December 26, 2018

Christmas . . . the Beginning of All That Can Be

Six weeks ‘til Christmas!  Only 5 more shopping days until Christmas!  Holiday sale ends in 4 hours and 32 minutes!  All the hype in today’s society lead us to believe that Christmas is the culmination of all things “holiday.”  But, when you think about it, the focus is not on Christmas itself; the focus is on getting ready for Christmas.  Or, more to the point, it’s about how many ways retailers can get you to part with your money before the dawn of Christmas Day.  Why does Christmas seem to mark the end of something when, in fact, it celebrates a beginning?

December 17, 2018

"Thanks a Thousand!"

I recently came across a new book called “Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey” written by A. J. Jacobs.  The premise behind the book piqued my interest and this summary is quoted from the inside of the book jacket:  “The idea was deceptively simple:  A. J. Jacobs would thank every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee.  The resulting journey takes Jacobs across the globe and reveals secrets about how gratitude can change us all.”

December 08, 2018

Branson, Missouri, Here We Come! (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.  When I looked back, I found that the last installment had been posted nearly three months ago!  I’m not sure where those three months went, but it looks like I’d better get back on the ball!

As we left Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, the rising sun was at our back and our wheels were pointed west toward Missouri.  While the focus of this trip was definitely our National Parks, our itinerary included stops at places other than the Parks because our family enjoys a wide variety of travel experiences.  Indoor, outdoor, educational, just for fun – you name it and we’ll consider it.  My husband, Alan, and I decided a long time ago that it was important for our children to learn there was more to life than the small town in which they were growing up.  Our travels throughout the years have provided opportunities for all of us to explore different regions, foods and customs in this magnificent country of ours and I can only hope that our kids’ varied experiences have served to broaden their knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of life.  In my heart, I sincerely hope that the two of them will remain explorers forever.  The next National Park on our trip list was Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but our next destination was Branson, Missouri.  Because, after all, who could pass up Branson, home to the Silver Dollar City amusement park and many notable musical and variety show venues?!

November 28, 2018

So, is it Boating or is it Camping?

Before I begin this post, I’d like to mention two facts:  One, although my husband, Alan, loves traveling and camping, boating is his passion.  When Alan and his siblings were young, their Dad had a small Sunfish that the family sailed on a local lake.  As a young adult, Alan’s brother had a smaller powerboat and now has both a 35’ Mainship and a jet ski at his home in Florida.  We have a 21’ Chaparral with a cuddy cabin and our son, Ryan, purchased a jet ski of his own this summer.  Boating is definitely in this family’s blood.  The second fact is that today, November 28th, is Alan’s birthday and this post reflects a tip of the hat to my darling husband on his special day and to his favorite pursuit, boating.  Happy birthday, Captain!

November 18, 2018

WaterFire - Providence, Rhode Island!

Theodore Roosevelt has been quoted as saying, “Life is an adventure; accept it in such a spirit.”  As early retirees, Alan and I have been enjoying the freedom to heed the call of adventure more often these days when it presents us with an opportunity.  With both Ryan and Kyra now young adults, we’re comfortable planning our own activities, knowing that the two “kids” are confident and competent and have plenty of friends and family members who would step up to help should any assistance be required in our absence.  Truth be told, Kyra’s first call is almost always to Ryan, who complains and teases as only a big brother will, then shows up to make whatever is wrong, right.  But, I digress.  Back to the adventures . . .

November 09, 2018

Thank You for Your Service!

Life in our neck of the woods has been a bit hectic lately, and I am SO looking forward to catching up on my blog posts beginning this coming week.

But I did not want the weekend to go by without extending a heartfelt “Thank you!” to the Veterans who have served our country at any time, in any way and in any branch of the service.

The sacrifices you and your families have made allow me and my family, as well as millions of other Americans, to live peacefully in our homes and communities, enjoying the freedom that you have provided and protected.

Thank you for your service.

October 27, 2018

Here's an Update for All of You Social Hermits Out There

Back in August, I published a post called “Social Hermit: A Personal Definition” (link HERE) in which I pointed out that I was an introvert.  I went on to describe my personality a bit and I reflected on how introversion played a major role in the way Alan and I travel and the activities we enjoy.  Much to my surprise, that post garnered a lot of attention and I received a number of comments, texts and emails about it.  (No phone calls, though, because, as it turns out, most introverts don’t like using the phone.)  The post continues to draw readers even though it was published over two months ago.

Earlier this month, Alan and I had a wonderful opportunity to spend time with our friend Mary Gill.  Mary is a Certified Professional Coach and the Executive Director of Pursuing the Positive (link HERE).  She specializes in lifelong learning and achievement coaching and is one of the most intelligent and caring individuals I’ve ever met.  During that fun-filled visit with Mary (which included boating, pizza, lots of laughs and the sharing of countless memories from our decades old friendship), Mary and I ended up on a long drive together and the topic of introversion came up.  Mary suggested a book called “Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.  Well, thanks to Mary, I have since read that book plus two others, and now I have even more to share with you about the world of what I call “social hermits.”

October 16, 2018

Winding Down our Camping Season at North-South Lake

Alan and I just recently returned from a week-long camping adventure at North-South Lake.  I love fall in the Northeast – both the crisp, sunny days that are just right for outdoor adventures and the longer, cooler nights that are perfect for pulling up a favorite quilt.  What I don’t like is the fact that, once fall arrives, I know the end of our camping and boating season is near.  Over the past few days, we’ve been emptying our travel trailer and packing our camping gear away for the winter.  Alan is in full “winterization” mode, having to deal with the boat, the new travel trailer and the older travel trailer which is still onsite at our rental property.  Yup, the poor guy is busy as a beaver.

Although our Outdoors RV Creek Side travel trailer is a true “four seasons” RV (with thermal pane windows, extra insulation, an enclosed and heated underbelly and a cold weather package on the refrigerator which allows it to operate at temps down to zero degrees), we don’t usually camp beyond mid-October.  Maneuvering the travel trailer into its “parking place” at home requires backing it up the driveway, across the front yard, around a sharp bend, between two gates and way up the hill to a leveled, out of the way spot.  Although Alan has been hauling trailers of one sort or another for more than 40 years and can generally maneuver anything, anywhere, that sharp bend is tricky to tackle because it gets slick in the rain or snow.  The adjacent drop-off dictates that we err on the side of caution so, once the boat is in its garage and the travel trailers are on their pads in the fall, they generally aren’t moved until we get through the spring thaw and ensuing mud season.  But, I digress.  Let’s get back to North-South Lake – a gem in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

October 02, 2018

I Just Love These Guys to Pieces!

Last Friday, Alan and I returned from a two week camping trip to Vermont, the Adirondack Coast of New York and our beloved Northampton Beach Campground on Great Lake Sacandaga which is at the foot of the Adirondacks in central New York.  (More about those travels in future posts.)  With the exception of a couple of rainy days and a few showers that didn’t impact our plans, the weather proved to be that wonderful fall combination of comfortable days and cool, but not cold, nights.  This trip was distinctive for two noteworthy reasons:  (1) It was the first trip since both Alan and I left the workforce during which the specter of the construction project at our rental property wasn’t looming in the background waiting for our return and its completion.  That weight on our shoulders was pleasantly absent since we had finished the project toward the end of the summer and we truly felt free to relax and enjoy our travels.  (2)  It was the first vacation in 24 years that Alan and I had taken without one or both kids in tow.  That's nearly a quarter of a century!  Sweet . . . and bittersweet.

September 26, 2018

Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio - Another Item for the Bucket List!

Despite having traveled through Ohio countless times, our family has never actually vacationed there.  Our overnight stays in the state have always been pleasant but, except for a future visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, it hasn’t really been on my radar.  That all changed when I learned about Hocking Hills State Park from Denisa and Mark over at Wandering His Wonders (one of my favorite blogs listed at the right), and I'll tell you why.

September 19, 2018

But Wait, There's More . . . My Second Most Favorite Road Sign Ever!

In March of 2017, Alan and I traveled to the Apache Camping Center in Everett, Washington, to purchase our new travel trailer – a Creek Side 26RLS made by Outdoors RV Manufacturing (ORV) in the mountains of eastern Oregon.  Prior to picking up the Creek Side, we stopped at ORV’s facility in La Grande, Oregon, to take advantage of their factory tour.  (It was tons of fun – and extremely educational, too!  Thanks, Kevin!)  There are some incredibly beautiful mountain passes near La Grande with sweeping views and, I imagine, a fairly good chance of picking up significant snowfall during the winter months.  So, what road sign did we see that has become my second favorite road sign of all time?  Here it is . . .

September 12, 2018

Mammoth Cave National Park - and My Most Favorite Road Sign Ever! (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 kids and travel trailer in tow.

Okay, people, I’m finally making good on my promise!  Below is the best road sign I’ve ever seen.  Alan and I, along with our two kids (Ryan, aged 16 at the time, and Kyra, aged 11) had settled ourselves in at the Wax Campground, an Army Corps of Engineers (COE) facility on Nolin River Lake in Kentucky in order to visit Mammoth Cave National Park.  But, on our 20 mile jaunt from the campground to the Park entrance, we came upon this road sign . . .

September 05, 2018

I'm Back and We're DONE!

Please enjoy these photos of various sunrises and sunsets – they’re a good fit for today’s post about happy endings and new beginnings!

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!  I am just so giddy with excitement that I can’t contain myself!  The MAJOR construction project at our rental property is done, done, DONE!  And we are happy, happy, HAPPY!

August 26, 2018

Meander with Me on the Road to Miscellanea

For those of you who are remembering that I promised to share with you my most favorite road sign EVER in an upcoming post, please be assured that I have not forgotten my promise.  That road sign will appear in the near future along with the next installment of our National Parks Trip #2 story.  Before I get to that, I wanted to share with you some random reflections about a few different topics or happenings that have been on my mind this week.  I don’t know about you but, if I don’t write it down immediately, it will be gone forever!  

"Miscellanea."  What a delightful word!  It sounds to me like it should be the magical town where all singular socks end up, all lost reading glasses convene and all the little screws from the whatchamacallit that Alan said not to lose can be found.  In my mind, the little town of Miscellanea might be found in the middle of the wheat fields of the Midwest or on a remote mountain plateau in the Rockies or even in the Alaskan outback, reachable only by float plane and dog sled.  But, alas, that’s not what Merriam-Webster says.  Merriam-Webster defines “miscellanea” as “a collection of miscellaneous objects or writings.”  And that’s exactly what we have here today.

August 20, 2018

Guess How Much I Weigh!

Okay, I have a confession to make.  I'm using the old “bait and switch” tactic.  Completely illegal and extremely annoying, I know.  Why did I pull a fast one?  Because I don’t really want to talk about my weight; I want to talk about how much my travel trailer weighs.  But, for those of you who are only interested (for whatever reason) in what I weigh, it’s 115 lbs.  That’s on a 5’ 1’ frame and it’s all muscle.  (Wink, wink.)  If that’s all you really wanted to know, you can safely stop reading.  I promise there will be no further divulgence of personal information today.  Unless you count a list of items we pack in our travel trailer as personal information and you have a burning desire to know what’s on the list.  What’s even more interesting than what's on the list, though, is how much the items weigh.  You will be amazed!

August 12, 2018

Social Hermit: A Personal Definition

The photos accompanying this post are of places and campsites that held particular appeal due to their solitude or the feeling of quiet contentment they evoked.  Enjoy!

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the fact that I consider myself a “social hermit.”  While I won’t necessarily claim credit for coining the term, I have to admit that it’s not a phrase I’ve heard uttered by anyone other than myself or my husband, Alan.  (I’m pretty sure he’d be classified as a social hermit, too, but I’ll leave it to him to conduct his own psychological evaluation.)  Since I’m aware that those two words – social hermit – can conjure up an image in people’s minds of a guy of indeterminate age with a long, shaggy beard who lives by himself in a shack in the woods, bathes in a creek and has no contact with the outside world, I thought it might be a good idea to share with you my personal definition of social hermit in order to dispel that myth.  Because, really, I don’t look or live anything like that.  And, although we may not be consciously aware of it, an individual’s personality can have a major impact on his or her travel style, as well as the activities he or she enjoys. 

August 07, 2018

Three Cheers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers! (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 kids and travel trailer in tow.

Prior to our first National Parks trip with the kids back in 2007, we hadn’t yet experienced the delight of camping directly in State or National Park campgrounds.  We had only had our first travel trailer for a year, and most of our early camping trips involved private RV parks with activities for children.  It was during that 2007 journey that we ventured into the Madison Campground in Yellowstone National Park.  That two night stay would forever change our camping lives and I devoted a blog post to that event some time ago (A Camping Epiphany - link HERE).  So, when planning the second of our National Parks trips in 2010, I was focusing on state and federally operated campgrounds in the locations we would be visiting.

The first night of the trip, we stayed in the RV section of one of the travel plazas on the Ohio Turnpike.  The second night would bring us to our first actual campground, and a love affair was born that very night.

July 29, 2018

July's Tidbits

It seems like every month I stumble across some intriguing little tidbits of news – none of which are worth a full blog post but all of which I find interesting, so I thought this format would be a good way to share them with you.  Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies or organizations mentioned.  I’m just sharing what I consider to be delightful or useful bits of news with you – just the kind of stuff that might come up during an evening around the campfire.

For those of you who don’t already know, I find cloud formations mesmerizing.  It always amazes me how fluid (and gorgeous!) they are and how quickly they seem to disappear and reinvent themselves.  Since I don’t have any photos appropriate to the Tidbits included in this post, please enjoy some of my favorite cloud formations, even though they have nothing whatsoever to do with the items below.  A fair warning though - these probably won’t be the last photos of clouds you’ll ever see here.  (I did take a bunch of photos of the inside features of a dozen travel trailers at the Hershey RV Show a couple of years ago but, somehow, I just knew you wouldn’t find them fascinating.)  So, let’s move on to July’s tidbits . . .

July 24, 2018

National Parks Trip #2 - The Adventure Begins

Welcome to Reflections Around the Campfire!  This post represents the first installment in the series detailing the second of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with kids and travel trailer in tow.

“What About Now?”  That song title, one of the country music group Lonestar’s popular songs from a number of years ago, pretty much summed up Alan’s philosophy and mine during our working years.  As young adults, we were pretty serious and goal-oriented, but we had agreed early on that saving for the future and planning for retirement would never get in the way of living life to its fullest.  Since Alan had been working for a single company since his college days, he had built up an enviable vacation allotment of six weeks per year.  While I can’t say that his request for four solid weeks of vacation was met with enthusiasm, it was approved and our family of four set out on the second of three cross country National Parks camping trips in the summer of 2010.  Our son Ryan was 16; our daughter Kyra was 11.  By this time, they were both seasoned travelers, each with at least one cross continent trip to Alaska (two for Ryan) and one cross country camping trip under their belts.

To have a four week block of time in which to vacation is a blessing.  To fit everything you want to see and do in that four week block of time is impossible.  We had already decided that this trip would focus on the National Parks of the southwest, but a decision needed to be made early on:  Should we pick just one or two Parks and do them up right or should we visit more Parks, but spend less time in each?  The dream of four wonderful weeks on the road was quickly replaced with the realization that, no matter what we decided, the choice would be an imperfect one and opportunities would be both gained and lost along the way.

July 15, 2018

RV Blessed? You Bet!

I have good news to share - only because I know you were all so worried about me (wink, wink).  Gander Outdoors re-stocked their supply of bear spray, and I was able to purchase a can a couple of days ago.  Just in time, as far as I'm concerned, since we had yet another bear sighting in the neighborhood.  They're only black bears but, still, I figure it's best not to take any chances, especially since there are a couple of cubs out and about.  So, I'm all set.  Thank you for your concern.

Over the course of the past six months or so, I’ve recounted our family’s travels during the first of three cross country National Parks camping trips with our kids and travel trailer in tow.  Our second trip (in the summer of 2010) was to the “Grand Circle” in the southwest and future posts will cover the tale of this epic journey.  Suffice it to say for now that this trip included 9 National Parks - 2 in Colorado, 1 in Arizona and 6 in Utah - and at least 2 State Parks.  In preparation for those upcoming posts, I pulled out our itinerary and have been scrolling through our photos, opening the floodgates to a whole host of memories.

July 07, 2018

Tidbits and Tips - June

Over the past month, I’ve been collecting a few (hopefully useful) tips and I’ve come across some intriguing little tidbits of news – none of which are worth a full blog post but all of which I thought might be of interest to you, and I decided that this format would be a good way to share them.  Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies or organizations mentioned.  I’m just sharing what I consider to be delightful or useful bits of news with you – you know, the kind of stuff you might talk about when you get in a discussion about camping with your friends around a campfire.  First, the tips . . .

July 02, 2018

My Love-Hate Relationship with Walmart

Let me preface this post by saying that the effectiveness of my bear spray expired on June 30th according to the label on the can.  Now you and I know that this is simply an arbitrary date chosen by the manufacturer and, chances are, the spray will still be effective for at least a short time thereafter.  I am particularly hopeful that this is true as I carry it when I go for my daily walks down a quiet road in a forested area and I haven’t been able to pick up a new container yet.  I found out that this product can no longer be shipped to the state in which I live and the nearest outfitter doesn’t have any in stock right now.  However, since we have had three bear sightings within the past two weeks or so and one included a mama with two teeny tiny cubs, I thought it best to point out my situation to you in the event that, well, just in case I become as expired as my bear spray.

Let’s face it.  There is probably nothing I can say about Walmart that hasn’t already been said by someone, somewhere.  But that’s not going to stop me from sharing my personal feelings with you.  Please note that I’m not affiliated with Walmart in any way other than as a customer.  I am neither encouraging you to do business with them nor discouraging you from it.  I’m not being compensated in any way for this post; I’m simply sharing my opinion.

June 28, 2018

A Blog Roll, Please!

Just to let you know . . . I’ve added some random photos from our Father’s Day boating adventure that have absolutely nothing to do with the following post.  I didn’t want to plagiarize any pics from the blogs mentioned below but, since I always appreciate some color in the posts I read on other blogs, I decided to provide you with at least a little something to break up the text.  In case you’re wondering what boating has to do with camping, well, that’s a perfect topic for a future post!

One of the benefits of retirement that I’ve enjoyed and appreciated is the gift of more time to read.  I’ve always gotten up earlier than any other members of our family and savored that quiet time with the first cup of morning coffee accompanied by a good book or blog, or the latest issue of a favorite magazine.  And then I would go off to work having started my day on a pleasant and even keel.  Once I escaped from the workforce two years ago, I stretched one cup of coffee into two and began spending my early morning time exploring blogs of different topics, especially those written by other RV travelers.

I always get great pleasure out of digging up intriguing and useful information about the travel destinations on our vacation itineraries whether through reading about those destinations in guide books or on web sites, or by talking with people who had visited them.  And I found out that poking around on the blogs of fellow RV travelers is pretty much a combination of all three.  I started discovering wonderful new destinations, tips on how to enjoy places we planned to visit and helpful facts about shopping, dining and campgrounds.

Blog authors, just like book authors, have different writing styles and formats, and I soon found that I was drawn to blogs that were well written and had at least a smattering of photos with excellent landscape photography being a plus.  And I was particularly attracted to authors whose warm personality and sense of humor was evident in both their blog posts and their relationships with their readers.

The blogs I read generally fall into one of several categories – finances and investing (you can take the banker out of the bank but . . . ), retirement (two years in and it’s awesome!) and, of course, the camping lifestyle (it goes without saying, right?).  I’m thinking that those of you who read this blog may enjoy some of the same things that I do so, in the interest of sharing some great finds with like-minded people, I decided to add a Blog Roll to the right hand column of Reflections Around the Campfire.  But, just like when I add a web site to “my favorite places,” I’d like you to know why I’m adding each particular blog to my Blog Roll so that you can decide whether or not it would be of interest to you.  Let us begin!

June 21, 2018

I Can't Go Camping, So . . .

I thought I’d have a little fun today.  In a previous post, I had mentioned that my husband, Alan, has a major construction project going on at a rental property we own.  If all goes according to plan, the project should be finished by the end of this summer.  Meanwhile, he spends as much time as possible on site, working out of our older travel trailer, since the property is about three hours from our home.  I help him whenever schedules, projects and the task of running a household are under control at home.  When working on site, we usually end up filthy and exhausted - so much so that we’re both out like a light before 8:00 p.m. most nights.  (Don’t laugh at us or we just might put you to work, too.)  Last summer, we enjoyed almost six weeks on the road touring the National Parks along the west coast.  This summer . . . nothing.  (There is no emoji on earth that could convey the amount of sadness I feel right now, so I won’t even try.)  That being said, this is a really important project that will make a huge difference in the maintenance of the property and should increase its value substantially.  And, if all goes well, Alan and I will get out this fall to explore and enjoy.  So, I’m on board with it 100% - really.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not envious of all the RVers I pass on the road and all of those whose RV travel blogs I follow.  But, rather than wallow in self-pity, I figured I’d do something that would be fun and constructive with the little bit of spare time that I have, so please do come along and play with me.

June 17, 2018

Mike's Hard Lemonade "Happy Camper" - Looks Like I'll Have To Do Their Marketing For Them

Today, we celebrate Dads of all shapes and sizes, in all walks of life, with all kinds of kids.  It’s a tough job being a (good) parent, one that our kids won’t truly appreciate until they walk in our shoes.  Special shout outs today to the guys in my life whose responsibilities as fathers have recently taken on new meaning . . . To nephew, Geo, who, having just married his fiancée, Reneé, is celebrating his first Father’s Day as an official stepfather.  To our cousin, Nick, who is celebrating his first Father’s Day as Dad to two children.  He, his wife, Katharine, and their daughter, Hayden, welcomed baby Harrison to the family a little more than a month ago.  And to our friend, Mark, whose only child – his daughter, Katy - just recently became engaged.  He’ll be stepping into “father-in-law shoes” when Katy and her fiancé, Andrew, tie the knot.  Love and best wishes to all these guys!  As for our own special guy, I have no doubt that Alan will be a “Happy Father” today – not only will he be spending the day boating (his passion), but he’ll be able to do that with the two reasons he’s a Happy Father (son, Ryan, and daughter, Kyra), plus a bonus kid – Ryan’s longtime girlfriend, Anya.  You’re the best, Alan!  Enjoy your day!  Here’s hoping that all of you who are Dads (in any variation of the word) have the opportunity to spend the day exactly as you wish and that it turns out to be relaxing, enjoyable and happily memorable!  Now, as for these people at Mike’s Hard Lemonade . . .

June 10, 2018

Another Favorite Place - Twin Oaks RV Park in Elko, Georgia!

Rather than just provide a complete list of my favorite websites under “Check out my favorite places!,” I decided to add them one at a time and let you know exactly why I like them.  That way, you’ll be able to determine whether or not the site might be of interest to you.  Besides, I believe that these sites do such an awesome job of providing information, opportunities and/or entertainment that it really is a pleasure to bring them to your attention!

Twin Oaks RV Park is located just off Interstate 75 at Exit 127 in Elko, Georgia.  It’s about 30 minutes south of Macon, 2 hours south of Atlanta and 2 hours north of the Florida state line.  Alan and I have never been there.  So, you ask, why is this one of my favorite places?  To answer that question, we’ll need to go back in time almost 10 years.  Here’s the story . . .

June 03, 2018

Tidbits - May 2018

Over the past month, I’ve come across these interesting little tidbits of news – none of which are worth a full blog post but all of which intrigued me, so I thought this format would be a good way to share them.  Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies or organizations mentioned.  I’m just sharing what I consider to be delightful or useful bits of news with you – you know, the kind of stuff you might talk about around a campfire with fellow travelers.  The photos in this post were taken last summer during our stay at Enchanted Trails RV Park on Historic Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico (link HERE).  Without further ado, here are the tidbits from May . . .

May 23, 2018

Yogi Was Right - "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents the final installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

As our family pulled out of the Riverview RV Park in Loveland, Colorado, early one August morning in 2007, we could look back at our itinerary and take great satisfaction knowing that we had achieved our goal of visiting one National Memorial (Mount Rushmore), one National Monument (Devil’s Tower), and five National Parks (Badlands, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountain) on our first cross country trip as a family of four.  Alan and I pretty much re-created our honeymoon of more than 25 years prior, the only differences being that a travel trailer had replaced our two person mountain tent and there were now two kids in the previously empty back seat.  The trip had been full of many “firsts” and tons of fun but, initially, we had been extremely disappointed that we would miss a visit with our friends Mary and Dave who live in Colorado.

If you remember me mentioning our close friends Peg and Bill who live in Virginia, you may be interested to know that Mary is Peg’s sister.  Since Peg and I have been friends since first grade, it follows that Mary and I have known each other for quite some time, as well.  Although Mary is younger by several years, she and her husband Dave had children before Alan and I did.  And I have to say that we have looked upon these two incredibly warm and caring people as role models while tripping our way through the landmines of parenthood.

May 14, 2018

Mother's Day Reflections - Go Ahead, Ask Me Why I'm Late

As I was putting the finishing touches on this post yesterday, my son and his girlfriend arrived with gifts in hand and canines in tow, so we had an enjoyable visit.  After they left, my daughter and I spent some quality time together soaping up one of her tires with the hope of figuring out why it was losing air.  (Yup, that nail would be the reason.)  So, it’s my kids’ fault that this post is late.  Of course, if they weren’t around, I wouldn’t be writing it.  I am SO happy they’re here!!!

May 10, 2018

My Magical Spot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

The northwestern corner of Wyoming is grand and glorious country and it was with no small amount of regret that we pulled out of the Colter Bay Village RV Park.  The Teton Range would be in our rearview mirror as we made our way south and east into Colorado.  Our next stop (and final National Park of the trip) would be Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and our itinerary definitely included a visit to one of the most magical places in the Park.

May 05, 2018

Thinking and Driving - No Drinking Involved!

This past Tuesday morning found me on the road by 6:45 a.m.  Alan and I own a rental property that’s a three hour drive from home.  Normally, he makes the trip every four weeks or so to do a monthly water test and work on repairs and maintenance.  However, he’s currently working on a major construction project so, over the summer, he’ll be there for about a week at a time.  (Our older travel trailer, the Jayco, is parked on location and is coming in very handy!)  I’ll drive over to stay for several days at a clip because, although he’s handling the project just fine by himself, it’s a lot easier when you have another set of hands helping out.  While a three hour ride for, essentially, what is a business purpose can be tedious, I’ve never minded the drive even when I’m alone.  It provides a quiet block of time for thinking or dreaming or scheming, along with the delightful benefit of having a backdrop of gorgeous scenery.

April 30, 2018


Since I escaped from the workforce two years ago, I’ve come to truly appreciate simply having the time to “poke around,” as Alan and I like to call it.  Whether that means exploring a new part of town, wandering around a State Park or spending time “blog-hopping” online, it’s a privilege and a treat that I enjoy – a lot.

Over the past month, I’ve come across some interesting little tidbits of news – interesting to me, anyway.  None of them are really fodder for a full blog post, so I thought this format would be a good way to share them.  (I’ve included a few random photos just to add a little color to the page.)  On to the tidbits!

April 25, 2018

Job Description: Shotgun Rider

As I was growing up, I was intrigued by the American West.  I enjoyed watching Wagon Train, Rawhide, Laramie, Bonanza, The Virginian and The Big Valley on TV when I was little - and nobody could bring more class to a western than The Duke, John Wayne.  I’ve read Louis L’Amour’s western novels since I was a kid and he’s still one of my all-time favorite authors.  I love the depth of his descriptive writing, but also his thoughtful observations on a variety of topics that I have somehow been able to apply to my life no matter what my age:  “The thing to remember when traveling is that the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.  Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.” 

April 20, 2018

A Prayer for Vacations - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

Grand Teton National Park is one of my husband’s favorite Parks.  The Historic District down near Menor’s Ferry is the area that calls to him the most, I think.  He loves exploring the flatlands near the Snake River with the craggy peaks of the Teton Range providing a rugged backdrop against the broad blue sky.

It is in this area that the iconic photo that appears on SO many calendars can be taken: horses grazing behind an old rail fence, with one or more of the Park’s historic buildings in the background.

April 16, 2018

Adventure Rich - Guest Post on a Blog After My Own Heart

Many of you know that I launched Reflections Around the Campfire at the end of 2017.  Although I escaped from the workforce in the spring of 2016 (has it really been two years already?!), it wasn’t until last year that I was able to devote time to a particular item on my Bucket List – publishing a blog about RV travel and the camping lifestyle.  The blog is a perfect outlet for my passion for travel, in general, and camping, specifically.  Not only am I enjoying this creative outlet immensely, but I’m also spending some quiet time each day exploring other blogs – and I’ve “met” some incredibly wonderful people along the way.

I grew up in the banking industry and have always had an affinity for numbers which, perhaps, explains my interest in so many things “financial.”  So, not only have I found some delightful blogs relating to RV travel, but I’ve also discovered other good reads related to retirement and/or finance.

Adventure Rich, a blog written by Mrs. Adventure Rich (with occasional help from Mr. Adventure Rich) details their family’s journey as they work toward financial independence while being mindful of living a full and adventure filled life.  Our shared values led to an invitation from Mrs. AR to guest post on the Adventure Rich blog.  (Thank you, Mrs. AR!  I’m simply delighted!)

Please do head over to Adventure Rich (link HERE) to check out the end result (“Are You Working Toward Your Goals - Or Wishing on a Star?”) and see how Mr. and Mrs. Adventure Rich and their young son celebrate family life on their journey to financial independence.