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El Paso, Texas ~ All Roads Lead to Ft Bliss


The McGregor Range

Traveling down from Alamogordo, NM, on US 54, to El Paso, it wasn’t long before we were in the Ft Bliss McGregor Range. This training range is immense! Some of it is mountainous while other parts are flat and vast! We could see columns of desert dust rising in different directions. These were coming from military vehicles traveling on dusty roads. It brought back memories of Ft Drum, NY and our Field Artillery, Battalion and Battery convoys on rough, dust-filled roads. Howitzer crews, riding in the back, on 5-ton trucks filled with tons of equipment. The dust so bad that many guys wearing their gas mask! Ah, those were the days! NOT! I continued to drive south thinking of those soldiers, back then and now. Unless you ’ve experienced this dry, hot and dusty environment, you can’t fathom what soldiers put up with to protect the United States of America!


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Site #111 ~ Ft Bliss


Ft Bliss RV Park ~ Friends

As we travel from one place to another, we meet people, make friends, stay in touch and so on. It is no different here at Ft Bliss. Our Tucson, Davis/Monthan AFB friends, Tom and Nancy were here at the park. A text from Nancy, as we left La Cruces, NM, indicated that Ft Bliss had availability. We had their site number and Nancy indicated not to take site 45 as it had a lot of kids next door. Checking in at the office, we got a perfect end of row site just three sites from Tom and Nancy. Life is Good at Ft Bliss!

Ft Bliss ~ The Lay of the Land

On our way west, we stayed at Ft Bliss two nights, really one full day. We didn’t get chance to explore this Army base. Here are some interesting facts: (I’m a facts guy)

  • Fort Bliss is the nation’s air defense headquarters
  • Fort Bliss is the second largest military installation in the US Army
  • Fort Bliss military community has grown to over 164,000 people
  • Females represent 48% of the military community at Fort Bliss
  • Approximately 58% of the military community at Fort Bliss is married

The heart of the growing Fort Bliss community is the Freedom Crossing. It is the first of its kind shopping center in the world! In addition to shops and restaurants, Freedom Crossing features a 10-screen, stadium seating first-run movie theatre. “The Grand Theatre”

In short, Fort Bliss is a good size city and very healthy! Even in the worship area, it has four dedicated chapels covering several faiths. We enjoyed exploring this military community!


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Freedom Crossing ~ Ft Bliss



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Freedom crossing ~ Food Court


El Paso ~ And The Zoo

On our first night at Fort Bliss, Tom and Nancy invited us over for dinner. We did a lot of catching up. The following day the four of us went to the El Paso Zoo. It took us the middle part of the day to view all the exhibits. By mid-afternoon, the sun had cooked the energy out of us and we called it a day! That evening we all ended up in the community room, doing internet stuff, Helen and Nancy looked at Nancy’s daughter’s wedding pictures. I watched some of my YouTube favorites and Tom did the same on his computer. That’s the age of electronic indulgences!


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No Monkeying Around!



Saturday was a long-awaited re-supply day at Freedom Crossing. As mentioned above, Freedom Crossing is a world-class shopping mecca! We spent nearly all day shopping (groceries mostly) and exploring the complex. It is nice to have your refrigerator with you so you don’t have to run home to put away your frozen products. Lunch was at the food court with dozens and dozens of food outlets. Remember the base has 164,000 community members! A lot of customers!

We located the Catholic Chapel on base and went to 5pm mass. After mass, we had dinner in the camper on base. The plan here was to go the movies at the 7:05 showing of “Death Wish”. This 10 screen movie theatre does have first-run movies and charges $6 (military discount). Not bad for an evening first run movie. Oh, if you wanted popcorn, a “small” would cost you $6.50 and a large $8.50…No thanks, we just had dinner!


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Tom, Nancy, Helen & Me


Sunday Morning ~ Blog Writing

You wouldn’t believe it but this Sunday morning is the first real day of rain since we left home in early November! It isn’t pouring, but more of a soaking drizzle. We are getting into the winter jet stream pattern. Yesterday, FaceTiming our granddaughter, Aspen, was a sobering reality of the snowy conditions back home in New Hampshire. We must, must slow down and crawl home so, so slowly! We leave here tomorrow morning!

Another footnote: I’ve been able to post my blogs’ frequently because of the reliable Internet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue this as we move Eastward!

That is what we saw and did!

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California Dreaming ~ Not

A few words about California. First let me recap Earp, Ca. That was our homestay on the Colorado River. It was located in California, but so close to Parker, AZ that even the people in Earp didn’t change their watches to PTZ (Pacific Time Zone). A rural, nice place to stay, we were perfectly happy there.


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Our Site #8 River Land Resort ~ Earp, CA



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“The Grand View” @ River Land Resort


Indio and Palm Springs ~ Umm?

Yesterday our drive was pleasant, driving on rural state roads with little traffic. This would lead to I-10 West with more traffic. Ok, so far, more traffic was expected. I had programmed Fantasy Springs Resort Casino as our first destination, at exit 144. I easily followed the signs to the Casino. They allow RV’ers to park overnight in their overflow parking lot. I was amazed at how many RVs were there in early afternoon. This was a no-brainer as far as parking for the night. It was lunchtime, actually with the time change, one hour past our accustomed Arizona time and a drive on rural back roads with no coffee break. We were hungry! One exit up the interstate we had lunch, fast food, but we wanted to check-out Palm Springs, about 18 miles further up the road. I was thinking that this was a long ride from Indio to Palm Springs. Maybe we could find a closer Casino to stay at. Agua Caliente Casino was beautiful with a large overflow parking lot. The only problem was it was empty! Not a good sign! Sure enough, they didn’t allow overnight RV parking. Bummer! The next objective was to locate where in Palm Springs that they shut down a major street, in the uptown, for a weekly Thursday night venue. I didn’t have the name of the street or the venue and we spent some time looking. Palm Springs is vast! Disappointed we started to head back towards Indio. I stopped to refuel the truck. This is where “California things” started to change! The price on the sign said $3.09 per gal. I inserted my credit card and the sign said, “Cash or Debit”. I walked into the store and the cashier said the same thing. I asked her if my credit card info was still on at the pump. She said, no, it wasn’t, I left and found another gas station with the same result. The real price of gas is $3.09 plus .45 cents if you use a credit card! That’s $3.54 a gal! Thank You, California taxes! By the way, the gas price in Parker, AZ was $2.33 per gal! Oh, yes, another noticeable thing about California, we had been here a couple of hours and already had been approached for money, use of our cell phone and a battery jump! We are planning on leaving this area for Joshua Tree NP as soon as my board meeting is completed later this morning. I am not planning on going to San Diego as we don’t want to deal with congestion and California’s odd (Liberal) regulations!


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San Jacinto Mountains, Backdrop ~ Palm Springs, CA


A Change of Heart!

A good nights’ sleep helped me focus a little better on our next move. I Googled a Visitor Center in uptown Palm Springs and off we went to again explore. The Visitor Center is located in an old Chevron Gas Station, which has a roof line in nearly the shape of a kite. It is also at the base of the Arial Tramway Road and a cool place with Palm Springs welcoming sign.


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Palm Springs ~ Visitor Center ~ Canyon Drive, Palm Springs


I found the name of the event is called “Village Fest” and located just down Canyon Drive, from the Visitor Center! Things were starting to look better than yesterday! My main concern for going to Village Fest was finding a good safe parking location. It was around 3:30pm and after driving around up and down the valley, I got antsy about finding suitable parking so that I headed towards Canyon Drive and its side streets. About two streets away, I found street parking with no hour limit, nonthreatening neighborhood. The police and public works department had already started to block off Canyon Drive for Village Fest. We walked the area and found it interesting with many shop and restaurants. Vendors setting up their easy-up shelters up and down the street gave us a good idea that the evening would be a good experience.


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Canyon Drive, Palm Springs


Village Fest

Time to eat again! Plenty of vendors on the street, but this Pizza Restaurant caught my eye and I love pizza! We struck up a conversation with a couple sitting at the same table. They were from the upper midwest (Minnesota). They were here on a Ukulele convention at the Hilton Hotel.

Now darkness took the evening as we departed from our new friends! The vendors, with well-lighted booths, presented their wares! Pretty amazing stuff! The jewelry was especially well crafted! From one end to the other, several blocks long we looked, smelled and even tasted samples. Our Canadian friends from Quartzite had highly recommended a certain type of dates. We found them, had a sample, and bought a pound. Did you know that “man” can survive with eating only dates and water? Well, I’m not ready to try that out yet, but an interesting fact! (not fact checked).

Wall-Mart Overnight?

The Visitor Center on Canyon Drive told us that we could park one night at Wall-Mart on Ramon Rd. That was a short distance from Village Fest. It was time to head to the truck two blocks east. On Canyon Drive, we had spotted a couple of cars being towed away, walking towards our parking spot. One has the anxiety that everything is ok with the camper. Accidentally, we overshot our street and were looking for that tall camper down the block! It only took a few seconds to get our bearings and navigate to the truck! All was well! Off to Wall-Mart on Ramon Rd. At Wall-Mart, we asked at the service desk and they said “No overnight parking”. Well, after asking a roving security patrol, he said that this store closes at mid-night and overnight is not allowed. Off to Fantasy Springs Resorts for the night!

That is what we did and saw!

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Lake Havasu & London Bridge

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Parker Dam ~ Dividing California and Arizona

The Parker Dam

The ride to Lake Havasu City was interesting in itself. Staying on the California side, up to the Parker Dam, we encountered numerous RV parks. Starting with ours, which is the first one on BLM land, they are all privately owned, but must follow BLM regulations. This makes them clean and orderly. They all have clear signage with the BLM designated logos. The Indian run RV parks are not as well maintained further south.

A few miles upstream, we arrived at the Parker Dam. Numerous signs on the way up indicated that large trucks and RV’s are not allowed over the dam. I was thinking it was for security reasons, but soon realized it was because the dam road is extremely narrow and in a curved formation. I started across only to meet two pickups going in the opposite direction. A note here is that our truck camper is off the truck! The first truck was of little concern, but the second service truck had extended mirrors. We both slowed to a crawl and squeaked by each other. Once we were on the other side of the dam, I stopped for a few photos. A mile or two after the dam we jumped on Arizona 95 North.

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London Bridge ~ Lake Havasu City

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Living the Tourist Life under the London Bridge

Lake Havasu City

We have visited both Parker Dam and Lake Havasu City a few years ago, but we were moteling it back then. Lake Havasu City’s best icon is the famous bridge that originally went over the Themes River in London, England. It was dismantled back in 1981 and shipped over to Havasu City and reassembled. The rebuild project lasted four years. In any event, it is a diamond in the heart of the city!

We drove over the bridge and parked on the West side, walked the bridge, descended the stairs, admired the bridge and watched many different boats going up and down under the bridge. With a 5 mph speed limit on the water, it was a pleasant atmosphere strolling on the dock/sidewalk watching every type of boat going and coming. The shops were open and although not super crowded, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.


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The Arch Discovery!

The Painted Rocks Search

On the way home, we noticed an area, that we were told of a hiking trail into the desert to view some painted rocks. It was getting too late for a hike in this late afternoon, but we returned to this starting point the next morning. Our hiking buddy, Pat, had given us the starting point, but failed to explain that at the ATV/Access point one could go in a dozen different directions. We were hiking on foot hence, I marked our starting point at  the truck location on my Garmin 60Cx. Our hike started in a northerly direction. I was looking at the terrain and figured it might be a good location for painted rock mosaics.

A half mile later, it looked very mountainous with no possible way to the painted rocks! We were ready to about-face, but in the corner of my eye, I noticed some sort of tunnel to our left. Closer examination revealed a large arch! It was big enough for the ATVs which have driven through. We walked to it, cool looking arch! Mother nature along with a torrent of rain created this arch. Looking towards the West, the canyon funneled to a tighter narrow wash. I walked a little further and discovered more unusual tunnels and arches. We didn’t find the painted rocks, but the arches and tunnels were a conciliation bonus!

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Geology Up Close!


Geology ~ Rock Heaven!

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Helen Entering the Cave

The Geocache ~ Conciliation

Back at the truck, with my Garmin 60Cx handheld GPS, we both wondered if there were any geocaches close by. I opened the app on my iPhone, hit the geocache icon. Bingo, a cache was about a mile up the ATV trail. The description said that we could drive to the cache. “Lets go”, I told Helen! Off up the ATV road we went. Helen, gets nervous when I go off-roading! I said to her that I would stop and turn around when the road gets tough or impassable. We went in about a half mile and I could tell she was getting a little tense! “Ok”, I said, “I’ll turn around and we’ll walk-in the rest of the way.” The road was hard packed and easy walking. The terrain was now getting more volcanic with red, black mounds sort of bubbling out of the ragged mountains. A cool place to explore! I was using my GPS and not my iPhone as the iPhone takes data but more importantly uses a large amount of battery when tracking. Save the iPhone for emergencies, I was thinking!

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Up the Wash!

We were within 100 feet of the cache. It looked promising to right, but the GPS was increasing to 115 feet. I backed off and reversed direction across the road. Ah, good possibilities here, a lot of loose volcanic rocks. I reminded Helen that rattlesnakes hide in the rocks and it was definitely hot enough for them to be actively out! I hunted for a stick to do my poking around in these rocks. GPS now reading 17 feet and an accuracy reading of 9 feet, we must be very close. I climbed high up the cliff to check the back side. Wow, dozens and dozens of loose rocks, I poked here and there with no results! Back around to the front side towards the road I went. Helen was a little lower watching and poking around also. 

I spotted something not quite right. “Helen,” I hollered. “Look up here. See that hole. There is rock inside that is laid horizontally and doesn’t appear normal.” There, in front of me, was the lock and lock box! I opened it, took out the log book, signed the log with our geocaching handle of “TravelduoNH” along with the date. I took none of the trinkets and replaced the box as found behind the loss rocks. (I later went on-line and recorded the “Copper Basin Cache” as found. This gives us a total 872 caches found between the two of us.) 

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The Geocache possible location

We both felt good that we hadn’t lost our touch for finding a geocache. This cache brought us to a very volcanic geological area that we would not have gone to without a geocache! A short time later, we were back at the truck. We didn’t find the painted rock mosaics, but that’s another exploration for another day!

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“The Parting Shot!! ~ Haha

That’s what we saw and did!

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Quartzsite, AZ to Earp, California

Blythe, CA

Early Saturday night, in Quartzsite, I was planning our departure from the “Rocking, Rock Capital” to our next base of operations in Parker, AZ on the Colorado River. We planned on attending Sunday morning mass in Blythe, CA, a mere 20 or so miles away from Quartzsite. We didn’t have any planned location for our stay in Parker, but it is convenient and comments have all been positive!

During the night, I woke up and came to the realization that crossing the Colorado River into California would mean a one hour time change. With that thought, I made a mental note to leave one hour earlier. I was up at 5:15am, had breakfast, took care of business and we were on the road by 6am. Little traffic on the I-10 and was in Blythe by 6:30 am (Arizona time). Helen made a comment that it was awfully dark for 7:30am California time! You guessed it, I should have slept an extra hour instead of leaving an extra hour early! So, having our hotel room in the back of the truck, we did some reading, texting and a little Facebook for a couple of hours before the 8am mass at St Joan of Ark.

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Our Truck Camper ~ Site #8

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Desert Mountains in Background

Parker, AZ & Earp, CA

After attending church, a quick stop at McDonald’s for coffee and my decision to follow US 95 up to Parker on the California side was made. I chose the California side to be in less traffic and smell the Roses Desert! The secondary highway follows the Colorado River more closely than the Arizona highway. We enjoyed viewing deserts, rocky mountains and some views of the river.

Arriving in Earp, CA, I drove across the river into Parker. Our first stop was at the Wal-Mart for a needed resupply of food. This Wal-Mart does allow RV parking overnight and lets me tell you there we many RVs parked here in the early afternoon.

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Night View from our Site #8

The Recon ~ for a place to stay!

On the way into Parker, we saw many campers dispersed on BLM land. Some would stay at Wal-Mart for short periods of time. Our plan was for a 30 day stay in this area. This wasn’t going to be a boondocking situation. We needed a little creature comfort for a 30-day stay.

On the way up, on the California side of the river, we noticed many RV resort signs. I decided to drive across the river and start looking on that side of the river. It is a little-laid back with less traffic and still the same river, but looking east instead of west.

The first stop was at an Indian run park. Not impressed at all! Office closed with limited hours even during the week. It looked like permanent year-round residences and not what we were looking for. The second stop, a couple of miles down the road, looking very promising, but again the office closed! The third place, River Land Resort looked inviting and the paved entrance leads us to the office, on the river. It was open! Vanessa, smiling as we entered, gave us options for a couple of nights, 30 days, 60 days and so on. There were only two available sites. Being apprehensive, I wanted to walk the sites. The first was at the end and sandwiched by two 53 foot Class A’s, it was on the water’s edge. The second site at the extreme other end was on the third street with storage garages and dirt, dusty road. We decided on the first site, Vanessa told us that another site #8 was also available on the water. Third time is always a winner! Perfect for us! We actually paid less than at Davis/Monthan AFB in Tucson. Full hook-ups, cable tv (hundreds of stations), laundry, showers, community room, activity calendar and most important to me Super WiFi and bandwidth! I assume that the bandwidth comes from everybody watching TV and not on the internet! Streaming online no buffering!! Love it!

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Arizona Looking into California

Quartzsite visitors

John, Cheryl, Len, and Elizabeth were up at the Casino in Parker to watch the football game Sunday afternoon. They gave us call just after we were setting up. I couldn’t believe they were here, not thinking about the football game. I think they were impressed with the resort!

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River Land Resort ~ Earp, CA

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Reminds Me of Homes in Venice, Italy

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Sunset ~ On The Colorado River!

We are just getting settling in and will start exploring today!


That is what we saw and did!


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This morning, sitting in the truck camper, in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, in Yuma Arizona, I need to reflect on the last two days.

At Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, it was a shock to my senses! No noise, quiet, deathly quiet! Ranger Jeremiah even mentioned this on our desert walk. “It is heavenly peaceful or it can drive you insane.” He said. I didn’t fully understand what he meant until here in Yuma, close to I-8 Interstate, traffic noise, city noise, even radio noise. At the National Monument, I could only pick up one AM radio station and I think it was from Tohono O’Odham Indian Nation. We did have cell service and internet via Verizon Jet Pack. This was only used to text and publish the blog.

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Cactus and Humans Standing in Harmony!

The quietness, to me was heavenly. It was weird when you talk in the desert, you can hear your own voice, it doesn’t echo, it sounds like you have a headset on. Ok, (Barney Bender) you’re thinking I’m going crazy! At night, it is so quiet you can hear your own breathing and I swear I think you can hear your heart pumping blood through your body. Did I mention darkness, speaking of night?

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Moon Disappearing to the Dawn of Day!

Darkness and the Moonless Sky

It just happened to be the time of the month of a new moon, hence it was dark! I woke up about 3:30 am to use the bathroom. I wanted to take photos of the Milky-way and stars, but my tripod was up in the bedroom area and it was too much of a hassle to set things up at this time of the night. I did open the door to peak at the night sky. As predicted, many thousands of stars were visible, but I didn’t spot the milky-way. Maybe it was in the opposite direction from the back door. I didn’t go outside to check. I will have time to do this when we continue our journey. I’m thinking of Joshua Tree NP. There are many boulders in some of the campgrounds that will accent the Milky-way.

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Ajo Mountain Dome ~OPC~NP

What a Gem

I was very impressed with this National Monument! It was closed a dozens years ago for five years when a Border Patrol Officer Kris Eggel was shot in the line of duty. It’s been reopened for five years and what a gem! With 400 plus Border Patrol Officers in the immediate area it is very safe. The Kris Eggel Visitor Center is a cool place to visit! We may travel in that direction on our return to the East.

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Time Marches On!

That is what we saw and did!

Featured post

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Jan. 11th & 12th 2018

Twin Peaks Campground

Our site number 89 was close to the restroom and amphitheater. We tend to do this to conserve using our fresh water and filling up our waste tanks. The amphitheater was having a 7pm Ranger talk, hence being close just makes coming home easier, since darkness would be on us. We ate a light dinner consisting of turkey with gravy, golden potatoes and a tasty tossed salad. A walk partway around campground gave us a little exercise and a chance to shoot some photos, at the “Golden Hour” of the “Organ Pipe Cactus”.

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Morning from Arizona!

The Ranger Talk

At 7pm sharp, Ranger Jeremiah MayBee started his talk on foods the pioneers ate many moons ago. He selected three women to describe their lives in those early days. One woman was Indigenous, one was Spanish and last a White woman. It was an interesting talk, but the night breeze settled in and even though we had dressed for the occasion, it was on the chilly side. The 45 minute talk ended and soon we were at the camper for a hot cup of tea. Ok, I can just hear the comments from people in NH and Key West about the above statement about it turning chilly. No, it wasn’t an all day cold day! It was just a chilly evening. As a matter of fact, I set the furnace thermostat so the furnace would kick in later during the night, but it never got cold enough to trigger it on. After all, we are a mere four miles from the border!

Sunrise and the Morning

Waking up, a little later than normal, the sun was peaking through the kitchen window! Already warming my old bones, I got my breakfast going and got out of Helen’s way in the kitchen. The back door open and soon we were out for a walk for sunshine photos of birds, flowers, cactus and anything else that caught our eye. I told Helen that we should stay another day. She was a little hesitant, thinking that there would be nothing to do or people to talk to.

At the kiosk, which was now opened, I forked over my $8.00 for another day. The young lady mentioned that there was a 1pm tour to the Blankenship Ranch House. It was free, she said. She called the Visitor Center and three seats were still available. We signed up! The rest of the morning was spent reading, writing yesterday’s blog and in general just relaxing in the warm morning sun.

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The Blankenship Ranch House

The Blankenship Ranch House

We had no clue what we were going to visit other than an old historic ranch house someplace in the desert. The Ranger was Jeremiah from the night before. He said it would take about a half hour to reach the ranch house. He also mentioned that we would be taking a left off the main highway, along the fence line for a ways before reaching the homestead. Little did I or Helen realize that the fence line was the border with Mexico! Excitement filled my body! Left off the main road we went, rough road with many dips, rocks and plowed furrows on each side, not your standard gravel road!

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Endless Wall

Soon the border fence appeared on our right side of the van. Our road came to a tee at the fence! He took a left and now just five feet from the fence, we were traveling the border line. Oh, Ya, Border Patrol vehicles here and there parked in the bushes. Some with trailers carrying ATVs. The ride was so rough I couldn’t get my Nikon out of the backpack and the camera case. I reached for my iPhone and began shooting whatever I could. Across the fence, I could see little run down farm houses. Not too many people visible at this time. I couldn’t help noticing all of the broken glass bottles around the houses. The glass was shimmering in the sunlight. We were moving at around 30 miles per hour, I could see the fence line ahead of us, seemed for ever! After 10 minutes of this fence line, a sign reading “Dos Lomitas”. Jeremiah took the left turn and a few hundred yards later, we stopped at a dirt cul-de-sac. This ranch family owned a good portion of the now called Organ Pipe Cactus NM.

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Recording Details!

The Blankenship family fought the government for rights to continue to ranch this land and they sort of won their claim. The family could own and run the ranch until “death do us part”. Three sons owned the right to ranch. One son passed away in 1974 from suicide. The other two sons both passed away in 1976 of heart attacks. Rumor has run rampant about the two having heart attacks in the same year.

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The Cattle Corral

A Walk in the Desert

After visiting the ranch house, Ranger MayBee took us for a walk in the desert. He talked about plants, animals and insects. He led us to a giant leaf eating ant colony. Some ant trails were 65 feet long! We next walked to a large corral. This corral was to round up the cattle. It was pretty ingenious of the ranchers. It would be impossible to round up grazing cattle in the thousands of thousands acres of land. What they did was to dig a well and have the cattle come into the corral. A special one way gate allowed the cattle come in for water, but they couldn’t leave until the ranchers took them on a cattle drive or what ever they did with them.

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OPCNM Map with details of our travels to the Ranch and Border

What an outstanding, not planned day this was! “The canoe took us down a stream with no paddles”. Let’s see were it takes us! And we did!

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They’re Watching!

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The Wall

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Here Comes the Border Patrol

That is what we saw and did!

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Davis/Monthan ~ Review

We will be leaving here next week on the 11th of January. It has been two months to the day since our arrival. Wow, what an exciting time! I have been writing blogs since we’ve been here, but being so busy, I just couldn’t write enough of all the things we’ve done and visited! I just hope my little brain can retain all of the info that I want to write about.

Some of the blogging that I need and want to do:

  • Radio Control Aircraft Club of Tucson
  • Two mile procession of “Our Lady of Guadalupe”
  • Tumamoc Hill
  • Sentinel Peak
  • Patagonia
  • Tumacacori National Historic Park

The WiFi ~ Internet

The internet is probably as good as it gets for a campground. Our first month here, we could stream at any time of day. The second month, with a full campground of nearly 200 sites, things did slow down, especially in the evening between 7 and 9pm. Sometimes frustrating, but I am not complaining. I do have my WiFi antenna and inside “ALFA” repeater working which helps me reach nearly a dozen Fam Camp repeaters. Sometimes just switching to another repeater helped. With my own network “Lu’s Travel Net”, I can get all of my on-board devices connected simultaneously. So a rating of 4-1/2 stars for WiFi. It would be five if more bandwidth was added.

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Friends Last Fairwell

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Bella Dancing for Carol

The Staff

I have never encountered a better staff! Always cheerful, helpful curious and outgoing! Some campers might disagree, but those campers are usually chronic complainers and could never be satisfied. Even the restroom cleaning staff is outstanding! I’ve seen them come in several times a day to make sure every thing is in order and well stocked. This is besides the normal “closed for cleaning times”.

The Base Facilities

The Base Exchange is large, clean and well stocked with everything one might need. It also has many outsourcing venders that sell crafts and products.

The Commissary  is large and as well stocked with food products comparing to any super market. Prices are set according to local standards. No taxes added to the bill.

The Hobby Shop and Auto Shop are excellent. As mentioned in an earlier blog, I took a framing class and am now certified to operate any of their high-end tools world-wide. The Auto shop with its 17 bays, with lifts, revels any auto dealership service shops. I have not used their bays, but have used their internet service manuals.

Their biking and jogging trails offer the opportunity to bike on base, on streets or circle the airfield for a 12 mile paved solitude ride.

I’m sure I am forgetting many other amenities here on base, but I can truly say I am a “Happy Camper”

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Located in the Santa Cruz River Valley and surrounded by tall rock peaks, makes this city shine in the desert sand. We are told that the temperature, this winter, is averaging around ten degrees warmer than usual. That suits us just fine as the nights drop into the 40’s and the days warm to the high 70’s.

With so many attractions encompassing the city, it is a perfect mecca for us to winter in. The base is located in the South Central part of the city, again, a perfect location to go  in any direction. If I had to choose between Key West and Tucson, it would be very difficult to decide. I always, in my head, go back to pros and cons on a scale. I honestly can’t make that decision at this time. KW does have the weather, Tucson, AZ has more attractions, both have good people to share friendships with. I guess we will let nature take its course and see where she brings us next winter.

That is what we saw and did!

PS Tomorrow January 11, 2018, we will be leaving Davis/Monthan AFB and continue exploring the Southwest. This is where the truck camper excells! Some possible exploration areas; Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Quartzsite, Baja California, Joshua Tree National Park, El Centro (Blue Angels winter training site) and where ever the Truck Camper wants to bring us! Stay tuned!


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Desert Animals

One would think that the desert is a barren waste land full of sand, cactus and rock. Well that is true. What really amazes me is the number of creatures that live here beside humans. I have already mentioned some of the animals we’ve encountered on our bike rides in the Sonoran Desert, but lets talk about a few more. The Coyote is very common, our neighbor, Jeff, saw two of them, while riding on Yuma Rd, on base, yesterday. A more sinister and beautiful creature around is the Arizona “Mountain Lion” I took a picture of one while in the West Saguaro National Park. It was relatively easy to get him or her to pose because we had Sallyanne, “Black Lab, ‘Angel’ ” with us and the Lion never stopped eyeing her. Another beautiful creature was a “Mexican Wolf”. A note at this point. I took these pictures at the Sonoran Desert Museum. These animals are in a natural setting, some are actually are outside in the open desert. Yes, they are alive! The birds actually free fly for food.

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Great Horn Owl ~ A Silent Hunter

The Raptors ~ Inches Above Our Heads

At 9am and again at 2pm, the museum, odd that it is not called a zoo, has a “Raptor Demonstration”. That is the coolest I’ve every seen! The first was of a Great Horn Owl. Here is how the museum crew work the Owl. We are all standing behind a fence, a crew member is about ten feet in front of us. Another crew member releases the Owl from its enclosure. The Owl comes to a perch close to the first crew member who has put a small bit size piece meat. Quickly the Owl finishes his bite size treat. Next, the Owl  flies inches above our heads to another crew member in back of us. We were forwarned not to raise cameras or iPad above our heads. I now could see why. I could feel the wind from his wings as he swiftly and silently flew above.

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Harris Hawk ~ Landing

The next Raptor was the Harris Hawk. A Hawk is more aggressive looking than an Owl. His beak, looking like “vise grips” could snap a piece of barbed wire. Well, it looked that way anyhow. The Hawk did the same routine as the Owl, but was more bold in his eagerness to get more food. The Owl was extremely cautious after seeing Sallyanne’s dog. She had to keep the dog at a distance from the rest of the spectators. Actually, dogs are not allowed in the park! Now we understand how an Owl can rotate its head nearly 180º. Their large eyes look forward and the head rotation gives them a wide range of view.

Bird Photography

I discovered that it is nearly impossible to freeze bird wings in flight. Well, at least until I had a conversation with another neighbor who does bird photography. He told me to use a flash. That would freeze the motion of wings in flight. He knows what he’s talking about, you know those guys with a two foot telephoto lens on a tripod! He sometimes uses three or four slave flashes while he captures humming birds.

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Black Tree rattle Snake

Snakes ~ 13th varieties of Rattle Snakes!

I am not a snake lover! I do respect them and I’m constantly on the lookout for them. I, or we, haven’t seen one in the wild, yet!  Rattlesnake Types in Arizona   

The Sonoran Desert Museum certainly has many species of the “Rattlers” 13 species in Arizona, this along with 50 different species in the State. They are not all represented, but enough to get a good idea of what is around in the mountains and desert. Did you know that Arizona has more mountains than any other State? (3,928 mountain peaks!) While we were in the snake exhibit building, we were able to touch a non venomous snake. I was really surprised to the feel. It was smooth, almost like feeling plastic gimp. The handler told us to not go against the scales. This snake was white with redish markings, nearly looking fake, but it was real.

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The Trainer and Hawk!

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The Hawk just above the crowd’s head!

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Mexican Wolf

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Two Coyotes ~ In the wild!

That is what we saw and did!


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Winter Haven ~ A Tucson Christmas

Being in the Southwest, one would think that Christmas would be snow-less and not in the Northeast spirit. What I mean is, just a half hour away snow can be found, but more importantly, the Christmas season is in full swing here in Tucson! Like in Key West, families do decorate their homes. It is actually a little better with the milder temperatures. You can walk around and view the decorations up close and talk to the home owners. It’s hard to do this up north as people keep their car windows rolled up and their heaters on full blast.

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One of my favorites! Old Time Memories!

WINTERHAVEN ~ A special community!

Winterhaven is located in Tucson, AZ. It is the size of one large city block. One of the requirements to own a residence in Winter Haven is to decorate, to the fullest, at least on the exterior. The community is closed off to vehicles for a week or two before Christmas. Thousands of people walk and admire the decorations! At the center of the “mini village” vendors setup to serve food and drinks.

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Every Street was decorated ~ I was fortunate to get this shot without people!

The Fam Camp office had two buses carry a bunch of us campers over to the village. I, who hardly ever gets confused or lost was a little bewildered with the many streets and cul-de-sacs. We walked to end of three of the four blocked street entrances and finally asked a policeman for direction. All I could give him is that a police cruiser was in the middle of the road. “Ah”, he said, “That has to be Ft Lowell Street”. He gave us a direction to the bus pickup site.

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Some were tasteful, some were over done!

Back to the Decorations

For 69 years, this community has been decorating. This means that many cool creations have evolved. My photos won’t do the decorations justice. I can tell you that on this day we walked 8.2 miles. This included a 12 mile bike ride in the afternoon. With all of this exercise, the extra walking was worth looking at the amazing ideas that the citizens of Winterhaven have created. From traditional themes to Arizona football, Gnomes and you name it was there.

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After touring the village, we made our way to the designated pickup point. Only than did we discover street maps…go figure! Needless to say many of us enjoyed sitting on a brick wall to wait for the rest of our Fam Camp campers to arrive. Our drivers, Scott, Glen and our tour guides Erica and Michelle soon took a head count and we were on the buses back to camp.

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How it was…A few years back!


The Gnome Theme…Best Artistic!

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The Electric Company Loved this one!

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The Kids did have a Good Time here!

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Sponsored by TEP…Tucson Electric Power…No Discount on Electric Bills!

That is what we did and saw

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Biking ~ Davis/Monthan AFB

Temperature & Exercise

There are two reasons that we are here in Arizona. One being, most important, getting away from the darn, long cold winter! The other reason is trying to stay healthy! Well, the first item is nearly taken care of, that is no snow, but as I knew before coming here, it does get cold at night. After supper time, the temperature drops from the mid to low seventies into the mid forties. This is because of the radiation cooling, no clouds to keep the heat in and the 2,850 feet of elevation on the valley floor makes it drop quickly. We have overcome this problem with a little electric heater. Our propane furnace would certainly handle heating the truck camper, but it does make noise from its blower. Why use propane when we have electricity. I set the little heater on a timer, at 4:30am. It starts and heats perfectly!

The second reason for being here is exercise. Yes, at my age 72-3/4, I need to move and motivate this old body. Riding a bike, my prefered method, is on top of the list. This Air Force Base is large and nearly flat. Let me explain, the populated part of the base is around six miles in circumference. The entire base is miles and miles long, by just as much wide. It is bike friendly with bike lanes along the major streets. Our first long jaunt was up to the end of Yuma Rd. This 7-1/2 mile, one way, trek has a slight upgrade gradient. It isn’t bad unless there is wind blowing in the opposite direction. This ride is pretty cool. The road parallels the so call the bone-yard. 4,000 aircraft are stored there. Some are ready for dismantling, some are used for parts, some are obsolete and some are ready to fly. I love seeing every type of aircraft. I will do a separate blog in an upcoming adventure report.

When we first got here, we rode early morning. The temperature was moderate back then. Now, later in the season, it is a little too cool earlier in the morning. Helen and I prefer a ride in the early afternoon.

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“Jack” ~ The Stallion and Helen

The Ride

One might think that our ride is boring on the long dead-end road. Not so, in the last 2-1/2 miles or so, the desert cactus multiplies, the Air Force Base buildings dwindle to a very few. The wildlife increases, one of our encounters was with a good size hawk. He or she would be sitting on top of a power line pole. I would bike fairly close, for photo, and the Hawk would fly two poles down. This would be repeated three times. No close up on this day. The next day, Helen noticed feathers in this same general area. It was that of a hawk! We stopped, I walked over to the feathers, the Hawk had been taken down. Looking around, thinking was this from a Coyote? How could a Coyote possibly catch a Hawk, even on the ground? I collected some long feathers and continued on our way. I kept thinking, in the back of my mind, how and what did the bird in.

The following day, our neighbor, forgot her name already, was sitting at the picnic table. I brought over the feathers. She is a birder. She would be able to identify the feathers. She identified the feathers as a Harris Hawk! I asked her what could possibly take down the Hawk? She said, “Most likely,” It was an owl”. She said, “It could have been a Mexican Spotted Owl”. That is the explanation that I can live with.

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The End of a Hawk

A week later, on our ride to the end of the road, I spotted something in the road, maybe a quarter-mile away, it was black and walked on the same side of the road as we were biking. It was too dark-colored or black for a Coyote. A range control pickup, coming from in back of us passed us. It caught up to the walking animal ahead of us. The animal now took off, like a bullet. I could now see that it was a Javelina (wild boar). Checkout the You Tube link for a look at what they look like and how they sound! Javelina ~ Looks & Sounds


“Jack” the Wild Horse

Yuma road, on base, our biking road, terminates at a military small arms rifle range. Also, to the right a horse stable. Our first encounter was with a Stallion named “Jack”. The stables are set back a couple of hundred feet from the road. We couldn’t see any horses at first. Upon parking our bikes for a break and drink of water, we actually were looking towards the firing range as gun firing was going on. Turning around there was a horse, in a coral, with a mesh mask over his head, (protection from flies). He was nodding his head up and down, as if saying, “come on over here”. So we did! Not knowing anything about horses, we approached cautiously, I knew enough not to reach up suddenly to pet him. As I reached up with my left hand slowly, he turned his head towards my hand, I quickly pulled my hand back. He immediately jumped back. We both, me and the horse, were cautious and feeling each other out! I didn’t want to get my hand bitten, so it took awhile to actually touch him. That was the extent of our first encounter with Jack.

Heather ~ The Owner

Our second encounter was a lot better, as we met Heather, Jacks’ owner. She had bought Jack at a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) auction. All wild horses belong to the Feds, at least on BLM land. She told us a lot about Jack and her love of horses. She gave us treats for Jack. Holding our hand flat as we gave him homemade granola type balls. We now had a horse friend! Heather also told us that she tried to ride Jack and was thrown off, with a broken neck as result. She’s alright now, but will have some cowboy do the break-in. This is just a small glimpse into our bike ride on Yuma Rd.

The Runway Loop ~ Ride

Another bike ride we discovered was a paved trail around the entire runway. It took us a couple of recon’s to figure where to get on this loop ride. A military police cruiser was parked next to the Swan Gate. I stopped to ask if this was the bike/jogging path and were we allowed to use it? He said, “Yes”, and off we went. Now here we are at the end of the active runway. Don’t get me wrong, the actual runway is a half mile away. To our right is a giant C-130, four engine plane coming in for a landing. How terrific is it to be able to have a plane landing just a hundred feet above your head. We stopped the bikes and I took my iPhone out for a photo. The plane had already touched the runway and took off for what they call a touch and go, a practice landing and take off. He flew around again and this time, I would be ready for that great shot above our heads!

Dismembered Aircraft

Further down the loop trail, on the civilian side of the fence line, we encountered a junk yard, not your ordinary car junk yard, but an aircraft dismantling junk yard. Massive planes, some with wings unbolted from their bodies, some with tails unattached, lay on the ground. They selectively strip different metals and materials for salvage. It is the ultimate in recycling! Of course big money is involved in these aircraft parts and materials.

At the end of the 12 mile loop is another gate. It’s called the Wilmott Gate. The odd thing of this ride is the fact that we are on the secure side of the fence. We ride up to the gate, on the trail and come to a man gate right across from the guard shack. From there we are on the main road back to the Fam Camp.


That is what we saw and did!


Featured post

San Xavier del Bac Mission

“New Spain”

When Europeans first made contact with the villagers of “Wa:k”, (ranch), the King of Spain held title to this territory. Imagine the natives surprise when they learned that the land their people lived on for centuries belonged to a country thousands of miles away and across the Atlantic Ocean!

Padre Kino was probably the first European to visit the Piman rancherias Wa:k. His northern explorations between 1687 and 1711 pushed into new territory ~ the Pirmeria Alta ~ which has been labeled the “rim of Christendom”

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San Exavier del Bac Mission

The  Europeans failed to understand this lifestyle. They condemned mobility as “heathen vagabondage” because of their misunderstanding of the Pimans cultural and  ecological adaptation to life in a sometimes harsh semi-arid environment. (above taken from a poster at the San Xavier del Bac Mission)

The Mission

A short description above gave us insight into how and when the Mission came into being. Missions were set up in distance, from one another, by how far a man could ride on horseback in one day. San Xavier del Bac Mission became the largest mission in the West. It was like a territorial capital.

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Many Beautiful Angles


The Mission is entirely European. It has no Piman influence on its Baroque style, a mix of Byzantine and Moorish architecture, and aspects of the interior imagery.

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Restoration in progress

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Restored Tower

Our Visit

On tour, we were accompanied by our friend Sallyanne, her friends Jamie and Paul. Sallyanne’s dog, Angel, Jamie and Paul’s dog Cody stayed behind in their respective campers. Paul’s four door pickup truck easily took the five of us to the mission, some 45 minutes away.

The large parking lot was empty. It was mid to late afternoon. The “First Nation Natives” had stands with jewelery and food for sale. We were told that on weekends this place is jam-packed. Once a year the Indian Tribes have a Pow Wow at the rear of the mission. We were also told that this is a big event and the public is welcomed.

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Inside of San Exavier Del Bac Mission ~ A.E. Araiza photo/Arizona Daily

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Restoration in progress

Inside the Mission

Walking across the parking lot, the Mission stands out with its white facade. It is also known as the “White Dove Mission”. The part of the name del Bac is to honor Tohoham O’odham, meaning place where water appears!

Like many European churches, San Xavier is classic crucifix form ~ meaning it’s cross-shaped. A date, 1797 found above the Sacristy, is believed to be the finish date of San Xavier. Some of the photos were taken by A.E. Araiza/ Arizona Daily Star, I included to show reconstruction phase of the church.

Inside the church, one can look in any direction and see amazing details. I could only wonder what the artist conveyed. I am sure it all had a meaning, but I’m not that knowledgable in that department. I must say one thing really surprised me. It was an open coffin with the body of St Xavier. Well, as I was approaching the open coffin, some pilgrims in front of me, reached into the coffin and raised St Xavier head a few inches above its horizontal position. Wow, I was shocked! I didn’t know where to put myself. I later discovered, online, that it wasn’t St Xavier, at rest, in the coffin, but a statue. It wasn’t even a statue of St Xavier. Read on!

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St Francis Xavier ~ Not a Mummy!

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Statue of St Francis

The real story is even better. It’s a statue of the crucified Christ, and was originally at Tumacacori Mission (now Tumacacori National Historical Park, partway to Nogales).

When that community was abandoned in 1849 due to Apache raiding, the people moved to San Xavier, bringing their saints with them. Along the way, the statue of Christ lost its legs. By the 1890s, it was displayed in the west transept as the entombed Christ.

Around the time of War I, the statue was redefined as a reclining St. Francis Xavier, placed in a glass case, and there it remains, the object of considerable popular devotion. Jim Griffith for the Arizona Daily Star

Lifting of the head is said to bring prayer requests into being and good luck!

The church construction

Over the years, Patronato San Xavier has raised more than $11 million for preservation and restoration work at the mission, including a multi-year project to restore the altar area and interior artwork. The Patronato is trying to raise more money to restore the East tower.

The mission is built of low-fire clay brick, stone and lime mortar. The church’s interior is filled with original statuary and murals.

An interesting fact I learned was the modern-day waterproofing of the church roof. Many new epoxy sealants were tried, but moisture always seemed to be trapped in the lower layers of the masonry. Looking back to the original composition of the mortar, they learned that using a mix that had “cactus” in it proved to be the better approach. Sometimes the old ways just can’t be beat!

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If you look left and right you’ll see a cat and a mouse! It is believed that when the cat catches the mouse, it will be the end of the world! (Local Native Beliefs)

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The mission was abandoned briefly from 1837 to 1859, falling into disrepair

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How many people have walked through this arch?

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Bell Tower from the Garden

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The Framed Cactus

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Bells of San Xavier del Bac Mission ~ 

That is what we saw and did!

Featured post

Mt Lemmon ~ The Return

We left the last blog on the Meadow 5a Trail on top of Mt Lemmon. You probably remember me talking about loving rocks! Mt Lemmon was no exception! The rocks up here have an unusual color. Light pink and white color. It was at this time, on the trail, that a souvenir might be appropriate. We’ll leave it at that!

Back on the trail, Helen was, at point, in the lead. She noticed a hiking stick leaning on a tree. She is so good at spotting things. Just the other day, she spotted a tool alongside the roadway, as we biked on post. It was a $15 adjustable wrench! A cool find! Back at the trailhead, I headed for the restroom. A girl standing by the information sign had just found some car keys. Now that would be a major loss if the owner didn’t have a second means of entering their car or starting it. I told the girl to hang them on the sign. That might be the best solution. No office or park personnel in the area.

The Canadian ~ Bike Connection

Back at the truck, we were chilling out having a snack and a cool drink. This girl, biking up to the lock gate, stopped and was catching her breath. After a few minutes, Helen asked her how long it took her to do the climb from the bottom. She answered 4 hours! Wow, I couldn’t believe it! Some 31 miles uphill in four hours! Only that amount of time for 6,300′ of elevation climb.

Her husband rolled in about five minutes later. He was in worse shape. The Canadian connection comes in because they live about 200 miles from us in Montreal, Canada. We took a couple of photos with her iPhone, at the top of Mt Lemmon, with her husband. They both deserve a round of applause!

The Observatory

Just before our hike, we walked up past the locked road gate. The University of Arizona operates the observatory. We walked a quarter-mile to another locked enclosure. This time a high chain link fence was as far as we could go. They do offer tours and even night-time tours, but with reservations. The odd thing that I noticed was a sign on the gate that said. “Leave with your headlights off.” Obviously, this was to protect your night vision in the observatory, but I’m thinking of how winding this road was coming up. I can’t imagine driving even a short distance without headlights down hill.


The End of the Road ~ Steward Observatory

Rock Climbing ~ At Wind Vista Outlook

Our return drive from Mt Lemmon was just as spectacular going down. I stopped in several pullouts to grab a few more memory photos.

Wind Vista was just begging for us to stop again! A parking spot was available and the clincher was a rock climber tackling a HooDoo formation across the street. I took several pictures of the climb and the repel.



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The Climb!

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Don’t Look Down!

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Tip Top

Across the street, other people were getting lessons on repelling down a 150′ ledge. Other tourist were walking over the ledges to view the splendid “Wind Vistas”. From this overlook we made our way down into Tucson.

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Wind Vista is a Perfect Spot for Photos!

That is what we saw and did!

Featured post

Mt Lemmon

About Mt Lemmon


Speechless ~ The Road to the Top!

Everybody seemed to be talking about Mt Lemmon. Even Phillip, who we met at Chiricahua National Monument, on our way here, had given us a heads-up on Mt Lemmon. This mountain located 41.5 miles from our campsite, is very visible from our dinning room window. It is in the Santa Catalina mountain range. Driving to Mt Lemmon involves about 10 miles of city driving. The outskirts of Tucson reveals small foothills with million dollar views! This doesn’t include the multi-million dollar cost of the Casa’s (homes).

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The Mountain Road ~ Winding and Switching back and Forth!

The Foothills

The terrain is still covered with sparse brush and varied desert plants. Soon the road climbs a little higher and around the first of many bends the Saguaro Cactus appear! Like a forest of telephone poles, most of them have no arms or limbs. We later learned that it takes 60 plus years for limbs to develop. These Cactus obviously can live to 200 years old. They can also grow to 15 to 20 feet in length. During the “Monson” season (July, Aug and Sep) they can store large quantities of water in their trunks. The trunks are pleated and when water is stored, the trunks can easily expand. They can survive for 2 years without additional water.

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Remember, Looking Down Was Just One Switchback Away!

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Don’t You Just Love Rock Formations!

The Climb

The word switchbacks refers to U-turns to gain elevation in a small footprint. Well that is an understatement. The road is adequately wide and well paved. They did a lot of planning on this mountain climb, because several pull off parking places and rest areas dot the road up the mountain. Our first overlook was of Tucson, at a relative low altitude overlook. Not exceptional, but inspiring that more would come as we traveled. We had just, so far traveled a couple of miles of steep grades, another 28 miles of grade would follow. It wasn’t that further up the road that the Saguaro Cactus petered out. More rock outcroppings appeared regularly. We are “Rock Lovers!” My new dash-cam is working great. I am learning how to save the important (to us) 5 minute clips on my laptop. Well at first I was trying to save them to the iCloud, but at 580MB per 5 min clip, wasn’t working at all with the WiFi. I didn’t want to overload my laptop, so the best option for me was to save the important stuff to my portable external hard drive. This is a 1TB drive (WD Elements) I hope to be able to upload some to You Tube and have a link in the blog.

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HooDoo Vista Point

The Traffic and the Views!

Surprisingly, a lot of people are on this mountain daily. There are signs that say, “Tire chains required,” at least when snowing. No snow today or even this fall. It was in the low 80’s in Tucson metro area and the forecast for the summit was for 61 degrees. You’ve got to realize that the summit is at 9,145 feet above sea level! Tucson is around 2,388 ft in the valley. It is the best time for a visit to the top, especially for a little hiking.

Most of the traffic was moving slowly and admiring the views. The most popular overlook is called Wind Vista Point! Here we found a good size parking area and a lot of cars and people. It’s one of those places where you can walk out onto the ledges and grab one of those shots that makes the viewer think you’re on the edge. Well that is particularly true, but most times there is no danger! I say that with tongue in cheek! Example: Parents with small kids, around 4 to 5 years old, not controlling their kids, were a concern to me. The father says to his daughter, “if you see a snake let me know”, this is after she’s going down a very steep incline with no adult within reach.

Nearing the Top of Mt Lemmon

The terrain now changing again. From many outcroppings of ledge and rocks to very large pine trees. One would think that we would have been in an Alpine environment at 9,000 plus feet, but we weren’t. Reaching near the summit was a fork in the road, going left, which we took and it brought us to an Alpine style village with cottages dotting the mountain side. The village about a half mile long had restaurants, gift shops and people walking around. I soon realized that this road was coming to a dead-end. I had missed my turn onto Ski Run Rd. The road now narrowed considerably and climbed at a steeper rate. Nearing the forested top, the Iron Door restaurant was on the right overlooking the ski lift across the street. No skiing or snow, but a lot of people enjoying the afternoon sun.

The Private Road!

Two hundred feet beyond the restaurant an open gate with a sign that read, “Not a National Forest maintained road, pass at you own risk.” This is always a people stopper. I had plugged into my GPS “Meadow 5a” trail. It indicated that is was further up the now very narrow road. Always a sign for adventure! Off, I started, up the very winding road, Helen being a little apprehensive. Around the next corner, two bikes coming down the hill at full speed. They were not coasting, but pedaling, I stayed on my side of road, as they flew by. At least, I knew people were ahead, on top of the mountain. Through the tall trees, I spotted an observatory dome. I knew we were close to the summit. two more curves and we reached a locked, closed gate. To my left a parking lot with maybe 20 cars, I turned into the lot, but it was full. I backed out and was able to park next to the locked gate.

The Picnic and the Plan

It was time for a late lunch. At the end of the parking lot was a picnic table. A sign indicating that we were, now again, in a fee area and part of the National Forest. People were coming and going from several directions. The Mt Lemmon trail, the Meadow 5a trail, the observatory and the parking lot. The picnic hit the spot. It was time to take on the Meadow 5a tail!

Meadow 5a Trail

I picked this trail because it was relatively easy. Only 320 feet of elevation from one end to the other. We would hike the meadow and return the same way. We could have looped around and joined the Mt Lemmon trail, but it was a moderate to difficult trail. My thoughts were to take it easy on our first Arizona hike. I was so right! At 9,145 feet the air is thin and I was sucking for wind constantly. Nothing serious, but my 72-1/2 years were telling me that I wasn’t ready for Everest. Helen on the other hand didn’t seem to be bothered.

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Meadow 5a Trail on top of Mt Lemmon

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The Split with Helen

The trail followed the observatory fence line for a while. The sun shining on us, the temperature, at truck read 63º F and it was about the same on the trail. Soon we were in the tall pines with sun filtering through. It was like the golden hour for photographers. The view here was of the forest, but as we crested the knoll, I could see distant mountain ranges, probably the Rincon Mountains to the Southeast. Just a little further, closer mountains revealed layers of color, dark green closer to us followed by blueish mountains and beyond that Tucson and its fast metropolitan area covered in a light smog. We were told that the smog only happens in the winter months when the temperature inversion kept it trapped by the mountains.

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Rincon Mountains ~ Southeast of Tucson


Needless to say, if you own a camera or phone for that matter, there are many opportunities to photograph nature, people and landscapes. I may never print all those photos, but looking at them, on the computer, will bring back wonderful memories!

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Greater Tucson

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Trippel Mountain Ranges

That is what we saw and did!



Featured post

Old Tucson

Helen did the research on “Old Tucson”. She was thinking that “Old Tucson” was in the downtown area. The attraction was artisans and their wares. What was wrong with that! Sally and Jamie where interested. Paul, Jamie’s husband had work to get caught up on. I was good with going. Sally, plugged in the address and off we went. Tucson is a fairly large area so we didn’t notice how far we had traveled until we were in the country. The Saguaro Cactus were getting plentiful. We were very close to the Saguaro National Park, that was the western side. This National Park is divided in two (East and West).

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Sallyanne, Jamie and Jewlery!

“Old Tucson” ~ Looked Familiar

The minute I saw the entrance, I said, “We have been here before”. Yes, a few years ago, we stopped in here to recon the area. Old Tucson, was and is noted for over 400 movies being filmed right here! We had gone into the gift shop back then, but had never gone into the “Theme Park”. Helen had bought an “Arizona Pass Port Book” that had a “Two for One” admission discount. The passport book pays for it self in two bookings.


Entering the park, more like an old western town, I was pleasantly surprised to see actors performing a courtroom scene. A young man being accused of murder was found guilty and sentenced to hang. Wow, I didn’t really think they would hang him, but they did! From than on it was fist fights, gun fights and amazing stunts! Three story falls, dynamite and good acting. They kept the audience in suspense. It really was neat to watch the stunt men do their work.





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Padre, Prisonner, Sheriff!


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Going Down!

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Not Good!

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The Landing!


Dynamite! Pow!!



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She no pushover!

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The Fight!

The Saloon!

After the first performance, it was time for lunch. We found a restaurant, with A/C as it was now hot in the sun. After lunch, we wandered over to the Saloon to watch the “Can Can Girls” perform. They, as I suspected got the audience involved. It was also a kid friendly performance. Later in the afternoon, we toured the town. One stop was at the “Buffalo Soldier’s” table. They had many hand and long rifle guns to display. All authentic! The knives were also cool to view. A couple in particular caught my attention. A surgical knife with a ten inch blade, like a bowie-knife, was extremely sought after weapon. It’s thinner, lighter than issued knives. The second knife was in the shape of a garden spade, but this knife had a cylinder shape that fit onto the end of a long rifle barrel. When a Buffalo Soldier was working in the fields, he could raise this spade shaped bayonnette and attack any close-by intruder instantly!

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Garden Spade Weapon

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Barrell Fit on Long Rifle

So, there were a few artisans working and selling jewlery, but I was very happy seeing those young stuntmen doing their trade. We ended the afternoon, happy with our day in “Old Tucson.

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Sallyanne ~ Sleeping again!

That is what we saw and did!


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Bisbee ~ The Artist Town

Nov 21, 2017

Even The Sanitary Sewer Covers Have an Artistic Flare!

Getting back to the Bisbee story. After the mine tour, we walked a short walk to downtown Bisbee. You can tell, in its “Glory Days”, this place must have been booming. It still is in the tourist sense. There seems to be an abundance of “hippies and free spirits” living in the core of the community. There are many historical buildings to checkout, both inside and out. We enjoyed walking, taking pictures and finding a good place to eat. It turned out to be a Mexican restaurant. Now, I am not usually fond of Mexican food, but I can attest that this place called Santiago’s was excellent! Helen & I split a chicken fajita plate. Actually it came on two plates. Super good! I’ve change my opinion on Mexican food!


The local hotel was full of history. John Wayne was a regular and had his own room, when he was in town to film a movie. The hotel has a second floor outdoor pool. This was because the town sits on a hillside. We had a  good time for our visit in the town of Bisbee.

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Now That’s Art!

Key West ~ Refugee Reunion!

On this Fam Camp bus excursion, we met a couple who have played Bocce in Key West with us. They were Sigsbee Shuflers. So here in Tucson, Arizona, we have encountered Lisa and Rob, Sally and her lab Angel, Ernie & Bert, Mary, Tom, not forgetting Michael and Stephanie and us for a total of eleven KW refugees! How cool is that! We might miss KW, but we are surviving in the dry desert of the southwest!

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Tom, Mary and Helen ~ Sabino Canyon

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Key West Friends

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Jazz in the Shade!

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The Emporium Hotel

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Isn’t That A Gem?

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What is He Looking At?

Lowell, Arizona

The very next town, Lowell is just three or so miles down the road. There is one huge open-pit mine next to the Queen Mine. This not the main attraction. The Main Street can’t be more than 500 feet long, but the attraction is all of the old vintage cars and trucks parked along the Main Street. It is not a deserted town, just a town that lives in the past. It was a 5 minute drive by tour, but an interesting one.

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Sturgis Patrol ~ Looking in the Rear View Mirror!

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1940’s Plymouth?

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1940’s Gas Pump!

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19?? Dodge

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1956 Dodge

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1956 Ford Country Squire

Warren, Arizona

The last town on our $5 bus tour was Warren. It’s claim to fame is that it has the oldest multi sport ball field in the country. Babe Ruth is said to have played base-ball in this park.

On the way home Glenn said we had enough time to stop in Tombstone, AZ. We had been there just a week or so ago, but it was good to again see “The Town to Tough to Die”

That is what we saw and did!


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What We’ve Been Doing!

Nov 18th to Thanksgiving Nov 23

Our excursion with the Fam Camp Office was a trip to Bisbee, Az. The ride, only about an hour and a half, was pleasant. We sat on the bus with our new Lewiston, ME friends, who are friends of friends. They have been coming here to Arizona for three or four years and have a good idea of what to visit. Bisbee was a must see on their list.

The Mine!

Our first stop was the copper mine. Nope, it was the rest room at the mine! My first thought was, I’ve been in a few caverns and this would be the same. Entering the gift shop was like any other shop of this kind. Looking across, to the back wall, I noticed something a little different. A row of hard hats, raincoats and all kinds electrical cords. The cords about three feet long had a light and a small 4×4 battery pack on the other end. This must have been the stuff the miners used when they worked the mine. Richard, our friend from Maine, said that if we got this one guy, David, as a tour guide we would not be let down. The older gentleman had worked this mine for several years.

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The Tunnel Squeeze ~ David the Tour Guide ~ Doing his Introduction

Ok, we bought tickets, the girl gave us a brass medallion with a number on it. She said, “pin it on you’, if 42 people go in 42 people come out or if  a missing medallion is not accounted for then someone is still in there”. With 124 miles of tunnels and track this could be interesting! Sounds like an adventure awaits us!

At first, I was thinking that we were going to ride this “toy”  train into the mine. Well, that wasn’t a toy train, but a real working mine train with man cars! The tour guide, the old-timer, was our guide. He said, “I’m going to ride in about one hundred feet and stop the train. If anyone wishes to not make the trip, you can get off and get your money back”. Claustrophobia is a problem for some. The train would eventually bring us some 1,500 feet into the mountain. Now and then, he would stop and talk about different things about mines. This type of mine is not like a coal mine. No explosive gasses, no coal dust, The tunnels are drilled and blasted in rock! Air is brought in from a  50 hp blower. He explained how shafts are sunk at a 45º angles to  a different horizontal level. He also mentioned how miners were paid bonus for increase production. That’s how accidents happened!

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1500 feet into the mountain! 

The Mother Load!

At a point further down the track, he stopped the train and a lit stairway led us 20 steps or so to this giant sphere shape cavern. This is where the mother load of copper, silver, gold and other minerals were mined. Bisbee’s mines produced:

  • 8 billion pounds of copper
  • 2.8 million ounces of gold
  • 77 million pounds of silver
  • 30 million pounds of lead
  • 371 million pounds of zinc

Not bad investment for San Francisco’s De Witt Bisbee who purchased the Queen Mine with other investors. I

It was interesting to actually see veins of silver and other minerals in the cavern. I asked David, the tour guide, if it would be possible that another “mother load” would be hidden in this mountain. He said, that with diamond core drills, the whole mountain was sampled and nothing worth the expense was left!

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Mother Load Caern ~ Lights Shinning on copper, silver and gold deposits!


At the last stop, before heading back to the surface, we stopped at a place that ore was loaded into carts from shafts on the sides. He explained how the size of the carts were increased for production and how miners would, sometimes get crushed by the carts as they traveled through the tunnels.

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The five Center Holes ~ 13 feet deep into the rock!

I like the part where he explained how to blow a tunnel into a sold rock face. Dynamite always takes the path of less resistance. To simplify this procedure, five circular closely spaced holes are drilled in the center, from their another circle of holes and so forth. Timing is everything. The center sticks of dynamite go off and the next circle and the next and so on. The bottom dynamite goes off last to clear the new hole. The whole is usually 13 feet in-depth. The timing of the fuse is controlled by the length of the fuse. It is well orchestrated with one guy watching the time. Cool and dangerous stuff!

To be continued ~ The Rest of Bisbee!

That is what we saw and did!

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Cribbing An Important Part of Mining!

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David our Tour Guide with  many years working in the Queen Mine

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The Suit-up Room ~ OSHA Mining Rules


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The Mining Bike! With 124 miles of track a bike would come in handy!


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David Explaining the different types of  Drills

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Davis/Monthan AFB ~ Home Away from Home

Nov 13th to 18th,

The Base!


We’ve been here for nearly a full week. The base is amazing! The ride around the central part is around six miles. This is not counting the thousands of acres that encompass the entire base. They can’t call it an Air Force Base unless it has a Golf Course, it does, just next door to the FamCamp. A very large Base Exchange and Commissary are also relatively a couple of miles down the road. The Base exchange also has a food court that equals any major mall complex. It’s interesting to watch air crews from different countries stop for lunch. Patches on their sleeves indicate they are from France, Italy and a few other European countries.

Hobby Shops!

I was particularly impressed with the auto hobby shop! Sixteen bays with lifts, with anything you ever wanted in a repair shop including, ACF Certified mechanic, if you needed one. A tow truck is available, if you break down. What about a state of the art “Paint Spray Booth” to repaint your vehicle, they got it!

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A Hobby Auto Shop? Yes, First Class!

Next door is the hobby and arts shop. I’ve already taken an “Art Framing class.” I now have a certificate to operate their equipment, or any military framing shop world-wide. How cool is that! What really caught my eye was their $3,000 double-sided frame shear, made in Denmark. I’ve been making frames, at home, for a long time, but I knew I would learn many “Tips and Tricks” from this lady instructor. Della, who is from England. She gave us nearly a four-hour class. We learned to cut framing stock, use colored corner glue and a hydraulic corner fastening machine. After a glue-up on the frame, we tackled a double matt cut. Here again, I have a matt cutter, but their, “state of the art” machine was fun to use. I may not ever have their equipment, but the knowledge gained will be useful when I get back home.

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Della our Instructor for the Framing Class

The First Week ~ Settling In

On the 16th, here at the FamCamp, a potluck Thanksgiving dinner was given at the Ramada. Now the Ramada is not the hotel that you are probably thinking of. It is an open air pavillion here in the park. An RV dealer prepared the turkey and some of the fixings. The campers brought potlock dishes. There was a lot of food! Naturally, the RV dealer had several RV’s to look at from class A, 5th wheel and class C’s. It reminds me of auto dealers having an open house with prizes. The only difference here is that the dealer came to the campground. It was a perfect time, for us, to meet follow campers.

The Eagle Nest, a restaurant at the Golf Club, started their seasonal November ~ April, to have their Friday night special, a 16oz T-bone steak, salad, baked potato and rolls. This at a very reasonalble price. Last night, we were at Mama Louisa’s Italian Restaurant with Sally and her frineds Jamie and Paul, (recently retired from the Navy) There is no shortage of places to eat in Tucson! That brings me to an important point!


Eating out often is not the best way to stay healthy. To counter this habbit are the bikes. Nearly every morning, Helen and I headout biking. First day, it was 5 miles, than 6 miles. Now that we’re limbering up 10 miles is the norm.

I had to replace both bike tires on my bike. With 2,000 plus miles, the tires were getting to the point that the tire cords were showing on the side walls.

Back to health, we’ve been here for just over a week and a couple of notable things have happened, especially to me. First, for a long time, back home, I had joint pain. Totally gone, possibly from the low humidity. Secondly, I used to wakeup around 2:30am and than toss and turn till morning. I now sleep through the night. Who knows, I’m just a happy camper!

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A Stop at Outdoor Recreation for Bike Trails!

Travel Cost!

Some of you are curious as to how much our trip down here cost. For camping fees, we spent a grand total of $42.00, no typo! For gas, just over $700.00. It was 3,255 miles, which includes a few side trip adventures. I averaged about 10.6 to 11mpg. Eating, we didn’t keep a record of that as we tend to eat the same at home or on the road! Propane about $18.00.

That is what we saw and did!




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Three Encounters!

Nov. 12, 2017

Sunday morning, it was time for church. Sierra Vista has a few Catholic Churches to choose from. St Andrew the Apostle was 3.8 miles away from the campground. These Southwest churches are of the old mission architecture style and are gorgeous! After mass, coffee and pastries were served outside, in the shaded veranda.

Phillip and the 3rd Encounter

Leaving the church grounds, we decided to enter Phillip’s home address in the GPS. He was the gentleman who we met at Massai Point and later at the Coronado National Forest for disperse camping. He had said, “if you can’t get a campsite at Ft Huachuca, go over to my house, park, use the water and electricity. I’ll be there in a couple of days.” We just wanted to thank him for the offer and leave him a card in the door with that message. We found his house very easily. As we drove into his driveway, there were two beautiful adobe houses. We figured he lived in the smaller of the two. Getting out of the truck camper, simultaneously, who walks out around the corner, Phillip and Mike (the German tourist who had a malfunctioning furnace, in his rented RV). Wow, what a surprise! Phillip said, that the smaller building was his garage! He took me inside and my eyes bugged right out! There in this carpeted garage, were several motorcycles, all of the best caliber. The walls covered with paintings that one would not find in a garage.

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Phillip & Helen in the Garage

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The Collection ~ A Young Man’s Dream!

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The Dirt Riders

A short time later, I was digging into Mike and Chris’ (his wife), rented RV, trying to discover why the furnace wasn’t working. After eliminating several electrical problems, I think I narrowed it down to a bad circuit board. A dealer would have to make the final conclusion.

Back in the big house, Helen was getting a guided tour of Phillip’s home. I joined them for the tour. Phillip, if I remember right, him saying, that he hasn’t worked since 1974. Originally from Vermont, he his a person that lives his life to the fullest! Not extravagant, opinionated yes, but a nice guy. We were fortunate to meet him, but that is what we like to do. Find unexpected adventures in both places and people. This whole part of the trip was unplanned, a stop at the Visitor Center, a question, “What’s to visit around here?” “Well if you have time.” And so, the journey moves forward.

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The Living Room

North to Tucson ~ Davis/Monthan AFB

Sierra Vista is a mere 75 miles south of Tucson, so the drive was pleasant and short. AZ-90 than I-10 West off at exit 265, a few more city turns and we were at the Air Force Base. I’ve been to many military RV campgrounds, but this one seems very well run. We feel like we are at a resort. Really, full of activities, nearly overload with possibilities. We’ve signed up for a couple already. We’ll keep you posted on how they turn out.

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Site 77 FamCamp ~ Davis/Monthan Air Force Base ~ Our Home for a While!

That’s what we saw and did!



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Chiricahua Apache & Cochise

Nov 10 & Nov 11 2017

This sunny morning, we said goodbye to Fort Bliss RV Campground. The short cut that David gave, us at the MWR office proved to be an excellent choice. It was nearly traffic free, no major mountains to climb and actually cut driving time. Taking the TX 3255 to the rotary circle and than NM 404 from the base is the way to go if you’re coming from the West. We were soon on the I-10 heading West in New Mexico. The plan was to drive to Tucson, AZ just under 300 miles. Traveling along, the scenery dramatically changed to long flat valleys with distant mountains. The colors of the golden grass, greenish-silver creosol bushes, the darker cactus, mountains in hazy blues, reds and orange sure made me want to stop and take some panorama photos. I’m anxious to see how the dash cam captured these vistas.

The I-10 Strait As An Arrow

When you drive long distances on this type of highway, it can get boring, even with beautiful scenery. We tend to stop often at exits (inhabited ones that is) for a coffee break, or gas. For example, we’ve been on I-10 several times and we always stop at exit 20 in Lordsburg, NM to see if the S&H Green Stamp sign is still hanging at the town supermarket. Some of you younger crowd might not know about this 1960’s vintage promotion deal. You bought products and the stores and they gave you green stamps on the amount purchased. You collected the stamps and when you had a few books, you could redeem them at the Green Stamps Store for merchandise. Further up the road, we stopped at a Visitor Center in Willcox, AZ. The same lady that we talked to several years ago was still working at the counter. We asked her what we could visit in the area. She said, “If you have time, the Chiricahua National Monument would be worth the 35 mile side trip.” We took the bate, got propane at the Travel Center and were soon on our way south on AZ 186.

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Who remembers Green Stamps?

Chiricahua National Monument ~ End of Boredom!

Turning South, on AZ 186, found us traveling through high pastures of golden grass as far as I could see to base of rock faced mountains! The road, paved, narrow and with an occasional oncoming vehicle was the norm. When a vehicle approached the driver would wave, even the UPS driver. We knew we were in a better laid back area of Arizona. An occasional ranch house dotted the landscape. Some were mansions, while others looked very poor and even abandoned.

Chiricahua, I had such a difficult time trying to pronounce this word. Well, it turned out to be a word that I knew very well. Pronounced: (Cheery-cow-wa), so well known from all the old western movies. Now, we knew that we were going into Indian country.

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Entrance to the National Monument!

We soon arrived at the National Monument gate, not occupied, with a sign reading, Visitor Center two miles ahead, Bonita Campground full, all vehicle over 29’ prohibited from the Monument! We met the length limit and headed to the Visitor Center. It was mid afternoon and we asked the ranger what we could see for the rest of the day. She gave us maps, directions and what (short) trails to explore. Most of all, she gave us an option for overnight camping, not at the National Monument, but five miles away at the National Forest for “Dispersed Camping”.

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The flower and the rock

Wow and Double Wow!

Expecting nothing, heading up Bonita Canyon to Massai Point, we both got wide eyed as this narrow road opened to a view of massive bolders, shaped like giant oatmeal containers! Our first stop, Organ Pipes, for pictures shooting. We now knew we would be in for our first, Arizona, on this trip, adventure! The paved road narrowed to a tight two lanes. Only a few cars and trucks encountered all the way up. No other turnoffs for photo opportunities until we got to Massai Point.

Massai Point Overlook

The temperature had dropped from 76 degrees to 67 degrees, comfortable. The sun was just starting to reach the “golden hour,” for photography. The summit being at 6,870 feet was equal to the highest mountain in New Hampshire. Parking in the culdersack was no problem. This is where a truck camper excels! As soon we parked, this guy, a gentleman named Phillip, formerly from Vermont, came over and started conversation over our NH license plate. Phillip was a talker and we got loads of info on the area. It’s time, for a hike! The Massai Nature Trail was only a half mile, but Teresa, at the Visitor Center said this would give us the flavor of the land. “The stronghold of the Apache chief Cochise was hidden in the Dragoon Mountains.” This was the first sign on the trail. We were in Indian country for sure. The Dragoon Mountains were derived from the soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry, who were able to fight both on foot and on horseback in the 1850’s.

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Taking a break from our short Massai Point hike!

The Geology

The geology of this land is remarkable. the rock formations were formed by a gigantic volcano, 1000 times bigger than Mt St Helens in Washington State!

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The Kiss

From the Summit

A Portal view in the West, enabled us to see the Dragoons Mountains 40 miles away. Many a photo was taken while on this Massai Nature Walk Trail.

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Me on the Trail at Massai Point

The Coronado National Forest

Dispersed Camping means no services. From the National Monument to the National Forest is five miles, but five miles of dirt roads! The last two were some of the worst washboard roads I’ve ever been on. With 80psi of air in the tires it was tough going at 10 or less mph. I could have aired down the tires, but it was now dark. The first turn off was already full. Up the road, a half mile and I found a turnoff and parked for a quiet night. So quiet I could hear every breath I took!

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Volcano Aftermath!

That is what we saw and did!

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Fort Bliss was Blissful Today!

Nov 9, 2017

Old Ironside Museum

Can you believe we stayed in one place for two days! Ft Bliss is home to the 1st Armored Division nicknamed “Old Ironsides” The 1st Armored Division celebrated its 60th birthday at home and abroad. This Fort has many things to visit and we couldn’t resist staying here another day.

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Helen shopping for a used Tank!

The museum is a very large building. I had the feeling that the exhibits were being expanded. They had a lot of history exhibits, as well as modern-day displays. The museum was large enough that a basic training class was being given. I didn’t notice the time that we spent there, but the morning was gone before knew it. Next was a visit to Commissary for supplies.

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The Sherman Tank ~ WWII Vintage

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The M1A1 Abrams (4 Gals to the mile) and 60 tons

An Unexpected Breakdown!

From the Commissary, I was driving down to the other end of the post to visit “The Buffalo Soldier Monument” I was in a very deserted or less traveled part of the Post. I was going no more 20 miles per hour, slowing down for a stop sign. As I came to a stop, I noticed one of our bikes, on the front bike rack lean right over.  With no traffic around, I just put it in park and went to the front of the truck. Sure enough the front bike was in a horizontal position! The retaining arm had slipped right off and the bike rolled over. The front bike tire was flat. This is what caused the retaining arm to slide down and release the bike. A closer examination of the tire revealed that the sidewall cords had abraded causing the flat. Remember, this was my bike and those tires had over two thousand miles, that I put on and many more miles riding on the front of the truck. I secured the bike with bungee cords and retraced my steps to the Base exchange for a couple of new bike tires and tubes. Well now it was time to head up the road to the campground. It wasn’t long before I had that tire replaced, at least on the front. I plan on replacing the rear when I get to Davis/Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. This evening, in the Community Room at the campground I pounder ,”What if”, that had happened on the interstate or, in heavy city traffic here in El Paso! I had double safeties on the bike rack, but now I’ll increase this to three backup safeties.

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New tire and tube did the trick!

Tomorrow’s Route of March

From the RV campground here at Ft Bliss, I plan on heading a little North before continuing on I-10. I really hated the El Paso traffic in town when getting here. I never have seen so much traffic cutting in and out of lanes. So, talking to the MWR office person, he directed me to a short detour and completely avoiding the city hassles. This was not using the Transmountain 375 road. The route would take me into New Mexico and back to I-10 without missing a beat!.

Short cut around El Paso Traffic

That is what we saw and did!




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Life is a Highway

Nov 8, 2017 ~ Day 8

Life is a Highway

The song lyrics go something like this; “Life is a highway and I drive it all night long”. Well you could say that’s what I did today. It started raining in the middle of the night and rained almost all day. To top that off, the temperature stayed at 34 degrees! I looked at the Weather Channel and it looked like El Paso, TX was in the clear and the temperature would be in the sixties. The only drawback was that El Paso was 469 miles from Abilene. The song on the radio was playing “Life is a highway…” that’s all I needed to motivate me for the ride. A quick trip to Wal-Mart for a few groceries, we hit the road around 7am. For 300 miles it was a steady cold rain!

A Big Boy’s Pleasure

I drove unto I-20 in Abilene and within a few miles, my eyes lit up at the site of this giant oil refinery adjacent to the highway. It was totally unexpected to see this massive complex. I was in for many more oil field related surprises. I never realized how immense this oil field country was in Texas. For over a hundred miles, I witnessed this oil industry! Everything, I’m talking of equipment along the highway, was in multiples. From mountains of pipe, to trucks with all kinds of different machinery mounted on them, to manufactures of trailers of every size, to extra wide loads on the highway, to hundred ton cranes being shuttled from one area to the next. I was living a big boy’s dream!

The last time I remotely experienced this kind of adventure was in the oil fields in Prudo Bay, Alaska back in the mid eighties. I’ve always been fascinated by heavy equipment. I can remember when I was a kid in the mid fifties and our country was building the Eisenhower Interstate System, my father would take me and travel into Vermont to see those big bulldozers and belly pans move mountains of earth. Ok, maybe I’m getting too excited on this subject and might be losing my audience.

The Change In Terrain

The major oil centers are Abilene, Big Spring, Midland and Odessa which are around 3,000 feet of elevation. This is not mountain country in nature, but flat land that is just high in elevation. That is why the temperature was down to 34 degrees. As I said before, it rained for nearly three hundred miles. When we finely climbed the Apache and Barrilla Mountains, we left the rain behind. With the sun shining on the El Paso side of the mountains, the temperature rose into the mid sixties as we pulled into El Paso, TX around 4:30pm (that was with a one hour central time change here in El Paso.

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The El Paso side of the Apache Mountains

Click on this link to view our travels today

Fort Bliss RV Park

A problem with a loose wire connection into my GPS nearly caused me to nearly miss the turn off to the RV Park. It is located on Fort Bliss property, but not on the actual base. We made it ok, but a little after five and naturally the office was closed for the day. We looked up the camp host, who said they had no openings. Bummer! Well, she said that we could dry camp and be on the waiting list. That was fine with us, we could use all the facilities, club house, restrooms, showers and to top that off it was for free! “Life is a highway and I drive all night long.” The adventure continues!

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Inside the Club House at Ft Bliss RV Park

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RV Park at Ft Bliss

That is what we saw and did!

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Abilene, TX

Nov. 7th 2017

Cold Front!

The weather plays an important part in our travels. Just yesterday, in Texarkana, TX it was in the mid eighties. Today, it was in the fifties, a sure sign for us to move on. It seems that another cold front is swinging down from Canada and that can affect the weather all the way down into Texas. Why freeze? Just get into the truck and head in a Southwesterly direction, eventually the cold weather will be behind us. The jet stream starts in the Northwest, swoops down the central part of the country and winds up in New England.

Click to view today’s travel map

Abilene, Abilene!

“Abilene, Abilene prettiest town I ever seen

Folks down there don’t treat you mean

in Abilene, my Abilene”

Well, I’m not sure about the lyrics of the above song, but Abilene does play somewhat of a role in my history. Back in the World War II days, my father was stationed here in Abilene, TX for basic training. I can’t find an Army base around, but like many WWII area places, it probably was deactivated. I just Googled Abilene and Camp Barkley cam up and was one of the nation’s largest military camps of World War II. At peak, 60,000 men were in training here. So dad was here and 76 years later so was his son! Did you figure that we are camped in Abilene and of course at a Cracker Barrel? With 356 miles behind the wheel today, we only have another 549 miles to clear Texas. A total of 2,270 miles from Berlin, NH in seven days which averages to about 324 miles a day. Sounds like a lot for some people, but leaving early in the morning and driving 5 to 6 hours puts us parked around mid afternoon. That gives us time to explore the area. If something strikes our fancy, we can stay longer or move on. Right now the weather is dictating our moves!

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Dallas Ramp to Nowhere!

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Six Flags over Texas

That what we did and saw!

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There ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues!

More Rain & Cold!

This morning at Navy Mid-South Station in Millington, TN it was 56 degrees and looking like rain all day. On came the long pants, tee shirt and long sleeve shirt! Our game for today was to spend time in Memphis. Someone online told us that Memphis was a rough town and two other campers here said the same thing. Being fair weather sailors and especially not fond of rain and cold, it was decided to pickup and leave for Arkansas, Little Rock, that is!

At the Arkansas Welcome Center, this nice lady gave me all kinds of info on Little Rock. A campground just across the river has a wonderful view of Little Rock. The old railroad bridge was converted to a bike and pedestrian walk to the downtown. Cool! But nothing always works the way we want! Little Rock is a mere 137 miles from Memphis, a very short ride for us. Arriving into the Little Rock area, it was pouring and still in the mid fifties! I’m telling myself, I’m not stopping until it’s warmer, so here we are in Texarkana, TX. The temperature now at 79 degrees at 5:50pm and we are at the Texas Welcome Center for the night. Why not stay at the Cracker Barrel 2 miles up the road? The Welcome Center allows you to stay one overnight and with WiFi and super clean restrooms, why not!

The Split Post Office

The young lady at this Center gave us places to visit and eating possibilities! The State Line Boulevard divides Arkansas and Texas. At the end of the boulevard is the US Post Office which sits smack dab in the middle of the State Line! We had a few laughs, took selfies and explored this area. The young lady Lisa also told us of Joe’s Pizza across from the PO. Great pizza, and while waiting, the waitress gave us these rolls, shaped like a pretzel and as they say in the food world Yummy!



There ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues!

As the title of the above song indicates, we are “happy campers” with finally getting to warmer weather. I don’t know if we will quickly move on towards Arizona or zig zag and see what we can explore here in Texas. Who knows, you’ll just have to be patient and read the blog! Be sure to give me a “Like” (for encouragement) if you enjoy reading about our adventures!

That is what we saw and did!

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Southwest ~ Day 4 & 5

Nov 4, 2017

In The Fog!

I had hit the sack very early because of my cold, consequently got plenty of sleep. About ten hours, but I felt refreshed for today’s travel. It was just fifty miles or so to the Kentucky border. Still very dark out. A heavy dew, I needed the windshield wipers to kept good visibility for the  dash-cam. The darkness will disappear tomorrow morning, you see there is a one hour time change plus daylight saving time kicks in tonight. Two hours back will make it daylight very early.

Back to the fog, it never seemed to clear up until noon time, buy than we were well into the State of Kentucky. Lexington, KY is noted for its fine horses and the best manicured ranches with their white fences around miles of grass land. Moving further south into the State, Elizabethtown was our next stopped at the visitor center. This was only to find it closed. The brochures outside didn’t give us much incentives to stick around for sightseeing. With Nashville only three hours away it was time to move on.

Big City Traffic!

At the Tennessee border Visitor Center I grabbed a couple of maps and al kinds of info on Nashville. Off we went, checking things out as we entered town. A place to park and a place to stay overnight were priorities! We were thinking of going to mass Saturday night and possibly staying in the church parking lot. We found a church online, but not in a safe neighborhood. Scratch that idea. I looked up another church downtown, but no parking available. So, it was time to regroup some place. I had spotted a Cracker Barrel six miles back on I-65. On the way there, my GPS lost power and so did the Dash-cam. I grabbed my phone and navigated back to the Cracker Barrel. It looked like the USB plug that I just installed was the culprit. I switched to my iPhone to finish navigation. From the Cracker Barrel restaurant I did another search and found a church up in, close by Hendersonville. We went to mass at 5pm and ask for permission to stay overnight in the church parking lot. We got permission and had a very quiet night. Not even a church mouse was heard!

Honky Tonk ~ Nashville!

Sunday morning, Nashville was in our sights. Parking is a major issue during the week days but free on Sundays (except on Titans football game weekends) Yup, Titans vs Ravens at 12pm. Parking very scare and super expensive, but, by luck I was able to find a lot that only cost $5 for six hours. What a deal! Normally, this is $35 a day with no by the hour option. It was just 150 feet off of Broadway, the main action street.

You would think that a Sunday morning would be deserted, but with the Titans playing a noon, there was a lots of purple and blue jerseys in town. We had a ball walking, talking to the fans. Tailgate parties all over the place. Took a lot of pictures, tried to go to Wildhorse Salon, a recommendation from our KW buddy Paula, but it didn’t open til way later in the day!


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Nissan Stadium from the bridge


Broadway ~ Sunday morning ~ different at night!


Nashville ~ Broadway

Navy Mid-South Midway RV Park!

Yes, on the fifth day from leaving home this was our first campground. Our water resources were getting low, our tanks needed to be dumped. Military AllStays app gave me this Navy Station on the Mississippi River. No reservations and we got one of three sites left open. The RV campground is located in a wooded area close to the Commissary and Base Exchange. Like walking 500 feet to our camper with full hookups $20.00. We are happy campers tonight.

Click to see our two day travels

That is what we saw and did!

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Southwest ~ Day 3

Nov 3, 2017

The Normal

It is customary, for me to come down with a cold either before or right after leaving for a travel adventure. Yup, I have a cold, but all is not lost. My daughter, Christy, had or I should say, also has a cold. She informed me to go to Wal-Mart and purchase Zicam tablets. They seem to really do the trick!

Behind the Wheel

Today was a driving day. We left LaVale, MD around 7:45am after publishing the blog. It didn’t take long for the weather to change and start raining off and on. Before too long, we crossed into West Virginia. Normally when we cross West Virginia, it takes about 30 minutes before we cross into Virginia. Not so this time. Today, we covered the entire state, the long way taking the entire day. Even with the rain, the scenery was perfect in its own right. Fog in the valleys, green meadows with cows, hills or mountains with hollows in every direction. The foliage gone for another year, but still rustic with its bronze remaining leaves. Very mindful of the Great North Woods of New Hampshire. It is a land that God forgot to create some flat areas or it seems that way. Everything is always going up or down. It must have cost a fortune to build highways in them “thar” hills.

Click to view today’s travel map

I didn’t get to many (any) pics today because of the rain, but I have plenty from our yesterday’s visit in Cumberland!


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This is Frank the gentleman who gave us history of the downtown

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The start of a bike trail ~ we should of biked it!

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One of the many murals on Baltimore St


That is what we did and saw!

264 miles driven today

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The Train tour starts at this station, but was only running the following day

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Southwest ~ Day 2

Nov 2, 2017

We both had a good quiet night’s sleep at the truck stop. Our departure was around 6:45am, still in the dark. I’m at my best early in the morning. By noon time, we had traveled enough to start slowing down and start exploring. We were now at the Cumberland Gap in Maryland. This a natural “V” cut into the Allegheny mountains. It was first discovered by Daniel Boone. I presume he was exploring a way to cross the Allegheny mountains in his horse camper! We spent a little time checking out the place and getting tourist info.

Click for travel map

A few miles pass the “Gap” was the Rocky Gap State Park. We stopped in to checkout the place and possibly stay overnight, but being off-season, some of it was closed. I just couldn’t see paying for just a place to park overnight. The large Casino, on nearly the same property, was full to capacity.  That’s when we decided to explore the town of Cumberland and the C & O Canal. The canal was started to connect Cumberland to the North Branch of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Like many good deeds in life, they didn’t quite make it. The railroad came in and the canal wasn’t needed to open up the West. The history in this area goes way back to 1749 when King George II gave 500,000 acres to the Ohio Company for speculation and development of the Ohio Valley to the West. This area was also noted for the “Under Ground Railroad” to free slaves.

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Cumberland down by the canal

Cumberland is a beautiful city with splendid architecture in the old downtown. Many buildings have murals and frescos. Baltimore Street is a pedestrian only street. Flowers, brick pavers are the norm here. We met Frank, a jewelry store owner, who gave us insight into the history of this town. We must have talked for a half hour. He had a lot to say and we enjoyed listening. Frank told us of a new Cracker Barrel Restaurant a short distance away. Naturally, we had dinner and spent the night. Very quiet night I must say!

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Back in the Day

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Cumberland overlook with our little truck camper

That is what we saw and did!


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Southwest ~Day 1

Leaving our hometown of Berlin around 7:45, we followed a new, to us, route, going down on I-91 to the Mass Turnpike, (a toll road) South on I-87 to I-84 to Port Jarvis, NY The idea was to see if this would be a smoother highway when hauling the 5th wheel to Florida. It was, with several tolls. I will be taking this route in the future! I-88 going to Binghamton was so rough, last spring, that I did get a slow leak on the 5th wheel and had to change a tire at our friends home.

Click to view travel map

I was a little surprised that the warmest it got today was 45 degrees, even here 439 miles south of the Great North Woods! Our furnace is working just fine!

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Pumkin from recent “RiverFire” festival ~ It fits the occasion!

That is what we saw and did!

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Minus 6 to Migration

With daylight dwindling everyday, some 5 hours less, trees now bare of leaves, overhead cloud cover and rain, time has come to migrate to warmer, sunnier part of the country. I hate to start blogging on a depressing note, but given the opportunity to strike off to a different climate does make me fortunate! I do realize that these journeys could come to a quick end in just a few years or for that matter days. I am very fortunate to have a wife that puts up with my traveling desires.

Nearly Packed! (Minus Three)

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be working on my grandson’s pickup truck. LED driving lights will be installed with along with new blackened housings. On Sunday my truck camper will be sitting under the camper. Things will now move very fast, checked lists doubled check, fresh water tank fill, propane lines purged and the refrigerator tested for propane usage.

Sailors Take Warning! (Minus Two)

Sunday morning sunrise! “Red skies in the morning, sailors take a warning” yes indeed we got a warning. Late Sunday night, early Monday morning, the wind and rain came into our town with a vengeance! Not sure how much rain, but in the neighborhood of four to six inches. Wind gust into the sixties.  Tropical storm Philippe let us know it wasn’t happy with us not going to KW. We personally didn’t sustain any damage, but several streets did get washed out and thousands of good size trees came tumbling down. Over a hundred fifty thousand residents (in the state) without power. Tuesday spent driving around assessing the damage. Time to get out of Dodge!

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Major Street Flooding!

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River Front Property

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Only Gets Worse!

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Our Little Brook 

At This Time Tomorrow! (Minus One)

At this time tomorrow, we should be on the road. The weather forecast looks good for our first travel day. Our target destination will be some place near Chambersburg, PA.

That is what we saw and did!



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A Decision Made!

No official word as come from MWR as to an opening date for the campgrounds. December 15 is tentative, but I think it could possibly be later than that. Their (Navy) internet is still not working. The priorities are not the campgrounds, (rightly so). So, at the end of this month, the truck camper is heading south and then west! Come along for the journey and see what life will bring us. The link below will show our tentative travel route. I’m sure it will deviate as we move along. It’s not a question of getting there fast, but to stay ahead of COLD weather. Click on this link

What I hope to do is to include in the blog, a daily map of our progress and nightly stops. This may not be possible all the time. WiFi is the key to success!

The Load Plan

Every day I am advancing towards getting things in order for our departure. Hurricane Irma has changed many things here in New Hampshire’s “Great North Woods”. By now, we would be in Key West, but the 5th wheel is parked in the side yard next to the shop. This has become a problem or annoyance in a couple of ways. First, my grandson Sawyer, needed to get to his brother’s flatbed trailer out, but a fishing shack sitting on it would not allow enough room to clear the 5th wheel. My snow plow also was on the wrong side, the other issue. Why not move the 5th wheel one might ask? The RV is blocked up, I would have to install the 5th wheel hitch in the truck and later remove it. Well the solutions; I made a couple of HD saw horses and beams to support the bob-house (winter fishing shack). Jacking it up off the trailer needed to be done anyway. Sawyer said, he wouldn’t have time this winter to go ice fishing, but his brother Austin needed his trailer back. I put the snow plow on three flatbed dollies and moved it using a Johnson bar to cross the side yard. Why move the snowplow if we’re in the Southwest? I may be called for that camp host position in KW and I would need to plow the lower driveway to get the 5th wheel out. A lot of things might happen and then again might not. I’m just trying to be prepared for as many possibilities as possible!

The Departure Date

Helen & I have agreed that November 1st would be our start date. This is nine days from this Monday morning. Now comes the crunch time, did I pack this and that, did I move whatever from the 5th wheel to the truck camper? Did I leave that whatever in the house? The only sure way to positively resolve this is with a physical eyes on item and a check list! That’s what I will be doing this week.

That is what I’ve been doing!




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Autumn in the North Country

One of the nicest times of the year in New Hampshire is right now! The days are getting shorter, three hours and fifty minutes shorter as of today Oct. 3, 2017. Days getting shorter doesn’t make it nicer, but if you’re an earlier riser it makes for dramatic sunrises and later sunsets. This morning, I was out the door around 6:30am with my D7000 Nikon heading for the Androscoggin River. The sun was up above the valley fog and I was thinking I might grab some shots of a calm river, fog and sun light peeking through. When I got there the fog was very dense. I drove further upriver to see if things were better, no luck.

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Early Fall Morning

Back down to the 12th Street bridge. I walked onto the bridge. The fog was still a little heavy, but I did managed to capture the moment. Taking great pictures of mother nature is a matter of timing, to capture light and of course composition.

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Piece on the River

A few days have slipped by since I wrote the above paragraph. The foliage is at or nearly passed peak. Out again this morning, for more river shots! A construction crew was working feverishly to rebuild one of our six dams on this part of the river. That was my initial destinations with my trusty Nikon. This time sun and leaf colors were beaming!

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Near Peak up River

A wild apple tree, just across the access road from the dam, was full of big red apples. Click, click for a few shots of color. Heading North up river I wanted to shoot more river pictures with the mountains in the background. I pulled into Horn Field, next to the river. A bunch of guys were loading wood into a pontoon boat. They were setup skids and short pieces of lumber on these boom-piers out in the middle of the river. Next weekend it will be “River Fire”, an annual festival with hundreds of carved pumpkins set up on the old Berlin Mills Bridge.

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River Fire Volunteer Crew

The carved pumpkins are lit up to show their many intricate faces. After dark, the bonfires are lit on the boom-piers. This covers the river for about a half mile. It’s pretty cool to see these glowing fires, seemingly in the middle of the river.


For those of you would don’t know what boom-piers are: Back in the early logging days, different saw mills, locally that is,  needed a way to identify and separate logs cut up river and driven down the Androscoggin River to the saw and pulp mills. They devised this method. In the winter time when the river was frozen, they hauled wagon loads of stone into the middle of the river into great piles. They were encircled with wooden cribbing. When spring thaw came this created island some 100 feet apart. Tree length logs were than chain from island (boom-piers) to island. This gave a separation of logs for ownership. I believe sometime in the early 60’s was the last log drives on this river.

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Boom Piers (late 1800’s)

That is what I’ve been up to!

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The “Sprinter” and The “Lance”

RV living, both in Key West and on the road exploring this great country! This morning, I’m sitting in my  sun-room, looking out on a beautiful fall day. The leaves are starting to turn red, some orange and others still green. The weather here in New Hampshire has been exceptionally warm, sunny and nearly better than perfect!

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Our Back Yard

What I know is that all of this is going to come to an end very soon. The first week of October will traditionally bring peak foliage. After the foliage comes grey skies, rain, frost, snow flurries and a quick end to outdoor summer activities for some. Morning walks will be a burden, that is, just thinking of staying warm, dressed with a ton of clothes.

Now comes the time that I start getting desparate for a warmer climate. My iPhone is streaming US 1, Radio Key West 104.1 and playing some Blues Classics. Oh, it is so appropriate to be thinking “The Keys are for me”! All of this would be so easy to swallow and head for paradise in a, quote, “Normal Year”. This didn’t turn into a normal year as far as weather. With hurricane Irma damage, minor in some places and severe in others. I and many snow birds are in a holding pattern. The main objective is not getting us snow birds into military campgrounds, but taking care of the active duty personnel and their families. Many others who live off base lost just about everything. These are the priorities and justly so!


We are not leaving, in the near future. My game plan is this.

  1. Wait for some kind of word from MWR (Moral, Welfare, Recreation) in Key West as to when the campgrounds might open to us retirees.
  2. If over two months wait, then maybe a trip to the South West, possibly Arizona, New Mexico and even southern California. If this is the case, I would take the truck camper and not the 5th wheel. Why might you ask? Because I’m not sure if I could stay put in any one spot for a long period of time. The truck camper is very mobile and moving into remote spots, is a breeze.  I plan to do this, which would suit my needs. I know of some cool places to hangout and explore!
  3. There is also the issue of me getting the camp hosts position in Key West. The day they were going to announce the position is the day they evacuated the base. If I was awarded that position, that would change my travel plans. I want to be  camp-host and will do what MWR wants me to do and when ever they want me to arrive in the Keys.

It’s a Waiting Game!

You can imagine literally hundreds of retirees, military families all waiting in limbo waiting to see what will happen to their plans for wintering in Key West. There was about 55 military families that were living at the campground on a permanent basis. These are our stories, maybe small in comparison to people who lost everything, houses, sailboats that are their homes year round. So many tragedies! It is said the Conch citizens are Key West Strong! I believe they really are. The Island is quickly returning to “open for business”! A few complain about this and that, but getting Key West tourism back up is critical to the Keys economy.

Calendar Update

A good week has passed since I started this blog. I’ve been watching updates from Key West and the latest MWR update said they would have a tentative schedule for the campgrounds opening on Oct 6, 2017. (That is not the opening date) The more info one has the more correct decisions one can be made.

TC and 5th Wheel Modifications

In the meantime, I’ve been working on both the truck camper and the 5th wheel. On the TC, I added two 48 watt backup lights to the rear. I did run into a problem of blowing the pickup truck fuse every time I put into reverse. (Too much of a load) I solved that by installing a relay and taking the load to the TC batteries. The truck sends a small signal or trigger to the relay and fused power is taken from the TC batteries. Cool! On the 5th wheel, I finished fabricating a movable laptop table for the new recliners. The table is mounted to the recliner base. It swivels with the chair, but does not rock with the chair. It works perfectly! When not in use it swings out-of-the-way. I also added a small side table for pencils, coffee cup, iPhone or whatever.

That is what I did while waiting!




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I-90 East ~ Montana

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Cracker Barrell Sunset!

This morning was spent in Butte, Montana. On this day I had a commissioners board meeting, cell conference call, for the Berlin Water Works in Berlin, NH. The meeting was at 12 noon eastern time, but here in Montana it was 10 am (Mountain Time). Not a long delay in getting started East again. Technology is so great that I can make meetings by phone or Skype. I had parked at McDonalds, so Helen could be online doing her thing while I sat in the camper and did mine.

I believe it was around 10:50am when we were on the road. The sky was already getting hazy with smoke from the several wildfires going on in the State. Forty-Eight of them, according to the Interagency tracking the wildfires in Montana! Most of the haze stay with us until we stopped in Billings in late afternoon.

Our favorite, urban, boon docking site is here in Billings, that’s right a Cracker Barrel Restaurant! There are only two of them in the State of Montana.

A very quiet night with only one other RV in the rear of the restaurant. Our evening dinner at Cracker Barrel featured a Sirloin Steak, cooked to per section for me and Helen had a dinner of Haddock which was also to her liking. Following the dinners, we took a leisurely walk around the two hotels and came back to the Cracker Barrel, sat down on their rockers out front and watched a pretty cool sunset. If you’ve ever been to this restaurant you know that the outside speakers play soft country music. It was especially fitting with the sunset!

In the morning, it was an easy quiet wakeup. After breakfast, I-90 East was very light with traffic. Montana is amazing! The landscape changed again switching from I-90E to I-94E. The latter I’ve never been on before. Some sections being so called “badlands” which means it is difficult to navigate on foot or horse back. The Interstate certainly has changed all of that. One can see, it seems, forever. Grasslands, little hills with spotted evergreen trees. Cattle in small herds, grazing, some all black, silhouetting against the blonde dry grasses. Others brown in color doing the same grazing, but looking totally different against the dry landscape.

Finally, after three days, Montana was behind us. It was a beautiful State, but a long drive. Tonight, we parked at Red Trail RV Park in Medora, North Dakota. Literally, across the street from Theodore Roosevelt National Park entrance, which we will visit tomorrow. This NP I know very little about, at least until this afternoon. Theodore had a ranch in the back country, but what makes it interesting is this is where the Buffalo roam. We’ll see and update the blog later.

T. Roosevelt Nat’l Park

An early start gave us the entire park to roam, stop and take pictures without traffic on our tail. It’s a 36 mile loop road that encompasses the major portions of the park. Many hiking trails and side trails shoot off of this main loop. What to see, was my main question? The visitor center didn’t open until 8am and we were ready to explore the park.

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Where the Buffalo Roam!

Here is what we found. At first it was scenic overlooks, than we drove unto “Prairie Town”. What we discovered here was hundreds of praise dogs living in a town like community. The field or I should say town was about 3/4 mile long by 1/2 mile in depth. It was different, totally didn’t expect that. A short distance down the paved road we encountered our first Buffalo, a few yards away. It was ok, but not spectacular. What really caught us by surprise again and was special was driving around a corner and seeing two wild horses next to the truck. They were what we needed, a little thrill. When my granddaughter, Aspen was little girl, I use to tell her a bedtime story about two horses named “Apache” and “Whiteface” Well both horses had “whiteface”, it was sort of a personal inner moment. I took a lot of pictures, I just haven’t had the time to closely look at them yet!

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Wild Horses ~ It doesn’t get better!

The “Badlands” of the park kept us looking for more scenic vistas. Not to short change the name “Badlands” it simply just refers to land that is not flat and is difficult to traverse, but is very colorful, usually due to different minerals deposits.

A few more miles the Buffalos were grazing on both sides of the road. This time, because of the absence of tourist, I was able to get the photos I wanted. A great day at Theodore Roosevelt Nat’l Park!

Tonight we are at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in Mandan, North Dakota. This Fort was commanded by George Armstrong Custer. Remember the “Battle of the Little Big Horn”?


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Commanding Officer’s House ~George A. Custer

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George Armstront Custer

That is what we saw and did!


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The Destination ~ North of the Border

From Mt Rainier, one more item on our agenda in the Northwest! Our traveling friends, who live in British Columbia, were on our bucket list of things to do, see and visit! Catherine and Leon, we first met, at a Ferry Station in Newfoundland, Canada, on the East Coast. We had ferried over to St Pierre de Michelon, a French possession Island.

This past winter, they visited us in Key West, FL. Now it was our turn to visit them. It was a short visit, but a good one! They took us over to Fort Langley, a restored stockaded Fort. We were able to have a wonderful visit with them. It was a hectic week for them as Leon’s mom passed away, on Wednesday, and to top it off their “Rodie” van got stolen on Sunday morning.

We stayed overnight in our truck camper and were on our way out Canada early next morning. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that they sold their house and will be temporarily moving to another house until their new house, being built, is completed. Leon and Catherine needed rest from all the activities happening nearly at once. We wish them well!

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Catherine & Leon ~ Langley, British Columbia Canada

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Catherine & Helen at Fort Langley

So, after leaving BC with headed East, yes, we are heading back to New England. The first day I made it to Spokane, WA. That was a 374 mile day. Tonight, we are in Butte, Montana with 326 miles in for the day. It may seem that we’re continuously driving, but we did stop and admire the scenery, had a cool picnic along some glacial runoff rivers. Last night, we stayed at Fairchild AFB, just outside of Spokane. Nice campground and of course, I got the last full hookup site.

Tonight, we are at the “2 Bar Lazy H RV Park” just outside of Butte, MT. The elevation is over 5,000 feet on a high plateau. We can see the “Big Sky Country” for many miles. That wasn’t the case this afternoon. Leaving Idaho, at Lookout Pass, the smell of fire started and soon the visibility worsened. This got really bad to the point that our eyes started to smart. I was thinking that, surely we would run into a detour or something, but we didn’t. This went on for a hundred miles until we got to Missoula, MT. Even now, some 200 miles from there, we both can smell smoke. I’m thinking that the forest fire was the one that started in Glacier National Park, some 150 miles to the North. I heard on the radio, that some backcountry hikers were blocked from coming out and had to take a longer hike to escape. That fire was caused by lightning.

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 14th and 15th 2017

374 miles on the 14th ~ 326 miles on the 15th

6,104 miles since leaving home. This is the 28th night out on the road!

The blog may suffer a little as we pour on the miles, but I’ll try!

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Mt rainier ~ The Most Noble!

“Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mt Rainier is the noblest.”

John Muir

The best for last

It seems that we have been climbing mountains lately! The Cascade Mountain Range is where all of these Volcanic Mountains are located. Mt Rainier, Mt St Helen’s, Mt Hope, Mt Lassen are all brewing to let off steam! The earth’s Pacific Tectonic Plate is pushing East, something has to blow to relieve pressure. Hey, we’ve been living on the edge on this Pacific Coast Highway Adventure Trip. The Volcanos, the threat of a Tsunami, driving close to ocean level, a North Korean nuclear attack, hell, I love living on the edge!

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Not another Selfie!

Mt Rainier ~ The best for last!

Thousand and thousands of tourist flock to this National Park! Some drive, some hike, camp, bike and every form of outside activities are available. The Park Service has it down pat! Even the main road in is being re-paved and wait times can be several minutes to a half hour, but very well orchestrated. Many tourists were giving the construction workers a thumbs up! The only stress came from meeting a fully loaded dump truck, on a narrow hillside road, with him on the inside and us on the 2,000 foot drop off side of the road. I must be a thrill seeker!

At the Paradise Visitor Center, the upper parking lot was very full, we had to back track down to the picnic area parking and hike up a quarter mile to the center.

The mountain is literally right in front of you. Boom! Snow fields, glaciers and green forested areas in the low views. Flowers, all natural and many colors are along the hiking paths. Perfect, and, as John Muir said in 1889, “Extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens”.

Mount Rainier is the cream of the crop! Our rating is “Five Stars”

The Night Stay

Coming out of the mountains, in late afternoon, my task was to find another bed-down spot. I pulled into a McDonalds, to get out of the traffic. This guy was looking at my camper, I got out and he started a conversion. One thing led to another and I asked him if he knew of a campground close by? He told me there was a campground right in back of the Expo Fairgrounds, within site of here.

I got a full hookup site and asked the camp host if there was anything going on to visit or see. Well, she said, “The 27 Annual Northwest Country Swing Music Festival” was going on all weekend right here at the Expo. After setting up the truck camper, a shower and dinner, a stroll over to the Festival provided entertainment for the rest of the evening. We both are not country music dancers, but just watching the pros strut around the dance floor was cool. I don’t know where some of these guys came from, but it look like some were seven feet tall! Maybe the cowboy hats and boots gave them a lift!

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Lively Time At Northwestern Country Music Festival

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 Several Bands Kept it Hoping all Night!

That is what we saw and did

Aug 11, 2017 ~ 144 miles traveled

5,206 miles from Berlin, NH

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Helen, Buying Property ~ Mt St Helens

Our destination, today, was to Mt St Helen’s National Park. It was 52 miles to the park and another 52 miles back. We both can vouch that it was well worth the mileage. The last eruption was in 1980, in our life time, which made it little more meaning full. The first stop at the Longmire Visitor Center was brief. The Ranger said that it would be better to view the volcano early in the morning, rather than later, when the British Columbia forest fire smoke thickened. The highway good and we couldn’t stop noticing all the logging trucks going and coming from the mountain’s direction. Weyerhaeuser, a big lumber company, does a lot of clear-cutting, but also replanting. Signs with the year that different areas were replanted dotted the countryside.

An Eye Opener

Arriving at a very large parking lot, nearly empty, at the Johnson Ridge Observatory, we prepped ourselves with extra water, sun protection and hats and headed for the Visitor Center. A Ranger had just started his presentation outside. Behind us, Mt St Helen, three miles away, he explained the sequence of the eruption. It is nearly unbelievable how that was the largest landslide ever recorded in human history! The Pyrotechnic blast incinerated everything equaling the city of Chicago in land area. Volcanic ash was deposited in 11 States. Volcanic mudslides reached as far as the Columbia River fifty miles away. Hundreds of square miles were reduced to wasteland. The stats go on and on!

It was an eye opener! What is terrifying is the visible dome, inside the volcano, that grows or rises 5 feet a day. The Ranger said that they use the “5 foot a day” as a guide for possible future eruptions. Ironically, the last eruption didn’t exceed the 5 foot a day expansion when it erupted. While we were there, we witnessed an avalanche inside the perimeter of the volcano! We could see smoke from the avalanche area.

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Witnessed avalanche top left ~ Dome grows 5 feet a day in center

The temperature from the sun was getting hotter. We had lunch in the camper and backtracked down the 52 miles to civilization.


Late afternoon, we checked into Lewis & Clark SP.

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 10, 2017 ~ 174 miles traveled today

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The Lighthouses and Shipwrecks

The Pioneers

I couldn’t forget to write about the many lighthouses along the Northwest Coast! I can’t help thinking of the pioneers, such as William V. Langlois, in the mid eighteen hundreds coming by sailing ships to the treacherous coast. Fog, strong tides, very rocky shores made for a rough landing. The lighthouses, the high tech of the day, helped save many a ship, but many were lost as evident at the lighthouse museum that we visited. Yaquina Lighthouse, being the tallest, was 93 feet tall. It was built with 400,000 bricks brought in, by ship, from San Fransisco, California. Just getting the bricks to the site, on a primitive road was a monumental accomplishment!

If I remember there’s around sixteen of these lighthouses in Oregon. Each one was subject to inspection, that is, with a white glove, inspected on unannounced visits. Even the light keeper’s wife had to have everything whistle clean and orderly. The lighthouses were of prime importance!

Boomers On The Move! Every turn is an Adventure!

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The Lance and the Ford enjoying the view!

The Decision

Heading North, near Newport, the traffic was starting to get heavy. It seems that people in the interior were heading to the coast to cool off from the high 90’s to the mid 60’s. It was time to make a decision! Keep moving North along the coast or head inland to high terrain. I made the latter. A little north of Lincoln City, I took route 18 towards Portland and into Washington. What I didn’t figure on was going through Portland around rush hour! This was a 61 min traffic jam, but making the best of this meant that we could enjoy viewing the Portland City scape from the high bridges we were on.

Night Stay

Where to stay after leaving the hustle and bustle of the cities? The Allstays app didn’t provide many options. After gassing the truck, I located, yes, a Wal-Mart a few miles away, in Battle Ground, Washington. This would be our first Walmart since 2012 trip to Alaska. Allstays reviews said that this Walmart permitted overnight parking for one night. I asked the store manager and he said, “Ok, for one night as long as you park over by the garden section.”

A few teenagers were hanging around in the parking lot, but they weren’t interested in us and they disappeared in the night as we disappeared into sleep. Around 12:30 am, a refrigerated box truck parked next to us. This was annoying as the refrigerator compressor runs nearly continuously. I noticed no one in the cab. I got up and moved our TC about 300 feet and all was fine for the rest of the night. That’s the price for a Wal-Mart night!

That what we saw and did!

Aug 9, 2017 ~ Walmart ~ Battle Ground, WA

190 miles traveled today

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Big Red My Favorite

One of my first objectives on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) was to stand next to the tallest. Yes, I’m talking about the PCH “Redwoods”. At a whopping 350 feet tall you would fall over backwards before your eyes view the top, when looking up! The diameter at the base, on some is over 35 feet! Our little truck camper looks like a toy model next to these behemoths! We really enjoyed spending time with these thousand and thousand year old trees. Thank God that they are being preserved in this National Park! We come from logging country in New England and appreciate forest management, but not tree hugging fanatics that don’t allow any management. It appears that the logging industry here is still working, which is good, as evident of the many tree length log trucks. I’ve noticed that they clear cut plots on the mountain sides followed by re-planting. Hopefully, this continues for generations to come.


Tiny Toy Truck Camper

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350 feet tall! 

The Redwood Nat’l Park borders the coast for a long distance. It is both a National Park and a State Park. This part of the journey brought us to the Oregon border and just a few miles north to our night stay in Brookings, OR at the Beach Front RV Park.

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 7, 2017 ~ 109 miles traveled

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Lassen Volcanic Nat’l Park

Once again our travels find us doing 300 mile days. South Fork Campground was perfect for our needs. The problem is the long distances in the high Nevada desert. There is nothing to see except scenic panoramas! Hence, you drive until the next town that has more people than a total of 70 population. We don’t mind. Like I said, the scenic panoramas keep us looking and passing the time away at 65mph. The speed limit is still 80mph.

Our stop was in Verdi, CA at a Cabela’s. There were signs with no overnight parking, but I went into the store and spoke to Justin and he said, “No problem, as long as you keep the place neat”. The back parking lot of the store has a dog walk, dog kennels, horse corals RV dump station. Yah, they have signs, but it must be to keep the KOA Campground across the street happy. Night fall came and four campers were in the back parking lot with us. You could probably fit 50 or so back there. A peaceful night was had by all.

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Not a bad night’s stay

Adventure Day

Today, would be an adventure day! Our journey took us to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Our route wasn’t the Interstate way, but county rte. 89. This would take us through Plumas National Forest, hilly mountainous road with a 45mph to 50mph speed limit. The elevation gain was quick and the temperature drop was also quick. At Cabela’s it was 63 degrees at 6:30am. My first stop at 8:00am, in the mountains was 49 degrees. The long pants came on. We were at about 6,000 feet above sea level.

The Scenery ~ Big Ponderosa Pines!

Beautiful, big trees close to the road and plenty of them! The bark, light brown with black outlines. The forest dense, but very low underbrush, it looked like deer and bear and Plumas (mountain lion) country! Very, very little traffic, enough time to view the mountains, every so often a small community would popup. These were usually located in high meadows with cows grazing in the pastures. In one area we viewed Yaks with some cows!


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Yakka-A-Dee Yak!


About 60 miles into this journey, we rounded a bend and smelled smoke! A little further, the town of Quincy came into view along with heavy, heavy blue smoke! Surely there must be a forest fire or something serious! In town, we saw a sign, “Firefighters kick ass!” A line of fire trucks, five of them with large crew cabs were coming our way. These trucks are especially built to get into forest, they have large water tanks and as I mentioned, have a place for extra crews on board. More “Thank You Firefighters” signs along the main street. We couldn’t stop because the smoke was choking and our eyes smarted. The smoke appeared to be to the left of our travels and no traffic signs telling us to detour. We continued on towards the next town Keddie, CA with no problems. It was time for a coffee break at a small cafe in town. I asked the waitress about the fire and she said the fire in Quincy was serious, voluntary evacuation was recommended. She also said that the fire had gone into a tunnel, making matters worst. The husband of the girl, cooking in the kitchen, was a fire boss. The fire started with a lightning strike!


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Smoke Jumpers Staging area Quincy, CA

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Another 60 or so miles up the road and we were at the entrance to Lassen Volcanic Nat’l Park. The first place that nearly everybody stops is the entrance sign for that selfie picture. We were no different. Two motorcycles guys with their wives or girl friends were doing the selfies. I volunteered to take the group picture, Helen, asked one of the guys where they were from, “Switzerland,” he answered. Somehow, we started talking french to them. Helen was still wearing a summer dress and the two other girls were wearing their leathers. Helen asked if she could have a picture with them to show contrast in fashion, they agreed!

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Lassen Volcanic Foothills

Must See!

At the entrance to the NP our trusty Senior Pass gave us free entry instead of the $20.00 fee. The Visitor Center was helpful in telling us what to “must see” while driving through the park. He recommended: Sulphur Works, Bumpass Trailhead, Lassen Peak Trailhead and the Devastated Area. All of this was on our way as rte. 89 goes through the park.

The road leaving the Visitor Center starts off with a steep grade and switchbacks. I did not see any motor homes or 5th wheels going up Lassen Mountain. I think what these RVers do is camp at the many lower elevation campgrounds and take their tow vehicles up the grade.

Our first stop, we missed! A Park Ranger went racing up the mountain as we were leaving the  Visitor Center. Lights flashing and speed indicated that something was urgent. At the first recommended stop, Sulphur Works, is where the Park Ranger was stopped. It looked like a young girl was being attended to. No place or time to stop! On to the next stop and gawk at the beauty! I couldn’t take pictures while driving, it was just too dangerous, Helen did a super job of taking pictures and telling me to watch the road! All of the stops were worth the time to view the beauty!

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Helen’s Lake front property

The last stop was the “Devastated Area.” On June 14, 1914 Lassen Peak erupted. What is fascinating is that it was photograph by a local, B.F. Loomis! The photos of before and after really made you think of the power of this so called “plug dome volcano”. At the site, we did a short hike to see all four types of rocks originated from volcanoes. The shield, composite, cinder cone and plug dome can be found here. Some were bigger than a large truck! The mountain top is three miles from where they landed in the devastated area.

Our day ended in Redding, CA at the Marina Park RV campground on the banks of the Sacramento River. As a side note, we had planned to do more “boondocking” camping, but with the temperatures close to 100 degrees, we need campgrounds with pools, showers and electricity.

We even managed to go to St Joseph church for Saturday evening mass!

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 5, 2017 ~ miles travel today 251

Poor WiFi I can’t add many pictures

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Bonneville Speedway

Leaving the Salt Lake City area and traveling West on I-80W, we were watching for the Bonneville Speedway on the right. Little did we realize that this would be nearly a hundred miles down the road. The Speedway is located in the “Great Salt Lake Desert” which is covers hundreds of square miles. On the other side of I-80 is the Dugway Proving Grounds. This is the place that they test vehicles.

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Salt from Salt Lake

Bonneville Slat Flats

Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been waiting or should I say wanting to visit Bonneville Speedway. Craig Breedlove broke the 400, 500 and 600 mile per hour world land speed record. That was 52 years ago. Well this waiting and wanting have been fulfilled! The side road was just a few miles off the I-80 and the pavement ends with signs that proclaim “Welcome To The Bonneville Salt Flats”. Driving onto the salt for a short distance another sign read, “Rocket Launch in Progress”. Follow the markers to the site. This was out approximately ten miles, we did not do that! Just being on the salt was fulfilling enough for me.

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So Bright on the Salt Lake!

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That way to the Rocket Launch!

South Fork ~ SRA (State Reservation Area)

On to Nevada just a short ride down the road. (100 miles) I have to recall what happened at the Utah/Nevada border. So we’re driving for a long time in the deserted desert. The last town in Utah is Wendover UT, a place to gas up and eat lunch. And so we did, a Subway shop and a fill up of gas later, we head up over the hill. Both our phones announce a time change! A 1000 ft later, we are in Nevada in West Wendover, NV and here comes the surprise! From desert to multiple Casinos with glitter every where! We both chuckled how things change in a thousand feet.

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Sunset at South Fork

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Sunrise at South Fork

The day was moving on and we needed a place to bed down for the night. A stop a little pass Elko, at a Visitor Center gave us options for a campground. The lady was helpful and directed us the South Fork Campground, a little out of our way (16 miles) on TE-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, South Fork Band. It sounds a scary, but it is a State run facility. It turn out to be outstanding campground with electric, water and even a concrete pad on our site. With only four campers in the park it was perfect.

After getting setup, a walk to the next site for a visit with our neighbors, was delightful. They were from British Columbia, Canada. This is the same province that our other Canadian friends are from. It truly is a small world that is well-traveled

That is what we saw and did

Aug. 3rd, 2017 ~ Miles travel today 302 miles

Still having problems posting photos… Poor banwith?
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Utah ~ Most Scenic!

The Road Trip

Road trips are great, even though long days on the road can be strenuous. This journey is to do the Pacific Coast highway from Crescent City California to Olympic National Park in Washington State. Part of the real adventure is getting there. This country is so diverse and beautiful, it is nearly unbelievable. Take for instance, yesterday, at the first visitor information center in Utah, we stopped and as we were walking up to the building, we both noticed the lavender in bloom. This wasn’t so abnormal, but what really caught our eyes was the bees pollinating the lavender. They were huge, about an inch and a half long. It is these little wonders that make the road trip a learning adventure.  

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Inch and a half long Bee

Leaving Fruita, Colorado, a town that we visited back in 2013, left a second fine impression on this community. The Visitor Center has a large parking area even with an RV dump station and fresh water fill. (5 stars)

On The Road

Landscape dramatically changes leaving Colorado into Utah. Colors are golden wheat, brown, reds, creosol green clumps of darker greens high up on the Mesa. From flat land to high Mesas this land is different and very scenic. Some spots on the road have signs that say, “No services for 110 miles”. Speed limit is 80mph!

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Flying on I-70!………

I cruised around 65mph, a little higher than my usual 58mph. Following I-70W for part of the way, than US-6 to Provo, UT for the rest of the journey to Ogden, our stop here for a couple of days at Hill AFB, Famcamp. Let me say that once we reached Provo on I-15N, the traffic was heavy, four lanes, 70mph, for about 50 miles. All the way through Salt Lake City, it was heavy concentration!

Let me talk a little about temperature. The late afternoon has climbed to 115 degrees, but it is very true that it is very dry! Ok, this is how we deal with it. When we stop, all windows are open and four fans come on to evacuate the heat inside the camper. It literally takes three to five minutes to do that.

A restaurant takes care of dinner time and than back at the Famcamp, the community room has A/C with TV and high speed WiFi. By now it is after sunset and the temps are dropping fast. It is very comfortable to sleep with the windows open. Early morning finds us actually under the covers. That’s life in the sunbelt! Remember some people come from Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake area to escape the heat! That’s life in the sunbelt!

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Welcome to Utah

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Amazing Geology in them there hills!

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It took alot of Din-o-mite to put this road in!

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 1st, 2017 …..330 miles traveled today


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2,667 Miles to say “Hello Neighbor”

Grand Lake to Colorado Springs

Instead of heading due west, I had a wonderful idea to travel south to Colorado Springs to visit Jerry Rouleau, my hometown neighbor and friend from New Hampshire. He was dog sitting. It was well worth the side trip to travel 186 miles south. Jerry and I, along with Helen and not mention Katie (the dog) had a good visit. Jenna and Scott (Jerry’s daughter and son-in-law have a beautiful home!)

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Jerry, Lucien and Katie 

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It did take long to make a new friend!

The trip down US 40 from Grand Lake was extremely scenic! It had extreme elevations, hair pin turns, forested mountains, ski areas, excellent paved roads! The Ford F-250 handled both the climb and the braking downhill.

We stayed in Jenna and Scott’s driveway, not that Jerry didn’t invite us in to sleep, but we have a policy of being “Light Footed” when we visit and are very comfortable in our truck camper. Thank you, Scott and Jenna, for the offer to do laundry and showers anyway. Oh, for the rest of the blog readers Scott and Jenna were gone down to do some of the National Parks in Arizona hence, Jerry was dog sitting. There is a big bond between Katie and Jerry. You see Jerry had the dog for three years while Scott was deployed.

The Continental Divide

Monday, we said our goodbyes to Jerry and headed towards the West. Another wonderful surprise was taking US 50. A super scenic ride all across Colorado. We reached Monarch Pass at noon and parked the Truck Camper right in the middle of the Continental Divide and at lunch in the camper. The elevation 11,312 feet above sea level. Now, I’m not sure if that was the Atlantic or the Pacific! Remember, the TC was parked in the middle, everything flows one way or the other.

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Driver”s side ~ Atlantic…Passenger’s side Pacific

It was a long day, as we drove 330 miles to Fruita, CO. Our campground on this night was a 5 star campground! Monument RV Campground had a site for us. We did a self-registration at a designated site, changed into our swimsuits and jumped into the pool! Oh, ha, I forgot to mention that in Colorado Springs, it was 54 degrees when we left and in Fruita it was 103 degrees!  This evening made the 12th night on the road! Loving every minute it of it!

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US Route 40 Grand Lake to Colorado Springs, CO

That is what we saw and did!

July 31, 2017 ~ Fruita, Colorado

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Well Named Mountains!

This morning at Meeker Overflow Campground, it was damp and 52 degrees. It felt good to be in our truck camper. I could see many tents out there and no one was stirring. Last nigh it poured off and on, but we felt so grateful to be in our little studio apartment. I had run the generator last night to charge our devices, but I also wrapped up the power cable and covered to Honda Generator, before the rain came down. This morning, it was a quick and easy departure. I wanted to make a loop around the area to see this side of the Rockies. Driving down route 7 over to Lyons and back to Estes Park was about a 30 mile trip. Wow, it was worth it! Going down this mountain road with sheer cliffs above us on both sides, water again rushing down from 7,000 feet to 5,000 or so feet, along the side the road was spectacular. This was in the National Forest. Many nooks and crannies had cabins built into the canyons. The rock formations were not flat and sheer, but were rounded and linked together like a puzzle. They didn’t miss calling the Rocky Mountains “Rocky” for nothing. All of this sightseeing was done in early morning with little traffic and many pull off to stop for photos.

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Stopping for Laundry ~ Estes Park

The Chores

Soon we were back in Estes Park with a new mission in mind. This would be our first laundry day since leaving home. Helen spotted an ad for this laundromat that had plenty of washers, dryers and even had showers for hikers! It even had WiFi! I worked on the laptop and on the blogs. After a quick-lunch in the camper, we were onto the big climb through the National Park. Here at Estes Park the elevation was at 7,260 feet. We would be climbing to over 12,000 feet and cross the continental divide. The great thing about the Senior Pass is the savings on entering any National Park. Free with the Senior Pass.

The Tourists

Lets talk about tourists! Thousand and thousands flock to this park and most come by car. The traffic is so congested that often the park service has to shut down portions of the roads in the park. We were fortunate that didn’t happen, but the roads were filled with people and cars. Every pull off was full, but I managed to find spots to get out and get a few good photos.

The Traffic

The distance from Estes Park over the National Park, on the other side is roughly 48 to 50 miles. Not that far, but climbing from 7,260 feet to 12,138 feet above sea level on a fairly winding road is another challenge. I had to be on alert constantly, watching traffic, taking pictures, sometimes while driving, not a smart thing to do! I can definitely  see that a dash cam is in order!

Trail Ridge Road

The Trail Ridge Road, we were told was the route to take, It was worth it! The weather could have been better, it didn’t rain, but the sky was overcast with clouds just above the mountain tops. We have traveled above the tree line several times in different parts of the world, but it is always a fresh experience every time we do.

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Rock Cut Pass ~ Trail Ridge Road 

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Heavy Traffic

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Near Top of Trail Ridge Road Elevation

The Elks

On the western side of the park, we spotted a herd of Elk grazing in a pasture close to the road. We also noticed several tourists stopped along with a park Ranger moving traffic along. We couldn’t stop, but did managed to get the herd.

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This Elk looks well fed!

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Beautiful Herd Grazing…Notice the Tourist left side of pictures

The Evening Camp ~ Grand Lake, CO

Grand Lake was our spot for the night. Elk Creek Campground had a few spots left and our luck was continuing with securing the site. Grand Lake is a bustling tourist town with an old South West flavor. Wooden boardwalks, wood store fronts, but very modern to cater to tourist.

It was Saturday evening and a very nice Catholic Church was on a side street. A mass at 5pm was perfect for us. This little church doesn’t operate on a regular basis, the priest from Granby, a few miles down the road comes to celebrate the masses.

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St Anne Church, Grand Lake, Colorado

That is what we saw and did!



July 29, 2017 ~ Grand Lake, CO

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Rocky Mountain High!

John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High” would be appropriate for this blog, as I sit here in an overflow campground named Meeker Park. Before I recount the end of the day, I must begin at the beginning, early this morning. I had mentioned that we stayed at the Sterling Visitor Center. The management said they do allow overnight parking. The restrooms are open and cars come in, use the restrooms and some sleep in their cars and trucks. The other side of the Center, the big trucks park and stay the night. They are far enough that the running engines noise is negligible. After our tour of the town and their tree and bronze sculptures, we went back to the Visitor Center. The clouds in a distant were getting darker. I got my camera out, hoping to get some heat lightning pictures. The lightning came and went, but I didn’t succeed except for the practice of getting night time shots without a flash and still getting a good focus photo.

We went to bed around 9:15pm, with only one other car in the lot. By morning there were six overnighters. We had a chat, in the morning, with one of them who was interested in my truck camper. I guess it was around 7:30am when we pulled onto I-75W. It was about 148 miles to Estes Park (Entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park) (RMNP), but we drove another 12 miles or so to find a campground that wasn’t full! Nothing new here, I expected the area campgrounds to be full, especially on the weekends.

After leave the Visitor Center in Sterling, we noticed a big difference in the landscape. So far our entire trip everything was green, but now everything was a blonde, dry landscape. Occasionally, giant green circle of crops dotted the land, of course this was from irrigation. When we left the Mississippi River Delta, the elevation was off and on around 100 feet above sea level. Now we were at 3,000 feet and rising. We are now at 7,240 feet above sea level.

Back to the landscape, a couple of noticeable features, oil rigs both installed and new derricks drill for that black gold. The very noticeable black and white feature was thousands of dairy cows in several places along I-75. Our first faint view of the Rockies Mountains was in Loveland about 23 miles from Estes Park, our base camp to find our bearings.

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US Route 34 from Loveland to Estes Park

After leaving Loveland, the traffic decreased a lot. The road went from straight to straight up! Switchbacks, river racing down the steep gorge. We rose a lot in just a few miles finally reaching Estes Park, a town with everything you could ask for including a first class Visitor Center!

I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a campsite in the NP, especially of a Friday afternoon. We decided to take the free shuttle around the area to see where we could camp either at a campground or boon docking. Mary’s Lake looked very good, mountain views all around. The 53 minute shuttle tour ended and I called Mary Lake Campground…No luck (full all weekend)! We decided to drive down route 7 paralleling the National Park. The National Forest does allow boon docking in certain areas. Well here we are at Meeker Park Overflow. Senior Pass (National Park)  half price, so $6.00 isn’t so bad. No internet or electricity, but Honda Generator is taking care of that. I’m writing my blog and when I get to a WiFi Hotspot I’ll shoot it off. I didn’t get many pictures today, but I was able to shoot a short video coming up that winding road.

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Notice in the background…thousands & thousands of cows!

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Oil Fields Equipment ready for production

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Loveland, Colorado nice town

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Rocky Mountains 1st View

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Church built on a rock! 

That is what we saw and did

July 28, 2017 ~ 160 miles today

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North Platte…A Second Look!

I-80 Lakeside Campground

This morning I woke early, as usual and worked on downloading and selecting photos for the blogs. It takes me better than an hour to choose, edit, download and insert photos. This works better if I have WiFi to upload to WordPress.com

The Golden Spike Tower

We were not rushing out-of-town today. The plan was to fuel up, get propane and go visit the Golden Spike Tower over at the Bailey Railroad Yard.

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Engine Repair Shop

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The Switching Yard

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Cross Section ~ Coal train in middle is 10,000 feet long

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East End Yard

The Bailey Railroad Yard

The Bailey Railroad Yard is the largest yard in the world. I just have to give you some facts before describing our visit.

  • Between 12 to 15 thousands railroad cars pass through the yard a day. I had seen a sign that said 10 thousand cars pass through a day, but that has been upgraded.
  • The yard is 8 miles long and has 400 miles of track
  • The yard has 354 track switches.
  • The engine repair shop is three football fields wide.
  • They refuel 350 locomotives a day.
  • 66% of the traffic comes through at night.

After plugging in the coordinates, we drove left and right through North Platte for several minutes. Finally, we got out of the residential neighborhoods and there was the Golden Spike Tower! Eight stories high, with closed and open balconies. This is not on railroad property, but one can see in every direction. The first floor has a lot of railroad stuff and memorabilia. A ticket is needed to ride the elevator to the 7th and 8th floors. On the 8th floor, as we got off the elevator, we couldn’t help notice the display of pictures and a video running about the Orphan Trains. Thousands and thousands of kids were transported from New York City to the mid-western states. For example, Illinois received 9172 children, Indiana 5956 and so on. Those kids were orphan in the big cities and with no adoption laws, people could pick them out like fruit in a grocery store. One guy, 19 years old, pickup a 9-year-old. It is nearly unbelievable in today’s world. I wonder how many were abused?

On the top floor of the tower, I started taking photos in every direction. I was like a kid with a giant toy train set. What was really neat was this old-timer who was the yard manager and worked in this yard, in the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Did he have stories to tell! He was there with his granddaughter and company. Ironically, another guy, a former engineer was also visiting and he augmented the stories. I like the one about the older guy getting orders to get troupes over to the west coast as fast as they could. The train was going over a hundred miles per hour.

We had lunch in the camper, went to Wal-Mart for more groceries before heading out-of-town. We drove a short way into Colorado. We are in Sterling, CO tonight and staying at a city owned rest area. We have WiFi and the lady at the Visitor Center gave us tips on were to eat and what to do tonight.

We are in Sterling, CO (City of Living Trees and Sculptures) this late afternoon looking at these marvelous tree carvings/sculptures all over town. Some were inside the library, some were at a Community College and some were in city parks. A good pastime for us.

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First of many Tree Scupltures in Sterling, CO

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One Tree Scuplture by Bradford Rhea


Very Creative!

That is what we saw and did


July 27, 2017 ~ 116 miles today

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Nebraska Pioneers ~ The Lincoln Highway

The Platte Rivers

We are on the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers tonight. Here they join and form the Platte River. Covered wagon pioneers of the 19 century liked to joke about Nebraska’s Platte River. This excerpt taken from National Trails System, National Park Service. Quote: “Too thick to drink, too thin to plow, too pale to paint. A mile wide and an inch deep. A stream flowing upside down”.

It goes on: “The river’s setting, too, seemed strange. Surrounding praise, frequently cleansed by wildfire, was burned bare of trees right up to the water’s edge, and a line of low sand hills, looking like a storm-sacked beach, rimmed much of the river valley.

Yet the yellow Platte, that treeless ‘Coast of Nebraska,’ was an emigrant’s lifeline—a water source that snaked 800 dusty miles between the Missouri River and the uplands of central Wyoming.

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This painting depicts how it must of been

As I drove on I-80 West for some 307 miles today from the Missouri River to North Platte River, I can’t tell you how much history we drove by from Pony Express, to the Walker family, first settlers using this path to Oregon, to the Mormons who were also headed to Oregon, but were shunned and instead headed to Utah.

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That must of hurt! “The Walker Family”?

Even though we are to be slowing down and smelling the roses, there isn’t enough time to really study the history of this region. What I will do is when I return home and have the time is do the research. Buffalo Bill Cody was from this region. Heck, John Wayne was born in Desoto, Nebraska right down the road from here.

Nebraska is flat as flat can be. The I-80 heads west and doesn’t seem to wander from the West compass reading one degree. The speed limit is 75mph, heck again, we came across a construction zone with usual signs, “Fines Double in Construction Zone,” but the speed limit at the sign said, 75mph!

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Fines double? What does that mean…going 100mph?

I-80 Lakeside Campground

Tonight we are at I-80 Lakeside Campground on the Platte River. We were entertained by a couple next door who were on their way to a dog show in Casper, WY. They have 15 National Champion Huskies in their toy hauler RV. Two dogs at a time came by for their evening walks. Each came over for a friendly pat around their ears. Paula, we were thinking of you as we learned a little of theses beautiful Huskies.

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National Champion

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Helen’s new Friend!

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Amazing how they can talk to you…This morning they were houling for their walk

That is what we saw and did!

July 26, 2017 ~ 307 miles today

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La Crosse & the Missisippi

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A Long Distant View of La Crosse from GrandDad Bluff

After filling up the fresh water tank and dumping the grey and black tanks, we headed out of St Joseph RV Campground around 7:30am. Our destination was La Crosse, WI on the banks of the Mississppi River. George, our friend near Oshkosh, had recommended that we visit GranDad Bluff. We weren’t disappointed! GranDad Bluff sits high above LA Crosse and the Mississippi Delta. One can get a spectacular view. The story goes that in the 1850 to 1867 several fires burnt the town to the ground. The town then required that buildings were built with stone and brick. This was the start of GranDad buff quarry. They would simply cut the large dolomite bedrock and let it roll down the cliff where at the bottom it was processed for buildings and the tailings were used to make roads. The ride up to the bluff was worth it.

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Mississippi Delta from GrandDad Bluff

Just prior to going up to the bluff, we took a short ride over the Mississippi to Petibone Park. This is located just over the bridge to the north. Large oak trees adorned the grassy park. A view across Mississippi revealed a paddle boat that could have been used by Mark Twain on his journey up the mighty Mississippi!

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Petibone Park along the Mississippi

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I love trains! They run along side the “Big Muddy” all day

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Not a scale model, but from atop the cliff it looks that way!

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Notice how long the train is. The water above is floodwaters from the Mississippi

Down the Mighty Mississippi in 1814

Our journey could have continued due west from La Crosse, but as the song goes, “1814 took a little trip down the Mighty Mississippi,” I wanted to travel along and experience how and what it felt and looked like. This section of the river is in a Delta with very little land between the river and the Dolomite cliffs. Some places there is room for only the railroad and a two lane highway. Occasionally a narrow valley opens up and scattered houses are poised near or on the cliffs. The river itself, for the most part is very wide, maybe a mile wide. We only viewed three barges being pulled by a tugboat. I should note that in three places we saw Army Corp of Engineers dam and locks. Two coal fired power plants were spotted. Next to them a huge mountain of coal being manicured by a monster of a Cat bulldozer.

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Four Barges being push North Bound on the Mississippi

Prairie du Chien

Many of you will translate this subheading to “Prairie Dog”. This is as far south as we traveled down the Mississippi. I think about 60 to 70 miles. This is a good time to talk about the muddy river. A few days ago, Western Wisconsin and Iowa received sever weather with as much as 10 inches of rain. This has made the river rise. As a matter of fact, the first town into Iowa called Marquette had a tornado touch down and did some damage. We saw several oak trees, two to three feet at the but snapped. Some road signs with three steel H beams whaled over to the ground. Before any of you think that we were in any danger, let me say we haven’t encountered any wind or rain to speak of since we left Michigan.

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5 Star Campground when not under water

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Notice the Electrical site boxes!

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102 sites under water and still rising!

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When not underwater it really is a 5 star campground ***** Our site on the hill was safe!

Iowa Corn!

The landscape, nearly immediately changed from trees and cliffs to vast slightly rolling fields. My plan here was to witness immense yellow/brown dry fields of corn and other crops. Well, to my surprise the fields did have corn and other crops, but green as green can be. I can only describe the rows planted perfectly and sometimes rolling with the terrain. It is done with machines that are 32 feet wide, some wider, and with the precision of a surgeon. I deliberately took (IA13) into the heart of farm land. Remember that States farther away from the East Coast are all laid out North and South, East and West. These roads, for the most part as straight as an arrow.

Iowa Conservation Information Center

Time to take a break and find out what is a must see when traveling through Iowa. The lady was very helpful. Tomorrow, we will visit the “Amana Colonies” just south of Cedar Rapids. More to come on that subject. Tonight we are at a five star rated campground. Pinion Ridge Campground everything is a five star! The campground is divided into two areas, the Plains area and the Flying Squirel area. The latter is down at the bottom of the hill near the Wasipinicon River. Remember the 10” of rain? Well the river has flooded 110 campsites? We are on the top…high and dry. Always an Adventure!

That is what we saw and did!

Monday, July 24, 2017 ~~~218 miles today

PS No WiFi here tonight, I’ve got two blogs to upload!

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The Australian Connection

Very excited about today’s “Adventure”! Let me start at the beginning and progress. Wake-up this morning was normal and uneventful. Breakfast with eggs and some home made dark rye toast, from the 3 Seasons Cafe was my perfect way to start. Helen gets another thumbs up!

Pulling out of Gladstone around 7:30am onto M41 (State route) south was very quiet. After all it was Sunday morning and most people are sleeping in. Our goal was to make it to Wisconsin with no plan in mind. Helen said, “We should try and contact George Tippler”. George was a friend and fellow traveller that we met on our 2005 Australian and New Zealand tour. We had been in contact through the years off and on and George had been up to New Hampshire a few years ago for a visit. I should mention that George’s wife, Carol, passed away about a year after the Australian/New Zealand Adventure tour. He has since remarried to a lovely lady named Beverly. So a text or two later, we were on our way to his farm, just north of Oshkosh, WI. Thank God for the GPS as Wisconsin is divided into large squares with letters of the alphabet for names.We had lunch before arriving to their farm.

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Beverly & George

George is a farmer and an insurance agent. Now I must say, the farming that he does is on a larger scale then I could imagine. He has a beautiful farm. This year he has planted corn. This is cow corn and he really educated both of us on corn. Did you know that every kernel of corn has one silk and the end of the ear. When the top of the corn drops onto the silk the kernel starts to grow. Man, I may not have this all right, but its pretty neat to have George explain it. Now as for equipment, wow, there are some big machines in his barn and tractor shop.

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Each silk is attached to one kernel. Each stalk only has one ear of corn

Beverly, a retired kindergarten school teacher is a very nice lady. We had a pleasant afternoon chatting with her and George. I can’t say enough of how we enjoyed our visit with them.

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George said, “corn on 4th of July should be knee high”  On July 23rd its 7 to 8 feet tall!

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Little Red Wagon for corn harvesting!

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The 12 row Harvester

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Inside a corn bin

From there we had no travel direction plan except that we would head a little south and a lot to the west. George gave us a hint that La Cross might be a scenic place to visit especially on the cliff or bluffs.

Tonight, we are at St Joseph Campground somewhere about 60 miles from La Cross, Wisconsin. My WiFi extender antenna and the ALFA repeater are working so good in this campground.

We are both tired and will sleep soundly! The Adventure continues tomorrow!

That is what we saw and did!

July 23, 2017 ~ Necedah, WI

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Gladstone, MI

“Slow Down Sally”

From Brimley SP, our travels carried us on the western side of Lake Michigan, UP. Our advance to the west was going way too fast. Sally, our Key West buddy, would give me hell if I were traveling four to five hundred miles a day! With this in mind, the first part of the morning was in the country with little to see, as far as scenery or even civilization. Late morning hunger set in and a restaurant with a full parking lot made me put on the directional for a stop.

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Happy camper after lunch

We were in a town called Manistique, MI, on shore of the lake. Wow, super food and reasonable prices! After lunch, I asked the owner what is a must see when passing through Manistique? He said, “The light house, and the springs”. The light house was just a couple of miles down the street. A perfect time to walk off the lunch. The light house was way out on a jetty. On shore, a few artist were busy doing their paintings. Some kids were swimming, some others were simply walking the sandy beach. The board walk took us out to the jetty and off we went to the lighthouse. Time there was roughfly 1-1/2 hrs with a short nap back at the camper.



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Artist on the Lighthouse Painting

The Gladstone Overnighter

From Manistique, the question was where to stop for the night. We also were looking for a church for either Saturday night or Sunday morning. Gladstone was the closest Catholic church. About Fifty miles down the road, we pulled into Gladstone, MI. The church was easy to find and we attended mass at 4:30pm. After mass I asked Fr James Ziminski, if we could park overnight in the parking lot. He said, “yes”.

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Van Cleve Park Lighthouse

In late afternoon the sun was shining and we set out to explore the town. Little did we know how nice this place would be. The Van Cleve Park is advertised as the jewel of Gladstone and we both can vouch for that! From the Marina to the fishing pier to the lighthouse to the stake board park to nearly everything else could want in a community (free) park was here. Even a wedding was taking place! Cruising around, we spotted an RV campground in the same park area. We stopped in, but no vacancies, that was ok because we would be in a church parking lot in a quiet residential neighborhood. “Life is Good” isn’t it “Norm”?

That is what we saw and did! 

July 22, 2017 Gladstone, MI

PS: For those of you that are interested in my “WiFi” antenna and repeater. We are in a campground in Wisconsin and we are catching the wifi and repeating it superbly! Happy Camper!!


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Closer Look at Manistique Point Lighthouse

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It was a Two Lighthouse Day! ~ Gladstone, MI

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Back in the Good Old USA!


After publishing yesterday’s blog at McDonald we drove down to Pembroke downtown center and did a recon. Not a bad town! Plenty of flower boxes, several war memorials and most noticeably a lot of young people out and about enjoying a warm evening. Live music playing in one of the many restaurants with tables on the front sidewalk. It was really a cool place to walk around in. The teenagers or maybe young adults driving around in old restored trucks and cars. It was sort of neat to see that this still existed in small town. Pembroke, if I recall has a population of 16,000.

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Fresco in Pembroke

The ride to the Irving’s Truck Stop was about three miles on the outskirts. The big trucks were already filling up the rear parking lot. I was able to get a parking spot next to the restaurant. Naturally, the big trucks ran their engines at night, but that was not a problem because they idle at a low steady drone, actually lulling us to sleep. The disturbance was around 4:30 when the milk delivery truck backed up to the restaurant dock. The refrigerator compressor ran loud and at different pitch levels. Well, all in all it wasn’t a bad night. Helen made breakfast and as usual it hit the spot. We were on our way shortly after.

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Flowers in Pembroke

CFB Petawawa

Canadian Force Base (CFB) Petawawa was just up the road maybe 15 miles. It would be my last chance to stop and visit the Canadian Army base. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I gambled and took the right gate into the base. It was early and not much activity, but we did manage to get a feel for the training base. As for the campground, we didn’t make it, but we could see that it was a beautiful water front location. Our aim was to be back in the US by nightfall.

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Ontario’s Rocks!

Sault Ste Marie

The terrain from Pembroke changed from farm fields to rocky jagged outcrops. One minute the road has been cut through ledges and next filled with ponds fifty feet below. I could see that the landscape didn’t have much soil covering the rock sub straight. I can imagine how yesterday’s engineers must have been scratching their heads on how to build a highway in this beautiful, strange land.

The Imperial Gallon!

It takes 0.264 gallons for 1 liter. One liter cost (on average) $1.129 x 3.785 = $4.27 per US gallon equivalent! In simple terms in the USA, I can fillip for around $65.00. In Canada it came out to around $103.00. It cost a lot more to cruise in the Provinces!

The Trans Canada Highway

Most of this trans-continental highway is one lane coming and going. Every few kilometers they have an extra lane for traffic to pass. This is ok, but traffic can back up quickly in back of a slower moving vehicle. The next thing you know some impatient fool passes 10 or more cars on a double yellow line. Scary! The only visible law enforcement seems to be in small towns along the highway. There are signs that indicate aerial surveillance, but we didn’t spot one aircraft all day.

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Diverse terrain

Michigan ~ Brimley State Park

The border crossing went smoothly, probably 10 minutes wait for our turn. On the other hand, going into Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, CA the cars were backed up at least a mile over the International Bridge.

A quick bite to eat Arby’s and a short drive over to Brimley State Park was next. The sign said, “Full Camp.” I talked to the young lady and said, “ We’ve been driving all day” ‘any chance I could even dry camp’? She checked and we got full hookups from someone who had to leave. My luck for not getting reservations ahead was still holding out. Brimley is a large campground on Lake Superior with 237 sites! We were happy campers with good hot showers that night!

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Brimley Selfie

That is what we saw and did!

(July 22, 2017 ~ Brimley, MI)

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Pembroke Archetecture

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First Ride Day Ended Pembroke, Ontario, Canada

Leaving our hometown of Berlin, NH around 6:30 am was a perfect time to watch the sun shine on the neighboring Vermont hills. Our travels took us into Northern Vermont with an entry into Canada at Derby Line. By 10:30, the Montreal skyline was in our view. Also, the traffic was nearly at a stop when we reached the “Pont de Champlain” bridge. They are building a new bridge next to the existing and the chaos is nearly understandable considering the immense scope of this project. I was busy driving and I had Helen take a few photos of the bridge and Montreal.

Next direction was towards Ottawa. After these two metropolitan cities, it was pretty easy to drive on the Trans-Canadian highway, AUT 417. Around 4:30, I was getting tired and gased up the truck. I asked if there were any campgrounds around. This lady waiting in line, grabbed my arm and started to tell me of several nearby places to stay. The one that really, really grabbed my attention was CFB Petawawa. (Correct spelling). This stands for Canadian Force Base which just happened to have a, I’m told, wonderful RV campground which is open to the public. Well, the day is long and my stamina gone, we both decided to camp out at a Irving Truck Stop. After a good delicious dinner at their restaurant, we headed for McDonalds for good WiFi and the blog.

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The Construction Maze


Big Project!

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The “Pont Champlain

That is what we saw and did!

Austin, Texas

Some of you have probably heard of the recent package bombings in Austin, TX. The latest one being this morning, some sort of tripwire IED explosive device. Well, rest assured that as I write this blog we are safe in Destin, Florida.

Austin City Limits

“Austin City Limits” is now the longest-running music series in American television history. This has nothing to do with our visit to Austin, but hearing that PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) TV ad always put that curiosity to visit this Texas Capital City.

I plug-in the City Center of Austin on the GPS and there we were, in the middle of a big city. I felt lucky because Austin has many “low clearance” overpasses, but we didn’t encounter one. Big cities are not RV friendly. I made my way through the tall buildings looking for a place to park. I could see, high on the top of a hill, the Capital building. It looked very prominent. I figured that might be a place to find some parking that wasn’t in a parking garage with low overhead clearance. I was right and only a block to the Capital Building and $2.50 cent meter parking also!

Capital Building Tour

We were so glad that the “truck camper” brought us here. What a magnificent building and grounds! The security was heavy, very comparable to airport security. Thank God for law enforcement protecting us!

Once inside, we walked through an arch into a massive Rotunda. Looking up several stories to the dome. I could see at least three levels of circular balconies. I’m a climber and wanted to get to the top. I can’t rush I told my self! So, we explored this floor with all the hallways and paintings. Davy Crockett at the Alamo, other prominent Texans!

I, being a General Contractor/Builder for 30 years was and am always interested in how things are built. The Capital building was no exception! From the inlaid marble floors to intricate wood moldings, handrails and everything in this Capital built for durability and beauty. I was impressed!

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The Capital on the Hill

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Movers in the Rotunda

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The Dome!

Second Floor ~ House and Senate

Walking up wide large stairs, one can imagine whose footsteps preceded mine. To the left, the House of Representatives, walking into the chamber, I could see the well-appointed desks that the “Reps” use when in session. Windows on each side of the chamber let in daylight. The ceiling was extremely high, most likely to keep things cool on warmer days. At the rear of the chamber, a few offices for the “Sargeant at Arms” and other officials.

On the other end of the building, the Senate chamber is equally impressive. In the Senate Chamber, I got up to the podium and gave my speech! Yup, getting up and public speaking is the most feared phobia I have! (just kidding folks), no audience but a 9-year-old boy and his mother!


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Mr. Speaker!


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The Senate Chamber

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The Gallery

Third Floor ~ Supreme Court

On the third floor, we weren’t allowed into the Supreme Court Room or the Appeals Court, but the view from the third-floor circular balcony, both looking up and down in the rotunda inspiring!

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Supreme Court ~ Me Working!

Capital Grounds ~ Texas Size

The grounds start at the Capital and roll down to the heart of the city! Large ancient Oak Trees are scattered with monuments and benches along the main path. To each side, more monuments kept us looking, reading and taking photos. A warm sunny day with families also enjoying Austin’s charm.


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The Walkway to Downtown



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A Walk in the Park



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African American History



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Fire ~ Boom!



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Texas Long Horne Cattle! The Lone Star State!


That is what we saw and did!

PS As I finish this blog Mar 21, 2018, the Austin bomber is dead!


El Paso, Ft Stockton, ​and Fredericksburg

Texas is a big, big State! Leaving El Paso, one finds endless flat land and on the first 114 miles, the Interstate road surface is serrated making the truck tires sing constantly, “Singing Sam Tire Song.” I also noticed that the oil boom is going on also in the I-10 area as it was on I-20 further north. Loads of drill equipment going and coming all the way for 300 miles!


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Historic Fort Stockton


Fort Stockton and Camp Walmart

Fort Stockton is a charming old historic town. It was time for a driving break and a little exploration. An overhead wrought iron welcoming sign invited us into the old town. Typical brick and adobe storefronts lined the old main street. Signs pointed to the old fort and museum, but we were looking for a local restaurant. Nothing that jumped at us. One store was loaded with ornaments on the sidewalk. It was still opened and we walked in just for curiosity. Some items were junky tourist stuff, but others really caught our eye. This store was linked to a furniture store. I walked in and was amazed at the bedroom sets. King and larger! Massive head and foot boards. I kept walking in deeper. To my surprise, I spotted two dummies sleeping on one of the king size beds. Oh, they weren’t dummies! I started to tiptoe away when some other kids came running by. It must have been the owners family members waiting for closing time at 6pm.

The one thing that I didn’t expect was “Spring School Break” week! It may seem that this wouldn’t have affected us, but it surely did. It is truly spring here in this part of Texas and many families head to camping areas! All State Parks were full, all privately owned RV Parks were also full. Hence, we settled for “Camp Walmart”! I recently read that there will be an additional one million more RV’s on the road in 2018. That’s fine, but I also read that there will be a shortage of RV campgrounds and more importantly highway upgrades (smoother pothole free highways). I’ve seen many RV’s along the roadside changing tires! Even the military campgrounds are running nearly full capacity!

Walmart was full of RVs, maybe dozens and no problems staying there. The interesting thing was in the early morning as three van loads of young oil field workers were leaving for work in the fields. All wearing class 3 safety vests with hardhats! Oh, yes the oil boom is here also.

The Decision ~ Austin?

In Fort Stockton, I made a decision not to head for San Antonio. We’d been there a couple of times, don’t get me wrong, it is a great city to explore, but it was time for a new adventure. In Junction, TX, I took US 290 straight for Austin. A four-lane rural highway with 65 mph speed limit instead of the 80 mph on I-10. It wasn’t long before trees (Live Oaks) filled the landscape. Pastures, cows, and horses were more abundant, the elevation dropped and we were in Texas “Hill Country.” The further we drove more wooden fenced properties came into view. This was Lady Bird Johnson’s country! Did you ever hear of “Blue Bells” flowers? That was Lady Bird’s passion, to line the highways with these and other types of flowers. They were in bloom!



Wisteria in full bloom!







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Limestone Block Building



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Town Gone to the Dogs!



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Fredericksburg Meeting Hall



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Outside Dining


Fredericksburg, TX ~ The Town That Is Alive!

Driving into town, it was unbelievable. Activities everywhere! People, kids, families all walking around the main street. I had to find a place to park on a side street. It was some sort of old home days or in reality, it was “Spring Break!” People occupying a town during mid-week makes you want to take part in what they are doing, watching or even eating. This was our sign to stay the night. A walking self-guided tour was a perfect focus for us. Old buildings and their original occupants kept us taking pictures, studying architecture. Local limestone blocks were used in many of these structures and have survived the test of time. Dinner was at “Cultures Grill and Bar”. Live music, good food and a perfect end to a good day!


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Outside Dining


Did I mention that all campgrounds in or near Fredericksburg were full? Camp Walmart to the rescue again. It’s nice to be self-contained and safe!

That is what we saw and did!