Making it ours

When we bought the property we knew there were some things that needed to be fixed, and some things we wanted to change. One of the top priorities was to expand the door on the outbuilding so we could park the camper inside. It took a while to find someone that wanted to help Paul do the work. We finally found someone that shows up when he says, and gets the job done. He and Paul raised the header for the door and a garage door company came from over an hour away to install the new door. They even bought the old one from us. We finally got the camper inside, out of the snow. 

 Oh my, what a big door you have1

Oh my, what a big door you have1

 And he made a friend.

And he made a friend.

 The next task at hand was to have a wall and door put in to close off the master bedroom. Having a proper master bedroom was one thing I wanted when we were looking at houses. Our house in San Diego also had a loft style master bedroom. This house was even more open, since the guest room is also lofted. Now when we have guests, they don't have to listen to us snore, or vise versa. Also, Paul almost always wakes up earlier than I do. Now he doesn't have to tip toe around until I get my lazy ass out of bed!

 The rail is down.

The rail is down.

 Watch your step!

Watch your step!

 Men at work.

Men at work.

 And I have a door! Still waiting for the drywall finisher.

And I have a door! Still waiting for the drywall finisher.

 While we had Bill here, we also had him finish off the top of the backsplash of the counters. 

 Before.

Before.

 After.

After.

 There were many things left unfinished in the cabin, since it had never really been lived in. I still have to stain all of the wood on the door and window frames, fill in the nail holes, and paint the whole house. Well, not the logs. Can you imagine? I'm waiting for warmer weather to do those chores, so I can have the windows open.

 The coldest part of the winter is over. It seemed to go by really fast. I'm not quite ready for the snow to melt. Paul has already been out cutting some of the brush. We have a lot of clean up to do this spring and summer. The deer have been here every day doing their part in the landscaping. 

 Lunch time!

Lunch time!

 Paul out cutting weeds.

Paul out cutting weeds.

 A couple of cougars have been sighted really close to our property. I don't like to go outside when it's dark! We had a bobcat come right up to the house. He just sat there and looked at us for a long time. Fiona loves cats, and she was super excited!

 Hello beautiful!

Hello beautiful!

 I've finally let Fiona go outside without a leash. That's a huge step for me! She has been listening pretty good, but I dread the first time she spots a squirrel, or god forbid the bobcat!

 A stick!

A stick!

 Paul built a gate with the rail we took down from the loft, so she can go out on the porch to watch the wildlife. 

 She likes to sit out here and stare at the deer.

She likes to sit out here and stare at the deer.

 We love living here. The slow pace, cool weather, and the beautiful landscape are just what we were looking for. 

 We see this guy all the time.

We see this guy all the time.

 One day about a month ago, the river almost froze over.

One day about a month ago, the river almost froze over.

 When she's out too long, her feet get too cold. 

When she's out too long, her feet get too cold. 

 A big fat beaver, sitting on the ice eating wood. 

A big fat beaver, sitting on the ice eating wood. 

 We've only seen this river otter a couple of times. 

We've only seen this river otter a couple of times. 

 During the wall construction, we had to sit outside in the cold. Fiona was too scared of the nail gun. The next day, we went out and sat in the heated camper.

During the wall construction, we had to sit outside in the cold. Fiona was too scared of the nail gun. The next day, we went out and sat in the heated camper.

 Looking out from my bedroom through the new doorway.

Looking out from my bedroom through the new doorway.

 From across the catwalk.

From across the catwalk.

 Fiona watching a poodle do dog agility.

Fiona watching a poodle do dog agility.

 No, you can't bring your stick in the house!

No, you can't bring your stick in the house!

White Christmas

Everyone from our old home keeps asking if we are sick of the cold weather yet. The answer is a big fat no! We are really enjoying the cold weather. The wood stove keeps the house nice and warm, and if we have to go outside to do work, we don't sweat our butts off. We haven't been getting up at night to add wood to the fire, but setting the heater at 53, a perfect sleeping temperature for me. 

 The first good snow.

The first good snow.

 We started getting snow, that didn't just melt away, just before Thanksgiving. It wasn't enough to make a really good snowman, but I got a couple of small ones made. 

 It's not the best snowman ever made, but I think he's cute.

It's not the best snowman ever made, but I think he's cute.

 Bachelor number two.

Bachelor number two.

 Crafting a snowman.

Crafting a snowman.

 Our son, Dustin drove up from Portland for Thanksgiving. I made our traditional Thanksgiving meal, homemade pizza. Paul's mom taught me to make it, and ever since, that's what the boys prefer for any holiday meal. I made plenty so Dustin would have lots of leftovers. 

 My boys.

My boys.

 Dustin checking out the view from the dock.

Dustin checking out the view from the dock.

 Aside from his graphic design job at Lincoln Design Co., he and his boss have a company on the side, called Revere Co., that sells patches and pins. He had a jacket that he wanted me to sew a bunch of patches on for him while he was here. Instead of doing them all for him, I taught him how to sew them on by hand himself. We didn't get them all on while he was here, but he has been working on them. Proud [step] mama, right here! 

 Sewing.

Sewing.

 With rural living comes different trials and tribulations. Neither of us have ever had a well to provide our water. When we started intermittently losing water pressure, we didn't have a clue why. We had a plumber and a well company come out, and both thought there was a leak in the pipe that goes from the well to the house 500 feet away. Things in a small town never happen fast, so it took a week or so for a backhoe contractor to come out, dig down 6 feet, through frozen ground and fix the leak. During the three weeks of water issues, Paul went out to the pump house and turned the water pump off, except when we needed to shower or do dishes. We reverted back to the RV style showering, where you turn the water on, get wet, turn it off to lather up, turn it back on to rinse, etc..  We had a bucket full of watersitting in the bathroom for flushing the toilet, and a large cup for hand washing. I admit, I did go outside and make yellow snow a few times :). When the waterline was fixed and we had free flowing water, Paul would do a happy dance every time he used it. Whoo hoo! We have water!!! Great Christmas present for him.

 Fixing the well.

Fixing the well.

 I had a little bump on the side of my nose, by the corner of my eye that a doctor told me, over a year ago, looked like skin cancer. I ignored it because we were going on the road. I finally went to have it removed. It took two surgeries to get it all and have a graft taken from my ear to close the wound. I had a bandage wrapping my head for eight days after the second surgery. It was itchy and annoying, but I tried to make the best of it. I'm now cancer free, and impatiently waiting for the graft to heal. Paul said I looked like Sloth from the movie Goonies, and I can't argue with that! Rocky road?

 Going a little insane!

Going a little insane!

 We hired a local company to plow the driveway when we get a good amount of snowfall. We also bought a used snow thrower. Paul has been out clearing the snow from the areas we need to drive on. 

 Throwing some snow.

Throwing some snow.

 Paul cut a Christmas tree down, and we set it up on the back porch, since there isn't room inside. We can see it through the window. I put lights on it and one red ornament, Charlie Brown style. It didn't dawn on me that I didn't need to put water in the stand, until I went out to see if it needed more, and found a solid block of ice. I'm going to have to chip it out when I take it down.

 Decking the halls.

Decking the halls.

 Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 There's a learning curve with moving from warm to cold climates. We both enjoy learning new things, so its all fun and new. Every time I look out the window, or go out to walk the dog, I'm amazed by the beauty that surrounds us. It's breathtaking! Sitting here, on Christmas Day writing my blog, this is my view.

 A winter wonderland outside the windows. 

A winter wonderland outside the windows. 

 Our first White Christmas together.

Our first White Christmas together.

I can't tell you how many times we stop what we are doing and just take it all in. We are both so happy to call this home.

Lots more photos below!

 A little dusting of snow.

A little dusting of snow.

 On a really windy day we heard and felt a big boom. This standing dead tree fell into the dry pond.

On a really windy day we heard and felt a big boom. This standing dead tree fell into the dry pond.

 Beautiful clouds, or a UFO.

Beautiful clouds, or a UFO.

 I had a TV table made. It's not my favorite, but better than beer boxes. 

I had a TV table made. It's not my favorite, but better than beer boxes. 

 Burning some of the crap we collected on the property.

Burning some of the crap we collected on the property.

 Sometimes when you cut open a tree, you can see the sapling it once was. 

Sometimes when you cut open a tree, you can see the sapling it once was. 

 It's starting to get cold! Icicles hanging from the side of the mountain.

It's starting to get cold! Icicles hanging from the side of the mountain.

 Some visitors.

Some visitors.

 This guy just swam across the river.

This guy just swam across the river.

  I love seeing this through the window.

 I love seeing this through the window.

 Snowball fight!

Snowball fight!

 Fiona loves the snow, until it gets stuck in her paws. 

Fiona loves the snow, until it gets stuck in her paws. 

 The Noden family.

The Noden family.

 Me taking a photo of Paul taking a photo of Dustin taking a photo.

Me taking a photo of Paul taking a photo of Dustin taking a photo.

 Dustin hard at work, sewing patches.

Dustin hard at work, sewing patches.

 Tundra swans and geese.

Tundra swans and geese.

 Tundra swan.

Tundra swan.

 The rarely photographed front yard.

The rarely photographed front yard.

 Fiona loves to watch the wildlife.

Fiona loves to watch the wildlife.

 What the?! Our town actually has a phone booth! 

What the?! Our town actually has a phone booth! 

 A beaver chilling on the ice. 

A beaver chilling on the ice. 

 Some kind of bird of prey. Checking out the menu on the river.

Some kind of bird of prey. Checking out the menu on the river.

 Paul hard at work.

Paul hard at work.

 The woodshed. 

The woodshed. 

 Paul bought a load of sand to weigh down the back of the truck to make driving in winter conditions a little better.

Paul bought a load of sand to weigh down the back of the truck to make driving in winter conditions a little better.

New adventures

The adjustment from city living, to full time traveling, to country living has gone well. We are enjoying the change of seasons; something we never witnessed while living in Southern California. The changing colors of the trees along the river are amazing. I learned that there are conifer trees that are also deciduous trees. Hell, two years ago I didn't even know what deciduous meant! My friend Jane taught me that it is the name for trees that lose their leaves annually. I always thought that if the tree had needles, they stayed green year round. Not so with the tamarack tree. They look like yellow Christmas trees until all of the yellow needles fall off and cover everything. I mean everything! I'm pretty sure the ones by the house are going to be firewood by next year.

 See the pointy yellow ones? Those are Tamarack.

See the pointy yellow ones? Those are Tamarack.

 The view doesn't suck.

The view doesn't suck.

 The view from the dock, looking north.

The view from the dock, looking north.

 The view from the dock, looking south.

The view from the dock, looking south.

 Sunset over the river.

Sunset over the river.

 One bad thing about the cooler temperatures, is that mice want to come in to keep warm. We heard scratching in the wall. Fiona and I tried to scare it away by pounding on the wall (me) and barking (Fiona). Paul went under the house to see if he could find where it might be, with no luck. After a couple of days, it was obvious by the smell, that the mouse had died in the wall. I cut open the wall to find that there was one freshly deceased mouse and about six mouse skeletons. After removing it all, I had to throw away the baseboards and drywall on each side of the wall. I put some new drywall up, to close the area while we figured out where they were getting in. Meanwhile, two more fell into the same spot. Luckily I hadn't patched the drywall, so I just had to remove a couple of screws to retrieve them. I filled every hole and crack I could find outside the house, but I think I trapped one in. I can smell it, but can't find where it is. I cut another hole in the wall, where I thought it was, but there was nothing there. I'm thinking it isn't an actual dead mouse that I'm smelling, but the disturbed remains from the wall are haunting me. Like poltergeist, but with mice.  Potlermice. 

 Who's there?

Who's there?

 Sandy Noden, mouse hunter!

Sandy Noden, mouse hunter!

 Trying to contain the residual smell.

Trying to contain the residual smell.

 The mouse burial ground. 

The mouse burial ground. 

 Temporary patch job.,

Temporary patch job.,

 The other side of the wall. I need to practice my sawing skills!

The other side of the wall. I need to practice my sawing skills!

 With the temperature dropping, we are getting prepared for winter. The woodshed is coming along nicely. There is still more wood to be gathered and set out to dry for next year. We had some delivered, and chopped and split some dry wood we had on the property. The wood stove is a nice feature to have. We both prefer to have a fire, but we also have electric heat, if needed. 

 Paul driving the borrowed tractor.

Paul driving the borrowed tractor.

 Fulfilling a lifelong dream of driving a tractor. 

Fulfilling a lifelong dream of driving a tractor. 

 Working on the roof of the woodshed.

Working on the roof of the woodshed.

 Swinging the maul. We use the old tire to keep the pieces from falling off the stump.

Swinging the maul. We use the old tire to keep the pieces from falling off the stump.

 Stacking nicely!

Stacking nicely!

 The Lions Club of Ione has a train ride that goes to Metaline Falls, a town just north of us, so we decided to be social and check it out. It was a chilly ride, but the fall colors were beautiful. 

 Going over the river on the train.

Going over the river on the train.

 Looking down from the train to the water. 

Looking down from the train to the water. 

 The Box Canyon Dam on the Pend Oreille River.

The Box Canyon Dam on the Pend Oreille River.

 When we stopped to turn back, we were "robbed" by a scamp from the local Cutter Theater for donations.

When we stopped to turn back, we were "robbed" by a scamp from the local Cutter Theater for donations.

 Paul on the train, crossing over the river.

Paul on the train, crossing over the river.

 Views from the train.

Views from the train.

 The Box Canyon Dam.

The Box Canyon Dam.

 We have made some friends in the area. I've been to a couple of events, an essential oils class, and a skin care party. We went to the local bar for a gathering, and even to a dinner party up the road. 

 Some of my new friends. At Rita and Jerry's house.

Some of my new friends. At Rita and Jerry's house.

I thought my traveling days would be on hold until we got tired of being in one spot for too long, but, I got an email from Kenny Chesney's people about a private concert he was having in Florida. I was asked to send in a short video saying why I should be invited. I sent in my video, as did countless others in his fan club, and I was chosen to attend. Two of my friends that are also huge Kenny fans also won. Each of us were allowed to bring a guest, so the six of us met in Miami for a last minute, unexpected shindig. We had a blast! 

 The No Shoes Nation gang in Miami. Jordyn, Shari, Connie, me, Noelle, Michelle, and our server.

The No Shoes Nation gang in Miami. Jordyn, Shari, Connie, me, Noelle, Michelle, and our server.

 As I was boarding the plane, Paul sent me a video from home. The first snow of the season happened while I was on my way to 90 degree weather. I was bummed to miss it, but I'm pretty sure there will be more snow to come. When I returned home, I was greeted with a little snow shower. It's good to be home!

 The first snow of the 2015 season.

The first snow of the 2015 season.

Here are some extra photos.

 We really need to get something else to put the TV on.We are going to drink this stand soon!

We really need to get something else to put the TV on.We are going to drink this stand soon!

 Building a fire.

Building a fire.

 Well, hello there, deer.

Well, hello there, deer.

 Goodbye deer.

Goodbye deer.

 Train selfie!

Train selfie!

 Excavating mice.

Excavating mice.

 Sunset.

Sunset.

 Chopper up!

Chopper up!

 I didn't miss that time!

I didn't miss that time!

 Burning the fruits of our labor.

Burning the fruits of our labor.

 New window coverings to cut down the glare when we watch TV.

New window coverings to cut down the glare when we watch TV.

 The Pend Oreille River from the train trestle.

The Pend Oreille River from the train trestle.

 Filled the copper bowl my Mama gave me with pine cones from the yard. 

Filled the copper bowl my Mama gave me with pine cones from the yard. 

 Our new Pottery Barn table fits in nicely!

Our new Pottery Barn table fits in nicely!

 The dry air is wreaking havoc on my hair. 

The dry air is wreaking havoc on my hair. 

 Snuggled up on the couch.

Snuggled up on the couch.

 Packing heat. There was a pack of coyotes right in front of the house.

Packing heat. There was a pack of coyotes right in front of the house.

 Fiona likes to stare at us, over our shoulders when she wants something. 

Fiona likes to stare at us, over our shoulders when she wants something. 

 Visiting my new friend, Liz and her chickens in Spokane Valley. This Isn't Liz, but one of the hens.

Visiting my new friend, Liz and her chickens in Spokane Valley. This Isn't Liz, but one of the hens.

 Driving from Tampa to Miami with Noelle and Shari. 

Driving from Tampa to Miami with Noelle and Shari. 

 Up close for the private show. What a great night!

Up close for the private show. What a great night!

 Missing Paul in St. Petersburg, FL. 

Missing Paul in St. Petersburg, FL. 

 Trying for sexy face with Greg's knife, and I got photo bombed by Noelle, and apparently, a security guard. Drunk girl with a knife!  

Trying for sexy face with Greg's knife, and I got photo bombed by Noelle, and apparently, a security guard. Drunk girl with a knife!  

 Look closely, we have tundra swans on the river.

Look closely, we have tundra swans on the river.

Traveling without the camper and settling in to the house.

Before we decided to buy a house, I planned a couple of adventures with girlfriends. The first trip was to meet Jane in Boston for the last concert of Kenny Chesney's Big Revival tour. We bought the tickets back in November, so not knowing that Paul and I would have found a new home by August, I bought a plane ticket out of Portland, Oregon. Our son, Dustin, moved there earlier this year, so that would have been a good place for Paul and Fiona to hang out while I was away. It turned out that escrow closed a week before the trip. Paul was eager to get some work done on the property, so instead of driving me to Portland in the camper, and waiting for me to get back, I decided to fly to Portland and stay with Dustin the night before my flight to Boston. It was great to spend time with the boy. 

 Dustin and me enjoying downtown Portland. 

Dustin and me enjoying downtown Portland. 

 Jane and I went from seeing each other almost every day to not seeing each other for nine months. When we met up at the airport bar, it was like a moment hadn't passed. We had such a great time in Boston. The concert was great, but we really enjoyed exploring the city. Ok, it was bar hopping all over the city! We took the subway, which I hated at first, but it was a great way to get around. The locals were so nice, and helped us figure out where we needed to go. We saw a lot of local pubs. I know, no surprise there!

 Like sardines on the subway!

Like sardines on the subway!

 Enjoying the good life at The Good Life Pub.

Enjoying the good life at The Good Life Pub.

 We even saw some historical sights. It's amazing how many bars are along the Freedom Trail!

We even saw some historical sights. It's amazing how many bars are along the Freedom Trail!

 Our friend Kathy flew in from Florida, and somehow found us in the sandbar, right up next to the stage. She had to wade through hundreds of people!

Our friend Kathy flew in from Florida, and somehow found us in the sandbar, right up next to the stage. She had to wade through hundreds of people!

 Kenny got comfortable at the end of the concert. We are No Shoes Nation, so it's only fitting that he went barefoot.

Kenny got comfortable at the end of the concert. We are No Shoes Nation, so it's only fitting that he went barefoot.

 While I was away there were a couple of forest fires near our new home. The firefighting planes were scooping water from the river right in front of our house. 

 Firefighting plane scooping up water.

Firefighting plane scooping up water.

 Firefighting plane pulling up from the river. Ready to drop some water on the fire.

Firefighting plane pulling up from the river. Ready to drop some water on the fire.

 Something you don't see every day.

Something you don't see every day.

 A week after I got home from Boston, I flew to Bend, Oregon to visit Wanda. Originally it was going to be a girls weekend with our core group of childhood friends. It turned out that Tavia and Brenda couldn't make it, so it was just Wanda and me. We had a fun filled weekend. From going out to great restaurants, to game night with her crazy Bend friends, to hiking, to tubing down the river. 

 Wanda and I checking out the menu at the mexican restaurant. (and embarrassing Mike!)

Wanda and I checking out the menu at the mexican restaurant. (and embarrassing Mike!)

 A steep hike to Lake Moraine. Thought it was 2.5, was more like 5 miles. 

A steep hike to Lake Moraine. Thought it was 2.5, was more like 5 miles. 

 Wanda and the dogs by the lake, with Broken Top Mountain in the distance.

Wanda and the dogs by the lake, with Broken Top Mountain in the distance.

 Cooling off my tootsies at the end of the hike.

Cooling off my tootsies at the end of the hike.

 Paul and I knew we needed to drive down to San Diego to pick up our stuff from storage. It was more cost effective to buy an enclosed trailer, that we could use for other things in the future, than to rent a Uhaul. We couldn't take the camper and the trailer, so we had to make it a quick trip, and stay in hotels on the way there and back. 3000 miles, roundtrip. Paul and Fiona picked me up in Bend, and we made our way down to San Diego.

 Getting an early start from Bend, OR. 

Getting an early start from Bend, OR. 

It's funny how we traveled all over the country at a leisurely pace and it was fun, but driving for 10 hours at a time is not so fun! Traveling is fun when you take your home with you. As nice as it was getting to see my friends and family while we were there, it was sure nice to get back to the peace and quiet of our new home. 

 Once we got home, we got back to work getting things set up like we want. Building a woodshed, fixing the dock, and cutting wood for the winter are the first priorities. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are excited to dig in and make it our own. 

 We found so much usable building materials strewn across the property. Using the cement footings for the woodshed was easier than hauling them away. 

We found so much usable building materials strewn across the property. Using the cement footings for the woodshed was easier than hauling them away. 

 Hard at work!

Hard at work!

 Not just a supervisor! 

Not just a supervisor! 

 Making progress on the woodshed. 90% of the materials were salvaged from the property.

Making progress on the woodshed. 90% of the materials were salvaged from the property.

 Fiona and Daddy looking for wildlife.

Fiona and Daddy looking for wildlife.

 After having to make an ER visit the first week we lived here, he's wearing his helmet. 

After having to make an ER visit the first week we lived here, he's wearing his helmet. 

 The trees along the river are changing colors. Fall on the Pend Oreille River.

The trees along the river are changing colors. Fall on the Pend Oreille River.

 When I first saw this, I thought, what kind of bird is that? Turns out, not a bird!

When I first saw this, I thought, what kind of bird is that? Turns out, not a bird!

 A swimming doe.

A swimming doe.

 I guess the grass was greener on this side of the river.

I guess the grass was greener on this side of the river.

 Letting my inner tomboy come out to play!

Letting my inner tomboy come out to play!

 A bald eagle out looking for breakfast on the river.

A bald eagle out looking for breakfast on the river.

 Having grown up in the Imperial Valley, we are used to seeing cattle, just not roaming free. They have range land all over Washington.

Having grown up in the Imperial Valley, we are used to seeing cattle, just not roaming free. They have range land all over Washington.

 It's a work truck now. It hasn't been washed in two months. So not like Captain Noden!

It's a work truck now. It hasn't been washed in two months. So not like Captain Noden!

 The swimming doe came back for dinner.

The swimming doe came back for dinner.

 Hey, what are you doing out there?

Hey, what are you doing out there?

 Having some gravel added to the driveway.

Having some gravel added to the driveway.

 The sun comes in so bright in the evenings that we can't see the TV. Ordering some window coverings, but for now a sheet and beach towel will work. #Redneck

The sun comes in so bright in the evenings that we can't see the TV. Ordering some window coverings, but for now a sheet and beach towel will work. #Redneck

 My office. My mama's old dewing machine, and chairs made by my GrandpaTex.

My office. My mama's old dewing machine, and chairs made by my GrandpaTex.

 The turkeys are getting bigger. Thanksgiving is coming!

The turkeys are getting bigger. Thanksgiving is coming!

 Paul hired a local guy to cut down some dead standing trees.

Paul hired a local guy to cut down some dead standing trees.

 Timber!

Timber!

 Just a fraction of the crap we've picked up on the property. There's still more to be picked up. 

Just a fraction of the crap we've picked up on the property. There's still more to be picked up. 

Full time Rvers become part time Rvers!

We started talking about where we wanted to live when we retired back when we were in our twenties. We both wanted to live someplace that had all four seasons, rural, with trees, and a decent size plot of land. As we got closer to retirement age, we started researching which states would be best, financially. The Pacific Northwest offered the climate we wanted, and since Washington doesn't have State income tax, we thought we'd start there. Although, as we traveled the country, we kept an open mind. There were so many beautiful places, but it kept coming back to climate. We didn't want to live where it's hot and humid in the summer, or have to worry about hurricanes. I started researching Washington properties a couple of years ago. I was looking for property near a small town, maybe an hour from a larger town, not too hot in the summer, not too cold in the winter, with a low cost of living. A girl can have it all, right? Newport, Washington in Pend Oreille County, right on the border of Idaho was a place I thought would fit the bill. So, when we were heading west, we started looking at properties online. We weren't sure if we wanted to buy land, park the camper on it, and live in it while we built a house, or buy something already built. We knew we didn't want to buy an old house, and fix it up. We had had enough of that with our last house! We also wanted property with some kind of water feature. Be it a lake, river, or creek. I wanted something with enough room for a greenhouse and a chicken coop. 

 When we got settled into the campground in the area, we contacted a real estate agent to have him show us the handful of properties we wanted to see. We decided to look at existing houses first, and if we didn't find anything, we would look at land that we would build on. We had two different areas we were interested in, some on the Pend Oreille River and some farther west on the Columbia and Kettle rivers. The first four properties we looked at were on the Pend Oreille River. After looking at them, we ruled out two that needed too much work and one that was in the flood zone. The fourth property was by far superior to the others. It had a log home that was fairly new, a huge outbuilding, and six wooded acres, right on the river. We had an appointment a few days later to look at the properties on the Columbia and Kettle rivers; After looking at them again online and weighing out what they had to offer, compared to the one we liked on the Pend Oreille, we decided to not even waste our time. We made the decision to putan offer on the log home we both liked. After a little negotiating, we settled on a fair price with the seller. 

 The house and property from across the river. 

The house and property from across the river. 

 The front side of the house. You can't see it from the road. 

The front side of the house. You can't see it from the road. 

 Standing on the weed choked dock, looking back at the house.

Standing on the weed choked dock, looking back at the house.

 We decided to stay in the area while the property was in escrow, in case we needed to do anything. We extended our stay at The Blueslide Resort, just up the river from our new home. It was the longest we have stayed in one spot since we left San Diego. The spaces are small, but the owner and staff were very nice. 

 Driving away from the last campground, as full timers!

Driving away from the last campground, as full timers!

 The seller didn't use the house much since it was built in 2009, so it is like new. They allowed us to stay on the land in our camper the week before escrow closed. The day we drove the camper to the property, we saw a big black bear about 100 feet in front of the driveway. (I shit you not!) It was crossing the road, stopped and watched us pull up, then ambled onto the vacant land that is just to the south of us. Dammit, I didn't have the camera handy! In all of the wild places we've been throughout the country, we didn'tsee a bear until we are pulling the camper onto our new property, ending our full time RVing lifestyle, (for now). It was like the bear was welcoming the Homeless Bears to their new den. 

 Still camping while in escrow. So close!

Still camping while in escrow. So close!

 Driving up the driveway for the first time, as owners! Right after seeing the bear on the road!

Driving up the driveway for the first time, as owners! Right after seeing the bear on the road!

 We have been in the house for a few days now, and are getting settled in. We have been slowly working on clearing the debris and weeds. Since no one has lived here, there is a lot to be done on the land. The house needs some finish work and painting. Luckily, I have extensive painting experience! The outbuilding needs some roof repair, before the snow comes, and the dock needs a section added. Those things should give me plenty of stories to blog about! 

 The seller left the sofa. We have a few things to buy. I'm using my camping table for now. 

The seller left the sofa. We have a few things to buy. I'm using my camping table for now. 

 Looking through the walk-thru laundry room to the kitchen.

Looking through the walk-thru laundry room to the kitchen.

 Looking down from the stairs. 

Looking down from the stairs. 

 With no neighbors on either side, and only a few houses visible across the river, it's really peaceful, and so quiet! The only noise we've had is some wildlife at night. One night there was something large walking through the trees in front of the house, and last night we had a bear eating the crumbs out of the bottom of the small camper BBQ. He ran off when we shined the flashlight on him. So far we have seen turkeys, bald eagles, deer, bear, ducks, and geese. That's just in one week! I'm sure there will be more to come! 

 Up the stairs, the master is to the left, and the guest room is across the catwalk to the right. Both lofted. We might add a door to the master at some point.

Up the stairs, the master is to the left, and the guest room is across the catwalk to the right. Both lofted. We might add a door to the master at some point.

 The master bedroom. The seller left a new king size bed in here, and a queen in the guest room.

The master bedroom. The seller left a new king size bed in here, and a queen in the guest room.

 Looking across the catwalk to the guest room. 

Looking across the catwalk to the guest room. 

 Fiona's Harry Potter room under the stairs. I put her pop up crate in there to show her that is her room. 

Fiona's Harry Potter room under the stairs. I put her pop up crate in there to show her that is her room. 

 One of the best parts, the view!

One of the best parts, the view!

 Did I mention the outbuilding? It's up by the road, about 300 steps from the house. It's 30x60 feet. That's 1800 square feet! Larger than any house we've lived in. Paul is raising the garage door so we can drive the camper in there. 

Did I mention the outbuilding? It's up by the road, about 300 steps from the house. It's 30x60 feet. That's 1800 square feet! Larger than any house we've lived in. Paul is raising the garage door so we can drive the camper in there. 

We are less than five miles to the small town of Ione. The population is less than 500, but there are 6 bars. Destiny? I think so! The next larger town, Newport, is about an hours drive away, and Spokane is only an hour and a half. The Canadian border is about 25 miles north, and Idaho is about 15 miles, as the crow flies, to the east.  Even though we aren't traveling full time, I still plan on writing blogs. I'm sure with the change in lifestyle, I will have plenty of crazy stuff to share. Plus, we aren't done traveling. There are still lots of places we want to see. 

THERE ARE LOTS MORE PHOTOS IN THE PHOTO SECTION UNDER SNAPSHOTS 2, CABIN SWEET CABIN! 

E Coli Campers!

 On the drive from Helena, Montana to the east side of Glacier National park, the scenery really changed. It went from open range to beautiful rock outcroppings, to a little more range with rolling hills, to pine trees and glacier covered mountains. It's hard to imagine how thick the glaciers must be, that they don't melt in the 90 plus degree weather they have in the summer months. 

 Now we are getting into the area of Montana I love!

Now we are getting into the area of Montana I love!

 More open range, ho hum!

More open range, ho hum!

 Clouds hugging the glacier covered mountains.

Clouds hugging the glacier covered mountains.

 We originally planned on staying in the national park campground, but they don't have hook-ups. With the temperatures up in the 90's, we wanted to be able to use the air-conditioning, so we stayed at a KOA just outside the park. It was a short walk to Lower St. Mary Lake, and the St. Mary River, and had a view of glacier covered mountains. 

 Not a bad place to stay!

Not a bad place to stay!

 The river next to camp.

The river next to camp.

 Fi and me by St. Mary's Lake.

Fi and me by St. Mary's Lake.

 We were there for the 4th of July. Since the sun stays up so late this far north, the fireworks weren't set to start until 10:30 PM. It was raining when we went to bed at 9, so I hoped the fireworks would be cancelled. No such luck! I woke up to what sounded like a war zone. I didn't think Fiona would be bothered by fireworks, since she heard them the first five years of her life, living so close to Seaworld. Fireworks are a lot louder when they are being lit 100 feet from your camper! We didn't go out to watch them, since it was still raining. I spent the next couple of hours on the sofa with her,waiting for the booming to stop, watching a motocross race, and a rodeo, which wasn't so bad. 

 Fiona doesn't like to swim. Here she is watching a lab swim, making sure he doesn't need rescuing. 

Fiona doesn't like to swim. Here she is watching a lab swim, making sure he doesn't need rescuing. 

 I took so many photos on the drive west, across the top of Montana. The scenery is so gorgeous! I pared them down to my favorites, and they are in the photo section called snapshots 2. 

 More glaciers.

More glaciers.

 The moon over the glaciers.

The moon over the glaciers.

 We only made two more stops in Montana. One on the west side of Glacier, near Kalispell, and one on the Bull River, just east of the Idaho border. We really liked the Bull River Campground, and plan on going back. We also plan on going to Thompson Falls, a little further to the east, to visit family friends. 

 Checking out the river.

Checking out the river.

 Nestled in the trees, down by the river! Bull River in Montana

Nestled in the trees, down by the river! Bull River in Montana

 We cut across the panhandle of Idaho, only stopping at Walmart. 

 Cruising through Idaho. 

Cruising through Idaho. 

 Train tracks crossing part of Pend Oreille Lake, Idaho. It's a huge lake!

Train tracks crossing part of Pend Oreille Lake, Idaho. It's a huge lake!

 Now we sit on the banks of The Pend Oreille River (pronounced Ponderay), in North East Washington. We are planning on staying here for a while, getting to know the area. It might be a place we'd like to settle. 

 The view from the back window. Pend Oreille River.

The view from the back window. Pend Oreille River.

 The view looking down river, from the back window. 

The view looking down river, from the back window. 

 Here, we had some campground entertainment. A young couple with two little kids, and a  puppy. We enjoyed watching the chaos from the serenity of our camper. If you have ever camped in an RV, you know the first hour you're there, involves a lot of set up. While the parents were busy setting up their site, the two year old little girl had both faucets to the neighboring campsites on full blast, flooding the area. Her four year old brother had a blast stepping in the muck. Then he discovered the sewer pipe. He kept dipping his shoes in the hole. Then, the dog discovered the hole and stuck his whole nose in it. The parents would tell them to stop, after a few minutes, they'd start up again. We were kind of sad when the e coli campers left today, but we know there is always good people watching in campgrounds, waiting for the next.

 This is the dirt road across from the campground. A beautiful place for morning walks or runs!

This is the dirt road across from the campground. A beautiful place for morning walks or runs!


Oh hail no!

 We took a hop, skip and a jump through South Dakota, with three stops. One on Lake Thompson, near De Smet, where the Ingalls family homestead was located, from The Little House On The Prairie stories, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was definitely on a prairie! I knew South Dakota was mostly covered with grassy plains, but I was still surprised at the scope of it. I expected more houses. We drove a small highway (14), to avoid traffic and see the small towns. Maybe there's more houses and businesses on the busier highway (90). Most of the towns we drove through, the only paved road was the highway, the side streets were dirt or gravel. Some serious small town America! 

 I didn't use a filter on this photo. This is beautiful South Dakota!

I didn't use a filter on this photo. This is beautiful South Dakota!

 Wide open spaces! The windshield tones out the brilliant blue sky. 

Wide open spaces! The windshield tones out the brilliant blue sky. 

 Gloomy Lake Thompson out the back window.

Gloomy Lake Thompson out the back window.

 The second stop was in the capital city of Pierre. I thought, since it was the state capital, it would be a larger city. Come to find out, it has a smaller population than my tiny hometown of Imperial, California! We stayed in a small city park, right on the Missouri River, close to the Ford dealership, so we could have the trucks oil changed. 

 The Missouri River out the back window.

The Missouri River out the back window.

 In absolutely the middle of NOWHERE, we saw a baseball field. No city nearby, no houses for miles. We figure they thought, "if we build it, they will come". 

In absolutely the middle of NOWHERE, we saw a baseball field. No city nearby, no houses for miles. We figure they thought, "if we build it, they will come". 

 On our way to the Black Hills, we stopped and got our mail from our home address, which is a mail forwarding company. I had ordered essential oils to make my own bug repellant, and was super happy to get it, and it seems to be working!

 The Black Hills feel like a totally different world than the rest of South Dakota. The hills are covered with lush green grass and pine trees. Oh, and a couple of granite peaks with faces carved into them! 

 A selfie with the Presidents. 

A selfie with the Presidents. 

 George, you've got a little something right there!

George, you've got a little something right there!

 Peek a boo, I see you, Teddy!

Peek a boo, I see you, Teddy!

 Crazy Horse, a long way from completion. 

Crazy Horse, a long way from completion. 

 Baby mountain goats in the Black Hills.

Baby mountain goats in the Black Hills.

There were a lot of places to camp, but we chose Crooked Creek Resort, in Hill City, because my friends Jane and Mark's nephew and niece, John, and Amy are work camping there. We had only met once, briefly, in San Diego but have been following each others travels on Facebook. They are also new full time RV'ers, and when I saw they call themselves 'The Thirsty Nomads', I knew we'd get along great! Also, since Jane and Mark are like family, it was like hanging out with extended family. 

 Hanging out with our new friends.

Hanging out with our new friends.

 Spring Creek running through camp.

Spring Creek running through camp.

 While we were in Hill City, we had two hail storms. There are about 15 dings in the hood of the truck, and a few tears in the awning shade, and the awnings that cover the slides. We are just happy that the windshield, and solar panels are intact. It was funny, the day after the second storm, I saw a photo of large hail in a Facebook RV'ers group I belong to. I commented that we had hail too. It ends up, they were staying just up the road from us. Now we follow each others blogs. Thanks 'Goin Anywhere' for letting me use your photo! I was too busy sitting under the dinette, keeping Fiona calm, to go out and take photos. It was so loud, and she was really scared. 

 The second nights hail. Photo taken by Pauline of Goin Anywhere.

The second nights hail. Photo taken by Pauline of Goin Anywhere.

 The first nights hail, not as big.

The first nights hail, not as big.

 After the weekend in the Black Hills, we had 11 days to get to East Glacier in Montana. Normally, we would have taken our time and done it in five drives, staying two or three nights in each place but the temps were getting into the 100s' in the middle of Montana. Not being fans of hot weather, we added a few days to our stay at Glacier, and hightailed it north! 

 Rugged Wyoming.

Rugged Wyoming.

Paul said "you have something on your back let me see". I freaked out! Is it a tick? Is it a tick?! Nope, just the inspector 15 sticker from my new bra. Phew!

 The tick!

The tick!

 Keystone Reservoir, Wyoming.

Keystone Reservoir, Wyoming.

 The three stops along the way were a couple of nights in north east Wyoming, on Keyhole Reservoir, a couple in south/central Montana on the Tongue River Reservoir, and one night in hot Helena Montana, on Hauser Lake; which is part of the Missouri River. 

 A couple of Antelope in Wyoming. 

A couple of Antelope in Wyoming. 

 Tongue River Reservoir, right outside our door.

Tongue River Reservoir, right outside our door.

 Enjoying the view. Tongue River Reservoir, MT.

Enjoying the view. Tongue River Reservoir, MT.

 Hauser Lake, part of the Missouri River. 

Hauser Lake, part of the Missouri River. 

 But, wait! Weren't we on the Missouri River back in South Dakota? I actually started to write this blog one day when we didn't have wifi or cell service, and couldn't Google it. I was confused! How could  a river that seemed to flow north to south in one state, seem to flow south to north a few states to the west? I didn't want someone to question it. (You know who you are! And, I love ya!) So, I put the blog on hold until I could do some research. I know, who cares if I write something in my blog that's incorrect? Me, that's who! Once I was able to do some research, I found that the Missouri River starts in the Rocky Mountains in western Montana, heads north a bit, then east and south until it enters the Mississippi River. And, it's the longest river in North America. 

Above is a screen shot of Wikipedia, showing the path of the Mighty Mo. 

 This concludes the geography lesson and the blog for today. 

P.S. Check out the rest of the photos from this leg of the trip in the photo section-Snapshots 2

Stuck in the land of 10,000 lakes.

I never knew that the state of Michigan was broken down into two parts, the lower peninsula and the upper peninsula. The upper peninsula is referred to as the UP, pronounced 'you pee', and the people that live there are the Yoopers. 

When we left Petosky State Park, at the top of the lower peninsula, we crossed the Mackinac Bridge that spans the area where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet, onto the upper peninsula. As we were leaving, we saw some young Amish boys plowing a field with a horse and horse drawn plow. I wish I had the camera ready, because it was a really cool thing to see. 

 Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge

We made our way up to a state park on the shore of Waiska Bay on the southeast side of Lake Superior.The wind blowing off the lake was super chilly!

 The wind blowing up Fionas ears and my hair!

The wind blowing up Fionas ears and my hair!

 I am Bat Dog! PPTHTHTH!

I am Bat Dog! PPTHTHTH!

You could see Canada just across the water. We decided to not travel into Canada because of their strict gun laws. Plus, there are plenty of  beautiful places to see in the US. 

 That's Canada across the water. Not for this girl who packs heat!

That's Canada across the water. Not for this girl who packs heat!

 From there, we were going to stay at a park in the Hiawatha National Forest, not far away. It would have been our shortest drive between stops at about a half an hour. When Paul stepped out of the truck, he was surrounded by a swarm of mosquitos…ok, on to the next place! We decided to push on to a county park in Grand Marais, MI. We had planned on going there the following day, because they had laundry facilities, but we just moved it up a day. The fact that Superior Brewing Company was within walking distance wasn't a factor at all!

 Cheers!

Cheers!

 I guess they start young in Michigan. The booster seat is set for bellying up to the bar! One sippy cup of whatever you have on tap, please!

I guess they start young in Michigan. The booster seat is set for bellying up to the bar! One sippy cup of whatever you have on tap, please!

The park was right on the shores of Lake Superior. It's hard to wrap your mind around how enormous the lake is! It is memorialized by the poem from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in The Song of Hiawatha. I don't know why I know it, but I remember the part " By the shores of Gitchee Gumee, by the shining big-sea water". The area is known for it's beautiful agate stones. Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world. I talked to a local that said it had frozen over the last two years! Crazy that the surface area is 31,700 square miles.

 Lake Suoerior. Water as far as you can see!

Lake Suoerior. Water as far as you can see!

 Are any of you agates?

Are any of you agates?

 The hard thing about going to new campgrounds, and picking them from a map, is you really don't know what it's going to be like until you get there. Or as in the case of our next planned stop, how bad the roads are leading to the campground. We planned on our last stop in Michigan to be at Anderson Lake State Forest Campground. When we were about ten miles away, we got onto the county road that led to it. After a couple of miles on the worst road we've seen so far, with no hope of it getting any better, we turned around and bumped our way back to the highway, at 10 mph. National forest campgrounds tend to be rustic like that, so we found the nearest state park, just up the road. Von Riper State Park was right on Lake Michigamme, MI. It ended up being the most mosquito infested place we have ever stayed. Paul was laughing as he watched me through the window, while I was walking Fiona. I was kicking my legs out, and swinging my arms around the entire time, trying to ward off the attack! I got to try out our new electric bug zapper for the ones that came into the camper. BBZZZTT! We stayed there one night, and couldn't get out of there fast enough! Needless to say, I didn't walk down to take photos of the lake. 

 Skeeter hunter!

Skeeter hunter!

 Sitting in the truck while Paul gets everything ready, in mosquito alley. I hope the rain is keeping them from biting him!

Sitting in the truck while Paul gets everything ready, in mosquito alley. I hope the rain is keeping them from biting him!

 We were on a mission to head west, so we planned on skipping across Wisconsin and Minnesota, only staying a night, or two if it was a weekend. Campsites in the summer are harder to find on weekends. We only stayed one night in Wisconsin, on a little lake campground we found along the drive. The drive through Chequamegon National Forest, in Wisconsin, was where we saw the most wildlife. There were flashing signs that warned of a lot of elk in the area, although we didn't see any. We did see three deer, two turtles, a marmot, and a bald eagle, all in one morning! The only thing missing was a partridge in a pear tree! 

 Since the weather was going to be good over the weekend, and we wouldn't need to use the air conditioner, we decided to stay at a state forest campground with no hook-ups, near Saint Cloud Minnesota. It was fine for a couple of days. As we were closing up the camper to get on the road, the remote control that raises and lowers the jacks and moves the slides in and out went haywire. We could manually raise the jacks, but the slides are super heavy, and we wouldn't be able to bring them in on our own. Since it was Sunday, we were stuck. Paul ordered a new remote, and had it shipped, overnight, to the nearest post office, seven miles away. He would ride his bike in on Tuesday when it arrived to get it. I was eager to leave, the campground was not my favorite. There was poison ivy, spiders, ants, caterpillars hanging from the trees, mosquitos, and some other bug that left blisters where they bit me. I'm thinking, maybe chiggers.But the worst part is we ran out of beer!

 See the light green thing I'm pointing at? Thats a caterpillar, in mid air, hanging from a tree. 

See the light green thing I'm pointing at? Thats a caterpillar, in mid air, hanging from a tree. 

 A mushroom covered log in our rustic campsite.

A mushroom covered log in our rustic campsite.

 First stop, liquor store!

First stop, liquor store!

 By Tuesday the temperature was in the 90's, so Paul paid a young military guy, camped near us for a ride. It was well worth the $50! 

 The new remote started to work, but was still not right. We got the jacks up, and slides in, and moved to a park in the town of Monticello,MN, close to an RV repair place. It was right on the Mississippi River. The repair shop had to order a whole new circuit board, which is the brain of the system, so we had to cool our heels for a week, before it could be fixed. It wasn't a bad place to stay, but we both kind of felt anxious, not knowing for sure  when we would be back on the road. It must be left over from having jobs, and things that had to be done at certain times. It's hard to get used to having nowhere to go and nowhere to be. I know, big problem to have, right? 

 The mighty Mississippi!

The mighty Mississippi!

 A family of geese on the Mississippi.

A family of geese on the Mississippi.

 Once the part was in, it only took about 20 minutes for them to install it. It felt good to be back on the move! 

 We had one more stop in Minnesota, at Alexander Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls. It was a nice spot, right on the Redwood River. I wonder how it got its name, I didn't see any redwood trees. It would have been a nice place to spend more time, with a small zoo, lots of trails, and a beautiful waterfall, but since we had just been stalled, we got back on the road. 

 Redwood River out the back window.

Redwood River out the back window.

 The view through the back window from the outside. 

The view through the back window from the outside. 

 What we thought would be a five night trip through two states, ended up being two weeks. I must add that Wisconsin and Minnesota are beautiful places. Everything is so green and lush. There are lots on farms and lakes. I'm not sure how we drove through Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, and yet, we camped on two rivers and zero lakes!

Next stop, our "home" state of South Dakota!

Giddyup, to Walmart!

With the threat of tornados over, we were able to get back on the road. We made one more stop in Ohio. As usual, we used the Allstays camping app to find a campground on some kind of water, within a three hour drive. We found a great state park on Grand Lake, in Ohio. It was a place we would have enjoyed staying for a few days, but we were on a mission to get farther north, where it would be cooler. 

 Grand Lake St. Mary's State Park, and the lagoon, right outside our back window.

Grand Lake St. Mary's State Park, and the lagoon, right outside our back window.

 The next night we found a place in Chain O' Lakes, Indiana, there were lakes in the park, but you couldn't see water from the campground. 

 Where's the lake?

Where's the lake?

 There it is, as we left the park.

There it is, as we left the park.

 With the summer camping season starting, we like to have reservations over the weekends, so we don't have to search around to find a place to stay. You never know how popular a certain area might be. We had reservations at a KOA, in South Bend, Indiana, since I have a friend that lives close to there. It was nice to finally meet Donna in person. We have been Facebook friends for five years, because of our mutual love of Kenny Chesney. 

 Donna, and me. 

Donna, and me. 

 We always stop for groceries just before we get to our next stop. We found yet another Walmart, in Goshen, Indiana. We were surprised to see a covered stable for horse and buggy parking. I didn't realize there were Amish in Indiana. It was surreal to see them in person, shopping at Walmart. I Googled Goshen and found that that Walmart was the first one in the US to have a covered stable for the Amish. The Amish people built it with supplies donated by Walmart. 

 Horse, buggy and trailer parking. You think they have Coors Light in that ice chest?

Horse, buggy and trailer parking. You think they have Coors Light in that ice chest?

 Giddyup!

Giddyup!

 We had room for one more stop before our Memorial weekend reservations, and since my friend Kylie lives right along our route, we decided to stop for four nights in Grand Haven, Michigan. The state park is right on the beach, on Lake Michigan. There was a kite festival going on in the park. The photos don't convey how big and beautiful they were in person. There were some that flew patterns along with music.

 Kite festival.

Kite festival.

 We got to the park a little early, so had to park in a lot to wait for our site to open up. We thought we'd open up the camper and have lunch while we waited. The controller for the slide outs wouldn't power up. Paul researched the problem online, and found that it was a battery issue. He started the truck, so the truck batteries powered the system. We haven't had any issues with the batteries, and was surprised that they would be bad, after only ten months. Once we got to our camp site, Paul did a little more research and found that the battery disconnect button had been pushed in. The button is in the compartment where the satellite TV input is located. A few days earlier, when I was disconnecting the Tailgater satellite dish, I pushed in the battery disconnect button by accident, not knowing what it was. Oops! I was wondering what that click was. Luckily, it was an easy fix, since  Kylie, and her boyfriend Jared were coming to hang out. 

 Who ever heard of pull on and push off?  That's just backwards!

Who ever heard of pull on and push off?  That's just backwards!

 Yay, Kylie is hanging out with us in camp! 

Yay, Kylie is hanging out with us in camp! 

 Town was only a short walk or bike ride, away, so I was able to walk Fiona in to a do-it-yourself dog wash, for a much needed bath, and we went in a couple of times for drinks and dinner. Kylie was right, Grand Haven is a really nice little town.

 Sunset view out our back window. Did I mention that this was taken at 9 PM? 

Sunset view out our back window. Did I mention that this was taken at 9 PM? 

 Clean dog! I even used the high powered blowdryer on her. 

Clean dog! I even used the high powered blowdryer on her. 

 We rode bikes into town to meet Kylie and her Mom, Cindy. It was in the low 40's. Bring out the puffy jacket and gloves for this So Cal girl!

We rode bikes into town to meet Kylie and her Mom, Cindy. It was in the low 40's. Bring out the puffy jacket and gloves for this So Cal girl!

 When we checked in to Orchard Beach State Park, on Lake Michigan the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, there were maybe five other campers in the park; By Friday night all 166 sites were occupied. The campground is situated on a bluff, overlooking the lake. I thought the beach would be a little bigger, I mean, "Beach" is in the name of the park! 

 Going for a run on the "beach."

Going for a run on the "beach."

 Not a bad view, even though the lake isn't visible.

Not a bad view, even though the lake isn't visible.

 The lake from the bluff, directly behind our site.

The lake from the bluff, directly behind our site.

 Today is Tuesday, and the park is all ours again. I can only see one other camper from the window. We are here until Thursday, and plan on heading north to the top of the lake. We are going to wing it with no reservations, but have our eye on a state park that has a brewery close by. We have been enjoying trying different beers along the route. We still love our Coors Light, but are expanding our palates. Cheers!

 A local IPA. Tasted like bong water beer! 

A local IPA. Tasted like bong water beer! 

 A little cloudier than Coors Light!

A little cloudier than Coors Light!

 Who could say no to a key lime pie martini?

Who could say no to a key lime pie martini?

P.S. Don't forget to click on the photo section. I try to not post the same ones that I use in the blog. 

Goldielocks, or the three homeless bears?

There are so many great places to see, it's hard to plan where to stop next, and where to stop after that, and so on and so on. One big deciding factor for us is temperature. We've spent most of our lives in hot climates, and have no desire to be anywhere that is over 85 degrees, ever again! I know that's not realistic, and we will experience over 85 here and there, but if we can avoid it, we will. Also, in trying to plan ahead, we have to think about holiday camping crowds. We've learned from summer trips in the past; going from campground to campground, trying to find an available spot. 

 I kind of thought we would travel the whole eastern seaboard this spring. Not being familiar with the geography of the East Coast, I thought we wouldn't have to go through large cities. Who the heck put Washington DC, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Boston in the way of my peaceful drive up the coast from Florida to Maine?  That's how we decided that Virginia Beach, Virginia would be our last stop on the coast, before cutting across and up, towards Lake Michigan. 

 Our original plan was to stay on Cape Charles, but after finding out that we would have to take the $20 toll, 20 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to get there, and the fact that the State Park there wasn't really "beachy," we decided to stay at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. We got a great site, right up against the dunes, on Chesapeake Bay. 

 See the bridge, out on the water? See where it stops, then starts again? That's where the tunnel goes under the Chesapeake Bay. Tunnels are bad enough without being under large amounts of water! 

See the bridge, out on the water? See where it stops, then starts again? That's where the tunnel goes under the Chesapeake Bay. Tunnels are bad enough without being under large amounts of water! 

 The sun rising over Chesapeake Bay, out our back window.

The sun rising over Chesapeake Bay, out our back window.

 Fiona doesn't like heights. Notice how she gets real low and spreads her toes. 

Fiona doesn't like heights. Notice how she gets real low and spreads her toes. 

Another plus was the park had laundry facilities, you don't see that in most state parks. We had been on The Outer Banks for 10 days with no laundry facilities available, so we were pretty much out of clean clothes. After riding our bikes, carrying the bags of laundry a mile to the laundry room, we found that it was closed. Okay, it probably wasn't a mile, but it felt like it! On to plan B. I found a laundromat in town and we took the camper off the truck. It was probably better, that way I could wash everything. With two sets of sheets, Fiona's blanket, all of our clothes, and the truck/camper cleaning towels, I had six loads! Also, it gave me a chance to go have sushi for lunch. Paul doesn't eat sushi, so I haven't had any since we left California. Since this was our last coastal stop for a while, might as well get it while I can. We ended up leaving the coast a day early, because the forecast called for high winds, and driving an RV in wind is no fun!

 Goodbye East coast...

Goodbye East coast...

 It was time to start heading northwest. We use an app called Allstays to find places to stay. Even though you can see the parks websites and photos, you really don't know how the park will be until you get there. We chose to stay at Pocahontas State park, just south of Richmond, Virginia. It is the largest state park we've seen. It had lots of mountain biking/hiking trails, an amphitheater, lakes, and even a water park. 

 Great place to go for a run!

Great place to go for a run!

 My favorite running partner.

My favorite running partner.

 The plus side of running in beautiful places, you get to stop to take photos.

The plus side of running in beautiful places, you get to stop to take photos.

 I've been doing genealogy research and found that three lines of ancestors on my Mom's side came to Virginia from England in the 1600s'. It just so happened that The Virginia State Library is in Richmond. I spent two days going through records stored there. I found that handwriting from 400 years ago is really hard to read! 

 On the way to Richmond we drove by where my ancestors lived. My nine times Great Grandfather was involved in making the area they lived in a county and naming it Surry. I have a copy of the court record from 1652.

On the way to Richmond we drove by where my ancestors lived. My nine times Great Grandfather was involved in making the area they lived in a county and naming it Surry. I have a copy of the court record from 1652.

 Driving and parking in downtown Richmond in this beast isn't easy! I was proud of this parking job! 

Driving and parking in downtown Richmond in this beast isn't easy! I was proud of this parking job! 

 Richmond is full of history. We went to the American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar, and there weren't even restaurants or bars close by! We'e like grown-ups!

 At the Civil War Museum.

At the Civil War Museum.

 Tredegar was a weapons foundry during the Civil War.

Tredegar was a weapons foundry during the Civil War.

  From Richmond, we drove west  toward the Appalachian Mountains. Sherando Lake Recreation area in the George Washington National Forest was our next stop. There was a couple of lakes and a lovely creek running along the edge of the campground. There had been a bear in the park the night before we got there. Luckily, we didn't run in to it while we were there. 

 Home for a couple of days at Sherando Lake.

Home for a couple of days at Sherando Lake.

 The back side of the dam at Sherando Lake.

The back side of the dam at Sherando Lake.

 Little Sherando Lake.

Little Sherando Lake.

 Looking at camp from the top of the dam.

Looking at camp from the top of the dam.

 A little island on the larger Sherando Lake. 

A little island on the larger Sherando Lake. 

 We had to drive through the hollows (hollers) of Virginia and West Virginia, which is in The Appalachians, to get far enough west, before we could cut north to Michigan. We set the GPS to the shortest route, instead of the fastest route, so it would take us along the back roads. It delivered! We drove through some really beautiful places. There were large new homes, right across from old log houses. We saw a ton of old barns, some falling down and some still in use. It's hard to get photos on the road, when there aren't places to pull over. Speaking of pulling over…I've noticed that when we were in the Western US, when we pulled out to let cars pass, we'd get a wave, maybe even a little toot-toot of a horn, not so much on this side of the country. Maybe they are just traveling in a less hurried pace, and didn't mind being stuck behind a slow camper? 

 A beautiful drive through The Appalachians.

A beautiful drive through The Appalachians.

 Our last stop in "The South" was at Babcock State Park, West Virginia, just west of the mountains. Hopefully it's the end of the stupid alcohol laws.

 Peeshaw!

Peeshaw!

 Now that we are out of the mountains the temperature is rising. We still don't want to drive more than three or four hours at a time, but are trying to skip through Ohio and Indiana as quick as we can. That means, we plan on driving every day. Our first campground in Ohio was along the borders of West Virginia and Kentucky. I don't know why I expected the landscape to suddenly change from hills with trees to flat farmland at the border, but I kind of did. We stayed in the Wayne National Forest, on Lake Vesuvius. It was in the high 80s' and super humid, so we found a campground that had electrical hook-ups, so we could run the air conditioner. The next morning was cool enough to have the windows open while we got ready to move on. The smell of flowers was so strong, that's when it hit me, the forests we've been in lately aren't full of pine trees. I always associate camping with the smell of pine trees. It's funny the things you learn when you get out of your little corner of the world! 

 Ohio has trees! 

Ohio has trees! 

 Trees with fragrant flowers are the next best thing to pine trees!

Trees with fragrant flowers are the next best thing to pine trees!

 As we headed deeper into Ohio, I got the view I was expecting. Flat farmland, as far as you can see! It felt like being back home in the Imperial Valley. Although, you don't see old log cabins in the Valley.Since we left Texas, we have been in areas with so many trees, that you can only see a short distance. 

 This is the Ohio I expected.

This is the Ohio I expected.

 A nicely preserved homestead. Notice the large bell on the pole and the outhouse over by the big tree.

A nicely preserved homestead. Notice the large bell on the pole and the outhouse over by the big tree.

 After driving down county roads through farmland, yesterday we arrived at Deer Creek State Park. I didn't expect the park to be so big, being out in the middle of nowhere. After checking the weather, we decided to stay here another night. There was a tornado watch yesterday, and high winds expected today. The temperature has dropped 20 degrees since yesterday, so we will go from running the A/C yesterday, to the heater tonight. What can I say, it's the Goldielocks syndrome!

OBX not ATM

When we told people that we planned on traveling up the eastern seaboard this spring, we were told by many that the Outer Banks were a must see. Having never been to the East coast, I didn't know what the Outer Banks were. FYI, they are not the ATM vestibules at Wells Fargo Banks. Who knew?!  The Outer Banks, OBX to the locals, are a thin broken strand of islands that bend out into the Atlantic and shelter mainland North Carolina and the off shore sounds. 

 GPS Map from the truck.

GPS Map from the truck.

 We took a two and a half hour ferry ride from Cedar Island, nicknamed Skeeter Island, because, well, I think you can figure that out. When it was time to board the ferry, we thought there was no way all of the cars lined up would fit on one ferry. Well, we were wrong. We weren't worried about not getting on because we had reservations. ($30 for our size)The person that figures out where to put each car, truck, RV, etc. must be the World Champion of the game Tetras. He filled every nook and cranny of that ferry, and we all got across Pamlico Sound safely. Paul and I sat in the truck with Fiona, and read our books. It was an unsettling feeling to have the truck moving, but we weren't driving. A lot of the passengers got out of their cars, and hung out in the lounge on the top deck. Others napped in their cars. We had a good laugh, when the lady in the car next to us woke up to see her husband asleep at the wheel. She screamed, "You're asleep! Richard!" before she realized he wasn't actually driving. 

 Just a sardine.

Just a sardine.

 We arrived at Ocracoke Campground in The Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It was the first day the park was open for the season. We were the second campers to check in, so we had our pick of sites. There were dunes between the campsites and the ocean, so you couldn't see the water, but you could hear it. It was a short walk over the dune to the beach. When we arrived, it was pretty warm and humid, so as soon as we got everything set up, we jumped into the Atlantic to cool off. 

 No close ups, I don't want to blind you with my whiteness!

No close ups, I don't want to blind you with my whiteness!

 Since we were only four miles from town, and there was a bike path along the highway, we rode our bikes in to check out the town. The last time we talked to our son, he asked if we had done any sight seeing. Since most of our out of camp excursions are usually bars and restaurants, we decided to stop in the local museum…after lunch and drinks at a nice bar on the water. Hey, we aren't into doing the tourist thing! 

 Burgers and beers at Smacanally's Pub.

Burgers and beers at Smacanally's Pub.

 We even went inside!

We even went inside!

 When we first made reservations to visit the Outer Banks, Ocracoke was the only campground that you could reserve in advance. The other three were on a first come basis. I'm not going to take a ferry to an island to find out the campground is full. We found out that they recently changed the policy and you can now reserve two of the other campgrounds, Frisco, on Hatteras Island and Oregon Inlet, on Nags Head. We originally were going to stay in Ocracoke for nine nights, but since we could plan other stops, we decided to only stay 4 nights, and break up the other five nights on Hatteras and Nags Head. 

 Not a bad view through the back window! The ocean is just on the other side of the dune.

Not a bad view through the back window! The ocean is just on the other side of the dune.

 This is from the top of the dune, looking onto the beach.

This is from the top of the dune, looking onto the beach.

 From the dune, looking towards camp. 

From the dune, looking towards camp. 

 We had to take a ferry from Ocracoke to Hatteras. It was only an hour, and free. We got there early, but because they had a priority lane for locals, and because of our size, we were last to get on. I still can't believe how many vehicles they can fit on these ferries! There was even room for at least two more cars behind us. 

 Hatteras Island was a little more populated than Ocracoke, probably because you can drive to it from the North, without taking a ferry. 

 A hop. skip and a jump!

A hop. skip and a jump!

 Last to board.

Last to board.

 Frisco Campground, on Hatteras Island was situated on a small hill. You could choose a campsite up against the dunes, closer to the beach, or one that was higher up, with a view of the water.We chose the view. It was a peaceful place to camp.

 The view from our Frisco Campsite, Hatteras Island.

The view from our Frisco Campsite, Hatteras Island.

 Not a bad place to relax.

Not a bad place to relax.

 There were no bars within bike riding distance, so we actually went to another museum. I forgot to take any photos, no really, we went! It was a Native American Museum. I expected it to be about the Native Americans that lived on the Outer Banks, but it was a mishmash of anything Native American. 

 As we were leaving Hatteras Island, we stopped to see the lighthouse. Okay, I'll admit we only drove by it because the only sewer dump station happened to be right past it. I told you, we aren't typical tourists! 

 We needed to stop for groceries, and there was a shopping center on our way off the island. We pull in and there is a restaurant called Dirty Dick's Crab House. I'm sorry, but I couldn't bring myself to eat at a place called "Dirty Dicks"! Then to top it off, across from DD's was a store called Try My Nuts. Whaaaat??

 Luckily, we didn't get crabs...

Luckily, we didn't get crabs...

 You can't make this stuff up!

You can't make this stuff up!

 The last two nights we stayed at the Oregon Inlet Campground, on Nags Head Island. It was an okay place to stay. Again, there were dunes between the campsites and the water. What's up with the dunes on beaches on the East coast? We don't have them in California. Well, maybe in Pismo Beach. 

 Bridge over the Oregon Inlet, connecting Hatteras to Nags Head.

Bridge over the Oregon Inlet, connecting Hatteras to Nags Head.

 Dredging the Oregon Inlet.

Dredging the Oregon Inlet.

 All three of the campgrounds we stayed at, on the Outer Banks were National Parks. Like most National Parks, there with were no hook-ups. That means we didn't have electric, water or sewer. We tried to cook everything on the stove, BBQ, or in the oven, so we didn't need to run the generator. In nine days, we only ran the generator twice. Once for me to blow-dry my hair, and another to bake a potato in the microwave. The solar panels charged the batteries for everything else. We used the 12volt system to charge our devises, and I had cell service, so I was connected to the outside world. The lack of television for nine days wasn't a big deal. It's the longest either of us have gone without TV. We didn't miss it. In the evenings, we played dominoes and card games.

 Mexican Train takes up the whole table!

Mexican Train takes up the whole table!


Goin' Coastal!

As fun as Nashville was, we were both ready to return to a slower pace. We had five days to get to the coast of South Carolina. 

 We wanted to drive through the Smoky Mountains on the way. Since we only like to drive a few hours at a time, we didn't make it there the first night. We stopped at Cumberland Mountain State park, about the halfway point from Nashville to The Smoky's. We got there just in time. There was a big thunderstorm with a tornado watch heading our way. It was really loud, but at least the winds weren't too strong. 

 We survived the tornado warning. The sun is shining on a beautiful day!

We survived the tornado warning. The sun is shining on a beautiful day!

 Knoxville was a little out of our way, but we decided to swing through there to go to a Trader Joe's market. We haven't seen one since we left San Diego. I went a little overboard, so the fridge and cupboards were  packed! We finally got to the Smoky Mountain National Park, to find that the first campground we chose was full. Ok, the next one was only about ten miles away. The road was really narrow and twisty, with huge rocks jutting out from the side of the mountain. I'm glad Paul isn't bothered driving the camper in those conditions. If I were driving, my butt would have torn a hole in the seat, (what Paul and Dustin call sucking cotton!) and we'd be missing a side mirror and air conditioner!

 How did we fit under that? GULP!

How did we fit under that? GULP!

When we got to the next campground, a couple was just leaving the office. I found out that they got the last available camping site. Well, gawd damn! At least I had my Trader Joe's treasures, I say, well worth it! The next campground inside the park was a long winding drive away. We decided to scrap the Smoky Mountain adventure and head to a private park in Gatlinburg, TN.

 Longer drive than usual, have to stop and pee!

Longer drive than usual, have to stop and pee!

I had been told that Gatlinburg was a tourist trap, with horrible traffic, but didn't really believe it until I saw it. It was Easter weekend to boot. I was amazed at the amount of people walking around downtown! We stayed at a quiet park just outside of town for a couple of days to let the hoards of spring breakers pass. That only gave us two nights on the road from there to our reserved site on the coast of South Carolina. 

 Downtown Gatlinburg. I thought Paul would clip someone with the side mirror!

Downtown Gatlinburg. I thought Paul would clip someone with the side mirror!

 I try to pick places on the water, whether it's a stream, river, lake, or ocean. The first night we found a site in The Pisgah National Forest campground called Davidson River, in North Carolina.

 Davidson River Camp.

Davidson River Camp.

 The next night we stopped at Wateree Lake State Recreation Area in South Carolina. The drive into that one was questionable. Luckily, when we got there the park was nice. We had a spot right on the water. There was another thunderstorm that night, the strongest we've ever seen! Both of those places would have been nice places to spend more time in, maybe some other trip.

 Wateree Lake.

Wateree Lake.

 Finally, we were back on the coast. Huntington Beach State Park, in Murrells Inlet, is just below Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The park had a man made salt marsh, full of alligators, on one side, and a small marshy area, then sandy beach on the other. Besides the bugs eating us alive and the humidity, it was a great place to stay.

 After that stop, we had reservations to visit Ocracoke Island. We decided to break up the drive and make a couple of stops on the way there. We found private parks along the way. Tonight we are at Cedar Creek Campground, on Cedar Island, NC. 

 Cedar Creek Campground and marina.

Cedar Creek Campground and marina.


Tomorrow. we board a ferry to Ocracoke Island, on the outer banks of North Carolina. 

Music City

After looking forward to this leg of the journey for months, we finally arrive in Nashville, Tennessee. We stayed right down the road from The Grand Ol Opry, at a park called Two Rivers Campground. The first night we stayed in camp, getting settled in. The second night our friends, Shari and Greg, from Tampa, Florida, picked us up to go downtown for a few drinks.

 Shari and me.

Shari and me.

Downtown Nashville is now one of my favorite places to bar hop. Every place you go has live music, mostly country music, which is great for me! After many beers and  greasy cheeseburgers, we hopped in the shuttle back to camp. Little did we know that we would be riding with the funniest drunk person we had ever met. Her name was Marge, and she was from Minnesota. I'm sure that her strong Minnesota accent added to the funniness. "Yeah sure, you betcha!" She had the whole back of the bus laughing. Once she found out that we were also staying at Two Rivers Campground, she started a cheer of "give me a T! Give me an O! Oh wait, I mean give me a W!" After she asked my name, she kept calling me Nancy, so when she asked what Paul's name was, I told her Bob. When she wanted to know what space we were in, I refused to tell her, picturing her outside the camper serenading us or something! She told us their space number, and when I walked by the next morning, they had already left. I can imagine the hangover she must have had, and the hell it would be bouncing down the road, back toward Minnesota in an RV. Marge will always be remembered fondly by Nancy and Bob!

  The next night was the start of the pre-concert festivities. Kenny Chesney's No Shoes Nation had descended  on Nashville! I had friends from all over the US and Canada in town. Paul and I thought we'd stop by the bar that was hosting the nights party, have a few drinks, say hi to my friends, then go get some dinner. Well, that was my plan. Paul knew that once I was in the same room with my crazy friends with live music was playing, it wasn't going to be a quick stop. He's a smart man! He also persuaded me to put my name into a raffle. They were giving away t-shirts and sandbar tickets to the next nights tour opening concert. For those of you that do not know what sandbar is, it's an area right next to the stage that is standing room only. For this show, they cost almost $1000 each. That included a signed guitar and a bunch of other swag. You couldn't buy just the ticket. Well, as always, Paul was right. I won two tickets for the sandbar! It didn't include any extras, but I don't have room for anything extra in the camper anyway. Needless to say, we never made it to dinner and the bar tab was Big! Ha!

 Emily, Kylie, me, Shari, Penney, Jen, and Lon.

Emily, Kylie, me, Shari, Penney, Jen, and Lon.

 Jordyn, Shari Penney, and meeee!

Jordyn, Shari Penney, and meeee!

 Since the first concert on the Big Revival tour was also Kenny's birthday, I decorated party hats for all of us. I know, I'm a dork! 

 No Shoes Nation is here to party!

No Shoes Nation is here to party!

 Paul had no interest in going to the concert, so I gave Shari my extra sandbar ticket. We were the first two people in that side of the sandbar. We were joined by a bunch of friends, and made new friends too. As usual, Kenny put on a hell of a show! Since it was his birthday, a few of his friends showed up. Taylor Swift, Grace Potter, Uncle Kracker, David Lee Murphy, and Joe Walsh, it was epic!

 Joe Walsh using the talk box. he speaks through the tube and it goes through his guitar. 

Joe Walsh using the talk box. he speaks through the tube and it goes through his guitar. 

  Kenny was doing another concert there the next night, and you know I wouldn't miss it! There were only a few other friends going to that one. We spent the afternoon hanging out downtown before the show.

 Jen and me on the bus from the American Kids video

Jen and me on the bus from the American Kids video

I was the only one with a ticket that included a pre-concert party, with food and drinks, so I went to the party alone. I had met a couple of girls the night before that were going to be there, so I figured I wouldn't be all alone. Well, they had already left the party before I arrived, so when I scanned the room and saw no one I knew, my first instinct was to leave. I'm not one to go anywhere alone! I fought the urge to flee, got a beer, a plate of food, and found a small table unoccupied. That didn't last long. A girl asked if she and her husband could join me. I was so relieved! When they told me they were from Kenny's home town, I figured they were his family. I was right, a cousin. They were such nice people, we kept drinking and hanging out in the VIP lounge, and missed the opening show with Chase Rice. Good times!

 My new friends, Sami Jo and Barron and me.

My new friends, Sami Jo and Barron and me.

The second nights concert was just as good if not better than the first. Even though I didn't have anyone I knew sitting by me, I had the best time. The people around me probably wished I would stop singing along and dancing and jumping around. I just couldn't help myself! 

 After staying up late four nights in a row, I couldn't drag myself downtown on Saturday night. I had a bunch of friends that would be there, and knew I'd have a great time, but I just couldn't work up the energy. I need my 10 hours of beauty sleep a night!

 I felt much better on Sunday morning. Luckily, some of my friends were still in town, and we met for breakfast. It was so nice to get together somewhere where we could talk without having to yell over the music. I know I said I love live music, it's just not conducive to catching up with friends. 

 Shari from Canada, Tina from Nashville, Jennifer from Ohio, Noelle from Minnesota, and me from no where. 

Shari from Canada, Tina from Nashville, Jennifer from Ohio, Noelle from Minnesota, and me from no where. 

 Paul and I planned on going back downtown for our last night there. There was a BBQ joint that we really wanted to try. As Paul was putting the camper back on the truck, he pulled the truck away to reposition it, and forgot to disconnect the wiring harness that attaches the truck to the camper. The connection within the harness came apart. We tried to cut it open and reattach the wires, to no avail. Paul was just going to build a new wiring loom, however, he did some research online and found that he couldn't just replace it due to it's proprietary design by the manufacturer, F#%^!!!!! This means we have no brake lights or turn signals until we get a replacement part. We were able to add a few nights to our stay at the campground, and had the part shipped there. The funny thing is, there was an RV sales lot next door with a Lance camper right up front with the wiring harness dangling down, like ripe fruit for the picking. It was tempting, but we are not "those people." Ok, if there was a natural disaster, we'd have snatched that sucker and slipped a hundred dollar bill under the door! 

 I'm lucky to have a husband that knows how to fix shit!

I'm lucky to have a husband that knows how to fix shit!

 While we were waiting for the part to come in, we finally got to try the BBQ. It was well worth the wait! 

 Heading downtown for some BBQ!

Heading downtown for some BBQ!

 Hello Nashville!

Hello Nashville!

 Four days later than we thought, but we are heading back to South Carolina. We are going to check out The Great Smoky Mountains on the way. Gotta go, Paul is just finished cooking dinner! Love those lazy firemen!

  


Doppelganger

With the firewood burned, the fridge getting empty, and all of our clothes dirty, it was time to move on. We found a KOA, and a Walmart a couple of hours away. It was just a place to stay and get things done, nothing to write home about.

 From there, we had a week to get from the South Carolina/Georgia border to Nashville,Tennessee. Since the weather was warming up, we decided to drive through the mountains. We hadn't seen a hill, much less a mountain, since we were in New Mexico. 

 The road leading to the campground. Wouldn't want to meet a large RV coming the other way!

The road leading to the campground. Wouldn't want to meet a large RV coming the other way!

We found a beautiful place to stay in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, right on the Tallulah River. There were no power, water, or sewer hook-ups, which was no problem for us, since we are self contained. Our holding tanks allow us to go for about 4-5 days without dumping, or running out of fresh water. The stove/oven, refrigerator, heater, lights and generator run off propane and/or batteries.The batteries are charged by the solar panels that are on the roof. The only time we need to run the generator is for things like the microwave or my hair dryer. The TV even will work on 12 volt. We didn't feel the need to watch TV while we were there. During the day we sat outside enjoying the sound of the river running right behind the campsite. In the evenings we had campfires and played dominoes and cards. The only drawback for me, was the lack of cell service. I'm addicted to social media! Those of you that know us, know that Paul is quiet and me, not so much. I think Facebook keeps me from driving Paul crazy with my need to speak eighty-thousand words a day. He's good with around eight words a day. So, even though I'm typing the words on my ipad, it fulfills my need to talk. 

 The view out the back window. 

The view out the back window. 

 The Tallulah River

The Tallulah River

 The Tallulah River, so peaceful.

The Tallulah River, so peaceful.

 As much as I loved that spot, right on the river, it was time to move on. We found a campsite in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. There were water and electric hook-ups, but sadly, no cell service. I did make a friend while walking Fiona. Paul calls her my ten year old doppelganger. It wasn't that she looked like me, but that she talked like me, albeit, with a Tennessee accent. In ten minutes I learned all about her dog and family, and she learned some about mine. She was wise beyond her years. I have no problem carrying on a conversation with anyone, whether they're eight, or eighty, if we jive, we jive!

 Fiona was getting low on food, so it was time to get to civilization. I searched online for stores that carry it, that were on our way to Nashville, and found one in Chattanooga. We also found a quiet county park campground on the edge of town, right on the Tennessee River.

 The view from the side window. The Tennessee River

The view from the side window. The Tennessee River

 Our spot on The Tennessee River.

Our spot on The Tennessee River.

That is where we are now. Tomorrow, we drive a couple of hours to Nashville, where I will meet up with my No Shoes Nation friends, to kick off Kenny Chesney's Big Revival Tour. I will see friends that I've met at other Kenny concerts, and some I've only met online. Its going to be one big party! 

 

 

 

 

Back to nature!

After the hustle and bustle of Tampa and Disney World, we were both ready to get back to a quiet campground. 

 Mike Roess, Gold Head Branch State Park near Gainesville, Florida delivered. It wasn't the most beautiful park we've been to, which is why there aren't many photos to share, but it was peaceful. It was nice to get back to a slower pace. We only stayed there a few days, it was really just a stop on our way back to somewhere with water. There's something about being near water, be it a lake, river, or ocean, that makes us happy. 

 Leaves everywhere!

Leaves everywhere!

 The water in the bottom of the ravine was so clear, you can't really see it in the photo.

The water in the bottom of the ravine was so clear, you can't really see it in the photo.

 Our next stop was Laura S. Walker State Park in Georgia. It's near the Okefenokee Swamp, which means lots of water and lots of trees. We snagged the best site in the park, with a great view of the lake. It was the cleanest park we've been to, and the only noises we had to deal with were the Canadian Geese. As nice as that park was, we were looking forward to getting back to the ocean. I had never seen the Atlantic Ocean, and was excited to see it. 

 The view from the back window.

The view from the back window.

 Sunset on the lake.

Sunset on the lake.

 We've found that we prefer State Parks, so we chose Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina. It's located above Hilton Head. I always pictured the Atlantic to be more robust than the Pacific. Not so much! Now I know why The Beach Boys always sang about California and not South Carolina. 

 My toes saying hello to the Atlantic Ocean!

My toes saying hello to the Atlantic Ocean!

 Riding my bike on the beach.

Riding my bike on the beach.

 You don't see sea oats on the west coast.

You don't see sea oats on the west coast.

 The island was beautiful. The pine trees grew next to the palm trees, right along the shore. We took a bike ride for about four miles along the beach and then back through the trees. The tidal marsh was just as beautiful as the beach. 

 Paul riding his bike on the beach.

Paul riding his bike on the beach.

 The tidal marsh. Is it just me, or does it look like the palm on the left is photo-bombing us?

The tidal marsh. Is it just me, or does it look like the palm on the left is photo-bombing us?

 Where the rich forest floor meets the sand. 

Where the rich forest floor meets the sand. 

 We met a couple that were interested in how we live full time in a truck camper. They invited us to their campfire for happy hour. We discovered that we stayed in the same campsite they had in the last State Park we were in. Not just the same park, the same site! It's a small world, even living on the road.

 It was now time to start making our way west toward Nashville, and the first concert of Kenny Chesney's Big Revival Tour. Well, the first and second concerts of the tour. I can't imagine being in a town, where Kenny is singing two nights, and not going to both shows! I'm not the only one, I'm meeting a bunch of friends, from all over the country, (and one from Canada) there. 

 The first stop west was Hamilton Branch State Park, South Carolina. It's on Strom Thurmond Lake, above Augusta, Georgia. The state line runs through the middle of the lake. You can see Georgia from here. The park is big, but just a few loops are open this time of year. We are parked right next to the water. The dirt is red, like you hear about in all those country songs. The downfall to this campground, is there's no sewer connection at the site. I don't want to fill the tank too fast, so I decided to pee in the forest. This country girl, is calling on her country upbringing! 

 Lake Strom Thurmond, South Carolina/Georgia.

Lake Strom Thurmond, South Carolina/Georgia.

 Another great view from the back window.

Another great view from the back window.

 The orange/red pebbles under the water along the bank.

The orange/red pebbles under the water along the bank.

 If it was a tad warmer, I'd swim out to those islands,

If it was a tad warmer, I'd swim out to those islands,

When we got here, the forecast called for rain every day. They got it wrong and the first four days ended up being sunny. After enjoying the neighbor campers campfire on our last stop, we decided to gather wood and have our first campfire since we've been on the adventure. I forgot how much I enjoyed having a campfire. I enjoyed it so much, that when Paul didn't want to have another fire the next night, I went out and lit one up for myself. I wasn't going to leave the wood I gathered for the next campers! 

 A fire at sunset.

A fire at sunset.

 I gathered the wood, I'm burning it! 

I gathered the wood, I'm burning it! 

Too busy to blog!

We've been really busy since my last blog! We stayed in places that took us out of the campground more than we have the whole trip. 

 Our original plan was to drive down to the Florida Keys. Since we were new to this traveling thing, we weren't sure how long it would take to get there. That made making reservations hard. Once we got within striking distance of the Keys, we started looking at campgrounds. Unfortunately, all of the state parks were booked. After looking at the private campgrounds and the limited space and high fees, we decided to make a plan B. The Keys will be there another winter, when we are seasoned travelers and plan well in advance. If we are going to go all that way, I want to enjoy it thoroughly!

 Well, we did go to a key, Cedar Key, on the Gulf of Mexico, off northern Florida. It is what they call "Old Florida". It's a small clamming, fishing, artsy town. We stayed at a funky little campground that had a communal fire pit burning almost around the clock. In the evenings, campers would gather around and play what instruments they had and sing. If you know Paul and me at all, you don't need to wonder if we joined in. We aren't the kumbayah type. Paul has loosened up since he retired, but the day he joins in a campfire sing along, is the day I get his mental faculties checked!

 Sunset Isle Campground.

Sunset Isle Campground.

 One night we decided to walk into town for dinner.  Even though it was a four mile round trip, it wasn't bad. Although, that was when I decided we needed to buy bikes. It will make it a lot easier to get around the larger campgrounds, and will make running into town possible. 

 Sunset selfie on Cedar Key.

Sunset selfie on Cedar Key.

 A beautiful view makes a long walk not so long!

A beautiful view makes a long walk not so long!

 Our next stop was St Petersburg, Florida, which is right next to Tampa. I Have friends in the area, so I definitely wanted to stop there. Since it was the largest town we've stayed in for a while, we had a lot of errands to run. One of those was to buy bikes. We went to several stores before we both found what we wanted. Paul had the front bumper designed with a hitch so we could carry bikes on the front. 

 And now we are a couple of feet longer!

And now we are a couple of feet longer!

 Now that we had bikes we were excited to ride to meet our friends Greg and Shari for dinner and drinks. Five miles each way? Not a problem on my trusty new steed! 

 Always a great time with crazy Shari!

Always a great time with crazy Shari!

 One afternoon was set aside for me to hang out with my friends. I have made so many good friends through Kenny Chesney's No Shoes Nation, and this group included some of the girls that live in Florida. We met at a cool beach bar on Tampa Bay. We spent a few hours drinking, eating, talking about our past  experiences seeing Kenny, and the upcoming tour. I'm sure Paul was glad I didn't drag him along! 

 Left to right, Shari, Connie, Michelle, Kathy and me.

Left to right, Shari, Connie, Michelle, Kathy and me.

 Since the Keys were out, plan B was to go to Disney World. We stayed at the Fort Wilderness Resort Campground on the Disney property. They had bus stops at each camping loop that took you to all of  the parks except The Magic Kingdom; that was accessible by boat. They also had a dog daycare where we could leave Fiona. 

 A little different than Disneyland in California.

A little different than Disneyland in California.

 The Magic Kingdom was a lot like Disneyland in California. We thought if we went during the middle of the week, we'd avoid large crowds. WRONG! It was so packed that we went on one ride, walked the loop around back to the front and left. I'm glad that we didn't feel like we missed out on anything because we have been to Disneyland so many times. From there we took the Monorail to Epcot. It was pleasantly not crowded. It was a nice stroll around the park and a short bus ride back to camp. Where I promptly hopped in the truck and drove to pick up Fiona from daycare! The next day I made sure to get up early (setting an alarm, what?), and got to the Hollywood Studios park early. I finally figured out the Fastpass. You have to do it online or with an app days ahead of your visit. I thought it was like Disneyland, where you could walk up to the ride and get the pass.Um, no, that's old school! It is all accessible from a wristband that you can also link with a credit card and use to buy anything on the Disney property. That park wasn't nearly as busy as the Magic Kingdom, and we rode what rides we wanted and walked through the park in no time. There was one park left, Animal Kingdom. We thought it would have the least crowds. Nope! We rode one ride and walked around the park and back to the exit. I made a friend along the way, of course! 

 Who could resist tweaking a nipple of that size? Not me!

Who could resist tweaking a nipple of that size? Not me!

 We really enjoyed the campground, and would stay there again. I don't think we would go to the Disney Parks the next time. Maybe just ride the bus to the Irish pub in Downtown Disney!

 Drunk on a bus. We were the only ones aboard..home, James! 

Drunk on a bus. We were the only ones aboard..home, James! 

Bread bags...

 Still heading east, we left Santa Rosa Beach to St. Joseph's Peninsula State Park. It's located on the panhandle. I say the term panhandle like I know what I'm talking about, when in reality my Floridian friends enlightened me. I called it the main land area of Florida, much to their amusement. I thought the hanging down part looked more like a panhandle than the portion that curves over toward Alabama. 

The drive was beautiful, with a mixture of marsh and sandy beaches. We found that apparently we aren't the only bears that like to go to the beach! 

 Homeless bear crossing.

Homeless bear crossing.

 St. Joseph's Peninsula had beautiful dunes and beaches, with a wooded wildlife preserve on the tip. It was cold and breezy, so we stayed inside most of the time. The last night we were there it rained harder than we have experienced in the camper so far. It was so loud, I couldn't hear the TV. Luckily, Paul and I love to read.

In my last blog I mentioned how we get a lot of attention for being an unusual RV. When you're unusual, just park next to someone more unusual!

 Our camper says...there's nothing to see here, look at that guy<<!

Our camper says...there's nothing to see here, look at that guy<<!

 Since we left California, we have been stuck inside quite a bit, due to weather. So far, it hasn't been an issue. It bothers Fiona the most. She loves to be outside, and hates the rain.

 Whoa is me...

Whoa is me...

When we told people that as soon as Paul retired, that we were going to travel full time in a truck camper, most people were envious. A lot of people said that we were going to have a huge adjustment;  Not only spending almost every minute together, but doing it in a very small RV. I'm happy to report that we haven't had any issues with either one. For one thing, we just get along, and enjoy each others company. Don't get me wrong, we annoy one another sometimes, but not any more now than before. Secondly, since we took the same days off, when I was working and when I quit, I would try to schedule chores when he was gone, we were used to spending lots of time together. Plus, him getting to sleep all night, every night makes Paul a happy boy! The lack of stress has to be a huge factor in anyones happiness. Anyone that thinks they'd like to travel the country in an RV when they retire, I say make it happen! Start saving, start planning, don't think it will never happen; make it happen. As an undisclosed source would say, YOLO!  ;)

 One happy camper!

One happy camper!

 As most days after a good rain, the next day was crisp, clean and sunny! Unless you have mud, which we didn't. A good thing about camping in beach areas is sand and water don't make mud. A bad thing is the sand still gets stuck to your shoes and comes inside with you. Growing up in the country, and having to walk to the school bus stop in the mud (there aren't sidewalks in the country), I learned to cover my shoes with bags. Back then, my Mama would save the bread bags for the job. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's dirty shoes! 

 They aren't bread bags, but they work!

They aren't bread bags, but they work!

 With everything cleaned up and the sun shining, we were off to our next stop. That day we had a little longer drive, since there isn't much where the panhandle turns into the hanging down part. We had a reservation in an area called Keaton Beach, south of Perry. I knew from when I called that it wasn't going to be a fancy park, since they only take cash or checks, and I was right. It's basically a fishing town. I shouldn't say town, it's not even that. I guess you'd call it a fish camp. A lot of people leave trailers and boats here year round and spend their time off here. During the week, there's hardly anyone around, but the weekend was busy. Okay, there were three other campsites occupied! There isn't really a beach to speak of, but the camp sits right on the gulf, so it's still a nice spot. We have had some warm, sunny days, but the rain is supposed to find us again tomorrow. That's okay, it's a travel day. Tomorrow we head south to Cedar Key.

 When the tide comes in, the boats go out.

When the tide comes in, the boats go out.

Sittin' here at the Flora-Bama

The county campground on Dauphin Island, Alabama was right on the beach with a bird sanctuary on the other side. It was pretty packed with what looked like full time RVers. Luckily, we got a spot that wasn't crammed up next to another RV, although many people came by our camp to admire our truck camper. Everywhere we go, people stare at it and come by to ask questions. If it's not the truck camper, it's the cattle guard. It's funny to me how Paul doesn't like attention, and we end up getting a lot of it because we chose an unusual RV to live in. Then when we say we are retired, we always get the comment "you're too young to be retired!" 

 Fort Gaines was just a few minutes walk up the beach from us. We walked over and took a few photos from the outside. Dogs weren't allowed inside. We thought we'd go back another day, but figured the $8 per person entry fee probably wasn't worth what we missed. Hey, we are now on a fixed income, and Paul might make a sign advertising $20.00 haircuts and make me earn my keep! 

 Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

 I saw that the park we were staying at rented bikes, and thought it might be fun to take a ride into town. I needed some non-polarized sunglasses to be able to see my IPad outdoors anyway. Out of the twelve bikes they had in the shed, we couldn't find two that we were confident riding the four mile round trip. Between the flat tires, hanging chains, and wiggly hubs, we decided to walk. Plus, that meant Fiona got to go! We cut through the bird sanctuary (and didn't see one bird by the way). The walk seemed longer than it was, maybe because when we got to town, most stores were closed and we just turned around and walked back. This made me decide that we are adding a bike rack to the front bumper and a couple of bikes. 

 Tranquil walk through the bird sanctuary.

Tranquil walk through the bird sanctuary.

There was a ferry that went across Mobile Bay; unfortunately the only barge running this time of year couldn't accommodate our length. That doubled the drive time to Gulf Shores State Park on the east side of the bay. When we went through the City of Mobile, we had to take a tunnel that went under the Mobile River. It felt like you were inside of a video game. 

 Seemingly endless...

Seemingly endless...

 Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel!&nbsp;

Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel! 

We ended up at the state park in Gulf Shores and it was really big, and yes I got lost again! This time, I didn't have any beer with me, but thankfully I found my way back pretty easily. There were signs all over the park that warned of alligators, but we never saw one. I wonder, does pepper spray work on alligators? 

While staying at the Gulf Shores, we dropped the camper and drove over to the Flora-Bama. It's an iconic bar that has been used in many songs and videos and survived fires and hurricanes. Built in 1964, the same year Paul was born, on Perdido Key, right on the border of Alabama and Florida. Florida was a "wet" county right next to the "dry" county in neighboring Alabama. It is touted as being America's "Last Great Roadhouse". 

 

 The Flora-Bama Lounge and Package.

The Flora-Bama Lounge and Package.

 Spreading the Love with some Blue Chair Bay Rum at the Flora Bama!

Spreading the Love with some Blue Chair Bay Rum at the Flora Bama!

Any Kenny Chesney fan knows about the Flora-Bama. He sings about it and even did a free concert on the beach here last summer. A big thank you to my No Shoes Nation sister, Shari for telling me I was staying close by. I knew it was on the border of Alabama and Florida. The fact that I was only ten miles away hadn't dawned on me. A blond moment...hey it happens!

 See the many bras hanging from the ropes across the dance floor?

See the many bras hanging from the ropes across the dance floor?

From Gulf Shores, we drove east to Destin, Florida. I had always heard it was a really nice place. We found another state park just east of there on Santa Rosa Beach. The sand seems to get whiter and the water bluer, the farther east we travel along the gulf coast. Today I went for a run on the sand for a couple of miles and never saw another person. I sang out loud with my ipod, did some cartwheels and acted like a kid, without anyone around to see. It was great!

 I'm on a beach and I'm siiinging!!! My green spirit orb is back. I guess I wasn't really alone.

I'm on a beach and I'm siiinging!!! My green spirit orb is back. I guess I wasn't really alone.

 Paul went for a run on the beach and saw one of the strangest things he's ever seen. A small doe walked out from the dunes and timidly checked out the ocean. Paul stood still about 100 yards away and watched as the deer playfully circled around near the waves, then jumped into the ocean and began to swim out into the Gulf. Off shore it encountered a sand bar, went bounding across it, then jumped back into the deep water and continued to swim south until he couldn't see it anymore.

 I talked to a ranger and she said the deer often swim in the gulf. Supposedly it kills all of the fleas and ticks, etc. that live on them and they can swim for miles. 

 It's a red flag day. I guess deer don't read the signs.

It's a red flag day. I guess deer don't read the signs.



Ya'awwll a cuppulla healf nuts, aren't ya?

 The night before we left Abbeville, Louisiana I had the pleasure of visiting with my camping neighbor. Her name was Dawan and she was from somewhere close by. We had a nice chat by her campfire and I enjoyed her company, and her accent. The Louisiana accent is fascinating to me. The fact that Paul and I worked out while camping and don't often eat fried food prompted her to say " Ya'awwll a cuppulla healf nuts, aren't ya? I told her since we drink so much beer, we have to make up for it somewhere! 

 We headed east to New Orleans from there. The road was so bumpy we had to drive really slow. I think it was the worst stretch of road we've been on so far, and we've driven about three thousand miles since we left San Diego. 

 It was a beautiful sunny day in New Orleans. The RV park we stayed in was right next to the French Quarter. Paul had read reviews and knew to ask for the sites farther away from the noisy Interstate 10. Those happened to be privately owned and were more expensive, but we found that it was worth it. The rate per night was $115.00, the most we've paid so far.  You can buy a site and have the company maintain and rent it out for you for a mere $450,000. The park is right next to the Louis Armstrong Cemetery #1. You could see some of the crypts from our windows. We walked through the cemetery and saw some very old family crypts, some with people added to them in the last 5 years. 

 A few crypts.

A few crypts.

 We walked to the French Quarter, stopped into a few bars on Bourbon Street. When Jane and I were here last year, Paul's cousin took us to a place called Drago's for chargrilled oysters. They were so great she and I went back the next night for more! So that's where we went for dinner. It did not disappoint. Paul full on jambalaya and me on oysters, made it an early night. No room in our bellies for beer!

 Drinks on Bourbon Street

Drinks on Bourbon Street

 The next day we roamed Decatur Street and the French Market area, enjoying the history of the town. We ended up in  a dive bar next to a fire station that Jane and I went to when we were here. There were patches stuck to the wall behind the bar from a bunch of the police and firefighters that came to help during the aftermath of the Katrina hurricane. There were also dollar bills stuck to the ceiling and walls, some obviously had been there since the bar opened 25 years ago; dust bunnies dripping from them. The bartender entertained us with stories of the area. He was quite the font of historical information, despite  the fact he was also born in California.

 Jackson Square

Jackson Square

 Paul enjoying a beer at Kerry's Pub.

Paul enjoying a beer at Kerry's Pub.

We found a place that looked good for lunch, Acme Oyster Co., I was on a mission to try crawfish. It was a little early in the season, so I settled for a crawfish tail poboy. Paul tried a soft shell crab poboy. Both were delicious, and fried! Not the normal meal for a health nut!

 Yup ,the whole crab!

Yup ,the whole crab!

 The next night we met three of Paul's cousins and their families for dinner. They hadn't seen each other in 30 years. We had a nice visit and as we were driving away, I realized I didn't get any photos. With eleven people at a table, one gets distracted! 

 We planned on leaving the next morning, but there was a thunderstorm that rolled through that night, and we didn't want to have the stress of driving in the rain and wind. So we hunkered down until the next day. We got up early and got on the road, headed for Biloxi, Mississippi. It was sunny and the drive down the coast was so beautiful! The road ran right along the Gulf with white sand beaches. We stayed at the Hardrock Hotel and Casino. The overnight parking was right on the water and free! We went into the casino and played roulette and craps. Paul won enough to pay for dinner and drinks, otherwise it might not have really been free. 

 Not a bad view

Not a bad view

 Primo parking&nbsp;spot

Primo parking spot

 Dinner and drinks...on the casinos dime!

Dinner and drinks...on the casinos dime!

 From there we went into Alabama. As we passed through Bayou La Batre, I couldn't think of why the small town's name sounded so familiar. A quick Google search informed me that it was the hometown of Forrest Gump's best good friend, Bubba. 

 We came to Dauphin Island, AL. This is where historic Fort Gaines is located. It's famous for the Battle Of Mobile Bay in the Civil War. "Damn the torpedos, full steam ahead"  were words spoken in that battle. We are staying just steps from the fort. Which makes me wonder how many ghosts have we camped next to so far on this trip? 

We plan on going on a tour of the fort tomorrow, so there will be photos to come.

 White sugar sand on the beach on Dauphin Island, AL.

White sugar sand on the beach on Dauphin Island, AL.