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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Looking forward to fall travel

A visitor to our campsite at Squaw Creek

Well summer is winding down and our fall travel is taking shape. It has been a great summer here in Iowa. We spent lots of quality time with friends, family and especially our granddaughter but it's time now to hitch up for adventures down the road. Hitch-itch always hits me in August and this year is no exception. We are packing up and preparing this week as well as saying goodbye to people here. We have a little bit of a roundabout route coming up. Sunday we will drive to Omaha to spend some time with good friends there, Al and Judi, as well as Dan and Dixie who are coming in from Loveland, Colorado. We always have a good time with this group and this will be a great start to our travels. Leaving Omaha we will go back into Iowa to stay near our son Gabe and his wife Melissa. We will be trying out a new camping spot south of them at Black Hawk Lake State Park. They really like this park so we are anxious to check it out. Then the real travel begins.
We are going to miss this cutie

For several years we have talked about going to Yellowstone and the Tetons but something always came up and it never worked out, but this is the year. Along the way we are also going to stay in Spearfish SD and check out this part of the Black Hills. We will be there over Labor Day and I also want to drive to Devils Tower as this is also something we haven't seen yet. We have lots of new areas on tap for us this fall and we are really looking forward to it. 

We have spent 5 of our 6 years of travel in the West and Southwest and yet there is so much to still discover. Rushing around in vacation mode is just not our style but sometimes it's necessary. I think the time at Yellowstone will be like that. I don't have any reservations passed that week and if the weather is good I would like to stay near Jackson, closer to Tetons National Park.  I have a couple potential parks there to call. The other factor, as always in the fall, are forest fires. Just today on the NPS site for the Tetons there is an alert and road closure due to fire. Once we are done in that area we will decide where to go next. I am trying to have fewer reservations to give us more options. I have Plan A, B and C for after that. All great places with new discoveries to be made.

This year is the first one in a while that we have not worked some along the way and things are going pretty well. We would like to do more traveling in the summer. There are a lot of places in the North half of the country that we would like to see and people we would like to visit, especially in Minnesota and some out East and family in the Northwest. So next year we are going to do things a little differently. We will be back in Iowa in the early spring, in time for our granddaughter's birthday and then in June we will take off for the Northwest for a couple months. We have a wedding at the end of July in Seattle that we want to attend. Then the plan is to return to Iowa for another month or so and the next winter will be in Florida. Like all our plans these are all made in jello and can change to suit what's happening at the time. What's clear to us is we still have lots of places to discover. This is a large and extremely beautiful country and even if we travel 10 more years I know there will still be things we have missed. We feel blessed to have this life.

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

The long hot summer

A beautiful summer sky

So is it hot where you are? It sure has been a hot one here and I think it has been in much of the country. The previous two summers were pretty mild so this one has been a bit of a shock but I do remember other summers in Iowa that were like this. With world wide temps on the rise I just hope this doesn't become the norm. We have had plenty of rain bringing a banner crop of gnats and mosquitoes. In spite of all that, it's shaping up to be a great summer.

When we came this summer we thought this would be a slower pace since we weren't working. Well, such is not the case. It's been a great summer but busier than ever. We have tried to spend more time with our granddaughter, even had her overnight once and maybe we will get that privilege again. At three, she is simply a delight to be around. We have gone with her preschool on two field trips and that was a hoot. The last one was to a splash pad and park. After helping to wrangle about 15 3-4 year olds,
Field Trip!
we were exhausted. How do these people do it? Her head teacher, Miss Vickie, had 10 children of her own so there is a lot of experience there. I stayed home when my sons were little and I can tell you, I don't think we pay our daycare workers nearly enough for all they do.
Its hard to resist that cute face!

We also have connected with many good friends, some that we haven't seen much the last couple of years and had some great talks and laughs around the campfire. Another great visit was when fellow full-timers John and Sharon Hinton came through and stayed a week. That week we camped down at a COE park on the Coralville Reservoir. We did some sightseeing, visited a couple local microbreweries and just generally had a blast. They were here on Father's Day, so our son and Evie joined us at the campfire and it was good to have him see what great friends we have made on the road. Many people just don't understand that. I think we have as many good friends out on the road as we do in Iowa. The internet has made that possible thru blogs so that when we cross paths we can get together. Another of our full timer friends Evelyn also stopped by this past week for a couple hours. So good to see her and catch up.

Fun with the Hintons!

Trudy and Mike
On top of all that we had two big projects we wanted to accomplish. Our friends Trudy and Mike have helped us out countless times and last winter Mike went beyond the call of duty and helped us get a car for our son and daughter-in-law. He worked hard and went way beyond what most people would do. We wanted to do something to help them. I know Trudy had been talking for the last few years about cleaning and staining their deck but with both working and teenagers there never seemed to be time. Perfect project for us to tackle. We worked 4-5 days on it, of course only for 3-4 hours at a time and when we finished we thought it looked great. 

Hard at work
Tada!! A finished deck!

The second project was to help our friend Gayle get her 5th wheel cleaned out and ready to sell. Last fall her husband John passed away. We got to see him right before we left the area and he died a couple days later. We have spent time camping with them the last 4-5 summers and we really miss him. So last week we went to the storage lot, hitched it up and brought it out to Squaw Creek where we are currently camped. Gayle spent a long 5 days cleaning it out an getting it ready to sell. John washed the outside to get it looking nice an shiny. On Friday we helped her haul it to Dubuque where it will be stored at Couler Valley RV on a lot big enough to get the slides out so she can show it to potential buyers. This unit is an 2005 Excel Limited 33RSE. They were snow birds and took excellent care of it. If you know of anyone who is looking for a full time worthy RV but can't afford a new one let me know and I will get the specifics to you. Our rig is also an Excel so we can vouch for the quality.
Our friend's Excel, beautiful rig.

We are hoping the next few weeks will slow a little but it seems like the days and evening are already filling up. We want to spend as much time with Evie as possible the next few weeks. Our plan as of now is to leave here on the 28th. Labor day we will be at Custer State Park  in the Black Hills and then on to Yellowstone and the Tetons. Beyond that we are looking at going to Portland area and spending some time in Oregon before going further south for the winter.

I hope you all stay cool and enjoy what's left of the summer.

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