Welcome to the first issue in a new monthly column about full time RV life.
Our goal with this column is to share experiences about the places we've been, recommendations for things to do and see in those areas, and the reality of RV living and full-time travel.
We'll share recipes for camping and cooking in a tiny kitchen, products we love and can't live without, RV projects we are working on, what we're reading and listening too, and stories about interesting people we meet along the way.
I am convinced that you could travel nearly anywhere in October and it would be beautiful, but this year we spent the month in two incredible places: Palisade, Colorado and The Little Grand Canyon in Utah.
Favorite Things in Palisade, CO
- Palisade is located on Colorado's Western Slope, near Grand Junction. The area is well known across the state for its peach orchards and vineyards.
- We stayed at at an RV park that we also stayed at last year: Palisade Basecamp. Fun fact: At some point during last year's stay, they took some aerial photos of the park, and you'll see our rig in the homepage photo. We are on the right side, near the vineyard, fourth from the top.
- Throughout the summer and early fall the town hosts a fabulous Sunday Farmer's Market. Vendors sell jewelry, art, fresh fruit and veggies, bread and other specialty food and ingredients, flowers, clothing, and even home grown meat and fresh eggs.
- One of our favorite places in Palisade to eat: The Palisade Cafe and Wine Bar
- My favorite (so far) Palisade winery: Sauvage Spectrum
- Fabulous park with walking and biking trails along the Colorado River: Riverbend Park
Colorado Peach Recipes
If you live in Colorado, you know that the peaches grown in Palisade and the surrounding area, are pretty much the best thing ever.
This year, while we were in Palisade, I scored two boxes of peaches from the Kokopelli Farm Market.
The first box was everything Colorado peaches are supposed to be - sweet, flavorful, and so juicy you have to eat them over the sink. The second box was a "late season variety" and the peaches were a bit bland and mushy. Not great for eating fresh, but perfectly suitable for a batch or two of Peach Preserves.
Aside from eating as many as we could straight from the box, I made this Peach Cobbler because it's one of our FAVORITE desserts in the history of ever.
Scenic Drives on Colorado's Western Slope
There are two drives near Palisade that are just spectacular. The first is through Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. It's a gorgeous place any time of the year, but especially when the leaves are changing in the fall.
The other incredible place to ride is through Colorado National Monument.
Rim Rock Drive spans about 25 miles and winds around the rim of red canyons with sheer-walled cliffs and incredible views.
The Wedge Overlook and The Little Grand Canyon in Utah
- When I was planning this year's travel schedule, I came across an article that called The Little Grand Canyon "the most incredible place you've never heard of" and that was all I needed to know to want to go there.
- The canyon is located in Utah in the San Rafael Swell and it really is like a smaller version of its namesake in Arizona.
- There are camping spots throughout the area, across the rim of the canyon and in the bottom of the canyon.
- We spent two weeks boondocking on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land called The Wedge Overlook in a camping spot right on the rim of the canyon.
- The rough, rocky roads are better suited for smaller rigs than our 43-foot toy hauler, but we were able to score a spot near the entrance with views that could not be beat. A little tight getting in and out, but undeniably WORTH IT.
- You can explore the area in a vehicle or on one of the many hiking and biking trails. One of the most spectacular trails weaves along the Canyon's rim.
What is boondocking? Here's a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about boondocking and camping on BLM land.
We spent two weeks at The Wedge Overlook, parked along the canyon edge. Friends and family visited us during the first week and we spent our time hiking, biking, driving around to see as much of the canyon as possible, and sitting around the campfire.
It didn't suck.
The Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel
One of the most fascinating places to visit down in the Canyon is the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel.
Buckhorn Wash is near the northwestern corner of the San Rafael Swell. Along one section of rock cliffs are a series of Pictographs (painted art) and Petroglyphs (art that's been pecked into the rock with stones).
The panels are believed to have been created by people living in the area between 1,500 and 4,000 years ago.
New Electric Bicycles!
For the past year or so we've talked about getting electric bicycles and finally decided to go for it. One of the things about RV living is that, every new toy has to pass the will-we-get-enough-use-out-of-this-to-justify-carting-it-around-everywhere test.
After 18 months of full-time RV living, we felt certain that we would use eBikes in nearly every location we travel to. So, right before leaving Palisade, we ordered one for each of us and tried them out for the first time on the rocky dirt roads along The Little Grand Canyon.
Steve, of course, was a pro from the start. I was a little unwieldy. But then I started getting the hang of it and now feel fairly confident. And... they are super fun.
The bikes fold up into fairly compact little packages that we can put in the backseat of the truck when traveling. Keeping them in the truck saves space and doesn't add more weight to the trailer when traveling, something that's always a concern.
Favorite Boondocking and Dry Camping Recipes
We are fortunate to have a large, 100 gallon fresh water tank and grey water waste tanks that also hold about 100 gallons. Since we often like to boondock or stay at campgrounds without hookups for 2 or 3 weeks at a time, we've gotten pretty good at making our fresh water last as long as possible.
One way to stretch our water supply is to cook meals that require as few dishes as possible. Fewer dishes to wash is always a good thing, but especially when trying to conserve water.
Most of our meals came from this list of 50 Easy One Pot Camping Meals.
In addition to one-pot meals for dinner nearly every night, I also made...
- Everyday Buttermilk Pancakes because... can you really camp on the edge of a canyon and not sit outside and eat pancakes in the morning???
- Classic One-Bowl Banana Bread. This recipe is a great way to use up any over-ripe bananas and it's SO easy. You simply dump all the ingredients into a bowl, mix, spread the batter in a loaf pan, and bake.
- BLT Sandwiches. I know you don't need a recipe to make bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, but you DO need a really good sauce. And that's what you'll find in the recipe.
- A big batch of Anything Cookies. I love, love, love this recipe because it only takes a few minutes to make the dough and requires just one bowl. Plus, you can add whatever mix-ins you like. In this batch I added roasted, salted peanuts, butterscotch chips, and mini chocolate chips.
This Month's RV Renovation Projects
We tackled two projects this month: Painting the master bathroom and remodeling the outdoor kitchen.
Remodeling our 5th Wheel's Outdoor Kitchen
The outdoor kitchen in that came standard with our Heartland Cyclone 5th wheel, included a slide out metal countertop with a sink (no drain), a two burner gas stovetop, a super tiny refrigerator, and a television.
We replaced the metal countertop with a slab of butcher block, removed the sink entirely, and are replacing the gas burner stove with a 22-inch Blackstone griddle.
We also removed the tiny refrigerator, and added another slide out shelf that will hold our Traeger Smoker. And we are getting rid of the television and adding a tile backsplash.
As is the case with nearly every project we've tackled in our RV, the outdoor kitchen is taking longer than we had hoped to complete. But, we'll have it done in the next couple of weeks and will post some photos in next month's column.
Painting the Master Bathroom
After spending many days painting every room inside our RV, I got halfway through the master bathroom and lost interest. It's been half painted for about a year now, so when we took on the outdoor kitchen remodel, I decided to bite the bullet and get the bathroom done at the same time.
Painting is one of those things that I am always SO HAPPY about... after it's finished. 😂 Our bathroom is no exception.
Here's a before and after shot:
What We're Reading, Listening To, and Watching
This month I (Rebecca) read Stephen King's latest novel, Billy Summers, and LOVED it. I am a huge Stephen King fan even though I have a super low tolerance for horror and supernatural topics. I just adore his writing.
Having said that, Bill Summers is not horror and does not contain any super natural content. So, if you shy away from his writing because the genres he typically writes in is not your thing, you might give this one a try.
Other books I've either finished or started this month:
- The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
- Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature and Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
- Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
I also have to mention Project Hail Mary by Andrew Weir. Steve and I, and our youngest daughter, Anne, read it several months ago and all three of us rank it as one of our all-time favorite books. Our oldest daughter, Kate, read it this month and loved it as much as we did.
This month, most of our listening hours have been devoted to....
- Making Sense with Sam Harris
- The Daily by the New York Times
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
- History This Week by the History Channel
- On Purpose with Jay Shetty
- Christopher Kimball's Milk Street
- Absolutely Mental Season 1 with Sam Harris and Ricky Gervais
Movies and TV!
We are SO on the Ted Lasso bandwagon, and binge watched through the last season in record time. If you don't have Apple TV, get it, watch Ted Lasso, and then go ahead and cancel until the next season is released.
Although... you might want to keep it long enough to also watch The Morning Show.
Oh. And also, at the recommendation of Steve's parents, we watched Coda (also on Apple) and it is touching, and heartwarming, and inspiring, and heartbreaking, and just so, so good.
We also started watching Y: The Last Man (Hulu) and, while super unrealistic, it captured our attention and is solidly entertaining.
Closing Thoughts ...
Steve and I took a walk on our last night at The Wedge Overlook and met a 50 year old guy named Pete who sold everything and moved into his car so he could spend a year tent camping in every single national and state park across the USA.
Pete was gregarious and interesting, and I really, really wish he had a blog or YouTube channel or some way for me to introduce him to you.
But.... he told us that at the start of his travels, he intended to start a YouTube channel and even took several videos. Then he realized that he was obsessing about the camera, and how he looked, and what he was saying, and it was completely ruining his actual experience.
So he stopped doing it. He is traveling for his own experience and doesn't want anything to get in the way.
This made an impression on me. I make my living by posting content online and connecting, as best I can, with others who are interested in what I have to share. I love what I do and genuinely enjoy interacting with readers in pretty much every way.
But, there is something that detracts from my moment-by-moment experience when I feel the need to record it. And so, I rarely do.
When I create a recipe, I work through it by myself, making it however many times it takes to get it right. Only then, do I pull out my camera and make it for the photos.
I am continually having to remind myself to take photos of our travel experiences and resist taking time to share those photos in the moment.
There is a distinction between the experience of creating something and the experience of sharing it. And, for some reason, in most cases, I seem to prefer to keep those experiences separate.
This week alone, I have made at least 6 or 7 recipes that are already published on this blog. I could have taken little videos on my phone while making them, turning them into stories and reels and videos for instagram and Facebook or Google.
Instead, I put on my headphones, listened to podcasts, and enjoyed the experience of cooking in my tiny little kitchen while perched on top of a canyon.
This is why I spend so little time on social media and why I continue to choose writing over other content sharing mediums like video. It's why it's taken me 18 months of full-time RV life to start sharing more about it.
I think I'm ok with that.
More and more, I am realizing that I require a certain amount of time to process what I want to say and what I think is valuable enough to share. And I nearly always want to separate the actual experience from the experience of sharing it.
I do not have any final words of wisdom or insight on this topic. It's just something that's on my mind.
There seems to be a lot of room in this world for us to connect, share, experience, and live in the way that is authentic to our talents, character, personality, and tendencies.
But I also know that, there is a delicate balance between resting into the truth of that and using it as an excuse to not grow and stretch in ways that feel uncomfortable but are also going to be good for me in the end.
I am still feeling my way through it.
RV Life FAQ's
A: BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land is public land that can be used for a variety of uses, including camping and recreation. In general, camping on BLM land involves pitching your tent or parking your RV in a "developed" site.
This simply means a space where it's obvious that someone else has camped before. Sometimes this means well-defined campsites with metal fire rings and picnic tables. Other times it means rustic spaces defined by little more than tire tracks and rock ring fire pits.
Camping on BLM land is always first-come, first-serve. In many areas, you can camp on BLM land for free, for a maximum of 14 days. In other areas there is a small fee.
+ Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Boondocking and camping on BLM and National Forest Land
A: Our biggest concerns when deciding on a location are:
1. Will there be enough space for our 43-food toy hauler and pick-up truck?
2. Is there internet and cell service so we can work while we're there?
To answer both questions, I rely heavily on Campendium. Campendium is a user-reviewed website with information about campgrounds and RV parks everywhere. Fellow campers offer information about road conditions, quality of the sites and the area as a whole, amenities, cost, internet and cell signal strength, and anything else that might be useful to other campers.
I plan our entire year in advance to ensure that we get to visit the places we want to see at the time of year we want to go there. If you're curious about where we've been and where we're going, you'll find our itinerary here.
A: They are basically the same thing with a slight distinction. Both terms refer to camping without any hookups - no water, sewer, or electricity.
The difference is that boondocking refers to camping on land without a developed campground, generally on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.
Dry camping can occur on developed and maintained campgrounds and state parks.
Do you have questions for us? Comments, concerns, or recommendations? Please leave a comment below!