| Jan.9 - Feb.23, 2006 --|
Wow! Here we are at the start of another year. We are leaving Deming, NM and going to Benson, AZ. in search of warmer weather. The days are great in Deming, but the nights get pretty cold. Benson is at about the same elevation, so the conditions won't be too different. Benson is just a step on the way further west, and we'll be staying here for a week.
Our next stop is Gila Bend, AZ. Gila Bend is about 60 miles from Phoenix. It is a very small town, but there is much to see in the area. Made a trip to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. This is where the really tall cacti live. Many different varieties of cactus - I had no idea. Visited a small town in extreme southern Arizona named Ajo (pronounced "ah-ho"), and found this beautiful church in the middle of town. Also, west of Gila Bend we found a small petroglyph site that was left behind by the Tohono O'odham indians.
While in Gila Bend we traveled to Phoenix to do some shopping and some sightseeing. The construction that is being done in the Phoenix area is staggering. Housing developments and shopping centers going up on all sides. It was kind of depressing. Even the small towns 50 miles away are being built up on all sides. The houses are large, the lots are small, and the prices start in the mid 200's. EEEKKK! It's a double-edged sword. The small towns could use more commercial development, but they're losing the open spaces. Luckily, there's a lot of desert left.
One last thing ---- after almost two years of molasses slow internet connections using my cell phone, we finally decided to buy a satellite dish. Hurray!!! It's huge, but easy to assemble and much faster. Now there won't be anyplace we can't get online.
| Feb.24 - April 6, 2006 --|
Leaving Gila Bend behind us, we made our way west on I-8 toward Yuma, AZ. There are so many large, tightly packed rv resorts in Yuma that the population must double during the winter. We try to stay clear of towns with a large population, so we stopped for a week in Welton, AZ. - a much smaller town with a little shopping, but close enough to Yuma that we could get there in about 20 minutes. Sometimes we find a very nice park to stay in, but sometimes we aren't so lucky. This particular park was small and it was about 500 feet away from the railroad tracks. Yes, they were in use daily, and yes, they were loud. We were so close to the tracks that the passing trains caused our motorhome to vibrate. Probably won't be returning to that park any time soon. I was surprised to find that there was a large population of seasonal people there.
At the end of our week, we gleefully left for Quartzsite, AZ. Quartzsite is a town that is surrounded by BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and designated LTV areas. LTV's are Long Term Visitor areas that are on BLM land and very cheap. You can pull off the highway and park anywhere in this area. There are thousands upon thousands of people who camp there from December to February every year. During this time the place is like a zoo. Open air stores line the streets and you can get almost anything rv related - several large rv dealers even set up shop in open lots to sell campers. The town is one large flea market.
We were curious about it, but were hoping to avoid the throngs of people. A lot of the zoo atmopsphere was gone, but there was enough left for us to get a feel for the place. At the end of our stay in Quartzsite, we made the decision to travel east instead of going further west. The next leg of this trip took us to Las Cruces, NM where we had some work done on the motorhome- then we headed for Texas.
We stopped in Van Horn for a night, Fort Stockton for four days, and finally here, Carrizo Springs. The weather has been getting increasingly warmer - until today when it was 89º with 49% humidity. At this rate, we might decide to postpone any further travel to extreme southern Texas until next winter. This might be a good time to start heading north.
| April 7 - May 1, 2006 --|
Our plans at the end of last month included a trip to Florida; hoping to get there before it gets too humid. Unfortunately, Texas is so big and takes such a long time to get across that we have changed our plans and will be traveling to Florida closer to Christmas. We have been in Seguin, Texas (pronounced seh-gine) for a week and will be staying another week. We were here for Easter and the owners of the rv park made dinner for everyone who wanted to eat. They made a turkey and a ham with sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, strawberry shortcake and apple pie. There was enough food for 20 people (but there were only eight of us), so they sent us all home with plates piled high with food. It was great! Seguin is on the beautiful Guadalupe River, and is about 25 miles east of San Antonio on Interstate 10.
We went to San Antonio the other day to visit the Alamo. San Antonio is a beautiful city, but I was surprised when we had to search for The Alamo. Somehow I thought that it would be much more visible. It is almost in the middle of town, surrounded by stores and traffic lights. The Alamo is on it's own block - so to speak. I can almost visualize it sitting alone on the open plain. The building is surrounded by a stone wall and has a walkway of arches leading from the side. It's a beautiful setting.
Left Seguin on April 21 and made a short three-day stopover near Schulenburg, Texas. The Schulenburg area is famous for a series of churches built in the towns of Praha, Dubina, High Hill, and Ammannsville. They are called "painted churches" because they are so beautifully decorated. The rest of the month will be spent in New Caney, Texas(about 20 miles north of Houston); finally changing our course and travelling in a more northerly direction.
| May 1 - May 29, 2006 -- |
We've been traveling only about 100-150 miles between campgrounds during the past two months. We've been doing this for two reasons -- first, gas is too expensive to be filling this beast more than once a month (we get around 450 miles out of a tank of gas); second, because this is really the best way to see the country. This trip took us from New Caney to Murchison, Texas (north and slightly west), for a week and then to Marshall, Texas (more north and back east again).
The campground near Marshall is actually halfway between Marshall and Jefferson, Texas. Jefferson is located on the Big Cypress Bayou and is a unique town with many buildings and red brick streets preserved from Civil War times. Also, in this part of Texas we found Caddo Lake. The lake is bordered by Caddo Lake State Park on one side and the town of Uncertain, Texas on the other. I love that name. Uncertain is a typical lake community, except that the area reminded me of swampland I had seen in Florida. There was water everywhere and the Cypress trees were hung with Spanish Moss.
The rest of the month of May was spent in Arkansas. Arkansas was one state in which we have not yet spent any time. From Marshall, Texas we traveled to White Oak Lake State Park in Bluff City, Arkansas, about 30 miles east of Hope, Arkansas - the birth place of Bill clinton. White Oak Lake State Park was a very nice park with extra wide camp sites with patios. We stayed there for a week (would have been longer if the park had sewer connections) before continuing on to Lake Village, a small town that sits on the edge of Lake Chicot near the Mississippi/Arkansas state line. The next leg of our trip will take us across the Mississippi River and then north to Memphis,TN.
| May 29 - June 8, 2006 -- |
We are leaving Lake Village, AR and crossing the Mississippi River on US Hwy 82. We'll be stopping tonight at the Hollywood Casino Tunica in Robinsonville, MS. A stay of two days will give us time to check out the state park in Millington, TN to find out if we want to stay there. The only places to stay in this corner of Tennessee are some RV parks in Memphis (tourist area=expensive) or a state park closer to Munford, TN where George's nephew Bobby lives. Haven't seen Bobby in more than 20 years. Bob decided to come out here to visit us, so I guess we will stay three more days at the Hollywood Casino Tunica RV Park.
Tunica County Mississippi has become a mini-Las Vegas. I'm amazed at the land-based casino/hotels that are here. Three of them have rv parks and their own golf courses and cover enough land area to be a separate town. The casinos in this area include Bally's, Hollywood Casino, Grand Casino, Gold Strike, Sheraton, Fitzgerald's and Resorts Casino. It's funny that we are here because I don't gamble. Oh well ---.
We went to Memphis this morning to try to get a glimpse of Graceland (too cheap to pay for a tour). Graceland covers many acres and the home itself is set back so far from the street that you really can't see much without taking the tour. Across Elvis Presley Blvd is an area set aside for Elvis's planes - surrounded by a fence, but you can see the top of them. Tried to get a shot of the front gate, but it was open and the traffic on the street was pretty heavy. So, all in all, these pictures aren't good ones. At least it proves we were there, 'cause I couldn't have bought such awful pictures.
Leaving Robinsonville, MS - we head for Caruthersville, MO and Casino Aztar. This casino has penny slots - At last!! something I can afford!! Since I'm saving pennies in a small clear blue pig, I might risk some of them. This casino is right on the Mississippi River (only a couple hundred feet fron our campsite) and there are benches on the bank so we can sit and stare at it. Tugboats push barges back and forth on the river all day long, and it's very relaxing to watch them, as well as the ocassional riverboat. We leave here on Thursday, June 8 and plan to drive into Illinois on Rte. 57.
| June 9 - July 21, 2006 -- |
Our trip through Southern Illinois took us to a small campground in Herrin where the park host spent his spare time carving faces and animals out of tree trunks. Made the park look kind of whimsical. After Herrin, we stopped in Rantoul and spent a week on the former Chanute Air Force base.The Octave Chanute Museum is nearby and includes a military airplane display.
We are finally back in Bolingbrook. A lot of changes in the area - mostly shopping. Strip malls are going up right and left. There is no longer such a thing as an empty lot in Bolingbrook. I managed to see my doctor and George got his eyes checked and Patty made it to the vet - all on the same day. This means that the rest of the week is free. I managed to get in some shopping with Natasha, saw a movie with Misty, and went to the track to watch Destini race her GoKart. We stayed in Bolingbrook (in Jim's driveway) for a week and then it was time to move on.
It took us two weeks to get to the other side of Indiana. We have spent the past week in Huntington, Indiana. Huntington is the birthplace of Dan Quayle. It is a very nice town and it is about 50 miles from the town where James Dean is buried. It is also about 40 miles from Berne, Indiana. Berne is a town that has a Mennonite and an Amish community and we found ourselves sharing the town streets with horse and buggy vehicles. They all had orange warning triangles on the back of the buggy. The funniest sight was a farm on the outskirts of town that had three buggies with orange triangles parked in the driveway. The Amish farms that could be seen from the highway were extremely well maintained and looked prosperous. After a week in Huntington, Indiana, we hit the road for points further east - Tiffin, Ohio; Brunswick, Ohio; Conneaut, Ohio. Next stop is Gasport, New York.
| July 22 - Aug.11 -- |
This next section seems to rely heavily on water. I have always wanted to go to Niagara Falls, so that is where we are heading next. I had not realized that New York was a major producer of wine. A large area in the western part of the state is wine country, with many small vineyards. Other types of fruit are also in evidence, with many farms offering "you-pick um" fields of blueberries and peaches. Niagara Falls is beautiful - but, like The Alamo, it is smack dab up against the city of Niagara Falls. The force of the water running over the falls is amazing. It certainly doesn't flow gently over the cliff and the water spray was like a cloud hanging over the area. Since we try not to spend money on touristy things, we went into Niagara State Park and there are free observation areas at the top of the falls (although parking is not free). Because of our location, all of my pictures are from the top of the falls. I think everyone has already seen the better pictures of the area anyway. We were also close to the Erie Canal and the locks in Lockport, NY. We found a parking lot that overlooked the canal and were able to look down on it while a boat was coming through. At the end of our week in Gasport, we went a little further south to the Finger Lakes region of New York. The lakes in this area have lots of waterfalls. Taughannock Falls in Cayuga Lake State Park is the highest free-falling waterfall in the Northeast US and is 33 ft. taller than Niagara Falls. Some of the waterfalls are right on the side of the road.
From the Finger Lakes Region we traveled to Hancock, Vermont. Vermont is mountainous and densely forested. We stayed in Arlington, VT, about 8 miles from Manchester. Manchester Center is a shoppers paradise. The town is an outlet town. All of the stores you'd find in an outlet mall have their own stores in Manchester Center. The outlet stores are interspersed with restauants, B and B's, and Country Inns. It's a very interesting town, with a flavor all it's own. Manchester is also the site of Robert Todd Lincoln's summer hone - Hildene , and theEquinox Resort. I recommend a trip there if possible. From Vermont, our next stop was New Hampshire. We didn't stay as long as we could have in New Hampshire. It is a beautiful state also, with mountains and forests and attractive little towns. Next stop -- Wiscasset, Maine.
| Aug. 11 - 27 -- |
I have always wanted to visit Maine, so that is the ultimate goal of this leg of our travels. We took a road that ran up the coast from New Hampshire to Nova Scotia. The road wound through some very picturesque tourist towns and in hindsight was not a good idea with our large motorhome. But we survived and stopped in Wiscasset for a weeks' stay. Wiscasset was a lovely little town that sits on the Sheepscot River. It's midway up the Maine coast and about 5 miles south of Boothbay Harbor. There was an Alpaca farm just outside of town and I was able to fulfill another desire of mine. From Wiscasset we traveled north along the coast to Camden, Maine. The Camden Hills State Park has an overlook that offers a great view of the Maine coast. We figured that we should start heading south by Sept 20th in order to make it to Florida by Dec 20th, but here it was only August 15th and the weather was starting to change. We changed our plans and started south on August 21st.
Our next stop was Littleton, Massachusettes. We stayed at the Boston Minuteman Campground, which was only a few miles from the Minuteman National Historical Park and about 20 miles from Boston. The Minuteman National Historical Park inlcudes the battleroute between Lexington and Concord and the North Bridge which marks the site of the "shot heard round the world". From the Minuteman State Park, we went into Boston to check out the Bunker Hill Monument and the Old North Church. The Bunker Hill Monument was closed for repairs and maintenance with a chain link fence around the bottom, but the neighborhood was so different from anything I was used to that it was great just being there. The streets are only wide enough for one car (with cars parked on both sides) and all streets are one way (thankfully). It was a disaster trying to drive around. The neighborhood where the Old North Church is located is the same, but it is in the middle of a business area. It was a madhouse. Despite the difficulties of getting around, it was an exhilirating experience.
This period of travel has been exciting as there is so much to see in this section of the country. From Boston, we traveled through Rhode Island to North Branford, CT, which is next door to New Haven. I was born in Milford, CT but left there when I was about 6 months old (to the best of my recollection)and have never returned. This was the object of my interest in visiting the New Haven area. Milford turned out to be a charming town. Our stops for the next four or five weeks will be in Pennsylvania.
| Sept.10 - Nov. 4 -- |
While traveling through Pennsylvania, we stopped in the Philadelphia area to visit my Aunt & Uncle, Jack & Esther Price. From there we made our way to Gettysburg, PA. We took a self-guided driving tour of the Gettysburg National Military Park and a walking tour of the Gettysburg National Cemetary where President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. The National Military Park surrounds the town of Gettysburg and includes the Civil War Battlefields. The soldiers and officers who fought there are honored by hundreds of monuments & statues scattered around the battlefields. It is truly an awe-inspiring place to visit. We stayed for several days, but it wasn't long enough.
From Gettysburg, we drove through the beautiful mountains of West Virginia, stopping at a campground in a tiny little town in Northern West Virginia. While there our Saturn broke down and we were grateful for an emergency road service contract. Next, we went to Appamottax, VA. The Appamottax Court House and the house where General Lee surrendered the confederate troops has been preserved in Old Appomattox. Continuing south, we traveled to Milledgeville, GA. Milledgeville was the capitol of Georgia during the Civil War. The original capitol building is now the campus of Georgia Military College. From Milledgeville to Tifton, GA for a week, then on to Tallahassee, FL to have some work done on the motorhome.
| Nov 5 - Dec 31 -- |
As we continue this journey, we spend two weeks in the parking lot of Camping World while we wait for parts to arrive and work to be done. The only upside of this experience lies in the fact that the Camping World was in an RV dealership and they had water and electric hook-ups in the parking lot. Camping was free for the 10 days of our stay. The repairs were finally completed, and we headed east to White Springs, FL. White Springs is the home of the Stephen Foster Cultural Center State Park and the Suwanee River. Stayed for two weeks in White Springs before leaving for Scottsmoor, Fl where we will stay until the shuttle is launched. The shuttle went up on Nov. 9 and it was spectacular. We took lawn chairs and jackets and parked ourselves across the Indian River from the launch pad in Space View park. The park was crowded, but we got there early and got spots to put our chairs right up front near the river. It was a night launch and it turned the sky from night to day, then became a ball of flame until we couldn't see it anymore. I was so intent on watching this launch that I didn't get any pictures -- but tv coverage gets a closer view than I had. Our final stop of 2006 was in Port Richey, Fl where we spent Christmas and New Years Eve with Sarah, Tom, Jessie, Katie, and Becca. Hard to believe we were at a beach on December 29th and it was 80º. It was a great visit! Now, on to 2007 (isn't that unbelievable?). Happy New Year to All!!