We held off on getting “home” for Christmas because RV camping is not convenient near our old hometowns and our kids. Our best option has been to stay at the Visalia Elk’s Lodge for $20 per night (which is over our target budget). Plus the valley (San Joaquin – SJV) can be grey, cold and dreary in December. But that said, we were excited to see our families.

So leaving beautiful, sunny So Cal, we headed straight “home” – with a brief overnight at the Elks in Lancaster because Tom is done with long driving days. Home is a funny thing to call a town that you’ve never lived in and you’ll be temporarily camped at. But it is in the SJV and that is our hometown(s) area. And close to all of the kids, so if “home is where your heart is”, it’s definitely anywhere family is.

And that was our first stop; to Tom’s daughter Jenna’s house in Visalia. After taking our granddaughter, Lexi, shopping for her Christmas present, Jenna’s husband Shane helped Tom with what was definitely a two-person job – installing a trailer hitch on the Jeep:IMG_0116

When we bought the Jeep we were traveling so there was no time for the dealer to add the hitch. We thought we might be able to get by without one, but with an off-road desert trip coming up, we needed to be able to pull the RZR and trailer. So Tom ordered the new bar and had it shipped to Jenna’s. I was worried this would be one of those fix-it’s that is never as easy as it sounds, but thanks to some great YouTube advice and Shane’s help, they had it done in no time, so we all went out for Pizza.

Tom installed the trailer hitch lights at our space at the Elk’s, finishing up the Jeep add-ons.

Rather than drive the motorhome two hours north to see my daughter and their new house in Oakdale, we opted to drive up in the Jeep and take advantage of their guest room, while leaving the rig in the Elk’s parking lot.

We weren’t there on the actual day, but still got to experience Casen’s second Christmas. I wish we would have had more time to enjoy there, but the Elk’s parking lot isn’t that secure so we didn’t want to leave our home there alone for long. Plus, I knew we’d see them again soon.

Back in Visalia, we took our other grandson, Brody, shopping for his Christmas present. It’s fun to spend time with the grandkids without their parents around and by taking them shopping to the store of their choice. Not only do they get something they want, but we don’t have to worry about wrapping and storing presents. I think this should be our new tradition! Then we all got together for a bowling night. I know we don’t get to spend much time with these grandkids, but I hope we’re making great memories.

L toR: Jenna, Brody, Joy, Lexi, Tom (Shane took the photo)

On Christmas Eve, Tom’s girls came over and we had the traditional Mr. Ed’s Pizza and played games. Such fun! And Jessica even spent the night, so we got to see her Christmas morning.IMG_0190

Christmas Day has traditionally (for us) been a day without families and we usually go see a movie. But this year my son and his bride invited us to their Christmas Dinner. It was so wonderful to be around them and their families, and we got to spend more time with my mom.

My mom is bottom left and my son (in plaid) turns out to be a great cook!
Our creative daughter-in-law, Jordyn, even had a photo booth set up. Here she is with Eric and  their dog, Blue.

While we were only in the valley a week, and didn’t have time to meet up with all of our friends, we definitely got all the family bases covered and it felt very Christmas-y.

In the week between Christmas and New Year’s we have gone to the desert in California City many times with friends. It’s also a traditional time for my kids to go, so this year we were planning on having a big group together there. Some  hometown friends had to back out, but the Santana’s made it, and then my kids and their families and friends came down.

We were the first to arrive and get camp set up.
We ended up with eight rigs around camp – a great group. Here it’s sunny – but cold.

Tom went on some great rides with the group and I couldn’t have been happier to stay in camp with the grandson and the other kids.

We had planned a potluck on New Year’s Eve, but the weather was too cold and windy, so we went into town for a pizza party (it also happened to be one of the girls’ birthday).

Back at camp to ring in 2019, only the brave stayed out around the campfire playing games. Jordyn even had a photo booth set up in their rig, can you believe it? It was great fun and you can tell by the pictures how cold it was.

Daughter Kendall with Casen and Josh – it was even cold INside!

One by one, everyone had to get back to home and work, but we were able to keep Casen with us a little longer. The weather turned beautiful, and we went on some field trips in the area with him. Below are the Trona Pinnacles where we took him, and to see the wild horses and burros.

It was still chilly at night, but it warmed up enough to enjoy a campfire.

We opted to make the drive back to Oakdale to deliver him home in one day, rather than to stay with them again, so it made for a long driving day there and back in the Jeep. We didn’t have to worry about our rig being alone in the desert because the Santana’s were still there, but we always prefer to sleep in our own home.

Now it’s time to hit the road again, making our way to Lake Havasu for the Xscapers Big Bash, to meet up with another great group of friends.

I would have never thought that we’d get to spend so much time with our family and friends while traveling full time, and I think what life would have been like if we were still back in our house and working. It may have been rather lonely!

Happy Travels,

Peace & Love, Joy