Snowbirding in the RV

Our newish fifth wheel RV trailer sat in the driveway for several months waiting for its maiden voyage. We had hoped to go on a camping trip in the fall before towing it from Minnesota to Arizona at the end of January, but that did not work out. Two years ago we rented a small 400 sq. ft. park model unit in Gold Canyon, Arizona, for one month. Last year we rented for two months. This year for our third winter of snowbirding, we rented an RV site for two months at the same RV and Golf resort.

We had planned on getting everything loaded and attaching the truck to the RV the night before leaving on the journey. However that night the low temperature was minus 17, so it seemed better to leave the trailer battery and truck in the garage. That meant hooking up the fifth wheel to the truck in the morning. Being the first time we had done this, it took almost an hour standing outside with a temperature of zero degrees. We also had to drain the water in the house and put anti-freeze in the toilets as a precaution against burst pipes. Once we finally got on the road, the conditions were good for driving, unlike last year when the beginning of the journey involved fog and blowing snow. You can see in the next photo the view from the passenger side mirror as we left Otter Tail County, Minnesota.

View out my side mirror as we left Otter Tail County, Minnesota

On this trip there were no spontaneous stops at interesting sights on side roads. We stuck to the interstate highway as much as possible. I brought sandwiches and fruit for the first two lunches, as we would not be going through any fast food drive throughs. We also had to find hotels that had big parking areas for the truck and trailer, that also were pet friendly, and where there was a place to eat dinner within walking distance. We lucked out all three nights on the road, with some very delicious meals at local one of a kind restaurants.

Everything went well, but we did learn that just because a gas station has “truck stop” in the name does not mean it is set up for a big rig. We stopped for gas at one place that had barely enough room to get in and out, and then the bathrooms were under construction so we had to use porta potties in the back. Ugg. Later in the trip there was another gas stop that involved some swearing when there was not enough room to turn into the lane with the gas pumps, and a car was in the way so we could not back out. The car finally moved and we were able to get out. After that we noticed that there was another area for RV’s and big trucks, but we were not in the right position to get there. We had to exit on to the street, drive down a block, turn around, drive back and enter the gas station at a different place.

On the second day we stopped for ice cream in Oklahoma where it was 69 degrees. That is 86 degrees warmer than the night before we left home.

Wayne enjoying an ice cream cone in Oklahoma

Usually I do some of the driving on long road trips, but this time towing the fifth wheel Wayne did all the driving. Maybe I will try it on the way home. Our dog sat on my lap for the entire trip. I got some knitting done.

Knitting a pair of socks with Lyla on my lap

We had allowed extra time for the trip in case of bad weather for driving. As it turned out the conditions were excellent and we arrived after 3.5 days on the road at Gold Canyon RV and Golf Resort around 1:00 pm on January 31, one day early.

The following photo was taken from the driveway near the main office and community building at the resort. That little hill with the trees on it is one of the golf course holes. You can see the Superstition Mountains in the background.

Gold Canyon Golf and RV Resort

Our site was empty, so we were allowed to check in. The employees there helped us get backed in to our spot which was very helpful. That is standard at this place, not just because we are newbies. I guess they want to make sure no one hits a tree or knocks out the utility connections. Being the first time we had actually used the RV, it took all afternoon to get the trailer leveled, connected to the utilities, water hoses flushed out, put the slide outs out, etc. Our brother-in-law (who does not have an RV) came by to “help”, and two more experienced RVer neighbors came over with advice. I had a very detailed checklist for setting up, but we found a few things to add to it as we went through the process.

Our neighbors include a single man with a big camper van on one side (it looks very nice, although I did not think that type of RV was allowed in this park), and behind us a nice couple from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with a large class A motorhome, eh? They leave their RV in storage in Arizona when they go back to Canada. They had driven home to Canada in March of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic before the borders closed, and were not able to come back until this snowbird season. We have not met the people on the other side. They have a fifth wheel bigger than ours, with only one window on our side which is nice for them and for us. The next photos show our site with the RV set up, and a close up of our bikes.

Our fifth wheel trailer set up at the RV Park
Bikes ready for a ride

There are many lemon, orange and grapefruit trees in the park. One day when I was out walking there was a box of grapefruits with a sign saying to help yourself. I did and it was delicious. The following photo shows Wayne relaxing next to the RV where we have a patio area with a table and chairs, and a lemon tree right in the back!

Wayne relaxing on our patio area

There were a couple of potentially bad glitches involving water when we were first setting up, but in both cases they were resolved without a disaster. Another unfortunate thing happened at home, but that also got taken care of. We have a thermostat for the furnace in the house that can be controlled remotely, and allows us to monitor the temperature in the house. One night the temperature in the house was dropping fast, and got almost all the way down to freezing, so clearly the furnace was not working. Good thing we had drained the water. My uncle who lives nearby went over and scoped out the situation. There was a problem with the furnace, so we were able to contact the repair people and get it fixed.

Our first couple of days were spent getting everything set up and put away inside the RV. Right after that was a busy stretch with company. Wayne’s sister and her husband were already here renting a park model. Their young adult daughter arrived for a visit a few days after we arrived. Soon Wayne’s other sister and husband arrived for a five day visit, along with their young adult daughter, lodging at a nearby hotel. Our daughter came too. She stayed in the RV with us, sleeping on the love seat sized sofa bed. One of Wayne’s cousins and her husband also came for a few days, overlapping with the other visitors and staying at the same hotel. There were activities every day including hiking, biking, golf, pickle ball, swimming, hot tubbing, happy hours, and scenic drives. One thing I did not do much of was knitting. It was fun but after they all left I was ready for some down time.

One day we locked ourselves out of our trailer. Neither of us had locked the RV door, but when we returned from a day trip, the door was locked and both of our keys were inside. We are not sure what happened, but I may have bumped something on the lock mechanism as I was leaving. After googling and considering options, we noticed that the screen on the “emergency” window exit in the bedroom had clips for easy removal. Luckily it was a warm day and the window was open with access to the screen. That window is high off the ground, so we borrowed a ladder from the well equipped Canadian neighbor and were able to pop the screen off. I was nominated to climb up the ladder and crawl in through the window on to the bed. No, there is not a photo. Add a ladder and hida key to our supply list.

Our daughter and her two cousins are all athletic and gave my brother-in-law a workout during a pickle ball match.

The cousins playing pickleball with their uncle

There is a common area in the RV park with nice firepits for enjoying happy hour.

There are some neighborhoods with nice houses and beautiful landscaping across the highway. So far I have been on several bike rides over there, plus another bike ride on a trail south and west in Queen Creek, and also several hikes.

Bike ride in a nearby neighborhood
Hiking in the Superstition Mountains

There have been more than the average number of brutally cold and windy days at home in Minnesota, with temperatures in the twenties below zero and with 30 to 50 mile per hour winds. I saw on the news the other day that the interstate highway near our home was closed for a few hours due to whiteout conditions causing accidents. I have avoided sharing photos and news of how nice it is here. When we first arrived it was on the cooler side and even got down in the 30’s at night. The last few days have been up to 80 degrees in the afternoon. However even on the warmest days, it cools off a lot starting in the late afternoon.

Wayne’s sister and husband who have been renting here are leaving tomorrow. We will have some time alone until the beginning of March when our son and his wife are coming for a long weekend. Being that our son is 6′ 4 1/2 ” tall, they will NOT fit on the RV love seat sofa bed. They have reserved an airbnb instead. With a quieter stretch ahead, I look forward to catching up on my knitting.

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

16 thoughts on “Snowbirding in the RV

    1. Yes, we do watch the weather report in MN and it has been terrible. I do not want to brag about the weather here, but we are grateful to we able to do the snowbirding thing. Hang in there…February is a short month and then once March comes there should not be any more polar vortex weather.

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  1. Glad you made it there safe and sound. It looks like the perfect place to escape the winter. Your fifth wheel looks really big. Our travel trailer is 23 feet. Even so, we look for Love’s whenever we need gas. We’ve learned the hard way. God bless you for not mentioning your wonderful weather. Thank you. Spring will be here soon! Enjoy !

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      1. We are often the small kid on the block. We don’t care. It’s the perfect size for us. I always say everyone should like their own home the best. And that includes our travel trailer homes!

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  2. We have learned to always look for the truck entrance. We even have a truck company card to save money and not have to go in to the station, unless we want to. You might want to check out the Trucker Path app.

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  3. Gosh it sounds like you are having a great time..and so many visitors…guess they couldn’t wait to cone and visit. Nice that Britta could join you. Where is she living now? Si glad Lyla is adapting well. It can be stressful for senior doggies. Enjoy your adventures!

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    1. Yes, Lyla is doing great other than her hearing. I think she remembers this place from before, and the RV small enough for her to get to know it easily. And there is no room for her bed in the bedroom, so she sleeps on our bed at night! Britta is in Utah, but heading soon to the Montana on the north side of Yellowstone for a month, to work with a group of people helping the Indigenous people with the Buffalo Hunt.

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