangos…so much easier and cleaner to eat this way!

The city park was abuzz with activity by now. The music was going, people were picnicking, kids were playing and running in the playground area, and the basketball tourney was in full swing.

Over in the skate park there was a skateboard competition getting underway. We were really impressed watching the kids warm up. It was incredible they could do all kinds of tricks on the crazy concrete curvy walls of the skate park and not break their necks.

All of a sudden a kid came flying through the air right at me. And then another did a wild trick in mid-air. How fun!

Skateboard contest 4th of July celebration

Weeee!

A couple sitting next to me were the parents of one of the senior competitors. They’d driven from a town 90 miles away so their son could compete in this tournament. He was 17 now but he started skateboarding at age 8. The dad had tried it when he was a kid too, but he didn’t take to it. His son, however, took to it right away, riding his skateboard everywhere, even around the house, and now he was one of the guys doing wild tricks and jumps.

Skateboard contest 4th of July festival

We’d never seen a skateboarding event before…very fun!

The 4th of July is a unique event in this world, honoring the birth of our nation as an independent and free state. For many, the meaning behind those words has intensified lately, and with that in mind, we found it particularly moving to be a part of such a colorful birthday celebration in a small western town!

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Nature’s Capriciousness in Idaho – Streams, Mountains and Storms!

June 2022 – Our western states RV trip delivered us to Idaho right in the heart of the bustling city of Idaho Falls, and even though we had plans for quieter adventures further north in the state, we hung around the city for a while enjoying the River Walk.

Idaho RV trip - Meandering at a slow pace

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We savored the scenery each time we strolled the paths, but the only thing our pup, Buddy, ever noticed was the big population of squirrels that scampered up and down the tree trunks.

Puppy looking up into a tree

“Hey! Come back down here!”

The squirrels taunted him mercilessly, chirping at him from safety high up in the branches.

Idaho Falls Squirrel

“You’ll never catch me!”

He wanted to catch a squirrel so badly, but they were just out of reach!

Puppy jumps up tree trunk chasing squirrel

Almost…but not quite!

From Idaho Falls, we wandered northwards towards Salmon for a while, keeping an eye out for an easy-in / easy-out gas station where we could fill the gas tank on the toy hauler (which gives us gas for both the RZR and the generator while we’re camping).

Filling up the toy hauler with gas requires pulling the trailer very far forward at the pumps because the gas cap is at the far back end of the trailer. End-to-end, our truck and trailer combo is about 50 feet long, and not that many gas stations have sufficient open space at the end of the pumps for a vehicle to stick out 50 feet!

Mark looked at a few city gas stations in Idaho Falls and decided they were all a bit too busy and too tight. We’d end up blocking traffic in the whole gas station while we filled up!

Luckily, as we traveled through the countryside, we found a gas station with no other customers, no overhangs to hit with our tall rig, endless room in front of the rig to pull forward, and a cute store to boot.

Fueling up the RV in rural Idaho

Plenty of room to fuel up the toy hauler!

Puppy by the store door in rural Idaho

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Inside the store were the usual gas station goodies, but they also had lots of small animal pelts like foxes and an antique sewing machine!

Small animal pelts and an antique sewing machine

Inside the store: Interesting small mammal pelts and an old sewing machine too!

We strolled the back streets of town for a while and spotted a pretty church framed by snow covered mountain peaks. Classic!

St. Joseph's Catholic Church in eastern Idaho

Right out of a picture book!

Later, we played with some of our images of that church and made one look like the photo was taken a long time ago.

Old time church in Idaho

Perhaps this church looked like this way back when…

That was pretty cool, so we did it to another photo of the long defunct “Bit & Spur Grocery Store.”

This is just a matter of applying Sepia tones to the image but the effect is great… Perhaps a little crinkling across the image from the photo being folded and maybe a handwritten note with a date like 1885 would help cement it as an authentic antiquity, although Buddy would have to ditch his harness and I’d need to don a long dress and a hat!

Old time look at a store in rural Idaho

Bit & Spur Groceries!

We carried on with our journey, and as we rolled slowly down the road, we just loved the views. This was ATV / UTV country and we rode around on the RZR looking for photo ops. There were plenty!

ATV riders with mountain backdrop in Idaho

Open country backed by snowcapped mountains – ideal for an ATV / UTV ride!

A rocky creek sparkled in the sunlight.

Rushing water in an Idaho creek with mountains

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This was the perfect spot to play with smoothing out the rushing whitewater by keeping the camera shutter open extra long on a tripod (about 1/6 to 1/15 of a second). With moving water like this, you could take a dozen photos of each scene and every one would be different because flowing water makes constantly changing patterns!

Babbling brook with snocapped mountain Idaho

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Water rushing in a stream in Idaho mountains

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White water stream with mountains in Idaho

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When I wrote an article about Idaho for Highways Magazine many years ago, the editor titled it “America’s Alps,” which was very apt because the snowy peaks are certainly reminiscent of their European counterparts! Mark grabbed a plastic stool and his guitar, and as he played for Buddy and me, the scene was right out of the Sound of Music!

Singing sweet songs in America’s Alps.

A crown of soft clouds began to form around a mountain peak, and we fully expected to see Julie Andrews come pirouetting down the hillside, arms flung wide with radiant joy as she sang her heart out.

Snowcapped mountain in Idaho

A mountain peak was suddenly wrapped in a veil of clouds.

Instead of suddenly seeing an ebullient Julie Andrews dancing down the mountainside, we noticed that storm clouds were beginning to fill the sky.

The weather forecast had called for a big storm to come sweeping through with a 70% to 90% chance of rain for two days and a night. We’d already experienced mornings in the 30s and afternoons in the 90s in our short time in Idaho, and one of the locals we met had jokingly told us that Idaho is bipolar when it comes to weather.

Were these clouds the beginning of the expected tempest?

Gathering storm in Idaho

A gathering storm!

We decided to go for a walk, kind of storm chasing in a way, but on foot. Suddenly, Mark said, “Look at that cloud over there!” A huge black cloud was bearing down on the valley and traveling at a good clip. The odd (and beautiful) thing was that the sun was still out in patches here and there.

Storm clouds over river in Idaho

Yikes! Check that out!

We ran for cover, collecting a few shots of the wild skies (and fast puppies) on the way.

Puppy runs at top speed

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The wind was whipping like crazy, but there was no rain yet, and the menacing skies changed minute by minute as the clouds unleashed a thick veil of rain and snow on the mountains.

Summer rainstorm in Idaho

A distant tempest.

Storm clouds in the Idaho mountains

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The big black cloud began to rumble. Despite its threatening noises, however, there were bits of blue sky and sunshine here and there. Suddenly, a rainbow appeared.

Puppy sees rainbow from RV window

A rainbow!

We ran out again, cameras in hand. All around, the billowing clouds seethed and frothed, from low down on the ground to high up in the sky. It was spectacular — and there wasn’t a drop of rain in the sunny spot where we stood!

Sun lights up storm clouds in Idaho

Wow!

Storm clouds sweep through Idaho valley

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And then, as quickly as this summer storm came, it disappeared down the valley, leaving blue sky and receding clouds in its wake.

Bipolar, indeed!

Sunburst in Idaho storm over river

The storm passes and leaves sunshine and blue skies behind.

Later, as the sun set, memories of the afternoon drama were still visible in the sky. We were treated to shades of orange and black followed by soft tones of peach and gray.

Sunset begins after a storm in Idaho

Vestiges of the afternoon squall.

Idaho sunset seen from an RV

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This was one of those beautiful occasions where the adventure came to us. We weren’t out sightseeing or looking to discover new things. Instead, Nature dropped in on us and treated us to a thrilling show of roiling clouds battling with rays of sunshine.

This big “two day” storm blew through in an hour or two and eventually misted us with a fine spray that lasted all of 90 seconds! But the spectacle left us totally wide-eyed with wonder!.

Tail end of summer storm and sunset in Idaho

A faint pink flame crosses the sky.

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Idaho Falls River Walk – A Glorious Garden Stroll by the Snake River!

June 2022 – After venturing down a road that was very much less traveled and winding up in some very remote (and beautiful) farm fields, we arrived in the middle of a bustling and vibrant city: Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The first thing we saw was a fantastic waterfall sculpture of flying eagles right in the center of a roundabout. How cool is that?!

RV trip to Idaho Falls, Idaho - Eagle Rock Fountain

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This sculpture is a dramatic work of art from all sides, and we walked all around it to admire it from every perspective.

Eagle Rock Fountain Idaho Falls ID

Eagle Rock Fountain in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Just beyond Eagle Rock Fountain we came across a collection of handsome brick buildings. It felt like a college campus. But these turned out to be office buildings for various professionals. Lucky them to work in such an elegant environment!

Old style office building Idaho Falls, Idaho

What a stately building — and it’s very new!

Beautiful building near the riverwalk in Idaho Falls Idaho

These buildings seemed like they were part of a college campus.

Fancy office building Idaho Falls, Idaho

But the buildings actually house professional offices!

There were lilac bushes in bloom to boot. Ahh…the sweet smell of lilacs. We just love these flowers!

Lilacs

Heavenly lilacs!

On the other side of a large grassy lawn we came upon the Idaho Falls River Walk. This is an absolutely fabulous series of walking paths, trails and manicured terraced gardens that line the banks of the Snake River as it runs through downtown Idaho Falls.

Huge rectangular boulders have been cleverly placed to create walls and benches along the way, and you can stroll on dirt paths and grassy trails.

Grassy terraces on the River Walk in Idaho Falls, Idaho

The River Walk on the Snake River in Idaho Falls is a sheer delight.

River walk path between boulders Idaho Falls, Idaho

Terraced gardens and paths line the banks of the Snake River.

What a stunning haven this whole area is for locals and visitors alike where they can get a breath of fresh air and a taste of nature alongside the river, right downtown.

A train bridge in the distance caught Buddy’s eye.

Train Bridge Idaho Falls, Idaho

A train bridge!

There’s a paved bike path that runs for a long ways on both sides of the river too. We followed it through a short tunnel. Fun!

Bike path on the River Walk in Idaho Falls, Idaho

A paved bike path welcomes walkers, joggers, cyclists and scooter riders!

Tunnel on the River Walk bike path in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Peeking out the end of the turnnel…

This entire area has been lovingly landscaped. I can’t imagine what it cost the city to transform their river banks into a glorious waterfront, but the end result was worth every penny. Apparently, generous donations keep the greenbelt beautifully maintained and there are plans to expand it as well.

Colorful flowers have been planted all over the place and they were all in bloom.

Flowers on the River Walk Idaho Falls, Idaho

Flower of all shapes and sizes were in bloom

River Walk flowers Idaho Falls, Idaho

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Irises on the River Walk Idaho Falls, Idaho

Irises!

Blooming flowers on the River Walk in Idaho Falls, Idaho

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While we wandered around, jaws agape, trying to capture the beauty with our cameras, Buddy was transfixed by all the little critters who have taken up residence between the rocks.

Chipmunk chasing on the Idaho River Walk Idaho Falls, Idaho

While we admired the flowers, Buddy had eyes only for the ground squirrels and chipmunks.

There were ground squirrels and chipmunks galore, and his jaw was agape and panting after his gallant efforts to capture those tasty morsels with his fast sprints. They were onto him, though, and they just scampered from burrow to burrow, and then taunted him with chirps from deep among the rocks.

Puppy in the rocks

The little critters in the rocks kept him busy!

Out on the water there was a ferry boat that offers rides up and down the river and some other speed boats too.

Speedboat on the Snake River Idaho Falls, Idaho

Boats went up and down the river.

We were puzzled that his amazing area was almost completely devoid of people on this gorgeous springtime Saturday morning. Where was everyone?

We decided to cross the river to see what was on the other side. There’s a bridge for pedestrians just beyond the train bridge.

Train bridge and park bench on the River Walk bike path in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Behind the train bridge there’s a pedestrian bridge.

From the middle of the bridge we got a dramatic view of the Mormon Temple steeple in the distance. This was the 10th Mormon Temple ever built (the first one built in Idaho) and it was the 8th temple to begin operations. Mormon temples are really impressive and massive buildings.

Mormon Temple steeple Idaho Falls, Idaho

The steeple of the Mormon Temple caught the afternoon sunlight. The figure holding the trumpet on top is the angel Moroni who revealed to Joseph Smith (founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints) in the 1820s where to find the golden tablets that ultimately became the Book of Mormon.

Back in 2014, we did a tour of the newly constructed Mormon Temple in Gilbert, Arizona. Guided tours were offered to the public free of charge for a month prior to the temple beginning operations (no cameras allowed). The line to get in every day was immense!

Gilbert Arizona Mormon Temple Church of Latter-Day Saints

The Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) Temple in Gilbert, Arizona in 2014


Much of the inside was conference rooms, but the massive baptismal font with its theater seating viewing area blew us away.

The temple baptismal font was an enormous tub, much like a small swimming pool, and it was supported underneath by twelve life size oxen arranged in groups of three, each group facing in one of the four compass directions. You could see the oxen statues up close by going to the floor below the font.

As we understood it, the temple baptismal font is used for “proxy baptisms” where a living member of the LDS church undergoes a baptism on behalf of a deceased person (usually a relative) who didn’t have the opportunity to be baptized while they were alive. After this ceremony, the spirit of the deceased person can then decide whether to accept or reject the baptism and the salvation it represents. The twelve oxen beneath the temple baptismal font represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

The temple changing rooms were another surprise. When entering a temple, church members change out of their street clothes and put on white garments that represent purity, thus leaving the dirty outside world behind as they enter these sacred surroundings.

It was a neat tour, but we weren’t headed to the Idaho Falls Mormon temple right now. We wanted to continue savoring this unusual River Walk!

On the far side of the bridge, we saw a wonderful waterfall — the namesake of this town.

Idaho Falls Waterfall on the River Walk in Idaho

Idaho Falls!

Nearby there was a platform area for viewing the river, and a wedding party was gathered on it! Hurray! I love bumping into weddings and wedding photo shoots! There were several adorable flower girls running around in frilly dresses posing for photos.

Flower girls

Flower girls

We discovered we were in the middle of the Japanese Friendship Garden. This is a lovely, lush spot nestled under towering trees and infused with a unique oriental flavor.

Japanese Friendship Garden Idaho Falls, Idaho

There’s a Japanese Friendship Garden on a little rock island in the middle of the Snake River!

Japanese Friendship Garden on the River Walk in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Kids love playing in this special garden, whether in play clothes or dress-up wedding attire!

Japanese Friendship Garden Idaho Falls Idaho

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While we meandered through this sweet spot, we noticed an older fellow sitting on a park bench holding a bag overflowing with vegetables.

“Is there a farmer’s market somewhere?” Mark asked

“Right over there!” The man answered, pointing. “It goes on for blocks and blocks. It’s ending in a few minutes, though.”

We rushed over to the place where he was pointing and found an endless row of tent booths on each side of the street. Wow! So THIS was where everyone was hanging out on this beautiful springtime Saturday morning!!

Idaho Falls Farmer's Market Hero's Kitchen

We caught the tail end of the huge farmer’s market that spans several blocks of the riverfront

Many vendors were closing up shop, but a few were still selling their wares. I noticed a booth selling sprouted wheat bread and just had to try a taste. The rosemary bread was delicious, but the honey wheat was a better match for the homemade almond butter I’d brought along for our trip. Apparently, sprouted wheat flour has about half the gluten in it as regular wheat flour.

We started chatting with the vendor, Bryun (“spelled correctly!” he joked), and we discovered he has a very humorous blog called OneCrazyDad.com. His hilarious tales, one of which was about inaccurate measuring spoons and home grown recipes, were the perfect thing to read the next morning at our rig as I enjoyed a slice of his homemade bread.

Sprouted Wheat booth at Idaho Falls Farmer's Market

I couldn’t resist trying a loaf of homemead sprouted wheat bread!

We reached the end of the farmer’s market (it happens every Saturday, by the way, from May to October), and the River Walk kept going. Wide grassy lawns dotted with towering shade trees invited us to explore further. According to Google Maps, there are over 7 miles of trails!

People were relaxing under the huge trees.

Lush lawns Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

The shade of the tall trees was ideal for relaxing in the cool grass.

This is a bike-friendly town, and elsewhere on the River Walk we’d seen a sculpture of a racer on a bike. Here, we watched a few people roll past on bicycles.

Idaho Falls loves bikes!

Bicycle on the bike path Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

The paved bike path goes a long ways on both sides of the river.

And then we came across a penny-farthing bicycle bench!

Penny-Farthing bicycle bench Idaho Falls Idaho

An old pashioned penny-farthing bike bench — how fun!

There’s also a fleet of motorized scooters that you can grab and ride from here to there. They are operated by the Bird App, and you log in to rent the scooter right as you’re standing next to it. Very convenient!

We saw a few dads zooming around with little kids standing on the scooter in front of them. You do have to be careful, though, because these things are silent and the drivers sometimes get them going very fast, weaving between pedestrians on the paths.

Bird App scooters Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

You can grab a scooter anywhere and use the Bird App to rent it for a while.

Idaho Falls is also a very dog friendly town. Buddy had been warmly welcomed throughout the farmer’s market and he’d already met quite a few new dogs on our walk. Here we found a fun set of four dog paw stools marching along.

Dog Paw stools on the River Walk n Idaho Falls, Idaho

Idaho Falls loves dogs!!

Mark and Buddy took a breather on a music park bench in the grass nearby.

Music bench Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

A music bench and soft grass make a perfect spot to take a break.

The whole River Walk is beautiful, whimsical and inviting. We stopped at a war memorial overlooking the Snake RIver to pay our respects to fallen soldiers in all the wars since WWI. It has a wonderful view of the river.

Enjoying the view of the Snake River Idaho Falls, Idaho, River Walk

We just loved the whole waterfront scene along the Snake River in Idaho Falls.

We had arrived in Idaho Falls with no idea what to expect. Within a few hours of strolling along the waterfront, we were smitten, and so far we’d only seen only a portion of the unusual River Walk.

What a special and fun-loving place!

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Utah – Off the Beaten Path…then FURTHER Off the Beaten Path!

June 2022 – When we pulled into Mantua, Utah, we suddenly realized we’d been here before. We hadn’t recognized the town’s name when we planned our route on the map, but as we looked around at the pretty lake and quaint homes, we instantly remembered the place. This time, however, everything was green and in bloom. Last time, the whole place had been a winter wonderland of snow!

At dawn, the sun was just cresting the mountains on the far side of the lake, spreading its rays across the land. How magnificent!

Mantua Reservoir in Utah at Sunrise

Mantua Reservoir at Sunrise

A four mile trail goes around the lake, and we took our cameras and Buddy for an early morning walk. The light was soft and the water was perfectly still. A few people were fishing at the water’s edge.

Fishing at Mantua Reservoir in Utah

A peaceful time to go fishing!

Mantua Reservoir in Utah at dawn

Morning light

Buddy tip-toed into the water for a drink.

Puppy tests the water at Mantua Reservoir in Utah

Buddy makes waves on the mirror smooth lake.

On the near shore, blooming yellow flowers turned their faces towards the sun. Across, the lake on the far shore, pretty houses beamed in the morning light.

Mantua Utah Reservoir flowers

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Mantua Reservoir Utah

View of the far shore across the lake.

We turned around and walked in the opposite direction and noticed people were out on the water in kayaks.

Kayaks on Mantua Reservoir Utah

Kayaks on the lake

The kayaks were being launched from a small beach where sunbathers lounged on beach towels and in beach chairs. This was classic summertime waterfront fun in a mile high mountain town. The spirit reminded us of McCall, Idaho (which is a much bigger town).

Mantua Reservoir Beach Utah

Mantua is a beach town in the mountains!

Mantua Reservoir Beach Utah

Summertime.

Suddenly a young boy rode up on a dirt bike. I’d noticed on the map that there are some trails that head up into the mountains on the east end of town.

Dirt Bike

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As we walked the trail along the water’s edge, we noticed a group of teenagers hanging out on docks. I was impressed that they were all talking and giggling together, and not one held a phone in their hands.

A little while later, we watched three little girls riding their bikes down the middle of the main drag trying to best each other riding no-handed. These were heartwarming scenes straight out of my own childhood!

Mantua Reservoir Boat Dock Utah

Teenagers being teenagers…without phones!

Something that wasn’t right out of my childhood was the sound of a sheep ba-a-a-a-ing nearby. Huh? I turned and spotted a young girl walking her sheep down the street. What next!

Girl walking her sheep in Utah

Taking the family sheep for a walk.

Over at the town park we found large fields of deep green grass. Buddy was in heaven as he rolled this way and that in the soft grass.

Puppy rubbing his face in the grass

Puppy rolls in the grass

Puppy grassy back scratch

We had rushed through the 75 mile long interstate nightmare of Salt Lake City at full speed, eyes closed (figuratively, of course). So, it felt great to unwind in such a peaceful small town where the population is not even 1,000 people. That same relaxed feeling continued as we carried on northwards on US-89 and Route 23.

The scenery was spectacular.

Back country highway in Utah

As we drove north, the views were fantastic.

Scenic mountains in Utah

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Snow capped mountains in Utah

Snow on the peaks!

We were headed for Idaho Falls, Idaho, but we didn’t want to rush on our way. So, we wandered off onto some smaller roads. We knew we were in a very small town when we saw the City Office was barely bigger than a phone booth.

City Office

Open…occasionally.

We also knew we were in a rural farming area when we saw the craziest high wheel tractor ever coming down the road towards us.

Tractor on the road in Utah

Yikes!

I had a route in mind that would take us to what looked to be very scenic and remote places, and I was juggling my trusty DeLorme Utah Atlas that never steers me wrong but doesn’t zoom in super close and my iPad which is great at zooming in but loses all the small roads completely when you zoom out.

It was hot in the lower elevation areas, though, and as I thought about our route, I didn’t like the idea of spending a day or two in an unreasonably hot place.

I spotted an intriguing looking small town backed by towering mountains out the window and impulsively said, “Let’s go there!” I was envisioning a friendly town with a grassy park to rest in for a moment while we collected our thoughts about where we were going and checked the weather forecast in various places.

Mark made the turn and off we went. I no longer had a real live route to follow in either the atlas book or the iPad, but I had a good solid imaginary route in my mind that would skirt the base of the mountains and be incredibly beautiful.

Heading into town in rural Utah

Maybe we’d find cool shade in town or cool temps in the mountains behind town!

We got to the center of town and I confidently said, “Turn right.”

Mark did as I requested and we passed some very pretty homes. An older gentleman was watering his stunningly colorful flower garden and we waved at him. He smiled and waved back but he had a puzzled look on his face as he watched our massive rig lumber past.

The road narrowed and Mark said, “Are you sure we’re going the right way? It looks like we’re driving into someone’s yard…or farm.”

“Oh yes,” I said with great confidence. “It goes right through!”

Small country lane in northern Utah

Are we going the right way?.

Thirty seconds later the pavement ended and we were staring at a skinny dirt road going between farm fields.

Dirt road in Utah farm fields

Oh no!

Lordy me. Now we faced an unknown amount of driving on a dirt road through farm fields to see if we could find a spot big enough to turn around a 33′ long fifth wheel trailer. Oh, great!

After about ten tense minutes of driving at 6 mph, we found a place just big enough to turn around by doing a twenty-point K turn. Putting the truck in forward and reverse a bunch of times, Mark eventually got the rig turned around and we slowly rolled back onto the paved road.

The man with the beautiful flower garden was no longer in his yard. He was probably watching us through the living room window, though, chuckling to himself about those crazy out-of-towners with the huge toy hauler that had no idea where they were going.

Utah barn and dirt road

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We continued on in an awkward silence. Who exactly had gotten us into that predicament? Didn’t she have both an atlas and an iPad in her lap? But all was forgotten when we looked up the road and spotted a procession coming towards us.

In the lead was a horse and carriage with two men in starched white shirts, black pants and long beards sitting up high in front driving a team of two horses. As they neared us, we saw that their carriage held a casket behind glass. The name “Nelson” was in the window. A line of cars with their headlights on followed behind them.

Funeral procession rural Utah

A horse-drawn hearse leading a funeral procession – WOW!

It’s not every day that you see a funeral procession any more. And I can’t say that we’ve ever seen one led by a horse-drawn hearse.

We pulled over and let the procession pass.

What a special moment this was out here in a very remote part of rural America, a place where narrow paved lanes turn to dirt and lead through farm fields without any advance warning.

We savored the moment and realized that this unique sighting was precisely why I’d suddenly gotten the impulse to abandon my carefully constructed itinerary and blindly head down a narrow road that went to who knows where. If we hadn’t gotten hosed up on the dirt road, we never would have seen the unusual funeral procession.

And so it goes on the roads less traveled, as we bump into beautiful things off the beaten path and then find more exotic things even further off the beaten path!

Scenic back road in Utah

The roads less traveled — preferably two lanes and paved!

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A Gateway to Utah’s Outback!

June 2022 – The wonderful slogan on every license plate in Utah is: “Life Elevated.” This refers, of course, to the extraordinary red rock hoodoos, spires and bridges that abound in southern Utah and to the towering mountains that dominate the northern part of the state and also to the overall gorgeousness and good feelings Utah exudes. Our lives are definitely elevated every time we visit the state.

Genesis Supreme toy hauler at Hoover's Rest Area - Life Elevated in Utah

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We have been moving in a northerly direction as the June temps heat up and, as is usual for us, we’ve been staying off the interstates and traveling on country highways and byways instead.

We find these roads are not only more interesting, but are often in better shape than the interstates, and we’ve found we’re much more likely to bump into special places we’ve never heard of before.

Such was the case when we saw a blue sign saying “Rest Area ahead” and decided to turn off to stretch our legs. As we turned into the rest area, we thought we’d stay for 10 minutes at most. A few hours later, we finally pulled out again! It was a beautiful and unusual little spot.

A Rest Area in Utah

Is this a Rest Area or a National Park?

Right next to where we’d parked the rig was a sign, “Please, no overnight camping.” We’ve never seen “Please” on a sign like this before. How unusual!

RV parked at a Rest Area in Utah

No overnight camping…please!

Our trail scout, Buddy, noticed a trail we didn’t even see, and he led us down to a pretty tree-lined stream.

Stream at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

Ahhh…a cool and shady stream!

And then he took us up another short trail that went high up on a bluff where we had views of jagged peaks in all directions. What a spectacular place!

Scenery at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

We had a wonderful view from up on a bluff.

We noticed two spires framing two teepees in the distance. What was that?! We had to go down and find out more!

A Area in Utah with Teepees

Hey, there are teepees down there!

We scrambled down and followed a dirt road that went towards the spires. We hunted around but never did get a very good view of the teepees. However, as we walked along the dirt road, a guy we’d seen unloading his mountain bike from his Lance camper back in the parking area suddenly rode past us. Hmmm….where was he headed?

A few paces further on, we found another towering rock spire that had an old western town of store fronts at its base!

Spire at a Rest Area in Utah

At the bottom of this spire there’s a cool old western town of storefronts.

A babbling brook tumbled over rocks and boulders, making a lovely composition with the western town in the background. Our cameras were going full speed and we were loving it!

Babbling brook and rock spire with western town front

The western town is over the river and through the woods.

The old western town appeared to be on private property, but we still got a good look at it from the road. There was a hotel, a saloon, a mercantile store and a jail — everything you need!

Old western town store fronts at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

A taste of the wild west!

Buddy was having as much fun as we were. He ran all around excitedly, so full of life!

Running pup in Utah

This is one happy pup!

As he zoomed this way and that, we snapped pics of this unique place. A tree was in full bloom with beautiful pink flowers.

Beautiful pink wildflower in Utah

Springtime!

A little further down the road we came across a collection of boulders and stone spires that had a swinging bridge between them.

Swinging bridge at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

This could be fun…but I think I’d like some railings!

One towering rock had metal hand-holds affixed to it so you could climb the rock face without rock climbing gear!

Ladder Rock at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

“Awesome view at the top…Agility and strength required!”

The road crossed a little bridge, and when we got to the other side we heard a side-by-side coming up behind us. The guy sped by and then another side-by-side crossed the bridge behind him.

Side by side crosses bridge at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

A side-by-side followed us over the bridge.

I was snapping photos of the second UTV crossing the bridge when the driver slowed down and stopped next to me. I looked in the door and his passenger was holding a video camera. “We’re YouTubers!” the driver said excitedly.

“Cool! We’re bloggers!” I said. “So, you were filming me as I was taking photos of you!”

He laughed and handed me his card for their channel, Our SxS Adventures with Curt and Charlene. “We’re just getting started with it.”

YouTubers SxS Adventures

YouTubers showed up in blue — out of the blue!

Curt went on to explain that this trail was part of the huge Paiute ATV Trail system and the guy ahead of them was a local guide who was going to show them the best spots. He suggested we grab our RZR and come along with them!

But we’re kinda Slow Road / Picture Taking UTV riders, and we weren’t sure we could keep up. We aren’t adventure side-by-siders at all. We stop all the time on our RZR and we get out every mile or so to take photos. What’s worse, in UTV terms, is that we turn around when the going gets any tougher than pretty flat ground! So, we wouldn’t have been good company for them!

We thanked them for the invitation and followed them up the trail a little ways as they drove off. The view around that bend was stunning!

Beginning of the ATV trail at Hoover's in Utah

How inviting! Where does this trail go??!!

Curt was right. We just had to go back to the trailer and grab the RZR and do one of our slow-poke rides. Thanks for the inspiration, Curt!

This was only our second time unloading the RZR from the back of the toy hauler, so we were really pleased that, unlike the first time, it went smoothly and didn’t take any longer than unloading it from our old flat bed utility bed trailer that we’d towed behind our fifth wheel. Yay!

Walking the trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

Lured by the possibilities on that trail, we walked back to get the RZR.

We’d first heard of the Paiute ATV Trail system at the Quartzsite RV Show back in January. A fellow from Piute County came to the show to let folks know about the wonderful ATV/UTV riding all around the county, and I ended up chatting with him for while. We had hoped to ride some of the trail system on this trip but hadn’t figured out exactly where, when or how. This little impromptu intro was perfect!

The theme of dramatic cliffs framing both sides of the trail that we’d glimpsed when we were on foot continued for the first few miles of the ride. It was gorgeous!

ATV trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

The trail took us between towering canyon walls.

After a few twists and turns between these fabulous canyon walls, we just had to stop and get out and sniff around (Buddy) and take some photos (us).

ATV trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

We’d barely gone a half mile before we stopped and got out!

We were very happy campers!

Happy photographer

I love these kinds of adventures.

Wildflowers and rock cliffs in Utah

A spray of penstemon flowers gave the scene a splash of color.

We continued on with Buddy leading the way on four paws. He’d run ahead and then wait for us or come back to see what was holding up the slow poke grown-ups.

Dog on the ATV trail at Hoover's in Utah

Our trail scout runs back to tell us what’s ahead.

Other folks were out enjoying this beautiful trail too.

UTV on the trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

Other side-by-sides were out on the trail too.

A side by side on the ATV trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

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A stream ran alongside us and then crossed over the trail in front of us. A water crossing!

It was just a few inches deep and the RZR handled it fine. Again, our cameras urged us to stop the RZR and get out. Further down the trail, we caught sight of a fantastic waterfall. Out we went again!

That’s how we roll in the RZR…ride a little and walk around a bunch!

Photographing a waterfall in Utah

Mark and Buddy check out the stream.

Waterfall at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

The waterfall.

Next to the waterfall was the carcass of a 1950s era car on its side. It was half buried in the dirt and had lost everything but its rusted metal frame long ago. We suspected that kids might have deliberately rolled it over the edge as a lark decades ago. At least, we hoped it was that and not a car crash!

Rusted car frame by a waterfall

Who knows what happened here, but hopefully everyone was okay.

Mark and I were having a ball taking photos in this particular spot where the water splashed vigorously over the rocks. But Buddy isn’t as into photography as we are. He sniffed everything that was sniffable in the area and then laid down for a little rest.

Our pup waits patiently by a waterfall in Utah

Our trail scout took a break while we milled around the waterfall taking photos.

After a while, the trail narrowed and became quite rocky, and the views of exotic rock formations were replaced with thick vegetation on each side. We weren’t sure how much further we’d have to ride before the views returned, and the going was getting rough. So, we decided to turn around, get lunch in the toy hauler and continue down the country highway we’d been on (US-89 south of Sevier).

Right before we got back to the beginning of the trail, we noticed a small building with a paddle wheel deep in the woods. We got out one last time to explore and we spun the wheel for a fun pic. The structure was too new to have been an original paddle wheel from way back when, but it was a neat find.

Paddle wheel at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

Off the trail, we spotted a small building with a paddle wheel and a flume.

Before leaving the rest area, we visited the restrooms and were impressed at how clean they were. For a lonely spot in the middle of nowhere, I was surprised to see a woman cleaning them. But she disappeared before I could ask her who managed this very interesting place.

We hopped back in the truck and hit the road again all full of smiles. Unexpectedly, our “boring” day of driving had turned into an exciting day of exploring. This little gem will go down in our memories as a sweet mystery deep in Utah’s hinterlands!

Genesis Supreme toy hauler RV in Utah

We’ve found that taking the slow road often brings us gentle adventures that are really fulfilling.

It is unanticipated moments of pleasure like this that are our favorite aspect of this lifestyle. We wake up with one agenda in mind (if any), and within a few hours we’re doing something completely different that’s even better!

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Panguitch, Utah – Little Britches & Big Horses in the City Park

June 2022 – We’d been driving north through glorious Utah red rock landscapes for a while, and Mark suddenly said, “I’d really like to go to a nice city park with some lush green grass so Buddy can stretch his legs!”

Well, gosh. I wasn’t sure I could produce such a thing out here in this dry craggy landscape, but I did a quickie search and suddenly found just the thing. And it was only a few miles ahead to boot: Panguitch City Park.

We pulled in and parked by the lush green grass. As we looked around, we discovered the fairground behind the park was filled with horses and horse trailers!

Little Britches Rodeo in Panguitch Utah City Park

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Horses were standing around tied to their trailers, resting between events. No doubt they were analyzing their performance and thinking of ways they could improve next time.

Horse waits for the Little Britches Rodeo in Panguitch Utah

A horse waits for his next event.

Cowboys and cowgirls were doing the same thing, but they weren’t tied to their trailers!

Quiet time between events at Panguitch Utah Little Britches Rodeo

Young riders discuss the day’s events.

Downtime between events at Little Britches Rodeo in Panguitch Utah

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We wandered closer to the action and saw a line of horses tied up outside the arena. There were lots of trailers parked back there too. We’d arrived just in the nick of time — yet we’d stopped here just to give Buddy a break from driving!

Horses wait their turns at Little Britches Rodeo in Panguitch Utah

Horses were lined up outside the arena.

Suddenly two young women riders came out and circled around in front of us. One had a lasso in her hand and she was expertly swinging it around above her head.

Two riders in Little Britches Rodeo in Panguitch Utah warm up for their event

Two gals warm up, one swinging a lasso!

Other riders came out and took a spin around in front of us to warm up before heading into the arena to compete.

Rider warms up for Little Britches Rodeo in Panguitch Utah

Two riders in Little Britches Rodeo in Panguitch Utah warm up for their event

We found out this event was part of the National Little Britches Rodeo, and it was the tail end of the second day of events. These young riders were the very last to compete!

Horse waits behind dummy roping steer

Roping was a big part of today’s events and there were practice bullhorns by each horse and trailer.

Beyond the fairgrounds there was a dramatic view of red rocks in the distance. What a place to ride a horse!

Red rock views in Panguitch Utah

The view beyond the fairground — stunning!

Down at our feet we noticed some yellow wildflowers blooming.

Spring wildflower in Panguitch Utah

Spring was springing!

As we strolled back to the lush green grass of the city park, we admired the many types and styles of horse trailers that were here for the rodeo. It was a multi-day event and lots of people stayed in their horse trailers.

Horse trailers are really different than fifth wheel RVs, though. Besides having a gooseneck hitch and shorter overall height, the trailer axles are placed at the far back end of the trailer. This is because of the heavy weight of the horses standing in the rear end of the trailer. This axle placement is similar to a semi tractor trailer.

Horse trailer

A triple axle horse trailer has the axles way at the back of the rig.

In contrast, the axles on a fifth wheel RV are placed quite close to the midline of the trailer because there isn’t all that much weight in the far back.

Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

Our fifth wheel toy hauler has its tandem axles closer to the middle of the trailer

You’d think that a toy hauler might be something like a horse trailer in terms of weight distribution since the toy goes in the far back, but our RZR weighs only 1,250 lbs, and even if it were 2,000 lbs., our toy hauler can carry 15,000 lbs, so it’s not that large a percentage of the total. So, fifth wheel toy haulers are built like regular fifth wheels with the axles placed just a smidge further towards the rear end of the trailer.

When turning a fifth wheel trailer, the back end swings quite wide because so much of the trailer is located behind the axles. Whereas with a horse trailer or tractor trailer you don’t have to worry so much about smacking something out with your wildly swinging rear end since very little of the trailer extends beyond the trailer’s axles.

Back at the lush green grassy park, we noticed that a woman with two Australian shepherd dogs was letting them run free and play. Buddy couldn’t resist and he ran over to introduce himself. For a split second they all huddled face to face. After that, of course, it was all about sniffing each other…at the other end!!

Playful dogs meet at Panguitch City Park

Buddy meets some new friends!

We strolled around this pretty park enjoying the shade of the tall, full trees.

Panguitch City Park serenity

This is a lovely park

Buddy absolutely loved running and prancing in the soft, moist grass. This was quite a contrast to the red rock desert we’d just traveled through.

Playful pup prances in the grass at Panguitch City Park

Weeeeeeee!

Off to one side we came across a very old log cabin. A plaque explained that it was built for Kate Alexander by her son in 1890. It is a tiny structure that is around 12′ x 15′ in size, the size of many modern day bedrooms!

Kate Alexander Cabin Panguitch Utah

Kate Alexander’s son built this home for her in 1890.

There was a little knothole in the front door and we peeped in. Inside there was a small bed, a cupboard, a pot belly stove and a fireplace.

Keyhole interior view Kate Alexander Cabin Panguitch Utah

Peaking in the front door knothole, it looked like life had been simple in this house.

There were doors on three sides of the house (a door on each wall except the wall with the fireplace). There were two windows, one by the front door and one by the back door.

It is very hard to imagine living in a house like that—a space much smaller than a typical RV used for full-time living!—but the homes from that era in this area are all about that size.

A quilt had been placed over the exteriorwall with the fireplace. We were puzzled at first and then we noticed a sign advertising the Panguitch Quilt Walk festival on June 8-11, 2022. Another quilt was draped near the sign too.

Kate Alexander Cabin Panguitch Utah Quilt

A quilt hung on the outside of house.

Panguitch Quilt Walk Utah

Another quilt was hung nearby.

The original Panguitch Quilt Walk was an extraordinary event that took place in the dead of winter in 1863. The devout Mormons living in Panguitch (then called Fairview) began to run out of food and they decided to send their strongest men on foot up and over the towering mountain that was buried in snow to get some sacks of flour from the town of Parawan 45 miles away..

As they ascended the mountain and the snow deepened, the men couldn’t make any progress, so they threw down a quilt and kneeled on it to pray. Suddenly, they realized the quilt was keeping them from sinking into the snow.

So, for the entire mountain pass, the men threw down a quilt ahead of them, traversed it, and then picked it up and threw it down ahead of them. It was painfully slow going, but they made it.

I can’t even imagine a trip like that over a steep mountain simply walking on a road, nevermind crawling across quilts in deep snow. On the way back, the men were loaded down with sacks of flour for the town. And for the entire trip they had to supply themselves with food as well!

In downtown Panguitch there is a memorial that honors these intrepid men, and the town celebrates the memory with an annual Quilt Walk.

This all made for a very fulfilling stop in our travels. When we first went to Panguitch City Park, we thought we were just taking a break from driving to walk the dog for a little while. Instead, we ended up spending several very happy hours in a pretty city park that we’d blindly driven past many times before!

Happy puppy in tall lush grass

Traveling with a dog changes your travel style, but we’d never have seen any of this without our special boy.

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A previous visit to Panguitch a while back

Rodeos and horseback riding events we’ve seen:

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Navajo Bridge, Arizona — A Scenic Roadside Attraction in Red Rock Country

June 2022 – Our first stop on our summer RV travels this year was at Navajo Bridge in Arizona. We’d made it to red rock country. Woo hoo!

Navajo Bridge - Historical roadside attraction in northeastern Arizona

Navajo Bridge is a wonderful roadside stop for travelers in northeastern Arizona.

The parking area at this site is tiny, but we arrived early in the morning on a weekday so we were able to tuck in for 30 minutes before the parking lot got busy.

RV parked at Navajo Bridge Arizona

In our RV travels in northeastern Arizona we’ve enjoyed several visits to Navajo Bridge.

Navajo Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Colorado River near Lees Ferry. It is situated smack dab in the middle of some of the best red rock scenery on the very scenic Route 89A in northern Arizona.

Red Rock views around Navajo Bridge Arizona

The red rocks were resplendent in the morning light.

There’s a lovely stone picnic area, and as we walked around, our cameras started humming.

Picnic area at Navajo Bridge in Arizona

The picnic area is beautiful!

Navajo Bridge in Arizona is a good place for photography

Buddy checks out the view as Mark snaps a pic

The early June sun was strong and the shadows of the slatted roof in the picnic area were very cool.

Cool patterns at picnic area at Navajo Bridge in Arizona

We loved the shadows in the picnic area…!

Navajo Bridge Picnic Area

Peek-a-boo (that’s me walking by)

View of Navajo Bridge from picnic area

You can picnic with a view of the Navajo Bridge

Long before scenic US-89A was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, the only way to cross the Colorado River on the eastern side of the Grand Canyon was by taking Lees Ferry. It was a cable ferry with a barge that moved across the fast moving water by way of a cable that spanned the river rather than by having someone row. The ferry, named for operator John Doyle Lee, began operation in 1871.

Lees Ferry historic photo

Lees Ferry was a cable ferry that crossed the Colorado River from 1871 to 1928

In 1929 Navajo Bridge was built between the canyon walls to replace the ferry. In 1995 a second bridge was built to support the weight of modern cars and trucks. Today, pedestrians can walk on the old bridge to view the new one — and to admire the spectacular views in every direction!

Navajo Bridge Construction historic photo

The two halves of the Navajo Bridge are almost ready to join in 1928

The original Navajo Bridge is now a pedestrian bridge next to the truck-friendly new one.

The original Navajo Bridge is now a pedestrian bridge next to the truck-friendly new one.

Navajo Bridge in Arizona

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All this was because the Grand Canyon made it impossible to cross this river! As W. C. Lefebvre said in 1926, “Nowhere in North America, and in very few localities in the world, are there any such barriers to road building as the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.”

Now, our sweet pup Buddy was unaware any of this history. He’s not much of a history buff. He’s more into the here and now. And when he sees a trail, he likes to find out where it goes. So, he waited patiently ahead of us while we took lots of photos. He did look over the edge once, though.

Puppy on the pedestrian Navajo Bridge in Arizona

Our trail scout patiently waits for us slow-pokes with cameras.

Puppy explores Navajo Bridge in Arizona

“Are there any rabbits down there?”

It is astonishing how the bridge is anchored into the rock cliffs.

Navajo Bridge in Arizona anchored into the red rocks

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Navajo Bridge is anchored to the red rocks

The bridge is anchored into the cliff face.

But even more astonishing are the magnificent views.

Navajo Bridge North View Arizona

The stunning Colorado River is a vivid blue ribbon between the red rock cliff walls.

Colorado River view from Navajo Bridge in Arizona

The little beach and green oasis looked so inviting!

Another tourist looking out at these views and down at the river far below said to me, “Imagine floating down that river…I mean, being the first ones to do it.” It is astonishing to ponder. John Wesley Powell and all those early explorers were incredibly courageous and brave people.

Sandy Beach in the Colorado River below Navajo Bridge in Arizona

This beach is inviting too!

The Mighty Colorado River under Navajo Bridge in Arizona

Before Lees Ferry and, later, the Navajo Bridge were available, crossing the Colorado River to get between modern day Arizona and Utah was extremely difficult.

RV trailer drivers over Navajo Bridge in Arizona

A travel trailer goes over the Navajo Bridge

Colorado River seen from Navajo Bridge in Arizona

Gorgeous!

When we reached the other side of the bridge we turned and started back. The red rocks backing the bridge were beautifully lit by the morning sun.

North view across Pedestrian Navajo Bridge in Arizona

Turning back at the end, we faced a wall of red rocks.

Not every day is sunny here, though. On the trip back we noticed a sign warning about not staying out on the bridge in a lightning storm.

Watch out for lightning storms at Navajo Bridge in Arizona

Metal bridge railings and lightning don’t mix well with people.

And we also noticed a bunch of padlocks between the railings. Some were dated from just days or weeks before, in May, 2022. Others lower down looked to have been there a while.

Unusual padlocks at Navajo Bridge in Arizona

Interesting padlocks, many with dates and initials on them.

This little stop was a great place to stretch our legs and get our creative juices flowing. It felt so good to have our cameras in hand again and to be taking lots of photos of America’s beautiful places!

Happy Campers at Navajo Bridge Arizona

What a fun stop!

We got back in the truck and started singing On The Road Again!!

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2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler – Our Big RV Reveal!

Everybody loves celebrating “Big Reveals” announcing special surprises these days, so here is our Big RV Reveal: Our new rig for our summertime travel adventures is a 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler!

My last post left off with a bit of a cliff-hanger after I described selling our Arctic Fox truck camper. I dropped a big hint about what was coming, though, with this final image:

The Journey Begins - Genesis Supreme Toy Hauler

It is the logo that appears on the back of all Genesis Supreme toy haulers!

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler ramp door

Back when we were full-timing, we struggled for several years with figuring out what to get to replace our 2007 Hitchhiker fifth wheel. We went on several factory tours in Elkhart, Indiana, and I even did a big research project that resulted in a feature article for Trailer Life Magazine about the larger toy haulers on the market at the time. It appeared in the September 2019 issue of Trailer Life.

However, we couldn’t find a toy hauler that was built as solidly as we wanted for full-time use. We also wanted a separate garage that was at least 12′ long, but that meant the whole trailer would be north of 40′ and even as long as 44′. That is a Really Long Trailer! And Mark was not enthused about towing such a huge beast.

Also, the longer trailers were often a bit skinny on Cargo Carrying Capacity for our RZR plus full tanks and all our stuff (you have all your worldly possessions with you when you’re full-time). We’d had enough trouble with failing axles and a failed suspension on our fifth wheel trailer (and it wasn’t even overloaded beyond the factory specifications) that we didn’t want to risk towing around a huge trailer that was at or near its load limit.

Basically, we wanted it all, but we wanted it to be fairly short and really stout too. But we couldn’t find such a rig.

While we were camping in our truck camper last summer, I realized we could make do with a tiny kitchen and tiny bedroom for a few months of travel but we needed a big open area inside the trailer to relax and stretch out — recliners, sofa, something! If we could convert that open area to be a garage for the RZR and bikes while we were in transit, I’d be thrilled!

It suddenly dawned on me that what we needed was an open box toy hauler!

These rigs have a big garage area that converts into a living space with moveable furniture. The advantage over a unit with a separate garage is that you can arrange the living room furniture any way you wish and the overall length can be quite modest. The disadvantage is that you have a stinky dirty toy in your living room when you travel. It’s a tough trade-off and one we’d never make if we were living in the rig full-time. But for a few summer months it holds a lot of promise.

We would be able to haul the RZR and bikes inside the rig rather than having the RZR outside on a trailer or the bikes collecting road grime on a hitch receiver mounted bike rack. It would also give us an onboard gas tank to fuel up the RZR rather than carrying jugs of gasoline and we’d have an on-board gas generator which would allow us to turn on the air conditioning at a moment’s notice. If we bought a modern open box toy hauler, the ramp door would convert into an 8′ x 8′ patio off the back of the rig. All huge pluses!

Here’s where we landed:

Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Floor Plan

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Floor Plan
Ours has the two slide-outs. The “power queen bed” is on an electric lift system.

But how did we end up here?

There aren’t a lot of open box toy haulers on the market. The big Indiana RV manufacturers are focused on building toy haulers with a separate garage because no one wants that stinky dirty toy in their living room.

However, a small builder in California, Genesis Supreme, is manufacturing them under the brand names Genesis Supreme, Vortex and Wanderer.

Ironically, while out camping last summer, we met a guy camping in a Genesis Supreme Vortex. It was a massive model — 42 feet long — and it was cavernous inside. He didn’t use it to bring any kind of toys with him, though. Instead, being a really outgoing and fun-loving type of guy, he’d set up the whole interior to be Party Central for him and his wife and his crowd of friends and family that he camped with regularly.

He could fit 18 people in his rig comfortably (he had several Euro Chairs and gravity syle reclining camping chairs for them all). He also had a fully stocked bar and a beautiful huge kitchen with tons of counter space. The bedroom had a king bed and the shower was a full size tub enclosure rather than a stall shower. He stored it 10 minutes from where he liked to camp and he’d just drive his truck from the house to the storage lot (an hour’s drive) and then hitch up and drive a few miles to go camping. An ideal situation for him.

We went back to our truck camper in awe and with fresh new ideas swimming around in our heads. We woudn’t want to tow that beast, but my oh my, the things you can do with an open floor plan and moveable furniture!

I began searching online for open box toy haulers and there were very few. Genesis Supreme makes open box toy haulers exclusively, however, and they had a really cool unit that would suit our needs: the Genesis Supreme 28CRT.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

The fresh water tankage was better than the Hitchhiker by 22 gallons and although the waste tanks were smaller than ideal they were manageable for shorter-term, on-the-go, frequently-moving travels. It also had a generous an on-board gas tank for the RZR and the on-baord generator:

  • Fresh Water: 100 gallons
  • Gray Tank: 40 gallons
  • Black Tank: 40 gallons
  • Propane: 14 gallons
  • Gasoline: 40 gallons

I used to wonder why toy haulers are so often built with huge fresh water tanks and totally inadequate gray tanks — where did the manufacturer expect all that water to go? Well, most have an outside shower or hose for cleaning off the toy before putting it away. So, the assumption is that much of the fresh water will be used that way and will end up on the ground and not in the gray tank. Needless to say, the manufacturers should provide an appropriately sized gray tank for people who won’t be pouring fresh water on the ground as they wash their toys.

The weights and carrying capacity were good too (CCC nearly 5,000 lbs) and could easily accommodate full propane/gas/fresh water tanks (which is how we typically travel) as well as the RZR and our gear, clothes, bedding, tools and food:

  • UVW: 15,000 lbs
  • GVWR: 10,110
  • CCC: 4,890 lbs

When looking for a rig, especially a toy hauler that will carry something heavy, it’s important to add up all the fluids in the tanks plus the toy and then estimate the weight of all the other stuff you’ll be carrying, including upgrades with hidden weights like extra solar panels and batteries.

Our RZR is 1,250 lbs, our two bikes are 50 lbs, a full 100 gallon water tank is 830 lbs, a full 40 gallon gas tank is 244 lbs, and 14 gallons of propane is 60 lbs. The total for all that is 2,434 lbs. That leaves a comfortable margin of 2,486 lbs for any upgrades we install, our kitchen gear, tools, spare parts, clothing and food.

We saw plenty of toy haulers that had just over 3,000 lbs of cargo carrying capacity, and some of those had a 160 gallon fresh water tank which weighs 1,328 lbs. We wouldn’t be able to use one of those rigs and bring any clothes or food.

The Genesis Supreme 28CRT is 3′ shorter than our Hitchhiker was, a foot taller and 6 inches wider:

  • Length: 33′
  • Width: 8′ 6″
  • Height 13′ 6″

Although we don’t have the measurement from the Hitchhiker, the Genesis Supreme appears to have less of an overhang behind the rear wheels, a plus when taking a tight turn which makes the back end swing out and potentially hit things. Years ago our Hitchhiker hit a guard rail which peeled the entire fiberglass endcap back about a foot, revealing all the insulation and wiring inside the wall. Ugh! The cost of the repair (covered by insurance) was 25% of the new purchase price of that 5th wheel.

It also appeared that the Genesis Supreme was higher off the ground than the Hitchhiker which is good when going through dips and washes.

There was a Genesis Supreme 28CRT for sale at a dealership an hour or so away, so I went there with a tape measure, notepad and camera in hand to see what it was like. Mark decided to stay home with Buddy and he just said, “If you like it, make an offer!”

I really liked it, but I wasn’t going to commit us to anything without him seeing it and liking it too! I came home and we went over all the photos and discussed it at length. He liked the looks of it but didn’t particularly want to go to the dealership to negotiate.

“I don’t want to buy anything unless it falls in my lap!” He said.

I agreed 100%. Fall-in-the-lap deals are the best. You set the stage, do your homework, and aim for success, but you can’t force the right thing to happen. I’ve come to realize that every seemingly “perfect” deal that tragically falls through does so because it is making way for a better deal to come along. I knew RVs were selling fast, though, and I was concerned we’d lose this one if we didn’t act soon.

I called Genesis Supreme to see how busy they were. It’s a small enough company that you can actually call and easily get through to someone knowledgeable who has real answers! They said they had several dealer orders for Vortex 2815V models in the coming months and that those units were identical to the Genesis Supreme 28CRT models inside but were painted a different color on the outside (battleship gray instead of white with black, blue and gray stripes). These units would be shipping with a higher MSRP, of course, but at least the unit at the dealership wasn’t the last one to be delivered for 12 months as I’d been told last summer about a Desert Fox model I liked and that was nowhere to be found west of the Mississippi.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

One night, I casually looked on Craigslist, and tucked in between all the dealership ads for 2022 Genesis Supremes there was a 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT for sale by a private party. Huh?

I contacted the seller and he said he’d had it for 5 months and realized it didn’t work for his purposes. He’d bought it to visit his inlaws on weekends and travel a little on the side but decided it made more sense to buy a small second home near his inlaws and get a small motorhome for traveling.

That would all be much more money than a truck and trailer, but he was more concerned about getting the right solution than the cost. Plus, a second home is an investment that will generally appreciate whereas an RV is a asset that will generally depreciate in value. We were intrigued that he didn’t own a big motorized toy like a RZR and he used the trailer to haul two big tricycles for riding around his inlaws’ neighborhood.

I asked if we could see it and he said, “Yes, but unfortunately I’m storing it in a lot that’s 90 miles from where I live…”

It turned out his storage lot was right down the street from where we live! WOW!!

It seemed like a very cool opportunity was falling our laps!

We saw it, loved it, struck a deal that was way below what we would have paid at the dealership, and brought it home. The unit at the dealership didn’t have an onboard generator because of supply chain issues while this one had a generator and some other small upgrades already installed. It had been used so few times that the microwave and stereo still had plastic film protecting the display.

The furniture is black, which is not my first choice. The unit at the dealership had more appealing cream colored furniture and some lighter trim which lightened the interior significantly.

However, unlike a full-time rig where I’d be very fussy about the interior, we’ll be in this for just a few months at a time, and hopefully we’ll be outside doing and seeing exciting things most of that time. We don’t have to worry about the long dark months of winter when full-timers can wind up staying inside quite a bit.

Stepping inside, you are facing the kitchen, and the garage/living area is to the left.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Interior

The sofa is pretty comfy both for sitting and for napping (it’s a jackknife sofabed)

The length of the garage area is 15’11” from the ramp door to the refrigerator. Our RZR is 9′ long. There are two small 20″ deep slide-outs, one in the main area for a fold-up sofa/bed and one in the bedroom for some drawers and a closet.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler main living area

An open box floor plan allows you to arrange the interior however you like with moveable furniture!

The tiny L-shaped kitchen is workable although not optimal, but with some minor modifications we’ve made it more spacious (details coming in another post).

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Kitchen

The sofa and kitchen are on the driver’s side

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Kitchen closeup

The L-kitchen is small, but with some simple modifications (not shown here) we’ve made it more spacious

The interesting thing about open box toy haulers is that everything is geared towards making room for and bringing in that big ol’ toy. The jack-knife sofa can fold out into a full-size bed but it can also fold up against the wall to make room for a big toy.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler sofa side

The jackknife sofa in its “living room” position.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler sofa up in travel position

The sofa is folded up against the exterior wall in “travel position.”

The recliners are very light and can be moved easily. The official setup has a small removable table between them.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Recliners

The recliners are light and can be moved easily. The factory provides a removable pedestal table.

But they could also be set up in the rear. This is where the guy who towed around Party Central really had fun. He could arrange seating for all his friends and family in many different ways. For us, we’ll see how we end up using it. I like having options!

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Living room

The recliners can also be placed in the rear of the rig the way they are in many traditional fifth wheel trailers.

In the rear there is a queen size top bunk (60 x 80 inches) and two sets of “rollover” sofas that can face each other or be laid flat to form a full-size lower bunk bed (54 x 80 inches).

Both bunks can be raised and lowered. The sofas (lower bunk) are the ones that actually move up and down the track while the top bunk simply rides on top of them. There are stops placed a few feet down on the rails to force the top bunk to stop descending as the lower bunk is lowered. Once the top bunk has stopped, the sofas that make up the lower bunk can be lowered all the way down to be set up as either opposing sofas or as a single full-size bed.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Happijac beds up

The bunk beds in the back are in the fully raised position so you can walk (or fit a RZR) underneath.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Happijac halfway down

The top bunk rides on top of the two opposing sofas which flatten out to make a full size bed.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler Happijac lowered

The top bunk stops descending at some stoppers placed midway down the track. The sofas (laid out as a lower bunk) descend down to traditional bed level.

The top bunk is really cozy and comfy and you get a great view out the window at the beautiful outdoors. The lower bunk is surpisingly comfy too, and what we’re finding is it’s fun to have it set up as a kind of lounging area, great for napping, reading a book or for watching the Outdoor Channel (Buddy’s favorite station on his Window TV).

Heading upstairs, the spaciousness missing in the kitchen has been totally regained in the bathroom. It is big and roomy.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler bathroom sink and shower

The bathroom is very spacious.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler shower

Fancy stall shower.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler bathroom

What the kitchen lacks in space, the bathroom makes up for in spades!

The bedroom is very small and the bed is a short RV queen (60 x 74.5 versus 60 x 80) that runs “north-south,” i.e., parallel to the road. There are two hanging closets, four drawers, a lot of storage over the bed and a cubby for laundry as well as a bedside table. Plus there are windows on both sides of the bed.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler bedroom 1

The bedroom has good storage space but just a short RV queen bed (60 x 74.5 inches).

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler bedroom 2

There is plenty of drawer and closet space in the bedroom.

Oh, look who just jumped up on the bed!

Buddy feels right at home here!

I think he wants to head outside, so let’s go.

Camping in a 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

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One thing we love is that the windows are very large.

Camping in a 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

The trailer is 13’6″ tall and you can see the height in this pic where Mark seems quite small next to it.

Another wonderful feature is the back patio. The ramp door opens up and hangs on cables from the frame to form a patio that can hold 3,000 lbs. A set of railings (by MorRyde) roll out and clip into place. Those rails will be handy for giving Buddy a way to be outdoors at times when we don’t want to let him run free.

Ramp door patio 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

The ramp door to the garage converts to a patio.

There’s a back gate you can open to get down to the ground.

Back patio of a 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

It’s very cool to have an elevated outdoor space to hide out in!

Playing guitar on the patio of a 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

Happy camper!

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler ramp patio

“What’s going on up there?”

Solar Power

Another bonus is that it came from the factory with a basic solar power setup. All the components are from Go Power. It’s a small system, but it may be enough for us to squeak by in the summer months when the days are long, the sun is high, and we use very little power because we go to bed at sunset and wake up at sunrise.

  • One 190 watt solar panel
  • Solar charge controller + Battery Monitor
  • 1500 watt pure sine wave inverter
  • Four 12-volt Group 24 wet cell batteries

We’ve never had a battery monitor before, so this is a new gizmo for us. We always kept an eye on the voltages reported on the solar charge controller to get a sense of how the batteries were doing. Now we can glance at the screen in the living room and it tells us the batteries are 100% charged, or whatever. How accurate it is, I have no idea!

As for all the other solar gear, we’ll do a summer with the factory installed setup and see how it goes. Down the road we might put more solar power on the roof and/or upgrade the batteries and/or upgrade the inverter. But for now, in 9 days of camping in mid-May, the system did just fine and the batteries were fully charged before nightfall. Of course, there’s always the onboard generator that has a switch in the kitchen and a switch by the bed so if you feel a need for power at 2:00 a.m., you can roll over, hit the switch, and snooze to the hum of the genny.

Sunset over a 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

We really enjoyed our shakedown cruise and can’t wait to go on our bigger summer trip.

A few other big positives for us are:

Refrigerator

We didn’t want one of the huge 18 cubic foot four door refrigerators because they go through propane pretty quickly when boondocking and, over time, there have been more problems with them than with the smaller 6 to 10 foot double door refrigerators.

The double door 8 cubic foot refrigerator on this rig is the same size we lived with for all those years in our Hitchhiker, so we’re used to living with a small fridge. This particular one has a bigger freezer than our old one, so that’s a nice plus.

In our Hitchhiker, our 8 cubic foot fridge and our range used 7 gallons of propane every 3 weeks. If we had a refrigerator that was more than twice as big, we might be hunting for places to fill our propane tank every 7 to 10 days. It’s not always so easy to find propane, and it’s enough of a pain to unload the tank from the rig and into the truck and then chauffeur it to the propane store and load it back into the rig that we’d rather do it as infrequently as possible.

An electric fridge is fine if you have enough solar power to support it, but we’re just trying to have fun for a few months each year and we’re not looking for a long term full-time RVing type of solution.

Two Fresh Water Intakes and No All-In-One Compartment

Unlike most modern fifth wheels that have an all-in-one filling/dumping compartment on the side of the rig, this unit has all those things placed separately but near each other. We like having them all spaced out and operating independently of each other and not having to follow a chart for switches to be aligned different ways to go between dry camping, winterizing and full hookup camping.

Tank management on an RV

There are 2 separate fresh water intakes, one for filling the tank for dry camping and the other for a fresh water hookup.

The all-in-one sanitation compartments often have the fresh water intake recessed within the compartment which makes it impossible to add water to the tank with jerry jugs. It’s possible to rig up a pump to pump water out of a tank or jug and into that recessed intake, but we like the simplicity of hoisting a jug up and emptying it into the tank rather than getting out the pump and all that. Obviously, with some creativity, it is possible to make it very easy to use a pump and many people do.

Some rigs we’ve seen don’t even have a gravity fill fresh water intake which makes it difficult or impossible to add water to the tank from water jugs. The system uses switches instead to direct the water flow to the holding tank or to the interior of the rig.

This unit has one fresh water intake specifically for filling the fresh water holding tank that is located a little lower than the one on the Hitchhiker which will make it easier to access. It has another fresh water intake for a city connection for when we have fresh water available at our campsite (which is rare).

Electric Awning

Mark never thought he’d want or like an electric awning, but he’s loving this one. “As long as the motor keeps working!” he says. Hopefully it will because even I can open and close this awning in my sleep at 3 a.m. if I have to!

Keyless Door Lock

Again, we never thought we’d want or like having a keypad on the entry door that can be used in place of a key. But we love it! So often we approach the door and realize we don’t have the key with us. Now, we just punch in the magic code and Sesame opens for us!

There are keys for the door too, so you can use a key if you wish. There’s also a key fob with a remote so you can open or lock the door from a distance too!

RV keyless entry

Keyless entry is handy when you don’t have your keys on you.

Radio Reception and Outdoor Speakers

We could never get good radio reception on the radio in the Hitchhiker and that was something we noticed right away when we bought the Arctic Fox truck camper because it got great reception. It is so nice to listen to the radio and tune in to whatever is going on locally.

2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler outdoor speakers

Music outside – what fun!

We’ve enjoyed many a radio show consisting of call-in classified ads for farming and ranching equipment in the big rural western states, something we just don’t find elsewhere. The Genesis Supreme gets great radio reception and the outdoor speakers are an added bonus.

Shhhh — We promise to keep the outdoor volume down so we don’t bother the deer and the rabbits!

Sunset over a 2022 Genesis Supreme 28CRT Toy Hauler

Hopefully we’ll enjoy many years of travel in this baby!

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Truck Camper Pros and Cons – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

Last year we jumped into the world of truck camper RVing as total newbies, and what a wild ride it has been! We learned a lot and want to share a few insights we picked up along the way plus give you some news about where this journey has taken us.

Truck Camper Pros and Cons

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Of course, our info about truck camper RVing is based on our limited experience with one particular truck camper, a 2005 Arctic Fox 860, and one particular truck, a 2016 Dodge Ram 3500 dually. Other RVers with different truck/camper combos have different experiences.

A large part of why we decided to get a truck camper after living in a fifth wheel for 13 years is that good friends of ours spent 25 years wintering in a fifth wheel in Arizona and going on short jaunts around their home state of Montana in a truck camper in the summertime. They absolutely loved the various truck campers they had over the years, and hearing their stories inspired us.

Truck camper and RZR camping in the forest

What could be better than camping in the forest and riding the US Forest Service roads in a Polaris RZR?!

TRUCK CAMPER JOYS:

There are many great things about truck campers and they all stem from their small size. Unlike most other kinds of trailers and motorized RVs, you can park it in an ordinary parking space, whether on the street, at a store, at a National Park overlook, in a National Park campground, or at the hospital, as we found out.

You can load it onto a ferry boat where fees are charged by vehicle length, and it will cost you half as much (or even less) than if you were towing a trailer.

You never have to be concerned about whether your rig will fit into any kind of campsite, and you can even pull into a friend’s driveway for the night without knocking things over as you plow through their neighborhood (been there, done that, yikes!).

If you plan to tow a boat, or a side-by-side, or a Jeep or anything else, you can hitch it directly to the truck. Of course, if the camper sticks out beyond the back of the truck, you’ll need a hitch extension, but at least you won’t be towing your extra toy behind a truck and fifth wheel in a long train that isn’t even legal to drive in a lot of states.

In our case, the truck we had to work with is a diesel. So, we could take our camper up any steep mountain grade and the truck didn’t even break a sweat. This meant we could transform our powerful truck into a motorized RV worthy of mountain passes with the modest incremental cost of purchasing an older truck camper.

Camping with Arctic Fox 860 truck camper Dodge Ram dually truck Polaris RZR and flat bed trailer

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WHERE TRUCK CAMPERS & TRAILERS ARE MORE OR LESS EQUIVALENT:

We were surprised to discover that our truck got the same fuel mileage when we were carrying the truck camper as it did when we were towing the fifth wheel. The camper weighs around 3,500 lbs while the fifth wheel weighed 14,000 lbs, so you’d think the truck wouldn’t work as hard with the camper, but that’s what we saw.

Our truck gets anywhere from 15 to 21 mpg when it is not towing or carrying heavy weight. It got around 9 to 12 mpg towing the fifth wheel trailer and it got about the same carrying the camper.

TRUCK CAMPER CHALLENGES:

This is where our learning curve took off.

Swing-Out Landing Legs for Dually Trucks

Our first discovery was that the wide hips of our dually truck couldn’t fit between the front landing legs of the camper. We had to replace the two front factory-installed landing legs with a special type that can swing outward so the truck could fit between them as it backed in under the camper to load it up. Then they could be swung back inward for driving.

Happijac Truck Camper Adjustable Dually landing leg

The wide hips of the dually required front landing legs that could swing open to let the truck back in. In this pic, the leg is in the “out” position.

Happijac Truck Camper Adjustable Dually landing leg

The landing legs can be rotated outward for loading and unloading the camper and then rotated inward for driving. Shown here in the outward position.

The camper we bought didn’t come with swing out legs so we had to add them before we could bring the camper home. The seller delivered the camper to an RV repair shop where we had the work done.

Install a Tie Down System

Our next discovery was that the camper must be tied down to the truck so it doesn’t slide off (the tailgate of the truck gets removed so the truck camper can be loaded into the truck bed).

We chose to go with the top-of-the-line Torklift camper tie down system which consisted of Torklift’s bolt-on anchor points (the Talon Tie Downs for the truck and the Camper Anchor Relocation/Repair Kit for the camper.

Once these were bolted onto the truck frame and the camper frame, we used the Torklift FastGun Turnbuckles to tie the camper onto the truck. The FastGuns are super secure and they have a quick release mechanism that makes them very easy to put on and take off when loading and unloading the camper.

Torklift Talon Camper Tie Down system and FastGun Turnbuckles

The Torklift Tie Down system has three components in each corner: an anchor point on the camper (“Camper Anchor Repair/Relocation Kit”, an anchor point on the truck (“Torklift Talon Tie Down”) and a connection between the two (“Torklift FastGun Turnbuckle”).

As great as this system was, the installation was another step in the process that needed to happen before we could take the camper home.

These two upgrades — swing-out landing legs and camper tie downs — were modifications to the rig that were much like buying a hitch, a hitch receiver, tow mirrors and a brake controller (or buying a truck with a factory installed Tow Package) for a truck/trailer combo. They are add-ons that must be done and done right before you can go anywhere, and they not only take time but add to the overall cost of the rig.

Truck and Truck Camper Marriage – A Match Made in Heaven?

We hadn’t realized before we bought our beautiful truck camper that when you match a camper to a truck (or vice versa), you are setting the stage for them to get married. Hopefully, they fall in love and it is a match made in heaven.

In our case, it wasn’t. Our dually long bed truck was a bit big for the camper. Coming from the world of trailers, we couldn’t imagine that a truck could be too big for any kind of RV setup, but in the world of campers the pairing of the truck and camper is so precise that it is possible to have too big and ungainly a truck for a given camper.

Campers are designed with specific sizes of trucks in mind. Our particular camper was advertised back in the day (2005 era) as being compatible with either a short bed truck or a long bed truck. Since it was short bed compatible, I don’t think the designers intended it to be paired with a long bed dually.

Loading and Unloading the Truck Camper – A Unique Issue with the Arctic Fox 860 and Long Bed Trucks

Arctic Fox 860 getting ready to load onto tr6uck

The camper is standing on its own four legs so so the truck can slide in underneath.

Like all truck campers, the layout of the bottom of our camper was a rectangle designed to fit in the bed of a truck. However, it had an extra box sticking out on the left side of the rear entry door. This box held all the sewer valves and the outlet for the sewer hose as well as providing storage for the landing leg controller, so it was not something that could be removed.

Arctic Fox 860 sewer gear box

The right side of this compartment is the left edge of the bottom of the camper that fits into the truck bed. So, the whole sewer gear compartment sticks out beyond the profile of the bottom of the camper (illustration below).

This simplistic drawing shows the problem. The truck bed is in red and the camper floor is in black. The sewer gear box sticks out of the rear driver’s side of the camper which reduces the clearance for loading the camper into a long bed truck by several inches:

Truck camper and truck bed layout

The sewer gear box sticks out from the side of the camper, making it a tight fit width-wise in a long bed truck.

Unfortunately, as we backed the truck in under the camper, we had to make sure not to hit that box while also ensuring that the dually wheel wells didn’t catch on the sides of the camper either. All this had to be in perfect alignment while backing up the full 8′ distance of the truck bed. We had about an inch to spare in total, and we had to back the truck perfectly straight for the entire 8′ length of the truck bed.

Arctic Fox truck camper on landing lengs

Okay, now back the truck up perfectly straight…

Arctic Fox 860 sewer gear box

Looking up at the bottom of the camper as it slides into the truck bed, you can see the sewer gear box is going to hit on the left side of the bed.

Arctic Fox 860 tight clearance loading camper on truck

After adjusting the truck so the camper’s sewer box doesn’t hit on the left side, over on the right side the camper just clears the dually’s inner wheel well. Phew!

Needless to say, it was a white knuckle affair every time we loaded or unloaded the camper, and it usually required jockying the truck forward and backward a few times to get it aligned perfectly. Sometimes we lightly bumped the tall spindly camper landing legs in the process, making our hearts jump. With every bump and shudder of the top-heavy camper, I was grateful it didn’t fall over.

Also, our 2016 truck bed was a few inches higher than the 2005-era trucks our camper was designed for. So, we had to raise the camper a few inches higher on those spindly legs than was originally envisioned by the designers. The camper looked like a giant bug with very long legs, and one time when the wind suddenly picked up to 30+ mph, the whole very top-heavy contraption began to sway on those spindly legs. We both ran for our lives for fear it might topple over on us.

Ironically, we’ve done plenty of challenging things with RVs and boats together, but nothing was as difficult or frustrating as loading and unloading this camper. Down in Mexico, we anchored our large beautiful sailboat in lots of dicey places, sometimes spending the night listening to waves crashing on rocks right outside our windows.

One time, in the violently unpredictable Sea of Cortez, our boat dangled, twisted and turned at the end of our taught 300′ anchor chain in powerful onshore winds with huge waves pounding the beach just a few feet behind us. Unnerved, we decided to leave that frightening setting for a safer spot on the other side of the island only to have a mammoth wave promptly crash over the deck and bend the one inch diameter stainless steel Garhauer racks holding our 14′ kayak as if they were made of rubber. The kayak was saved from the raging sea by a few stout lines that now seemed like pieces of sewing thread.

Arctic Fox 860 truck camper on landing lengs

Due to the higher bed height of modern trucks, the camper has to be raised a few inches higher on its thin legs than was originally intended.

Yet none of those experiences matched the panic that we both felt when we loaded the camper on and off our truck. It was an ordeal.

Because we couldn’t load and unload the camper easily, we essentially lost the use of our truck by itself, not only when we were traveling but also when we were home. At home, we felt like we needed to get another truck for hauling jobs in our daily lives (how silly would that be?!). While traveling, we couldn’t leave the camper in our campsite and instead always had to take pack it up and take it with us no matter how short a distance we needed to go. We did have the RZR with us, and we happily drive it RZR on lightly traveled roads, but we don’t drive it on highways or roads with fast moving traffic.

Leaving a campsite with camping goodies in it like a patio mat and camp chairs without a rig present is asking for trouble. Someone arriving at the campsite could easily assume the goodies were abandoned (we have found tons of abandoned camping gear on public land that we’ve watched sit there day after day). Likewise, having to put everything away inside the rig in order to drive a few miles somewhere is inconvenient.

This all sounds a bit dire, but I believe the ease of loading and unloading–which makes it either possible or impossible to drive the truck without the camper on it–is 100% dependent on how well matched the truck is to the camper. If it’s a good match, getting the camper on and off the truck shouldn’t be difficult. That said, we haven’t seen many truck campers in campsites that have been unloaded from the truck they drove in on.

The bottom line for us is that our truck and camper were not a good match for each other and they ended up getting a divorce. Thankfully, the divorce was an amicable one.

In Contrast: A Good Truck/Camper Pairing

When we sold the camper, the perfect buyer snapped it up, and we saw the difference that a good pairing can make.

Arctic Fox truck camper moves from one truck to another

We took the camper off our truck and got ready to load it onto the buyer’s truck.

He has a 2002 Chevy shortbed truck, and the camper fits it like a glove. He slid his truck underneath with ease, never having loaded a truck camper before, and he looked like a pro as he backed in. FIrst, the camper didn’t need to be raised very high for the truck to slide underneath. Then, the camper fit into the bed without that awkward sewer box even getting involved. Because it was a shortbed truck, the sewer gear box hung off the back of the truck and didn’t have to get squeezed into the truck bed. Undoubtedly, the designers assumed that half or more of their buyers would be people with shortbed trucks.

2005 Arctic Fox 860 fits well on a shortbed truck

The camper sticks out beyond the short bed of the truck unlike on a long bed where the back end is flush.

Arctic Fox 860 fits well on a shortbed truck

The troublesome sewer gear box doesn’t have to be squeezed into the bed of the truck because it hangs off the back — perfect!

As we watched the buyer load the camper on his truck so easily, it was obvious his new truck/camper combo would be a match made in heaven. Perhaps a bigger camper would have given us a better overall experience, but by this time we were ready to try something completely different!

PERSONAL CAMPING STYLE – IS TRUCK CAMPING FOR YOU?

Flowers

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Besides the technical issues of pairing the truck and camper, there’s also a huge difference between living in a camper and living in a larger rig. Obviously, a truck camper is a small space. But there is more to it than that.

The space is quite vertical, especially if the camper door is on the back of the camper at the level of the truck bed. The bed of our truck — which is the floor level of the camper — is at chest height for me. So, we had to step up from ground level to chest height just to enter the camper.

Torklift makes a stair system called the Glow Step that folds down to the ground accordion style from the truck bumper. Some folks nickname the Glow Step the Stairway to Heaven because it is such a long staircase. I found portable plastic stairs that fit into the camper while we traveled. These were sturdy and easy to go up and down.

When the truck was unhitched from the utility trailer it was a straight shot into the camper: two steps on the plastic stairs and two steps on the camper’s stairs. If we left the trailer hitched up, we had a turn in the staircase.

Stair solution for Arctic Fox 860 truck camper-2

A two-step staircase was a cheap solution for climbing up to the entry door where there are two more stairs before entering the camper.

Stair solution for Arctic Fox 860 truck camper

With the flat bed trailer hitched up to the truck, we step up to the trailer tongue and then up into the camper.

Mark also made a very clever platform out of plywood to fit on the tongue of the RZR trailer. This made a staircase landing where we could pause to open the door when our hands were full. We usually kept the RZR trailer attached to the truck, so this platform was a really nifty upgrade and didn’t take him long to make. We kept it in the RZR when we were driving.

Stair solution for Arctic Fox 860 truck camper towing utility trailer

Mark built a platform for the trailer tongue that gave us a landing midway up our staircase.

Stair solution for Arctic Fox 860 truck camper

This stairway solution worked really well.

Because the buyer’s truck bed was much lower than ours, he didn’t need the plastic stairs and could get away with a 7 inch step stool, if even that. See? Match made in heaven.

Many truck campers have the entry door on the side of the camper rather than on the back. Because of the placement of this door, the truck camper hangs off the back end of the truck. The beauty of a side entry door is that it is substantially lower to the ground than a door placed on the back of the camper. This reduces the number of stairs needed to get up to the doorway and makes it much more like going into a trailer or motorhome.

The disadvantage of a side entry door is that if you plan to tow something behind the truck, you will need a hitch extension because the hitch receiver on the truck will now be recessed under the floor of the camper.

Once inside the camper, whether it is a rear entry or side entry door, you can sit at the dinette, stand in the kitchen or bathroom, or crawl into the bed. For one or two people this is fine — it’s just tight living. You’re out seeing the world anyway, so who cares? However, we found it is not so easy if you have pets.

Buddy had only one choice for where he could spend time comfortably in the camper: on the bed. He could sit at the dinette, but didn’t like to do that for longer than a few seconds.

Puppy at the camper dinette

Buddy joins us at the dinette.

Puppy at the truck camper dinette

“Hi, Mom.”

Pup at the dinette of Arctic Fox 860 2

“What’s for lunch?”

He could also be on the floor, but he was under foot and not comfortable standing there. So, in the end, his only place in the camper was on the bed. He loved it there, though. He could watch the world outside through the windows on either side of the bed and it was soft and comfy.

Pup lying on the bed in a truck camper RV

Buddy’s favorite place was up on the bed where he could stretch out and look out the windows.

However, he was kind of stuck there. He’s a good jumper, but it was a long jump down to the floor and we didn’t want him jumping up and down off the high bed for fear the pounding would be tough on his slender limbs or we’d get in his way accidentally and cause him to injure himself.

He could aso jump up into the camper from outside on the ground, but again, we weren’t keen on having him jumping around in case we accidentally stepped in his path while he was jumping and injured him.

A quiet spot for pup under a truck camper

Buddy loves the outdoors, but with the truck camper he had to wait for one of us to help him in or out.

Camping dog

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So, we ended up having to lift him in and out of the camper and also lift him on and off the bed. This meant he had no independence, and he was kind of stuck wherever he was, either outside in the campsite or inside on the bed, until we helped move him. In contrast, when we had the fifth wheel, he could come and go as he pleased.

SELLING AN RV IN TODAY’S CRAZY MARKET

Campsite with Arctic Fox 860 truck camper, dually truck, RZR and flat bed trailer

Everyone wants to get out into nature and leave Lockdown World far behind.

So, after our trip to Quartzsite we knew it was time to sell our Arctic Fox camper and buy something different (and exciting!).

We learned a lot in the selling process. If you are selling an RV these days, here are some things we learned when we sold our camper on Craigslist in February, 2022.

First, the market is moving really fast and NADA Guide is not keeping up. We priced our camper based on dealership asking prices for similar untils nationwide that we saw listed in RVTrader.com. The asking prices were through the roof and insane. They were essentially double the NADA Guide prices. But we went with the flow and asked an insane price that fit in with the others.

We’d had our eyes on the RV market for a while and had noticed that good quality used rigs in excellent condition were selling quickly. We’d see a cool rig one day and it would be gone two or three days later. That happened repeatedly.

Woods with flowers

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We put the ad up on a Tuesday and had some calls and made 3 appointments for showings on Saturday. None of the three who saw it on Saturday bit right away, but we had interest from five other people calling us from 200 to 1,000 miles away.

Saturday night I got a call from a serious buyer who put down a substantial deposit and promised to be out to pick it up on Tuesday. He lived 1,200 miles away and it would take him 2 days to drive to our place. Plus, he wanted to install new tires on his truck before making the trip. I changed the ad to “Sale Pending.”

On Sunday, all three people who had seen the camper the day before called to make offers. Meanwhile, four other people from 40, 180, 200 and 250 miles away respectively all made full cash offers, saying they could come with cash in hand the next day (Monday) to pick it up. I told them I had a deal pending that would take a few days to close and that I would call them if it fell through. Four of the prospective buyers kept in close touch during the next few days to see if the deal fell through.

Needless to say, the buyer was good to his word. Once he arrived, it took two days for him to complete the formal wedding ceremony between his truck and our camper. He got the tires he wanted before the trip and was able to find tie downs that fit his truck in a shop within an hour’s drive.

He was a smart shopper. He told us he had been looking for a camper like ours for over a year, and he had missed out on four previous deals because he didn’t move fast enough. That’s why he was willing to make the deposit sight-unseen and drive 1,200 miles to get the camper.

When I notified the other four prospective buyers that the deal had gone through, they were all sorely disappointed. Undoubtedly, they approached the next prospective deal they saw very differently.

Creative use of utility trailer while camping

The flatbed trailer was a fun place to hang out and get a slightly elevated view.

Of course, I have no idea if this kind of insanity in the RV market is ongoing out there three months later. A lot has happened in the world since then, and the inflation of both consumer goods, gas and diesel plus rising interest rates will surely put a damper on the enthusiasm people have for buying RVs. However, that is the RV sales experience we had just a short time ago.

It’s possible it could take a while for world events to affect the prices and availability of used RVs. Just prior to the financial crisis in September of 2008, we began shopping for a sailboat to go cruising. However, it wasn’t until January of 2010 that we began to see used boat prices finally begin to come down, due largely to marine loan foreclosures.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR RLT??

Lots!

We bought another rig, which I’ll introduce in the next post. Our RV buying story in this crazy market was just as wild as our truck camper selling story, and so far we think we made the right choice and totally love it.

When we went adventuring in the truck camper last year, each time we left we enthusiastically packed for 5 to 7 days. However, we invariably came home after only two or three! I don’t know if it was due to boredom or feeling fidgety or because we were living in such a confined space, but that was the pattern each time we took the camper out.

Two weeks ago we took our new rig out on its maiden voyage shakedown cruise. Cautiously, we packed for just 3 days only to find we had to run out and restock our essentials twice! To our great surprise, when we finally had to head home due to a prior engagement, we realized we’d been out for 9 happy days.

So, right now we’re buttoning up the homestead and packing up the new rig so we can head out and see the world for a few glorious summer months!

The Journey Begins

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Quartzsite Lite (2022)

Quartzsite, Arizona, has long been Party Central for RVers in midwinter, and this year — 2022 — we took our truck camper there to check out the action.

A Winter RV Trip to Quartzsite Arizona in 2022

In many ways, the RV scene out in the desert surrounding Quartzsite was not too different than in years gone by.

There were crazy rigs rolling through the desert, sandwich signs advertising everything from at-your-campsite RV holding tank emptying services to ultra pure firewood for sale to libations of both the morning and afternoon kind.

Rockin' the Boondockin' sign in Quartzsite Arizona

Quartzsite is known as boondocking heaven

Quartzsite Arizona crazy car and camper

We always see unusual rigs roaming around the desert here

Quartzsite Arizona RV Proctologist sign for cleaning out RV waste holding tanks

Time to dump your holding tanks? These guys come to you!

Coffee Wagon in Quartzsite Arizona

A welcome sight in the morning

Adult Day Care Quartzsite Arizona

A popular spot in the afternoon!

Firewood for sale in Quartzsite Arizona

These folks sell the healthiest firewood on the planet!

In town, vendors were selling all kinds of things that would appeal to anyone living in a rolling home…and then some!

RV gear shops in Quartzsite Arizona

Lots of goodies for sale

But there were some startling differences in Quartzsite this year too.

As we drove through the desert boondocking areas we know and love north of town, there were a lot fewer rigs than in past winters, perhaps just 10% to 20% of what we saw a few years ago.

We used to see huge RV rallies in the desert too.

In the past, we would always tuck ourselves in between the massive Montana fifth wheel rally, where dozens of Montana owners circled the wagons around a huge campfire, and the Alpine Coach rally where we sometimes saw members enjoying catered meals along with movies displayed on a big outdoor screen by their communal campfire. Across the road, we used to wander around the Safari motorhome rally, admiring the unique paintings of wild animals that adorned the back of each rig.

These informal gatherings were always held in the same place in the desert, but this year, we didn’t see any of those rallies.

However, we did find a much bigger Arctic Fox rally than we ever remember seeing before, and we hooked up with our friends at the intimate Hitchhiker rally next door to the Arctic Foxes. With our new-to-us Arctic Fox camper and our many fond memories of living in a Hitchhiker fifth wheel, we felt right at home parking between the two groups!

Just like the rather deserted desert boondocking areas outside of town, many RV parks in town had a lot of vacancies.

Vacant RV park in Quartzsite Arizona

An RV park on the main drag in town was empty

There wasn’t just a lack of RVers, though. The number and types of vendors was diminished too. In the past, RV dealerships from Arizona and California set up temporary lots on all the major roads through Quartzsite, and they were filled to the brim with new and used RVs.

This year we could find only three RV dealerships selling RVs from temporary lots, two in town and a third inside the RV show grounds.

All over town, the temporary RV dealership lots that used to be overflowing with rigs now stood vacant, many with locked gates and a sign indicating which dealership operated that lot.

World Wide RV Vacant Lot Quartzsite Arizona 2

Full of RVs in other years, the World Wide RV lot was empty in 2022

Despite the lack of RVs for sale as well the big reduction in the number of RVers staying in Quartzsite this year, we’ve seen reports that RV manufacturing has been absolutely booming. According to the RV Industry Association (RVIA), in 2021, a total of 600,240 new units were shipped, a 19% increase over the previous record of 504,599 units set back in 2017. After our visit to Quartzsite, we learned that RV shipments in January 2022 set a record too.

Apparently, despite that enormous increase in supply, the RV manufacturers aren’t keeping pace with demand.

Last summer, we visited an RV dealership selling Momentum toy haulers and were told they were not selling any units off the lot because they weren’t sure they could get replacement units to put on display for future customers. All new Momentum sales at that dealership were by pre-order only.

The same has been true with diesel truck dealerships. Most dealerships in our area have no diesel truck inventory on display and are selling new trucks by pre-order only. If a rare new one that isn’t already spoken for arrives at their lot, they price it at $5,000 over MSRP.

Of course, things change in the blink of an eye and the RV industry has always been cyclical. At the time we made this trip to Quartzsite in late January, we were paying around $3.69 a gallon for diesel fuel. Now, in late March, it is $4.99 a gallon. Although lots of people still want to get out and travel after having to stay home during the pandemic, this jump in fuel prices might discourage buyers from getting a new RV.

La Mesa RV Vacant Lot Quartzsite Arizona

It was a shock to see the La Mesa RV lot completely empty. We remember fun free pancake breakfasts in their lot in other years

Whatever the causes and ramifications of the small turnout in Quartzsite in 2022 might be, we started calling this year’s edition “Quartzsite Lite.”

There were certain advantages to attending Quartzsite Lite, however. For one thing, parking was a cinch. Unlike past years where traffic was heavy and parking was difficult, traffic this year was minimal and we were able to park with ease right next to the show grounds.

As always, the Quartzsite Gem Show was in full swing at the same time as the RV show, and we admired the many fabulous and enormous crystals and gem stones that were on display.

Amethysts on display at the Quartzsite Arizona Gem Show

There was a big table full of pretty amethyst crystals at the Gem Show

Herkimer Diamonds booth at Quartzsite Arizona Gem Show

Herkimer diamonds! There’s a great mine in New York where rockhounds hunt for these stones

Inside the RV show we saw many familiar vendors, including the homemade ice cream vendor. A little further on, we saw a booth selling New England lobster quesadillas!

Homemade ice cream booth at Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

Homemade ice cream – yum!

Lobster Quesadilla booth at Quartzsite Arizona RV trade show

Flown to the Sonoran Desert from the Atlantic Ocean.

Under the Big Tent we stopped by the Escapees booth to say hello and then chatted with some folks in a nearby booth promoting UTV trails in Utah. A salesman representing an RV resort in a northern state told me they came to Quartzsite looking for workcampers for the upcoming summer. He was thrilled that they filled all their positions by the third day of the RV Show! So, even with a lot fewer attendees and vendors, the companies looking to hire RVers and the RVers looking for work were still happily finding each other.

One unusual surprise was that several vendors advertised they were accepting payment in crypto currency.

Quartzsite Arizona Crypto currency accepted

Crypto currency has made it to Quartzsite!

Quartzsite Arizona Crypto Accepted

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One thing that we always love at the Quartzsite RV show is all the dogs being wheeled about in strollers, and there were quite a few!

Quartzsite Arizona Puppy in a stroller

Quartzsite is a magnet for pups in strollers!

Quartzsite Arizona Dogs in a stroller

Pampered pooch

Quartzsite Arizona Dogs in a stroller

Two-in-one!

The dogs that walk the show on their own four paws have to contend with a sea of knees and ankles, but Buddy was a trooper. While we and everyone else had all eyes on the vendors and their wares, the dogs had all eyes on each other!

Quartzsite Arizona RV trade show in the Big Tent

There were plenty of people, but we all had room to breathe as we shopped.

Fortunately, just like the light traffic in the streets, there was light traffic inside the Big Tent too. Unlike past years, we didn’t have to shuffle cheek-by-jowel at a snail’s pace and instead could walk easily up and down the aisles.

Even though the predominant hair colors you see on the people who hang around Quartzsite are white and gray (with a few dying their hair shades of blonde and brown), there was a very hip poodle in attendance whose fashion sense leaned towards much more showy colors. She sported a bright pink tail!

Poodle with a pink tail

The Quartzsite crowd prefers gray hair over pink, but this poodle dared to be different!

Each year it seems that many vendors at Quartzsite gravitate to one new product or another. In past years LED lights were all the rage. This year it was lithium batteries. It seemed there was a lithium battery vendor on every corner.

Quartzsite Arizona Lithium battery sales booth

A variety of lithium battery brands seemed to be everywhere.

We always get smitten by some product or another, and this year we fell for two products.

First was the Mr. Sticky pet fur roller (available here). It is a roller with a long handle that you dip in water to activate its stickiness. Once it is wet, you roll it on any fabric or carpet that has pet fur on it and magically the roller pulls all the fur off. We were fascinated, and even though the vendor insisted we had to buy all three styles of roller and not just one, we’ve ended up loving them all and we use them on our fluffy comforter all the time (it is one of Buddy’s favorite napping places).

Quartzsite Arizona Mr. Sticky pet fur cleaning roller

These rollers work GREAT! Her demo was good but the proof was in our fur filled comforter at home.

The other product that caught our eye was the Siberia Spirit wool socks. The vendor was from Russia and the socks were fluffy, soft and warm. The overnight temps at Quartzsite were in the low 40s during our stay and these socks were just the thing to keep our tootsies warm.

I bought a pair of goat hair socks and Mark held one out for Buddy to smell. He was enchanted. He rubbed his face all over the sock, sniffing it and brushing his snout and ears on it over and over!

Siberia Spirit socks booth at Quartzsite Arizona RV show

Siberia Spirit – warm wool socks sold with a Russian accent!

Puppy rubs his face on goat hair socks

Buddy absolutely loved the pair made of goat’s wool that had fox faces like his on them.

For the past few years RVing has been making a big splash in the media, and sure enough, there was a fenced off Media Tent right outside the show grounds. They were filming The RVers / Aviators.

A huge poster warned that if you entered the fenced area you irrevocably granted the Producer permission to film and record you and to use that material for commercial purposes indefinitely!

Gosh, and here we thought Quartzsite was just a bunch of RVers casually living it up in the desert.

Public Filming Notice in Quartzsite Arizona

If you don’t want your likeness used commercially, steer clear!

Getting back out into the desert ourselves, we headed out with a friend on a 4×4 loop trail up on Plomosa Road. This was the first time we’d ever brought our RZR to Quartzsite and what a wonderful change of pace it was.

RZR ride in Quartzsite Arizona

The 4×4 trails in the area are wonderful.

Quartzsite Arizona On the trail with a RZR and ATV

We had a great ride with our friend Roy from the Hitchhiker rally

A saguaro cactus in the desert near Quartzsite Arizona

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There are a ton of trails in the desert, some well worn and others seldom used. We had to consult the map to stay on track!

Quartzsite Arizona ATV trail

Some trails are small and others are very large and well traveled.

Quartzsite Arizona checking the map on an ATV ride

The guys had to check the map to see where the heck we were!

In one area there were plush sand dunes. The wind made wonderful patterns in the sand and Buddy loved romping around in it. We also found open mines all over the place. Lots of these old mines have been fenced off by the Bureau of Land Management so people don’t accidentally fall in, but this one was wide open.

Quartzsite Arizona sand dunes

The sand had beach-like wind patterns.

Open mine in the desert in Quartzsite Arizona

There were many open mine shafts. Mark dropped a rock into this one and it took a long time to land!

RZR UTV trail in Quartzsite Arizona

We saw a few other UTVs and ATVs on the trails and even crossed paths with a group from Salome.

One of the best things in Quartzsite is the vivid sunsets that fill the wide open sky, and we were lucky to catch a really vivid one.

Quartzsite Arizona sunset

A classic Arizona sunset!

We had a lot of fun going to Quartzsite this year, even though many things were dramatically different from past years. But that’s the unpredictable way of life.

Hopefully, when we drop by Quartzsite in the future, we’ll no longer call it Quartzsite Lite because it will be Quartzsite Full Strength once again!

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References:

Our experiences Quartzsite through the years:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

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