Land of Enchantment

We’re home after a two week adventure. We headed west from our north Florida home without an itinerary and just wandered. What fun! We revisited old favorites, like Joseph’s in Santa Rosa, but mostly picked out destinations new to us.

First new stop was Hot Springs, Arkansas. We hadn’t spent time in Arkansas, just traveled through, and decided it deserved some love. Beautiful state. Check out our photos page.

After a stop in Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, we spent about a week in New Mexico, truly deserving of its nickname Land of Enchantment.

Thank y’all for following us on our latest adventure. I hope you enjoy the photos in the Pages section. Don’t miss our last page from our “abduction” in Roswell!

A Draining Experience

We are still getting ready for the big trip and are almost ready. One modification Butch made is to relocate the sewer hose storage. Dumping our waste water and potty water is the least pleasant task when we camp in a self-contained recreational vehicle. We’ll do whatever we can to improve the experience.

If you’re unfamiliar with draining holding tanks or with connecting to sewer outlets, it’s a procedure that requires careful removal of the RV’s sewer hose from its storage to connect to both the RV outlets and the dump station receptacle. For health and environmental reasons, connections must be correct to prevent leakage and contamination. It’s important to follow strict disposal procedures. Also, be sure to use tank deodorizer recommended for your rig following the tank dump.

Our Casita came with a rear bumper in which the sewer hose was stored. Yet the connections are located at the trailer’s front. Butch added a PVC storage tube (purchased at Camping World) to the front.

Now the hose is within easy reach of the sewer outlets. He cleaned the rear bumper thoroughly and now uses it to store the awning poles and tools.

Disposable gloves help with the tank draining process AKA dumping. If you’re new to RVing, dumping tanks gets easier with experience. Take your time and keep your sense of humor. Don’t feel down in the dumps. 😉

All right, campers. Dixie Pixie is packed and ready to head west. Stay tuned!

A Basket Case

Storage in the Dixie Pixie is limited, so it’s important to utilize every square foot of space efficiently. That’s where baskets come into play.

We didn’t spend a fortune at IKEA to compartmentalize our belongings. Walmart, Amazon, or Dollar General carry all we needed to create modular storage.

As our Dixie Pixie bounces along behind us on the highways, her contents can shift, roll, and fall. Baskets not only offer storage solutions but keep our belongings reasonably secure. I even bought small baskets for our refrigerator. We will probably add baskets or reorganize as we travel, but we feel ready for our upcoming trip.

Maps and GPS

Butch swears my favorite book is an Atlas. I have one in my car, his truck, beside my recliner in the sunroom, and in the living room. I also have a pocket atlas in my briefcase for traveling to writing conferences and such.

I like the Walmart atlases and usually buy an updated copy every 2-3 years. These are basic Rand McNally road map atlases with the bonus of listing every Sam’s Club and Walmart location in the country. Not that we’re Walmartians, but you never know when traveling if you’ll need to shop.

We’re busy routing our upcoming vacation. AAA gives us maps and routes, and map apps give us turn-by-turn directions, but I still enjoy browsing the atlas books. If this trip is like any other, we will plan our trip as we go. We aren’t likely to make reservations or follow interstates. I’ll pull out my atlas and study the possibilities.

How about you? Do you follow a strict itinerary? Or do you travel without a plan? Whichever kind of traveler you are, enjoy the trip.

Dixie Pixie awaits her next adventure.

Get Your Kicks On Route 66

In 1983 we took our first vacation out west, traveling from our home in Jacksonville, Florida, to Arizona. As much as possible, we drove US 66 (Before it was decommissioned in 1985). We saw legendary tourist sites like the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, and Cadillac Ranch (before it was relocated farther west) in Amarillo, Texas. Since that trip, we’ve been captivated by the history of the Mother Road.

Route 66 isn’t just an old highway. It represents a way of life in an era when folks were starting to experience automobile road trips. It was immortalized in song, movies, books, and a television series. Did you know that the Pixar movie Cars was originally titled Route 66?

I researched Route 66 history for a couple of novellas I wrote for an anthology, Romance on Route 66. (If y’all read romance, the ebook is still available on Amazon. But this isn’t shameless self-promotion, just an illustration of my affection for all things Route 66.) I have my sunroom decorated with Route 66 fabric and curios. My friend Dolores recently gifted me with her set of Route 66 diner style stoneware. Butch and I wear Route 66 souvenir T-shirts. So, yeah, it’s a passion.

Even as we plan for this year’s vacation, we are choosing to follow roads designated “Historic Route 66.” It’s well worth the occasional detour off the Interstate to enjoy the onion burger in El Reno, Oklahoma, or visit the hotel in Oatman, Arizona, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned. And don’t miss Santa Rosa, New Mexico, home of a number of great Mexican restaurants.

The Casita is suited for taking the roads less traveled, and we intend to take advantage of it. If you see Dixie Pixie at a campground during your travels, be sure to say howdy.

Have Dog, Will Travel

Traveling with pets is one of the advantages of camping. We RV with Nova, our one-year old Shihtzu, and she’s a good traveler. We have a Kurgo pet seat in the cab of the truck, complete with safety belt to attach to her harness. She sits high between our two seats, which gives her a good view. She has enough room to curl up for naps, too.

She also has a Nylabone chew and a stuffed toy in her Kurgo. ( Kurgo products are available on Amazon.com.)

I carry a large bag, sort of like a diaper bag, complete with treats, food, baby wipes, plastic gloves for picking up poop, a Tupperware bowl filled with drinking water, and any medicine she might need. The bag goes with us to the Casita when we set up camp.

Dogs love routine, so we keep to her regular schedule as much as possible. We bring her crate from home so she’s sleeping in the same bed at night.

It’s important to observe common courtesy and safety rules, including:

  • Keep your dog leashed unless in a fenced dog park or run.
  • Keep your dog secured with a safety belt while traveling. A loose dog may be a dead dog in a crash or sudden stop.
  • Always pick up dog poop and dispose properly (many parks, campgrounds, and rest stops have designated areas for dog waste disposal.)
  • Never leave your pet alone in the vehicle unless you leave air conditioning running, and then only leave them briefly.
  • Don’t leave your dog tied up outside your RV.
  • Give your dog water frequently, especially in warmer weather, to avoid dehydration.
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended for long periods. It’s not fair to the animal or your neighbors, especially if your dog is a barker.
  • Obey all campground pet rules. Don’t try to take your fur baby into buildings that are off-limits to animals.

Some attractions offer dog kennels for visitors, although we haven’t used those. A growing number of stores allow you to bring your dog. Also some fast-food restaurants offer outdoor seating where you can take your dog.

I hope you enjoy travel with your pet as much as we do.

The Essentials for the Maiden Voyage

Last year, when we traveled to Texas to take delivery of our trailer, we had to pack judiciously for both the hotel stops and our camping. We were limited to the cab and bed of a regular cab pickup truck. We had 1000+ miles to travel … with a new puppy. Preparation was key to a relaxed, fun journey.

Dixie Pixie’s first campsite

Rockin’ “A” RV Park, Vernon, TX

Before the trip, Butch installed a cover for the pickup bed to protect items from the weather. This cover increased our storage so we could transport chairs and plastic storage containers for our camping necessities. We tried to think of everything we’d need on our first few days of Casita ownership.

Alas, we made numerous trips to the Vernon, Texas, Walmart for the items we didn’t pack and for groceries we couldn’t bring. Fortunately, the Walmart is located next door–within walking distance–of Rockin’ “A” RV Park and the Walmart trips enabled us to earn steps on our fitness trackers.

Here’s a list of what we brought and wished we brought. We have more on board now. These were bare essentials for starting out. I hope the list helps newbie campers. (If you don’t travel with pets, you can ignore our dog items)

  • Clothes for 5 days
  • Pet food, water, toys, treats, and crate
  • Essential medications and toiletries
  • Tools (Butch keeps basic tools in his truck’s toolbox)
  • RV toilet paper
  • Paper towels, plates, cups, and napkins (at least enough for a week)
  • Flatware (stainless. I don’t like plastic utensils)
  • Kitchen tools (i.e. spatula, can opener, knife, vegetable peeler)
  • Cookware *
  • Teakettle for boiling water (we’re tea drinkers, both hot and iced)
  • Two large bath towels, two hand towels, and a dishcloth
  • 2 pillows
  • 2 sleeping bags (our preference. Take bed linens if you want)
  • Whisk broom, disinfectant wipes, baby wipes
  • Small bottles of hand soap, dish soap
  • A zippered storage bag of laundry pods and dryer sheets.
  • Holding tank treatment
  • Our electronics and rechargers
  • Two folding lawn chairs

*I have a small set of stainless steel cookware perfect for RVs that nests for storage. It also has a griddle that doubles as a toaster. Although I added a 3 quart mini Instant Pot and an air fryer since that trip, this basic set enabled me to cook well-rounded meals.

Rice, Texas, at the Casita factory

I didn’t include grocery items. We picked up salt, pepper, butter, and food for meals during our first Walmart visit.

If you have suggestions to add to the list, please leave a comment.