Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Celebrating 27 years of marriage and one year of RV Life in Laughlin, Nevada

Don Laughlin's Riverside Casino and Hotel (viewed from our spot at the RV park)

June 1, 2018 marked 1 year of RV travel and 27 years of marriage.  We ended our year with 2 weeks and one day in Laughlin, Nevada...resting up from our Santa Fe/Winslow/Grand Canyon first half of the month.  We played at the casino, took a walk down the River Walk, found a park to play disc golf in in Bullhead City (across the river), and I got a big freelance job and had time to get it started and finished. We ended our stay with an anniversary dinner at the Gourmet Room in the casino.

Disc Golf by the Colorado River

Don Laughlin's Riverside Resort RV Park in Laughlin, Nevada. $30 a night or $120 a week for a 50 Amp full hookup site. ($133 with tax included). If you book for a week you get two free buffet tickets (worth $35-$40, we recommend the Friday night seafood or the Sunday champagne brunch).

Seafood Buffet
The use of the hotel pool is included with your RV park rent. The restrooms are amazingly clean, according to my husband (I haven't looked since it's full hookups). There are multiple laundry facilities. There is a small dog park that they keep stocked with bags so people pick up the poo for the most part. AT&T and Verizon both work here. They also have Wifi that you can pay for. I don't know how good it is. The park is an eclectic mix of full time or long term residents that are either retirees or employees, plus a good mix of shorter term people. There's a free shuttle from here to the casino that runs 24/7. If you've never been here before and join their club, you get a buy one get one free buffet ticket and a bunch of coupons for all of their amenities. In addition to the casino, they have a bowling alley, laser tag, two arcades, seven restaurants, pool tables, dart boards, movie theater, supervised kids play area, boat tours. Don Laughlin's car collection, a day spa and hair salon. Everyone we have met who works here is helpful and friendly.
The casino is right on the Colorado river, and there are many places to rent jet skis or take boat rides nearby. There's also the Riverwalk that goes along the riverfront and lets you get to all of the other casinos and restaurants near here. 

The Riverwalk at night

It's only a couple of miles from Lake Mojave's Katherine's Landing.

Sunset over Lake Mojave

Bullhead City, Arizona is a few minutes drive across the river and has Sam's Club, Wal Mart, several nice parks, and pretty much any kind of shopping you might need. It's the desert, so plenty of sunshine and very little shade. Our site has a hill just to the west, so we get shade earlier than most when the sun goes down. It was nice when we got here a week and a half ago with highs in the low 90s and lows in the low 70s, and we were able to sit out comfortably in the morning and evening (no bugs!). This week is up over 100 and it's a bit miserable out there. We will definitely include this on our "we'd recommend it and go back there ourselves" list! (But probably not for the summer).

And for those that stuck around for that, here's my summary of things I've learned after our first year of travel.

I love doing this because I'm doing it with Chuck, and we're seeing things we've never seen, going places we've never been and challenging ourselves to figure things our as we go.

I don't think I would ever choose this lifestyle for myself if it was just me.  I completely lack interest in fixing stuff -- and there's a lot of fixing going on around here -- I sometimes spend my daydreaming time figuring out how I could live a nomad lifestyle without an RV.  I like the travel, but not the responsibilities that go with having to maintain an RV.  Luckily, my husband finds it both fun and challenging.  It's keeping him fit and busy.  However, I am glad he has his internet forums to discuss the relative benefits of various kinds of RV stuff, because I lose interest pretty quickly.  The best decision I ever made was turning the maintenance budget over to him and letting him use it however he sees fit.  

I still haven't learned to drive the Beast.  Chuck's been driving it for a year, and he still gets nervous in some situations.  I've never been comfortable driving even a pickup truck.  That being said, I'm willing to take a lesson or two just so I could get us off the road and onto the shoulder..but lessons cost money.

Money -- that's a bigger thing for us now. Repairs are expensive, and so are some of the places we want to visit. And now fuel has gone from around $2.20 a gallon when we left Arkansas last year to nearly $5 a gallon when we hit California. When you have a 100 gallon tank, that's a big difference!

I like doing freelance work. I can work when/where/if I want. And I am building up a clientele that keeps coming back or giving me referrals. One of these days I am going to have to raise my rates...

Despite being "retired," I'm not making/finding time to do all of the things on my self-growth list that I have been intending to do for years. I have a pile of books that I want to read on genealogy that I never seem to find time to open. I rarely journal anymore and I bought a bunch of yoga dvds, but never seem to find time to do yoga. Even though I do find time to cruise Facebook and play computer games. I think it's a combination of the small space, the lack of deadlines, and being tired. When we aren't out exploring and I'm not working, I can't seem to work up the motivation to do these things. I am going to have to find a way to convince myself to get going on these things.

There is more stress than I expected. In addition to things breaking, we are constantly having to plan trips (making sure we don't take a 40-foot RV and towed vehicle on a road we shouldn't be on...it doesn't do U-turns well), book sites, budget, and search for ...well...everything. Even a trip to Wal Mart requires a GPS...and even though they are similar, each Wal Mart is set up a little differently, so finding things like dog food can take a long time. Getting our mail is a total pain when we are not stationary. We were pretty good when we stayed for 6 weeks or 3 months, but when we are only in a place for a few days, things go wrong. UPS lost one batch of our mail (probably about 6 weeks worth, and probably with some of Chuck's medications). Some parks won't let us have our mail sent there. Finally, we have found that a UPS store will accept packages for us (for a fee). We're trying that this week -- hopefully we'll be able to pick up our mail there today!

It seems like we never stay anywhere long enough. We've stayed from 2 days to 3 months in different places. My dream would be to spend a month or two at time in a place and use it as a home base. Chuck would prefer to spend no more than a week or two in most places. And even when we are "retired" without an agenda, we still have so many places to go and things to see...we sometimes look longingly at things on the side of the road as we drive by, wishing we could have time to see it all.


A 15-year-old dog is hard to take along.

Poor old Jake moves really slow these days. His legs don't want to hold him up some days. That means no hiking or even long walks with the dog. So he has to stay behind when we go to a lot of places. He can still bark, though, so there's no chance of me ever having a conversation with a stranger when he's around. He does enjoy sniffing around every new place, though.

I like national parks -- and Chuck's senior pass gets us in for 1/2 price camping! Sadly, especially out west, the national parks (including forests and Corps of Engineers parks) often have only primitive camping...which is fine for a few days if the weather is nice...but not for a long stay. Which is okay, I guess, because all national parks we've been to have a 14-day limit. The other thing is, I like cities. I like museums and restaurants and places with a nightlife. So many times when we're camping, the whole park is dark by 9 pm. We really enjoyed our stay in Laughlin, where the city was busy 24/7. Even though we didn't go out late, it was nice to feel like we weren't the only people around when we sat outside at 10 pm.

That is one nice thing. We can go back and forth. Live in the wilderness for a few days and then go closer to a city for another few.

Am I sorry we did this? No. Do I want to continue? Yes. For how long? As long as Chuck is happy doing all of the stuff he does and as long as we're both having fun. What will we do if/when we're done? I have no idea. We have been to the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest. And we're headed for the Northwest. Each place has its own appeal, but none have felt like "home." Perhaps we'll go to Europe or South America for a year or so. Isn't it wonderful to have choices?

Anniversary Selfie Fail

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