Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Fast Five Years...

The last of December is always the time I use to reflect on our year and sum everything up but this is not only the end of the year, it also marks the end of us being on the road for a full five years!  That's a big deal for we only going to "do this" for one year, and here we are, still tootling down the road after five years!  Wow!  Hard to believe... That's what our friends keep saying too!  They always think it's about two or three when the subject comes up, then shake their heads when we tell them it's "five".  The next question is always "when are you going to quit?" and our answer always is "I don't know...when we find a place we like enough to settle down to, I guess!"  ;-)  Ah, the life of a road gypsy...

Our year started out along the sunny beaches of California, just slowly meandering down the coast.  It was lovely.  We even scored a spot right by the water and built ourselves a small fire one night while watching and listening to the ocean waves coming in and caught a glorious sunset to cap it all off!

We "crossed off" several things on my list this year...One of the biggest was finally getting to North Dakota, a state that we've been trying to get to for years!  Jack just had to see "the Chipper" in Fargo, and I'm determined to camp in every state, and not just 'travel through' them.  We had such a fun time at the Fargo Welcome Center.  They even have a box of hats for people to put on for pictures!  They really get into the spirit of it all there.

I wished it were our last state, but unfortunately, we will have one more to camp in...and that's Ohio!  But, that gives us a goal for 2017!  ;-)

We also got to go up into the St. Louis Gateway Arch, something I've wanted to do all my life.  That was a wonderful thrill.  One I won't ever forget.  St. Louis was a beautiful city too, with lots to see and do.  We really enjoyed ourselves there.  Springfield Ill was another wonderful stop because that is where Lincoln was from.  I am a big fan of Lincoln's and really enjoyed being able to see his tomb, the town, all the historical buildings, etc.  I loved it all.  Another place on our list was Crater Lake.  With all our travels back and forth in that area, you would have thought we would have been there before, but no.  Wow, what a gorgeous place.  We were in awe.  We sure lucked out on the weather that day too.  Couldn't have been better.

A couple of highlights for us were "trees" this year.  First was when we visited Sequoia National Park and the second is when we visited the Redwoods afterward in Humboldt.  We just couldn't get over their beauty.  The peace that it gave us was lovely and long lasting.

We always manage to slip in a train trip or two, and this year was no exception!  We did two small ones this time, one in Arkansas and one in Northern California.  Always fun, and you get to see things you can't see otherwise.  Each train is a little different too, so it's always a "learning experience"!  ;-)

We spent Father's Day in an "old fashioned" way this year...watching families playing baseball together, having homemade picnics, playing catch, listening to the radio, and just spending the day together - but in a very special place.  The original film location for the movie Field of Dreams (with Keven Costner) in Dyersville Iowa.  It was wonderful.  Towns people bring their own balls, bats, etc. and just come on in and use the field, sit on the bleachers; there are a couple of tables to use for picnics and just like it's 1960, play ball and have a good time.  The owner's have kept it up, still live in the house and probably look out the window and enjoy watching it as much as we did.  No charge, no hassle, just good old fashion good neighbor community fun.  Nice.

We celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary this year.  With the whole United States to choose from, where do you go?  Well, we decided to go back to one of our favorites, the Grand Tetons National Park.  Only while we were there, we "celebrated" by spending one night inside the lodge!  We had a nice dinner and a nice stay! Sweet!

We continued to meet up with family and friends along the way, which always makes our trips so enjoyable!

Every year we "go on vacation"...that's where we leave the RV and go somewhere without it.  This year we flew to Hawaii.  Maui and Kauai to be exact.  Our trip was wonderful, and we learned something important too...Life is precious, you never know what is going to happen next, so enjoy every moment.  We were in a terrible auto accident that took the life of the other two drivers and through the grace of God we were spared and uninjured.

With that are our stats for the year:

We stayed at 66 campgrounds, for a total of 279 nights
Total campground fees: $10,587.54
(That averages about $37.95 a night, which is about right...some places were gratefully low, with others, like California being the highest, but overall, most places have pretty much stayed the same this year)

Mileage for the RV: 14,476
Mileage for the toad: 12,350
Gasoline for the RV: $5,210.00
Gasoline for the toad: $1,268.00
Propane: $65.00
Maintenance & Repairs RV: (muffler extension, brakes, etc) $3,532.00

Thanks for "traveling along with us"!  Here's to a wonderful 2017 filled with new adventures and fabulous surprises! 

...kicking back in the desert of California,  Marie

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A day at the Zoo!

Just before we left San Diego we had an opportunity to visit the Zoo.  Each time we come here, we always seem to run out of time and never quite get over there.  This was a quick trip into the city for us, and not much visiting was planned, so we were able to schedule a day to run over to see some of my favorite animals and maybe catch up with some of the people I know as well!

You see, the Zoo is my "old stomping grounds"...I worked for the San Diego Zoo for over 20 years and loved it.  The people, the place, the animals...all wonderful!  I don't miss "working", but I do miss "seeing", so when we can, we do like to visit both the Zoo and the Zoo's Safari Park in Escondido, which I also worked at and enjoyed.

This year marks the Zoo's 100th Birthday.  I had so wanted to make the "official" Birthday back in May, but just couldn't quite make it back, but was determined to at least get here sometime this year to see some of the things that were set up for it, and was so happy we did!

Being a holiday week, almost everyone I know, was either on vacation or at a meeting, so I didn't get to see many "human" friends, but Jack and I made our rounds to some of my favorite animals.  Even some of them were off exhibit tho!  ;-(

We also enjoyed seeing the newest addition, the South African Penguins.  The zoo used to have penguins many years ago, but hasn't for a very long time.  It's nice to have them back again.  They are just in a temporary exhibit for now, but once their new exhibit is built, it will really be nice.

Because it's their Birthday year, they have a new show in the Wegeforth Bowl too, called Centennial Celebration Show.  A nice show that had a combination of live animals and videos.  They brought out some new animals (to me), a couple of wolves which was pretty cool.  They also brought out one of the cheetahs and her dog.  The zoo pairs up a number of their mammals with dogs to help them be less frightened of people and places.  It has worked wonderfully for years. 

Since we were not trying to see everything, we just took our time and wandered around the wonderful aviaries that the zoo has.  It's so fun to just get lost in them!  You can stroll around and around in them and see and hear so many beautiful birds, then the next thing you know, you've found yourself in among the world of exotic monkeys swinging from branch to branch! 

Before we knew it, it was 4 o'clock and we were ready to call it a day...  One last stop in the gift shop (to pick up just a couple of things) and then a fond farewell for now...

...on the road to Desert Hot Springs,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

No Reservations!

You would think that after 5 years 'on the road', I would know better than to wait until the last minute to make camping reservations over a holiday weekend!  But in my defense, in the past 5 years, we've never camped over the Thanksgiving holiday, so it just didn't hit me...then to top it all off, to go to a big tourist town like San Diego without reservations, was really pushing it! 

So when I started making the calls on Wednesday and found "every" place in the San Diego area FULL, I started to panic.  This had never happened before!  We had always found someplace!   Finally, down to the outskirts, we found a "cancellation" in Oceanside.  Phew!  Saved by my guardian angel once again.  Lesson learned. 

Why, pray tell, were we traveling on the busiest travel day of the year in the first place one asks?  Well, that's called "service set-backs".  You see, we actually planned on being in San Diego over a week ago, but the Service Dept. handling the work on our Rig delayed in finding the parts needed to complete the job they were doing for us.  With it only half done, we were stuck in Washington an extra week while they finally got the part and finished.  Had we foreseen the delay, we would have put off the work entirely until later.  Unfortunately, we've found that most people think you "live here" and have all the time in the world, so what's another week or two?  To bad they couldn't have joined us on our 7 hour crawl from Bakersfield to Oceanside on Wednesday! 

Now on to making reservations for December...I just remembered that the Christmas holiday is in there too!  Oops! 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

...kicking back in Oceanside Ca,  Marie

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kaua'i Bound!

No matter how kind or gentle or thoughtful all the doctors, nurses, EMTs and police personnel were surrounding the accident there is no medicine like the smiles and hugs that greeted us when we arrived in Kaua'i.  Seeing our wonderful friends Sherrie and Ken was the best relief from all the tragedy that we had gone through on our last day in Maui.  We knew we would still have to deal with numerous insurance and police calls, but having our friends with us for the week would make it all so much easier.  They brought the sunshine to our vacation once again!  Yea!

With hugs all around, a quick trip to the store for supplies and a lovely trip to our condo to check in and relax!  Wow, we were located right on the beach!  What a view!  We could sit out on our patio and watch the ocean waves...ahhh...this was going to be nice!

Our first outing was a drive to go see Kilauea Point Lighthouse (c1913).  A lovely drive that took us by the Hanakap'ai Falls (300'), way, way in the distance...

A lovely old church, Wai'oli Hui'ia Church (1834)...

And a stop at Ha'ena Beach Park, where the dry caves are...

...And finally to the breathtaking lighthouse!

One of the things that Sherrie had on her "wish list" was to go see the Fern we booked a boat trip to go see it!  What a fun little trip!  They take you on a barge down the Wailua River telling you stories and playing music, singing and doing the hula en route to the Grotto.  We passed a few Kayakers along the way that seem to be enjoying the journey as well.  Once at the grotto, we were disembarked, and walked a small distance.  At one time people could actually get up close and touch, get married, etc against the ferns themselves, but to much damage was being caused, so now they have built a wooden deck that is about 30' from them now.  It's still easy to view them, and they sure are lovely!  They had a woman sing the Hawaiian Wedding song (just to add to the moment!) while you are enjoying the view too.  ;-)  Then a nice walk back through the woods, and to the boat again!

That evening I was able to check off a big item on my bucket I had been wanting to do for many go to a luau!  When Jack had asked me what I wanted for my 70th Birthday (back in April) I told him I wanted to go to an "authentic luau"...well, as much as one can find these days, anyway, when we get to Hawaii.  So, we researched all of them and found that Smith's Tropical Paradise in Kaua'i' to fit what I was looking for!  We weren't disappointed.  From the very beginning being greeted with shell leis, taking a tour of their beautiful gardens, taken to the Imu where the pig was buried, the fabulous dinner and music, to the evening's entertainment and show.  It was everything I had hoped for...a wish come true!

There was only one "must see" left to do now...and that was Waimea Canyon.  I had seen it once, about 23 years ago (on a bus trip), but Jack had never been to Kaua'i, so I was anxious to show him this beautiful canyon, so off we went!  It was even prettier than I remembered.  Being in a car helped too, because we could stop and let me take pictures!  The first stop was a big surprise...this little waterfall along this deep red dirt, just outside the park...beautiful!

Then, off into the canyon we went!

Our week was coming to a close...two last waterfalls, a last drive through the Tunnel of Trees and then it would be hugs goodbye to our friends (for now)... None of us wanted to leave the beautiful sunshine, the daily crowing of the roosters, the lovely birds we tossed crumbs to, or the smell of the ocean waves...but life was waiting for each of us back on the "main land", so back we must go.  Calgary and Tacoma were waiting on each of us with their cool arms, out with the shorts and in with the sweaters for awhile!

Thank you Hawaii, we'll be back!

...kicking back in Tacoma,  Marie

For additional reading, check out: 100 best things to do in Hawaii. It is completely free and packed with practical tips and advice. You can find it here:

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Even full-time RVer's have to have a "vacation" from time to time!  For us, this year, it was flying to the islands of Maui for a week, then to Kaua'i for the another week.  Ah, the joys of being retired...

We parked our baby at my nephew's side yard in Tacoma for the two weeks and flew off to sunny Hawaii!  Our timeshare hosts greeted us with packages of wonderful goodies and promises of a good time while we were on the island!  We planned on taking them up on it too.  Jack and I hadn't been on this island in over 25 years, and for me, I had only been for a couple of days, so hadn't seen much when I was here!  So much to see and do, I hardly could sleep!

Our first day trip was to Lahaina.  Both of us wanted to see how much it had changed over the years.  It used to be the "heart" of Maui...a small, quaint town, always full of fun.  Well, like everything else of's grown!  Still fun and lively.  We were able to spend some lovely time just wandering around, enjoying the various sights, like the beautiful old banyan tree that was originally planted back in 1873 by William Owen Smith and has spread out to cover several acres now.  They have created a whole park around them!  Simply beautiful...

A wonderful surprise was a sand dune Japanese cemetery, Puupiha Cemetery, that was across the street from the Namu Amida Butsu, Jodo Mission.  I've visited a lot of interesting cemeteries in my travels, but never one built in sand before!  The Japanese never cease to amaze me.

It was such a clear day, we even got a wonderful view of Moloka'l from town!

And what's a shot of the beach/ocean without seeing surfers?

A trip to Maui isn't "complete" without taking the drive to Hana!  So, off we went (complete with "app" in hand).  What fun!  Jack loves driving all those twists and turns, and the traffic wasn't all that bad, and lucky us, it was a nice clear day too.  Of course, we had to stop a hundred and one times so that I could jump out and take a picture (or three) of every waterfall, weeping wall, flower, tree, and 'special scenes' we saw!  Me and everyone else too!  ha ha 

There were "extra special" highlights along the way tho...  I absolutely fell in love with the Ke'anae Peninsula.  The black lava rock jutting out from the deep blue of the ocean with the green plants alongside, was just so beautiful.  Then, add a 150 year old church and small cemetery to the scene, and you have a photographer's dream!  I could have stayed there all day...

Another special stop was at the black sand beach, Honokalani, where I could get my feet wet and gather up some of it to take back with me!  

Jack had only one wish for the day, and that was to visit the grave site of Charles Lindbergh who was buried in Kipahulu in 1974.  Lindberg loved Maui and it was his wish to live out his days here & be buried here.  It's quite off the beaten path, which I'm sure was also his wish, after all the hounding he suffered while he was alive.  There is also a sweet church here, built in 1857 along with a small cemetery.  When we arrived, we were greeted with a couple of horses peeing through a banyan tree!  No one else was around.

The rental car (and phone app) people tell you to turn around here and go back the same way, but our local host told us as long as it wasn't raining, and we kept our eyes out for "cows", the locals just continue on around the island, and we could too!  She shared that the scenery really changes, and it would be a shame to miss it, and to just repeat the same long road back (we agreed), so on we went!

We were so glad we did too!  We came across such wonderful surprises and beautiful scenery!  

The first was a beautiful rainbow came out to greet us.  We never saw any rain, but what a glorious rainbow, it just filled the sky everywhere you looked!  Once, when we turned a corner, we came upon a lovely old church and when I got out to take it's picture, the rainbow followed me...I think I captured the most perfect picture...don't you?

And some of the wonderful scenes we would have missed...

..and of course those cows! 

All to soon our visit to Maui was coming to an end.  It was our last day, and our last trip back to the condo, and BANG!  We were hit!  Jack saw blue and red lights coming at him, a car coming AT him, he said "holy shit!" and swerved (just in time!!) and was able to save our lives by only colliding our headlight into his taillight.  I had been looking down until I heard him, when I looked up, all I saw was a silver car flying into the air and crashing down and another coming at us (the one that hit us) and then BOOM, the air bags going off.  Minutes later a policeman rapped on the side window and asked if we were "okay?"  We assured him we were, to go to the others.  We were the only ones that survived.  We were sent to the hospital for ex rays, etc. and came away with deep tissue bruises, cuts and scratches, but the whole ordeal was very sad.  It had been a police chase, and the young man (29) had crossed the meridian into on coming traffic, hitting a young woman (33) head on, sending her into us.  If Jack hadn't seen it all in time and reacted as fast as he had, we would also had been hit head on.  A heck of a way to end our stay.

We were glad to be moving on to Kaua'i and joining our friends for another week!

...on our way to Kaua'i,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ancient Spirits - Crater Lake!

Stories from the Klamath Indian tradition tell of the many battles here between Spirit chiefs Llao (of the below-world) and Skell (of the above-world):

 In one visit to the above-world, Llao fell in love with the chief's daughter.  He promised her eternal life if she would live with him below the mountain.  She refused, and in anger Llao threatened to destroy her people, rushing up through the opening of his mountain and hurling fire down upon them.  Skell took pity on the people and stood on Mount Shasta to defend them.  They waged battle, hurling red hot rocks as large as hills, making the earth tremble, causing fiery landslides.  The people fled to the waters of Klamath Lake.  Two holy men offered to sacrifice themselves by jumping into the pit of fire on top of Llao's mountain.  Moved by their bravery, Skell drove Llao back underground.  When the sun rose, the mountain was gone.  It had fallen in on Llao, leaving a large hole.  Rains came, filling it with water.  The lake became known as Giiwaas (a most sacred place). 

Crater Lake is a sacred place, not only for young men (still) seeking spiritual guidance for their future, but for many of us as we visit this beautiful, serene place. 

Jack and I had a rare opportunity to be in this part of Oregon on a wonderful clear, sunny October day so that we could spend the time to visit this absolutely gorgeous national park.  They were repaving part of the west rim, so we couldn't make the full circle, but we didn't miss much because of it.  Being in early October, the crowds were minimal, which made it extra nice as well. 

With the sun out, I was really caught off guard when we first came across the snow covered hills.  It just hadn't occurred to me that even though we were over 5,000' high, we would encounter snow so early in the year.  We soon found out (from the ranger) that they actually have snow in certain areas there year around! 

That was only the first of several surprises...;-)   It truly is as blue and as deep (1943') and as beautiful as the pictures and postcards show that it is...  It's not as "touristy" as I expected it to be.  I thought it would be more like Tahoe, with lots of restaurants and shops, etc. all along the route...not here.  Only one, at the lodge, and quite nice too (and not over-priced, I thought). 

It had some fun, unusual "highlights" to discover along the drive as well.  Obviously there were special areas to enjoy seeing various views of the "main island" which is called Wizard Island.  During the summer you can take a boat to it, but there's really nothing much on it.  But there is another smaller island, that doesn't get much recognition, that is pretty cool, called Phantom Ship (because it kind of looks like one).  It's tucked into a small area along the east rim. 

Wizard Island, from Mirriam Point along Crater Lake

Phantom Ship, from Danger Bay along Crater Lake

Another really cool site is the Pumice Castle.  It's actually a layer of orange pumice rock that has been eroded into the shape of a medieval castle. 

Then, further along the rim are the Pinnacles...It's a 6-mile detour from the Rim Drive, but really something to see.  It was these weird, colorful spires, 100' tall, being eroded from the canyon wall.  The Pinnacles are fossil fumaroles where volcanic gases once rose up through a layer of volcanic ash, cementing the ash into solid rock.  Another reminder of what took place here...

Vidae Falls was a small waterfall that comes from a spring-fed creek, tumbling over a glacier-carved cliff and drops 100' over a series of ledges.  At this time of the year, it wasn't a "gusher", but at least it did have some water (more than Yosemite). 

A lovely day, a wonderful lunch and many photos and smiles later, our day was done.  I dare say, the spirit of this lake will stay with me a long, long time...

...on the road in Oregon,   Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: