Travel Log

January 1 through December 31, 2003

Go Back to the year 2002



1/1/03 through 1/4/03
(El Centro CA)

There's a great deal going on around here. The weather here is text book perfect with the daytime temps in the mid-70s, sunny and bright with no humidity, followed by cool nights (we turn the heat on). As perfect as the weather is neither of us sees this as a place to spend a great deal of time, certainly not the entire winter, as many of the people here are doing. Tomorrow we're leaving here and going to Yuma, about 60 miles to the east. We could begin to have trouble finding vacant campsites in this part of the country as many places remain full during January and February. We'll see how it goes.

The new satellite box from DishNetwork never arrived. When we called yesterday to inquire about it their records showed that it was supposed to have been sent to us at the FamCamp, but also indicated that it never was. They said that if we call them Monday with our new location they'll have a new unit to us by Wednesday. In the meanwhile we basically are still without TV, radio, Internet access, or reliable cell phone service.

Again, when we're not traveling there's not much to write about.

Odometer reading = 49,881
Miles for day = 0


(Yuma AZ)

As we traveled along I-8 from El Centro to Yuma, which is pretty much all desert, we passed numerous places where clusters of RVs were gathered out in the desert, either camping, playing with their dune buggies, or both. Dune buggying seems to be a very big weekend family activity in this desert country.

When we exited the Interstate at Yuma, rather than going south in the City of Yuma, we turned north for the FamCamp at the US Army Proving Grounds where we figured to spend the better part of the week. When we arrived there it turned out that it was $18/day, not the $55/week indicated in the book. We left the Proving Grounds and continued north for another dozen miles to a Marine Corps FamCamp on a small peninsula that extends out into Lake Martinez. Camping for $7/day while surrounded with water is not too bad. We'll even get to use our kayaks which haven't been in the water for quite some time.

This gun on display at the main entrance to the Yuma Proving Grounds weighs 47 tons and fires an 11" projectile weighing 600 pounds a distance of 18 miles. The projectile leaves the barrel traveling at 2500 feet per second. I suspect that today it's obsolete.

Between the proving grounds and the FamCamp at Lake Martinez there are two signs that made it to our Interesting Signs page.

Again we find ourselves in a place where, we are told, there is no place for us to plug the computer into a phone line. That being the case it's hard to tell when this will get uploaded to the server. Before that happens, however, I'll be sure to get some pictures to enhance this page.

Odometer reading = 49,999
Miles for day = 118


1/6/03 through 1/8/03
(Yuma AZ)

We've driven into Yuma twice since we've been here (85 miles round trip) and decided that we like Yuma and this area a lot more than we liked El Centro. On one trip we had to stop to let a tank cross the highway in front of us. There was a "crossing guard" type person who stopped traffic (just us) as the tank approached and crossed the highway at 30-35 mph. I didn't see any ones head sticking out of the tank so I suspect the driver's field of view was probably pretty limited. We'd have given him the right of way even without the crossing guard.!

While there we visited the old Yuma Territorial Prison built during the mid-1800's. Probably not a good place to have spent time. One of the displays there lists the causes of death of the 100+ prisoners who died there, including two from "paralysis of the brain," and one who was "dead when he arrived." This is one of the cell blocks.

Also in the old section of downtown there is a really great tree, even though I don't know what it is.

Yesterday morning, this was the view looking across the lake from the campground.

Today we kayaked to the village of Lake Martinez on the other side of the lake. From there Sharyn paddled back to the campground while I paddled out to the Colorado River and managed to go upstream for a mile or so before drifting back down to the village of Lake Martinez where I got back onto the lake and returned to the campground. I have an attraction to the major rivers of the United States, the courses the travel, the history they've seen, etc. Being on the Colorado made me feel a small part of all of that. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Odometer reading = 49,999
Miles for day = 0


(Quartzsite AZ)

We had planned to leave Lake Martinez this morning and drive up to Quartzite, but the new satellite box from Dish Network did not arrive yesterday as promised. We decided we'd stay another day and hope the new box arrived, but unfortunately there were no available sites at the FamCamp so we could not extend our stay. We moved up on top of a hill that is used as an overflow area and figured that if the box arrived (via UPS) by 4:pm we could still get to Quartzsite by dark.

It was actually quite nice up on the hill overlooking the lake and the village of Lake Martinez on the other side. If we had adequate solar panels to keep up our batteries up we would opt for the dry camping on the hill rather than the hookups in the regular campground.

Anyway, shortly before 4:pm we had the new satellite box and headed for Quartzsite, arriving just at dusk. We, along with hundreds of other RVs, are parked in the desert on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land where you can dry camp for free for 14 days. After setting up -- a four minute process when dry camping -- I suggested that we take the car and go "check out" town. Sharyn suggested that we'd never be able to find our way back to the motorhome in the desert in the dark. Going outside into the dark and looking around in the black I thought we might not even find our way back to the road. We decided to wait until tomorrow. Since we're operating with somewhat limited battery capacity (and did not want to run the generator) we got into bed early, read for a short while, and went to sleep.

Odometer reading = 50,072
Miles for day = 73


(Quartzsite AZ)

Having gone to bed so early I woke up early and got up at 5:am. It was kind of cold in the motorhome as we only had the rear (bedroom) furnace on 60 degrees. As I was drinking my coffee and waiting for the sun to come up I was thinking "only another half hour" until the warm morning sun comes through the front windshield (I had parked facing east just to catch the early morning sun). In El Centro the sun came over the horizon at just about 7:am and I was expecting the same in Quartzsite. I had forgotten that we had moved into mountain time. The warmth of the sun did not arrive until 8:am. By that time Sharyn was up and we were enjoying our coffee and conversation.

After I took my morning walk (2 miles/30 minutes) we went to go into town to check it out. It seems as if there may not really be a "town." If all the tents were taken down and everything on wheels was driven or towed away I don't think there would be anything much left of Quartzsite. Anyway, we did check out a number of rock and mineral vendors with all kinds of stuff about which I know nothing, but that Sharyn is really drawn to. We then went to several of the RV displays including one dealer (Mesa RV) with Allegros on display. We again looked at the triple slide Allegro Bus, the same one we looked at in Wichita several months ago (interior view). This time we took it for a drive. It was the first time I drove a diesel and it is quite different from gas, although the difference is not as black and white as some people have told me.

We eventually worked our way back to our motorhome at our spot in the desert where we relaxed, had dinner, read for a while and went to bed (not as early as last night).

Odometer reading = 50,072
Miles for day = 0


(Lizard Gulch AZ)

This morning, before leaving Quartzsite for Lizard Gulch, we went to Bill's Solar to see what he had to offer. He had a fairly good selection of solar equipment and batteries, but like a surprising number of vendors, he was engaged in shooting the bull with another guy and had no apparent interest in a potential customer looking for information. Also, there was no manufacturers name on any of his solar panels and his big sign told of "10 year warranty." Since most solar panel manufacturers offer 20 or 25 year warranties I was unimpressed with Bill and left to go find Sharyn.

We also revisited the Allegro Bus and checked out a few details that we thought about since yesterday before returning to the motorhome, hooking up the car and heading for Lizard Gulch where we met up with an RV rally of 30-40 RVs parked in the desert.

Odometer reading = 50,202
Miles for day = 130


1/12/03 through 1/17/03
(Lizard Gulch AZ)

This has been an enjoyable week with what eventually turned out to be about 70-75 RVs gathered for computer/Internet related discussions, informal seminars, and general exchange of ideas. The background, knowledge, and technical know-how of this group was extraordinary..

The night before last we had a pot luck dinner which turned out to be more of a gourmet buffet, even with the "bring your own plate and utensils." I suggested that while this had sort of been the men's week (although many of the women had the same level of expertise), that the women outdid them with the dinner. I further suggested that the reason that the food was so outstanding and unusually good was that an extraordinary group of men would not be expected to have married an ordinary group of women.

This picture is from one of our social hours that we had every afternoon.

Anyway, most of the group left yesterday and we'll probably leave tomorrow. A good number of those who were here are Escapees who, when they left here, went to the Escapees "Boomer" gathering in Quartzsite. We're going to join them, but we may first spend a night or two at a nearby Air Force FamCamp. We've been dry camped for about two weeks now and we'd like to try some water and electric hookups for a few days.

Part of the problem is that we're not at all set up for dry camping for more than a day or so. When we get to Quartzsite we're going to see about quadrupling our battery storage capacity, adding an inverter (to give us 120 volt AC from the batteries), and possibly solar panels to keep those batteries charged without running the generator.

Odometer reading = 50,202
Miles for day = 0


1/18/03 through 1/20/03
(Lizard Gulch AZ)

Well, not surprisingly, we didn't leave here several days ago when we thought we would. We also didn't leave this morning when we woke up late to a cold (60 degrees) and rainy day even though our plan last night was to leave this morning. Of course the fact that one of the TV channels was having an Old Cowboy Movie weekend marathon that kept us us until almost 2:am didn't help. As the day progressed the sun came out and it got quite nice, but by then it was too late to leave. Instead I played on the Internet most of the day while Sharyn read Airframe by Michael Crichton.

By the way, we've added a new feature to our homepage; a link that will take you to a site that will give you a readout of your present Internet connection speed. I ran several tests that ranged from 514 kilobytes to a high of 1.1 megabytes per second.

Odometer reading = 50,202
Miles for day = 0


(Quartzsite AZ)

We finally pulled out of Lizard Gulch by mid-afternoon and arrived back here in Quartzsite about two hours before dark. We joined up with the Escapee "Boomer" group -- supposed to be the "baby boomers," however one chooses to define that term -- parked in the desert about four miles east of town.

We got here too late to really check out who's here or what's going on, but we'll do better tomorrow and fill in the blanks later.

Odometer reading = 50,339
Miles for day = 137


(Quartzsite AZ)

We drove the five miles into Quartzsite where we checked prices on some heavy duty golf cart and fork lift batteries and inverters. We also walked many miles of RV show booths, flea market shows, rock and mineral shows, etc. After about five hours we decided that to cover everything going on could take the better part of a week -- if we can maintain the pace for that long.

Odometer reading = 50,339
Miles for day = 0


1/23/03 through 1/25/03
(Quartzsite AZ)

Our time here in Quartzsite is the first time we've ever participated in any kind of Escapee gathering outside of an Escapee park and we thoroughly enjoyed the entire time. The exchange of ideas, information, and experiences with lots of couples doing the same thing that you're doing is a pleasant and rewarding experience. This shows our group, about 80 RVs, in the foreground with many more in the distance.

One day six couples went kayaking at a wildlife preserve upstream from Parker Dam, about 60 miles north of Quartzsite. We had ten kayaks, one canoe, and a great time.

Of course we did more of the flea market stuff, most, but not all of which, was either RV or rock/gem oriented. These entrepreneurs live upstairs and conduct their business on the first floor!

It didn't take too long before we ran out of cash and we had trouble getting more. The nearest bank (we were told) was 55 miles away, and all the ATM machines were empty. After two days we found one machine that had been refilled so we could get some more money. One of the things we needed cash for was that I desperately needed a haircut and had not been able to find a barber. While in Lizard Gulch we were told that there was a lady that cut hair at her house but no one seemed to know where she lived. Finally, in Quartzsite I had found a barber!

We decided to better equip the motorhome for dry camping and have arranged for the purchase and installation of two 120 watt solar panels and a 2000 watt Heart inverter. We're also going to install four six volt golf cart batteries and have a welder lined up to do the minor fabrication necessary to fit the batteries. This work has all been scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

By the way, this is an aerial photo of some of the RVs in and around Quartzsite. The picture, taken this week, is looking south down US-95 with I-10 running across the middle. RVs extend out 8 to 10 miles from the center of town. Within a five mile radius the desert is pretty much carpeted with them.

Odometer reading = 50,339
Miles for day = 0


1/26/03 through 1/28/03
(Gila Bend AZ)

Having been dry camped for several weeks we had had enough of living with no electricity other than our generator and limited battery capacity. Accordingly, we decided to go to the FamCamp at Gila Bend AFB (full hookups for $7/day) to wait until it's time for our installations at Quartzsite. While this is a tiny base, the laundry room is free, as is the coffee and hot drink machine located in the same building as the laundry and exercise rooms. Of course the weather, as it seems to be in this part of the country in January, is text book perfect. Low humidity, sunny, and in the 70's during the day; probably the 50's at night.

Odometer reading = 50,478
Miles for day = 139


(Quartzsite AZ)

Since we have to be at the welder's at 9:am tomorrow here in Quartzsite, we left Gila Bend at midday today, and upon our arrival in Quartzsite took up residency again in the desert. This time, however, we stayed closer in towards town since we'll be taking the motorhome back and forth to the welder and Discount Solar.

Odometer reading = 50,617
Miles for day = 139


1/30/03 and 1/31/03
(Quartzsite AZ)

We're now much better prepared for the boondocking (dry camping) that we seem to have been doing more of since Alaska this past summer. While the welder only took a little over 2-1/2 hours to fabricate the battery mounts, Discount Solar started on our job at 9:am and with three men on the job didn't finish until about 6:30. They did a very professional installation and we now have two 120 watt Kyocera solar panels, a 2,000 watt Heart inverter with a 3-stage 100 amp battery charger, the appropriate controllers, and four 225 amp/hour, 6-volt Trojan T-105 golf cart batteries. Starting tonight we'll find out how well all this stuff is going to work for us.

Odometer reading = 50,632
Miles for (2) days = 15


(Tucson AZ)

We left Quartzsite this morning, heading east, undecided whether we'd stop at Gila Bend, the Escapee Park in Casa Grande, or continue all the way to the FamCamp at Davis-Monthan AFB. We opted to stay at Casa Grande, figuring that there'd be no hookup sites, but that with our newly acquired electrical (semi-)independence, we be just as happy to dry camp in the overflow area. As it turned out there were no sites of any kind available. Since we were already past Gila Bend, we continued on to the FamCamp at Tucson. We're now in the overflow area at the edge of the flightline, but we did put ourselves on the list for a full hookup site. The wait is about four days. Whether or not we take such a site when it becomes available depends on how we feel at the time.

As it is now, we can watch TV, get on line with the computer, run the microwave, etc., all without running the generator. There is a limitation, of course, as to how long you can run all this stuff without over depleting the batteries. Also, if we don't travel the next day, depending on how far down we ran the batteries (don't want to go below 50%) and how much sunshine we have the next day, the solar panels may not fully replace the amp/hours used the night before (especially now while the days are so short). If necessary we can run the generator for 30 minutes or an hour and replace 50-100 amp/hours through the inverter/charger. We'll see how it all works and develop a system as we proceed.

While the following is out of chronological order, it's here anyway. Several days ago we encountered a big truck moving some very big thing along the Interstate. The overall length must have been about 200 feet (that's not an exaggeration) and it was a full two lanes wide. With 10 highway patrol cars acting as escort, the driver(s) pulled to the edge of a 12' wide paved shoulder to allow other vehicles to pass (they were doing about 55 mph. The truck in front was pulling the rig in the conventional manner, while they had two additional truck rigged up in the rear to push -- much like a multi-locomotive freight train.

As we got our opportunity to pass, Sharyn took some pictures. This shows the two "pusher" trucks (both of which had drivers), while this shows the front one-third of the load. We have no idea what it was they were moving, but it was the biggest thing we've ever seen on the road!

Odometer reading = 50,905
Miles for day = 273


2/2/03 through 2/5/03
(Tucson AZ)

It's been somewhat overcast the last couple of days and somewhat cooler than I'd like it to be. Only in the lower 60's and going down into the 30's at night. We're definitely not in Florida

Anyway, we're still in the overflow area even though we could have moved to full hookups this morning (we were #1 on the list this morning). Right now we're only paying $3 per day, plus we're probably leaving in the morning.

We like Tucson. Actually, I like it a lot. For such a big city (population 850,000) most of the parts we've been through are quite nice. I particularly like the way the streets are laid out. With wide, six lane, streets that run north and south or east and west forming a grid pattern pattern with one mile squares, travel is very easy. Within each one mile square there are smaller streets that do not follow any particular pattern, but traveling north-south or east-west is very quick and easy. It's also easy for strangers like us to find our way to anywhere we want to go.

We haven't done much to write about, but we're content and our "dots" are blue.

Odometer reading = 50,905
Miles for day = 0


(Cochise Stronghold AZ)

It was only in the mid-30's when we got up this morning (as it has been for the last several mornings). The first thing I do in the morning, after turning on the coffee, is to turn on the furnace. This morning it was 42 degrees in the motorhome. I hate to use a furnaces because the fan draws about 7 amps of 12 volt current. That quite a draw on the batteries for something that by its nature may run for an hour, as opposed to the water pump (for instance) that draws almost as much current, but typically runs several seconds, or intermittently for several minutes if we are taking a shower. For heating up the place in the morning I much prefer the heat pumps, but to operate them (when we're dry camped) I have to run the generator and I won't turn that on before 8:am out of consideration for our neighbors. At 8:am pretty much everyone's generator comes on.

For next winter we'll have a catalytic heater that puts out something in the neighborhood of 8,000 BTUs with an LP flame the size of a pilot light. Since it uses no electricity and such a minute amount of LP gas, the catalytic heater is the ideal source for heat in an RV when electrical consumption is a factor. They do NOT produce carbon monoxide, and all the good ones have automatic low oxygen shut downs.

Anyway, last night I saw something on the map called "Cochise Stronghold" about 25 miles off of I-10 where we would be passing by today. I checked it out on-line and found that it was where Cochise and about a thousand of his people lived and held out against the US Army for a number of years. Since there is now a National Park there we decided to make Cochise Stronghold our destination for tonight. The campground only has ten sites, and it's all dry camping, but we paid for two nights and will hike the area tomorrow. Since we're surrounded by the Dragoon Mountains, and under a heavy tree cover, we have no cell phone service, no radio, and can't "see" out for our satellite access.

Odometer reading = 51,010
Miles for day = 105


(Cochise Stronghold AZ)

Shortly after coffee and conversation we dressed warmly and started off on a three mile hike up the Cochise Trail, a footpath that leads to the crest of eastern edge of the Dragoon Mountains and overlooks the desert to the east. At the base of the mountain beyond the crest are the remains of the old Butterfield Stage Coach stop. Unfortunately, we didn't get to the crest. After 2 hours and 20 minutes we had not quite yet reached the 1-1/2 mile marker and I figured that wherever we turn back would be the half way mark of our round trip. At that point I felt that I was half used up and suggested that we start back down; which we did.

Cochise Stronghold certainly is a beautiful place (panoramic view -- scroll image horizontally). It's a large canyon area, actually it seems to be several canyons, filled with creeks and streams, scrub forests, and some brushland. I suspect that when they were not at war with the army or the white settlers, Cochise and his Chiricahua Apaches lived a rather pleasant and tranquil life in these mountains.

After getting back to the campsite, eating, and recouping for an hour or so we decided to drive around to the old stage stop. The drive around the mountain was 25 miles each way, but I had told Sharyn that I was surprised that any of the "ruins" of the stage stop were left and wanted to see them. Well, we finally got to what we thought was the location, saw the sign, but couldn't find anything else. When we got back to the campground the host told us that back beyond the sign there was the stone footing outlining the perimeter of the building and the division of rooms within in. He said there were also the graves of four soldiers. We had found none of that. I was disappointed that there was nothing there, but then I was doubly disappointed to learn how much was there and that we had seen none of it.

It should be stated that the relatively short time the stage depot was in use (1858-1862) probably has something to do with the fact that in the last 12 month period the Apaches killed 16 stage drivers.

On the drive to the stage depot we came upon two things that warranted being photographed: this blooming cactus, and "the oldest homestead house in southeast Arizona."

Odometer reading = 51,010
Miles for day = 0


(Deming NM)

This morning we woke up to the sound of rain on the roof. That's probably not bad as I tell Sharyn I'd rather it rain on a "travel" day, as rain while we traveling has no effect on what we do or how we do it. Since we were dry camped at Cochise Stronghold, getting ready to leave pretty much means bringing in the slides, hooking up the car, and driving away.

As we were driving east on I-10, we were not to far into New Mexico when Sharyn said that it was snowing. Of course I disagreed, saying we were in the middle of the desert and it doesn't snow in the desert (it's not suppose to rain either). Within about 15 minutes it was snowing like crazy, visibility was reduced to several hundred yards, and the windshield wipers were so encrusted with snow that they were no longer in contact with the windshield. So much for an easterner's idea of what does, or does not, happen in the desert!

The maximum snowfall was occurring in the vicinity of the Continental Divide, and as we moved further down the road the accumulated snow on the windshield and the wiper blades began to melt and things started looking better.

It wasn't too long after that that we arrived at Dream Catcher RV Park, the Escapee Park in Deming, NM. Since it was cold and rainy we decided to take a site with full hookups. It's been several weeks since we've had hookups and we thought we'd treat ourselves. We had not been set up for more than 20 minutes when all the power in the area went out. Our systems stayed on as the inverter immediately cut in to pick up the load, but we thought it funny that the first time we hook up to commercial power, the power goes out. In any event it was back on in a short time and all was well.

We went to the daily 4:pm social hour at the clubhouse, introduced ourselves, talked with some people, had a cup of coffee, and eventually returned to the motorhome. Since the forecast is for more rain and snow tonight and tomorrow we'll probably stay here until Monday.

Odometer reading = 51,182
Miles for day = 172


2/9/03 and 2/10/03
(Deming NM)

Yesterday while Sharyn was doing the laundry I washed both the car and the motorhome. I can't remember the last time we were able to wash them. Actually, as encrusted as they had been, the drive to Deming through the rain and snow had already removed a substantial amount.

It had been our intention to leave here today, but instead we decided to stay another day and visit nearby Rock Hound State Park. There is a $4 per vehicle day use fee, but you are invited to take up to 20 pounds of rocks per person. The problem was not so much deciding what rocks to take, but rather what rocks to leave behind. I suspect that we really got our money's worth.

Somewhere out here in the desert country I came across something that said prickly pear cactus was edible, so today I tried a piece. While it wasn't bad, I could pass on a big serving. Later when we went to the visitor's center at the park there was a display there about edible desert plants. It said that the flower of the prickly pear was edible. Oh well, the other part wasn't too bad.

I don't know what kind of cactus this is, but this picture was taken to show the scale of the next picture. This is a close-up of the flowers on the top. Check out those fishhook like barbs. They're sharp and rigid, and they don't pull out -- if you get hooked you'd have trouble getting away.

We spent most of the day at Rock Hound State Park. For the most part, while Sharyn collected rocks, I took pictures. This one is a big file (61K). This one's only half the size.

In any event, by the time we got back to the motorhome we were both tired and hungry and called it a day.

Odometer reading = 51,182
Miles for day = 0


(El Paso TX)

Late this morning as we were checking out of the Dream Catcher RV Park the lady said that if Sharyn took some of her rocks to the Senior Center in town that they had a lapidary room and that they'd cut some of the rocks for her. We thought that would be good to see the equipment they had, how it worked, etc. Getting the stones cut would be good also. The problem was that we got there around noon and all the lapidary guys had already left. We did see all the equipment they had set up in the room. It was a pretty impressive facility for a senior center.

Anyway, we then left Deming and got onto I-10, again heading east. We stopped to eat at a rest area in Los Cruces where this roadrunner overlooks the Interstate.

Leaving the rest area we continued on to the FamCamp at Fort Bliss in El Paso where we stayed some time ago when Jordan was traveling with us. We paid for two nights and we'll see what happens.

Odometer reading = 51,290
Miles for day = 108


(El Paso TX)

We didn't do too much today. Went to the PX and the commissary where we did some pretty serious grocery shopping as we were low on lots of stuff. When we buy so much the problem always becomes where do you put it -- it's not exactly as if we had a walk-in pantry.

Odometer reading = 51,290
Miles for day = 0


(Alpine TX)

The weather was quite nice this morning and we enjoyed the process of getting ready to leave at a leisurely pace. We picked up I-10 at the southern end of El Paso and once again headed east. Our next planned destination being Laughlin AFB at Del Rio, about 450 miles away, we figured it would probably take us three days, although two was a possibility.

We have basically been eastbound on either I-8 or I-10 since we left El Centro on January 5. That's probably more Interstate miles than we've done in the last year. We much prefer the winding two lane roads, so when we came to the exit for US-90 we got off the Interstate and continued east on US-90.

A little after 5:pm we got to the small town of Alpine, one of the few towns along this stretch of US-90, and looking for a place to boondock, we parked in the unpaved portion of the parking lot of the town civic center. It seemed like a good place that would be safe and secure. Right on main street in the middle of town, it was a very public place where the police could not help but take note of our presence, and presumably would be passing by numerous times during the night.

With our new battery bank and inverter we were able to watch several hours of TV before going to bed and reading for some time before shutting off the lights and going to sleep. It started raining shortly after we arrived and continued through most of the night.

Odometer reading = 51,522
Miles for day = 231


(Del Rio TX)

As is frequently the case, I was up before daylight and got the coffee started (Sharyn sets up the pot at night) while Sharyn was still sleeping. After she had gotten up and had her coffee I gave her her Godiva chocolates for Valentine's Day.

We almost never eat breakfast, so it wasn't too long before we were on the road again. After an hour or so we stopped so I could make a sandwich and take this picture of the road ahead. The day's travel was not too eventful, but we did stop at the Pecos River to take see the view an take a few pictures. This is looking south with the Rio Grande River and Mexico where the Pecos enters into the Rio Grande. This is looking north past the US-90 highway bridge. The boat heading upstream is the Border Patrol. Take note how low the river is. Texas, like much of the Country is deep in drought.

It was only a few miles west of the river that Sharyn, Jordan, and I visited the "Judge Roy Bean Courthouse" on April 1, 2002. Remember that he was "The Law West of the Pecos." The following is from our Travelog entry that day:

As we passed by Langtry TX, where Judge Roy Bean, known as "the law west of the Pecos" used to hang out, we stopped to check out his courthouse, which turns out to have been a combination saloon, courthouse, and dancehall. It was a lot smaller than I would have thought. The sign behind the bar tells the story while Sharyn stands at the bar waiting for service.

Anyway, we arrived at the FamCamp at Laughlin AFB and were relegated to drycamping in the overflow area as the campground was full. We paid for one night ($3) but will probably stay here tomorrow as well.

By violating our (loose) rule about not driving more than 200 miles in any one day we got here from El Paso in two days instead of three. As a miscellaneous aside, from where I-10 crosses the state line from New Mexico into Texas, to where I-10 leaves Texas and enters Louisiana, is 880 miles. Texas is a *big* place!

Odometer reading = 51,734
Miles for day = 212


(Del Rio TX)

As I try to write this, I'm actually writing about what we did yesterday (I'm writing this on the 16th) and I can't remember. I know that Sharyn did laundry at the free laundry facilities on base. She says all I did was play with my computer, so I guess that's it.

Odometer reading = 51,734
Miles for day = 0


(Freer TX)

We left Laughlin AFB this morning, headed for Escondito Ranch, a military RV park and recreation area owned and maintained by the Navy. It's eight miles west of here on Texas Route 44, then 13 miles north on county route 401. It reads pretty nice in the military campground directory, used as a hunting camp during season, it says it's open year round, offering full hookups with 50 amps for $5 per day. That's pretty hard to beat

We had not expected route 401 to be a dirt road, but we've had that before so it wasn't any big deal. The problem began to manifest itself as we drove further and further down 401. At one point, perhaps half way in, we stopped and evaluated the deteriorating road; the part we had traveled, and the part that still lie ahead. While it wasn't too reassuring, there was no difficulty in making any decision -- there was no decision to be made. We couldn't turn around and we couldn't back out, so we got back in the motorhome and kept going. As I told Sharyn, in the worst case scenario, if we got stuck in the mud, we eat dinner, take a shower, and go to bed, just as we would anywhere else.

Well, we didn't get stuck, but route 401 ended at a padlocked gate, the entrance to Escondito Ranch. The place was closed up tight with no one anywhere in sight. Even when I climbed the fence and went looking, there was no one.

It had taken us about 45 minutes to do the 13 miles into the place. Luckily there was room to turn around in front of the gate. By this time, however, it was beginning to get dark. In order to beat the darkness we came out of 401 a lot faster than we went in, but it was still dark as we got back out to the highway.

We drove the remaining eight miles to Freer where we're now parked next to some trucks behind a Citgo gas station where we'll spend the night. Since we had planned to spend several days at Escondito Ranch I guess we've now picked up several days on our journey east.

Odometer reading = 51,966
Miles for day = 232


(Padre Island National Seashore TX)

We arrived at Padre Island National Seashore, just over the bridge from Corpus Christi, by mid-afternoon. We checked out Malaquite Campground but didn't care for it. It was quite crowded, plus it was behind the dunes from the beach. We inquired at the visitor's center about driving on the beach and we were assured that we could drive the motorhome on the beach without getting stuck. The beach (and the National Seashore) extends south along the Gulf of Mexico for sixty miles. The entire sixty mile stretch is available for free camping, but only the first five miles is accessible without four wheel drive. With some reservations about driving our twelve tons out onto the beach we drove to where the road ends at the beach. It proved to be no problem, just as the lady at the visitor's center had said.

It worked out very nicely in that in order to have our solar panels facing south we placed the back of the motorhome against the dunes, while the front faced the Gulf. It would be difficult to beat this setup even at a $50 per day campground -- and this is free camping!

It's sunny and 70 degrees with a steady breeze coming in off of the Gulf. The only sound is the roar of the surf. It must be said that life is good!

Odometer reading = 52,078
Miles for day = 111


(Padre Island National Seashore TX)

This was our view from the front of the motorhome as the sun came up over the Gulf this morning. A slightly broader view includes our neighbor, a lady from Ontario, an early starter, who loves to fish but really isn't interested in catching any. This was what we looked like from the water's edge.

Anyway, we spent the day on the beach, doing nothing in particular.

Incidentally, this was last night's moon rise.

Odometer reading = 52,078
Miles for day = 0


2/19/03 and 2/20/03
(Corpus Christi TX)

Yesterday morning it clouded up and was getting ready to rain so we decided to leave the beach and come over to the FamCamp at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. It was the first time in a long time that base security forces came in and went through the motorhome, but as we told the security guys, whatever it takes is what has to happen.

After getting set up in our campsite we went to the commissary to get some milk and bread before it closed. Today we went back and did our real grocery shopping. Other than that we mostly relaxed and did some reading.

The weather has changed considerably. While the temperatures are still in the 70's, the humidity is in the 90's. Plus the sky is dark and the wind is blowing mist -- probably part rain and part water from the bay. Rain and thunderstorms are predicted for the next several days all along the Gulf Coast from here to Mississippi. We'll probably leave here in the morning and head that way. As I told Sharyn, we need about about 100 miles of driving in the pouring rain to get all the mud and dirt from the muddy road washed out from the undercarriage.

Odometer reading = 52,107
Miles for day = 29


(Bay City TX)

It was somewhat dark and cloudy this morning, plus their were tornado warnings in effect for the entire area, so Sharyn did not want to travel. We decided that we'd stay at the FamCamp for another day, but shortly after 11:am the lady came to our site to tell us that it had been reserved by someone else and that they had arrived. We apologized for the oversight and told her we'd be out within 20-30 minutes.

Not having planned to leave today, we found ourselves heading out of Corpus Christi without quite knowing where we were going or how to get there. We eventually opted to stay closer to the Gulf Coast as we headed east and at the end of the day we were in Wal-Mart's parking lot here in Bay City TX.

Odometer reading = 52,262
Miles for day = 155


(Galveston TX)

Leaving Bay City this morning we had to back track a mile or so to pickup the road that would take us towards Galveston Island, the barrier island where we planned to stay at Galveston Island State Park. Crossing over a bridge at the southern end of the island we paid a $2 toll and continued on our way.

After getting set up in the campground we were in the process of tuning in the TV satellite when the splines in the directional dial sheared off. At the local hardware store I bought a piece of 1/2" conduit (because 1/2" PVC isn't 1/2" outside diameter) and some epoxy. Since the directional dial is not something you can pick up at your local RV dealer I'm hoping I can make a suitable repair.

Odometer reading = 52,340
Miles for day = 78


(Lake Charles LA)

We left Galveston Island State Park and continued easterly through the town of Galveston and on to the eastern end of Galveston Island where we took a ferry to the mainland. We thought it was unusual that it cost $2 to cross a small bridge to get onto the island at one end, but the 15 minute ferry ride to get off the island at the other end is free. Eventually the road turned north and took us to I-10 where we headed east towards Louisiana.

There were a number of signs along the Interstate advertising the Isle of Capri Casino in Lake Charles so we decided it sounded like a good destination. Not only does Sharyn enjoy the slots, but most casinos offer great security and welcome RVers to spend the night in their parking lot. After loosing a dozen dollars in the slots we returned to the motorhome in the casino parking lot where we had dinner and Sharyn watched a movie on TV while I did the web page.

Odometer reading = 52,487
Miles for day = 147


(Baton Rouge LA)

We had a pretty uneventful day as we traveled from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge. As we were entering Baton Rouge we exited the Interstate to get gas. It turned out that the gas station wasn't there, but then we could not get back onto I-10. That interchange had no eastbound entrance so we kind of wandered around the neighborhood streets trying to stay close to the Interstate while looking for another entrance. At one point we were driving down a street that must have had a recent Mardi Gras parade because all the lower tree branches were entangled with multicolored Mardi Gras beads.

Eventually we got back onto the Interstate but didn't go too far before we got off near a Wal-Mart Supercenter where we spent the night in the parking lot.

Odometer reading = 52,689
Miles for day = 202


(Biloxi MS)

The FamCamp at Keesler AFB was our destination here in Biloxi. This is at least the third time we've stayed here, and Biloxi is one of Sharyn's favorite places. It's kind of dark and overcast right now so the place is not at its best.

The FamCamp is full so we are in an overflow site (electric only) until tomorrow morning. We're #1 on the list for a full service site so we should have one tomorrow.

One advantage of an overflow site here is that the laundry room (a nice laundry room) is only 20 feet from the motorhome, and we have laundry to be done.

Odometer reading = 52,767
Miles for day = 78


2/25/03 to 2/28/03
(Biloxi MS)

We're still here and we're still in the overflow area. A full hookup site was available the day after we got her, but since we were already set up we decided to just stay where we are. If and when we run out of water or holding tank space we may move.

In addition to being right next to the laundry room, the showers and bathrooms are right behind the motorhome. I would say that we "never" use the bathroom or shower facilities at a campground, pretty much for no other reason than we prefer to use our own. The only exception I can recall was here several years ago. It was another time that we were in the overflow area, and in order to conserve water/holding tank space, I used the shower in the building. It was a great shower -- unlimited, high pressure hot water! Perhaps you have to live in a motorhome to fully appreciate what that means -- particularly the "unlimited" part. Anyway, recalling those great showers, we have again taken to using the showers provided here. I guess I had forgotten that the showers here also had soft water as it's like liquid silk. Quite nice!

The weather continues to be cool, dark, cloudy, and frequently rainy. Sharyn reads and visits a lot, while I spend a lot of time on the computer. It's all pretty relaxed and our dots are blue. At least mine is. Sharyn says hers is purple.

We're waiting for our mail and until it arrives we're renewing on a one day at a time basis.

This morning I received the following e-mail attachment -- a great picture of our granddaughter Mary. Feel free to look!

Odometer reading = 52,767
Miles for day = 0


(Biloxi MS)

It was another overcast day with intermittent rain and drizzle (we haven't seen the sun since we drove off the beach down by Corpus Christi).

I've been wanting to stuff myself with fried chicken for upwards to a year and threatening to go to a Kentucky Fried Chicken and do it. Since I'm cheap, I have to have an "all you eat" buffet type arrangement and apparently KFC doesn't do these anymore. Anyway, this evening we went to Cajun's Fried Chicken (a chain we see thorough this area) where for <$7 you get all can eat -- chicken and/or fish, vegetables, dessert, and beverage. We really got our money's worth. Sharyn ate more than I did -- particularly the ice cream and dessert -- eventually topping it off with a giant root beer float. As we left she said she was ready to throw up.

From there we took our stuffed bodies to one of the casinos. We'll probably leave here tomorrow and Sharyn says we can't leave here without visiting any of the casinos. We went to the pirate ship place where we lost several dollars before returning to the motorhome.

We took two more of those unlimited hot water showers and went to bed.

Odometer reading = 52,767
Miles for day = 0


(Summerdale AL)

After five days in Biloxi with an "electric only" hookup, this morning we dumped our holding tanks and topped off with fresh water before leaving for Rainbow Plantation, the Escapee park about 25 miles south of Mobile, Alabama.

We arrived here, as expected, without incident and pulled into the boondock area. All Escapee parks have a boondock (dry camp) area that members can use one night for free, with additional nights costing $2.50 each. Now that we're more appropriately equipped for dry camping we do it much more frequently. As the daylight hours increase to provide more hours of solar charging we should be able to boondock for as long as our water lasts.

Later on we went to the clubhouse for ice cream and some do-it-yourself Mardi Gras entertainment.

Odometer reading = 52,877
Miles for day = 110


(Summerdale AL)

We had planned to leave here this morning but the sun was shinning and the guy across the way was washing his motorhome. We decided to move to a full hookup site, stay here for another day, and wash the motorhome (that still has mud on it from that infamous muddy road to the closed campground).

We must have been here the same time last year because as soon as we started to move the Mardi Gras parade came down the road. We were here for last year's Mardi Gras also.

Unfortunately we had not been set up in our new site for very long before it started to rain -- and it's been raining ever since. However, we find this to be one of the more "comfortable" parks to stay at so we might even stay over for another day.

Odometer reading = 52,877
Miles for day = 0


3/4/03 and 3/5/03
(Summerdale AL)

It's been two more days and nothing much is happening other than rain several times a day. Now that we are out of the "west" we are able to use our awning without worry about it getting blown away. The dry area that the awning provides is much appreciated in this relatively non-stop rainy weather. Yesterday afternoon the the weather radio "siren" went off and told us we were under a tornado watch until 10:pm. Nothing happend which is just as well since we don't see or know of any place within running distance to seek protection from a tornado. The clubhouse has masonry walls, but a large span metal roof which would probably blow away faster than the motorhome.

Odometer reading = 52,877
Miles for day = 0


(Fort Walton Beach FL)

We left the Rainbow Plantation Escapee park heading for Pensacola. It had been our plan to stay at the FamCamp at the Naval Air Station there, but we since decided that we wanted to go further than that. Traveling along US-98, which pretty much hugs the gulf coast along the Florida peninsula, we came to the Navy Exchange Complex in Pensacola where we stopped and got some groceries and bought a few things in the Exchange. It's a pretty nice facility that we've been to in the past. There are several navy installations in the Pensacola area and this Exchange complex serves all the military facilities in the area.

Anyway, we then continued on towards Panama City and the FamCamp at Tyndall AFB, our new destination. However, we had spend considerable time at the Exchange complex, it was getting late in the afternoon and I was kind of tired. When we passed by Hurlburt AFB Sharyn looked it up in the directory and saw that it had a FamCamp, so we made a U-turn and went back. It turned out that the FamCamp was full and there was no campground host present to get any information from so we pulled into a large parking lot that seemed to serve a club dining facility, a bar, and a couple of marina type things. None of these facilities were open and the parking lot was empty except for one or two cars. It seemed like a convenient and secure place to spend the night.

After having dinner, watching some TV, and doing some reading in bed we shut off the lights and went to sleep. Some time later Sharyn wake me up to tell me that someone was knocking on the door. It was base security to inquire (I guess) who we were, and to tell us that we couldn't spend the night there. After ascertaining from the security guy that it was "a little after twelve," I explained that the FamCamp was full, and that while the book said there was a overflow area, we couldn't find it. He contacted security headquarters but no one there knew where the overflow was either. Anyway, since we were leaving in the morning anyway they got permission for us to remain there for the night. Having had just enough sleep to take the edge off, it took quite a while for both of us to get back to sleep.

Odometer reading = 52,959
Miles for day = 82


(Panama City FL)

It rained most of the night last night and continued raining during most of the morning as we drove here from Fort Walton Beach. Of course the FamCamp here at Tyndall was full, as was the overflow area! While the FamCamp is off base, we were relegated to the parking lot by the beach, which is on base and quite convenient to the commissary and the BX, as well as the beach. There are only two other RVs in the parking lot, which is pretty big, so we opted to stay in the parking lot rather than be put on the list for an opening in the overflow area.

Odometer reading = 53,041
Miles for day = 81


(Panama City FL)

This morning, after coffee and conversation, I took my daily walk. This time along the beach. As I was returning to the path back back to the motorhome Sharyn was coming down so we walked along the beach together searching the recent high water mark for any good shells or "sand dollars." While Sharyn got a number of shells she liked and one small sand dollar, we saw a number of broken sand dollars that if unbroken would have been 5 to 6 inches in diameter. I didn't know that sand dollars ever got much more than half that size.

We also spent some time visiting with our neighbors who also had opted to remain in the parking lot rather than go to the overflow area. The only problem we're having is that it's been so dark and overcast that our solar panels are not able to replace what we estimate to be about 150 amp/hours of electricity that we use each evening with lights, TV (the biggest user), and computer. This morning we ran the generator for over an hour to help recharge the batteries, but also made use of the surplus 120 volt output to run one of the heat pumps.

Odometer reading = 53,041
Miles for day = 0


(Perry FL)

Last night the rain, thunder, and lightening were pretty much none stop. The rain came down in torrents. At 4:30 am the weather radio went off to warn of heavy thunderstorms moving through the area at 40 mph. I shut it off and went back to bed.

At about eight o'clock, while we were having our coffee and conversation, it went off again. This time there was a tornado running through the countryside and they were describing its anticipated route and time of arrival at various communities. We didn't know where those places were, but they didn't say "Panama Beach." Anyway, several hours later there was a break in the rain and, the forecast being for an unrelenting crummy day, we decided to pack it up and leave -- which we did.

Traveling east along US-98, a narrow two-lane highway, we saw that there was substantial flooding most everywhere. The combination of the land being quite flat, plus the fact that the ground has probably been saturated for weeks, offered no where for the water to go. Luckily, the highway being several feet higher than the ground on either side kept the highway from being flooded. Even though the culverts that ran under the highway at frequent intervals were under the surface of the water, their location, on the south side of the highway, was clearly marked by the turbulence in the water as the higher water on the north rushed through the culverts as (I guess) it made its way southward towards the Gulf of Mexico. In any event, for many miles on both sides of the road, woods, fields, buildings, or whatever were flooded. I suspect the alligators were quite happy with all their new found swamp.

Eventually we arrived at the Westgate Motel and Campground in Perry where we seem to stay with some degree of regularity. Located at the "angle" where eastbound traffic along the coast of the panhandle can turn right and head south down the Florida peninsula, it is also a member of the Passport America group, which means that we pay half price. It costs us $11.45 for a full hookup site. For a private campground that's about as cheap as it gets.

Odometer reading = 53,197
Miles for day = 156


(Perry FL)

We could not believe what we saw when we woke up this morning -- the sun was shinning bright! In no particular hurry, we eventually began to get ready to leave, but then decided to just stay here for the day.

Having chlorinated our water tanks several days ago, I now used the time to change the water filters (which I mark with the date and change every 6 months).

It's late afternoon so the day's not yet over, but while I'm doing this Sharyn's outside soaking up the sun and reading her book. After I upload this I'm going to print out some business cards that I did on Photoshop last night. Sharyn doesn't too much like them so we'll do something different, but in the meantime I just keep playing. (Most full-timers have cards - almost always of their own creation - that they exchange with others that they might want to meet up with again - or simply to exchange e-mail addresses). We've never remembered to buy card stock so our cards are printed on plain paper. Oh well!

Odometer reading = 53,197
Miles for day = 0


(Umatilla FL)

It was another beautiful day as we pulled out onto the highway heading to Umatilla and our friends of 30 years, Ron & Peg. When we come tis way it has become a custom that we stop and visit with them. We park the motorhome by the horse barn which provides electric service and puts us in the middle of the action.

On the way here we stopped for gas at $1.749 per gallon. That's more than we've paid in a very long time, and certainly more than we'd like to be paying. Not having a home on a foundation, however, we're unaffected by rising electric and natural gas prices so higher gasoline prices, standing alone, are not so bad.

Incidently, Sharyn didn't care too much for the cards I printed out yesterday so she came up with a design that she likes much better. The background photo was taken one afternoon by the Salton Sea in California when we stopped to make a pot of coffee

Odometer reading = 53,360
Miles for day = 163


3/12/03 through 3/14/03
(Umatilla FL)

During this period we did not do too much that warrants covering in any great detail. One day Peggy and Sharyn went to a financial planning workshop/seminar/luncheon. I don't know what they learned, but they enjoyed their afternoon out.

Mostly what we enjoyed was the opportunity to visit and talk with old friends, particularly around the dinner table where conversation went late into the evening.

Odometer reading = 53,360
Miles for day = 0


(Patrick AFB FL)

This morning we said good-bye and started out the driveway, only to stop and talk some more, eventually staying for lunch. After lunch we really did get started on the road to Patrick AFB, about 20 miles north of Palm Bay and Sharyn's sister Carol. As we expected there were no available sites in the FamCamp except in the overflow (drycamp) area. The host thinks we should be able to get a site in 2 or 3 days.

We went to the commissary to get some milk, but it had already closed. We'll go back tomorrow.

Odometer reading = 53,475
Miles for day = 115


3/16/03 through 3/20/03
(Patrick AFB FL)

We ended up spending 3 days (nights) in the boondock area and the 3 days with water and electric hookups. I think that at some point it rained every day, including a severe thunderstorm that came through one night. We had no damage but some people that had their awnings out were not as lucky. The day after the thunderstorm they said they would have evacuated the campground if they had had more lead time.

The first full day we were here we went to visit Sharyn's sister and her husband. Sharyn went back on two other occasions; once they went shopping and the other time Sharyn had her hair done and then they went shopping again. They both enjoyed the opportunity to spend time together.

Odometer Reading = 53,47
Miles for day = 0


(Brunswick GA)

Last night it poured down rain and I was really glad that (in anticipation of more rain) I had put away all the outside stuff and it was al ready to go. Stopping at the dump station on the way out, we left Patrick AFB and headed for the mainland where we turned north, heading for Virginia.

Just over the Georgia line we stopped and bought gas for $1.479, the cheapest we seen gas since we can't remember when. We have found that on I-95 the cheapest gas is going to be just north of the Florida/Georgia state line. This time we saved about 30 cents/gallon over Florida prices, and 20 cents/gallon over Georgia prices.

A short distance later we pulled into a Flying J for propane and to spend the night. Flying J is extremely RV friendly, providing separate pump islands, water fill-up and dump station facilities, and free overnight parking. I felt guilty that we had just filled our gas tank a short distance down the road.

Anyway, as the evening went on the RV parking area began to get somewhat crowded. That part was fine. The problem was that almost of of the RVers were from Quebec and speaking French. Right now the French are not my favorite people and I told Sharyn I was going to move over with the truckers. She said we were there first and she didn't want to move. So we just put up our flag so everyone would know we were Americans and not with all those other people. As I see it, the French see the world as made up of two kinds of people; those that are French, and those that are inferior! Neither I nor this site make any attempt to be politically correct. If the shoe fits . . . .

Odometer Reading = 53,710
Miles for day = 235


(Sumter SC)

Last night we really had a great night's sleep. Dry camped, we had the windows open and the cool fresh air really felt good.

Nothing like Florida. When we were dry camped at Patrick AFB we also, of necessity, slept with the windows open, but the air was saturated with moisture and in the morning the couch and chair felt wet to the touch.

We were probably on the road by 9:am, and stopped to eat before 11 o'clock. An hour later we stopped for a cup of coffee. By mid-afternoon we arrived back at the FamCamp at Shaw AFB in Sumter SC. There were only two other RVs here when we pulled in so we got our usual (and favorite) site.

We wonder if there's something wrong with us. Over the last three years we've stayed over 50 military campgrounds including 35 Air Force FamCamps, and while this one at Shaw AFB is our favorite, we never find many people here. It's too bad more people don't get to enjoy this facility, but I guess that's how we are able to almost always get Site #7 (photo from 11/1/01).

Odometer Reading = 53,937
Miles for day = 227


(Sumter SC)

We drove around the Sumter and Clarendon County area for several hours and did a small amount of grocery shopping before returning to the FamCamp to just relax and enjoy the quiet of the pine scented woods. We look forward to spending several days here.

Odometer Reading = 53,937
Miles for day = 0


(Earlysville VA)

As we were engaged in coffee and conversation our son Phil called us to say that Jordan was in the hospital where they were going to remove her gall bladder. It was probably within an hour that we were on the road, heading for Virginia.

We arrived in Charlottesville shortly after 7:pm and went straight to the hospital where we actually parked the motorhome and attached car right in front of the building. Jordan was doing okay. The surgery is scheduled for Wednesday.

After visiting for a while we went to Phil's house where we set up in his driveway.

Odometer Reading = 54,361
Miles for day = 424


3/25/03 to 3/28/03
(Earlysville VA)

Jordan's surgery went well and she should now be free of the episodes of abdominal pain she has experienced for the last year or so. She's now staying with us at Phil and Kim's for several days.

While we plan to be here for Easter and for Sharyn's birthday on May 3rd, we'll probably do some side trips in the meanwhile.

While we're here, and until such time as there's something to write about I probably won't make any (many) entries in this travelog.

Odometer Reading = 54,937
Miles for day = 0


(Earlysville VA)

Jordan's recovery is doing well and we're super happy about that.

This morning we went to Katlin's soccer game where she played goalie for the first part of the game. Unfortunately, from the picture taking point of view, her team was doing so well that the ball stayed down at the other end of the field. Dad and Grandma watched intently from the side lines. Here's where the final goal of the game is being set up.

After winning a 2-1 victory (undefeated for the season) we returned to the house where we were treated to a trampoline exhibition.

By this time, Philip, who by now had had enough of his sister, said "Grandpa, take my picture."

Odometer Reading = 54,937
Miles for day = 0


(Earlysville VA)

This is just to show how the weather can catch us by surprise. Remember that yesterday, and pretty much most of the week, has been shorts and T-shirts. This is what we woke up to this morning. Phil's shed just makes a nice picture.

Odometer Reading = 54,937
Miles for day = 0


3/31/03 to 4/4/03
(Earlysville VA)

Jordan's doing fine and the doctor has cleared her to go back to work.

The real purpose of this entry is to document the new odometer reading. This afternoon I took the motorhome to the Rivanna Water Treatment Facility in Charlottesville to dump the black water (we continually drain the gray water into the woods via garden hose). It's been 12 days since we dumped when we left South Carolina, so that's pretty good, particularly when you consider that three of us have been living in the motorhome since Jordan's discharge from the hospital, plus every time Philip IV comes out to visit grandma he has to "go potty."

Odometer Reading = 54,393
Miles for day = 32


4/5/03 to 4/12/03
(Earlysville VA)

Today, the 12th, Sharyn and I went to a "We support our troops, President Bush, and the war in Iraq" rally. An anti-anti-war gathering. It seemed to us that the turnout of perhaps 500 people was rather disappointing, but then Charlottesville, the site of the rally, is a left-wing enclave in a rather conservative state. Many of the marchers were ex-servicemen, or parents of young men and women presently serving in Iraq. I suspect that like me and Sharyn, and unlike the people who routinely speak out and demonstrate against the war (and seemingly most anything American), most of the people who marched today have probably never demonstrated before but felt that at some point it's necessary to show that the country is not made up entirely of high profile, non-thinking, peaceniks running around with syphilis of the mouth.

The parade itself ended up in the Sam's Club parking lot where the program culminated with a heartfelt speech by Lawrence Eagleburger, Secretary of State under the first President Bush. Age may be taking its toll on his body, but his mind is as quick and sharp as ever.

Odometer Reading = 54,393
Miles for day = 0


4/13/03 to 5/7/03
(Earlysville VA)

It's been a while since I've made any entry here, but as I wrote on March 28, I didn't anticipate much happening that would be of any interest to followers of this site. While family visits are nice I suspect that the details are of little interest to outsiders.

Be that as it may, Sharyn had her 60th birthday on May 3rd and we had a surprise birthday party for her. Her children, grandchildren, friends and relatives came fro as far away as New York, New Jersey, and Florida to surprise her, and she certainly was surprised. In large part because, as she said, she didn't think we could pull off something like that without her catching on.

The last time she had a surprise birthday party was probably 25 years ago when I invited bunches of people. Sharyn was washing the kitchen floor as people began showing up. That was a real surprise party!

At this party I overheard part of a conversation that really put time in perspective. Harry and Tom, two members of our wedding party from 36 years ago who had not seen each other since then were talking when the question was asked, "Are you working or are you retired?" The last time they met the question might well have been, "Are you working or do you go to school?" I guess that was about a lifetime ago!

Anyway, we'll be back on the road in the next day or so and updates will again be more frequent.

Odometer Reading = 54,483


5/8/03 and 5/9/03
(Aylett VA)

Yesterday (the 8th) we came to see Sharyn's niece (actually a cousin) and husband at their home near Richmond. Having had a new baby just days before Sharyn's birthday they were unable to come to her birthday party -- so Sharyn said we'd go to them. We did, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay with them, particularly the two little girls, aged two weeks and 15 months. I had forgotten how tiny new born babies are.

Odometer reading = 54,590
Miles for day = 107


5/10/03 and 5/11/03
(Earlysville VA)

Here we are back at Phil and Kim's house. Our plans had been to go back to Shaw AFB in South Carolina from Richmond (Aylett), but decided to come back here for Mother's Day instead.

Tomorrow we'll head back to South Carolina.

Odometer reading = 54,694
Miles for day = 104

(Clarksville VA)

At 6:45am this morning we said good-bye to Phil & Kim, Katlin, and Philip as they all left the house for work, school, etc. Having "graduated" from nursery school it's also Philip's first day of pre-school.

After Jordan left for work we hooked up the car and headed back to South Carolina (since Jordan lives out in the country, 36 miles from Phil and Kim, she stayed with us in the motorhome while we were in their backyard -- otherwise we'd have had little time to see her).

Not being in any particular hurry, and preferring the "two lane highways" to the Interstate System, we had decided to drive east to Richmond and then pick up US-301 south. On the way to Richmond, however, as we crossed US-15 at Zion's Crossroads we realized that US-15 went right through Sumter SC. We turned around and headed south on US-15.

About four years ago, before we were full-timing, and when we had our other motorhome (a 1985 27' Travel Master) we stayed at Rudd Creek, a Corps of Engineers campground on the 50,000 acre John H. Kerr reservoir on the North Carolina/Virginia state line. This time we stayed at Longwood, another Corps of Engineer campground on the reservoir. Both campgrounds are really nice, wooded sites either on or within 100 yards of the water. On both occasions we were probably the only campers who were not also fishermen. If you are a fisherman you should visit there. I believe there are a total of six such campgrounds around the reservoir.

Odometer reading = 54,852
Miles for day = 158


(Sumter SC)

Well, we're back at our favorite campground; Falcon's Nest FamCamp at Shaw AFB. We are looking forward to several weeks of not doing very much in a relaxed and easy atmosphere.

While at Phil and Kim's I replaced the front brake pads on the motorhome because we could hear the beginning of the metal against metal scraping sound that occurs when the pads are worn down to nothing. When I changed the pads I was a little surprised that the old pads, while extremely thin, were not quite worn to nothing. Now I know why. The inside pad on the right rear wheel has scraped up that rotor. I've never heard of rear pads going before the front pads so I suspect that the caliper is not slideing laterally as the brakes are applied, causing extreme wear on the one pad. Within the next several days I'll pull that wheel and see what's happened.

Also, while at Phil and Kim's I started compounding and waxing the motorhome but probably only did about 20% of the job. I'll do some more of that as well. The last time I did that was in the fall of 2001 and it took three weeks to complete!

Odometer reading = 55,097
Miles for day = 245


5/14/03 to 5/16/03
(Sumter SC)

As per our plan, we haven't done too much since we got here. Bought some groceries, did some laundry, and spent most of one day looking at real estate.

We may be getting close to the time when we buy something to use as a "base." We've been without a fixed home for a little over three years and Sharyn would like to have a place where she could "see her stuff" that's been in storage since February 2000. The difficulty is in finding where, or deciding where, we'd like to be. It's much easier to decide where we don't want to be, but that still leaves a lot of places on the table.

Odometer reading = 55,097
Miles for day = 0


5/17/03 to 5/18/03
(Sumter SC)

Once again we are just staying in one place for a period of time and engaged (to the extent that we are engaged) in activities of no particular interest to our readers. Accordingly, it could be a week or so before I make any further entries on this site (unless something really exciting happens in the meantime).

Take note of the "search" feature (not very sophisticated) we now have available. I've used this locally for probably the last year and it has served me well. My most common use is to find the entry from a particular place. To read about our stay in Rapid City, for instance, I use my browser's search (or "find") feature to search for "(Rapid City SD)" which immediately takes me to September 19, 1902 when we first arrived in Rapid City. I don't know how often this feature will be used by readers, but we actually did have a request for a "search feature" (from our son Phil).

By the way, yesterday we did replace the rear brake pads, which were pretty much worn down to nothing, so now we've got new brakes all around.

Odometer reading = 55,097
Miles for day = 0


5/19/03 to 5/31/03
(Sumter SC)

Since we're leaving here in the morning I figure it must be time to update this site.

We would have left here a week ago except that we were waiting for: 1) Sharyn's birthday present sent to her by my sister, and 2) a certified copy of Sharyn's birth certificate. When both got to be substantially overdue I went looking for them. It turned out that the birthday present was in the base post office where the FamCamp people (who pick up the FamCamp mail every day) had somehow been missing it for ten days. The birth certificate had been sitting at the FedEx office in Sumter for almost a week. They said the address was "not valid" and that they didn't know how to contact us (in spite of the fact that our phone number was part of the FedEx shipping label printed out by their computer.

We had some "excitement" several days ago when Sharyn had to call 911 to get me some medical assistance. We had returned from our morning walk (two miles in 30 minutes) and were sitting on the patio talking. When I got up to go inside I got kind of dizzy and everything was kind of swaying back and forth. I got inside and sat down for perhaps ten minutes when I decided that it was almost gone so I'd go and take my shower. On the way to the bathroom everything was swaying and spinning such that I had to hold onto the walls to keep from falling. Instead of showering I laid down on the bed where the ceiling kept swaying back and forth overhead.

After a half hour, during which the swaying did not stop, I began to feel nauseous and called to Sharyn (who was in the living room and was unaware that anything was going on) and told her that something was not right and was not getting any better. We attempted to have me get to the car, but the room was swirling around so much that I couldn't stand, let alone get to the car, and Sharyn said that if I fell down she would not be able to get me up again. At that point she called base security and emergency medical personnel showed up within minutes.

Shaw AFB being a small base has limited medical facilities so I was transported to the hospital in town. In the ambulance my pulse rate dropped below 40 and my pressure went down to 100 over 40. With all that I was experiencing those numbers were not encouraging.

To wrap up this story, I was discharged from the emergency room some four hours later after having been diagnosed as dehydrated, and infused with fluids and anti-nausea medication via an IV. I wasn't convinced with this diagnosis so as soon as we got back to the motorhome I got online and started searching "dehydration," "vertigo," "Meclizine" (the prescription they gave me), etc. It turns out the doctor was right on. All of my symptoms were textbook examples of what happens when you become dehydrated -- vertigo, low blood pressure, low pulse rate, weak pulse, dark urine, etc.

So now I drink 2-3 twenty ounce bottles of water a day (about half of what Sharyn has been drinking for years) in addition to the milk, ice tea, orange juice, and coffee that I drink anyway.

One other thing that I learned was that "dizzy" is not a word that's helpful for a medical diagnosis. You are not dizzy; you are either light headed (feeling you are going to lose consciousness) or you are experiencing vertigo (either you are okay and the room is spinning, or the room is stable and you swaying -- each of these forms of vertigo has it's own name, but they're both vertigo).

Anyway, tomorrow we're leaving Shaw AFB and Sumter.

Odometer reading = 55,097
Miles for day = 0


(Greenville SC)

As we pulled out this morning we had to stop and put gas in the motorhome. We took on 73 gallons at $1.239/gallon. Last week it was selling at $1.179. Oh well, I'm very happy and content to be able to buy gas at $1.24, although I pointed out to Sharyn that the $1.17 price is exactly half of the $2.35 we had to pay in California several years ago.

We're staying at Paris Mountain State Park in (or just outside of) Greenville. We stayed here once before when we came here to spend Thanksgiving with Nancy and Keith, our old friends from Southold, Long Island. It's much more "family camper" oriented than many of the RV parks we stay at that have a larger percentage of older retired people and fewer young families with kids. I prefer the campgrounds with the young families with the kids running and playing and riding their bikes.

Yesterday, as a young girl rode her bike past our campsite I said to Sharyn that I'd really enjoy photographing young children at play; that the opportunities for great photographs would be many. But that, unfortunately, people would think that I was some kind of pervert or child molester and perhaps even "report" me to the police. The worse part is that such a fear of strangers around children is not totally unfounded and that's a pretty sad commentary.

Anyway, that all having been said, lets get back to our visit with Nancy and Keith. After a while we drove over to their house (which while it's nearby we still got lost looking for it) where we spend several hours in discussion before moving the conversation to California Dreaming, a restaurant in town. After dinner we again moved the conversation, this time to our campsite in the park. The conversation (discussion) that had begun at their house in mid-afternoon was called to a halt (not necessarily ended) at 1:30AM when some fatigue overtook some of the participants.

Interestingly enough, while these (most people called them) debates have gone on, mostly with me and Keith, for 30 years, I now prefer to sit and listen and let Sharyn take care of it. She handles him much better than I did

Odometer reading = 55,258
Miles for day = 161


6/2/03 and 6/3/03
(Greenville SC)

As we approach the end of our third day visiting with Nancy and Keith I'm all talked out, even if Sharyn and Keith are still at it. Last night we didn't get back to the motorhome until 3:AM -- that's getting kind of extreme, even for us!

Tomorrow we're heading north, working our way to Louisville and the Fourth Annual Great North American RV Rally. We were at the first one in Gillette Wyoming in July 2000 but haven't been to another one since. We plan on meeting up with Bill and Cheryl who we met back in Gillette when we were parked next to each other for the five day rally. Since then we've become good friends, visiting them at their home in Fort Smith Arkansas on two occasions and traveling with them to Branson Missouri on another. Several months ago we got an e-mail from them suggesting that we get together again in Louisville. That's where we're heading!

Odometer reading = 55,258
Miles for day = 0


(Knoxville TN)

Actually we're in a place called Heiskell, Tennessee, about ten miles north of Knoxville, but as is often the case, we reference the major place, not the tiny town or hamlet where the campground happens to be. For now we'll say we're in Knoxville.

Today's travel took us through Ashville and parts of western North Carolina and into Eastern Tennessee and reconfirmed something I've been saying for several years. At this point in our travels we've been to probably 43 or 44 of the 50 states and it's my belief that the area comprised of western Virginia, West Virginia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee is perhaps the most beautiful area in the Country. Certainly there are other beautiful places; the Oregon coast, parts of Alaska, the coast of Maine (has to be seen from the water), some areas of the southwest (we don't care too much for the desert), etc., but for an "area" as opposed to a "place," I don't think I've seen an area as nice as that described.

Anyway, today we crossed over a rather picturesque river running through the mountains that, I guess, was to have been named after some French woman. Apparently whoever was in charge of naming the river forgot her name because he just called it the French Broad.

Odometer reading = 55,435
Miles for day = 177


(Knoxville TN)

We've stayed here at Racoon Valley Escapee Park several times in the past because the location frequently works out well. As a campground, however, we don't particularly care for it -- the sites are small and crowded. It's not like any other Escapee park we've ever been to.

During the day today I played with my camera and computer. Sharyn did the laundry (when it was done I went to get the stuff out of the dryer).

After dinner we went up to the clubhouse where they had a local informal group playing two hours of blue grass. We really enjoyed them. In fact, if they were going to be back tomorrow night I'd be for staying here another day.

Odometer reading = 55,435
Miles for day = 0


(Danville KY)

As is our custom, we got a late start this morning and were on the road by 11:AM, heading north on I-75. Not caring too much for the Interstate we got off about 60 miles into Kentucky and headed west on US-150, a narrow two lane highway that cuts through the picturesque Kentucky countryside at a rather leisurely pace. We're actually heading to the FamCamp at Fort Knox where we are scheduled to meet Bill and Cheryl next Wednesday (today's Friday). From there the four of us will go together to the RV rally that starts in Louisville next Saturday.

At one point we passed by an old church on a hillside that I thought would make a nice picture, but by the time I had debated with myself whether or not it was worth stopping for it was too late to stop anyway. About a mile later I changed my mind but couldn't turn the motorhome around on the 2-lane highway for another mile or so after that. Anyway, this is one of the several pictures I took.

While the Sony 707 that I bought over a year ago is a 5 megapixel camera, capable of taking great pictures in .tiff format up to 2560 x 1920 pixels (a 14M file), I've pretty much been using it to take medium quality .jpg's at 640 x 480 which make files about 60K in size. Those pictures are good for viewing on the computer or putting on the web (I try to reduce them to 15-25K before using them on this website). It shows, however, when I print them larger than 4 x 6. I decided that taking pictures at that file size is a waste of the camera so, attempting to strike a balance between picture quality and storage space (as of now I have 4,863 digital photos from our traveling), I've started doing high quality .jpg's at 2048 x 1536. These run about 1400K or 25 times larger than the medium 640 x 480. The church is such a file (although the picture on this page has been reduced to 21K).

Anyway, while I was taking the pictures a lady passing by stopped her car to ask if I had once been a member of the church. I told her my interest in the church was as a photo subject. Nevertheless she proceeded to tell me that the church was 107 years old but has only been its present location for a year. On the other side of the hill is a lake that resulted from a new dam and the church used to be where the lake is now. It's a Methodist church with a very small congregation. When the Methodist Church (not the local congregation) got the money from the condemnation proceeding they decided that the local congregation was too small to get all that money. The congregation, however, did acquire the right to the building if they would remove it. They got the Methodist Church to give them the $125,000 it took to move the building from its original location to the five acre parcel, donated by a local resident, where it now sits. It's a nice story.

For now we're at the Pioneer Playhouse Dinner Theater and Campground. Unfortunately, the dinner theater part doesn't start until June 14. Also for now (11:57PM), it's pouring down rain and has been since before dark.

Odometer reading = 55,580
Miles for day = 145


(Fort Knox KY)

Happily, when we woke up this morning it had stopped raining. We had our usual coffee and conversation before getting out on the road on our final leg to Fort Knox. We were still traveling the narrow winding roads of rural Kentucky and were struck by the crisp cleanliness of all the small communities we passed through. It was as if every house had just been freshly painted and every lawn freshly mowed and edged. We also took note of the large number of American flags and "We Support President Bush" signs. As conservative Republicans we liked seeing that.

The drive was very enjoyable and the countryside was serene and beautiful.

As we got within perhaps 50 or 60 miles of Louisville we did notice that some less-well-kept properties began to appear. Not in particularly large numbers, but at the same level that such properties exist in almost all rural (and urban) communities. It seemed that perhaps we had previously been passing through those mythical towns of "Perfect" depicted in the TV commercials.

We arrived at the FamCamp at Fort Knox by early afternoon and got what may well be the nicest site in the campground. In order to allow our roof mounted TV satellite dish to "see around" the big tree next to the site we pulled into the site forward instead of backing in as intended. A nice byproduct of this was that, instead of having our "front yard" be the area between the motorhome and the road, our front yard is the large expanse of grass, and that big tree, that would otherwise have been behind the motorhome.

All in all this is a very attractive campground and we anticipate enjoying our stay here. More about Fort Knox and the surrounding area at a later date.

Odometer reading = 55,675
Miles for day = 95


6/8/03 through 6/13/03
(Fort Knox KY)

The name of the game appears to be "RAIN." Over the last several months we have been from Florida to Virginia, back to South Carolina, and now in Kentucky. It's been raining everywhere. It's rained everyday that we've been here (some days it didn't rain all day) and it's still raining now. I asked Sharyn how much longer she thought it could rain. She responded, "40 days and 40 nights." I told her we've had that already.

Tomorrow we leave here and go to the Kentucky State Fairgrounds for the Fourth Annual Great North American RV Rally. We found out that they're having a major problem there. They are expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 RV's, most of whom made their reservations many months ago. Many of the planned sites are in grass fields at the fairground which, because of weeks of non-stop rain, are now too soft to use. They are therefore short what may be several thousand RV sites. This FamCamp where we are is 37 miles miles from the Rally site and the Rally officials came here yesterday and asked if this campground could take 200 of the RVs that they can't put up at the fairgrounds. Apparently they are buying up all the campsites and parking lot space within a 40 mile radius of Louisville.

Depending on the type of admission pass you have, the entry dates to the rally are Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Our admission time is 7:AM on Saturday which is the very first time slot. We drove the car to the fairground yesterday to find out just what the story was (we didn't want to leave the hookup site we have and then find out there was nothing for us at the rally) and were told that the 7:AM Saturday people would not have any problem. I sure hope they're right. In any event there are going to be some pretty irate people showing up in Louisville over the next several days.

One of the things we had planned on doing while we were here was to visit the gold storage facility (you know, "all the gold in Fort Knox"). Well there is no such thing as getting anywhere near the place. The other day on our way to the commissary there was a pickup truck with a flat tire near the barricaded entrance (within the boundaries of Fort Knox) to the "building" (this photo is somewhat "compressed" because of the long lens -- the building is at least a 1/4 mile back behind the fence). The MP's were there, which could be expected as a traffic control thing, but there were also "Mint Police" on the scene. We had never seen or heard of Mint Police before.

We did go to the Patton Museum where, among other things, Cheryl looked at an Iraqi tank left over from the 1991 Gulf War.

Yesterday Sharyn and Cheryl spent the day shopping while Bill and I went to Louisville. Last night we all went to the Golden Coral for "all you can eat," which we did. We were still there as they were closing down and as each section of the service area started to close they first came over to our table to see if we wanted anything else from that section before they removed the food. They even came and asked if it was okay to shut down the soft ice cream machine!

Between last night and all the wine and cheese from prior nights, our "we try to watch what we eat" approach to healthy eating has been somewhat compromised. Next week doesn't look too promising either.

I almost forgot, but the other day Sharyn and I drove into Louisville and on the way back we stopped at what is, to us, an old fashioned White Castle. The little hamburgers are just like they were 40 years ago, even if they now cost more than the 12 cents we used to pay.

Odometer reading = 55,675
Miles for day =


6/14/03 through 6/19/03
(Louisville KY)

Well the Fourth Annual Great North American RV Rally concluded today and a good time was had by all.

Because of the expected shortage of RV sites at the rally we, along with Bill and Cheryl, were on line at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds at 6:30 Saturday morning -- a full half hour before the gates opened. We were lucky in that, while it took three hours for us to be put into a spot, we did get a spot at the fairgrounds with electric service. Bill and Cheryl, who were a number of RVs behind us on the entry line, were brought into the fairgrounds but, then for reasons none of us can understand, were subsequently led off the grounds to a big parking lot several miles from the fairgrounds.

Anyway, during the course of the show we must have walked a hundred miles to and through all the exhibits; both RVs and exhibitors booths selling any kind of RV related item imaginable. We did very well in showing restraint. Figuring that after 55,000 miles there wasn't anything left of our original shocks, we bought (and had installed) four Bilstein shocks. The noise from our water pump has always bothered Sharyn -- so much so that she'd not let me take a shower late at night because the noise from the pump "will wake up the campground." Within the last year or so they have come out with a new type of pump that, rather than cycle on and off, uses micro processors to run the pump slower or faster depending on how much flow is being called for. While these pumps are not "silent" (as largely advertised) the one we bought is about 90% quieter than the one we had. We were going to buy six new tires because Sharyn said we needed them. Two days into the show the dealer with the Goodyear and Michelin displays was out of tires. I think the factory reps at those booths were pretty ticked off with the dealers poor planning.

Sharyn continues to look at new motorhomes at any show we ever go to. She got me looking also and we came dangerously close to buying a 2004 38' Allegro Bus -- the same unit we looked at in Wichita last fall and drove in Quartzite in January. For what we offered on the 2004 model the dealer wanted us to take the 2003 model he had on display that actually had many more options and extras than we were looking for and had a substantially higher sticker price. Luckily the $5,000 that separated us killed the deal. The problem with seriously considering the purchase of a motorhome (or a boat or any other major purchase) at a show is that you are carried away with the "passion of the moment" and you've lost your perspective.

Aside from the issue of affordability, the problem we have is that we are so pleased with what we have. We have never seen an interior finish or a floorplan that we like as much as what we have (this is the floorplan of the 38' Bus). If we had a diesel we'd not even consider getting anything else. The diesel is a big factor (with 55,000 miles we are "using up" the expected life of this unit) and the full body paint on the new units makes them so beautiful. Anyway, once again we regained our senses in time.

Yesterday I had my 65th birthday and Sharyn gave me an 80 Gig external hard drive by Western Digital. I am very happy to have that because I have over 5,000 digital photographs of our travels since we started full timing in February of 2000. They are all on my Dell laptop and I haven't had an adequate backup system. I've been using 100Kb Zip disks for backup but that is somewhat limited in capacity. For my birthday Bill and Cheryl took us out for dinner and we all had a good time (and a good dinner).

The sites (or more accurately described as "parking spots") at the rally included a 30 amp electric hookup provided by large trailer mounted generators located throughout the parking areas. While they seemed to put out sufficient voltage and current, it must have been somewhat less than 60 cycle because the clock on the microwave lost about a hour a day. There were no water or sewer hookups but we did fine with what we had. Of course we came into the rally with full fresh water (75 gallons) and empty holding tanks. To conserve holding tank capacity we used paper plates and showered at the public showers provided at the fairgrounds (one shower facility was only 100 yards from the motorhome).

Our site was at the outside end of our row so the trams that carried people back and forth passed right in front of us. In the evenings we'd be sitting out under the awning having our wine and cheese (usually with Bill and Cheryl) and the tram drivers (some of them) and all the people on the trams would wave to us as they went by. One particular tram driver stopped and shut down the tram to tell us that he was an NRA member and really liked the bumper sticker on the Honda -- "Gun Control Means Using Two Hands." We had an entire conversation while the tram load of people sat and listened. Another time he came by with no passengers, shut off his tram and came over to talk with us. Last year he drove his motorcycle to Alaska and the year before before he took it to southern Mexico!

Odometer reading = 55,716
Miles for day = 41


(Fort Knox KY)

This morning we pulled out of the Kentucky State Fairgrounds and, instead of heading for the Allegro factory at Red Bay, Alabama, which was our plan at one point yesterday afternoon, we came back to the FamCamp at Fort Knox. Bill and Cheryl went somewhere to have their transmission looked at and came in several hours later.

Cheryl made dinner (actually it was probably Cheryl, Bill, and Sharyn since they all contributed something) and we ate at their place. After dinner we played Bocce until dark which, today being June 20, was almost ten o'clock. We had planned to leave here tomorrow but now think we'll stay longer.

Odometer reading = 55,752
Miles for day = 36


6/21/03 and 6/22/03
(Fort Knox KY)

Well we're still at Fort Knox but time is running out. It looks as if we're all leaving tomorrow morning. Bill and Cheryl are heading back to Arkansas (there not full-time) via Nashville where they are going to stop at Bankston RV and look at the 37' Allegro Bay that he likes a lot. When the question was, "What's the #1 reason you should not buy it?" he replied, "There really is none." The consensus is that he should go for it.

We know we want to see Michigan's northern peninsula so we'll be heading north. Our route has yet to b determined.

We've all enjoyed each other's company and our stay here. We've had three beautiful days of sunshine and can't remember the last time we had three consecutive rain free days. Sharyn and Cheryl shopped while Bill took care of some things on their motorhome (a 40' London Air). I installed our new "silent" water pump and washed the motorhome for the first time in over a month. Sharyn is particularly pleased with the quiet operation of the water pump. Now, I suspect, she'll let me take showers late at night since waking the neighbors will no longer be a concern.

Saturday night we sat around the fire talking, cooking marshmallows, and drinking wine. The entire time at the rally and the subsequent days here at Fort Knox have been very enjoyable.

Odometer reading = 55,752
Miles for day = 0


(Huntington WV)

About two hours before we headed for Michigan and points north, a change in plans brought us on an easterly course heading for Virginia. Saturday is Jordan's birthday and Sharyn thought we should be there. While we don't generally travel the Interstate, since I-64 goes from Louisville KY to Charlottesville VA and that's where we're going, it's I-64 by default. This is our campsite at Beach Fork State Park just outside of Huntington.

Odometer reading = 55,986
Miles for day = 234


(Earlysville VA)

We arrived in Charlottesville mid-afternoon and dropped in to surprise Jordan at work -- she was surprised. After a short visit we drove out to Phil and Kim's where we assumed our usual spot in their backyard. Kim was already home with little Philip as we pulled into the drive. They were also surprised to see us, as was Phil when he got home a short while later.

Anyway, today's Tuesday and we'll be here through the weekend. Come Monday morning we plan (as of now) to once again be on our way to Michigan and, while we're in the neighborhood, I'd like to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota.

Odometer reading = 56,306
Miles for day = 320


6/25/03 through 6/30/03
(Earlysville VA)

We've now been here for a week, and while we've thoroughly enjoyed our time here, there's not too much to write about that would be interest to non-family members. The two big events would probably be Jordan's birthday and her collision with a big buck on her way to work several days before her birthday.

For her birthday we went to the Outback (her choice) for dinner with Phil and Kim.

The deer event was really a bummer because she only got this car about two weeks ago. The deer wiped out her grill and right headlight assembly, with some damage to the hood. A junkyard headlight assembly was not available, and a new one from Oldsmobile was $310, so (for $30) we bought two black rubber tractor lights and mounted them where the headlight assembly used to be. It looks pretty good -- I suggested that we should remove the other headlight assembly and the remainder of the grill for a really cool look.

Several years ago we installed a 240 volt 50 amp RV hookup at the corner of Phil's driveway where we park the motorhome. He thought it would be convenient if he could sometimes use his welder or air compressor on the driveway, not just in his shed where he has the electric outlets to power them. Since the only electric outlet near his driveway is the 50 amp RV connection, we made an "extension cord" that plugs into the 50 amp service, but then gives him a 50 amp 240 volt outlet for his welder, a 20 amp 240 volt outlet for the compressor, and a standard 120 volt 20 amp outlet for any 120 volt stuff he might want to use.

Anyway, tonight was our last night here so Phil, Jordan, and I went down to the range to do some shooting. Jordan has joined the Rivanna Rifle and Pistol Club ( and Phil is lending her a SIG-228 until such time as she gets her own gun. In the meanwhile Phil is getting to be really good. At the IDPA ( match in Richmond this past weekend he took first place with 51 other shooters. Several weeks ago at the IDPA Virginia State Match, with approximately 120 shooters, (in my view) he took 2nd place . Officially he was #4 because one 6 round stage that would take less than 5 seconds to shoot was recorded as taking 30 seconds.

This about rounds up our stay here. Tomorrow we'll be heading west, back towards the Michigan and Minnesota area; maybe to the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

Odometer reading = 56,306
Miles for day = 0


7/1/03 and 7/2/03
(Durbin WV)

It was one 'o'clock before we were actually on the road heading out of town.

We had decided to travel US-250, a narrow winding country road, from Charlottesville at least as far as Central Ohio. Our next scheduled "appointment" is Sharyn's family reunion somewhere in the Finger Lakes region of New York in late August. Between now and then we are free to wander at will with no need to cover any particular distance in any particular timeframe. Anything else would probably preclude using US-250. As it was, I had underestimated the effect the terrain would have on our rate of travel. We arrived in Durbin WV shortly before seven o'clock, having taken almost six hours to travel 120 miles. More often than not, once we passed through Churchville VA, we were either climbing a grade at 15 miles per hour in 2nd gear or descending at 30 mph in 2nd gear trying to keep the engine from exceeding 4,000 rpm. While climbing several grades (some topping out at near 4,000') the motorhome actually dropped back into 1st gear -- I'm not sure it's ever done that before.

While the pace is slow, the mountainous countryside is beautiful. This is the hamlet of Headwaters, Virginia, as we approached from the east. It's too bad it was an overcast and cloudy day as photographs would have been much more vibrant had the sun been shinning. Without selling the other sections short, the stretch between Churchville and Monterey is particularly beautiful.

Anyway, as I said earlier, we got to Durbin somewhat late in the day, but after passing through Staunton, the next campground you come to is East Fork River Campground in Durbin, nestled in a 2700 foot high narrow river valley, surrounded by West Virginia mountains.

We woke up this morning to the sound of light rain on the roof. The remnants of Hurricane Bob are moving in a northeasterly direction passing east of here, but we're just on the edge of the rain -- no wind -- just a rather peaceful rain. We decide to spend the day.

As an aside, I took this picture this morning of Jordan's roses on the dashboard with Sharyn's cat.

Odometer reading = 56,426
Miles for day = 120


(Fairmont WV)

We were back on the road this morning still heading west along US-250. After we got past Valley Bend the mountains got much much less severe -- they didn't go away, but now we use 3rd gear more than 2nd gear. All improvement is relative!

As we approached Grafton we decided to stay at Tygart Lake State Park, about 12 miles off of our intended route. When we arrived at the office they gave us the last site. It turned out that someone was already in that spot so they gave us back our money and we left. With the 4th of July weekend coming up we anticipated this kind of problem. We're spending tonight in Wal-Mart's parking lot and may not find a space in a campground until Sunday. When we just stop for the night Wal-Mart works fine (the only thing we can't run without electric is the air conditioning), but right now if we had a place in a nice campground near a community that offered some things of interest we'd stay there for several days. That was sort of our plan at Tygart Lake State Park.

Odometer reading = 56,540
Miles for day = 114


(New Philadelphia OH)

It was quiet and peaceful in the parking lot this morning as we had an extended coffee and conversation before getting started.

After passing into Ohio we stopped at Tappan Lake State Park and realized we had been there before -- in the summer of 2000 when we were on our way to the Great North American RV Rally in Gillette Wyoming. At that time we were traveling southwest on US-22 to pick up I-70 (unfortunately that was during the five month period when I wasn't keeping up this travelog).

Anyway, to get back to today, Tappon Lake Campground was full so once again, not totally surprised, we found ourselves back on the road after we had planned to be stopped for the day. We're now in another Wal-Mart's parking lot on US-250 where it intersects with I-77. Last night I wrote, " . . . if we had a place in a nice campground near a community that offered some things of interest we'd stay there for several days." Right now I think any place in any campground would suffice.

By the way, to day we added a new picture to our Unusual Signs page.

Odometer reading = 56,699
Miles for day = 159


(Upper Sandusky OH)

About an hour after getting started this morning we arrived at the home of Larry and Dee, friends of ours in Wooster Ohio. Prior e-mail communication had made it known that they were going to be away the first two weeks in July, but not having been able to get into a campground the last two nights I told Sharyn we'd go by their house anyway in the hope that they'd have an RV electric hookup in their driveway. As it turned out tree branches precluded us from getting into the driveway so we still don't know if there is such a hookup.

Also at Wooster we changed highways -- we've now abandoned US-250 and are traveling US-30. Happily at Upper Sandusky Tee Pee Campground had several empty sites and now they have one less. We'll be here for a least nights so I set up my Internet satellite and we're online for the first time since we left Phil and Kim's. I've downloaded all my e-mail (including a bunch of spam) and updated this site with all that's gone on prior to today. In a few minutes I'll upload this as well.

By the way, Sharyn reminded me that in the movie Touch of Mink, Doris Day came from Upper Sandusky. Somehow or other I had actually forgotten that!

Odometer reading = 56,814
Miles for day = 115


(Upper Sandusky OH)

Last night the campground owner put on a fireworks display that ran for a good hour. Not only did we have prime seats, since the show was on top of the hill right across from our motorhome, but we also had a good number of other observers who moved onto our site to get a better view.

This is very much a "family campground." With 200 campsites, we are the only "RVers" (as opposed to campers) here. There must be 3 or 4 kids per site, all of whom have bicycles, and had an enthusiastically great weekend while Sharyn and I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to all that was going on. It reminded us of the early 70's when we were camping in our 19' Kountry Air travel trailer with three dirty little boys. Back then we were one of "them." They were great times!

Now that the 4th of July weekend is over we should not have any more trouble getting campsites. The first clue comes from the difference in these two pictures. This one shows our motorhome at 8 o'clock this morning (Sunday), while this one shows it at 8 o'clock this evening.

Right now we are right on the leading edge of a line of violent thunderstorms. The wind is picking up and it's started to rain, but the best part is that the temperature has dropped dramatically.

As of right now the plan is to continue east on US-30 tomorrow morning.

By the way, this afternoon we drove around Upper Sandusky, including some of the residential areas. Upper Sandusky is very nice -- it looks like Doris Day!

Odometer reading = 56,814
Miles for day = 0


(Fort Wayne IN)

It was a beautiful morning as we left Upper Sandusky heading west on US-30. As the day progressed the sky became very ominous looking and our weather radio (which has been going off numerous times per day) came on to warn of severe thunderstorms and flooding, both affecting the area we were driving through. At one point it started raining so hard we wanted to pull off the road but there was no place to do so.

Since we were heading west and the weather system was heading east it wasn't too long until we had brighter skies ahead and soon came out of the wind and rain. We did take note, however, that the rivers flowing under the highway bridges were less than two feet below the bridges.. This part of the country has been suffering from unrelenting thunderstorm activity for a number of weeks.

We arrived in Fort Wayne where we stopped at Johnny Appleseed Campground, a city owned facility right in the middle of town. After getting set up we drove around a bit, stopping at a very large shopping mall, that had a lot of upper scale stores. I was looking for Barnes and Noble to buy a book I had looked at on several occasions. After spending an hour or so in B&N we returned to the campground, stopping along the way to get some groceries.

Odometer reading = 56,922
Miles for day = 108


(Fort Wayne IN)

I'm writing this mid-day today because, while this is a nice campground and we've paid for two days, we may pull out of here and go to a nearby shopping center parking lot. About 1 o'clock this morning a violent thunderstorm came through here moving at 55 miles per hour with winds "up to 69 miles per hour." It took the top half out of a large oak tree which came down missing our motorhome by about ten feet. It came even closer than that to wiping out my satellite system.

This campground is heavily wooded (which is part of what makes it so nice) and we're now under a warning for more severe thunderstorms through 11 o'clock tonight with winds "up to 80 miles per hour" accompanied by one inch hail. That's pretty strong stuff and I don't think we want to be among all these big trees if that kind of storm hits here. Also, the ground is saturated so I could see some really big trees just blowing over, pulling the root systems right out of the ground.

According to the city workers who removed the downed tree this morning, parts of Fort Wayne are under water and the rivers are still rising. This entire area has really been getting clobbered for several weeks.

Odometer reading = 56,922
Miles for day = 0


(Hamlet IN)

Yesterday and last night we did remain at Johnny Appleseed Campground. While it rained most of the night we did not get the severe storms that had been predicted. We did take note, however, that the playground across the road was under water when we got up. That's not just standing water, it's the river being where it's not supposed to be.

It's kind of strange the way things are going on here in Fort Wayne. Some parts of the city are under water an have been evacuated. Other areas are being sandbagged in an attempt to hold back rising waters (on the radio they are seeking volunteers to help fill sandbags), while other parts of town, such as where we are, people are going about their business as usual. We didn't go to help fill sandbags and since we really had nothing else to do I feel that we shirked our duty. Maybe that's because we did.

Anyway, we eventually got started and found ourselves back out on US-30 heading west. Of course we ran into plenty of rain, but not the 2" hail (2" hail?) that was to accompany a major line of thunderstorms that, if they had happened as scheduled, would have met us head on in early afternoon. Around 5 o'clock when the rain got heavier we pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot where we're now going to stay.

Odometer reading = 57,031
Miles for day = 109


(Great Lakes IL)

We were stopped at a traffic light on US-41 not too far north of Chicago when I saw a sign to the Great Lakes Naval Training Facility. Recalling that there was a FamCamp at that location (which Sharyn quickly verified in the book before the light turned green) we made the right turn and went to the Naval Station. The FamCamp, which is undergoing a total reconstruction, is right on the edge of Lake Michigan. It will be great when the renovation is completed, but right now it's more like a construction site. Anyway, we're staying here for the night and will continue north (we finally turned north) tomorrow.

Coming through Chicago earlier today I gave thought to the fact that it took us ten days to get from Virginia to Chicago; recognizing of course that we were not in any hurry. I wondered about a similar trip long ago (my first camping trip) when I was a passenger in a Model A Ford traveling from New York to Chicago. I was traveling with my parents to visit the 1939 Chicago World's Fair. Their "RV" (of course the term was unheard of) was a trailer that my father had built out of five sheets of plywood mounted on an axle and wheels. I wondered how long it took to make that trip. I don't remember -- in fact I don't remember the trip at all. I only remember what my father told me over the years that followed.

My father bought the axle and wheels at a junk yard for which, together with whatever other odds and ends he got there, the junkyard charged him two dollars. I don't know about the construction of the "box" that went on the axle except that it measured 4' high by 4' wide by 8' long, and, as my mother used to say, I was the only on that could stand up in it. There were numerous other trips after Chicago; Acadia National Park, Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and probably other places that I don't know about. I heard stories about these trips but recall none of them.

My favorite story has to do with their first trip -- the one to Chicago. Entering New Jersey from, I believe it was the Holland Tunnel, my father asked a police officer "which way to Chicago?" The officer looked at my father and his young wife holding their one year old baby, stepped back and looked at the Model A Ford and the "trailer" behind it, and told my father to pull over to the side. When my father did so, the officer then walked over and began to tell my father about a nice campground just a few miles down the road, suggesting that with his young wife and baby that might be a better idea than Chicago. They went to Chicago and, except for a broken hitch somewhere along the way, had a great time.

This is a picture of me and my parents sitting in front of the trailer on another trip to somewhere, apparently years later -- I don't know where or when. The box I'm sitting on doubled as both a tool box and as a step for my mother to use to step up into the trailer -- my sister now has that box. By the way, sitting in an attic in Southold NY there is a picture of the trailer hooked up to the Model A. When I can get there, I'll get it out and put it online.

Years later the "box" ended up as my playhouse in the backyard. That I remember!

Odometer reading = 57,131
Miles for day = 100


(Delafield WI)

Leaving the FamCamp this morning we decided to hook up the car after we got past the construction area. As Sharyn followed behind in the car she noticed that the rear left wheels on the motorhome seemed to wobble. At that point we used the leveling jacks to lift those wheels off the ground but I could not cause them to move with my hands. We were sort of blocking the road so we hooked up the car and drove on for a better place for a more thorough check. Several miles later when we removed the wheel cover four broken studs with the lug nuts still attached fell out! I tightened up the remaining four lugs that unfortunately were all adjacent to each other. The "lugs" on the simulated wheel covers held the broken studs and lug nuts preventing them from banging around inside the covers so there was no noise alert us to the problem. We were extremely lucky.

We spent most of the day driving slowly from one repair place to another trying to find someone who could replace the studs. After about 60 miles of zigzagging back and forth we finally ended up at Badger Ford Truck Repair in Milwaukee who replaced the eight studs and had us back on the road in less than an hour. By that time it was mid-afternoon and, not having eaten anything, we were hungry and beat -- it had not been a relaxed day of driving. After getting out of the city we pulled into a Wal-Mart to have some lunch and read the paper. After eating and relaxing for awhile we decided to spend the night here. We watched the news and then went into Wal-Mart where we bought two small electric fans to use on warm nights when we don't have any electric hookup to run the air conditioning. These fans only draw .26 amps each so running them all night on the inverter will not create a problem.

Anyway, tomorrow will be a better day.

Odometer reading = 57,241
Miles for day = 110


(Lodi WI)

We got up early, as we usually do when we're parked at Wal-Mart's, and were on the road by 8:30. It was a really beautiful day, bright and sunny with comfortable temperature and humidity. We decided that it was too nice of a day to spend it on the road, particularly since we haven't had too many such days recently. Looking in the campground directory we found what sounded like a nice place in Lodi, maybe 60 miles ahead, and decided that we'd stop there and spend the day sitting outside enjoying the weather.

We pulled into Smoky Hollow Campground shortly after 10 o'clock -- we usually don't even get started that early. This is a nice campground. Unlike most, the campsites here are spread out and largely undefined. It makes for a much more open feeling when you're not all on top of each other. This is our view when sitting in front of the motorhome (scroll horizontally). Compare with the more compacted environment 4th of July weekend in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. I've never understood why, in rural areas where land is plentiful and not so expensive, so many campgrounds allow only 20' or so per site. This place certainly shows the improvement that can be had by not putting the sites on top of each other.

Anyway, as planned, we're just hanging out under our awning, enjoying the entire package.

Odometer reading = 57,313
Miles for day = 72


(Spring Valley WI)

Basically we traveled I-94 all day to Highland Ridge Campground, part of the Eau Galle Recreation Area operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. We tend to like these COE campgrounds as they are always located on some kind of water -- basically lakes or rivers created, controlled, or maintained as part of a Corps of Engineers project. They are typically more remote and frequently have fewer services, but we like them.

We've decided that we like Wisconsin. It's clean, green, pretty, and feels comfortable. It was a nice day to travel but, unfortunately, having been on the crowded Interstate there were several occasions when we were unable to stop in time to take pictures that I would like to have had. The area we traveled today was pretty much through nowhere so we don't understand why there was so much traffic, but there were basically two lanes of steady traffic constantly moving in both directions.

Arriving at the campground I was somewhat disappointed in that it was not what I had expected. The campsites are not by or near the water and I had anticipated putting our kayaks in the water right from the campsite. Anyway, Sharyn likes it, and as she says it's really not bad at all.

Odometer reading = 57,513
Miles for day = 200


(Spring Valley WI)

It was a pretty rainy day today. We had extended coffee and conversation in the low light of dense woods on a rainy day (we did turn on a few lights). Later in the day we went for a ride into "town." Spring Valley is quite small (pop 1051) but clean and neat: kind of like a model railroad town. Most of the people you see are kind of old -- it looks as if the young people have left town, or at least gone away for the summer.

On the way back from town we checked out the "Day Use Area" of Eau Galle Lake, which is on the opposite side of the lake from the campground. One of the good things about checking out popular places on rainy days is that they're not crowded. There was no one on the beach or in the parking lot but us, and we didn't stay long.

Since late afternoon the weather radio has been going off every 15 minutes with "watches" and "warnings" for both severe thunderstorms and tornados. Most of the worst of it seems to be on a path slightly north of us. The county to our north has been mentioned frequently, but there's not too much we can do. We brought in the awning and moved the car up next to the motorhome so it would not be directly under big trees -- not that 30 feet would make much difference. I had thought that we were far enough north that this kind of weather activity would be south of us. I guess that's just not the case. Right now the rain is coming down in torrents.

Anyway, several photos that we took today include this mailbox and this farm several miles past the mailbox. Sharyn also likes this one as you come into town.

By the way, prior to 9/11 we used to be able to find the post office when passing through a small town by looking for the flag. That no longer works because now flags are flying everywhere!

Odometer reading = 57,513
Miles for day = 0


(Little Falls MN)

It was a beautiful morning as we headed west along I-94 towards the Minnesota state line. Someone had undertaken quite a project; they had stenciled all the overpasses along the Interstate.

While we liked the stenciling, we had had enough of the Interstate so just north of Minneapolis we got off on US-10. As we approached Little Falls we decided to stay at Lindbergh State Park on the Mississippi River. It turned out that the park was not on the river but across the road. The real problem, however, was the mosquitos. It's hard to describe why that was a problem. To say there were lots of them does not convey the situation. There were probably 6-10 per cubic foot of space! You literally couldn't inhale without getting mosquitos into your nose or mouth. There were only one or two occupied campsites and It seemed to us that the campground was uninhabitable. We didn't get out of the motorhome, but just circled through and left in amazement as clouds of mosquitos clung to the outside of the windows.

We ended up at Wal-Marts on the other side of town. In the parking lot, away from the woods, there were no mosquitos. We walked across the parking lot to Kentucky Fried Chicken for their "all you can eat" buffet. It turned out that the buffet had ended ten minutes before we got there. Anyway, we watched some TV, read a little, and went to bed.

Odometer reading = 57,688
Miles for day = 175


(Detroit Lake MN)

I woke up early and a little after 5:AM I was sitting on the couch, drinking my coffee, and looking out the window. In a few minutes I was joined by a mouse who apparently had been living with us for the better part of a week. Sharyn had noticed small pieces of foam on the carpet under her seat and we thought it looked as if a mouse had been there but we discounted that as not very likely. Sharyn got up a short while later and asked about the open door. I explained that was to let the mouse out. We closed the door because it was getting cold. We soon saw that the mouse was still with us.

As we got ready to leave the car battery was dead. Before we can tow the car we have to run the engine for three minutes (as per Honda) and allow it to idle a short time in each gear. We've had this dead battery situation three or four times over the last several weeks so this morning I walked across the parking lot a bought a new battery from Wal-Mart. A silly little battery that looks more like a lantern battery than a car battery costs $39.

Passing through the small town of Staples we passed a large country hardware store. As we circled back I told Sharyn that they would have a Hav-A-Hart mouse size trap. I would like to live in Staples just to be able to go to that hardware store -- what a great store -- they have all kinds of good stuff! They also had the trap.

Because we were on the road by 7:30 we had traveled a reasonable distance by mid-morning and decided we'd stop at a place that we could relax and enjoy the sunshine. In Detroit Lake we pulled into a lakeside campground that sounded pretty good in the book. It was nothing like its description so we circled through and left. We went to a second campground several miles further down the road that was part of a golf course and health spa. It was much nicer.

We spent the day relaxing, playing on the computer, sitting outside, reading, talking, etc. Later in the afternoon we drove through town, checked out a really nice food store, and had our Kentucky Fried Chicken buffet.

Before going to bed we set the mouse trap in front of Sharyn's chair -- Sharyn thinks he's gone.

Odometer reading = 57,798
Miles for day = 110


(Grand Forks AFB ND)

Before we got up we knew we had the mouse because we could hear him in the trap last night. After he posed for some pictures we let him out on the golf course. Tonight we'll set the trap again in case he (she) was one part of a married couple.

We left Detroit Lake heading for the FamCamp at Grand Falls AFB. This is the final "outward" leg of our trip as from Grand Falls we're heading back east by way of the Mississippi headwaters at Itasca State Park in Northern Minnesota, then across Michigan's northern peninsula and on to Sharyn's family reunion near Seneca Lake NY in late August.

We arrived here around lunchtime and were pleased with what we saw. We had hoped to be able to spend a number of days at a nice campground to do some general cleaning up and attend to some things that should be addressed with respect to postponed maintenance. This is a nice campground and, coupled with the fact that we like the FamCamp "packages," this will be a nice place to stay for awhile. Also, it seems as if there are a number of things to do and see in Grand Falls.

Odometer reading = 57,935
Miles for day = 137


7/18/03 to 7/24/03
(Grand Forks AFB ND)

We've been here about a week living a pretty easy, low key, kind of lifestyle. The weather has been absolutely perfect -- sunny and breezy with temperatures in the low to mid 70's.

Our primary activities have been the compounding and waxing of the exterior of the motorhome (me) and the cleaning, vacuuming, and reorganizing of everything inside the motorhome (Sharyn). She has made the inside look brand new while I still have the back and the left side of the motorhome to do. After 4-5 days of cleaning and waxing I'm only half done.

While there are a lot of mosquitos in the area, the constant breeze keeps them from being a problem. The campground (and perhaps the entire base) seems to be overrun with ground squirrels -- kind of a cross between a chipmunk and a gopher. Sharyn says that with the exposure to these ground squirrels and monkey pox, the mosquitos and West Nile Virus, and Saars across the Canadian border, we should go get some hamburgers and see about some Mad Cow Disease. Oh well, life does not come with guarantees! Of course she's not serious. We're really enjoying this place. By the way, this FamCamp also recognizes Golden Access and Golden Age Passes so that with the resulting 50% discount we're only paying six dollars a day for full hookups. That's quite a bargain!

We've been so busy that we've only been into Grand Forks twice. We went to Cabela's store in East Grand Forks (across the Red River in Minnesota) and we ate at the Panda Buffet on Columbia Street in Grand Forks. The Panda Buffet is a Chinese restaurant that offers an all you can eat buffet in either of two ways. We did the conventional buffet that contained so many choices that, limiting myself to those things that looked most inviting, I had a full plate by the time I was half way down the line (I went back later). The other side of the service area offers a Mongolian Barbecue, all kinds of raw meats, fish, and vegetables for you to pick from. At the end of the line the chef takes all that you have and cooks it for you, seasoned in any way that you request. Next time we'll do the Mongolian Barbecue

One thing that gets us messed up time wise is that it doesn't get dark until ten o'clock. I guess that's because we're so far north, but we're kind of surprised to see daylight last so late at night. We never get to bed before midnight.

Also, we've added another sign to our Interesting or Unusual Signs page.

Odometer reading = 57,935
Miles for day = 0


7/25/03 to 7/29/03
(Grand Forks AFB ND)

We've been here almost two weeks and it's time to leave. Within the last week the mosquitos have become a problem. While the breeze continues to blow pretty much all day, the mosquitos are doing a much better job of making their presence known. Perhaps we got here early in the mosquito season before it was the problem that it seems to be becoming. Another reason to leave.

Since my last entry here we've only been back to town one more time. We revisited the Panda Buffet and this time I did both the regular buffet as well as the Mongolian Barbecue. Both were good but, with such an extensive choice of so many really good things, I ultimately reverted to the buffet.

I still haven't finished compounding and waxing the motorhome but I'm pretty close. I only have the rear cap and about half of the driver's side. The position of the motorhome is such that the rear and the left side are in the sun and I have to do the job when the surface is in the shade. I wanted to change campsites so we'd be facing the other way but Sharyn didn't want to move. Hopefully at the next place we stop we'll be oriented differently.

Tomorrow morning we'll be on our way to Lake Itasca, the origin of the Mississippi River, at Itasca State Park in Minnesota.

Odometer reading = 57,935
Miles for day = 0


(Lake Itasca MN)

When we exited Grand Forks AFB we were eastbound on US-2 and remained on US-2 all the way to Shivley, Minnesota, where we turned south onto County Road 2 that took us to Itasca State Park. After getting set up in our campsite we put the kayaks in the water (Lake Itasca) and paddled about a mile to the northern end of the lake where we pulled the kayaks onto a small beach. Here is where the Mississippi River begins -- where the lake flows over a small stone "dam" and becomes the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. Of course, like everyone else, we waded back and forth across the Mississippi several times. Sharyn even collected some rocks from the river bottom.

It's really amazing to realize that this is the same river we camped on near Memphis and watched the tugs pushing their long lines of barges up and down the river.

Later in the day we drove around looking for a place or places where we could put the kayaks into the river and then pull them out again somewhere further downstream. We're still working on some kind of a plan for that tomorrow.

Odometer reading = 58,080
Miles for day = 145


(Cass Lake MN)

We abandoned the idea of kayaking the first several miles of the Mississippi. The water level is kind of low and the initial part of the river, once it gets out of the park (less than a thousand feet) is pretty swampy. That, coupled with the low water, made us decide not to go (didn't want to get stuck in the swamp and have to get out of the kayak).

We had coffee and conversation most of the day -- two whole pots full!

Check out time was 4:PM, but we were on the road by 3 o'clock. We hadn't gone too far when we came to The Palace, a casino on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, part of the Chippewa tribe. Most casinos offer overnight parking for RVers and some, including this one, even offer hookups. We've only got 20 amps, but it's fenced, secure, well lit, and free. They figure that the amount of money you'll spend more than offsets whatever it costs to provide the service. In Sharyn's case, at least tonight, it didn't work that way. She went in with a roll of nickels and hit a 763 coin jackpot. It's the first time I was sorry she wasn't playing quarter machines.

Odometer reading = 58,137
Miles for day = 57

(Grand Rapids MN)

We pulled out of the casino parking lot and had only gone about a mile when we came to a flea market set up at a corner gas station. Of coursewe stopped and walked the length of the booths -- only spend $3 which doesn't say much for what was there.

We were soon back on the road and it wasn't too long until we pulled into Grand Rapids where we located and went to the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) campground. As I've said before, we like these COE campgrounds and to some extent we seek them out. They're almost always on a lake or river as some part of Corps water project. Unlike most COE campgrounds, which are usually somewhat rustic, this one is trim and manicured, looking more like a city park. Sitting right on the Mississippi River, on a Friday afternoon, it's not surprising that there were no empty sites. The ranger said that there were a number of people leaving on Sunday so we decided to go to Wal-Mart's parking lot for tonight and see what happens in the park tomorrow.

After parking the motorhome at Wal-Mart's we took the car an drove around Grand Rapids checking things out. We also went back to the COE park and spoke to the guy in the site that we'd most like to have. He said he's leaving Sunday morning so we told him we'd be there when he pulled out (it's not a reservable site). We then went back into town and stopped at a small coffee house for coffee and a bagel.

After that we went back to the motorhome where we had dinner, sat around for awhile and went to bed.

Odometer reading = 58,205
Miles for day = 68


8/2/03 and 8/3/03
(Grand Rapids MN)

We woke up yesterday morning to find that a farmers market was being set up all around us in the parking lot. We moved the motorhome to another area of the parking lot and later walked over to the market to see all that was being sold. The only thing we bought were four muffins to have with coffee.

The annual Tall Timber Days Festival was going on (sort of a street fair) so we went to that. There were some beautiful things to be bought, but when you live in a motorhome you can't buy much because you really don't need it, plus you have no place to put it. I did buy a T-shirt. There was a lumberjack demonstration (sponsored by Stihl chainsaws) that included ax throwing and speed contests for handsawing logs, chain sawing, and tree climbing. The tree climbing was quite impressive. The guy that won came in 6th place in last years World Championship Competition. He climbed the 90 foot pole faster that I can run up an equivalent flight of stairs.

When they did the one man hand sawing, I though that they cut through 14" log about as fast a chain saw could have done it. That was only until the chain sawing demonstration. After explaining that these were re-worked saws that ran at extremely high speed, and warning the crowd to cover their kids ears, they literally cut through the same logs in about two seconds.

After we left the festival we went back to the motorhome and took it from Wal-Mart's to the COE park. While we knew there would still not be any sites available we asked the ranger about spending the night in the parking lot so we'd be there when the people in #13 (the site we preferred) pulled out. We paid $5 for a dry camp tent site and stayed in the parking lot.

This morning several people began pulling out, but new people were also pulling in and getting the spots as they became available. We discussed if we should take another site because if after all the other sites were taken and then the guy in #13 decided to extend his stay we'd be up the creek. We waited and we did get that site -- the nicest one in the park (although they're all very nice -- half of them on the river). As these pictures show, it was worth waiting for. This is what we see from sitting in our chairs in front of the motorhome.

For dinner we cooked pork chops over the fire ring, using some of the unlimited firewood that is provided to anyone (campers) who wants it. We're paid up for three days and we'll see what we do after that.

Odometer reading = 58,209
Miles for day = 4


(Grand Rapids MN)

We didn't do too much today besides coffee and conversation and other sitting around enjoying the sunshine and the water.

This afternoon I left Sharyn to take her shower and wash her hair while I took one of the kayaks out on the river. Paddling along the bank on the other side I frightened a deer at the edge of the water. A short distance later I came across this guy who didn't see me coming until the kayak almost hit him in the head.

Well, I finally got to paddle in the Mississippi River! For awhile, as I paddled, I was singing I'm Goin' to New Orleans, but I only went a mile or so before turning around. Maybe some other day?

Since there's not much to write about, I'll use pictures instead. This is our campsite as seen from the kayak. This is the kayak parked "dockside" at our campsite.

Odometer reading = 58,209
Miles for day = 0


8/5/03 through 8/9/03
(Grand Rapids MN)

We've come to the conclusion that this is the nicest campsite we've ever been in. If it wasn't that we're beginning to come up against the time frame for getting to Sharyn's family reunion in the Seneca Lake region of New York we would stay here for the two week maximum time allowed. As it stands we'll be leaving here in the morning.

This morning as we were sitting outside, looking out over the Mississippi River enjoying our coffee and conversation, we were again joined by our chipmunk friend. He tends to join us every morning as if he was part of the family. We have a radio sitting on a small table between our two chairs and yesterday he got up on top of the radio as we talked over his head. It was either yesterday or the day before that he jumped up onto Sharyn's foot. We keep hoping that he'll take our mouse away with him.

It was perhaps a month ago that we had a mouse in the motorhome. After we caught that mouse we discovered that h wasn't the only one. After we got the second one it seemed that there were no more but, within the last week or ten days it's become clear that there's at least one more. We see him fairly often and signs of him are everywhere. We have to keep our bread in the microwave. Since our Hav-A-Heart trap hasn't caught him we bought four old fashioned traps and have set them up throughout the motorhome. With five traps you'd think we could catch him. We've baited the traps with peanut butter (crunchy), bread, cheese, and cold cuts but all to no avail. With the limited number of square feet we have you'd think he'd be unable to avoid them all. Maybe it's a radio controlled toy mouse and Sharyn's just putting me on!

By the way, another conclusion we've come to is that Minnesota and Wisconsin are two states that are largely overlooked. We like both of them a lot. The people who live here must like them also. Most places we go the license plates on the RVs come from all over the place. Here in Minnesota almost all the RVs have Minnesota plates. It's the same in the Minnesota campgrounds -- everyone's from Minnesota!

With respect to the Mississippi River that begins at Lake Itasca, one of more than 12,000 lakes in Minnesota, I was amazed to learn that from Lake Itasca the river flows for some 650 miles before it ever leaves the state of Minnesota. The total length of the river to the Gulf of Mexico is some 2,552 miles. The ranger here says that they have perhaps a dozen people a year that come through here (canoes or kayaks) saying they're going all the way to the Gulf. He says that, of course, he has no idea how many of them actually complete the trip. A display at the visitor's center at Lake Itasca says that a drop of water leaving Lake Itasca takes 90 days to get to the Gulf of Mexico. The ranger here says that may be true when the river is really high and flowing fast, but that based on the time it takes the water to get here from the next Corps of Engineers dam upstream it would seem that 4-5 months would be more typical.

Also, there's another picture that been added to our Interesting or Unusual Signs page. I actually took the picture several weeks ago in Grand Forks ND, but then forgot about it until today.

Odometer reading = 58,209
Miles for day = 0


(Grand Rapids MN)

Well we're still here. This morning, prior to getting ready to leave, we were sitting outside having our coffee, enjoying the sunshine and the river, and neither of us wanted to leave. So we stayed. We'll probably leave tomorrow, but I guess we can't be sure.

These five mouse traps still haven't caught the mouse, but yesterday we bought and put out some poison baits. This morning it looked as if he (they?) had indulged so we'll see how long he continues to live with us.

Odometer reading = 58,209
Miles for day = 0


(Port Wing WI)

This morning we actually left Pokegama Dam Campground, but if we're ever back in Grand Rapids, Minnesota (not to be confused with Grand Rapids, Michigan) again that's where we'll stay.

At Duluth we stopped at a visitor's center high on a hill overlooking the harbor at the southeasterly end of Lake Superior. We stayed there only long enough to eat and take some pictures (scroll horizontally). Not too far past Duluth we left US-2 and headed in a northerly direction to basically follow the coast along the southerly shoreline of the lake. While this is the "scenic" route, the only "scenic" part to speak of are the few small villages that you pass through. Most of the route is through the woods, which are okay, but nothing out of the ordinary. For the most part, the only time you are in sight of the water is when passing through the villages. One exception was a rest stop that overlooked the lake where we pulled in just to see what we could see.

Eventually we came to the tiny hamlet of Port Wing. There is very little in the form of facilities along this route (definitely no Wal-Marts) so as we approached the town's country store we pulled off the road to see if there was some place we could park for the night. It turned out that the there was an eight site campground right next to the store so we pulled in. There was no office, and there were no empty sites either, so we pulled off onto the grass figuring we'd just spend the night there. After getting set up (lowering the jacks, putting out the slides, etc.) we walked over to the store to get some milk and found out that the store and the campground were the same business. The girl said we could pay a tent fee ($9) and stay where we were. We had dinner, watched the news, and after reading for awhile, went to sleep.

Odometer reading = 58,340
Miles for day = 131


(Lake Gogebic MI)

When I got up at 6:30 this morning the outside temperature was 46 degrees. It was only ten degrees warmer in the motorhome. We have been extremely lucky for the last several weeks. While the east coast has been constantly drenched with nonstop rain, and the west and southwest sweltered in the heat, we and the entire Great Lakes area have enjoyed mostly sunny days with daytime temperatures in the 70s with cool nights in the 50s.

Anyway, after coffee and conversation, some of it outside in the warm morning sunshine, we were on our way. The scenic route was basically a northerly loop that eventually took us back down to US-2 which then took us into Michigan where we soon left US-2 again, this time heading in a northeasterly direction towards Marquette, which is supposed to be a pretty fishing village on the shores of Lake Superior. Traveling along through the small towns and villages we passed a Dairy Queen with lots of parking space. I pulled over telling Sharyn that some ice cream would really hit the spot.

It turned out that we had parked right in front of the biggest Lombardy Poplar I'd ever seen. According to the sign it was a state record -- I suspect it's even more than that. As an ex-tree farmer/nurseryman I had to take pictures of this tree that's more dead than alive. Any Lombardy Poplar that more than ten years old is either dead or dying back anyway, so this tree is a miracle.

I did enjoy my ice cream.

Some miles further down the road there was a sign pointing to an "overview." We were not too close to the water and we were not up particularly high so I didn't understand the "overlook" part, but we pulled in anyway. It wasn't much of an overlook, but it was right next to a cemetery that we walked over to. The first two graves were two Wisconsin infantry soldiers killed during the Civil War. Two of the over 600,000 killed. I doubt if there was any place more remote from that war than Wisconsin.

Just a few hundred yards from the cemetery I took this picture.

It was probably three or four o'clock when we pulled into Ontonagon County Park. Michigan is the last state that we had to fill in on our map of the United States to have them all completed. However, the sticker for Michigan comes in two parts -- the upper and lower peninsulas. Sharyn only put on the upper sticker since she says we haven't gotten to the lower part yet.

Odometer reading = 58,467
Miles for day = 127


(Marquette MI)

We left Ontonagon County Park rather early this morning and we were in Marquette by noontime. On the way here we went through several areas of highway construction where we added a new picture to our Interesting Signs page. We whole heartily support the idea behindthe sign.

Upon our arrival in town we first went to the City Campground only to find out that their sites were $18-20. Since we really only needed a place to park we paid $2 to dump our holding tanks and then went to Wal-Mart's parking lot. Leaving the motorhome at Wal-Mart's we took the car and drove into the old downtown area of Marquette. So much for the concept of a quaint little fishing village. While the downtown area is old, and probably historical, Marquette has a population of over 30,000 people and is a pretty contemporary place (for where it is). We did take pictures of the town harbor area and the old lighthouse by the Coast Guard Station.

When we were in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, we talked to a fellow who told us about the Brownstone Inn, a great restaurant "about 20 miles east of Marquette," where they had fresh whitefish from Lake Superior. He said that the whitefish from Lake Superior was better than those from Lake Michigan because Superior was deeper and colder and that made the fish taste better. At the time we were not even going to be in Marquette so I hadn't paid too much attention to where this place was. Now, however, we decided to go to this place and have this wonderful dinner that he had described. There are two roads heading east out of Marquette and we didn't know which one to take. To shorten the story, we decided to take the one that followed the coast. Not finding anything we stopped and made inquiries, only to be told that we had another fifteen miles to go, but that the food was excellent and that we wouldn't be disappointed.

It turned out it was 35 miles to the Brownstone Inn, but the whitefish dinner was delicious. With respect to appetizers and dessert we didn't even pay attention to fat content!

After getting back to the motorhome we watched the news and then went into Wal-Mart where we did our grocery shopping.

We've decided that, as Sharyn says, the reason people from this part of the Country (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan's upper peninsular) don't travel to other areas for vacation is that they really have it all here. Fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, boating, water-skiing, hunting, camping, snowmobiling, or whatever. If you do it outdoors, this is a great place to do it!

Odometer reading = 58,592
Miles for day = 124


(Fayette MI)

We did not get started that early this morning, but then we hadn't planned to go too far today. It was shortly after lunchtime that we pulled into Fayette State Park on the shore of Lake Michigan (we crossed from the north shore of the Upper Peninsula to the southern shore).

From our campsite it's only a short walk to the beach so we took our beach chairs and walked down. We didn't stay too long, but Sharyn got some sun before we returned to the motorhome where she took a shower and made dinner.

She's now sitting outside while I'm doing this travelog.

Odometer reading = 58,686
Miles for day = 95


8/15/03 and 8/16/03
(St. Ignace MI)

St. Ignace is at the northern end of the five mile long bridge that connects Michigan's Upper Peninsula with the main part of the state, the Lower Peninsula It also is generally regarded as the line of separation between Lake Michigan, to the west of the bridge, and Lake Huron to the east. When we left Fayette State Park yesterday morning, St. Ignace and the Indian Owned Kewadin Casino was our destination.

We pulled into town early afternoon and slowly drove the length of the main street to the casino perhaps a mile out the other end of town. One very nice thing about arriving early in the day is that it gives you the opportunity to check out the area the day you arrive. It may well be that what you thought would be a place to spend more than one night really doesn't warrant or require more than a few hours. That wasn't the case here. After parking the motorhome in the casino parking lot we drove back into town, walking most of the main street and checking out numerous shops (this is strictly a tourist place). We then returned to the motorhome, had dinner, and went into the casino where Sharyn won $12 on the nickel slots.

When we first pulled into the RV parking lot we were told that we'd have to be out by 8:AM this morning because the Annual Gold Wing Midnight Ride motorcycle rally was using the lot. When we parked the motorhome it was kind of hot in the sun so we parked off of the pavement to get some of the afternoon shade cast by the adjoining woods. That turned out to have been a pretty good move because at 6:45 this morning we were awakened by the casino people rousing all the RVers to move out of the lot. We were prepared to move also but realized that they had not told us or the several other RVs parked off of the pavement to move -- so we stayed. I told Sharyn that there was no way they were going to fill this parking lot with motorcycles, but they started coming in shortly before 8 o'clock, and by a little after nine the lot was full, but they kept coming in. This was our view sitting in our chairs in front of the motorhome. Last year this ride (they leave Grand Rapids, Michigan at midnight and ride to here) had 3,000 participants and raised over $30,000 to combat children's diabetes. This year they anticipate almost 5,000 bikers. Some of the riders were mothers and fathers with ten year old kids on the backs of their bikes, while others were portly grandparents, sometimes together on one bike, sometimes each with their own. Most were somewhere in between.

Anyway, after watching the bikers for several hours (and speaking with a number of them), we took the car back into town where we took the ferry (passenger ferry) to Mackinac Island to spend the day. The island, located in Lake Huron, just east of the Mackinac Bridge, describes itself as an island lost in time. Unquestionably, the most unique aspect of the island is the motor vehicles are banned. It seems that when the "horseless carriage" made its first appearance on the island it scared the horses. The carriagemen, who had been providing carriage tours of the island prior to 1869, protested to the Village and managed to have them ban these new contraptions. Motor vehicles where banned and that ban continues today. Interestingly enough, the descendants of the original complainers still actively manage Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, Inc. -- "the world's largest, oldest,, and continually operated horse and buggy livery, with approximately 100 freight and passenger carriages put in motion by over 400 horses."

Freight is off loaded at the dock where it is held until picked up by a freight wagon for horse drawn delivery to its destination. I spoke to one of the freight drivers who told me there are no exception to the motor vehicle law. The closest thing to an exception is that in the winter time (there are no snow plows) residents can use snowmobiles.

All that having been said, we walked up one side of Main Street and down the other. If St. Ignace is for tourists, then Mackinac Island is for tourist's tourists. Not that it's not nice -- it's quaint, pretty, and enjoyable, but there are only so many ways you can try to sell fudge, T-shirts, ice cream, and "gifts" (I don't mean to make the island sound not nice -- it was very nice). Anyway, we did enjoy ourselves, the Island, and the boat ride. All in all, it was a very pleasant day.

Returning to St. Ignace and the motorhome, we had dinner, and while I'm typing this stuff Sharyn is back at the casino showing our hosts that we really appreciate their hospitality.

Odometer reading = 58,813
Miles for day = 127


(Dundee MI)

We left the casino parking lot and, on the way out of town, stopped at a State Park and paid $4 to dump and take on fresh water. Heading south on I-75 we stopped several times to eat or just to take a break and have something to drink. At one point we pulled off the Interstate to get a cup of coffee (without having to make it) only to find that their water supply had been made "unsafe" by the recent power outage and they were not making any coffee or other drinks made with water.

And finally, Sharyn put on the final decal of our map -- the 2nd half, the lower peninsula, of Michigan. Our map of the US is now complete (except for Rhode Island which we are going to ignore).

Our goal for the day to to get to the other side of Toledo, Ohio, but about 30 miles north of Toledo we saw a large Cabela's with extensive RV parking so we got off at that exit and, after browsing through Cabela's, went back to the motorhome, had dinner, and watched some TV. While having dinner a rather upscale motorhome pulled in, towing a color coordinated Hummer. This Prevoast probably set the owner back somewhere between $1 and 1.5 million! We've never been sure what you do with one of them. We never met one in a campground!

By the way, this Cabela's is very big and very nice -- not like the one in East Grand Forks in Minnesota. One of the large displays here has a mounted lion, Black Cape Buffalo, African Elephant, leopard, and a ____________________, supposed to be the five most dangerous big game animals to hunt, all in an African habitat surrounding. There were other smaller animals as well including jackals, hyenas, several types of vultures (eating on the carcass's of a dead buffalo), all of which had been killed by Mr. and Mrs. Cabela on their several trips to Africa.

Odometer reading = 59,123
Miles for day = 310


(Erie PA)

Since we have to be at Sharyn's cousin's in Jordan, NY for a family reunion on the 23rd, we're covering more ground per day than we usually do, or than we like to do. We traveled pretty uneventfully pretty much all day, finally stopping in a Wal-Mart shopping center just on the outskirts of Erie, PA.

Odometer reading = 59,366
Miles for day = 243


8/19/03 and 8/20/03
(Alden NY)

As we approached the Pennsylvania - New York border we exited the Interstate and got onto US-20. A pleasant country road that is much slower and lends itself to more pleasant driving than does the Interstate. After passing through a number of small towns and lots of vineyards, we came to Darien Lakes State Park. Since we are now within a days drive of our destination we decided to check out the campground with the idea that if it was nice we'd stay for several days, but if not we'd continue on. The campground is nice with our campsite on the edge of a large mowed area of lawn. The weather is nice, the exposure is good for satellite reception, and we're tired of driving every day -- so here we stayed.

Odometer reading = 59,478
Miles for day = 112


8/21/03 to 8/24/03
(Jordan NY)

On our final leg to Jordan, and Sharyn's family reunion, we passed these silos with a large American flag flying from the top. I pulled off the road to take this picture.

We parked in Nancy and John's driveway while in Jordan, and that became our base as we went with them to visit family and friends.

The reunion turned out to be more of a giant barbecue-get-together with only a very few "relatives." It was a fun day anyway as everyone did their best to consume all the food, including 150 chickens. There was a LOT of chicken left over. This is one small batch of those chickens in the cooking process.

Odometer reading = 59,595
Miles for day = 117


(Jordan NY)

We had planned to leave here today but have decided to stay until tomorrow. Today I played with my newly installed Photoshop 7.0. This barn is in Meridian NY, about 10 miles from here. We drove past it several days ago when I did not have my camera with me. I went back the following day to get this picture. This is a 32KB version of a 2.18MB file and the first I've done with 7.0.

I like old barns.

Also, while here we rode with John and Nancy to a nearby nature preserve where I took this picture just before sundown.

Odometer reading = 59,595
Miles for day = 0


(Monticello NY)

It was wet and rainy as we prepared to leave. Somewhere early on we must have taken a wrong turn because we failed to pick up US-20 that would have put us onto I-75 south of Syracuse, so we ended up going through the downtown industrial area.

Traveling south on I-75 we eventually exited onto Route 17 at Binghamton. We spent the night in Wal-Mart's parking lot here in Monticello.

The area has a huge Orthodox Jewish population and the grocery section in Wal-Mart had lots of the real Jewish breads and baked goods which Sharyn loves.

Odometer reading = 59,786
Miles for day = 191


(Greenport NY)

We crossed the Hudson River at Bear Mountain, just south of West Point, and headed south along the river towards New York City . Unfortunately, all routes to and from Long Island go through New York City. After getting lost in the Bronx (never happens otherwise) we eventually did find our way to I-95 which then easily got us to the Throgs Neck Bridge.

Mid-afternoon had us at the Eastern Long Island Campground in Greenport where a site with full hookups costs $40! We opted for water and electric only for $35. The most money we ever paid for a campsite.

Getting on and off of Long Island, particularly the getting through New York City part is, in my estimation, the worse driving experience available, especially with an RV. Two such trips were followed up with visits to welding shops for repairs.

It's kind of like a visit to the dentist -- while the anticipation is sometimes worse than the event, that doesn't make the event painless.

Odometer reading = 59,987
Miles for day = 201


(?? NJ)

The indisputable highlight of the day was when we took the ferry (we walked on) to Shelter Island to see our son Greg at his pharmacy (Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy). After having coffee and bagels at the counter the three of us went to the boatyard to see his boat. For ten years he has been admiring the 31' Blackfin as the finest fishing boat a guy could have. Now he has one and is clearly happy about it.

With Labor Day weekend starting tomorrow we decided that it was either get off Long Island now, or stay until after the weekend. We opted to get off now. We did much better than we thought we would until traffic came to a standstill on the Cross Bronx Expressway. Darkness came while we were parked on the Expressway. Eventually we got to the other side of the George Washington Bridge and were westbound on I-80 in Jersey when we came to a service area located between I-80 and the northern terminus of the Jersey Turnpike. We spent the night among the several hundred trucks, most of which kept their engines running all night.

Odometer reading = 60,088
Miles for day = 101


(Hagerstown MD)

This was the service area in Jersey shortly after 5 o'clock this morning as we waited for the coffee to finish perking. It didn't take us long to get started once we found out how to exit the service area north to I-80 rather than south to the Jersey Turnpike. We had a rather uneventful day arriving at a Wal-Mart in Hagerstown MD where we spent the night.

The shopping center where we were was pretty empty as Wal-Mart had moved to its new Supercenter at a new location. There was a lonely Chinese Restaurant where we went for dinner. We concluded that it won't be there in six months -- not good at all.

Hagerstown is just off of I-85, definitely not on a direct route from Long Island to Charlottesville VA, but Sharyn hates I-95, so since we're not in any hurry we decided to travel I-85, which we have in the past. It's certainly a more easy going, and prettier, route.

Odometer reading = 60,341
Miles for day = 253


(Earlysville VA)

We had not dumped our holding tanks in several days and had planned to go by the Rivanna River Sewer Plant in Charlottesville before proceeding to Phil and Kim's house, but just over the line into Virginia there was a Flying-J station. Flying-Js are extremely RV friendly, offering RV there own fuel islands, complete with sewer dumps, LP gas in bulk, and fresh water. They also offer free overnight parking to those that want it. While we were pretty well set for fuel in the motorhome, we topped it off anyway, plus we filled the car. We feel that we should support those that extend themselves for RVers. That's also why we do so much of our shopping at Wal-Mart, plus most of our grocery shopping at Wal-Mart Supercenters.

Anyway, we arrived at Phil and Kim's before anyone had gotten home and had ourselves all set up by the time they got here.

Odometer reading = 60,499
Miles for day = 158


8/31/03 to 9/6/03
(Earlysville VA)

Since we've been here we've just been spending time with, and enjoying, Phil and Kim and their family, and Jordan (who lives about 30 miles from here, stops to see us after work, and sometimes spends the night with us in the motorhome). While all this is very pleasant for us, it is not the kind of stuff that makes interesting reading for strangers. Accordingly, as we did last time we were here, there will be no updates to this site while we're here, unless there is something of some interest to write about.

Odometer reading = 60,499
Miles for day = 0


(Earlysville VA)

Today, seven of us canoed about an eight mile stretch of the Shenandoah River just north of the hamlet of Shenandoah. It was Phil, Kim, Katlin, and Philip in their canoe, and Sharyn, Jordan, and myself in a borrowed canoe. While Phil and I have done this portion of the river before, it is a very pretty and enjoyable segment (mostly class 1 with a few class 2 sections) that lends itself very well to a family outing type of day.

Kim said she'd like to do it again using our kayaks. I suggested that she and Phil "play hooky" one day, take the kayaks and go.

No sooner had we started down the river than Phil was casting his fly rod. After several hours we stopped for lunch where Phil continued fishing and little Phil explored interesting stuff. By the time we were ready to pull out of the water little Phil had had enough.

Odometer reading = 60,499
Miles for day = 0


9/8/03 to 9/13/03
(Earlysville VA)

There is not much to write about that went on here this week. We're basically living in Phil and Kim's back yard which gives us the opportunity to see them all the time and be a part of their family in a day to day sense. We're enjoying it immensely.

Two things that merit mentioning are an old farmhouse that was foreclosed on and we've been negotiating with the mortgage company to buy, and a new Dell computer system that I just got two days ago.

The farmhouse, if we get it, is in need of total renovation. The inside would have to be stripped down to the studs and completed as in new construction. The exterior aluminum siding would be replaced with new vinyl siding. There's a "hand dug" well (with stuff floating in it) and no septic system (it looks as if the last occupant was just letting it all run out into the yard. Also, there's no heating system. The property is 1.75 acres and is quite nice. A big plus is that it's 20 miles from Charlottesville and 30 miles from Phil and Kim's. If we get it we'll be here for several months. If not, we'll probably leave a week from tomorrow.

As for the computer, I really like it a lot -- particularly the 18" Ultra Sharp flat panel. Now that we don't have to plug into a phone line for Internet access we no longer need a laptop so our new system is a desktop -- I sure like that better. A lot of people say how cool laptops are, but my thought (three and a half years after replacing a desktop with a laptop) is that except for the portability the desktop has it all over the laptop.

The only real problem I had transferring and reinstalling all my stuff to the new computer is that Dreamweaver will not load. Being as I have Dreamweaver 1.0 I suspect that it's not compatible with Windows XP. I'm not too anxious to go the $300 for the current version so once we leave here I'm not too sure what I'll do for keeping this site up. I really like Dreamweaver, and I've been using it for over five years, but I'm doing this update on the laptop which I'm going to leave with Jordan when we leave here.

Odometer reading = 60,529
Miles for day = 30


9/14/03 to 9/21/03
(Earlysville VA)

Since my last entry here over a week ago, the big story has been Hurricane Isabel. The eye passed right over Charlottesville shortly before midnight Thursday. At that time we had been without electric for several hours. It's now 4:AM Monday morning and we're still without power.

Actually, in the motorhome it's not that much of a problem. With the solar panels, generator, batteries, and inverter the motorhome functions pretty much as it does when we're plugged into power -- we just have to be aware of our power consumption. There was somewhat of a mini-crisis today as we were just about out of water and showers were very much in demand. Phil and I had tried to rig a generator to his well pump but just as we got it going the voltage dropped to zero. We can't get 240 volts out of the motorhome generator so running the pump from the motorhome proved to be not an option. Luckily, Phil's neighbor's house is equipped with a generator and by combining some 300 feet worth of garden hose we filled the motorhome water tank. We then all took showers.

During the hurricane, and ever since, the motorhome has been the center of activity since we still have all the normal conveniences, including TV and the Fox news channel, Internet access, refrigerator, and even air conditioning when necessary.

Seating has been somewhat reduced since we took out the couch to make room for my computer terminal. Right now that's just a mockup of the computer table that Shane is supposed to make for me. It will match the motorhome cabinetry, the bottom will be enclosed, and a door on the end will open to allow the printer and scanner to each slide out on rolling shelves. It should be pretty nice.

Saturday the Rivanna Rifle and Pistol Club (Phil and Jordan are both members) hosted an IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) Classifier Match. Phil, who always does well, did so again. Jordan, pretty much a new shooter, in this her second match, qualified in the middle of the Marksman class. I thought that was pretty impressive -- she'll also do very well. For point of information, the classes are Novice, Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert, and Master. Phil's class is Expert although he has come close to Master on several occassions.

As far as that old farm house is concerned it looks as if our bid won out, but we're still waiting for the paper work to lock up the deal. Friday is the target date to close but this broker is really a non-mover.

Once again, they'll be further entries here once there's something to write about -- or we get back on the road -- which ever happens first!

Odometer reading = 60,529
Miles for day = 0


9/22/03 to 9/29/03
(Louisa VA)

It was only a few hours short of a week when we finally got our power back. It seems that the damage Isabel did to the power distribution system was quite disproportionate to the strength of the storm itself. As hurricanes go it was not very powerful (in the Charlottesville area) with winds mostly in the 40-50 mph range, yet in my lifetime I've never experienced a weeks power outage. The return of unlimited hot water and showers was certainly a welcome return to normalcy.

There's still nothing new with the house. We called again this morning and were told that the contract had been signed and was still working its way back from Texas. Also that "they" wanted to close October 7, a week from tomorrow. Imagine if this "all cash -- full disclaimers by seller" was a complicated deal. We're still undecided if problem is with the broker or the Texas mortgage corporation (which owns the property as the result of a foreclosure sale) but communication is nonexistent.

Anyway, last week we called the power company to have the electric turned on in our name (we're clearly proceeding as if the deal is going through). We were told that it could take a week because all their people were engaged in hurricane related activities so we pulled the meter and turned it on ourselves, attaching a note with the date and meter reading. Several days later, on Saturday (today is Monday), we moved the motorhome over here.

We had figured it would take an hour or so to clean up around the concrete slab (that once had a garage on it) where we were putting the motorhome. That cleanup took us until after 6:PM. We hadn't realized that all the weeds, honeysuckle, and Ailanthus at the end of the slab were hiding all the broken cement blocks that had once been the back wall of the garage.

The 100' extension cord we had running out from the house did not allow us to draw enough amperage to do much more than use lights, TV, and the computer. Last night it got pretty cold and we couldn't run our heat pumps. To make a long story not so long, this afternoon we ran the appropriate #6 conductors from the electric panel to the motorhome so we've got our 50 amp service up and running.. This is only a temporary fix as, after we close, the first job to be done will be putting in a 200 amp panel and bury all utilities to the motorhome slab.

At this point we've been cutting grass, cleaning, picking up debris, garbage, and broken beer bottles and generally improving the appearance of the outside. Until we close we can't do anything inside the house because that starts out with stripping the interior down to the studs -- that's not something you can do to a house you don't own. Sharyn's concerned we're pushing it too far already.

Odometer reading = 60,601
Miles for day = 37



9/30/03 to 10/11/03
(Louisa VA)

Well it's Saturday evening and we finally closed last Tuesday. On Wednesday we started tearing out sheetrock and generally stripping the entire place down to the studs. Shane is in the process of constructing a wraparound porch that will go across the front and down the side of the house. We're moving the kitchen to another room and knocking down several walls to enlarge some interior space.

The well that we thought we'd have to replace seems to be okay. We've found the septic tank and so far it seems to be handling waste from the motorhome without any problem -- that could mean that the drainage field is working also. Those are all good things and the associated savings could go a long way to help offset some of the cost estimates that are coming in higher than we had hoped -- mostly the heating and cooling system (heat pump). This house has never had a central heating system, has no basement and a limited crawl space, so it's not a question of just upgrading an outmoded system. It's the whole thing from scratch.

Our target is to have everything completed by Christmas, but since we are doing a lot of the work ourselves it will take a lot longer than it otherwise would. After Christmas we'll be leaving, finished or not. By that time it's too cold to stay here. Besides we had planned to be back in Quartzsite in January. It may not be feasible to be in Virginia for Christmas and then in Quartzsite by (say) mid-January. In any event, after Christmas we'll be heading for warmer places, not coming back to Virginia until March or April. We'll then spend some time here before heading for Newfoundland where we plan to spend the summer.

For the last year or so we've been talking about buying something to use as a "base" (so as not to be completely homeless). Now we'll have one. A great big plus is that three of our four kids are less than a hour away. Jordan, who has an apartment in Faber, about 50 miles from here, will actually move here. That also works out well as it eliminates the concern of our being away and the house being empty for months at a time.

As for this website I suspect we're going to lose some of our readers since for the next few months it won't be much of a "travelog" since we won't be traveling. I plan to do weekly updates, mostly so readers will know we're still out here. Once again, we are not giving up our full-timing. We'll be back on the road after Christmas, staying here when we come to Virginia, much as we stayed in Phil and Kim's driveway in the past.

Odometer reading = 60,601
Miles for day = 0


10/12/03 to 11/8/03
(Louisa VA)

It's been a month since I've done anything with this site but we've been working pretty much nonstop on the house. The motorhome hasn't moved so there really isn't any "travelog."

Shane and his employee/helper/friend Mike are doing most of the work except for the more specialized trades, plumbing, HVAC (heating and cooling), and electrical. Except for his father, who is doing the electrical, everyone else that has been on the job is a friend of Shane's. The plumbing is all roughed in and waiting for the fixtures and appliances. The HVAC system and all the duct work is complete except for the setting in of the compressor unit (which had to wait for the plumber to get out of the way). The electrical is complete except for the wiring to the compressor and the security lights which will illuminate the entire area surrounding the house. Jordan will be living here when we're not here and we want her to have maximum security.

Sharyn and I were going to do all the insulation this weekend but another friend of Shane's, an insulation guy, came by several days ago and said he'd do the walls for 35 cents per square foot. We were buying the insulation (foil backed R-13) from Lowe's for 31 cents. For the extra $40 we told him he had the job. He's also going to caulk and foam where appropriate -- plus Shane and I will be on site the entire time.

Tuesday (today is Saturday) Shane and Mike will start the sheetrock. After they have completed the ceilings the insulation guy is coming back to blow in R-38 worth of cellulose.

When the sheetrock is complete "Mac," the HVAC guy, will mount the thermostat and we'll have heat. The one piece tub/shower is already installed. Last night Sharyn and I brought in the hot water heater. Several days ago we bought the toilet and the microwave oven that doubles as a vent over the stove.. This coming week the stove, refrigerator, and pedestal sink for the bathroom, will all be delivered.

Monday, while the insulation is being installed, Shane and Mike will be putting the plywood on the porch roof. Since the rest of the house has a metal roof we have a metal roof guy coming to put the metal on the porch roof and tie it in with the existing roof.

While we won't be having Thanksgiving dinner in this house (actually we've been invited to Phil and Kim's for Thanksgiving) it's pretty clear that it will be completed before Christmas.

Here are some photos if you'd like to look at them:

First delivery of materials

Wrap around porch begins to take shape

Close up of porch deck

Shane (on the right) and Mike

Old porch gets incorporated into new kitchen

"Mac" hard at work on HVAC

Project under discussion (Mike, Shane, and "Mac")

Supervisor looks on

Our neighbors over the south fence

Odometer reading = 60,601
Miles for day = 0



11/9/03 to 11/16/03
(Louisa VA)

Nothing spectacular to write about, but progress is steady. The roof now covers the porch, the walls are insulated, and the sheetrock is going up.

We had a tree guy to remove an extensive amount of dead wood from the trees overhanging the house. We've decided that we'd rather have the motorhome in the back, instead of (where it is now) on the concrete slab located in the front side yard, so we also had him take down a somewhat ratty hickory tree that interfered with that plan. To take down the tree he cut off all the branches as he went up the main trunk; then he cut off the trunk in six foot sections as he came back down. He sure made it look easy.

From 1985 to 1998 we had a wholesale nursery operation on a 95 acre farm in Free Union, Virginia (not Christmas trees -- about 85 different varieties of flowering and ornamental trees). During all that time our sons and their numerous friends hunted deer and turkey on a regular basis. One of their friends, Josh, is now a stone mason, always busy and in high demand. Where we extended the kitchen into the old enclosed porch we wanted to put a block wall to support the room and enclose the area underneath. Shane asked Josh if he'd do the job. We provided the materials and Josh built the wall. He didn't charge us anything, saying that we'd let him hunt our property all those years so he'd do the wall for free. That's kind of neat -- lots of guys hunted the property, but Josh is the only one who said, "let me do this for you."

Hopefully, by this coming weekend we could have the kitchen sheetrocked and the kitchen floor done which would allow us to install the hotwater heater, washer, and dryer (they go behind bi-fold doors at one end of the kitchen).

Another picture of Shane and Mike. I tell Shane that the only thing worse than having an owner on the job is having the owner on the job when the owner is your father.

Odometer reading = 60,601
Miles for day = 0


11/17/03 to 12/3/03
(Louisa VA)

I was surprised to see how much time had gone by since I last updated this page. This typically gives me a problem because I lose any continuity between what I write now relative to what I've written before.

It's too bad our anticipated time frame, described in the last entry, did not materialize. While the Spackling in the kitchen is just getting its third coat, the kitchen did not get done first so it's the entire house that's now probably one (or two) days from completion of the Spackling. The kitchen (and bathroom) floor, and trim throughout the house, will be next. Once the floor goes down in the kitchen we'll be able to install the cabinets and countertop and put all the kitchen appliances into place (right now they're either on the porch or being shuffled around the living room.

This past weekend we moved the washer and dryer into position so Sharyn could get some laundry done without having to go to the Laundromat again. Since the hotwater heater is not yet installed it was a cold wash and we vented the dryer out through a window, but everything came out clean and dry so I guess it was all okay.

Our nighttime temperatures have been in the 30's which means that our heat pumps in the motorhome have been getting very close to switching over to the propane furnaces. The propane tank has been reading empty for over a week and we haven't been able to get anyone to come and fill it up. They all say to bring the motorhome to them, that their trucks can't fill a tank that small (20 gallons). I don't buy that since we've had it filled by truck on several occasions. Anyway, several days ago we pulled in the slides, etc. and took the motorhome to an RV supply place several miles down the road and filled the tank. It was a good thing because last night it went below 20° and the furnace in the bedroom came on. I had shut off the heat in the front of the motorhome because with all the glass area that furnace would have run nonstop all night. At that rate I'd be having to refill the propane by the end of the week. This morning it was 39° in the front of the motorhome and the furnace had to run for over an hour to bring it up to 68°. It wasn't too long after that that the system switched back to heat pumps as the outside temperature reached 35.°

The Scottsville PTA is having a craft fare this Saturday and Sharyn is going to display, and hopefully sell, some of her turquoise and silver jewelry. This will be the first time she put it on sale to the public. I hope it goes well. Buy the way, the plan is to create a new section on this website where Sharyn's jewelry will be displayed and can be purchased. I suspect it will be at (don't go there yet -- it's not there yet).

That's about it for this time. We still hope to be in the house by Christmas and Shane assures us we will, but we're not quite as sure about that as he is. Jordan is really concerned since she told her landlord she'd be out by the end of December and he's showing the place to prospective tenants. To clarify, when I say we'll "be in the house" that doesn't mean we're moving out of the motorhome into the house. Just that the house will be occupiable (?) -- and, of course, that Jordan will be in.

Rather than incorporate photographs into the text as I've been doing over the years, this time I will again, just list them at the end of the entry as I did several weeks ago. This may became my new format -- it enables me to use pictures that I'd like to use without having to tie them in to the narrative which sometime becomes strained.

Feedback is welcome!

Shane and Mike about two weeks ago.

Shane and Mike a few days ago

The house and shed when the motorhome was not parked on the concrete slab

My lovely wife creating another "Southwest Design"

Southwest Designs busniess card

The cat that used to live next door (but now seems to live here)


Odometer reading = 60,617
Miles for day = 16


12/4/03 to 12/31/03
(Louisa VA)

Clearly I've been remiss in any serious attempt to keep this site current, but here it is New Years Eve and it's time to bring this page to a close and begin a new page for 2004. This requires the creation of new files, modification of numerous links, bringing the "Complete Travelog " (WARNING -- it's a big file) up through today's date, etc. It takes me several hours and I usually don't get it all right the first time.

In any event, we got the house to a level of completion that enabled us to have Christmas dinner in the dinning room, complete with Phil and Kim and their two kids and Shane and Michelle, his girl friend, and Mike. Of course we had to rent a table and 12 chairs ( 83¢ each) and told everyone there would be an 83¢ per head surcharge. It was all very nice and Sharyn got to do a family Christmas Dinner in her own kitchen -- something she loves doing and has not been able to do for a number of years.

While some of the trim in the house remains undone, Shane expects to have it all completed within the next several days. The two big things that are not yet done are the exterior siding and the metal roof over the new porch. These things will have to wait for our return sometime in or about May. For now we're both ready to leave

We arrived at Phil and Kim's house on August 30, planning to stay for several weeks before heading west. Finding, buying and renovating this house was not part of our plan so our anticipated several weeks turned into four months. That's okay. This house has worked out well financially and it will work out even better a providing a "base" for us to stop off at as we pass through this section of the country (which we do once or twice a year since three of our four kids live here in the Charlottesville area).

As I said, however, we're both ready to leave for now and should be out of here within a week. Heading south for warmer weather. We're supposed to meet up with Bill and Cheryl at the Allegro factory in Red Bay, Alabama the week of the January 19th. We have a few things we'd like to have done to the motorhome and they have a brand new 2004 Allegro diesel that have have a punch list for the factory to take care of. We figure to spend a week together, after which they'll head back to Fort Smith, Arkansas and we'll probably go to Florida to visit and maybe spend some time with Sharyn's brother and sister and some friends we have there.

As we get back on the road again I'll be back to keeping this travelog up-to-date (in case we still have any readers left). It's difficult to do a travelog when you're not traveling.

By the way, being the last day of the year, it's time to reset the counter on my camera. In 2003 I took 1059 photographs. Tomorrow I'll start again with 0001.

Here are a few of those 1059 pictures.:

Kitchen October 8

Kitchen (relocated) on December 9

The same view today

Another view today

Bathroom October 8

Bathroom today

Ice storm on December 15


Odometer reading = 60,617
Miles for day = 0