October 04, 2022

Let's Have Some Fun with a New Quiz!

I’m taking a brief break from documenting our West Coast National Parks Trip with two or three miscellaneous posts.  Bob Lowry over at My Satisfying Retirement (link in the column to the right) recently published a post entitled, “What Do You Do for Fun?”  Suffice it to say that his readers enjoy quite the variety of fun-filled activities.  In the spirit of that post, I thought I’d bring a little fun to your day and mine by publishing a quiz that will allow you to get to know me a little better, if you’re so inclined.  Photos in today’s blog post were taken during our family’s annual summer vacation at Great Lake Sacandaga in central New York.  During one of our blue-sky boating days, the clouds were particularly photogenic, and I’m a sucker for photogenic clouds. 

In the past, I’ve published two other quizzes.  If you’re interested in backtracking to those, you can find them here (I Can't Go Camping, So . . . ) and here (It's A Pop Quiz!).  If you’re ready to take on today’s challenge, read on. 

September 16, 2022

Views Out the Big Back Window

I’m taking a brief break from documenting our West Coast National Parks trip with two or three miscellaneous posts.  Our friend Patty recently commented that I should do a blog post about the myriad of things we’ve seen out our “big back window.”  The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.  So, credit for today’s post goes to Patty!

Years ago, Alan and I were beginning to talk about what our next travel trailer would look like.  We knew the kids would eventually age out from camping with us on a regular basis and we would no longer need bunk beds.  It became obvious that a big back window was going to be a requirement.  Why?  Because every time I saw a travel trailer or fifth wheel with a big back window, I’d say, “Look at that big back window!  I wish I had one like that!”  After listening to me lust after a big back window for at least a couple of years running, Alan raised no objections when I included it as a requirement at the time we began researching new travel trailers.

In 2017, Alan and I drove out to the state of Washington to buy our new Creek Side 26RLS made by Outdoors RV.  The first view out our big back window wasn’t exactly jaw-dropping since we were in the lot at the RV dealership.  But five years of exceptionally memorable views have followed that first not so exceptionally memorable one.

August 27, 2022

A Non-Gambler's Adventure in Las Vegas (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents another installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

Back when the first casinos opened in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the late 1970’s, my Mom wanted to check out the gambling scene.  (Thank heaven her spirit of adventure was passed along to me.)  She was in her 60’s; Alan and I hadn’t yet hit our mid-20’s.  In fact, he and I weren’t even married when the three of us made a pilgrimage to the Atlantic City casinos to try our luck at the slot machines.  Mom enjoyed the excitement and, subsequently, would occasionally visit Atlantic City on a bus trip for seniors.  She enjoyed the social scene on the coach, and loved battling with the one-armed bandits in the casinos (no electronic versions in those days, at least not at first).  But she always set a dollar limit for herself and, if she went through that amount, would be content to sit in a hotel lobby with a book she brought along for just that purpose.

Alan and I are, most definitely, not gamblers.  I can see its appeal as an entertaining pastime, but I think our very logical minds and my love of numbers may preclude an inclination toward it.  However, considering the fact that there are probably some bankers, accountants and computer programmers attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings, it may be for an entirely different reason.  Who knows?  On that Atlantic City trip, we blew through the few rolls of quarters we had allocated ourselves, laughed about the fun-filled experience and never went back.  So, why include Las Vegas as a stop on a National Parks trip, especially when we had an 18 year old with us who wouldn’t even be allowed to walk through a casino?  So. Many. Reasons.

August 13, 2022

Can't Wait to "Take It Easy!" (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents another installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

At the end of Day#6 of this expedition, Alan, Kyra and I had overnighted at the Enchanted Trails RV Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  That quick overnight stop in New Mexico marked the first time we had ever camped there, which allowed us to color in yet one more state on our “On Our Way to Everywhere!” map.  Actually, this trip allowed us to color in a number of new-to-us states.  It really was a road tripper’s dream come true.  (It seems to me that “road tripper” should be all one word, but the folks at Merriam-Webster disagree.)

The following morning, we hit the road early, knowing that Day #7 would be a l-o-n-g one.  The day’s itinerary included a couple of more stops along Historic Route 66, an impromptu visit to the Hoover Dam and our magical feat of sleeping in two places at once.  Well, we didn’t actually sleep in two places at once; we just stayed in two places at once.  Well, we didn’t stay two places at once . . . Never mind.  Just wait, you’ll see.

July 27, 2022

Still Getting Our Kicks on Route 66! (National Parks Trip #3)

With this post, I’m finally back to documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  By the end of the previous installment in this series, our intrepid travelers (Alan, Kyra and I) had landed in Oklahoma City on Day #5.  We had already returned home twice – once for Kyra’s forgotten supply of contacts and once to buy a truck – and made a mad and successful dash to catch up with our planned itinerary in Oklahoma City.  All that and we hadn’t even made it to the West Coast yet!  Let’s pick up the story with our departure from OKC and some additional Route 66 highlights as we worked our way west.

After just a one night stop at the Oklahoma City West KOA, I was disappointed to see OKC in our rear view.  Our truck troubles had resulted in the loss of a day of R&R (Rest & Relaxation) in OKC, and I had been really looking forward to visiting the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  Alas, that was not to be - not on this trip, anyway - but the museum remains a Bucket List item.

Pulling out of our site at the Oklahoma City West KOA

We worked our way across the state of Oklahoma on Interstate 40 and into the Texas panhandle.  The panhandle is comprised of the 26 northernmost counties in Texas, representing just over 10% of the state’s counties (a total of 254).  Texas is B-I-G, and we passed through just a sliver of it, but that sliver included one of our best stops along Historic Route 66.

July 08, 2022

The Amazingly Wonderful, Incredibly Exhausting and Exceptionally Memorable Wedding Weekend!

On a warm and sunny summer afternoon over the Fourth of July weekend, our son, Ryan, and his long-time girlfriend, Anya, were married.  The date was exactly one month following the ninth anniversary of their first date.  Anyone who knew these two young people in their early years of dating knew that it wasn’t a matter of if they would get married; it was simply a matter of when.  The when was 4:30 p.m. last Saturday afternoon.  You’re invited to come along and share the joy with us, if you’re so inclined.

It’s way too soon to have any photos back from the official wedding photographer, and I was without my camera until we got to the reception.  So thanks to family members and friends who passed along a number of photos that I’ve shared here in this post.  I couldn't have pulled this off without them.  Note that I didn’t request permission to use these specific photos.  If any of them are replaced in a day or two with pics of flowers or clouds, you’ll know that I should have.

It was a dark and stormy night.  No, really, it was.  Despite a sunny and sweltering day on Friday - the day of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner - it poured almost all night long following a rain-free evening.  On Saturday morning, the weather forecast looked somewhat promising, with the chance of rain diminishing hour by hour as the day went on.  There were many fingers crossed on Saturday prior to the wedding ceremony, which made it awfully difficult to knot the boys’ ties and tie the sashes on the girls’ gowns.  (Yup, it’s definitely boys and girls throughout the post; the words ladies and gentlemen are way too formal for this crowd.)

June 18, 2022

Ding! Ding! Customer Service, Please!

I’m not even sure where to begin.  Lately, it seems like life at our house has been one long story after another.  Our kitchen stove that was purchased in February hasn’t worked in a month (long story).  My beloved 2007 Tahoe didn’t pass inspection (long and ongoing story) and the sale of a rental property required the rescheduling of the closing date five times (long wait AND a long story).  Apparently, the sixth time's the charm.  Plus, we’re in the final countdown to our son’s wedding which is adding an additional layer of complexity to our lives right now.  Joyful complexity, but complexity nonetheless.  So, it’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog; I just haven’t been able to scrape together enough minutes to do it.

I’m taking a brief break from the series documenting our 2017 West Coast National Parks trip.  Why?  Because I’ve been spittin’ sparks over a couple of really poor customer service incidents.  I feel the need to vent about those and recognize some wonderful individuals who truly know the meaning of good customer service.  The photos in this post are from a recent two week trip to the coast of South Carolina, central North Carolina and the mountains of Virginia.  I’m hoping a few relaxing nature photographs might calm me down after my exasperating experiences.

May 24, 2022

Historic Route 66 - Enjoying its Delights Along the Way (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents another installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

It’s no secret that Alan and I are road-trippers at heart.  I absolutely love our home, love being at home and love coming home to our home.  After varying lengths of time, though, I start to miss life on the road.  Decades ago, when we started traveling together, vacations were a string of truck stops, tent sites, mom and pop motels and fill ups of cheap gas.  We cruised up and down the east coast so often that nearly every interchange on Interstate 95 became familiar.  So, what could possibly make two die-hard road trippers happier than including stops along historic Route 66 in their travels?  Not a thing.

May 11, 2022

The Saga Continues (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents another installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

Alan, Kyra and I were stuck in the customer waiting area of the GMC dealership in DuBois, Pennsylvania.  It was Day #2 of our 39 day cross-country trip, and we were waiting for a mechanic to change the transmission fluid in our 2013 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck.  The truck’s transmission was failing.  We found ourselves with a truck that would get us home (if we drove carefully and didn’t tax it), a travel trailer that wouldn’t be coming with us, and five weeks of camping reservations ahead of us.  Sprinkle in a fair amount of stress and a whole lot of disappointment and, at that moment in time, life was not a pretty picture.  It was time for some creative thinking.

May 01, 2022

Strike Two! (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents another installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

There are only two photos in this post because I know nobody wants to see pictures of people sitting around crying.  Bear with me, please, and things will get better.  I promise.

On our first day out of the starting blocks, we added an additional two hours of travel due to our return home to pick up the extra contact lenses Kyra had neglected to pack.  Our seven and a half hours of drive time turned into nine and a half, so we knew we had a long day ahead of us when we left home for the second time.  We just didn’t know how long that first day would be.

April 20, 2022

Out of the Starting Gate (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents the first installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  We logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks.  Read all about it here – the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly.

Previously, on Reflections Around the Campfire . . . In 2007, one year after we bought our first travel trailer, Alan and I recreated our honeymoon travels with our two kids during our family of four’s first cross-country National Parks trip.  The second followed in 2010.  This third cross-country National Parks trip would be our final one.  Not our final trip, of course, but the last one dedicated to visiting as many National Parks as possible.  Once this trip was completed, Alan and I would have hit all of the Parks designated “high priority” on our Bucket List.  Following this trip, we would continue to visit National Parks and Monuments, but at a more leisurely pace, fitting those visits into future trip itineraries that focused on more than just National Parks.

In 2017, our daughter, Kyra, had just graduated from high school and had no employment commitments over the summer, so the timing was perfect for her to join Alan and me on this third National Parks trip.  It had been on the planning board for years, while we waited until the time was right to execute those plans.  Unfortunately, our son, Ryan, five years older than his sister, was already working full time, and his allotted vacation days wouldn’t cover the extended trip.  This was the only one of our cross-country National Parks trips that didn’t include both kids, and we missed Ryan (and his good luck) immensely.

April 10, 2022

Born Lucky

Wow!  You guys must think that I’ve fallen asleep at my keyboard!  Truth be told, blogging has taken a back seat to a couple of more pressing matters over the past few weeks.  We are up to our ears in planning for our son and future daughter-in-law’s summer wedding.  They’re sweet to include us, and we’re having tons of fun.  I know that 40+ years is a long time to think back to our own wedding but, try as I might, I honestly don’t remember there being . . . So.  Many.  Details.  On top of the wedding, factor in the pending sale of a rental property and the paperwork and ongoing communications that accompany it, and Alan and I have our hands full at the moment.  Nonetheless, blogging is never far from my thoughts, and I plan to begin the recap of our West Coast National Parks trip very soon.    

What follows here today is simply a personal reflection.  I’m not ignoring the devastation in the Ukraine and the many other extraordinary difficulties that society faces today.  My list of nightly prayers is lengthy, and our lives have not been without medical crises or loss.  Please, take this for what it is – a bit of circumspection and a look-back at what has transpired in my teeny tiny corner of the world.

March 15, 2022

I Failed Michigan Travel Planning 101

This post is the final installment in the series documenting our trip to the states of Minnesota and Michigan back in the summer of 2015.  Our daughter, Kyra, was 16 and out of school on summer vacation, so she joined us on our two week whirlwind tour of the M&M states.

Sometimes, when the title of a blog post catches your eye, you have to wait until the end of the post to reach the punchline.  Not so today, my friends.  I’ll clue you in to the moral of the story first, and then follow up with all of the sordid details later.

How did I fail Michigan Travel Planning 101?  It’s actually quite simple.  I just didn’t allow enough time in our itinerary to truly enjoy this magnificent state.  In fact, we weren’t even all the way home before I was envisioning a return trip to really do Michigan justice.  I did a lot of things right when planning our short stay in Michigan, but I made some rookie mistakes, too.  That’s tough to admit for someone with more than 40 years of travel planning experience.  Read on for the details of my successes and failures.

March 01, 2022

Voyageurs National Park - and More Minnesota Adventures

This post is another installment in the series documenting our trip to the states of Minnesota and Michigan in the summer of 2015.  Our daughter, Kyra, was 16 and out of school on summer vacation, so she joined us on our two week whirlwind tour of the M&M states.

It wasn’t until I escaped from the work force almost six years ago that I made documenting our travels a priority.  Yes, I always took tons of photos and kept all of my planning documents, but with working, running a household, raising kids and supporting their extracurricular activities, taking the time to write about our adventures was never high on my list.  Over the past few years, I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y catching up.  Putting pen to paper after the fact stirs a couple of different emotions – chagrin (because I’m just so darned far behind) and pure pleasure (because reliving our adventures always generates a rush of delightful memories).

February 14, 2022

Itasca State Park and the Mighty (Little) Mississippi

As an addendum to my last post entitled “My Bucket List is Overflowing,” I thought I’d share with you that yet another item has been added to our Bucket List.  Last week I received an email from our friend, Kevin, which included a comment that he and his wife, Maddison, had added the Rocky Mountaineer to their list.  Of course, Kevin included a link to the website so that Alan and I would start drooling over the company’s train excursions through the Canadian Rockies.  The domed rail cars of the Rocky Mountaineer offer superb views of the dramatic and magnificent mountain scenery, and several different route options are available.  So, our Bucket List runneth over even more, but this time it’s Kevin’s fault, not mine.

When it comes time to write a post, I am easily distracted by anything even remotely related to RVing – or regular travel, for that matter – so I wasn’t surprised to see that my last post documenting our 2015 trip to Minnesota and Michigan was published more than three months ago.  Today’s post will get me back in the saddle, so to speak, and it details our visit to the headwaters of the Mississippi River – the actual destination around which the entire trip was built.  Yes, it was a Bucket List item and, yes, we decided that it was absolutely, positively worthwhile.  Come along, my friends, and join us on the adventure!

January 20, 2022

My Bucket List is Overflowing

Hey!  Didja miss me?!  I have been in Technology Hell, struggling with internet, modem, cell phone and wireless carrier issues for almost a month.   Each was having an impact on the others making this a frustrating, tail-chasing repair job of the grandest proportions.  Technology – the gift that keeps on giving in all kinds of wonderful and awful ways.  Just yesterday, I think I finally got the last of the problems cleared up and I’m hoping for clear sailing from here on in.

I want to get back to documenting our M&M trip – our travels to Minnesota and Michigan in 2015 – but, first, a comment Joe made (he blogs over at Easin’ Along) on Laurel and Eric’s blog (Raven & Chickadee) got me thinking about the current edition of our Bucket List.  It seems like the start of a new year might be a good time to review the ol’ list.  The photos in this post are of some of the Bucket List items Alan and I have been able to cross off our list over the years.