Home in St. Augustine

We made it home.  We covered many miles (8,315 in the motor home) and saw lots of this beautiful country.  It was a great experience and it opened my eyes to many things about our country.  Nevertheless, it was good to be back home.

When we arrived back home, Dart spinned and barked and barked and spinned. I wasn’t sure if he would be as happy to return here as our house last year.  Yes, he was happy to be home here.  He wanted to play with his disc first thing.  It was 95 degrees and very humid but Dart was exuberant.  We played until his tongue was dragging on the ground.  At that point, he laid down at the front door and watched us empty the RV.  Yuk!  It was 112 degrees inside the RV while we worked to empty it.  I must have lost 3 pounds in water in the process.

Anyway, we finished and relaxed a bit and then headed to the ocean.  I couldn’t wait until tomorrow.  We ate dinner in a restaurant on the ocean and then watched the sunset.  St. Augustine is beautiful and this is a great home base.

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Regis’ feet and the Atlantic Ocean

 

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Linda’s feet in the Atlantic Ocean
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Atlantic Ocean
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Atlantic Ocean
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Sunset in St. Augustine, Florida
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Sunset in St. Augustine, Florida
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St. Augustine, Florida

Now that we are home, I want to share some thoughts about our observations on our trip.  First, I love water.  Therefore, I loved Puget Sound and was never quite the same on our way back until we crossed the St. Johns’ River in Florida.  Everything in between was too dry for me.  This probably comes from growing up near the Chesapeake Bay.

This is a beautiful country.  We are very fortunate that so many of our lands are in the public domain and accessible to all of us.  A trip like the one we made would be nothing if we did not have the access to the public lands that all Americans have.

Many towns in rural America are in bad shape economically.  They need a boost somehow.  A few towns we visited were thriving because they took advantage of the adjacent public lands and built a thriving tourist destination.  Snow Valley, Idaho and Moab, Utah come to mind.  There were other places that were nestled in beautiful country but had not managed to take advantage and thrive.  Baker City, Oregon and the areas around Crater Lake National Park in Oregon come to mind.

Much of the country is in a food desert and that is a sad, sad shame.  The big cities, especially along the coasts have all you could want.  But, many people in this country have to drive 60 miles (maybe more) to get groceries and fresh produce.  We are the greatest country on the planet.  What’s up with that?

I care about rest stops as blog followers may know.  Except for Arizona, this country is amazing in providing a place to stop for tourists and truckers.  Florida (my home state) has the best rest stops. I am not being biased, it’s the truth.  Come to Florida and find out. 🙂

It is sad to see that there are areas of this country thriving (like Seattle) and areas that are left behind (too many places to mention).  I sincerely hope the future will solve this problem and make it possible for all Americans to thrive.

I have finished this particular trip loving my country as much or more than I have ever loved it.  We have plans for future trips and may make one to the mid-Atlantic this fall and to the Florida keys this November.  If so, we will take pictures and post our thoughts.

Thank you all for following us and trying to solve our Where’s Dart challenges.  I am impressed by how many of you got it right.  If you didn’t get it right, the fact that you tried is admirable.

I can’t thank you enough for the feedback I have received on the blogs.  It helps me to know what you are interested in.  Please continue.  Also, ask questions if you have them.  I am happy to respond.

For those of you interested in the finer details of Rving, I would like to share this mornings adventure.  Since we will be storing the RV for at least a month or more once we get home, we took the time in our last campsite to prepare.   Regis had a special concoction he used to place in the gray and black tanks and then flushed them.  While working on the black tank, he started the process and then went in the RV to do whatever he likes to do in his spare time.  He forgot about the cleansing process and came out later to see soap bubbles coming out the top of the vent in the RV and running down the side.  I am really sorry I didn’t see it to take a picture.  I guess Dart and I were elsewhere.

We prepared the motor home to be stored for some time and will clean the outside sometime next week.  It should then be ready for our next rip.  Our poor Jeep looks terrible and we hope to clean it up this week-end.  Being pulled behind leaves it in a position to receive lots of dust and dirt.  Yuk!

 

Lookout Mountain

Dart was on Lookout Mountain.  Congratulations Sandy and Vicki!

We are headed home today and looking forward to it.  I am going to spend some time taking advantage of my great internet access at home.

And, I will be headed to the beach tomorrow!

Appalachians

Where’s Dart (17)?  He is in eastern Tennessee on a famous mountain.  I am including a second picture of what can be seen on top of the mountain, so if you have been there, you may recognize it.  We are visiting Regis’ brother, Mark, in Chattanooga.

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Where’s Dart (17)? On what mountain is Dart? He is in eastern Tennessee.
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On top of a mountain by Chattanooga, Tennessee

We enjoyed steaks and corn on the cob on the grill with Mark.  Mark took us to the local mountain to see the sun set.  We missed the sunset, but the view was beautiful. We had a great time.  We hadn’t seen Mark in awhile, so it was great to catch up.

We crossed the Mississippi River yesterday at Memphis.  We saw this unusual Bass Pro Shops.  At first, Regis thought it was a casino.

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Bass Pro Shops in Memphis, Tennessee

After being out west for almost three months, the east coast appears very lush.  As we approached the Appalachians it became more and more beautiful.  Although I enjoyed seeing the increasing vegetation as we went from Oklahoma through Arkansas, I particularly loved going through Tennessee.  The countryside is wrapped in a blanket of trees.  They hug the shorelines of lakes.  All those trees bring a softness to the landscape that is appealing and relaxing.  Out west, the dryness prevents the growth of lush vegetation so you get to see the stark geology of the landscape.  It makes the landscape stunning but harsh.  Perhaps it is because I grew up in the mid-Atlantic, but I’m enjoying seeing the east coast landscape again.

We startled a couple fawns at the entrance to our campground.

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City Dogs and Country Dogs

Oklahoman’s have a sense of humor.  We saw the following at one of the rest stops.  Dart picked the country dog spot.

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Spot for City Dogs at rest stop in Oklahoma
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Spot for country dogs at rest stop in Oklahoma

By the way, when we were passing through Texas, we saw wind turbines for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles.  It appears the  northern part of the state is covered with wind turbines!!

I love seeing the trees again!!!

 

Rest Stops

We started the process of heading back to Florida.  This has brought us back to interstates.  If you are not on the interstate out west, you have to be prepared to drive through towns that may have speed limits as low as 25 mph.  Once we got back on the interstate, we were able to cover a lot of ground quickly.

We arrived early afternoon in our first scheduled campground on the interstate and we were the first ones to arrive.  I was worried that we were the only ones there and a little scared.  I was also concerned that the owner couldn’t possibility make any money with one guest a night.  By nightfall, the place was almost full.   The campground offered a small selection of dinners that they bring to your campsite.  We took advantage and ordered two turkey dinners with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and cranberry sauce.  I ordered a slice of pie and was nice enough to share it with Regis.  He said he didn’t want a piece until he saw mine and willingly ate half of it along with the scoop of ice cream.

Dinners have been available at the next two campgrounds.  There are times when it would be very convenient.  Most of the time, we have enough food and prefer to make our own dinner.  When you travel a lot of miles in a day and are only spending the night and ran out of food, it comes in handy to have dinner available without requiring you to disconnect your tow vehicle to obtain it.

At the rest stop in New Mexico and again in Texas, we saw signs to beware of snakes.  It is nice to be warned!  In New Mexico, we saw the a rest stop that had corrals for horses.  They were clearly used.  Dart was very, very interested in them.

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Corrals at rest stop in New Mexico
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Sign at rest stop in New Mexico. Similar signs are also at rest stops in Texas

Let me pause a moment to mention rest stops out west.  I have to stop a lot, so I greatly appreciate having the opportunity to do so without finding a bush (which you often can’t find out west anyway).  With the exception of Arizona and their closed rest stops (see earlier post), the rest of the West is very good about having rest room facilities on lots of roads, not just the interstates.  In fact, there are facilities all over the place in public picnic areas, trail heads, campgrounds, boat launches, fishing spots, etc.  When we are out and about in the jeep, I can always find a place to stop.

It continues to be exceedingly hot, which I am sure it is for most of you.  It is currently 105 degrees and we are noticing an increase in humidity.  Although we don’t like that part, it is really nice to see trees and grass again.  We are in Oklahoma.  I’m getting more excited about being headed home.  We need to better plan in the future so we don’t wind up in hot places.  It is very limiting.  Outdoor activities are no fun when it is this hot and become undo-able with Dart.  He can’t handle the heat with all that fur.  If it is going to be this hot, I may as well be in Florida where I can jump into the ocean to cool off!

 

Spectacular Sunsets

Yesterday, I went on a guided Paddleboard Tour with Paddle  Moab.  Alycia and Gabriel were the guides.  They were funny, enthusiastic, great teachers, and a joy to be with.  This is the first time I had someone show me how to paddleboard and had to unlearn some things I had been doing.  Alycia spent a good deal of time training us before we embarked on our trip.  She did a great job.

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Linda going through the first set of rapids on the Colorado River on her knees. She made it through the last set of rapids standing up.

There were a few small rapids on the river.  I went through the first several on my knees, but finally decided to take the last two standing up.  Midway through the first rapid I took standing up, someone in our group rammed into me in the middle of the rapid.  He didn’t mean to do it.  I fell to my knees but did not fall in the water.  I successfully ran the last set of rapids standing up.  I realized that I don’t have great strength and stamina but all that yoga has done good things for my balance.  At least I have that going for me.  I was very exhausted at the end of the trip.  I need Jan, my personal trainer from Maryland, to move to Florida and train me over the winter!

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Calm section on the Colorado River.

Regis told me he wanted to go to Gemini Bridges today.  They aren’t far out of Moab, so it sounded good to me.  After embarking on the hellish road, I got to thinking that Regis must have stared at the map until he could find the most gruesome four-wheel drive trail that could be taken with a stock vehicle.  It’s hard to call it a road.  I think Dart and I could have walked it faster.  It would probably have been more fun for the passengers if we had been in an ATV.  We saw several ATV’s and dirt bikes on the road.  Anyway, be ware of going on unpaved roads around here.  There is a reason at least half the cars in this town are jeeps.

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Taking a short hike from the car to Gemini Bridges. Dart found some shade. The green paint spots on the rocks mark the trail.

We have been enjoying the sunsets around here.  We witnessed one while in Arches National Park.  We went to Dead Horse Point State Park to see another sunset.  We’ve watched a few from our campsite.  Every sunset is amazing.  It doesn’t matter where you are, you will see amazing colors in the sky and reflected off the landscape.

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Sunset over Moab, Utah.
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Sunset over Moab, Utah.
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Sunset over the Colorado River
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Sunset from Dead Horse Point State Park
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Sunset from Dead Horse Point State Park

Last night, it was very windy.  Dart was not pleased with all the noises of the wind battered motor home.  I took his little scarf and doused it with Adaptil and put it on his collar.  It calmed him down so he was able to sleep.  He is doing better since he got his medication.  I will feel better once we make it successfully through a few more days without any further problems.

Because Dart has been having digestive issues, I am sensitive to him getting antsy at night and I take him out right away.  The moon has been beautiful the last few nights and it has been very easy to stroll through the campground at night without a flashlight.  It is very bright.  The other night were heard coyotes yipping.

Arches National Park

Dart was in Arches National Park.  We went into the park in late afternoon so we could see the colors in the park as the sun began to set.  The setting sun brings out the warm colors in the formations.  We were fortunate that the moon was rising while the sun was setting.  It was, of course, beautiful.

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Arches National Park
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Arches National Park with La Sal mountains in the distance
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Arches National Park
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Moon rising over Arches National Park
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Sunset at Arches National Park
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Sunset at Arches National Park
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Sunset at Arches National Park

Delicate Arch is the iconic arch for the park.  If you see a picture of Arches National Park, it probably has Delicate Arch in it.  It is beautiful at sunset.  We couldn’t hike to the Arch because we had Dart with us, so we went to one of the overlooks.  I loved seeing all the people waiting to see the sunset at the Arch.  I wonder how anyone gets a picture of the Arch without people in it.

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People watching the sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Yesterday, I did the laundry, went grocery shopping, wiped down the inside of the car, and took Dart to the vet.  Regis cleaned up the inside of the motor home.  There was a ton of dust on everything.

The vet gave Dart some medication to try to clear things up.  We are staying a few more days here in order to make sure Dart is okay before we move on.  He has done well in the last 18 hours.

The part for the RV still hasn’t arrived in St. George.  If it doesn’t arrive by the end of the week, Regis is going to ask them to ship the part to him when they get it and we will start to head back.

Last evening, we sat outside the motor home and watched the sunset over the mesas, hills, and mountains behind us.  There’s a little bit of everything back there.  The mesas turn orange as the sun sets and they look like they are glowing.  As the sun was setting, storms started to form in the distance.  There was a spectacular light show in the storms because of the lightning.  The storms may have been fifty miles away.  It is very cool out west that you can enjoy watching storms that are far away.  Although we got a little rain, it wasn’t substantial.

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Moon rising over Moab, Utah as seen from Arches National Park