Making a Bee-Line to Arizona

It’s hard to believe that it’s time to leave Florida now.

Bye bye beach fishing for pompano, black drum, red drum, whitings and blue runners.  I’m going to miss waiting for you to hit my line.

Bye bye white squeaky sand beaches that stretch for miles and miles.

Bye bye to all the “southerners” (real and transplanted), we loved how friendly you were, what courteous drivers you are and how polite everyone is.

We are making a bee-line to Mesa, Arizona so that we can spend Christmas with my Aunt and Uncle.  We spent 6 weeks in Texas a few years ago, we were in Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Austin so will basically make a couple of pit stops on our way north and west to Arizona.

First stop was Biloxi, Mississippi.  It is a beautiful small city that has been hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and is still recovering.  I saw lots of damaged piers and empty lots along the sea shore and beach highway.  I found The Old Brick House and gravitated towards this MASSIVE oak tree in the back yard.  It was amazing.  Majestic.  Historic in it’s own way.  How old it must be.  Who used you for shade?  Who climbed on you?  What conversations took place under your limbs, leaves and branches?

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I parked down by the Visitors Centre, walked the beach, strolled thru Lighthouse Park and listened to the kids playing on the swings.  Watched the traffic on the Beach Highway negotiate around the Lighthouse that was there long before the road was built.

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Lighthouse in the middle of the beach highway in Biloxi.

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Statue of French Canadian Explorer Pierre d’Iberville outside the Visitors Centre in Biloxi.

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A storm damaged pier in Biloxi.

 

After leaving Biloxi we pointed the nose of the truck towards San Antonio and we were off.

We overnighted in Beaux Bridge, Louisianna and went for dinner at Crawfish USA.  We ate everything “Cajun” on the menu:  oysters, catfish, crawfish, frog legs, crab, shrimp, bread pudding.  I also stopped at the market there and bought cracklins and supplies to make gumbo.

Next evening we landed in Beaumont, Texas.  Didn’t think we were going to make it there safely as we drove thru a thunderstorm that wiped out our visibility and slowed freeway speeds from 75MPH to 45MPG.  I left permanent imprints of my hands and fingernails on the steering wheel.  Not much fun.  It continued to rain thru the night with temperatures in the 40’s F.

Get ready to be entertained:  Now remember it’s been pelting rain and lightening and thundering for the last hour.  2 ladies in a 4 door truck pulling a 30ft travel trailer pulled in beside us.  Lady #1 is unhooking the trailer, putting down jacks etc.  It’s still raining lightly.  Lady #2 opens the door of the truck and this BIG DOG jumps out of the truck, takes 4 steps thru the puddle and jumps back in the truck.

Lady #2 Opens back passenger door (bpd)

Dog jumps in to front passenger seat.

Lady #2 closes bpd – opens fpd.

Dog jumps  in to back passenger seat.

Lady closes fpd and opens bpd

Dog jumps in to front passenger seat

Lady outsmarts the dog (finally) by leaving BOTH doors open.

Dog jumps over to the drivers side of the truck.

Dog 1 – Lady 0.

Lady #1 arrives to help with dog extraction.

Dog bounces back and forth a few more times until he gets too close to Lady #1 who yards him out of the truck by his collar for the win!!

It continued to rain thru the night with temperatures in the 40’s F.  We got up in the morning and continued our trek towards San Antonio.  We drove thru rain all day, but not as heavy as the day before and successfully negotiated 7 lanes of traffic thru Houston, stopped in Schulenberg, Texas for the night.  We were only 100 miles to San Antonio but we are in no hurry to get there (The Riverwalk isn’t going anywhere..)  As we approached San Antonio we got caught up in a 2 hour traffic jam because a car-hauler broke in half and scattered cars all over the highway.

Not everyone has the patience to sit in traffic for that long.  We saw a young Texan who looked like he decided to drive thru a ditch / median and on to an adjacent highway.  Well, he ditched his truck in the weeds and caused lots of damage to his front end.  Not sure how he’s going to explain that to his insurance company!  The temperatures remained cool and well I might as well use the word COLD – it freakn snowed in the late evening.  YES!  SNOWED!.   Very unusual, but it does happen occasionally.

We’ve been to San Antonio before so we didn’t visit the Alamo this time, but we did go down to the Riverwalk in the evening and took the Christmas Light Tour on one of the boats that go back and forth on the Riverwalk.  Very festive.

We have 2 more days of driving to get to Carlsbad, New Mexico.  We will break the trip in half with an overnight stay in Fort Stockton, Texas.  This is one big State, that’s for certain.  We already miss the southern hospitality.  Texans are not near as friendly as their neighbours to the south and they certainly drive more aggressively too.  I feel like I’m back in red-neck country.

We visited Carlsbad Caverns more than 20 years ago and we were so impressed by it that we decided to stop in for another visit on this trip.  When we walked in I was impressed and in awe all over again.  It is amazing, beautiful, the size of the caverns, the different formations, your eyes travel around, up and over.  You have to go there, you just have to add it to your list of things to see if you are in that corner of New Mexico.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Next stop:  Mesa, Arizona.  Get to spend time with the relatives.. YAY!!

Are you a Boondocker or a Resorter?

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Before we started RV’ing we travelled a bit to different places.  When in Mexico, Belize or Thailand we chose to stay in places that were a bit more rustic.  Gaps in the walls, holes in the window screens, basic shelters with handmade furniture, a stove, a sink and rusty appliances.  We’ve travelled to cities in the USA, stayed in Paris, London, Barcelona and Lisbon at places that I refer to as “Brass and Glass”.. they have all the fancy staff, stuff, and all the amenities.

How do you travel?

How do you RV?

Are you a Boondocker who choses to stay in places that are out of the way, a bit rustic, are you comfortable without electricity, wifi and tv?

OR

Are you a Resorter who prefers swimming pools, hot tubs, hot showers, laundry, free cable tv and wifi?

Us?

We’ve certainly tried a bit of each on this trip and stayed at Campgrounds and RV Parks that are a bit of both.

  We’ve overnighted at farms that raised alpaca’s, goats, lambs, or chickens.  We’ve visited wineries in Canada and the USA and tasted wine and bought a few to take with us on the road.  We’ve overnighted in a few driveways of people who are kind, inquisitive and generous with their time and made us feel so welcome.

We’ve been in RV parks that have dirt roads, gravel roads, or paved roads, we’ve dealt with roots, ruts and steep sites from back to front, more often than not the sites are level.  We’ve been in public showers and bathrooms that are spotless, with perfect hot water and great water pressure, and some that are none of the above.  Laundry room machines that function and are spotless., and some that aren’t.

Both choices have their charm and place in any road trip.  It all depends on how you like to roll!

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Alpaca at Wildwood Alpaca’s in Woodford, Virginia.

4 Haircuts!

6 months on the road, we’ve packed and pulled over 12,000 miles and I’ve had 4 haircuts

messy hair1.

My first hair cut was in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.  The lady that cut my hair had short short spiky hair and loved her job, loved meeting people and my haircut was kind of like hers.  Short, Spiky and FUN,  and off I went.

Up to that point of the trip we had left the rainy west coast and travelled to Ft St John in northern BC and visited my family.  We packed and pulled our way thru friends and relatives in Alberta, Saskatchewan and finally across the prairies to Winnipeg and in to norther Ontario.  The weather was rainy, sunny, windy, rainy and sunny in that order every 3 days or so.  We travelled over the Canadian shield full of rocks, trees and views of Lake Superior every once in awhile.  The bugs were bad but not vicious like we were expecting.

2.

My second hair cut was in Miramichi, New Brunswick.  The lady that cut my hair and long shoulder length hair and she was the owner of the business.  She loved our story of what we were doing, she would LOVE to travel but had other responsibilities: her business, her family, her aging parents.  She had a lot going on in her life, but took the time to cut my hair in the style I requested, not too short, not too long,  and off I went.

Up to that point in the trip we visited more family and friends in Ontario, took a side trip to the Queens Plate Horse Race and Niagara Falls too.  We packed and pulled our way thru Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, around The Gaspe Peninsula and crossed the border in to New Brunswick.  We ate lobster poutine, and bought our own lobster and boiled it up.  The French know how to cook EVERYTHING!!  Gravy, sauces, lobster pizza, Danish, smoked meat, bread, cheese and you can buy beer and wine in the grocery stores which was a nice change from Ontario where we had to drive around and find a BEER STORE and then find a Liquor Store if you wanted wine.

3.

My third hair cut was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The lady that cut my hair was sitting around doing nothing when I asked if she had time to cut my hair.  She didn’t look real excited to be put to work, didn’t seem excited about hearing about our travel plans and had to cut my hair twice because she didn’t cut it short enough the first time.  Cut, Chop, Hack, blah, boring, blah, and off I went.


Up to that point of our arrival in Myrtle Beach, we had packed and pulled our way across New Brunswick.  Fished for bass on the Miramichi River and on to Shediac, NB where we fished for mackerel off the pier.  We bought lobster from a lobster fisherman.  We travelled across the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island.  Bought more lobster and made our first lobster boil with PEI potatoes and corn.  We found our way to Baddeck, Nova Scotia and drove the Cabot Trail.  We went to Sydney, NS and bent our backs over and explored a coal mine (what a horrible way to make a living).  We drove to Halifax and St John’s and drove the coastline along Peggy’s Cove.  We crossed back in to New Brunswick and visited a friend in Moncton and drove out to Hopewell Rocks.  From there we made our way to Saint John, sat in the sun and waited out our time to cross the border in to the US.  We then got BIG and BUSY by visiting Bar Harbor, Maine, Boston, New York, Atlantic City and Washington, DC.  There’s some big cities in that list and crap are they BIG, they also come with BIG traffic, busy freeways, lots of stressfull packing and pulling.  That’s a lot of places and lots of days passing by and I’m complaining about my hair and how awful it feels, like it got chopped and hacked by someone who wasn’t excited about her life.

4.

My fourth hair cut was in Panama City Beach, Florida where we are now.  The fellow that cut my hair is a widower, he and his wife worked together in their shop at their house for more than 30 years.  He now lives and works alone.  His wife just passed away a few months ago.  He was sad and seemed lost, not quite sure what he was going to do all by himself.  He has lots of time on his hands and he carefully cut my hair, the first time, and it was just the right amount of short.  Except for the back of my head, where I feel a bit like a boy.. haha.   He started out with a razor of some kind and zipped up the back of my head to start.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but I love how my hair feels, I can’t feel it poking around which is just how I like it and off I went.

Up to our arrival in Panama City Beach we packed and pulled our way thru South Carolina.  We boondocked overnight at a Alpaca Farm where I bought the softest fluffiest Alpaca socks (to wear when we get back to Canada).  We overnighted at a Winery (the people are so freakin friendly in the south).  Did the city tour of Charleston, roamed the beaches, watched the fisherman on the pier.  Boondocked at a couples house near Brunswick, Georgia.  They were so friendly, so welcoming, we wished we could have stayed longer.  They were awesome, their friends were awesome.  We stayed at a farm in Monticello, Florida where they raise sheep, goats and chickens.  The farm has towering oak trees covered in spanish moss – so peaceful there.  You’ve heard about “southern charm?”, it is alive and well and practiced in these parts for sure.  Yes Maam it is.  It is truly heart warming!

Amazing Race – New York

   We participated in our own version of “Amazing Race NYork”, and let me tell you this: it was NOT fun.  Here’s the story:

We had been in NY City all day, close to 9 hours in total, we arrived at the Pier at around 7PM for our return trip to the RV site and there are flashing police lights, motorcycle cops, armed members of the police and helicopters circling the harbor above us.  What is going on?  We have NO idea, so we join some guys at the railing over looking the harbor and we are treated to a futuristic vision of the Osprey tilt-rotor Marine One Helicopter as it lifted off with you know who aboard.

Yes, it was President Trump!

I thought it was fantastic seeing the Osprey lift straight up off the deck, then the rotors tilted and away they went.  2 Ospreys lifted off, one is a decoy.

Cool right?

That was until we discovered that the whole harbor was now shut down for the evening and we are STUCK on the wrong side.  It’s dark, we don’t know the City and the poor young man giving us the bad news is obviously overwhelmed.  He tells us that there is another ferry that goes across to Jersey (that’s good news), we ask him where it leaves from and he points and says “over there”.  (that’s bad news).

Where is over there?

What is over there called?

How far away is over there?

He doesn’t know the answer, just keeps pointing towards NYC.  We find a friendly police man who doesn’t know where “over there” is either.  Seriously?  are you kidding?  (nope, he’s not kidding) (that’s bad news).  Ok, we will flag a cab, except that is impossible because the streets have been closed down by the pier for hours and no one is going anywhere.  We proceed to walk “over there” for a couple of blocks, hop in a cab and ask him to take us to the ferry terminal.  He has NO CLUE where it is, what it is, how to get us there.  Seriously?  Are you kidding?  (nope, he’s not kidding) (that’s bad news).  He eventually manages to contact someone who knows where “over there” is and when he gets there, he drops us off.

Phew..

Where is the terminal?

What is the terminal called?

We can’t see anything anywhere, we are surrounded by office buildings.  We frantically run up to a couple and ask them for directions.  They point us towards the water and say it’s “over there”, just follow the water.  We walk and walk and walk some more and still haven’t seen anything but we can see Jersey City off in the distance so we know we are kind of in the right place.  We stop another person and they tell us to keep following the water and we will see it.  We got there with 3 minutes to spare and ran on to the boat.  (good news).

So what’s the bad news?

We get dropped off at a different terminal which is about a mile from the RV Park.  That would be ok if we had been there before or if it was daylight out (but it’s NOT).  We don’t exactly know how to get to the park but we sort of know its “over there”.. we twist and turn and eventually find our way back to Liberty Harbor.  Stressed, tired, sore feet, but we made it back.

Bye Bye Canada, see you in 180 days!

And just like that our piece of the Circle that included eastern Canada has ended.  We circled back to Moncton and then Saint John, New Brunswick and hung out in the sun for a few days before venturing across the border into Maine.

No exciting stories to share, just our usual run of the day stuff.  We caught up on laundry, washed the outside of the trailer and the truck and ate all our food in the fridge and freezer.  We will be all neat, tidy and empty when we cross the border :-).  While we were in Moncton we drove out to Hopewell Provincial Park and saw the famous Hopewell Rock formations.  We got there in the rain AND at high tide so any picture taking was out of the question.  The Bay of Fundy is interesting, lots of red cliffs, rock outcroppings and muddy red water.  We also drove back over to Shediac and fished off the pier for mackerel.  We bought a couple of lobster off a boat for 1/2 the price of what you can buy them for in the store.  We had dinner with friends that used to live in CRiver.  It was great to catch up with them and see what they’ve been doing since moving out here.

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The Coastline of Hopewell Provincial Park and the muddy water of the Bay of Fundy near Moncton, NB.

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The Bay of Fundy with the rip tide line and the coast of Maine off in the distance.

We then left Moncton and headed to Saint John NB in preparation for heading across the border.  We updated our health plan, worked on my photo’s and blog.  Sat in the sun lots.  We got our air conditioner looked at and temporarily fixed.  There are no quarantees that the gas won’t leak out again, but it’s working for now.  The weather has turned warm and we are heading for warmer climates so we are glad to have it working.  We are going to need it we think.

I drove around one day and discovered Lepreau Falls.  It is about 30KM out of Saint John towards the border with Maine.  The Falls are nice and there is a day use park there, it wasn’t busy at all and would be a great place for a picnic.  It’s very scenic.  The area below the falls was used by rum smugglers in the 1920’s and 1930’s as they prepared to run rum out to the Bay of Fundy and sell to ships off shore from the USA.

That’s where we will be heading next.  Bar Harbor, Boston, New York City – LOOK OUT – we’ll be there soon!

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Lepreau Falls in Lepreau National Park between Saint John, NB and the border in to Maine.

30 days on the Road

We’ve successfully completed the first 30 days of our trip that we are calling –  “Making a Circle 2017-2018”.  We’ve visited family and friends throughout BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. I’ve loved re-connecting with everyone, it gives me a sense of who I am, where I’ve been, what my life has given me in experiences and the winding paths travelled. Is it a circle?  Nope, not yet, not this morning as I write this. Full circle, to me, will be when I mark my last day on earth. But let’s leave that for another day ok?

We’ve scared ourselves – we’ve laughed about it.

We’ve  yelled at each other – we’ve taken time-outs and regrouped.

We’ve driven into some small spaces we shouldn’t have – and drove back out.

We’ve made some questionable traffic maneuvers – and survived.                      (Thanks to all the courteous drivers who no doubt yelled thru their windshields at us).

We haven’t developed a real routine yet – maybe we will, maybe we won’t.

When it’s sunny – we drink an extra coffee outside, we lollygag, we enjoy the moment. We pull over and picnic on the road somewhere  We watch trains, we watch people doing their things, we watch birds doing their thing, we listen to birds doing their thing, we just watch

When it’s rain and wind – we bitch.. teehee

We’ve stayed in RV parks that have traffic noise – we’ve stayed at some that are quiet.

We’ve stayed in RV parks that are narrow – and some that weren’t.

Most of all – we both really like travelling together.  It’s fun. We are doing something we’ve talked about, and planned for a few years.  We’re just going to take it one day at a time, one roll of the wheels, one set-up, one pack-it-up, one hook-it-up, one tow at a time.

We are members of the “400 Club”.  We try to travel less than 400kilometers per day  our favourite days are the 250-300km ones.  We mostly get on the road by 11 something or other. I guess we have developed a routine after all 👍