When we started this journey some three years ago, one of the very first things weee were faced with is the need to downsize. And I mean that in the broadest interpretation of the work that you can think of. Overall living space, storage, number of dishes and glasses, knives and forks, even shoes and socks. The old adage, or so we were told, was, if you buy something new, you have to throw out something old. Ok, we can live with that…until you are faced with the dilemma of getting rid of your favorite, and I mean favorite, t-shirt.
And that brings up another subject. What do you collect, acquire, gather….to document your travels? Postcards, banners (I did that as a kid, and had a room full of these triangular shaped objects all over my walls)…stickers, medals or medallions….or t-shirts.
With t-shirts, you announce it proudly where you have been. It says nothing about your experience at that place, just that you felt connected enough to need to purchase a walking billboard of your visit. And did you know that you can now buy destination t-shirts at Walmart, without ever having visited said location?
And what do you do with an ever growing collection of t-shirts?? Cause if you abide by the original rule of something new replaces something old, then you will only ever have a finite number of t-shirts…never a complete record of your travels. And how do you decide which to remove from the collection?
So I return to the original question. Do I really need a t-shirt from Oatman, AZ??? Is Oatman any more important, have more impact that the one t-shirt I am going to have to lose to make room for the new one??
This train of thought started one day in the grocery store, when I passed a very nice man wearing a t-shirt, that, very dramatically announced, that he, or maybe some acquaintance, had visited, stayed or formed a spiritual relationship with Oatman, AZ. I questioned whether I would be able to decide which of the many places we have visited in the last three years was impactful enough in my life to warrant a coveted spot in the t-shirt collection. And what would happen when the time came for it to be replaced by the next destination of importance.
And if that were the case, why do I need a t-shirt from Oatman, AZ in the first place?
Question to ponder as we wander.
It has been almost 3 years that we will have been living on the road. And during that time, on various occasions, my wife, partner, traveling companion has hinted, to put it mildly, that it would be nice if I were to do a blog.
Now don’t get me wrong…it was probably me who suggested that idea in the first place. Back when we first got started on this adventure…how cool would it be to recount our days of discovery…..but the first couple of days went by and nothing….well, maybe I could make it a weekly post….but weeks went by, and nothing…..in fact my last post was at the end of 2019!!!
So why, you ask, have I not put thoughts to screen? Obviously, I am way too busy! This retirement thing is harder than I ever thought it would be….and trying to find time to do anything, well that is never going to happen!
Just recently, we had a couple of close friends get the RV bug, and they turned to us for advice. Us. The people who are out here on a day to day basis still trying to figure things out. But you know what? As we talked, and asked our questions, and answered theirs, we / I realized we did know a lot….and a lot that is worth sharing. And that was one of the things I think was initially stopping me from sharing….the thought that I did not know what I was talking about.
So, I am going to make a concerted effort to follow thru on a 3 year old commitment….and blog. Susan Bowman, be ready!!
Here is to the road ahead, and the adventures that await. We already have 2021 planned, and some of 2022, so its not like I won’t have things to share.
And from one of my favorite high school authors…….. and so it goes.
Well here we are…last day of 2019…end of a decade.
We are in FL at Three Rivers State Park for another month and a half before we hit the road again.
And believe it or not, I have been thinking about this post since the beginning of the year. Ok, for those of you who really know me, not hard to believe.
We spent LAST winter in Arkansas, on the shores of Tablerock Lake, just south of Branson. And it was cold. Unseasonably cold. And that is what this post is all about.
I wanted to be able to describe the weather in a memorable fashion. To be able to give it true meaning. To bring it to life for those who were fortunate enough not to have been there.
So why did it take so long? Who really knows. I am sure it has something to do with this whole blog thing. And then it could be that I didn’t have the time HA! But does it really matter. It just never got done.
But it’s not like I haven’t been thinking about it. The right words, the sentences to best describe our Arkansas Winter.
And it was like……
A story, where our hero or heroine awakens from a pleasant dream by the warmth of a fire, takes in the simple yet cozy surroundings of their home, and slowly makes their way to the door to greet another day. Only to be met by the reality of a devastated landscape, with perpetually dark and ominous sky’s that block the sun and its warmth. A post Apocalyptic grey day. Always.
And that was our Arkansas Winter. And that is why we are now in Florida. Period.
May the New Year bring you sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine.
Happy New Year!!
Dan and Patty
somewhere on the roa
Well here it is, our one year anniversary of being on the road full time in our beautiful new home. We have been a little remiss in posting but we hope to change that this year!
Let’s start with a recap…
We left Frisco April 11, 2018 headed in a round about way to Estes Park CO for our first work camping job. We were so fortunate to have found Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake for our first job – the Managers Zenda and Kay were the best! The were organized, helpful, patient and always smiling and a lot of fun!
We worked in the store (best camp store ever), we worked outside helping campers, taking care of the grounds, I even got to do as much weeding as I wanted!
We worked with 7 other couples for 5 months and met a new extended family.We had get-togethers, set around the fires, shared stories, experiences, yummy food, wine, beer and lighter brews!
In addition, we enjoyed the wonders and beauty of the Rocky Mountains National Park! We went on some amazing hikes, saw hundreds of deer, elk and even a couple of bears close up and personal. More pictures of our hikes can be found HERE
There are more wildlife pictures HERE
We went on a ghost tour at the famous Stanley Hotel (remember The Shining), we saw a local Irish Festival parade, we found and Mindy’s house in Colorado Springs and we found the neat town of Nederland. The town’s Carousel of Happiness is an antique carousel restored by a volunteer, it has 58 different animals, all handmade, from giraffes to elephants – it is absolutely beautiful, (we enjoyed the ride too). And…. every March, the town celebrates the one-of-a-kind Frozen Dead Guy Days, when participants have coffin races, hearse parades and take a polar plunge — among many other activities — to celebrate the late Bredo Morstal, who is cryogenically frozen and stored in town. Too many things to talk about now, but this year we’ll share as we go along!
We were only 70 miles from Parker, where our son Mike, his wife Kim and 2 grandsons Nick and Cooper lived, so we were able to get down the mountain to see them regularly or they came up to spend a weekend in Estes.
If you ever get to Estes Park check out the Historic Park Theatre –
Also, our favorite eating place – You Need Pie! A restaurant and pie bakery – you can even order a slice of pie and they’ll make you a shake with it! oh my goodness! And, if you like ‘liver and onions’ like Dan does – best ever he says! Their regular items were good too!
So much to share about our summer in Estes, but will share more in July as we’re going back again for 2.5 months this time.
Just Saying…… Our first outing was absolutely amazing, more than we could have ever hoped or planned!
Near to Holbrook AZ is the Petrified Forest. I remember reading about this when I was a kid, and I had always wondered why anyone would want to go look at a bunch of petrified trees…on purpose…and now I know how wrong I was. The area is full of breathtaking vistas, fascinating paths and historic significance. And even the petrified trees are unique, and worth a wow. We started at the South Entrance, and headed into the park….
There is a wonderful Visitor Center just inside the entrance, with a couple of short trails just outside the back door even a chance to express your lighter side
A short walk across the parking lot, then down the road, leads you to this trailhead
which leads you to this wonder of building…
Back to the car, and we set out along the main road thru the park…
…no Lao Tsu never visited the Petrified Forest….he just knew about water!
But water is not the only thing that brings changes to the area….time and Mother Nature are also at work here….
But enough driving….time to get out for a little hike…
further down the road, we stop to look at “Newspaper Rock” ( I think that’s what they called it )…think of it as the first tablet 🙂
We found some more hieroglyphs at our next stop too….
along with ruins of an ancient settlement…
and if that were not enough for a full day, there is always the scenery!
and don’t forget to look down now and then…
A wonderful day in a place called the Petrified Forest…where change comes ever so slowly.
When last we left our wanderings, we had just left the Albuquerque Balloon Fest. Wait a minute. That was October 2018. Last Year! And here it is the middle of January 2019, and I am finally getting around to this post. Can’t explain it, just have to take responsibility for it, and get it done. Don’t want to start the 2019 travels without finishing up 2018….besides, the question continues to linger as to whether of not this blog is ever going to
fulfill its original intent. The answer is yes. And so we must begin…..
About 20 miles west of Albuquerque, in Rio Puerco, we stayed at the Route 66 RV Resort, part of the Route 66 Casino complex. Nice new facilities, big spaces, friendly staff. And as long as you did not spend too much time inside, in the smoke, it was a great place to stay.
Across the highway, a short evening walk from our site, were some of the best burgers we have experienced. At a place called Route 66 Pit Stop…home of the Laguna Burger. Guess there are a couple of them scattered along this stretch of highway.
And right across the street is this….
A beautiful bridge, on a road to nowhere….
Along the Mother Road we traveled West, stopping in Holbrook. And in Holbrook we found one of my happy places….the Cozy Cone Motel from Cars….well at least the inspiration for it….
Out of town we ventured to the Petrified Forest ( will be another post ), but it wasn’t until the end of our day, at the Northern Entrance to the part that we again encountered Route 66 again…
It rained the next couple of days, but one afternoon we bundled up and headed down the road a bit, to a town I remember from an old Eagles song…
And our last tourist stop along this portion of Route 66…in Gallup, NM….the El Rancho….if you like old Hollywood, then this is the place for you….
Much more to see…more road to travel…but along Route 66 you get an idea of days gone past…gone past too fast. Don’t miss the tourist attractions…that is why you went in the first place!
What kind of blog am I,
That will be widely read
It seems there are so many things
That I have been thinking of
What kind of blog am I
A travel blog
Or one on which
I share a tip in monologue
What kind of ideas are these
That inspire to heights
That create a want to travel
Its said that all are right
Why can’t I use my words
Like any other blog
And let the world reply
What kind of blog I am.
Since the beginning of our travels, which has only been since April of 2018, I have been struggling with the idea of a blog.
What to say. Why say it in the first place.
Should it be pictures of places we have been? Should it be about things that we learned along the way?
And so time has passed, and I have been hesitant to embrace this endeavor.
But I made a promise to a lot of people, that I would use this media to communicate our journey. And do it regularly enough that those we left behind would be able to feel a part of what we were doing.
And so a blog about the places we visited seemed the most logical.
But I watched a lot of YouTubes. Read a lot of blogs, and newsletters, and email blasts about RVing, and the trials and tribulations of getting started, and the joys of the continued journey.
And one of the things I realized is that there a lot of people starting this journey everyday. And just maybe I have a few things to share.
But I also realized that I find it difficult to put myself out there as any kind of expert on this subject. I am just a 69 year old guy, who, along with his lovely wife, decided one day to live in an RV fulltime. Period.
So I am going to talk about the places we have been. And I am going to talk about the things we do. And I am going to share things we have learned along the way…about things we did, and things we bought, and decisions we made.
And when I do that, it will be our experiences….not THE experience. Take it all for what it is worth. One couples’ opinions, thoughts, ramblings. Nothing more. Now I am not saying you might find them useful. That would be great. But you still have to make your own decision. And every decision is part fact, part emotion.
I was asked the other day, what is the best truck to pull a 5th wheel. And all I could really impart is about the truck I chose. It was the best for me. Not THE best. But I can/will tell you how I made MY choice…things to consider when making YOUR choice.
So buckle up and come along on our journey. Follow our wanderings, my ramblings, and the opinions of someone who honestly wants you to use your own powers to plot your new course.
Dan and Patty
One of our first stops after leaving Estes Part at the end of the season, was the Albuquerque Balloon Fest. Several of the other hots at Mary’s Lake were also going, but they were to be there for the first week….we would be there for the end of the final week.
You have seen the pictures….hundreds of colorful hot air balloons, rising up into the morning sky.
Well, I am here to tell you that pictures do not even come close to capturing the feeling and atmosphere of being there in person. This is truly one of those things you have to experience in person.
So, since I will not be able to adequately relate the experience, I will show you pictures, and hope that these, along with all the other facebook posts, and blogs, and personal messages you have seen and received from others will encourage you to put the Albuquerque Balloon Fest on your Bucket List!
We went for two days….one evening, and one morning session. And trust me when I tell you, you will not be alone. Embrace the crowds and look up….its all happening above you.
The evening session was highlighted by the Shape Glowdeo….over 100 different shaped balloons, tied to the ground, utilizing their propane flames to light up the balloons. And for this, the sound is as much a part of the experience as the sights. Here are some of our visuals.
The following morning, we went for the Mass Ascension. It starts about 6a….with the Dawn Patrol, and then the majority of balloons lift off starting around 7a. Again, you have to be there to really get the full impact of hundreds of balloons, and thousands of people. Here are our visuals.
Enjoyed it?? You bet. A once in a lifetime experience. Makes you want to think about going to other renowned events….Quartzsite for the big RV show; Oshkosh for the planes; Hershey for the Corvettes…..
Anyway, hope you make it to Albuquerque some day. You will not regret it.
There is a magazine we picked up at the Visitor Center, with the very creative title of ESTES PARK….guess that was an easy choice.
Anyway, there is a listing of many of the hikes in the area, categorized by difficulty….one footprint (easy ) to four footprints (to be ignored).
We have been working our way thru the one footprint hikes, and our most recent was Alberta Falls (Note: as I was writing this, I noticed this is a 2-footprint hike…well good for us!).
There are two ways to get to Alberta Falls….well there might be more….but the ones we knew about were from Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge. We chose the latter.
By the way, the map at the bottom of the above picture is not of our hike, but of the shuttle bus route, just in case you wanted to replicate our hike!
It is a gentle incline, just 210 feet in elevation gain, and listed at 1.6 miles up and back. It was later in the afternoon, so the temps were very tolerable….and the scenery was impressive as always.
I mean, where else can you sit at the roots of a tree that looks like it has been there forever!
But we were there for the Falls, and all along the trail you could hear the sound of rushing water. Just a little further…
Had to take the ubiquitous selfie..
and the signpost shot…..
While we were sitting, admiring the view, we were visited by a furry friend…
(keep this picture in mind, it becomes important later in the post)
before heading back down. And looking back up the trail…
these are steps cut into the rocks…can even see drill marks…
It was a wonderful afternoon, and I the drive home we spotted this along the side of the road…
…our first MOOSE sighting!!!
Remember that photo I told you would be important later? Well if you are following along, you know that on this day we say MOOSE and SQUIRREL!!!! Frostbite Falls Forever!!! Not sure how many other childhood TV memories I can work into these posts, but I will always endeavor to try!
It was a wonderful weather afternoon yesterday, and even though we had worked the morning shift in the campground store, we figured we would head out and see what we could see.
So we headed to Bear Lake, which is also the jumping off place for several other scenic lakes.
The sign in the Park said BEAR LAKE PARKING FULL, but it was later in the afternoon, so we forged ahead.
It was crowded when we arrived….
….but the Rangers saved us a BIG spot once they saw us coming!
One of the suggestions is to take the FREE shuttle, either from the Visitors Center, or the Park and Ride within the Park
For you map people….YOU ARE HERE!
Next big decision for the day, was which way to go?
We headed for Nymph Lake…..and the beginning of the trail looked like this!
No problem! And off we went to Nymph Lake! And we were rewarded with beautiful views!
On the way to our next stop, Dream Lake, there was a little downhill detour involved, to this wonderful stream..
And then on a little further….we were almost there!
Hike a bit more, around a few more corners, and there is was…Dream Lake.
We had talked to several people on the trail, and they had said this was the prettiest of the 3 lakes, and Emerald was another 1.2 miles round trip….but the deciding factor….thunder, lightening and HAIL!! Figured it was time to head for the parking lot!
Made it back….just a bit wet…and you remember that original distance sign….Bear Lake was just 256 FEET from the parking lot…so we just had to go there too!!
And we were not disappointed…what a beautiful body of water…and a nice flat walking path around the lake.
So that was our afternoon. Not a bad way to spend a couple free hours!
So this past Thursday, as we were contemplating what to do with our day off, we remembered the Estes Valley Farmers Market was open for the Summer.
Did you remember to go? Those of you not living in Estes Park CO are not obligated to answer that question.
Anyway, we have been to a wide variety of Farmers Markets…used to be a vendor when we were selling worms!
And I have to tell you this is one of the better ones.
Fresh everything….produce, cheese ( got some delicious goat cheese), smoked salmon, pastries (cinnamon rolls made it home to our house), musical wooden frogs, wine, pretzels (buy one of these and then head to the cheese vendor…almost like lunch), bread, flowers.
Every THURSDAY..8a-1p….had a postcard I was going to use a graphic, but lost it.
See you there!!
But wait…after the Market, you own yourself the joy of wandering across the street ( behind the Subway ) to enjoy the beautiful riverfront park.
I am going to rewind the clock to Xmas 2017 (EDITORS NOTE: it was in reality, Mothers Day 2017)….you know that day when you try to pick the perfect gift and somewhere in the back of you mind you know socks will just not do.
If you know Patty ( Grammy to many ), she can be difficult to buy for. But one thing is for certain…she loves her pony packs!!
So son Mike, daughter-in-law Kim and grandsons Nick and Cooper came up with the perfect gift. A GARDEN! In conjunction with the City of Parker, there is now a corner of town designated as “Grammys Garden”.
We all had the chance to visit this last weekend….and pictures DO NOT do it justice. It was absolutely unbelievably pretty!!
But a gardeners work is never done!
There was more to do that day….but one thing for sure….Grammy was VERY happy!!
We survived! 270 miles from Frisco to Livingston, TX, down near Houston. Going to be here for a couple of days. Got a call enroute from DPS ( I was going to take my Class A Driving test while here)…seems they have changed the requirements as of late, and not I have to take an additional written test before taking the driving test! So, at the end of this first day, I find myself sitting in front of a computer, trying to learn yet another section of the CDL Manual. Fun.
But lets get back to our day. All went pretty well. There was one accident on the road, and it happened right in front of us….pickup got hit and turned 90 degrees across the traffic lane!! But I was being a good defensive driver, and had left plenty of room, so was able to stop without an issue. Whew!!
But it was the conversation that was the interesting part. We both realized that this is now us….on the road….pulling our home behind us. Had not quite sunk in….but it will.
Off to more study….
So we are about to hit the road and I read this random post that says you need a non-commercial Class A DL in Texas IF your CGWR is over 26001. Guess what? Our truck and coach come in close to 30000 lbs!! And I panic. Seems it can cost a pretty penny if stopped and you don’t have the proper license. Seems your insurance company might consider you “unlicensed” if you have an accident and don’t have the proper license. Great. And its less than two weeks before we hit the to Colorado. Sooooo…..quick find of Chapter 14 of the CDL Brochure….quick study of some of the most irrelevant stuff I have ever read…..like what is the minimum height for side reflectors ( 24 inches). Anyway, today I sat in the DPS ( Texas version of the DMV) for the better part of 3 hours, to take a 10 minute, 20 question test! The clerk said I had three tries to pass….I told her it better not take more than one. And it didn’t !! Now I have to arrange for the driving portion….gonna do that before we get out of Texas. Should be good to go.