October 18, 2018
Last Sunday, we kayaked on the Matanzas River near the Matanzas Inlet. The river meets the ocean at the inlet. It was a beautiful day, so there were lots of folks out enjoying the water. That meant there were lots of boats. I would not kayak that particular area again on a week-end with good weather. There were too many boats and a couple times I thought I was going to get run over.
There were lots of dogs enjoying boating. I can’t see Dart enjoying the water and boating like the dogs we saw today.
I often see dolphins in this area, but I think they wisely stayed away with all the human activity. We got a nice view of a Reddish Egret and lots of Pelicans.
October 6, 2018
We’ve been back a month and we didn’t get out kayaking until a few days ago. We kayaked on Guana Lake in the late afternoon. We saw some drama with an Eagle and an Osprey.
I’ve been volunteering in several capacities but recently started to help out at a local rehabber. As a result, I got a few pictures of the birds being rehabilitated and the birds hanging out outside the facility hoping for a handout. It’s been rewarding.
September 1, 2018
Once we left the Rocky Mountains, we headed directly home without exploring. It is the longest that we have had the tow vehicle hooked to the motor home without removing it. We drove from 275 to 375 miles a day, stopped for the night, and moved on. We made sure we had all the supplies (food) we needed so that we did not need to unhook. We traveled the interstates so we generally made good time except when we went through the cities or got in a fight with the GPS in Topeka, Kansas.
The GPS kept telling us to get off the interstate around Topeka, which didn’t make sense. I eventually succumbed at the wrong exit and wound up heading west again and doing a big loop. It took us awhile to realize that the GPS was set to avoid toll roads and interstate 70 is a toll road around Topeka. We added some unnecessary miles to the trip back, much to Dart’s dismay.
If Dart could have escaped us, I think he would have started knocking on doors trying to find someone to take him in that wouldn’t make him spend so much time driving.
It took six days of driving to get back and when we got to Georgia, we saw the bluest skies we have seen since early July. It was exciting. The skies only got better as we got into Florida. I fell in love with Florida all over again.
We live in a community that doesn’t allow us to bring the motor home in front of the house to pack or unpack. So, we stopped at a retail parking lot about 2 miles from our house to disconnect the car and make a trip to the house to unload the kayaks, the dog, and some of the food.
I usually put the transmission in park when we are disconnecting and something seemed odd. It took a long time for the light to stop blinking and some of the lights weren’t showing (for example, to indicate what gear I was in). As I helped Regis remove the bolts holding the car to the motor home, I mentioned that something didn’t seem right. As we each pulled the bolts out, the car began to roll backwards. OKay. Obviously, it didn’t work. I rushed to jump in the car and step on the break and found I couldn’t put the parking break on. Now, I had a car that wouldn’t go out of neutral and couldn’t set the parking break and we were on a very slight incline (since it’s Florida, it’s a wonder we found one of the fewest places with a “slight” incline). I kept my foot on the brake until Regis put chocks around the wheels.
We were 2 miles from our house after the longest trip we have taken in the motor home and now our car didn’t work. What???
Just as we were working through next steps, a car drove up and stopped with two gentlemen I have never seen before. They asked if we had just come from Denver. What again? I indicated yes but was puzzled how they knew. It turns out to be the guy I have been coordinating with for the RV storage facility. The two men were nice enough to give us a jump start and we were on our way.
For some reason, the battery drained completely while hooked up to the motor home. There was nothing on in the Jeep to do that, so there must have been some drain by being hooked up to the motor home. Having never experienced towing it for almost a week without unhooking it, we never had the opportunity to realize that the battery may have been draining on each tow.
Now many of you may remember, we packed out house before leaving in anticipation of moving and then decided not to move. We returned home to a house with all our goods packed in boxes in the garage. It was been a very busy few days.
Our first priority was to find the internet router and cell phone extender. (We can’t use the cell phones in the house without the extender.) Regis went through EVERY box in the garage 3 times the day we returned and did not find it. He found it the next day in the motor home.
Anyway, after we get organized, we’re going to go to the beach and watch the clouds blow across the blue sky as the waves roll onto shore for several hours.
I originally planned to get some nice Florida pictures and do a nice close out post, but it has been too crazy to even turn the camera on. So, this ends Adventure 2018. I don’t know what’s next, but we’ll let you know when we find out.
Life’s an adventure. Live while you are still alive!
August 24, 2018
This morning, we went in search of moose. We went to Brainard Lake near the Indian Peaks Wilderness. We did not see any moose, so we hiked to Long Lake. We didn’t see any moose, but the views were incredible. Of course, Regis and I both had long lenses on our cameras and I forgot my cell phone, so we have no pictures of the amazing views.
After our short hike in this air which is significantly lacking in oxygen, I left Dart and Regis at the motor home and went to the Bird Sanctuary near the Estes Park Lake. My first encounter was with two snakes fornicating.
If anyone can identify the birds that I can’t, please let me know and I will update this post. It’s amazing that neither Regis or I can identify some of them with two different bird guides!
August 23, 2018
The night after we saw the wild mustangs near Cody, it rained hard. We were hoping that would get rid of some of the smoke. Instead, it was far, far worse. Apparently, a cool front brought a lot of the British Columbia smoke to the area. We could barely see any scenery, so we went to downtown Cody to walk Main Street. I wanted to go to the art galleries. It was Sunday, they were all closed except for a photography gallery. We went in there and I was greatly inspired.
After we left Cody, we went to Casper and saw lots and lots of Pronghorn on the way. Regis saw a roadside sign that said the 2/3 of the world’s Pronghorns are in Wyoming. It was very smoky in Casper. We could barely see Casper mountain. We had a wonderful visit with a friend and walked along the Platte River the next day. I went to the Werner Wildlife Museum. It was free!
I prefer to see live animals but enjoyed seeing the animals close up. They had a black bear and grizzly bear next to each other with an explanation of the differences. It was very helpful to be up close and see the details. Most of the animals were from Wyoming, but they had some from around the world. My favorite was the Least Weasel. The weasel is so tiny. It looks like someone stretched a mouse to three times it’s length.
We arrived in Estes Park yesterday. The campground host warned us that a mother bear and two cubs frequent the campground. We saw the the dumpster has a padlock. We’ve been to places that say there are bears around, but you can really believe it if the trash containers are bear proof. We woke up to blue skies. We haven’t see a blue sky in weeks. It was particularly beautiful. I was mesmerized by the color.
We headed into Rocky Mountain National Park this morning to drive along the amazing Trail Ridge Road. We took a side trip along the Old Fall River Road, which is a dirt road. The scenery was spectacular and it was darn cold at the top of the mountain. The wind was blowing very hard.
On the way down the other side of the Continental Divide, we saw lots of elk. We saw the males relaxing at a higher elevation and found the females and calves near the Colorado River. There was one young male in the group. I was standing on the road taking pictures when one of the females moved close by. We heard a bleating sound and realized it was coming from one of the calves. The only female to turn her head was the one closest to me. The little calf ran up to her and started nursing. They were so close to me that I had a very hard time taking a picture with my long lens with the extender. I don’t usually have a problem with wildlife coming so close that I can’t take the picture!!
After our exciting encounter with the elk, we headed back along the road and stopped near the east entrance at Beaver Meadows to have lunch. It was nice to sit still and enjoy the scenery and smaller wildlife. We saw a bunch of birds but the most interesting experience was the ground squirrel. This was a very brave squirrel who came to find some food. Dart barely caused it any concern. We would not let Dart chase the squirrel, so he had to be content with watching it. It came within six inches of his nose. I was a little concerned it was going to jump on Dart. Instead, it chose to jump on top of the picnic table and run up my arm while I was eating a protein bar. I did not expect it to get that close, so didn’t react to chase it away until it made it all the way to my bar.
August 19, 2018
The night before yesterday it rained, so we woke up to beautiful weather and the clearest skies we have seen in weeks. It was the first time in awhile there wasn’t smoke in the air.
We headed to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Adjacent to it is the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. We saw some wild horses and they are beautiful. They looked healthy to me. There is an organization called the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center who is actively involved in helping to ensure the continued success of these horses. I was fascinated with the stripe going doing each horse’s back and found some interesting information on the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center website. This website discusses the distinct colors and markings of the horses.
We spent some time at the Devil’s Canyon overlook. Wow! While we were there we saw someone water skiing down the canyon. There was a great campground at the end of the paved road where there is also a boat ramp. If we come back this way again, I’d like to camp in the campground and kayak through the canyon. There is the potential to see a lot of wildlife here. We saw LOTS of scat.
After we left the recreation area we went on Highway 14A into the Bighorn Mountains. This is another scenic highway. It does not disappoint. Unfortunately, it started to get hazy again by the time we got into the mountains, so the views were marred by haze. Nevertheless, the road is astonishing. It was an incredible engineering feat to build it.
As we go around the country, we notice that a lot of amazing road construction as well as campgrounds, lodges, and other facilities were built in the 1930’s. The Civilian Conservation Corps built a lot of buildings, trails, campgrounds, and other facilities that we benefit from today. It’s interesting to me that so much of the stuff we enjoy the most was all built around the same time frame. You can’t help but wonder how they manage to build these roads in these difficult terrains. I, for one, am very thankful that they did!
We went close to the Bighorn Medicine Wheel. We visited it a couple years ago and went back because we saw marmots and pikas while we there. I didn’t get a look at any Pikas, although Regis saw one briefly. But, there were lots of marmots. I also saw a little chipmunk actively feeding on natural food. Since I mostly see chipmunks begging for food in picnic areas and rest stops, it was amazing to catch sight of one eating a good and proper diet for a chipmunk.
It started to rain on us on the way back and the temperature is now quite chilly. Hopefully, all this rain will clear up the air and help this dry spell.
August 18, 2018
We left Red Lodge to head to Cody, Wyoming. I love the Greater Yellowstone area. It is beautiful and full of wildlife. It is a large area with few roads. The distances are long out here.
We didn’t have far to go to get to Cody. When we arrived, I did some grocery shopping and took my time. Then, we all sat outside in whatever shade we could find and I got antsy to get into Yellowstone. I love that place. It is 52 miles to the East Entrance of Yellowstone from Cody. But, you get to drive along the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway. I convinced Regis we should head out after dinner. Wildlife is easier to find in the mornings and evenings. We are usually morning people and go to bed early so we can get going early the next day. But, I couldn’t wait.
I read that sometimes the moose hang around Fishing Bridge, so that was our goal. If we didn’t stop along the way, I figured it would take two hours. We left around 6:00. That gave us time to enjoy the Byway but we didn’t stop to take pictures.
The Byway was beautiful. I can’t believe how beautiful this whole area is. All these scenic highways and byways are amazing.
My timing turned out to be okay, but the skies got cloudy and rainy in some areas. It cut down a lot on the available light. We saw some mule deer and elk, but we did not see any moose.
I was concerned about the drive back in the dark and rightly so. There are lots of animals out here and many of them are moving around at night. There are signs everywhere warning you. As we were heading down the mountain in Yellowstone, I saw two cars ahead stopped with their flashers on. As we got up to them, we saw the problem. There were two Bighorn Sheep in the road. There was steep terrain on one side of the road and a guardrail on the other. Apparently, the sheep came down the terrain, got spooked by the cars, but didn’t want to go over the guardrail. So, they took off running down the road. They were going pretty fast. They must have run for a mile and the cars followed behind. Eventually, they stopped to drink some water pouring out of the cliff on the side of the road. The two cars in front of me slowly passed them and went on their way, but as we passed them, one guy got spooked and starting running up the cliff. If we tried to do it, we would need rappelling gear. Later I got to thinking, the bright orange and blue kayaks on the roof may have been why he didn’t like us. Those two Bighorn Sheep were gorgeous. They were healthy, in beautiful condition, and strong.
It took about 2 hours to get home in the dark and I was exhausted when we got back from scanning for animals the whole way. It’s very dark out here and I tried to space myself from the car in front so I could keep my high beams on. I came upon a large deer standing on the side of the road. What scared me most is that no matter how much I was keeping an eye out, I didn’t see that deer until we were right up on it.
Our next best opportunity to see moose are in the Grand Tetons which abuts Yellowstone on the south. But, to drive there is a long, long way from here. The other place I’d like to go is the Lamar Valley. It usually has lots of wildlife and is our best bet for seeing a wolf. That is also a long way even though we are on that east side of the park and the Lamar Valley is in the northeast corner. There are only two ways to get there from here and each way would take at least 3 hours, maybe more. But, the scenery is beautiful.
We have plans for today, but have to decide whether to spend some time in Cody or drive a long distance for the possibility of seeing more wildlife tomorrow. I’m always interested in the wildlife, but we’ll have to see how much driving we can stand since we still have to go about 2400 miles to get home.
August 16, 2018
I think the whole west is smoky right now. We may have moments in the morning where it doesn’t seem so bad, but as the day progresses the smoke and haze increase.
After we left Glacier National Park area, we headed toward Red Lodge so we could drive the Beartooth and Chief Joseph Highways. Once we got off interstate 90 to head south, about a mile off the interstate, we saw our first bear. The bear was running full speed across a field. When it saw us, it did a U-turn and headed full speed the way it came. This is a picture of a bear butt. I’m sure it was a brown Black Bear.
We waited until the next day after setting up camp in the Red Lodge area and then headed out for a drive on the Beartooth and Chief Joseph Highways. I recently met a woman (Robyn) who said the mountain views from these highways may be the best. I understand now why she said that. It was one of the most amazing drives through mountains that we have ever taken. The haze greatly diminished the view, but it was still awesome. I can’t imagine how much better it would be with a clear view.
Our most amazing animal encounter was with a fox. I got out of the car to take pictures and the fox eventually came right past me as if I wasn’t there. I stood still so as not to do anything to spook the fox, but the fox seemed oblivious to me. It was very skinny and very intent on hunting.
This is a great drive for people who cannot hike to get great views. All the views are accessible by car. There are lots of public land locations with bathrooms, so it is a great way to spend the day and be comfortable. For those who want to get off the beaten path, the public lands are highly accessible and there are numerous hikes and water access points along the route. It’s amazing.
I apologize ahead of time for all the pictures, but we took so many I had a hard time selecting them down. At this point, I’ll just show the pictures and caption them. (Note: We drove the Beartooth Highway earlier in the day with the most haze, so the pictures are not very good. The better pictures are later in the day by the time we went on the Chief Joseph Highway. Nevertheless, the views from the Beartooth Highway were amazing. It is essential you put both on your bucket list if you have never been to either.)
August 13, 2018
It’s a good thing we went on the Going-to-the-Sun Road on Sunday. I had thought about doing it Monday or Tuesday to get away from week-ends crowds. But, the weather was good, so we went on Sunday. As you may recall from yesterday’s post, we noticed a fire shortly after you entered the park. It is called the Howe Ridge Fire. I took some pictures and we did our thing. Click here for a link to a video of the Canadian Superscoopers gathering water from Lake McDonald in an attempt to put out the fire. This effort was not successful in dousing the fire. (We did not post this yesterday because it took several hours to upload which is one of those problems associated with lousy internet access.)
Later in the evening, we wanted to go up to one of the look-outs and catch the sunset and wait around to watch for meteor showers. We were both very tired, so we didn’t do that. We drove through less traveled sections of the park in search of wildlife. Dusk is a good time to see them and we were hoping. We didn’t see much but we got a view of the fire that evening and Regis got a picture of a hawk.
Regis and I wanted to hike the Highline trail in the park, but with Dart we couldn’t both do it at the same time. Dogs are not allowed to hike in the park. We decided to have one of us do it one day and the other the next. Originally, Regis was going to wake up early and do it Monday and I would do it Tuesday. He was so tired that he opted to wait. I didn’t care about hiking in the afternoon, so I figured I would go Monday afternoon.
Monday morning, we decided to check out an area that often has mountain goats which skirts the edge of the park southeast of us. On the way, we saw all the signs that said the Going-to-the-Sun road was closed because of the fire. The fire we saw worsened overnight considerably. Apparently, the winds picked up the fire expanded quickly. It’s probably why I couldn’t see the meteor shower last night.
On our way to see the goats (which we didn’t see) we saw another wildfire that recently started. Between the time we first saw it and an hour later on the way back, it was definitely larger.
We went back to Glacier to go to the lesser traveled section to do a before an after picture of the fire from the same spot. You can’t really see the fire itself, but you can see the smoke. In the first picture, if you look closely above the treeline, you can see the mountains in the background. In the second picture, there is so much smoke, you can’t see anything.
We headed out of the park and came back to the campground to grab lunch. I set about adjusting our return trip and was successful in booking some campsites so that we could leave tomorrow rather than the next day as we originally planned. At this point, you can’t go in the best part of the park from this side. There are multiple wildfires causing lots of smoke. Dart spent some time this afternoon sneezing and coughing (me too!). I don’t know how fire fighters do it. We don’t want to hike in these conditions and we are limited in what we can do, so it’s best to move on.
I am happy that we drove on the Going-to-the-Sun Road immediately and didn’t wait. That was the priority item I had for this visit. If we had gone to the overlook as planned that evening, we may have had to return home via the east entrance to the park. Since they began to evacuate at the west entrance and shut down the road road at the west side of the park on Sunday evening, we may have found that we couldn’t go back that way. That would have required a very long drive around the park to get back to the campground (perhaps 4 hours). Sometimes things just work out.
Last night, in between trying to watch meteors, I tried to sleep. But, there are non-stop trains that go through this area. They make three long whistles somewhere around here, so back-to-back trains whistle and rumble and then shortly thereafter another one comes through. If you live here, you probably get used to it. If you don’t live here, it takes awhile. We don’t here trains much during the day. As we were looking for goats today, we drove on a road that went along the same basic route as the train tracks and saw some trains sitting still waiting. I told Regis they were waiting for nightfall. I don’t think I was wrong. As soon as the sun set this evening, what do we here???, trains!
Internet access: Even with unlimited Verizon internet access, we have SIGNIFICANT issues getting decent internet access. We sometimes struggle to make a blog post and adding video is nearly a killer. I look forward to seeing my friends when I get home and then I look forward to good internet access. I miss it!
August 12, 2018
Yesterday we headed to Glacier National Park. We thought the smoky situation would get better after we got over the mountains in Idaho, but it got progressively worse as we neared the park. We could barely see the mountains when we got here because of the smoke.
The air cleared last night and we entered the park through the West Glacier entrance and drove on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 50 mile long road that goes along the shores of two of the park’s largest lakes and goes along the side of the mountain below the Continental Divide and through Logan Pass. It is a narrow road that hugs the cliffs. This is one of the most beautiful highways in the world.
When we entered the park, there were some fire fighters entering the park at the same time. Not far into the park, we saw a fire across the lake. The fire fighters were standing on our side of the lake, so they weren’t in a position to do much about the situation.
We left the fire and the fire fighters behind and drove through the park. It is stunning. The road through the park takes you through spectacular scenery. The mountains are leaking everywhere. There is water poring out between the rocks, so it looks as though the rocks are weeping. There are waterfalls everywhere. We saw some glaciers and there are still patches of snow here and there. And, the wildflowers are beautiful.
The park information indicates there is a thriving population of black bears and grizzlies. There are also cougars and wolves in the park. If we hike in the area, we’ll bring our bear spray.
On the way back out of the park, we could see that the fire was larger. We saw a couple of planes that were attempting to put the fire out with water. The planes would get the water out of the lake and swing around to drop it on the fire. The planes look so small compared to the fire, it doesn’t seem like it could be doing much. Hopefully, it is.
August 10, 2018
We left the west side of the Cascades and headed across Washington state to Spokane. It was very smoky the whole way. When we watched the news, it said that the smoke from the California wildfires was entering Washington on both sides of the Cascades. Today, the Puget Sound area was going to get some fresh air coming off the Pacific through the Strait, so it was expected to be cooler and less smoky. Not so on the east side of the Cascades.
We saw an active wildfire on the way. There were lots of fire fighters and equipment, but it appeared to be a low intensity fire. It appeared mostly under control. It wasn’t like those videos we’ve been seeing about the fires in California – thank goodness.
It’s hot, hot, hot here. It’s probably the worst we have encountered so far. The campground has a little agility course in the dog park. In spite of the heat, Dart was very enthusiastic about running it. He did very well. I need to double down on my efforts to get him back into agility training when we get home. There aren’t many trials around us in Florida, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go to training regularly.
I wanted to mention how we do our trip planning. Four years ago, when we started this RVing stuff, Regis found a software package called RVtripwizard. We started using it for our first trip and the software has been continuously improved over the years. We love it. It shows all the campgrounds and links to their websites and reviews. I usually look for a campground 250 to 300 miles from our last stop and the software makes it easy to do that.
When I decided to go to Washington state again this summer, I let RVtripwizard tell me the shortest path from Florida to Washington and then selected my stops along that path. On the way home, our last “cool” stop will be in New Mexico. So, I let RVtripwizard tell me the fastest way home from there and I have made some preliminary plans for stops.
I think it is time for us to get home. I think that some couples can spend only some much time together in a confined space. Regis has been yelling at the GPS a lot lately and it’s getting worse. I have to calm him down. The GPS doesn’t seem to do well in the west, but it does eventually get you there. My Uncle Tom believes in maps and there are certainly days that he is correct. A combination of the two is probably best.
The other night we were headed back to our campground from Seattle and I couldn’t remember the campground address. I plugged in Main Street for the nearest town (which is a half mile from our campground). I set off in the dark and the GPS eventually told us we had arrived at our destination and, I’m not kidding, we were in the middle of a cornfield. There was tall corn on the left and tall corn on the right. With it being dark and no other lights but my headlights, I felt like I was in some kind of video game. I had to stop in the middle of this dark road and regroup with the GPS. I eventually found out where we needed to go and we were probably about 2 miles from our campground.
We have only turned on our TV about 5 times since we got the motor home 3 years ago (and we have 3 TV’s!). Most of that was to watch the local news. When we got to our campsite today, it was very hot outside. Not appealing. I took Dart to the dog park and when I got back Regis was watching a game show. The worst part, he was yelling at the contestant for being so stupid about the decisions. Regis was correct with the logic, but are you kidding me. If Regis is going to start watching game shows and yelling at the TV, we have got to do something with him. Maybe we need something to break to give him something to do.
If you are going to do some RV traveling, get good software like RVTripwizard for planning, get a good GPS, and get some maps for the areas you will travel.
August 9, 2018
Yesterday we took Coco back to Jason. She is a very sweet little dog. We had a nice dinner with Jason and Dan last evening and got to see their pictures from their recent trip to Iceland, Sweden, and Norway. Beautiful! These locations are now on my bucket list.
We are spending our last day west of the Cascades. Tomorrow we start heading east again. We have 3,690 miles to get back home in St. Augustine, Florida. We will take a month to do it.
Regis found some blackberry bushes near our current campground, so we have been well supplied with fresh blackberries the last few days. Yum!
I wanted to mention how we’ve been cooking while in the motor home. It can be hard to keep the motor home cooled down in hot weather, so we have adopted a cooking routine that helps ensure we don’t heat up the motor home and allows us to eat the most fabulous meals.
A little over a month ago, we started cooking exclusively with our Hestan Cue cookware. We even bought a second burner and pan so we can both cook if we want to cook multiple things (for example a protein and a side dish). Hestan Cue is smart cookware that includes an induction burner and pan or pot. By using Hestan’s video guided recipes, Hestan Cue automatically controls the temperature and time of the food. That means everything is always cooked to perfection. Since I tend to overcook, especially eggs and fish, I love this system. We have better tasting meals by preparing meals in the motor home than if we go out to eat.
Regis has cooked outside on the picnic table using the Cue when it is too hot to cook. We’ve also become more comfortable using the manual mode when we want to cook something on our own but the Hestan Cue still maintains the temperature of the pan.
We have not used our oven at all on this trip and we stopped using the stove over a month ago. We still use the microwave to heat up food or cook corn on the cob.
The other night I made Roasted Peach Salad w/Warm Hazlenut Vinaigrette. One of our favorite recipes is the Honey Chipotle Chicken Wings. Words cannot describe how delicious they are!
We need cell phone service to use the cookware which is usually not a problem. Regis has a cell phone booster he puts up if the service is weak. We primarily need that because we use the cell phones for internet service. We have only been without cell phone service a few times. If that happens, we can’t use the Hestan Cue recipes but we can still cook using manual mode. I am so committed to this cookware now, I donated all of our pots and pans a few days ago. It has freed up some space in the cabinets!