Glenwood Springs, CO: 3/14 – 3/20/20

We left Steamboat Springs to head towards Aspen for our last ski of the season. There are no year round RV parks in Aspen Snowmass. However, about 30 miles north of the resort is one of the only year-round facilities in the area.

Glenwood Canyon RV Resort is a spacious campground, located on the Colorado River, that offers cabins, tent and RV camping. In season, they boast a popular restaurant, an obstacle course, river rafting trips, and zip lining across the river. Additionally, there are several trailheads not far from the campground.

On Saturday, March 14th, we heard on the news that all Vail Resorts were closing immediately due to Coronavirus. The following day, Aspen/Snowmass also closed. Unfortunately, our new skis would have to wait until next season for their debut. We were disappointed, but fortunately for us, there were several places in the area where we could hike.

Hanging Lake is a short, popular hike located just off of I70. It is rated as More Difficult, (steep and rocky) although we didn’t find it to be that difficult. There was snow still covering a good part of the trail, but our micro spikes alleviated any slipping and sliding.

It wasn’t long until we reached an overlook.

When we got to the lake, there were people scattered about on benches enjoying the tranquility and beauty in front of us. Scott immediately found a place for the best photo opportunity.

The Viewpoint
The subject

Just before the boardwalk entrance to the lake, there is another trail that goes up about 600 feet to Spout Rock, a beautiful waterfall spouting from a rock face. Once again, Scott found his perch.

The Viewpoint
The Subject
Getting a little closer

The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path runs adjacent to the Colorado River. It is closed to bicyclists during the off season, however foot traffic is allowed. It will lead you to Hanging Lake Trailhead.

On Monday, March 16th, we enjoyed a quiet, leisurely walk along the river and then returned to our trailer to start preparing Corned Beef and Cabbage for an early St. Patrick’s Day celebration. I didn’t feel like waiting another day. Yum! I did good!

On St. Patrick’s Day, we took a five mile hike along Grizzly Creek Gulch. Parking was sparse at the trailhead, however you can park in another lot not too far away. Most of the trail runs alongside the creek, and there wasn’t much snow at the start.

The leader today
Remnants of an avalanche
His viewpoint

I don’t have a picture of his subject, but I do have his reaction.

He never complains.

The day before we left it began to snow.

Scott took a walk down to the river to take a few photos.

The next morning, Scott needed to shovel the roof and slide tops before we could break down. Our next stop is to see Molly in Durango to pick up our water toys and bicycles. To date, Colorado doesn’t have many cases of the Coronavirus but they do have a shortage of toilet paper. We haven’t been able to buy any for five days now and we are almost out! Perhaps we are beginning to feel the impact of this growing global issue. I know that we are both looking forward to warmer weather and saying goodbye to winter.

Steamboat Springs, CO: 3/8 – 3/14/20

When we left Jackson, WY, early Saturday morning on March 8th, the local forecast called for at least two feet of snow beginning mid day continuing into Sunday. We asked ourselves, “Do we really need to leave now?” We actually thought about changing our plans and sticking around for the snow so that we could have the Jackson Hole Pow Pow experience. Yet, we still had two weeks remaining to ski in Colorado until we headed further south for warmer climate. We kept our plans intact.

When we arrived at the KOA in Steamboat Springs, there was still plenty of snow on the ground, coupled with plenty of mud. We settled in and then welcomed a visitor, my nephew Michael. He would be our first overnight guest in our new rig!

The next day, Mike joined us as we embarked on a hike at Fish Creek Falls.

This 4.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail enjoys a 1,450’ elevation gain as it follows a creek meadow. The trail was snow packed and rather steep and slippery in some parts. While snow shoes weren’t necessary, we still brought and used our micro spikes for most the of the trail.

Snow Covered Boulders & Crystal Clear Water
Taking a break
Snowshoes would have come in handy here.
Check out how much snow is covering the bridge.

On Tuesday morning, Mike took off after breakfast, and Scott and I headed to Steamboat Springs Ski Resort. It was snowing and there was already three inches of fresh powder to play in.

The visibility on the front side of the mountain was minimal, so we headed to the back side of the mountain and skied in the trees. I followed daring Scott! Unfortunately, we were dressed for milder weather and both of us got cold riding up on the long, slow lifts. It would take us less than five minutes to ski down and almost fifteen to get back to the top.

As you can see from our smiles, we were thrilled to have a little pow pow to play in.

By Wednesday morning, the temperature was quickly rising, the snow was melting, and the mud in our campsite was expanding.

Scott wanted to get some truck maintenance out of the way, so I did laundry and we skipped the slopes. We decided to demo skis the next day. It was warm again with spring-like conditions – not our favorite. We quickly headed over to the back side to play in the trees again. We both felt a difference in our ability to turn quickly around the trees, undoubtedly a result of the wider skies with front and tail rockers to increase stability and flexibility while making quick turns.

Friday was another sunny, warm day. Instead of skiing, we made an unanimous decision to purchase new skis at the end of year sale. Since we were leaving in the morning, we would have to wait until our next stop, Aspen, to try them out. Spring was just around the corner, and they were predicting more snow for the next several days. Now, we were the proud new owners of Nordica Enforcer Free 104 skis – his and hers. Scott even bought new boots! He is no longer an intermediate skier. This guy was rockin’ it, and he is teaching me a few new things, too!

During the latter part of our week here in Steamboat Springs, there was news that there were more Coronavirus cases popping up in the state of Washington. We felt quite lucky to not be affected by this nightmare that Europe and Asia had been dealing with. We made our way south to Glenwood Springs, which is about 30 miles south of Aspen, hopeful that our last planned ski trip for the season would have a bounty of snowfall.

Jackson Hole, WY: 2/29 – 3/8/20

We arrived at the Fireside Resort in Jackson, WY, by late afternoon. It is the only “year-round” RV resort in Jackson, however they only provide electric (no water or dump stations). There are clean restrooms with showers and a laundry facility on site. There is also a hot tub area, however, it is only for use by the “Luxury Cabin” renters.

Shortly after we arrived, our neighbors (Peter and Jane from the UK) came over to see if we had come from Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City, Utah. They recognized our truck/trailer from that resort where they had also been staying. We became fast friends. At Jackson Hole Ski Mountain, they encourage carpooling and provide free daily parking with 3+ persons in a vehicle. So, we traveled the 5.4 mile, 10-minute ride together daily to the mountain.

On Day One, we had to stand on a long line to take the tram to the summit. Each car holds 100 people and runs about every ten minutes. We were on line for over an hour before we got on the tram. At the summit, the conditions were great with a few inches of fresh powder, but there was little to no visibility. As you skied down the mountain, the terrain was very icy and slick. I was experiencing a bit of mountain sickness, which made it difficult to enjoy the moment. We didn’t last very long.

Day Two was much better. We stopped a moment for a group photo mid-mountain. Who knows when we would get back up to the summit. Although the sun was shining, the summit was engulfed in clouds. Visibility would be compromised so we stayed down lower.

By Day Three, the weather was sunny and warm. The conditions were variable. There were sections of crust and then slush. Zoom in and see for yourself.

Some runs were great and others were quite challenging. I wasn’t having much fun. It required too much effort and my legs were tired. It was Jane and Peter’s last day to ski, but Scott and I had two more days. They weren’t enjoying the conditions either, so we all left together. Later that evening, Jane prepared a lasagna to share at our place. We ate and learned to play new card games that neither Scott nor I had ever heard of before.

The next day, I got caught up on laundry while Scott performed trailer maintenance. On Friday, I was able to get an appointment at a salon in Jackson. Afterwards, I took a walk around and was able to get a couple to take my picture at Jackson Town Square. This is a big tourist spot.

Directly across the street a famous pub, Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where the bar seats are real horse saddles. Been there, done that. It is worth checking out, however, if you come into the town of Jackson.

The hairdresser had suggested that a good place to get seafood was a place called Local. It is a steakhouse, but one of the few eateries in the area where the seafood is good. Not to mention their bourbon! It was conveniently located right next to the Cowboy Bar!

I wanted a glass of wine, and Scott got one of their special drinks. It was YUMMY!!! They ferment it on the premises. Below is a picture of the ingredients.

Scott tried hard to recreate the drink that he was served at Local, but it just didn’t make the cut. I highly recommend that you check it out while in Jackson.

The area had not received any new snowfall since we arrived and the temperatures kept rising. We decided to not ski and rather took a hike to Taggert Lake, the only option available in Grand Teton National Park during with winter season.

We were told that the trail was snow packed and that we probably didn’t need our snowshoes. So, we set off with our micro-spikes just in case.

Taggert Lake with a view of the Grand Tetons

Whoever said we didn’t need snowshoes obviously didn’t take the same trail that we did.

Bradley Lake
Adding eyes and a nose to a faceless snowman we passed along the trail.

Tomorrow, we will leave Wyoming in route to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Scott and I look forward to another time when we can return to Jackson Hole to ski with better conditions. It is one heck of a mountain!

Skiing in Utah: February, 2020

What a difference a year can make! Last winter, we spent about ten days skiing with our Epic Pass at Park City and Canyons. The snow was plentiful as the resort was getting continuously dumped on. We had a blast skiing in multiple feet of fresh powder, and “Double Nickels” became our favorite mogul run at Canyons. Unfortunately, the conditions this year did not mimic that of last winter. While there was snow on the mountains from January storms, there hadn’t been much new snowfall since we arrived. Also, this year we have the IKON Pass which means we would be skiing at places we have never skied at before.

We reserved a site at Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City, which is about a 30-minute drive to the ski resorts.

We had stayed here last year, and it is one of the nicest RV Resorts that we have ever stayed in. It is perfect for families, and last year they completed an “Adults Only” section complete with Rec Hall, exercise hall, laundry room, pool and oversized hot tub. Scott arrived four days before me and spent his time familiarizing himself with our new rig. This year we have the IKON pass, which means instead of skiing Park City and Canyons, we would be skiing Deer Valley. We had a seven-day limit on our pass at Deer Valley, and Scott didn’t want to use up his days skiing without me, so he kept busy doing other things. How could he know that I would arrive in Utah not feeling well?

On Monday, February 3, I flew from Nashville to Houston. There was a short layover before I would board my flight to Salt Lake City. There was a winter storm warning, and I was convinced that my flight to SLC would be delayed or cancelled. The airline contacted me the day before offering to change my flight for free if I wanted to fly on Tuesday after the storm had passed. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous when the flight took off. It was a pleasant flight until we were about a half hour from our destination. It felt like our descent into Salt Lake was rushed as I experienced extreme pain my right temple. The pilot told me that it wasn’t the descent but rather my sinuses were not draining properly. Really, sir? Thanks a lot.

Scott had to drive a little over an hour to get me. The snow was intensifying and the ride back to the resort took even longer.

By the next morning, I couldn’t breathe through my nose and was experiencing a severe headache. Maybe the pilot was right? We chilled out for the day and decided to wait until the next day to ski. The next morning we headed out to Deer Valley. It was quite cold and windy. The conditions were not what we had hoped for. They were hard and fast, and in some areas it was icy. It wasn’t long before I decided to stop. I thought that the fresh air would make me feel better, but it was way too cold. The next day, Scott headed out to ski alone so I could rest. By Friday, we went to Urgent Care. I knew that I had a raging sinus infection, but the doctor would not give me any meds. He told me to come back only if I did not feel better in ten days, which would be another five days. Really, sir? It didn’t phase him that I am an asthmatic.

The next day I needed to get off the couch, so we took a short hike to Upper Falls in Springville, near Provo, Utah. It is a 0.6 mile heavily trafficked out-and-back trail that features a beautiful waterfall. The trail begins as you cross over Provo River.

The trail was snow covered, so we wore our micro spikes to minimize slippage.

We got a bit closer.

On Wednesday, February 12, we left Heber City and headed west to Draper, Utah. This would be our first stay at Mountain Shadows RV and Mobile Home Park, which is located about 30-40 minutes from the ski resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.

It was not nearly as nice as Mountain Valley, but it was closer to other ski resorts (Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird, Alta) that we planned to ski for the first time. Today was Day 9 since my symptoms began and they were getting worse. No skiing for me until this illness passed. Fortunately, I was able to reach my New Jersey doctor (who had been on a ten-day vacation in Aruba) to prescribe meds to put me on my way to feeling better. Skiing would have to wait.

By Saturday, I was beginning to feel like myself again. We typically do not ski on the weekend due to the crowds. Instead, we took a short, three-mile hike to Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge via Orson Smith Trail in Draper, UT.

As you can see on the above map, there are a number of trails with varying elevation gain to choose from. It was a warm, beautiful sunny day and most of the trail was dry dirt, with the exception of some muddy patches where the snow had melted. As we began the hike, I took a picture of our view above the parking lot, with the snow-capped mountains in the background.

On Monday morning, I woke up feeling only minor congestion. I was ready to get out on the slopes and felt like I had the energy to pull it off. We headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon, which brings you to Solitude and Brighton ski mountains. There was a LOT of traffic, perhaps because it had snowed Sunday night, leaving about 8” of fresh powder on the mountain. We also didn’t realize that it was a holiday, President’s Day. After an hour in the car, we passed Solitude only to discover that the lot was full. So, we continued up the mountain.

Brighton, another two miles up the road, was also full. It would be another hour of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic before we were turned away. This has NEVER happened to me before. These resorts are smaller than Park City but we would soon see why they are so popular, especially to the locals.

We went back to the ranch, changed our clothes, and returned to Orson Smith Trailhead. Scott stopped to take a phone call as I continued up the trail. Today, the trail had some snow cover from yesterday’s storm.

The next morning, we decided to go on a hike in Bells Canyon at The Wasatch Front Watershed.

The trail was completely snow covered and required micro spikes due to the steep incline. We ran into another hiker who was gracious enough to take our picture.

This was an intensive hike with continued elevation gain. We made it to the Falls, which was frozen.

Time to turn around.

On Wednesday, we drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon once again. This time we got parking in the main lot at Brighton Ski Resort.

It’s a fun, little mountain and the conditions were good. It was however, a very cold day.

The next day we drove up Little Cottonwood Canyon which will take you to Snowbird and Alta Ski Resorts. While there are trails for every level at these resorts, the bulk of the terrain is for the experienced/expert skier. It was a warmer, bluebird day with remnants of fresh powder in some areas as we spent the day at Alta.

On Friday, we weren’t able to get parking in Snowbird, so we drove up further and parked at Alta again. The two mountains are connected at the east side of Alta and the western side of Snowbird. Snowbird has much more skiable terrain than Alta, but Alta has some really great runs. Alta is one of three resorts in the United States does not allow boarders. Snowbird does.

We made our way right over to Snowbird where the skiing was steep, hard and fast. Eventually, we wanted to make our way back to Alta. To do so, you have to take a magic carpet ride through a tunnel.

Scott is forever filming me when I am not aware.

After you exit the tunnel, you make you way back to Alta.

On Saturday we chose to hang out and rest from an active week. Since we don’t ski on weekends, on Sunday we took another hike on Cherry Canyon Logging Trail. This five mile, out-and-back hike had an elevation gain of 2,451 feet, located off Orson Smith Trailhead.

The initial part of the trail was mostly dirt with traces of snow.

As we gained altitude, the trail was mostly snow covered.

The higher you go, the more intense the scenery below you becomes.

Truth be told, when we go on hikes with continual elevation gain, I constantly question why I hike. It isn’t until I get to the peak that I remember why. My favorite part, however, is going back down!

We returned to Alta on Monday morning. It was cold, windy and snowing. We didn’t last very long as visibility was compromised.

We headed back to Mountain Valley in Heber City for four more nights. Our dear friends, Brendan and Denise, arrived tonight to ski Park City. It was fun to be back on the slopes skiing together again. Let the fun begin!

Park City
Deer Valley
Deer Valley
My dear friend, Nils
Dinner at our place
Dinner at their place

On the last day of February, it was time to depart Utah. Brendan and Denise flew home to Brooklyn, and Scott and I headed north. Next stop for us is Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Taos, New Mexico: 1/11 – 1/23/20

We arrived in Taos late Saturday in the dark, something we said we weren’t going to do anymore. We had previously alerted the office manager at Taos Valley RV Park & Campground that we had a new rig that would require a larger site than we originally had reserved. It was after hours, but they left us papers with our site number. Unfortunately, someone didn’t do their job because the site was way too small for our fifth wheel. We walked around in the dark until we found an empty site that was big enough. In the morning, we were lucky to be told that we could stay in our selected site #78.

Our friends, Gail and Charlie Brunner, were arriving today. They rented a condo close to Taos Ski Valley. We agreed that we would meet at the mountain in the morning. I had been told that Taos was known for its back country skiing and double black diamond runs, as evidenced in the trail map below. Kachina Peak, the highest elevation, is located on the top left.

Monday was a sunny but cold, windy day. Hence, we only have one picture that Gail took. Check out the warning sign. Never saw this one skiing before.

The next day, Scott had to go back Amarillo to sign the title for our Coachman Trailer that we traded in. He made the 11-hour, round-trip drive in one day. Meanwhile, I went skiing with Gail and Charlie. It was a beautiful, bluebird day! Kachina Peak was closed and the trails open were fast and hard.

Scott made it back in time to join us for dinner at Guadalajara Grill. As we entered the cafeteria style restaurant, we were hoping that we had made a good choice. You had to order and pay for your food at a counter, and then they bring the food to your choice of table. Never judge a book by its cover. The food was delicious. I ordered the 7-piece Shrimp and Salsa dish. Delish!

On Wednesday, the four of us took off for the slopes. It hadn’t snowed in about a week, but the conditions were still pretty good. We had found a fun, short mogul run that we returned to with Scott. You had to ski across the trees and come out above the moguls.

It was our second run of the day, and Gail had taken the lead. The guys were behind me. By the time I came out of the trees, she was halfway down the mogul run. She was rocking it! I was encouraged by her to give it my all and go for it. As I got to the halfway point, I stopped and looked ahead. Gail was lying on the flat ground, and she was not moving. I quickly skied up to her and knew immediately that she was hurt. The guys were at our sides in a flash, and they quickly got her skis off. She caught an edge stopping and simply fell down. She hit the side of her head and landed hard on her right shoulder. It was only a short distance to get to a First Aid Station. As tough as she is, Gail was able to ski slowly, while Charlie held her poles. She eventually took off her skis and walked where she could. They did an initial examination at the First Aid Station, and prepared her for a sled ride to the base of the mountain. Charlie stayed with her and Scott and I skied a few more runs. It wasn’t as much fun anymore. We soon checked back with them and found out that Gail had fractured her collarbone. Bummer.

The next morning, Scott had to drive up to Durango by Molly to drop off our toys. She would be storing them for us for the remainder of the winter. He would be spending the night. On his way out, he dropped me off at the Brunner’s condo. Gail stayed at the condo while Charlie and I went out skiing. It was cloudy and snowing lightly.

I let him be my private instructor. He was very patient. We went back to the moguls where Gail had gotten hurt.

We had a fun day, but I had reached my saturation point by mid afternoon. Charlie took a few more runs. I waited at the base and took a still photo.

I am not even sure if he is in the above picture. So, I tried a video. He is wearing red pants with a black jacket. Watch closely. He is the second skier at the end with red pants.

After a great day of skiing, we headed back to the condo. Charlie and I made dinner, and he did what he could to make Gail comfortable. She is such a trooper. The next morning it was snowing, windy and cold. We woke up Friday morning to more snow.

Charlie and I headed out to ski. It was colder today, and the visibility was nil when we got off the chair lift on top of the mountain. Charlie took the lead and before I knew it, I could no longer see him. For me, the conditions were too challenging, coupled with little to no visibility. And now I was alone. I made a very quick decision to quit for the day, and I skied down to the base. It wasn’t long before Charlie found me. I encouraged him to keep skiing if he wanted to. I was quite content just hanging out until Scott and Gail arrived. Scott would be back by early afternoon, and he was going to stop at the condo to get Gail and bring her to the mountain. She was beginning to feel well enough to get some fresh air. As you can see, she was prepared for sitting outside on a snowy day.

Gail and Charlie had to leave on Saturday. Since we weren’t into the weekend crowds, Scott and I went for a hike at the Rio Grande River Gorge.

This looks like prayer flags.
Look dead center to see the Rio Grand River.

On Sunday, Scott needed to work on the trailer so I went to yoga. I pulled a muscle in class, which kept me home the following day. Scott ventured out to ski alone on Monday. He reported that Kachina Peak was open but that he didn’t want to go without me.

It was snowing on Tuesday, our last day to ski here. We pretty much had the mountain all to ourselves. It was quite the powder day! The only bummer was that they closed Kachina Peak again. I guess we will not be able to ski that peak this season. We will certainly be back.

On our way back to the RV Park, we stopped for an early dinner at a local restaurant.

It would be here at The Alley Cantina that I would enjoy a new, local Mexican beer! Love the name!

On Wednesday morning, we were on our way to meet Molly in Durango. The most direct route required us to drive over a pass. The view on Highway 64 was breathtaking with clouds that looked like snow in the sky.

About two hours into our five hour ride, we noticed that the blacktop would soon come to an end. Great.

We had to turn around and head back east to go south and then east again. This added an extra two hours to our trip. By the time we arrived in Durango, it was dark. Didn’t we say we weren’t going to do this anymore??? We were able to park our new Fifth Wheel in the driveway at Molly’s friend’s parent’s house. It had snowed prior to our arrival and the driveway’s entrance was quite narrow. It is a pleasure to back in a 38-foot trailer into a narrow space for the first time in the dark. The pictures below were taken the next morning.

That evening, Scott and I went to a speakeasy in Durango where Scott had been with Molly and her friends this past week. From the outside it looks like a barber shop, which is also is.

The bookcase was a hidden door that takes you into the bar.

This is strictly a bar with a number of drink concoctions. Scott examined the menu and we made our choices.

Sue’s drink
Scott’s drink

Tomorrow morning, Molly, Scott and I will be boarding a plane to head back to New Jersey for a weekend family wedding in the Catskills.

Texas: 1/1 – 1/12/2020

Bright and early on the first day of 2020, we arrived in Texas.

We spent two days at the Jetstream RV Resort at NASA in Webster, just southeast of Houston.  

During this time, we continued our search for a new trailer.  I had become obsessed with the prospect of upgrading.  We were becoming more educated with the options available to us.  We learned that the Montana is higher priced because of its interior looks but is not necessarily well built.  We learned that two of the top makers for quality built RV’s are Jayco and Forest River, but everyone has an opinion.  We checked out a Jayco Eagle at Lonestar RV in Houston, but left empty-handed once again.  It just wasn’t right.  I couldn’t get that Mississippi Montana RV out of my mind.

We arrived at Northlake Village RV Park in Roanoke, only 20 minutes from our friends in Keller, Texas. This resort was not only closer to them, but much nicer than the Fort Worth RV Park where we stayed last year.

It was great to see the Miller Clan again and to be able to celebrate Kate’s birthday in person.  We had four days together, which included a day trip to Six Flags and dining at the movie theatre.

Six Flags Over Texas

 

On Tuesday, January 7, we headed northwest towards Amarillo.  We had found online a Coachman Fifth Wheel for sale at Century RV that looked promising.  Scott and I had agreed on a rear-living layout with three slides and an island kitchen.  Below is a picture depicting the type of center island kitchen/cooking area we were looking for. 

Our current RV is made by Coachman, and we have had no issues with it thus far.  We found a RV Resort not far from Century RV, so we booked a night at Oasis RV Resort so that we could continue looking at RV’s the next day.  It was a brand new resort with almost 200 sites.

The next morning we got to Century Auto RV Sales to check out the Coachman Fifth Wheel.  We liked it but it had a residential refrigerator, which would require upgrading the battery system for boon docking.  Except for the fridge, it pretty much had what we were looking for.  

Dale, our salesman, suggested that we look at a Palomino Columbus Compass that was on his lot.  Within a very short time, we knew we had found our new home…a 2020 Palomino Columbus Compass 329 DVC, which is made by Forest River, Inc.

For the next few days we remained in windy Amarillo, waiting for our new home to be readied for sale.  Scott had to remove the cap from the bed of the truck, take apart the built-in-drawers, and empty all contents to make room for the fifth wheel tow. We had to rent a U Haul to take our “toys” to Durango where Molly would store them for us temporarily. Scott ordered a new trailer hitch to hold our bikes, kayaks, and SUP.

We had to kill some time, so we drove to Cadillac Ranch, one of the worlds’ first roadside sculptures. It features ten Cadillacs buried nose down in a field. You are allowed to bring your own paint can and be creative. You are also encouraged to take your empty cans to the on-site dumpster. It seems like many people forgot that simple task. We didn’t partake in this activity.

The Entrance

Our next tourist stop was at The RV Museum, which featured RVs, camping and lifestyle exhibits from the 1920’s through today.

The Juke Box reminds me of Hagler’s in Oradell.
This looks like our first TV set from the 60’s.
My Grandpa Joe Finnegan traveled around the country in one of these.

The next morning, we were ready and on our way to pick up our new home. Notice the empty bed in the photo below.

It was time to shake hands with Bill and Dale and get on our way again.

If you would like to see the inside of our new home, check out the “About Us” page.

Our planned ski trip was delayed by four days, but we were truly happy with the reason for our delay.  Next stop, Taos, New Mexico.  Woo-Hoo!!

Alabama/Mississippi/ Louisiana: 12/31/2019

On the last day of 2019, we exited the Sunshine State.  Our next destination was Texas, but we knew that it would take a few days before we would arrive near friends in Roanoke.  December 31, 2019, was a beautiful, sunny morning as we arrived in Alabama.

We stopped at a rest area and played a little frisbee. 

Back on Hwy 10W, it was’t long before we entered the next state.

Scott and I had been discussing upgrading to a larger trailer as we recently decided to stay on the road for longer than initially planned.  We had been online searching for fifth wheels and found one in our price range at a Camping World in Biloxi, Mississippi.  We stopped in to just look and see what our options were.  The savvy salesman knew our price range, yet that didn’t stop him from showing us a rig that was way over our budget.  I fell in love with it immediately, and then he told us the price.  He never should have shown us this Montana fifth wheel.  He negotiated with us a little bit, but we didn’t sway.  A budget is a budget.  The salesman knew that I loved this RV, but we didn’t budge.  We had spent four hours looking at RV’s, and then walked out without making a purchase.  It was already 5:14 p.m. as we entered Louisiana.

We made the decision to stop driving for the day.  It was New Year’s Eve after all, and we were hungry.  I wanted to eat some home style Louisiana food.  We googled restaurants in the area and found a little place in Slidell that served seafood.  We ordered their fried seafood platter for two.

Not only did we not like the food, but we also felt pretty ill afterwards.  It was a rough evening.  Happy New Year!!! More to come in 2020 as we make our way to Texas.

Gulf Islands National Seashore: 12/28 – 12/31

It rained for most of our time in Southern Florida which was considered unusual since it was dry season.  We had maybe four nice days out of the 17 days we were there.  On the day that we left Markham State Park, we had to wait for the rain to subside.

As we travelled west and then north on 75, the rain continued.  We drove several hours and stopped at Ocala Sun RV Resort for the night. It appeared that perhaps the rain was finally going to stop.

Ocala Resort is a rather large, newly renovated RV resort located just west of Hwy 75 not far from the pan handle and Hwy 40 which heads west.  It seemed like a good place to stop driving and call it a day. Unfortunately, for a reason unbeknownst to me, I was having difficulty falling asleep.  I got out of bed and sat up reading on the couch.  My cough would still prevail.  I finally got up to get some honey and lemon.  As I reached for the handle of the refrigerator, I was eye level and only about ten inches from a rather large frog that was hanging out of the side of our fridge.  Well, I SCREAMED bloody murder.  Scott jumped out of bed not knowing why I was losing it.  I couldn’t speak but merely pointed toward the now hopping creature.  He didn’t tell me at the time that he didn’t want to touch it because a lot of tree frogs have poisonous skin. He also didn’t tell me that it was most likely the same frog that had taken up rent on our picnic table back at Markham Park in Weston.

I recall the day that Scott told me we had a new pet living outside of the trailer, but I wasn’t interested in frogman.  Now, in the middle of the night, I just wanted him to get it OUT OF MY HOUSE and fast.  Scott turned toward me with a pointed figure and yelled at me to STOP screaming.  I was so stunned that not only did I stop screaming, but I also stopped coughing.  LOL. You cannot make this stuff up.  He finally caught the frog in Tupperware, and tossed him out the door.  Then, I became obsessed with cleaning the areas that our ex-pet had travelled upon.  I was completely grossed out, but I was no longer coughing.  Finally, I went to bed and slept. 

Back in May of 2018 when we began full-timing, I recall telling Scott that if we found any creature in our trailer, I would be leaving for good.  We both had to be conscious of not leaving the screen door open so that the scary creatures would stay outside in their habitat and not enter ours. I think that during our first 20 months on the road, we had only a couple of flies, a few moths, and two beetles find their way into our home.  It wasn’t a big deal, as I was more concerned with reptiles making an unwelcome visit.  So, here we were with a frog freaking me out in the middle of the night.  I was half asleep, not feeling well, and certainly not expecting to see what I saw without any warning.  I chose to hang around and not leave.  

Sorry for the sidebar about the frog, but it was a pretty significant event in my opinion.  It could have been a game changer…but lucky for Scott, it wasn’t.

The next morning, we headed west on Route 40 towards Gulf Shores National Seashore.  This National Park is a two-state, 160-mile park that offers many recreational opportunities and beautiful white, sandy beaches.  We chose Fort Pickens which is south of Pensacola Bay in Florida.  Years ago, Pensacola Bay had been chosen as the site for a navy yard, a depot, mainland and island forts, a naval timber reserve and more.  It’s Third System masonry forts represents over 200 years of innovation in military design, materials weapons, and strategy aimed to fortify major US harbors after the War of 1812.  Interestingly enough, it was also the reason why it was abandoned decades later.  Of the nearly 200 forts recommended nationwide, only 42 were built.  Today, the park preserves five sites.  

It had finally stopped raining as we drove over the Pensacola Bay Bridge, Route 98, to Gulf Breeze Island. 

Then, we crossed over Santa Rosa Sound and onto Fort Pickens Road.  As we drove west, the GPS map reminded us that we were on a very narrow piece of land with water on both sides.  

When we arrived at the Fort Pickens Campground Registration, there was a long line.  Scott wanted to watch the sunset, but he needed to wait on line.  So, I snuck outside to catch a last peak for the day.  Just look at that white sand!

Scott soon joined me and took a short video with my camera.

After we got settled, we walked down to the beach.  It was only a five minute walk from our campsite.  It was now 5:43 p.m.

The next morning, Scott got up early to catch the sunrise.  

The sun was shining but the temperature had fallen from yesterday.  It was 45 degrees overnight and by early morning, it was still chilly. 

Scott got busy working on the trailer while I happily read my book inside the trailer.

My talented husband!

By late morning, the temperature had risen to 61 degrees and the sun was shining!  Since it wasn’t exactly swimming weather, we got our bikes and went for a ride.  Fort Pickens is the park’s largest fort.  It has been partially restored and reveals how its construction has developed over time. 

After walking around the fort, we got back on our bikes and came to a small, wooden bridge where we could observe the quiet marshes and birds.  

We made our way back out to the main road and onto the shore. The sun felt warm on our skin, but not warm enough for me to go for a swim.

I found a happy spot.

You know who had no issues with the cold air coupled with cold water.

Time to dry off.

The following morning, New Year’s Eve Day, we took a morning walk to the beach. It was another beautiful morning.

What appeared to be a straight path to the water, ended up being a drop off of about 30 feet.

Here we would find a beautiful crane looking for breakfast.

We both would love the opportunity to go back to these beaches in warmer weather.  I now have another repeat location on my list of places to see. Now it was time to exit Florida.

Everglades National Park: 12/14/19

“Everglades National Park is an American national park that protects the southern twenty percent of the original Everglades in Florida. The park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, and the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippis River. An average of one million people visit the park each year. Everglades is the third-largest national park in the contiguous United States after Death Valley and Yellowstone. Most national parks preserve unique geographic features; Everglades National Park was the first created to protect a fragile ecosystem. The Everglades are a network of wetlands and forests fed by a river flowing 0.25 miles (0.40 km) per day out of Lake Okeechobee, southwest into Florida Bay. The park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America and contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. Thirty-six threatened or protected species inhabit the park, including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee, along with 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles.”

Who knew? I was aware of the fact that my sister’s home in Weston, Florida, was built on the Everglades. In the twenty years that she has lived there, I went to visit dozens of times. Yet, I never once went to the National Park. My biggest fear is that of alligators. Route 75 (also known as Alligator Alley) runs west out of Weston to Naples. Take one guess why they call it Alligator Alley. We continued west on 75 to Route 29 South to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. After watching a few historical movies, we took a break on the water’s edge enjoying the view. We wondered if we were looking at one of the Ten Thousand Islands, a chain of islands and mangrove islets off the coast of southwest Florida, between Cape Romano and the mouth of the Lostman’s River.

Mangrove or Island?

We went back north and then headed east on Tamiami Trail (Route 41) and entered Big Cypress National Preserve.

Big Cypress National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in South Florida about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Miami on the Atlantic coastal plain. Unlike the vast sea of grass that makes up the Everglades, Big Cypress has five primary habitats: Hardwood hammocks, Pineland, Prairies, Cypress swamps, and Estuaries. The Preserve is open all year, but the Visitor Centers are closed on December 25. From December through April, rangers lead programs including swamp walks, canoe tours, talks and amphitheater programs. Recreation options include bird watching, wildflower viewing, bicycling, canoeing, hunting and off-road vehicle explorations. There are several parks with boardwalk trails along Tamiami Trail. We stopped at Ochopee first and chatted with a friendly ranger.

It would be here that we would see our first alligator!

I needed to mail some postcards, so we made a quick stop at the post office.

All this walking was making us hungry. There was one restaurant in the area. It was both bizarre and yummy.

Drinks are self served

Our next stop was H.P. Williams Roadside Park.

We took a short walk and snapped a few pictures of our friends below us.

Aren’t they cute?

Our next stop was at Kirby Storter Roadside Park where we enjoyed a long walk along another boardwalk. Since it was winter’s dry season, you could tell how high the water level had been during the wet season.

Cypress Swamp

We got back in the truck and continued east to Loop Road, otherwise known as County Road 94. It is 24 miles long and is south of the current path of Tamiami Trail. The rangers at the Visitor’s Center had suggested we take a ride on this unpaved road. It was quiet and magical as we drove for miles, stopping to catch photos of gators and birds.

Brave, isn’t he? I took my pictures from the truck!

We exited the park at the Tamiami Ranger Station located on the southeast side. Scott would return for an overnight solo kayak trip on December 20. Before he left, I wanted to know his EXACT plan. I wasn’t thrilled about his solo journey, but I knew I would have high anxiety if I joined him. He entered Everglades National Park via Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center from the east and traveled to Flamingo Visitor Center to obtain his overnight permit. He parked at Hells Bay Canoe Trail, and planned to sleep in a lean to on Pearl Bay Chickee Island. He saw one group of four people along the way, and he was able to get some footage with his GoPro.

After two hours paddling through the mangroves, he stopped to take a quick break. As he got back into the water, the kayak flipped over and he lost his drinking water. It was a quick but difficult decision to abort this journey. After all, there would be no place to get fresh water. Needless to say, this is EXACTLY why I wouldn’t go with him. There are gators in those waters…even though he never saw any.

Florida – “The Sunshine State”: 12/10 – 12/28/19

On the morning of Tuesday, 12/10, we took 278W out of Hilton Head Island to 95S to 4W towards Orlando. We passed briefly through Georgia, and took a moment to stop at a Rest Area. It was a hot, beautiful day.

It wasn’t long before we would enter The Sunshine State.

We wanted to break up the driving from Hilton Head to Fort Lauderdale, so we stopped at about the half way mark. We found an RV Park in Orlando to spend the night.

That evening, we met my friend Lori’s daughter, Tracey, and her husband, Joe, at a restaurant in Windermere – Signature Lakes. It was a gorgeous night, and it was great to spend it talking with friends.

When we were getting ready to leave the next morning, we saw a little friend in our yard. I wasn’t quite sure what it was at first. Can you identify it?

We arrived at our home for the next 17 days within five hours.

This beautiful state park is located just outside of Weston, and only a 15 minute drive to my sister’s home. We had site C6 that abutted a canal. Truth be told, we didn’t see ONE gator in the park while we were here. This was a fear that I had during the entire stay, and it never materialized.

This 666-acre park features 11 miles of bike trails plus model airplane field and lakes for jet skiing. It has a popular doggie park (Markham Barkham), playgrounds, tennis courts, 18-hole frisbee golf course, picnic areas, and an outdoor fitness area. It also has a shooting range for skeet, pistols, and archery. While we were there, we watched a RC (remote control) Boat competition. Unfortunately, it rained A LOT during our stay. It rained just about every night, and the mountain bike trails were closed the entire time due to the muddy conditions that were created. We did, however, take a ride along the canal on one of our last days there. We were able to get a view of our campsite from the opposite direction.

Besides being in Florida to celebrate Christmas with family, we also got to be a part of some special events and reconnect with old friends.

My nephew, Cody, graduated from University of Miami on 12/12/19.
Lunch and at the Boatyard in Fort Lauderdale for my sister, Rosie’s, birthday on 12/15/19.
Prime Time Bar & Grill in Weston for my brother-in-law, Dean’s, birthday 12/18/19.
My dearest Lipton friend, Debi, in her home.
Playing tourists in Jupiter.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
A wee bit windy on top.
Gorgeous eastern view from the top.
The Spirit of Lauderdale Sunset Catamaran Cruise on 12/26/19.

And finally, the only picture that I have of all of us…and my phone was on Portrait. Oops. I would have preferred to have my family in focus and my face blurry. LOL

During this visit, Scott and I visited Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. A separate blog will detail this event.

Next, we will head north in Florida to the white, sandy beaches in the panhandle.