Thursday, December 31, 2009

A blue moon new year's wish

Greetings from clear and chilly we approach the arrival of 2010 we're fading in resolve to see the new year in. Music from a live band can be heard nearby but without tickets, there's no entry for us. No matter, this park and it's trails, pools and hot tub have been restful after our long trip west. We can do without the dancing tonight, and we may even stay up long enough to hear the shouts and cheers for the new year. And if not, we'll still have our resolutions for the new year and decade tomorrow morning. More music, movies and mindless fun for least for me as I leave my 50's. More serious resolutions are also on the list, too. Now to see how to make it happen...our best to all for a happy, prosperous and fulfilling new year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What happened to Christmas

Well, we did make it all the way to southern CA for the holidays. Had an extra day between Phoenix and Yucaipa due to a wind/sandstorm that hit us at the Colorado River. We decided to pull over in scenic Desert Center for the evening to let it pass. We still had a head wind the next day but without the sand and visability issues. Great as always to see the wind turbines through Banning Pass just west of Palm Springs dancing in the breeze.

Arrived at my sister's house and settled in to getting ready for the holidays. Went to bed early to be ready for Christmas Eve and finalizing gifts, wrappings and arrangements. We did a big dinner out at my mom's favorite restaurant, Marie Callendars and we all went home stuffed and contented. Around 5am my stuffed contentment became too much to contain and full scale stomach flu-virus erupted! What a day, Christmas Day, my memories are dim. I recall up close and personal with every toilet in the area right on through the evening. Had no stomach for food and only by 6pm was I able to take in some peppermint tea. Any semblance of appetite didn't return until Sunday, and even then only mildly so. It was a postcard Christmas dinner with the turkey, ham, cranberries, yams, etc and "auntie" Linda's trifle. (Bro-inlaw Bruce's sister). I could only look at the food and plates all set, smell briefly and quickly exit the room...but life got better on Saturday, a little, and Sunday pretty much back to normal. But, my sweetie, Ms. Nancy, now had the virus full force and was suffering equally with the same symptoms. Poor Baby...So we continue to improve and will again soon be out and about. Happy trails and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy winter solstice

(Shaman's Eye, Mojave National Preserve, near winter solstice, 2008; photo by R. Taley)

Holiday Greetings!
We arrived well after finishing the trip through ElPaso, LasCruces, NM, Willcox and Chandler. We're enjoying friends and the big city with it's Barnes & Nobles, used bookstores and last minute gift temptations. We've enjoyed our time here but looking to move along to SoCal for the holidays. Today we celebrated our 30th anniversary with day out. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with friends at our favorite local restaurant near our friend's house in Scottsdale. Leaving in the morning for sister's family in Yucaipa, CA. Expecting some rain and clouds for the drive west..hope for a nice ride and not much headwind. Happy holidays...

(Below at the Carlsbad Restaurant for dinner on our anniversary)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Back in the 'hood

We're still traveling but have made great progress and are now back in AZ, a lot longer a trip than we remember from May and a lot faster than we originally planned. That's 2400miles to date and another 400 to go. That's a lot of carbon kharma. Will have to sit tight awhile...but we wanted to make it to SoCal and Christmas with my 85 y.o. mother and baby sister and family. So...away we went. Rain and humidity all the way to SanAntonio area. Laid over 3 nights in Beaumont,TX due to winds, rain and fatigue. Managed a visit to Barnes and Noble, dinner out and then back on the road. Took the scenic lower US90 across Texas. BTW, it's still over 500miles across from SanAnto to El Paso in case you wondered.

(Our little home looking across West Texas; hard work for the Prius to push that big motorhome!)
Managed leisurely driving at average 6 hours/day and with motorhome that's plenty for us. Managed an overnight in Del Rio, TX and included a walk over the RioGrande river to Mexico for a reconnoiter and a few Rx drugs. Nothing like a walk over a long bridge and through a desperately poor town on a day of overcast and drizzle. Tourism was really down and a number of pharmacies and dentists office looked permanently closed and the "medical" tourism was down as well. Our economy may be in difficulty but theirs is in disaster.

Spent several nights parked along the roadside as it is acceptable to overnight in picnic and roadside rest areas out west, and very much UNlike in the east where only an RV park in authorized for overnights. We also stayed in Elks Lodge parking areas, Walmarts lots and in front of friends houses. Such is the nomads' life.

Went out with friends last night to Anti-Defamation League program on "Hate and Intolerance". Very interesting Independent Lens produced documentary on the history of Indian boarding schools and the prevalent philosophy of "killing the Indian and saving the man or woman". The efforts all appeared Christian-motivated and well-intentioned. There were many Native peoples in the audience who after the film, shared their personal experiences or those of their parents or grandparents. Quite a moving evening. What was most clear was the corruption of innocence, abuse and insensitivity
(Chihuahuan desert near Willcox, AZ-yuccas)

endured from otherwise well-meaning people. It was also clear that absent these type of people, the predominant national feeling was to simply "exterminate the savages". Their were a lot of tears and heartfelt hurt displayed. Also brought up was the parallels with attitudes today towards immigrants, Muslims, gays and other groups. Unfortunately there were only 50 to 75 people in attendance.

Will enjoy our time with friends in Phoenix area and head out soon for SoCal and family there. Happy trails.

(New tombstone for youngest of Earp Brothers who was reported to be a hot head and drunk who met his maker in Willcox, AZ after 1 bar fight too many)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rolling through north Florida

We made the departure and have logged nearly 500 miles so far. Our first day took us across the drained everglades and now sugar cane fields around the south and east ends of Lake Ockechobee. Many of these lands are scheduled to be removed from cane production and reverted to the flowing "river of grass". Today we drove through the citrus regions of central Florida and on into the pine forest regions of the north central region. We're in Perry, FL tonight along rte. 19 and home of the forest products industry based on the longleaf pine cultivation and processing. Spent the early part of last night fighting with my 9 year old printer which spilled ink everywhere, including the center of the bedspread! What a mess, including my hands and clothes. The printer has been banished to the basement, and may just have to go. Haven't exactly figured out what happened, but appears to be the overspray reservoir overflowed after all these years. Later, we had a fitful sleep waiting out a hard wind and rain which left our motorhome in a sea of water. Must say I was expecting to need a pullout this morning from the sandy soil where we were parked. But, sand also means good drainage, and no problems upon exit. Not much to say for my sleep deficit but hope for a more peaceful slumber tonight.

Forgot to mention the trip to the Florida Railroad Museum while in Miami. Enjoyed seeing the many displays of locomotives, Pullman sleeping cars, passenger cars and even FDR's own personal car.

This diesel locomotive ran the line originally through to Key West, and may have been on the line for the original "Orange Blossom Special."

As a sign of those times through the 1950's the second photo reminds us of the way it used to be in a significant part of the country. Seating, sleeping and eating arrangements were also "separate" and not equal...

Happy trails and hope to move along to Alabama tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ready to roll

Yes, we're still here in Florida, but we've begun the departure process! Monday we filled our fresh water tank, dumped the other tanks, hooked up the tow dolly and Priscilla Prius, and headed out on the highway. At least for 100 miles, enough to get our road legs (and seats) ready for the 2800 mile west coast drive.

We managed to spend the last month in south Miami area enjoying morning calls from our neighbors at the MetroZoo next door. Most notable were the very loud cries from the howler monkeys. These loud calls took us back to the last time we had heard the howlers while we were traveling to the Mayan ruins of Yachitlan on the Mexican/Guatemalan border way back in 1990. We heard them but had never been able to see them "howling" until this visit to Miami...and here's the picture (and brief video if I can get it loaded It's sideways and I'm unable to rotate it so please bear with!) of the howler with the throat pouch expanded for the calls.

Our days were similar but rarely the for visits to our regular "mataratos" (time spenders) at the local Barnes and Noble where a coffee/tea break could last for hours of reading the latest current events magazines. It answers our need for the familiar in the changing world of RV travel...all B&N are laid out the same, serve good coffee/tea and don't mind geezers and others taking up tablespace in the cafe. Plus, we always put our materials back on the shelves where they belong; a habit not universally shared.

We enjoyed the beach at Miami Beach where son Bill recently got an apartment. The ocean is a special place for us since we lived on the Pacific coast of Mexico for 2 years. It's something we miss in our desert southwest travels. This time of year the water was still in the 80's and extremely swimmable. Tom even managed a couple of scuba diving excursions off Key Largo in the National Marine Sanctuary. Nancy managed to enjoy her time reading, drinking iced tea and going along for the after-dive seafood dinner. The reefs at 25'-40' below were quite degraded but reef fish seemed abundant, even an occasional ray, nurse shark and barracuda made guest appearances.
(Cruise ships leave Miami harbor off Miami Beach)

Also spent a day exploring the nearby Everglades National Park...the "River of Grass" which flows from Lake Ockechobee 50 miles wide, a few feet deep and for 80 miles to Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The predominant vegetation appears to be sawgrass, a razor wiry sharp grass interspersed with hardwood hammocks of native mahogany and bald cypress. And, of course lots of water birds and the ubiquitous alligator. It was a wonderful day of sunshine and fleecy clouds, short, self guided hikes. This time Tom went solo as Nancy continues to convalesce from a torn achilles tendon and related conditions. Plus, she didn't want to be the mosquito trap she usually is in some place reknowned for flying pests such as these wetlands...even in the dry season. We find in our travels and with our close quarters that sometimes a day apart is a cherished event...especially when one likes to "see everything" and the other would like to "sit, relax and savor" especially with an iced tea and a good book.

Even with all this, our on the road life still requires trips to hardware stores for repair items, the grocery, Costco, as well as conducting general maintenance, washing the car/RV, doing the wash, sweeping and cleaning the homespace and just daily activities...we just feel so fortunate to do these tasks in different parts of the country with the opportunity to visit some great locations. Happy trails for to central Florida and to the other end of the state...nearly 700 miles from Miami to Pensacola! At our rate that's a long drive and only the beginning. Happy trails from Loxahatchee!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Miami! We're Here

(View of Miami downtown and Miami Beach in distance from causeway to Key Biscayne...great place to watch clouds and weather patterns)

Well, we've been here for awhile. Not sure where time went, but so have we as we've driven many times around the city, from our home in the county park in southwest part of city, to son Bill's apartment out on Miami Beach, to scuba diving off Key Largo and to several tasty Cuban, Haitian and other latin restaurants in between. It's surprising how great the weather is this time of year. We arrived 2 weeks ago to a real tropical
downpour, and that was about the last day of rain. Since then we've seen humidity and temps remain unseasonably high (88+F) but in the last couple of days, it finally looks like fall temps are returning, and the balance of our stay is moderating.

(Tomatoes for wintertime eastcoast eating in Homestead)

I guess dueling technologies are to blame for this belated update on our travels. We're also on Facebook and it appears quicker to add a line or two and a real time taker to read through all updates listed by friends from around the country than recall events and insights for the blog. In a sense we may be getting to the "Too much information" stage and need to withdraw from the wired/wireless world to regain time and perspective. I also just got a new laptop and have been dealing with the time consuming process of moving files. And, I'm now finding out too late, that many of my favorite programs from the mid 1990s will not operate on the new Win7/64 bit machine. I'm as yet unable to accept this reality. I will continue to look for work arounds and/or new and "free" programs like I've been using, until the inevitable "pay up to play" reality sinks in, and I break down or decide to do without. And that will depend on the $$ as always.

For those looking for information on solar electricity from our recent interview on RV Dream Radio, here's a few links to get you started:, a good overall magazine and website with fundamentals of renewable energy written by and for the homeowner/DIY be it solar PV, thermal, wind, hydro, electric vehicle etc. A couple other sites specifically for RVs are: in Yuma, AZ and in Scottsdale, AZ. For those interested, we have a 4 part series of introductory solar articles we wrote for our RV club magazine a few years ago...if interested drop us an email and we'll send them along.

That's it for now. Happy trails...
Friends Mary and Elaine stopped by for a boomer visit and lunch before heading off on cruise to the Bahamas...Happy cruisin' folks!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's finally Florida

Arrived today amidst another rain, only this time it appeared more as steam. Humidity at 90+ and temps in low 80's. What happened to fall? Managed a long day of driving and following bikers en route to the BikerFest in Daytona Beach. No RV camping within 50miles so had to drive on. Presently near Titusville and Cape Canaveral area again after 350+ mile day. (That's a very long day for us RVers, especially when we have to start at the crack of 10am!) Arrived to set up and found our internet GPS system had failed so worked on work around for awhile and got it operational. Our satellite system is what keeps us connected, though I sometimes wonder at its cosmic worth...Took a walk and managed to step on some fire ants in the dark (and was bit several times before remembering where I was and what the pain might be from). AND, while the northeast is preparing for snow, it's back to air conditioning here as it feels like a fetid swamp. Hey, maybe that's what it really is.

On to Miami in the morning. Ah, family...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A rainy drive

A long day in the driver's seat with rain an all day companion as we descended from the high western NC mountains to the near sea level along I-95 near St George, SC. We had a brief exploration of Spartanburg, SC when we spotted a COSTCO near the I-26 freeway. We saw an ramp exit close by but we took wrong turn and ended up miles away. Even stopped to ask directions, thought we were heading off right again when the fellow who helped (and who gave me a Jesus tape and prayed me well) out came flying by us in his pickup and signaled for us to follow. It appears he failed to tell us of a critical right turn away from the railroad tracks, not over them as he told me! Since we're about 55 feet long and don't bend in the middle easily, it was a bit hairy finding someplace to turn around and get rerouted. Well, another 3 miles or so he delivered us almost to the Costco door. He then turned his truck around, waved, smiled and drove off. Great fellow. We did our bit of shopping, mostly cheeses, then moved on back to the interstate. Noted all the kudzu growing in the middle elevations over trees and bushes. Understand that it's quite an invasive species in this region. It's supposed to be edible and used quite a bit in Japanese cooking. Too bad it's not better promoted as a free, nutritious green here. Or maybe it'd be better to "forbid" it to be picked so that folks might be tempted to defy and have at it. "Make it forbidden and they will come" sort of logic. Better yet, start a campaign to promote it as an "aphrodisiac" or a "natural male enhancement" like some of the TV ads regularly seen. Lots of thoughts while driving in an all day rain. Happy trails...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Asheville, NC...leaf colors are changing

Here we are Saturday evening at the Solar Decathlon along the Mall.
Arrived in Asheville, NC this afternoon after spending night along and in shadow of I-81...a rather noisy experience, along the New River near Radner, VA. Good day for travel with overcast skies and moderate temps. Same today and a bit of disappointment as there were some pretty trees along the route, especially as we began to climb into the mountains of western North Carolina along I-26. We decided at last minute to change the route and travel another we never had been on. Glad we did. Arrived mid afternoon with enough time to cruise the town and a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs through and terminates near here. We had traveled the first part of this years ago in our VW bus en route to Mexico, but this time we're a little more time conscious and we've found that winding and weaving, narrow roads are fun in the VW bus, but in a 39+motorhome and towed it's a lot more work and white knuckles. We didn't have time this visit for more touristing. A big attraction for the area is the Biltmore Estate, mountain home of the Vanderbilts of the Gilded Age. Nancy came here years ago in her prior life in the Arabian show and training circuit and actually dined at the Biltmore with her employer who was friends of the owners. There's an annual 100 mile endurance trail ride with Arabian horses held in the fall and her then husband was a trainer for a famous Maryland Arabian farm. My interest is minimal now since it costs quite a bit to tour, and after Versailles and other European chateaus, I'm tired of gawking at rich people's houses and lifestyles. Not to say I'm not interested in the woodworking and the techniques and technology applied, but that's not usually the focus of these tours. I do wonder, though, what Bill Gates' house will be like to view in 100 years and to view the state of art technology as history.
We're leaving out in the morning southbound along I-26 and hope to make it into Georgia or beyond. Weather says 100% rain, so need to tighten up everything tonight. So...happy trails for now...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Live from Reston, VA

This finds us enjoying fall in Northern Virginia. We arrived Friday in time to set up and head out to dinner with Nancy's cousin, Russell and his wife, Anne, in nearby historic Leesburg. Saturday took us to TOWN, DC that is, and the Newseum. This is a fascinating 6 story museum about the "news"and the role of all media, print, radio, TV, the internet, in American life and it's relevance with our maintaining our status as a functioning and vibrant democracy. The historical side was very interesting and also helped give perspective to today's polarity and extremes in viewpoints and level of discourse. We could have stayed longer but they kicked us out at 5pm. But there was still enough time to take in the Solar Decathlon a few blocks away on the Mall in front of the old Smithsonian. This has become an annual competition for home design, energy efficiency and renewable energy and low carbon footprint construction. ( We were able to see and photograph all 20 of the participating univerisities entries and come away in awe of the design, thinking and potential that many of these "homes" represented, and the enthusiasm of the students who were representing their schools and the future. Universities included major US landgrant institutions like Penn State and Cornell, as well as entries from Puerto Rico, Germany and Spain.

And on Sunday, Ms. Nancy needed a rest and day off. Tom, on the other hand, went on for a wonderful afternoon visit with an old Georgetown friend and his wife. We all enjoyed ourselves tasting some of Loudon County Virginia's wines at Sunset Hills Winery in the Waterford wine district. It seems that the area has grown from 5 small wineries to over 25 in just a couple of decades. The area is promoting itself as DC Wine Country and from the experience with just this one winery, the future looks very positive for the industry here. It also appears to be a good way to slow the breakup of the traditional farming lands and lifestyle which subdivisions and developments are doing here, over 45 miles west of Washingon.

Tomorrow we begin the travels south in earnest...We're due in Miami by Friday, 16 October. Time to get serious about driving and it looks like it will be pretty much interstates since we've dawdled too long in the north and must now make up the time. Happy trails and will write along as we can...
ps...I'll try to post some photos when I get setup and an image resizer for Windows VISTA on my new laptop. It's a pain shifting files and programs over from my trusted XP but technology marches on at twice the capacity for 1/2 the price. Problem is to upload regular 2mb pictures via satellite internet at dialup speeds takes forever unless they are resized. Downloads aren't too bad @ 350-700kbps with this technology...and it's portable and solar operated.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

From along I-81 southbound

Natural Gas drilling rig setup between Troy and Canton, PA...this is part of the energy future of the area as the Marcellus Shale formation is explored and exploited from NY to WV. This strike promises to be a boom for the area financially for many years to come. It also carries the seeds of concern and danger for the beauty and health of the area and its residents. On the higher side is the build out of up to 170+ wind turbines on top of Armenia. These will be seen dancing in the winds for miles around the Canton, Troy, Mansfield area and for years to come.

Greetings from Hagerstown & DC area...

After several farewell dinners, hugs and heavy hearts (stomachs and bodies, too. We both gained much of our hard lost pounds back this summer) we pulled out of Alparon Park on Monday morning bound for the warm and sunny south...eventually we hope. Here in Hagerstown, MD we've made our "home" at the local Elks Club and continue our "meet, greet and eat" circuit with more old friends and family (this time from Nancy's side of the aisle). I think we're about done in with all the gatherings and will try to do a bit of sightseeing in Washington then hit the highway to continue down towards Miami...more in a few days.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Climate control via ignition key

Back in Troy after hectic trip to SoCal and visit with sister and infirm mother. Doubt that I accomplished much other than be a calming presence for a moment or two. Before I began to try to fix an unfixable situation. Doesn't look like mother is candidate for coratid artery surgery due to health and stroke danger at this time. She can't continue to live independently either, so it's time to pack up and move on to a more supportive environment. And that's where we're at; Searching for that special and "perfect" place...I from PA and sister from there. Looks like this will continue for a few weeks or longer. SO...
We're now looking at the last days of scramble to visit and be visited by friends and family. We're constantly amazed about the warmth and quality of friendships that we still have in the area after an absence of more than 17 years. It's gratifying to be where we have a history with friends over 30 years. Enjoyed meeting up with many at recent Heritage Festival here at Alparon Park. Ran into people from my much younger days growing up nearby Canton and classmates from the class of 1967. Interesting to see how so many of them had gotten so much older, and that I had somehow not changed much at all:)
But, it's soon time to follow the geese we've begun to hear overhead. Nightime temps in the cold and damp 40's and days without sun seem too numerous. Looking to warm up a bit by rousing our sleeping CAT and pointing it south towards a warmer place...Florida is on the distant horizon. But more later...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Change in scenery expected

We found mold growing in our sun oven due to a preponderance of Pennsylvania precipitation this summer. This just after our article on getting started with solar cooking appeared in the Escapees RV Club magazine! The weather has finally turned blue sky beautiful last but it appears that fall is not far off.

The energy economy of PA's northern tier saw the completion and erection of the first wind turbines on nearby Armenia mountain this month. One of the work crews here at our summer home in Alparon Park is the crane operators responsible for setting these 275' turbine towers and blades in place. Quite a technical skill and quite a new sight clearly visible on the mountain top just west of downtown Troy.

We enjoyed a great night of music with the Texas swing band, Asleep at the Wheel, last night in downtown Towanda at the Keystone Theater, formerly known as the Hale Opera House built in 1886. The arts have received a real boost from the efforts of the Bradford County Regional Arts Council which took on the project of restoring and refurbishing landmark theaters in Towanda, Sayre and Canton, PA. They also bring music, art, theater to the area schools in addition to public performances and first run movies. A great asset for this very rural area of the northeast.

Tomorrow I'm flying west to SoCal again to visit and assist my mother who's been having some serious health difficulties lately. My sister needs a hand while we begin to look for alternative living arrangements in addition to preparing for surgery in the shortrun. It's difficult to project the outcome, but it's what's necessary now. Happy trails and more later...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Still enjoying the northeast...

Well folks, it's a summer that defies categorization, and doesn't lend well to blog entries, either. It's been a summer of old friends, rainy weather with occasional sunshine and mild blue skies.This is a new economy, an energy-booming area and all our RVing neighbors here are workers with either the pipeline, gas drilling and wind generator companies. Most have their families with them here on "pipeline alley" at Alparon Park, Troy, PA. They are a great bunch of hard working family men from West Virginia, Wisconsin, Mississippi and lots of other places. We've also enjoyed having the 134th annual Troy Fair in our backyard but our sleeptime suffered as a result. The tractor pulls were two late nights, the country music headliner another and the last two nights finished us off with the Demolition Derby! It was the biggest draw of the fair. What is it about us that we crave smashing up cars as a spectator sport?

We've been gone long enough to where we don't recognize or remember more than half of who we meet. And for the ones we remember (and they remember us), it's hard to say because they've all gotten so much older. Not us, of course, as we're still full of vim and potential. It's just that we may be a bit greyer and slower to respond. We've had potluck dinners like we remember with all food cooked from scratch and most fresh from the garden. We are long time gardeners and most of our close friends here are the same. It's always great to be invited to pick fresh from the garden. But it's not a great year for tomatos and potatos around these parts as the blight has wiped out most everyone's crops. Root crops, crucifers and corn seem to have benefited from the overbountiful rains. With the cooler temps many are still picking lettuce and now readying a fall planting early. I've managed a few local hikes, a kayak trip down a stretch of the Susquehanna River, played music with friends and even attended a bluegrass festival.

Unlike a movie of a similar title, this is the summer of "one wedding and three funerals". Not the ratio we prefer, but at our ages it's becoming more the norm. The wedding was a grand time of old and new friends, bluegrass music, delicious food and a beautiful young bride-friend and her handsome new husband. One passing was of a very dear friend and aunt, Marian, my dad's oldest sister, who was always a special person to me and one who will be very much missed by all who knew her. She was a woman who could always find contentment and the positive in life, even when times and events don't lend themselves easily to such a view. The other two funerals were of boyhood friends; all the more poignant. These are good attention-getters as we must remember to sing & dance more and enjoy the flowers along our way; our season's getting shorter every year.

And so tonight it's off to dinner with friends and if the weather holds, fireworks on the Susquehanna River. Happy trails and keep in touch...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

In the hills of PA

Well, we've made it back to where we began our nomadic lifestyle nearly 17 years ago. We've changed and so has the old home place. We're presently parked at Alparon Park, our local fairground in Troy, PA off US Rte 14 & US Rte 6. We're on what we call "pipeline alley" along with the 5the wheelers working in the newly discovered natural gas fields. This strike is considered one of the largest in the country and should bring prosperity and problems for years to come. The area won't be the same and that's the way change happens, I guess.

Had a good trip north along US I-95 to greater Washington area. A quick trip to TraderJoes, and a dinner with Nancy's cousin, a quick visit to her parents graves and on through along I-81, US 15 then US 14.

We're looking forward to a month or so in the area visiting our ever-dwindling family and making the rounds with old and new friends. There are a couple of weddings on the agenda, music and the annual Troy Fair, along with some visits to far away and exotic places like Ithica, NY and Moosewood to perhaps some camping and even kayaking. There's lots of water here and more comes almost every day! I'd forgotten about this area's summer rains, even though Ms. Nancy has reminded many, many times. Happy trails...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Achieving escape velocity

Well, looks like we're on our way again after nearly 6 weeks in the Miami area we're northbound. Hard to leave the food and all those mangos behind, but it was time. Plan to be back in September anyway, so great opportunity to enjoy the rain and cold of NE Pennsylvania.

Made it as far as Cape Canaveral where we hoped for an opportunity to observe the rescheduled shuttle launch. We found a great RV park at Manatee Hammock County Park located just across the causeway from the Kennedy Space Center and only 8 miles or so from the launch pad. Great location and open view across the Indian River to where it was all happening...or at least scheduled to happen. The launch was scheduled for 5:35am, 17 June and we were ready. Early to bed, alarm set...then a phone call at midnight. Wrong number from Phoenix! Back to sleep, sort of. Finally, no sleep and back up at 3am to check countdown status via the internet. Oh no! Mission scrubbed as hydrogen leak again detected. Great Scott. Back to bed and sleep again. Well, not to say the whole trip was for naught, enjoyed the Space Center, tour, exhibits and museums. And another launch the next day of the Lunar Recon Vehicle so why not stay another day? And we did. Nice time to explore scenic downtown Titusville and environs as well as return to the Space Center. Clouds were building throughout the day and a nasty thunderstorm was building from the west...even some lightning and a bit of rain. Great! Well the short of the story is that the Atlas V rocket eventually did go, on the last launch window of the day. It wasquite an experience as we saw the ship lift off with large plume and flame, and about 30 or so seconds later came the roar and rumble. We've been told that the shuttle launch would have been many times more powerful. Wow! Now, there's the small matter of schedule and how to get there again.

As for now, we're well along the road north. Tonight near Richmond, VA and tomorrow on to the Washington, DC metro area on the VA side for visit and dinner with Nancy's cousin, a quick visit to TraderJoe's and on to PA for doctor's visit for Ms.Nancy. Her injured achilles tendon has not improved over the past 8 months and has become quite painful and debilitating. Time to deal with it and hopefully we'll be able to attend it well while visiting our old home area of Troy, PA. More later on ... Happy trails

Saturday, June 6, 2009

And it's still raining

Please don't get the idea that we're obsessed with the rain. We try not to be, but it appears our days revolve around a little sunshine in the early morning, then wondering how much and when rains will begin. Even now our little Prius is still at the Toyota dealership "drying out" and having seats and carpet removed after we were flooded out yesterday afternoon after 9" of rain fell in 2 hours out on Miami Beach! We were at Bill's apartment with car parked out on the street when it hit= the lightening and thunder, the winds and then the rain. We had just arrived when the storm hit with now reported over 100 lightening strikes in that short time. Sounded like bombs going off everyplace. Quite a freaky event...very intense.

BTW, the picture above is after the rains had stopped and the water had gone down. I had to go barefoot, pants rolled up to get my "rain sandals" and camera from the car. Actually, water level was above door bottom, and the not so water resistant doorseal.

Spent 3 hours at dealership today as all commercial water removal companies failed to return our calls. Must be they were busier with bigger deals than our little Prius. We're really concerned about mildews and molds since those are Nancy's known allergens, and no amount of my shamwow activity was getting at the water underneath the carpet liner. Dealership was pretty busy, but with regular weekenders getting general service work done. Interesting was the mix of technological activity in the waiting room ranging from books & big screen tv to IPhones, texting, IPods and even free wifi...but the free coffee wasn't that great!

Can't pick up car until Monday. Thankful that it looks like it will work out well inspite of the $$ and hassle...check out if you want to see some of the other storm happenings about 4 blocks from our location. We're really begining to miss the desert southwest! happy trails, tom and nancy

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Still raining in Miami...

Rain...every day it rains from late morning until late afternoon. We'd somehow forgotten about this small fact of life in subtropical southeast. But given there has been such a drought here for so long, everyone, it appears, is grateful and even excited. Sure could use some of this water in SoCal and AZ, but looks pretty dry out that way. We're still doing well with just a little mold noted between the grows slowly on this dried-out hide:)

Have enjoyed some sightseeing at the MetroZoo and Seaquarium. Hope to get to a few museums and beaches this week along with helping set up Bill's new apartment. Tom managed to try out his aqualungs this week with a pool review of his scuba skills after over 10 years on terrafirma. Now to get out to a reef for a little diving.

Mangoes are still falling from the trees. We've even managed to freeze a few packages. Starting to O.D. on all that fruit, but such a wonderful treat it's been. We enjoyed fresh citrus in CA and AZ and now this...hope to enjoy some peaches as we move north through GA and on to PA for some sweet corn, blueberries and later apples. We do seem to travel with our stomachs driving the bus. Happy trail from along US 1 in south FL...tom and nancy

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Live from Miami

(Roadside phox and other signs we are in Florida; beautiful springtime roadshow across I-10 & FL)

Woke up this morning, looked out the window and realized that we're no longer in the southwest! A coconut palm out one window and playful squirrels in the live oak tree out the other. There's even a mango orchard next to the entrance here at the Thompson County Park in southwest Miami. Ajusting to the humidity and temps is the big challenge. Second is getting used to the kamikaze drivers around who apparently haven't learned benefit of turn signals or lane integrity! Yes, folks, I'm becoming that geezer I've been practicing to be for some time. Anyway, have already managed to find the Barnes & Noble cafe and partaked of our first lechon asado marinated roast pork), moros y cristianos(black beans and rice mixed) and fried bananas and the first of probably many Cuban restaurants. We begin our explorations today of the city and area after a nice bike ride in this very beautiful county-operated RV park adjacent to the Metro Zoo. Quite appropriate, really.
We're also experiencing intermittent issues with the satellite internet system and may not have regular access as long as the sun is shining and the humidity is high...we think everything has dried out to point that any moisture screws up the transmitter...too much time in the dry desert southwest. Happy trails for now...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tampa area...

Well, we continue to progress down towards our Miami destination but decided to take a day off from driving and stop in the Tampa area at a small RV park Lake Como. Our first day in more than a week of no motorhome driving. But, a large part of day was spent on the phone with Hughesnet Tech Support! Stopped long enough for the satellite internet modem, transmitter or something to malfunction. Fortunately we have wifi access in the we're cyber connected still. Quite an admission of dependence on this new technology even in the simpler, mobile lifestyle. Anyway, not sure how long we'll be offline, but will keep you posted. Our reservation in Miami is for Sunday, so hopefully we'll be up and going then. Until then, happy trails...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Into the land of GREEN!

We crossed the 100th meridian yesterday near Junction, TX, left the west of dry air and blue skies and entered the green lands of central Texas near San Antonio. We'd forgotten the many shades of green available in a watered landscape, like the shades of brown in the desert southwest. We noticed the relative humidity double from 17% to 35% as we made this transition, and now nearing Houston we're at 66% with overcast and drizzle. It's also how we now have all our clothes, linens etc. transformed into "laundry". Time to find an RV park and laundromat. We've enjoyed the many roadside parking overnight spots we've encountered along and near I-10 here in Texas. Today it's on through Houston to Louisiana. Happy trails...

Friday, May 1, 2009

West Texas

Roadrunner atop mesa overlooking Las Cruces, NM
And on closer examination, its a statue made of trash and recycled junk

It was a great time and a wonderful overnight with friends Al, Deanna and Chuck in Tucson. Unfortunately it was shorter than we would have liked, but the road to Miami is long. Left with great expectations for the drive east, but distances, time changes and general over the road fatigue combined for a shorter day than planned and we pooped out at 5pm and only 250miles. Today we made over 350miles and even had a sense of humor and a good walk after. We're in an area referred to as the Permian Basin, a large seabed millions of years ago that is today covered with limestone and dotted with old oil wells in the lowlands and wind electric turbines on the higher mesas. Here on a parallel road to an overnight camping site, we cross the Pecos River. after so many years, we're no longer west of the Pecos! Sweet Dreams and on again tomorrow. Our hope is to get beyond Houston by Sunday night, and there's a lot of Texas to go, so...Happy trails for now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Well, we achieved escape velocity by 10am yesterday...after a last minute flutter when the satellite internet dish wouldn't stow properly and a pair of broken glasses when Tom tried to wedge into a compartment to turn off a valve to prevent the fresh water tank from overflowing. But today was the day and that was it. We had a long day crossing the desert, enjoying the "dancing" windmills in Banning Pass near Palm Springs and then rush hour in Phoenix. 360 miles down, only 2300 more to Miami. We're staying with friends Al and Donna in Chandler and tonight we're on to Tucson and visit with other friends. Weather is sunshine and temps in the 80's. Looking forward to some travelin'...happy trails

Monday, April 27, 2009

Here we go...

Can't believe it's been two weeks. And in that time our plans have changed again. Looks like we're heading out in the morning bound for Miami, Florida to attend to family matters. Ah humidity and's been such a long time! Ah, the warm Atlantic and Keys, ah fried bananas, black beans and lechon too has been a long time.

So, these past days we've been spent readying the RV for the trip...grease, some fluid changes, cleaning out and reordering the basement and making sure the worms are all buckled up for the trip!

Have really enjoyed the time here in the Corona area. Managed to help out with compost and garden project here in the park. Also managed some time in the organic garden nearby at Glen Ivy along with some volunteer work with Riverside Waste Management in their public composting program. Some great hikes and swims...not bad but where did the 2 weeks go?

Also had some time with my mom who's improving a lot since the second surgery for a broken femur. Her attitude and outlook both have improved. Hopefully she'll continue improving and will actually enjoy getting out more. Nancy's adjusting to das "boot". The stiff walking boot to try and heal a badly torn achilles tendon in her right foot. It's been nearly 8 months since the original injury and still shows little improvement. We're going to try a bit of immobility for awhile.

That's it from here...hasta la vista for now folks

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From along the trail...

Well, Interstate 10 that is...we left our "home" at Lynx Lake Monday after a wonderful stay, good weather, good visits with friends and still with that special sense the Prescott remains "a place of the heart" for us in our travels.

We dropped down the "hill" along Hwy 89 and by noon we found ourselves in Congress and 15 F warmer. Time to change clothes to tshirts, shorts and sandals...time to readjust to 80F. Spring was well on, too, as we enjoyed the mallow, brittle bush and lupines along the roadside and desert for pretty much the whole trip. We decided to make for Desert Center, CA as a good overnight spot. We shared the night with others too tired to continue on in an abandoned space in what's left of a town. Although there is a RV resort, recreational lake and golf course a few miles to the north but the gas station/garage, market and small snack shop are boarded up. The only operating business appeared to be the US Post Office and a small cafe. The town appears to survive, if you can call it that, on the railroad workers that may still live around and the state highway department garrisoned here. If you look on any map, you'll see why this place is called Desert Center...

Off to Palm Springs and on into SoCal later today. Need to get some new window screens. These 10+ years of desert sun have left ours brittle and bedraggled. Nancy has done her best to keep them stitched up, but there comes a point. Time to support the economic recovery a bit.
Happy trails

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Prescott and the Central Highlands of Arizona

We left Yuma along I-8 after finally finding a tire facility that had a compressor large enough to air-up our tires. These tires at 110psi require more of a compressor than is normally found at fueling stations, and the inside dually rear tires require more "personal contortions" than can be made at a truck stop. Anyway we dawdled a bit and made it to Gila Bend, rested fueled up and weighed in on the truck scale...always a moment of truth as it had been 2 years since our last encounter with a truck scale. We weren't disappointed much by the fact that we hadn't lost much weight and still tipped in at a little over 27,000 pounds, and still under our GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating).
(From Left, Donna Ellis, Ms. Nancy, and Lori Nash preping the evening meal)
Spent a few days with friends in Scottsdale, a couple of hours up the road from Gila Bend. Mike and Lori are former fulltimers and may be again someday. They've both just retired in the past several months so it's great to see them catching up on household projects and making plans. We also enjoyed visit with other friends Al and Donna, also former RVers. Dinners, restaurants, a birthday party, bookstores and thrift stores and wonderful bike rides along the famous Scottsdale GreenWay urban park system filled our time nicely. Weather was great as temps in high 70s. Enjoyed seeing the rebirth of farmers markets in the greater Phoenix area. It was great to see they're even growing food in some urban and suburban farmsteads, in addition to the over 50 golf courses and countless yards landscaped straight out of the midwest designs and irrigated with scarce Colorado River water.

We moved up to Lynx Lake, in the Bradshaw mountains about 8 miles from downtown Prescott and took up of our favorite spots. We camp hosted here back in 2001 for the summer season and have always enjoyed the mountain breezes through the Ponderosa Pines, Junipers and Oaks. There is a 60 acre lake about 1/2 mile from our camp site. It always reminded us of our home back at Big Pond, Pa tucked in amongst the White Pines and Oaks. We're operating here off our solar electric battery system. We'll stay through Easter when we'll begin heading back west to California. Meanwhile, we'll visit with friends at the Highlands Center and others in town. We'll do a visit to our optometrist and Tom will do his not so regular medical visits, blood work etc. And did we mention walks in the woods? A great place with trails everywhere. But we're taking it slowly as we've been at near sea level for months, and the change in conditioning required here at 5600 feet ASL can leave you gasping a bit. Also, as signs of the times, Tom came across this sign while on a trail nearby...
So until another day...we hope you're enjoying life and springtime wherever you be. Happy trails, tom and nancy

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Olgivy Road, Yuma Area

Well, we've moved along and find ourselves in a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) area about 10 miles west of Yuma off I-8...quite a change from Tecopa over 350miles to the north. Our trip took us south across the Mojave Preserve and through the historic railroad town of Amboy complete with its cinder cone crater and straddling US Rt 66, the Mother Road of America. We found a nice spot to spend the night along the road and enjoyed spring wildflowers the next morning on a walkabout of the area. Later we drove through town and spotted the "shoe tree" next but didn't find any explanations from some folks we met in Amboy. Probably somebody had an extra pair and decided to leave a legacy...and so did many others! One of those many surprises and curiousities we've found along the road these many years.

Later that day we passed through Blythe and took the back road south along CA 78 to Olgivy Road/CA 34. It was a narrow rolling road with no shoulders and a bicycle tour group heading north. Felt badly for them because the traffic was pretty heavy, with a lot of trucks and RVs. Sure they were looking forward to a quiet and scenic ride, but that certainly didn't appear to be the case Tuesday.

Here we've come to make our annual dental visit in Algodones, BC, Mexico a few miles to the east and south of here. We've been making our annual trek here since 1995 and have had the same dentist almost since then.Yuma is the winter lettuce and greens capital of the country with many growers and packers taking advantage of the milennia of flooding from the Colorado River. It's a large winter gathering destination point for Snowbirds and RVers from all over the US and Canada. It's also home of the Yuma Proving Grounds where the US Army has a large R&D facility and the MarineCorps has a very active airbase. For us it's been a great winter climate, lots of public (BLM) land and plenty to do, or not, and a close proximity to Mexico.

We're taking advantage of the same income disparity which draws so many Mexican nationals here for work. It's quite surprising and sobering to see the many greybeards and snowbirds treking across the border for the relatively "low cost" dentists, optometrists and prescription drug pharmacies. Dental costs are roughly a third or less for standard procedures in the US, and many of the dentists are trained in the US. Quite a national statement to realize so many visitors are retirees without insurance taking advantage of this disparity to buy name brand & generic prescription drugs as well as getting new dentures, implants and all types of dental care. We try to point this ironic disparity to fellow bordercrossers while waiting in line often for over 1 1/2 hours to walk back through the border. Few seem to appreciate this irony. Fewer still have an appreciation of the efforts taken by many Mexicans to make the difficult journey to cross the border without documents looking for a job. Lately we have begun seeing Mixtec Indian women selling chiclets trinkets and when possible begging on the street. They are always surprised when we talk with them and tell them we know of their village. They are always pleasantly surprised and even proud of their homeland in Oaxaca over 2500 miles to the south. They remain very secretive of their circumstances as they are trying to eke out a living on the margin...but it appears a better opportunity here than in the hills of Huahuapan de Leon, Oaxaca.

That's it for today. We'll soon be heading east towards Phoenix-Scottsdale to visit friends and continue our annual medical visits. Hope this finds you well and keep in touch...tom and nancy

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring time departure

It's official...spring and our departure from Tecopa. It has been windy with near white-out conditions on Sunday due to the akili dust and near 5omph gusts! We're also finally back traveling. Our first day out we went 120 miles to Amboy, CA and old Rt 66. It was tough leaving as we'd met some wonderful people, had a great work experience at the Hot Springs and enjoyed much of the natural history of the area.

Tom made another camping visit to Death Valley...this time to the west side of the valley into the Panamint mountains near Telescope Peak, the highest in Death Valley at over 11ooo feet. The car camping experience is still a bit rough, but improving. Only problem is to remember everything and not worry about the hard rear floor of the car. Just add more padding next time!Seems my back and hips don't enjoy the sleeping arrangements. There was lots of walking and photo shooting and the weather was great.

More recently Ms. Nancy enjoyed her trip to Las Vegas with a wonderful meal at an East Indian lunch buffet. Later it was a trip to her favorite, the Barnes & Noble for an afternoon of tea and magazines. Tom enjoyed this as much with his favorite coffee. Finally a stop for some fresh produce, groceries and Trader Joes and then the 80mile ride home and a soak in the hot baths before bed. Can't beat it as a trip to the big city, even if it is Las Vegas.

We're now heading on to Yuma, AZ area and the annual dental visit via the scenic route across the Mojave Preserve, 29 Palms area and then along the west side of the Colorado River down to Winterhaven, CA just west of Yuma.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March comes roaring in

Tecopa continues to enjoy southerly winds bringing clouds and some warmth. Spring is definitely here and even some disparate wildflowers have been observed nearby.

Death Valley National Park is relatively close so we've made a few forays there to observe the bones of the planet and "long time"...the geology of periodic ocean, lakes, layering, uplifts and faults over millions and millions of years. It is a really humbling experience. Here's one of Ms. Nancy at Badwater, 232 feet below sea level and the lowest point in continental US.

Tom has been rediscovering car camping with a recent trek to Death Valley with Priscilla Prius, queen of the desert. He recently took off for Death Valley again and ended up driving all the way over the Panamint mountains on the west side of valley. Here the Panamint range is to the east near sunset at Panamint Springs.

The little Prius is proving to be quite a comfortable ride and a geat sleeping berth. More to follow as he's hoping to venture out again in a few weeks.

The time is running on our stay here and we're looking to leave around the 22nd of March for Arizona. Hope to make it to Las Vegas at least once more. Happy trails...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The redwing blackbirds are here!

Spring sounds are everywhere, and temps are daily in the 70s+. Today its windy with scattered rainshowers. The redwing blackbirds and doves provide daytime sounds, and the peepers in the nearby "lakes" provide the night time chorus.

Took a trip recently to China Ranch, a date farm about 5 miles from our hot springs home. This is an oasis located along a tributary wash of the Amargosa River.

It was first settled by a Chinese immigrant near the turn of the last century. That immigrant "disappeared" mysteriously and a series of Anglo ranchers have been the owners ever since. Gypsum and talc were mined nearby for many years. But access to bountiful springwater nearby apparently sparked an interest in developing the oasis into a working date ranch. I've developed an apetite for this extremely sweet fruit. This is also a great place for hikes into the badlands (as seen behind the date palms in this picture) or along the Amargosa River and the old trainbed of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. Tom especially looks forward to the "date shakes" after a good walk...sort of the prize for looking at all the scenery and actually getting exercise in the process. (BTW, the cloths seen in the picture at left are protecting the date fruit from the birds...they like the sweets, too!)

All else is well with us. We'll look to be here another 6 weeks so hopefully will have more to share. Nancy continues to enjoy the daily baths. Tom does too:)
Happy trails

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It feels like spring, and it's just Tom's birthday

Well it's now official that Tom has begun the last year of the 6th decade, and so far so good. (Not so for Penn State at the Rose Bowl, and that's too bad after a great season) The day was spent in subdued reflection with the high point a great brunch at the Crowbar Cafe in scenic nearby Shoshone, a wholly-owned private town. The evening was spent greeting patrons at the hot springs and later cleaning the pools.

This town was founded to service the Tonapah & Tidewater RR in 1909. There is the Charles Brown General Store (and gas station), the Amargosa River Conservancy office (a "river" runs through here and Tecopa ending in Badwater Lake at 232 below sea level in Death Valley), the Shoshone Museum (home of a composite mastadon skeleton), a post office, motel, land development office, clinic and a French restaurant. Not bad for the middle of the highway and halfway to Death Valley (from Baker, CA that is).

Nearby are some cave dwellings from earlier inhabitants and likely prospectors and railroad workers. These dwellings were carved into the mud hills on the outskirts of town.

The view here is along the well-maintained Hwy 127 between Tecopa and Shoshone. The Lake Tecopa Yacht Club does a wonderful job keeping the roadside free of litter. This whole region was lakebottom real estate millions of years ago and the mudhills and mineral rings around the area are testament to that time long ago.

Weather has been incredibly sunny and balmy with temps in the 70's and almost no wind. The smells are of spring. (It was in the 80's earlier in the week in SanBernardino with wildflowers blooming along some of the roadways!) All else is well here as we look forward to January 20, 2009 and the Inauguration. Be well and keep in touch...