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Happy New Year! And memories of 2014…

Posted by on December 31, 2014


Happy New Year Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.HAPPY NEW YEAR! As the lights dim on 2014 and the curtain opens for the New Year, we reflect on the year just passed. And what a year it was for us…truly an adventure, full of discoveries, surprises, and lessons learned. We explored twelve states, made some good friends and learned a lot about the ourselves and “the art of traveling.”

REMEMBERING 2014. What a year it was for us! It began with some close-to-home travel in California. After a couple of warm, sunny months in Palm Springs, Temecula, Julian and Sweetwater Summit, our friends Stan and Therese were in our rear view mirror with their RV on a caravan with us to the Colorado River…Parker and Laughlin. We spent several weeks with them, laughing, dining, telling war stories and enjoying the River and the sunshine, before we parted ways and they headed to Cavitt Creek Falls in southern Oregon. It was tough saying good bye, because we didn’t have any idea when we might see them again. That’s one of the perils of making friends on the road.


In March, we got our Jeep way off the asphalt near the Colorado River at Parker, Arizona.


March 2014. Colorado River by Davis Dam, in Laughlin, Nevada.

VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK. Leaving Laughlin, we headed to Utah. But on the way we stopped at Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas, and it turned out to be much more than just a routine stop-along-the-way. We found that camping in the vast desert punctuated with huge red rock formations and crystal clear air to be almost a religious experience. We stayed a week, but could have enjoyed ourselves there lots longer. If ever you have a chance to see Valley of Fire, don’t miss it.


April 2014. Valley of Fire State Park…just about an hour from Las Vegas.

NATIONAL PARKS IN SOUTHWESTERN UTAH. By the middle of April we had arrived in southwestern Utah and were ready to visit  all the famous state and national parks in the area, including Zion, Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome. We traveled from park to park, “Jeeping” all around this spectacular area and marveling at the work of wind, sand and water in creating a landscape that is, well…not to be found anywhere else in the world. The unfamiliarity was exhilarating!


Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. (Go ahead…Google “Hoodoo. Geology.”)

OUR FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH SNOW. By the end of April, we found a beautiful camping area near the little (tiny) town of Morgan, Utah. We reached it via a winding one-lane mountain road never intended for motorhome traffic and were, in retrospect, a bit shaken by the drive. Our resourcefulness was tested, and we learned lots about our rig. Shortly after we settled in it began to snow. What do we do to keep the pipes from freezing? How do we get the snow off our patio awning? And why the hell did we extend it in the first place? Is it safe to drive this thing with snow on the roads? Did I pack anything but t-shirts? We didn’t know…but we learned. We also learned to start paying attention to weather forecasts. In most parts of the country, they “matter.” (Back home in San Diego, not so much.)


May 2014. East Canyon Resort, near Morgan, Utah. “Hey, Florence. Take a look outside this window. I think it snowed last night! Now what do we do?”

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE IN SPRINGTIME. We’ve been RVing for years, and one of our favorite destinations has always been the state of Oregon. We returned, and this time spent several weeks getting acquainted with the Columbia River Gorge area. If you’ve been following our Journey on this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a “train buff” or “rail fan.” What a spot for beautiful scenery on the mighty Columbia River and lots of freight trains to photograph!


In May, I photographed a freight train passing through the Cape Horn Tunnel along the Columbia River.


May, 2014. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

WASHINGTON STATE. In May, we spent a few weeks with Florence’s brother and his wife in Toutle, Washington, and took day trips to Mt. St. Helens, the coast and to Mt. Rainier. Next we headed northwest and were treated to weather and scenery that was very special. We drove up the Hood Canal, squeezed our rig into an absolutely breathtaking forest campsite for a week and then spent the better part of a month exploring the Olympic Peninsula. Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Lake Crescent, Forks and Cape Flattery…we saw it all and camped in some never-to-be-forgotten spots.

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June 2014. Camping on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. It was just us and, well…the forest. Absolutely beautiful.


June 2014. Hoh Rain forest in the Olympic National Park, Washington.











IDAHO: HELL’S CANYON AND THE SNAKE RIVER. Hell’s Canyon Wilderness area, Riggins, Lewiston, camping just a few feet from the Snake River and listening to it splashing on the rocks, driving the Palouse Scenic Byway…we had so many wonderful stops during July and August that if we still didn’t have lots of the country to see we’d return in a heartbeat! We didn’t get a chance to go rafting, so maybe we’ll just have to make it a point to find those rapids again!


July 2014. Snake River in Riggins, Idaho.

BY JULY OF LAST YEAR, WE’D DEVELOPED A PRETTY EFFICIENT ROUTINE. I’d become totally comfortable and adept at driving our rig and threading a needle with it to get into some spaces never designed for an RV as large as ours. My bride (of 24 years!) had done an incredible job of navigating and performing all tasks mechanical. She’s not only a computer whiz, but she can troubleshoot and repair darn near anything motorhome-related. Remember, an RV is a home on wheels, complete with plumbing, electronics and a full compliment of appliances. When you stop to consider that while driving, all these systems withstand the equivalent of an magnitude 6 earthquake every mile traveling down the road, you can imagine that lots of maintenance and repairs are the norm. This is true in any RV, new or old, expensive or inexpensive. Maintenance is a significant and ongoing financial consideration. I was amazed many times how Florence was able to repair what would have cost us a fortune to have done at an RV repair shop. We learned to work together, and developed a system so that, without any verbal communication even needed, we could pack, check all the systems, “button up,” hook up the Jeep and be on our way in no time at all. We do now in a half hour what took us several hours to do when our Adventure began. Simply stated, we’d become experienced full time RVers. Still kind of hard to believe, but true.

COEUR D’ALENE AND SANDPOINT, IDAHO. When we discovered Sandpoint, we almost decided to stay! That’s an exaggeration, but not by too much. This little town was one of our favorite stops during the entire year 2014. Nestled on the shores of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, the town is populated by the friendliest group of residents on the face of the earth. We just couldn’t get over it! The scenery is breathtaking, the area is a train buff’s dream and, well…there just isn’t anything we didn’t like about Sandpoint. One way or another, Sandpoint, Idaho hasn’t seen the last of us, that’s for sure.


August 2014. The Long Bridge leads to Sandpoint, jutting into Lake Pend Oreille. The dark line that appears to be a shadow on the lake is a train trestle. Great photos await.


July 2014. Our friend Therese came to see us in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.








MONTANA AND WYOMING.  In September 2014, we marveled at the geological formations that are Glacier National Park in Montana. We poked around Whitefish and Flathead Lake, enjoying the beauty of the area and constantly being on the lookout for bears. (We loved it!) By the end of the month, we were building lots of campfires at night. The weather got pretty brisk and when the locals began talking about expecting an early winter, we determined that we’d start heading south a bit earlier than planned.  In Wyoming we were immersed in views and stories of the Old Wild West and the railroad bringing life to the area as it was discovered and developed. Visual history lessons were everywhere.


September 2014. Glacier National Park, Montana.


September 2014. Flathead Lake at Sunset.


September 2014. The little town of Whitefish, Montana.









September 2014. Historic train depot in Cheyenne, Wyoming.


September 2014. Wide open spaces in the state of Wyoming.


We spent just enough time in Colorado to know that we want to return when we’ve got more time to explore. It would take an entire summer just to see the highlights of this scenic paradise! On our drive through New Mexico, we stopped to see if there were really any little green men in Roswell (There weren’t.) and then took in the sights of the glistening hills at White Sands National Monument. And then there was Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Words can’t adequately describe it!


October 2014. White Sands National Monument is, well…almost unbelievable!


October 2014. A room in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, photo shopped to black and white.










TEXAS HILL COUNTRY. We spent the remainder of the year at Buckhorn Lake Resort in the Texas Hill Country. The longer we stayed, the more we enjoyed it. We made some good friends and enjoyed every day we spent in this very special place. There is more to see and do in the great state of Texas than we’d ever imagined. We loved it. We’ll return for sure.

Entrance to Buckhorn

November 2014. Entrance to Buckhorn Lake Resort in Kerrville, Texas.

Our casita on the left.

November 2014. Our space at Buckhorn Lake Resort. We had a little “coach house” with a big patio right by our rig. Very nice!










December 2014. A Texas Longhorn, up close and personal! These animals are friendly, curious and intelligent. This one would have followed us home if he’d been invited.


December 2014. Seeing exotic animals on the Texas ranches is an everyday occurrence in the Hill Country. Can you imagine…a Zebra in an open field rather than in a zoo? Very cool!








WHAT A YEAR IT’S BEEN! I still vividly recall a specific afternoon several years ago when Florence and I were sitting on our front porch in San Diego’s back country. All was well. We loved our home and the little mountain community of Deerhorn Valley where we lived. We were enjoying retirement. We had a fabulous property in the country with a golf-course-immense lawn, almost two hundred rose bushes, fruit trees, a grove of ancient oak trees and a seasonal stream, good friends and lots of activities. But we’d always talked about seeing the country…exploring the United States…having a “Great American Adventure.” “Let’s upgrade to a bigger motorhome and take-off,” I suggested. Her response was something like, “You’re crazy…OK, let’s go.” And now we’re doing it! We’re full-time RVers, seeing the country as it can’t be seen and explored any other way. No regrets…it was the best decision we’ve ever made. We’ve already gathered a lifetime of memories and we’ve got lots of the country yet to explore! Thanks for joining us!


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