It’s hard to believe it’s been two months since our last travel update. I guess time flies when you’re busy working from the road and having fun. LOL! There’s so much to catch up on so let’s get going.
Where have we traveled lately?
While we loved being able to spend time with our kids for the holidays, it was SO refreshing to get back on the road and head west again.
Our 2021 journey would start off in Flagstaff, a place we have both come to love for so many reasons. There’s something about being in the wooded mountains and a town where people love being outdoors. Since we didn’t get to stay long at the Little America hotel when we headed home for the holidays, it was the perfect choice to make our return stop. We visited the Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and Wupatki National Monuments — all of which are incredible places to check out.
After a week enjoying Flagstaff, we moseyed our way down to the enchanting town of Sedona. What was initially supposed to be a few days of hiking turned into three weeks of memorable fun. Sedona is such a magical place between the reddish brown mountains, vibrant energy of the people, and the smell of fresh, crisp air on a 68 degree day. And we rented a Polaris RZR to blaze the mountain trails which was SO FREAKING AWESOME! There’s nothing quite like mud and dust in your teeth from racing down rocky countryside roads.
Oh boy, this was a treat that we weren’t expecting. Several of our friends implored us to visit the mountain town of Jerome, a 45 minute drive southwest from Sedona. Some of the locals we met call Jerome a hippy town and it was definitely that vibe. Filled with eclectic shops and galleries, a few beer joints, and a haunted burger shop, among other businesses, it will not disappoint you. The views from this town are spectacular and the people are happy and laid back. Our only regret is we didn’t stay longer than we did. Next time we are through we will stay the night.
Our next stop was Scottsdale where we stayed in two amazing resorts owned by Diamond Resorts International. We spent three weeks sipping on adult beverages by the luxurious pool while working on our golden tan and basking in the glorious sunshine. Donetta and I took time off to visit Old Scottsdale, a place filled with shops and food options, as well as hike a few trails and drive around Fountain Hills. Leaving the Villa Mirage and The Links at Scottsdale wasn’t easy, but you can’t explore the world by standing still.
The drive down to Tucson wasn’t as exciting as the scenery in northern Arizona, but it was still interesting. And sadly I’d have to say that the city itself seemed dirty, run down, and filled with traffic for the most part. We stayed in another Diamond Resort, The Varsity Clubs of America, and overall it was nice but cramped for us. The bright side was going to the Pima Air and Space Museum where we were treated to amazing static displays and actual live aerial displays from the air force base next door. We also went driving and hiking in Saguaro National Park which was VERY memorable and an experience I’ll never forget.
Tombstone and Bisbee
Since I love the movie Tombstone (I’m your huckleberry) and like hippy towns, these two places were great for a day trip. Bisbee is termed the “Mayberry on Acid” and it’s fairly accurate. This quaint and old mining town near the border of Mexico is home to eclectic artists, vintage stores, food shops, and outdoor entertainment. Tombstone was exactly what you expect — lots of people in Western clothes and the tourist trap of old yesteryear. It was so damn cold and windy that day we didn’t get to hang out long, but it was neat to see. Maybe next time I’ll wear my chaps … and nothing else.
Yep, we headed back to Sedona for four days. While this wasn’t our plan at all, we got to stay for free in Sedona Summit, another DRI resort. We’ll share more about this soon but it’s saved us a ton of money. Sedona Summit is on the west side of Sedona so we were able to walk right out our door to some of the best hiking and scenery in the area. It was so worth going back to experience.
My best friend lived in Yuma in his RV for a couple months and I heard lots of interesting stories. So I had to see for myself what this town was all about. The biggest takeaway from this stay was seeing the Hispanic laborers work their asses off in the fields. I think this deserves a separate post (among other topics here) but they gave me a new perspective and respect for extremely hard work. Watching the military jets scream overhead non-stop was a bonus and driving to the border of Mexico was exciting, but other than that, Yuma was pretty boring as a travel destination. If we owned a Polaris RZR, it would have been epic.
Some of the coolest places we’ve visited are small towns or places you might overlook on the map like Jerome, Bisbee, and Willcox. This small town located off I-10 is an excellent stop for the day and night. We crashed at the Arizona Sunset Inn and it was very clean, updated and comfortable. Big Tex BBQ hooked us up with some absolutely delicious ribs and coleslaw and the margaritas at La Unica Restaurant & Tortilleria were perfect. You can also drive south to Chiricahua National Monument for one of the most breathtaking scenic trips around! We even drove (and survived) to the summit on a cold, wintery day.
Where are we now and where are we going?
Our travel update wouldn’t be complete without sharing where we are currently and heading to next, right? As of today we are in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and we’ll be in the state for a few weeks.
Las Cruces is a stopping point as we explore White Sands National Park before heading to Carlsbad Caverns and Roswell. We’ll then drop anchor in Sante Fe, where my sister and her husband will join us for some margaritas and down time. Then we get to spend time in Silver City with Dan McBride, an amazing WWII Veteran I met in the Netherlands a few years ago.
After that we will make the journey out east and eventually land in Xenia, Ohio, on April 22nd to celebrate the 100th birthday of Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, another incredible WWII Veteran I met in Holland. We’ll also hang out with several other WWII veterans and capture their stories as part of my work with WWII Beyond the Call.
For those of our friends and family who live in the southeastern part of the country, we’ll be knocking on your doors! 🙂
Is there anything else we’ve learned so far?
Oh, hell yes! I could write dozens of articles about the digital nomad lifestyle in this travel update. There certainly have been some great lessons learned so far.
For example, packing and moving constantly to adhere to a schedule is exhausting. It was fun to see so many places last year before the winter closed down the national parks in the northwest, but it felt like a constant sprint. But now we’ve figured out a new rhythm that allows us to go with the flow – sometimes planning only a week in advance. Not having to be somewhere is the best place to be.
There are also challenges like no WiFi at times (even with our own hotspot) which means we don’t always get work done as planned. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a deal breaker but it can cause stress when deadlines are looming. Some days or weeks we spend more time catching up on work than having fun.
Hotel living has also been an interesting experience. Neighbors who incessantly slam doors or have heavy feet can make you want to strangle people. So now we ask for top floor rooms away from people in the old people wing. You will learn there are places to be and to avoid in hotels.
The biggest downfall to our traveling lifestyle is not being with family as they experience tragedy.
When my cousin, Jennie, died a few weeks ago due to Covid 19 and health complications, it was heartbreaking. She was one of the most passionate and loving people I’ve ever known. Not being there to provide support to our family or to celebrate her life was horrible. These are the moments when it’s hard to live on the road. The only comfort in this situation is knowing Jennie was excited for us to live our dream, but still it’s difficult and we will miss her.
All in all, we’re still enjoying our life on the road and feel very blessed. Every day I wake up thanking God for this opportunity. There is SO MUCH to see and experience in this country. And we’ve met some incredible people along the way.
One regret at this point is not being able to keep up with our blog writing and videos (which is another long story). Hopefully we’ll return to sharing consistent travel updates and lessons learned along the way.
Donetta and I send our greetings and hope all of you are doing well. It looks like life is getting back to “normal” for many people across the country. It’s time for everyone to start enjoying life again and being able to get outside the bubble.