S: Winnie Travels for 2011 and 2012
FC: The Great Outdoors | Summers of 2011 and 2012
1: CAMPING | June 5, 2011: The "plan" was to start our trip on May 20, but we had a few 'life glitches'....The unfortunate part of the delay is that we missed our chance to visit with our dear friends,Terry & Colleen, and daughter Tara, as they now have other commitments when we would get to their neck of the woods. That's the way it goes; as my Dad would say 'life is what happens while we busily make our plans.' So, the revised plan: drive a pretty much straight shot across the south, with a series of one night stop-overs and then catch up with our preplanned itinerary by next Sunday. Last night we were in Las Cruces, NM,,tonight in Fort Stockton; TX. We will then plan for San Antonio and Beaumont, Texas over the next 2 nights. We're not even unhooking the Jeep, just pull in and stay. Although we're just doing over-night stops, we don't do long drives each day..300 miles is tops, then we enjoy the rest of the day. It will be easier on Vernon as I can now help with the driving.....yesterday anyway, as I didn't get a chance today. Hopefully that will let him rest a bit, although perhaps that won't happen until I get a bit more experience under my belt! I did take a "driver training" course while we were in AZ to give both of us a bit more confidence in whatever abilities I have. I'm trying not to internalize the fact that I wasn't given a chance to drive today....
2: Practicing letters with Uncle Vernon | we had multiple trips to the pool! | Puzzle time | It's Thursday, so we must be in Gulfport! We had 5 straight days of hitting the road, so good to be just parked for a day. We got to Gulfport, MS just in time to get set up before Jim, Kyndall, and Kynlee arrived. We visited for a bit here; Kynlee was quite intrigued with a house you could drive, and in fact was quite thrilled when we did move it (Vernon found a really quiet spot). She did tell me later, though, that she was glad we had a real house, too!
3: 6 am and ready for pool time | Kynlee spent the night; quite the adventurer at 3 years old. off staying in an RV! We pulled the couch into it's bed position. Kynlee read all three books, then she took one over to read to Uncle Vernon, joined him in his chair. When we said good night, Kynlee informed me that if she heard any strange noises, she would be joining Uncle Vernon and Grammy in our bed for just awhile, but then she would come back to 'her' bed! | These are the wonderful joys of having time....just to hang out with Kynlee, talk and play. It's awesome! We had two visits to the pool for play time, walks, puzzle playing, and now a nap (for her anyway, she didn't want me joining her!). When we were playing in the pool, she wanted to be 'mommy' ....so she 'washed' my hair, and put it into 2 pretend pony tails; told me 'honey, fix your pack pack, we're going to school'....clicked me into my seat and drove me to school. Instructed me to be good for the teacher.....gave me a kiss and hug goodbye. She called me 'honey' several times. Reminds me just how much these little ones learn by what we do to and with them, rather than what we tell them. She and Uncle Vernon are buddies now, too. I haven't hogged her all to myself... | She slept all night, and then around 6 am this morning came in to wake me up; she said it was light outside, so time to be up! She wanted to get our bathing suits on right away and get off to the pool. It was time for the first lesson at Grammy's house: coffee is always first..... Kynlee observes and absorbs everything, nothing misses her attention and she just delights in exploring everything. I love that!
4: The Great Beach Adventures in South Carolina
5: June 13, 2011: We landed in Charleston area late afternoon on June 11 (Saturday), and got set up at Oak Plantation, on John's island. Nice spot! We met up with Neil, and his kids (OK, not kids any more at ages 26, almost 25 and 20!).....Had dinner with them, then spent all day Sunday at their Seabrook house and at the beach at Seabrook on Sunday. Nice day! The only down side was that Vernon was feeling not so great, dizzy/tired....so he went off to Neil's doctor today with Neil, and got meds for his sinus infection. I had a better day at the beach again with Vicki. Good times with family....and we're now off to visit friends in Charlotte area tomorrow. Good thing I'm now Winnie-driver-certified, as now I can drive when Vernon's feeling not so hot. (OK, what was I thinking, really?) June 17, 2011 We've had a nice, brief break in NC for the past few days. Had dinner with some friends in Charlotte, and spent the evening/night with them on Tuesday, then met college friends of Vernon's and Vernon's aunt (who graduated HS with him, his age) yesterday. Today we're stopping by two other college friends of his while we are en route to Williamsburg. We're now on track with our prearranged schedule, and travel will now get 'new' and more relaxed, so that will be fun.
6: June 20, 2011 We had a nice weekend here in Virginia. We went to see Yorktown on Saturday, during the Farmers Market; also got a few chores done around the 'house'.....every now and then we do need to clean, do laundry, and Vernon always finds a few ways to tinker! We also just had some down-time, watching the Open, walking both on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday. Sunday evening we had a good visit (albeit far too short!) visit with my cousin, Ray, and his wife, Georgia, while touring around Colonial Williamsburg. We went to one of their favorite restaurants, The Trellis, which was quite good. We'll head onto DC later this morning, once traffic dies down a bit. We're hoping the weather holds out for us--so far, it's only rained at night, so that's been great!
7: Custom House circa 1720 (right) (Yorktown) | Somerwell House | Ray & Georgia Hamilton 2011
9: Had a great day in the capital....took the transit system into the city, getting off at L'Enfant stop; that only seemed fitting, since the city is laid out in roughly the same plan designed by Pierre-Charles L'Enfant. We walked the centerpiece of the city, the National Mall, which is a 2 mile stretch running west from the Capital Building and lined with some of the nation's most important monuments. We started at the Washington Monument (basically in the center), walked to the Lincoln Memorial...a very awesome spot, with its 36 Doric columns (symbolic of the 36 states in the union at the time of Lincoln's death). We also loved the WWII monument, and got there just as they were honoring some WWII vets. We walked to the Ellipse and White House, had lunch at what also turned out to be a historic place near there, the Old Ebbit Grill, which is a classic Victorian-style saloon frequented by secret service agents. We walked by the Supreme Court, took a tour of the Capital Building....stood in spots where many great people have been before. It was a lot of walking and a lot of history.
12: June 25-29
13: June 25-29: After D.C, we had a couple days in CT....really just 'rain days' good for reading books (although we did see a bit of Essex and tried out one of the local seafood restaurants that was in 'The Book')...and then came up to Plymouth on the 25th. We have been seeing friends, and doing a bit of touring around the Cape. Went all the way to P-Town at the end of the Cape.....what a strange place that is! We did also enjoy some of the historical and peaceful stops along the way, like the Cove Burying Ground that has the oldest gravestones in the area, some of the original Mayflower pilgrims.
14: MAINE: Thursday (June 30) was travel day, albeit only a little over 3 hour drive through the Boston area, NH and on into Scarborough, Maine. We're at a very nice, huge place called Bayleys. Shuttles run to the beach, which is 1/2 mile away. Friday, we got a later start to the morning, so found a wonderful local haunt for breakfast/brunch, then did grocery shopping before most of the holiday hordes and also found a large RV store for some supplies. They had two 2001 Winnebago Journey models for sale, both for sale for more than we have sunk into ours, and they're not as nice or as updated as ours....so that was satisfying! We got back home, did a bit of clean-up around here, and then just read and took a long walk. Nice day. We chatted some with our new neighbor, who is French. We've noticed lots of French-speaking folks in the store, so it's clear we're getting closer to Quebec province. It's prompted me to start my Pimsleur lessons. I've got 10 cds....I want to have some limited ability to speak French while we're traveling through. I've already learned enough in 1 lesson to explain that I don't know French....so good that I can say that much in French! We're going to do a bit of exploring today, but probably save most of our exploring for after the holiday weekend. One great thing about retirement is that you don't have to go see/do things when everyone else has their holiday times off. But, it is going to be such a pretty day, I can't resist doing a bit. Mom2 is flying into Portland tomorrow....she'll stay with her friend Nora, who lives just south of where we are now, then ride with us to the Penobscott Bay area later this week. Other friends of hers will meet up with us there. She'll be glad to get out of the triple digits, no doubt, but hope she remembers her bug spray. We've been bitten up since we've been here amongst the trees and moisture. Not my favorite part!
15: Saturday (July 2nd) we had a good time enjoying the light houses, Old Portland shops. We saw the majestic Portland Head Light, Maine's oldest, dating back to 1791, on beautiful Cape Elizabeth. The park there is so pretty. We also saw the little 'spark plug' style light house, the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, that sits in Casco bay as well. Then we stopped in Old Port, and got some live lobsters to bring home to cook and enjoy. Thankfully Vernon was happy to cook them! Yum! Hard to believe that before the 1800s, only the poor ate lobster, and there was even a law that prohibited feeding prisoners lobster more than once a week, because it was considered cruel/unusual punishment. How times have changed! Sunday we had a rather low-key day, and an enjoyable visit and lunch with Mom and her friend Nora.
16: JULY 6: We toured all around York with Jan and Nora. We also took a walk through Perkins Cove and the Marginal Way beach walk in Ogunquit, and had lunch at a cute little outdoor cafe. | D
17: We went to York beaches and the wonderful lighthouse views of the 'Nubble Lighthouse' (Cape Neddick Light, first lit in 1879). This neat lighthouse sits on a small, rocky island just 100 yards off the mainland. It's so picturesque, that the crew of Voyager II space probe (launched in 1977 in hopes of finding extra-terrestrial life) brought along a picture of the Nubble with them, intending to use its image to represent all earthly lighthouses. Interesting history!
18: We also took a walk through Perkins Cove and the Marginal Way beach walk in Ogunquit, and had lunch at a cute little outdoor cafe.
21: Yes, they do police here to make sure you don't park before noon!
22: After we dropped our fellow wanderers back at Nora's house, we traveled home through the Kennebunk area. I swear we saw George Bush standing by a golf cart near his house off the coast!
25: July 7, 2011 Moving day! Had a lovely day to drive and get set up at Moorings RV (pictured here) in Belfast, Maine. It is right on the coast. We lucked out on a really lovely spot overlooking the ocean, on the Penobscot Bay; it will be a great place to stay for a week while we get to see this area. Mom2 traveled with us from the Portland/York area--and she'll stay with friends of hers in this area, too. We will, of course, see her over the next week while she's here.
26: Had a wonderful July 8, our first day of exploring in the Penobscot Bay area. Rather, it was a 'girls' day to explore, as Vernon preferred to putter around Winnie and read today. So, Mom2, Martha and I had a leisurely day of wandering through Blue Hill, Deer Island, Stonington, all along the eastern side of the Penobscot Bay. These towns are so quaint and remote, so they have retained their original, fishing and artist oriented flavor, so it was quite delightful. We stopped at a bakery, and a cute local grocer, as well as exploring a few other shops and just enjoying the sights.
30: We had two (delightful!) home days. We had long walks on the beach, enjoyed this pretty view, read a bit, watched the golf.
32: Same Bridge, just in the fog... | Monday:, July 11 Ellen & Ron, Mom2, all were here for the day. We toured around Fort Knox, and then went up the Penobscot Narrows Bridge/Observatory. The 42 story observatory provided wonderful views of the bay, river, countryside. It's the only bridge observatory in the Western Hemisphere and the tallest in the world. Pretty cool!
33: Had a lovely time visiting with Ron & Ellen & Mom2..on Tuesday we had a 'girls day' shopping the Camden village shops and dinner at Papa J's.... And....just rested and gabbed
34: fewer tourists and it is much more diverse. The ocean is very tumultuous here, so quite a number of great views, and there are strands of black lava rock that have broken through. Very interesting! | July 13th Schoodic Bay
35: Schoodic Bay is an extension of Acadia National Park. Wonderful sunny day, crashing waves on the granite rock shoreline...great picnic spot, and the only part of Acadia on the mainland.
36: We went onto the small town of Castine--lots of history, back and forth between the US and the Brits. Beautiful harbor town, very quaint. We toured around the sites in the town, had a drink at a harbor front place, then met Martha & Ted for a dinner at the Manor.
39: One of the really interesting thing about this northern end of Maine, is just how much of it was 'arm wrestled' between the US and Brits. Even as late as 1779, the Brits tired once again to rebuild and occupy Castine's forts...and, for that matter tried to retake much of the Penobscot Bay area, which both is a huge source of timber (used for masts and other supplies) and is also a very strategic location. When word of the occupation reached the Massachusetts Board of War, 18 armed vessels and 24 transports carrying 1,000 ill-trained militiamen and 400 marines sailed to Castine to recapture it. Commodore Dudley Saltonstall of New Haven, Connecticut commanded the naval force. Brigadier General Solomon Lovell was in charge of land forces, with General Peleg Wadsworth as his second-in-command, and Colonel Paul Revere as the ordinance officer. What followed is still considered by some historians to be the worst naval defeat in United States history. The American fleet sat in the Penobscot Bay for several weeks deciding what to do. This gave the superior British fleet time to make their way to Castine from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It advanced on the American ships, forcing them to retreat up the Penobscot River. Once bottled up in the river, Saltonstall had no choice but to scuttle his ships, forcing his troops to make their way on foot back to Massachusetts. Saltonstall and Revere were court-martialed; the former was cashiered, the latter exonerated. After the signing of the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War, the boundary between Canada and the United States was set at the St.Croix River rather than at the Penobscot. Later, when the War of 1812 broke out, American troops were garrisoned in Castine but were unable to defend the town against a superior British force. By 1814, Castine once again was under the British flag. A year later the British evacuated the region and Castine became an American town once and for all.
40: July 14: Not one of our better days. First, we didn't get started on our 'travel day' until 1 pm (and we lost another hour coming yet further east into New Brunswick, Canada). We have been waiting to get replacement debit cards for over a week....they were supposed to be here two days ago, then 'for sure' yesterday, but didn't arrive. After being told the mail would arrive at the Belfast, Maine post office early am to be sorted--and that we could pick up any of our mail first thing that morning--we thought we'd still be able to check on it, then get going on time. But, when we called this morning, we were told by 'The Postmaster' that he would not just hand over our mail to us, that it would be delivered to the campground at noon, if our mail had (in fact) arrived. He was SO nasty! I couldn't seem to convince him that this was completely ridiculous...since it was, after all, our mail and directed by us to that address. He advised us that this is THE RULE after all, that is needs to be delivered....it doesn't matter if it makes sense. No wonder the USPS loses money, because there is no flexibility to do what saves time, or is customer friendly, or makes any sense. Which I felt I should point out to him. No doubt that helped a bunch, you think? So considering the quality of this particular postmaster, we decided to wait for the mail to be delivered--even after calling back after the mail was sorted and being advised by 'The Postmaster' that our mail did not arrive (he was certain!). The good news was that it most certainly did arrive and we got on our way.
41: So, we decided to shuffle our ultimate travel goal for this day...and I did the cancel/change of campsites (I'm so glad we planned/reserved our sites ahead on all of our RV sites because there is never a reason to change.....hmmm). We started out, hitting two big bumps, rocking the RV pretty badly. So, lots of flying (now broken) dishes, bowls, doors, drawers. The roads in Maine overall are really bad....between that, high winds, 13% grades, it was a pretty challenging day! We did get into Canada....where those road side signs warning of those jumping deer switched to BIG moose symbols instead. Despite many warnings, didn't see any. Arrived safe, sound, minus a couple dishes, into St Martins, New Brunswick. We are on the Bay of Fundy, tides completely out right now. I went out and walked on the sea floor...just because I could!
42: July 15: We had a lovely, short travel day....left St Martins, New Brunswick, landed at Camping Plage Gagnon, which is 'Beach Gagnon' in English, somewhere near Cap-Pele. There is definitely more French now than English.....I got to practice one of my few French phrases today, which is 'do you comprehend English?' (a good phrase to know!). It was fun walking around the camp and beach areas where 'bon jour' was far more common than 'hi'.... It is a blowy, chilly afternoon here, but the sunset is very spectacular....and it will be '30' tomorrow, which I know means 'hot' so a good day to be out and about!
43: July 16: We drove out to the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy. Quite something!--the world's highest tides, rising about 48 feet in just over 6 hours, which is more than 22 times greater than the average tide in open seas. We got there just at the 'end' of the low tide time when you can walk at the base of the "Flower Pot Rocks", and just before the tide was beginning to come back in.
45: Amazing to watch it fill in so quickly, and in the 2 hours we were there, folks were then taking kayaks around the upper end of the probably 4 story rocks! We watched the kayaks just sitting on the shore, and I thought 'that's an odd spot to store those'....then the folks got in, and all settled in, and the tide came up to meet the boats rather than the other way around! With every tide, 100 billion tons of water enters or exits the bay, which is equal to the daily discharge of all the world's freshwater rivers.
46: A bit of a lazy day....got a good walk and exercise this morning, then went off to see what the village of Cap-Pele was all about. Fish, in a word! Anyway, we found the Marche de Poisson (fish market) qui est rempli de homard vivant et cuit fais a chaque jour ainsi que diverses expeces de poissons frais.....oh, excuse me, I guess I've been hanging around up here too long. Anyway, the fish market (Au Quai Aboiteau) was right down on the wharf and beach (duh), and turned out to be a take-out restaurant and an upstairs beer/music spot. So shopping/lunch took a couple hours; what a nice afternoon of singing songs and hanging out. Came back here around 4 pm (now) and just flipped on the Open golf (recorded). We're going to have a campfire and backgammon in a bit, enjoy the (eventual) sunset which occurs around 10 pm here in this Atlantic time zone. We can't seem to get in sync with this time, not that it especially matters here. We're up until at least midnight, and out of bed around 8 am. It's a good life!
47: July 18: We awoke to lightning, rain...so we decided to leave a bit later, around noon. It was OK, as I needed time to do laundry anyway, so I did that while Vernon eventually found a time to start the break-down process when the rain quit. I put in my 3 loads of laundry (learning that a $1 coin in Canada is also known as a 'loonie'...that was an interesting translation with a semi-English speaking clerk!), and went back to help Vernon....when I got back to the laundry room to check on my drying progress, there was a French speaking lady in there. She spoke no English; and, I quickly exhausted all of the relevant French I know (which is either to announce my name and that I felt well, which why would she care?...or to ask for directions, which aren't particularly relevant in a laundry room...or to ask if she understood English, and that I spoke very limited French --which is what I proudly got to use!), so we laughingly resorted to sign language. I gathered that she wanted to know how much longer I was going to be using the dryers, and I flashed 10 fingers at her twice, and she nodded. After that time, I started taking out the dryer parts of the stuff...and (one of the) the universal language of women, the folding of fitted sheets, kicked in and she started helping me with that. I got done with the folding, and she slowly and carefully told me to have a good day in French (which I did understand). I bid her au revoir, and we went on our way to Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is actually 'New Scotland' so perhaps the French will be less here, but maybe not. I've already adopted a lilting 'bon jour' that almost seems natural. Want to use it a bit more. We got to our campsite at 3:30, and chatted with our (French, Montreal) neighbors, so perhaps I can. Nice folks. We will learn some tips from them for Montreal, and they've also already shared some stay/play golf tips for PEI. I ran to the grocery while Vernon did the outside set-up, and then cooked our seafood chowder with all of our fresh seafood. Now settling in to watch some Bourne movies. Good travel day!
49: We have enjoyed Nova Scotia...we did a LOT of touring around. Saw Halifax, which is the oldest British city in Canada. We mainly walked the waterfront--as you might expect, with this awesome harbor, it has quite the seafaring past and present. In fact, something I didn't know was that many of the Titanic's salvage and rescue operations were based out of Halifax, and 150 of the victims are buried here.
50: We then zig-zagged up past many of the old Victorian storefronts and churchs to the Citadel. Quite impressive! While we were walking up there, a canon fired, startling us a bit until some passing native informed us that that is their 'daily dinner call' (translation: lunch time!). We got to watch the bag-pipe drills, and various tactical drills.
53: We also really enjoyed the entire Peggy's Cove/Margaret's Cove area! We started out at Lunenburg, which was a beautiful and interesting place. In the 1750's 1,500 Protestant pioneers (German, Swiss, French) set sail from Europe under the protection of the British Crown to establish 'the model town'--and, 2 centuries later, little has changed and this tiny coastal town is in near pristine condition. It's really a step back in time. The streets of Old Town still follow the original town plan, and more than 70% of the homes/structures are from the 18th and 19th centuries, and it's designated as a 'world heritage site.'
54: From there we went through Mahone Bay and Chester, absolutely charming, picture-perfect spots....wonderful for our picnic lunch!
56: We then wandered past what we realized had to be some sort of movie/TV shoot. Turned out it was 'Haven', which is one of our favorite shows....they even graciously let us come onto the set and watch a bit!...was a fun moment! They were shooting episode 210, and we will definitely have to watch that one. We have found Canadians to be SO gracious and friendly; I can't imagine anywhere in the US where you'd be invited to wander onto a TV film site! So, if you wonder what Mahone Bay, and Chester look like....watch Haven on the Science Fiction channel.
59: We then went all the way to Peggy's Cove...man, you really feel lost in time in these tiny towns...no Walmarts here! Peggy's Cove, population 46 (!), is the eastern entrance into St Margaret's Bay, a wind-flung tiny spot perched on the top of granite boulders, anchored by its lighthouse. Also stopped at the simple, yet moving, memorial to SwissAir 111, which crashed 8 kilometers off Peggy's Cove in 1998. And...saw my picture (left) as a painting in a local shop! We finished our stay in Nova Scotia with a round of golf at nearby Glen Arbour.
61: July 22-27: Prince Edward Island has been just delightful! The entire island is like a picture-book, pastoral setting, rolling farms and hills running down into the sea, tiny towns with charming little shops.....you drive by farm stands that just have strawberries, or potatoes, or whatever sitting out, with a jar for you to put your money. Honor system. How neat is that? VERY friendly place, very low key. For centuries, the only way over here was by ferries....which is how we arrived; Winnie just loved not having to work! Plus, another interesting thing was that there was not a charge to ride the ferry into PEI; just a toll to get back out. We're leaving tomorrow by way of a (very scary looking!) 9 mile bridge to New Brunswick...that was only completed in 1997, so you get an idea of how old-fashioned and on-its-own this place is. Anyway, we spent a lot of time just wandering around the island, enjoying the sights and experiences. And, we did play golf one day.....beautiful spot, Stanhope. Surprising to us, PEI was the 2011 pick for "Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year" (by the International Associations of Golf Travel Operators). There are actually many neat golf spots, beach spots....obviously great mussels and lobsters to eat as well. The island is very Celtic...we spent last night thoroughly enjoying the Cynthia Macleod "Ceilidh'....awesome step-dance, fiddle music. You can find her on YouTube (I just discovered), and her site: http://www.cynthiamacleod.com/. And, it's such a 'small world' here, we were wandering today in Victoria By the Sea, and who is doing a bit of fiddling there....Cynthia again. What a hoot! Everyone here seems to have Adirondack chairs, multiple colors....facing the sea, facing a chess game. Different pace of life here.
64: More of Prince Edward Island....
65: Anyway, back to travels tomorrow...an 'overnighter' at the far end of New Brunswick (Woodstock), and then onto Quebec City the next day.
66: July 28: We've just had a couple days of just travel--yesterday was a rainy, cloudy day for most of the day, so glad we didn't have major tourist things planned! We stayed in Woodstock, New Brunswick, just overnight....didn't even unhook Toad, just left this morning again. We lucked into a very pretty spot, though, right on the St John river. Now we're parked just outside of Quebec City, and will be here 3 nights...looking forward to seeing the area, and wishing I knew more French. Oh well, we'll make it work.
67: Nous avons eu un merveilleux séjour dans la ville de Québec! The city makes you feel like you've been transported to somewhere in Europe; it is a mix of French and English architecture, very quaint and pretty with flowers everywhere.
68: Charming, with it's street performers everywhere, cute shops, loads of history. You look down one street....all artists...and turn another corner, someone is singing in Italian, another turn brings you to someone playing water glasses, or doing tricks. Pretty fun just to wander around.
71: We walked a lot over the couple days we toured around there. We took a tour a pied....couple of hours worth, all English thankfully!...as well as walking around on our own. It's the only walled city in North America, with it's own Citidelle, very interesting place to visit. We also saw much of the area around Quebec City, the waterfalls and the isle of Orleans. It's all such a pretty setting right on the St Lawrence river. You hear virtually nothing but French, too, both in the city, the campground, everywhere. | Entering the city wall | Playing the glasses
75: Last day of July, 2011... We said Au Revoir to Quebec and traveled to Montreal, only a couple hours of driving. Also was a grocery day, a bit trickier with my limited French vocabulary. I managed to get deli meats mostly through points, nods, hand signals (polite ones), and a Merci! The bag boy started rattling off a string of words to me in French, and I got the 'plastique!' part of the phrase, so when he stopped talking, I just said 'oiu, plastique' and he got it. Well, I must have been fairly convincing, because then the check-out clerk started talking to me in French, so then I had to tell her I only comprehend a little, so she resorted to broken English. Oh well! I also got a bit lost on the way back to Winnie, so I thought I might have to resort to my only other bit of French that I know, but then I found my way. I don't know how much it really would've helped to know Nord, Sud, Oest....since I didn't know which direction I was actually going anyway!
77: Nice couple of days seeing Montreal ... so big! Old areas, but not as 'quaint' as Quebec City; more bilingual and multi-cultural, and some awesome structures. It's a place you could spend weeks, should you want to wander the museums and really, truly explore the amazing Notre-Dame Basilica and St Joseph's Oratory, where miracles happened. Huge port town....anyway, we just scratched the surface.
79: Today, August 3, we saw 'the' Falls....both sides, USA and Canada. The Canada side is much prettier, in so many ways....we really didn't need to go to the other side. We are now in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and will be here until Saturday.....getting haircuts tomorrow (the 4th), then visiting with Chris (our AZ neighbor, who also lives in Canada), then golf on Friday (Aug 5) with her and some of her friends. Fun!
81: August 11: And, as I said....So much for the plan! Ended up spending 2 days in Elkhart.....drove through Amish areas (always interesting to see horse/buggies wandering down the highway!) to get there. The repairs ended up taking longer than 1 day, as Winnie had rust under her windshields (don't we all?) that had to be ground off/painted before the new windshields could be installed. So, we had to shift to a hotel for Tuesday night; then it got finished too late in the day on Wednesday to travel, so we stayed at the RV shop's 'camping' area rather than driving to Wisconsin. We got to Joy & Bob's yesterday, later than 'the plan' but in time for our 2:45 tee time, then dinner, at their club. | August 9: We've had a terrific time visiting with family in Indiana. Good times out on the boat, talking.... too short a time, but we needed to schedule a visit to Elkhart, Indiana, RV capital of the world, at 8:30 this morning. Winnie will get a new windshield, and will need to sit/cure for at least 24 hours before we can be out and about again. There is a place at this facility where we can park overnight and still stay in the RV, so we'll be all set. Also got to see my mother's cousin, Carol, for the last time on this side of life She's ready to be done with ALS and move onto the next stage of eternal life Heart-wrenching visit, yet good to share a kiss and hug and love. It's yet another reminder that we must grab the joy in each day, treasure it for the gift it is; you just never know when you won't have the opportunity to do what you plan.
82: August 12th, Friday: The "boys" are off to golf again this morning....Joy and I have had a good time just gabbing at the house, taking a walk this morning. And, GREAT fun to hang out with a Grey parrot again, too. | Saturday we drove to Madison for the Farmer's Market (and the sun came out from the rain, just after we arrived!)....
83: August 13, Madison Wisconsin | .... then had lunch/golfed at The Oaks in the afternoon. Fun day!
85: Sunday we spent the morning in the kitchen....making up food for the afternoon/evening, as well as our picnic lunch for tail-gating at the polo match. It was quite the production! Well, we got it all done, got everything loaded in coolers and the car, chairs, etc....drove to the polo fields only to find out the day's event had been called off due to the fields being to rain-soaked! So, we had our picnic in the back yard, talked, watched the PGA golf instead. Taylor, Bob's daughter, and Jesse, Bob's son, and his family all came over. Joy is "Grammy" which is an odd concept for me.....we started out in our career and friendship 32 years ago, and now we're at the grandma stage. Wow! And, someday soon she'll be officially Grammy, as they're now engaged. Only fitting after 10 years.
86: August 17: We have had a couple of uneventful travel days. We don't usually go more than 300 miles in a day, and Monday was well less than that. The only delay we had on Monday's travel was getting stopped on the highway for about 20 minutes.....we discovered that we got stopped so that Obama's little campaign road trip could move through Minnesota. Oh, that's right it's a talk-to-the-people-tour, what am I saying.....Tuesday we actually traveled further than planned. We got to our preplanned stopping point, and still felt like we wanted to drive further. So, we drove another hour down the road and found a place called 'Oasis Campground' in Oacoma, MN, that is the last stop for awhile. Our stops have been easy, just pull in, not even unhooking the Jeep, plugging into just water/electric. Still had plenty of time for some visiting with the neighbors (who are doing this full time) and some backgammon before dinner time. Nice days! Today (Wednesday, August 17) we traveled through the Badlands; it is a very strange, yet awesome area. You can see why they practiced moon stuff here, as it looks like moon surface in many of the areas. Interesting. We enjoyed the views, but the drive was a bit annoying. An alarm bell wouldn't stop, and there was no reason for it to be on. We will get that fixed tomorrow!
87: Rafter J Bar Ranch, Hill City, SD August 17-22
88: The Great Outdoors
89: Took Winnie into a RV shop today to have the alarm bell disconnected, oil change, and radiator cleaned out as long as we had it here. | See the climbers? Never me! | We then took a long drive....saw Devil's Tower, toured through Spearfish Canyon. Very beautiful! I guess it was 'movie day' since Devil's Tower was used in Close Encounters and Spearfish Canyon is where much of Dances With Wolves was filmed.
91: Really enjoyed the Mt Rushmore area! We happened to arrive at the park just as a couple ranger talks were starting, one of which was quite interesting as it was all about the artist (Borglum) and the process of creating the Mt Rushmore site. While Borglum had the vision, and created a to-scale bust of what they were to create from the mountain, he didn't actually do the work....there were a series of about 400 men, dangling from VERY small seats on the mountain using a combination of dynamite and jackhammers to create his vision. Amazing! The model/bust of the presidents was much more detailed than the finished product, which took 14 years to create. But in 1941, the funds were then diverted to the war efforts, so the project stopped with the heads of the presidents. A funny fact, they noticed that each Monday they had significantly less electricity....and then learned that Monday was 'wash day' for virtually every woman in neighboring Keystone!! They then switched to a different energy source, and problem solved.
92: August 19-21: From Mt Rushmore, we drove through Custer State Park, and were treated to wildlife (1 antelope, many buffalo, and a fox) during our drive. Then, Needles Hwy was AMAZING! The views were some of our favorites for this summer....but we're very glad we didn't even attempt this road with Winnie. Never would have made it! There are a series of seriously small 1 vehicle tunnels through the granite (I even worried about the Jeep!), as well as many very tight turns. Perfectly fun with Toad, with tops off (of the Jeep, just to clarify). So...that was Friday, a really fun day. Night time, not so much. We were suddenly wide awake at about 12:30--a massive hail storm, so strong it started the car alarm/lights flashing and you can't even imagine the noise! We had another wave of that same storm system roll through in about an hour--lightening took out a transformer near to the RV. Rock and roll night, to be sure. Saturday...we went up to Deadwood for a bit. The entire town is a National Historic Site, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok and all that...so we saw all that, wandered the streets. Came back to backgammon and campfire time, and terrific stars. Then Sunday we just hung out at the campground, read our books and enjoyed the outdoors until another brief, late afternoon hail/rain storm arrived. Luckily, we got the awning and outside furniture quickly put away before it started. Good time to come in and watch golf on TV!
94: Vernon and Amy August 2012 | Matt and Nicole August 2012 | Julie Eckman August 2012 | SO good to see Matt so happy, healthy. And, working hard, and happy about that. Nice to just hang out, spend time together..with him and with our friends.
95: Jan M, Mary and son | Kicking back Deb! | Had some golf, and massages with our favorite massage therapist. We'd spend more time here if our friends would just hurry up and get RETIRED!!! As it is, it seems like all of our time together is centered around meals and weekends, when our playmates can get off of work. | We have enjoyed our week south in the Denver area....got to see a lot of friends, play a couple rounds of golf, had wonderful massages with our favorite Destine. All good stuff! We packed in a lot over this week. I've got Book Group tonight, and that will be a blast. Sure miss those gals and doing the book group on a regular basis.....
96: Our Winnie | Dawn Smith | More Winnie | What a beautiful drive to Pagosa Springs.... I-160 is a terrific and beautiful road. But, not without some pretty spectacular grades and mountain passes along the way. We road over the easy La Veta pass, and the pretty awesome grades of Wolf Creek Pass. Winnie was awesome, didn't break a sweat (although I did!), and we all loved the views coming into the valley....
97: Our site in Pagosa Springs | On the river at Pagosa Springs | We're parked in Wolf Creek Run...a really beautiful 'big rig' park along the San Juan river. Beautiful spot for I think 27 Rigs....Huge concrete pad to park on, with a patio and a covered shed/sitting area. Really nice! We've got a river view spot....check out the views just behind our RV. The pictures are all of our site, or just behind our site. Vernon wants to stay here a month! You can actually 'own' the spots here, so it's super nice spot to rent. They have breakfast each morning....and a potluck dinners. Couldn't be prettier around here, too. | Fishing Heaven for Vernon!
99: We have had the most restful time here in Pagosa Springs. Pagosa is derived, they say from the native term "Pog Osah" which means 'healing waters.' And we have enjoyed the waters here for sure! We've just really hung out.....Vernon had a blast fishing, right outside our Winnie door! We also read, played backgammon, just enjoyed being outdoors. Temps are awesome here....70s and 80s in the day, and nights are cool; the heat even kicks on around 4 in the morning. | We're back in AZ tomorrow....we're going to be in the higher elevations for yet another week, so that will be nice. Vernon's outside now, already starting the 'prep' for travel (tanks being emptied). We want to get an early start tomorrow, as where we'll be staying is a first come/first served basis. Not that there are any frills--it's a zero cost night tomorrow. Kick on the generator and dry camp! It will be quite the contrast to Pagosa Springs, that's for sure!!
101: We traveled on Monday (Sept 5) from Pagosa to the free Canyon de Chelly National monument campground....we got there early afternoon, so did the 'south rim' drive, which was beautiful! It's amazing to stand and experience this totally awesome canyon......and there's absolutely no one else around, it's totally quiet and beautiful. Quite something! The campground was a different experience, too. Nothing to do but pretty much just pull in and put out the slides....no hookup, no nothing there! We ran the generator later to cook dinner and watch a bit of TV that evening...then ran it again in the morning to fix coffee. It was pretty enough...although a bit strange, as the locals just basically used the campground as a picnic area. Just different, but fine.
103: Canyon De Chelly
104: September 6....we toured the Canyon in a Jeep with a Navajo who had been born here,raised with his grandparents, who farmed the Canyon. People have lived in these canyons for more than 5,000 years...living in small groups, hunting game and growing corn and beans. The "Basket-maker" lived here from 200 BC until 750, building the first 'communities' in the canyon...then the Pueblo, until about 1300, in villages rather than the cliff dwellings. The Hopi then lived here until about 1600...and last the Navajo for the last 300+ years. The Navajo used this farming area as a tranquil area to live...that is, until the late 1700s when warfare erupted with the Spanish colonists, then Ute tribes, then last the US military looked to force out the Navajo (thought there was gold there, so reneged on the land deal!). When no gold was discovered, the Navajo were finally allowed to return to their home and rebuild their lives. Today, there are between 500-800 Navajo living in the Canyon; some pretty interesting history/stories.....
105: ........fun to see horses wandering free through the valley, the beauty, the Anasazi ruins and wall paintings. We had a 8am-noon tour, then drove this afternoon to Williams, AZ.
106: September 9th We have had a terrific couple of days here in Williams AZ. Got here on the 6th..Mom2 and Marge met us up here; they're staying at local motel. Thursday (8th) we all golfed Elephant Rocks, a really fun, lovely golf course here...then had lunch/dinner on Route 66 'Cruisers'.... Today (Sept 9) Vernon and I had our train ride to the Grand Canyon.....started out with a mock 'shoot out' at the train station, then a lovely 2 hour train ride to the Canyon. Cowboy guitar/singers, snacks, just a fun way to travel there, especially since we were in the glassed dome car. Then we arrived at the Canyon.....beautiful views, of course!
109: What was truly wonderful was seeing the (endangered) California Condor flying around. It seemed as if these condors were putting on a show for us, Terrific! The one we got to photograph the most was the 'A9' condor.....what a wonderful experience, since there are only 160 left at the momentWe also saw the ravens, and that was also awesome. We just had a wonderful 3+ hours of walking, having lunch, then took the train back to Williams
111: Sept 10: Drove from Williams to Prescott, a short drive, and spend today touring around town This neat town belies the Arizona stereotype of scorpions crawling in the sandy shadows of tall cacti....it's nick-named the West's most Eastern town, and it has some of that 'feel' with the tree-lined town square with it's governmental building right in the center. Yet, still very western with it's 'Whiskey Row' along Montezuma street....saloons, restaurants, which once catered to miners who were here in search of gold. the Granite Dells (which is where we RV'd), lakes, pine forests,;just very nice.
112: Before we started our day's adventures, we watched the 9/11 memorials. Still tough, even 10 years later, to realize the innocent lives lost, to re-live that day....many were work friends that came down in those towers. When we were done with our morning 'back roads' driving, we got back to Prescott in time to see the 9/11 tribute in town, which included many dignitaries....AZ secretary of state, our Congressional representatives. Governor Brewer was scheduled to attend, not sure why that didn't happen. Still, was very impressive and moving. The route we took this morning was the back road from Prescott to Stanton.....a place that isn't even on our map, but where that silly line about gold 'in them thar hills" is actually accurate. Evidently, some of the gold is still there to be found....in March 2000 a recreational prospector at Stanton had found a fist sized chunk of gold! Anyway, along this route, we passed through Skull Valley...skulls were reportedly found there, the end result of a fierce battle between Maricopa and Apache Indians. Intriguing little spot along the way! Statton is at the base of 5200 ft high Rich Hill, so-named because prospectors made a fortune digging up baseball sized gold chunks in the Weaver Mountains (which includes Stanton). Today, Staton is owned by the Lost Dutchmen Mining Association...and it was clear that there was a lot of mining activity still going on. Quite interesting!
114: Well, after almost 9,000 miles on Winnie this summer, we decided we'd head for home today. Prescott is only about a 3 and 1/2 hour drive, and the lure was just too strong....guess we're like horses and the barn! We had an easy drive, got here about 1:45, and spent the rest of the afternoon starting the 're-settle' process. We'll take the next couple of days to off-load and clean up Winnie. It's kind of a mixed feeling....it always feels nice (and BIG!) to be back in the house, but yet I hate to leave behind the Winnie wandering days, too. Couple of great traveling summers....this has been a grand decision to get Winnie!
116: June 6-9, 2012 We're on our way with our summer 'Winnie and Toad' adventures! We drove to Lake Powell on Wednesday, June 6; it was a 6.5 hour drive with gorgeous views of Echo Cliffs and Vermillion Cliffs before getting to the lake. We've got a terrific spot here, high on the bluff overlooking Wahweap bay and marina, with a more than double-Winnie wide spot....perfect for a 6 night stay!
117: After working long days on Monday/Tuesday (packing & organizing both Winnie and the 'other' house for the summer) and driving most of Wednesday, Vernon rightly designated Thursday as a do-nothing day. I can report we pretty much stuck to that! Then Friday (9th) we took a 5 hour boat trip ....2 hours out through Lake Powell, with a 1 hour hike/viewing/picnic at the 290 foot tall Rainbow Bridge, and then (of course) a 2 hour ride back. The Navajo, Hopi and Ute Indians view the Bridge as a sacred site, and in respect of that folks are urged not to walk under the Bridge. What a great trip!
118: Had a very relaxed day;we spent the morning just hanging around our site, taking a walk and just resting. Then this afternoon, we spent a couple hours seeing the Upper Antelope Slot Canyons. It's another area that you can only access with a Navajo guide...arriving in their very interesting carry-12-people open trucks. | Upper Antelope Canyon June 10
119: Just an amazing area; canyons that are so very narrow (perhaps 2 persons' width) and tall--and the views you get with the filtered sunlight on the canyon walls is very unique. Anyway, well worth the views, although would've been better with fewer tours/people....
120: Here's Vernon going into the canyon...it is only about 1/4 mile long, sandy bottom and very easy walk. Just amazing colors, shapes, textures.
122: Monday, June 11: FABULOUS day...we started out with a couple mile hike out to horseshoe bend (in the Colorado river), then brunch in town and another short hike down to the dam overlook. We then decided to shed the Jeep tops and go exploring further out...so we drove into the Vermillion Cliffs, Marble Canyon, and down to Lee's Ferry. When you look at the pictures...just to give some perspective, look for the little, tiny white spot in the Colorado river (that would be a power boat wake!)....or the person below the HUGE rocks (next page). It's hard to convey how incredible these views really are. How lucky we are to have to opportunity to cruise through these awesome places. And...have you seen that bridge? Vernon drove Winnie over that THING...and it scares me every time we drive across it!
125: What a beautiful view! | Lee's Ferry was the only way to cross the Colorado river in this area at one time; and it is still quite an active area for traveling into the Grand Canyon and other rafting trips. We were watching quite a big group getting ready to go (pros!). Anyway, it was just a unusual area....huge boulders, several stories tall, strewn down the mountain....gave new meaning to the 'watch for rocks' signs! And the canyon colors...just beautiful. Anyway, we got back into Page mid-afternoon and decided to take the 45 minute dam tour on our way back 'home'. It's been a full day, so we're now ready for an adult beverage and a rest!
127: Tuesday, June 12: We traveled today from Lake Powell to Torrey, UT....just a 5 hour journey, nothing major. Some pretty views along the way, perfect weather, so all is good. We got some chores done after our travels (laundry, Winnie 'freshening', that sort of thing), so basically this was our 'work day'. I think we can handle it!! We've got an incredibly beautiful spot here....The picture on the opposite page is literally the view right outside of Winnie's front door. We have had some amazing views right outside our front door. But! One big problem here...we get very spotty dish (TV) reception. And, since the US Open starts Thursday....well, we'll be moving onto spots with reception on Thursday am, bright and early. So, we'll tour through Capitol Reef National Park tomorrow...and then head further north on Thursday. The new and improved plan is to be in Brigham City, UT on Thursday and Ennis, MT on Friday.
128: Spectacular sandstone scenes | Captitol Reef National Park | Jeep toured this area all of June 13th
130: We now have a red-dust coated, yet happy Jeep! 'The Toad' got a chance to wander down wonderful jeep-trails in Capitol Reef area on Wednesday...really what we love to do best, which is take off the tops (on the JEEP) and explore new areas. "Capitol Reef" is the name of an especially rugged and spectacular segment of what is called the Waterpock Fold near the Fremont River; just outside of Torrey, Utah where we parked Winnie. The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone...very pretty. Thursday (June 14) was a 5 hour drive to Brigham City...we didn't even unhook the Jeep, but will head out in about an hour. Destination, Ennis Montana...also a 5 hour drive today. So, we plan to be settled around 1 pm. The only other plan for this afternoon is watch the US Open golf, and get a bit of exercise. I think we can handle it!
131: FRIDAY, June 15: What a beautiful drive...definitely Big Sky country, cowboy country. We're really going to enjoy Ennis, Montana! Check out what a fantastic site we have for the next 16 nights. .... How great is this? We are at the edge of the park, and just the gorgeous wide open spaces behind us. We've got windows open, lovely temperatures....well, at least for now. It's supposed to get into the 40s overnight. It is Montana, after all! We're watching the (recorded) US Open....then it's time to go out and have a glass of wine and enjoy this view. This 'rolling apartment' lifestyle is pretty neat!
132: Ennis Ranches | Ennis, MT...more trout than people! | Got one?!?
133: Getting the best lure... | Ennis Lake | We drove back a dirt road several miles, just a lovely spot behind the lake and dam, in Bear Trap Canyon (OK, I'm not keen on the name either...but we did take the bear spray!). | Wonderful times in Ennis, Montana June, 2012
135: June 17th, Sunday: It's been a restful couple of days...a leisurely start, spent wandering into Ennis, getting fishing license and lures, learning the best fishing spots from the locals in the local sporting goods store. Also hit some golf balls, getting the rust off! You know you're in Montana when you're sharing the driving range with the antelope! They couldn't have been tamer, taking a little siesta while we whacked golf balls. It's sure a different environment here....series of ranches, and the sporting good store is ALL about hunting/fishing. I've never seen so many guns and archery and fishing equipment anywhere! And, would you like to buy a coyote pelt? Well, you can there! Despite the wind, Vernon decided he would try a bit of fishing. Pretty spot, nice to just enjoy the scenery, and do a bit of trying-to-catch-fish or reading, depending on preference. When we were driving out, we saw pelicans! I was amazed to watch them diving away, catching fish....not what I expected in Montana!
136: Ennis Golf Course...dodge the antelope! | Ennis Main St
137: Ennis, June 15- Aug 1 | Views on the course....
139: We've enjoyed the past few days....Vernon has fished a couple of times. I occupy myself with reading, enjoying the scenery, watching for bears! We also tried out the local golf course; pretty and fun little course that we shared with antelope (which particularly like the driving range and hole number 2 for some reason) and ground squirrels. We also had a cloudy/cool day on Tuesday, so that was a good day for various chores like laundry and Winnie clean-up. Ennis is such a friendly, cute town...I believe the population is just north of 1,000, so everyone knows each other. Vernon's already become friends with Casey and Colter in the local Shedhorn Sports, where he's invested a good amount of time learning where to fish and buying nifty looking lures. There's one grocery store, but several restaurants/saloons and galleries, surprisingly, and also some cute stores. We celebrated our anniversary, 21 years, by visiting Virginia City... It is the original capital of the Montana Territory, and a historical ghost town. Then we saw the Brewery Follies in Virginia City at 4...just a riot!.... then dinner in town at Banditos. Turned out to be a superb restaurant, and just a wonderful day.
141: Saturday, June 23: We did the hour drive (each way) to Bozeman on yesterday ...of the less than 1 million people that inhabit all of Montana, Bozeman seems to be one of the largest cities with 40,000 folks. Big enough for a Costco! So, that was part of our shopping, along with a stop at a sporting goods store to get Vernon's birthday present...a new fly road and case, and other fly fishing trinkets. Needless to say, Vernon was itching to try out his new toy, so he went fishing this morning. He found a new spot along the Madison where he could easily wade into the river. We saw it on the way home from Bozeman; a bit more fishermen in the river, so he decided he could go on without the bear-watcher (me!). I had a delightfully productive day--walked about 5 miles back/forth into town, cruised through the Farmers Market; had time for both Bible and Spanish studies, mopped the floor and did a load of laundry, caught up my Mixbook project, started Beef Bourguignon for dinner, did some weights workout. It is VERY windy this afternoon, probably 40 MPH ...so the only golf that's happening this afternoon is on the TV. I'm off to watch that a bit while dinner is cooking away....read a bit. Life is good! June 26: what a strange day! The winds started very early...and clearly were well in excess of 50 MPH. For most of the day, we had winds gusting to 65 or 70 MPH. We pulled in both slides, removed some outside accessories, put down the Dish (what! no TV!!!) and had a day of reading and rest. What a concept!! We also were without internet for most of the day, so it was a different day, no distractions. The forecast is for no winds tomorrow and the rest of the week...so we shall see what develops. Our plan is just to fish and golf whenever possible.
143: We moved on July 1 up to Flathead Lake in Polson, MT. We're spending the month of July at Polson RV Resort, which has a fabulous view of the lake. It is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi....it is 28 miles long and 15 miles wide, 160 miles of shoreline and the waters cover nearly 200 square miles of Montana. It's also 300 feet deep, so I'm thinking Vernon will need to add some line to his fishing gear! It's really a beautiful spot, flanked by soaring mountains on two sides of the lake....I'd have to say that Montana has got to be the prettiest state. Well, OK, no ocean views, so it may have a couple contenders in California, Alaska and Hawaii, but it's right up there near the top! Winnie's parked in a wonderful spot (as you can see from the picture), lots of room and view as we look out our big 'picture window'...it'll be a great place to hang out for a month and enjoy the cooler weather. I think high 70s/low 80s is the norm. And, the park has many really nice amenities....pool, spa, exercise facility, great deck where they host fun events. They have a pancake breakfast every Sunday, guest speakers from time to time, cocktail events and BBQs. They sell individual lots here, so it's very upscale spot. We just checked out the town July 2nd...went out to breakfast, wandered up and down the town. Talked to this guy in front of the Elks club, and his birthday is the same day as Vernon's...only he's 10 years older. I found a hair salon and they actually had an opening, so I got my hair done while Vernon did a few more errands. Then we had a mid-day lunch/dinner at the Mexican restaurant overlooking the lake....just a putz around day. Actually the last couple of days have been that way. Since Vernon's birthday was a cool, rainy start, it was a hang-out day for his birthday: worked out a bit, walked, he watched Independence Day (a favorite), backgammon tournament. July 4th: Nice parade (with 2 F18s flying 100 ft overhead to kick it off), BBQ, and then a terrific fireworks display right outside our front door. Nice!
144: Moon over Mission Mountains
146: The Great Outdoors | Winnie & Toad | Polson RV Resort, all of July, 2013
147: Our Polson site | Group fire pit | Love this resort, Lovely patio & expresso bar, pool, furnished, lovely granite fire pit areas, great views, pool/hot tub, huge sites...paper delivered each morning. We're enjoying the slow pace of most days...get our walk/exercise, see some of the town, do our studies and perhaps a few chores....then read and relax! | We did get out to drive on the Lake, all the way up Hwy 35 to Bigfork...and have wandered around the Polson and Ronan towns quite a bit. And have gotten in a couple rounds of golf, and seen the local comedy play. But mostly this first couple of weeks have just been nice and restful
148: Sunset from out in front of Winnie....not bad at all!
149: Beautiful sights, both on the lake and on the golf course make it easy to be happy!
151: We got up and out early today, drove an hour north to Kalispell to Rebbecca Farm...the "Event" was in progress, and what a fun day! This is a completely free event....you can just wander the grounds, take lawn chairs right up to the jumps or sit on the hillside and get a more 'vista view' of the events. We watched the Cross Country events today.... a 4+ mile gallop/jump event, and some of the jumps were just amazing....over various funny objects, sure to spook a horse (a moose, a carrot....) | July 15, 2012
152: ...or a trout or duck... and bouncing into water Then the horses would have to run through the water and over the next hurdle. One jump was a 'keyhole' through the shrubbery, and the jump began and ended in the water....really something. The hurdles were 4'11'' so pretty awesome.
154: We just loved the unique venue, just being able to wander the course wherever you wanted to view the horse/rider.We got lucky with the weather....the forecast was for random thunderstorms throughout the weekend, but we only had some spits of rain throughout the day. We left about 4 pm when we heard some thunder...decided we'd outspent our luck, and we were right!
156: St Ignatious Mission
157: These lazy days at Polson have been terrific! Another nice week.....round of golf, some sight-seeing in the area, a couple read/movie days while Vernon recouped with an ear infection (so we also visited the Polson clinic!). We also went down to the St Ignatius Mission, which was built in the late 1800s. Pretty cool, as the 58 murals that were painted inside was all done by the cook! The mission is still the core of this tiny town, probably about 500 residents. The other cool thing about just cruising around Montana....you wander past incredible sights like huge waterfalls, deserted barns sitting in front of soaring mountains, eagles chasing down mice in the field. It's just so rugged and pretty up here, and not too many people....they say there are 3 cows for every person that is here, so you can tell it is pretty rural!
158: We then went off to Bannack, a for-real ghost town that began over 150 years ago as a miners camp.....gold was discovered at Grasshopper Creek (aka Willards Creek in the Lewis & Clark journals), and Bannack became the first territorial capital of Montana (before Virginia City). | AUGUST 2, 2012
159: It was named for the Bannock Indians that also lived nearby, and supposedly the name got botched in Washington (o was switched to a) when the town applied for a name/post office. Rather colorful history....the brick building was originally the first brick courthouse in Montana, then became the Hotel Meade in 1891. The gallows still stand in the town--ordered built by Sheriff Henry Plummer, who later was hung there himself! Plummer was the leader of a criminal gang, ironically called 'The Innocents'....originally owned a bakery in Nevada City, California, but then was imprisoned at San Quentin for manslaughter; then got a medical pardon...came to Bannack, where despite being tried/acquitted for the murder of Jack Cleveland here, the town still elected him as Sheriff! Anyway, it went from Gold town to Ghost town (and supposedly really is haunted, and it felt that way!) at the start of WWII....while the town is under the direction of Montana's park services, it is 'preserved rather than restored, protected rather than exploited' and unlike Virginia City (touristy), it is very remote and isolated. Was creepy, even in the day time! You could walk into many of the buildings, which remained as they were years ago.
160: August 5, 2012 Vernon had enough fishing for now....and NO trout for dinner, which is probably why he had enough of fishing! But, did make a good try at snagging a trout yesterday, fishing on the 45th parallel (1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator) yesterday....but the only thing he almost got was a rattlesnake. I did get to check out La Cense beef (which is where I order my grass-fed beef) since it is located in Dillon. But, now that all of that heady stuff is out of the way, we hit the road. We've stopped for just an over-night stay in Ogden (Aug 4), didn't unhook the Toad; got here to Moab, UT. today.
161: August 6: We spend ALL day today doing Toad (aka Jeep for you non-RVers) adventures. Stopped at the visitors center, and they recommended a good jeep route....we knew it would be 'long' and tricky, but we were still pretty surprised. | Started out, tops off, ready for the adventure, and it was a pretty technical route past the Gemini bridges, and then on to the Canyonland national park entrance. We got to do a bit of walking on various trails along the way, which was nice.
162: After our initial Jeep roads, we took the every-man road to the "Island in the Sky" through Canyon land National Park to the various view spots;Island in the Sky is basically a very high plateau mesa wedged between (and cut out by) the Colorado and Green rivers. If you look between the water bottles, that is the White Mesa (1200 ft below where we are here), and the Colorado River is another 1,000 feet below the White Mesa. We decided to continue the 'Jeep route home' along the Colorado river...and we did that road to the river on a Jeep switch-back trail that dropped that 2,200 feet in a STEEP descent down the Shafer Trail.
164: We're talking roller-coaster, 50 degree type drops in a road that was about a Jeep and 1/2 wide, sheer drops. Let's say I had a good amount of butt-clenching and palm-sweating workout today...and I'm not kidding! Think it's the first time we've used the 4-wheel LOW mode in the Jeep. We got about 1/2 way down the switch back trail, and I was wishing we could turn around....but there was no place to do that!!!...so on we went.
167: Finally got to the White Rim Mesa (still another 1,000 feet to go to the river!), and that's where you see Vernon looking back to what he'd accomplished so far. You can't even see the road, that's how narrow and close to the rock wall it is. We then came to a sign that announced it was 32 miles to Moab....well, that was pretty much all done in 4-wheel drive, 1st gear, so took awhile. Gives plenty of time to absorb the absolutely incredible scenery!! We did see desert big-horn sheep, too, which we didn't even know existed. But, since most of the scenery can only really be seen by bike or by Jeep....we got to see areas that most don't get to see. We started around 10 am....and ended after 5....what a day. Came back to Winnie ready for a sit-down evening!
168: We left Moab and Canyonland area on August 7th....took the short drive down to Monument Valley, and toured around that area in the afternoon. Even saw the sunrise in the valley before heading to Flagstaff on Wednesday the 8th
174: San Francisco peaks and Sunset Crater
175: We had a really fun day today...started out by checking out Sunset Crater Volcano. Huge lava fields, sunset crater. Who knew this was right outside of Flagstaff? Really beautiful area, we also enjoyed the wild flowers there as well as watching a couple of falcons picking on an eagle! | Thursday, August 9th
177: We then went down Walnut Canyon where the Sinagua built their cliff swellings somewhere between 1125 and 1250. We didn't get to do the full viewing, as major lightning and rain started up about then. So, we went into historical Flagstaff for the famous Diablo burgers...... | ...then went off to the Lowell Observatory on Mars Hill and went on the Pluto walk/tour; very appropriate since this is where Pluto was discovered. Then went past the university and the Riordan Mansion (built in 1904). We decided that was enough learning and adventures for one day! We'll be heading home again August 10, and another Winnie summer comes to a close. I asked Vernon what he liked best about this summer; his answer was 'spending time with you, sweetheart'.....Good answer!! That really is the best part of these wonderful days for both of us...this precious time having these adventures together.