"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The desert is getting ready to bloom

Sunset over Tucson
The Octillo are getting leaves and blooms.
This week we hiked in Saguaro National Park Western Division and we are beginning to see buds and a few blooms.  Its not quite time yet but it won't be long.  Previous years we have left before the blooms so I am excited to see it. The rains this year are making for an earlier bloom than usual. The month of February saw quite a few rainy days (for the desert) and the temps were below normal much of the month. However, for the next 10 days the predicted temps will be about 10 degrees above normal (normal is around 70). Just finished another walk and the temp is around 80+ with just enough breeze to keep you cool. Love it.

First little blooms

Our friends John and Sharon Hinton were in the park for about 10 days. It was great to spend some time with them. I am always sad to see them leave but I know our paths will cross again down the road.

Tailing from an old mine
Since there really isn't too much to write about on the RV front. John is an avid reader and I love to read too but I also love to knit and I haven't figured out how to knit and read at the same time so I listen to both books and podcasts. Two of the podcasts I listen to are about books. They are both part of Book Riot. One is on new releases called "All the Books" and the other "Get Booked" which is about personalized book recommendations. Through these podcasts I found two of the best audio books I have listened to. 
From the trail towards Kit Peak

If you look very closely, on the right from the tallest peak
 you can see the dome of one of the telescopes of the Kit Peak Observatory

So I thought I would do a review of these two books. The first is "The Clancy's of Queens" by Tara Clancy. This is a laugh out loud memoir that is narrated by the author whose accent and sense of humor make this book. She has an odd upbringing by divorced parents, a father who is cop and very poor and a mother who works and lives with a very wealthy man so the worlds could not be more different. I think the thing I liked the most was how she adapted and loved both sides  and both parents. I really don't want to say too much and ruin any of the fun.  

The second book is for anyone who loves the book or movie "The Princess Bride". The book is written and narrated by Cary Elweys and is titled "As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride" The stories are so much fun and he brings in others in the movie tell their stories which really makes it fun. The stories about Andre the Giant are some of the best and if you love this movie like my family does I think this book is a must and so entertaining in the audio version. 

I do have one more book for all you oldsters out there. Dick Van Dyke's "Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging". He also narrates it and its just an uplifting and enjoyable journey with him. He was 89 when he wrote it so I think he has some expertise in the area. 

All three of these books are enjoyable enough that listening to them a second time would be a delight and since I know John will enjoy these too, we have decided they will be what we listen to as we work our way back to Iowa next month. So I hope you check these out and for my RV friends you may want to do as we will be and make them your road companions.
The trail......and a happy one :)

Happy Trails.....

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


This is the view from the trails adjacent to the Diamond J
We are back in Tucson. This is our 4th winter visit here and will be the longest stay we have had here. Our plan is to stay until the end of March. I haven't been in much of a blogging mood but lately I have been doing some pondering on my walks about what to write. We did stay a couple places on our way here that I didn't blog about. Spent a week at Jojoba Hills Escapees co-op park and had a chance to spend time with Lu and Terry. We enjoy them so much and it had been much to long between visits. They are the type of friends that when we meet up it feels like picking up where we left off.  Jojoba hills is a beautiful park in the mountains of Southern California. It is a place we would consider trying to get onto when we are done wandering.
A short but fun visit with Lu and Terry at Jojoba Hills

Then it was on to Yuma where we spent a week. It was during Christmas and we were able to spend some time with Brad and Martha that we met last year. We had a fun day in Mexico with them and their son Chris who just returned from a trip to Australia. It was a great visit with them and a chance to go to the pharmacy and liquor store in Algodones. We also had the opportunity to see the house they bought last spring. It is beautiful and now Brad has a space for all his woodworking tools. He is quite the craftsman. We got to see some of the pieces he was working on and they were beautiful. Next year we may spend a couple months at Fortuna de Oro like we did last year. Taking advantage of their fall special rate.
A Christmas open house at Brad and Martha's new home

Fun in Algodones with Brad, Martha and their son Chris!

That brings us to Tucson and the longest stay of the winter. We love this area of Tucson for a lot of reasons but the one that keeps us coming back are the trails to hike and bike right here out the back of the Diamond J park. There are two park systems we have access to. The first is the Cedarlund Trail system. The hikes here are relatively flat and take you to the entry of the Tucson Mountain Park where your hikes can continue on for miles. If you go far enough that park blends into the Saguaro  National Parks West section. This is our 4th visit here and we have barely scratched the surface of all the hikes in our area as well as abundant hiking in other areas surrounding the city. The park we stay in is laid back with very few amenities other than its location and the sites are large by RV park/resort standards.When we first arrived our site was not great. We were tucked in among some very large motor coaches and they were our view. Friends of ours noticed a desert view site (backs right up to the desert) opened up so I went in and asked if we could move into it, so now we have a wonderful site right off the desert. This year the SW has been cool and rainy in January and since they really need the rain it's hard to complain. This week though it is warming up and we are delighted.

The beautiful Sonoran Desert in Tucson

We are trying to do a few new things this year and hit some of the attractions we have missed. The biggest two will be the Tucson Gem Show and the Tucson Rodeo, both of which are in February. The gem show actually started last week but goes almost 3 weeks. It is spread out all over the city and is actually a collection of gem, fossil, bead and jewelry shows. Today I am going to the 22nd Street Gem and Fossil Show with my friend Cheryl. We plan on going to a couple of the bead shows too. Cheryl is a wonderful beader so it's a must. I would like to find some rocks etc, to make a few shawl pins out of and a few beads to add to my knitting. Should be fun.

Happy Trails.........................................

So I wrote this blog almost 2 weeks ago and then got distracted and never posted it. . We did make it to the several of the venues for the gem show, not sure we will make it to the Rodeo. Tomorrow John and Sharon Hinton arrive in the park for awhile. Always enjoy time with them! As I have said so many times it is the people we have met and become friends with that has made the journey so special. So once again...

Happy Trails.................................

Monday, November 21, 2016


Visitors Center Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Now that I have caught up on all our travels up to November, it's time to catch up on where we are now: Pahrump NV. My college roommate Nancy and her husband Dan are living in the Las Vegas area and I wanted to stop and catch up with her. We have spent time in Vegas and it's ok but really too busy and crazy for us. When I called Nancy I found out they were in the middle of moving from one house to another so not the best time to visit but she thought we could work something out so we decided to stay in Pahrump about 50 miles away for the month and give them some time but still get to see them. We have stayed here previously and decided to stay at the same resort, Nevada Treasure, as they have an excellent fitness center attached. It's also a little ways out of town and so very quiet. This park has worked out well for us but for our RV friends with bigger rigs, it can be pretty tight. We found a corner spot with a space next to it that is blocked off because it's too small for all but the smallest travel trailers. That works out well as we get to park in the drive for that space which gives us plenty of room. If we had to park in the space for our site it would be pretty crowded. The resort itself we have enjoyed. There is a little restaurant called Mark's Grill which we have frequented and gotten to know Mark a little. It has a beautiful pool and Jacuzzi area that we have taken advantage of and the fitness center has helped us get back on track with our strength training. All in all a good fit for us. There are a couple other nice RV parks in the area and we may check them out our next time through the area.

While we have been here we visited the Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge. This area is fairly new and the visitor center is beautiful. Its about an hour away and the only downside is the roads in are all gravel and it is slow going. We stopped at one area for a short hike on a boardwalk that took you by the springs that run through here. It is as the sign says an oasis on the edge of Death Valley, which borders this area. Except for the spring fed creek the desert is very dry and has very sparse vegetation. There are a few plants here and a fish that exist nowhere else. We also got to see a big horn sheep on the rise that seemed content to survey his domain from on high. He was there the whole time we were. If you are in Pahrump or the Death Valley area I think it is worth the drive.

We have visited two wineries in the area. The Pahrump Winery and its accompanying restaurant, Symphony, are well known. We have visited here before and the the return visit was just as enjoyable. We also splurged and had dinner at the restaurant and while pricey, it was excellent. There is an RV park next to this winery and after walking through it we would definitely consider it for a future visit. The second winery is the Sanders Family Winery and is a little out of the way but again worth the visit. Their wine is good and more reasonably priced but we didn't feel it was as good as the Pahrump Winery, but we did enjoy it.

We also checked out the Lakeside RV Resort next to Terrible's Lakeside Casino. We had heard a lot about it so we drove out and walked around. It is as its name suggests around a lake. Nice roomy sites but the big down side for us was the duck and goose population. They have this beautiful trail around the lake but there is duck and goose poop everywhere. The one highlight of this little excursion was in Terrible's Casino. I look at gambling as entertainment and once in awhile indulge in putting $20 in a slot machine, usually penny slots (I know I have a big gambling problem) . I almost didn't but John gave me the go ahead nudge so I found a machine I liked. At first I was just betting small but John said to do the max bet. I think he just wanted to get out of there sooner. I got down to about $4 when I won. I never know how all that works so we were watching as the it registered the amount. I always cash out if I double my money. Well $40 came and went, $100 came and went, then 200 then 300 and it finally stopped at $464. I think we we were both stunned. I immediately cashed out and left with money in my purse and a smile on my face.

Just this week we finally connected with Nancy and Dan. They have had a rough go with this move. A week in, Dan fell and broke his arm in several places which made things even more difficult. We offered to bring pizza and make it a short visit. We brought pizza and enjoyed seeing their beautiful new home. Nancy is one of those friends that I rarely get to see but when I do it's like it was just yesterday. I am so glad we got to visit. John was able to help Dan a little too. One of the smoke detectors was chirping and with his bum arm changing out the batteries wouldn't be possible so John changed the batteries in all the detectors. He's a great guy and handy to have around.

We will be moving on from here next Monday. I think I actually have a plan now until we head back to Iowa in March. December we will be moving around a little. Lake Havasu State Park, Anza Boreggo State Park,  Jojoba Hill to visit Terry and Lu, Yuma and then at the end of the month to Tucson where we will be until March.  So if anyone is in the Tucson area after the first of the year let us know.

Happy Trails.........................

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Bryce Canyon and Zion

I am a little behind here but I definitely wanted to share a few photos of Bryce Canyon NP and Zion NP. On our first visit to this part of Utah we missed Bryce Canyon National Park. We were waiting for our kids to join us and that is about the time we got flooded out of the area. It's a good 2 hour drive from Sand Hollow State Park where we were staying but well worth the drive. Really all we had time for that day was to drive the scenic byway and stop at all the viewpoints (or most of them anyway).  It is a beautiful place and rock formations here are as amazing as all the photos I have seen. Hoodoos galore! I will let the photos speak for themselves:

When last in this area we did visit Zion National Park several times and had hiked many of its trails so this was a repeat visit. On that first visit we were almost alone in the park as it was December. The shuttles weren't running and we drove in those days. This time we parked just outside the gates on Springdale and walked into the park. From the visitors center we used the shuttle to get us to the places we had decided upon. We hiked the Emerald Pools (lower, middle and upper). We enjoyed that hike the first time and again this visit. Our experience was different though, in that this time there were lots of other people on the trails. It wasn't crazy busy like I am sure it is in the summer and early fall but busy enough. This park may be my favorite of the national parks we have visited. Being at the bottom of this amazing canyon is an experience I wish everyone could have. If you want the park to yourself I would recommend December, just dress a little warmer and know that some trails will be closed. Still, for the solitude, it is worth it. Again, I will just let the photos tell the story.

Happy Trails!!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Bend, Oregon........I could live here

The river in Bend

In our travels we have come across different places that we have enjoyed and a few we even thought we could live in. Bend is probably at the top of our list. This was our second visit here and a short one but we get the same feeling we did last time we visited. It is a beautiful town with lots of tings to do and just a feel we love. Of course the number of microbreweries here (one person told us the current number is almost 30) doesn't hurt either.

We have some RV friends who have settled here and we got together with them. They so fell in love with this area that they settled back down to a sticks and bricks house with a small travel trailer for camping adventures. The reasons they stayed are the reasons we could see ourselves here. A vibrant community with outdoor life as a way of life here. Plenty of trails, hiking, water sports and if you like to ski, the slopes are not far away. It does have all four seasons but a little milder than the Midwest winters we came from. Being on the east slope of the Cascade Mountains makes for a dryer climate than Portland. Pam says there is plenty of sunshine most of the year.
Our guide
showing us the hops

While here we also did a tour of the Deschute's Brewery. Though considered a craft brewery there is nothing micro about it and they are expanding in Bend to keep up with demand and adding a second brewery in Roanoke Virginia next year. We had an excellent guide and felt it was one of the best brewery tours we have taken so if you are in Bend definitely check it out. An added bonus is it's a free tour; we always like free.

We had lunch with our friends Pam and Vic, who we met in Georgia about 3 years ago. We got to check up on their life in Bend. We had a great lunch at a local spot and then they took us to a very unique small brewery that is one of the highest rated in Bend called the Boneyard. I'm glad they knew where it was as it is tucked back into a dead end road in what looks to be a former auto mechanics garage. This is the only place you can get this beer. The brewing goes on back in the garage and the office area is the tasting room. No tables and no chairs. You order tasters of the beer you want to try for a small fee. Then if there is one you really want you can either order a growler or a large can and they get it ready for you. The beer was excellent and John decided to get a large can of their IPA, with a little push from me as I think their logo is pretty cool so I wanted the can. I also talked John into a hoodie sweatshirt that is quickly becoming his favorite.
Some of the kettles at the brewery

Pan, John,Vic and Janie
the tasting room at Boneyard Brewery
The remnants of the typhoon off the Northwest coast brought tons of rain and flooding to the coast and some of that followed us here. We were glad to be moving away from the coast. The winds were suppose to get brutal so we moved on to Burns OR where we let it all calm down before heading into Nevada. This was a couple of weeks ago and I have lots more to tell you but I wanted to get this posted. We have had some challenges with our MiFi data and Verizon is investigating. We had one night where there was a download they said was audio that took 8 gigs. Yikes. Funny thing is we don't have a clue what it was, since we are sleeping. They also had us using about 4 G on gaming and a couple months ago I deleted all the games (there we only 2)  and we have done no gaming. Needless to say we are very puzzled. They did credit us for 8 G and are trying to figure it out. We hadn't been turning the MiFi off at night but now we do. Until all this is resolved we will be using the library a lot. Each time we come I'll try to post again until I catch up.

Happy Trails........................................................

Monday, October 10, 2016

Weird and Rainy Portland

Portland still in bloom
Finally sitting down to post and you would think with all the rain here I would have done this sooner. Portland is weird and they embrace it; as far as I can see, it's a compliment. It's much different than I envisioned. It has that older city vibe to it and I think I was expecting something more modern. I like old, so I can say for the most part I like Portland. There's only one downside: the rain. I feel like we have had way too much rain ever since leaving Iowa and frankly I need more sun. Intellectually I knew it rained here but day after day of rain and gray skies, well that's enough for me. Part of it is we are pushing the season being here in October and I knew that too so I will plan our next visit here better. I don't think I understood until the last few years how much I am affected by the sun and getting outside. I really don't have even have to do much outside if I can just sit in the sun for awhile. So tomorrow we are heading south and east to find the sun and warmer temperatures. A short stop in Bend and then across Nevada all the way to Utah and then back to Nevada to the Vegas area to see my friend Nancy and her family. That's the plan but we will see how many times it changes between here and there.

One of the stairs in Alameda neighborhood

View from the top of the stairs

Cool landscaping

favorite house 1
The first week we were here our friends John and Sharon Hinton were also here. This was their fourth trip here so they are veterans of the city. They knew their way around and were nice enough to do the driving. They are Class A travelers so they have a car they tow and in this city that is an advantage because the streets are narrow and parking is a challenge. John planned several Urban hikes for us and it was fun to get a feel for this city. We hiked in the Irvington and Alameda Ridge neighborhoods that have beautiful Victorian, Tudor and Arts and Crafts style houses. Alameda Ridge has all these crazy staircases so we also got a good workout that day. The other hikes were in the Hollywood district, but the only real thing to see there is the Hollywood theater, which is pretty cool. Then a day of hiking through downtown. Sharon was on a mission to find the Portlandia statue. The GPS kept taking us in circles insisting we were right by it. Then for some reason she looked up and there it was about 3 stories above us. We probably walked past it several times. Mission accomplished! I also found a wonderful yarn shop downtown, which made my day. One other place that is iconic Portland is VooDoo Doughnuts. It is notorious for long lines but luckily our timing was fairly good and our wait in line was only about 15 minutes. We usually don't do the sugar thing but sometimes it's part of the journey. Our time with the Hintons is always fun and we always find stuff to laugh about. This time was no exception.

Hollywood Theater

Voodoo doughnuts

Sharon finds Portlandia

Each of the days we hiked we finished off the day at a microbrewery. The Portland metro area has 84 microbreweries. John Hinton took us to the ones with best ratings. I think Breakside is our favorite and we actually returned there after they left and may visit again tonight for one last brew before we leave. Oregon is the land of microbreweries, when we go to Bend (they have 23) we will check out a couple more.
John and Sharon Hinton

This second week has been a challenge with the rain. The first week we only had 2 days of hard rain but since then most of the days have had steady and sometimes hard rain. One of the days that was only a little rainy we visited the Oregon Zoo. A fun way to spend a day even if even the animals were hiding away from the rain at times too. Then on Saturday (bad choice but better for the rain) we decided to drive to Multnoma Falls.

This guy was reading a book

The GPS suggested the scenic highway instead of the parking lot by the interstate. Since we weren't towing and it was getting nicer, we took it. There were weight limits for this road but no width limits. There should definitely be width limits. Near the falls is a narrow bridge with a rock wall on side and a guard rail on the other. I pulled in the mirror because it was going to brush the wall and John stayed with one tire on the line with inches between us and that wall.  So if you don't have a car, the smaller the better, don't take that route. Compounding our frustration was the traffic. Should not have been a surprise since it was Saturday. We could find nowhere to park. The falls were right off the road so we viewed it and took photos from the truck. Same with Horseshoe Fall a little further down.
Multnomah Falls

Horseshoe Falls

So since it was still early we decided to go on to Hood River. Full Sail Brewery is there and we wanted to get a bite to eat. Its about 30 miles further down the road. All was well until my GPS alerted us to an accident ahead and really there was no going around it. It estimated the time to wait at an hour. That was about right. The accident occurred right where a construction zone started and the right lane was closed down. In our 6 years on the road this is the longest we have ever been sitting and waiting so I actually think that's pretty good. We finally get to Hood River and found a great place to park on the street not far from the brewery. There is a lot of metered parking in this city but we nabbed a free one. Yipee!! Full Sail is a larger brewery; we even drink their beers in Iowa. They also have a nice pub attached to the brewery. The food was ok, the beer was good and the view was wonderful.
View from Full Sail Brewery

After eating we walked through the downtown. It's really a pretty little town and I would love to spend a little more time there. An added plus was... yes, another yarn shop. My yarn stash is growing. When we left Portland it was rainy but in Hood River the weather was much better so it made for a great day.

Since then it has rained steady and hard until today. It is now cool but sunny. Ahhhh, I feel so much better already. Tomorrow we should have some good weather for travel. :) So I wish you sunshine and fun times.

Happy Trails.............................................