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Digital Nomad Life Month 104

Month 104 was an action-packed month spent on the road, driving to hot springs, National Parks and Monuments, and cute small towns and fun cities in the Southwest.

I began the month with one day left with family in Phoenix, then we hit the road for Tucson. After some vehicular issues, we made it to Tucson where we spent six nights exploring the city, and hiking in Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon.

From Tucson, we headed south to the cute small town of Tubac and nearby Tumacacori National Historic Park, then east stopping in the small town of Patagonia and Fairview Ghost Town to the historic and haunted town of Bisbee – one of my favorites in the southwest.

Bisbee Arizona

We spent three nights in Bisbee and I fell in love with this town even more. From Bisbee, we headed to southern New Mexico via snow-covered Chiricahua National Monument. 

It was all about the hot springs in southern New Mexico and we visited some really awesome ones. Next up we visited two National Parks and some cute small towns in Texas, then finished the month by exploring Austin.

Now onto the stats!

Pretty Joni in the RV

Countries Visited: USA, Mexico

Places Visited:

  • Arizona: Scottsdale, Avondale, Tucson, Tubac, Patagonia, Fairview, Bisbee, Lowell, Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area
  • New Mexico: Silver City, Faywood, Gila Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, Mesilla
  • Texas: Marfa, Terlingua, Marathon, Fredericksburg, Gruene, Austin
  • Mexico: Boquillas del Carmen

National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Saguaro National Park, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, Tumacacori National Historic Park, Chiricahua National Monument, City of Rocks State Park, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Guadelupe Mountains National Park, Big Bend National Park.

Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

Islands Visited: No islands this month.

Best Meals: Pho Ga from Thuy’s Noodle Shop in Bisbee; Blueberry and cream Danish from Patisserie Jacqui in Bisbee; Turkey with sweet potato salad and blue cornbread from Convenience West BBQ in Marfa; Chargrilled oysters, chicken tortilla soup, and chocolate pecan pie from 12 Gauge Restaurant in Marathon; Sugar and cinnamon donut and strawberry and cream cheese donut from Gourdough’s in Austin; Turkey with cornbread, mac and cheese and cream corn from Terry Black’s BBQ in Austin.

Best Craft Beer: Churro Cream Ale and Horchata Cream Ale from Borderlands Brewery in Tucson, Shredder Coffee Oatmeal Stout from Fast Friends Beer Co. in Austin, Poco Punch Fruited Sour and Coffee Milk Stout from Zilker Brewing Company in Austin.


  • Tumamoc Hill Trail in Tucson, AZ 3.2 miles
  • Phoneline Trail loop in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, AZ 4 miles
  • Gould Mine and King Canyon loop trail in Saguaro National Park, AZ 2.65 miles
  • Sabino Canyon Trail #23 in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, AZ 5 miles
  • Youngblood Hill Trail in Bisbee, AZ 1.7 miles
  • Echo Canyon Loop Trail in Chiricahua National Monument, AZ 3.6 miles
  • Cleveland Mine Trail in Silver City, NM 2.65 miles
  • Hydra and Table Mountain Trails in City of Rocks State Park, NM 7.35 miles
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings loop Trail in Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, NM 1.25 miles
  • Lightfeather Hot Springs Trail in Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, NM 1.4 miles
  • Devil’s Hall Trail in Guadelupe Mountains National Park, TX 4.4 miles
  • McKittrick Canyon Trail to The Notch in Guadelupe Mountains National Park, TX 10.6 miles
  • Santa Elena Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park, TX 1.8 miles
  • Emory Peak Trail in Big Bend National Park, TX 10.6 miles
  • Langford Hot Springs Trail in Big Bend National Park, TX 1.7 miles
  • Boquillas Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park, TX 1.7 miles
  • Ladybird Lake loop in Austin, TX 4.2 miles

Hiking in Sabino Canyon

Watching: Self Reliance, Murder at the End of the World, Next Goal Wins, Fargo season five, Suncoast.

Reading: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel, Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

New Posts: I wrote two new posts this month – about the best things to do in the Coromandel Peninsula which is one of my favorite places in New Zealand, and also the best place to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo plus two more bonus places from my cherry blossom trip to Japan last year.

Truth or Consequences


Loving RV Life With a Travel Kitty

Despite the issues we had this month with the RV (see lowlights), I really enjoyed traveling in it and it was much less of a hassle than I imagined.

Joni Baloney

Joni adapted to RV life quickly as well and it was such a joy to have our beloved kitty with us – she has been such a sweetheart. I love seeing her experience the world on walks because she is so curious and loves being outside. I love when she touches our faces when we are stroking her, and I love when she comes and curls up on one of our laps when we are driving.

She is just the best and I can’t imagine life without her now.

Katie and Joni

Enjoying a Relaxed Six Days in Tucson

Tucson is a great city and it was fun to return on this road trip after spending four days here in 2016. Because we spent six days here, it gave us lots of time to explore as well as some downtime to relax and do some work.

View over Tucson

We visited Sabino Canyon twice to hike and travel into the canyon by shuttle, hiked in Saguaro National Park, visited historic San Xavier Del Bac Mission, explored the downtown, Fourth Avenue, and Barrio Viejo Districts, went to the weekly Farmers Market at St Philips Plaza, and hiked Tumamoc Hill. 

San Xavier Del Bac Mission

Pleasantly Surprised by Tubac

I didn’t really know what to expect with the small town of Tubac but I ended up LOVING it. There are lots of galleries and tasteful souvenir shops, adobe buildings with colorful decor, an interesting historic park, and lots of Mexican culture because it’s so close to the border.

Downtown Tubac

I’ll definitely be back!

Three Days in Quirky Bisbee

I loved Bisbee when I first visited on a day trip from Tucson in 2016 but after spending three days there on this trip, I really love it and we are even considering moving there.

Downtown Bisbee

We stayed in an RV park within walking distance of town and during our visit, we did a mine tour, visited the 1950s ghost town of Lowell, hiked Youngblood Hill, explored the shops around town, ate at a couple of local restaurants, visited a brewery, and went to a seance/magic show.

Lowell Ghost Town

Winter Wonderland in Chiricahua National Monument

We visited the remote Chiricahua National Monument in southern Arizona just after a snow storm and, man, was it beautiful! I did a loop trail through fluffy snow to view the hoodoo rock formations of the monument and I can’t think of a better experience there than hiking after a fresh snowfall.

Chiricahua National Monument

Lots of Hiking

I am so happy that I got to do so many incredible hikes this month. Highlights were Emory Peak and the Santa Elena Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park, McKittrick Canyon in Guadelupe Mountains National Park, the two hikes I did in Sabino Canyon, and the Echo Canyon loop in Chiricahua National Monument.

Hiking in Guadelupe Mountains National Park

Hot Springs Hopping

I love a hot spring and we visited some awesome ones on our road trip with a nice mix of developed and natural.

Langford Hot Springs

My favorites were hippie Faywood Hot Springs where we saw incredible stars and soaked in numerous pools, undeveloped Lightfeather Hot Springs where we had to do two freezing river crossings to reach it but had the springs to ourselves, and picturesque Langford Hot Springs on the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park where we chatted to a fun Taiwanese American group.

Lightfeather Hot Springs

Visiting Gila Cliff Dwellings

I have made it my mission to visit every cliff dwelling in the southwest that is open to the public and I visited Gila Cliff Dwellings for the first time this month.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

I liked this one a lot because there were hardly any other people there when we visited, you can climb a ladder and walk in the cliff dwellings, and they are reasonably well-preserved. We also hiked to natural hot springs in the National Monument – Lightfeather Hot Springs – and we had it to ourselves for a relaxing soak.

An Evening in Mesilla

I hadn’t heard of Mesilla, a town right by the city of Las Cruces, but it was mentioned in the Lonely Planet for having a historic plaza so we visited for the afternoon/evening to check it out.

Mesilla New Mexico

I was so pleasantly surprised – it reminds me so much of Santa Fe with gorgeous adobe buildings and a lovely plaza, but without the crowds. I grabbed some fudge from the Billy the Kid Gift Shop (housed in the old courthouse where he was sentenced to hang), had a drink at a friendly local dive bar – El Patio, and grabbed dinner at a local institution since 1939, La Posta De Mestilla.

Visiting New To Me National Parks and Monuments

We visited so many interesting and beautiful National Parks and Monuments this month, all of which were new to me except Saguaro National Park. The National Parks and Monuments are one of my favorite things about the US and we get an America the Beautiful Pass every year to visit as many as we can. I’ll be visiting a few more on the way to the Gorge in April/May.

Boquillas Canyon

Finally Visiting Big Bend National Park

Not visiting Big Bend National Park when we did our honeymoon road trip in 2018 felt like a massive oversight because we were so close (we drove to San Antonio and Austin from Southern New Mexico) so it felt good to rectify it this month.

Santa Elena Canyon

We spent four nights/three days exploring the park and I loved it all! The day we arrived we explored the semi-ghost town of Terlingua just outside the park then we spent our first full day driving the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, stopping to do short hikes along the way including into the incredible Santa Elena Canyon.

Day Two we drove to the Chisos Basin area of the park and hiked to the highest peak in Big Bend, Emory Peak, and what a gorgeous hike it was! On our last day, we soaked at natural Langford Hot Springs, crossed into Mexico and waded through the Rio Grande to have lunch in Boquillas del Carmen, and hiked Boquillas Canyon.

View from Emory Peak

It was the perfect first visit to the park and there are definitely more hikes we need to go back for.

Visiting Small Towns in Texas

As much as I enjoyed Austin, I really liked the small and quirky small towns of Texas too. My favorites were the arty, desert city of Marfa, the semi-ghost town of Terlingua, small but charming Marathon, and historic and colorful Gruene.

Terlingua Texas

Re-exploring Austin

I was excited to be back in Austin for a week this month because, like our time in Tucson, it gave us time to slowly explore as well as take some downtime to relax and work.

South Congress

We ate at some excellent food trucks and restaurants, sampled local beers at a couple of different breweries, visited the Museum of the Weird, did some long walks around Ladybird Lake and along the river, swam in the river by Barton Springs (it was closed for cleaning unfortunately), and we checked out a few different neighborhoods including East Austin, Sixth Street, Rainey Street, and South Congress.

It was great to be back in this fun city.

Austin riverside

Nights Out in Austin

We had a couple of fun nights out in Austin during our time there – you kind of have to experience the nightlife in Austin, it’s one of the things that make the city great.

On the night we arrived, Toby got us tickets to see Lettuce at Stubb’s BBQ which is a fun outdoor venue, and we got the secret code off a bartender at Fareground Food Hall where we had dinner and went to horror-themed speakeasy Floppy Disk Repair Co.

Austin live music

We met up with one of Toby’s event colleagues another night at the lobby bar at the Four Seasons where we went to see one of his friends, a very talented singer, perform. We’re hoping to get her out to the Oasis this summer to perform for our guests. We finished the night grabbing pizza on Rainey Street.


Delayed in Phoenix

Due to RV issues (see below) and waiting for my computer battery to be replaced, we spent a lot longer in the Phoenix area than previously planned. It was nice to spend more time with Toby’s Mum though and we did some fun stuff while we were there too.

RV Issues

Unfortunately, we encountered more RV issues this month that caused some stress and delays.

This month our fridge died on us the first night so we had to get a new one, we had issues with the toilet smelling on warmer days and leaking so we also got a new one, the engine was cutting out when reducing speed when we first left Phoenix but luckily that was an easy fix, we had some weird noises for a couple of days in Austin that luckily went away, there were some minor water leaks that Toby fixed, and a slow oil leak that hasn’t been fixed yet. 

Ah, life with a 1980s RV – it’s never dull, that’s for sure!

Brownie the RV

Cold Snaps

I (stupidly) thought that traveling through southern Arizona, southern New Mexico and Texas would be warm but with three winter storms rolling in during our road trip, it dropped down to freezing about half the nights we were on the road. Luckily we have a great heater in the RV and most days were still warm and sunny.

A Shitty Motel Experience

We stayed in the RV the whole road trip except for one night when I used points to stay at a Super 8 in Las Cruces. Usually, I have found Super 8 motels to be one of the better budget motels, but not this time.

Our room had a weird and unpleasant smell, the furniture was falling apart, the bed was uncomfortable, and the room was dark and uninviting. So disappointing and a waste of points.

Complicated Taxes

It’s that time of year again, tax season – my most hated of seasons. Toby and I don’t have regular jobs so doing taxes is always a nightmare but it was even worse this year because Toby worked for three weeks in California – the most complicated of states for taxes that I have come across.

Somehow I managed to soldier through and our taxes are done for another year.

Joni in the RV

Early Morning Wake-Up Calls

Joni the kitty added something new to her daily routine in the RV the last couple of weeks – meowing at the door to go outside at 5.30 am! We try to tell her she has to wait till it gets light outside but she doesn’t listen. Some days she sleeps in till 7 am and those are great days. Apparently, I am a morning person now though.

Hiking in Big Bend National Park


I don’t include international flights in my recaps. Some of my costs are shared with Toby.

Total: USD$3154

It was an expensive month despite lots of free camping and cooking our own meals as I spent a lot on clothes, the RV, getting my computer fixed, and gas. Next month will likely be more because we are splurging big time on our Alaska trip.

Accommodation $459

My 20 nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of two nights at an RV park in Tucson, three nights at an RV park in Bisbee, one night at Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area in southern Arizona, one night at the campground at Faywood Hot Springs, one night at the campground at City of Rocks State Park, one night at a campground at Guadelupe Mountains National Park, one night at an RV park in Marfa, two nights in an RV park in Terlingua, one night at a campground in Big Bend National Park, and seven nights at an RV Park in Austin.

My 11 nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of one night with family in Avondale, four nights free camping in a casino parking lot in Tucson, one night free camping in an empty lot in Tubac, one night free camping in a Walmart parking lot in Truth or Consequences, one night in a motel in Las Cruces on points, one night free camping in a rest stop near Guadelupe Mountains National Park, one night free camping in Marathon, and one night free camping in Fredericksburg.

Food and Drink $883

I’m surprised this isn’t less this month because we ate out a lot less than usual and cooked a lot. Groceries have definitely become more expensive in the US in the past year so that’s probably why.

BBQ in Marfa

Clothing $245

  • Dress $56.50
  • Puffer vest $7.50
  • Socks $12.50
  • Alaska gear – balaclava, fleece, ear muffs $57.50
  • Mexican style blouse $25
  • Bikinis x 2 $54
  • Summer dress $32

Transport $509

  • Gas $473.50
  • Lyfts/Ubers in Austin $30.50
  • Austin buses $5

Activities $146.50

  • One Year National Parks Pass $40 (my half)
  • Sabino Canyon shuttle $15
  • Tubac Presidio State Historic Park entry $15
  • The Bisbee Seance Room $34.50
  • Bisbee Queen Mine Tour $14
  • City of Rocks State Park entry $5
  • One Hour Private hot springs soak at Hoosier Hot Springs $10
  • Museum of the Weird Austin entry $13

Katie and Toby hiking

Other $509.50

  • U.S. Phone plan $35
  • Spotify $12
  • One Drive storage $2
  • Toiletries $76.50
  • Computer battery fixed $172
  • Trusted Housesitters Yearly Membership $49.50
  • Cat stuff $50.50
  • Laundry $6
  • Souvenirs $21
  • Donations $25
  • Showers $2
  • Enchantments lottery $3
  • Tax Act filing $55

Website Costs $21

  • Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
  • Pixlr photo editing for one year $9

Van/RV Costs $381

  • RV and van insurance for the month $40.50
  • New fridge $50
  • Propane $15
  • RV Misc. $29
  • Plates for van and RV $119
  • New toilet $127.50

Gruene Texas

What’s in Store For Next Month

I’ll be spending the first week of the month finishing off our road trip by visiting Dallas, Grapevine, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Espanola, before heading back to Denver for two nights.

We’re dropping Joni off with a sitter and then we are spending the rest of the month traveling (no surprises there).

The first stop is Alaska where we are spending eleven nights traveling to Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs, Talkeetna, and Anchorage.

The point of the trip is to finally see the Northern Lights but we’ll also be doing some fun winter activities like hot springs soaking, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobiling, riding the Alaska Winter Train, seeing the World Ice Art Championships, and visiting some museums.

After falling in love with Alaska in summer, I can’t wait to experience it in winter too.

After a half-day stopover in Juneau, we will be leaving chilly Alaska for warm and sunny Mexico. But we only have one night there before our final destination of the month: Cuba!

We will be spending the rest of the month discovering this new-to-us country, one we have wanted to visit for a long time. We haven’t nailed down all of our plans as we want to leave room for spontaneity but we will definitely be spending time in Havana and Trinidad this month, as well as hopefully Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos.

I am so excited for this adventure!

To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here

1 Comment on Digital Nomad Life: Month 104

  1. Wow, what an incredible journey through the Southwest! Month 104 sounds like it was filled with unforgettable experiences, from exploring charming small towns to hiking in breathtaking national parks and monuments. Your detailed recap truly brings to life the essence of each place you visited.

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