Day ??? I have lost track – think it is Day 19 but I could be wrong

Saturday, April 7, Day 17, found us still in Calgary. Our leveling system was not workingCalgary (1) so you  could say we were stuck.  Thanks to Tom’s perseverance, phone calls to friends, mechanics, and You-Tube he was  finally able to get the jacks up so we could leave.  We stayed the night and Sunday saw us heading to Whitecourt just outside the city limits of Edmonton, Alberta.

Sunday, Day 18   – We are using the Milepost Alaska Travel Planner book and it has been a godsend.  We looked up campgrounds in the Whitecourt area and the Eagle River Tourism RV Park  sounded good.  It is located on and owned by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.  The RV park is located up on a hill – adjacent to the Eagle River Casino.  The day we were there the uphill driveway was a sheet of snow packed ice – Tom had to use 4 wheel drive and a little speed to get us up to the top.  In warmer weather, this RV Park will be awesome.  The office is also a cultural center and is very nice and homey.

The sites appeared roomy despite the snowbanks.  The pull through sites had not been cleared so Mr. Backer-upper Extraordinaire, Tom, had a challenge.  High banked snow, and ice.  He got us in and leveled a couple of snowbanks in the process.Whitecourt

 While Tom was getting set up, I dared to take Finn for a walk.  You’ve heard that if you find yourself in quicksand you are not to panic but to swim – the same goes for DEEP snow.  Well, I found myself  higher than my waist in snow.  Finn took no notice of my dilemma and continued jumping around in glee and happiness.   He did stop once and looked at me since we were now eye to eye, but continued his frolicking and making snow angel dogs.  He was not much help.Dog Snow Angel
You might wonder where Tom was through all this.  Well, we have had several major mechanical issues on our Great Alaskan Adventure.  He was in the house trying to get the bedroom slide open.  He was completely unaware that his wife, who only had on a pair of yoga pants, jacket and hiking boots, (comfortable traveling attire) needed a tow truck!.  I persevered and finally figured out the best way to get out – swim and wiggle!  Since I had no leverage and wasn’t able to use my arms to push my self up, I wiggled and wiggled and made a seat and was able to roll out of my hole looking very much like a beached whale in yoga pants and hiking boots!
After all that wiggling and “snow swimming” I was wet and and cold and so wanted a hot shower.  Due to below 0 weather for almost a week, our water tank was frozen so we had no water.  We had not taken showers for a couple of days so we took advantage of the campground showers.  For $3.00 you get a 5 minute hot shower and it was glorious.
The casino was calling us but since we couldn’t unhook and were afraid to attempt to walking down the icy hill we just stayed put.

Days 19-20  Monday, April 9th and Tuesday, April 10th  finds us in Grande Prairie, Alberta.  Grande Prairie is a large city with a population of about 63,000.  The median income is pretty high, to me it is, $118,000.   Average house is around $285,000.  There’s a lot of businesses, restaurants, big box stores including Costco, Big Lots, Walmart, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc.    Their major export is oil, natural gas, lumber, grain and lifestock.  A lot of the RV parks in this part of Alberta are home to workers in the oil and gas industry.  Grande Prairie is probably the largest city before you hit the Alaskan border.

 The uncooperative leveling system is still a problem.  We have to get it fixed!  Tom contacted Happy Trails RV dealership in Grande Prairie and told them our problem and they said get in and we will see what we can do for  you.  We got to their location around 12:30 and they immediately sent a mechanic out to diagnose the problem.   The first issue was getting the White Lightinin’ unhooked.  They were very familiar with the Lippert Leveling System – that’s a good thing.  A part is on order and will be here on Wednesday the 11th.  As soon as it arrives they will call us and get us in and out as quickly as possible.  If any RVer is traveling in this area and has a problem, Happy Trails RV is the place to go.  They have been wonderful.  Their showroom is the largest in North America – its like being at the Tampa RV show.  The staff couldn’t be nicer.  Very professional.
We are staying at the Country Roads RV Park while waiting for the part to arrive.  We were hoping to be in Dawson Creek by now but….  We have a pull through lot and that’s a good thing.  The park is quite large.  We asked if we could stay on our site on Wednesday while we wait for the part to arrive at the dealership.  They said we could stay with no additional fee.  Nice people.Grand Prairie
Since we had a little down time, we drove up to Beaverlodge to view the world’s largest beaver.   It  was a nice drive.
We came back to Grande Prairie and had soup and sandwich at the Chop Leaf Restaurant.  I had a delicious cream of cauliflower soup and Tom had a tuna melt.  It was a nice afternoon.
We hope this newest post finds you warm and well.  We are looking forward to getting back on the road with all parts working.
Namaste
Tom, Ellen and Finn
P.S.  Please take a moment to write a comment and click on the “follow”.  Thanks
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Day 16 – Banff and Lake Louise

We arrived in Calgary yesterday afternoon, Thursday, to freezing, freezing, freezing weather.  Out site had been plowed but we barely fit due to the snow banks on either side.  We semi-filled our water tank at the entrance to the RV Park because we don’t like to drive with a full water tank – about 800 pounds.  This morning when we got up, we had no water – something is frozen despite having the underbelly heated and running a small ceramic heater in the space all night.  We always have some bottled water so flushing and making tea could go on.  However, we probably smell.  Good thing we layered before leaving for a day trip to Banff and Lake Louise.

There was fog and drifting, blowing snow on our way to Banff and Lake Louise.  As we got closer to Banff, the sky cleared a bit and we were finally able to see the awesome Canadian Rockies.  What a sight to behold.  If you have never seen them, make a point to do so (preferably in warmer weather).

Banff is a tourist town – upscale.  Lots of stores and people.  They have a very nice visitor/information center.  We went in and said, “We have about a half a day to visit – what can we do and see in that time?”  They looked at us and said – “you really need about a week”.  Of course we knew that but we only had a half a day.  They suggested we start with a drive into Alberta’s Banff National Park which is Canada’s first National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and head to Lake Louise via a scenic bypass and if time permitted, take the Icefield Parkway for a beautiful drive as far as we wanted to go.  Actually, we really wanted to go to Jasper but just didn’t have the time.  It was all for the better because the weather was not cooperating.

We arrived at Lake Louise and found a good spot to park and hiked out to the Lake.  Of course it was iced/snowed over and people were walking on it.  In warmer months the Lake takes on an emerald color.  Victoria Glacier at the far end of the lake became bathed in sunlight – just so I could take a picture.  It was beautiful. IMG_20180406_131626_884 (1)

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel is located on the shore of the Lake and is over 100 years old.  The body of water that the Stoney Indian people (if you want to know more about the Stone Indians-please follow this link)  knew as Ho-run-num-nay, the “Lake of the Little Fishes,” lies in a valley close to some of the higher peaks in the Canadian Rockies. The first non-native to behold it was Tom Wilson (a Canadian Pacific Railway employee), who – led by a Stoney guide – reached its eastern shore in 1882. One night, while camped with a group of Stoney Indians, he heard the rumble of avalanches. Having a limited vocabulary of native words, Wilson learned that the noise was coming from “Snow Mountains above the lake of little fishes.” The next day Wilson rode to the lake on horseback and was immediately captivated by the sparkling blue green waters. He sat and took in the view, and stated, “As God is my judge, I never in all my explorations saw such a matchless scene.” Eventually, the emerald lake was renamed Lake Louise in honor of Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta.   In 1885 when the transcontinental line on the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed and the first accommodation was erected that the area attracted visitors to take in the views that Tom Wilson had enjoyed three years prior._DSC0153_DSC0160

The hotel is really cool.  I have to admit, I thought the hotel was going to look more like the Grove Park Inn in Asheville – cozy with a big fireplace… but we were not disappointed.    We walked through the lobby and checked out a few things.  It is very lovely.  Those Railroad Men sure knew how to pick the most awesome sites for their fabulous hotels.

We left Lake Louise and took the Icefield Parkway for a short distance.  The clouds were low and we could not see much so we turned around and headed back to Banff.  The Banff Springs Hotel was on our picture bucket list.  We drove up to it but it was obvious we would not be able to get a good shot of it that close so we drove over to Surprise Corner for the perfect shot.  Got it!  The hotel is also known as the “Castle in the Rockies” and has been operational for over 125 years and was one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. The original building was quite different from the present Banff Springs structure. Variously termed a “Tudor hall” or a “Swiss chalet”, the Price building was clad in shingles with stone accents and featured a profusion of dormers, turrets, and roof lines. The 1888 structure cost $250,000 and a mistake made by the builder changed the intended orientation of the building, turning its back on the mountain vista. This building included more than 100 bedrooms, centered on a five-story, octagonal rotunda. An addition in 1902 expanded and renovated the building, adding more than 200 rooms. Further additions followed._DSC0204

Next we stopped in at the visitor/information center to see if they had postcards but they didn’t so we went across the street and did a little shopping and found a fudge store and we bought some chocolate fudge and some maple fudge.  Delicious.

The weather warmed up a bit – it got up to 32 degrees (f).  The sun came out and the mountain ranges we were unable to see on the way up were not visible and were spectacular.  Really.  Enjoy.

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We got back to The Mountainview RV Park and found we still had frozen something.. pipes or tank – who knows.  The temperature dropped to 12 degrees (f) and apparently it had not been much higher throughout the day.  Neither one of us wanted to go out and use the showers at the shower house so we will remain smell for another day.

Tomorrow will bring us to Whitecourt – outside of Edmonton, Alberta.  The temperature will probably remain in the single digits for a couple of more days – It is suppose to warm up Sunday…we hope!

 

 

 

 

DAY 15 of Great Alaskan Adventure – Bye Bye Sandals and shorts! Hello coats, boots and…

HELLLLOOOOO! We left off leaving WARM weather in the Florida Panhandle to really COLD weather the rest of the way.  Bye bye sandals and shorts – Hello pants, coats with scarves, sweaters, snow boots, long johns!  We are having  BLAST!

When possible, we try to NOT drive on highways but sometimes you have no other choice.  Pulling a very large 5th-wheel, you have to have to be aware of your surroundings and take roads that say truck routes.  Otherwise, you may face a very low bridge…that has only happened one time (not on this trip).  Just a word to the wise.

Day 3 – of our travels took us to Clear Creek Recreation Area in the Bankhead National Forest in Jasper, Alabama.  We stayed one night.  Your are pretty far, about 15 miles from the interstate,  but worth it.  It is a lovely park and we wished we could have stayed longer.    If you have an “Old Geezer” Pass  a/k/a Golden Age Pass, you can stay for only $16 with 50 amp and water.   If you are in the area, check it out.

Day 4- we met up with our friends Dan and Jonell in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We stayed at the Downtown Riverside RV Park located on the banks of the Arkansas River right smack dab in downtown Little Rock.   Dan grilled delicious steaks with steak potatoes, mushrooms and onions on the grill.  20180325_163325

We were right next to the pedestrian bridge that was lighted at night – really beautiful.20180325_202118

Dan and Jonell were spending several days in Little Rock and they regaled us all with all of the things they did while staying in Little Rock, including visiting the Clinton Library, and the  first school that was integrated – We plan on visiting Little Rock again since we didn’t have time to visit these sites.

Day 5 – We left the next morning (we are not early risers) and headed westward. We first had to stop in Ottawa, Kansas because we have been having a problem with our bedroom slide so we  made arrangements with the Mid-West RV in Ottawa, KS (where we purchased 3m2) to have it repaired.  We stayed in the Homewood RV  Park in Homewood, Kansas – The young couple who run the RV Park recently purchased the park and are making  upgrades.  We had full hook up.  The couple was very gracious and even gave us a bag of popped popcorn when we checked in.  The people at Mid-West RV are GREAT.  They diagnosed our problem, fixed it and even let us trade our dining room chairs 20180327_175730 for newer better looking chairs at no cost.  If you are near Ottawa, KS and are  having problems, go to them.  We were in and out in 50 minutes. Very friendly and so very helpful.

Day 6- Check out Casinos for inexpensive overnight parking.  We stayed on the Winnebago Indian Reservation at the Winn-Vegas Casino.

We signed up for their “rewards” and each received $10 on a gaming card that we could use in the Casino.  We also got 4 scratch off cards the first night – nothing…. I did win $34.69 on their $10.00.  The campground cost $15.  The next morning, we headed over for their $.99 breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuit, coffee/tea and two scratch off cards.  Tom won $25.  So all, in all, we were ahead.  It was silly fun and we had a good time.

Day 7 – we arrived in Box Elder, SD and stayed at Americas Mailbox’s RV Park. 20180329_071210

We thought we were going to stay at the Elks Lodge’s RV park but they had not turned on their water.  America’s Mailbox had both electric, water and sewer so we opted to stay there.  If you are an Elk, check out their website for RV parks across the USA.  We did, however, go back for dinner  at the Lodge.  I had a delicious steak and Tom had a handmade burger cooked to perfection.20180328_184204

Day 8- we arrived in Bozeman, MT.  We stayed at the Fairgrounds in downtown Bozeman.  We had electric and sewer – no water.  We were told we could hook up to water at the Barn, to fill our tank but we never found the Barn.  We were very careful with our water and survived.20180331_081520  It was SUPER COLD and, of course, windy.

Day 9 – We drove to West Yellowstone the next day and had lunch with Andie and Pam Homeroomour co-workers at Homeroom at Madison Crossing.   We love pizza at Wild West Pizza and Saloon.  The drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone is probably one of the most beautiful you will drive.  The beautiful mountains and the rushing river are magnificent.  It is hard to believe there could be another drive that could be more beautiful but we are on the hunt…..  It was so nice seeing Andie and Pam.  We spent 7 summers working for/with them and just had to stop by (97 miles each way) to say hello.  We also left a bunch of books/hiking and sightseeing for the new workcamper couple, Vaughn and Tracy Fitch who will be joining the team in May.  We hope they enjoy the area as much as we did.

Day 10 – We wanted to go into Yellowstone National Park through the Gardiner entrance.  This is the only entrance that  remains open during winter because you can only get to  Cooke City via this route.  However, there was a snow storm and it dropped a bunch of snow and ice.  We got as far as Livingston and turned back.  I guess I am a fraidy cat.  The roads were not really cleared and there was ice….need I say more.  So, we high-tailed it back to Bozeman and had lunch at Western Cafe   (see picture of monument dedicated to John Bozeman) John Bozeman  outside of the Western Cafe.  We have eaten at the Cafe a bunch of times but never noticed this monument to the town’s namesake.

The Western Cafe  is one of – one of Tom’s favorites for great handmade burgers.   20180331_135809Since it was so cold out and thought we needed some good homemade soup, I got out our trusty instapot and made bean soup with ham. 20180401_192805

Day 11 – Happy Easter – Well, another problem visited us.  We have been having problems with our landing gear not dropping down and retracting.  So we were sort of stuck until Tom could figure it out.  Tom went on the Redwood chat room (yes, he has become pretty handy at surfing the net…) and found out there have been a lot of problems similar to ours.  It took a while but he was able to get our landing/jacks up by reversing the wires on the solenoid.  It worked but he now has to reverse them back to let them down.  We finally got on the road and headed to Great Falls and arrived in the early evening and set up at Dicks RV.

Days 12- 13 – found us still in Great Falls.  – We had 2 more problems.   1) Tom and friends from Rolling Ridge installed a new More Ride suspension system on 3M2 before we left Florida.  We believed something was defective or something because the ride was horrible.  Tom contacted MoRide in Elk Horn, IN and they said, no problemo, we will send you an upgraded suspension system at no charge over night. Great people to work with.   We received the new system on day 13 and Speciality Ironworks in Great Falls dropped everything to uninstall and reinstall the new suspension system.  While the suspension system was being uninstalled and re- installed, we drove over to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.  This is a must see/stop if you are anywhere near Great Falls.  This Center is like a mini-Smithsonian.   The new suspension system was installed and we headed back to the campground.  2)  As I mentioned above, we were having problems with our landing jacks/gear and we discovered it was probably our solenoid.  So, we ordered one from, you guessed it, amazon.com.  They didn’t have it in stock so we had to get from an outside vendor “overnight” which really was NOT overnight.

Day 14  – We were still sitting in the RV Park in Great Falls impatiently awaiting the Fed Ex package with the solenoid.  It finally arrived around 10:45.  Tom did not want to install the solenoid at this time – so we packed up and left for the Canadian border.  We had about an hour wait at the border and entered Canada with no trouble.  Finn was upset he was NOT given a treat by the agent at the window.  We arrived in  Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada – concerned about the weather.   We were hoping to get to Calgary but the weather forecast for the evening and for Thursday did not look good so we stopped at Letherbridge.    We had reservations at the  BridgeView RV Park.

Day 15 – We did get snow and it is freezing cold around 12 degrees.  We checked road conditions and decided to go ahead to Calgary.

I’m stopping here for now – we will be going to Lake Louise, Jasper, etc. in the morning.  It will be a day trip.

Hope this blog finds you well and warm.  It is extremely cold here with snow and it looks like we will continue to have weather like this for a while.  We have to say, this has been an adventure – and have definitely decided we DON’T LIKE COLD WEATHER.

P.S.  Finn absolutely loves the snow – he is like a jackrabbit – running, jumping and, yes, rolling in it.  He really is a joy. Here’s a cute picture of Finnigan.  He is not a cuddly dog – he usually ignores us.  However, on this trip he has seen fit to put his nose on our console.  First time for everything.  20180329_174641  once in a while he will lick Tom’s ear.

Namaste

 

Great New Adventure (ALASKA!)

We began our Great Alaskan Adventure this morning leaving Rolling Ridge RV Resort in Clermont, Florida at around 10:0 am.  To recap a little… and digress…

This was our 4th winter season at Rolling Ridge and saying goodbye Saying Good Byeto friends and most particularly, family, was hard.  Our winter season began early this year, November, so we had more time with family/friends.  Being grandparents is great especially when your granddaughter is only a five minute drive away.  We got to play, bake, swim, bike ride, sew.  Annabelle is an Irish Step Dancer and we got to see perform at the Winter Park St. Patrick’s celebration   20180304_153110  and then again a few more times during St. Patrick’s Day venues  It was great. We had a few beers at the Crooked Can in Winter Garden 20180304_171921after watching Annabelle in the parade and performing in Winter Park – Finn was a hit  and then again on St. Patrick’s Day at the University Club and the Elks.

Lakeridge Winery is just down the road from Rolling Ridge.  They are Florida’s largest premium winery opening its doors in February 1989 – growing their grapes on the hillsides (yes, we do have hills in Florida).  We were lucky to get hired on as pourers and golf cart driver (Tom) for their monthly events.  We had a blast working along side our friends Kathy and Steve Dresch whom we met at Rolling Ridge.  A very cool thing is we were paid AND for each day we worked, we got a free bottle of wine AND 50% off everything, including wine, in the gift store… Awesome!  If you are near Orlando, check out the Winery.  Free tours and tastings.20180127_162622

We took a ride on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive and saw a couple of very large gators and a ton of birds.gator_DSC0125

Life at the “Ridge” is fun too. We are a very active fun loving community.  There’s always a lot going on from crafts, golf and motorcycle outings, weekly dinners at various restaurants, cards, bingo, pickle ball, swimming, exercising groups, Tuesday morning donuts and, of course, cocktail hour(s) and there is more.  This year we had a New Year’s Party, Valentine Gourmet Dinner on the SS. Ridge, Olympic Trivia Night (our team was named Clueless 6 and we got silver.  Clueless

St. Patrick’s Day golf cart parade and pot luck…Whew!  We will miss everyone.20180317_183624

After all that… We are now on our trip westward  — — We left Clermont on the morning of the 22nd  driving the backroads, so much prettier and interesting than driving the interstate –  arriving in Carrabelle, FL at Ho Hum Rv Park.    20180324_091551

We stayed at Ho Hum in 2016 and really liked it –  We had an easy set up, yeah!  – got in just in time for a nap, walk on the beach and a glass of wine or two.  We have  a view of Apalachicola Bay (Small).  The weather is breezy and cool.

We wanted something to do and like the local scene so Tom looked up an interesting place for us to go for cocktails and appetizers – Fathoms Steam Room and Oyster Bar – (kind of a biker bar) we stopped in for a drink and an appetizer – drinks were good – not so on the appetizer.  However, the company was fun and the people there were friendly, it is right on the Bay and we had a good time.  20180322_190116

We got back to 3M2 (Mobile Mountain Mansion 2) (for those of you who just joined our blog, our first 5th wheel was dubbed 3M by our Granddaughter because she referred to our home in the mountains of North Carolina (Pisgah Forest) as her Mountain Mansion – hence, Mobile Mountain Mansion… 3M and we have a new 5th wheel…) and started dinner but…had to stop so sunset pictures could be taken.  _DSC0096   Beautiful is all I can say.  We celebrated the first night of our Great Alaska Adventure with a couple of steaks and baked potato and a bottle of Novelty Hill Merlot that we became addicted to when we were treated to a day/night at  Chico Hot Springs in Livingston, MT.  We picked up a couple of bottles in Bozeman, MT, and said we were going to open one when we began our Alaska trip.  So we did!  This is the end of our first day and hope you enjoyed our trip.  Looking forward to tomorrow and a trip into St. George’s Island where we understand there is a very good donut shop!

On the recommendation of our friends, Jeff and Pam Mueller, we did stop at Weber Donuts on St. George Island this morning.  Weber Donuts  Tom had a maple frosted donut and I went whole hog and got the maple with pecans sprinkled on top.  Delicious.  From there, we just meandered through the area looking at the dunes, pretty colorful homes on stilts and arrived at St. George’s State Park.  The wind was blowing and it was a bit cool so we did not take a stroll on the pretty beach. We suggest if you are in the area and the weather is  warm and there is no wind, put on some sunscreen and get a few rays.  Beautiful beach ._DSC0106

The short drive over to Apalachicola was pretty over a long bridge.  We parked and walked through a lot of the boutique shops and stopped for lunch at Owl Cafe where we enjoyed  delicious sandwiches.  The Oyster Po Boy Tom had was really lucious – not greasy and very succulent.  I had the Shrimp and Crab Salad Roll.  Very tasty – ended up taking the salad off the roll because it was too hard to handle but was very good.  We said we definitely would stop there again.   In March of 1831, the Florida Territorial Legislature was rewarded with a Congressional appropriation to build a LighthouseLighthouse St. George  A site was selected on the extreme west end of St. George Island to mark West Pass, the main entrance to Apalachicola Bay.  This was one of several lighthouses on this site.  I hope you click on the link and read the history of the lighthouse it is quite interesting.

On the way back to Carrabelle and Ho Hum, we just had to locate the “Bottle House”. _DSC0146  _DSC0139 My pictures don’t do it justice.  The house and the lighthouse are lit for several hours after dusk.

The sunset tonight was beautiful.  Lots of pink clouds.20180323_195958

We are leaving in the morning heading westward toward Birmingham and will be meeting up with friends Dan and Jonell Anderson and (Mackena) on Sunday in Little Rock, AK.  Looking forward to the reunion.  We met Dan and Jonell several years ago while working at Amazon.com as pickers in Campbellsville, KY and became very good frie ds.  In 2015, I think, Dan and Jonell joined us at Homeroom at Madison Crossing in West Yellowstone where we had been working in the summers for several years.  They moved on to the Tetons and will be working at Lutons Resort in Jackson for a third season.  We are hoping they will join us next year in Skagway…

So long, farewell – we will be back to you soon.

Namaste!

 

 

THE BEGINNING AND MORE…

DON’T KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN – I’ve said that before, so, I guess I will begin at the beginning…this post is directed to those who are new to our blog – just filling in some details and to those new to the RVing lifestyle.

What possessed us to sell our wonderful  home, leave our close friends and begin a life traveling the highways and by-ways?  Too much wine??? Wanderlust??? Definition of Wanderlust  “A strong desire to travel is called wanderlust.”  I guess that’s it!

Tom researched full-time RVing for several years prior to our departure in early 2011.  There is a lot to think about and factor in such things as are you comfortable with spending/sharing close quarters and time with your spouse, vehicle insurance, health insurance, are you going to work, how long do you plan on being on the road, etc.  I was not all that keen on the idea at first – I thought he lost his mind actually.  He had never really camped – So when he started saving workcamper jobs and telling me to read travel blogs I did so with reluctance.  We got to dreaming about where we would/could go, what type of “rig” we would need that would satisfy all our wants and desires and pocketbook.  We went to, I don’t know how many, RV shows, dealership, yada yada yada.  At the time we were dreaming, we still had Daisy, Barkley and Mali our much loved yellow labs.  We knew we could not go on the road with the 3 of them, maybe one, but not 3.  Over the course of time, our wonderful friends passed on to doggie heaven.  We removed the gate on our deck since we had no need of it any longer.  We were free to make some long-range decisions.

In the summer of 2010 we called on our good friend Margaret Garren, Realtor Extraordinaire, and we put the house on the market.  We got a call on our way to Florida for Christmas that an offer was made on our home.  She faxed us the documents, we signed, they signed we closed.  We were able to stay in our home for a short while after the closing, which was a good thing, because we had not yet purchased an RV/5th wheel…but we did have a summer job lined up at the Homeroom in West Yellowstone, MT and one in the full at Amazon.com in Kentucky – but alas, no RV.

We flew to Florida for the Tampa RV show in early February 2011.  Tom had found a 5th wheel in Ocala and wanted us to check it out before going to the show in Tampa.  We came, we saw and we bought Mobile Mountain Mansion (3M).  But, we didn’t have a truck yet!  Once home, Tom found a Chevrolet truck that seemed to fit the bill in Tennessee so we came, we saw, we bought Black Beauty.  We had our 5th wheel and our Truck so we could now begin our journey.

Having never lived in an RV/5thwheel we felt it was prudent to spend some time getting to know the nuances of RV life.  Cascade Lake campground was the perfect spot for us to stay for a week or so.  By staying close to town, we were able to spend time saying good-bye to our friends.  Alison and Annabelle come up to help us pack. There is a lake, obviously, and hiking at Cascade Lake.   Annabelle (age 3) had seen a kids PBS show on aardvarks and Tasmanian Devils so we went hiking around the lake looking for them.  We didn’t find any.  But we have wonderful memories.  Alison was a great help to me keeping me on track while sorting through our “stuff” and my fabric.  I just couldn’t stand to part with most of it, YET.  Our dear friends Lou and Mike Shelley and Tim and Barbara Kreager-Brenton were the recipients of many tubs of “stuff” and fabric that we (I) could not part with.

Having said good-bye to our friends, the kids left with hugs and tears and we too headed out to begin our Great Adventure.  We are now into our 7th year on the road and love every minute of it.  It was a good decision – I have to say, however, it did take me a while to get my head around it but I am so happy I did.   The only time we look back is to see the view out the rear window.

The friends and acquaintances we have made along the way are in triple digits.  It is difficult to put into words the places we have seen.  We have tried to share them with you in newsletters and now, infrequent, blogs.

One of the perks of RVing and work camping is the ability to go where you want when you want, work or not work, volunteer, etc.  We always said we would “Never work at the same place twice”.  Good thing we didn’t say 7 years because we are in our 7th year at the Homeroom at Madison Crossing.  http://cabindecor.com/    We have shared summers with our Homeroom family, Andie, Pam, Diane and now Chris.  Over the years, we have been lucky to work with workcampers Susan and Maryann, Lee and Arlene (deceased), Dan and Jonell, Mark and Betty and now Bruce and Connie.    We met Lee and Arlene and Dan and Jonell while working at Amazon.com in Kentucky and invited them to come out and work with us.  We met Bruce and Connie while they were working at a gift shop at the Grand Canyon – they were in for a change so we invited them to come work with us.  This is a benefit of our lifestyle.

Come next year we won’t be returning to the Homeroom we will be joining the Corrington Family in Skagway, AK. http://skagway.com/listings/corringtons-museum-of-alaskan-history/    It was a tough decision because we have been treated like family but it is time for us to spread our wings and begin a new adventure that we can’t wait to share with you .

We have had a grand summer.  We haven’t done much hiking – lots of smoke, no close fires as was the case last summer.  We have had some visitors my cousin Pat North and her son TJ stopped for a few days.  We got to share a bit of Yellowstone National Park with Tad and Sharon and Fogle .  We met up with Dan and Jonell and Karen and Al, who work at Lutons Resort in the Tetons, https://tetoncabins.com/     for dinner at Old Faithful.  We plan on getting together soon to go to the newly opened overlook at the Grand Prismatic.

We’ve enjoyed spending time with our friends from Rolling Ridge RV Resort, Steve and Kathy Dresch who are working on Hebgen Lake at the Yellowstone Holiday Resort and marina. http://www.yellowstoneholiday.com/    Last year they worked at the Canyon Gift Store in Yellowstone NP.  They enjoyed their time there, especially staying in the Park but wanted to try something different for 2017.  They both love the water and fishing so working at the campground on Hebgen Lake was a good fit.  Steve and Kathy are a lot of fun.  Having the same days off has been great so we have play time together.     Have had a nice time visiting with them – taking a day trip to Virginia City,  http://virginiacity.com/    dining at the Happy Hour, Friday night pizza at Wild West.  Tom has enjoyed fishing on Hebgen Lake with Steve.  This gives Tom and Steve their “man time”.  Kathy and I enjoy our “man-less time” too.

Snow and cooler weather arrived and it may stay with us through the next couple of weeks!  A bit early for our taste. However, Finnigan loves the snow, rolling, jumping like a little crazy pooch.

We only have a few more weeks here in West Yellowstone and are planning our eastward trip to Florida.  Tom and I looked at each other the other day and said, “there must be a different route we haven’t taken yet- right?”  We have decided not to take a fall job this season.  This year we will spend several days with the boys in Superior, WI then on through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Never having traveled to Canada with our 5thwheel we decided to give it a try – We entered at Port Huron with no problem and eventually stay the night in Niagara, ON. The Falls at night are beautiful.

We traveled to Syracuse via routes 20 and 5 – going through beautiful rolling hills and passing farms and pastures.  For the first time in 7 years on the road we came upon 2 bridges that were too low for us to pass under.  The first bridge was easily identified as to its height well before we had an emergency…we were directed to a different route through town.  The second bridge was not identified until almost too late.  We were able to make a turn and avoided disaster… We were on the way to Syracuse, NY to visit 2 of my sisters I haven’t seen about 9 years.  The parks and rv campgrounds close in the Syracuse area in late September which is one of the reasons we haven’t traveled to Upstate New York pulling 3M2.  Since there were NO campgrounds or State Parks open we booked a dog friendly room at the Craftsman Inn in Fayetteville, NY.  http://www.craftsmaninn.com/   We were able to park Mobile Mountain Mansion 2 (3M2) behind the Inn.  We had a delightful time with Mary Kate and Susan and her husband Michael.

We were a few days ahead in our travel, so we thought it would be nice to visit Gettysburg.  Well, the majority of the RV parks were FULL.  We had to stayed on the outskirts and decided not to venture into Gettysburg because it was going to be so crowded and we don’t like crowds!  We carried on and stopped for a very late lunch at my cousin Maureen and Bill Hall’s home in Richmond.

Brevard, NC was beckoning us so we came in on Monday and are currently staying at Adventure Village in Brevard through the 31st.  http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/north-carolina/brevard/adventure-village-11492.

I promise to be better at getting out our blog.  I am creating a drop down menu of the restaurants we have visited with their links as well as RV Parks, State and National Parks and places we have been again with links.

The weekly, monthly and some time newsletters generated by us over the past 6 years will be posted in the blog as well.  I didn’t know about blogging when we started so I did newsletters.  For those of you who are new to the blog and newsletters – we hope you enjoy them.  Most of them do have links to places we have been and enjoyed.

Please note:  I am also going to list the restaurants we have eaten with their links  – I think it will be a drop down menu and will eventually have campgrounds and other “stuff” .  Enoy

Thought for the day from Over the Rainbow:

“Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”

Year in Review

I have been remiss in not keeping y’all up to date on our whereabouts and travels. I am starting at the beginning of our Great Western Adventure so some of the beginning of the blog may be a rehash but bear with me.  I promise to do better in 2017 – and you may be surprised by a guest writer once in a while, too. We have such a good time and enjoy sharing our experiences with you.

Our trip out west began in late April. This year we were joined by our good friends Steve and Kathy Dresch who we met at Rolling Ridge RV Resort over the winter. Steve and Kathy were to begin their very first Workamping adventure at Canyon village in Yellowstone National Park. They had never traveled west before so we hitched up our 5th wheels and the caravan headed out. The Great Western Adventure had just begun.

Our first stop was the Ho Hum RV Park in Carrabelle, FL. This is one of those hidden gems that we come across from time to time. Carrabelle is located on the Apalachicola Bay of the Gulf of Mexico. The RV park is right on the water and has awesome sunrises and sunsets. Dogs are welcome but no children. A great place to soak up the warm sun rays and enjoy an ice cold beverage!

We spent several uneventful days traveling across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and finally arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Coronado campground is located just north of Albuquerque in Bernalillo in the shadow of the Sandia Mountains and overlooking the Rio Grande River.  http://www.townofbernalillo.org/depts/campground.htm   We have stayed there a couple of times before and thought Steve and Kathy would enjoy it too.   It was fun to share their delight and excitement hiking in the Boca Negra Canyon in the Petroglyphs National Monument.   https://www.nps.gov/petr/index.htm    https://www.nps.gov/petr/planyourvisit/bn.htm   You cannot imagine the number of Petroglyphs. The next day we took the Road Runner train https://www.roadrunnershuttleandcharter.com/ to Santa Fe, visiting the farmer’s market and lunching at Del Charos a wonderful restaurant located in the Inn of the Governors, famous for their margaritas. Yes, we had a couple each! That’s why we took the train! https://www.innofthegovernors.com/del-charro-saloon/.   We were having so much fun we decided to stay a couple of extra days.  We took a day drive along the Escalante Staircase stopping to take a lot of pictures, Drove part of the Turquoise Trail stopping at Tinkertown Museum.  tinkertown.com   They have a ton of hummingbird feeders hanging in the trees and on the buildings so I spent my time photographing the birds.  We took them to one of our hang outs, Kaktus Brewing Company – on Sunday night they have belly dancers come in so we, of course, had to go see them.  We met up with our friend Patti Wade who winters in the area and had dinner at the Range Café.

Heading west from Albuquerque our next stop was the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. None of us had ever been here and it certainly was a different kind of place.

We stayed in a campground just outside the entrance and were able to collect some of the petrified wood pieces that were scattered all about. ( A little reminiscent of Lucy in The Long Long Trailer  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNC5Dn0Dtnc) https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm

The next stop in our Great Western Adventure was the Grand Canyon National Park.  We stayed Williams, AZ which is about an hour’s drive south of the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon is huge.  A lot of visitors hike down to the bottom but we were not that adventurous.  The top was enough for us.  We spent the day hiking the rim of the Canyon and stopped to have a picnic lunch. A must while hiking the rim is to stop at the Kolb Brothers Studio – The Kolb Brothers were probably the first to photograph the Grand Canyon from top to bottom in a “dearing do” fashion.   The Kolb brothers were also Rotarians and allowed Rotary to meet in their studio.  http://library.nau.edu/speccoll/exhibits/daysofarchives/film.htmlhttps://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm 

 

We decided to stay an extra day so we could drive down to Sedona and check out that area.   The drive through the gorge was breathtaking. In fact sometimes I was even hanging out the window to photograph the beautiful sights.  We had a picnic lunch in a pretty park and did a little hiking too.  We all said we would like to come back to this area and spend some time getting to know it.   http://visitsedona.com/what-to-do/

We left Williams and headed to Flagstaff and then north towards Zion and Bryce National parks. Just outside of Flagstaff the road goes through the Painted Desert.  Wow, what beautiful scenery in every direction.  The colors were truly amazing.  The Painted Desert https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painted_Desert.

We were not able to bring our fifth wheels through the Parks so we stayed at Ruby’s Inn Campground next to the entrance to Bryce Canyon.   A lot of Workampers work at Ruby’s which is open year round.  Staying at Ruby’s Inn and campground https://utah.com/rubys-inn-rv-park-and-campground is very convenient while we explored both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.   https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm    https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm.

Tom, Steve and I hiked down into Bryce Canyon taking scads of pictures along the trail.  Kathy doesn’t do heights well so she stayed behind but made a lot of friends at the top while waiting for us. The next day was spent at Zion. What a contrast, in Bryce you look down into the canyon and in Zion everything is above you. Both Parks are spectacular. Can’t wait to go back and spend more time. We were not able to hike the Narrows due to high water and chance of flash flooding….boo hoo.

We finally made it to West Yellowstone in early May.  We weren’t starting our jobs at Homeroom at Madison Crossing for a few days giving us a bit of time to get settled.  It was our 6th year working there.  We said we would never work at the same place twice…but when you find a place that is wonderful, you just keep coming back.  www.cabindecor.com  

Steve and Kathy were able to begin their  jobs a few days early so they only stayed one night in West.  We had an awesome summer in West Yellowstone.  We did a lot of hiking and eating out…We tried to get together at least once a week – usually going to the Wild West Saloon/Pizzeria for Pizza and beer and taking a few hikes and road trips together.

Due to the fires in the National Park, we did some nice hikes in the Gallatin National Forest.  We were able to bring Finnigan with us into the National Forest so he got a lot of running, exercising and sniffing done. The only downside this year was all of the forest fires in the Park.  Some were even visible at night from town and in the mornings you couldn’t see across the street because the smoke was so thick.  We woke up one morning to the sound of chain saws and equipment across the street from us and were told by the firemen “they were doing fuel reduction…”  They were finally extinguished but only after 400+ firefighters were brought in from all over the country. It certainly wasn’t good for breathing or business.   http://www.destinationyellowstone.com/node/12659

Alison, Jeff and Annabelle came out to visit us in September.   Finn went crazy when they came through the door.   While we were in Bozeman picking up the kids, friends got the smoker ready for Tom’s famous ribs and chicken.  A “welcome to Montana” dinner was planned for the kids and was being hosted by our friends, Diane, David, Pam, Leah and Clay.  It was such fun. Diane makes outstanding River-Ritas… (margaritas she makes on the River when she and David camp)

Since we are at 6700 feet elevation, we wanted to get them acclimated so we stayed in town Friday and took them to the Grizzly-Wolf Discovery Center.  http://www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.org/    Annabelle attended a 30-minute presentation on bears for the “Keeper Kids” program then got to actually go into the bear sanctuary and hide food for the bears to find.  Sam, a 1,100-pound Grizzly found all the hidden goodies.  I taught Annabelle how to use my Nikon 3300 to take pictures of the wolves and eagles – she is a fast learner.

Saturday we ventured over to Lewis and Clark Caverns.   However, we had to stop in Ennis for breakfast at the town pharmacy.   Sounds weird but they have a cute little restaurant in the store and it is a treat to eat there with the locals.   It is a 2 mile walk through the caverns and you really don’t want the power to go out – the caverns are a treasure and our guide did a great job. http://www.visitmt.com/listings/general/state-park/lewis-and-clark-caverns-state-park.html

Sunday we went into the Park  https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm  and got caught in a bison jam.  We weren’t even 2 miles into the Park… It took us an hour to go 7 miles…..We took the kids to the Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Inn.  Old Faithful went off right on schedule and did not disappoint.  We walked on the boardwalk out to Morning Glory Pool.  As usual, just before we got to Morning Glory Pool, it started to rain and… hail…it didn’t dampen our trip, however.

The Artists Paint Pots was a highlight on our trip into the Park on Monday.  Plop, plop, bloop, bloop, are the sounds that the bubbling pots make.  Annabelle likes to take pictures so I showed her how to focus in and out and how to set up a picture again using my Nikon 3300.  She  got some good pictures of the pots bubbling up.

The road to Mammoth from Canyon was closed due to construction so we had to go the long way around through Canyon over to Tower/Roosevelt.  It was an AWESOME animal day.  We got to see two big black bears, grouse, female elk, two male elk chasing each other, of course tons of buffalo, deer, lots of mountain goats with babies and Bighorn Sheep.  In Mammoth, elk freely roam the grass in the square, around the hotel and wherever they darn well please.  In front of the Mammoth Visitor Center, we attended a ranger lead program on the introduction/importance of wolves into Yellowstone. During the presentation, the ranger kept looking over her shoulder and across the street because there were many female elk across the street and two male elk stalking each other.  She said the “rut” was just beginning and if she said MOVE we were to MOVE.  We didn’t have to move but it was fun to watch the two elk stalk each other.

Big Springs State Park is located in Idaho and we really like going there.  It really is a very pretty setting.  Annabelle got to feed some fish and ducks and then take a nature walk along Big Springs which flows into Henrys Fork of the Snake River which eventually flows in the Columbia River.  We didn’t see any wild life other than ducks.  We were hoping for a moose or two.   It was a short day because Annabelle had to do some schoolwork.  https://www.co.fremont.id.us/departments/parks_rec/big_springs/johnny-sack_big-springs.html

Driving through the Park over to the Grand Teton National Park is a very pretty drive especially because the fall colors were ablaze.  The Laurance S. Rockefeller Nature Preserve   https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/lsr.htm    is a wonderful place to do some hiking and learn about the flora and fauna of the area.  Annabelle completed her first Jr. Ranger Badge while visiting the Preserve as it is part of the Teton National Park.

We met up with, Dan and Jonell Anderson, our friends from Amazon and who worked with us two years ago at Homeroom at Madison Crossing, for lunch at Dornan’s at the base of the Tetons.  https://dornans.com/

It was a great summer all in all.  Lots of hiking and driving through beautiful parts of Wyoming, Idaho, Montana.

It was time to leave West Yellowstone in early October and after a delicious Good-Bye dinner at Diane’s house, we left West Yellowstone heading to Superior, WI to visit with the boys for a few days.  We stopped in Minnesota to visit our friends Alan and Kathy Zimmerman along the way.  We met them a couple of years ago in Florida at Rolling Ridge RV Resort where we stay during the “season”.  This year they are staying near Naples, FL so we were happy we got to see them and look forward to visiting them in Naples.

As usual, the boys were great hosts.  We stayed at Thad’s house and parked 3M at his shop. http://www.twwooddesigns.com/ (handsome fellow on the left is Thad)  It was great to see the boys.  We went out to eat a few times and Thad introduced us to Sclavi’s Italian Restaurant that was superb.  The Hacienda was one of our stops and we came back one night to listen to music.  We did a little hiking with Todd in Pattison State Park.  Finn got to play with Daisy and Stuart, Thad’s dogs.  Our time with them was short but we needed to get underway.

It is difficult finding open campgrounds after Labor Day and we wanted to go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan hoping to get to Mackinaw Island and to see the locks at Sault St. Marie.  Our goal was to stay in Munising at a lovely city campground on the Lake and do a bit of hiking and visiting lighthouses.  BUT, a wheel shirred off 3M and we had to spend several days in Ishpeming, MI waiting for parts thereby cutting short our visit to the area.   Since we had planned on going to the locks in Sault St. Marie we decided to just go ahead and go up and stay in a hotel while waiting for the parts.  The locks were awesome – a couple of ships passed through.  Here’s the link. http://www.saultstemarie.com/   Its pretty amazing to say the least watching the water drop and then rise lifting and lowering the ships.

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After a night’s stay in Sault St. Marie we went back through Marquette  stopping at Donckers  https://www.donckersonline.com/  Restaurant and homemade candy store.  You have to go upstairs to get to the quaint restaurant.  We bought a small box of their chocolate assortment and are fighting over the last piece.  I will probably win.

A most unusual place caught our attention while driving back to Ishpeming to pick up 3M.  The Lakenenland Sculpture Park  outside of Marquette-  this is a lot of great “yard” art – y’all know I like yard art.  One of a kind and a must see if you are ever in the area.   Someone as a lot of time on his hands.   http://lakenenland.com/

We got back to Ishpeming and picked up 3M in the early evening and decided to get underway right away – we don’t usually drive at night especially in the rain but we just wanted to get some miles under our belt so we got to the RV park in Munising, MI – not unhooking and stayed the night.

The next morning we got up early and were  finally  heading to Campbellsville, KY to start the Peak Season working at Amazon as pickers.  Upon arriving in Kentucky, we were unable to stay at the Stables RV Park where we had reservations so we were fortunate to be able to stay at the Green River Lakes State Park.   http://parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/green-river/   A simply gorgeous, gorgeous park on a gorgeous, gorgeous lake.  Lots of Amazon workers stayed there, too, and it was one big happy family – made it easy to car pool.   Finn loved running like a mad dog and playing in the water.  We had some Amazonians over for smoked pork.  Lively group.    The morning sunrise and evening sunsets were something to behold.  Great place.

Lexington, KY is a little over an hour away.  Doug and Kathy Brown, friends from West Yellowstone, moved near Lexington, KY last year so we drove over to visit them and stayed in their lovely home.  They love to fish, as does Tom, so we went out on their boat.  Tom, Doug and Kathy fished while I just sunned myself, sort of.  Kathy and I stopped for a “break” and in the shallow water we searched and found geodes.http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-a-geode.  The lake was really cold.  We found some and brought them back for Annabelle to open.   We were invited to come back and spent Thanksgiving with them and their family.  Kathy and I did some Christmas shopping too.  It was nice to have a friend to shop with.  We were both exhausted when we got home.  We are looking forward to visiting them again during our travels.

During our drive to Campbellsville, we talked seriously about trading in 3M for a newer model 5th wheel, especially after the wheel issue on the way to Campbellsville.  We had been mulling over upgrading the Mobile Mountain Mansion for some time.   3M was showing wear and tear and it looked like we would need to do some major work to keep her in tip top shape.  Over the summer, Tom started researching newer Fifth Wheels.  We had a good idea of what we did and didn’t want.   Finding the best one would be difficult because we were spoiled with the storage space in 3M and some other features we knew we wouldn’t be able to get in other models.   We wanted to get a newer Carriage like 3M but Carriage went out of business in 2011.

Tom finally found a 2012 Redwood fifth wheel on e-bay.  He contacted the dealership and negotiated a good deal.  The 3M2 was in an RV dealership in Ottawa, Kansas.  After the arrangements were made, we rented a storage unit in Campbellsville, unloaded a lot of our “stuff” so we wouldn’t have to deal with it in Kansas, packed up 3M, Finn and headed to Kansas to pick up our new home. Of course, we had to stop in Paducah, KY at the National Quilt Museum on the way.  We had been to the museum a couple of years ago during their during their national quilt show and conference.  The exhibits change every few months and it was a pleasure looking at all the beautiful quilts and admiring the handwork.    http://quiltmuseum.org/ It is sad you cannot take pictures in the museum but we have the pictures of the beautiful quilts in our memories.

We arrived in Ottawa Kansas and 3M2 (Mobile Mountain Mansion II) was waiting for us.  She is a lovely 38’11” 2012 Redwood fifth wheel.  Black Beauty is happy too because 3M2 weighs a bit less and the paint on the body is black/tan and burgundy so Black Beauty looks good pulling her.

Now, to back track a bit, Tom and I terminated our employment with Amazon shortly after we arrived.  Tom worked about 3 weeks and I one and a half week.  We both were experiencing shoulder issues and we felt it just wasn’t worth relying on taking pain meds to get through the day and to sleep at night.  We started work smelling like Bio-Freeze applying more throughout the day and ended each day smelling like Bio-Freeze!  The issues we were experiencing were a result of the rear end collision last December.   So we gave notice and left with the door open to come back for another season(s).    We arrived in Florida about 3 weeks earlier than normal and it has been fun having time with Alison and Annabelle before Christmas.

We wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

Keep in touch.

Tom, Ellen and Finnigan

Great Western Adventure 2016

Our 2016 Great Western Adventure began on Sunday, April 24.   I had shirts made that we all agreed we would wear that said the Great  Western Adventure.  I know, too cutsie!!! But we did wear them.20160513_080817.jpg

Annabelle spent Saturday night with us and set up fort “Finnabelle” in the living room.   FT. Finnabelle       In the morning she got up and helped us close up the slides then she and Alison took Finn for a final walk around Rolling Ridge.

We are traveling westward with Steve and Kathy Dresch and Yannie20160513_080915.jpg who sold their home in Upstate NY in the fall.  This is their first RV adventure.  Steve and Kathy will be starting their first work camping job in Yellowstone NP at the Canyon Gift Store around the middle of May.  We are hoping to have at least one day off together so we can play.

We decided that staying off the interstate highways as much as possible would be a good thing. We did take the Florida turnpike to Ocala where we picked up RT 27and rode through quaint towns, pasture land, horse farms and the most gorgeous wild flower fields chuck full of yellow, red and purple flowers.  The bad part is you can’t stop to take pictures when pulling a 37foot 5th Wheel.  Had to settle for pictures out the window and when we stopped for lunch.

Upon recommendations of several friends, we stayed in Carrabelle, FL at the Ho Hum Campground located directly on Apalachicola Bay Sunday night.

20160425_083403What a great place. We would highly recommend it and hope to stay there again. We arrived at 3:00 giving us the time to get settled, catch a few rays before cocktails and dinner… the breeze was wonderful.  It was high tide so walking on the shore was not possible so as you can see, we stood on the dock and had a few cocktails.  _DSC0043

We vowed to get up early and catch the sunrise in the morning.Monday, sunrise was a little after 7:00.  Kathy and Steve were out on the dock with me with their coffee and camera and, of course, Yanni, their golden retriever.  I left Finn cuddled up next to Tom who is NOT an early riser.  We patiently waited for the sun to rise.  We were happy there were some clouds so they added a bit of contrast with the sun rising and the water.  Very, very pretty._DSC0222

Leaving Ho Hum, we had to get on I-10 so we googled directions and set off.…well, we did want to take the roads less traveled and thanks to google we were able to do just that.  We took the directed turn which took us on a circuitous trip through the country roads of Florida.  We eventually found I-10 and all ended well.

Gulfport, MS was our next overnight destination. We try to stay at Passport or Good Sams RV parks because of the discounts.  We strongly recommend if you travel a lot, become members of both Good Sams and Passport. You will more than make up the membership fee.

Steve and Kathy had to take a detour to Pensacola to get a vent panel installed.  That particular vent blew off their brand new 5th wheel somewhere along the way.  We made plans to meet up at the Alabama tourist center for lunch.  Got to Gulfport and stayed at the Campground of the South. http://campgroundsofthesouth.com/.  Got set up, relaxed a bit then had a cookout of chicken and ribs.  Delicious.  The campground is ok for a night or two.  You are right off of I-10 and the road noise was heavy.  But, we ran our air conditioners at night and hardly heard a thing.  Gulfport and surrounding areas were hard hit during Katrina.  To find out more about this area go to:   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hurricane_katrina_damage_gulfport_mississippi.jpg   There’s a lot to do in Gulfport – follow the link to see what you can do.  https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g43802-Gulfport_Mississippi-Vacations.html

Our next overnight was into Marthaville, LA  and the drive was uneventful.  Driving through small towns is fun and downtown Bunkie, LA beckoned us to stop for lunch.  I forgot to take pictures of the place where we ate lunch. Darn!   !http://www.bunkiechamber.net/   There’s a cute little park in Bunkie where we were able to stop and have a lunch under the trees in a city park.

We arrived about 4:00 at the Ajax Country Livin’ RV Park.  http://www.ajaxcountrylivinrv.com.

It is a really pretty RV park settled in among some trees and a little pond that allows you to catch and release fish – but it was really way too hot to stand in the sun to catch fish – so, we set under the trees and enjoyed the delightful breeze.

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Tom picked up some shrimp and made a Cajun dish with rice and I made – shrimp and grits.  Neither Steve nor Kathy had ever had grits so it was an experience for them.  They actually liked them.  I make mine with milk so they are really creamy and, of course, cheese.  Had a first today.  We were able to put another state under our belts.  Neither, Kathy, Steve, Finnigan, Yanni nor I had ever been to Arkansas.  Of course, most of this western trip is new territory for Kathy and Steve.

The weather forecast was looking a bit crazy.  It was reported that a powerful front was expected in the early morning hours.  It did not hit our area until around 5:00 in the morning.  We had some hail, lightning, heavy thunder and rain.  It didn’t last too long but it was pretty strong.  Shreveport, near us got hit pretty hard. We waited for the rain to subside and left a little after 9:00. Heading to Sherman, Texas where we plan to spend the night.

In order not to get too fatigued, we agreed we would only travel around 300 miles a day.  We don’t have to be in Yellowstone until mid- May so we are just moseying along at a good pace.

When looking for gas stations, we need to be able to pull up to the diesel pump which is not always on the correct side and a station that will allow you to get around parked cars.  On this trip, we have to be able to get the two rigs in and out without too much trouble.

We are continuing our attempt to stay off the interstates as much as possible.  We are finding a lot of baby cows and they are really cute.  There are patches of wildflowers along the Texas roads.  That’s a good thing because Lady Bird Johnson, who was from Texas, loved flowers and was a lifelong advocate for beautifying the nation’s cities and highways (“Where flowers bloom, so does hope”).  The Highway Beautification Bill was informally known as Lady Bird’s Bill.

Look to sun

Trying to find a spot for lunch has been interesting. We have to find a spot that not only will hold two big fifth wheels but is also easy to get in and out of.  Today we stopped in DeKab, TX and ate in a little gazebo.  We got to walk the dogs and, of course, Finn decided to roll.  Well, he rolled in a patch of burs!  I was able to brush him and get most of them off but missed a few. We will be pulling them off of him for days, I am sure.http://dekalbtexas.org/

It is now Friday, April 29th and we were headed for Lubbock, TX for the night but got in the wrong lane and headed to Amarillo.  It was a good thing we did because Lubbock got hit pretty hard with a severe storm that pretty much missed us in Amarillo.   We did have a lot of wind and rain but nothing like the surrounding areas.  We stayed at the AOK RV Park – not the prettiest place by far but it did have full hook-ups.  We were next to the interstate and a Air Force Base that had a lot of planes flying in and out when we arrived.  Kind of cool in a way.  But due to the severe weather forecasted for the night, just heard one or two planes.

It is now Friday.  We woke up to pretty heavy rain so we stayed a little longer so the guys would not get soaked when they hooked up.  They got soaked!  We had trouble with our antenna – the inside handle came off the evening before but Tom got it back on.  When he went to lower it in the morning, he thought it was down–it wasn’t.  Good thing eagle eye Steve noticed it was still up before we left the campground.  He and Tom got it fixed, getting soaked again.

Reminder, do a walk around your camper, 5th wheel or motorhome before you pull out making sure you are completely disengaged from the sewer, electric, water, all slides are in the steps are UP and turn signal lights are working.  Also, look up to make sure your antenna is DOWN.

We are heading to Albuquerque where we planned on staying for several days.   We had rain for a little while but it cleared up and we had good weather to Albuquerque.  Tom and I stayed at the Coronado Campground last fall and really liked it so much we thought it would be a great place to stay with Kathy and Steve on this trip.

Bernalillo is a town in Sandoval County, New Mexico, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the town population was 6,611. It is the county seat of Sandoval County. Bernalillo is part of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Statistical Area.  http://www.townofbernalillo.org/depts/campground.htm

Coronado Campground is conveniently located on Highway 550, just west of Bernalillo along the Rio Grande.  You have an unobstructed view of the beautiful Sandia Mountains to the east.  You can enjoy the Rio Grande s it flows gently through the valley below.  The sunsets are really pretty.

We would like you to continue following our our Great Western Adventure in upcoming blogs.  We  have had such a good time and we don’t want you to miss any of our Great Western Adventure.

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