Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 year in review

I figure everyone else is doing a year in review so I might as well do one too.  We had an awesome year traveling and experiencing new places.  We weathered a lot of rain and a couple of bad storms but when it really mattered, we had some great weather too.

We started 2012 in southern Alabama after we flew out of Mobile to Denver for Christmas.  We spent the rest of the winter in Florida beginning with a week at Disney World Fort Wilderness Campground. We visited the Everglades, the Keys, Tiger's spring training in Lakeland, and finally St. Augustine as we started our trip north.

Some favorite highlights as we went up the coast are:
- Outer Banks and Kitty Hawk, NC
- Lewes, DE
- Hyde Park, NY
- Mystic, CT
- Boston, MA
- Acadia National Park, ME
- Fundy Provincial Park and Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick, Canada
- White Mountains, NH
- Coolidge Homestead and Weston, VT
- Hall of Fame month (baseball, hockey, football, rock and roll)
- Niagara Falls and Erie Canal near Buffalo, NY
- Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

An extra bonus of this traveling is being able to visit friends and family that we haven't seen in a long time.

Here is an updated map with our travel route over the last 2.5 years.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December update

View along Broken Arrow Trail
It is surreal
We spent two weeks near Camp Verde which worked great to revisit Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well after many years.  We also did some hiking near Sedona which is always amazing.  We met a young man from Denmark (the country) on one of the trails and he was just standing there looking at the view in awe.  He summed it up by calling it surreal. I'll share that view here because he was correct.

We are now back down near Fountain Hills at a RV resort that we love.  It is great to see the eagles and roadrunners, listen to the coyotes at night and take long walks in the desert and around Fountain park. We are looking forward to spending Christmas with Alex and visiting friends over the next month.  In summary, we are enjoying our time back in the Valley of the Sun.

Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Well

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back in AZ

After a year and a half the road trip has returned us to Arizona.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Denver with Angela and Jake and then hit the road Friday morning. We arrived near Camp Verde on Sunday where we will be staying for two weeks before heading further south to Fort McDowell.

Our two month stay at Barr Lake outside Denver was very nice. We most likely will return and do more stints there. I'll take this opportunity to post a few pictures taken around the park.

Snow "flurries" on Oct 25
 We got 6 inches of snow over two days Oct 25 and 26.  Here is a picture during a lull when the sun came out for a little bit.
Barr Lake - Oct 30 - snow gone
except on mountains

Within a few days it was gone so I took a pic over Barr Lake to the mountains.  The lake was still low. Water is released all summer for irrigation.  By the time we left water was coming back in and it was considerably higher than shown here.
Note: click on a picture for a bigger image then use your browser "back" button, or click outside the pictures, to return to the blog.
Where's Big Daddy? See him taking
a siesta?

Barr Lake State Park is a wild life sanctuary so we saw a variety of critters including raccoon, deer, pheasants, eagles, lots of different types of hawks, pelicans, cranes, etc. I was most surprised by seeing pelicans in the middle of Colorado.

Big Daddy and friends

Three other bucks on one shot
One evening there were between 20 and 30 deer in the field and I saw 5 bucks, including Big Daddy, at one time. I walked into the field and they weren't too worried about me so I got some really neat pictures including these.

Bald Eagle pair with their nest
One of many great sunsets
We're told that dozens of eagles winter at Barr Lake but there is only one nesting pair.  They were back and repairing their massive nest in early November.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Update from Colorado

We've been near Denver for a month now and all is good.  We've had a dusting of snow and a few cold days and nights to give us a taste of winter.  For the most part we've been having good weather but there is another cold snap in the forecast for later this week.  We've enjoyed seeing the birds migrating through as well as the hawks and eagles that call this area home.  I did not expect to see pelicans in Colorado but there have been a lot of them on the lake.  Huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes went through last weekend but are gone already.

We walk around the lake regularly and have done some hiking in the foothills near Evergreen and Boulder.  This past weekend we finally made it to Rocky Mountain National Park for our first hike there.  It lived up to its reputation as a very beautiful park.  Many roads are closed for the season and in one day we saw a tiny part of the park.  We will be back for many more visits so we can see and hike different areas.
View at Alderfer Park near Evergreen
Rocky Mountain National Park -
Nymph Lake - Elevation 9630

Rocky Mountain National Park
View from trail to Dream Lake

View from trail to Dream Lake

Carl and Ann at Dream Lake
Elevation about 9900

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On to Colorado

We spent a couple of weeks in Michigan visiting before heading to Colorado where Ann had a host job lined up at a state park.  We stopped for a few days in our old stomping grounds, St. Charles MO.  We visited with friends and checked out the old neighborhood and old town St. Charles.  After all of the touring we've done of historic towns in the East over the last year, we were glad to see that historic Saint Charles is still in great shape and ranks right up there with the best of them.

Childhood home of Dwight Eisenhower
Abilene, KS
On our way across Kansas we stopped at the Eisenhower childhood home and Presidential museum in Abilene.  The home was another great one with 100% authentic furnishings because the home was turned over to a state trust directly from the family.  We also enjoyed the museum and learned a lot of details about his life and accomplishments that we didn't know.  

We are now outside Denver at Barr Lake State Park for a two month volunteer gig in exchange for full hookups.  The awesome part of this is being a short distance from our daughter.  After all, that is why we are here!  We will hang in here until the weather chases us south.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Pro Football Hall of Fame
New entrance
Team bench for The Ice Bowl
Today we finished our Hall of Fame month with a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio. We spent a couple of hours viewing exhibits but this hall of fame has much less detail, much less memorabilia, than the others we've visited this month so we went slow and stretched out the experience.  Over the next year they will be doing an expansion so we'll have to plan a trip back in a couple of years.  Here are a few photos from the visit.  Next we drive to Michigan to visit family and friends for a couple of weeks.
The first of many?

Reggie White - the man who
turned the Packers around

The next Lombardi Trophy
is ready for the Packers to
take home
Oh Barry, I wish you would have
played longer

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock N Roll Hall of Fame
We went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on Sunday for stop 3 in our Hall of Fame month.  Unfortunately no picture taking is allowed in the hall so I can't share any photos.  I can say that it was fun and interesting even though I had been there once before.  It was Ann's first time and she enjoyed it as well.  We spent about 3 hours viewing exhibits.  We wanted to go on the weekend so we could try to meet Dusty Street who is a DJ for the SiriusXM channel Classic Vinyl.  She broadcasts from the Hall on the weekends. Because I emailed ahead she did sneak us into the studio and we chatted for about a half hour.  It was pretty special.

Lashed to a holder
We've experienced something unusual at our campground this week.  We are about 10 miles from Akron OH which is home of the Goodyear corporate headquarters.  We've had the Goodyear blimp fly over us several times. It turns out the airstrip and hanger are just a few miles from us. Today we had really good timing when we left to go to the store and saw it flying parallel to us going back to the hanger. We quickly turned down the road to the hanger and watched as they lashed it and parked it in the hanger.  What a fun little treat.

Backing it into the hanger
Spinning it around

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Niagara Falls

Both Falls from bridge
American Falls from CA side
After almost 2 weeks in the area we finally made it to Niagara Falls. Since we like to walk, we parked on the U.S. side and walked across the bridge to the Canadian side for the best views.  This avoided long lines with the car both ways and Customs was pretty quick (still need your passport) .  The other advantage to this is a neat view from the bridge as you walk across.

After doing the Erie Canal cruise and then visiting the falls the inquisitive mind starts thinking about the St. Lawrence Seaway and how ships travel between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The answer, the Welland Canal (link to information ). Here is a link with lots of information about the entire St. Lawrence Seaway. This link goes to the History page but there is a lot more information including a Seaway map with current ships in transit ( In order to tie the St. Lawrence Seaway with the history of shipping on the Great Lakes, here is another interesting link I found:

Horseshot Falls - Canadian side
American Falls from U.S. side
Saturday we drove to Ohio to set ourselves up for the last two stops in our hall of fame month.  We took I-90 to Ohio and then dropped down to the Akron area.  This puts us an hour from the Rock and Roll Hall in Cleveland and a half hour from the Football Hall in Canton.  I'll give updates on those after our visits.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Erie Canal and Hockey Hall of Fame

As we drove across New York we kept seeing references to the Erie Canal which prompted us to do a little research. We both remembered the canal being in history lessons in grade school but we didn't remember details. The canal runs from the Hudson River near Albany all the way to Lake Erie at Buffalo. Therefore, we were driving parallel to it all the way across the state. It turns out that our campground is only about 12 miles from Lockport NY where the canal requires locks to traverse a rock ledge, the same one that Niagara Falls flows over. In Lockport there is
Locks (left side)
Erie Canal
an Erie Canal cruise that goes up and down the canal and through the locks.  We decided to take the cruise to get a close up feel of the famous canal and also experience going through the locks. The narration was informative and well done (complete with the famous song). The history of the canal is very interesting. 

Tow path on side of canal
In upper lock looking down
The trip took a little under 2 hours and was very enjoyable.  Of course it helped that we had perfect weather.  Here is a link if you are interested in learning more about "Clinton's Big Ditch" and one about the cruise if you are in the area

Modern Stanley Cup
The original Stanley Cup
 On Saturday we drove to Toronto, Ontario, Canada to the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was a little under a 2 hour drive including taking 20 minutes to get through customs at the border. We got there right after they opened and spent about 2 and a half hours taking it all in.  It was a lot of fun looking around at the memorabilia and of course seeing the Stanley Cup (both current and original) and other legendary trophies.  We pulled out of the parking garage about 1pm and into nasty traffic so it took a bit longer getting back. On a side note, we didn't like the look of Toronto. All the modern glass and metal buildings just isn't our thing. The economy must be doing well there, however, as there were countless cranes and building construction everywhere you looked.
The Gordie Howe era

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cooperstown - Baseball Hall of Fame

We drove from our campground in New Hampshire to our next one near Cooperstown, New York. We took state highway 9 across NH and Vermont into NY.  This drive was slow and constant up and down steep grades and twisty curvy around mountains (bye bye fuel). We went around Albany and went west on Highway 20 to our next campground near Cooperstown. This campground had a nice setting on a ridge looking across long fields of corn and grazing cattle.  It was very pleasant.

Baseball Hall of Fame
1984 Champions
We went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on a Friday afternoon.  The village of Cooperstown is very pretty with a lot of beautiful old buildings and homes.  The Hall of Fame is in a neat building on Main Street which is lined with shops selling anything imaginable related to baseball.  The Hall has three floors but overall the building isn't super large. Apparently less than 10% of the memorabilia that they have is on display and displays rotate.  In a nutshell, other than in the "records" area you never know what you'll see.  We were lucky enough to have a couple of displays with the 84 Tigers.  The area where all of the records are (most this, most that) is really packed tight with little info sheets and artifacts. People piled up tight trying to see and read all the facts. You can become overwhelmed with facts and claustrophobic with people. We finally moved on and came back later in the evening when there weren't very many people (you can come and go all day with your admission) and it was much more enjoyable. Overall it was a good experience.
They even had a one of my favorite
moments. The shot that had me yelling
so much Angela (not yet born) came
out 2 weeks early to see what was going on
One of my childhood favorites

The next day we drove across the state of New York to near Buffalo and Niagara. We headed west on Highway 20 which turned out to be lots more of the steep up and down grades. So steep, in fact, that on one we had to shift down to second gear to get over it.  We abandoned our plan of going all the way across state on 20 and went north to I-90 at Syracuse and paid the toll - it was worth it.  We are now only about 12 miles from Canada and in striking distance of Niagara Falls and the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Next weekend we visit those sights as Hall of Fame month continues.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Hampshire and Vermont

NH White Mountains

White Mountains - Franconia Notch
It was time to move on to see the remaining New England states. We drove basically due west across the middle of Maine on US 2. It was a good road (for the most part) and we got to see life in the state other than along the shoreline. The terrain was rolling hills and mostly covered with trees with small towns every 5 -10 miles. 

NH State House
As we approached the border of Maine and New Hampshire we entered the White Mountains and the hills became bigger. The road went through a gap in the White Mountain National Forest and became very pretty. We stopped for a break in Gorham, NH which is a picturesque little town with mountains all around. We left US 2 and headed south on 115 and then US 3. This was a beautiful drive through the White Mountains and the Franconia Notch. I would have to say this was the prettiest drive that we've had in months.

Our first week in the campground (near Contoocook, NH) had excitement when a storm came through with a micro-burst that knocked down branches and trees. A lightening strike dropped a tree on a trailer. Fortunately we did not receive any damage. We drove into Concord to see the New Hampshire State Capitol. It was very modest inside compared to most. We learned that NH has a very unique legislative setup by having an Executive Council that works hand-in-hand with the Governor. (

Coolidge Homestead
General Store

Community room - Coolidge Hall
The next weekend was time for a road trip around Vermont. We headed north on I-89 and then west on Hwy 4 to the Calvin Coolidge State historic site in Plymouth Notch. (  
This is a really great place to visit as the home, furnishings, barn, tools, etc. are all intact from when it was owned by President Coolidge. The General Store is in tact including the addition on the back where Calvin was born and lived to age 4. The upstairs community room is setup exactly as it was when President Coolidge used it as an office when visiting (complete with actual furnishings). We really enjoyed our time here.

Next we drove down Hwy 100 to Weston. This entire town is on the National Historic Registry. It was a neat town with an awesome museum in an old house and a working restored mill. The people of the town have done a great job of restoring and keeping this town nice. We drove back east to NH from here. For those of you who are familiar with it, this is the home of The Vermont Country Store which we went through while we were there.

Our second weekend in the area was rainy and gloomy and thus some of the potential scenic activities were rained out. We also had been on the go so much we decided it was good to chill before our driving day on Sunday. New Hampshire and Vermont have made it on our short list of places to return so we'll have a chance to see things we didn't see this time through.

Next up, we start the Hall of Fame tour month.  Stay tuned.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Canada - New Brunswick & Nova Scotia

St Andrews on the sea

Home moved here in 1760s from Maine
I took another week off work so we could get a taste of the Maritime Provinces of Canada. We left Ernie (our motor home) at our campground in Maine and took the car. We had a quick and easy crossing at Calais, Maine. Our first point of interest was St. Andrews, New Brunswick. This little town was founded in the 1760s by British loyalists from the colonies that didn't want to get involved in the American Revolution. It is a neat little town with a little harbor, a number of old homes dating back to the 1760s and early1800s, a blockade dating to the War of 1812 and, of course, shops and restaurants. Some of the Loyalists actually disassembled their homes and shipped them here on barges. One such home still exists and with that history, was our favorite find in this little town. We spent the first night in Saint John, staged for a busy next day.

Covered bridge in St. Martins
We got started early the next morning thanks to someone in the room above us seemingly doing jumping  jacks on our ceiling. It turned out to be a blessing. After breakfast we took a drive by the "Reversing Falls" in Saint John but they weren't reversing (tide was low and going out) so there was nothing of interest. Since we were up fairly early we decided to take the scenic loop (on 111) down through St. Martins. This was a scenic drive but the road was terrible most of the time. With an interesting history we thought there would be more to see in St. Martins. There were a couple old covered bridges and "The Fundy Trail" but not much else. We didn't drive The Fundy Trail because we wanted to get to Fundy National Park by low tide. So with that quest motivating us we moved along.

Alma Beach high tide, looking to
where I was standing in the other
picture now in 36 feet of water
Alma beach low tide, looking in
from edge of water (3/4 mile out)

The big draw at Fundy National Park is the extreme tide, the largest high-low tide variation in the world. We went directly to Alma Beach where, at low tide, you can walk out 3/4 mile on the tidal basin. Then when the tide is high, that same place where you stood is in 40 feet of water.
Boats in harbor at low tide

Thus the desire to get there at low tide. We made it about 30 minutes after low tide so we got to experience the walk out on the basin. I went all the way to the waters edge.  By that point it was over an hour after low tide and the tide was coming back in quickly. It comes in so fast you can literally see it moving and get a sense of how the tide rises around 40 feet (it varies) in 6 hours. Along the shore, docks have fishing boats sitting high and dry on stands. When the tide comes in it lifts them up and they are ready to go. 
Boats close to high tide
We watched other fishing boats that had been out with the tide patiently coming in with the tide so they could dock and unload (the blue one in the pic on the right). What an experience to learn about, eh? We stayed until about 30-40 minutes before high tide (within 3-4 feet) and figured we pretty much got the idea.  Next, we wanted to get to Hopewell Rocks, about 35 miles away, to see that area close to high tide. Off we went on a race against the tide.

"Flower Pots" about 4 feet below
high tide 

"Flower Pot" - lower tide, about
half way down
We made it to the Hopewell Rocks Park and then had to walk to see the rock formations. We do a lot of walking so we made the mile or so walk pretty quickly and could take a few pictures just 45 minutes or so after high tide, or about 5-6 feet down from high tide. After the walk back it was time to eat and relax after a full day.
The next morning we went back to Hopewell Rocks to see, and walk, the shore with the tide down.  We got to the famous "Flower Pot" rock formations (called that because of the plants growing on top) about when the tide was a little more than half way down. The water was low enough to walk around the rock formations and be able to compare how things looked then versus when the tide was high the evening before.
Daniels Flats near high tide

Daniels Flats near low tide
We walked along the shore for about 2 hours so by that time the water was within 3-4 feet of low point. The rock formations carved by the tide/waves along with the amazing mud flats were a really great thing to witness.

This is the best link I could find trying to explain the giant tides in the Bay of Fundy.

Our plans from there were to see the Citadel in Halifax, Nova Scotia and visit some old seaport towns east of Halifax so we drove to a hotel near Halifax to use as our next base for exploration.  This was a pretty easy and picturesque drive around the Bay of Fundy, over rolling hills, and into Nova Scotia. We checked into our hotel and then drove downtown to check out the waterfront and get something to eat. We found the city to be clean and nice with a great mix of old and new buildings.  Halifax is the oldest city in Canada but it doesn't show it.

Lunenburg Solomon House - 1775

Saint Johns Anglican Church - 1754
The next morning we drove down to Lunenburg about an hour away. This town was established in the 1750s as a planned community under the protection of the British Crown. Today, 70 percent of the homes and structures in the town are still from the 18th and 19th centuries. We spent a couple hours walking around town and along the waterfront enjoying the old buildings. Of all the old towns we've been through this was the most amazing we've been in as far as the number and percent of historic buildings. After lunch we drove through Mahone Bay to check it out and were thinking about going to Chester. However, we just kind of got seaport burnout and decided to head back to Halifax so we could tour the Citadel.


Citadel ditch

The Citadel is located on a hill where three previous wood forts once stood. After the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815 Britain decided it needed a more powerful and permanent structure. Construction began in 1828 and took 28 years to build the stone and earthen fortress. The Citadel was used by the British and Canadian military until after World War II. It was an interesting visit for us because it was so similar to the Citadel in St. Augustine FL although it was constructed nearly 150 years later. The Army museum that is housed there was neat with a lot of very interesting and unique artifacts. I could not get a picture of the Citadel from the outside because it sits on top of the hill. We ate and walked the boardwalk on the waterfront again because it was such a beautiful evening.

Halifax clock tower




Fishing in the Bay of Fundy