Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ready, Set, Go!

Kentucky Lake at Land Between the Lakes Rally

It is way past time to get this blog updated!  Where did this year go? And these past three months have flown by.

Three months in a nutshell....two fiberglass rallies and one hip replacement.

By mid September it became increasingly obvious that David's left hip was not going to last until March, 2018. We call the hip surgeon and set the process in motion, hoping that it will all work out time wise and not interfere with the winter desert trip.

We have reservations for the Land Between the Lakes rally in early October.  Arriving a few days late due to doctor appointments, we find old friends already there.

We take a break from socializing and go paddling!

We are camping in a different loop and it feels like a new rally.  Managed to get a few nice sunset shots.

We spend time with old friends, make some new friends and just enjoy life.

.......A brief interruption here...I am working with Blogger and Google Photos.  Just experimenting, trying to make blogging easier.

We get back home, wash clothes and head for another rally at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.

Now this bunch knows how to party!

(Anticipating some protest, I deleted the karaoke video!)

By mid-October the surgery date is set for 11/6/2017 and we need to get the Escape ready for winter before the operation.  As the trailer lives in storage, we decide to camp at our local county park, Chester Frost, to perform the clean up.

After 4 days of washing, polishing, adding gutters, and winterizing, we are exhausted and ready to go home.

This is the best these two senior citizens can do.  Think we will hire professionals the next time!

Two weeks later we are at the hospital and David's getting another hip replacement.  Definitely a scary procedure for an eighty year old but it is a successful operation.

David is working hard to rehab the hip and doing a great job of it!

Checking up on our neighbors' new house

This brings the blog up to present time where we are counting down to the winter journey.  This will be our 6th year to winter in Arizona! Looking forward to being back in the desert and also to seeing friends.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

Normally each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I get depressed.  Nothing major, just mild sadness possibly attributed to seasonal affective disorder.  But not this year!  Maybe it's because we have been so incredibly busy but I want to think that the different state of mind is due to internal changes.

This has been the most difficult year.  I have experienced the whole spectrum of feelings from sadness and isolation one year ago to rage, fear and hopelessness.  I have been astonished by a few friends and fretted over their behavior.  Yes, I am talking politics.

But through this pain and darkness there have been gifts.....for I am a better person than I was 

a year ago...a stronger person more willing to say what I need to say and a more forgiving person. Forgiving myself when I react negatively and forgiving others when they are unkind.

I am loving more, including those who want to label me.  And I have hope.

Wishing that everyone finds love, peace and happiness under their Christmas tree this year.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Life Happens, Mountain Vistas


For weeks, all attempts to write the blog have failed.  Maybe today will be the day?

This photo of our rig makes me smile.  This is taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway while on our way to Balsam Mountain campground in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Three days ago we are packing to go to a local state park when we discover a nasty dent and broken fog light in the front bumper of our big blue beautiful truck.  The guilty party is paying…not going to identify him…but our camping plans for the Land Between the Lakes Rally are on hold until the bodywork can be completed.

(FYI:  My watermark is dated 2016 as I am still using Picasa which is no longer being supported.  Stuck in 2016!)

We really enjoy our three weeks in the western NC, eastern Tennessee mountains! It’s not the same as Colorado but the fun factor is very high!

The eclipse crowd paranoia (mentioned in the last post) is all for nothing!  We walk across the street to the Mt Pisgah Inn and join a small crowd of eclipse seekers.


The clouds obscure some of it but we see enough to make us happy!



The day after the eclipse an outfitter puts us on the French Broad River right above the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  There’s only a few photos as we were often going through mild whitewater…our first time in years to navigate between rocks! We paddle/float a fast six miles downstream.

A few days later the Secretary of the Interior plans to visit the Mt Pisgah area and we decide to move on.  There’s another high elevation campground down the Parkway…one we have never seen. ….Balsam Mountain, elevation 5,310 feet, in the GSMNP.


Only photo from Balsam Mtn campground. (No hookups, price $8.00 with senior pass)

The campground is small and the sites are close.  It is wonderfully cool!  We don our jeans, long sleeves and vests to sit around a fire.

The next morning David says calmly “I see a bear cub.” Sure enough. I look through the trailer window in time to see a very small black bear run across the road.  Later we hear there’s a momma with three little cubs in the campground.

After one night at Balsam we decide to relocate to Smokemont campground just north of Cherokee, NC.  It is another Smoky Mountain Park camp, more developed and closer to civilization.  The price is $10 a night with senior pass. No hookups but there is a dump.


Creek running through Smokemont campground.


Elk grazing on the side of the road…just below Smokemont.

Escape trailer friends are camping in the Cosby campground on the northern side of the Smoky Mountains.  We drive over to the Gatlinburg side of the park, happy to see very little scars from the intense fires of last year!



We enjoy two days of catching up, going out to eat and cooking.  We visit a farmer’s market and find beautiful fresh green beans.  Our friends have a generator and offer to run it while we cook beans in our mini instant pot.  Fresh corn on the cob and green beans are the perfect evening meal after a caloric lunch.  (And I had a great time teaching them how to “string” beans!)


This is our first time to cook with a generator as we do not have one.

Our 80 watt solar suitcase normally meets all our electric needs.  This trip is different, though, as we are in heavy shade for four days and the battery begins to to slowly drop.

The weather forecast is not good!  The hurricane from Houston is heading toward the mountains bringing lots of rain.  We have been out three weeks and decide to go home.



Some thoughts on our life and life in general…..

As I write this morning we are preparing to join David’s high school class for their 80th birthday celebration….they celebrate their milestone birthdays together.

This coming weekend we will attend my 50 year class reunion…which is one of the reasons we chose to be home in September.

Aging continues to factor in on what we do.  We continue to be so very grateful for the ability to travel.

Note to you youngsters……don’t delay your life!  Get out there and do your dreams NOW!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Finally Camping!


That’s us, on the right, at the TVA Tail Water Campground below Douglas Dam.  (close to Sevierville, TN)

The bathroom remodel seems to take forever!  For some reason I think we could get the bathroom project completed in time for another gorgeous summer trip to Colorado.  When the wrong shower doors are delivered, the western trip begins to look doubtful.

The bathroom looks great! 





By the time the bath is complete, we only have three weeks free.  There are places close to home we are wanting to experience so we load up the Escape and the kayaks and head north on I-75 to the Escapees Raccoon Valley campground.

We have camped at Escapees parks all across the west and in Alabama but have never visited the one that’s just up the road from us. 

As we are registering, the couple in front of us looks familiar.  We soon remember spending New Year’s Eve with them at Dream Catcher’s Park in New Mexico.

We meet some real nice folks and have a great time at the Thursday night old time music picking.  Fifteen musicians, many are local players, entertain us with some old mountain ballads.


The weather is rotten…very hot, humid and rainy!  One night I go to sleep with one of the windows open thinking that I will wake up if it starts to rain. I do, but not soon enough! Our mattress, memory foam and bedding is soaked. How do you dry anything with no sun?

David feels horrible with no energy….heat and humidity are always his enemy.  Our refrigerator is hovering around 50 degrees.  I discover a small army of ants crawling up an inside wall.

While drying the bedding a nice young couple with a dog stop to visit.  We chat and I walk by the dog to show something in the trailer and he bites me!

I survive wondering what is it about me that makes a dog want to hurt me?

We leave the next day for a campground below Douglas Dam close to the Smoky Mountains National Park. The weather is no better. Sun, clouds, rain….all with 90 per cent humidity.

The view is much prettier.  We are on the French Broad River just below the dam.


We watch kayaks put in at the boat launch and disappear downstream.  The dam’s generators are releasing a high volume of water with too much current for us to paddle upstream. During a lull we manage a short paddle up to the dam. A very short trip but so much fun!


Early morning scene inside the Escape…notice my new Mini Instant Pot making breakfast of steel cut oats, rain on the windows and the husband still sound asleep.

After three sticky days on the French Broad River, we are ready for some cool mountain breezes. It’s another 100 miles to Mt Pisgah Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Tears form in my eyes as we climb up to our favorite summer retreat. It’s been two years since we have been there.  Wonder what’s changed?  I know this sounds melodramatic but my heart just lifted out of my chest as cool air started caressing my face.


Not much is changed.  A new deck is behind the restaurant, new benches and lights at the amphitheater. 

We arrive on a Tuesday and for four days it is peace and tranquility all through the campground. Very few campers are present and it’s so quiet. I hike a little, take a few photos, read and let all the noise in my head slowly disappear.  There’s no electric or water hookups. There is no phone nor internet coverage in the campground which is normally something that makes me crazy.  But here I am craving the stillness, the emptiness and I feel happy.


It is now the day before the eclipse.  The campground is full but that’s ok.  I know they will all be gone in two days. 

The National Park Service is preparing for the apocalypse as half a million people are expected to be in the area tomorrow for the eclipse. We are warned to carry water, food and medicine for 12 hours if we go out on the Parkway. …due to traffic jams. The overlooks are closed from here to the south for fear eclipse seekers will try to camp in them.  Police tape protects all the lawn around the Pisgah Inn.

We made a run to the grocery yesterday and will not venture out tomorrow.


Not sure when we will be ready to come off the mountain.