January 19, 2020

Bush's Visitor Center Amounts to More than a Hill of Beans

This post represents another installment in The Big Switcheroo series – tales from last spring’s epic journey from the northeast to the Florida Keys and back – involving family, friends and an extraordinary range of adventures.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”  I don’t know who said it, but I’ve heard that quote quite often, and I do believe it’s true.  So many times, we’re looking ahead to the next thing, the next year, the next smartphone, the next project, the next destination.  I’ll counter with another quote, one that has always struck a chord with me:  “Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift; that’s why we call it the present.”  I don’t know who said that one either, but it hasn’t prevented the quote from remaining one of my favorites.  The savviest travelers among us know that, while our destination is the goal, the journey along the way can be just as rewarding.

January 11, 2020

The Big Switcheroo of 2019 - and How it All Worked Out

Around this time last year, Alan and I were suddenly in the midst of swapping out our vacation plans for the spring of 2019.  The year before, I had begun planning a camping loop through the states in the southeastern quarter of the U.S., not realizing that we would be out of town (WAY out of town) on the day Anya, our son Ryan’s girlfriend, graduated with her Master’s Degree after years of hard work.  We consider Anya our “bonus kid” since she and Ryan have been together for more than six years.  After learning the date of her graduation on Christmas Day in 2018, we rang in the New Year of 2019 by cancelling most of the reservations we already had in place for our spring 2019 travels.  Luckily, plans for the new trip – a journey through a number of Eastern states and all the way down to the Florida Keys – not only fell into place quickly, but also felt completely “right.”  I hadn’t yet achieved that level of comfort with the original plans for touring the southeastern states so, it seems, this trip was meant to be.

December 23, 2019

The Best Gifts Never Come Wrapped

My daughter, Kyra, and I recently traveled by car then train to spend a day together in New York City.  (It's sort of a tough place to bring your RV.)  With her six-days-a-week work schedule, we don’t get to enjoy adventures like this on a regular basis.  We did a bit of shopping, a bit of sightseeing, a bit of eating and a whole lot of walking and talking.  The photos in this post were taken with Kyra’s phone and a small point-and-shoot camera that would fit in my pocket because I didn’t want to lug my good camera around with me all day.  Big mistake.  The photos from Kyra’s phone were fine but the ones from my camera, well, not so much.  So, please overlook the horrible photos.  While many of them leave a lot to be desired, the adventure itself was excellent - New York City is a glorious destination during the holidays, especially when you share the adventure with someone you love.

When I began thinking that I wanted to extend greetings of the season to you, for some reason my mind wandered around to the gifts of the season.  And then it just sat there, contemplating.  We celebrate Christmas at our house and, yes, gifts are exchanged.  Many come in boxes with holiday paper and bows.  Some are experiences or gift cards that represent future experiences.  All are thoughtfully given and graciously received.  But what about the gifts that never come wrapped?

December 14, 2019

Grand Canyon National Park - We're Big Fans of the North Rim (National Parks Trip #2)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the second of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.  At the time of this trip in 2010, our son, Ryan, was 16 and our daughter, Kyra, was 11.  We were on the road for 4 weeks and 1 day.

Alan and I have been tent camping since we were married 40 years ago.  But it wasn’t until 2006 that we purchased our first travel trailer.  That first “RV summer,” Ryan was 12 and Kyra was 7, and we started out by frequenting private RV parks with amenities and activities that we felt the kids would enjoy.  It was on our first cross country National Parks camping trip in 2007 that we tested the waters of dry camping (camping without water, electric or sewer hookups) in Yellowstone National Park’s Madison Campground.  We discovered that we loved waking up in the Park surrounded by nature instead of other RVs.  The space, solitude and scenic views we experienced at Madison ignited our passion for camping in State and National Park campgrounds.  The rest, as they say, is history.

November 25, 2019

"The Four Tendencies" - An Upholder and A Questioner Square Off

Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with or receiving payment from anyone – I’m just sharing my thoughts and experiences with you. 

Two years ago, New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin (some of you may remember her from “The Happiness Project”) published a book called “The Four Tendencies.”  I read the book when it was first published, and just recently finished reading it for the second time.  I wish she had written it sooner.  Like back in the first decade of my marriage instead of the fourth.  That way, Alan and I could have easily avoided 478,296 repetitive disagreements and had 478,296 laughs instead.

November 11, 2019

Campfire Talk

On Veterans Day, a warm word of gratitude to all of our Veterans for serving on our behalf, and to their families for sharing their heroes with us.

I’ve been trying to come up with an appropriately descriptive title for the posts that have a little bit of everything thrown in, and I think I’ve finally settled on “Campfire Talk.”  You know how you get a really good conversation going with your camping buddies when everyone is sitting around a fire in the evening?  The talk flows seamlessly from one topic to another, everyone is engaged in it, and there’s often a lot of storytelling and laughter going on.  Those occasions are truly enjoyable for me because, most often, it’s a smaller group of people which is a lot easier on us social hermits to handle than a large group.  Trying to visit or talk with everyone in a larger group feels more like speed dating than anything else to me, and I find it more difficult to make personal connections.  Campfires have been bringing people together for centuries, and so has good conversation.  I like the relaxed feeling of a campfire chat, and enjoy the warmth of both the fire and the pleasure of the relationships I share with the friends and family members in the camp chairs around me.  So, Campfire Talk it is.

Now that I have the title of the post down, you’ll know that anytime you see the “Campfire Talk” heading, the post will have a little of this, a little of that and who knows what else.  Please note that I’m not affiliated with or receiving payment from any of the companies or organizations mentioned in this post.  I’m just sharing with you bits and pieces of what’s been on my mind lately – you know, the kind of stuff you might talk about around a campfire with fellow camping enthusiasts.  Please do feel free to throw in a comment or two, so it really is more of a conversation among friends than a college lecture!  The photos in this post were taken in 2017 along the Oregon coast, during our third cross country National Parks camping trip.  Now, on to the first official edition of Campfire Talk . . .

October 23, 2019

Bidding a Fond Farewell to this Year's Camping Season

We just closed out this year’s camping season at our family favorite – Northampton Beach Campground on Great Lake Sacandaga.  Even though we have a true four-season travel trailer, we always wind down our camping season in September or October – for a couple of reasons.  One, many of the State Parks we favor in the Northeast close down on Columbus Day weekend.  I’m sure that I could find a few private RV parks that stay open later but, since our hearts belong to the State and National Parks, giving up the spacious campsites and lovely natural views that we enjoy so much in public campgrounds just doesn’t seem worthwhile to us.  Two, in our neck of the woods, snow is not unheard of in October.  In order to settle in the Creek Side on its pad up in the back where it spends the winter months, Alan needs to back the 32’ trailer up the driveway, across the front lawn, make a corner around the birch trees, guide it through two gates and squeeze past the boat garage.  Did I mention that we live on the side of a small mountain, so it's an uphill battle for part of the way?  If you saw him pull off this maneuver, I’m betting that you’d just stand right up and start clapping.  It isn’t a feat for the faint of heart.  Once there’s snow on the ground, it becomes Mission Impossible, especially since the turn around the birch trees can be a bit slick in just rain, never mind snow.  And there’s that little embankment to worry about if you do start sliding on the turn.  While our Creek Side would allow us to enjoy winter camping, we always tuck it safely away before the first snow flies.

It was with happy hearts that we set out for Northampton Beach in early October and with heavy hearts that we returned.  (That last camping trip of the season hits me hard every time.)  But this visit was SO much better than the week we spent there in June when it rained.  Nearly.  Every.  Day.   This time around?  Delightfully sunny skies.  Nearly!  Every!  Day!