Breakaway to Florida January 2019

One of the perks of being retired is having your good friends suggest you join them in Florida on Monday and on Friday you are on the road headed south!

Leaving Michigan’s cold, snowy face behind we beat it south with just our truck (no RV) to join our friends at a Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral condo.  With a winter snowstorm forecast chasing us, we drove 10 hours, 600 miles to Corbin Kentucky. We stopped for the night, awoke to their first snow of the winter and with more to come we high tailed south 12 hours and 790 miles (taking note of the temps going up, and up – John calling out “I’m going 70 and its 70 degrees!) arriving at our friend’s nice beachfront condo rental Saturday evening.

The condo had a great view of the ocean from it second floor end unit balcony.  Very lovely with views of cruise ships coming in and out from the Cape Canaveral Port just a few miles north.  The ocean air smelled wonderful and felt so healthy to breath in, and the sounds of the surf filled our ears.

 

On Sunday we were welcomed with warm temps, a beautiful long, long sandy beach, big waves and waters warmer than our icy Lake Huron in summer. We had a spectacular beach day, we swam and rode a boogie board on the waves. No better way to say “Hello Florida sunshine!!!” Jim’s sister, Diane and her friend Nancy drove over from the west side of Florida to join the fun.  IMG_1005.JPG

Kathi (my fellow kick ball Queen and best friend from grade 4) and her hubby Jim were on a work/holiday away from their home in Canada.  We were there as tag-a longs.  It was marvelous!  We filled the week with lots of beach walks, sunrises, ocean swims, shell finding, Amaretto coffees, hot tub soaks, pool swims, key lime pies (3), two for one Margaritas, sandy feet, Yuenglings Beer (for me), spicy take out chicken, hiding John’s rocks,  good conversations and lots of laughs.

We were treated with a visit from their friends Kathy and Darious.  Kathy and I both stood up in Kathi and Jim’s wedding 46 years ago.  John called our reunion “the three K’s.”

Our friends Ann and Jack from Michigan drove up from their winter condo for a visit and a windy walk on the beach at the end of the week. img_1301

Midweek we went to Merrit Island National Wildlife Preserve and drove the 13 mile loop road.  We saw loads of birds, wild boars, and a couple huge alligators.  We couldn’t go the visitor center due to the government shutdown. img_1036

Not too far from the condo there was a neighborhood with many wild peacocks free roaming throughout.  They were on the lawns, roosting in the trees and sharing their beauty all about.  Pretty cool.img_4254

After a full week of beach condo bliss we said our goodbyes on the Monday.  It helped a bit that Monday was cool and windy, not a good beach day.  Time for us to head north.

We didn’t feel the need to rush home to freezing cold Michigan too fast.  We stopped in Chattanooga Tennessee and the next morning we drove to the top of Lookout Mountain.  The shut down prevented us from going to the park with the “lookout” platform and we didn’t want to purchase tickets to Rock City, nor did we want to download the paid parking app, so we satisfied ourselves with quick snatches of views between the fancy houses that sit literally on the edge of the lookout ridge or cliff face.  Elevation 2,388 feet.  Hard to imagine living on top of a mountain like that.  There is a small touristy downtown and a school somewhere up there, but you would need to use the steep, winding, full of switchbacks mountain road to commute to work and most shopping.

Next stop was Nashville.  We spent an enjoyable afternoon visiting the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.  It features 9 acres of lush indoor gardens under large soaring atrium ceilings.  Enjoying and indoor temp of low 70’s we wandered around and over garden pathways and bridges taking us to waterfalls, water fountains, and an indoor river.  All were surrounded by fantastic landscaping with thousands of blooming tropical plants and green trees.  There is no charge to walk around and we skipped the $29 parking fee by parking at the nearby Opry Mills Mall.

The next day, Wednesday, we landed at our son Jim’s home south of Indianapolis, Indiana.  He, his wife Jessica and grandson Patrick gave us a warm welcome with Patrick hosting a dance party  with his musical toys.  Such a happy engaging little man!

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On Thursday we arrived at our daughter Theresa’s home.  She and hubby, Howard, treated us to a lovely fish and chips dinner at a charming old world English Pub and Inn/Bed and Breakfast in Eaton Rapids near Lansing, Michigan.  After dinner Theresa and I were able to tour the elegantly decorated bedroom suites upstairs.  Very beautiful.

We arrived home safe and sound on Friday afternoon.  There was a good 8″ or more of snow on the ground and bitterly cold.  Brrrrrrr.

Traveling without the RV was a completely different experience.  We definitely traveled much farther each day and at a faster clip. Our gas mileage improved tremendously without towing the RV.  Our diesel truck averaged 20-25 mpg compared to towing at 11-12 mpg.  It was certainly a real treat to be able to stop at our children’s houses and stay the night instead of parking at an RV Park somewhere.

The condo stay had the luxurious ocean view and a short walk to a lovely beach.  It would be hard to find an RV site that duplicated the view and beach access.  We searched for the best hotel prices, using the coupon books available at the interstate welcome centers. With taxes our rooms ran $75-$85 per night.  Paying hotel fees was painful and although clean enough the rooms were not luxurious.  My one complaint was the presence of small and scratchy bath towels!

Our food costs were higher without our RV kitchen but while traveling we only ate one restaurant meal a day.  I made and froze breakfast burritos on both ends of our trip. We microwaved in our room and enjoyed for breakfast.  They were a big upgrade to the high carb complimentary hotel breakfast offerings.  I packed road lunches from a stash of food that we hauled along in a cooler and large tote bag.  My RV brain felt the need for an extensive pantry to choose from.  I am sure we carried way more food stuff with us than the average road tripper.

The biggest difference by far was my feeling of being ready to “go home.”  In our RV, I don’t experience that as I feel “at home” in our RV.

We haven’t cemented our plans for our RV trip to the southwest, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Sedona etc. Could be next month or next winter.  We know we want to go, but when?  Until then, thanks for following along.

Happy New Year 2019

No new travel adventures to report.  Sadly we have have been home in our Northeast Michigan sticks n bricks with no concrete evacuation date on the calendar.  We are roughly planning to blow out of here sometime before March and head to Texas and then on to the great Southwest.  Sedona, Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon are on our list.  Will keep you posted.

In the meantime I have been sorting and shredding old papers.  I unearthed this Christmas Letter I wrote tongue in cheek back in 2002.  I posted it as a joke with the other Christmas letters at an office that I cleaned.  ( kinda back fired- lost that job soon after-oops!)

December 2002

Dear friends and family,

Another unbelievable year for us.  It started with an unexpected “addition” to our family and home when Uncle Moe’s Winnebago died in our driveway in February.  But since then we have been able to make him and his two German Shepard’s, ” Legg-off” and “Big-Pee” quite comfy with the clever use of extension cords, hoses and a few 55 gallon drum dump tanks.  We were able to provide him with free cable too- with aid from our new friend that Lumex met last summer in Marlette (more on Marlette later.)  BTW: Uncle Moe wants me to extend an invite to any single ladies that would like a tour of the Winnebago to come for a visit anytime.

George and Mother visited my sister in Vegas this year.  She is working in the “entertainment” area of the casinos.  George says he was quite impressed by the sparkly outfits that they provide her with.  He has arranged for her to come and visit us in exchange for the awesome dance moves she is going to teach me.  ( He is installing some kind of pole in our bedroom too – for some reason- I don’t know.)

We took what was supposed to be a quick trip to the Upper and got held over for an extended stay in Marlette.  There was some confusion about the six cartons of cigarettes and ten cases of beer that Lumex loaded into the car at a grocery stop. The clerk was busy and Lumex thought to save some time he would put the stuff in the car first and then go back to pay.  The store got quite stuffy about it and Lumex ended up sharing a cell, I mean ROOM with Fingers ( his new friend that helped with the cable) for the summer.  We did meet a real nice lawyer because of all this and I only have to clean his office for three years to pay our bill.  Isn’t it wonderful how life’s challenges keep just working out?

Ella Bella is doing just fine at the alternative school.  She sure is a feisty little darling!  I don’t know where all that assertiveness comes from, but her old school says the bite marks and bruising on the other children are healing just fine.

George is hoping to start a new job soon, somewhere where his creative accounting skills will be more appreciated.

Me- I have developed many new recipes using the government cheese and beans we get each week.  I keep busy writing letters to Mother.  She stayed out near Vegas with Bronco Bill, he has a lovely 1962 VW Van that is very homey.

Cheers and best wishes to all,

The Cleaner Family

Hope you enjoyed my Christmas Letter.  Many wishes to all for a wonderful new year full of joy and adventures.  Hopefully this Bad Grandma and her beloved hubby will resume travels soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indiana and Ohio, Hocking Hills

October 18, 2018  We loaded up for a trip to visit our youngest son, Jim, his wife Jessica and our main man/grandson Patrick.  They moved to Greenwood Indiana south of Indianapolis this summer.  We were very eager to see them and Patrick, who at only fifteen months is rapidly changing from baby to toddler.

Greenwood is over 400 miles from our home, so we stopped at Pokagon State Park just off I-69 after we entered Indiana. Over 1,000 acres in size, this park is big!  We set up the Wildcat on a large treed site and took off for a walk. The park had miles of hiking trails, bike paths and a winter toboggan run.  Our campground map lead us to a nice loop trail through the woods.  So pretty with the path carpeted with golden leaves that had fallen from the trees.  The park has a lot to offer including a large inn and restaurant, large lake and beach area too.  We barely saw a tiny bit.

This actually was our second visit, the first some 40 plus years ago, camping with my co-workers way back when I worked for Cunningham Drugstore.  Pre-children – I remember only some very large and bold raccoons and there may have been copious quantities of beer.  This is a picture of our “camper’.  A work cap on the back of John’s beast of a truck.  Inside we shared a twin bed mattress (we were both a LOT thinner back then.) It was outfitted with a Coleman stove and lantern and couple milk crates for storage and seating.

1 first camper

On Friday morning we left Pokagon, headed for our reservations near Jim’s home in Greenwood.  We made a short detour to stop at Ickes RV Surplus near Fort Wayne.  We were very pleased to find tires with two almost perfect matches to the rims on our fifth wheel.  After our recent wheel debacles we had mismatched rims on the one side.

After too much traffic, we pulled into Lake Haven Retreat just south of Indianapolis, microwaved our dinner and collapsed.  The next morning we hustled off to Jim and Jessica’s for breakfast and GRAND BABY TIME!!!! Little Patrick kept us nicely entertained all of Saturday.  Sunday, Jim and Jessica picked us up and took us to the Indianapolis Zoo.  The day was a bit cool, but sunny and no wind.  Turned out to be a perfect zoo and family day.  Afterwards Jim took us on a tour of Franklin College where he teaches Economics.  The campus was quintessential American college with lots of red brick, a clock tower and sidewalks crossing grassy park like lawns.  Jim’s, aka Professor Dr James Squires, office was upstairs in an impressively stately appointed grand old building.  Jim’s love for teaching and his new work home was very evident as he led our tour.  My “happy proud mom” smile was everywhere.

We said our goodbyes back at the RV with lots of sweet kisses from little Patrick.  That will have to hold us until we see them again at Thanksgiving. 13 group Ind

Before our return home we planned a visit to Hocking Hills, Ohio.  Located in southeastern Ohio, the Hocking Hills Park and surrounding areas feature towering cliffs, miles of wooded hiking trails through gorges, and along the gorge rims, with waterfalls, caves and hollows galore.  Perfect for this girl as one of my favorite things to do is pack a lunch, put on hiking shoes, grab a trek pole and pretend I am a real hiker as we take short hikes to see natural beauty.  On the way to Hocking Hills we caught a quick glimpse of several very cool murals in Circleville Ohio.  We didn’t stop but I would like a closer look someday. (picture from the net)19 mural

Our camp site reservations at Hocking Hills State Park were surprisingly hard to get considering they were midweek and off prime season.  Turns out we were there right before the Halloween weekend festivities.  The park was chock-full of grandmas and grandpas setting up campsite decorations ahead of the arriving kiddies. The campground has a large swimming pool (closed for the season) tent and full hookup loops.  For non campers, there is another area with picturesque log cabins of all sizes.  Definitely a vacation destination campground.

Our first day began with a hike to Old Mans Cave.  We hiked a section of the lower gorge trail,featuring incredible rock formations and towering trees. A pretty stream meanders through that tumbles into a hole creating “the Devils bathtub”. The moss covered stone walls and bridges reminded me of ancient castles.  Not knowing how much further it was to the cave we back tracked and followed the ridge trail to the cave.  Old Mans cave derives its name from a hermit that lived in the cave recess and gorge area with his two dogs in the 1800’s. The hiking trails can take you further to more falls and gorges, but we had walked far enough for us and we headed back to the parking area.

We drove a few miles to Conkles Hollow where we parked and walked a paved trail through the gorge back to more beautiful rock formations and a waterfalls.  We enjoyed our picnic lunch at a table near the parking area.

Our last stop was Rock House.  Rock House is a large tunnel like, corridor cave formation 150 feet up on the side of a cliff.  The rocks form cathedral like windows along the side.  In our younger days we could have easily scampered up the steep steps cut into and from the natural stone of the cliff, but today we slowly and carefully picked our way up the uneven rock path and stairs.  Of course it was completely worth it once we reached Rock House, but it is not I walk I would like in the rain or with small children.

The next day we headed east from the park to Cedar Falls and Ash Cave.  More beautiful formations, more stairs, more waterfalls, endlessly abundant jaw dropping beauty and at Ash Cave we arrived just in time for a wedding taking place with the enormous cavern of Ash Cave as the backdrop. By this time we were completely walked out and nixed stopping at Whispering Cave.  That’s OK- there will be lots to see and explore if we return in the future.  I was so glad we included Hocking Hills, Ohio with our Indiana visit, it is an amazing place.

After winterizing the RV, as it would be below freezing at night back in Michigan, we headed home, stopping at a Cracker Barrel to overnight in their parking lot.  We crossed back into Michigan around 9a.m.  Just north of Ann Arbor, John pulled off to the side of the expressway.  Why?  A blow-out!!! When we replaced the second axle we did not buy a new tire but used the spare tire. The spare had blown.  Remember those two tires we just bought from Ickes?  They were happily riding in the truck bed.  A call to AAA brought a service man to change the tire.  He was urged to get there promptly by the police officer that stopped to check on us.  The police officer waited with his lights flashing while the tire was changed and presto-chango we were back on the road in less than 45 minutes!  Can’t complain about that.

We returned home to lots of cold, rain and wind and for me a trip downstate to see my Dad and some wonderful grand daughter time with Olive and Alice.

John took the fifth wheel over to Hale, where it serves as a hunting cabin for October and November.  Will it hit the road again to escape Michigan’s winter?  We haven’t decided yet, but hopefully our home on wheels will be rolling again soon enough. Thanks for following our 2018 adventures.  Early in 2018 we wintered in Florida, so roughly 150 nights were spent in our RV in 2018.  Feeling very fortunate and blessed.

 

 

P.H. Hoeft State Park, Michigan

A week or so after we arrived home from our epic adventure we loaded up our RV again.  This time to spend a camping weekend with our son, Patrick, his wife Stephen and our two grand daughters, Alice and Olive.

Our destination P.H. Hoeft State Park on the shore of Lake Huron just north of Rogers City, about 100 miles north of our home in East Tawas.  Stephen and Patrick camp with a 30′ class A motor-home.  They drove up to our house the evening before and driveway surfed for the night.  In the morning we loaded car seats and grandchildren into our truck and Grandma and Grandpa got a jump start on our weekend, leaving Mom and Dad behind to finish their workday. ( They work remotely – if have internet- they can be at work.  How cool is that?!!!) img_3857

We gave the girls a nice long picnic lunch stop at the Harrisville State Park, conveniently midway between East Tawas and Rogers City.  At the day use area we found picnic tables and a playground with a lovely view of inviting Lake Huron’s blue waters.  A bride to be was setting up for her wedding taking place that evening in the lakeview pavilion.

We were hoping for a a nice quiet nap time ride after lunch, but both girls kept up a steady stream of chatter until we were almost within sight of our destination, where of course they went quiet and had maybe a 90 second nap!

Once at Hoeft we settled our RV into our nicely shaded and very wide site.  After the girls gave themselves a good dusting with the cold firepit ashes ( why – just why?) we walked down toward the lake looking for the playground.  There we found a nicely appointed playground area at the foot of the sand dunes that are along the Lake Huron waterfront.

A short hike over the dune rewarded us with the welcome beckoning blue waters of Lake Huron.  We were able to get a nice beach walk and wade (along with getting fairly soaked- silly Grandma though girls could save getting wet for later, when we had our swim suits on) before it was time to walk back and await Mom and Dad’s arrival in their motor-home.

The rest of the weekend was a blur of swimming, rock hunting, campfires, smores and just enjoying being with our grandchildren and their parents.  This Grandma didn’t manage to take any pictures and is thankful to my DIL for supplying pictures.  It was a sweet fun weekend at a beautiful Michigan State Park.  How blessed are we to have this time together.

 

More Michigan Camping

As soon as the Labor Day campers disperse for home and school the senior camping crowd descends on Michigan State Parks.  This time we would be camping with our friends Karen and Chuck.  Karen and Chuck camp with a pop-up camper. Karen and I go way back to sharing Sunday School lessons as young children at Paint Creek United Methodist Church in Goodison Michigan.  We have made this early fall camping trip an annual event together picking different State Parks to explore each time.

Our first stop – Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling for two nights.  Hartwick Pines has a logging museum and a nice easy hiking trail through a majestic forest of old growth pines, plus an informative visitor center.  Hubby and I had last visited Hartwick Pines as teenagers a good 48 or more years ago.  It was as beautiful and breathtaking today as it was back then.  How blessed am I to still have my sweetheart beside me all these years!

Our site had full hookups (a rare accommodation at state parks) in a newer camping loop built about 20 or years ago.  Paved roads, paved pads and roomy sites made for a comfortable stay, although our Verizon phones did not work well.

We took a short drive to a nearby State Forest Campground to enjoy a nice picnic and to sit lakeside with our feet in the water enjoying a gorgeous and serene small lake seemingly surrounded by wilderness and the last rays of warm summer sun. It doesn’t get much better- really.

We hitched up to travel to our next stop, Petoskey State Park located on Lake Michigan in Michigan’s NW Lower Peninsula.  Karen and Chuck went on ahead while John and I stopped in Gaylord to pick up fishing waders (salmon season.)  After a successful shop at Dunhams we walked back to our RV parked out on the edge of the lot.  Our unbelieving eyes were stunned to see a repeat of the the no wheel – no hub – only the end of the axle hanging out- view that we had in Montana.  The second axle’s “no grease” bearings had failed!  Dang and double dang!  Could not believe it!!!  Just as before, no bump, no swerve, no noise- just wheel and rim, GONE, disappeared.

We lifted our jaws off the pavement and called around searching for a service center that could help us.  Luckily we found a place a few miles away down a service road running parallel to the expressway, so John drove us ever so slowly on the RV’s three remaining wheels to see what they could do.

Apparently it is easier to obtain a new axle in the middle of nowhere Montana than in Mid-Michigan.  The service center said it would be Tuesday before they could have us back on the road.  This was Friday and we still had five nights reserved for our camp trip.  What to do?….. Karen and Chuck were already setting up in Petoskey with their pop-up.  Not wishing to abandon our plans just yet, he hastily grabbed our overnight essentials, some bedding and our coffeepot.  We were thinking maybe we could bunk in with Karen and Chuck or get a motel, we didn’t know.  As we were driving I called the state park and found out that they had a basic camping cabin open for one night.  Karen ran down to the office and booked it for us.  The cabin had bunk beds, a heater, mini fridge and electric plugs, so we slept comfortable enough and were able to make our morning coffee.  cabin

Karen and I put our heads together in the morning and decided to let the guys go fishing as planned and we would drive back to Gaylord and retrieve our Clam screen house along with any other items needed for us to tent camp in our Clam.  By mid afternoon the Clam was set up on our original reserved site, its sides wrapped in tarps, our RV mattress pad bed made up and our coffee pot kitchen set up inside on our portable table. Very homey! We even had our electric heater to keep us warm and cozy at night.  Our campsite was directly across the road from Karen and Chuck.  Karen and I had already planned on sharing our main meals so it was an easy transition to sharing her pop-up kitchen as well.  By happy hour we were kicked back and happily enjoying our continued vacation sans the 5th wheel, with our improvised tent. clam at petoskey

Karen and I spent the next day enjoying walking and wading along the lakefront, eyes peeled for Petoskey Stones and other interesting rocks with Lake Michigan’s clear cool waters caressing our feet. We carefully selected hiding places for a couple of John’s rocks at the day use beach area.  After a delicious meal cooked over the fire,  Lake Michigan rewarded us with a magnificent sunset to finish our day.

Our last stop was Young State Park on Lake Charlevoix near Boyne City.  Our reserved site had a fantastic view of the lakefront which was just a few steps from our Clam door sill. Karen and I set our lawn chairs up at the waters edge and enjoyed the views and the company of a duck that befriended us for the day.   The next day all piled into Chuck’s truck and visited a local winery where Karen and I enjoyed sampling a flight of wines.  Mackinaw Trail winery had a nice lunch room cafe and they brought our flight out to our table with slices of delicious sourdough bread.  So good in fact, we decided to stay and order lunch, bought more wine and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This of course is where I should share a picture of our food (wink) but sorry no pics taken.

Somewhere in here we drove to the fish hatchery hoping to see the release of the hatchlings but there was some kind of equipment failure so that did not happen.  We did explore Fisherman’s National Forest Service Campground as well.  Beautiful rustic lakefront sites and more sites snuggled back in the woods.  All rustic though, no electric, vault toilets, “real” camping, not the “deluxe cabin on wheels and parked in the woods” I am used to.

For our last night we treated ourselves to dinner out at a restaurant in downtown Charlevoix.  Craft beer, excellent fish, fried pickles and a view of the harbor.  A very enjoyable night.

The next morning, we sorted out our camp foods that had been joined together when we lost the 5th wheel kitchen.  John and I drove to Gaylord, paid our hefty bill and picked up our 5th wheel with its  two shiny new axles (the first axle was replaced in Montana)  and headed  home.  It was a wonderful week enjoying good friendship and beautiful northern Michigan despite the wheel troubles.

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Note: An internet search has confirmed the known failure of the Lipperts sealed “never grease” bearings.  From what I read, Lippert no longer makes this type wheel assembly with the sealed bearings.

 

 

 

Homeward bound

Once we left Theodore Roosevelt National Park, John was on a mission to get us home.  The first day he drove 452 miles to Sauk Center, Minnesota.  We got a nice shady pull through for our one night stop at Sinclair Lewis Park.  Shortly thereafter the campground manager stopped by and jokingly tell us we “better behave” as he had placed another Michigan couple next door to us.

I imagine our surprise, when shortly thereafter a lady walked over and pointed at John and declared “you paint rocks” and at me to say “and your name is Kathleen.”  Turns out she and I had “met” previously through a Facebook RV site and we had shared with each other where we both lived in Michigan and we were both planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest during June and July.  When she checked into the RV park and he told her another Michigan couple would be her neighbors and a little about where we had traveled she made the connection.  Hugs and laughter followed. Small world!  It was great fun to meet Margo and Mike from Alpena, Michigan and chat with them.  They travel with two small dogs and a talking cockatiel.  We are hoping to plan a meet-up with them again soon.

The next day we drove 295 miles to Wasau, Wisconsin, we overnight-ed at a county park that is home for the county fair.  We were very comfortable under a stand of tall fir trees and a playground view.

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Our last night of our trip turned out to be an awesome stop and the perfect trip ending stay.  We were able to sang a nice shady site at the National Forest Campground along Highway 2 about 15 miles west of the Mackinaw Bridge in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  A short walk up and over a small wooded dune and we were on a lovely long Lake Michigan beach.  The water was wonderful, the air temp perfect and with a nice light breeze no flies or bugs bothered us.  The view of Lake Michigan’s water and waves was suburb! For dinner we had Upper Peninsula’s classic pasties (meat pies.)   It cooled off quite nicely in the evening so our lack of electricity for the air conditioner was not a problem.  I can’t imagine a more perfect ending for our perfectly awesome adventure.

John woke extra early and on a mission for home so we were rolling across the Mighty Mac before 6 a.m.  We dropped the fifth wheel off on our property over in Hale and arrived home safe and sound after 8,600 plus miles and 70 days!   What a wonderful awesome adventure!  It turned out to be even better than we had imagined.  Our only complaint we said over and over is “we need more time.”  Three and four days at most stops wasn’t enough for us to feel we had really explored each park.

Thank you for following our travels.  Making new friends, sharing John’s rocks and seeing our beautiful USA was awesome. We have two Northern Michigan trips lined up for August and September, so our wheels will be rolling again soon.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

July 20-22 Friday – Sunday:  We arrived in Medora on Sunday afternoon and set up at Boots Cabins and Campground just a couple miles from the south entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  With our gravel site and no neighbors we took the opportunity to give our poor dusty RV a much needed wash.  It looked so much better!

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Saturday morning we went into the park early around 6:00 a.m. We drove the 36 mile loop road getting out at overlooks and took three of the short (one mile or less)  hikes.  A mixture of grass lands and and a whole lot of Badlands, the park has many vistas of rock walls, rock hills, rock mounds and rock lined valleys with streams or rivers thrown in for good measure.  The rocks are layers of color and again our pictures don’t fully capture their rugged beauty.  It was nice to be early, very few people about and cooler temps for walking.  Our hikes took us up and down many steps and inclines and rewarded us with great panoramic views of the park.

We saw many bison, sometime just sauntering down the middle of the road. They seem to have a real attitude and give you a slow eye as in “I can go wherever I want as slow as I want, and you are going to just wait until I am done!”   There were loads of prairie dogs, wild horses and coyote stalking the prairie dogs.  We didn’t see any elk even though the park is known for having lots of them.

By late morning as we left the park the temps had risen to pretty dang hot.  We looked around the some of the stores and a museum in Medora.  Medora is a tourist destination town fashioned after the old west cow towns. We talked a bit with artisan demonstrating and exhibiting his turned wood items.  Very interesting for John as he took that on as a hobby for awhile, making among other things- turkey calls, bowls and pens.   I  was tempted to talk John into buying tickets for the country musical at the theater (one of Medora’s big attractions) but an evening back at camp sounded very inviting too.  We had lunch at the Cowboy Cafe.  I had a buffalo burger and we headed back to our camp.

We left in the morning driving east, knowing that we left a whole lot to see and explore on a return trip as we had only accessed the south end of the park.