Continuing to AZ

1/8/19 –  I have a few minutes before our closing meeting this morning so lets see if I can get us here.

12/23 – I got the TX State Park pass, free entry ($6) to all state parks, 2nd night camping 1/2 price (regular $20).  Works out to be $30 for what would have been $46.  Covers the rest of 2018 and then the entire year of 2019.  I’ll be in TX a good bit this trip and probably will be back next year perhaps Nov., Dec. so it seemed to be worth it.  Cost $70 and going up.  So my 2nd night at Sea Rim was 1/2 and then I went down to Galveston Island SP and stayed 2 nights.  By the way, Sea Rim is adjacent to TX Point and McFadden National Wildlife Reserves, so is a very large area of public lands.  There were also many mosquitos!!!  I don’t know the history but am wondering if govt got it after some oil devastation, since it’s right in the midst of oil works.  But no oil rigs were visible from either of the parks I went to.  Galveston is another beautiful undeveloped beach.  Camping was even closer to the beach.  It was full, tho there had been a cancelation and it happened to be in the end site which was short so no big rigs could get in, door opening away from others, so very private with great view!  How lucky was that!?!?

Getting here was down narrow islands between the intracoastal at Galveston Bay and the Gulf, sorta like driving the outer banks, or the FL Keys, except that part of the road was closed, being repaired.  So had to go inland a little on another road and then back down, then there is a ferry (free) over to Galveston.  Of course the main part of Galveston is very developed touristy, but the road Is right on the seawall and beaches all along, so makes for an interesting drive.  And then you get to the State Park and all the way across the island is undeveloped until you get down to Jamaica Beach.  I spent Christmas Eve here, for a treat and since from here I’ll be heading inland and to the desert, I went into town and got a wonderful seafood dinner at Nick’s, recommended by the camp staff.  It included 2 types of stuffed shrimp I’ve never had, stuffing similar to crab, one with crawfish in it!  Also the hushpuppy type balls had seafood in them.  I love seafood, love seafood platters where I get a little of everything, this was the best I’ve ever had, and included lots of great roasted veggies as well as coleslaw.  I’ve been eating my way along the Gulf Coast since Fairhope with seafood, this one topped it all, and was enough for 3 meals.  A good thing, it was expensive!  But oh so worth it.  I don’t take pictures of my food, should have made an exception this time.

 

 

After another couple of days enjoying the beach, sun, birds, sunrises and sunsets, full moon rises and sets at the perfect time of year to view both at the same time, full moonlight on the beach and Gulf, hearing the surf as I drift off at night.  Perfect place, perfect thing to do over the holidays.  Oh yeah, had a fabulous shower!!!!  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

 

12/25 – Drove to Austin, to Bastrop State Park.  Met up with Maiki,a friend I met last winter in FL at the Campazon campout.  We’ve kept in touch, she also planned to go to WRTR/RTR and we planned to try to travel together some.  Got some hiking in, lots of fire damage.  It’s another CCC park, has a great “Shade Shelter”, wonderful huge fireplaces inside and out.  Went in to see some of Austin on the 26th, but it was raining pretty bad so wasn’t able to see much.  That night there were bad thunderstorms with tornado warnings/watches.  Some in the campground were leaving for motel, but I sorta figured if there is a tornado, who knows where it would be, here or there, it’s hello Dorothy wherever it hits.  But since these Aframes are a little iffy in high winds, I scrambled around in the dark and packed it up and put in down and drove to the protected side of the bathhouse and tried to sleep in the car.  Thunderstorms, no tornados, tho there were elsewhere.  Very little sleep.  All’s well.  Thank you to those who were more aware of weather conditions and gave me a heads up even before folks here knew the severity of the warnings, and checked in on me.  Love you.

When I left the coast I knew I needed to kinda rush across the rest of TX, having daudled and enjoyed the trip, and not quite getting that TX is so big!!  Plus the bad weather, cold and snow, was chasing us.  Since I’d packed up the night before, it was easy to pull out really early the next day.  So it was time for Interstate 10 and Walmart camping.   Luckily the lack of sleep didn’t bother me on the first long haul day, but I sure slept well that night.  Interesting tho that we met other WRTR travelers, at one WM there were 4 that I knew of, including one other Aframe I’d had contact with earlier.  There were many campers in the parking lot, a whole campground full.   So that made it fun.  Yep it snowed, we ran to NM, it snowed more, we ran to AZ.  I honestly can’t remember if it was 2 or 3 nights in WMs.

Snow covered mountains in NM, clouds clearing out, dry desert hills.  When we got to AZ it was clearing, got sunny, was cold tho.  That last picture, blow it up to see we made it to AZ.

Now got to go to that closing.  More later on the WRTR

From sunny Arizona,

Lynn and Xena

 

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From Pascagoula to AZ

1/7/19 –   Finally a little time to write, maybe.  I’m now at the Women’s Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (WRTR), on BLM land near Quartzsite, AZ.  I want to share the trip getting here first, then we’ll talk about the WRTR.  So back up a bit and have patience.

12/18 –  left my friends Mary and Alda in Pascagoula, MS after a delightful visit with them, catching up and getting reaquainted.  On the way out I stopped in Biloxi to have breakfast with a woman I’d met on the WRTR group.  Delicious breakfast and great to meet up with another Rubbertramper.  Then I was on my way.  I’d decided to go along the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain instead of through New Orleans since I’ve been there several times, and I prefer to avoid cities and take the back roads.    Stopped at Fountainbleau State Park with beach on the lake, near Mandeville, LA.   You could see the New Orleans skyline and the bridge, and a wonderful sunset including the clouds bring on the next system from the Gulf.   Lots of huge live oaks with Spanish moss.  It’s an historical site, an old cotton plantation and mill, with ruins of the mill and evidence of slave quarters.  The State Park was developed by the CCC and there’s a very interesting old bathhouse build for beach goers, large tiled room with lots of changing rooms and toilet stalls.  Kinda reminded me of the bathhouse at the old park pool where I grew up.  Lots of hurricane damage still, and damage from wild hogs.  The ranger said it was particularly bad in the fall because the acorns have dropped, and we know how much pigs like acorns!!  I was only there one night but it was a short drive and I got there in plenty of time to do a little walking around and see everything.  It was also very wet, like everywhere else I’ve been, and calling for rain the next day, so I was glad to be moving on.

12/19 – Got packed and out just before the rain.   Drove to Lafayette, which Alda told me was the heart of Cajun/Acadian culture in LA.  Camped at Acadiana City Park, definitely tell this is the swamps, sweet little campground, next to a bayou, low part in the flood zone.  Swamp.  After setting up, briefly went into town to the  Acadian Cultural Center, a National Park Historical Site.  It was too late to spend a lot of time there so basically just got information for tomorrow.

12/20 – Went back to the Cultural Center.  Lots of very informative displays and really interesting, far too much to take in at one visit.  Next to it is Vermillionville, a recreated Cajun village.  Included is a restaurant with excellent Cajun food so I got lunch there – Crawfish etouffee.  Delish!!!  Went back and spent more time at the Cultural Center.  Will come back here tomorrow.

12/21 – Today’s plan got a little discombobulated.  I have a small chip in the windshield and had been trying to get a repair since insurance pays for it – kinda hard to arrange when you’re on the road.  Got someone to meet me in the parking lot of the Vermillian village.  So I packed it all up and went in, met him, got the repair and then toured the village til mid afternoon.  An absolutely beautiful sunny day for a stroll in an historical village.  Really interesting, homes and other buildings either moved here from other locations or recreated here.  Lots of historical and cultural info of all cultures who’ve lived in these bayous, Native Americans, Cajuns and settlers.  Artisans were in some of the buildings or outside –  weaving, cloth and baskets, cooking, making soap, woodworking, etc.  One woman was finger weaving, she was a native American and really knew her history.  Loved talking to her.  I have so many interesting pictures at this site, but I’ve promised not to post as many.  One last one tho, in the little farmyard was a donkey, Zoe sister.  I love those donkeys.

Once again had lunch at the restaurant – wonderful seafood gumbo, enough for 2 meals.  Then I hit the road again, going a pretty short distance, crossing over into TX Gulf Coast.  Went to Sea Rim State Park at the easternmost point of TX, had to drive through Port Arthur where there are huge ugly oil refineries, but once I got on the coast it was really nice.  Nothing but dunes between campsite and Gulf, wide open, no trees, another beautiful day, no rain, and on the beach!!!  Nothing here but the undeveloped beach, I love public lands where the beaches are saved from development.  Long walks on the beach, very few people here.  Dunes are lower and wider than NC, more gradual incline, long wide beach at low tide.  The sand is darker, in my opinion not as pretty but beautifully undeveloped, not a beach house to be seen.  Beautiful simultaneous Full Moon rising & sunset, and sunrise & moonset.  HAPPY SOLSTICE!!

I’m gonna stop now because there’s a meeting here.  Will continue when I have next chance.

Hope all of you are having a great New Year.  Adventure on, Happy Trails.

From Xena and Lynn

 

Back on the Road

Dec. 16, 2018 –  We left NC for our next BIG adventure on Dec. 8, just ahead of the snow storm.  But we didn’t avoid it totally.  Went to Easley, SC to visit a woman on the Women’s RTR (will explain that later) group who graciously invited us to stay.  Thank you Diana, for wonderful dinner, nice visit with friends, and warmth.

The temps fell and the rain turned to sleet/snow/freezing rain.  In the morning several inches of the frozen mix was on the ground and temps were going to stay below freezing well past time I needed to leave.  So we left and made our way back onto I-85, a little hairy at times on the unplowed streets and roads before getting to a well plowed I-85.  So far the whole trip (all of a week!) has been dominated by weather.

We made it safely to our destination at FDR State Park, Pine Mountain, GA.  This is a great camping spot, I was here last year on my way to FL in Jan and posted some pictures then.  Here are a couple this time of my rig (without snow/sleet) and my view of the sunrise through the forest taken the day I left, the only day the sun made an appearance and one of 2 days it didn’t rain.

This is near Columbus, GA, where I was born, and still have family here so I had great visits and sharing food with my brother and sister-in-law, my niece and a nephew and his wife.

The third photo is the sunset that same day from the pier at Fairhope AL.  It’s always fun to get the sunrise in one spot and the sunset in another.  Fairhope is on the east side of the Mobile Bay, which opens into the Gulf of Mexico.

It really rained, and rained, and rained some more while in Fairhope.  And it was cold!  So much for coming south for the winter.  We were camped at a Boondockers Welcome site at Big Daddy’s Grill, a local seafood joint on the Fish River.  Very nice spot in spite of the rain, but very wet, I mean it’s barely above sea level here.   The pictures below show right outside our door and the sign & reflection in the water on the lawn.  Plus another at sunset (of course) of our view looking over the river.

And some more shots walking and cruising along the river, including a picture of GPS showing the river as we drove along it.  I just loved being able to see the curves and shapes of it.  Unfortunately most of it is private property, I didn’t find a single public access, tho someone told me there was one, just not well posted so you can find it.  A lot of the homes are pretty rich riverfront property, but a lot is still fisherfolk down to earth homes.  A great place for fresh seafood.

A few shots of the Bay at Fairhope, kind of quaint touristy seaport town but not too busy on a rainy wintry day.

Much of the land around Fairhope is such stereo-typical Rural South just couldn’t pass up some pictures.  Cotton fields & modern bales of cotton, pecan groves, the long gated drive to the massa’s house.

From Fairhope, going South, there’s an estuary and this little surprise showed up.  A Pitcher Plant Bog.  What a nice surprise along the way – this is why I don’t take the Interstates whenever possible.

We kept driving south on the east side of Mobile Bay to Gulf Shores, then took the road across the bottom of Mobile Bay.  A fascinating narrow spit of land, of wide sand bars, like the outer banks, with a road that goes all the way across with the exception of a  ferry ride across to Dauphin Island on the west side, and then some big bridges across the Intracoastal Waterway.  I loved this drive, white sand beaches, undeveloped for the most part, Bay on one side, Gulf on the other.  There are ruins of old forts on both sides of the mouth at the ferry landings at Fort Morgan on the east and Fort Gaines at Dauphin Island on the west, for protection of the Bay and it’s port.  There is much history I didn’t have the time to explore so I’ll have to do some research.  There are also lots of oil rigs.  Now it looks like the cannons are protecting the oil rigs.

The end of the day’s drive brought us to Pascagoula, MS, to the home of friends Mary and Alda for a few days.  A wonderful landing place before heading into the “real” west.

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See you on the other side of the Mississippi.

Til then,

Lynn & Xena

 

 

The Home Stretch

Aug. 26 – I’m writing this after getting home and it feels weird.  But I do want to come Full Circle with this adventure.

Aug. 9 – Newfane, VT.  I stayed a couple of nights at Townsend State Park and spent the whole day of the 9th with my old friend Linda who used to live in NC.  She lives in an apartment attached to one of the beautiful old homes with no room for guests, tho I did find out after seeing it that I could have parked camper in the large driveway.  The State Park was great tho, another old CCC built state park, and I took Linda out to see it and my camper.  She was curious, as so many people are, about the ALiner.  They’re just not that many of them out there and so uniquely shaped – a curiosity, I’ve given many tours of it.  More pressure to keep it neat and clean.  🙂  It was a wonderful visit, catching up and discovering the adorable little typical VT village where she has lived for the last 10 yrs or so.  Much remembering and telling of new life stories, as always happens with old friends.

Aug 10 – From VT, I drove down the Hwy to Huntington, MA where we set up camp for several days on the beautiful land of friends Judith and Carol, surrounded by fully flowering perennial gardens!  They have several acres out in the country, it was perfect,  plus I got lots of those hard to do while camping things done: laundry, internet, shower. Then went into East Hampton to visit another friend, Jean.  More great time catching up and reminiscing with old friends.

I have several friends in Western MA and when I contacted them about visiting in Aug, some were planning to go to an OLOC/mini Michfest campout.  OLOC – Old Lesbians Organizing for Change! – one of my favorite acronyms.  mini Michfest celebrating the Michigan Women’s Music Festival, which happened that week for many many years.  I wanted to go?!   It was great fun, such a change from being primarily in the company of strangers or new-found friends with nothing in common but traveling and adventuring, to being surrounded by women who were friends and others with so much present and past life experience in common. And in a great place in the east with abundant familiar green and a lake for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, etc.  Sharing meals, nightly fire circles, singing women’s music and music from the 60s, listening to daily Carolyn Gage sermons!  And a delicious last night dinner out.  A very delightful easing back into my life off the road.

I didn’t remember to take many pictures so I’m stealing some from Emily Greene.

Aug. 17 – From Western MA, a long drive to Maine, first to meet up with landmate Doreen who had been traveling in her camper up from Full Circle Farm, and Amy, another FCF sister who lives in ME til she builds and moves to the farm.  After we settled in for another night camped on the land of a couple of women who have a beautiful farm, we went to a local brewery/fire-roasted pizza joint and a visit to LL Bean outlet where I blew some $$ and got those new waterproof hiking boots I’d said I wanted.  50% off!!!  Keen!

Aug. 18 – Next day the 3 of us were off to Acadia NP.  This adventure started with me deciding to join another Women Aliner Campers campout at Acadia, then asking Doreen and Amy if they’d like to join me.  It was really good, we enjoyed spending some time with the WACS, and the 3 of us had a great time with each other and especially hiking some not so challenging trails as well as some challenging ones with beautiful views for reward. They are much younger than I and they very graciously helped me on the challenging one over some rough spots, taking Xena’s leash when I needed both hands to climb rocks, lending me a hand up, and in general slowing their pace.  I’m sure they would have finished these hikes much quicker without the old lady slowing them down.  At one point I was ready to kill Doreen for “accidentally” leading us into the “Cadillac Cliffs” (there was a choice!) on the trail to the Gorham Mtn summit, but in the end I felt grateful for the challenge and that this old body had done it!!  All the times I hike alone, I would have never attempted it.  Pats on the back!!  But I won’t be doing it again!  BTW – those new hiking shoes were great.  3 days hiking, clung to those rocks like suction cups, 1 blister.

Views from the top.

I didn’t take too many pictures hiking, I was too busy clambering over boulders, but thankfully Doreen did, so I’m stealing some from her here.

After I left, Doreen and Amy “accidentally” took another hike, one they had deemed too difficult the day before.  You know – ropes and ladders type!  That last picture is on that hike.  The Bee Hive.  Nope, not me!

There is so much diverse beauty at Acadia – the mountains, the ocean, the harbors, rocky beaches, the quaint towns.  A drive around the scenic loop and up to Cadillac Mountain, more views from that top.

 

Aug 21 – Xena and I left Acadia and drove south, the final leg home.  Staying away from the cities as usual, drove through ME, NH, MA, Conn, to Newburgh, NY for a Walmart stay.  Met a wounded vet and his wife from Roxboro, NC, on their way to a family funeral.  Small world.

Aug. 22 – another long driving day on I-81 through Penn, Maryland, WV and to Shenandoah NP in VA.  Camped at one of the campgrounds on the Skyline Drive, how delightful that was for my last night on the road.  My eyes rested on the beautiful Smokey Mountains again at last.  Not as dramatic as those western mountains, but just a magnificent and beautiful in their own way.  Heard cicadas for the first time this summer.  Very warm and welcoming signs of home.  A soft landing.  It’s good to be back in familiar territory.

But I still didn’t want to stop, want to keep rolling.

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Drove out to one of the overlooks to catch the sun set on our last day on this magical journey.

Aug 23 –  Set out early and took a long slow drive on the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah, stopping at many overlooks, stopping to walk a mile or so of the AT whenever it crossed, something I’ve done for years when I’m in the mountains.  Once we were back on the highway, horse headed for the barn!  Arrived home at 6pm.  Circle complete.

Thanks for rolling with us on our journeys.  I appreciate all who read this, I especially like comments, whether here or on personal emails or texts, and “likes”.  Helps when we start missing our homefolk, even tho I may not see them for weeks, and then not be able to respond.    I also like to hear about your life and travels.

And yes, we will keep rolling.  You’ll have to stay tuned for the next adventure.

“I’m quite ready for another adventure!”  Bilbo Baggins

Til then, Happy Camping,

Lynn and Xena

 

Roaring East

July 29, 2018 we left Mt. Rainier with sadness and much appreciation and awe for a fabulous, life-expanding adventure in the mountains of the Northwest and set the Highlander’s nose to take us east.  We traveled a northern route and will end up in Maine before turning south for home in NC.  I know, long way home, right!  This came about because many months ago I decided to join some Women Aliners for a campout at Acadia in mid Aug and you know those reservations – in some places, like Acadia in Aug, you gotta make them practically a year in advance, so I needed to decide long time ago.  I was also loosely following someone else’s itinerary as a guide for the west journey since I knew next to nothing about the area.  In retrospect, I would have stayed west in Aug. and spent more time in just about every place I went (not the Badlands!!!), although I must say it seemed the wildfires were following me.  I saw yesterday where the west side of Glacier was burning, the side where I camped, and the Road to the Sun was closed.  Makes those fires even sadder after you’ve been there.  :(.  So anyway, that’s why we’re heading to Maine.  And since I was going to be in the NE I planned to visit some friends in VT and Western MA.  In order to coordinate with their plans, I needed to be in VT by Aug 8th, and since pulling a camper and needing to find places to camp takes a lot longer than driving/motel model . . . well, you get the picture.  And I had to take care of some service on the tow vehicle and the camper, things impossible to do while in National Parks and Forests.  Luckily nothing desperate while I was there.

So, with a last look back with sadness, off we went, Highlander, Aliner, Xena and me, rolling back to the east coast.

I did try to include some interesting sights and took the more northern route that would avoid the big cities and get off interstates a good part of the time.  First night ended up at Coeur d’Alene, ID, which I’d honestly never heard of.  Needed a city where there would be a Toyota dealer for oil change since I wanted them to check everything really well and I trust the dealers more than an unknown mechanic.  And since I’d driven 8,000 miles since the last oil change, towing, and over lots of mountains and rough rutted dirt roads.  So next day that’s where we went.  Yep, needed brakes too!  It took most of the day, luckily they even took me without an appointment.  I had hoped I could arrange the camper fix so I could drop it off and bring the car in without it but that didn’t work and there was no place in the Toyota lot, so had to drop it in a nearby Walmart parking lot and leave it.  They were very nice to let Xena stay in the waiting room with me, in spite of her state of shedding.  I brush her every day so the car and camper aren’t full of fur, leaving a small dog sized furball at every campsite.  All the sales people and other customers loved her and she was well behaved.

Some pics of the drive, gradual leveling of the mountains then flat plains, big sky, wide open exposed forever views.  Unfortunately, I was never able to find a parking spot in the very crowded busy lake area of Coeur d’Alene so didn’t get any pictures.

I was determined to get farther down the road that afternoon, so we drove to Butte, MT, back into some hills and mountains, but still barren, big sky country.   So close to many National Forest, and passing by  because of the need for speed.  Drove pretty late so we did a Walmart camp that night.  If you’re an RVer you probably know that most Walmarts allow travelers to overnight in the parking lot and lest you think it would be lonely and scary, here’s a photo of the parking lot that night.  And a pretty view of the city lights, residential area on the opposite hillside.

Folks usually use this option when they’re trying to make time, drive late and just park it, sleep, and leave early the next morning.  RVers are very friendly, put out their chairs to relax and watch the view of the city lights, walk around, chat, walk the dogs.  Just like a campground.  Not bad really, convenient, feels safe, in all I think I did 4 Walmart nights.  You can drive by just about any Walmart around dusk or after and most likely will see RVs and vans and even 16 wheelers along the outer edges of the parking lot, there for the night.

Aug. 1 – Next day, camper fix.  While in Mt. Rainier a few days before the camper wasn’t working off the battery.  The only thing I needed it for was to ignite the propane to run the fridge since I didn’t have elec. hookups.  Only a few months old, tested fully charged,  checked all the battery connections, fuses, breakers, even crawled this old body under the camper to see if any loose or broken wires were visible.  Even had another Aliner owner who was camped nearby check it out, and he couldn’t find anything either.   I was able to leave it plugged into the car while I was at camp and it ran off the car battery just fine, then I would run around and do my exploring and charge the car’s battery back up.  It was cool enough to just leave fridge off overnight since I didn’t want to run the car battery down.  When I took it in, it was indeed a simple fuse, an in-line fuse at the battery, which actually had tested fine even with a different kind of tester that the other Aliner had.  Pooh!!  Half the day wasted on a tiny little fuse!!!  I now have 2 extras and it’ll be the first thing I check if it happens again.

Onward!  Long driving afternoon through the rest of Montana but stopped at a few interesting places.  Especially Pompey’s Pillar National Historic Monument.  Again, never heard of it but signs were right along Interstate 90 and I needed a break.  Well worth it, spent a couple hours there and got a good hike along the Yellowstone River and the rock that included about 12 stories worth of steps to the top!!!  Great views all around.  This is all Lewis and Clark territory and this “pillar” was a natural landmark and observation point for more than 11,000 years by humans.  It’s at a natural crossing on the Yellowstone River and hundreds of historical markings, petroglyphs and inscriptions have transformed this geologic formation into a living journal of the American West.  The inscriptions include the signature of William Clark (Lewis and Clark) and date they were there.  This inscription is the only visible evidence of the expedition that remains along the Corps of Discovery’s trail.  The visitor’s center is full of interesting historical displays and information.

Back on the road, passed really close to where I’d stopped at Big Horn Canyon and Little Big Horn Battlefield 2 months ago.  About this time I got off I-90 and onto I-94 and followed the Yellowstone River.  Stopped at Makoshika State Park at Glendive near the eastern state line thinking I’d camp there.  But I drove through to check it out, it’s all in the Badlands area, all exposed, no trees/shade, really hot 90s full sunny days.  It was mid afternoon and I saw no reason to stop anywhere much before dark just so I could bake when I could keep driving in the AC, so went on across the state line into North Dakota.  Stopped for another look at Theodore Roosevelt National Park for a little farewell.  That was my first National Park stop after getting out into this section of the country so full of amazing National Parks.  Full Circle.  It was as beautiful as the first time.  Even tho this is officially Badlands too, these are more colorful, prettier, and have some trees, especially in the campground.  Remembered it was a long drive through the park to get to the campground and knew I wouldn’t get a spot with no reservation anyway, so kept going.  Made it to Dickinson just about dusk where it was another Walmart night.

Aug. 2 – Rolling on across North Dakota.  After TRNP, not much to talk about, ya know what I mean!!  I did see amber waves of grain and the World’s Largest Holstein!

Made it all the way across to Minnesota and had another Walmart night in Dilworth.  That was probably the worst of my travel days.  But the next morning I got off I-94 and onto Hwy 10, then some smaller roads to Scenic Hwy 2 and landed at Chippewa National Forest where lots of lakes are, at Cass Lake campground.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  I stayed 2 nights, so great to be in a National Forest, in a campground again, with a shower.  In the middle of Indian Reservation, surrounded by lakes. Went to a fish supper benefit for the youth, fish from the lake.  Yummy.   Set up the whole camp – rug, screen tent, cooktop outside, settled right in.  Next day actually cooked for the first time in what felt like a really long time.  Ahh, better.

I loved my stay here, beautiful and relaxing after the mad dash across the plains and badlands.  I wanted to stay, but that calendar keeps moving.  Rolled out on the 5th, stayed on US 2, a scenic highway.  Got a little bit of Lake Superior, into and through Wisconsin and into Michigan.  Landed another fabulous spot for the night at Hiawatha National Forest on Little Bay de Noc, a peninsula on Lake Michigan.  Wonderful walks around the bay with great sunset.  Wow!!  Neither of these stops were planned, just watched the maps for National Forests.  I love our National Forests!!  Would hate to lose them, but I’m afraid we need to work hard to keep them public lands.

Again, I wanted to stay but I just couldn’t, didn’t even unhook the camper.  You can see in the photos that weather was rolling in too, and that’s pretty much been the story ever since.  Next day was driving around Lake Michigan, crossing the Mackinac Bridge (or as I like to spell it MAC n NAK for my friends and faithful blog followers, MAC and NAK!).  Then it was around Lake Huron to Port Huron.  Just fabulous views of the lakes all along, as seen through the rain.  We did a Walmart at Port Huron just a couple of miles from the border crossing into Ontario, Canada.  Another crowded Walmart as many people do this to get across early.

Across the border and then we’re going around Lake Ontario!  All the Lakes!!  I went all the way to the bridge crossing at the St. Lawrence River and 1000 Islands.  Even tho a little longer than crossing at Buffalo, I’m really glad I did.  Once again, I have never heard of the 1000 Islands, except the salad dressing.  🙂  Camped at Keewaydin State Park.  There’s an old castle on one of the Islands, unfinished by the builder because his wife, who he was building it for, died and he abandoned it.  It’s been taken over and kept up as a state park.  There are a lot of “little castles” copies everywhere.  The whole island area is a big resort/tourist area, motorboats, jet skis, loud and rowdy tour boats, but not as crowded and noisy as other parks with water attractions I’ve been in and the campground was nice.  Obviously didn’t have much time to explore, did love the marina.  Until traveling earlier this year, I didn’t realize there were marinas at state parks where a boater can “camp”, hooked up or boondocking, just like the land campers.  Cool.

Aug 8 – Got a little walk with Xena and a shower before leaving pretty early to head for VT.  Went down I-81 and back onto I-90, the Hwy I started on in Washington.  I mentioned earlier there have been storms, well ran into a whopper of a storm on this day.  Visibility of Zero!  And it lasted a long time.  Probably added an hour or more to my drive time.  Up I-87, then across to Bennington!  Whew!  Made it.  Mission Accomplished!  Got a campsite at Townsend State Park, right next to Green Mountains, and real close to my friend Linda who lives in the tiny VT village (60 taxpayers) of Newfane.

The rest of this trip is about visiting friends.  When I have a chance to post next I’ll share some of it.  But I will be in campgrounds and don’t know what kind of connectivity I’ll have so may be after I get home.

Keep on rolling, safe travels on your end of summer vacations.

Lynn and Xena

 

 

 

The Crowning Glory

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What more is there to say.  Mt. Rainier!!  Elevation 14,410′.  I started seeing her miles and miles away, just a glimpse here and there from afar, then closer, larger.  Every time I’d gasp!  What an amazing sight!!  I could see her from every turn in the road, a different view, just eye popping beautiful and awe inspiring.  Here’s a topo model from one of the visitors centers, just to put her in perspective.

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Entered at the Nisqually entrance on the southwest side.   It’s the “historic district”, where first James Longmire, a settler and explorer, discovered hot springs and built the first hotel and spa in 1885 before it was a NP.  That same year Fay Fuller became the first woman to climb Mr. Ranier.  There is a “Trail of Shadows”, an interpretive trail around the area where the original hot springs/hotel/spa was.  The historic district also consists of the 1st buildings as a National Park, which it became in 1899, and includes an old Inn, store, museum, Ranger station and an old gas station.  Early visitors came by horse and buggy, cars were allowed in 1915, which began the major growth of the park.  Lots of other history throughout the park including early ranger cabins, primarily used for rangers to watch for fires and poachers.

 

Camped a few days at Cougar Rock on the southwest side, on the Nisqually River.  Nabbed the last site again, thanks to a cancellation. Pretty awesome to have a great view of the mountain form the campsite.  Drove up to Paradise, climbing higher and higher, every turn another eye-popping view.  And what a view from the top at 5400′, looked like you could reach out and touch it.  I know I can’t just post a million pictures of different views tho I could look at them forever.  Many other things to see also – glacier rivers and waterfalls of course. Other mountains, not as glamorous but beautiful in their own right.  Another great visitors’ center.  Many trails lead from here of varying length and difficulty, but they’re all steep.   You can climb to the summit, over glacier ice, snow and loose rocks.  It’s an overnight hike.  Has anyone done it?  Pretty impressive.  Wildflowers were abloom in all the meadows to add to the beauty.

 

 

Continued to drive the route to the east from there, many great water falls and rivers.  Reflection Lakes with Mr. Rainier behind, but no reflection, guess it’s the wrong time of day.  Then drove on one ledge of Stevens Canyon, crossed over and  ledge on the other side.  Very narrow, winding, climbing, on a ledge with no railings!!!  Exciting to say the least.  Amazing views all the way.

The next day I moved up to the White River Campground near the NE entrance and Sunrise, another center of activity, visitor center, Lodge, and amazing views.  It’s even higher – 6400′, the campground is 4232′ and there’s a trail up to Sunrise.  A measly 3 mile hike, straight up!!!  The drive is 10 miles, still quite steep with switchbacks to get that elevation gain.    The view from here is even more amazing, it looks even more like you could reach out and touch it.  And of course you can hike up to the summit from here too, along with many other hikes.  There’s a trail called Wonderland that goes all around the base of the mountain.  A total of 93 miles!!!  Met some women on their 10th day, 2 more to go.  And met some doing the summit too.  Oh to be young again!!!

 

If you can zoom in and read the last one, When Fire and Ice Collided, it’s very interesting about how those rocks formed so weirdly.  The rocks right there look just like the picture.

I know, another one of those signs to read!  About how the Sunrise Road was planned and built.  Another amazing engineering feat.

I mentioned earlier the Old Ranger cabins.  Here’s some pictures of one that was in the campground area and information about them.  It was open for viewing the inside with it’s furnishings of the day but too dark to photograph.

Went to a couple very good ranger programs at the fire circle.  One was a ranger who sang and played guitar, making up new words to well known songs to fit the Rainier experience.  Another was a young John Muir impersonator, reading from his books, with an excellent accent.  Sun setting on Mr. Rainier, view from the campground.

This is the end of my western National Parks journey – what a grand finale’!!

Officially rolling east now,

Lynn and Xena

 

Olympic National Park and Forest

7/17/18 – Still moving westward, left Newhalem early to get close to the ferry at Coupeville for the night. Made it to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island in what I guess is part of Puget Sound. All kinds of sounds, bays, straits, harbors, islands, peninsulas, not sure what’s what. But what an interesting watery area. I keep getting into campgrounds by the skin of my teeth, once again, the last available sight!! On our first walk around I spotted 2 old ’80s Toyota Dolphins, which is the little Class C camper I had before the ALiner. Right next to each other, I though surely they were together, a rally maybe, but they weren’t. There’s such a cult following for these old things that it’s not unusual for strangers to stop and check them out, so they weren’t taken aback by my approach. They’d already had 2 offers to buy it at that cg, I used to get folks asking about mine and making offers all the time too.
Anyway, right above their campsite, way above in one of the 200′ tall old growth trees, was an eagle nest with what appeared to be young in it. We could see 1 bird flapping wings in the nest and another out on a nearby limb occasionally flapping, so thought they might be ready to fledge. Mesmerized, but finally I went back to my own campsite and realized I could actually see the nest better from there. I was farther away but higher up so could see the top of the nest, whereas they could only see the bottom. So I settled my chair in that one little spot, got my binocs and went in for some serious watching. It was pretty late already, not getting dark til almost 11, so didn’t see much but next morning as I resumed my position with coffee and the lighting was different, I could see a lot more. I finally saw an adult fly in with goodies and lots of excitement in the nest and the one out on the limb (seemed not to have moved all night) was also an adult with a very clear white head. So that must be daddy and the feeding one must me mamma and the littles are NOT ready to fledge!! It was sad that I wouldn’t be able to witness such an event, but very good because I was planning to leave early to get to the ferry and I might not have ever left for waiting for them to fledge!! So I was able to leave. Whew!!

Right in the middle of the photo, mamma on nest feeding, papa above right watching over
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So, we’re on another ferry adventure. This one is huge, three stories high, don’t know what’s underneath, much larger than the one we took to Southport, huge semis and giant buses on it. Anyway, short ride across the sound to Port Townsend.

My aim was to visit friends, Sue and Michelle, in Hadrock. When I started out I had no idea where that was, as I got into WA and checked in with them for location, it turned out it’s right there! Real close to where the ferry dropped us off. So I got a campsite at Old Fort Townsend State Park real near, settled the camper and headed over to their house. Had a wonderful visit sitting on the patio of their lovely house facing the water (everything is right on the water here). It was wonderful visiting old friends since I mostly meet new friends.  Very nice feeling of comfort.  They, and some other friends visiting, took me to a fantastic place called FinnRiver Farm and Cidery. If you’re ever anywhere near, do go. It’s a farm and they make hard cider with ingredients, mostly fruits and herbs, from the farm and other local farms. And they have other local venders there for eats like fire roasted pizza and the night we were there, locally sustainably harvested salmon in a sandwich filled with farm fresh veggies on very good local bread. It was soooo good. You can check them out on the web. Agri-tourism at it’s best.


From Port Townsend I went on to Olympic National Park. Went thru Port Angeles, down to Sol Duc, one of the major campgrounds which was full, the visitors center, and drove along Crescent Lake, a really huge beautiful lake, must have been 50 miles along the crescent. Lots of road construction, looong lines, 30 min wait. But a beautiful sight and able to get out of the car to take pictures. Got in the middle of a group of VW buses, they said 80 or so, on a long ride together. Fun to get out and talk to them. Old hippies in old hippy cars. Fun.  Madison Falls was really neat.


Found a site at Klahowya (another one of those beautiful words) campground in the National Forest, just outside the park. And another fabulous campground. The ones in the park were all full and I’m so glad, they are large and popular and crowded. This had fewer very spacious sites, and in the middle of wonderful old growth forest, ferns, rainforest, but dry. I went to the Hoh Rainforest later and it literally had nothing on this campground. It’s all first come, no reservations, and it did fill up later.


Olympic is very different from North Cascades, still high mountains, not as high and you don’t see them very much due to all the very tall trees. The westernmost part of the North Cascades were full of the old growth forest, and more moisture loving plants, ferns and mosses, Olympic now I guess officially rainforest. I mean TALL old growth trees, and BIG!!! It’s on a peninsula and on the coast so obviously moist and full of the ferns, the mosses, everywhere, including my campsite.

One day I drove out to Cape Flattery. It was a long drive with not much in between. Drive is pretty much along the water and on Indian Reservation, a small Indian fishing resort type place at Sekiu. But at the end is a fabulous sight, well worth the drive and the hike at the end to see it. The NorthWesternmost point in the continental US. I’ve made it!!! All the way across the US!!! Coast to Coast. I’ve never been to the west coast before. I pinched myself several times, still unbelievable. And what a beautiful place to celebrate that milestone.

You can see the fog in the first picture and the land mass in the second is Canada

I also went out to some of the beaches, not nearly as beautiful, but very interesting. Very different from what I’m used to. Lots of fog rolling in early, clearing later in the day, but I never saw it. Lots of rocks and old dead trees that have been brought to the ocean from the mountains, via the avalanches, heavy snow melt, rivers, then pounded onto the beaches by the waves. The only place to even wade at most of them is in the tide pools.  It’s also really cold!! 40s/50s in the morning, just a few miles inland and 10 degrees warmer, a few more another 10 degrees. It’s getting hot here but not on the beaches. No swimming, or even sitting out on the beach. I know beaches farther south on the west coast are not like this, more hospitable, but these are beautiful in their own way.

The big stone outcrops are apparently what’s left of old islands that have been worn away.  Pretty eerie with the fog, eh?  The last one there is Rialto Beach, farther south and more hospitable for beaching, but still no swimmers.

I went to the Hoh Rainforest and went on some of the shorter trails since my knee has been hurting from all the steep hiking chasing waterfalls.  It’s not much different from my campground. But a lot of interesting information on interpretive trails. I was particularly intrigued with how the old dead trees provide growing medium for new ones, either on the stump or along a trunk on the ground. Makes for interesting root growth after the old trees finally decompose. And of course the size of the trees still amazes me, In addition to all the ferns and mosses.

 

Look closely at that one on the right.  There’s a person in it!

We camped at Lake Quinault our last day in Olympic NP. What a beautiful place, would have stayed longer but it was full, no campsites available. Most of the sites were walk in, for tent campers, so wouldn’t have worked for us anyway. But we got there early enough to enjoy most of the day and then didn’t leave too early the next morning. It was foggy early so nice watching the fog gradually lift for another clear day. Very beautiful blue glacier/snow melt lake, great views of mountains all around. And warm enough to swim in!!! Yay, first swim of the trip, and in a blue glacier lake.  Nice It was chilly getting in and cold at the bottom, but the sun was shining and warming up the upper levels and was perfect.   Have been at campgrounds without showers for quite awhile now, so haven’t had a real shower. So that made it utilitarian too. 🙂  And a very nice hiking trail along several beaches and into the forest along a creek. That last picture?  That’s one of the campgrounds on the coast I thought I wanted to camp at, called South Beach.  Nope, not my style, thank you.


So the next day we said good-bye to Olympic National Park and Forest as we continued to drive the scenic drive around the southwestern and south sides. As I turned to head east, realized with sadness I was starting my return. But one more big NW stop to make before it’s official. On the way I stopped at the first private campground I’ve used. It was surprisingly very nice. It was an old one, very nice wooded, spacious sites. Plus for a real change I had elec. hookup!  And a real shower and shampoo (too bad it was right after the swim). And laundry!! Wow!! I’m civilized!!

A couple last shots before I go.  This beauty visited my wonderful campsite at Klahowya.  She stayed quite a while one morning and got quite close.  Good timing, I gave her the 2 mice I’d just trapped from my car.  :(.  The deer here don’t seem to run out in front of you or away from you.  I guess they’re so used to people they just stand there and stare.  It’s a local black tail. they sometimes mate with white tails and end up with zebra tails.  🙂

Rolling east,
Lynn and Xena