Chino Valley, canine pals, and a look back to Willard Springs

Rusty and I both need groceries! 

We sit in camp chairs in front of the Best little Trailer, I with pen and paper in hand to write a shopping list.  Rusty’s supply of protein-rich foods and fresh fruit has dwindled, so I want to know what foods he likes.  We put together a list that includes peanut butter, sardines, protein bars, canned chicken, lima beans, baked beans, and pepperjack cheese (Rusty’s favorite!), as well as bananas, oranges, grapefruit, and avocados, among other items.


This plant grows all over and adds bright yellow-green to the landscape.

After several days in camp, just getting out on the road is a pleasure.

Bridget and Spike are happy to go somewhere, even if it’s only a ride on the bench seat, out and back to camp.

I don’t know what it is about Chino Valley, Arizona, that appeals to me so much.  It’s a wide valley of dry grass and juniper bordered by mountains.  Nothing spectacular.  Yet every time I drive Highway 89 through those fields dotted with stick-built and manufactured homes, a peace comes over me.  The town of Chino Valley has that effect on me, too.  Maybe it’s the ordinariness.  Oh well, no need to analyze it to death.


These flowers are very small. The entire cluster is only about three inches across. They grow in surprisingly difficult locations.  I’ve even found them growing in tire tracks!

We pass a field of long-horn cattle.

Another field holds . . . what is that?  Pronghorns?  Yep, that’s what they are, a herd of about seven pronghorn antelopes calmly grazing not far from a few homes and the highway.  Apparently they’re acclimated to the presence and noise of humans and their vehicles.   I want to photograph them but it’s not a good place to stop.

Shopping for Rusty requires care.

At Chino Valley’s Safeway, I look at all the labels in order to buy low-fat or no-fat, reduced sodium or salt-free, and also no dyes (Rusty’s orders!).  Fortunately it’s not a hot day so the crew can wait in the Perfect Tow Vehicle for as long as it takes.

A juniper falls and rises again!

A juniper falls and rises again!

Back at Camp Drake, we divvy up the groceries.

After lunch at our camps, I bring over a big bowl of vanilla ice cream to Rusty’s truck.  (I’m keeping Rusty’s ice cream in my refrigerator, as well as the pepperjack cheese.)  Of course, Spike walks over with me.


Rusty moved his truck to a slightly different angle to improve cell reception.

Timber runs around on his tether, excited to have company.


The gregarious Spikey makes friends wherever he goes.

  He and Spike are good pals.


Timber is a blur of happy play.

I hand the bowl of ice cream to Rusty and head back to my camp.

Almost home I hear Rusty yelling and laughing.

“Spike!  What are you doing in here?  Spike!”

Oh for heaven’s sake, what is that boy doing now.   I hurry back and I find Spike inside Rusty’s camper with Timber!  Spike is looking for a share of the ice cream and Timber is wondering why Spike has moved into his home.

If Timber had a mean bone in his body, which he apparently doesn’t, Spike would be chopped meat for a stunt like this.  I grab the little moocher and carry him home.

I like to find subtle designs in nature.

I like to find subtle designs in nature.

Where were we this time last year?

In the month of April 2012 the crew and I camped at Willard Springs in the Coconino National Forest south of Flagstaff (slightly north of here at a higher elevation).


Willard Springs and the water dog

I remember my delight with the piney woods, the green meadows, and the spring flowers, a refreshing change after the desert camps of the previous winter months.

I wrote a post that includes a slideshow of photos of Willard Springs and pics of the interior of the BLT.  The post is called  “A Look Inside Our Casita.”


Since this photo, I’ve extended the storage drawers all the way back, making a long and very useful counter top!

How long will the crew and I stay at Camp Drake?

I want to stay through next Monday, the 22nd, in order to be here when Rusty returns from his visit to the Prescott VA to fill out his application for housing.  Unless there are unanticipated developments, soon after that, within a day or two, we will break camp.  The 14-day limit will be up and  temperatures are predicted to climb into the 90s next week.

I put more products on the Shopping Links pages.


Our internet antenna which also acts as a rudder for the BLT

With five steady bars for internet, I added more products to the three pages, including links for cat and dog owners.  Did you know you can buy pet meds and food through Amazon?  If you subscribe to have the meds or food shipped regularly, Amazon gives you a discount.

I thank you for any Amazon purchase you make through my blog.  Every purchase, whether featured on my blog or not, helps.  Okay, enough with the sales talk!



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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56 Responses to Chino Valley, canine pals, and a look back to Willard Springs

  1. Don’t know how you do it, but you can make every day sound interesting. Always love the pictures especially the “subtle designs in nature”. You have a wonderful eye for those things. Praying for Rusty and Timber. I know they will have a home soon. Take care, Sister o’ Mine. Love you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Now you know what I was doing long ago when I would spend all day in the woods by myself, while you were being a normal kid. 🙂 Love you, too!

  2. PamP in SW Florida says:

    Great idea to put a link to where you were last year at this time. I’m a long-time reader and wondered when you had last camped in the green forest. Maybe next time your Muse wanders off, you could just turn to a post like this one.

    Vanilla ice-cream! My favorite. You mentioned your love of bread – mine is ice cream any flavor! My travel trailer ‘fridge must be able to hold ice-cream!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, Pam… There isn’t any flavor of ice cream I wouldn’t make room in my freezer for!

      Yes, good idea . . . Maybe I will rely on former posts when I’m not in the right frame of mind to blog. I can do that now that I’ve been on the road since August of 2011.

  3. Sherry in Oregon says:

    I don’t know if Rusty would be interested, but “Zeer Pots” are a hot topic of conversation just now in some of the Facebook camping groups I belong to. You can keep “perishable” items (fruits, veggies …maybe even Pepperjack cheese) cooler & fresher with this “pot in a pot” refrigeration system that requires very few components (2 clay pots, sand & some water) and little tending. Although the “official” way to do it is to have the pots in a metal stand, most people just put them in the shade somewhere with a damp cloth on top. Check it out ….. might be worth a look:

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Sherry,

      Rusty is a master at keeping perishables cool. He’s been using a “wrap in wet wool and put in the shade” method, for many years before zeer-pots became popular on Facebook pages. It’s similar to the clay pot method. Interesting links I’m sure many readers will learn from. Thank you.

      As long as I’m here I offered Rusty the use of my fridge and freezer.

      • Sherry in Oregon says:

        Oh, I have no doubt Rusty is an ace with all the “boondocking”/dry camp-living techniques!
        I just thought the Zeer pots were an interesting technique & could be a nice little “crafts” project for anyone who wanted to try such an experiment.
        It would be especially useful for anyone who wanted to stay put a few weeks somewhere be isn’t interested in “hooking up” or using propane.
        As far as ice cream goes …. that is one of my Kryptonite substances! I just can’t resist it…….

  4. Krystina McMorrow says:

    I just love watching all the kids play! They all look like happy little campers and so happy to be together! Once again, nice that you were there to help Rusty out by doing the grocery shopping. I spent last weekend with Izzy my friends Rat Terrier mix. Izzy is a new baby for my friend Diane as her beloved Rio went to dog heaven. Izzy is the cutest thing on the face of the earth and does she like to play!!! She is so well behaved and fun to be with. The only thing she cannot seem to master is not to jump up on people. Is there a secret in training them not to do that? My friend Diane has tried just about everything. I am keeping VERY positive thoughts about Rusty.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Rat terriers, pure or mixed, are such fun, wacky creatures!

      About the jumping on people… I’ve heard a good method is to tell friends and potential visitors to your house to do this: When the dog approaches and starts to jump up, the person should raise one knee up which will come between the jumping dog and the person’s torso. No attention should be given to the dog until he stops jumping. It’s a quick, easy maneuver that I’ve found works to lessen the habit (if not stop it altogether) as long as people consistently use it. Hope this helps Izzy!

  5. gingerda says:

    This past week, I went back to where you started and read posts. It’s really cool to see how far you’ve come and how many readers have “found” you.
    I placed another order on Amazon this week. Don’t know how much you get for $20 orders but every little bit helps I suppose. Had to laugh at Spike going in Rusty’s home for a little begging. Did he get any icecream?
    Ginger Las Vegas

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Ginger. A great portion of my earnings comes from the under $20 orders, so I appreciate every purchase.

      No, Spike didn’t get any ice cream. No rewards for breaking and entering!

  6. Sue, you are such a Blessing for Rusty and an example of paying it forward!!! This world is a better place because of people like you!

    We are from La Verne, CA. We have enjoyed reading your post since you first started your adventure. What an interesting adventure it has been!

    We just ordered our cat vitamins from your Amazon site. We were so happy to receive it in just a day & a half! Wow! Good service!!! God Bless You & Rusty & all the crew… Of course Timber too!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Jackie and Dennis!

      Always a pleasure to hear from folks who’ve read the blog from the beginning. I agree, it’s been quite an adventure!

      Thanks for ordering vitamins for your cat through my blog’s Amazon links. I appreciate the feedback on how you rate the service you received. Arrived in a day-and-a-half… fantastic!

      • Carol in OK says:

        Hi Sue! I’d like to recommend the addition of “Composure Liquid Max for dogs and cats” to your Canine Crew Amazon list. I have three little rescue dogs. One came with the name “Stormy.” He’s terrified of rain. Rain doesn’t have to be accompanied by thunder and lightning to spark his terror. It’s amazing how much Composure has helped him. Amazon sells Composure as a chew also, but I recommend the liquid if a dog will not eat when upset. It’s a little pricey, but so worth it.

  7. Susan in Dallas says:

    The older post had a picture of the crew where Bridget actually looked comfortable in a photo. Maybe she just thinks folks have enough snapshots of her. 🙂

  8. Chuck says:

    Hey Spikey! What are you and Timber doing beggin’ for ice cream???? You’re gonna’ get busted fur sure! Are you teachin’ Timber bad habits? You get away from Bridget for 5 minutes and you’re in trouble……the Kanine Kids

  9. Chuck says:

    Sue! I gotta agree with you…Chino Valley is a special kinda’ place…..peaceful, relaxing. I dunno but sure is a pleasant place. I LOVE ICE CREAM and it puts inches and pounds on me like nothing else(including beer!) so I have to stay away from it. Went to a High School Rodeo competition with Geri today, for a little backwoods town, this place has some beautiful horses. Geri will be putting up a blog on it soon. You guys have fun! Chuck

  10. Nan says:

    Just love your bright colors in your PTV. Sooo cheerful.

  11. cinandjules (NY) says:

    How nice that ALL of you went to town.
    Rusty is VERY clever when it comes to living off the land. I just recently read about the zeer pots and immediately thought of Rusty.
    Nice to see that Spike and Timber enjoy each others company.
    75 degrees yesterday but very windy…today it’s snowing. Wonderful! (I’m totally being sarcastic)
    Enjoy your evening.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yeah, Spike and Timber are buds.

      All of us didn’t go to town, just me and the crew. There’s too much stuff in the PTV.

      These reports of snow have got to stop!

      • cinandjules (NY) says:

        Opps …………hence the subtitle “Shopping for Rusty requires care”.

        My reading comprehension skills are lacking tonight….tired as we made our “run” 170 miles RT to a real grocery store (Wegmans). The day isn’t complete without checking your blog. The freezer is stocked……….time for bed. Good night..sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          170 miles for groceries? Yes, go to bed and sleep!

          • cinandjules (NY) says:

            WIDE awake now! Yes that’s a RT “run” to Syracuse.

            In the meantime some creature has moved into our semi feral insulated cat house. I can’t scare it out……brown and black face…maybe a fisher.

            I configured the cat door as an exit only…hopefully it will be gone in the morning. And hopefully it doesn’t eat any of the cats.

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              Good morning! “brown and black face … maybe a fisher.” What the heck is that? An African-American in waders holding a fishing rod is in your cat house?

              • cinandjules (NY) says:

                It’s like a weasel with a really bad attitude. It eats snowshoe hares, porcupines and when that dwindles….your outside cats. The feral cats still have a bit of wild in them… but we are attached and don’t want anything to happen to them.

                This morning I shoved the hose of the shopvac (blower not suction) in their cubby hole…turned it on and it ran out. Straw bedding flew everywhere. Tore apart their cubby and made it more visible for us!

                That’s what happens when you live in the woods.

  12. katydid says:

    A big hello to Sue, the crew, Rusty and Timber. I’m glad that all of you are doing well at camp Chino Valley. I do enjoy reading your posts and seeing your photos. The little yellow flowers and subtle designs are amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Pleinguy says:

    I so enjoy your descriptions of your camps. I’m just beginning my full-time journey and your posts have been very helpful. I’m currently at an SKP park in Bushnell FL on the way to see my cousin for a few days. Needed the electric, a dump and propane, and it was half way there. My preference will be to boondock when I finally hit the road in June. Thanks for all you do.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome. Yes, there are times when the hookups and handy propane and dump station are the way to go.

      Isn’t it great how much money you can save boondocking? I’ve been very pleased with the savings boondocking makes. When I was dreaming about living in a travel trailer, I didn’t anticipate my budget working out this well. Best wishes to you when your big adventure begins in June.

  14. Mick - Cumberland Plateau says:

    Antenna will stop working if it finds out you called it a Rudder.

  15. mickent says:

    Mother Nature is truly an Artist, abstract and real combined.

  16. Ed says:

    This is the best answer to the repeated question about being afraid to RV alone that I have read.
    Adventure is a way of life. It is putting your ideas ahead of your abilities, and your dreams ahead of your fears.

    Before you begin to adventure you are mocked, judged, criticized: that will never work! But once you take your first step the whole world is rooting for you, the people you meet are amazed, they want you to succeed.

    Not every single one of them, but enough.—By

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      If I were to choose a person who embodies that quote, I’d choose you, Ed.

      While working in a school environment I often saw platitude posters. You know the kind… “Be the best you can be” and such. One poster read “Live the life you imagine.” After full-timing going on two years I’d revise that one to “Seek the life you imagine and you will find a life beyond your imagination.”

  17. Fran , Lynchburg,Virginia says:

    Sue — I love your comment about feeling peace when you drive along that road in the area you are camped in. When we drive from the east coast , as soon as we hit the high desert areas, I feel at home — I feel like that is where I belong. The serenty,calm and peace of the wide open spaces are truly awesome ! I don’t tell this to a lot of people because they don’t understand but I think you do !! Keep up the good work with the blog — you are number one on the blogs that I follow. The everyday stories,the pictures and your sense of humour are the best !!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Fran… I do understand. It’s certainly makes one wonder why some places on the planet give a feeling of belonging. I can relate to the native Amercan designation of places as sacred. It isn’t necessarily about beauty. Hard to explain… an aura from Earth, wisdom in the breeze, eternity in the sunlight… Any attempt to describe it sounds corny!

      Thank you for complimenting my blog. I’m happy you’re following the crew and me.

    Hi Sue & crew
    I have followed your blog from the beginning but have never responded.
    Felt compeled to respond to the feeling we get some time.
    while traveling the west back in the early 80 in a small van my wife and I visited
    many of the places you have and it brings back fond memories.
    Many times I would have the strange feeling that I had been there,Maby in another life.
    Really enjoy your blog.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, George! You may have followed me and the crew since the beginning but it’s never too late to say Welcome! Glad to hear from you.

      Some places do “speak” to us and give a inexplicable feeling of returning to a special place. Enjoy your memories . . .

  19. All American AZ Jim says:

    Afraid you’ll miss my latest ingenious idea I will repost here In following the Mick comment above regarding your “rudder”, I see it a little differently. I believe an American flag on each side of the antenna will show your patriotism. Those little decals are sold everywhere and I think it’s a cool idea.

  20. Judie from Alabama says:

    Thank u for all that u do. My dear Mother always told me to ‘pay it forward” for anything she did for me when I tried to repay….I think ur about the best at that I’ve ever come across! What a blessing for ur true friendship. Gotta love the Spikey man for trying even tho it didn’t play out quite like he wanted. lol All three of those sweet canines are so very precious! Love to see and hear about their adventures. Prayers for u all.

  21. Ky G says:

    i sat here today i my stick and brck thanking the universe that i have a place to use the bathroom, cook and sleep without to much worry of the temps. i am readying my van to leave here in July with my son,dog and cat (cant dare leave his old 12 yr old cat behind). I havent gotten very far due to limited mobility and funds. My orig plan were to park where i could and use public utilities. i had years of hitchiking and washing up in public bathrooms and sleeping along roadsides, etc so i have been thnking this entire time that this wont be difficult or to expensive…but the more i read all your posts i now see that i will have to make it my goal to set up to “booondock” and find ways to make money other than my SS. Hitchikig for me was a drug unlike anyother (except childbirth) where in i had the freedom of the open road and wandered the trails when i wanted and was set up to live outdoors. All of it carried on my back. As i have become so used to the digital world, the comforts of AC when i want it, a stove, etc…i understand this will take more than i realized. But i am a gearhead of sorts and have been doing my own van repairs_but the wood work and such my hands can not handle. I think now after reading your blog for a yr that i wil have to head out tothe more open part of the country. As much as i love where i had planed on going_i have that craving for more space, more country,longer horizons_the ones i only found at see or while walking. Thank you for keepig this blogup and keeping track of Rusty and Timber. You are both an inspration to me. Perhaps our pups will meet one day. Blessing, peacce and thank you _
    There is an old tradition in some room i frequent wherein the chair person says at teh end of the gathering “any one with a year or more please raise you hand to show that it works”
    I get that feeling now that i have been following your posts for some time
    Thank you for keeping it simple and raising your hand
    ~Ky G and Bingo

  22. Ky G says:

    excuse all typos..creaky fingers and i can spell 🙂

  23. Joy A. Sonora, CA says:

    Just thought I’d chime in on the yellow flowers. They look like a type of Monkey flowers. Every time I see a flower with similar shaped flowers and find them in my Wild Flower book they end up being a type of Monkey flower.

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