Visiting Quartz Mountain, OK

During the months of March and April we camped near Lawton, OK and got to do some hiking/exploring at a few very neat spots. Our first outing was to Quartz Mountain State Park. It wasn’t far from where we had set up camp and the drive there was rather pleasant. Not a lot of traffic, nice roads and easy to find.

When we arrived we saw a couple nice RV camp sites and cabins as well. The park was very clean and didn’t have a lot of traffic. Our destination was the lake so we drove just a little bit further.

Jennie “fishing” at the Lake Altus-Lugert

The lake has a really interesting history. It’s fairly new and made by a dam. Until 1947 it was the location of the town of Lugert. And the town wasn’t there for very long before it got flooded. It was founded in 1901 by Austrian immigrant Frank Lugert when the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation opened for settlement. The town had a population of about 400 at its peak and Mr Lugert ran the post office, general store and train depot. Everything was great until the town was hit by a tornado on April 27, 1912 and 41 of the 42 business buildings were swept away. The town continued to exist until 1947 when the W.C. Austin damn was completed for the Lugert-Altus irrigation system and water soon covered the townsite. When you’re at the lake shore you might be able to catch a glimpse of some brick foundations of buildings, depending on how high or low the water is. Either way, it is a nice place to visit and to spend a few hours or even a weekend.

If you are looking to go there and want to camp, they have five camping areas with over 200 total campsites, eight cabins and a lodge for you to stay. There are hiking trails, swimming beaches, boat docks and other activities for everyone to enjoy.

Camping and traveling with a toddler while potty training

If you’re traveling with a little one in diapers you already have a lot to pack. But I always thought I’d have to pack so much less once we started potty training. Boy, was I wrong!

To make the potty training experience as easy and stress free as possible I found a few things that would help us. And everything I bought I purchased not only with every day use at home, but also with the camper and our frequent road trips in mind. I believe that made a big difference on our way to success.

First of all, it helped to let Jennie pick and choose things from options we gave her. Being involved made her feel like she was in charge and she was very eager to get started!

The number one item you’ll need is either a potty seat or a potty chair. We actually bought both. Camper toilets aren’t usually your average toilet size like you would have at home so the seats are different, too. I found this foldable toilet seat on Amazon and thought it was perfect for us, as it can be used on pretty much any toilet seat and makes public bathroom stops a little easier on this germaphobic mom over here! You can find the seat HERE. It comes in three colors and with a neat little plastic bag that fits in a pouch where you can also stick some disinfectant wipes. Perfect for your diaper bag or purse!

The potty chair that I decided to purchase for traveling I found at Walmart. at only about $14 it was a good deal and it being by Summer Infant it was a brand I knew. What really sold me on it thought is the fact that it has a lid that closes (which also makes it usable as a step stool!!), a removable seat (you can use it without the chair) and a tray that catches their “business”. Until I found a good deal on potty liners I used up the leftover diapers by lining the tray with them, clicking the potty seat over them to securely hold them in place and when they’re done it is a super easy clean up! I thought it was perfect as Jennie’s travel potty and so far it did not disappoint! Another plus us that it fit in our backseat of either one of our vehicles and perfectly fits into the bathroom in our camper! Space can be an issue and this little potty blends in very well for us without anyone tripping over it etc. It also is available in two colors. You can find it HERE on Walmart’s website! The potty liners I”ve been using I purchased on Amazon, find them HERE.

Now, lets talk car seat protection. This is another very important thing to think about and prepare yourself for. Because there is a very high chance that there will be accidents in the beginning!! And trust me, you do NOT want to have to wash your car seat all the time. They are a major pain to take apart and put back together, at least in most cases. We own the Chicco NextFit and the seat liner I found doesn’t slide in our seat (I was worried about that for safety reasons) and has survived several washes already (told you, there would be accounts!) I purchased a two-pack so I would always have one ready to be used in case another one would be in the wash. From what I read about them they should fit almost any car seat. They’re sold on Amazon, you can find them HERE.

Lastly, here are some other items and tips that have helped us with potty training Jennie in general. Letting her pick out her own underwear was a big thing to get her started as well as finding the right bribe to use as a reward for successfully using the bathroom! Several princess dresses had been purchased on Amazon and at Walmart as they had the best “cheap” items out there. Because no one wants to spend a fortune on “potty presents”… The Dollar Store has also been a great place to find little rewards and presents! You can get so many items like stickers, sticker books, little toys, coloring books etc. Some kids may prefer candies or snacks over that but other than mini marshmallows here and there we stuck to small toys and other items that could easily travel with us.

I hope this article will help you on your quest to potty train your toddler. May the odds be ever in your favor!

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Why we began documenting our travels and started a YouTube Channel

When we first started traveling together in “The Turd” we began taking photos and videos mainly to keep family and friends updated via a group text and also to have a few snapshots for ourselves. But it didn’t take us more than the first day with Dale on our big trip when we decide to take as many photos and videos because we had a feeling this would be the trip of our lifetime.

From the camper needing repairs and little tweaks every few days to us experiencing a new place together to Jennie learning a new word on the road, trying a new food or popping yet another tooth. So many firsts for all of us and many things to document. So, when we arrived at the Grand Canyon (post to follow!) we had decided to start a YouTube channel when we are home and began documenting the remainder of the trip as best as we could.

From watching a lot of videos and subscribing to several camping/RV life channels we had gotten an idea of what to prepare ourselves for before we set off on that maiden voyage of “The Rolling Turd Seven”. So another reason we wanted to get started was to help others that might be looking to get into camping like we did.

Furthermore, there are so many people that may not have had the chance to go traveling to all the places we have been to and it may give some good ideas for things to do, things not to do and also some ideas for sights and places off the beaten path.

So, I will be posting more blog posts about our big 2017 trip, continuing with our visit at the Grand Canyon. And if you’d like to visit out YouTube channel you can do so HERE! Please subscribe, let us know what you think and what you’d like to see next. Thank you!

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What to expect when camping with your children and/or pets

Camping with little ones is so much fun, but it also comes with its challenges. From dealing with their nap and bedtime routines on the road, them adjusting to sleeping arrangements in the RV to things like teething or sickness while traveling. Not to mention potty training! Then add pets and their possible issues. It certainly never gets boring!

I think the most amount of gear I pack for anyone is for Jennie, followed by the dogs. I always travel with at least three extra days of clothing for her because, well, she’s a toddler. They get messy as soon as you turn our back on them! But, that’s a part of having fun and making memories on the road!

So, if you’re considering to go camping with your children and they’re anywhere between baby and pre-potty trained toddler, you are going to want to bring A LOT of diapers. Because for some reason it feels like we went through almost twice as many diapers as we were at home. We also never travel without things like infant/children Motrin, Ibuprofen, cough medicine (we love Zarbees), rubbing alcohol and Benadryl. Because chances are that you’ll need at least one of them. And don’t forget the bandaids! Those are just the bare necessities you should have on hand, besides the foods and snacks.

Things that happened to us was stuff like Jennie working on not one but eight teeth while on our 5 week vacation in 2017. We went through our ibuprofen we brought along from home and then some. The poor little thing didn’t catch a teething break for months back then. On top of that we dealt with extreme temperatures due to a heat wave and our generator ran basically 24/7, which didn’t help with Jennie’s sleep on the road. Most of the nights she ended up sleeping with us, which didn’t help my sleep either haha! At least daddy, who did all of the driving, got to sleep! Thankfully this was just a phase with the poor sleeping for Miss Jennie, mostly due to the teething, I’m sure.

How did this not wake him up?!

We still had to deal with the heat outside and planned our outings not only around her nap time but also the hourly temperatures. Depending on where you go, you’ll need to make sure to know what to expect weather wise ahead of time, it will make everything so much easier during the trip! Hiking and exploring in mid to late morning as well as late afternoon worked best for us. Not just for Jennie but also for the dogs. It was important make sure the ground we intended to hike on wasn’t too hot for them and there was enough shade. A foldable water bowl for them as well as extra water was also always packed. Oh, and the Benadryl. NEVER camp without it if you have pets. Our three girls were quite inquisitive on our big trip, like most dogs are. And on one particular occasion they got into something that caused an allergic reaction/irritation on all three dogs. But Echo, our special baby, had it worst because her skin was sensitive to begin with. All I can say is that I was so happy we had an extra bottle of Benadryl for just them. We were in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception and no town nearby when this happened. Thankfully after two doses she almost looked like her normal self again. But it took a full 24 hrs for the swelling to go away completely.

Now, don’t let this scare you away from going camping with your two and four legged family members!! I am telling you all those things so that you know of the things that can happen and can take them in stride, being prepared for them and know what to expect. Every single camping trip was fantastic in its own way, no matter where we went. Because the most important thing is to always make the best of every situation.

Part of that is that you’ll also want to prepare yourself for rainy days, or days where it is simply too hot to be outside. If you’re a family that can be entertained by TV with movies etc, great! Jennie gets bored with TV fast and we always travel with a handful of toys she picks out herself. Something I always pack are laminated activity sheets (homeschool supplies for preschool), paper and crayons & watercolor, plastic table cloth for crafts, glue, craft paper, popsicle/craft sticks, pompoms, pipe cleaners, wiggly eyes etc. Whatever it takes to keep her happy and entertained when weathered out works for us. And it is fun for the grown ups, too!

Back to dog supplies before I finish up! We found that crib mattresses for our Great Danes work really well in the camper. Our old rig had a jackknife couch that we let the dogs have, and that was perfect. But we don’t have that option in our new one, so we had to get a little creative wit the space we have. The sheets for them are easy to wash and we also have an array of doggie blankets and towels we travel with. Other things you should think of are plenty of waste bags, maybe an extra leash or two, tie out cables/leashes, a crate (if it fits), brushes, clippers, shampoo and pet wipes. That’s our standard “suitcase’ our pups travel with, minus the crates because they’re just too darn big for our rig!

So, I hope this little article will be helpful to you. Feel free to share!

Below are a few snapshots from traveling with Jennie and the dogs. Wonderful memories were made alongside of messes, even though someone got sick here or there, it was only a short period of time and then we turned it around and made something good out of it. I hope you enjoy your next camping trip, or maybe it will be your first!

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A summer trip to the Finger Lakes

A quick group shot at our boondocking site at an organic farm

At the end of summer 2018 we wanted to get one last family camping vacation in with Dale. So we were looking for something that wasn’t too far of a drive where we could spend more time together, enjoying the area we are visiting instead of driving. A friend of ours owns a big piece of land in the Finger Lakes region in Seneca Castle and invited us to boondock there. He has an organic farmer rent land from him there so we parked at the unused side of the property. The farmer invited us to come pick as much of their fresh organic corn as we wanted and we pretty much ate our body weight in corn on the cob during our stay there. Jennie was super excited about getting to pick her own food and it was a great experience for her.

Our campsite was right in between Canandaigua Lake and Seneca Lake and traveling to all the places we wanted to see what a breeze. The drives themselves were very pleasant because the views were always very nice.

One day we spent hiking in Grimes Glen Park, making our way down to one of the waterfalls there where Jennie and the dogs got to splash in the water. Perfect for the temperatures we had that day!

After a few hours of hiking we found a great place where we stopped for a late lunch. The Redwood Restaurant was a spontaneous stop as we were staving and Google Maps had suggested it to us being a nearby food option. We were not disappointed!! Our server was incredibly friendly and attentive, the other patrons were very nice people and the food was great! That’s also where Jennie had her first milkshake. We had heard a lot about a place we had to get dessert, so since we weren’t completely stuffed yet, lunch was soon followed with a stop at Monica’s Pies in Naples NY. Her pies were SO good! I highly recommend both of those places.

Since we were already at the south of Canandaigua Lake we decided to also make a trip to The Olde Country Store in North Cohocton. We had been there a few times before and became friends with the owners. It is one of my very favorite places to stop when in the area because it is owned by a German-American family and they always have a bunch of German groceries, chocolates and candies in stock. They also have seasonal items from Germany and going there around Christmas time has been my favorite yet. We stocked up on German Christmas treats and ornaments. But it isn’t all German there. They also have a wide variety of items handmade by local artisans as well as their own line of Finger Lakes themed items. The Wells family pours their heart and soul into this store and it shows.

It is cozy in there, you feel right at home and they are happy to get to know each customer that comes in. I can’t wait to be back there again soon, it always makes me a little less home sick when we visit. Check out their website here, they also ship to your home!

The day after this we made a trip to Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua NY. It was absolutely beautiful and peaceful there, with plenty of things to see on our paid (and self guided) tour of the gardens and mansion. A great peace of local history and an educational way to spend a few hours. Dale and I especially enjoyed wandering through the differently themed gardens with Jennie, and my photographer’s heart was overjoyed.

One of our last days in the Finger Lakes region was quite rainy so we decided to drive up to Rochester and visit the Strong Museum of Play. We had heard a lot about it but never had time to make it there, even though it is only 90 minutes from our home. Jennie got to run her little heart out and we all had a great time watching her have a blast. There was plenty to see and enjoy for grownups as well. They have a huge selection of different exhibits that are always there as well as changing exhibits. From Sesame Street to air and space, game hall of fame, arcade games to a children’s sized Wegmans grocery store we spent a good three hours inside, ending our trip with a visit to their butterfly garden. Check out their websites fro hours and admission fees.

Dale and I made sure to also get some wine tasting in at some of the many great wineries along the lakes. We also visited a huge outdoor flea and artisan market while there. They had lots of local handmade goods, from quilts, clothes and art to wines and Amish/Mennonite foods. There was something for everyone and we found a few bottles of good wine to go with some cheeses and meats we had bought from a Mennonite stand.

We would go back there in a heart beat, the region offers such a huge variety of attractions and activities that there will be something for everyone. Out of the 10 days we spent there we only had one day that we didn’t do anything outside of our camp site. And other than the middle of winter I would say it is always a good time to visit!

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Camping at the Allegany Mountain Resort at Rainbow Lake

In our first year of owning “The Turd” we didn’t get to do much family camping. But our very first trip was to a close destination that was quite memorable. It was early fall, the beginning of October 2016, and we got lucky as the leaves had started to turn already and that made for beautiful views and pictures.

Friends of ours are members of the resort and we stayed there with them. The park itself was very nice and clean, everyone was very friendly. We parked our rig next to our friends and started to set up for our very first weekend camping. Jennie was just 6 months old so I was a little nervous about how she would do. But she seemed to absolutely love it.

Thankfully the weather was cooperating and we all got to spend most of our time outside. Jennie enjoyed her first ever campfire with us, too. We walked around the resort with our friends and our dogs, taking in the views of the lake and colorful woods in the background. It was a camper’s (and photographer’s) dream! The change of leaves up here in New York is beautiful.

Lilith thinking about taking a dip…
Thankfully she decided against it!

The clouds moved out of the way and the sun came out and warmed us up nicely on our long walk, making the scenery even more enjoyable than it already was. I think the pups really loved that place, maybe even more than we did!

Our friends Joan and Art offered to watch Miss Jennie so Kevin and I could enjoy some time to ourselves. So we took a walk down to the lake from our campsite and rented some kayaks. It was my first time on a kayak and I really enjoyed it. Even though the lake is quite small, it was nice to explore it like that and get closer to some wildlife than we could have on foot. IT was very peaceful on the water and just what we needed.

If you’re looking for an “all inclusive” camping type of place this would sure be it. It was a nice way for us to get our feet wet and see if we liked camping. We fell instantly in love with it and since then have visited countless of places.

I’d recommend visiting the Allegany Mountains to any outdoor lover, especially when the leaves are turning!

Thank you for reading! Hopefully my little review will make you want to explore something new today.

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Spontaneous boondocking at a ghost town in Arizona

The “Rolling Turd” parked in front of the old Trading Post at Two Guns, AZ

So, in my last post I told you a little bit about traveling with my mother-in-law. We just started camping together with her in June of 2017. And our first stop with her while en route to our first destination was a ghost town. Why did we stop there you ask? Well, we had left a little later than we had originally planned and didn’t make it all the way to the Grand Canyon that night. My husband pulled out one of his trusty camping apps and asked how much longer we think we can keep driving, as Jennie was starting to turn into a gremlin and the sun had started to set. He found a post by someone that recommended a little known spot right off the old Route 66 and he checked to make sure we were all in on it. Spend the night at a ghost town in the middle of nowhere with a little one?! SURE! We were all SO in! I mean, how many times do you get the chance to stay at such a cool place that isn’t far off your route and not flooded with traffic? If you ask me it beats stopping at a supermarket parking lot for the night by a long shot! I started to google the town of Two Guns as I am a sucker for history and ghost towns as well. Here is what I found on Wikipedia:

Two Guns was the site of a mass murder of Apaches by their Navajo enemies in 1878. A group of Apaches had hid in a cave at Two Guns to avoid detection, but were discovered by the Navajos, who lit sagebrush fires at the cave’s exit and shot any Apaches trying to escape. The fire asphyxiated 42 Apaches, after which they were stripped of their valuables. The murder site is referred to as the “death cave”.[5]
During the winter of 1879-80, Billy the Kid and his outlaw gang hid in the ruins of a stone house and corral on the west rim of Canyon Diablo, across from Two Guns.[6]
In 1880, long before Two Guns was established as a settlement, the construction of the Santa Fe Railway was progressing across northern Arizona. At the location where the rail line crossed Canyon Diablo, about 3 mi (4.8 km) north of Two Guns, construction was delayed while a trestle was built. A settlement populated by male work crews was established near the construction site and was named Canyon Diablo, after the nearby canyon. The settlement “quickly became a wild and lawless place as drifters, gamblers, and outlaws made their way to town”.[7] Four men employed by the Hashknife Ranch robbed the train at Canyon Diablo in 1889, then fled on horseback with $100,000 in currency, 2,500 new silver dollars, $40,000 in gold coins, as well as silver watches, jewelry, and diamonds. A posse led by sheriff Buckey O’Neill pursued the bandits, but recovered less than $100 when the men were captured. Years later, after release from prison, one of the thieves disclosed that the stolen goods, along with their rifles, had been buried in the canyon rim near Two Guns. The location remains popular with treasure hunters.[8][9]
The National Old Trails Highway (called the “Santa Fe Highway” in Arizona) was built in 1907 in Arizona, and loosely followed the railway.[2] The highway crossed the dry river bed of Canyon Diablo at the Two Guns location, and zig-zagged up and down each embankment. In 1915, Canyon Diablo Bridge opened at the Two Guns crossing, and was used until 1938 when a new bridge was built nearby.[2][10]

The first settler at Two Guns was Ed Randolph, who built a store next to the death cave.[10]
In 1922, Earle and Louise Cundiff purchased 320 acres (130 ha) of land from Randolph at this location for $1,000, and built a store, restaurant, and gasoline pumps.[11]
Harry E. Miller leased a property from the Cundiffs in 1925 and began extensive construction. Calling himself “Chief Crazy Thunder”, Miller wanted to capitalize on the beauty of Canyon Diablo and the flow of passing tourists.[11][12] Along the canyon rim Miller erected a zoo with cages made of brick, mortar and chicken wire; his zoo animals included mountain lions, cougars, gila monsters, coral snakes, birds and a lynx.[10][11][4] A restaurant and Indian gift shop were opened, and Miller cleaned out the death cave, selling any Apache skulls found inside as souvenirs.[11] For a fee, visitors were led on a tour which began at a Hopi house Miller had built, where rolls of colored piki bread was made and sold.[11] They then followed a paved path down the side of the canyon to a soft drink stand at the bottom. Next was a tour of the death cave, where Miller had installed electric lights, and fake ruins of cliff dwellers.[11] Flamboyant signs were placed along the highway, and Miller named his establishment “Fort Two Guns” as an homage to silent movie actor William S. “Two Guns” Hart, with whom Miller claimed to have previously worked.[10][11][13]
The Cundiffs applied for a post office under the name “Two Guns” in 1924, but it was refused. The post office was renamed “Canyon Lodge”.[11]
In 1926, the highway designation was changed to U.S. Route 66.[10] That same year, Cundiff and Miller had a disagreement about the details of their lease, and Miller shot the unarmed Cundiff to death. He was later acquitted of the killing.[11]
The interior of Miller’s store burned in 1929, and soon after, Louise Cundiff built her own tourist store. The following year, Miller left the state. Cundiff remarried, and in 1934 opened the Two Guns Texaco service station along a new alignment of Route 66. Behind it they relocated the zoo (which closed prior to 1950).[10]
In 1938, a new bridge across Canyon Diablo was built, and Route 66 began following Interstate 40 at the Two Guns location.[10]
A more modern service station was built at Two Guns in 1963, and in the late 1960s a motel, western tavern, reptile exhibit, and new zoo were added. Later, a Shell service station was built and a KOA campground opened.[10][14]

The service station burned in 1971, and Two Guns began to decline.[10]
The ruins of many former structures remain, including the trading post, campground, old cottages, zoo, and burned-out service station.[10][4]
In 1988, Canyon Diablo Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[2],_Arizona

Entrance to Two Guns with the old camp building in the background

We arrived just as the sun had set and tried to get ourselves parked and situated before it was completely dark out. In the near distance you could faintly hear the occasional vehicle drive by along new Route 66/I-40. It was peaceful and quiet… and maybe just a little bit creepy out there. There were literally no lights around us, besides the ones from our truck and camper, so it was pitch-black. My husband and mother-in-law decided to go out and explore the town with flash lights and our dogs while I stayed back and got our little one ready for bed. They weren’t gone too long until they returned and reported some rattle snake sightings. YIKES! But, that’s what you have to expect when you’re in Arizona, I guess!

After a some sleep (and a very early wakeup thanks to Miss Jennie) I got the little one, the dogs and myself dressed and ready to go for a quick walk with my camera. I was dying to get some shots of this cool place! It wasn’t even 8am yet but you could tell that day would be a scorcher. So we stuck to a quick walk and sniff around while I got to snap some photos. It was so worth it!

If we would have had more time we would have loved to explore the area around Two Guns and learned more about the tragedies that happened there to the Native community. So, if you are ever in that corner of Arizona, make sure to plan a stop. It is worth every second of it!

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