Starting our 2nd year living "on the road" we tried to spend too much time
in what we thought would be a warm spot. It wasn't. Gee, we can
move when we don't like the way things are. We are still learning
that. We pick up a new car in February, a Jeep to tow behind.
This is to be a fun car that we can use to leave traditional roads and
explore. We spend some time getting our final warranty issues
resolved, then all fixes are now straight out of our wallet. We
traveled some places we have always wanted to see in this country then we
went with a group to eastern Canada, the Maritimes and still had time for 2
dive trips. Unfortunately we had body damage to repair on the motor
home, but those things happen. All in all, a very good year.
January...We spent most of the month of January in miserable weather in Livingston TX. It was cold and rainy most of the time and we finally said uncle, since we could hardly get out of the house due to the weather. We drove to Fredericksburg and spent the last few days of Jan and first few of Feb in blissfully warm and dry weather.
February 23rd - After leaving Fredericksburg we headed north to Parker and spent a week at our former neighbor's next door to our former house. We got lots of errands done including a dentist session. When leaving we found the tree next to exit area of the housing addition has grown and it put some scratches on our coach. We are bummed. We will have to find another place to stay when in town unless we can get the tree trimmed.
We picked up our new Jeep in OKC on Feb 11th. Man, 4 months to order and get a car. However, everything has it's season and we figure this was the right time for us to get the car. We are drive south and stopped for a few days in Monahans Sandhill State Park and are now in Big Bend NP giving that Jeep an off road workout. So far it's great. Don & I continue to love the sport (?) of geocaching and spend a bit of time each week finding caches every place we go.
February 27th - Today we exercised the Jeeps 4WD capabilities for the first time and took the tops off while we were out. Not quite as good as a convertible, but almost, and in some ways better. We went to find the Ernst Tinaja in BBNP. A tinaja is a hole in the rocks that has water most of the time. This one is about 8 feet deep and had at least 5 to 6 feet of water in it. A beautiful site and the rocks were like none we'd ever seen. To reach it we drove about 2 miles down a dirt road and walked a half mile or so from where we parked the car. After the tinaja we drove the remaining 10 miles or so of the dirt road, mostly in 4WD and only once having to drop to the "granny" gear 4WD mode to get up one rough hill. We saw some views that were awe inspiring and a part of the park that looked like some far off planet. Here is a series of pics of the tinaja and the walk out.
Here's a couple of looks at some of the other stuff we saw today.
February 28th - Another day of exercising the 4WD parts of the Jeep. This was a most fun day. We must have driven 50 miles which started out as a little geocaching. Well at the first cache site, we found a "crack pipe". Yep, real drug paraphernalia. We actually found the real cache too, but that was a surprise. Then we got lost finding the 2nd one and once we found it....miles from nowhere....we decided to continue down the road to it's end. It was a great afternoon in spite of the cactus wounds from finding that 2nd cache. A picture below shows the road on the mountain before the one where we are. You'll have to use your imagination to see how we got to where we are taking the picture.
March 9th - On the 6th we headed down "Black Gap Road", a road that is not maintained and they said was "as bad as you can imagine". However, we found it just a fun adventure and not nearly as bad as they indicated. Only once did Donna "eeeek" while Don drove this adventure. We did see some awe inspiring country side not visible from the paved roads.
The first few days of March we were still in BBNP finding back roads and new places we had not been before. On the 4th we rode out on a dirt track then took a 2 mile hike back into Pine Canyon. What beautiful vistas, then a lovely grotto, but the pour off had no water. Pretty dry everywhere.
March 29th - After leaving BBNP, we spent a couple of days at Seminole Canyon SP which sits just west of Del Rio TX on the Rio Grande. This park encompases the area where the Pecos River and the Rio Grande merge. This is the cause of some deep gorges and the spot where some ancient peoples left petroglyphs and petrographs. After that we moved thru Bastrop, Parker and headed northeast to Indiana where we are now. We arrived in Nappanee, IN to sleet and snow and overnight lows in the 20's. Brrrrr, we miss the 70s and 80s we had seen earlier. In Nappanee, we first stopped at DH Machine where we got one long slide installed in the basement that goes to either side. They also measured and we go back next week for them to install a 2nd battery tray (will let us add more batteries when we get the solar) and a mesh tray under the propane tank (for light storage of sewer parts). This next week we sit at the Newmar factory for our final warranty service work. Hard to believe we have been in this house for a year.
First half of April - Once again we are back in Nappanee, IN. The most distinctive part of this place in the world is that it is "Amish Country".
The Friday before our Apr 1 appointment with Newmar, we stopped at DH Machine and they installed a basement slide-out tray that slides to either side of the motor home, to make storing and retrieving some things easier. Just prior to 6am on April 1st, a Newmar tech came to hear our list of issues and drove away our home for a day of work. That was a rainy day and we had to get Shadow out into the Jeep first. That was her intro to the new car and she didn't get any choice in the matter, so that was that (we could tell though that she wasn't happy). Each day Newmar brought back the house with more things fixed and by Friday at 1pm they were done with the entire list, including painting the chips made by the falling door awning. We hung around till Monday as we had an appointment, again with DH Machine to have another battery box welded in, just below the existing battery slide-out tray. This new box will hold 2 batteries, allowing us to add 2 more house batts when we install solar later this year. In addition, they bolted in a mesh tray below the propane tank. This will let us store light weight items such as spare sewer hoses and fittings in this spot. Pictures shown on the motor home page.
We then left Nappanee and headed south. First we stopped in Indianapolis to pick up our underwater camera housing at the Ikelite facility where we had dropped it off for service nearly 2 weeks earlier. Because it was nearly 5pm by the time we were done, we found a Wal-Mart/Sam's Club parking lot where we could spend the night. Here we found a Canadian mother-to-be nest tending. At first we could barely see her, but when we got close she stood up and showed us her treasure. You can see that she wasn't really pleased with our attention and treated us to hissing noises.
Now we have moved on down to Mammoth Cave, KY. We plan to be here a week and see the area. Already have tickets for one of the tours. Our first full day here we spent geocaching the area.
Mid-April - We started out by visiting Mammoth Cave, KY.
We would have seen more of the area if it hadn't rained every day we were there....until we left. That last morning when we were pulling out was very sunny!
This was an interesting motel we saw on the way...ever wish you could stay in a tepee?
The Natchez Trace - From Mammoth Cave we went south and entered the Natchez Trace just west of Nashville, TN. What a perfect time of year we picked. The bluegrass was vibrant green, the redbuds were in bloom and the dogwoods had started blooming. The whole place was gorgeous.
This is some of the flora & fauna we've seen here, but by no means all. We have seen more turkey here than ever before in our lives, but by the time you get out the camera, the turkey have disappeared. Ditto for the coyotes, muskrat, beaver and most of the deer.
The Trace is an old highway used for thousands of years by ancient peoples, buffalo and the American Indian as well as our early explorers. The National Park Service has made a 444 mile NP pathway that follows close to the old path from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. The road is 2 lane pavement in good shape that follows the natural elements, meaning it has gentle curves and is not boring to drive. The speed limit is 50 mph and there is little traffic, no stop and go, no commercial traffic (no big trucks), no billboards and no trash. There are trees all along the road from nearly full canopy, to areas where they sit back from the road, making this a peaceful and calming drive. Although we took the Trace as a destination this time, we will take it as a pathway any time we can in the future. A great north-south route that is far superior to the interstates. Although no services (such as fuel, restaurants, groceries) along the trace, there are many towns that are within 5 miles and have all those things available.
We stayed first at Fall Hollow, at the Hwy 412 exit. Grass sites and many aren't that level, but the owners are the nicest people you could wish for. We used this for a base and hiked and drove to the nearby areas. We started at the north end just outside Nashville and stopped within 15 miles of the start. We spent several days in this area and thru 2 days of geocaching became acquainted with several local areas including a Amish farm community where we were able to buy fresh vegetables and raw honey.
The park and most of the Trace has lots of hiking trails, in some places you can walk on the original trace, many rivers & streams and waterfalls abound. We also made side trips for geocaching in most of the places we have stopped.
After moving just a few miles south we stayed in the first of 3 free camping areas along the Trace, Meriwether Lewis Park & campground.
Free camping, but no services. Meriwether Lewis died at a spot in this park of a gunshot wound when he was only 35 years old and was buried there. Here we hiked the trails and joined other campers around the fire. This is also where we first encountered the "great migration" of which we were previously ignorant. It seems from the end of March thru April, a few Americans from northern states, but mostly Canadians that have spent the winter along the gulf coast are making their way back home. If you want a campsite during this time, you'd better be there by 10AM, otherwise it is full house everywhere. A lot of French is spoken in the camps at this time.
We made our way further down the Trace, stopping a some of 100 or so stops along the way. We stayed at all 3 of the free campgrounds along the Trace and at three state park campgrounds and one private campground. All beautiful and would go back to any of them again.
The path along the Trace is steeped in historical events, exceeding beauty and places to ponder. The opportunity to stop for lunch or a rest in a beautiful spot with a 5 minute walk to a waterfall exists in many spots. Some special places are the spots where you can actually walk along the old Trace, where all those early peoples and animals traveled. Some places it is 8-10 feet wide, other places just a path, some places across the top of a ridge and others down in a dry creek bed.
On Sunday, May 4th we moved to Hammond LA to have a couple of repairs made on the motor home. Since it is just north of New Orleans we might take a day trip into the French Quarter or thereabouts. But, every night the news was so filled with how many shootings, robberies and muggings each day that we decided to pass. We filled our week while waiting for repairs with what has become a fun passtime for us, geocaching. There were actually so many hides around Hammond and adjoining towns that we learned a lot more on local flavor than we expected.
Honoring the founder of Hammond and his family is this wonderful tree and small cemetery in the midst of a wonderful residential area not far from town.
We left Hammond on Saturday morning after terrible experience with repairs. It's a place we would never recommend to our friends. On to Gulf Shores, AL. We will stay the next week in the state park. Lots of tree damage here from hurricane Ivan 2 or 3 years ago, but recovery is well under way.
May 10th -- After finally getting repairs finished (not a pleasant experience) we moved first to Gulf Shores AL for a few days near the beach, then we moved inland a few miles to spend a week at Frank Jackson State Park near Opp, AL. What a delight this place was. Incredible park with a great view from the front door and superb sunsets every night we were there . There were nature trails and a small island to explore that was accessible by a foot bridge. We will definitely come back to Frank Jackson.
May 27th -- Now we moved to Nancy & Dave's near Forsyth, GA to prepare for our 3 week trip with them to Bonaire. Our motor home will stay parked in front of their house on 6 acres while we are gone. We will be plugged in and their granddaughter will be feeding Shadow then.
We are in Bonaire from May 31st to June 21st. We had a wonderful trip where the diving was great, the weather perfect and food delicious. I'm posting pictures from our trip on a page for the trip since there were hundreds to choose from J. See those pictures on the Favorite Trips link.
July 4th -- We are now on our slow trek northward before arriving in Quebec City in early August for a tour of the Maritimes the remainder of the month. We stopped in TN, KY and OH along the way. Next stop is Niagara Falls, then along up state NY before making it to Canada.
July 18th -- Experienced fabulous tours with Bedore Tours, first to the Canadian side of the falls. Interesting in that the Canadian side is very colorful with formal gardens and flowers blooming everywhere. It is a populated city with lots of hotels, restaurants and people everywhere. The American side is quieter as it is a national park and laid out with trees and natural areas. Not as much night life on the American side, but both are beautiful and equally enjoyable. Even looking at the same thing we got a different perspective seeing from both sides. Our American tour was on Friday night so we got to see fireworks which was great. Wish we could see the American falls from Canada at night to see the colors better. That will be another trip. We had a great time on both of these tours and went beside, behind and took a boat into the falls. We got very wet.
Both of these pictures taken from Canada....
first the American Falls then the Canadian Falls
This is us (along with a zillion other people) on the American side in front of the Canadian falls
Not far from Niagara Falls is Lockport, NY where the Erie Canal comes thru
July 30th -- After Niagara Falls we vegged on the St. Lawrence river for a couple of weeks. Don contracted shingles (ouch, big time) while we were at Niagara and we decided to use this 2 weeks before Quebec (will arrive Aug 6th) for needed down time. We've been staying near Clayton NY and not doing much.
August 1st -- The area where we are on the St. Lawrence River is also know as the 1000 Islands (yes the salad dressing started up here). There are actually more than 1800 islands and the land mass they cover is equally divided up between Canada & the US. It was hard for me to visualize so here is a map drawing and this shows only a little bit of the area involved...
Some islands have some size, but many are tiny, just enough room for one or two houses, some with hardly room for people. One house covered all remaining space with their deck Some houses are tiny some are pretty big One is Boldt Castle....a sad tale of a 127 room house being built for the lady he loved, but she died during construction so it was never completed and never lived in.
All in all it is a most interesting place there is a "millionaire row" on both the Canadian & the American side which are both a testament to people that have way too much disposable income, but there are also many houses that are more modest. We took a paddle boat tour to see the area. Well worth the time.
August 6th thru end of month -- Beginning on the 6th we met up with a group from the Newmar Kountry Klub (NKK) for a tour of the Canadian Maritimes. We met in Quebec (pronounced kebek) City where our tour began then moved thru New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. This tour was great, both the itinerary and scheduled activities and the people we met made it even more so. Lots of pictures so we felt Canada needed it's own trip page which you can see HERE.
September 1st -- We started September in Saint John, NB which was to be our last stop in Canada. We stopped at a campground and after about 30 minutes where we were nearly set up for a couple of days, we began to experience a most bizarre event. The motor home starter starter began to engage, but the engine wouldn't start because the key was off. After turning the key on, the engine would start, but the starter kept going. Disconnected the batteries to stop this bad behavior. After some finagling we were able to get the starter to quit this and drove to a local truck place that Spartan/Cummins referred us to. They rebuilt the starter and we were on our merry way. Here's hoping that doesn't happen again....whew!
September 5 -- On our way to Bar Harbor, ME to spend a week checking out the area. Pictures are taken from both the front of our campsite and thru the Acadia NP area we drove thru. The first picture is a bald eagle that flew out to one of the tiny islands in front of our campsite and sat for a couple of hours.
Catching up... -- The remainder of September spent in New England, mainly NH, VT and NY around the Lake Champlain area. Our plan was originally to spend time here until the leaves began to change colors and then follow that color change south to Georgia. However, we have a minor "ride" issue with the motor home that has become much more significant. We bounce quite violently when we are not on cruise control, which makes driving thru small towns not a good experience. So we have made an appointment the 29th with Spartan in Charlotte, MI in hopes that they can have this rectified as it has been looked at 2 or 3 times by the dealer.
New Hampshire/Vermont -- What beautiful mountains, rivers & streams. we did a little hiking, some driving on dirt roads thru the forest and picnicked beside streams & waterfalls.
The first 2 weeks of October was spent at the Spartan factory in Charlotte, MI. It took them nearly 2 weeks to figure out our problem, but they did and fixed it. While at it, they provided 6 new tires, 4 Koni shocks and a variety of other things. The ride when they finished was VERY nice. An unfortunate event happened there with a landscape rock (boulder) while we were driving.
So, to deal with this, we moved to Nappanee hoping that Newmar could fix. Unfortunately they could not work us into their schedule until end of November. That sent us to Precision Paint to arrange the fix and we are scheduled into their facility on October 27th and they hope to finish by the 31st. THEN we will be on our way to Georgia.....finally.
Oct 27 thru 31 -- We arrived at Precision paint early the 27th and they went to work immediately. You can see below that there was about 20' of scraping, denting & gouging. The forward 2 doors required replacement since they weren't water-tight any longer. Lots of sanding and bondo for the rest. In addition we asked them to lower our mirrors to where they would be less susceptible to glare from the windshield. A safety issue for us and many others with this style of mirror. They did a great job and we are very pleased with the results. Pictures below...
Today is November 1st and we are headed south to Georgia to visit family.
November 3 - 15th -- We spent several days with Don's sister and while there got to visit with our niece and her daughters and Don's mom. Afterward we went to Tampa to attend the Datastorm Rally. We had some issues with our satellite dish as it had become more & more difficult to lock on to the satellite and were hoping to get it fixed. They did fix it and we learned so much by attending seminars they held each day on various related topics.
November 16 -- After leaving Tampa we went to Brunswick to visit with Dad & Ea for a couple of days.? Don's dad looks pretty good at 87 years old... We found them well and had a good visit. Here we are out at dinner.
November 19 -- We've now moved west and have stopped at the SKP park Rainbow Plantation near Summerdale, AL for a week or so then after Thanksgiving we will head toward Livingston where our coach will reside while we are 2 weeks in Bonaire on a SCUBA trip.
December 1st -- We arrived in Livingston where we need to get arrangements made and get packed for our dive trip. We leave on the 5th and fly to Bonaire for 2 weeks. Looking forward to a great vacation.
December 5th thru 20th -- Left out of Houston at 11:30pm on the 5th arriving in Bonaire at 6:15am on the 6th. Got to the apartment unpacked, did grocery shopping, signed up for diving and crashed for a nap thru most of the afternoon. Early on Sunday we had our first dives and did that every day with the exception of Tuesday on the 2nd week when some dirty, rotten kids stole our dive bags and fins off the front gallery. The gates were locked, so they used brooms to fish out the items while we slept. We rented fins for the last 2 days of diving. Looks like time for new fins and we learned a valuable lesson....nothing gets left on the gallery. See pictures from this excursion on the Favorite Trips page.
December 21st -- Arrived back late yesterday. Today and probably tomorrow is filled with laundry and repacking the dive gear.
December 24th -- Drove from Livingston to Waco which is just under 200 miles. Arrived after 5pm at a Sam's Club in north Waco. There aren't much in the way of RV parks in the area that we've found, so we decided to stay behind Sam's. We did shop a bit there and after 6 the place was totally vacated. On Christmas day we picked up Donna's brother Grady and had Christmas dinner in the coach. Left really early (6am) on Friday the 26th and drove to Norman, OK.
December 26th thru 30th -- Spent parked at the Cleveland County Fair Grounds in Norman and spent our time with Janice & Jim at their house. One day we drove to Bricktown in OKC to visit the Bass Pro shop, but it was so cold and windy, we avoided any other activity outdoors. On the 29th we made a brief visit to Lee's RV (where we bought the motor home) for a warranty service on the refrigerator and annual service on the AquaHot then back to Norman.
December 30th -- Drove from Norman to Parker TX where we parked next door to where we used to own a home. We will be here about a week to get dentist appts and do some necessary business, errands and visiting with friends..
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This site was last updated 11/19/12