8165 miles of an Unlikely RV Adventure

Happy New Year, Girlfriends and Guy friends.

Strap in for a pictorial review of our 2017 travel adventures.  Who knows? There might be a photo of you in here.

The RV Parky Ap helps a ton when you are planning.

This is the route of our entire year. 

January 2017

Hearing Greg Laurie speak in Riverside, California.

(American Pastor and Author of over 70 books).

Campfire at Wilderness Lakes RV Resort, Menifee, California, with our friends Lori and John Allen and their dog Gizmo.

Biking to the top of Diamond Valley Reservoir, Menifee, California.

Hiking to the top of Mt. Rubidoux, Riverside, California.

Reunion with John’s childhood next-door-neighbor, Natalie, in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

 February 2017

Cheering the Packers with fellow Wisconsinites Kate, Tom, and Lindsay Ebert in San Diego, California.

Our Staycation.

Got a doggie friendly hotel room in San Diego and saw the sites.

Newmar Gathering in Quartzite, Arizona.

 March 2017

Yuma, Arizona. Hike up Telegraph Hill.

Eating Fish Tacos and slurping Fig Shakes at From the Farm Restaurant, Yuma, Arizona.

March through May of 2017

John celebrates being able to work for Paul Wheeler- with the legendary

Cinnamon Roll that brought us to Tucson!


Spring arrives in the Sonoran desert of Tucson.

 Get it?

GJ?  Gretty/John?

Touring the Pima County Air and Space Museum in Tucson.

Hiking to the top of Mt. Wrightson, Tucson, Arizona, in the Santa Rita Mountains.

Elevation: 9456 feet.

 AireInn gets fresh oil and filters at Freightliner in Tucson, Arizona, prior to our summer road trip. May 2017

On the road to St. Clair Winery, Deming, New Mexico.

 June 2017

Visiting with friends Phil and Deb in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Visiting the Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas.

The unexpected detour to St. Louis for my favorite Uncle’s funeral.  Me with my cousin’s Beth and Sarah, and Penny too.

 Up to Madison, Wisconsin and a visit with our special friend, Linda.

 Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.  Out to dinner with John’s sister, Teri, and niece, Shannon.July, 2017

Doesn’t every family have an annual meeting at the family cottage?

Celebrating 4th of July with around 60 of my relatives at Lake James, Angola, Indiana.

Celebrating at The Lake!

August 2017

Travel to Philadelphia for our highlight of the year!

Sean and Mira got married on August 12.

Aren’t they the cutest couple?

Being goofy.

Great reunions!

 How blessed am I?

Mira’s lovely aunties and uncles.

The Rehearsal dinner- Estia Restaurant, Center City, Philadelphia.

Family fun at the rehearsal dinner!

Bollywood party!

Back to Lake James for an extended stay and my 60th birthday.

Sister Margaret samples Johnny’s pulled pork fresh off the grill.

Friends Cheryl and Bob attended the birthday party.

To St. Louis for a Cardinal Baseball game with my cousins.

 September 2017

Visiting John’s niece Megan and her husband Mike in Independence, Missouri.

Detouring to Texas.

Stocking up with donations to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Privileged to volunteer with this organization.

The clean-up from Hurricane Harvey begins.

Remnants of the mucking process.

Photo op with Mr. Clyde after we mucked out his home.

Got poison oak rash, so John and I volunteered inside at Disaster Headquarters of The Woodlands Church.

Hanging with our friend Rhonda, who is one of the “Pack” leaders of the Cheddarheads of Houston.

Parked on my cousin, Beth’s, driveway, in San Antonio, Texas.

BBQ time with my cousin Beth and her husband Greg at Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ. 

Fill-up and Clean-up.  On our way across western Texas.

Dinner and dry camping at Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse, Fabens, Texas.

Bucket list item!

Chillaxin’ at the Cattleman’s Ranch.

Visiting White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, New Mexico.

We did a five-mile hike through the soft sand.

November 2017

Training hike outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Preparing for our Grand Canyon backpacking trip.

Summiting the highest point of Arizona; Humphrey’s Peak, Flagstaff.

Touring Walnut Canyon National Monument, just outside of Flagstaff.

Visiting Meteor Crater, just outside of Winslow, Arizona.

All our bags are packed, we’re ready to go… Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon.

One final look from the North Rim before we set out.

Heading down.

“Unbelievable!” he exclaimed.

Side hike to Ribbon Falls.

The Silver Bridge is about a quarter mile long.  These grates tend to move as you walk across them.  A bit harrowing!  At times I managed to bravely look down into the rushing water of the Colorado River.  This bridge also houses the trans-canyon water pipeline.

John gets a well-deserved nap.

Sealing our Rim-to-Rim trip with a kiss.  We did it!

 Our massive site at the Zane Grey Campground, Camp Verde, Arizona.

Reconnecting with our friend, Sue, for a hike that lies between Prescott and Jerome, Arizona.

Very beautiful hike to Fossil Creek Waterfall, Camp Verde, Arizona.

November 2017 

Hiking in Sedona, Arizona.

A lovely meet-up with our friends Theresa and John in Sun City, Arizona.

Training for flat tires and The Tour de Tucson bike ride.

Meet up with dear friends Kate and Tom at Weaver’s Needle RV Resort, Apache Junction, Arizona.

Arriving back at The Voyager RV Resort.

Our home for the next five months in Tucson, Arizona.

November 18.

The finishing Podium at The Tour de Tucson.

And it was John’s birthday!

Happy birthday, John!

We celebrated with 8000 of our best friends.

I prompted many riders and spectators to wish John a happy birthday.  Yay!

Flying from Tucson to Madison, Wisconsin on Thanksgiving Day to attend John’s friend Kevin’s wedding.

Kevin and Lisa exchanging their vows.

December 2017

Fun evening with friends Cindy and Mark walking through Winterhaven neighborhood Christmas light display in Tucson.

Full of joy this Christmas!

Penny gets attention from our friend, Ray, in our coach at The Voyager.

Santa delivered packages to our coach.

A quick trip to Apache Junction to visit my dear friend Lindsay as she visits her parents Tom and Kate.

Bringing in New Years Day with a bonfire. Goodbye 2017, hello 2018!


Your Unlikely RVer, Gretty

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Grand Canyon backpacking begins with a three mile boo-boo

If you’re going to make a mistake, do it on the front end.  ~Gretty 2017

Hi, Girlfriends and Guy friends.

And so we did.   Right from the get-go.

We were heading toward the Bridle Path which would lead us to the North Kaibab Trailhead to begin our 23-mile Rim-to-Rim backpacking trip of the Grand Canyon.  Unfortunately, we turned right on Bridle Path instead of left.

This was bad news.

A.k.a. oh-crap-we-haven’t-even-started-and-just-added-three-extra-miles-onto-our-7-mile-first day.

The good news?

We corrected our miss-steps and didn’t play the “blame game” for long.  By the time we turned the second switch-back in the canyon and stepped over the mule poop for the fourth time, we replaced our gritted teeth with big smiles. 

It’s happening, Sweetheart

We were finally doing this North to South, Rim-to-Rim Backpacking Trip!  And we snagged five-day permits to traverse one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World!

We were descending into the GRAND CANYON!

How we got ready

September 26 through October 7th found us in Flagstaff, AZ, getting our bodies ready.

We accomplished three long hikes in 10 days carrying our full packs.  (Mine was about 30 pounds, Johnny’s was around 45 pounds.)

Here I am on our 12 miler on the Inner Basin Trail.  

Training Upward

Our final training hike took us to the VERY WINDY Mt. Humphrey.  It took all day to summit and return from the highest point of Arizona at 12,633 feet.

Waaaay in the distance (90 miles behind me) is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Weird that in one week we would be standing on that North Rim- seeing Mt. Humphrey 90 miles to our south!      October 7th- We left Flagstaff driving 90 miles north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where we had reservations at Trailer Village RV Campground.  Don’t we look fresh and clean?   Dinner at the famous El Tovar Hotel.  Delicious.

First Courses…

On Tuesday, October 10th, my sister, Margaret, arrived to doggy sit.  (No dogs allowed in the Grand Canyon.)  I am blessed to have a sister who drives from Madison, Wisconsin to stay with Penny!  Sorry no photo of sister or her dog Major.  We were too busy orienting her to all the systems of our Coach.

Here are our packs all ready to go. I LOVE my bright green Gregory Jade 60 backpack!  

Margaret drove us to the Bright Angel Lodge where we hopped our shuttle bus from the South Rim to the North Rim.

A five-hour drive.

Jack, our driver/tour guide, had worked for the park service for 45 years.  He pointed out highlights along the beautiful ride, the Vermilion Cliffs, Lee’s Ferry, and several elusive Bison.  

We treated ourselves to a fantastic dinner at The Grand Canyon Lodge. 

It was a dusty one-mile walk from our campground.

We scored the primo campsite in the backpacking section of the campground.  Yes, our tent was 50 feet from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Not bad for $6 a night!

See the big mountain on the left?  Yup.  That is Mt. Humphrey.  Like I mentioned before, one week earlier we stood on top of that summit looking north 90 miles to the North Rim where we were now camping.


My morning routine.  21 push-ups. Taking in the Canyon before we head down. Heading down the wide dusty trail… Gorgeous…

He hikes…

First campground:  CottonwoodCritter Proof containers for all our food and zip locks.  The deer, squirrels, and ring-tailed cats have associated the smell of zip locks with food.

Ranger Becky checked us in, asking three times how we felt.  They take safety seriously down in the Canyon. I guess we passed the test.

We felt fantastic…except the toes.  The toes were sore, but hey, after 10 miles of downhill, what can you expect?  

Hike from Cottonwood to Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Campground.   Highlight:  Side hike to Ribbon Falls.

Yes, we crossed a “closed bridge”…after watching others cross it very safely.    Arriving at Phantom Ranch.  Spent two nights here.  

The first priority, cool thy feet! Second…nap.Third.  Line up for Steak dinner at the Phantom Ranch Cantina.


We were able to lighten our pack weight by pre-ordering 2 dinners, 2 sack lunches, and 2 hot breakfasts.  When backpacking, every ounce counts!  

Did I mention cooling our feet?! Drying rack for clean socks.

Coincidences in the Canyon

Bonus surprise at Phantom Ranch:  meeting Susan Schmit!

We both grew up in St. Louis, attended nursing schools in St. Louis, graduated from Lutheran High Schools in St. Louis, share the same last name.  (My maiden name was Schmidt.)  Plus, we both drink Chardonnay,  AND both love backpacking.   I LOVE these random surprises that God has waiting for me…even in the Grand Canyon.

The underside of Black Bridge across the Colorado River.

Fair warning for the Rim-to-Rim runners.

Yes, I said runners.

Look where the sausage in our lunch sack was produced! Heading South. Trekking over the Colorado toward the Bright Angel Trail for our upward ascent to the South Rim.

A little freaky to walk this LONG expanse seeing the river through the grates-

but I did it!  

Love the warning signs… Wranglers.  Clip-clop!  

Up and up towards Indian Gardens.

Refreshing water crossings and chances to splash cold water on our faces. Devil’s Corkscrew…

This guy was toast.  Rangers came to help him.

Final glow at Indian Gardens.  

O-dark-thirty.  Sustenance for the final leg!Camp hosts…

Up! Up! Up!

We made it!  John and I both remarked that we were sad it was over.

Time to plan the next trip!

Re-living the joy safe at home…

“Do nothing to mar its grandeur. Keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as the one great site that every American should see.” -.Theodore Roosevelt

Your turn!  Tell me if you’ve been to the Grand Canyon, or when you plan to go!

Happy Trails and tender hugs,