1 week in, 3 lessons learned

On our first night camping, it rained. On our second night, we left out Holly’s half-chewed, stinky bully stick. That’s when we realized we needed to plan for smells in the van.

This is only our third night camping; we’ve been visiting family throughout California before heading east. I’m writing this from a campground on the bank of the Colorado River, right by the Arizona-California border.


Colorado River

The Colorado River

 Welcome to Arizona

Crossing into Arizona on I-10


Here are the three things we’ve learned thus far, followed by lots of fun photos —

  • How to Find Campsites on the Go: We downloaded an excellent app called AllStays Camp & Tent. When you have cell service, you can search for nearby campsites by map. When you don’t have cell service, you can still search by city and state! It shows national parks and forests, state parks, Bureau of Land Management campgrounds, private campgrounds, KOAs and more. It even shows you a nearby REI, Big 5 or other supply store. We know this will be super helpful to us.

AllStays 1
AllStays 2

  • How to Make the Most of Our Gas Purchases: After doing some research, we identified two great options for credit cards that offer cash back for gas purchases (since we’ll be doing that often now). The Chase Freedom card, which I already had, offers 5% cash back for one quarter of the year. The American Express Blue Cash card offers 3% cash back year-round. Here’s a helpful credit card rewards comparison we found on NerdWallet.
  • How to Keep the Van Smelling Clean: This issue honestly never once crossed our minds during our planning. But after our first night with a wet dog and stinky dog bone, we realized we might need to work on it. The solutions? First, we bought a small pack of dryer sheets and placed them in strategic locations, like near our clothes and in between our bed mats. Second, we got crafty! My sister and I made air fresheners out of felt and lemon essential oil. I made the Cairn Terrier (duh); she made the donut.


Homemade Air Fresheners

Just refresh with a few drops of essential oil!


OK, we’re pretty pooped here and need to plan where we’re going next, so I’ll leave you with some shots from our adventures so far. Thanks for following along!


More Mesa Walk

A walk we took with Chris’s mom in Santa Barbara


Chris Holly Doheny

Chris and Holly at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, admiring the Pacific before we head east


Holly Doheny

One good lookin’ girl


Doheny Campsite

Wet campsite in Dana Point


Cairn Terrier Sticker

New flair for Red Delicious


Tamara Gaby

Sisters posing in front of Red Delicious


Highway 8

I-8 East toward El Centro; at one point we were so close to the US-Mexico border that T-Mobile texted us to say, “Welcome to Mexico!”


Napping Holly

Holly, taking a moment to rest on the drive


Salton Sea

The Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake


Salton Sea Pelicans 2

A bird-watcher’s paradise, the saltwater lake attracts lots of seabirds even though it’s in the middle of the desert!


Salton Sea Dead Fish

It also, well, stinks — check out these dead fish that washed ashore


Tamara Working from Campsite

Doing some morning conference calls from the campsite


Chris at Shields

The Coachella Valley grows tons of dates, and my friend Robert told us to go get a date shake at Shields off Highway 111


Shields Menu

World famous…


Tamara at Shields

…and delicious!

  4 comments for “1 week in, 3 lessons learned

  1. Arlene
    2015-01-17 at 7:57 am

    Wow! Beautiful sceneries! Stay safe. Love you!!!!

    • Tamara & Chris
      2015-01-17 at 7:59 am

      We will! Love you too. 🙂 – T

  2. Elysha
    2015-01-23 at 10:07 am

    Awesome! Stay fresh smelling!

  3. Donna Spoon
    2016-12-15 at 7:22 pm

    It’s really neat how you are allowing so many people into your life with this blog. Loved seeing the sights you shared.

Leave a Reply