Category Archives: Truck Camping,

Truck Camping,

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!

 Options!

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!

 

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!

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

The Town of Langlois in the County of Coos

Many of you won’t know the connection, but the town of Langlois (our family name) Oregon, and the county of Coos in Oregon is also the same name as our county back in New Hampshire. Isn’t that cool! To top all of that, at a campground that we stayed at the night before, I was talking to the camp host about the town of Langlois and he told me to stop in to the Langlois Market and Deli for the best hot dogs! I love hot dogs!

A hundred miles down the road we find the market. A very nice lady named Gail waited on us and I gave her the story about the name and county. She gave us all kinds of info. Oh, yes the hot dogs were the best! They’ve sold over 850,000 hot dogs since 1949! She said, “It’s the mustard that makes them special.” After lunch we went to the Langlois Public Library for history on the town. There was plenty to look at including books with many old photos.

 

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Me and Gail at the Langlois Market & Deli

In 1854 William V. Langlois a seaman and adventure settled on Floras Creek to raise his family and live out his life until 1881. Langlois, native of the island of Guernsey, off the French Coast. He had seen and done everything the most rugged of men had attempted by the time he finally settled down in the town which carried his name! How cool is that!

 

If I remember correctly, our family descendants came from that area of France. The name Langlois or Langlais translated means the Englishman. Who knows! I’ll research this later on when I get home. Now for the county, here it is pronounce Coos but back home in NH it is more of Indian language and pronounced Cö os (Master Sargent Justin… I was thinking of you and your new assignment at McCord AFB).

That night we stayed at The Port of Siuslaw Campground in Florence, Oregon. A lovely town geared to tourist and RVers. Good restaurants, a convenient boardwalk to the downtown, an active fresh market with all kinds of fruits, berries, corn and seasonal crops! We ate at Mo’s on the water, took the boardwalk for the tour of the business district. Our campground site was just two over from the WiFi repeater with a big smile on my face. Helen did laundry next door and a good night sleep followed. I should mentioned that it was cool (mid sixties). The coast is nearly always shrouded with fog or low cloud cover. Oddly enough if you leave the coast and head inland just 40 to 50 miles the temperature is or was in the high nineties! The fog is what makes the trees grow to the heavens!

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 8, 2017 (Our 20th night on the road)

159 miles traveled on this day

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875000 sold

 

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.

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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

Pacific Coast Highway ~ Rte 101

Last night, the journey came to a starting point. What I mean is, we have reached the Pacific Ocean and our journey will now head North from McKinleyville, CA to the State of Washington. This was our plan from the get-go!

Our campground in McKinleyville, Widow White Creek was full, but we managed to get a site with water and no electric. My battery bank did the trick on that end.

Whiskeytown Shasta-Trinity NRA

Little did we know that the campground was less than a mile from the ocean! I guess, we were tired from the day’s adventure! Let me backup a little and tell you about this day. Leaving Redding, California, to our naivety, our first discovery was Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. A stop at the Visitor Center gave us info on what to see and do in the area. The Park Ranger said that we should take a small hike to view one of the waterfalls. Crystal Springs was the one selected. It was four miles off the main road. The time of day was around 10:30am and the temperature rising into the mid 80’s. With that in mind, we soon were hiking on a shade covered, paved path. The black berries were ripe and Helen enjoyed nature’s treats! In about a 1/2 mile, the waterfall came into view. The crystal clear water pooled at the bottom following its cascade down from a two to three hundred foot elevation. It wasn’t a one fall drop, but several smaller drops much like a bridal vail that is associated with water falls.

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She said it was Cold!

Route 299 and the Salmon Mountains

Our route from here to the Coast took us through the Salmon Mountains. Again, I must say I didn’t think this part of the road would be so scenic. If you like climbing mountains and driving down into forested canyons this is a perfect road. Some spots on the road had a 1,000 foot drop offs. Scary, no, scenic yes! It was a 151 miles of thrills!

Finally driving into McKinleyville, CA, I used my Allstays app, on my iPhone to find a campground. This brought us to the beginning of our “Pacific Coast Highway ~ rte101 Adventure”.

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 6th, 2017 ~ 151 miles on this day