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As you can tell, it’s been awhile since we’ve posted. No special reason … just busy traveling and having fun. I’ll try to do better for the rest of the year.

No, really.

Since we left Gettysburg, we’ve been busy: north to Watkins Glen, west to Bozeman (and then the San Juan Islands without the RV), down through Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, and now heading east towards Florida in a meandering sort of way. We’ve had a great time, as you will see in future posts.

Watkins Glen and the Finger Lakes in New York were beautiful. I wish that I had taken advantage of the area when I lived in Baltimore, but better late than never. The biggest attraction was Watkins Gorge. I had no idea that this was here. Wow.

From there, we hunkered down in western NY state for Memorial Day. Yes, that’s how far behind we are. While there, we got another surprise by visiting Letchworth State Park. More fantastic beauty. Man, we really love state parks.

Having survived Memorial Day, and a power related failure on the Friday evening of that holiday weekend, we ran west. I won’t go into the details since we were essentially just moving across the country, but we did stop in the Chicago area so that I could show Patti where I grew up in small town America. Oh, and we bought a couple of eBikes which have proven to be lots of fun. Here are a few representative photos.

I’ll try to get more posts out in a timely manner. I have lots of cool photos from our summer in the smoke out west. Stay tuned.

Next big stop: Luray, VA and a bit of the Shenandoah National Park. I have spent a lot of time in the park over the years and even a couple of visits to the town of Luray. One of my closest friends lives very near there so we booked this spot so that we could walk the park, hit the famous Luray Caverns, and visit people we haven’t seen in too long. Mission accomplished on all counts.

We spent 10 nights at the Luray KOA. We chose it based upon two criteria: it was close to my buddy’s house and it had good ratings. It blew us away. One side of the RV faced a farmer’s field where a grain crop was just coming in. It was a beautiful shade of green, particularly in the morning and evening light. The other side faced a huge, open lawn. Very nice indeed. The park has several nice walks and drives, always enjoyable. Surprisingly, this was my first visit to Luray Caverns and all I’ll say is that it was worth the trip.

So, a good time was had by all. We visited with our fully vaccinated friends (no masks! hugs all around!) and actually had dinner out (no masks! food we didn’t cook!). Jeez, normalcy (at least a version of it) seems to be lurking just around the corner!

We crossed the Mighty Mississippi heading eastbound after almost two years of adventures in the west. We stopped for a visit with family in Louisiana and then sped towards Florida. Spent some time with close friends in north Florida over Thanksgiving and then we were back on the Space Coast for a three month stay in a townhouse.

I didn’t take a whole lot of photos during this dash. We were moving kinda fast and staying places that weren’t, for the most part, scratching my creative itch. One place we did stop that is totally worth mentioning was the Whitney Plantation. It is best described in their own words: “Whitney Plantation Museum is the only museum in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on the lives of enslaved people.” It was a moving and educational experience that left us humbled and which my words can’t begin to bring to justice. Below are some photographs of just a handful of the wonderful art scattered across the grounds. I strongly encourage anyone in the Baton Rouge area to invest a few hours visiting this powerful place.

The Whitney Plantation Chapel with sculptures by artist Woodrow Nash of enslaved children. Wallace, LA 11/13/20

Nash’s sculptures at Whitney Plantation. Wallace, LA 11/13/20

A view of the main house at the Whitney Plantation. Wallace, LA 11/13/20

Woodrow Nash also created this memorial of the German Coast Uprising, the largest slave revolt in U.S. history. Whitney Plantation. Wallace, LA 11/13/20

Whitney Plantation. Wallace, LA 11/13/20

The punishment cages at Whitney Plantation. Wallace, LA 11/13/20

Set up on Mobile Bay. Nice site. Mobile, AL 11/14/20

Sunset across Mobile Bay. 11/14/20

Our original plans had us wintering in Tucson with a planned field trip in the truck back to Florida for a couple of weeks to have some long overdue doctor visits. We are of an age where scheduling doctor appointments is not an option but a necessity. The on-going Covid unpleasantness prompted us to change those plans and take the RV east with us. We made arrangements to rent a condo in Cape Canaveral for a few months and we were able to store the coach in our old storage facility, so after Bryce we headed east at what was, for us, a rapid pace. Our initial goal, other than a quick stop in Albuquerque for annual maintenance for Sybil, was to stop near Baton Rouge to visit family.

So, off we went. Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas fell into our rear view mirror. We saw trees that were millions of years old here, just missed getting caught in severe winter conditions in North Texas, camped with alpacas near Dallas, and rode out Election Day on a bayou in East Texas. Which is a story in its own right.

But we made it without too many mishaps. Here are a few shots from along the way. Next time: east of the Mighty Mississippi for the first time in a while!

Dinner at Wahweap Campground on Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, 10/13/20

Night sky over Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, 10/13/20

Petrified Forest NP, 10/16/20

Petrified Forest NP, 10/16/20

Petrified Forest NP, 10/16/20

Petrified Forest NP, 10/16/20

Petrified Forest NP, 10/16/20

Petrified Forest NP, 10/16/20

Alpacas are silly. Denton, TX, 10/29/20

What a goofy face. Denton, TX, 10/29/20

Early morning on the Big Cypress Bayou. Karnack, TX 11/3/20

Early morning on the Big Cypress Bayou. Karnack, TX 11/3/20

Wow, it’s been way too long (again) since I posted. We’ve been a bit busy, what with driving across the country, moving into a condo for a few months, many doctors appointments, and implementing major changes in our lifestyle. That latter item is a subject for a later post. Patience, grasshopper.

Our next stop was Bryce Canyon National Park. Beautiful Bryce. This place is awesome and the pics you’ll see below don’t come close to actually capturing the natural wonders that make it up. It needs to be seen to be appreciated. So we went, spent a week, saw beautiful things, and left wanting more. As it should be.

We also took a couple of side trips while there, specifically to Red Canyon just outside the park, and Kodachrome Basin State Park just a short drive away. Both were well worth the time, particularly Red Canyon. It is literally directly on the way to Bryce from the west and has insane (and easy) walks straight from the parking lot. It’s a “must not miss” stop for anyone in the area. (Note from the editor: The hike at Red Canyon is one of my top five fave hikes so far.)

On an “RV’ing isn’t for sissies” note: when I was setting up at the campground, the water intake attachment on the RV blew up when I turned on the hose. This is a one way hose attachment and is, obviously, critical to our getting fresh water. I took two quick actions. One was to order the part and to have it delivered to our next stop. The second was to drive to the thriving metropolis of Tropic, UT, population 530, where there was an Ace hardware store. I bought four (4!) adapters to convert the H2O input piping to directly connect a hose. There was a small amount of dripping even with the use of plumbers tape, but it would do. The lows overnight were forecast to be about 36 degrees, so no danger of freezing. No problem.

At 3AM I got up to answer the call of nature and checked the outside temperature from my weather station. It was reporting 28 degrees. Crap. So at 3AM, this Florida boy found himself outside disconnecting an already partially frozen hose and capping the icicle-encrusted half-assed connection. Good times. Fortunately I got to it before any of our interior pipes were affected. Two lessons were learned: 1) always keep your eye on the actual temp vs. the forecast one and 2) the furnaces on our RV were able to easily keep our basement storage area (where our tanks and water lines live) nice and warm. Both of these are good to know.

Enjoy the photos and stay tuned. I hope to resume posting more regularly over the coming month to catch up with actual real-time events. Stay safe y’all.

Bryce Canyon NP 10/6/20

Bryce Canyon NP 10/6/20

Bryce Canyon NP 10/6/20

Bryce Canyon NP 10/6/20

Bryce Canyon NP 10/6/20

Bryce Canyon NP 10/7/20

Bryce Canyon NP 10/7/20

Bryce Canyon NP 10/7/20

Kodachrome Basin SP 10/8/20

Red Canyon UT 10/9/20

Red Canyon UT 10/9/20

Red Canyon UT 10/9/20

Red Canyon UT 10/9/20

After a too short stay in the Moab area, we slipped a bit east for a week stay in the Grand Junction area in SW Colorado. We stayed at Palisade Basecamp right on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. Very nice. Anyplace where we can walk to a vineyard is okay with us.

While there, we took two major outings. One was for a scenic drive and some walks along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. This is a very nice drive up the Mesa where we hiked around a small lake and took in the Fall colors. Side note: these were the first foliage colors I had seen in almost 4 decades. Florida doesn’t count. Palm trees are pretty boring trees. The hiking was at elevation, but no problem, we did fine.

Our second excursion was to Colorado National Monument. This was another very nice trip on the Rim Rock Drive which offers a bunch of vista viewpoints as well as some hikes. Another good time.

Otherwise we just hung out as usual, living this rough life we’ve chosen and looking forward to our next stop back where the idea of going full-time was planted.

The view from our RV. That’s the Colorado River in the foreground. Palisade, CO 9/28/20

Colorado National Monument. 9/29/20

Waiting for our lunch crumbs. Colorado National Monument 9/29/20

Fall colors! Off the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. 10/1/20

On our walk Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. 10/1/20

On our walk Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. 10/1/20

View from our lunch spot off the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. 10/1/20

Back in 2012, I had a bit of a health issue (see here for those posts). Following my recovery, or at least a good portion of it, we went to Utah and a bit of Arizona for what became known as our “I’m Not Dead Yet” tour. We hit many of the big parks for three night stays in their lodges or nearby and had a blast. Those posts start here if you’re interested. One thing that we learned is that just a few days in these types of locations is not enough. There is a direct line from that lesson to our going full-time in the RV last year. You can’t say we’re slow learners. At least in this instance.

So now we find ourselves back where it started. We booked a 2-week stay just outside Moab and it still wasn’t enough to even begin to see everything there is to see, but we saw a lot. Our lifestyle (ie: staying at a destination location in our own home) allowed us to take our time, but still go see cool stuff. If we decide to take a day off for laundry, chores, naps, and perhaps a bit of Xbox, no sweat.

Obviously this is a target-rich environment for photographers. This post will cover Arches National Park since it was our most visited destination with five separate trips (thank you once again America The Beautiful Pass!). It’s hard to pick just a handful, but needs must.

Sunset view of Balanced Rock, Arches NP, 9/21/20

A closer view of Balanced Rock. Arches NP 9/18/20

Sunset in Arches NP, 9/21/20

Early morning in Arches NP, 9/18/20

Early morning in Arches NP, 9/18/20

Landscape Arch, Arches NP 9/18/20

Pine Tree Arch, Arches NP, 9/18/20

Tunnel Arch, Arches NP, 9/18/20

Navajo Arch, Arches NP, 9/18/20

Arches NP, 9/18/20

Fiery Furnace, Arches NP, 9/17/20

Broken Arch, Arches NP, 9/17/20

The Fiery Furnace, Arches NP, 9/21/20

The Courthouse Wash Rock Art Panel. Arches NP, 9/22/20

Sand Dune Arch, Arches NP, 9/21/20

Broken Arch, Arches NP, 9/21/20

Skyline Arch, Arches NP, 9/21/20

We felt like Randall Flagg was following us around. #TheStand Arches NP, 9/17/20

Skyline Arch, Arches NP, 9/21/20

The plan was to leave the coast and spend a couple of days just east of Portland in order to check out the Columbia Gorge, then go to ground in Boise (with a quick overnight stay en route) for the Labor Day weekend, and then dash to Salt Lake City (with another stop on the way) for several days. Which is what we did. Sort of.

We did, in fact, have a great time briefly exploring the Gorge. Impressive views and several waterfalls kept the “Oh, wow!” factor alive and well. Many of the trails that are acceptable to us (ie: easy-ish) were closed due to the pandemic but we were able to see the sights and take some walks. Lived up to all of the hype. We’d love to revisit in the spring some year in order to see the waterfalls at their best. A common phrase worth repeating: we’ll be back.

As it turns out, we got out of Dodge at just the right time. Wildfires kicked up in the Portland area in a big way immediately after we left. Our run east to Boise was uneventful as was our stay there. Between Covid and holiday crowds, we felt it best to just hunker down, which we did.

One of my trip planning tools is a website called Windy. It provides a nice view of upcoming weather, particularly wind speeds. Wind is not my friend since we are effectively driving a large sail down the highway. Broadside gusts can make life interesting. Looking at Windy showed some strong winds on our travel days due to a front moving through, starting just at our overnight stay in eastern Idaho as well as in Salt Lake City the next day. So we decided to stop for a couple of nights a bit earlier than planned. Twin Falls, ID looked good so I found a park near there and off we went.

This turned out to be a great decision for two reasons. First, the winds were indeed crazy with 90 mph gusts in SLC. Forty-nine semi-trucks were blown over right when we were to arrive! Bullet: dodged. Second: Twin Falls rocked! Beautiful canyon which Evel Knieval tried to jump on his motorcycle, lovely waterfalls, charming downtown area. Significantly better than muscling Sybil and the truck through high winds.

After our layover we headed to SLC for a few nights. Three words describe our stay: lousy air quality. We were happy to move on and start our time in Moab, Grand Junction, and Bryce. More on that next time. Meanwhile here’s a handful of shots from the Gorge and Twin Falls.

Multnomah Falls. Nice trails here but they were closed. You supposedly need a reservation to park and see the falls. Columbia River Gorge, OR 9/2/20

Latourell Falls, Columbia Gorge, OR 9/2/20

The Columbia River Gorge, 9/2/20

Your choice of golf courses in the bottom of the Snake River Canyon. Twin Falls, ID 9/9/20

Twin Falls, ID 9/9/20

 


I’m way behind in posting, mostly because we just moved almost 1300 miles in 12 days. That may not seem like much, but for us it’s moving fast! More on that journey in a later post. This post will wrap up our stay in Garibaldi and coastal Oregon as well as the most comfortable summer weather-wise that I’ve ever had. Most days had us wearing long pants and shirts at least some of the time and the space heater ran every morning to take the chill off. Having lived in Florida most of my adult life, this was simply heaven.

So here is a major photo drop. The first group were all taken within walking distance of the RV. I really enjoyed my daily walks through town and was always ready to grab my camera to shoot something new. The balance of the shots are from some of the many field trips we took in the area, but we only scratched the surface. It really is a beautiful area of the country. I got used to it. We’ll be back.

The old boathouse and new Coast Guard Station in low cloud conditions. Not an unusual event. Garibaldi, OR 7/27/20

Low clouds. Garibaldi, OR 7/27/20

A fuzzy moon over Tillamook Bay. Garibaldi, OR 8/22/20

Sunset. 8/3/20

The Port of Garibaldi. This is a working port with lots of fishing activity most days. All evenings the sidewalks are rolled up. Garibaldi, OR 8/4/20

People clamming at low tide. Often there would be many dozens, entire families, out there. At high tide the pier would be full of people trapping crabs. Good eating. Garibaldi, OR 8/5/20

The helicopter pad for the Coast Guard Station was directly in front of the RV. Note the crewman lying on the floor in the door letting the pilot know where the ground is. Garibaldi, OR 8/5/20

The view from Oswald West SP. That’s Nehalem Bay on the left. 7/28/20

OR 101 hugs the coast. 7/28/20

Munson Creek Falls, Tillamook, OR 8/4/20

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR 8/10/20

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR 8/10/20

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR 8/10/20

 

 

Pulling out. 8/15/20

While staying here in Garibaldi, we have grown accustomed to hearing the train whistle of the local tourist line as it announces its departure from and, 90 minutes later, its return to the station just a short walk from the RV. The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad runs three times a day on weekdays, four on the weekend. The weekend runs are pulled by a vintage steam engine which certainly looks and sounds the part of an old timey train. It only goes about 5 miles up the coast to Rockaway Beach and then comes back to Garibaldi after a 30 minute “layover.” One beautiful morning we took the first run. Sandwiched between Tillamook Bay and Rt 101, we enjoyed the scenery along the coast. We strongly recommend.

Plus, it has been like having a local clock tower announcing the time. We know when it’s noon.

PS: This was the first real “touristy” thing we’ve done in these troubled times. It was a nice return to close to normal, albeit with face masks and social distancing. We’ll take what we can get.

Heading up the tracks. 7/19/20

Passing some clammers. 8/23/20

Blowing the whistle. 8/11/20

Driving the train 8/11/20

Sometimes we were pretty close to the road. 8/11/20

The restored passenger car. 8/11/20

“The Three Graces” near Garibaldi, OR 8/11/20

The view of the Boathouse Pier from the train. Garibaldi, OR 8/11/20