Treasure Hunting and other Summer Stuff

We started off in the RV the beginning of June with plans to treasure hunt for Forrest Fenn’s treasure, visit our new great-grandson, attend a Tiffin rally and spend time on a dude ranch with the family. Alex, my step-son and Zoe, his finance, accompanied us on the first part of the trip. We managed to accomplish all that and more.

Our first stop was in Salt Lake City to visit our grandson, Kody, and his family, particularly the newest member of the family, our great-grandson. We are so fortunate to have them all in our lives! We stayed at the Salt Lake City KOA and it was very convenient.

The next stop was the dude ranch I had picked out, Gros Ventre River Ranch, near Jackson Hole, WY, with spectacular views of the Tetons. We met the rest of the family there and what a fabulous place it turned out to be. Besides looking at the stunning views, we went horseback riding, fishing and just had a spectacular time. This is a place for a once in a lifetime trip. We made such great memories and it could not have been a more beautiful place with the best staff we have ever encountered! Oh yes, Thanks to King and Kristen, we had a few Moscow Mules.

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Next, continuing our five year long search for “The Thrill of the Chase” treasure, we parked at Hebgen Lake near West Yellowstone. As usual, I felt I knew just where the treasure was, so we spent two whole days looking for it. We mostly looked along the Madison river just below Hebgen Lake. If you know the poem with the clues … I decided that “begin where warm waters halt” was the entrance to Yellowstone, only going out, not in. We began there and then “put in” below the house of brown. (Hebgen Lake full of brown trout) Needless to say, we did not find “the blaze”, which will point you to the treasure. We might have missed it by not crossing the Madison and looking where a lot of big rocks are beneath a white “blaze” in the mountain above. (See photo!) Of course the girls, Gypsy and Bella led the pack and we had a fabulous time looking. We even went to Ghost Road and then Quake Lake, where an earthquake moved mountains and buildings  on August 17, 1959. It measured 7.5 on the Richter scale and killed 28 people. You can still see cabins that were moved to the river along Ghost Road. IMG_3963

The next day we looked just outside the West gate. Following “the canyon down – Canyon Street”, we put in just below the museum of bears and wolves “house of brown” and looked for a blaze. We saw a radio tower and headed for it. Again … no luck, but then that would have been too easy.IMG_3985

Off to the Tiffin Rally in Gillette Wyoming, where we met a lot of great people, particularly the group from the “Lucky Seven”. During the rally, we took a day trip to Devil’s Tower with new friends of ours, Stuart and Delores. You might remember Devils Tower from “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”. There is a 1.3 mile path around it which makes a great little hike. After that, we saw a sign for Sundance and decided to check it out. It is a very small town and one of the main attractions is a statue of the Sundance Kid, sitting on a bench in front of the jail. Couldn’t resist the obligatory photo! Robert Redford just missed us!

 

When the rally was finished, we decided to take a different way home and see Crazy Horse Monument. It is very near Mt. Rushmore and is actually larger, with a wonderful museum displaying beautiful Indian artifacts, clothing and art. There is lots of parking, so we just parked the RV and tow car in the lot. It was a good thing we got there early though, as it was crowed when we left around noon. Charge for the monument was $11.00 per person and parking was free.

The long road home took us through a bit of Nebraska and a lot of Colorado. Eastern Colorado has some of the worst roads we have encountered, but the road through western Colorado was stunning. All and all, it was a jam-packed fun month!!

ZION

So friends, here are the photos from Zion at last.

We had such a great time on the trip to Zion with the Sun City Anthem RV club. Lots of outdoor activities, lots of happy hours and lots of shared memories.

The first day, shortly after arrival we had happy hour, heavy appetizers and then a camp fire with our two guitarists, John and Doug playing while the rest of us TRIED to sing. Out of the 40 or so there, only about two had a voice that you would want to listen to under other circumstances.  But then it was all in good fun.

The second day we hiked a couple of easy trails in Zion. It was a perfect day … cool weather and clear skies.

Having had enough hiking, we shopped in Springfield the third day  and went to an old Mormon ghost town just outside of Rockville in the old town of Grafton with our friends Scott and Donna. It had a small cemetery, a school house and a couple of other old buildings. The interesting thing about the cemetery was seeing how many people died from the pandemic flu and from Indian attacks. Also, it was interesting to see how short their lives were. Most died either as children or as young adults. You might notice in one of the photos someone was trespassing while taking photos. Naughty!

The last day we went to Kanab and we stopped to see BEST FRIENDS, a beautiful animal sanctuary just outside of Kanab. It is a wonderful organization that has made a huge impact on turning shelters into no-kill shelters. They have saved thousands of animals since inception. You can volunteer there and we are hoping to do that some day.

We also kept seeing these strange creatures as we were driving around. What? You paid $20.00 for an ostrich egg? Silly tourists.

 

At the end of the trip, our great wagon master told us he and his wife were retiring from being wagon master for this trip.  (Jack and Rochelle) He asked for volunteers and all hands pointed to Lennard, my husband.  Hmmmm … Who is going to do all the work?

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Could not ask for more breath taking scenery!

 

 

Back in the Saddle Again

Yahoo! We are just about to embark on a short RV trip to Zion. We really haven’t been anywhere since our return from our Epic Adventure around the U.S. and parts of Canada. It took quite some time to catch up with family, friends and things left undone for six months. Then  of course there was catching up with mail and a million other things, like Holidays, leaking faucets in the house, cleaning the RV from top to bottom, and  washing everything I had not been inclined to wash along the road.

We have all settled back into the rhythm of being in a house again. Even the dogs are back to chasing rabbits in the back yard and using the doggie door.  I was wondering if we would feel like getting right back on the road and becoming full timers, but that didn’t happen. I like living in the house, and as long as I know we can set out anytime we want for as long as we want, I’m happy with our choice.

We would like to take another long trip in the near future … maybe to the East Coast again, but we will have to settle for a couple of short trips in April.  However, in June we will be going on a trip to Montana and Wyoming for three weeks. I can hardly wait for that one.Zion River Resort IMG_1820

It will include the Tiffin Rally being held in Gillette, Wyoming and should be a lot of fun. Three friends of ours will be joining us for that expedition.

Like I said … Yahoo! Getting ready to saddle up again.

End of the Epic Road Trip

Well, we finally came to the end of our Epic Road Trip.  It was a combination of joy and sorrow.  We were sorry to leave our home on the road and all the adventures we had, but happy to return home to our family and friends.

We were on the road for six months and five days, 16,860 miles (a lot on gravel roads).  We saw 38 states, three Canadian Provinces and one Canadian Territory. On the maps below, the red lines show our planned route and the black line shows where we really went. Our RV map shows all the states we managed to visit.ERTMAP

We traveled from the redwoods of our rugged northwest coast, to the spectacular glaciers in Alaska, to the beauty of Alberta, Canada, to the magnificent Mount Rushmore, to the splendid Niagara Falls, to the beauty of the Maine coast, to the hills of Tennessee, to the windswept Outer Banks of South Carolina, to the Blue Water of the Florida Keys, and a lot of places in-between.

We lost one camera, broke another (me), dropped a cell phone in the water (Lennard), had several repairs on the road, lost the keys to the tow car and had a fabulous time doing it.  We saw bears, moose, elk, deer, caribou, went fishing, hiked on the Appalachian Trail, drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, tried to catch crabs, ate lobster, attended a Tiffin Ralley, kayaked, went sightseeing in every place we stopped, and met so many wonderful people. We stopped in several places to see relatives and long lost friends and went to Casey and Brian’s wedding.

I did laundry along the way, Lennard cleaned the RV and tow car (who would have guessed?) and we got our mail through a virtual mail box.  We found places to get hair cuts, groom the dogs and get minor medial care.  We ate in the RV, cooked on the grill and ate outside, ate in nice restaurants once in a while, and great little hole-in-the-walls a lot.

Six months is a lot of time out of your life, but I can tell you it was more than worth it.  We really weren’t sure how long we would last or how far we would get when we started, or even if we might kill each other. In the end, we were lucky to have so many memories and to have gained such lovely new friends along the way.  Its a trip not many people could or would make, but we are so grateful we were able to. Were glad to be home and don’t have plans for another trip yet, but I am sure we will be making another one. P1000346

 

ELVIS IS IN THE HOUSE

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Elvis was born in Tupelo Mississippi on January 8th 1935 in a two room house his father, uncle and grandfather built. He lived there until he was 13 years old, when his family moved to Memphis. Tupelo did a fabulous job of designing a monument to his birthplace and child hood.  You can see memorabilia in the museum, visit the house he was born in and even sit in the church where he first heard gospel singing.  There is a bigger than life-size statue of Elvis as an adult and in front of that, a statue of him as a child. Tupelo is also home to the hardware store where his mother, Gladys bought him his first guitar for his tenth birthday.

You can really get a feel for how poor his family was when you visit Graceland after seeing his childhood home. The comparison is incredible.  Elvis really was a rags to riches story and he never forgot that as evidenced by his generosity to his family, friends and many charities.

We were finally finished with our repairs in Red Bay and took off for home, grateful for all the hard work the mechanics in Red Bay did for us.  We decided to stop in Memphis to see Graceland.  Why not? We were going through anyway. That night we ate dinner at Marlowe’s, which is a famous BBQ and Rib place near Graceland.  Apparently, Elvis ate there and they have a lot of Elvis memorabilia. And…they even have a pink Cadillac, which will pick you up from either the Graceland RV Park or Heartbreak Hotel, both on Graceland grounds. By the way, the food was bad for you, but delicious.

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Graceland was beautiful and the I-pad tour was extremely informative and easy to use.  It not only took you on a self-guided tour of the mansion, but gave you details about Elvis, his family, friends, the art and furnishings. Most of what you see is original, just the way he left it.  We also saw archives of photographs, his automobile collection, his costumes and his two planes.  His favorite was the Lisa Marie, named after his daughter. The tour took about three and a half hors and was well worth the admission price.

 

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The next day we headed out on the long trek across the country, doing about 400 miles per day.  That’s a lot in an RV.  We did stop to get some minor repairs and one day we ended up in a traffic jam for over two hours, adding to our day as road warriors.  We even parked in a Walmart parking lot in Amarillo, Texas because we were so late getting that far.  When we got to Grants, New Mexico, the temperature the next morning was 15 degrees.  Wow! From 80 in Florida to 15 in New Mexico.

Our last stop was a short detour to the North Ranch Escapee RV Park to see our friends from Homer, Tom and Linda and their new dog Swiffer.  Swiffer was sooo darling and loved Gypsy playing with her.  Bella just sat and watched. Tom and Linda took us to dinner at Nichols, a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere, run by a Brit of all things.  The food was absolutely delicious, so we took them to breakfast there the next morning, before leaving great friends.

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We finally arrived home on Sunday, November 15, 2015, six months and five days, and 16,860 miles after we left.  We were happy to be home. During the entire trip we didn’t think much about our house, but did miss our family and friends.  I think we will be home for a while!

Friends in St Petersburg

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After Fort Meyers, we ambled up the coast line to St Petersburg to meet up with Todd and Terry.  They were nice enough to share an evening with us in downtown St Petersburg. We first met them through our dear friends, Jim and Joanne in the Dominican Republic.  We had a great evening just walking around town and then sharing dinner at a local restaurant. They are true city dwellers as they work from home, ride bikes downtown and rarely drive their car.  An enviable life for sure.

The next day we started out to see St. Pete’s beach, and after that decided to drive up the coast to Clearwater.  Clearwater has a great pier and promenade which was nice for walking with the dogs.

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Heading out to Red Bay, Alabama next to get some repairs on the coach before the warranty wears out, or we wear out, one of the two!

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With heavy hearts we left Key West and our new friends there.

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But… every day is a new adventure and we had one on the way to Fort Meyers Area. As we were driving we found The Buffalo Tiger Air Boat Rides and took the opportunity to see the Florida Everglades and it’s wildlife. What’s Up Alligators?

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We parked in Naples / Marco Island KOA so we could take a memory trip to Fort Meyers and Sanibel Island, where Lennard used to spend so much time with his Dad, Henry.  Fort Meyers has some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Florida and Sanibel Island is world renown for shelling. It was a great day remembering all the times shared with Henry there.

PILGRIMAGE TO RED BAY ALABAMA

The Tiffin Service area in Red Bay Alabama is simply amazing.  We had heard about it, but you can’t really imagine the enormity of it until you are here.

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First of all, they provide RV parking for 93 RV’s just outside the repair bays.  It isn’t fancy, but all hookups are included.  The cost is $20.00 per night and if your RV is under warranty, it is free.  How much better could that be?  There are no reservations, and it is on a first come, first served basis.  When we arrived on Friday afternoon after spending the night in Tallahassee, there were no spots available, so we went to the “overflow” lot just down the street.  Again, only $20.00 per night.  Secondly, there are about 49 service bays, some of which are doubles.  There is a steel frame area and a woodshop area. There are also two lounges, a service lounge and an Allegro Club outdoor area.  Pets are allowed in certain areas of both lounges.

It rained over the weekend, so we spent most of our time hanging around in the RV and cleaning dirty paws after walks outside.

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Lennard digging a moat around our RV

IMG_3091We did venture out to the famous Rattlesnake Saloon on Saturday night.  It’s about 25 miles away and literally located under a huge flat rock, giving the resemblance of a big cave.  They have good bar food and excellent music.  Only beer is served…hey it’s a saloon! You cannot drive directly to it.  You park in a lot up the hill and a “taxi” carries you down the hill to the saloon.  The taxi is a pickup truck with benches in the bed.  It’s a really interesting and different experience.

There are a number of other attractions in the area: The Coon Dog Cemetery, The Red Bay Museum, Fame Recording Studio, Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Helen Keller Home, and of course the Piggly Wiggly Supermarket.  We will probably visit all of them while we are waiting for repairs.

It is raining again today, but supposed to be sunny tomorrow.  We are waiting for our first service evaluation and can’t leave today anyway.  I’ll keep you updated on our progress.

SEARCHING FOR MY LOST SHAKER OF SALT

The Florida Keys are definitely “laid back”. We began our journey after breakfast with my dear friend, Shagg, in Melbourne Beach. It always gives you a great feeling to connect with friends you haven’t seen in ages. The A1 is the road in and out of the Keys. It is one long two way highway with lots of bridges including the famous seven mile bridge, particularly when it is raining.

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We arrived at Blue Water Lake RV Resort to find a stunning site with our own palapa, outdoor furniture, refrigerator and TV. We had a view of the beautiful blue water bay. It was the most expensive place we have stayed, but worth it for our one week in the Keys. We were just ten miles from Key West and the southernmost tip of the US. That evening we took a quick trip into town to scout out the area and had a cup of Cuban coffee on the wharf. We were buzzing all night after that delicious concoction. It helped us walk about three miles to take a photo at the southernmost buoy. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a sunset that day, but hey we were there! Couldn’t miss a photo op.

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A lot of the restaurants in Key West with patios are dog friendly, so we took the girls with us to have lunch at the Schooner Bar and Grill and listen to Michael McCloud. He was recommended by new friends we met in the RV Park. Wayne and Brenda and Roy and Becky, all from Jacksonville, Florida.

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Roy and Becky

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Wayne and Brenda

We have met a lot of great people along our journey and the four of them were some of the best and wildest. With their suggestions and letting us tag along on some of their adventures, it made our trip. That night we met them on Duval Street at Sloppy Joe’s to see the Doerfel Family Band. They were a terrific and very talented family group.

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The next day we toured the island and I got to visit Ernest Hemmingway’s home. He lived in the home for almost ten years and wrote the majority of his books there. The home and his studio were filled with art, books, paintings, furniture and photographs collected by him and his first wife, Pauline. There were also about 40 cats, some of which were six toed cats, descendants of Hemingway’s cats when he resided there. It is a beautiful home and I could just picture him writing in his studio on the second floor of the studio annex with the breeze blowing through the windows. He wrote there religiously every morning from 6 AM to noon, after which he often partook of the restaurants and bars in town, particularly Sloppy Joe’s.

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That night we joined our friends at LaTeDa for a female impersonator show with Randy Roberts. Of course they arranged for him to pick on Lennard.

Nancy and Craig, from Marathon Key, met us at the Square Grouper Restaurant one evening and we resumed our friendship from Hilton Head where we met them. It was a lovely dinner and great conversation. We found out that square grouper refers to the bales of marijuana found in the ocean, dropped by smugglers. Never a dull moment in the Keys.

Key West was built on the resurrection of ships which sank off the shores. Mel Fisher is probably the most famous of the treasure hunters. After brunch at Hogfish, we walked down the marina to his two boats and had a chat with one of the divers. It was really interesting. They have investors who get a share IF, and I mean IF, they find any treasure. This year they found a 450 year old ring with a black diamond. Then we visited Truman’s Little White House where several presidents have stayed, Zachary Park and Fort, and the famous Mallory Square for the sunset show. We watched fire jugglers, balancing acts and a tightrope walker before taking in the breathtaking sunset. Red and orange skies silhouetted sail boats across the ocean. From there we joined our wild friends back at LaTeDa for the Christopher Peterson show. He was terrific too. We ended up at Irish Kelly’s bar for late night entertainment.

Great food and laid back atmosphere is the signature for Mango Mama’s, where we had brunch the next morning. Did I mention, I haven’t cooked at all? Yea. IMG_2977Then we had an early happy hour for appetizers at The Boat House, and a sunset cruise on a Seabago catamaran. There wasn’t much of a sunset, but the cruise was fun. A little wind, a little rain and a little champagne. We headed back to Irish Kelly’s after the cruise. Lennard pooped out on us, and after leaving, he had a bratwurst at Pete’s Meats’ street cart. The rest of the group stayed on for the show.

On our last day in the Keys we went with the wild ones for lunch at Geiger Key Fish Camp and then spent the afternoon at our beautiful site watching Roy watch Alabama beat Tennessee. He never sits down. Wayne just puts up with him. He swears if he sits down the team will lose. He stood the whole game and Alabama won. Wayne and Brenda’s beautiful puppy, Misa, joined us. Dinner was a combined effort of the ladies and we so much enjoyed our conversation beside the river, watching the moon rise over the ocean with fabulous food and new friends.

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We headed to the Naples area the next day and knew we would be missing them and the beautiful Keys.

Cocoa Beach Wedding

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One of the reasons we chose Orlando as one of our stops was because my daughter, Casey was getting married on the sand at beautiful Cocoa Beach. She is not really my daughter, but just like a daughter to me.  Her fiancé, Brian and she had most of the arrangements made, but we wanted to participate as much as possible.

We arrived at the KOA on Whippoorwill Lake and parked facing the lake.  It turned out to be a great RV park and in a convenient place for our needs.  My grandson, Kody, arrive a day before the wedding and we were thrilled to get to see him too.  It also gave us the opportunity to try out having company in the RV.  Fortunately, that worked out okay in spite of the fact Kody is a tall young man.  He slept sorta sideways on the dining room bed.  It probably gave him character!

We were afraid of rain on the day of the wedding, but Brian and Casey received the gift of an hour of perfect weather and a rainbow over the ocean behind them during the ceremony. In Florida it can be raining one minute and sunshine the next. After the ceremony, we all threw promise stones in the ocean.

The wedding diner was at the Sunset Seafood Restaurant and the manager, Susan, did a wonderful job making everything perfect for the wedding party. She even provided flowers she bought herself.  The restaurant is on the canal facing the sunset and provided a special place for the dinner.  It could not have turned out any better.  We were grateful it was such a lovely evening.

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After the wedding festivities were over, we did not visit any of the usual tourist places like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Lego Land, Epcot Center or even Gatorland, but we did see the Kennedy Space Center.  It was named after President Kennedy to celebrate his dedication to the space program and his vision of landing on the moon.

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The  center is a spectacular facility with rockets, space capsules, movies, space shuttles and everything to do with space for you to see and touch.  You can even touch a piece of the moon. We saw Launchpad 39 A and B, which has been used to launch every human space flight for NASA.  We also saw the Saturn V Rocket  and the Atlantis shuttle along with tons of items from the Apollo program.  What a thrill!

The area is also a nature preserve and is home to thousands of birds, rattlesnakes, panthers, manatees, alligators and all manner of wildlife.  If there is one thing you should see in the Orlando area, the Kennedy Space Center should be it.  We will just have to return to see the other Orlando attractions.

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