Heading to West with a Stop in Wallace, Idaho

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This was an amazing stop, and totally unplanned. The heat was on so we wanted to be plugged in for a few days.  The campground was Wallace RV Park, which is on a creek and the big selling point to us was has a brewery attached.  After getting off the interstate we drove through this adorable western mining town and then into the campground.  The campground, while the sites were small the location was amazing.  It had a railtrial (Trail of the Coeur d”Alenes) right outside the door which was amazing for working on my training.  It was underneath the interstate for a couple miles which made it very pleasant to stay out of the hot sun.  The trail is something like 73 miles long. 

The town is full of history. It is located in Shoshone County, Idaho in the Silver Valley mining district of the Idaho panhandle.  It was founded in 1884 and sits on the Coeur d’ Alene River and Interstate 90.   They had more brothels there than in San Fransciso did at one point.  The last one closed in the 80’s, the 1980’s.  It then became a museum and the rooms were rented it out.  There is an old theater there as well, however the summer program had not started while we were there.  One day we went on the Mine Tour (Sierra Silver Mine Tour).  We started at the Silver Mining Store, which is part store and part museum and ice cream parlor.  We hopped on a trolley that took us to our tour, after a steep ride up the side of the mountain we were greeted by a Miner who had us place a hard hat on our heads and off we went into the mine.  Very dark and very damp place.  After our 45-60 minute tour down below we decided that spending 12 hours per day in the dark, damp place would not be our idea of fun.  It was interesting how the miner’s lived and we now know that they did not make a lot of money but they would spend some money at the many brothels.  After our mine tour our driver collected us to take us on a tour of the town of Wallace.  In which we learned about the history of Wallace and how it became and why it became the only town in the US that all the buildings, homes are on the National Historical Registry.  Apparently in the 80’s again the 1980’s the government wanted to build the Interstate right through the town, so the town put every house on the historical registry.  

One evening we went to the brewery  (City Limits Brewery) we sat at the bar and a gentleman asked to sit next to us.  We started to chat up Bruce, he is a native of the town of Wallace, however he lives in San Antonio and goes back for a few months in the summer, can’t blame him for that.  Anyway, he was telling us about growing up there and the making of the railtrail.  He said when he was in the military they told the people when on leave they did not want them to go to San Fransciso or Wallace because of the amounts of brothels.  He also told us how the building of the railtrail was a way to unpollute the area. The area was polluted when they were taking out the railroad so the government told the town you either have to spend a lot of money to get rid of the pollutants or “cap”, capping is what they did and the railtrail was born.  There is a train museum, which we did as well, worth our time for sure.

Speaking of Railtrails, there is one we did the Hiawatha Trail.  It is an unpaved railtrail that is awared the Rails-To-Trails Hall of Fame designation.  It is considered the “crown jewel” of rail trails and after riding the trail I can honestly say we agree.  The adventure begins at Lookout Pass on the Montana/Idaho state line.  We drove up there and rode our bikes down, very little pedaling needed.  The trail is a 2% downhill grade of 15 miles of amazing views on the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad.  The trail has 10 tunnels, (one is 2 miles long, long dark and damp) and the trail also has 7 trestles.  After we got to the bottom there were some nice folks to take our bikes and us back up to the top, well almost the top, we have to ride the tunnel back to the beginning. It cost us less than $30.00 each for the ride and the return shuttle.  They rent bicyles and helmets (must be worn) and headlights (a necessity as well, remember the 2 mile, dark, damp tunnel), however, we had our bikes, helmets and lights with us.  We were finally able to use our bikes since we left Florida and were grateful for having our own and my Ion headlight and tail light.  After we got back we were wishing there was more.  If this is something you want to do check out the schedule at  ridethehiawatha.com. 

While we were in Wallace our days were spent exploring and the afternoons were spent enjoying the little town, checking out the breweries and just enjoying hanging around the campground.  

During one of the afternoon walks with Eris the Court’s bailiff asked us to bring Eris to the courthouse he had a cookie. He told us to go ahead and bring her in and he meant all the way in up the marble stairs and up to the lobby area where he could give her a treat. He said they are very proud of not having a dog policy. The hospitality in the whole town was amazing, for a second I thought we were in the south.

Bottomline, if heading west and you are like us and don’t have concrete plans be sure to do a stopover in Wallace, Idaho.  If we had time we would be heading back there.  

Next week’s blog we are skipping ahead to the Seattle area as there wasn’t much to be said about where we were in eastern Washington, because we were fleeing the heat.  

So until next week keep exploring, discovering and dreaming, whether you are traveling or staying in place.  

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

PS if you would like to purchase any of my photo’s, email me and I will be happy to sell you some.  I will be reopening my Etsy store in the near future as well, selling cards and magnets of my prints. Look out for that coming soon.

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Email: hlmichaudphotography@gmail.com

NEXT UP ON OUR WESTWARD BOUND TRIP-MISSOULA, MONTANA

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As we headed west we thought a stopover in Missoula was in order.  Since we did not have reservations anywhere we decided to do a night at a Harvest Host and then find our boondocking spot the next day.  We stayed at Wildwood Brewing, where the beers were good and pizza was decent as well.  The next day we  made it to our boondocking spot at Chief Looking Glass Campground.  It is a fishing access campground, with first come first serve campsites with fishing access if you so choose and a canoe launch, and has pit toilets.  It was $15.00 a night as we did not have a Montana fishing license.  Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit.  We did not use either as the mosquitos were awful.  First time since we left that the mosquitos made us stay inside.  The location was perfect for site seeing Missoula.  We had decent cell signal and even a few stations on tv. 

Missoula has it all, wilderness and adventure and restuarants of all levels to satisfy any foodie out there.  There is a river that runs through the city that has a manmade wave in it, where surfer’s take their boards and do the wave over and over again.  Very cool thing to see.  It is right of the riverwalk area which is surrounded by parks and museums and downtown.  Missoula lies at the convergence of 3 rivers and 7 wilderness areas and is an artsy sort of town.  This was the first town we came across during our travels that we thought we could live there.  

We went downtown to go to a couple of the markets they had on Saturday.  It made us feel we were home and almost “normal”.  Pups couldn’t go into the market so Eris had to stay home.  The vendors were just like our market in St. Pete, but of course local to the area.

Missoula is also home to Adventure Cycling, the organization with 50,000 bicyle routes to get the adventure on.  For those who want to travel by bicycle this is the place to go.  

Another day we went to Fort Missoula which is 32 acres with over 20 historic structures.  It was built in 1877  during the Indian Wars and served as the starting point for the African American 25th Infantry Bicyle Corps (a 1900 mile rid to St. Louis), it was also a WWI Military  training center, a CCC headquarters and a WWII interment camp for Japanese and Italian Americans.  Oddly, I can’t remember the fictional novel I was reading but it spoke of Ft. Missoula as one of the Italian interment camps.  

There was much more to be seen in Missoula but the weather promised to get hot so we needed to move on.  We spent a nice 5 days or so there and we will be back again.  

I highly recommend going there if you like the urban life with the small town feel.  So until next week’s blog remember to keep on exploring, discovering and dreaming and if you like this consider following us and give us a big thumbs up.

Stay safe, see you next week as we continue onward towards the west….

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

OUR TIME IN YELLOWSTONE, SADLY HAD TO COME TO AN END AS IT WAS HEATING UP—WESTWARD WE GO!!!

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After freezing in the morning of our hike it warmed up to nearly 95 degrees, it was time for us to go and find some electrical hookups.  Westward we headed as we started making our way west to Washington State.  On our way we stopped at Quake Lake, which got its name when an earthquake caused a rock slide that closed off a canyon, dammed a river, destroying homes and an occupied in its wake. What started off as a clear, beautiful night, ended in terror for many. We had been there prior but stopped at the visitor’s center on the way through.

Since we had reservations at the next campsite, we weren’t concerned about stopping to smell the flowers. We ended up at Deer Lodge, Montana, where we had hookups and a laundry room.  We weren’t expecting much but this was one of the towns that surprised us.  First the campground we stayed at (Indian Creek) while it was on the interstate was easy on and easy off, but it also had hiking trail about 1.5 miles long.  We did what we always do when we get to a new place, learn the way of the land.  We were only supposed to stay one night, however there was a bit to do we added 2 extra nights on so that we could see the sites we wanted to see.

Deer Lodge is an little city in southwest Montana, where more museums and historical sites can be found there than any other town in the Northwest. In 1946 Deer Lodge Vally became part of the United States.    It is one of those towns thatO make you just want to stay, reminded me of our little town in North Florida. While on our first drive we saw and National Park Visitor’s Center so we knew we had to go back to get the National Park passport stamp.  Driving through the quant town we noticed the historic prison  so  we figured we needed to see that as well.  We stopped at a train depot that was by the prison, it had train engines from the Milwaukee Road Rail line commerating the completion of the railway to the Pacific, it was the location of the last spike.  But more importantly at least to me and Eris there was icecream to be had.  Eris had her very own scoop of vanilla ice cream.  

We came back and did the little hike from our campsite that took us down a little dirt path behind some houses that had a horse farm.  The next day after I did some work and had lunch we decided to go the Visitor’s Center.  We told Eris that we would be right back as how long could it take to look around and get my passport stamped.  Well we were pleasantly surprised.  Deer Lodge’s 1500 acre Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site not only had the stamp I was looking for but also took us nearly 3 hours to get through and we wished we would have started it earlier.  It shows the development of the cattle industry from the 1850’s to the current time.  The park rangers were cowboys and explained the chuck wagon and the meaning, how “cowboy’s” started, and what the differences between today’s cattle rearing and from the 1800’s.  There were rangers there acting the parts.  It is still a working ranch.  Never knew there was a ranch run by the government, but probably smoother.  

The next day we went to the Historic Prison (Territorial Prison), again it was one of those things that we thought we would be done quickly and again we were wrong.  The prison was called  Montana’s Teritorial Prison and it incarcerated it’s first person in July of 1871.  When going to the museum it cost’s $15.00 and it so worth it as it not only includes the prison but also includes the auto museum where the are hundreds of mint condition cars from the beginning of time, well of cars that is, it also includes the WW II museum and there was a little town Cottonwood (which had little homes and buildings from the the 1800’s.  At the prison they gave us a brochure which was numbered that explained what we were seeing.  There was some notable people that entered that prison and were numerous books about some. There were two riots at the prison 50 years apart.  The prison also has “ghost tours” basically they lock you up overnight, it sounded like a good idea during the daytime but after walking through the prison, they couldn’t pay me to spend the night there.  I am sure there are ghost’s there.  The auto museum was amazing and we spent probably another hour and half in there.  By the time we were done with the two museums we decided we needed to go home, because again we promised a certain canine we wouldn’t be long, so that was two days in a row we told her a fib.  

That’s is about it for our time in Deer Lodge, Montana, a nice little town with a lot of history, so if you are heading through make sure you stop for a quick visit but give it a couple days.

If you like this, please like and consider following us on our adventures as we continue to head west…next stop Missoula, Montana.

Until next week, keep exploring, discovering and dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound.

It’s Time for Yellowstone Part I, but First Here Comes the Teton Pass….

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So after spending a wonderful, memorable week in the Teton’s it was time for us to move on, in order to do this we had to go through Jacksonhole and head over the Teton Pass, after traveling across the country I have driven a lot of mountain passes but I gotta tell you Teton Pass is not for the faint at heart, it is never ending or so it seemed.  We made it through and I assume it was beautiful but my hands were firmly placed on the steering wheel and eyes on the road and I kept peeking at gages as well, maybe someday without us towing our home we will go up it again and check out the views, but honestly I wanted it overwith as did Eris.  Eris is not crazy about passes, we can tell, just wonder if it is because she cannot “pop” her ears or if the twisty turny road hurts her belly.  Either way, I am with her on that, this Florida girl is not happy driving them either.  

Well after we made it to that we went through Driggs (where we will be going to the XCapers Convergence in August.  Cute town and are looking forward to heading back.  We found a perfect campsite in Island Park, Boot Jack Dispersed Camping, it was free and it was easy to get in and out of and close to West Yellowstone.  After getting settled we did what we always do with a national park, headed in to get the way of the land.  We have been there previously (3 times to be exact, once just Mike and I, once with Annette and Cathy (we did a backpacking trip) and once with the girls, however, even though with the girls we did stay in West Yellowstone we never really did much on that side of the park.  We did do the required stops like Old Faithful, but mostly we just kept heading over to the Canyon area.  

One day we went to Mammoth area, saw some elk just chillin’ on the lawn, and we did all the pull offs and hiked the Mammoth area.  The weather in early June was perfect (mostly).  

Of course we got stuck in our fair share of “bison jams”, which I always like, got some great shots of some bison.  Also a lot of animal butts, a little cooperation would be lovely but I am certainly not one to ask them to move or smile for the camera.  

We did spend some time in West Yellowstone.  They have a great camera shop there (Yellowstone Camera).  I got a great zoom lens, which will be great for my wildlife photos when we come back.  When we come back we will be going on a scenic boat ride but what I am most excited about is the photo safari.  Honestly, we didn’t know these exist but not only do the exist they are reasonable.  Scenic boat ride is $19.00 per person and the photo safari is a little over $100.00.  They will take me and a few others to the areas where wildlife is present, I am hoping for a bear.  

One very cold morning (puffy jacket cold)  we got up super early and headed into the park in the dark, to try to beat the crowd for the Grand Prasmatic shot, well, the steam washed it out.  But we had a great hike and got some great shots regardless. Then we headed to Old Faithful and had breakfast at the Snow Lodge.  We walked the boardwalk around Old Faithful and made it back to what I think was a great place to see it “blow”.  We then headed to do the scenic drives.  Scenic drives are nice and relaxing, they have pull offs where they need to be and ususally have ample parking to see such.  I highly recommend doing any scenic drives that are available.  The ones in Yellowstone do not require a 4 wheel drive truck, but if any of the parks suggest that you have a 4 wheel drive truck, heed that advise oh and be sure to know how to use your 4 wheel drive properly.  On the scenic drives we did, one had a ton of thermal features and the other had some waterfalls and mountains.  While we were freezing when we left home in the morning our Waggle went off that it was 94 degrees inside the camper.  It was a hot night,  so we made our plans to move on. 

After a few days, I needed to go see Canyon, as that area has been our favorite part of the park.  I am excited to be spending some time on that side in August but wanted to see it just the same.  Oh my has it changed.  We did the scenic drive to the Yellowstone Canyon, of course.  

We ended up staying a full week in our free campsite.  Very unique area and can’t wait to return.  Yellowstone for sure is our favorite national park and if you haven’t been, make plans as pictures do not do it justice.  

That’s all for this week, hope you enjoyed it, and if you did please consider following us and liking it.  We will be back next week as we make our way to Deer Lodge, Montana, a surprisingly interesting cowboy town and if we weren’t looking for air conditioning we might have missed it and then back boondocking in Missoula.

So until next week, keep exploring, discovering and dreaming…

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

ONWARD NORTH AND WEST TO THE TETON’S WE GO….

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We have been to Grand Teton National Park previously three times.  All times was just for a day or so to go to specific places.  The first time we were there, well all three times, we were visiting Mike’s Mom and Dad, who worked every year for 13 summers in Yellowstone. We would see all of Yellowstone and then near the end of our trips we would go to the Bar J, Rendezvous Mountain, and Jackson and of course see the sites we needed and everyone needs to see while in Grand Teton.  This time the trip was all about the Tetons for us.  We found some boondocking designated campsites, called Antelope Springs Dispersed.  For $15.00 there was trash, and water and pit toilets.  The road starts up the mountain on pavement and then the pavement changes to washboard, gravel, it does not flatten out and the truck skipped on part of it.  Scary and sketchy for sure.  But once in the campground the sites are level while the road to it is not. The road in front of us was a 7% grade, the air was thin, and it made walking literally breathtaking, just like the views.  There was virtually no cell service up there but I was able to squeak out my daily Instagram posts but sometimes it was difficult.  We were just there to sleep and take in the sites anyways so it was a good place to be.  We just made sure we were back before dark because the thought of climbing the mountain did not feel like a great time for us.  

We did head into Jacksonhole, where our son was able to see us on the camera and he is in North Carolina, pretty cool.  We went to the Fish Hatchery, which was pretty cool and had a little tour of it. 

We planned on doing some hikes and the one we wanted to do Hidden Falls, which takes off from Jenny Lake.  We got there nice and early (glad we did) and headed out.  We were going to take the shuttle boat over, but apparently we could not get an answer as to when they were taking off, so we decided to hike it.  The crowd also decided to the same thing.  It was super crowded at one point that I really didn’t enjoy it but we found another hike right off of the main trail from the Hidden Falls trail, called Moose Ponds.  There were three little ponds their, and moose are supposed to be there, we did not see any, however, we did see some really nice water falls.  We only saw maybe 20 people on this nice loop trail.  There was one point that there were some mosquitos but it just made us not want to lollygag too long.  When we got back to the truck the parking lot was beyond full. People were parked probably about 2-3 miles away. Forget about getting on the shuttle boat, the line for that had to be 3 hours. Again we were glad to get there nice and early.

My suggestion is get the maps, brochures and like most of the parks they have a newspaper, study it and decide what you want to and need to see and do and make plans to do such. For example, we wanted to hike the hike so we made plans the day before to make sure we were up and out to get there early enough and as tempting as it was we did not stop at any of the pull offs that day. Another example, I had photos I wanted to get so we made an extra effort to get to the locations. Now I take the map that they give us and with suggestions from rangers and others write on the map what shots I wanted to get and the location.

Another day we went to Colter Bay and we saw the sign for Yellowstone, which was only about 20 miles away, how can we say no to that.  We obviously couldn’t.  We drove into Yellowstone and while nothing was quite open yet there was a ranger on duty who gave us the rundown of what was open and what was expected to be open. Yellowstone is still my favorite and probably always will be. After checking out Grant Village we headed back to the Tetons. When we got back to Colter Bay the visitor’s center was closed, so we knew we would have to come back.

One morning we got up early and went to all the pulloffs, and to some of the most photgraphed places in the park.  That to me was the major highlight.  

We obvioulsy did Morman Row for the photos.  I sort of had a little mini meltdown, as this was our first time exploring the Tetons without Mike’s parents and how I would have loved to show Dad the photos I was getting.  

Grand Teton is known as the “mountains of imagination”, which led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park, which is the home to 200 miles of trails and floats down the Snake RIver.  This is one of the places that you must go to believe the beauty that awaits. Wildlife flourishes in the park as well, including of course Bison, which is the place where I got my first Bison pics of the year.  It has established campgrounds and also the boondocking on forest land.  We did score a night in the campground Gros Ventre, what a beautiful, breathtaking place.  Between the overlooks and the pull-offs and the hikes you can’t go wrong with staying here.  We stayed a full week and can’t wait to go back in August.  

Stay tuned for Teton’s Part Two.  Next week will be all about Yellowstone, Part One so be sure to like and consider following us so that you don’t miss any of our blog updates.  

Until then keep exploring, discovering and dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris the Lowrider Campinghound 

OFF TOO DRIGGS OR FLAMING GORGE, WHAT WILL THE MAGIC 8 BALL PICK, AND OUR FAVORITE CAMPER ADDITION

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Well we don’t have a Magic 8 Ball, but we do have a son, so we sent him the weather conditions for both Driggs and Flaming Gorge and said you be our Magic 8 Ball and tell us where to go.  This is the conversation we were having with our son as we were emptying out our black tanks at the Maverick down the road from the Flight Park.  He said definately Flaming Gorge.  So off we went, headed east, made it into Wyoming and then back into Utah.  Flaming Gorge is technically in both Wyoming and Utah  but our campground was in Utah.  After a series of serious, not kidding mountain passes we made it to our campground, Jug Hollow Dispersed. We decided to not scope it out and just go for it, because we could see there was a way to turn around at the end from Google Maps, so off we set out to what would become our home for the next week, actually 10 days, as we were not leaving on Memorial Day or before.  

The campground was amazing the road in was cow filled (cow jams were not out of a question) and the road in, while it was only 5 miles back took every bit of 20 minutes.  Our piece of paradise was at the very end on a penisula and while the ride back was a bitch it was worth every bit of it.  We were surrounded by beautiful water on three sides.  We had beautiful weather almost every day we were there, cool to cold in the morning and warm and pleasant during the day. The rain that looks so ominous never came to us.

While boating and fishing are favorite past times in the area we enjoyed just hanging out at our site and chilling.  The closest big town to the area is Rock Springs, Wyoming, while it was only about 50 miles, with getting out of our area and driving the scary mountian passes it is easily and 1.5 hours to get there.  But we did it a couple times, once for groceries, and laundry and another because I needed some running shoes.  

Since we were there a week before Memorial Day we felt like we would be protected from people camping too close to us and as there are no and I mean NO facilities at the campground we honestly didn’t figure on it becoming the place to drive down to for the weekend, but we were wrong and am glad we have plans to be at a friend’s mom’s house for 4th of July and established campground for Labor Day.  It started with 2 vans, with their dogs and kids, the were mostly quiet but let their dogs run loose.  We set up a tent near our camper thinking for sure this would deter anyone further from intruding or getting to close to our camper, no such luck, we went to bed at 11:30 one night and woke the next morning to 3 huge tents (almost on top of our tent) 4 or so kids and 4 or so off leash dogs, however, Eris now has a boyfriend.  Well he liked her but not sure how she felt about them.  Honestly, they were quiet though so except for letting their dogs run loose they were all fine.  But my question is where, oh where are they using the bathroom.  Anyway, by Monday afternoon all peace was restored, they all left.  We spoke to one of our other full time neighbors and they said she actually had to park her truck behind her rig because multiple people tried to set up behind her.  Anyway, our time in the campground was amazing and we will definately go back again.  

Now all about Flaming Gorge,  established in 1968 is a National Recreation Area.  There is over 300 miles of shoreline, boat ramps, marinas compgrounds and lodges.  As I mentioned it is a water paradise with the fishing, swimming and boating. As a Floridian I can tell you I was not getting in the water as it was 42 or so degrees.  There is dam and the Green River below it is world renowned for its trout fishing and rafting.  The area was named by John Wesley Powell in 1869 after he and his 9 men saw the sun reflecting off the red rocks.  In the 1870’s ranchers moved into the mountain valleys near Flaming Gorge.  There are remenents of Swett Ranch stil present today. Apparently, many outlasws and fugitives would hide out in the isolated valleys along the Green River, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch were among them.  

There is a ton of hiking and as it is a National Recreation area, most of the trails are able to be used by dogs.  So Eris did get to go hiking with us.  We hiked the Rim Trail.  Not sketchy just beautiful.  When in the area we will return to here. It was amazingly breathtaking, if you don’t believe me go check it out.  

At our campground we had amazing cell service so I was able to work.  Which get’s me to my favorite addition to our camper this week and that is our WeBoost.  It gives us just that little bit extra when needed.  Also, I might want to add our two hotspots, one AT&T with 100 GB a month and our Verizon, doesn’t give us nearly as much but works good when needed.  Right now and most times, I use my phone as a hotspot we are able to do most with it but sometimes we just need that little bit of boost and we now have our WeBoost for that.  

So that’s all I got for this week, again put The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area on your bucket list and if you liked this blog, give it a like and consider following us for a weekly dose of our travels as we head towards Grand Teton National Park.  

Until next week, and keep Exploring, Discovering and Dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

AFTER BRYCE CAME SALT LAKE CITY AND FAVORITE ADDITION TO THE CAMPER THIS WEEK

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We left Bryce and our glorous spot in search of groceries and some Amazon deliveries.  While we were sad to go we needed a little bit of civilization.  We went to Flight Park State Recreation Area right outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.  The fee for it was $15.00 per night and included a pit toilet only.  With it’s proximity to Salt Lake City they needed to charge otherwise it may become overrun by homeless.  This location was a great place to see all that Salt Lake and surrounding area had to to offer plus it wasn’t hard on the eyes either.  We woke up to paragliders taking off every morning (unless the winds were too bad). The location was on the top of a hill with a 9% grade to get up to the top.  While the sport itself is quiet, people would show up at 4:30 a.m. to get ready to fly by morning light.  Then they would all be leaving by 8:30-9:00 a.m. I assume to go to work.  

We found some nice hikes there, with amazing views and beautiful wild flowers.  One of the hikes was a dog off leash hike, Eris enjoyed that. 

In between picking up our packages we did do some touristy things like we went to see Temple Square.  Temple Square was built in 1853 and is 10 acres and owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located in the center of Salt Lake City. It was very interesting and we were saddened that we could not go into any of the buildings (stupid COVID)  but we found the grounds and buildings interesting just the same.  We will make a trip back to check it out when all is opened. It is said that Temple Square is the most popular tourist attraction in Utah, bringing in more visitors than Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, attracting 3-5 million visitors a year.  Of course I am not sure that is a current asssessment during these of times of COVID.  We may make a trip back after COVID but during a different season to see all that it has to offer.  

Another day we left Eris at home and headed to Park City, Utah.  It is a cute 11.35 square mile ski town.  Of course we weren’t there in ski season and all the slopes and slope activities were just closed for inbetween seasons.  We went to Wastach Brew Pub and had some delicious adult beverages and some great food as well.  

We spent about a week there and again when we realized we didn’t need Google Maps to get us around we knew it was time to move on.  

This weeks favorite addition is: my desk and the peg board (we got this idea from VanFest in Hurricane). My desk folds down and is out of the way but it gives me a place to leave the computer set up while doing other things.  The peg board we got at IKEA and is great for storing extra items to try to keep our little home uncluttered.  

I hope this will inspire some to check out Salt Lake City, we will return and participate in some local events that start after Memorial Day. After leaving Salt Lake we knew we needed to be buckled down someplace for Memorial Weekend so as we got in the car we asked or Son and Daughter-in-Law which way-Tetons or Flaming Gorge.  Flaming Gorge was where we headed to and we were very glad that was the choice we made.  

If you enjoyed this please like it and consider following us.  

Until next week, remember to keep exploring, discovering and dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris the lowrider camping hound.  

AFTER THE DUST WE HEADED TO BRYCE CANYON AND OUR ONE FAVORITE ADDITION TO OUR CAMPER

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After a very dusty, windy few days at Parowan Gap we decided we needed to head to Bryce. We picked a camping spot on Tom’s Best Road. To get to our perfect place we were on Scenic Byway 12 which goes right through the center of Red Canyon. Which has it’s own hikes and views for sure.

After arriving at Tom’s Best we did do a little survey of the area and found our perfect spot. It was about 6 miles from Bryce’s entrance and we had our own little slice of heaven.

From our campsite

Of course after getting set up we decided to make our way in to Bryce to check out the visitor’s center and learn the way of the land so to speak. Bryce Canyon National Park is both of our national park thus far. It is accessible and easy to get around. The shuttle is there if you want to take it but you do not need to make reservations, so it makes it easy to get on and off at the different locations. Bryce Canyon is the home of the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. They were truly amazing. In 2019 Bryce became one of the designated dark sky areas. While I didn’t get the star shots in Bryce I did get them in our campground. After finding our way we made plans for the next few days. As pets can’t go on the trails we left her home with Waggle to watch over her and went into the park. We hiked the rim trail, we were heading from the parking lot at the gift shop to Bryce overlook. But as we headed we realized that it would be all uphill, that was after already hiking 1.5 miles so we did what we should have done to begin with and hopped on a shuttle to take us to Bryce Point and hiked back. The views were amazing. After that we headed into the gift shop for some delish pizza.

Taken on one very cold night

Another day we did the scenic drive and did all the view points and also did the Bristlecone Loop which was a short hike through a sub-alpine fir forest with bristlecone pines. The smells of the pines and the wind whipping through the trees made us think of the cabin.

Mossy Cave hike was one of my favorites. It was short but the views were amazing just the same. It had a creek and a waterfall.

In Grand Staircase Escalante we found a hike that sounded perfect and one we could take our pup on. After heading down about 20 miles down a sketchy, twisty-turny narrow dirt road, with drop offs on boths sides sometimes and a creek to cross we made it to the trailhead. The trail was amazing there was water to walk in and horses to pass and slot canyons to go through. It was called Willis Creek Narrows Trail. The only thing that was scary was the drive to it other than that it was a beautiful hike and that was the day Eris became a 4.2 mile pup instead of 3 miles.

We did the hike behind the visitor’s center at Red Canyon, which Eris could do as well. However, I could not. We started up the hill and it was ledge after ledge. I figured how bad could it be, after all it was an interpretive trail with benches and sign posts. Ohhhh it was bad after I got to signpost number 2 (out of 13), I said oh I can’t had basically a panic attack. It was high, slippery and ledgy (not sure if that is a word but it is for me). We continued on to number 3 and it was getting worse, so I said, I am heading back and not going back down from 2-1. Mike went along with me as we made our way down to the bottom of a wash and walked out and found the trail and then continued on.

We headed into Bryce about every other day and were able to fill up our water. We did laundry at Ruby’s and while we were waiting we saw the cowboy show called Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill. We said if we could get in that night or the next we would go. We were able to get tickets. It was the first time in 14 months that we had live music. It was a treat for sure. After spending 8 glorious, star filled sky, nights there it was time for us to move on. We were sad to be leaving but we will be back again someday.

Our favorite addition to our camper is our utensil holder. Our camper came with one, just one, very small drawer. We needed to have someplace to put our utensils. In my past life I was a barista that pedaled down to my hometown everyday with a bike cart and we had the silver utensil holders leftover. Mike drilled a hole in the countertop and it fit’s right in there and holds all of our cooking utensils.

I hope ya’ll enjoyed about our time in Bryce and the area and be sure to check back next week when we talk all things Salt Lake City.

If you enjoyed this please like it and consider following us.

Until next week, remember to keep exploring, discovering and dreaming, Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

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After spending time in Nevada it was time to head back to Utah and what better place then Parowan Gap Petroglyphs. Several centuries ago Native Americans traveled the area and stopped and etched designs onto the smooth faces of the large boulders in this gap.  They are made by several cultural groups and represent long periods of use by Native cultures. It is still unknown what these drawings represent.  The Parowan Gap is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Petrogphys make for a interesting stop.  The gap is a 600 foot deep notch through the Red Hills caused by an ancient river.  

We had things to do in Cedar City, which is close (which we are learning the meaning of “close” is relative).  Anyway, we were able to get an additional AT&T hotspot to give us more access and get some groceries.  We had some really good pizza, almost as good as Cappie’s in St. Pete.  Actually, I believe the pizza was the best we have eaten since we left Florida.  

We heard about the Parowan cinnamon buns, supposed to be the best, so we were up for the taste test, while they were good, really good, the “best” is still questionable.  

While we were there we went to check out Parowan dinosaur tracks.  They were ok, and some were hard to see.  I would not go out of my way to see them, but as they were on the way to anyplace we wanted to go it was an easy stop.  

We stayed at some dispersed camping at the petroglyphs site.  While there is a ton of space but man it was the windest, maybe not the windest but certainly the sandiest place we stayed.  The sand blew in and it took us many days to finally get rid of the sand that settled everywhere, even in the refrigerator. We only stayed there 3 nights mostly because we were done seeing the area and we couldn’t take the sandy wind any longer.  While we were only there 3 nights we had decent cell signal.  

Remember I said that “close” is relative, well while we were there Hurricane was having Van Fest, so we purchased tickets and went. Afterall it was close only 1 hour and a couple mountain passes away.  So why not.  The funny thing was when pulling back into Hurricane/St. George we felt like we were home.  We knew where everything was and where to go.  The Van Fest was a ton of fun and we got some ideas for any van builds Mike ends up doing and also we met some nice people, who all welcomed us into their tiny homes on wheels to steal some of the ideas.  We even used a few of them in our camper.  After the festival we headed to our laundromat in Hurricane.  It is reasonably priced and super clean and again made us feel like we were at home.  Then we headed back to our home and explained to Eris that she should be glad she didn’t go.  

One day we went to Brianhead.  It was still really cold up there.  Nothing was open as the season had ended and summer season had not yet begun.  Anyway, while driving up we pulled off at a trailhead and decided to do the hike there, it was called Hidden Hollow.  The smells of the enormous pine trees and the sound of the wind whipping through the trees instantly transported us back home. At this point in our journey we hadn’t seen tall trees or hardly any trees since Louisiana.  So it was nice for a little change to be out of the desert.  

Utah is amazing state with an amazing culture.  Until we were here I was thinking Arizona was our favorite but after spending the time here my thoughts are slowly changing.  There are beehives on all of the road signs, we had no idea what that meant so we decided to look it up.  Apparently, the Honeybee is Utah’s state insect and Utah’s nickname is the beehive state, due to it’s original title of “State of Deseret”, interestingly there are businesses and bookstores called “deseret”.  Deseret means honeybee in the book of Morman, who settled here 172 years ago, long before Utah became a state. The State emblem is also the beehive.  The beehive is a symbol of industry which is the state’s motto.  So that is why there are beehives on everything.  

The favorite addition to our camper of the week is adding the accent wall covered in espresso stained wood flooring and the fireplace, tv and shelf.  It made our little home feel more homey.  

Come along with us next week as we head to Bryce, which I believe is my favorite National Park so far on our journey west.  I can’t wait to tell you all about and the awesome campsite we had.

Until next week remember to keep exploring, discovering and dreaming,

Hope,  Mike & Eris

Catherdral Gorge

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We headed to Cathedral Gorge after reading about it in some paperwork we received by Zion in things to do in area.  We have found out that “in the area” means anywhere from a few minute drive to a 2-3 hour drive.  Anyway, this place intriqued me and they had me sold on it when it read that it is a photgrapher’s dream location and that dogs can hike any of the trails within the park.  Catherdral Gorge is one of Nevada’s first state parks.  The campground is first come first serve most with electric but there is an overflow area with some spots  that if you don’t need electric you are welcome to go there.  It is located in southwestern Nevada between Panaca and Pioche Nevada.  Panaca has a gas station and not much else and Pioche is not much better but has some interesting history.  But for now let’s get back to the park.  It has some amazing views and all the hiking can be done right from the campground.  We arrived at 12:30 p.m. and were able to score a site for the next few nights.  The campground was clean and it was super nice to not have dust blowing through our camper all the time.  We  opted for electric thinking we might want the ac, but honestly we used the electric heaters more.  

The parks geological features is what makes the place so interesting.  There are some decent hiking trails and views.  Mostly, everything is from the bottom, where we were able to climb in and out of the short, but numerous slot canyons.  The canyons were formed from erosion that is caused by snow melt and rain.  When it rains the water leaks out of the bottom like a straw.  The ground where we were walking is now a dry lake, which was a lake nearly 1 million years ago.  Over the centuries it began to dry out and hence became this ancient dry lakebed.  There was a nice fairly easy and well marked trail down on the bottom, it took us out closer to some of the other formations.  There were a couple other trails you could do that took us to a ledge and an overlook.  I overlooked enough, snapped some pics and was good and didn’t have to do the ledge.  The other hike took us from the bottom up to the top and then it got scary for me, so we turned around.  The hike that stayed on the ground was by far my favorite.  

The town of Pioche which as some services, when I say some, I mean a few, there is no grocery store perse.  It sits at 6060 feet of elevation and it is the county seat of Lincoln County.  It is a silver mining town or at least was. In the early 70’s, 1870’s that is it had grown to become one of the most important silver-mining towns in Nevada.  It also had the reputation of being the roughest towns in the “Old West”.  It was reported that about 60% of all the homicides during 1871-72 took place in Pioche or surrounding areas.  Local legend tells it as 72 men were killed in gunfights before the first natural deah occurred.  Hence creation of Boot Hill Cemetery, which is now a landmark in the city. Pioche is also known for it’s “Million Dollar Courthouse” built in 1872.  The original cost of $88,000 far exceedin the estimates and was financed and refinanced with bonds totally nearly $1 million dollars.  Today it is the county administrative office and has one of oldest grade schools in the state. There is an aerial tramway which carried buckets of orde from the mines to the top of Godbe Mill.  It ran from the 1920’as- 1930’s.  There are buckets still hanging and people use them as decoration.  After coming from the campground we headed down the mountain and took us to quant western town.  Where we were able to get gas and check out Boot Hill Cemetery.  There were boots placed on the graves and the headstones were carved in wood.  

Interestingly in Pioche there is a little city run RV park, pay by donation.  It had trash cans at each partial hookups. As we were enjoying our state park amenities we didn’t really investigate much more about it.  

That’s all I have to say about our first Nevada State Park.  We enjoyed ourselves during our stay in Catherdral Gorge but it was time to move on, be sure to catch us next week as we head back into Utah to Parowan Gap Petroglyphs.  

Our favorite addition to our camper of the week, we should have written about back when we were in San Antonio, is our TPMS, (tire pressure monitoring system).  They are little guages (sending unit) that monitors the tire pressure and relays it to the display in the tow vehicle.  We had the original tires (and as everyone who owns a camper knows they are crap) on our camper when we left for this first season on the road, we meant to change them before we left but didn’t find a convenient time to do it and afterall we had reservations we needed to get to.  So we thought we will do it while we were in San Antonio, well guess what, we didn’t make it to San Antonio when we had our first blow out.  Luckily for us our TPMS was working and went off.  The roads in Texas are so horrrible I think if the TPMS did not go off we would have continued driving on a blown out tire and it could have cause all kinds of damage.  We were fortunate that it went off where it did and I was able to get off at the next exit, (it was right there) and go across to the shoulder so we could change the tire and get back on the road.  Another thing I am so glad we purchased before we left  was the Trailer-Aid Tandem Tire Changing Ramp.  It made for fast business to get the tire changed quickly and safely.  We just drove up on to it and we didn’t have jack our camper up at all.  We use Tireminder brand for our TPMS system and it has worked flawlessly.

So if you are on the road, one piece of advise we can give is, get a TPMS, and changing ramp and be sure to change your tires if they are the crap ones from the factory, don’t wait.  

If you like this article I’d appreciate it if you could like it and consider following us. We will catch you next week as we talk all about the Parowon Gap area of Utah.  
Until next week, remember don’t wonder what you have been waiting for and  keep exploring, discovering and dreaming.

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowerider camping hound

Zion and the Area and Favorite Addition of the Week and How We Plan on Where We Are Going To Go Next

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After a few peaceful nights in Kanab it was time for us to move further west and check out Zion.  We found a campsite on Campendium, called the Hurricane Cliffs Recreation Area.  They have them grouped by site number.  Each site has a fire pit, which we did not use and enough space between neighbors that it made for a peaceful week. When we arrived at the trailhead we knew we needed to scout it out.  We dropped the trailer to scout out our site, man are we glad we did.  The road on the way back to the sites from the trailhead (it is a mountain bike mecca) was fine, gravel but fairly decent but the roads to the campsites were horrible, rutted and actually painful.  Not to mention that you can’t really see where the next site is, so it must be driven and also there is no good place to turn around.  We found our site after about an hour of driving on the horrible roads and went back and got the camper to bring it back there.  I would not have even considered it had we not been planning on staying for a while.  Also, they said if it rained it made the roads worse, so when the rain came we just stayed home. The first weekend we were there was a mountain bike race.  Sadly for us while we enjoyed our time there we did not take our bikes off the back of the camper.  Maybe next time, while the road in sucked it was a great place to stay.  We stayed 11 nights.  We got water from Maverick in La Verkin and emptied our tanks when we left.  Also, we got propane filled at Tractor Supply in Hurricane as we also did laundry and went grocery shopping.  Between Hurricane and St. George we were able to get everything we needed and La Verkin for water and dump.  The sunsets were amazing as were the stars at night, I also got to fly my new drone around the area for a birdseye view.  While there was wind almost everyday, there was one day of nothing but rain and cold, we just stayed home and got some work done and enjoyed the relaxation of doing nothing.  

Speaking of Hurricane, it is a quant western town.  When leaving the campground heading further west after going down this twisty, turny road you end in the town of Hurricane, after you turn right of that road it takes you to the road that leads to Zion in one direction and to St. George in the other.  Hurricane is located in Washington County, Utah.  It was first settled in 1896 and received its name after a wind storm blew the top of a buggy, the rider of the buggy said it felt like a Hurricane.  I can tell you while we were there the winds rarely stopped.  Fun fact that Hurricane is pronounced by the locals as “Her-ah”kun”.  The town was established by Brigham Young for agricultural purposes and it once had a large peach and apricot orchard.  The tound has parks and trails galore.  We hiked on part of the Hurricane Canal and Canal Trail .  The Hurricane Canal trail was built over 11 years, from 1893-1904 by pick and shovel.  The canal is empty but in 2000 speical interest groups came together to preserve it and reconstruct it to stand a  tribute to the early settlers.  Hurricane is the home to Sand Hollow and Quail Creek State Parks.  While we were there we did not go to either, but maybe on our return trip.  

While we were there we also went to St. George, which is a bigger cowboy town.  We were able to get our second vaccine in St. George but probably could have gotten it in Hurricane as well.  Anyway we are glad it is done. 

The first day after getting all set up we headed into Zion National Park to get acquainted and make our plans for the next few days. Of course dogs are only allowed on a few trails but they are allowed to ride in the car.  So after arriving in the park after 3 p.m. we decided to do the scenic drive. Zion has a north, a south and east entrance in the main part of the park. As we were coming from Hurricane we entered from the South, going through the towns of La Verkin, Virgin and then Springdale.  Springdale had a Gatlinburg vibe to it.  Very crowded and very touristy.  Getting there after 3 we were pretty much assured that going through the gate we would be able to get a parking spot.  We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, got our passport book stamped and grabbed any available maps and hit the road to do the scenic drive.  The road is twisty/turny and steep and goes through a really cool tunnel. The highlights include rock formation, towers, hilltops and the tunnel.  If you are too tall you must make arrangements to go through the tunnel and also pay an additional $15.00 so that the Rangers can stop traffic on either end.  The tunnel was open in 1930.  It has a series of windows in it, to let in light and views.   It was used as a place of dumping grounds for tunnel debris.  So with information in hand we were ready to “tackle” Zion and get the most out of it while in the area.  

Honestly, neither one of us expected to be blown away as we were by this park.  It was amazing to look up at the msssive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink and red and the bright blue sky. It was truly amazing and made realize how small we really are on the world. We knew we wanted to do at least a few hikes in the park and one that we were supposed to recreate the picture for a friend.  So this meant that we knew we would have to come back without the pup.  Since being on the road our get up and go early usually means leaving home at 10.00 a.m.  One morning we did that and headed to the north entrance (Kolob Canyon) of Zion to try and do a hike or two.  The main hike we picked out was Taylor Creek Trail.  Which would take us to an old homestead. Arriving in the late morning, the Park Ranger advised us that it was pretty crowded up there but enjoy the scenic drive anyway.  So we set out on the Kolob Canyon Road and went to the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint (where the Timber Crrek Overlook Trail is), as there was no parking at the Taylor Creek Trail .  We did the short 1 mile hike which was a nice little hike that as the name implies offered amazing views.   After we got back it was after lunch so we were able to score a parking spot on the trail, but being that it was late in the day we decided that we  would only go as far as the homestead, which was a couple miles in.  I loved this hike, we had 12 stream crossings (we counted on the way back), had amazing views, and honestly since we were in the desert for so long it was nice to be among the trees.  We wish we would have had the time to do the whole hike.  There was nothing scary for me on this trail, which is saying something. On the way home we were able to secure a shuttle ticket for the next day.  Part of the park the only way to get to some of the trails, the lodge is by shuttle.  It cost $2.00 and was reservable via Rec.gov.  Anyway after parking 2 miles away from the door, as parking was full,  and paying $15.00 for parking, we hopped on a bus/shuttle in Springdale.  The shuttle bus driver dropped us at a walkin gate at the park.  It was kind of cool to walk into the park.  We hopped on the shuttle and it took us to the Lodge.  The shuttle runs part of the year and the only way to the area is by shuttle as no personal vehicles are allowed, unless staying at the Lodge  After getting off the shuttle we went upstairs and had a sit down lunch that we both agree wKas one of the few really good meals we had since leaving St. Pete.  Afteward, again, it was late in the day, we decided that we would go and hike Lower Emerald Pool.  It’s about 1.2 miles round trip. While the views were great, the trail was nice and the views from the trail were amazing, it honestly was not my favorite.  The crowds were thick and no one knows what trail etiquette is, and the view at the “pool” left much to be desired.  I did get some great pics out of it.  

A few days later we headed back to “recreate” the picture, on the Canyon Overlook trail. It is listed as moderate. It is located on the other side of the tunnel.  It is only 1 mile.  We headed up the steep steps (that aren’t really steps, just more rocks” with a handrail.  We got up around the bend at the top of the steps and it is shear rock.  I was freaking out by this point.  We walked a little further and saw the next steep incline that had a railing on it, but there was no railing to hold on to to get to that point.  Mike continued up to try and recreate the tree picture, I stayed where I was. He came back down because he said there would be no way I would do it and it was really sketchy beyond this point, and when he says it’s sketchy, it’s sketchy.  When he got back to  me, he talked me into heading back down, I was having a full on panic attack and was crying by the time we got down.  After we got back through the tunnel we went back down to the Visitor’s Center and headed out on the Watchman Trail which is also rated as moderate.  This trail was not so bad, we did however turn around as we it was getting late and if we would have completed it we would have been hiking back in the dark.  It was a nice trail again the views were amazing.  

Our last time in the park occurred the day after our second Covid shot.  We didn’t want to do anything too strenuous or leave Eris at home again, so we did the scenic drive called Kolob Terrace Road.  Honestly, the word “scenic” is an understatement.  The road winds in and out of Zion three times. It has all kinds of trails off of it. The road itself ends at Kolob Reservoir  at the elevation of 8118 feet. There  was snow up there and we made snowmen, and like I said in my Instagram post, don’t judge we are from Florida after all.  We also did the West Rim Road which has an overlook at 7890 feet, has a great campground, which was still closed.  

So that is it of our time in the Zion area.  We had a great visit and someday we shall return. 

I hear that some people are freaked out about the camping season and reservations.  While we are in the west and BLM is plentiful and we might be more concerned if we were in the east about not having reseravations, I can tell you we like to travel by winging it.  We don’t know where we are going or how long we are staying.  Take Hurricane for instance we had no idea that we would be there for 11 nights, 12 days.  That’s crazy long for us.  We usually last a few days and then we are heading to a different locatation to check out something new.  So we call our style of traveling as free wheeling. Now that’s not to say we don’t ever make reservations because we do, we started off with reservations in Florida (duh, winter in Florida, made 1 year ahead of time needed), Mississippi, probably didn’t need to be made but did to be on the safe side, and then NOLA, which again we made 1 year ahead of time because we were there for Mardi Gras (which obviously didn’t happen). We are meeting friends in Washington state, no reservations needed. We have reservations in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons for the end of August and beginning of September and then our last reservations is in Savannah for a half marathon that we are signed up for.  After we left Hurricane we headed to Nevada because we saw something that looked cool and wanted to see, (next week’s blog), and we just made sure we get to a first come first serve campground before 1 p.m.   I prefer before lunch.  So far this plan has not failed us yet, sometimes we don’t really know where we will be heading until the day before.  For apps to help find our camping spot my number one is Campendium, then I will check the Dyrt but mostly Campendium. I hit directions on the location in the app and then I copy them and put them in RV Life/Trip Wizard right into the RV Safe GPS and we are ready to go.   Anyway, don’t let not having reservations stop you from getting out there, just do it, it is so worth it.  

Our favorite addition to our home on wheels is the security of knowing when we do leave Eris behind (rare but happens) our newly installed Waggle Pet Monitor works well.  Has an internal backup battery but runs of of the camper’s 12 volt system and alerts us if the temperature and/or humidity goes out of our preset safe range.  It gives us peace of mind that when on those rare occassions that Eris’ environment is being safely monitored.  It took us a while to get it dialed in as while we were on one of our scenic drive we kept getting low humidity warnings.  We both looked at each other and said so, low humidity is bad, anyway Mike fixed the settings so that the humidity can go down to zero.  

If you want anymore information on anything discussed just message me. If you liked this article, please like and consider following us as we continue to explore, discover and dream. 

Keep on exploring, discovering and dreaming, catch you next week,

Hope, Mike and Eris

Here we go to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Kanab, Utah and the Favorite Addition of the Week We Added to our Camper…

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After leaving Glen Canyon we headed to Kanab for our free boondocking spot and to explore the area.  Actually, the campsite we chose was called Kitchen Wash BLM in Grand Staircase Escalante.  It was a very peaceful place that was near some hikes we wanted to do.  The three nights we were there we were the only ones.  It was super windy and a couple of the mornings we woke up to below freezing temps, one of those mornings to 15 degrees, however it warmed up quickly.  

We scored some permits to do a hike in Wirepass/Buckskin Gulch. The permits can be scored at Rec.gov  for $6.00 each.  If you are in the area we highly recommend doing this hike.  It was so beautiful and made us feel like we didn’t miss anything by not being able to go to Antelope Canyon.  There were some people but for the most part it wasn’t as crowded as it could have been.  The drive up there however is much to be desired.  It is an 8 mile horrible road to get to the trailhead.  The trailhead shares the same parking area as if you were doing the Wave.  We had a nice day and the views were great.  We could have brought Eris, however we decided she would be happier at home, after all it was a 5.6 mile hike and we had to go down this sketchy ladder.  Ok maybe it was sturdy but it had a huge boulder in the middle of it.  Anyway, that was the only sketchy part.  I am glad we did this hike.  Basically, we did what we wanted to and turned around.  If we were to hike the whole thing it would have taken us to Lees Ferry. Of course that would have been 4 days later and 40 miles more.  Mike, being the smart man that he is, did not tell me that Backpacker Magazine rated this as the most dangerous hike in the United States as there is no escape in certain/most of the trail. After that hike we felt bad about leaving Eris at home so we took her to Box Canyon.  Short easy hike.  There were many other hikes but we were ready to move on, so move on we did.  

We went into Kanab a couple times. One was to do laundry.  What we also found was the headquarters for Stampin’UP.  It was fun to see where a good portion of my money went.  Beautiful facility, however, when I went in there wasn’t anyone at the receptionist desk.  Oh well, still sort of neat.  As we were only there for a few days we didn’t do much else.  

Oh and the other thing that happened we got stuck in a cow jam. But look how cute.

This is a short post this week, however, next week is all about our time spent in Zion, so be sure to check in next week.  

This weeks favorite addition to the camper is our door mat.  We got this at the recommendation of my sister inlaw at the Tampa RV Super Show.  It is a little spendy coming in at $50.00 but is worth every penny. It is handmade in Florida and the name of the company is Florida Outdoor Mat Company, their phone number is 727/258-8162.  We love this thing so much it is the very first thing to go down when we set up camp and also, when we may plan on getting another one when we return to Florida for our cabin.  Anyway, if you need a good, durable mat, give them a call.  

So enjoy this weeks pics and we will check in with you next week from Zion, and remember to like and follow if you find these interesting and useful or at least entertaining.  

Remember to keep exploring, discovering and dreaming and keep asking yourself whatrwewaiting4…

Stay safe,

Hope, Mike and Eris

COME ALONG WITH US AS WE TALK ABOUT BOONDOCKING IN GLEN CANYON AND OUR FAV ADDITION OF THE WEEK

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Glen Canyon has it all, cliffs, buttes, sand dunes and whitewater rapids.  It spans from southern Utah as part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument to northern Arizona.  It includes Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Lees Ferry.   We wanted to go to Antelope Canyon but as it is on Indian land it was closed because of Covid.  However, Horseshoe Bend was open so we were able to go there.  It was $10.00 for the car load to get into Horseshoe Canyon.  There is a short walk to go see it.  The day we were there it was a busy weekday, however, it was not so bad that we felt unsafe as far as Covid goes.  There is not really anything there, you can purchase water and stickers at the entrance booth. Make sure you carry water as there is no shade and while it is not a long hike it is still hot, and we were there in early April.  Also, there are bathrooms in the parking lot.  Pups are able to go on this hike and Eris seems to like the edge of rocks.  Was it worth going? Heck yeah…

Now let me tell you about Lees Ferry, where we boondocked  for 7 days.  While it was not free it was boondocking just the same, no electrical, water or sewer.  There was access to water and a dump in the area.  There were bathrooms in the campground with running water.  I can’t speak of the cleanliness as we didn’t use them.  Each campsite has a table and pavillion or as they call it here a ramada and I believe they all have a view. The campground sits in the canyon on the Colorado River. Glen Canyon is basically the bottom of the Grand Canyon, as a matter of fact, if you (it won’t be me) wants to raft to through the Grand Canyon you start your journey here. While we were there the campground was $20.00 a night, first come, first serve.  My advice is to get there early as it fills up every day by 3 p.m.  

 There are plenty of hikes that kept us busy.  Mostly short, and all that Eris went on with us. One hike that we did was Lonely Dell Ranch Walking Tour which connects into Paria Canyon Trail, which we did part of the following week. You’ll have to return next week to hear all about that hike. Let’s just say it took care of our need to hike Antelope Canyon.  Anyway, back to the Lonely Dell Ranch hike, it starts by going up a dirt road where there is a parking lot.  Lonely Dell Ranch is what it the name implies, a ranch that was the home to the families who operated Lees Ferry in the 1870’s-1880’s. Let’s start with wherea and why is Lees Ferry. Lees Ferry is located in a secluded area of northern Arizona, it was a ferry operation established to offer transporation across the Colorado River for the Morman pioneers headed south from Utah into Arizona.  On to the hike, we started at the parking lot and walked past the orchard.  Sadly there wasn’t anything blooming, otherwise they were free for the picking.  After passing the orchard comes the ranch which is collection of buildings that was the homestead of the Lonely Dell Ranch.  We continued walking down the trail and saw some old trucks and equipment.  Then we went beyond the “Lonely Dell Trail” and continued on down the Paria Trail, we came to a ledge, I was not comfortable continuing on but I saw the Paria River was pretty low and I was willing to go across the river that way, so that is what I did. Mike and Eris continued with me going across, we walked for a little while longer and then turned around.  When we got to the ledge, I again said “ahh nope” so I went across by myself, Mike and Eris went across the sketchy ledge.  

Another memorable hike was the Cathedral Wash Hike.  This hike was rated as moderate, a 3 on the scale of 1-5.  Not very long but to me it was everybit a rating of 3.  This hike began in the wash and if we would have reached the end would have ended up at the Colorado River. However, we stopped before that because we got to an area that we would have gone down this huge drop and I wasn’t about it.  It was a beautiful hike but I hate having to try to figure out how I am getting out of these situations that don’t make me comfortable to begin with.  We did bring Eris, oops we realized after that she wasn’t supposed to go.  

We did a few other hikes around the area. All had their views.  My take on Lees Ferry, the area and the campground, will we be back, heck yeah.  Oh forgot, the night sky is crazy beautiful. 

Enjoy the photos of the area and I hope this will have you wanting you to add it to your bucket list.

As for the favorite addition that we made to our camper, this week it is our solar system, and Battleborn Litium Batteries.  We have 650 watts of solar panels, two charge controllers, 3 Battleborn Litium Batteries and two small invertors.  We have never come close to using all of our available power. On a sunny day, we can charge my computer (it is a power hog), use our crock pot and cook all day on it.  We watch tv every night, charge all of our items that need to be charged.  This has made it easy for us to boondock, and when looking at campgrounds we don’t care if electrical is offered as it is not needed.  We have not needed our generator that we have been carrying with us.  We do wish people would invest in solar it is so worth it, environmentally friendly and not annoying to any fellow campers around.  Mike could go on and on about our solar system, so if you have any questions about our set up, don’t hesitate to ask. 

I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog about Glen Canyon and makes you want to add it to your bucket list and also our fav addition to our camper.  Come back next week to hear about Kanab and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. 

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Until next week, 

Stay safe,

Hope, Mike and Eris

Sedona/Cottonwood, Covid Vaccine and Fav Addition of the Week

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We left William on a very brisk 15 degree morning to head to Sedona.  We had some BLM picked out for the next few nights between Sedona and Cottonwood.  We use RV Trip Wizard for navigation, so we figured all good safe roads…well it was safe but OMG it was scary, beautiful but scary, it was twisty, turny and up and down, 89A which took us right in the middle of Sedona.  Which is a beautiful little town with red rocks everywhere.  It was super crowded but we figured ok we will check it out after we get set up in our boondocking spot.  What was recommended was The Main Drag 525 Dispersed Camping.  We were actually using the coordinates off of someones review from Campendium.  Unless this dude went off the side of the cliff there was nothing there, so now we are about 2 miles up the gravel, washboard road and have no where to turn and yet it was a drag strip, all these ORV and trucks hauling but passed us.  Mike had to back down the road for and he wiggle his way into a 50 or more point turn to get us turned around.  By the time we got back down to the bottom of this road we were spent. Recap of the drive, I40-not smooth, then up and down the twisty turny roads of 89A and then to the campground with way wrong coordinates.  We thought about setting up down in the middle of it all however, we had no cell service, so we decided to move on.  

We ended up at Coffee Creek Camping, where the site was uneven and some sketchyness was happening around there.  Nice views and we made it work.  However, the cell service wasn’t much better but we were able to get a signal for a little bit to get our Covid vaccines done, but it was farther away then even Cottonwood.  We headed to Dead Horse State Park in Cottonwood to do a little hike.  While we were there we decided that it would be nice to have some conveniences for when we go to get the vaccine, as with all of us, we didn’t know if we would have a reaction and we were out boondocking for 12 nights by this point.  We made reservations at Rain Spirit RV Park and it is just what we needed. We were able to get everything cleaned up, there was a pool, a hot tub and we got our vaccines and we were able to order some stuff from Amazon, we ordered a cell booster.  Which works ok.  We went to Jerome, what a cute little town.  It was a hilly little western town.  With some history.  

One day we went to Tuzigoot (which is Tonto Apache for “crooked waters”National Monument.  It preserves the 2-3 story pueblo ruin on the summit of a limestone and sandstone ridge.  Pretty cool place.  We could almost see our campground from this location. Another day we we went to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument.  This protects the dwellings which was built by the Sinagua people. While there aren’t any rangers giving ranger tours or anything it was nice that they had volunteers who were willing to speak of the history of the area.  We then went to Montezuma’s Well which is a natural limestone sinkhole. Very cool and again they have volunteers that are full of knowledge.  We decided that while we knew we couldn’t take Eris on any trails in the Red Rocks State Park maybe we can drive around.  Around we did, around the building, no pets allowed at all in the park.  Sort of a bummer so we left and started to find our own scenic drive.  We did see the Chapel of the Holy Cross and went to downtown Sedona.  It was so crowded and no one was wearing face masks, some of the stores, like in Jerome said sorry there is no mask requirement.  While we have had Covid and we had our first shot, we still don’t feel safe.  Maybe we just like our little bubble. Cottonwood is another adorable western town.  We didn’t do much there, but drive through it.  Cottonwood also has everything one might need, like a Home Depot or Walmart.  We stayed at Rain Spirit for a few nights and then headed north to Glen Canyon.  Which is amazing and that will be in next weeks blog post.  

My favorite accessory of the week is our cutting/extension table next to our sink.  Living minimaly we don’t really have a large galley nor counter space. Mike added this to our counter top almost immediately after us getting the camper.  It hinges up and down, so it can be a staging area for things that are coming in or out, or even for dishes that need to be washed.  

So bottomline, when in Sedona, be sure to check out the National Monuments, if you get a chance do some hikes, there are some amazing hikes in the area, and check out Cottonwood as well.  

That’s all for this week, catch ya’ll next week where we head to Glen Canyon.  

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Until next week, safe travels and remember life is short so get out there and explore, discover and dream.

Hope & Mike

YUMA TO QUARTZSITE TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, WHERE TO GET GREAT PHOTOS, WHERE TO HIKE WITH FOUR LEGGED FRIENDS AND CHEVY TRUCK BUILT LIKE A ROCK…..

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We headed to Quartzsite where we were treated to a nice boondocking spot at the LTVA BLM (Long-Term Visitor Area-Bureau of Land Managment).  We could have stayed there for 2 weeks for the cost of $40.00, there is a dump, trash and potable water available. Also there are people who stay for the whole season, (7 months) for something like $180.00. Pretty reasonable place to be.  It is about 2 miles from  Quartzsite, which is where the Big Tent (RV Show) is held as well as the gem show.  Oh, the rocks, were everywhere.  Poor Eris feet.  I tried doing yoga outside and I used the rocks under under my mat as pressure point relievers.  We can only imagine what this place was like during the rv show.  Quartzsite truly is a nomad mecca.  We do plan on coming back for the Big Tent next year. Our campsite was nice and private in a big field.  But no one really was that close to us.  It was super windy when we were there so the dust and sand was everywhere.  But can’t expect much different since it is the desert afterall.   We spent 4 nights there, had 4 beautiful sunsets and then  it was time to head to Joshua Tree.  

We arrived to Joshua Tree, South BLM after a couple hour windy drive.  We couldn’t have been any closer to the Joshua Tree sign even if we were staying inside the park.  First thing after we got camp set up was to head into the park to the Visitor’s Center, where we got the maps and lay of the land.  Of course there was not much we could do with Eris so it was a mostly drive thru park.  We did stop and see alot however.  The park is layed out and is condusive to pulling off and seeing and climbing up and over rocks, which we did.  We were able to take Eris on two trails, one honestly really sucked it was supposed to be an Oasis and the other was Keys View which was a beautiful overlook, not really a hike.  This is a beautiful park.  Joshua Tree is famous for it’s namesake the Joshua Tree, which is only found here.  The park roadway winds it’s way from the Colorado Desert to the Mojave Desert where all the Joshua Trees are.  It is such different landscapes.  We drove through the campgrounds to see what it is all about.  While they would have been nice to stay in, we were quite content to be right outside the south entrance for free.  We had the same amenities they have except we had a lot more space.  Basically outside the park on the south entrance there really is nothing.  We did find some hikes the pup could do we picked one called the Painted Canyon.  The drive to the hike was as beautiful if not in some spots as driving through the park.  We realized that Eris while she is a 3 mile dog in normal conditions she is a 2 mile dog in the desert.  After the canyons we went down to check out the Salton Sea.  Very interesting, it is a body of water that was made by accident.  Sadly the accident was pollutants.  There is the highest concentration of salt in this body of water that only two forms of sea life exist.  However, it was nice to smell the salt water as we haven’t had that scent since Mississippi. Also, what I noticed while we were having our picnic was the sound of the sea birds.   Down there they offer camping, fairly reasonable with hookups. But there really is nothing to do there.   

One day Mike had me drive him up the mountain from the campground so he could ride his bike back down.  He smiled all the way down. 

If in the area and need someplace to stay I highly recommend Joshua Tree South BLM, great space and super great cell service, amazing sunsets and great stargazing.

Best place for photos in this area is in Joshua Tree National Park at all of the pull offs.  Supposidly the best place for a sunset photos is at Keys View.  We couldn’t get a parking during the sunset so we came back in the daytime.  The sky was sadly hazy. I got better photos elsewhere in the park and I got amazing sunsets at our campsite.  Also, I highly recommend doing the other trails in the area outside the south of the park.  I got some amazing photos of canyons.

Oh where can the four legged friends go, all over Quartzsite and the BLM land around it, only two trails in Joshua Tree and mile and miles of trails by the Painted Canyon. 

We have done a lot of upgrades to our home, I would like to take the time to mention one a week. However, this weeks is not our camper it is our truck.  All I can say people if you are planning on going off road, make sure you have the proper vehicle to get yourself unstuck. Mike had to pull two people out of the soft sand. One couple spent the whole night in the sand in the park, the other rescue was in our campground.  

The weather was warming up so it was our time to move on and up, so follow along to see where our next adventures will take us.  

Don’t forget to explore, discover and dream and ask yourself what are you waiting for, life is short.

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Safe travels,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowerrider camping hound.

Tucson to Why….why you ask, well read all about it below….and then on to Yuma..

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Last week I left off with us at El Pais in Tucson and we were headed to Organ Pipe National Monument.  We arrived at our boondocking (no hook-ups) spot at Gunsite Wash BLM (Bureau of Land Management) set up our home for the next few days and went to the National Monument to be able to make our plans for the next few days and to see what, if any, trails Eris could hike on.  

Gunsite Wash BLM is in Why, Arizona.  It was an excellent and free campsite with amazing sunsets, (and probably sunrises, they happened before I was up), privacy and amazing cell service.  While there was no trash, or hook-ups of any kind in the area we were able to go to a campground in Why, Coyote Campground to take care of all of that when we we left, for $12.00. Speaking of coyotes, we heard them in the distance.  Why (haha) stay here, because it is free and a great place to be to go to Organ Pipe National Monument, the beautiful sunsets and peace and quiet.  Why has a gas station and the campground and nothing much else. There is plenty of hiking that can be done in this area and/or biking.  We did take my bike off the rack for the first time and I went out exploring, it is huge and man am I out of biking shape. 

 Why you ask, that is the question and we don’t have the answer.  If you ask where we would answer Why.

There is another little town about 10 miles away, called Ajo. Ajo is an old, little mining town with a town plaza, built in 1917. Which has a train depot with a visitor’s center, which was closed at our time of visits.  Mining was the operation of the times and we went up to check out the Mine Lookout. It has a visitor’s center but when we were there it too was closed.  So all we could do was look through the fence. The mine pit is over a mile in diameter.  John Greenway was a business man who had settled in Ajo, he was the general manager of the mining company.  He was married to Isabella who was the first congresswoman for Arizona.  John built Isabella a beautiful home in Ajo.  He died shortly after it was built.  The employees made a cross out of flowers for the funeral.  Isabella had it caste in concrete and brought it up to the top of the mountain, which can be seen for miles in all directions.  Our trip to Ajo was to sightsee but mostly to do laundry and pick up a few provisions.  

The reason for even going this direction was to to go to Organ Pipe National Monument.  Organ Pipe has a visitor’s center where all the information can be found.  Our trip has been to be able to find hikes we can take the pup on.  There is not much in this park.  Organ Pipe is known as the “Green Desert”.  There are 2 distinct plant commuinities the Lower Colorado Valley and the Arizona Upland.  The Lower has adapted to North America’s hottest climate it is the dryest of the Sonoran Desert the Upland is the wetter of the Sonaran Desert.  There are 28 cactus species but most prevelant is the Saguaro and Organ Pipe. Organ Pipe is a  large rare cactus in the US. The Organ Pipe blooms in May, June and July, we won’t be here to see.   Organ Pipe is more common in Mexico, which is on the border of the National Monumnet.  There are warnings about illegal (I hate to call people that) about them being there, don’t pick them up, watch for people with black water bottles and carrying packages.  Border patrol is the most prevelant in the park. Border Patrol reports that there were over 4,000 arrests and they seized approximately 100,000 pounds of marijuan in Organ Pipe during 2013.   We did not see anything or anybody who didn’t belong while we were there.  We did  get to see the wall. There are two beautiful and yet distinctly different scenic drives.  I am glad we had a truck to to them in.  One is the Ajo Mountain which is 21 miles long we spent one day doing that one, because after all you can’t go fast and there are so many overlooks and hikes to see and the other is the Puerto Blanco Trail which is 41 miles and would only recommend doing with a high clearance vehicle.  It is 41 miles long and took us nearly 6 hours, of course we did do a couple hikes on this road.  While in the area be sure to make the trip into the park it is worth the time. While there wasn’t any hikes we could take Eris on we did do the few we could and our quest to find more hiking trails for her continues. 

After spending 5 super peaceful nights at Gunsite Wash it was our time to go, we headed up 85 to I-8 to Yuma.  There was a beautiful mountain pass we had to do.  I’m not going to lie, while they still freak me out they aren’t as bad when there isn’t construction and plenty of room. We made it to Yuma, we weren’t 100% sure where we were going to stay.  We ended up in Kofa Co-Op which is an Escapee’s only park and 55 + as well.  It has a pool and nice laundry facilities and super nice people.  

What I am digging about this lifestyle is the ability to take the time and stop and smell the roses.  On our way from Gunsite Wash to Yuma Mike saw on the map something about Painted Rock Petroglyph Site and Campground.  We needed to stop, because you never know if you will get the chance again. Take the time and pull off when you can.  Painted Rocks is an  ancient archaelogical site containing hundreds of rock etchings.  It does not take long and we were able to stop, stretch and and have lunch, because afterall we have our home with us.  This was worth the stop for sure.  

Yuma has it all.  Honestly if we didn’t have our homestead in Florida we could easily find ourselves spending our winters here.  It has a cute little “old town”.  While in the area we wanted to see the BLM land that was around, which is mostly in California.  While exploring we stumpled upon Tumco.  Another off the beaten path.  Tumco is an abandoned gold mining town and is one of the earliest gold mining areas in California.  In it’s span of 300 years or so, it had several periods of booms and bust.  It was pretty cool. Again, if you have the choice while traveling to stop and see things, do it.  

Back to Yuma.  We stayed in a full hook up site for 7 days.  Got laundry done and made many trips to The Home Depot.  We ate at a Chili’s for the first time since the pandemic.  Very interesting.  There are malls and everything here.  While we were here we did go on a 3 mile hike at the East Wetland Park.  Partly wooded and partly wide-opened.  It follows the Colorado River and it was a great chance to see some wildlife. There was plenty more hiking we could do.  But I needed to get some much needed work, well all of my work done as I am not sure what type of signal I will have for the next few weeks,  and Mike was working on more upgrades, we got laundry done.  

Of course even with having to work some we played alot.  We went to Mexico.  This too is a border town and on the other side of the border is Mexico.  Because of Covid when returning to the US we  must be over the border back in the US by 2 p.m.  Well we heard mixed things, like we needed to be in line by 2 or we had to be over.  Not sure we weren’t going to take chances.  We gave our neighbor the code to our door for the just in case we weren’t able to make it back so she could take care of our pup.  It wasn’t needed.  Next year when we go I plan on getting dental work and eyeglasses.  Where we crossed was Los Algodones.  We choose to walk over, which is very common.  Getting into Mexico they barely looked if we had any documentation.  Everyone was masked up, so made it feel somewhat safer.  It is like on a cruise where everyone trys to sell their wares.  Just say no thank you and they leave you alone.  However, not only are their wares the usual hats, ponchos etc., it is also dental and optical services.  A comparsion someone we spoke to had gotten a dental quote in Houston for $7,500.00 and had it all done in Mexico for $250.00.  Another comparson is my eyeglasses. I just paid nearly $500.00 for my glasses, frames included, there I was quoted $140.00 including frames, and eye exam.  So next year we will be back to Los Algondes for both of those services and of course a delicious Margarita and some lunch, both of which we had at 10:45 a.m. yup, 10:45 a.m. We figured it was noon somewhere.  After our delicious, intoxicating lunch we headed back to the border crossing.  We also heard that it could take hours to get across.  There the US Custom’s Agents actually did look at our passports, made us take off glasses, masks and any hats we may have had on.  But it was smooth.  When asked by the agent what I was bringing back I said alot of stuff I don’t need nor have room for, we did come back with a poncho, a jacket, a spoon rest, a wooden turtle, a bracelet and a dress oh and of course a bag.  We had a great time and we made it back in the US within 30 minutes.  

Another fun thing we did in Yuma was the Yuma Territorial Prison which is the historic prison in Yuma.  It was opened in 1876 and shut down in 1909.  It is named as one of the most haunted places in the US.  Over the course of 33 years it had 3,069 prisoners, 29 of which were woman. The crimes ranged from murder to polygamy with a little adultry in there as well.  This is the 3rd historic park in the Arizona.  There is a graveyard where there are 104 prisoners buried here.  After the prision closed down it became the high school while the new high school was being built.  There were movies made there, 3:10 to Yuma to mention just one of them.  It was said that the area was being stripped of anything valuable there, the citizens of the City of Yuma put a stop to it and made a historic site. There is a museum and a gift shop.  After touring the old prision of course it was time to go the Prison Hill Brewing Co. for lunch.  The beer was delicious and the lunch was equally as tasty.  We traded stickers.  When our server put it on the wall, one of the other server’s said wow that has to be the farthest away from us.  

We saved some stuff to do for the next time in Yuma and after a week of civilization it was time to get on some free land, so we left and headed north.  

Come back next week as our adventures continue up to Quartszite.  

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Until next week,

Hope and Mike

Extra, Extra read all about it: A lot has happended since Loma Paloma there was Carlesbad, Guadalupe Mountians, Tuson and Saguaro National Park

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I left off with us leaving Loma Paloma in Presidio to Texas to go to Carlesbad Caverns National Park. The day we were departing it said that we would be having a lot of wind. Wind we did, however, it was a tail wind so not as scary as it could have been. When we were leaving Loma Paloma we realized our water pump in the rig died, so we had to find a place where we could get one as we were boondocking and wouldn’t have hook-ups for the unforeseeable future and we needed water. So while we had service off an on and on our way towards El Paso Mike made a ton of phone calls. There was a Camping World outside of El Paso, so our plans were gonna have to change and we thought maybe we would hit Carlesbad another time. However, as luck would have it there was an RV dealer with a store front in Carlsbad. Mike got a hold of them and indeed they had our water pump, so plans were back on to hit Carlsbad. We got to Chosa and dropped the rig at what became our home for the next few nights and headed to Carlsbad to get the water pump. It was a nice store and had everything you could need or want. We headed back to the camper, Mike fixed the water pump and we had a decent nights sleep. It was warmer then it had been and we had our windows open and there was a rig that ran his generator all night long. Anyway, we got up early and headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We got to use our National Park Pass for the first time, which was a great gift given to us by our besties, Nancy, Mark and Nya. We chose to walk down into the cave and everyone takes the elevator up. Felt totally safe, everyone was masked up. It was truly beautiful. After we picked up Eris and did the scenic drive through the park. That too was well worth the time. We got back to the rig and relaxed the rest of the evening. Carlesbad Caverns is an amazing sight to see. Above ground is the Chihuahuan Desert of the Guadelupe Mountains. Pre-covid they had ranger led tours, now you are on your own. After walking down the 733 feet below the surface is a rest area with a lunchroom, that of course was closed because of Covid. We did the walk down and then went into the balance of the cave. We highly recommend the walk down as it was just as beautiful as the rest of the caverns. After about 2 hours we got in line to take the elevator back up to the surface. Because of Covid it is only one party at a time, which I imagine pre-covid the elevators would have held at least a dozen or so people. The visitors center and exhibits were open. After returning home the peace and quiet of the campground was great, until the evening when all the other folks were returning to the campground or coming in. This would be the time for me to say how grateful we are to have solar on our rig. We still have not even started our generator yet. Honestly, I am not sure what people need to run at night that their house batteries wouldn’t be ok, but a schoolie pulled in on the one side and another travel trailer on the other. The schoolies’ fumes were coming right into our rig, even with closing the windows. They were outside, I asked if they could turn it off as the fumes were killing us and they apologized and did. The other folks kept theirs on for a while but the other guy who ran it all night the first night, ran it again the second. Solar and Battleborns…way to go. The following morning we got up and went to Guadalupe Mountains National Park on our way out of the area and heading to El Paso for some needed stores, Cabelas and grocery story. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is amazing and the hiking mecca. Of course we were just passing through and decided to see if there were any hikes that we could do with the dog. Only two were to be had, one to the campground and one on a nature trail. We did both. Guadalupe Mountain National Park as the park states: “preserves the rugged spirt and remote wilderness of the American West. The views were amazing and I believe that was the first and second (first-heading to Carlesbad and second leaving Carlesbad) mountain passes I did towing the rig. Heck maybe ever. They had pull offs and honestly the best place to get a picture of El Capitan is from the rest area. The visitor center was open as were the displays. After doing our short hikes we headed on the road to El Paso. Cabela’s was waiting for us. It was a semi-quick stop. Then we hit the road again and made it as far as Deming, New Mexico, where we stayed a Harvest Host for the evening. D.H. Lescombes Winery, where we had some delicious wines (I had a beer) and a charcuterie tray and purchased a bottle of wine for the road. After a serene and quiet night we got up and headed to Tuscon, where we planned on staying a couple of nights at another unique Harvest Host. El Pais Motel and Campground is a Mid Centruy themed Motel and Campground featuring vintage trailers, airstreams with a pool, (it was cold so we did not use) a clubhouse with all kinds of vintage items in it and chickens. We paid to stay here as we wanted full hookups. While visiting Tuscon (which again had everything we needed and then some, including an REI) we went to check out Catalina State Park. Very beautiful. We arrived later in the day, so we were only able to get in one short hike. The big thing we did was go to Saguaro National Park which is on the outskirts of Tuscon and is a small part of the Sonaran Desert The park has two distinct parts that are bascially split by Tuscon. We went to both sides in one day. A lot of driving but so worth it. As we couldn’t really go on any of the trails (no dogs) we did the scenic drives on both sides. My suggestion is, if a scenic drive is offered take it. They have pull offs and you never know what you are going to see. Both vistor’s centers were open and we were able to get our passport stamped. I think the Saguaro is my favorite cactus. After spending a few days in Tuscon it was time for us to move on…catch us next week as we talk about Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Yuma, Arizon.

Walkway down to the cave
Chosa
El Capitan
At El Pais

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Until next week have a great week…

Hope

Loma Paloma RV Park in Presidio, Texas and Big Bend Ranch State Park

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After we spent a glorious 5 days boondocking in Amistad National Recreation Area we were due for some clean laundry and some a/c, even though now as I sit here writing this in Tucson, Arizona I have a heater down by my feet. But that was then and this is now.  We headed down US 90 from Amistad a little sad to be leaving that beautiful area, but the drive on 90 did not disappoint with the views either. 

 We made it down to Presidio after a long drive to a wonderful welcoming campground called Loma Paloma. For $22.00 a night it comes with free wifi, and full hookups.  Just an FYI they only take cash.  Their address is 17138 FM170 Presidio, Texas, their phone number is 432/229-2992. We were invited to happy hour which started shortly after us checking in. The laundry room has  3 machines of each washer and dryer and it is $1.50 each. Also, this is paid in cash in a honor system. This was a perfect place to get into Big Bend Ranch State Park and for the more ambitious you can drive through it and get to the west side of Big Bend National Park. We were told to take the beautiful ride through the State park and don’t underestimate it. Beautiful sunsets were a daily occurance.  

Presidio itself is a quant border town.  Doesn’t really have much of anything but it is cute nonetheless.  

We were at the Visitor’s Center of the State Park at 8:30 in the morning. Fort Leaton State Historic Site/Visitor Center, where we paid our entry money to get in the park and we went through the Fort and our daily pass gave us access to all the hikes we wanted to do. The reconstructed  Fort served as a trading post in the old Chihuahua Trail from 1848 to 1884.  It was interesting.   

We have a dog, so that limited us to the hikes we could do, but honestly the four we did do was enough.  We did not feel like we missed anything.  We did the short nature hike at the visitor’s center and then got in the car to drive the scenic road through the park and stop and see what we wanted to see.  We did a slot canyon hike and a hoodoo hike, which was a first for all of us. The Hoodos Trail is a 1.1 mile loop trail.  Has some elevation but not too terrible.  We got down the Rio Grande where the moutains on the other side were in Mexico.  Eris got to drink water out of the Rio Grande.  The Closed Canyon Trail (slot canyon) is about 1.4 miles long (round-trip).  It is a narrow slot canyon that divides Colorado Mesa in two. The Colorado Mesa was created about 28 million years ago.  The canyon leads to the Rio Grande but is unpassable without climbing gear. I had a hard enough time trying to climb over the boulders so when a sign said end of trail, I was good, I did not need to see what was beyond the sign.  If here be sure to do the Hoodoos trail first as it is exposed and the Closed Canyon is cool due to the canyon walls.  

The views on the scenic road were truly amazing.  This road is one of the scenic drives in the US and should not be missed if in the area.  Of course I was extremely grateful that it was just us and our truck, I would not want to have been towing the camper.   We did the short nature trail on the other side at the other Visitor’s Center and decided to head back through because the thought of driving the scenic drive at night was not overly thrilling.  We saw a moutain goat and some deer.  By the time we returned home it was after 7:00 p.m.  

So if you are in the area and can’t get into Big Bend National Park don’t underestimate Big Bend Ranch State Park it is so very much worth it and should not be overlooked.  

If you enjoyed this please like it and consider following us as we travel on to our next destination, Carlesbad, New Mexico.  

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

 

Our Adventure’s in Amistad National Recreation Area 

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Amistad National Recreation Area has changed my opinion of Texas. It is beautiful in an undescripable way.  The rocky coast, the miles of terraces that were once the bottom of the water, the blue/tourquise water that was at the base of the rocky terraces, were a beauty that must be seen to describe it. 

Our campsite that we chose was Governors Landing, on a reservor of the Rio Grande.  While it is right off US 90 is still gets quiet at night. The view cannot be beat. It was the more expensive campsite at $10.00 per night. The other sites ranged from $6.00-$8.00 a night. It was so worth money.  Originally we were going to stay 2 nights and we quickly added an additional 3 on, only because we want to try to beat the heat further outwest, otherwise we would have stayed longer.  You are able to stay there for up to 14 days in each of the camping areas.  There is a total of 5 camping areas. All the areas  have a covered table, a grill and fire pit and trash cans available.  Ours not only had that but access to potable water and was close to Diablo East which has a marina and some great little hikes but also most importantly a free dump.  Honestly, if these make it to your bucket list places you can’t really go wrong with any of the campgrounds.  

Amistad means friendship in Spanish.  Amistad lies between the United States and Mexico border.  The park offers hiking, water sports, fishing, birding , canoeing, kyacking and bow hunting in season.  The reservior was created by the Amistad Dam  in 1969 for flood ontrol, water storage and power generation as well as recreational use.  There are two bronze eagles symoblizing the cooperation between the US and Mexico in building and managing the dam. We did not make it over to see the eagles but maybe next time.  Also, when not Covid times they give dam tours but well as we all know things are a little different right now.  So hopefully we will be able to do it next time.  

There are miles of hikes, all beautiful.  Diablo East has three short easy trails and the Sunrise Trail and Figueroa Trail.  We did all the ones at the main area but did not do the Sunrise nor the Figueroa trials.  We need to safe something for the next time.  Plus we only have a 3 mile dog.  But what we did do was go to Seminole Canyon State Park.  What a really great place.  They have miles and miles of hikes but again we have a  3 mile dog so pushing it with our about 4.5 miles was more than enough for her.  We highly recommend that you do this park if in the area.  All the trails we were on in the area are dog friendly. 

Connectivity (Verizon) was amazing while in all of the Amistad area, however when we went to Seminole Canyon it did not exist and we even received a text (when our service came back) welcoming us to Mexico.  

We met some super nice people, some heading east and some heading west.  Hoping our paths will cross again sometime.  

We had to move on, so next weeks blog will find us at Persidio, Texas.  

Until then, remember to like this blog, and considering following as we continue to head to the west.  

Take care and safe travels,

Hope, Mike and Eris (the lowrider camping hound)

Month  1-Louisiana-Texas and the Must To Dos  in San Antonio

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As I sit here and write this we have officially been on the road for one month today.  Did it start out as planned?  The short answer is a big fat NO!! Today was the first day since we left St. Pete that we had any sun. Besides the lack of sun and basically crap weather, we got sick, got stuck in Louisiana because of the worse weather in Texas. We were grateful for Bayou Segments State Park for their hospitality while we were forced to stay.    However, we were finally able to leave our Louisiana home of 2.5 weeks and venture west. After a long, uncomfortable ride we made it to our home for the night in Beaumont, Texas.  I will never complain the roads in Florida again. I don’t think it would hurt them to  use a little concrete or asphalt every now and then. I digress, we stayed our first Harvest Host, Pour Brother’s Brewery. The beer as well as the hospitality was great and we spent the night in a level lot. Beaumont is a very cute little town and is home of the largest fire hydrant the is spotted like a Dalmatian.   We got up early and headed to San Antonio where we had reservations at and RV park.   We spent 4 days there.   

Honestly the weather was not great but for the most part it rained very little so we made due.  The first two nights we needed AC and the last night we needed heat.  The campground was interesting With its miles of trails and even had some elevation. The neighbors were horses, cows and chickens. On Sunday we met Deb and Larry (#gettin_there) and we went to Government Canyon State Park where we did a nearly 7 mile hike and saw dinosaur prints.  We highly recommend doing that if you are in the area. Then on Monday the weather was cold and blustery but we went to do the Missions anyways.  We went to all 4 that are run by the park service and went to Alamo. There was no charge to go in the Alamo like we heard there was, because We didn’t do the guided tour. We did not find the Alamo as impressive as all the others. After the Alamo we walked down to River Walk. We decided to do the river boat tour.  There was one other couple on the boat plus our guide.  It was so worth the $ 13.50 each we spent on it. 

 So the musts of to dos while visiting San Antonio are the Missions, take the cruise on the river boat and go to the Government Canyon Stare Park and check out the dino prints.  

Come back next week where I tell you all about Amistad National Recreation Area. Until next week give me a like and follow me. 

Till then,

Hope

Week Two of our Fulltime Adventures-NOLA, the Mardi Gras that Wasn’t, Record Cold Weather, and a Cold

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Week  two of our fulltime living has found us heading to NOLA for what was supposed to be our trip to see Mardi Gras but what we found is little festivities, record cold weather and one of us getting a cold. Where I left off last week was that we were heading to NOLA for Mardi Gras, where we knew that it would be different but would make the best of it anyways.  So off we headed from Mississippi in the rain and ended up at our campground just has the rain has stopped for a brief moment.  We are staying at Bayou Segnette State Park.  This is a beautiful park, with level, asphalt sites, some (like our first one) have a deck and the picnic tables are all on concrete slabs.  If the weather would have cooperated with us we might have taken our bikes off the back and ridden them, but that has yet to happen.  Being that the roads are asphalt we are able to walk around and not get muddy so that is a huge plus.  We are after all right on the bayou so trails off the asphalt will have to be eiher boardwalk or plan on getting muddy and soaked.  We settled in for our week here and to get some needed chores done.  The first priority was that Mike had an appointment to get the truck’s ac fixed, which he was there for a couple hours only to have to bring it back on Monday for an appointment when he could get to it as it was going to take 5 hours to fix.  Meanwhile, I started doing our weeks plus worth of laundry.  Two laundry rooms, each with two washers and two dryers in it.  

One nice warm, semi-dry day we went to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park.  Jean Lafitte was a pirate that interrupted his pirating career to fight for the United States in defense of New Orleans in the War of 1812. They have hiking trails  but as we are seeing in the southern states most of the trails were either damaged by the summer’s hurricanes or were under water due to the current non-stop rain, however, there was one trail that we could do.  The ranger told us no dogs allowed.  We left Eris in the truck and headed on this short boardwalk trail, that was basically just decking over the swamp, like maybe a foot above the swamp.  That is where we encountered a fairly decent sized alligator.  We were happy that Eris remained in the truck. After getting my NP passport stamped we went to the little community of Jean Lafitte.   In this little town they had a really nice hiking trail (all boardwalk) and a cute museum.  There was a movie in the museum that talked about the people of the area.  It was very reasonable and at the time of this writing it was $6.00, and worth every penny.  

The next day we dropped Eris off at doggie daycare so we could go to the French Quarter.  The weather turned cold and was still gray out.  We got a ferry card which is good for 5 days and was $18.00 each.  We took off from Algiers Point and got dropped off at Canal Street.  Walking distance to everything we wanted to go to.  The $36.00 we paid for the passes would have been one day’s parking price in the Quarter so worth the money and parking at Algiers Point is free and unlimited time.  It was definately a different vibe than years in the past where we went (we went after Mardi Gras too), buildings weren’t nearly as decorated and the crowds were thin.  While there we went to the Louisiana State Museum, another reasonably priced thing to do, at the time of this writing was $7.00.  The downstairs display was dedicated to Katrina. It was a  great depiction of what happened during Katrina and to see the destruction and the loss and all of the inequities that came out of it was heartbreaking.  (FYI Katrina came in as a catagory 2, then increased to a 3 and then a 5, honestly if we were here we wouldn’t have evacuated either for a 2).  After seeing that we went upstairs for some fun-that display was all about Mardi Gras, so it was a nice way to end our tour at the Louisiana State Museum.  

The following day we took Eris to the Doggie Daycare again.  We asked them to cut her nails while they had her and of course they said no problem.  Not only did they cut them but they were bored so they painted them purple to get her her ready for Mardi Gras.  We highly recommend Shampooch. Reasonable prices and they love their guests we could tell.  Since we took her there we headed back over on the ferry, it was a dry day, which came far and few between, still ugly looking but at least it was dry, cold but dry.  We headed to Mardi Gras World.  Upon arriving at Mardi Gras World we were greeted with King Cake.  We learned more of how the floats were made and more history. We had no idea that a good portion of the accessories on the floats, ie the Scooby Doo’s etc. are made out of styrofoam.  It was worth the $20.00 we spent on it.  (If you go look for groupons).  After our great tour we headed back to the French Quarter for lunch and a stop at Cafe Du Monde for some beignets.  Again I got to say it was weird to see no bars open and less decorations and less people for what has become Mardi Gras 2021.  

Sunday our first nomadic Valentine’s Day was spent driving over the longest continuguas bridge over water in the WORLD-Lake Pontchatrain Causeway.  It is nearly 24 miles long over water.  Honestly, it was boring.  Not much to look at, especially since it was cloudy and gray.  However, we did have some fun on the other side, we went to 2 state parks, Fairview-Riverside  State Park and Fontainbleau State Parks.  Both are beautiful.  What I find weird is when hiking, you are clearly in swamp country yet the trees in the woods are all hardwood.  

On Monday, Mike left on this frigid morning to get the ac in the truck fixed.  Hard to believe that it is so cold and we were ever going to need the ac again.  The day started off cold and got colder.  While he was sitting in the frigid garage for 5 plus hours waiting on the repairs to be made it was sleeting outside.  I was not there to nag him so of course he did not put a hat on his head and now he has a cold.  (Side note-we did go and get Covid testing done just to be sure it is just a cold).  Honestly we were really ready to leave here after 4 days and if we didn’t have the appointment to get the truck fixed we would have left, but am grateful we did not as the big storm was coming and really bad where we are heading.  We attempted to get some insulation for our underbelly for the impending freezing temps and none was to be had.  So we just put on our electric heaters and opened our kitchen cabinets and hoped for the best.  We did fill our water tanks.  While it was freezing out we were toasty inside as the weather deterioated around us.  Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) there was nothing happened.  Staying off the streets is what was best for everyone.  It was super cold, so if there was a year that the parades didn’t happen it was good that it was this year.  

Due to the continuing impending doom (the bad upcoming weather) we have changed our plans and asked to stay until Friday, we had to move sites but they are very accommodating, we had to empty our tanks anyway so it was good.  As I write this we have another bout of crap coming our way but by Friday it should warm up to the upper 40’s and hopefully we will be free to move about the country and should be in the 70’s by next week.  If we have to be stuck someplace at least this is a nice campground to be stuck in and we still have electric and water.  

All and all we are trying to make the most of it and are happy to be just together and enjoying this crazy adventure together.

So until next week, take care, stay warm and stay safe…..and we will hopefully come to you from Texas.

Hope and Mike

PS, If you like this, please like it, share it and follow us…..

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7 DAYS Till Freedom

As I write this there is only 7 days to our take off date. When this posts the countdown will say 5 days. We will be ready. We have reservations at our first campground on February 4. Eris the lowrider camping hound and I have been adjusting well to my retirement. Mike is finishing up one last job and then we will be moving his shop up to our part-time homestead. We will have to make a few trips up and back to get the job done. But we are thinking the last possible night in St. Pete will be Monday. Maybe earlier but we do have a few trips to the cabin to make for his shop.

We will be down to one vehicle as I am sitting here watching my Kia get it’s last oil change from me at least and she will be going to a new home on Thursday.

Another surreal feeling is that this Wednesday will be our last “run” night from 3 Daughters at least until November. Prior to Covid we used to run with Fit to Run the last Wednesday of the month. We would meet with our friends. After the world stopped spinning that was one of the big things we missed. So our friends, who we were quarantining with, would meet us at 3D and we would walk and do nearly 3 miles every Wednesday.

Another thing we will miss is our family nights held each week at my uncles. Of course these all started after it was safe to get together in small groups. Our last one will be on this Thursday until at least the end of November.

This month started with a mini trip to Atlanta to see Shan and Christian and went up with Jes and Chris and grand pups. While up there we celebrated Jes’ 30th birthday and went sightseeing of course. Went to Helen, Anna Ruby Falls, Nora Mill Granary, Fernbank Museum and Atlanta Botanical Gardens. While the weather was cold, it was beautiful out. The gardens were beautiful and I can only imagine how beautiful it is in March/April when everything is in bloom.

Needless to say we are getting excited. No more alarm clocks and new adventures coming our way.

Enjoy the pics below…

Until next time,

Hope

HAPPY NEW YEAR- WELCOME TO 2021

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As I reflect on the year that none of us will forget, 2020, all in all it was mostly good for us.  Let me get the bad overwith, in March I lost my job, which I got another job quick enough, then in March we all know what plagued the world.  While speaking to someone on the other side of the country we were all doing the same thing, praying nobody we knew or that we wouldn’t get Covid.  All the while we were moving forward with our plans for our 2/1/2021 departure date.  In January I wrote in my dayplanner that on December 28, whereever I am working, to put my notice in (I actually wrote it that way).  The rest of the bad is that my father in law, a sweet, sweet man, became sicker and was in a hospital bed (at home-thank you Hospice) since July and passed away at age 98.5. He is missed but we all know he is in a better place.  My uncles got Covid but thankfully made a speedy recovery.  That’s all I got for the bad, while I miss hugs of my family and while masking up  is a pain, I do it for the better good.  

Christmas we spent our last year as homeowners in our backyard with family. It was great. Didn’t have as many people as we normally have but it was great just the same. Honestly it was the most relaxing year I ever had. We did a hobo dinner cooking over an open fire. We kept the fire going for warmth. It was a chilly year. Shan and Christian came down so the only ones we were missing was my son and daughter-in-law.

We picked 2/1/2021 as our shove off date so we could go to Mardi Gras, that of course as I write this is cancelled.  That’s ok we will plan on it for next year.  This year while we have our reservations we will just have fun in New Orleans anyway. We plan on heading west, stopping and seeing our besties,  who spend the month of July in Washington and a stop in Yellowstone and finishing in Savannah to do a half marathon in November, (assuming it will happen), spend the holidays with family and then back out.  

I started 2020 with a project of 52 Weekend’s to remember-well that took a hault because of Covid, which gave us more time to work on the cabin, camper or the house. We continued with our plans, spending most of the time working on the cabin, camper, or the house. To make it easier to work on the house we moved into the camper, started to box up, get rid of and get ready for a garage sale. I think it was somewhere in August that our kids came over to help us with cleaning up the Irma tree (huge tree that was toppled over during Irma) as we were preparing to put our house on the market, when they showed interest in purchasing the house. Which we finally closed on December 28, 2020, the same day I quit my job.  I have 3 days (including today) and I will be retired.  We will eventually have to go back to work, which will look different then what we are doing now, we are planning on doing some workkamping and have already applied already to Yellowstone 2022.  

As I sit here on my last Wednesday of my career I am looking forward to a healthy, happy and adventuresome  2021 and that I wish the same for everyone.  

The first picture is my wonderful father-in-law, who is missed but is in a better place.

The balance is Christmas.

Next week I will be back on to location and places to see blogs.

Until next time,

Hope

Let me tell you about my home town/Part or should I say Park 2-John Chestnut Sr.

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This is another great Pinellas County Park that should be on everyone’s bucket list. There is a lot of wildlife to be seen. Deer, alligators, racoons and many birds call this beautiful park home. This 255 acre park is situated on Lake Tarpon, it has a boat ramp and canoe launch and landlocked canoe trails. It has miles of nature rails, including many boardwalks. This park was built with cooperation of the US Army Corp of Engineers and it is located near Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs. There is plenty to do in this park. Between the softball fields, the 13 picnic shelters, dog park, horseshoe pits, boatramp, canoe launches with a canoe trail and and two playgrounds, nature trails and of course the chance to see deer, alligators and birds, and many more wildlife and foliage you will not be bored.

The location of your next adventure is 2200 East Lake Rd., Palm Harbor, Florida, bring a picnic lunch and plan on spending the day being surrounded by beauty and if you are lucky you may spot a deer. So be sure that if you are in the Tampa Bay area to add this location to your bucket list.

Until next week,

One of the beauties

Hope

Let’s Me Tell You About My Home Town/County Parks…Part 1-Florida Botanical Gardens

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Pinellas County is the location of my home town, St. Petersburg, Florida. I’ve been calling St. Pete my home town for 44 years now. St. Pete was put in the top 10 of large cities ( even though I would consider it medium). Pinellas County consists of many towns/cities and 20,000 acres of parks and preserves, 4 preserves, 2 botanical and historic parks, and 15 county parks.

Shortly we will be on the road and have really cool locations and experiences to talk about, but while I’m still here I should talk about the beauty of what exists in the place I currently call home. While I can’t wait to leave I realize that we have some of the bests all within miles of our home. We have some of the best breweries, the best bicycle friendly city, a great rail trail, the best city and county parks and the best beaches, of course I’m a little biased. However, hopefully this will spark you to check out the places I talk about or maybe add them to your bucket list.

I’m gonna start with Florida Botanical Gardens. This place is so beautiful and I can’t believe I haven’t been there before. I may have been there before but this was the first time going with friends to just take photos.

Florida Botanical Gardens is 182 acre garden. The address is 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. The hours are M-F 7-5. They have annual events of course this is 2020 so some may be cancelled. There is a gift shop and visitor’s center, however they are closed on the weekends. Dogs are welcome. While we were there there was quite a few.

Where we entered the garden we started out on the boardwalk and the first thing we said was how we couldn’t believe that we were still in the city. We continued on to a bridge going over the water with little overlooks. There are sculptures that are pretty cool.

One of the many boardwalks
One of the sculptures
The priceless moment when you get to hang with your besties:)

The weather on the day we were there was one of those perfect days, the ones that sells real estate in Florida. There was a yoga class happening in one of the gardens. What a zen place for that. There are benches all over to relax and take in the views and to ponder life. While we don’t have geysers there were a few fountains in the most beautiful setting.

Nancy chilling in one of the beautiful areas.

There are some fun areas as well. Trees decorated with faces.

Fun trees

Gardens wouldn’t be gardens without flowers. So enjoy seeing what I saw through my lens.

I hope you enjoy my view of the gardens and add the Florida Botanical Gardens to your bucket list. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it is totally free.

One more thing if you like the article it would be appreciated to like it and subscribe to my email list and you will be notified of my blogs as they come out.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week where I will show another local park.

Until next week,

Hope

The Freeing Feeling and Not Having an Achy Breaky Back

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Let me tell you it is so freeing to get rid of stuff. While downsizing is difficult we are getting closer. That’s exactly what we did when we had our garage sale we downsized and it was so freeing. While it was a lot of work and I personally don’t even like garage sales we had a successful one and then donated the leftover stuff to Goodwill.

Garage sale- a success

Not too much else happened except while we (Joyce, Vince and I) were selling our belongings in the front, Mike, Jes, Chris, Nick, Mark and and Nya were in the backyard breaking up the floor of the shed and cutting some more overgrown brush. I sold the couch so now the living room is empty. We only have a few larger items left to sell and if we don’t we will take to the property. Our poor pup is confused and nervous about what is going on. We haven’t been staying in the house since the beginning of August but she would stay in there while we were at work. Now poor thing has to sleep in our old bed. Now the room is completely empty except for the tv which will go to the property maybe this weekend.

Moving into the camper fulltime brings me to my next point- my achy breaky back. The mattress that came with our camper mmm how should I put this… was pure crap. Every morning I’d wake up with a sore back. So we ordered and received a mattress from Mattress Insider. It is so nice to be able to sleep through the night and to wake up and not be in any pain. One of the best upgrades. Thank you Mattress Insider.

Beautiful new mattress
Old garbage mattress in the living room, on it’s way out the door.

Thank you everyone who helped with the garage sale and the backyard and thank you Mattress Insider for a good night’s sleep.

Check out next weeks where I will be talking about some of the Pinellas County Parks.

Until then take care,

Hope

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FINALLY SOMETHING FUN FOR THE WEEKEND TO REMEMBER PROJECT-WEEKEND 36-QUICK TRIP TO ATLANTA

Quick trip to Atlanta

We had a camping trip planned for Labor Day weekend. However, we are so very close to getting the shop completed we did the adult thing and cancelled it. Weekend’s are dwindling down and we are running out of time.

While I was sad to doing the adulting thing we made plans to make a trip to Atlanta to surprise our youngest, who had just celebrated her 26 birthday.

Atlanta is only 4 hours from the cabin so we figured we would just deliver her and Christian’s (her boyfriend, whose birthday is a couple days before Shannon’s) birthday presents.

We left the cabin at 7:30 and got up to Atlanta by 12:15. (of course we stopped few times). The first thing we noticed when getting out of the car it wasn’t disgustingly hot and that Georgia isn’t taking Covid as joke as opposed to feeling in North Florida, where they apparently must think it’s a “hoax”. Reader boards on the highway read to keep your distance, keep groups small on the holiday weekend. Restaurant’s won’t serve you unless you are wearing a mask and most don’t have dine in, outside service. We also went to REI who are keeping the crowds down to 25% and are counting how many people are inside. It was impressive and it is apparently working.

When we got to Shan’s house we had to sneak in behind another car. We were coming up with ideas on how to surprise her. We were standing outside the truck and as I walked around to the other side of the truck, at that exact moment Shan decided to check her mail, when she saw us she had a confused look on her face. Then she was happy to realize it was really us. We took her to lunch where we saw Christian and then to REI.

We had a great quick trip and seeing them was the highlight of the weekend. We got back to the cabin at around 9. It was a perfect day and perfect way to spend weekend number 36.

The rest of the weekend consisted on working on the shop. We have one more weekend scheduled for the end of September to finish the shop. Meanwhile, next weekend we are finishing the yard. Then we will be working on remodeling the inside of the house. Garage sale coming up soon… everything must go.

See you next week!!! Maybe there will be some fun to be had…

Hope

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WEEKEND’S TO REMEMBER #25-SOME MORE PACKING/ORGANIZING AND FATHER’S DAY FUN

This will more than likely be short and sweet as not much is happening.

Saturday we did some camper organization and some weight distribution and some more boxing stuff up.

Covid cases are up and we aren’t really interested in hanging out, or should I say in. For Father’s Day, Mike, my best friend and the best Dad to our children, wanted to go to the beach, so the beach we went, the beach is not my fav place, hard to believe a Floridian who doesn’t like the beach except for a nice sunrise or sunset, but it was Father’s Day so I couldn’t say no. We met Nancy, Mark and Nya there as well. The beach of choice was Ft. Desoto. We got out there early enough but there was still a line to get in. Nancy said it was an hour for them to get in and they were only 15 minutes behind us. I am guessing head count is what the jam is all about. We went to the side of the beach that is usually less crowded and as expected it was, after all we are trying to do our part. After we started feeling a little crispy we left and it was time for lunch. We brought lunch with us, so Mike and I went to the shaded picnic area found a table and ate lunch. We attempted to walk the little nature trail but this is mid June in Florida the bugs chased us off. I got some great pics and played around with some different lenses.

After we were done at the beach we headed home, got cleaned up and headed to Mom and Dad’s for dinner. We brought Sonny’s with us and had a nice evening. We were able to Zoom with Annette which thrilled the parental’s.

So all in all it was a nice sort of productive and fun weekend.

Until next time,

Hope

My bestie
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Weekend to Remember (24) Cabin and the start of moving on up and out….

We loaded up the box trailer with the first load of stuff we are keeping and headed to the cabin. Our goal was to get the bathroom completed, storage shelves in place and then possibly build some of the shop and continue on working on clearing some of Nick’s property. Mike continued on the bathroom while Nick and I worked on the property. By the time we were done working on the property (because we were hot, tired and sore but mostly hot) Mike was done with the bathroom so they unloaded the trailer and while they continued working on some outside stuff I started going through the boxes I packed months ago. Mostly pictures that are stored on the shelves and albums, which are stored in the main cabin and a lot of stamping supplies. So much stuff, that I am not sure if I will ever use the stamping stuff to justify keeping it. Maybe after a year if I don’t use it I will get rid of it.

Downsizing is somewhat problematic, after all I have lived in my house nearly 33 years and have accumulated that much crap as well. And really do we need, totally guessing here, 50+ pint glasses that we have collected from the different breweries? I think not, so while we don’t want to get rid of them all, we also have regular glasses at the cabin. So the plan is to bring up the pint glasses, after all they remind us of fun places, and change them out with the boring regular glasses. But we are only replacing and not taking them all up, the rest maybe we will give away as parting gifts. I also have this owl cookie jar, it is an antique for sure, while I want to keep the cookie jar, I am 100% sure I don’t need to keep the contents of it. We have begun calling it the DNA cookie jar. The owl sits on this shelf above the refrigerator and when the kids were little and would lose their teeth we (or should I say the tooth fairy) would put the teeth in there. Also what could be found in there is undeveloped film. I have no idea from what era they are from but they are gone. So needless to say downsizing is difficult. This is just one example. But I am taking the approach does this particular item bring me joy, if the answer is no, it’s just taking up space.

Another huge, super huge, downsizing issue for me is, besides making cards (stamping, etc.), my biggest hobby is photography. I love, love, love taking photos, always have (true story one week in Yellowstone =~1459 pictures-ones I had to have all of them developed because there wasn’t digital), that hasn’t changed, except for the fact I can now choose what I want to print, which is somewhat a difficult situation for me. Not to mention, printing and sharing is what I like to do. Not sure what I am going to do with all the photos but yet I still print. I am now giving some away as gifts (sorry for all my family who is running out of wall space but…) and will be reopening my Etsy store to hopefully sell some as well and figured this is something I can do while on the road. Be on the look out for my Etsy Store announcement.

This is just my issues with stuff, I am getting rid of a ton and besides the pictures and homemade things (like quilts and needlecraft, paintings and things) I don’t really have much of an attachment to anything else. Mike on the other hand doesn’t have the same attachment issues (except with his tools of course and we are building him a shop for them). But yet he still has a lot of stuff. So do we plan on a garage sale (uggggg) or Facebook Market Place or just dump the stuff? This is the questions we continue asking ourselves.

Now while we are working on the cabin and getting it ready we need to work on our current home to get it ready to sell. We have inside work and outside work. While we just repainted the outside last year we don’t need to do that however, the inside needs work. Mike says he can knock it out in a short time and we will plan on moving into the camper by the middle of September so that we can get it done. I have started doing somethings so far, like starting taking the wallpaper off the wall, emptied out one bedroom and organized the bike room.

Anyway, while up at the cabin this past weekend we accomplished a lot and are moving right along, including Mike and Nick doing the framing of the floor for the shop. Plus we even took sometime and headed down and walked the US 90 Bridge, took a ride on a country road, saw some great boondocking spots, not sure if I would bring my camper down there but if I had a van or wanted to tent camp I would be so on it.

It seems like we always start building in the summer, like always. I might mention that summers are not the funnest time to be in Florida. Since the property is in the middle of north Florida (Florga as we like to call it) there are no sea breezes and we found that if it is hot in St. Pete it is hotter at the property. So needless to say it was hot and omg buggy up there. We will have to go up often like at least every other weekend so that we can accomplish what we want to get done by September and in the meantime continue to work on our house in St. Pete and any other modification to the camper that still may need to be done (not much now).

After this past weekend we feel accomplished.

Until next time,

Hope

Some boxes. It’s a beginning.
Our bathroom with storage and composting toilet.
Clearing the property
Highlight of the weekend.
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FINALLY SOMETHING DIFFERENT-WE WENT CAMPING FOR THE FIRST TIME NOT IN OUR BACKYARD SINCE MARCH…..

Can you hear the excitement in my voice? Yes we did it, we finally were able to venture out for the weekend and camp beyond our backyard. We had these reservations for about 6 months or so and weren’t sure if they were going to actually happen or be cancelled but THEY DID HAPPEN!!!! It was even the usual crowd of Nancy, Mark, Nya, Nick, Mike, Eris (the lowrider camping hound) and I, we all headed to Silver Springs State Park. I did a campground review about this park previously and I will say it is still a favorite of ours. It was so nice to have a slight bit of normalcy, even if it was a little different. Of course the big deal this weekend was the questionable weather as there was a tropical storm in the Gulf and we were on the rain side of it, but we didn’t let that stop us. So rain it did, but the wind wasn’t that bad in the middle of the state and we were able to keep the awning open a good portion of the weekend and it also kept the bugs away (mostly). While the little museum was closed (which we highly recommend) and the gift shop on the attraction side of the park, the glass bottom boat ride and the kayak/canoe rentals were open.

We were wondering how checking in would be to the campground. It was pretty much contactless. They stood back from the car and handed us our hang tag. They had ice and firewood (which was not needed-it’s June in Florida-not to mention the rain flooded out the firepits, sort of looked like mini swimming pools) on a donation, contactless operation.

We did walk around on the other side at the gardens and then we went back to the campsite, had lunch, hung out and worked our way back to the kayak/canoe rentals but when we got there apparently there was lightening happening an hour away so they couldn’t rent anymore out, so we decided to do the glass bottom boat tour. Which we were lucky enough to score the last tour due to the incoming weather. We were wondering how “safe” the boat ride was, it was very safe. We sat back from the boat captain and each party was separated by 6 feet. There was hand sanitizer available before and after entering the boat. The bathrooms were spotless. When we got back to the campsite the wind was picking up slightly so we started to put everything away as best we could and pulled the awning in and what was left out got hosed. We hung out and went to dinner. After dinner, Nancy, Mark and Nya headed home as everything was soaked and they knew they were not going to miss anything since it called for nonstop rain for the duration of the weekend.

This was the first time since a couple of upgrades we did to the camper that we towed our camper anywhere, we weren’t sure how our distribution was going to be. The Corona (all upgrades were the wall, with the TV and the fireplace and the addition of the bike rack with the bikes. We were a little concerned. While bringing the bikes was a waste of time and just gave us more stuff to clean when we got home the rack did well. I followed Mike back from his shop to the house and the bikes didn’t move at all. Nice and sturdy. I’m curious on how it will do on the Mississippi and Louisiana roads but we shall see. I am hopeful. The towing did great. But before we left for St. Pete, with all the rain, we forgot to fill our fresh tank so there was a little porpoising (very little) so we stopped at an Escapee’s park and filled up our water and the porpoising stopped.

As we were driving down the country roads heading back to St. Pete., I was happily realizing that soon we won’t have to make this trip, except to see family and friends, even with the crappy weather I was that thought that kept me smiling. We passed farms and you pick fields and was thinking of how nice it will be to be able to visit some of these places and not be in any hurry to get home to empty the camper, and get ready for work again on Monday. Soon that is what I kept and keep telling myself.

I must also say it was nice to be away from the the news even if it was short lived.

Well I am going to keep this one short and sweet, if you want to know more about Silver Springs State Park check it out here: https://whatrwewaiting4.com/2019/07/29/following-the-brown-signs-and-campground-review-silver-springs-state-park/

Until next time….

Hope

From the boat
A couple of turtles
Our bikes nice and secure (pic taken from my car)

LIFE WHILE ON THE NEVER ENDING HAMSTER WHEEL, WHAT IS THE CORONA VIRUS….AND THE CHANGES THAT ARE UPON US….

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I am not sure what week of my Weekend to Remember Series this is, as they are all blurring together and there is nothing new to talk about, which I am guessing is the new norm.  We are all on the perpetual hamster wheel of what we are calling life.   We are finally not under a stay at home order and things are starting to open up. This whole time  (besides not being able to hug the people I love-which I still miss) I thought I was missing being able to go to a restaurant, be waited on and drink a draft beer from a real glass and be able to leave the mess behind, however,  now that the restaurants are open, I am not in that much of a hurry, I am enjoying the space and used to just taking food home and eating it there.  It surprised me.  What I am grateful for, besides the obvious that all of my family and friends are healthy, is that I have a job and really never lost the job because of Covid.  I did get a new job during this time, which was weird in itself, to go to a job interview via Zoom and it all worked out.

Another thing I am grateful for with things opening up besides the ability to get a haircut is that our favorite brewery, 3 Daughters is now open for food and drink.  We were so missing  the ability to just go there and hang out.  A week before they officially opened with food and seats to sit on, we did our monthly 3 miles from 3D, (a monthly run) we got food from Chipotle, beer from 3D before they closed for the day (they were able to sell beer to go), went for a walk, came back and sat on the ground and ate our food in the empty parking lot. It was fun to do something that we used to take for granted.  I am super happy to report that they are now open, seats are spaced, and delicious food is being served and hard water, beer and ciders are being poured.  We couldn’t get there fast enough.  We did another 3 miles from 3D that first Wednesday they were reopened, while it was different it felt like going home.

State parks have begun opening, in this Phase 1 of the reopening of the country, for day use only at first and then on May 20, for camping.  We went for a great day hike on Mother’s Day, which was amazing to us, the smell of the fresh air, air not surrounded by concrete.  In “normal” years Florida has a short hiking season, where the temps are low or at least lower and the bugs are the least and the last few months were those months and we weren’t able to hike, but as soon as they opened up we were there.  We started off on beautiful morning, not too hot yet,  but as we returned to the car it was hot. We (my Mom, Mike, Jes, Chris, the four legged grands, Mark, Nancy, Nya and myself) did a nearly 5 mile hike, came back to a picnic lunch. The trails had people on it, all of us just trying to redirect our life on the hamster wheel.  I must say it was nice to be in the woods, get some fresh air and enjoy each other’s company. I got to hug my Mommy too.

Later that day we went to my inlaws, we stopped at Sonny’s grabbed some curbside pick up and brought dinner, watched a little YouTube (Traveling Robert’s Yellowstone, to be exact) and had a nice visit. We were even able to FaceTime Annette so she could wish Mom a happy Mother’s Day as well and be seen.

Some weekends we have been camping in our backyard since getting on this hamster wheel. We have been adding more stuff to the camper and getting ready for us to be able to hit the road.  Some parts of being on the perpetual hamster wheels have been ok, as we are able to concentrate on doing things to the house, camper and cabin that need to get done before we hit the road, which the date is coming up quick.

The normal hamster wheel looks something like this, we work all week, yoga Monday’s (oh how I miss yoga Monday’s), one Wednesday night a month, 3 miles from 3D, (we sort of made our own) one Friday am a month, dinner rides from our favorite bikes shops (Trek of St. Pete and ABC Bikes) (which they obviously had to be cancelled), oh how I miss those peeps, and for the last few years we have been camping at least one weekend a month somewhere not in our backyard.  So this staying home thing has enabled us to go to the cabin (we are self isolated up there, naturally), get some stuff done, to enable us to make it our future home base, work on the camper for things we want to get done and work on the house (which besides packing up some stuff not much has been done, yet). So staying at home has been somewhat productive.  But I must say it has been surreal.  

I went downtown a couple of weeks ago during the week just to get some photos of how things looked, during lunch time, during the week.  It was very strange.  It looked like we were expecting a hurricane, everything closed up, no tables out and pretty empty.  The few of us that were out were just walking or running for exercise but other than that it was empty.  Plenty of parking out there but of course nothing to do.

This past weekend it was a different story.  Saturday night Jes, Chris, Nick, the pups, Mike and I went to the dog beach at Ft. Desoto.  While I am no longer a huge beach person, I do love the sunsets and that night it did not disappoint.  It was crowded but again people kept their distance.  Sunday we headed downtown which was equally as packed but people seemed to be keeping their distances there as well.  We had breakfast at the Wooden Rooster, enjoying the outside tables as we are not ready to sit inside a restaurant just yet and besides the fresh air did us some good.

Some more positive outcomes with being on the hamster wheel  are changes that I have been making to assist us when we hit the road, I have upped my Zooming ability, which will assist me to be able to go remote,  working with someone on  a project that I can take anywhere (but can’t get started until all of this is over) I have decided to reopen my Etsy shop, and I have decided to become an Independent Wellness Advocate with doTerra. More about those changes to come. For now just trying to figure it all out and with all the extra time of not going out all the time having fun I am able to work on different projects that I have always wanted to get to.  

The thing I find most interesting about all of  this is the fact that the whole nation/world are all on the same hamster wheel, just trying to make it spin in the same direction.  We can speak to someone on the other side of the nation and ask them what’s going on and the answers are going to be about the same as what we are going through. It just proves that it is a small world and we are one in this world and fight.

Soon I will be able to get back to campground reviews and fun things on the weekends but for now it is what it is…. and until next time….

Keep spinning and stay safe….

Hope

Boyd Hill Preserve, St. Pete FL
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WEEKENDS TO REMEMBER #13, 14 AND 15, CORONA VIRUS, A BIKE RIDE, CAMPING IN THE BACKYARD AND TRIP TO THE CABIN

It’s a whole new world out there, as most of you we are self isolating, going out to stores only when essentially needed,  staying 6 feet away from everyone, washing the crap out of hands and trying our best to not touch our faces and also trying not to go insane.

How we come out on the other side of this Corona Virus pandemic remains to be seen, but I am sure we will each be a little different.  Maybe we realize that things we thought were essential aren’t really all that important anymore.  I know personally it has made me think of what is important in life but it also has made me miss certain portions of it that I took for granted, I miss our local breweries, local restaurants and I hope they survive this.  When all is said and done and things start opening up, I will be one of the first customers at my favorite brewery (oh how I miss you 3 Daughters), keeping my safe distance and enjoying a nice cold brew.

Anyway  we have been spending the this strange time differently.  We wonder what we can and cannot do to help us stay sane.  Week 13 took us on a bike date, a normal bike date would have had us at some breweries by early afternoon, but nothing was open, except for Wawa, so we got breakfast by bicycle and headed into Clam Bayou, where we had a lovely picnic of our breakfast Sizzlies, and then rode around, took the new extension trail into Gulfport.  We rode around there and saw all the new restaurants we want to go to after this is all over.  I had my camera so I took some great photos. The trail was fairly crowded but we kept our distance.  People seemed kinder, we all have this look of, mmmm, not sure what to call it, not necessarily fear but maybe uncertainty, whatever it is, it is a weird feeling.

Weekend 14 was a camping trip in our backyard.  Let me start this by stating that every month since we had the tiny camper, we had camping reservations somewhere. Living in Florida, these reservations were made months ahead of time,  sometimes close to a year in advance, but for whatever reason, I did not make any reservations for April or May this year.  As we were not socializing with anyone we decided to camp in the backyard.  I set up the “campground” just as I would if were were in a real campground.  The nice thing about it was the pet policy was very lenient, I was even able to give Eris, the lowrider camping hound, a bath in the bathhouse. Nick and Randy came over and had breakfast and lunch, all while keeping our safe distance of course. Mike worked on adding all the extras to the camper.  He redid the one wall with leftover flooring that our neighbor gave us, added a tv and a fireplace.  We didn’t go anywhere that weekend, and while I miss seeing someplace new and sightseeing it was really very peaceful and fun.    

Weekend 15 found us at the cabin.  Mike is finishing up the bathroom. It looks great. While we have had heat at home, and when we first got here, the first night got down to 45 degrees (that was in the morning when I got up).  Nothing else much to do except go on a wild flower walk.

That’s about all for the last three weekends.  While I still have to get out my blog on Savannah’s vacation, right now I just want to concentrate on what we can do and what we are doing during this crazy time. I miss my family, my friends and just want to around them and get hugs so Savannah’s happy trip will wait until the time  when we can all travel again.

So until next week, stay healthy, safe and wash your hands…oh and don’t touch your face.

Hope