Start Of Our Fourth Year Full-Timing

After being stationary for five months in Florida there were mixed emotions about packing up and being on the road again.  Excited, yes (It was too long for Gene not to be behind the wheel) but I also became really comfortable where we were.  We had a great time with a lot of our friends that have moved to Florida over the course of the year so it seems like we were picking up in the South where we left off in the North.  Who would have guessed 5 couples would relocate near each other.

So, Tuesday, April 4th was Moving Day. We weren’t going far just two hours north to Thousand Trails RV Resort in Clermont, FL. Spending a couple of days in Disney World with our friends Tom and Barb. since we haven’t moved our house in five months, so I was a little apprehensive that everything would function like it was supposed to. I completed all of the maintenance that needed to be done; changed the oil, oil filter, air filter, Checked the batteries with a hydrometer topped off the batteries where needed, cleaned and lubricated the Roadmaster hitch, cleaned and lubricated the jack rods and check the tires. The tires lost about 2 psi per tire, not much but I aired up anyways. I replaced the oil pan plug with a Fumoto Valve, which will make changing the 7 quarts of oil much easier. I also ran the generator under load for a couple of hours every month and ran the engine at a fast idle a couple of times for about 30 minutes. (I’m not sure that did anything except make me feel better) Everything went smooth, the 3 slides came in without any problems, the jacks retracted smoother than they ever did, and the engine started right up. The only problem we had was trouble bringing in our awning. Last problem I wanted. We had the awning motor replaced in Virginia last September and I thought we were done with that. Well it was a simple fix. Each awning arm has a locking knob and I forgot to loosen them. Problem solved. Add that to the checklist.

Last year we traveled about 10,000 miles in our coach, Made 33 stops including stops in between our major stops, of which there were twelve. We traveled west, north, east and south and spent the winter in Nokomis, FL.

This year we are traveling in the complete opposite direction. Reason being we need to end up in New Mexico for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October and didn’t want to crisscross the US adding about six thousand miles to our trip (Thanks Kelly!). We also want to see the Oregon Coast. The mileage for 2017 will be the about the same 10k, but we will make 47 stops including thirteen major stops. WHAT?!!! (that’s me, Eileen, reading this)

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2016 Map

April 4th and 5th

We arrived in Clermont about 2 pm and it was pouring rain. That scuttled our plans for a trip to Disney that night. Wednesday was a beautiful day! We put Max in Day Care (love that place.  It’s like a country club with doggie pools) at Disney and met Tom and Barb at Epcot around 10 am.

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Tom and Barb!

First ride we went on was Space Ship Earth and it was a 30 minute wait. Nice relaxing ride to start our day. Disney takes your picture at the beginning of the ride and make up a story about you and show it to you on the way out.  How silly.  See what our would-be grandchildren are missing?

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We were at Disney in time for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

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Eileen and Barb flying on wings of butterflies!

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After a lunch of Fish & chips in England and Brats in Germany we took a boat over to Hollywood Studios for Muppet Vision 3D. Probably one of the best 3D movies I’ve seen and it was the Muppet’s, very funny!

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We took the boat back to Epcot Mexico for a beer and see Frozen, but Frozen was shut down indefinitely.  From what I hear from friends, it’s been going on for a while.  Sad for the people with kids that have one opportunity.  Lots of little girls dressed up waiting in line.  We picked up Max after that and called it a day.  We had season passes this year and saw that for three days in the parks it would cost us the same for a years pass, plus free parking (a $20 savings).  Crazy!  Sometimes it’s good to be a senior.

Next stop Fayetteville, NC to see family.

 

Winnebago Grand National Rally and a visit to The Blabaum RV Resort July 2016

This was our second time at the Winnebago Rally in Forest City, Iowa.  We met our good RV friends, Kim and Denise Blabaum there and then headed to their house in Wisconsin for a few days before making the trek back to the East Coast.  Also, had a chance to meet some new friends that are heading to the same FL. area as we are.  I guess since this was our second time at the rally, it was a little less hectic and we had a chance look around and hit more specific seminars that met our needs.  We also had a chance to get some work done on the rig at the Winnebago factory while there.

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Long line to get into the Winnebago GNR.
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We are first in line.
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Kim and I were able to park next to each other.
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Does my ass make this golf cart look small?
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Sunset.
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Watching the entertainment.
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Blabaum RV Resort.  What a great parking spot!
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One of the amenities of the Blabaum’s RV Resort is the owners take you out on the lake with their leisure boat.
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Cocktails are served!
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What a life!
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Put the baby down and step away!

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Another one of the amenities the owner will wash your motor home.
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Cheap labor!

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Perfect ending to our stay at The Blabaum RV Resort.
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Our last night visiting our friends, Kim and Denise we lit some lanterns and sent them up…until next year!

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On route I-80 East we found our doppelganger!
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We both had just come from Wisconsin.
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We’ll take the one that’s cleaner.

The Stanley Hotel (Aka The Shining Hotel) July 2016

OMG…we can’t seem to get out of the state of Colorado, we enjoy it so much.  We took a ride to Estes Park where The Stanley Hotel,  a 420-room Colonial Revival hotel is located.  Approximately five miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, the Stanley offers panoramic views of Lake Estes, the Rockies and especially Long’s Peak. It was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame and opened on July 4, 1909, catering to the American upper class at the turn of the century. The hotel and its surrounding structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Stanley Hotel also hosted the horror novelist Stephen King, serving as inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in his 1977 bestseller The Shining and location for the 1997 miniseries. Today, it includes a restaurant, spa, and bed-and-breakfast and provides guided tours which feature the history and alleged paranormal activity of the site. (From Wikipedia).  The story of the Stanley brothers is one worth reading.  The hotel has a number of rooms open to the public to stay and for business and wedding functions. I’d love to stay there but probably wouldn’t get much sleep.

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The walk up to The Stanley Hotel.

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Front lobby.

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Stanley Steamer An interesting read.

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Conference room.

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Staircase to the bedrooms.
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Hallway to room 217.
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Room 217 where the most notorious  paranormal activity took place. This is also the room that was the inspiration for Stephen Kings novel “The Shining”. It’s also the room Jim Carey stayed in while filming “Dumb and Dumber. He stayed about two hours before running out of the hotel like a crazy person. He moved to another hotel.
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I took this selfie and nothing appeared in the mirror except me.
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Eileen took this selfie and she is NOT in the picture and there appears to be a wedding dress in the hallway. Same mirror. Spooky!  The hotel guide requested it to be forwarded to her.

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Basement where the staff worked.  The guests never saw the staff.  They traveled back and forth in these tunnels.

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Michael comes to Ft. Collins – Greeley Stampede Rodeo June 2016

Talk about a delay!  We are delayed about 6 months  on our whereabouts, through our own fault.  Every time we talk about putting something up we get distracted and find something else to do or some place to go .  Anyone that asks “won’t you be bored in retirement” has no idea how time is flying by even when you don’t set alarms anymore.

We are now enjoying this so much that the kids have suggested they come and visit us wherever we are.  Only the exciting spots though.  To continue our blog about Colorado, we were here for two months staying near Mark when Michael called and wanted to visit.  The kids are so geographically separated that we try and travel to visit each during the year but it’s nice when they suggest visiting us.  We’re usually in a spot they would not get to with active things to do so this was a treat, plus he could stay with Mark.  So,  out comes Michael for some great times.  Lots of hiking,  Snow in June (with a smack of an altitude headache)…and yummy food.  He loved it so much that he’s going back to stay with Mark in February.

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Hike to Horsetooth Reservoir One of our favorite places!
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Overlooking Horsetooth Reservoir

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Hunting for a geocache
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Mark found it.
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They used an ammo can as the container.

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Awww!

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Someone was hungry. Got soup?

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The Mayor of Old Town is one of the many local breweries in Old Town and had 100 beers on tap. No Shock Top though. When I asked for Shock Top the waitress told me they only serve local beers. Shock Top was born and raised in Fort Collins. Nice bar we had a good time here.
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Trail Ridge Road

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Looking down from the road that climbs up to the Trail Ridge Road.

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Eileen and Michael playing the xylophone along Estes Park River Walk.
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Just chillin.
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Another geocache. Eileen’s found this in a roundabout near our campground.

The Greeley Stampede. Can’t remember the last time I’d been to a rodeo.

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Bull Riding
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Calf Roping
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Bronco Riding

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Hooter’s yes we were there for the food!

Colorado, Part One

If you’ve been following us recently, you know we have been in a major catch-up mode with our travels and as a result try to remember where we left off and actually what day it is.  With that said, I think we left off when we were in LV.  At any rate…to recap somewhat…we spent a month in Las Vegas visiting Matt and Julie and learned Matt had gotten a promotion and would be moving to DC for a year.  I spent a few weeks with them helping to pack up their home while Gene had to take an unscheduled trip to FL.  We had planned to visit Utah before arriving in Colorado at  Mark’s…but, sometimes unexpected life challenges arise and we ran out of time as we were committed to a campground in mid May.  We will be back to that part of the country next time.  The KOA in Ft. Collins is where we called home for the last two months.

I have to say, the number of parks in this town and Loveland area are amazing.  They are dog friendly, beautifully maintained and organize numerous concerts, activities, festivals, etc. during the summer.  You are never bored and sometimes have a hard choice of which to choose from.  And…all are free!  When we first arrived as usual in past years, we had rain almost every day but then it turned dry.  I can see why they fear fires.  It seemed like almost overnight the grass turned brown and the risk of wildfire was closely monitored each day.  There is also never a bad view no matter where you look.  One of the interesting things was, as you sat outside with an adult beverage, you could actually follow the rain and watch a storm coming over the mountains, almost all the time passing just beyond where you are.  We love this part of the country and every time we stay here we wind up extending our stay longer and longer.

We had Gene’s son, Michael come out for a visit and although we had a fantastic time, it was way too short for all.  That part is coming up in Part Two!  Stay tuned for more summer reading.  We promise to be more diligent!

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This is a really nice spot. Lots of room with a brick patio, grill, furniture and fire pit.

Our neighborhood has a one-mile walking path around a small lake. On one of our first walks we discovered that the campground is inhabited with bears and zebras. These zebras can climb trees! Must have learned it from the bears.

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We were prepared for anything after seeing the zebra in a tree, so we thought we would try our luck with The Devil’s Backbone and hike up to the Keyhole. This is a pretty easy 5 mile round trip hike, unless you start at high noon on a 95 degree day. ( I know two people and a dog that won’t do that again!)

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Success, The Keyhole!

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We eventually had to turn around, because the heat was too much for Max.

Matt and Julie stopped at Mark’s for a few days on their way to Washington, DC. It was great to finally have both boys together.  That doesn’t happen too often and for Matt to have his bike with him was a special treat for Mark to ride with him in this weekend fundraiser. The ride and rally was for Realities Ride for Children. This is well attended every year. Approximately 3,000 bikers attended.

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Eileen and Julie with the Law Tiger.
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Bacon Chocolate Funnel Cake! Amazing!
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I always smile when I make new friends!
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Time to say good bye.  Why don’t we have a bike?  

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After Matt and Julie left on their way to DC , our friends Kim and Denise from Wisconsin stopped by for a few days.

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Lunch at The Wild Rose in Estes Park.

We took a ride to Estes Park  at 7,500 ft and Trail Ridge Road at 12,000.

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Elk at the beginning of our climb to the 12,000 ft Trail Ridge Road.
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Selfie practice !
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Yes, I’m wearing Crocs…what was I thinking!  And yes, that is a wall of snow! 
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Kim, Denise, Ei and me.
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Max found his spot.

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There is a foot-trail to the top of the mountain but closed because of snow. This trail started at 11,796 ft.

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This is the winding road around the mountain.  Not too many guard rails. ( I like coming up because your on the inside)!

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Trying to capture a picture of the marmot  living in the rocks

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Selfie success!
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12,000 feet!
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Campfire at Kim & Denise’s coach with Mark.
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Oh,we’re getting good at these  

 

Catching Up

Weerrr  Baaak!  It’s been so long since we wrote about our travels that we are going to do a quick catch-up of this year and then try to keep up with places as we visit them.  No, we didn’t fall off the face of the earth or give up this fantastic live style!  Surprise!!!!  We’re still loving it.  So…Since our last blog…(can’t remember how long ago) we had put our RV home in storage and rented an apartment in FL.  for several months in 2014 with Gene’s mother.  When summer came we hit the road again.  In May, attended the last College Graduation (Michael), met up with RV friends for a few weeks in the Outer Banks, attended my niece, Sarah’s wedding in NY while Gene’s mother went to Boston for the summer and we headed out west.  Traveled to visit kids, friends, more family and finally back down to Florida in October, 2015 for a few months while helping set up Gene’s mother at Aston Gardens Independent Living in Venice.  We planned on leaving FL. Jan. 2 but we liked it so much we decided to stay another month before heading Westward-Ho again.  We left with another RV couple headed to Quartzsite, AZ.  We stopped to visit friends Guy and Sue Alexander in AL. and then Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  We were there for two days of craziness and got a call with family emergency and had to head back to FL.  Gene’s mother had developed an infection and wound up in the hospital for a week and recuperating at home for another few weeks.  We wound up staying til the end of Feb. and started out again.   This time we made it out to AZ. where our friends Kelly and Bill Murray waited for us to arrive and hung out boondocking/drycamping (meaning no hookups in the desert) another two weeks with us.  What great friends in this RV community!  We then went our separate ways as they are headed to Alaska to workcamp and we headed to Las Vegas to visit with my son, Matthew and his wife, Julie.  The pictures below start right before we left Florida for the second time which we wound up being there for a few birthdays.

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Birthday party for Eileen and my mother at the Pelican point Golf and Country Club . Going clockwise: Dave-Richard-Billy-Eileen-Yo-Rosa-Aunt Theresa-Lisa-Christine-Patty. Photography by Wayne
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Eileen dancing with Kim at a dance at a Kim & Denise’s condo community at Welcome Back dance.
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Air boating through the bayous of Louisiana with our friends Kelly and Bill.  A must if you are in the area.  Our guide was a wealth of knowledge and an all around fun guy.

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Mardi Gras New Orleans (Nawlins)

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Yeah,  he wishes.
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Having dinner and looking out the balcony in New Orleans
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Looking the other way

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Eileen collected a lot of beads…me not so much!
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Yes, they were real!
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Camp site at Oleno State Park FL
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Black River State Park FL. I’m going left!  You can’t make this stuff up.
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Lakeside RV Park, Livingston LA

Is it a table…or a bench?

The Alamo San Antonio, TX

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The Natural Bridge Caverns The caverns are located near the city of San Antonio, Texas in the Texas Hill Country next to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, a drive-through wildlife safari park. The caverns feature several unique speleothems and other geological formations. The temperature inside the cave is 21 degrees Celsius (70°F)[2] year-round and the humidity rate is a constant 99 percent. The deepest part of the public tour is 180 feet below the surface, although undeveloped areas of the cavern reach depths of 230 feet. (Wikipedia)

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Cavern entrance
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Natural Bridge and cavern entrance
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Heading down 180 feet

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Hiking back up
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The green light in the top center is the beginning of the Spelunkers tour. Pictures of Spelunking or as it is now being called Caving.  Lots of Guano on the ceilings…I call it bat poop.

San Antonio River Walk

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Having dinner at The Saltgrass Steakhouse.  Lots of Texas BBQ.
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Mission San Jose

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The Rose Window

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Living quarters of people working and living at mission.

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Mission San Jose Church

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Tombstone AZ (Gunfight at the OK Corral)

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Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp and Morgan Earp walking down to fight at OK Corral.

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Met up with other RV Dreamer friends, Greg and Cori and Lee and Trace in Tucson, AZ

 

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Finally!!! arriving at Quartzsite, AZ.  La Posa South LTVA.  Many were gone that gather every Jan. for the RV show there, but still some interesting campers left.

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The Neighborhood! Us on the left, Bill and Kelly in the center and Bert on the right. Not pictured to the left of us about a quarter of a mile a way Les and Sue and Mike and Claudia.

A special thanks to Bill & Kelly for sticking around Q and organizing the dinner at their house and helping us get settled at Q and the trip to Los Algondones, Mexico. Thanks!  Not to mention the trip to the desert bar!

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It’s tradition that when friends are arriving from a long drive to campground to have dinner for them. We love that tradition. From left: Kelly, Ei,Gino, Bert, Mike, Claudia,Sue and Les (Big Boomer) Photography by Bill.
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Yes, someone is camping in the desert in a boat!
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I don’t know how they sleep in this, but they do have solar!
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Breakfast with Bill & Kelly in Quartzite

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

 

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Many people use ATVs for recreation and transportation in the desert.  We’re still cleaning up the dust and sand from it.

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Our destination Palm Canyon

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Max wants to give a shout-out to his friends “Hobie” and “Mikey” and “Gracie the cat”.
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Our reason for the hike-Palm trees in the crevasse

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These cactus are about 75 years old.  Otherwise, no comment.
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KOFA, the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 to protect desert bighorn sheep.  It encompasses 665,400 acres of Sonoran Desert.  Broad, gently sloping foothills as well as the sharp, needlepoint peaks of mountains are found in the refuge.  Wide variety of plant life and scattered waterholes attract a number of water birds to the desert.
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Too much hiking for this little guy.
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Outdoor movie night and popcorn at the Murray’s.

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Why is the sky so much better in the West?

 

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Los Algodones, Mexico

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There are a lot of people that travel to Mexico to get dental work done.  Us included.  We traveled there one day to get our teeth cleaned.  It was the best cleaning we have ever had.  The equipment was high tech., better than my dentist in VA!  We were  very impressed and Gene had a crown re cemented that he had lost.  Teeth cleaning – $25.00.  Score!

 

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Waiting to get our teeth cleaned
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Going native!

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I think the salsa was too hot!

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The line to get back into the US

The Desert Bar, Parker, AZ

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Heading to the Nellie E Saloon (Desert Bar) in Parker, AZ.  This is a unique bar located on the site of an old copper mining camp.   It is run strictly on solar energy and is stored in batteries and run through inverters.  They have live music, food and only open on weekends.  The church is made of solid steel and the walls and ceiling are made of the same stamped tin as the bar.  It is one side but people hold marriage ceremonies and photo ops there.  It is 5 miles of dirt, rocky road and hills off the main highway.  You definitely need a truck and a drink by the time you arrive and well worth the trip.
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Not a road for the faint of heart!
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Owners house.  The tall structures are cooling towers.  They work similar to an evaporative (swamp) cooler, except they don’t have a fan.  When you wet the pads on top, cool air falls and you get a nice cool airflow.

 

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Big Boomer & Sue
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Kelly & Sue
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Looking down at the band
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Line to get food
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Same line

 

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you can see the solar panels on top.

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Church
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Les (Big Boomer), Sue, Gino, Eileen, Claudia, Mike, Bill and Kelly
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Sunset at Q (Quartzite, AZ)

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One of the pleasures of this lifestyle, chewing the fat around the fire.
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Sunset reflecting off our house

 

Bike ride to Death Valley

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Eileen & Julie  Trying to attach a Gremlin Bell on Matt’s new bike supposed to protect the riders and bike.  .
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Rick & Wendy on the left and Matt & Julie on the right on the way to Death Valley.

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No we are not on a bike!

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Brunch at hotel
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Rick, Wendy, Matt,  Julie and Eileen & Max

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This looked like camouflage

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Easter Brunch

This brunch was awesome! Biggest brunch I’ve ever been to. The menu doesn’t cover half the items. Should have gone to the Dessert Bar first!!

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Valley of Fire State Park

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This is the oldest state park in NV.  It derives its name from red sandstone formations.  They often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays.
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Campground looked like a great place to camp in the park.

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The Beehives
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More beehives

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Mouse Tank Trail  Named for a Paiute Indian renegade who used this one place to hideout in the 1890’s after being accused of killing two prospectors and one of the few places that had water.

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Rock art from prehistoric Ancient Pueblo Peoples.  They didn’t stay long in this area because of the scarcity of water.  They were farmers from nearby Moapa Valley Indian reservation that were visited for hunting, religious ceremonies and food gathering.
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End of the trail – Mouse Tank

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Eileen on the White Domes trail.  This site is used as many movie sites.  Sandstone formations with brilliant contrasting colors and a one-mile hike.

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Shortly after we arrived here the campground had a Customer Appreciation night.

 

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Home in Las Vegas

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Kayaking in Robinson Preserve

Last weekend the weather was perfect and we decided to go for a kayak ride at the Robinson Preserve in Bradenton, FL. This 487-acre preserve has undergone an incredible transformation from disturbed farmland to coastal and wetland habitats. To restore the land to its natural state, the Natural Resources Department has partnered with a number of state and local agencies. The restoration process is nearly finished! To date, numerous exotic invasive plants have been removed, effectively opening up the land for native plants to flourish. The preserve’s new waterway system will help restore the tidal flow within the coastal habitats.

Robinson Preserve also features numerous recreational opportunities for the community. Resources for low-impact environmental activities include hiking and biking trails and a canoe/kayak launch.  Additional amenities include observation towers and platforms, picnic areas, and a visitors center.

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This bus is always on the side of the road. Great advertisement! We rented our kayak from Surferbus.com.

 

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They give you a map of the area and instructions. One of the instructions was “if the kayak tips over just stand up. The water is only knee deep through out the preserve.”

 

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Yes we know, as somebody already mentioned it works better in the water!

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We entered the preserve through a section of Mangroves.
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The Blueways Trails connect to the Manatee River, Perico Bayou, and Palma Sola Bay, comprising over 3 miles of internal trails. A 5-mile roundtrip adventure would start at the launch and meander through the preserve to Palma Sola Bay and back.
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This is one of four bridges we had to go under to reach the tower. Our goal for the day.

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Our goal is in sight!
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Eileen took this and the next picture from the top of the tower.

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The tower can be reached by Kayak, canoe, walking or biking.

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There were so many mullet jumping out of the water that we thought they were going to jump in the boat.

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Last bridge before we enter the Mangroves again.

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At times the mangroves were difficult to maneuver through.

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We packed a lunch and enjoying the peacefulness was just the enticement we needed to pursue purchasing our own.  We took a ride to another preserve and found a booklet on all the waterways for canoeing and kayaking trails of Manatee County.  There are over 75 miles both fresh and salt water to explore and some open waters.  We’re not quite ready for open water  yet but hopefully we’ll get strength in our tired arms to attempt a little more difficulty soon.  If you have a chance (our RV peeps in the area) do it!  It was a great beginner experience.