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From North Beach in St. Augustine we headed to the St. John’s River KOA  in DeLand. We rented a Pontoon Boat and visited Blue Spring State Park to see the Manatee.  We then headed  to Crescent City and spent a few nights at Renegades on the River, where we…you guessed it… rented another Pontoon Boat. We then headed to Cherry Blossom Campground in Crescent City where we…again…rented a Pontoon boat. They are great for seeing birds, turtles and gators! Enjoy the photos from the Bird Lady!

A Manatee at Blue Spring State Park.

Manatee with calf. Also known as Sea Cows.

Scott and Spotter driving the boat.

Ibis

A Gator and his turtle buddy soaking up the sun.

Egret

Selfie on the boat

Trout Creek off the St. John’s River

Egret (Bird Lady side note: This guy is looking quite fancy showing off his breeding plumage)

Gator

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We’ve been home in Crested Butte for almost two weeks and are settling into life in a much bigger house that doesn’t roll. It seems like we will be here at least all summer, so have been doing things like working in the yard and planting a garden. We are still hopeful that this fall we can take the RV east before heading south for another Florida winter, and then picking up our itinerary where we left off.

The pause in our trip fell at pretty much the one year mark, giving us a good point to reflect from. In some ways the year flew by, but then when we think about Alaska, it seemed so long ago. Anyway, a friend asked what lessons came from the first year, and in keeping with our recent string of Top 10 lists, we are putting our heads together to share some lessons from life on the road before we take a blogging hiatus till Foxy rolls again! Everyone stay safe and healthy.

 

Top 10 Gap Year Lessons/Takeaways

 

10. There are a lot of bad drivers and never ending amount of road construction.

9. Everyplace in our country has its own beauty, and wildlife sightings are always a highlight.

8. It is a REALLY long drive to Alaska!

7. Extended travel isn’t exactly a vacation. Real life still happens, and it’s not always good stuff, but you get through it.

6. You might think you can plan it all out…but you really can’t. (Being flexible is a huge asset.)

5. We need way less stuff than we ever thought. And the less we had, the happier we were.

4. After looking back on the past year, we wouldn’t change how or where we travelled at all. Planning ahead and making reservations suited our style, and the few times we needed to make a change it wasn’t a problem.

3. We missed our friends and family. We met some nice people, but life on the road turned out to be not nearly as social as we expected.

2. We picked the right RV. Foxy met all our needs very well and wasn’t too hard to tow or squeeze into the National Park campgrounds.

1. We married right, AND we still like each other. Whew!

 

Here are the other Top Ten lists from Year One, with a few new additions

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Key Largo
March 152020

We took a quick overnight trip to Key Largo this week, for some snorkeling and kayaking. Enjoy the pics!


It was about a half hour ride, and the water was choppy once we got off the boat, but we had a good time checking out the coral reef and swimming with the fishes!


Blue Parrotfish


Another pretty Parrotfish


Multicolored Scottfish


The following day we kayaked through the mangroves at John Pennekamp State Park. (Thanks Kris, for the recommendation!)


Mangrove “cathedral”


The hotel we stayed at had lots of lizard guys to entertain us by the pool!


Tail grab!

 

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In the Everglades
March 102020

We are entering our second week here in the Everglades, on a place called Chokoloskee Island. It’s a whole lot less crowded than our last stop (and most of Florida) and we have not missed sitting in traffic at all. Foxy will be parked here for about another week in the southernmost campsite on our trip.


Our campground has a marina, and is a lovely spot to watch sunset.


The marina has gators.


And sometimes no water! Low low tide!


There are also plenty of these hungry (and oh so bold) guys always hanging around the fish cleaning area.


But the sunsets are gorgeous!


This area is famous for stone crabs. I spent a lot of time cracking these open, and I kind of don’t get the fuss.


We took a fan boat through the local mangrove swamp (with Boston tourists!)

And we kayaked on the Turner River in Everglades National Park.


There were plenty of gators…


Including this big mama!

If you look closely, you can see one of her babies curled up in safety of her tail!


Scott with a gator ahead!


The mangrove tunnels were gorgeous.


The swamps are full of bromeliads and birds!


Great Blue Heron


Tri-color Heron


Beastie!


Marco Island – Tigertail Beach


Congregation of Ibis on the beach


And this rare blue tongued mammal was spotted in the local ice cream shop! The flavor was Cookie Monster!

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We camped on the infield, right at turn 1 at the Daytona 500. Friday night was the Truck series race, we ended up walking out to the boat dock at Lake Lloyd and meeting Sheldon and his crew who run Destination Yachts. They had a big boat in the water and graciously invited us onboard to join them in the revelry of watching the race. They were part of the sponsor group for Chris Buescher and the #17 Ford (He did great, finishing 3rd in the 500 and is our new favorite driver!). We ended up rejoining Sheldon on the boat after the rainout Sunday and a good time was had by all! Thanks a ton! Saturday was the Xfinity series 300 mile race which we watched from the Fan Zone. Sunday the President showed up, took a pace lap and then…IT RAINED!!! (Coincidence? We think not!!!) The race was postponed till Monday so we had an extra day at Daytona. All the Trumpers left Sunday, the stands were about half full and we sat above the entry to turn 1. It turned out to be a really exciting race, Denny Hamlin won by a couple hundreths of a second. Unfortunately, the weekend was marred by the horrible crash at the end when Ryan Newman’s car flipped, was hit head on and then caught fire. It was REALLY SCARY and happened right in front of where we were sitting. All the best to Ryan and his family.


The Fan Zone on Saturday


The view from our seats on Sunday.


That’s Foxy in the Orange Circle inside of turn 1.
The Thunderbirds provided the pre race flyover. It was awesome watching them take off and do their thing!


Pit Row


Kyle Busch’s car in the garage.


The concourse shortly after it started raining.


Us in the seats on Sunday.


Our neighbors brought a video game machine!

Foxy camped in the loudest, brightest campground ever!


Wheelbarrow races in the campground on Saturday night!


The Destination Yachts crew!

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Tarpon Springs
February 132020

As we are set to leave this beautiful campground tomorrow we have great memories of the beach, the food, the people and our great experiences here over the past 4 weeks. Dolphins swimming just off the docks, Miss Vicki’s on the water, Cap’n Jack’s, Dimitri’s, Bolts game, Dali Museum, Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island….I’m sure I forgot a few but we had a great time! On a bittersweet note, we ate the last piece of Halibut from Alaska the other night. Yum but boo! Enjoy the photos and it’s on to Daytona!!!

 


Saganaki at Dimitri’s restaurant on the water! Flaming cheese….


Galaktoboureko….good stuff!

Islanders vs. Lightning at Amalie Arena. Unfortunately the wrong team won, but we had a great time anyway exploring downtown before the game.


Caladesi Island


We hit the Florida State Fair in Tampa, where we found Free Fallin’, the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band from Minnesota! “Don’t come around here no more…”


The before pic on the Tilt a Whirl….the after pic was much worse…I was green!


At the Dalí Museum – even the building was surreal.

Inside the Dali museum


The Dalí Mustache


Dinner on the water before the museum…with a friend!

Sunset on our beach at Hickory Point RV Park.

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San Antonio Christmas! The Alamo, The Riverwalk, Sea World…everything is bigger in Texas! It was great to meet the Jacobsens in San Antonio and then travel with them to Rockport on the Gulf Coast. We had a great time, a great Christmas dinner and a great visit. Daniel got his Junior Ranger Badge at The Mission at San Jose. We had a Christmas tree, lit Hanukkah candles and carried on!


All of us at The Alamo.

My silhouette

The Riverwalk.

Alison and Daniel at The San Jose Mission.


Scott and Kelly at the San Jose Mission.


Stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp.

We also visited Sea World, this is the before photo on the river rapid ride…we were all a lot wetter by the end of the ride!

Dale and Daniel


These guys!

The roller coaster  (Daniel went at least 6 times and is now an official fan of roller coasters, much to Alison’s joy)

Ali and Daniel

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Monterey Bay
November 32019

We’ve had a great week here in Monterey Bay, watching the otters and birds, enjoying the beaches, and catching up with friends. This areas is incredibly beautiful, with the deep water bay (it drops off into an underwater canyon that is 2 miles deep) creating amazing habitat for critters on and off the land. Lots of photos to share before we head inland to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park today.

Otter photos first! These are the highlights of about 300 photos…


Momma with baby otter is about the cutest thing ever. We saw this pair at the end of a boat safari trip up the Elkhorn Slough, a 7 miles long muddy tidal inlet.

She made a quick swim off with her pup after I got a couple pics. The naturalist we were with said the little guy was only a few days old.

An older pup that was looking for his mom. She popped up and gave some very loud yelps and they were soon reunited.


He quickly snuggled right back up. Apparently a pup of this size is close to weaning and going off on his own.


Just checking out the boat!


Us on the boat!


Brown pelicans


Sun bathing seals


This guy was hanging out with us when we were sitting on the jetty at Moss Landing Beach. Not sure who was watching who.


We had an awesome two days hanging out with Sharon and Julian, eating, hiking about and watching the local critters. Love you guys and can’t wait to have a future RV meetup 🙂


On our hike with S&J, we got to see an Acorn Woodpecker. I have a pretty short birding bucket list, and this guy was on it! He makes holes to stash his acorns in. There were 3 woodpeckers working on 4 trees and they were putting up quite a supply.


Acorns! This was only tiny area of one tree. I can’t imagine how many there were in total.


We spent a fabulous day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Really interesting place with stunning displays, and a focus on conservation, particularly keeping plastic out of the ocean! This is the kelp forest which was two stories tall.


Beautiful jellies!


Lunch in Monterey, with some input from the Monterey Aquarium’s “Seafood Watch” app. You can download it to learn more about what is being harvested sustainably in your area.


Another day we went up to Santa Cruz! The amusement park was closed, which means I didn’t get to drag Scott on a roller coaster!


But we did find a pirate themed mini golf course!


I won’t brag about my winning margin.


Oh, and another highlight…Foxy got a bath! And boy was it needed. These guys removed a lot of bugs.

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Thank goodness for pictures, because it’s hard to describe Yosemite in words. We spent 5 nights camped next to Half Dome, biked all over the Valley, visited the Mariposa Grove of Tall Trees, and took in the breathtaking views from Glacier Point.

A little history worthy of sharing is that although Yellowstone was the first official National Park, Yosemite was the first area preserved for public use by the federal government. In 1864, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln created the Yosemite Grant which preserved the area and gave California administrative control the park. In 1890, it became the second national park. Teddy Roosevelt visited the park in 1903 and spent four nights camping and conversing with John Muir, after which he went on to designate 228 other national parks/monument sites. Needless to say, much of what we know as the National Park system today was inspired by the awesome beauty of Yosemite.


El Capitan and Half Dome


Scott in front of El Cap. We enjoyed searching for rock climbers with our binoculars. They are so small in comparison to the cliff that you can barely see them with the naked eye on their multi-day climb to the top. (Did not inspire us to take up climbing.)


Yosemite Falls is dry this time of year, but we hiked to Bridal Veil Falls which is currently flowing, or mostly misting!


At Glacier Point


The California Tunnel Tree in Mariposa Grove. This was the only tree not fenced off from visitors (aka…the only tree I got to hug). Apparently they figure what more harm could be done to it. It was cut out about 100 years ago. Needless to say, they do not do that anymore.


History and photo of Roosevelt and Muir at the Grizzly Tree


Me at the Grizzly Tree!


Sunset on Half Dome was our entertainment every night. We had a gorgeous view from our campsite. The sunset reflects off the rocks in the most dramatic fashion, casting a glow that ranges from gold, to orange to red.

Time lapse photo of sunset! We did this every night. From the campsite, from the roof of the RV, and this one from the meadow near our campground. 45 minutes condensed down to 30 seconds. Enjoy.


In the Yosemite Valley. The fall colors were gorgeous!


We had tons of deer come through our campsite. This buck was traveling with his ladies in the valley.

And now for my homage to Ansel Adams. I took a half day photography class through the Ansel Adams Gallery in the park. It was so much fun! There were only two of us in the class and we walked about 5 miles with the instructor, visiting spots where Adams took photos and taking a shot a recreating some of them. In addition to the history, there was a lot of hands on instruction that gave me such a better understanding of the manual settings that I had never bothered to master my digital camera, including black and white! It made me miss the days in the field with my 4×5 view camera, and even more the long nights in the darkroom! Ansel Adams created so much of his magic in the darkroom. Anyway, enjoy my amateur recreations, and maybe there will be a few more black and white photos to come on the blog.

 

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Driveway Camping
August 202019

We have had a great 2 weeks in Juneau, Brian and Cathy have hosted us in their cul de sac and we have enjoyed using a house kitchen and washer and dryer! We explored the Mendenhall glacier, Auke Lake, the Alaska Brewing tasting room and the Breeze In for donuts!!! We took advantage of the “big city” and made multiple trips to Costco! We ferry to Skagway tomorrow and then head south….just in time, it’s getting cold up here!

The Alaskan Brewing tasting room….good beer!


Paddling in Auke Lake, Cathy photo bombing behind us!


We towed Cathy in after her swim.


And then she pulled us!


Donut window at the Breeze In!


Scott and Smokey having a stare down!


Two photos of the Mendenhall Glacier. This one was taken yesterday, the one below was taken from the same spot 7 years ago. The shrinking glacier is obvious…


Us at Nugget Falls.

On the shore of Mendenhall Lake

Brian and Cathy looking good!

Cathy and Alison on the East Glacier trail.

Scenery on the East Glacier Trail.

 

This is a video of a Coho Salmon jumping up a beaver dam near Mendenhall Glacier. If you have your audio on you can hear the crowd respond when he makes it.


These guys had already made it up and over the beaver dam.


Humpback Whale statue in downtown Juneau.

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Glacier Bay
August 172019

We left Foxy in Juneau and took the ferry over to Glacier Bay National Park to spend two nights in the lodge there. The bay was carved by a huge glacier that has advanced and receded within the past 250 years. Everything that is on land today is only a few hundred years old, as is the huge ocean inlet that borders the park. Lots of interesting history with the Tlingit culture which has used the land since before the glacier advanced and is now working with the National Park Service to reinstate traditional uses within the park boundaries.


Hiking along the beach. The fog here is spectacular. It appears and disappears very quickly.


Mussels and barnacles are among the species that have adapted to store water to survive being on shore through low tide.


So happy to have our head nets! Lots of buggers on the beach!


Sea Lion! It was so quiet in the park that every sound seemed amplified, including this guy taking big deep breaths every time he surfaced.

A traditional Tlingit kootéeyaa (totem pole).


Glacier Bay Lodge.


The climate is so wet that moss grows everywhere! In the trees…

…and on the ground.

Tlingit trail marker.

On our last day we rented a kayak to explore the bay. The weather started out pretty clear, we could even just make out the snowy peaks in the Fairweather Range (above the fog bank in this photo).


But the fog quickly rolled in the further up the bay we traveled.


Kelp forests.


Hard to tell where the water ends and the sky begins! We had to keep to the shoreline the whole time. Wouldn’t want to paddle too far into that fog.


Jellyfish!


Great paddle adventure before a 4.5 hour ferry ride back to Juneau.


And the healing totem. This recent collaboration between the Tlingit and the National Park Service tells the story of their rocky and still evolving relationship. The Tlingit used the area that is now Bartlett Cove (in southern Glacier Bay) until the glacier advanced in the 1700’s burying the land and their villages under almost a mile of ice. As the glacier retreated, they returned to these traditional hunting and gathering grounds. At the same time, conservationists, including John Muir, were lobbying for the preservation of Glacier Bay. When the area was designated a National Monument in 1925, the Tlingit were informed that they land was no longer open to their traditional uses. The loss of their traditional lands, not once, but twice, and the current state of the relationship between the NPS and Tlingit are depicted.

Read from the bottom up: Traditional foods gathered in the “breadbasket” of Glacier Bay (gull eggs, sea lion, salmon). The face of the glacier crushing in on the village structures. Fleeing the advancing glacier in boats. Returning to harvest and dry salmon, and establish fishing villages after the glacier’s retreat. Arrival of the “faceless, soul-less, being with many hands” a.k.a. the federal government who barred the Tlingit from their lands. Two Tlingit faces with tears (which are not visible in the photo) depicting the things they lost (crabs, halibut, gull eggs) and surrounded by rough seas. Then a blank scroll representing the start of dialog between the NPS and the Tlingit, surrounded by still rocky, but slightly calmer seas with the traditional fishing boats returning. Finally the arms of a Tlingit and a park ranger holding aloft the newly built Tlingit Tribal House in the park.

It seems as though there is still much work to be done on the relationship, but in recent years there is certainly more consideration being given to the cultural and long-standing usage of the land by the Tlingit. They are starting to reinstate traditional harvests, and use the land for communal gatherings. You can see more about the installation of the healing totem here: www.nps.gov/glba/learn/news/healingtotem.htm

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Saturday we drove from Anchor Point to Seward and boarded a Kenai Fjords tour boat for a cruise out of Resurrection Bay to the Fjords. Great wildlife sightings of humpback whales, sea lions, otters, puffins and more (pictures below).  We stopped at a small island on the way back for a steak dinner and found the local brewpub later to soak in a little nightlife. We spent the night in a local motel (we didn’t want to move the trailer for one night) and then hiked Exit Glacier on the way home. The rain has helped the wildfire situation a lot. On the drive to Seward the Swan Lake fire had the road pretty smoky and visibility was poor. The next day the drive back was much clearer. We made it back to Anchor Point without incident.


Aialik Glacier from the tour boat


Us in front of the glacier.


Our hike to Exit Glacier


It was rainy at Exit Glacier.


We thought this was really cool. This is a map of the Harding Icefield. Icefields supply ice to the glaciers which create Fjords when they recede. We hiked Glaciers at opposite ends of the Harding Icefield. The Grewingk Glacier a few days ago and Exit Glacier yesterday. We saw Aialik glacier from the boat. The topography is really cool. Exit Glacier is 60 miles from Grewingk Glacier as the crow flies…or a 3 hour drive from Homer to Seward! Thanks to my awesome graphic designer wife for this map!


Humpback whale

Puffin

Sea Lions


Sea Otter

The Grotto (home to the Sea Lions)

Island in the Fjord


Another one

Dinner on Fox Island

Crab and Prime Rib. I could get used to this!


Fire haze at sunrise on our drive to Seward

The fire scar along the highway

You can see the helicopter dropping water buckets on the fire. A huge thank you to all the firefighters in the Kenai area. They have done an incredible job keeping everyone in these communities safe.

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The Bears of Katmai
July 122019

There’s not a lot that could get me onto a little tiny airplane, but apparently two days in a row of disappointing weather cancellations for bear viewing by boat will do it! It was truly a magical experience to be able to get so close to these amazing creatures and watch them in their natural habitat. The bears in this reserve have never been hunted, never exposed to human food or trash, and do not perceive people as predator, prey or food source. They seem pretty comfortable sharing their space with the lucky few who can access their wilderness by boat or plane, and barely paid us any attention at all. Our guide was wonderful, ensuring that we got to observe several bears safely and without disturbing them. There isn’t much more I can say, other than that it has been hard to whittle down the 500+ photos to a few dozen for this post. Bears and stunning views from the plane! Enjoy!!!


Our first sighting was this sow with two yearling cubs. These cubs are about 1 1/2 years old. They stay with their mother for approximately 4 years. They were lazing about and napping in the sun, with the mom making an occasional survey of the surrounding area.


Back to napping


The salmon have not started running yet, but the male and/or solo bears on the beach seemed to be eagerly awaiting something more interesting to eat than grass and clams.


Nope, still no fish.


May as well take a nap. They dig big holes in the sand for sleeping and lounging in.


Our next sighting was this big sow laying by the river.


And behind her…three new cubs! These guys would be about 6 old, and they were adorable!


After a bit they got to work. Mom grazing on the sedge grass and the cubs being cubs!

  
One of the cubs was a bit more reserved, preferring to do a bit of grazing and snuggling with mom amid the horseplay. The other two were a constant tumbling pile of fur. They were just adorable to watch.



We watched this family for a long time before heading back to the beach to see who else we might see.


More beach napping bears!

This guy was just beautiful!


And here’s our friend again who dug quite a hole after not finding any salmon. The bear equivalent of a LazyBoy recliner!
 

It was sad to leave the bears, but the flight home was stunning. There were five planes in total and Scott and I were actually on separate planes. Mine took off second, and plane three got a bit stuck in the sand, apparently a common hazard when the beach is your runway. Since we got a little head start, my pilot took a scenic detour over the glaciers and volcano. It was breathtaking.


My plane parked on the runway! The takeoff was a quick 90 degree turn and a slightly wild ride down the beach involving some fishtailing before we popped up and out over the water. Much more dramatic than the takeoff at the airport. And for those of you who know I am not a huge fan of flying (and are wondering how the heck this even happened), I have to say that the whole thing was a really great experience. I loved sitting in the copilot seat and getting to see everything that was going on. The weather was also very smooth and my pilot, Ben, was top notch.


Katmai Glacier

Above the ice field that feeds into several glaciers.

The pilot tipped the plane so we could get a good under the wing into the caldera of Mt Katmai. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the volcano was actually steaming in spots.

Braided glacier river. Everything was so green and lush

The coast near Katmai was glacier gorgeous!

Almost back to Homer


Scott’s plane caught up and we all landed one after another. What an amazing day to remember!

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Gone Fishin’
July 82019

It was a successful day hunting halibut from the S.S. Alaska Spirit! We both took home our limit (one over 30″ and one under 30″) which filleted out to just over 31 delicious pounds. It is currently being cut, vacuum sealed and made ready for the RV freezer! It was a fun day on the boat with 4 other people. Captain Mike clearly knew where to go, because after the hour and a half ride out, I caught the first halibut of the day only about 5 minutes after we anchored. Seemed like someone almost always had a fish on a line and everyone caught what they were after. Two of the guys on the boat were after “big fish” and went away happy, one with a 70 pounder and one with a 100 pounder. Amazing to watch them bring those huge halibut in, with harpoon assist! We were happy with our smaller fish, which tend to be better eating and didn’t require us having to figure out what to do with what wouldn’t fit in the freezer. (One of our camp neighbors spent over $600 to ship 40 pounds of fish).

Anyway, today will be a relaxing one, I for sure have some tired muscles and was very happy to bank about 12 hours of sleep last night when we got home after 7 hours on the boat.


The Alaska Spirit! We rode on the boat during our launch, this was taken when they were coming in the day before. Tractor launching is quite the experience. They just haul you across the beach, turn around, back way out into the waves  and shove you off!


Tractor launch! Check out all the tire tracks from boats before us.


Scott’s first fish! (Mine is the one still swimming in the header photo)


Nice catch!


Nate, deckhand extraordinaire, holding up our other two smaller fish in the background.


Dave and Mike with their BIG FISH!


Nate expertly filleted all the fish on the way back.


Tractor pull back onto the beach!

 

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Yesterday we took a water taxi from Homer to Kachemak Bay State Park and hiked to Grewingk Glacier. It was a great boat ride, we saw a sea otter, a puffin and a harbor seal on the way. The hike was relatively flat and the glacier was spectacular! There were a bunch of people there, some hiked with their inflatable kayaks and kayaked between the glacier fragments. We heard the glacier calve a couple of times, but visibility was relatively poor because of the wildfire smoke. Off to catch some Halibut at 5:30 tomorrow morning!!


Our water taxi driving away after dropping us off on the beach. We are scheduled to get picked up 5 hours later at a different place….we hope!


Pica, our guide dog on the boat!


The trail to the glacier lake.


We made it!


Team Blitz


You can see the glacier coming into the lake on the right side of this picture. Heavy smoke just above.


A good view of the glacier, albeit smoky!


Waiting for the water taxi to pick us up after our hike.


Homer harbor.

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Lake Louise, Alaska
June 292019

We spent the last two days at Lake Louise, Alaska, not to be confused with Lake Louise in Banff. It is a huge, beautiful lake. The roads have been a bit challenging with lots of frost heaves and potholes, but we made in unscathed. We spent hours on the kayak both days, saw Loons, seagulls, a muskrat and a cow moose with two young ones on our way out of the park. There is not much darkness up here these days! The camping was tight so we decided to get to Anchorage a day early to get our errands done. Had great Halibut at Humpy’s last night. Now we have been to the Humpy’s in Kona and Anchorage!


On the lake


Army cabins built around WWII. There was a recreation camp here where they flew officers in (by float plane) for rest and relaxation. Three of the cabins are still standing. Eisenhower stayed here in 1948.


Cow moose with two young ones


Construction worker fending off the mosquitos. (Alison has the same electric bug zapper/racket and it works wonders)


Mt. Sanford from the road. Over 16,000 feet of inactive volcano!


The Matanuska River, comes from the Matanuska Glacier which is why it is so silty.


Matanuska Glacier

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Covering 13 million acres, Wrangell-St. Elias is by far the largest National Park and wilderness area in the US. There are only two roads that take you into the park, one being the Nabesna Road where we are staying. Today we drove the whole 42 miles of the road and took a gorgeous hike up Caribou Creek. We didn’t see any caribou, but we did see a moose on the ride.  We yielded to her and she hurried across the road in front of us and disappeared into the brush.

The mountains here are stunning, but the weather didn’t provide any great photo ops today, with clouds sitting atop the big peaks. Nine of the 16 tallest mountains in North America are located here, the tallest being over 16,000 feet. This landscape has a way of making you feel a bit insignificant!


Along the Nabesna Road


We caught a glimpse of the snowy dome of Mt. Sanford before the clouds rolled in.

 


Hiking, with as little mosquito exposure as possible!


Fireweed


This hike, and the wildflowers, reminded us a lot of the West Maroon Pass trail in CB!


Apparently we were not the only ones out for a stroll today! There were a few big old paw prints crossing the trail and tons of moose tracks.

Phone booths show up in odd places out here, and they really work, providing you are calling someone collect (which can’t be a cell phone) or that you have a pre-paid calling card (which no one seems to sell). So they kind of work, I guess. My one attempt was a fail.

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Back in the USA!!
June 262019

We crossed the border at Beaver Creek on Monday and drove to the Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska. The roads have been quite interesting with pretty big frost heaves and potholes (see header photo). They try to warn you with an orange cone (sometimes) but we have seen a few vehicles with flat tires. Luckily we made it unscathed. They have a tradition of a sourdough pancake toss at the campground. Someone made it in the bucket and got a free breakfast. Someone else didn’t. See if you can tell who’s who!!!

It was great to catch up with Cousin Derek yesterday morning at the campground. He is trapping Lynx in the wilderness and putting GPS collars on them to track their migrations…sounds cool!

We are now at the Hart D ranch in Slana, accessing the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Tomorrow it is off to Lake Louise.


Winner breakfast! That is reindeer sausage….Rudolph tastes like hot dog!


And from the bird lady…trumpeter swans!

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Big Beautiful Bears!
June 242019

We finally have had some grizzly sightings! Last night on our way back to camp at Kluane Lake, and this morning along the highway. They are so incredibly beautiful. Eating lots of “salad” this time of year while they await the salmon buffet.


Big Griz! Shot from the truck with my zoom lens.


View of Kluane Lake out the camper window this morning.


Boy was it cold!


On the beach


We made full use of the mini golf course at the campground. Scott won, 2 rounds to 1. And yes, that is a wheel chock obstacle!


We are currently stopped and using the visitor center wifi in Beaver Creek, Yukon. Pretty amazing map showing the distances from here. Denver is 2,850 miles away, and Honolulu is only 3,000!

We have about 5 miles to the border from here and will be spending the night in Tok Alaska! Can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary!!!!

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On the Mighty Yukon!
June 222019

We are in Whitehorse, making our second to last stop in Canada before we cross into Alaska. We got to paddle our ducky on the Yukon River, got new tires for Foxy, and visited the local sights. On the ride from Watson Lake we crossed the Continental Divide. At home we are so used to that meaning water goes east to the Atlantic and West to the Pacific, but here it means northeast to the Arctic Ocean, southwest to the Bering Sea.


On the Divide


We found this great pullout with a boat launch, fired up the generator to inflate the ducky, and hit the river!


On the Yukon.


Paddling under the Alaska Highway!


Foxy by the river.


Getting ready for Alaska with 4 new tires!


The Yukon River is wide and fast here in downtown Whitehorse. It was the primary means of transport before the railroads. We toured the S.S. Klondike paddleboat (on the right bank in the photo above).


Me on the suspension bridge at Miles Canyon…


In the not-too-quick department (or maybe just slightly afraid of shaky bridges), when I first sat this sign, I thought it meant it would be dangerous to jump on the bridge…cause it would wiggle…like in the illustration, and might break, and the water had strong currents you could fall into. It didn’t occur to me till later that it was intended for (much braver) people who might actually consider jumping OFF the bridge, like Scott. (Don’t worry Mom, if all my friends, or husband, was jumping off a bridge, I still wouldn’t do it!)


Miles Canyon. The water was about 30 feet lower before the dam down river was built.


We thought this was a good one, for people who insist on getting too close to the edge.


Scott (not jumping) on (or off) the bridge!


Downstream at the dam is the world’s longest fish ladder (or fishway). The Kokanee salmon come this way in mid-August and make their way up this ladder which gets them over the 20 foot high dam. Pretty amazing lifecycle they have. Born in the steams, they spend 1-2 years in the freshwater river, 3-4 in the ocean, and then come back 2,500 miles up the Yukon River to spawn and die where they were born. Each fish lays 5,000 eggs and of that 2-3 fish complete the lifecycle and make it back.


These are the only salmon there this time of year, but still a neat place to visit.

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Uh huh
June 202019

Today turned out to be the quintessential Gap Year Day. We hobbled into Watson Lake with no trailer brakes, spent the night at a parking lot campground and then found a mechanic who was on Watson Lake time! So we had a few hours to kill. We had breakfast at the local greasy spoon and then stumbled upon…the Signpost Forest! Started in 1942 by a homesick army engineer building the Alaskan Highway, this street side signpost forest has grown to thousands of street signs, city signs, home made travel signs, etc. Quite a scene to say the least! Soooo, of course we made a sign to add! We got Foxy fixed with the help of our Tiki God and set out for for Whitehorse. We got to Teslin and decided to call the campground since we were pulling in late. Of course they didn’t have our reservation. All worked out as we got a site in Johnson Crossing for the night and will get to Whitehorse tomorrow and they have a site for us. Such is a typical day in the Yukon on the Gap Year! Cheers everyone!

 


Norman taking off wheel three of four!


It was that kind of day!


Our Tiki has never let us down, and today was no different! The repair was a success! An exposed wire in the brake drum.


The Sign Post Forest, this is only a tiny part of it! It is huge! So fun to walk around and find signs we connected with.


Unity Maine! Home of the Common Ground Fair!


Shout out to Cape Cod!


Estes Park – Home of Rocky Mountain National Park


Arvada? Have the Grossmans been here???


Hey – who is this Allison with two Ls?


Sooooo of course we did. It wasn’t like we were going anywhere while Foxy was getting fixed.


Scott did the install!


Immortalized for ever (or as long as Sharpies last) in Watson Lake!


Happy Blitz Gap Year!

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Charlie Lake
June 152019

Today we paddled on Charlie Lake. Beautiful lake just outside of Fort St. John. The weather was great! 75 and sunny. We grilled steaks for dinner and we are off to Fort Nelson in the morning!

There we are!!! The wheel in the back of the kayak is our kayak dolly which has worked great!!!

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Yesterday we rolled right onto the Alaska Highway, our route for the next 1,300 miles! Built in 1942, by the Army Corps of Engineers, the road is now a well travelled and completely paved thoroughfare for a bunch of RVs. We are currently in Fort St. John for two days, happily leaving behind most of the mosquitos in Grande Prairie (except for the dozen or so that stowed away in Foxy and met their demise courtesy of my electric bug swatter when we arrived). A few photos, more to come later after we explore Charlie Lake in our boat!


At Mile Zero!


This didn’t claim to be the world’s largest beaver, but I have to assume!


We took a short side trip on an out of use (re-routed) section of the Alaska Highway that includes the only remaining wooden bridge. That is Scott driving Blue and Foxy across the Kiskatinam River. We were pretty close to the weight limit so I walked over to take photos (kidding!)


Us at the campground in Fort St. John


We had a lovely conversation with the owner of this other Fox Mountain (only the second one we have ever come across in the wild). Fun to compare notes and hear how much they still love their Fox after 7 years!


Scott deemed that it was time to raise the pirate flag! Arrrrgh!


Blue got a little tire check up today and was given the all good for hitting the road again tomorrow!

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We spent our final two days in Jasper hiking and floating through the scenery. Tomorrow we start the trek north and will cross the border into Alaska on 6/24. Have really enjoyed out time here among the mountains, bears, rivers and lakes. Both Banff and Jasper are incredibly beautiful!

Maligne Lake – we are not sure, but it might translate to mosquito lake!

Scott tending the fire…at about 10pm! Still daylight.

Finally…sunset! We had to stay up till almost 11pm to see it! Hard to get used to this latitude!

A bald eagle watching us from his nest near Medicine Lake.

Hike in Maligne Canyon. Huge potholes carved out of the limestone.

Maligne Canyon

Ok – I know I am a bit of a bird nerd, but this was pretty awesome. Noticed this raven nesting on the canyon wall, during a nest changeover, where the parents swapped duties.

I thought there were just eggs, but when the mama (or papa) bird moved, I could see there were very new babies in the nest!

They were left unattended for a bit. Two eggs and three chicks. The chicks were moving around and snuggling together.

Then the first parent came home and it was ALL open mouths!

Luckily reinforcements  showed up soon after! Really amazing to have such a vantage point from above the nest to watch this raven family.

Today we floated down the Athabasca River. Gorgeous colors!

Confluence of the Athabasca and Miette rivers. The Athabasca is glacier fed and very blue, in contrast to the pond fed Miette.

Scott…always happy to be on a raft!

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Icefields and Bears!
June 102019

After waiting out the snow for a night in Banff we headed north up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper on Saturday. It was still pretty overcast, but we had much better views (and driving conditions) than we would have had the day before. We made a few stops along the way looking for places that my grandfather had noted in his photo journal from trips in 1980 and 1985. He and my grandma Sophie did the trip from Cape Cod to Alaska twice in a Ford Pickup with a much smaller camper on the back that what we are towing!

Since arriving in Jasper, we’ve hiked out to some falls and gorgeous lakes, had our first bear sightings, and enjoyed a lengthy soak in the Miette Hot Springs. We have been getting our sports fill here with both the Stanley Cup and NBA finals, and plan to explore more on foot and by boat the next few days!


Crowfoot Glacier – or what you can see of it in the clouds. Along the Icefields Parkway.


Columbia Icefield – feeds three different river systems and several glaciers


Athabasca Falls – This river flows to the Arctic Ocean!!


Sunwapta Falls


Our first bear sighting! Munching along near the campground.


Lake Five – in Valley of the Five Lakes. (Cover photo on this post is Lake Three)


Us by the Athabasca River, behind our campground.


Another bear.


We apparently bored him.


Foxy at Wabasso Campground


Our latest Foxy accessory, found in Jasper!

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Canmore and Banff
June 62019

We have really enjoyed our five nights here in Banff, and are getting ready to head up the Icefields Parkway tomorrow to Jasper National Park. Today we hiked at Lake Minnewanka and went to check out the town of Canmore. Yesterday we hiked near our campground and went to the Banff Farmers Market where we scored all kinds of goodies: strawberries, cherry tomatoes, fudge, beer, fresh rolls, apples and rye whiskey (with which made fabulous old fashioneds last night). Canada has converted Scott to being a fan of farmers markets since there are all manners of people there giving our samples of beer and locally distilled spirits!

Photos below tell the rest of the story…


Lake Minnewanka


Lake Minnewanka


On the “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” trail yesterday. We of course had to take our stuffed pals Spotter and Zohan along!


View of Bow River Valley from the Teddy Bear’s Picnic Trail


Finally a bear sighting in Canmore today!


My favorite vendor at the market – This little VW bus contained two people and an espresso machine! The partially obscured sign reads “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a tent with a mosquito”. They also put personal messages on each latte. My lid read “Be the attitude you want to see in others”. Good coffee. Good karma. Good Volkswagon!


By the river in Canmore


Also by the river in Canmore???!!!


And in follow up to the vortex post, sadly it turns out that even the brooms in store will stand on end. No weird energy field required. Bummer.

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Oh Canada! They actually let us in and we might never want to leave…until winter anyway. After a one night stop at Wasa Lake Provincial Park, we are now camping in Banff National Park. Today we visited Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Yesterday we hiked Johnston Canyon, visited the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and walked all over town. There are quite a lot of tourists here already, although it’s not officially high season.


Moraine Lake from the Rockpile trail. The water gets its spectacular color from the rock dust that the glaciers scrape off as they slowly move down the mountains. It is suspended in the lake water and then refracts the sunlight!


Moraine Lake


More of Moraine Lake. Hard to resist taking too many photos.


Iceberg!


One of the Glaciers above Moraine Lake.


Lake Louise (as is the header photo on this post)


On the Lake Louise Gondola. Supposedly there had been a bear sighting earlier in the day from the gondola, but we have still yet to see one.


Cave and Basin National Historic Site – birthplace of the Canadian National Parks. The site had been used previously by the Stoney nation, and was re-discovered in 1883 by three railroad workers who wanted to make it a private attraction, but the Canadian Government decided to preserve it for the public and made it their first national park. (Yellowstone was the first US National Park in 1872.)


A MOOSE! Ooops, nope. Just Scott.


On the trail to Johnston Falls


Upper Falls – Johnston Canyon


Upper Falls


Foxy glamour shot on the side of the road, near the Continental Divide.

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What an amazing time we have had for the last week in Glacier National Park. We hiked around West Glacier for a couple of days, took a canoe out on Lake Macdonald, took a boat cruise, then headed to East Glacier and spent yesterday hiking in the St. Mary’s area to St. Mary’s falls and then Virginia falls. Pretty awesome stuff. They say you need to hike with bear spray. We have not encountered any bears yet, just deer. That’s probably good. There was a young grizzly at Avalanche lake where we hiked a couple days ago, Apparently it got into someone’s pack, which is not good. We heard the report from other hikers but we left the lake right before it all went down. We talked to a Park Ranger who was on his way up to the lake to investigate. Here are some photos…


Canoeing on Lake Macdonald


Avalanche lake, apparently right before the bear got there!


My tree hugging wife!

 


St. Mary’s Lake


St. Mary’s Falls


With us…


Virginia Falls


Stud standing over water


Close encounter with a deer!

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We’ve barely scratched the surface of exploring Glacier these past couple days, but the weather is about to change for the better! Today we are in Kalispell taking care of business…wifi…oil change…and a bit of shopping. Expect more photos soon of sunny skies and short sleeves. A few rainy/cloudy day adventure pics in the meantime:

 


Lake MacDonald


The water is incredibly clear.


Hiking in a wildfire recovery area. This burn occurred in 2003 and consumed 13 million acres.


Falls along the North Fork of the Flathead.


The Merc is WORLD FAMOUS for their huckleberry bear claws. Luckily the road up there recently reopened and we were able to judge for ourselves.

Yup. World Famous.


Yesterday we got sucked in the vortex that is the Montana Mystery House. We still can’t really figure out what was going on. Supposedly an energy vortex that does all sorts of weird things. Some seemed like maybe they were more optical illusions, because in this photo things look pretty normal, but when we were there the effect was a shift in heights.


Scott defying gravity in the Mystery House.

This is the one that left us stumped. We moved this broom around several times and were able to stand it up on end at a different angle than everything else in the leaning house. I also have to report that the whole time I was in there I thought I might hurl from dizziness. Not sure if it was just my brain trying to straighten out all the old angles (marbles rolling uphill for example) or if we were really in a crazy vortex. Ether way we were so tired afterward that we took a two hour nap!!!!

 

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The Mighty Lochsa!
May 232019

We have been off the grid the last few days visiting Bethany and Will in Syringa, ID. They are raft guides on the Lochsa River this spring. No cell phones, no internet….WooHoo! We spent Tuesday checking out Selway Falls and running errands in nearby Kooskia. On Wednesday, Will guided us down the river. We had a blast and made new friends, Ashley and Dan were on their honeymoon from Orange County, CA and Robin and Taylor joined us from Portland, OR. We all had a great time in the wet, wild rapids! Ali and I got to join Bethany in the 2 man raft at the end of the trip. Today we packed up and took a hike with Bethany to Weir Creek hot springs before heading back to Missoula for the night. Tomorrow we are off to Glacier National Park.

 


Scott and Bethany above Selway Falls


This is what raft guides do on their day off!

 


Our 3 boats on the Lochsa


Will in back guiding, Ali and I right in front of him going through Lochsa Falls. Note the green wave!

The almost Oh Shit moment!


Dan getting nailed in Pipeline rapid. No one fell out.


Bethany and Eric in the 2 man raft.


Approaching the wave!


Us in wetsuits at lunch, Bethany photobombing!


Our guides! Will, Bethany and Jonas.


Alison, Bethany and Scott in D2.


All of us in guide camp.

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Maggotfest 2019
May 202019

Been several days chock full of rugby and reunions here in Missoula! Scott got to reconnect with some college teammates (Colin and Ashby) and we had a great time watching the matches and joining in the festivities.

Rugby gatherings never disappoint, bringing together such a fun community of genuine people (many in spectacular costumes). It doesn’t matter if you are old or young, a guy in a tutu, a woman with a moustache, or if you are roaming around in an inflatable pig costume. There is a place for everyone, everyone plays well together, and no one seems to question anyone’s choice of self-expression. It’s a pretty good model for society!

Anyway, a few pics from the festival as we roll out of town to meet up with Bethany and Will!


Colin (left) played at Oxy with Scott…no shortage of good stories with these guys.


The Saturday night party. Gives a little sense of the size of the Fest.


At the field. They had 8 pitches set up to accommodate dozens of teams from as far away as Alaska.

We ended our time in Missoula by hiking Mt Jumbo with Colin. The wind was fairly spectacular, but the view from the top was well worth the trek!

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Today we went to Promontory Point to see a reenactment of the driving of the “Golden Spike” that joined the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years ago. At the time, completing on the rails from east to went meant that people could suddenly travel across the country in 6 days instead of 6 months. They reenacted the whole ceremony as if we were there in May of 1869, right down to attaching a wire to the final spike so that the strike of the maul hitting it would be transmitted across the telegraph wires from coast to coast, signaling the tracks were joined. It was an engineering feat that was celebrated far and wide, and one that ushered in a whole new era of transportation and commerce.

The celebration extended beyond Promontory Point to other towns, including Ogden, UT which hosted two huge restored Union Pacific locomotives, the “Big Boy 4014” and the “844”. We visited those yesterday on our way north. Really amazing to see how many people turned out at these events. Thousands and thousands! It was fun to be able to shift around a few things on our itinerary to be able to take it all in. Off to Idaho tomorrow!


Golden Spike!


Engine 119 making its way to the rendezvou


Joining of the rails!

Need to do a little more research on how to include a video, but for now, you can download if you wish. Shows the approach and the HUGE crowd gathered to watch: Golden Spike Video.

 

And a few pics from Union Station in Ogden, UT yesterday…

The Big Boy 4014



Engine 844 – the “elephant ears” were designed to keep the steam out of the engineer’s compartment.


Engine 833 – the same “elephant ears” model on permanent display in Ogden. You can really get the scale of how huge they are!

 

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Goblins!
May 82019

This morning we spent meandering around the weird and wonderful rock formations of Goblin Valley. This place has been on my bucket list for a long time. We got up really early to beat the rain and were happy we did as it has been pouring on and off all afternoon. I’ll let the pictures tell the story, and if you think it’s a long story you should know I took over 240 that I whittled down to these dozen or so!


Just look at all those little goblins!


Lazy goblin

There are no trails in the three valleys, you just go out and wander and explore which was really fun.

Another wild gnome!





It was funny to look at the GPS map from Scott’s Fitbit and see our five mile exploration through the valleys. Lots of dead ends where the valley walls got too steep and we had to double back to find alternate routes.

 

And a few shots from our last hike before leaving Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument the other day. It was a “wet hike” that followed and criss crossed back and forth across the Escalante River. Accessory of the day: neoprene socks to keep our feet warm!


Escalante River


Escalate Natural Bridge was the endpoint of our hike, although the river trail went over 100 miles!

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Sleeping Rainbows
May 52019

We are still camped in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and have been enjoying hiking around the area, as well as meeting some of the townsfolk. This has been a great spot for our first boondock and looks like we can make it 6 days easily with our tanks. We’ve only had to turn the generator on once, and that was only because we were entrenched in a game of Oregon Trail and were about to run out of juice on the laptop. A few more photos from the surrounding area. We are heading north to Hanksville, UT on Tuesday, hopefully without the mouse that found his way into Foxy last night!


We visited Petrified Forest State Park yesterday and hiked the Sleeping Rainbows trail through a forest of amazingly colorful petrified trees.


Scott and one of the largest tree sections we saw


Even a million year old tree needs a hug

Today we visited another nearby State Park, Kodachrome Basin. It’s fascinating how all of the parks are so close to each other, but really have their own unique geology and appearance.


Easy to see where the park gets its colorful name


We dubbed this guy “Gnome Rock”

And a few more photos from around town…
Artistic renderings of the Hole in the Rock Expedition. (See previous post for more info)


Awesome lizard friend at the Visitor Center


Scott multitasking. Saturday Night Live and the Avs game. (We do have a TV, and can plug our phones into it to get a full picture, but since we are off the grid, we would have to run the generator to power the TV.)

Derby Day in Escalante! Yes, that is a mint julep 😉

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Hole In The Rock
May 32019

Today we spent 6 1/2 hours driving…110 miles. We are camping on the end of Hole in the Rock Road. 55 miles SE of our spot is the Hole in the Rock. This is the spot in 1880 that Mormon settlers found a crossing through the Colorado river (there was no dam or Lake Powell). They took their wagons 55 miles SE from Escalante and came to edge of Glen Canyon. Not to be deterred, they dynamited the rock walls and lowered their wagons down to the river. No one died. Pretty awesome stuff. They crossed the Colorado and settled Bluff Utah. It was a pretty awesome site, and a really long drive, most of it 4 wheeling through rocky, twisty roads. The photos explain!


Plaque at Hole in the Rock


Hole in the Rock at the end of the 55 mile drive. Road to the right. This is what they saw in 1880.


This is what we saw today, lake Powell in the distance. They blasted through the rock walls to get the wagons over edge. Pretty crazy.


Lake Powell from above Hole in the Rock.


Us


Hot chick hiking!


Us


4 Wheel drive road….55 miles of it!

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Boondocking
May 22019

This is the first time on the trip we are boondocking…meaning we are staying off the grid, no campground, no hookups, on BLM land. We grabbed a great spot 5 miles east of Escalante, UT, right off Hole in the Rock road. Lots of other campers are around but we have a ton of space and great views! All is well.  Got to use the outdoor shower this afternoon. Sorry, no photos! We took a great 6 mile hike to Calf Creek Falls today. The photos are following.

 


Camper spot

Trail to Calf creek falls


The Falls!

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May 1st?
May 12019

Sunrise on the snow, what a lovely way to say goodbye to Bryce Canyon. We are heading to lower elevations this morning to get out of the cold temps. We’ve enjoyed our time here so much. A few more photos to share:

 

And a few pics from our hike through Fairyland Canyon yesterday…




This was as close as we came to seeing a fairy. He didn’t grant us any wishes, he just wanted Scott’s Chex mix. We are pretty sure there are fairies though since they left a whole bunch of fairy dust overnight!

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The Zion Mt Carmel Highway has been closed for repairs and just happened to open up in time for us to use it to depart the park yesterday. It is QUITE a road, with many tight switchbacks and sheer drop offs. As if that isn’t enough, at the top is a tunnel with such low clearance that they have to stop traffic to allow RVs to drive straight down the middle so they don’t get stuck. In hindsight, we have no idea why they even allow RVs to do this, but they do…so we did. Well, more accurately, Scott did. With 5″ of clearance between the top of our AC and the roof of the tunnel, he put on the high beams and did an amazing nerves of steel drive straight down the double yellow line for 1.1 miles! It was quite an experience, one we might have skipped had known exactly what we were in for, but there was no turning back once we got there!


There were no lights at all in the tunnel, just an occasional sky light!

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You all know the saying…I’m not allowed to say much about what happens in Vegas, but suffice to say, we had a great time. Aerosmith did not disappoint. What a show! Shout out to Tom And Cindi for making the trip down. Now off to Lake Mead for catching up on some sleep.


Aerosmith at the Park MGM – The Bad Boys from Boston are Still Rockin!


Hanging out with Spandex Nation – Our favorite 80’s cover band on Fremont Street!

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River Beach
April 142019

Today was a great day! We spent the morning at the pool, and then hit the beach in the afternoon.  We were quite fortunate to have access to pool and beach since the KOA is associated with the Avi hotel. It all worked out great! The Colorado river comes out of the Davis Dam just above Laughlin, and we had a great river beach to hang out on! We put the Airloungers to work and also ran into a classic car show that was going on outside the hotel/casino. A fun, relaxing day, and now on to Vegas! Vegas Baby!!!

 

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We spent today exploring the outskirts of Laughlin, NV. We hiked Grapevine Canyon and drove up over Christmas Tree Pass. We saw everything from petroglyphs and flowers to rattlesnakes and Christmas ornaments! Great excursion getting to hike and put the truck in 4WD for the first time this trip.

Petroglyphs of bighorn sheep in Grapevine Canyon

Scott after scrambling up to the top of Grapevine Canyon

I climbed up the other side, which wasn’t quite as steep!

The wild grapevines that give the canyon its name

They already had some tiny grapes forming on them!

At the top

More petroglyphs

And a chuckwalla!

The drive up Christmas Tree Pass was stunning

This guy was sunning himself in the road! A western diamondback rattlesnake. Happy to admire him from inside the truck!

At the top of the pass there were all sorts of actual decorated Christmas trees!

Although we are pretty sure the pass gets its name for the rock spire on the right!

And a couple cactus flower closeups – they are so gorgeous this time of year!

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In and Out
April 102019

It started out like any other day… we woke up… and then realized we are on the gap year! So we did what any other normal person would do…we went to In and Out Burger. And then took the ferry across the lake to the California side to the Casino…. well, we could have done better!  10 bucks for a good boat ride! Not the best casino in the world, but we made the most of our ten dollars! We returned to the Arizona side and checked out the Turtle Bar…. Good drink and good food. All in all, Havasu was quite fun. On to new adventures tomorrow!  Thanks for all the comments, keep em coming! We love all of you!

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London Bridge. The ACTUAL London Bridge, the very same one that used to span the Thames, was taken apart brick by brick and shipped to Lake Havasu in 1968. It was reassembled on land as part of a real estate development plan, and then had a river dredged out from beneath it. Seriously…you can’t make this up. But apparently the plan worked out, as this area is now a hopping tourist mecca, with London Bridge smack in the middle of it. So of course we had to get out there and paddle under it, and later walk over it, because…why not? I mean, they seem to have gone to so much trouble to get it here! Anyway, you can read more about the history of how this happened on Wikipedia.


Paddling with proper pinkie extended position


Superman…London’s calling!

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Launch is imminent!
March 302019

5 days until we roll! Keep your eye on the map as it will be in motion THIS week! Vegas in 2 weeks so meet us there if you can. If you are in Denver, come on our to final happy hour at Winston’s Pub in BelMar this Thursday (4/4). We are psyched!

SB

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Oh the People You Meet!
December 192018

People keep asking what we are most looking forward to on our trip, and that a hard question to answer, because there is no one thing. There will of course be amazing sights to see, food to eat, and adventures to be had. There will also be the much anticipated freedom of no set schedule or structure to our days. But one constant highlight that I am already realizing will be with us, no matter where we park our home, is interesting people!

If our little campground in Golden is at all representative of the greater RVing world, we are in for a treat. Everyone we have met seems to have a different story as to why they are here, and we are just enjoying how chance connections unfold. Last week a tour bus pulled up next to us with a rock band from NYC (shout out to Makuta, pictured above), and we went from chatting in the campground to cheering them onstage at the Gothic Theater! We’ve met a tattoo artist who travels around doing guest residences at studios, a couple who shares their motorhome with a 90 pound pig named Frank, young folks who are working here in Denver and looking for an alternative to expensive home prices, and everyone in between. Some campers are like us, spending the whole winter here, but there are a surprising number of people on the move, with big rigs coming and going daily. The only true constant seems to be the dedicated group of winter camper caretakers that keep the park running, while sharing their advice and expertise on things like how to keep your water lines from freezing!

Interestingly it all blends together to create a real sense of community. I was just commenting to Scott the other day how we have met and talked to more “neighbors” here in the park over the past month than we did in the almost 5 years we lived in our house. It was sort of a sad revelation, about how easy it is to fall into a busy routine and not make time to get to know more of the people around you. I think it will prove to be one of the greatest adventures of our trip, just having time to talk and listen to the people who happen to pull up next door.

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Officially Full Time RV-ing
November 182018

The house is sold and home for the next 4 months is Dakota Ridge Campground in Golden. Winter didn’t hesitate to show up right after we parked in our spot, but inside the camper has stayed warm and toasty so far. It will be interesting to see how things like our plumbing fair when it’s zero degrees outside. We expect to put the “4 season’ rating to a full test over the coming months. Take off date is set for April 5th, so come out and visit us before then!

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Getting Ready to Gap
August 152018

This plan has been several years in the making! We have the RV, the house is going up for sale, and we will be rolling on April 5th. In the meantime, we are in full scale planning mode as we get ready to hit the road in our 5th wheel for about 18 months of adventures! You are invited to follow our adventures and pick a spot to join us along the way!

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Listing Results

  • Adventures on the St. John River

    Adventures on the St. John River

    Adventures, Wildlife

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  • Gap Wrap Up – Year One

    Gap Wrap Up – Year One

    Adventures

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  • Key Largo

    Key Largo

    Adventures, Places, Wildlife

    Read more
  • In the Everglades

    In the Everglades

    Adventures, Places, Tastes, Wildlife

    Read more
  • The 62nd Running of the Daytona 500

    The 62nd Running of the Daytona 500

    Adventures, Places

    Read more
  • Tarpon Springs

    Tarpon Springs

    Adventures, Places, Tastes

    Read more
  • Deep in the Heart of Christmas

    Deep in the Heart of Christmas

    Adventures, Guests

    Read more
  • Monterey Bay

    Monterey Bay

    Adventures, Guests, Wildlife

    Read more
  • Towering Granite and Big Trees!

    Towering Granite and Big Trees!

    Adventures, Places

    Read more
  • Driveway Camping

    Driveway Camping

    Adventures, Guests, Places

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  • Glacier Bay

    Glacier Bay

    Adventures, Places

    Read more
  • Kenai Fjords National Park

    Kenai Fjords National Park

    Adventures, Wildlife

    Read more
  • The Bears of Katmai

    The Bears of Katmai

    Adventures, Wildlife

    Read more
  • Gone Fishin’

    Gone Fishin’

    Adventures

    Read more
  • Grewingk Glacier Lake

    Grewingk Glacier Lake

    Adventures

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  • Lake Louise, Alaska

    Lake Louise, Alaska

    Adventures, Wildlife

    Read more
  • Wrangell – St. Elias National Park

    Wrangell – St. Elias National Park

    Adventures, Wildlife

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  • Back in the USA!!

    Back in the USA!!

    Adventures, Wildlife

    Read more
  • Big Beautiful Bears!

    Big Beautiful Bears!

    Adventures, Wildlife

    Read more
  • On the Mighty Yukon!

    On the Mighty Yukon!

    Adventures, Places

    Read more
  • Uh huh

    Uh huh

    Adventures

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  • Charlie Lake

    Charlie Lake

    Adventures, Places

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  • On The Alaska Highway!

    On The Alaska Highway!

    Adventures

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  • Canyons, Rivers and Nests

    Canyons, Rivers and Nests

    Adventures, Wildlife

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  • Icefields and Bears!

    Icefields and Bears!

    Adventures, Wildlife

    Read more
  • Canmore and Banff

    Canmore and Banff

    Adventures, Places

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  • Banff and Lake Louise

    Banff and Lake Louise

    Adventures, Places

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  • Lake Macdonald, Avalanche Lake and St. Mary’s.

    Lake Macdonald, Avalanche Lake and St. Mary’s.

    Adventures, Wildlife

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  • Glacier National Park

    Glacier National Park

    Adventures, Places

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  • The Mighty Lochsa!

    The Mighty Lochsa!

    Adventures, Guests

    Read more
  • Maggotfest 2019

    Maggotfest 2019

    Adventures, Guests

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  • Golden Spike Sesquicentennial

    Golden Spike Sesquicentennial

    Adventures

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  • Goblins!

    Goblins!

    Adventures, Places

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  • Sleeping Rainbows

    Sleeping Rainbows

    Adventures

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  • Hole In The Rock

    Hole In The Rock

    Adventures

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  • Boondocking

    Boondocking

    Adventures

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  • May 1st?

    May 1st?

    Adventures

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  • Passed the Driving Test

    Passed the Driving Test

    Adventures

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  • What Happens in Vegas…

    What Happens in Vegas…

    Adventures, Guests

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  • River Beach

    River Beach

    Adventures

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  • Desert Bloom…and Snakes!

    Desert Bloom…and Snakes!

    Adventures, Wildlife

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  • In and Out

    In and Out

    Adventures

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  • Paddling Under London Bridge…Really

    Paddling Under London Bridge…Really

    Adventures

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  • Launch is imminent!

    Launch is imminent!

    Adventures

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  • Oh the People You Meet!

    Oh the People You Meet!

    Adventures

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  • Officially Full Time RV-ing

    Officially Full Time RV-ing

    Adventures

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  • Getting Ready to Gap

    Getting Ready to Gap

    Adventures

    Read more