Tag Archives: Lifestyle

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.

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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!

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Mt Lemmon

About Mt Lemmon

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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

Photos

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!

 

 

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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Guilty!

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Hung!

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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!

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Dynamite! Pow!!

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Hot!

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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!

 

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!

 

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!

 

 

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!

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!