Oasis in the Desert

Friday, November 12, 2010

California -- A Great Place To Visit

"Okay, who put a 'stop payment' on my reality check?"

Cindy and I moved to Orange County, California from Denver in 1980.  We moved to the community of Mission Viejo which was just a few miles from Laguna Beach.  There we live for the next two years.  Homesick for Denver drove us to leave California and move back.  We sold our California home in about two weeks and moved to Evergreen, CO.  We have spent 20 years in the Colorado Rockies, but California was fun adventure!

In 2005, we had an opportunity to return to California for six months in the Ventura-Santa Barbara area.

Our intent was to settle in the San Diego Area for the winter. But, a dream part-time job as an Ambassador with Camping World was offered and we could not refuse. The task is to call on RV parks in the central California area. We could stay at any of the RV parks in the area and move about from one to the other. They included the coastal RV parks from Malibu to Santa Barbara and inland from Los Angeles to the Santa Ynez Valley wine country.

The bonus is that Camping World stores are nationwide and the same program is offered throughout the USA. We could travel coast to coast and in between. There was one short side to the offer. We had only a few days to traverse the Southwest and present ourselves in Valencia, CA.

Our intent was to leave Austin (after a few days rest) at our leisure and visit family and friends along the way. We had planned to stop at every tourist trap and tour along the way. We previously had a month to accomplish this, now we had only days. We contacted all with our regrets and the next day after arriving in Austin, we took our RV out of storage, prepared the rig and ourselves for the journey, and hit the road.

Weary from our Mexico trip, we only traveled 60 miles before we stopped for the day in Fredericksburg, TX. At this rate, we would never get there! Off again the next morning, we made our way to Fort Stockton, TX. The next day we traveled to Deming, New Mexico. From Deming, we journeyed to Tucson, AZ.

In Tucson, we met with the local Ambassadors with Camping World for a training and orientation meeting. Off again, we bypassed Phoenix and arrived at Quartzsite, AZ. What a place! This city of only a few thousand residents in the summer swells to over a MILLION during the winter months. It is a winter RV Mecca. Thousands of RVs can be seen for miles. The attraction is the modest living cost, almost perfect climate, a wild and crazy bunch of people, and access to many recreational activities in the area.

One night in Quartzsite was enough for the two of us, but we were pretty well worn down from all of the travel. We had three days left and decided to take a two-day break and rest. Our choice was to stay in Laughlin, NV. We settled in a quiet RV park located at an Indian Casino outside of Laughlin. We vegetated for two days. When we got bored we went into town for fine dining and played a few of the machines. We did not win nor did we lose.

Rested (well sort of), we drove on into Valencia and set up camp in the Valencia RV Village. Fortunately, we made it without incident and arrived in good spirits.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Winter in Florida - Letter to Friend

4/12/07 A Letter to Jim Chanaberry

It has been a great winter in Florida. I understand why so many go to Florida to winter. Nice weather, lots to do, and one can kick back and relax. In November, our first stop was Jacksonville. We stayed at Hanna Park on the ocean front. Took a 5 day cruise to the Bahamas and drove around the sightseeing in the city. Next stop was Sanford (north of Orlando) and stayed at the Wekiva Falls RV Resort and Spa on the Wekiva River. After a few days we left Sanford and spent the month of December at Brawn Mawn, a luxurious RV Park on the ocean front in Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine is by far my favorite city in Florida. Beautiful downtown on the bay, lots to do, and the people are warm natured and friendly to all.

St Augustine Harbor

We took a 5-day cruise out of Fort Lauderdale over Christmas. It was a blast. We left Saint Augustine on December 31 and celebrated New Year's Day at Jetty Park in Port Canaveral. Jetty Park is on the ocean front where the cruise ships sail out of Port Canaveral. We had to take two more cruises out of Port Canaveral. No fishing license was required at the jetty and one could easily find a good spot so we drowned a few shrimp and tossed out a couple of spinners. We did not have much luck.

Ready to Board for St Thomas

Our Oceanview Cabin

We finally went back to Oklahoma to visit friends and relatives. Stayed about a week and hurried back to Florida. We then settled in Grant, FL (just south of Cocoa Beach) at the Orbit RV Park located on the Indian River. Lazy days followed. Went for beach walks, ate at beachside fish eateries, watched a few movies, and took a few afternoon naps. From Grant, we moved to Prince John RV Park near Fort Lauderdale. From there, we took a 10-day Panama Cruise (what fun) and spent time at some of the Florida beaches.

Rain Did Not Stop Our Tour

Tour Boat Exploring Caribbean Island

Finally, in March we left the beaches and went to Orlando. We stayed in Fort Wilderness on the grounds of Disney World. Fort Wilderness is a beautiful RV Resort. We parked the whole visit. All transportation was furnished by Disney. Buses, Unirail, and boat taxis. Now that April is here, we are planning to go to the Northeast and look around.

Sailing Off to Snorkel - St Thomas
That's what is going on here, what is happening there.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shreveport LA This Week

Cindy and I are on the road to Shreveport, LA for five days without my laptop, so I will post upon our return. 

For some reason, I had a flashback of our stop in Puerto Angel in Mexico as we approached the Louisana border.
 ( http://garvinwanderlust.blogspot.com/2009/02/puerto-angel-and-fernandos-hideaway.html ) 

It was as close to being in the 60s as one could be.  Click on the link and check it out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mexico Travel to Little Known Seaside Resorts

January 12, 2006

Mexican destinations such as Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco are all well know resorts in Mexico.  There are many others not so well known that are adventurous and very affordable.  Several of the small villages along the coast have been catering to tourist for years.  One such resort area is Cuyutlan in the state of Colima.  It is located just south of Manzanillo.  Our next travel destination.  There are several other seaside resorts that we will disclose later.  These resort areas can be experienced with half the cost of the more popular tourist traps.

We boarded our flight to Manzanillo, MX and spend three weeks with Cindy's sister in her lovely home on the beach near the village of Cuyutlan. Upon arriving, Charlotte met us at the airport (after taking three buses and a taxi to the airport located thirty miles north of Manzanillo).  Charlotte will be ochenta anos the 24th of June. You do the math in espanol. She is very active and credits her good health to her long walks. They also play Mexican Train (a domino game) several times a week (I suppose that is healthy mental exercise).

Oceanview from the Upstairs Bedroom

Oceanview from the Pool Area

From the airport, we took a taxi back to Manzanillo and boarded a bus for Armeria (a small village close to Cuyutlan. Then we took yet another local bus to Cuyutlan and a taxi to the house. The house is about 3 miles from the village center. One may choose to walk along the beach, walk along the road, hike over the dunes and catch a bus, or call a taxi. We walked a lot and enjoyed the ocean. Charlotte recently added an upstairs patio, bedroom and bath to her home. We were graciously allowed to sleep up there during our visit.

Charlotte and Cindy at a Popular Resturant/Bar in Cuyutlan
One of Our Favorite Open Seaside Resturants
Beach Area Along the Seashore

There are not a lot of gringos in the area but, it is starting to develop. The main house has two bedrooms, a living room, a study, kitchen, and bath. She has also added a large palapa where you can sit, read, and be cool during the heat of the day.

  The people in town are friendly and there are several good restaurants. We had a visit from our good friend Walt, who drove over from Ajijic to play for a couple of days. He came in his car and we enjoyed a short break from the buses and spent the day in Manzanillo, enjoying lunch at a beach restaurant with super camarones (shrimp).

Cindy's New Hairdo

The sunsets on the beach there are always spectacular. You have to move fast as the sun sets quickly. The season from December to April is comfortable in this area of Mexico, but it gets very hot and humid during the summer and most of the gringos leave for cooler climates.

We returned to Austin, TX on February 2nd (after taking two taxis and two buses on our return to the airport). The buses are an adventure, as you can see how most of the locals live their daily life. We had a great visit and look forward to returning soon for another adventure in paradise.

Local Bus to Cuyutlan

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Winter to Summer in 5 days

"Not all those who wander are lost."

January 11, 2006

With a chill of winter in the air, it was time for us to move to a warmer climate. We packed up our RV, secured any loose items and hit the road.  Our final destination is Cuyutlan, Mexico. From Springfield we journeyed through Arkansas and spent the night along Interstate 40 just east of Oklahoma City. Drought conditions throughout Oklahoma and Texas have resulted in multiple grassland fires. The RV park was located north of Lake Eufala. We left our RV hitched to the pickup just in case a fire sprung up near the campground.

The Pacific Ocean near Cuyutlan, MX

View outside the upstairs bedroom

We departed unharmed the next morning and turned our rig south and headed for Duncan, Oklahoma to visit with family. We spent a great three days on our visit. However, we were somewhat pressed for time. Our flight to Manzanillo, MX was only a few days away and our departure city was Austin, TX. With a hasty good-bye, we hitched up and traveled 300 miles to the Old Settlers' RV Park in Round Rock, Texas. Again we spent time with family in Round Rock, including a great meal at Chuy's restaurant.

We now were faced with a small problem. What does one do with a RV and truck for three weeks? Answer: Storage. Rather than pay a daily rate at an RV park, for $30.00 we were able to store both in a secure location outside of Round Rock. Thanks to our family, we caught a ride to the airport and we were on our way.  More about the seaside casa in Cuyutlan, Mexico in future blogs.

As a footnote, we were asked about the inside of our RV home. We took a few pics. We really are very comfortable in our RV with central air and heat, three slide-outs and 37 feet of length. Our living area consists of two sofas (both with built in recliners), a cozy fireplace, an entertainment center, tables and chairs. The kitchen has all the modern conveniences including refrigerator/freezer, four burner stove top, oven, microwave, filtered drinking water tap, double sink, cabinets galore, and counter top. We can feed a thousand people in this kitchen (four at a time). Cindy is quick to point out that we are missing an automatic dishwasher. The sacrifices we must make! Our dining area also serves as our computer desk and a recent addition of two book cases make the area very functional. The bedroom has a queen size bed with closets, cabinets, drawer space and a washer/dryer. The bath consists of a wash basin, shower, and toilet. All the conveniences of home!

The Computer Area

The Spacious Kitchen

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Small Towns - Big Stories

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.  Discover." -- Mark Twain

Small towns in America have some of the most interesting histories. They are easy to miss and we often drive by without a second glance. One such town was Carthage, MO. Here were our experiences.
The Ozarks are a beautiful place and the history around Springfield is fascinating. We journeyed to Carthage, MO to buy a few things for our RV. Once shopping was done, we took a driving tour of this historic town. There were over 20 Victorian homes dating back to the 1800's on the tour.

This was also the site of the first full scale land battle of the Civil War. The battle preceded First Bull Run by 16 days. The Census of 1860 found 6,883 residents in this county. By the end of the war only 30 were left. The others had been killed or had fled.

I took a picture of the court house and posted it on this website. We went to lunch at Three To Eleven Restaurant located on the town square. The food was great! All in all a nice day to be out and about.

Next, a trip to Branson. We went to the Andy William's Christmas Show in Branson. It was great! We laughed, cried, and sang with Andy throughout the whole show. Maybe a little backtracking, I suppose. But, I do remember when Andy had his Chrismas show on TV -- many years ago. Anyway, it was fun... This trip we were on time for the IMAX movie "The Lewis and Clark Expedition".

Journeying back to Branson, we rode the Duck. It is Branson's original Land and Lake Show. We enjoyed a unique sightseeing adventure, rode to the top of a mountain for a scenic view of the Ozarks, took a beautiful Lake cruise and spent 80 minutes full of fun and valuable local information. Captain Crunch was our captain. He had a good sense of humor and kept us entertained throughout the trip. Captain Crunch let Cindy "take the wheel" while on Table Rock Lake. No damage or loss of life occurred during Cindy’s term at the wheel.

Friday, September 17, 2010

9 / 11 / 2001 - Barcelona Dreaming

Like Kennedy’s assignation, everyone remembers what they were doing on 9-11.  Cindy and I were living in our house in Ajijic, a small fishing village on the north shore of Lake Chapala (about 30 miles south of Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara).  We were watching one of the network channels when the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center (we had cable TV in Ajijic).  That day altered our life plan and brought us back to the USA.

We were in our second year of living in the Lake Chapala Area.  Its moderate climate had brought over 50,000 expatriates from all over the world to live in the area. Most of them were from Canada and the USA.  The favorite expression for the area was “It is 70 degrees F year round in the Lake Area except when it is 71”.

We were in the process of relocating to Barcelona, Spain.  Some of our international friends had traveled worldwide “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” (TEFL).  This intrigued us and we thought that it might be a great way to work our way around the world.  Cindy had her degree in Education (she taught in public and private schools for eleven years) and my degree was in Business.   All we needed was TEFL certification and we would be on our way.

Waterfront in Barcelona

Las Ramblas - Barcelona

There were TEFL certification schools in Guadalajara as well as the United States, but we wanted another exotic place to get our certification.  A school in Barcelona, Spain offered a 12-week certification program that guaranteed (upon graduation) a teaching position in Eastern Europe.  They also had rental apartments for their students at 25% of the going rate.  What a great way to experience Barcelona!  So, our plan was to hang out in Barcelona, take six hours of class five days a week for the next three months, and then take a six-month teaching position in Prague.  We visited Barcelona on a previous cruise and thought it to be a neat city to live and work.

Cruising the Mediterranean

Yeah, a Burger King in Barcelona

We had completed the application process, had our bags half packed, received confirmation from the school when the events of 9-11 happened.  The day after we were notified by the school that they had cancelled all American applications and were only taking applications from British citizens.  They also informed us that there was a Terrorist Cell in Prague and the state department discouraged all travel in the Czech Republic by American citizens.

A few days after 9-11, Cindy and I grew homesick for the USA, left Ajijic, and drove to Houston, TX.  There we spent the next 12 months.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Motorhome Journey through Mexico

We invite you to read previous blogs written on our RV trip in our motor home tour of Mexico. We started along the Mexican Gulf Coast down to the Belize border, then turning west to the Pacific Ocean, and finally driving north along the Pacific Coast back to the USA in the winter of 2009 (January – April). We wanted more so we took a summer trip by car from July through September with month long stays in Tequisquiapan and Oaxaca. You will find those in the blog archives on the right side of the page.

Another Adventure Unfolds In Branson MO

Before I discuss airlines, trains, ships and exotic places, I will make a few more comments about RVing. In 2005, we were sitting on our porch taking in the lake scene at sunset and admitted to ourselves we were bored and restless. Our lakefront home was beautiful and very comfortable. We had a knockout view of the 940 acre lake, and I had a stable and interesting job. Our finances were stable and we were even putting a few dollars away for the inevitable “rainy day”.

We obviously needed therapy to even consider what we were considering, but we put together a plan, proceeded to fill in the details, and started the implementation. We sold our home, most of our “stuff” and loaded the rest into our 5th wheel RV. We were going to fulltime all over North America!  Here is an accounting of that fateful day.

"The single greatest moment on any RV trip is the instant you turn the key on the ignition of your Motor home or tow vehicle and hear the engine roar to life. You are about to untether yourself from your fixed-based life, and you feel a surge of energy from deep within your soul. Adventure, excitement and discovery awaits you, and that's a feeling that nearly all RVers experience at each moment of departure."

Notes from August 5, 2005 : "Two weeks remain before we leave Oklahoma for Springfield, MO. Many things to do, but each day we seem to do something constructive. We both are anxious to have the transition complete and actually be on the road. Our first stop is Springfield, Missouri. We have accepted a position with Springfield KOA. Scott and Diane King are owner/managers and some of the greatest people you want to meet. We will be working two days a week (14 to 20 hours) and will have the opportunity to visit the sights around Springfield (including Branson). Rumor has it the Christmas at Silver Dollar City and Branson are both "once in a lifetime" events - not to be missed."

Notes from September 14, 2005:  Life has many turns and one must not take things too serious. We made it to Springfield, but the route was not as planned. As you may recall, we were leaving from Marlow, OK to Dallas TX, Shreveport LA, Hot Springs AR, and finally, Springfield MO. Hurricane Katrina and fate dealt a different hand. We had a few mishaps (an understatement) and a few bumps along the way. We finally got away from Marlow. OK and went straight to OKC, Tulsa, and Springfield. We arrived in Springfield and found that we had a lot of entertainment opportunities.

We settled in site #12 at the KOA Campground and set up housekeeping. The owners are very nice people and easy to work with. Our schedule is approximately 7 hours each (2 days) with 5 days off. We could work an extra day or two if we are needed.

We have had to opportunity to go to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield (a civil war battle) where Union forces under General Nathaniel Lyon and Southern Troops under Benjamin McCulloch met in combat along Wilson's Creek near Springfield.

The next adventure took us to Fantastic Caverns, America's only drive through cave.  Also, one must stop at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield. A must see. It is the original and largest Pro Shop in the USA.

We have taken our second trip to Branson and saw the show "Lost in the 50's". Great production, we enjoyed it. We went on a tour of the Stone Hill Winery and lingered in the hospitality room too long. We were 15 minutes late for the IMAX production of "Lewis and Clark Expedition". Not a problem, we can catch it on our next trip down. Branson is about 40 miles from our kampsite. We both endorse ODEE'S Bar-B-Que Resturant for lunch 11am-2pm on the Branson Strip. Good Food, good price.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Are you sitting on the tailgate of life?

Are you sitting on the tailgate of life going along for the ride or did you move up to the driver's seat and go your way?

Friday, September 3, 2010


We invite you to read previous blogs written on a four month trip in our motor home tour of Mexico. We started from Brownsville, Texas driving along the Mexican Gulf Coast down to the Belize border, then turning west to the Pacific Ocean, and finally driving north along the Pacific Coast back to the USA in the winter of 2009 (January – April).

We wanted more so we took a summer trip by car from July through September with month long stays in Tequisquiapan and Oaxaca. You will find those in the blog archives on the right side of the page.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Resort Living in Texas for $5.00 per month

Lakeside Living in our Cedar Creek RV
As I mentioned earlier, we began our rather unconventional lifestyle in 1986. Rather than give you a chronological accounting, I will pick random events. I might mention, we have traveled by plane, auto, bus, train, cruise ship, canoe, kayak, horse-drawn cart, bicycle, motor home, mono rail, skis, motorcycle, horseback, and walked a thousand miles.

First, I’ll make a few comments about RVing. If you do not have RV, go buy one as soon as possible. We owned our first RV in 2001, after our two year stay in Lake Chapala, Jalisco in Old Mexico (another adventure we’ll tell you about later). It was a 1987 36’ Prowler by Fleetwood. I had a temp job in Houston (it ended up lasting six months) and we did not want to sign a one year lease on a house or apartment. So we purchased the 5th Wheel for living quarters, not knowing how long we would be in Houston.
We bought the RV for $4500.00 and refurbished the interior with new carpet, paneling, and living room furniture (a cost of about $900.00). Inside it was just like brand new and the Lazy Boy recliner sofa was very comfortable. The bedroom had its own outside entry and a comfortable queen size bed.

We moved into the All Star RV Resort in South Houston (rating 9.5 out of 10), (the resort was only a block away from where I worked). RV space, electric, water, sewer, and propane cost was only $360.00 per month.

Six months later I accepted another temp job in Conroe, Texas (north of Houston). We were glad that we had our RV. We simply moved to a gated waterfront RV community (rating 9.0 out of 10) on Lake Conroe ($300.00 per month). We had an opportunity to buy a 1997 5th Wheel Fleetwood Prowler with a slide (a nice upgraded model). We sold the ’87 for $6000 and purchased the ’97 from an individual for $6000. After another six months at Lake Conroe, we had a job offer in Oklahoma. We sold the ’97 Prowler for $9300.00 and headed for Oklahoma.

Net housing cost for one year of resort living in Houston, TX was $60.00 or $5.00 per month.

  1. Initial Cost of '87 RV        $4500.00
  2. Refurbish Cost                    900.00
  3. RV Space/Utilites               3960.00
  4.                                          ---------
  5. Total Cost                        $9360.00
  7. Proceeds from '97 RV      $9300.00

Monday, August 16, 2010

Secrets of the Frugal Travelers Revealed!

In reading over our previous blog, I reasoned “why not share the frugal travel saga to those who may have an interest". Perhaps I could share some of our travel experiences with those who have the urge to leave their front porch and see what’s out there. Fortunately, I dropped out around 1986, but there are those who looked to the future, followed their careers, and now are ready for yet another adventure.

Rather than write about “we’ve been there, done that” travel blog (actually, there is some of that), we will share with you how to afford travel around the world like the “jet setters” and the “rich and famous” on a budget, a very frugal budget at that. I will even disclose budgets and money spent on this or that. There is a comment option at the bottom of each blog. Feel free to comment and I will answer your questions along the way.

Over the years, Cindy and I have traveled existentially all over the world. Between us we have traveled five of the seven continents (Australia and Antarctica excepted, but their turn is coming up soon). Nineteen cruises (over five months at sea), fourteen European vacations, Africa, South America, Alaska, Hawaii, Caribbean, Canada, coast to coast Mexico, and coast to coast travel in the Continental USA. What an adventure! And we have just started our discoveries. After travel from our home base, in 2005, we sold our house, packed a few of our precious possessions, and moved into our RV and lived in our “home on wheels”. Over the years, we felt that we again wanted a home base, thus, here we are in our home state building yet another home on a beautiful Oklahoma lake and keeping our RV.

Well, the home base is finished! One of the most comfortable homes I have ever built. Even though the outside temperatures were over 100 degrees (sometimes the gauge hits 107), I kept the inside temperature down between 68 – 70 degrees. I received last month’s electric bill (we have a total electric home, except for the propane fireplace) and I was delighted to see that it was only $76.00. We definitely support the green movement.

Fishing is reported as excellent here at the lake. Geese, deer, raccoons, beaver, fox, ducks, armadillos, possums, and skunks rule here in rural America and it is fun to sit and watch the outdoor activity, but I know we are going to get bored. The first question asked of us when we announced that we were building a home base was “when are you going to sell it and travel on”? The answer is "I think we will keep it and continue our travel adventures".

Before blogging our next adventure, I thought I would recap past travel and record just how it was accomplished. I will try to write the segments in installments and download each Saturday with photos.

If you sign up as friends or followers, I will not share your information except in the comments section, and you will receive a notice of the next installment. I invite all of you to join. Feel free to read older blogs about our Mexico adventure as we traveled from Texas along the Gulf of Mexico to the borders of Belize, then west to the Pacific Ocean and north back to the good ole USA. Also note that we rented houses in Mexico for a month at a time paying as low as $250.00 per month (Photos included).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to the USA

Mexico is fun. For us, friendly and safe. But, as much as we enjoy Mexico, we look forward to our drive back to the USA. After leaving Oaxaca, we journeyed north to Cuyutlan, Ajijic, Guadalajara, Saltillo, and Monterey. We crossed the border at Columbia and headed for Austin, TX. A few days there and we were back in Oklahoma.

We found a waterfront property at Lake Humphrey (Marlow, OK) in southern OK and parked our RV there. We decided to build our home base there and travel the world on a part time basis. Pics to follow.

Mexico, we will be back!!! Thanks for the good times and unforgettable memories.