Monday, March 28, 2005

05-30 Coast Guard Station, Marathon Florida

Sun and Fun, Sarasota Fl
Camp Mars, Venus Fl
Coast Guard Station, Marathon Fl

Week 30,31,32,33 of 52
Nov 1--30

Not all those who wander are lost. Wandering through Florida, I’m reminded of my dreams years ago. I used to dream that I could live in Florida and go to the beach anytime I wanted to. I used to dream about living on an island, with palm trees next to a sandy beach and the turquoise blue green waters and sun every day.

After attending the RRV rally, which pretty much involved eating and chatting around each others campers. Along with an RV crawl which was fun. It was a way to see other RVs that are being lived in and what works and what doesn’t. I was a bit surprised that there were no organized trips to see the great attractions around Sarasota. But I guess if you only have 3-4 days, many folks would rather just veg out.

My week at Camp Mars was pretty much unplanned as I had planned to be in Ft Lauderdale. But due to hurricane Wilma, my trip to the keys was delayed a week and the campground in Ft Lauderdale has been overtaken by FEMA workers for a year.

This is where being a full timer, one sometimes has to adjust the schedule. A week later in the keys, stay only two weeks instead of 4 and skip Ft Lauderdale completely.

Camp Mars is very quiet during the week and it’s about 20 miles to the nearest town. A good time to catch up on reading, sunning and swimming in the heated pool and taking those all important afternoon siestas. Except for the sunset party on Saturday, there’s not much going on even on the weekends. That is unless your ready to start partying around 10 at night.

Florida Keys. Getting back to my dreams of years gone by. I have the warmest feeling now that I’m actually living my dreams fulltime. Oh I’ve been going to the keys for years and gone to the beach pretending to be a beach bum. But now I really am living those dreams full time and it feels so right. So much to be thankful for.

Driving the overseas highway, Islamorada, Torch key, Marathon, Pine Key, Ram Rod Key and of course Key West. Driving over the concrete ribbons surrounded by those incredibly blue waters that change from aqua to azure, to green to deep dark blues that are almost black. Palm laden Islands far off, dotting the horizon. Boats drifting with the lazy tides. Lobster buoys bobbing in the gentle waves. Ocean and Gulf touching the sky on either side of the ribbon of highway. Sun setting over water.

Following those dreams. Never giving up on them. Doing what it took to finally get there. Striving. College. Work. Saving. Climbing that corporate ladder. Making the right choices most of the time. Trying not to hurt anyone along the way. Sharing the path with those who wanted to get there too. Trying not to tell others how to live their lives. We all have our own paths to follow. That’s not always easy.

The sun set tonight on my new campsite at the Coastguard Station in Marathon Fl. My home is in the keys for a few weeks. The air is warm and fresh and a bit salty. The night is filled with stars and a full moon. My home. The keys.

Hurricane Wilma. I rode my bike around today as I do most days. Much of the debris along the overseas highway is being cleared away. But so much more has to be removed. You don’t notice it at first. Then you realize, many of the homes and hotels along the keys are not livable. Many of the trees and shrubs are brown from the salt water. But overall the palm trees are green and so is much of the other greenery that‘s salt tolerant.

I’m at the Marathon Coastguard Station where they had over ¼ million dollars of damage in private and Gov owned vehicles alone. The water surge, reaching anywhere from a couple feet to almost 10ft, actually occurred after the hurricane had exited Florida on the east coast! Many were caught off guard, thinking the hurricane had gone. The rising water lasted over 3 hours before receding back into the ocean and Florida bay. The amount of furniture and appliances alone that have to be replaced is beyond comprehension. Most everyone who had car insurance is now driving a new car in the keys.

Now they are starting to have electrical fires, now that the power is back on. They expect many more places to burn down, once the saltwater completes destroying the electrical wires in homes and businesses.

Of course it’s the older structures. The history of the keys that’s being lost. And the people. Those who were living on a shoe string will be forced out. Unable to rebuild or even rent a place.

I rode my bike out onto Boot Key. It’s in the heart of Marathon, over a bridge, past all the boats along the channel. And then you’ve left behind everything. There are no houses. Only a lonely road, half overgrown with Australian pines, mangroves and scrub trees. The smell of brackish saltwater and the sound of bike tires crunching across years old craggily asphalt with a faded yellow line running down the middle. The road leads nowhere and is only used by joggers and bike riders.

Thanksgiving will be celebrated here with many residences in hotels and motels along the way. Waiting to get there homes back to a livable condition. My friend Eric has opened up his Tropical Cottages to many who had to move out of their homes due to the water damage. His cottages were flooded, but easier to get back to a livable condition than many of the homes in the area.

Thanksgiving Day. Wow. The skies are blue, the sun is out and it’s a warm day. What better way to spend Thanksgiving than in the keys. Swinging in a hammock. Drinks on the patio. A full thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Including pasta dishes, salads with fresh fruit and desert to finish it all off. Meeting so many island people. Tony, a retired iron worker who worked on many of the high-rises in New York, including the Twin Towers. He’s a 100% American Indian from Upstate New York. Absorbing the life style of the keys.

Of course I miss my buddies at Silver River State park, where where I had Thanksgiving last year. I've been camping over the past couple of year but arriving in the Keys is more than camping, it's just something you just have to do, the islands, it's a lifestyle . Hoping you had a great Thanksgiving. I did.

05-27 Confessions of a Camp Host

Lake Louisa St Park, Fl
Confessions of a Camp Host

Week 27,28,29 of 52
Oct 1-25

Secrets and Confessions As you know by my previous messages, I’m a camp host for two months at Lake Louisa. So I thought I’d give you a behind the scenes pictures of what goes on at a state park.

We have another couple that arrived last week as camp hosts. Bruce and Evelyn. The two camp hosts have been at the park now for three years and they know how to “work” the system. As soon as Bruce got hear he asked for a truck. When he didn’t get it, he automatically came over and started using the gulf cart I’d been given to use. Of course I would expect we would share it, but I was a bit surprised that he didn’t even ask before using it.

We have all types of campers. Mostly lots of retirees who are easy to clean up after and they hardly ever mess up the bathrooms. Since that’s my major duty here, that’s a great thing.

Next we have the families who always have to have a campfire. Even when it’s been in the 90’s during the day, high humidity and 80’s into the evening hours.

The tenters are another group. There are the young folks just getting started in life and it’s a cheap and easy way to enjoy a small vacation and the outdoors, fishing, hiking canoeing the lakes.

Then there’s the mother who’s overweight and has trouble walking, with her daughter and little boy who has a councilor who comes to see him once a week. They are basically living in a two room tent. The mother claims she fell in the bathroom around midnight the other week and is trying to get money out of the state. The police and rangers were here talking to them again today. There were 3 police cars and 2 ranger cars. I feel sorry for the little boy who is so well behaved and very polite. Wonder what abuse he’s gone through to need a councilor. They finally packed up and left yesterday.

Oh and we can’t forget the “couple” on site number one. They knocked on my door around 10 o-clock one evening and asked if I could help them. They couldn’t get the power to come on at their campsite. The Older, slender smallish women, with white/gray hair, appearing to be between her late 50’s and early 60’s, let me know that she and her husband would greatly appreciate my help. When I got over to the campsite and saw the 20 something Spanish young man, dark hair, tall and gentle in nature, who immediately let me know that he and his “wife” were ever so grateful that I’d come over to help, I of course was ever so grateful for the dark night, so they couldn’t see my expression on my face. As some of you know, I can’t hide my thoughts what so ever and I’m sure I was rolling my eyes at one point. I hit the breaker reset button and their lights came on. I skid addled my way back to my campsite and contemplated this unusual couple. Another couple that has remained here for about two weeks.

I’ve met two adventuresome couples, both on their 24 or 25 anniversary, traveling the state of Florida. One couple was doing it by car camping the other couple had a camper and two motor cycles and made the park there home base for about 1,400 miles of traveling through the state on their bikes. P.s. they recommend Cedar Key as being a great gulf coast town where you’ll find the real Florida and no commercial shops what so ever. Both fun couples that truly knew how to enjoy every moment of life, between raising kid and jobs, that had them traveling across the country.

Then there are the fishermen. One, a black guy, Barry, recently moved from the Crystal
City area near the Pentagon outside of Washington D.C. He has a jazz band up there and is a jazz singer. Loves to fish. Did you know real fishermen usually have 4 or 5 fishing poles in the water at a time? He’s found the life style he loves and became a jazz singer in his 40’s by chance. And discovered he loves it, having always listened to jazz, it became a natural. The other fishermen and women hear are relatively young. In there late teens and twenties. A number of them are real Florida Crackers. The rest are Spanish. Bringing their kids and moms and dads to fish and enjoy the park.

The rangers are a special group of people. Each loving the outdoors in their own way. Many would prefer being in the mountains or cooler climates up north or out west. I’ve learned so much about the local flora and fauna of Florida. From the creation of Florida millions of years ago, to the present day environment. I’m camped out on the top of an ancient sand dune! Some of the rangers are very quiet and don’t like to talk a lot. Others share their love of the land and wildlife in the area. Many of the rangers have spouses who work in the park or other careers that complement this life style. They don’t get paid much so when you go to a state park, treat them well.

Ok and now for the real secret. A camp host is expected to work about 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, but I’ve found that if you get the work done in less time, they really don’t care. Many days I can get the bathrooms cleaned in about 2 hours. As the park gets busier of course, that time frame gets extended.

The only thing I don’t care for is that even working a few hours a day, It does seem to put a damper on exploring and doing fun stuff. However, I have found that the park is a great place to ride my bike and lake Louise has the best swimming beach in the area. The water although a dark burgundy color from the tannin in the water, is warm and calm. It’s almost like having a private beech, as only a few people visit it during the week days. Many by boat or pontoon boat. I’ve really enjoyed going to the beach recently and enjoy riding my bike in the late after noon, just as the sun is setting. It’s cooler and so quiet as I ride along the rolling hills in the park. I often see deer in the fields. Going down to the dock on Dixie Lake each evening to watch my sunsets is a great way to finish each day. Speaking of that, I’ve got to stop writing this so I can go catch the sunset….

Sure hope you find your own special way to enjoy life as much as I do….

05-26 Ramblings, Lake Louisa State Park Florida

Lake Louisa St Park, Fl
Work camping

Week 26 of 52
Sept 25-30

Ramblings I’ve been doing the work camping job for two weeks now. It’s about 4 hours of work each day and isn’t bad. The rangers here are fantastic, so I feel right at home. Cleaning the bathrooms, making sure the campsites are clean and I started selling campfire wood. Though I can’t imagine anyone wanting to build a campfire, when the temps are still in the 90’s. I prefer the cool interior of my new “La Casa Grande’ del sol de Doug“ ….. cha cha cha….

On one of my days off, I drove to Ridge Manor and picked up my buddy Jimmy and we went into Dade City for lunch at Kokopelles. A great restraunt with tons of personality. I had a Cuban pressed sandwich with fried green tomatoes and Jimmy had the Tomato Surprise salad.

The new camper suites me well. The extra space is nice, particularly in the bedroom area. Previously my bedroom was very tight. Now with the sink/vanity area as a part of the bedroom, I have more room to move around and get ready in the morning. The bed linens and coco colored suede drapes are very high end and add to the sophisticated elegance.

I’m still deciding how best to organize the island kitchen, as I’ve lost my pantry area I had in the previous camper, but have gained more cupboards and work area.

I gave lots of stuff from the previous camper to Habitat for Humanity and have purchased just a few small items needed for this camper. Though, It has so many upgrades, that there isn’t much I have needed to purchase.

I went on a nice bike ride through the park yesterday evening, just before sunset. Actually there was no sunset with the dark clouds off in the distance. It’s a great park to bike ride in, with nice gentle rolling hills and virtually no traffic to worry about. So I rode the bike to Lake Louisa, one of the seven lakes in the park. Got down to the lake just as it began to sprinkle. You guessed it, I rode back in the rain. It was a good soaker and actually felt quite refreshing! The rain was warm and I felt like a kid again, playing in the rain. Had to take my glasses off since they were fogging up. My baseball cap, T-shirt and shorts were drenched.

This weekend is the start of their ranger talks and coffee with the ranger. I’ll be helping set up and making the coffee. Looking forward to the talks.

Still haven’t made it into Orlando. I dread the traffic. You’d think someone who is a full time camper would not have a problem with traffic, but it’s quite the opposite. I’ve learned to stay on the back roads and less traveled highways and when I get near a city, I avoid it if possible. I love the country and the west in particular has so much less traffic then back here in the east.

Ok, made it into Orlando on Saturday. Went bowling with a couple former co-workers. Fun, but was once again, happy to get back to my campground.

A couple days later, I was driving out of the park, and there on the road leading to the entrance, I saw a mother doe and her baby doe’et. The mother was nursing the baby doe, right there in the middle of the road. I stopped. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and just stayed there, not moving for a couple of minutes, watching the mother and her baby doe until they finally were ready to leap over the tall grasses and head into the woods. Nature in it’s most beautiful form, alive and in harmony with the surroundings.

Jimmy and I went into Clermont the other day (my day off) and toured the small town. We had lunch at a small sandwich and ice-cream shop, walked around the couple blocks of the downtown, close to one of the many lakes in the area and stopped by the only gift shop in town. Found a couple great buys on some “vintage” table clothes and had to buy two of them. What a great buy. In the few blocks we toured, we saw three print shops, three news paper bldgs, and three dance studio’s. Hmmm, interesting. Oh, we also saw two libraries within three blocks of each other. Odd little town. The rest were insurance, attorneys, engineer and an electric shop selling kitchen appliances. More of a small business town than a shopping/touristy type town.

05-24 Lake Louisa State Park Florida, Work Camping

Lake Louisa St Park, Fl
Work camping

Week 24-25 of 52
Sept 11-18, 19-25

Camp Host Ok, I couldn’t leave you hanging and not tell you about a new adventure for me. Being a Camp host at a state park. I just kind of fell into it, as I hadn’t really thought about trying a camp host job for at least another year. But as things quite often happen, opportunities come along when your ready.

After getting the new awnings put on and looking at a new camper, I headed for Lake Louisa State Park. I’d never been to this fairly new Florida park and was looking forward to seeing it. When I arrived and they told me the cost was going to be $23 a night full hookup, I told them that I’d better only stay two nights, as I try to keep my camping costs down around the $15 a night mark. Then I added, do you ever have a need for a camp host? And the answer was an instant yes.

It didn’t take long to settle in and begin my cleaning duties. Bathrooms of course and checking the campsites and making sure they are neat and clean. I work about 4 hours a day for 5 days and then have two days off.

I had a tour of the park which is over 4,000 acres and has 7 lakes and a river connecting a number of the lakes. It’s on the edge of the “green swamp”. Horse riding trails, dirt bike and hiking trails through a diverse prairie type rolling hills, with lakes surrounded by cypress trees and low land wooded areas where many of the trails are. A special flower that I’ve seen is the pine lily. A striking flower I’ll have to try and get a picture of. We also found a rare small woodland orchid.

On Friday I pick up my new camper! I’ve purchased another Titanium 5th wheel camper. It’s model number is 26E31DS and it comes with just about ever upgrade possible. From 5 speaker surround sound, brushed nickel faucets and appliances, ceiling fans, two slide outs, lounge chairs, Island kitchen, and tons more. It’s length is equivalent to a 26’ 9” traditional 5th wheel camper, but with the double hump over the cab of the truck, It’s actually 31’ 11”.

The most exciting thing about it is the cost. Partly because I told them I didn’t need to buy the new camper, since I still loved the old one. The dealership is giving me $2,500 more then I originally paid for my camper, along with reducing the MSRP of the new camper over $10,000. Needless to say, I feel I’m getting the best deal I could possibly get.

So I guess you could say, my saving money by being a camp host and staying in the Clermont area, has ended up costing me the price of a new camper. I’ve gotta stop saving money!

Settling in. I’ve started my camp host duties and moved into my new camper. I’m overwhelmed by the upgrades that came with this new camper. It is of course another Titanium by Glendale. It’s so much more than I ever thought I’d have in life.

I feel blessed beyond belief. And as often as not, I have been once again guided by a higher source. By staying in the Central Florida area, by getting the camping host job, I have avoided another hurricane going over the keys. Hoping of course that my friends in the keys are safe.

If all goes well, I will be down in the keys by the middle of November. The end of the hurricane season, we hope.

My camp host job is going well. I work 4 hours a day for 5 days and receive my campsite free. The work is not bad, although the heat and humidity has taken a while to readjust too. The Park Rangers and staff are the best to work with. People who love their job and their state park.

I’ve almost completed organizing all my stuff in the new camper. I’ve gotten the TV, Direct TV, satellite dish and other electronics hooked up. I had to leave the dome satellite dish on the old camper so I’m using my portable dish instead.

I’ve already had company over. My friends Patrick, Jimmy and Larry stopped by as well as Debby and Eddy from work. I look forward to seeing my lunch buddies from NAWCTSD this weekend for a house warming party. And more friends from NAWCTSD came over to see the new camper on Sunday. You know when you get a bigger place, folks expect you to entertain more.

Have a fun day, until the next report…..

05-23 The Road Home

The Road Home
The End of the Road…. For now

Week 23 of 52
Sept 4-10

A Road Back Home… As you know from last weeks report, I’ve been heading home, to the home I love, Florida. It’s been a world wind of traveling across country to the 4 corners region.

I’ve traveled across country and back over the past 6 months. The past week being the most I’ve traveled in distance in such a short period of time. I can tell you I didn’t care for it. Traveling 300+ miles a day is exhausting. And you don’t get to experience hardly anything. I much prefer traveling between 150 and 200 miles at a time, then settling in and enjoying a new location. But at least I know I can cover a fair amount of ground if need be.

I spent some time at a private campground in Georgia and really enjoyed being able to soak up the sun around a swimming pool, swimming, floating on a raft and just enjoying the lifestyle of a beach bum. It was so country, they were harvesting corn not far from the swimming pool.

I then entered my State, Florida, and headed to High Springs, where a good friend, Sturpee and Margie live. They invited me to stay and take advantage of an RV site on their recently purchased property. I arrived to find the “RV site” had a large trash dumpster on it, the sewer line was buried, no electric and the only thing available was water. What the heck. I took them up on the offer and settled in for a couple of days.

It has been mostly overcast and the humidity, which I hadn’t experienced all summer long, was in full force. But I was in the country, surrounded by magnolia trees, big old oak trees and an assortment of pines, scrub and ferns, including lots of poison ivy. Which I haven’t a clue what it looks like.

I was able to sleep the few nights I was there, even with the high humidity, no a/c, and very little breeze. It was actually fairly cool under the canopy of big trees. Enjoying Sturpee’s world away from the city, no TV or radio to disturb this beautifully wild county in the heart of Florida. Listening to John play guitar at night… the man is so talented!

John is an exceptional Florida Artist and has created some awesome art work recently. Which will be shown and will be sold quickly in two shows coming up in October. His paintings now go for over $2,000 each and are well worth the investment.

John paints the real Florida and I have been privileged to have accompanied him on a number of kayaking trips down many of Florida’s pristine rivers and springs, having seen first hand the places John paints with such clarity.

Then onto hwy 75, through Gainesville, Ocala and onto the Florida Turnpike. (My Sunshine Pass for tolls stills works!) I arrived at Flagship Rv and after waiting for insurance adjustors and installation of my new awnings (and a $500 deductible) I now have two new awnings.

I couldn’t help but look at a new Titanium 5th wheel and get an estimate on the cost of it and trade-in for mine. Hmmmmmm will I get a new camper, or keep the old one. You’ll just have to wait and find out.

I decided to check out Lake Louisa State Park which is just south of Clermont Fl off of hwy 27. What an unusual park for Florida. It rises up and over rolling hills with large expanses of open grassy fields dotted with trees. Three lakes abut the campgrounds, with moss covered cypress trees surrounding the lakes. Alligators lurking in the dark waters and Lilly pads. An old orange grove. New Cabins.

I’ve decided to volunteer here for a short time before heading down into the Keys so I’m hoping I’ll have time to visit with all my friends in Central Florida. Call me, we’ll do lunch… I’ll be getting my campsite free of course and get a chance to see what volunteering is like.

For all my camping buddies, I would highly recommend this as a camp site for those wanting to travel to the local attractions. You know, Disney World and all the other Worlds out there and enjoy a bit of the real Florida all at the same time. Note, regular campsites with water/elec./sewer run about $23.00 a night. Sites are not heavily shaded and therefore are great for satellite TV reception.


Because I have reached my winter destination, except for a couple trips into the Keys, and a trip to Sarasota and Ft Lauderdale, which I will try and send a report from, this will be my final “regular” roving report.

I have got to tell you how much pleasure I have received from sharing my reports with you and getting responses back from all of those who took the time to write to me. I truly felt as if you were on the journey with me. Writing down my thoughts and taking pictures to share with each of you has been, in many ways, more fulfilling than the journey itself.

Finding out more about the founding of this country, the history of the Native Indians, seeing the majesty of this land first hand. Mesa Verde, The Grand Canyon, Zion, Cedar Breaks,,, what memories! New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and all the states in between! This has been the start of an adventure I hope to be able to continue and experience for many years to come.

If your willing, I’ll include you in on my next journey. But for now, I’m going to enjoy a bit of a rest from my trip out west and re-live it through my journal and the thousands of pictures I’ve taken along the way.

May God Bless each of you and may you find a journey that brings you excitement, enrichment, laughter and someone to share it with. Thanks for being on the journey with me.

A super big hug from…..

05-22 Roswell to Carlsbad New Mexico

Traveling costs
Roswell, NM
Carlsbad, NM

Week 22 of 52
Aug 29- Sept 3

Costs… My sister, Dorothy, asked me about whether I was staying within my budget and figured some of you would be interested in what it costs to travel as I’ve been doing. So here are some of my costs over the summer:

Gas lodging

April $462 $445
May $597 $503
June $566 $559
July $437 $455
Aug $627 $460 (with two days of heavy travel @ $3.00 a gallon)

My overall expenses have gone from a start of $1,500 a month to $2192 per month. From looking at the expenses, my “extras” have brought the monthly cost up due to things like new tires, truck insurance, Hitch repair, expenses like National Park pass, $50, along with the basics, food, entertainment, eating out, etc.

Now onto my travels. I’m in Carlsbad NM. I’ll be traveling in two day increments for a while as I’m not going to be doing that much touring as traveling across country heading back to Fla. And getting the new awnings installed.


But, I have to do some touring even in two day stays. Like, going to Roswell NM. Now I know some of you would never come here, but I just had to come and see the “aliens” myself. Actually, there is a great museum, The International UFO Museum & Research Center. I remember seeing the movie, Roswell, with one of my favorite country singers Dwight Yoakum in it. The museum has a very detailed history of the Roswell Incident. It includes a detailed time line of events with many signed affidavits from the participants. Here’s just a sampling of some of the items:

July 4 1947, Mac Barzel, rancher, two Nuns at St Mary’s Hospital heard a loud noise or crash and the tower at the base tracked and reported a “descending flash”.

July 5, Brazel and a neighbor’s son Dee, discovered the debris field over 3 football fields long. Brazel picked up a sackful of the “stuff”.

July 6th, Brazel takes the sackful of stuff to Sheriff Wilcox, who calls Intelligence Officer Jesse Marcel at the base. Marcel and Brazel go back to the ranch.

July 7th, Brazel and Marcel investigate and show samples to Marcel’s son, Jesse and to Col Blanchard.

Glenn Dennis gets a call from RAAF regarding how many child size caskets he has in stock.

Glenn Dennis brings an injured motorcyclist to the base hospital and sees some strange stuff in the back of some ambulances.

Glenn then goes to see a nurse friend who tells him to get out of there immediately…. He is escorted out of there by the military with threats to his life.

July 8th, Col. Blanchard, head of RAAF, told his PR officer, Lt Walter Haut to issue the press release about the UFO recovery.

Marcel takes some of the debris to Ft. Worth to Gen. Ramey. Marcel leaves the room and returns to find it replaced with a weather balloon debris. The disclaimer photo is taken… and a second press release goes out that it was a weather balloon… hmmmm

The story is quite intriguing and to think that it could have all disappeared over the years without some investigation by a couple of writers. The story had basically been buried for over 30 years when in 1978 Stanton Friedman started an investigation into the Roswell Incident.

Two books that may be of interest are; the first book written about the incident by Charles Berlitz and William Moore titled “Roswell, in 1980, and a key reference book detailing the Roswell Witness Accounts published by Donald Schmitt and Kevin Randle in 1991.

The Museum was established in Sept 1991. By 2001 the museum has had over 1,000,000 people go through.

Whew, now that’s an out of this world experience….

Not only that, I stayed at a state park called The Bottomless Lakes, just outside of Roswell. I could see the horizon line of Roswell, flickering city lights against a black sky off in the distance from my campsite over the mysterious lakes. The black sky, lighting up with heat lighting.


Now my Doctor back in Orlando kept telling me that I had to come see Carlsbad Caverns. So here I am. I don’t think he’s traveled that much, but figured it must have something to it. Well, he was right. The town of Carlsbad isn’t as big as Roswell, but is still a fair sized town, surrounded by farms producing everything from pecans, apples, cantaloupe, corn, herds of cattle all fed by the Pecos River and it’s tributaries.

I’m now in one of the 5 great deserts in the west. I love seeing the prickly pear cactus, soap tree yuccas and torrey yuccas. Traveling south of town leaving the fertile landscape, I travel through flat desert landscape. About 18 miles south of town, the landscape becomes hilly as I enter the Carlsbad National Park. Climbing up the side of the canyon to the top of the mountain containing the Caverns, I’m able see the desert for what seems like hundreds of miles.

I could hike back down the mountain to enter the caverns via a natural opening, or take the elevator. You got it, I took the elevator. Down 750 ft. That’s 75 stories deep! One can take a number of tours in the cavern, I opted for The Big Room. A tour that takes over an hour and half and covers over a mile of terrain inside the huge cave. Cool, at 56 degrees, I took an extra heavy shirt and light jacket and was very comfortable throughout the tour.

It’s very quiet down here. Dark, with dim lights highlighting only the most important features of the cavern, enhancing the feeling that your truly in an underworld experience and not a lighted “show”. I’m carrying a speaker wand ($3) that I punch in the number corresponding to the area I’m in and I have my own private tour guide. The rest of the time, I have to myself. Viewing the scenery at my own pace. The height of the ceiling and the depth of the cave, I believe the main cave is over 5 football fields in length and is nothing but overwhelming. I’ve been in a number of caverns over the years, and at times, felt like a mushroom when I used to work, but this experience is like being in another world, not just a another cave. I can see why they made it a world heritage site.

After a couple hours underground, I took advantage of a geology lecture by one of the Park Rangers. Very good even though I was starting to get a bit exhausted by then. Yawning like I was back in a boring code 3 meeting at work…. Just kidding,,,, really….


The price of gas has gone up 20-40 cents a day as I begin my travel in earnest to get back to Fla. It’s about $3.00 a gallon today, Wed. They say it could be $4.00 shortly. As it continues to go up all over the country.

I’m planning on traveling at least 300 miles each day from now on, until I enter Fla. I began my travel through Texas today and have made it about a 1/3 of the way through the state. The roads are relatively straight as an arrow. Going from west Texas, which is all oil fields and desert, to the Abilene area which has vast farm lands along hwy 20, which I’m going to travel most of the way.

I’m not sure where I’ll drop into Fla, as I want to avoid the hurricane damage as much as possible and any price gouging going on.

I’ve stopped in east Texas for a couple of days. The hurricane damage is overwhelming and as I travel east, I’m getting closer to it every day. Although I’ll be north of it by about 150-200 miles, I’m concerned about the gas situation and just don’t want to get in the way of rescue crews. I’m hoping to go through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in record time. The decision as to which direction to travel is quite overwhelming. I should have taken the advice from my friend, Christine Linn from Santa Fe, and stayed out west for a couple more weeks. But, alas, I’m on the road and will continue forward, if very cautiously.

My new awnings await me as well as friends in Florida I haven’t seen all summer.

My apologies for this being so long, but I needed to write down my thoughts as I travel rather quickly across the country towards Fla. I’m leaving the small campground I’m in right now. It is a sad little tree covered campground, with many folks living full time in older trailers and campers. It’s next to hwy 20 and the noise at night is a bit overwhelming. The swimming pool looks lovely, but they have it closed due to too high chlorine counts. So rather than just sit here, watching the devastating scenes on TV, I will get back out on the road tomorrow morning, bright and early. Saturday.

A little calico cat came and sat on the picnic table bench with me the other night. Actually was laying down and stretching out and fell off the bench. Plop! A moment of humor to a sad week. He jumped back up and laid down again, but with one paw holding on.

Final note: Traveling across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, I’ve seen many caravans of workers, electric trucks, military vehicles and others heading towards the devastated areas. A number of trees are down along hwy 20, enough to tell you the damage went hundreds of miles inland. A hwy leading to New Orleans from Shreveport was closed to traffic. Gas was available the entire way ranging in price from $2.49 to $2.99, only getting above $3.00 in Georgia. I only waited inline at one place for about 20 minutes with a limit of 20 gallons.

I feel so fortunate to be living in my camper. Knowing I can move my home away from any hurricanes, fires and other dangers. And to know I won’t have to go through the huge efforts required to recover from such disasters.

Take care and be safe.

05-22 Lincoln National Forest, Sitting Bull Falls: New Mexico

Lincoln National Forest
Sitting Bull Falls

Week 22 of 52
Aug 30

Sitting Bull Falls. I had one more day in Carlsbad and decided to drive the 38 miles west into the Lincoln National Forest to see the falls and maybe go for a swim. It’s one of those out of the way places that doesn’t get much business. The drive was a winding, dipping road through the desert, which did I mention is unbelievable green! It has surprised me so much to see such a green landscape for it being a desert.

It cost $5.oo to enter the Sitting Bull Falls recreation area. Lincoln forest is really still a part of the desert, as I didn’t see hardly a tree in sight. Once again, I drove up through a canyon to get to the falls. Much of the road had recently been washed out from a summer monsoon rain just a day or so before I got there.

I met a couple that were the Volunteer hosts, living in a 30 foot trailer on site. What a life. The whole park is there’s before 8 in the morning and after 5 or 6 in the evening. Free campsite, electric, water, gas and a stipend for being there. Including the use of a forest ranger truck.

The site was originally developed by the CCC and you can see by the pictures, that the picnic shelters are awesome. A short walk along a well paved path along the side of a canyon wall led to the falls.

I was the only one there for most of an hour and a half and then two gals came along. From where else? Tampa Florida. So the Floridians had the park for the day. It was great fun swimming in each pool, taking pictures and just enjoying this special place that very few ever get to see and experience.

Beside the steep walls of the canyon, part of it a perfect semi circle, covered in green scrub vegetation and cactus, the water falls into pools below. There were a number of dragon flies in the most exotic colors of neon blue, green and orange. I understand there are between 80 and 120 different varieties of dragonflies around here.

The main water falls looks as if it’s coming right out of the top of a lush grassy mound at the top of the canyon. The green grasses, vines and wildflowers draping over the top of the waterfalls looking like a green wig over the rounded rocks. It water spray actually helps to cool the air all around the pools below.

This is one of those places you hope you’ll find along the way, but rarely ever do. I hated to have to leave, but finally had to go. It’s a place that tugs at your heart and whispers, “don’t go, stay a little longer, stay”…. I hope I can come back one day….

05-21 Poof and It's Gone, New Mexico

Raton, NM

Week 21 of 52
Aug 21-27

Poof, it‘s gone… I’m back in New Mexico, just barely over the state line in Sugar Rite Canyon State Park. I took one of the primitive sites up on the mesa since the electric sites were booked up. The views are expansive, being able to see down into the tree lined canyon and off into the distance I can see Johnson Mesa as well.

After a quick set up, I had lunch and sat under my awning. A small storm was brewing and a neighbor came by to say that it got pretty windy the other day. I hadn’t tied down my awning, because I had thought the same thing, and had planned to take the awing down as soon as the first gusts of wind came along.

I went inside for a short spell, and before I knew it, I huge single gust of wind came along and you guessed it, took the whole awning up and over the camper. Tore it and bent most of the poles. Ruined. That quick. I had been very diligent this summer, taking down the awning even when it was a nice day, especially if I was going to tour and be away from the camper. Either that, or I’d have it well tied down.

The lesson here is, never hesitate with the awning. When your not using it, especially out west where the wind can pick up at a moments notice, take the awning down.

Over all though, the sun came out, the mesa and valley looked so wonderful with the yellow sunflowers everywhere, who could be upset over an awning that’s replaceable. Ok, I could have kicked myself at lease once for not taking the awning down when I should have, but the lessons learned. I’m retired, I have no house to maintain, lawn to cut or property taxes to pay, so I think I can afford this goof. Life is good.

Besides, it looks like my insurance will pick up a good portion of the tab, minus my deductible.

Dinner for Three. Back in Colorado Springs, Marv and Linda, my next door neighbors and I had had a number of very nice conversations throughout the week. They invited me over for dinner on my last night in the campground, Monday. We ended up having salmon, capers and cream cheese over toasted wedges, a fine beef done in sherry over noodles and for desert we had ice-cream, strawberries and Bally’s Cream Liquor. We dined outside with my cozy-time campfire (gas) with it’s new ceramic logs on top, watching the horses go through there evening walk up the hill as the sun sank low over the mountains.

Capulin Volcano National Monument Back to New Mexico, I’ve got to tell you, this north east corner of the state is just beautiful. I’m near the town of Raton and I drove east this morning via county road 72 over to Capulin Volcano National Monument. The ride took me through a valley surrounded by high mesas which I eventually began the winding incline up to the top. I drove for over 35 minutes across a vast mesa covered with grass ranch lands, without seeing another vehicle.

Off in the distance were pyramid shaped mountains. Later I was to find out they were all extinct volcano’s. I saw horse ranchers leading their cattle into pens for market or maybe a cowboy hoedown. It was so still and quiet up here. It seemed as it you could see for ever from on top of this mesa. Dotted between many miles of rolling grass lands, I’d see cattle and a few barns or out building, but no houses. I even saw more antelope. One was running right towards my truck. I stopped and he eventually stopped too. Looking at me, like, what’s this guy stopping in the middle of the road for? As I started to move forward, the Antelope followed me for a short piece before running back up the grassy incline and off into the distance. The ranches are so big up here, one of them had it’s own air field.

In almost an instant, I began the descent off of the mesa. The landscape changes instantly, from grassy fields to a low forest hugging the sides of the mesa walls. I was able to see Capulin Volcano from many miles away across the lower plains. It’s striking dark cone shape well preserved after it’s birth more than 56,000 years ago. Young by geological time. It’s completely made of cinder and ash, having been created from the strong central plume shooting high into the sky and then the ash and cinders falling from the sky forming the cone shaped volcano.

I’ve had three hikes while in the area for only two days. I took the hike around the top of the craters rim and then spiraling into the center of the crater itself. What a pleasant hike. The air was refreshing and slightly cool, with a warm sun bathing the whole area. Being thousands of feet above the huge expanse of land below, I almost felt like I had views from an air plane. I was able to see vast fields below for grazing cattle, volcanic mountains and the mesas off in the distance that were formed over millions of years. It does the mind and soul good to see such grand vistas, void of traffic noise, just the sounds of nature. The whistle of the wind. The rustle of a scrub oak from a striped chipmunk playing in the underbrush. Birds flying between the chokecherry bushes, enjoying a feast of ripe red berries.

The other two hikes have been back at Sugar Rite Campground. Hiking through an abandoned coal mining town just the foundations remaining, the doctors house, the old school, the mining store, past the coal mines. Contemplating the lives of all the emigrants who came over here for a better life. Earlier, I hiked to the top of the mesa overlooking the campground and Johnson’s Mesa.

Santa Rosa, NM Route 66 is everywhere out west. Santa Rosa even has a pre-1937 and post 1937 Route 66. It’s both nostalgic and sad at the same time to see towns and parts of Route 66 lost in time. Santa Rosa is a pretty dusty sleepy town. With two exits leading from hwy 40, you can drop out of the 21st century and back onto the main highway and hardly realize that history is all around you, if you take the time to find it.

Of course I had to have breakfast at the Route 66 Diner. Not many tourists. All the motels in the area provide continental or full breakfasts, so the tourist quite often miss the experience of eating in one of these great Route 66 diners.

Oh, New Mexico State parks has a plan for about $225 a year, you can stay at any of the campgrounds for free, with a $4 charge extra for electric. So if you stay at them for 22 days, it brings the cost down to about $10 a night. Not bad.

I’m off to Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns, then heading east and back to Fla. The reports are coming to an end for this year. Although, I’ll send a few from the keys I’m sure before I end them for this year. At least, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get into the keys by the 1st of Oct, so all you Floridians start blowing those hurricanes out to sea….

05-20 Bonus Report, Colorado Springs Hail storm

Colorado Springs, Co
Bonus Report
Week 20 of 52
Aug 20

RAIN, HAIL, SLEET! Oh my… After sending out the Week 20 report, as I had mentioned in the report, it was raining out. There was a small lull in the storm, so I got into the truck and headed back to the camper, 15 miles away. Before even getting out onto hwy 115, the rain started coming down in buckets. I saw my first flash flood ever! A Fire truck and police car were blocking a low lying road that was flooded over by a fast moving raging river from the rain. One car had to be abandoned in the middle of the flooded out roadway, it’s door left wide open, the driver scrambling to safety, as the flash flood roared through.

Then a minute later, the sky opened up even more and a torrent of rain and hail came down. Within minutes, the landscape turned white with hail and sleet. The roadway filled with white hail about 5 inches thick. Cars began pulling off to the sides of the road, there emergency flashers blinking red, as the rain came down in furious sheets of rain and hail. Bikers were rescued from the hail by motorists stopping to give them shelter.

I continued forward, following another car. Inching along. Worried that my awning had been shred to pieces. The hail continued coming down hard. I began to worry that the windshield wouldn’t hold up to the heavy pelting of hail it was receiving. The thunder and lighting were deafening.

Finally after about 10 miles of driving through all this, the sky began to clear, the rain began to let up and I had hope that the camper had not been damaged. I arrived at the campsite, hopped out of the truck to warn the staff of the storm possibly reaching this far south. They said it had never happened and not to worry. I hopped back into the truck, got to the campsite and began closing up the awning and stowing anything that could get damaged easily. The camper was safe.

Maybe they were right. The storm didn’t look like it was going to hit the campsite… I took another quick check around the camper and truck and noticed a couple of inches of hail in the back of the truck. The picture says it all.

That’s enough excitement for one day.

On another note, remember the report on my trip up to the mining town of Idaho Springs a couple of weeks ago. The next day there were two landslides just above the springs on hwy 90. It took them almost two weeks to clear up the tons of debris that blocked the main west to east hwy.

Could it be someone’s looking out for me? Hope so….

Ps, ps, I met the inventor Tom of the Cozy Time Campfire. That’s my gas outdoor fireplace. He had a special on the ceramic logs for the campfire so I picked one up.

05-20 Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, Co

Week 20 of 52
Aug 14-20

Mountains, Valleys, Sunshine and fresh air. As you know from the last bonus report, I’m in Colorado Springs. It was a straight drive from Cheyenne WY through Denver and onto Colorado Springs on Hwy 25. I’m staying at MountainDale Rv campground. Surrounded by mountains with eye popping blue skies and brilliant white puffy clouds running across the sky.

There are a lot of things to see and do in the area, but a bit of caution. Many of the “tourist” attractions are man made or based on natural waterfalls or caves, etc. Naturally they’ve been “enhanced” for your enjoyment.

I always look for National Monuments or parks first, then have fun with the Kitschy attractions if time permits. So off I went on an adventure up through the surrounding mountains, dotted with unbelievable mountain cabins, mansions perched on tops of minor mountains and homes wedged between rock outcroppings or dotted across mountain meadows, in no particular fashion. All with huge expanses of windows 2 and 3 stories high to capture the views.

The mountain range here, a part of the Rockies, is covered with pine trees and outcroppings of red sandstone jutting into the air. Florissant Fossil Beds in among this mountain range. It was made a National Monument by Richard Nixon in 1969 just before it was to be developed into a gated community. A local stay at home mother, home schooling her children, went out to stop the bulldozers before they destroyed the area. Not having much support to go with her in the middle of the week, she donned her best hat and pearls along with a small flask of whiskey. She figured any good bulldoze driver wouldn’t run over a women wearing pearls. And if that failed, she planned on enticing the driver off the dozer with the whiskey. The hat and pearls worked and days later, Nixon signed into law the making of the Florissant Fossil Monument.

The fossil beds contain everything from giant redwood stumps, petrified in time, to shale containing bugs, plants, seeds, pollen, animals and fish. Samuel Scudder discovered over 8,000 fossilized insects. And that was just the bugs!

The history covering over 34-35 million years is one of volcanoes lava flows blocking the mouth of a valley and covering giant Sequa trees and forming a lake. More volcanic eruptions of fine ash, covering the bed of the lake, entrapping a wealth of plants, insects and fish for future discovery.

Seeing petrified redwood stumps that lived more than 34 million years ago can only make you feel like your walking through a speck in time. The trails circumnavigated the valley forming the original lake created by the volcanoes. The lake now drained millions of years ago.

And then I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of the region.

A couple days later, I decided to go back up through the Rockies to Cripple Creek and take the short train ride, the Cripple Creek and Victor narrow Gauge Railroad. Now you’d think it would go between the two gold mine towns, but alas, it doesn’t. Or it did and doesn’t at this point. The drive up to Cripple Creek was once again awesome. I wish I could describe it and send pictures, but I just couldn’t do it justice. Traveling up through the mountains, is breathtaking. I love seeing the pine trees climbing up the sides of the mountains and the log cabins and homes clinging to the sides of the mountains. The drive was both a roller coaster ride and edge of your seat ride along the edge of the mountain range. But I must be getting used to driving on the edge, cause I wasn’t as “edgy” about it as in the past.

Now back to Cripple Creek. I was expecting another quaint gold mining town. But instead, I found a town ramping up for a huge motorcycle and Veterans weekend. Not only that, the town has totally been converted into a gambling town. I believe they said it became a gambling town around 1989. It’s one of only two or three in the state and was permitted to go back to it’s gold mining days, when gambling was a big part of the towns existence. They’re now mining the gamblers pockets…. Again.

Now don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the train ride, had a good lunch at a small casino, actually there are no restaurants except in the casinos. And forget about shopping, there’s only one shop in town.

Probably should have gone to Victor down the road a piece, as the town map showed more intriguing shops and restaurants. But sometimes, just the drive is the best part of all. Oh, and I noticed there was a state park and National Forest land or BLM land that one could camp on… right up in the mountains… Wow, now wouldn’t that be fun…

Side note: I had the windows open this evening and just hated to close them, even though it was going to get a bit chilly over night. So I left them open. The freshness of the air is so powerful. It’s like drinking a cool glass of spring water. After the campfires have died down and the smoky aroma clears away, the air takes on an almost sweet pine scent that’s cool and fresh.

I’ve decided to stay a couple more days… the campground is great, the mountains, the air, watching the full moon come up each night, while enjoying my “gas fireplace”. Having a few fellow campers over for drinks and good conversation….

Have a super great day, and hope to hear from you and what your up to these days…

PS, I no longer have my ATT e-mail acct. Please continue to use my yahoo acct. It is the only one I will use from now on.

05-19 Cheyenne Wyoming

Cheyenne Wyoming
Medicine Bow National Forest
F.E. Warren AFB

Week 19 of 52
Aug 7-14

Who knew that a trip to the Medicine Bow National Forest and Cheyenne would bring me to the 5th corner…. (Wyoming). After all, my goal this summer was to visit the four corners region. New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming and would be considered a small town anywhere in the east. I like the size of the city, the hometown quality of it. It retains a true western feel. The homes are made of brick and stone and there are some surprising architectural styles along with the traditional, prairie styles.

I was able to join a Wyoming camping group in Medicine Bow National Forest. Driving up from Denver the scenery goes quickly from city to verdant green farm land. The wonderful patchwork quilt of farms growing Sunflowers, with their heads all turned towards the sun, corn, soybean and other greenie stuff. Then as the land continues it’s gradual rise, it becomes the high plateau with rolling hills covered with range grasses and sage, creating a soft green and yellow blending of colors that look like a soft cashmere sweater over the land.

That’s my first impression of Wyoming. Then it’s a short trip west onto hwy 80 towards Laramie to the Medicine Bow National Forest.

We went on a 4 wheel drive tour involved two Grand Cherokees with all of us packed into them to go see the sights. The tour involved going down a number of forest roads in search of old military bunkers, a water fall, beaver dams, identifying wildflowers, and views of Eagle Rock and a cemetery that was gradually being lost in time. Along the way Jim had to get out of the car to open a fence to let us all through, forgetting to let himself through at the same time. He heeee….

The sun is very intense at this high altitude of 8,500 feet. After a late Wed and Thursday bitter cold and rain, one can’t complain about it being sunny with a huge Wyoming expanse of blue sky overhead. I used the gas furnace two nights in a row.

The other campers are beginning to stir off in the distance. The site, Medicine Bow NF is primitive camping at it’s best and I’ll be here for 5 days.

I have had problems with the Honda generator 2000i. It’s clogged with carbon and won’t run well and usually only about 30 minutes. So, I’m relying on the two batteries for the fridge, lights and gas heater. Looks like I’ll make it through the 5 days, being conservative on use.

Back in Cheyenne, I’ve decided to see if I can get the Honda generator fixed. A good electric/small engine company is going to attempt to fix it. Though they are not sure they will be able to get the parts which may be required to fix it. Another Rv company has ordered the slide mechanism for my 5th wheel hitch. It got out of alignment when I went into the Medicine Bow forest. I foolishly didn’t change the setting on it, to permit it to rock side to side as well as the normal front to back motion.

I arrived at the F.E. Warren AFB only to have to wait over 2 hours to get in. They are in a Con 1 status, which is a training status for the whole base and it’s quite difficult to get in. Especially since I didn’t have an official Gov Retiree ID badge. Their personnel office and Military pass and Id sections took the time to figure out what it would take to give a retired Navy Civilian guy like me an ID badge. I can’t tell you how great it is to finally have the official badge. The picture is horrid, but it makes the badge that much more official.

So now that I don’t have to worry about being harassed trying to get on base to use the camping facilities, I can assure you, I’ll be staying at Military bases a bit more often.

The Warren AFB is home to over 150 missile silos which they maintain. The base was begun in 1867 as the Ft D.A. Russell Crow Creek and eventually became the Warren AFB, the oldest continuous active Air force base in the US. It’s home to the ICBM missiles.

It’s pretty neat to be able to stay on an Air Force base of this size and historical significance. I’ve visited an onsite archeological dig that was completed around 1992. They’ve made a nice museum around the site where they found Indian relics and a nomad camp site dating back over 10,000 years ago. The Warren ICBM and Heritage Museum covers the history of the Titan rockets and missiles along with the history of the Fort and AFB.

The classic brick buildings dating back to the late 1800’s and all are still used today, with their while pillared porches, half moon and round windows and brick facades all make for a piece of living history. The officers homes are particularly handsome. Some are not occupied due to lead paint which needs to be removed.

Now for the good part. I was hoping to see the pronghorn antelope while in Wyoming and would you believe it, they roam all over the base. What strikingly beautiful creatures. They are the fastest animals in the Western Hemisphere. Being able to run 70 mph and over 100 mph for 3 to 4 minutes! I first saw one as I was riding my bike around base the other evening and came across one standing not more than the width of a single lane road. He didn’t even bother to run away. Wow! Is that neat or what!

I got a call that my generator was fixed, so into town I went. Actually the AFB is on the west end of town. So a few blocks later, I picked up my generator. Cost $68 but it’s now working properly. Took advantage of a free tour downtown, via a horse driven carriage. Trolley tours are $5. Cheyenne is the largest city in Wyoming at 58,000 strong. I like it a lot. Home to a huge Wrangler Jeans store, old movie theatres playing current movies for $1, Coffee shops that don’t charge more than $1.50 for a large cup of real coffee, the biggest Rodeo in the west, and Cowboy boot “art” throughout the city.

Had another evening of music at Cheyennes Train Depot Plaza. I really great group called Mama’s Cookin. A mix of Delta Blues, Jazz, hip hop and funky world rhythms. The lead singer had a great voice. The rest of the band was from all over, Germany, New Jersey, Alaska and the lead singer was from Arkansas. What a great way to experience a city. Sitting out in the heart of the city, the trains going by in the background, as the musicians get the crowd worked up into a great mood. Coors beer and popcorn, watching young kids hop and dance to the great music.

I was supposed to meet some new friends for a party, but alas, missed it. Went to their house, range the door bell and knocked a couple of times, but no one answered. Later got a call saying they saw me, as they were driving up and I was leaving. Not everything works out.

So Just a couple more days in this fine town, and then I’ll be off to Colorado Springs.

05-19 Cheyenne Wyoming, Bonus report

Cheyenne Wyoming

Week 19 of 52
Aug 7-14

Odd notes and stuff. Just a couple odd notes and interesting facts.

Cheyenne has a population of 53,000 and is the biggest city in Wyoming. Wyoming has the smallest population of all 50 states. I like it.

Summer Temps are around the low 80’s in the day and around 59 at night.

By 1890 all Plains tribes had been located onto reservations. It was the Governments policy at the time to eradicate any remnant of native culture.

However, the first Cheyenne Frontier Day’s was held in 1897 and the Indian tribes in the area were invited to showcase their culture, in particular, their dance.

Thus, the Cheyenne Frontier Days in effect helped save the traditions of the Indian tribes.

The F.E. Warren Air Force Base doesn’t actually have an air field. Only a few planes are stationed at the Cheyenne public air field. The base does have a few helicopters. Their main mission is to man the 150 or so ballistic missiles.

The best thing going is the Frontier Days held around July 21’st each year. I found the live music and farmers market on weekends in the summer to be my favorite thing to do.

The first “yellow pages” were produced in Cheyenne, when the printer ran out of white paper and asked if any other color would do to print their first directory. It also has the first building, 3 stories high and very narrow, that was built to specifically house the phone operators.

Little kids love to dance to music. We all need to be little kids again…

There are no T-shirt shops in town.

The F.E. Warren Air Force Base has two wind generators. They are able to produce power and spin even with the slightest of wind. Wind turbines are stopped if the wind gets too gusty.

The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. Contains two sections. The Front section contains info on Local and Wyoming news. Section B is the Sports section and contains about 4-5 pages of Sports. Inside the sports section at about the 5th page, is the world news, one page of business news and comics.

Velcro strips work great to hold things down in a camper, I.e. VCR’s, DVD’s, remote controls (so you can find them) and artist putty works great to hold small objects, like lamps and clocks, in place without ruining the table surface or the need to stow them when traveling.

Things I accomplished this week:

Velcroed everything that could move in the camper.
Got the Honda Generator repaired and working great.
Got the new top half of the 5th wheel hitch replaced. The locking mechanism slides easily now.
Note to self: make sure the hitch is in rocking mode when traveling bumpy dirt roads.
Washed the truck.
Took a siesta. Zzzzz

Ps, the past two months have found monthly expenses go up to around $1,900. With repairs, new tires and insurances coming due. A $400 increase over previous months.

05-18 Denver Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Week 18 of 52
July 30-2 (Tuesday)

A weekend in the City. After arriving in the City on Friday afternoon, I set up at the Cherry Creek State park. I didn’t feel like getting back into traffic right away so just stayed at the campground for the rest of the day.

I met up with Martha Hammond an Escapees camping club member in the morning for coffee and cinnamon rolls at my place. Martha has had a varied life with being married, divorced and now leading a single life. But she has a love of camping and is ready to begin an adventure alone on the road.

You know we can all get there if the desire is strong. As Martha has already found out, there are support groups and many camping groups that will fit her needs. Loners club, a single women’s camping group and many others. She was saying how she wasn’t sure what or where she would travel, and before you knew it, she had plans that take her all the way into next year. So she’s going to be traveling down that road of adventure. Go girl.

I did get into downtown Denver, but didn’t really see too much of the city. Couldn’t get into the US Mint (you need to get your tickets around 7 am to be able to get in) and the fine arts museum was closed on Mondays. Sometimes, things just aren’t meant to be.

On the way back to the campground, I saw a great display of fireworks right at the reservoir. Nice welcome back to the campground. Many cars were parked on the side of the highway to watch the fireworks. By the way, Hwy I-25 is really under major construction. Yuk!

Alright, I went shopping too. About ten minutes from the campground is a really nice mall, called Aurora mall. Since I’ve been staying at a lot of places that are pretty much out in the boonies, it’s nice to have a shopping experience once and a while. Did lunch at Chili’s. Then did a bit of shopping. Bought a nice jade plant and pot, and a few miscellaneous items I needed for the camper.


Idaho Springs. I decided to get away from the city and head back to the Rockies to Idaho Springs. Along the way I was searching for the Clamshell house. It was the original home in the Woody Allen Movie, “Sleeper”. I’ve always loved architecture, and this home designed by Charles Deaton in 1963 is the premier modernism home. It sits almost on top of a mountain at 7,500 sq ft in size, in the area called Genesee. Even though I couldn’t get very close to the house, I did view it from many different viewing points from below. Oh, it’s for sale if your interested…. About 10 million dollars.

Then onto Idaho Springs. It’s another one of those neat towns that started out as a gold rush mining town and is now a wonderful tourist town with a couple great restaurants, gift shops, mining tours and hot springs. I didn’t have time to get to the hot springs, but I did get to the gold mine.

I settled for a tour of the Phoenix Gold mine. A barely surviving working family owned gold mine. Now that was a mouth full. I really learned quite a bit about mining for gold including what it costs to extract the gold from the other metals and rock that it’s embedded in. The tour guide was a crusty old miner that was wearing a shirt that said, “Stupidity, it should really hurt”. And talk about someone who knew mining… very knowledgeable.

Back into town I had lunch at Beau Jo’s a great place to get Colorado style pizza. I had the ranch chicken, tomatoes, bacon and Monterey jack cheese.

On the way back to Denver, I stopped by the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave… Not a particularly exciting museum, but still it adds to what the area represents as a whole.

I’m heading into a state forest for a couple of days of primitive camping, so I probably won’t have that much to report on. If I do, I’ll amend this report.

05-17 Grand Junction to Rifle Gap Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Mesa
Rifle Gap

Week 17 of 52
July 25-

Grand Junction. The gateway to Colorado from the west side of the state… So rather than talk about what I think about it, here’s there perspective of my home, Florida. In the Daily Sentinel on Sunday, they had a cartoon of a highway sign that said “ Hurricanes, and Gators and Sharks….” and the drive looking up says “Oh My!”. Further along in the paper was an article from Miami Beach by James Thorner about a nude beach in the area. His assessment was from the title of the article, “The nudist beach scene revealed -- as boring”. Apparently he was trying to pick up a girl on the beach and didn’t have any luck. We’ll leave it at that….

But to get back to Grand Junction, it really is a nice mid sized town/city. With an actual Mall, big stores like Target, Home-Depot and the usual Wal-Mart. The downtown area if filled with sculptures and the usual antique shops, restaurants and a few ice-cream shops for good measure. I found the Internet CafĂ© and Bagel shop where I’ve had coffee a couple of times and lunch, so I can get online and send you my reports and check to see what interesting mail I have coming in from you.

Since I was in Grand Junction, I decided to tour the Grand Mesa, no need to do the lesser attractions you know. So what makes it so grand? Well, it’s the worlds largest flat-topped mountain at 10,500 feet up, forming a large mesa with over 200 lakes and Powderhown Ski Resort. Now I thought I’d seen some great wildflowers at Cedar Breaks the other week, but Grand Mesa has the grandest assortment of wildflowers I’ve seen to date. I arrived around 8:30 maybe 9 am. The clouds hung so low, that at one point, I was driving through them. Misty clouds of white, drifting across the landscape.

It’s interesting to note that when I see the wildflowers along the road and off in the distance in the Alpine meadows, I’ve only seen about 1% of the them. It isn’t until I actually get out of the car and go for a walk along the roads or through a field, along the cliffs, that the world opens up in front of me. Such a variety of wildflowers blooming next to each other, the most vibrant colors. Some a couple feet high, others in small bunches as small as a couple inches from the ground, nestled between rocks and Pinion Pines. It’s essential to get out and walk amongst the wildflowers to get the full impact. I saw a number of cars just drive right on by, never stopping. And realizing that they were missing so much of the true beauty of the mesa. Especially since the vistas didn’t open up for about another hour, after the clouds burned off.

This is wine and peach country as well. So I hope to take advantage of both before leaving the area. Note: the peaches were hard, bland and tasteless.

Rifle Gap and Rifle Falls State Park. It was only an hours drive to my next destination, but an exciting one. Half way there, I almost ran into a doe, a deer, a female deer…. On the main highway. How it got there is anyone’s guess, since there are very high fences in this area. She was a big deer too! Then after settling into a primitive campsite (no electric, water or sewer), I headed to the Falls. Which were a triple surprise. Three falls all making a huge roaring sound on their plunge down to the rocky pools below. The park is small with a few campsites that are always full up. I took the short hike up and over the falls and was walking alone on a longer path that led back to the campground when I came across another deer. The deer was as surprised to see me as I was to see her. I couldn’t have been more than 10 feet from her.

At Rifle Gap, I’m actually on a 360 acre reservoir which is used for boating, fishing, water skiing, and swimming. Had a nice swim later this afternoon. The water was clear and blue, not like the very sandy tan color of the Colorado river. Fortunately, the temperature is great up here and I wouldn’t be needing a/c. (Day time temp: high 80s and night time: low 50s) Especially since I won’t have it for a couple days anyway…
It’s actually been pleasant without electric. It has gotten cool as soon as the sun sets, around 8:30 and the camper also cools off right away. Surprising actually. I couldn’t find the right plug for my battery operated radio/tv, so I have been enjoying the quiet time, reading my Harry Potter book, going to the reservoir/lake for an afternoon swim and just hanging out.

It’s particularly quiet early in the day, before the boaters arrive. The water skiers and jet skis can be a bit noisy, but the sounds are often muffled by the expanse of water and mountains. That and the lake isn’t all that large so only a couple boats are out there doing the water skiing and such.

I’m checking into being a volunteer and if it works out, I would stay at this site after my short trip to Denver. If it works, I would be here for a month as a volunteer. I’ll keep you posted.

Other than that, as I’ve mentioned, I’m reading my book, doing little chores around the camper and watching the small iridescent blue birds, black birds with white markings, striped chipmunks and a cute small rabbit stop by my camper each day, foraging for food.

On To Denver. It’s about 200 miles to Denver and should have taken all of 4 hours, but in actuality, it took me over 7 hours. What with a shopping trip to Wal-Mart, stopping for lunch in the camper, sight seeing, and having to take a detour. The height of my camper, 13’ 6” was the exact height restriction for a tunnel on hwy 70. So I ended up going up Loveland Pass at 11,900 feet! Wow, what a view! Not what I expected for a detour. I believe that’s close to the highest elevation I’ve ever been at. That and highway 70 going over the Rockies had speed restrictions due to sharp curves and steep inclines and declines…. At times once again, I was going as slow as 34-45 mph.

Who would want to go fast over these magnificent mountains anyway, going through tunnels, following the Colorado River for a good way and seeing all the folks rafting down the rapids as well. You know the mountains are HUGE when the GPS tracker kept saying, “I’ve lost the satellite signal“.

Ekkk! The traffic getting into Denver was horrid! I was ready to run back to the mountains. Lot’s of traffic heading out of town for the weekend too. It’s Friday today. I finally made it to the campground which is on the south east corner of Denver. Full hookups. Gee, they even charged an extra $3 on top of the park pass I’d previously paid for the year, plus the campsite fee of $20 a day. The $3 was for “water quality” at the park. I’m getting the impression that Colorado is really hurting for tax money and are charging everyone for every service they can think of. Shame. It really puts a damper on a persons view of the state.

We’ll see as I explore more of Colorado and Denver.