Oh My, Just Like That it’s 2022

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Time sure does fly and a ton has happened and so many sites have been seen since I last blogged from Seattle. I will just give a run down of what we did since Seattle and catch up to today, where we are sitting until next month in Florida. I will also talk about all the things we learned while on the road, so stay tuned.

After Seattle we headed to meet our friends in Olympia, where we stayed for nearly a month. We went to the San Juans, and Olympic National Park. We also participated in our first in post Covid road race in Olympia. One of the best things of being rootless is that we got to see our friends across the country where any other normal summer that would not have been an option. After Olympia we headed down to Cathlamet, Washington, a cute little town on the Columbia River, to see Mike’s cousins. We spent a few days there, hanging with family and seeing the sites. We went to Astoria, Oregon while there, where we climbed the tower and went through the Goonies’ Museum. After spending a few days we needed to head towards our next “rock-destination” which was the Xscapers Convergence in Driggs, Idaho.

First stop was a casino in Pendleton, Oregon. Well we weren’t going for the casino we were there for the campground. The campground was Wild Horse Casino and was clearly set up by a Rv’er as the all the sites were easy to get into and spaced perfectly. While in Pendleton we did the underground tour. Which was a great tour about the history of Pendleton. The campground had it’s own pool but we were able to use the pool and all the other facilities at the casino. There was an indoor pool, there was a gym, movie theater, bowling alley, and game room, not to mention the actual casino. Mike and I don’t gamble but decided to “blow” $10.00. We had no idea how to even play the slot machines. We left $166.00 richer. We stayed there for a few days and headed onward toward Driggs.

Next stop was in Idaho at a campground, Green Canyon Hotsprings, that had some natural hot springs. Which we did not use as they were really crowded. It was just a stopping point as we were getting ready to boondock for the next month. Our first stop after the hot springs was Driggs, Idaho where we were doing the Xcapers Convergence. We had such a great time there, even when the weather wasn’t great or when the smoke filled the sky. We met some new people who we will have as friends for lifetime. We volunteered to set up, park and knock down the event. Which I think volunteering makes it even more fun. We went kayaking as a group, ski lift and hiking as a group. All of it was fun and it was sad to leave but I am sure we will see these folks down the road.

After we left there we headed back to Yellowstone where we had reservations in the park for 3 nights, then it was on to the Tetons. Of course Yellowstone was amazing. I did a photography tour where I got some amazing shots. I will do this tour again when we go out in May. After Yellowstone we had a week in the Tetons, at Gros Ventre. After spending 8 glorious nights there and seeing alot of Moose we headed back up to Atherton Creek. We we spent another week up there and met our friends from the convergence. Then it was time for us to go our separate ways as we had a lot more we wanted to see and we had the next big boulder in Savannah that we had to get to, plus the weather was changing daily before our eyes. It was getting colder and the trees were literally changing colors daily. We haven’t seen fall before at least not like this so it was really cool.

Next stop was Colorado as we made our way east. First stop was in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I could live there. We stayed for a few days and did things like laundry, dog grooming and just basic normal household chores. We spent over a month boondocking so it was nice to have full hookups for a few days. After Rock Springs we headed down the road to Dinosaur National Monument via the Flaming Gorge passes, where we found a great campsite in the Monument to boondock. The sunsets were amazing. We did some touring. Half of the park in in Utah and half of it is in Colorado. I will go into more details about the park in another blog.

After a few days there we headed to Delta Colorado (Grand Junction), where we went to Colorado National Monument, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Colorado National is one of my favorite parks. It has a little bit of everything. After we spent sometime there we lucked out and got a campground in Ouray. Where we spent 4 days there. The campground was in town. Ouray was an amazing little town, with history, sites and views. To head to our next destination we had to drive the Million Dollar Highway. It was a scary pass but not the scariest I think I have ever driven. That being said, I don’t have any need to do it again. There is no shoulder and at times we were at something like 15,000 feet in elevation. To say I was happy to see the town of Silverton is an understatement. While staying in Ouray we did a day trip to Telluride. Another amazing ski town that has a free ski lift to take you up and down the mountains. Like a bus but a ski lift instead. We also watched people doing the Via Ferrata. Mike became hooked and couldn’t wait to try this himself. A Via Ferrata is basically rock/wall climbing, on ledges. That is a big NO for me.

While we did not stop in Silverton we may return some day, we had a destination and that destination was Durango. Where we stayed at a great campground right on the narrow rail train tracks. We took the shortened train ride. We both loved it. So beautiful, however it was cold and drizzly all day but that was ok we brought stuff to keep us warm and know what to bring next time. While there also went to Mesa Verde National Park. It was ok, that’s all I can say. After a few days there it was time leave and we really wanted to boondock for a few days.

As we were headed east we stopped at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Where there is some amazing boondocking opportunities right outside the door. We did a hike while there but there was no way I wanted to climb the sand dunes. The one thing we love about this lifestyle is you never know who you may come across again. While boondocking we ran into someone we met the month before in Gros Ventre.

Then we made it to Colorado Springs, where we did a Harvest Host one night and did a couple nights at a KOA. We went to Garden of the Gods, which was really cool and the dog got to hike with us as well, so the always makes us happy.

Onward we headed and made our way to Kansas. Two nights later we were in Kansas City. While we stayed on the Missouri side that didn’t stop us from enjoying the Kansas side. Totally surprised as to the beauty that was there. We wish we would have had more time to spend there.

Next stop was St. Louis. The Arch was on my bucket list. Friends told us about the casino to stay at, while it was no Wild Horse like we had in Pendleton it was good. The view was the arch and a short walk away over the Mississippi River via the Eads Bridge, which was the world’s first steel truss bridge. The campground was in Illinois and there was a state border sign on the bridge. Well we were officially east of the Mississippi, where things just got damper or so it seemed. We had to drive over on the day for our tour at the Gateway Arch National Park because of weather. After we toured the Arch, (again I will dedicate a full blog post to all the parks we went to) we met my sister-in-law for lunch. Again it is so cool, getting to meet family on the road.

As I said we are now east of the Mississippi. so it is a good time to say good bye and I will tell you all about the rest of our Season One in the next blog, which I promise will not be months away. Stay tuned for all the eastern states we stopped at and Mike’s first Via Ferrata.

Black bear in Olympic National Park
Colorado National Monument
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Dinosaur National Park
Ouray
Durango
Garden of the Gods

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

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

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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

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

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