When it comes to our travels we very rarely have a set plan, but we’ve found that having a few anchor points throughout the year can really help guide our journey. We knew we wanted to spend Thanksgiving with Brad’s family in southern Utah, so that informed our destinations as we wove our way through the southwest. We were obviously there to see family, but St. George is a fantastic destination in its own right: hiking, bouldering, biking, mountain biking, rock climbing, photography, gorgeous state parks and of course nearby Zion National Park.
OUR STAY IN ST. GEORGE
It’s always nice when you’re able to moochdock with family (park in their driveway, plugged into electricity) but that wasn’t an option for us at Brad’s parents’ condo… fortunately there happened to be some open land right behind it, so we parked there and were still able to be plugged into their power. I guess it was technically city property but amazingly no one bothered us about being there – probably since it was the holidays and we were clearly there to see family.
I don’t know why we ever assume it will be otherwise, but our time in St. George turned out to be incredibly busy. Not only did we spend quality time with Brad’s parents, siblings, and cousins, we also got out to enjoy some challenging and rewarding recreation, AND we bought ourselves a new tow vehicle!
Brad’s sister Julie and her husband Riley are super active and they actually introduced me to two new sports: mountain biking and rock climbing! There are an insane amount of mountain biking trails around St. George and for my first ride we did the Pushing Tin loop, a 2 mile beginner trail with a moderate rating. Julie unfortunately wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t join us but it meant I was able to borrow her awesome bike for our ride. I loved the wide knobby tires, they really helped me power over all the little rocky inclines. Since we don’t own mountain bikes Brad never gets to go, so he especially enjoyed all the times on the trails with Julie and Riley. In addition to Pushing Tin, they also did the Secret Sauce trail and Bearclaw Poppy. It seems like we’ll probably snag some mountain bikes in the future, it was a fun way to exercise and see a new area!
We also got a few different opportunities to play pickleball – another sport that was new to me! This was so much fun, Brad and I will definitely have to get our own paddles. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s similar to tennis but on a smaller court, with smaller rackets, and played with a ball that’s more like a wiffle ball. Some say it’s like a combination of badminton, tennis and ping pong. Regardless, it’s really fun and not too difficult to get a good volley going. Sometimes RV parks have pickleball courts (and tournaments!) so we look forward to finding that in our travels.
And lastly, the new car! We’d been wanting a 4x4 vehicle for a really long time and were debating between a Jeep Wrangler and a Nissan Xterra. There are actually not many 4x4 vehicles that can be towed ‘4-wheels down’ behind a motorhome but the Jeep and Xterra are both viable options. While there were a number of Jeeps available in the St. George area, we ultimately chose the Xterra because it was less costly but more importantly it has a higher towing capacity if-and-when we want to be more agile and move from the motorhome to a small travel trailer. The only thing with the Xterra is that to be towable four-wheels-down it has to be a manual transmission. I was really skeptical about this at first since I didn’t know how to drive one, but Brad assured me it will be no problem to learn and our first few lessons have gone really well. We were able to sell our old Honda CR-V without much difficulty, in fact we had a buyer within a couple hours of posting it to Craigslist. It was a big relief to get that taken care of so easily.
Brad’s done a lot of little repairs to the Xterra all ready (reattached the rear wiper fluid dispenser, tightened the parking brake, and replaced the gas springs on the tailgate door) and her rear tires were pretty bald so we went ahead and replaced them all with new all terrain tires. We also got her into a local mechanic to get checked over before we hit the road. We had them change the differential fluid and replace a gasket, and they thought the rear shocks looked a bit worn but there’s still life on them so we’re holding off on that. Brad also worked many days and nights with his dad to get the Xterra wired and ready for towing. Unfortunately we didn’t end up filming all that work, that’s a fail on my part. There were so many components to that project, I’m truly impressed and amazed that Brad was able to pull it off. Hopefully someday I can talk him into writing a post about all the work he did. My job was to work with America’s Mailbox in South Dakota to get the new car titled and registered, I’ll probably write a post dedicated to that process as well.
So the day finally came when we were ready to roll out of town. We got the Xterra lined up behind the motorhome and went to hook things up for the first time. Brad had done simulations in the garage with the Xterra to confirm the wiring was working and that it all looked good. We were just about ready to pull away when we decided it would be a good idea to make sure the brake lights and turn signals were working after we’d connected the Xterra to the motorhome, and lo and behold…nothing. Nothing worked! We were befuddled. We realized this might take some time to troubleshoot so we moved the RV back behind the house, thankful we were with family and could easily extend our stay.
Good thing we keep a flexible schedule! Until next time~