Southward Ho! (And Some Big News)

By | March 26, 2017

Please excuse the big delay in posting to the blog.  We have had a tremendous amount going on!  And only read this when you have some time – I apologize for the length!  I’ll try to post more often, with shorter posts from now on.

After Congress, AZ, we continued southward to Surprise, AZ (AZ has the strangest town names!)  This is just outside of Peoria, and since it was spring training, there was not much to choose from in the way of RV parks.  We found a place but it was awful.  Couple that with 95 degree days, and I was NOT a happy camper.  Neither was Maggie Mae.  Poor thing – her coat is getting longer so the heat was brutal on her.  I will be finding a groomer ASAP to ease her comfort a bit, but the heat wave seems to be over and we are enjoying 75-80 degree days for the most part.

As mentioned in the last post, we decided to go back to the Trilogy development in Vistancia, which is NW of Phoenix.  We had visited this site in October, 2015 when I was down here for a conference.  At the time, I thought it was fantastic, but I was not retired yet, so I put it out of my mind.  This time, we went with the same realtor and looked again at the model homes and potential lots.  VERY long story short, after much soul searching and discussion, we decided to buy a home there!  Our first choice would have been for all of our family to remain around us and never leave!  But since our children and their families are on opposite sides of the country, and our sisters are in CA, this seemed like the very best second choice.  It will take 6-8 months to build, so our projected move-in time is end of October/early November, giving us plenty of opportunity to continue our travels.

View of the model kitchen. Sure hope we can get a lot of these upgrades!

We will stay there through the Fall, but will take Essie to FL for the holidays with Michael, Ryanne, and Ryanne’s family.  Then we will come back, enjoy the rest of winter and some of spring, before hitting the road again until Fall, 2018.  It will be nice to have a home base.  Here is the link to the floor plan we purchased.  Our New Home.





Dining area in the model

We know this is soon, but if we waited the full year, and then purchased, we would have to wait another 6-8 months to have it built, which we didn’t want to do.






View of part of the great room in the model

So, that’s our big news!

A little shell-shocked, we then headed down to Escapade in Tucson, which was the 5-day conference we’ve been heading towards since we left town.  917 rigs attended this event, so close to 2,000 people, the majority of which are full-time RV’ers.  On the very first afternoon, we headed into this very large room for the opening ceremonies.  We sat next to a nice couple and started chatting.  Within about one minute, I realized that we had sat next to an old high school friend, Tom Christman, and his wife Donna!

Richard, Tom and me shortly after we re-connected

Out of about 1,600 people in the room, that’s who we sat next to.  Amazing!  Tom has converted an old city bus into an RV, a real labor of love.  It was great fun to spend time with them, catching up with Tom and getting to know Donna.

Parked right next to us was a huge (45′) motor home with a very nice couple named Kimberly and Scott.

Kimberly and Scott. Kimberly fell in love with Maggie!

On the very first night, we got chatting with them, and it turns out they too are from WA and have been full time RV’ing for 5 years.  They love it and have never looked back.  Kimberly was braiding these interesting looking objects, so I asked what they were.  She told us that she had lost her cocker spaniel two years prior and never really got over it.  So for therapy, she buys used t-shirts from Goodwill, cuts them into strips and braids them into these awesome dog toys.  Needless to say, she fell in love with Maggie Mae, and Miss Mags is now the proud owner of two of these wonderful toys.

Maggie playing with the toy Kimberly made for her

We fully plan on meeting up again with Kimberly and Scott soon.

Those of you that are friends with me on Facebook know that I had a traumatic event while there – Maggie jumped out of my bike basket right into the path of my bike and I ran over her.  She screamed, I was a wreck, but within a few minutes she seemed fine.  But the next day, she wasn’t eating, and began vomiting, so we rushed her to the animal hospital.  After x-rays and examination, the doctor didn’t see any evidence of internal problems, so they gave her some medication to calm her tummy down and said it was likely intestinal upset due to the trauma of what happened.  It still took her a full 3 days after that to get back to her old self and I continue to watch her like a hawk.  Lesson learned – never ride with her in the basket without harnessing her to it.  🙁

The rest of Escapade was terrific.  We gathered a huge amount of information that we can apply right away.  We had a lot of laughs with folks – including a story of two elderly ladies who decided to take their trailer on a six-week tour of the country.  They told us of a time in Dallas when they filled up their tank and headed down the road, only to be pulled over by a policewoman.  The policewoman calmly pointed out to them that they had forgotten to take the pump out of the vehicle before they drove away, so they were blissfully driving with the gas hose, ripped from the pump, sparking down the highway!

After Escapade, we reversed our route and now begin the very slow northward route.  We are currently in Tucson, and Richard’s sister Pam joined us for a couple of days.  The first evening, we connected with Pam and Richard’s first cousin Jim, who lives down here in Tucson.

Pam, Cousin Jim, and Richard

Richard hadn’t seen Jim since he was about 8 years old.  Jim brought a ton of old photos that he had of the family and we all had fun looking through them.  He’s a great storyteller and kept us entertained for the evening.  He took us out to dinner at a great Mexican restaurant which is a big treat for Richard and me, as WA state is not known for their great Mexican food.




Yesterday, the three of us headed up to Biosphere 2, an amazing project started in the mid-80’s.

Richard and Pam at Biosphere 2 (Biosphere 1 is Planet Earth)

You may recall this – they had a team of 8 people living in the biosphere for two years, from 1991-1993.

There are six diverse climates within Biosphere 2. This is the ocean

It was fascinating to take a tour of this and learn about the science projects they still run there.

Another climate within Biosphere 2

Tomorrow we head for Cave Creek, near Scottsdale for a couple of days.  Then we will head back to Peoria to get to know the area better and to have a 2-day design meeting to pick out everything that will go into our new home.  We are so excited that our friend Brooke, and AMAZING designer, is going to join us to help with this endeavor.  Neither Richard nor I are very good at this and could be easily overwhelmed with the choices.  Brooke knows us and will help to keep us on track.

We’ve now been living in Essie for a month and been on the road for almost as long.  We are learning to cohabitate in smaller places, work better together as a team, strategize how to get better RV sites, and the list goes on and on.  There are 1.5 million people full-time RV’ing and we are happy to have joined the crowd.

Until next time!



Author: Jeri Wilkes

The happy "other half" to the RV Man! So excited to be traveling this journey with him. Married 36 years, have two great kids and two beautiful granddaughters. Ready to begin the RV life!

10 thoughts on “Southward Ho! (And Some Big News)

  1. Brooke

    Great post! I still can’t get over that you sat next to Tom Christman from Pali High at the RV conference! It’s definitely a small world. I am so looking forward to joining you two (+ Maggie Mae) in AZ soon! It’s going to be a lot of fun. Then I’ll have to come back soon and see how it all turned out!

  2. Vicki Pawlitschek

    Oh Jeri, What fun! You have your retirement all mapped out! Good for you. We are still “muddling around” trying to figure out what to do. Really hard to be too far from grandkids! We use to live in Scottsdale. The girls went to early elementary school there and I taught in Phoenix. Great place! We spent some fun weekends in Cave Creek. Safe journeys.. I enjoy your posts. So glad Maggie Mae is okay.

  3. Sue Levine

    What a small world! How fun to catch up with an old high school buddy. We’re so happy for you and your new house! It looks really beautiful. …..Can’t wait t come visit you there. Maggie and Gracie will finally be able to meet! 🐾🐾

    Continued safe travels!


  4. Jim McRae

    Wow! Reminiscent of my training with you at UWSC (miss my teacher). Glad your pup is doing well and that you are catching-up with old friends and meeting new ones. I was surprised by your home purchase, but sounds like you and Richard were as well. All the best, keep safe and think of us doing budgets while you’re seeing the nation. Jim

  5. Marlayne

    Congratulations on the new home. It looks beautiful! I see it has a two car garage. Does it come with an RV parking space?

    1. Jeri Wilkes Post author

      No RV parking, so we will have to find a temporary home for Essie.

  6. Cyndy

    Sounds like daily adventure for you two! Glad Pam joined and soon Brooke to help with design. You’ve got the best there. Miss you.

    1. Jeri Wilkes Post author

      Miss you too, and wish you and Ken were here with us on the Great Adventure. Can’t wait to see you this summer.

  7. Marlayne

    Listening to the sports cast this morning and just realized that we haven’t asked you the most important question… if your move to Arizona is going to change your status as a Hawks fan?


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