Posted on March 21, 2017
This is the last of three installments chronicling our 2016-2017 travels. Once again we returned to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, in mid-February where we spent 10 warm, sunny days with old and new friends.
This trip was not without it’s problems, that essentially started as we were departing Mexico. One of our slides got stuck open (for the 2nd time in 7 months), delaying us for about an hour while we did temporary repairs to get it back in, with the help of a bunch of good friends who were their with knowledge and tools. We got back across the border into the US with no problems or issues – it was a very easy crossing, despite what we had garnered from others who preceded us. (Since Trump took office, ICE has become very aggressive at the border. Things have changed for US citizens travelling in and out of Mexico…and not necessarily for the better. But, once we were in Mexico, it was all good. The Mexican people are friendly, tolerant and welcoming. It’s a wonderful country.)
The 2nd night back in the US, at Newberry Springs, CA, another slide failed, but we managed to nurse that one in. For the remaining 6 days of our trip back north, we only had one functioning slide. The coach was livable, but cramped. Several months previously we made an appointment at the Winnebago West Coast Repair Facility in Junction City, Oregon, so we were able to take the coach directly to them on the way home (they are located about 4 hours south of us.)
So, as I write this, our RV is almost completed; it has been there for over 3 weeks. We went back down there about a week ago to inspect what they had done so far and it all looked great…just one or two other minor repairs to be completed. I am headed back down in a few days (March 24th) to pick it up. Because of all the issues we have experienced over the past year, Winnebago has agreed to give us another year on the factory warranty, as well as having the Plant Manager and the West Coast Sales Manager present when we pick it up. They have been very cooperative (albeit after a bit of ‘nudging’ from us), so we are generally pleased with them.
That’s it for now. We are home for a bit, but have several small trips planned over the next months. Then, probably in October sometime, we are off again for another extended (4-5 month) trip, probably to south Texas, New Orleans (again), Mississippi and the Florida Pan Handle, near our favorite place in Carrabelle.
Category: 2016-2017 Travels Tagged: Bakersfield, Beach, Beer, Cactus, Charlie, Cholla, Death Valley, Dylan, El Capitan, Frenchy's, Furnace Creek, Gauvreau, Harley Davidson, jj's cantina, Junction City, Landscape, Las Vegas, Lukeville, Mexico, Modesto, Modesto Junior College, Newberry Springs, Ocean, oranges, Photographs, Photography, Puerto Penasco, Saguaro, Siskiyous, Sonoyta, Waves, Winnebago, Yreka
Posted on February 25, 2016
Maravilloso, encantador, amable Puerto Penasco!
(Translation: Wonderful, delightful, friendly Puerto Penasco, Mexico!)
Un saludo a nuestros lectores dle blog! Esperamos que disfrute de esta ultima (#7) la publicacion de los viajes de este ano…
(Translation: Greetins to our blog readers! We hope you enjoy this last (#7) posting of this year’s travels.)
As you many have read in our last Blog installment, our travel plans changed whilst we were staying in Benson, Arizona. As it turns out, this may have been one of the VERY BEST travel adjustment we have ever made!
To make a long story short (well, sorta short), we ended up with this Winnebago-sponsored group of travelers on a caravan to Puerto Penasco, Mexico. We all (36 coaches of various sizes and shapes, almost all Winnebago) met in early February, in Gila Bend, Arizona, for a dinner and orientation. We met a lot of wonderful people there, many of whom, as the 10-day trip progressed, became some new and very good friends. (We learned once again not to rely on first impressions. Many of those changed as we got to know people better.)
Anyhow’s, we traveled as a well-healed ‘pack’ and all got across the border (Lukeville, AZ/Sonoyta, Mexico) with minimal hassles by the kind and friendly Mexican Border Guards. Another 65 miles south of the Border, we landed in our very nice, almost-beach-front site at the Playa Bonita RV Park, which is conveniently attached to a nice hotel and beach-front BAR (an important factor for about 95% of this crew.)
Our professional hosts handled all the important marshalling details, border crossings, some meals and entertainment, RV Park arrangements, parking, etc. It was all a total piece of cake, thanks to all 4 of these fine folks. And if you have heard that Mexico is dangerous and not a good place to be, forget it. Our TOTAL experience was filled with friendly, helpful, smiling people. We felt welcome and respected. (And the drinks were cheap, too!) Better yet, Puerto Penasco – although only 65 miles south of the Border, FEELS like Mexico – border and almost-border towns like Tijuana, Ensenada, Tecate, etc. all pale by comparison.
Within 4 hours of our arrival, Dee Dee and I had already committed to return next February for a month…this place is THAT GOOD. We made a deposit and then headed for the bar. And once again, we beat all 65 of the others to Happy Hour. We always strive for excellence!
The 10 days there found us with many beach walks (Charlie’s most favorite thing), a sunset cruise, sand-dollar picking about 10 miles up the beach at Cholla Bay, walking around the Malecon (Old Port) Plaza, shopping and bargaining with the locals – in the many shops off- and on-the beach, eating at several fine restaurants, playing golf at a magnificent Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course near the Mayan Palace development about 25 miles south of town, etc. Did I mention drinking? Pardon my exclusion…
This ‘tour’ was actually a non-tour. Our hosts got us there and got us back to the States safely and trouble-free. There were very few scheduled activities except for a daily Happy Hour and six SUPERB meals. Other than that, you did what you wanted, when you wanted to do it. Trips, tours etc. were done almost on-the-fly, and you could participate if you were interested. If you wanted to sit on the beach all day long and suck down Pacifico’s, you could.
We met some amazing, incredible, (generally) friendly folks. Many became fast future friends. Many were from the Mid-West; being the compassionate people we are, we forgave them for that – Republicans or not. (The ‘Bernie’ sticker on our RV was a point of much discussion.)
So, here we are back in California, on our way north to home in Silver Lake, Washington, wishing we were back in lovely Puerto Penasco. We will be counting the daze until next February 6, when we will be there again.
As usual, and assuming you even bothered to read the above (we have found most of our readers to be visual learners), following are some pics and captions.
Adios y mejores deseos, amigos!
Category: 2015-2016 Travels, Photographic Adventures Tagged: Beach, Benson, Big Bend National Park, Cactus, Charlie, Cholla, Dirt Mall, Dylan, Gauvreau, golf, Heceta Beach, Jack Nicklaus, KOA, Lukeville, Malecon, Mayan Palaca, Mexico, Mr. Fish, Ocean, Photographs, Photography, Playa Bonita, Puerto Penasco, Rey Sol, RV, Saguaro, sand dollar, Sonoyta, Waves
Posted on April 12, 2015
The Final Chapter…
I bet you all have been wondering just what the hell happened to us? Were we swallowed by a haunted bayou someplace in the wilds of Louisiana? Or eaten by a pack of ravenous ‘gators? Kidnapped by Crazy Canadians? Or did we just turn around and head back to Key West, to lay on the beach, drink margaritas and chill until all of our credit cards were maxed out or we ran out of Land Shark beer?
Well, none of the above, actually. You can attribute this prolonged lack of our communication to just sloth and pure laziness on my part. (The reality is that it take me about 12-16 hours to prepare each chapter of this blog and I simply just could not bring myself to sit down and get to it.)
We made it home pretty much in one piece (well, some pieces got left and other pieces got added, but you are going to have to keep reading to figure out exactly what that means.) We have been back home in Silver Lake, WA, since Sunday, March 22. But, let’s go back several weeks to where we left off, near Lafayette, Louisiana…
We stayed a couple of nights at the Frog City RV Park, in Duson. We had intended on going back to Prejean’s Cajun Restaurant in Lafayette one more time but decided to try this other place, near Duson (just down the road from Lafayette) on the advice of some locals. Big mistake. BIG mistake. Deep fried everything. And pretty bland. And over cooked. And mediocre service. But, at least the beer was cold. Oh well…we can always head back to Prejean’s on the next trip.
On the road once again, we passed through Lake Charles and then exited Louisiana on Interstate 10 and entered Texas…dismayed, but not surprised to note that the first mile marker we saw indicated ‘899.’ Gads! (By comparison, from San Ysidro, near Tijuana, to the Oregon border – taking The 5 all the way – is only 796 miles…so that gives you a sense of scale.) It’s a l-o-n-g way across Texas on The 10 – it took us over 4 days of pretty steady driving.
After passing through Beaumont, the first major city we came to was Houston – and it’s one huge city. We were on the beltway going around the major metropolitan area and were cruising along in fairly light traffic until we encountered this incredible traffic jam that went on for miles and miles. Turns out there was some major bridge construction going on that caused a ‘funneling’ from 6 lanes down to ONE lane. That delayed us by about 2 hours. Oh well…
First overnight stop in Texas was at Columbus, where we stayed in a funky, but functional, RV park. We had dinner at a pretty good Tex/Mex place nearby (Los Cabos) that evening.
Next day, back again on The 10 headed west. We skirted San Antonio on the Beltway without encountering much traffic, and are now headed into the wilds of West Texas. There just ain’t much out there.
At all. Hardly anything.
Including RV parks. Even Google Maps gets confounded when you do a search for them. We ended up in Ozona, where we stopped at one of the few-and-far-between spots we could find. This place did not even have a name, unless you call the giant sign by the freeway that said, in ten-foot-tall letters, ‘RV Park,’ a name. Actually, it should have been called ‘Shit-Hole RV Park.’ It was raining and we were tired, so we pulled into the place and discovered that we had to walk a 2 blocks block back across the highway to a motel (a Super 8 – another dump) to check in. Got a ride from some guy who dropped me off out front. Went inside, no one there. Waited 20 minutes. Finally walked over to an adjacent restaurant and asked them where the guy was who runs the motel. They called him and he showed up 10 minutes later, with no apology. So I tell him we want to check into the ‘RV Park’ across the highway. “Forty dolla,” says he, in his middle-eastern accent. “Did you say ’20 dollars?’,” says I. “No, 40 dolla, cash, no discounts,” snarls he. “Not even Good Sam, AARP, AAA, anything?” says I. “No.” says he. “And cash.” says he. So, I paid it, with a mental protest, plotting someway to get even (and I did…) I walked back across the street to find a spot (“Stay anywhere you can find,” said he.) The place was a total Shit Hole, like I said above. A third world country. Dirty. Garbage everywhere. And dog crap (That’s how Charlie and I got even.) It looked like most of the spots were occupied by (fracking) oil workers (there is a major oil boom going on in Texas.) We pulled into a spot, leveled the RV and retreated inside until morning. Took the Glock with us, just in case.
The next morning, we could not get out of there fast enough.
OK, on the road again. Still in Texas and still heading west on The 10. Next stop was Van Horn, a dying West Texas town (somewhat reminiscent of the town in the movie, “The Last Picture Show”) but with a remarkably nice RV Park – clean, friendly and big spaces. And a nice dog run for the dog. We headed out to get diesel for the truck and find a place to eat. Found fuel, but no restaurant.
A day later, STILL in Texas, but FINALLY getting to El Paso and then crossing back into New Mexico. Wahoo! We passed through Las Cruces and stopped in Lordsburg. Now, we usually avoid KOA’s like the plague (they are usually over-priced and under-aesthic’ed), but RV parks in Lordsburg were on the sparse side so we had to opt for this place. I have to admit we were pleasantly surprised. Reasonable rate. Nice size space. Friendly. Clean. OK, we’re happy. Nearby was Kranberries Family Restaurant (when you see ‘Family’ in the name of a restaurant, it also means ‘no beer.’) Dinner was pretty blah, with probably the weirdest nacho’s we have ever had: 50 chips-out-of-a-bag and smothered in at least a gallon of genuine Velveeta. Oh, and 10 pepper slices on top, too. Dee Dee told me to quit bitching about them and lighten up…it’s probably just a local custom, some sort of Tex/Mex thing. But, the employees were, as in the custom almost everywhere in Texas, very friendly.
Back on The 10, headed out of New Mexico, into Arizona. Passed through Benson (where we stayed with our friends Gary and Debbie a couple of months before, on the way East.) On to Tucson, were we first headed to an RV park we found on the Inner-Net (and the Inner-Net never lies – never ever.) Pulled in, drove around, and headed right back out. It was ghetto. Found another place near Old Tucson – Desert Trails RV Park. The owner’s first name was Pericles and he was one terrific guy. They had ONE spot available (it’s still high-season in the desert) and we got it. This was a great place – outside of town in the midst of the Sonoran Desert and very peaceful. Incredible landscapes and scenery. We loved it. While there we had a delightful visit with an old Modesto friend, Carol Lancaster-Mingus, who taught Television classes and was a stellar member of the faculty. Such a great, gracious, lady who showed us around her home town and treated us to an absolutely delightful dinner in a restaurant where we watched the sun set on the Catalina Mountains. Wonderful evening!
After departing the Tucson area, we were on to Mesa, where we checked into a very high-class RV park, called Mesa Spirit, where we stayed for FREE, courtesy of LaMesa RV, in Mesa. Here is the ‘Reader’s Digest’ version of the next part of the story:
We had been talking on-and-off for over a year about possibly trading in our 5th-wheel for a Class A motor home. While on this trip, we started doing lots of research on what we wanted, and once that was done, finding a dealer with the right price. We talked to several in Washington and Oregon, but could not come to terms on either the trade-in value and/or the purchase price. So, we finally settled on LaMesa RV (in Mesa) who gave us a fair deal and treated us well. Plus, it was the end of the RV season for them, so they were unloading inventory. So, on Saturday, March 7, (after closing the deal and spending the night in the LaMesa RV parking lot) we moved from one unit to the other; this was a long, stressful day that almost did us in, as it got very warm in the afternoon. Plus, we had A LOT of stuff.
Our new rig is a Class A 2015 Winnebago Adventurer. We opted for gas instead of diesel. Yes, there are many pro’s and con’s regarding this choice, but we just could not justify the huge additional expense of a diesel pusher. And, as it turns out, we have been very pleased with our choice. It’s a great coach.
After moving all our ‘stuff’ across from the 5th wheel to the Winnie, we drove back to the Mesa Spirit RV Park and stayed another 3 days, once again compliments of LaMesa RV. While we were based here, we headed down to Gilbert to have lunch with an old friend from my ASU graduate school days, Neil Miller, and his wife, Marilyn. They have a great place and we really had a great time…especially seeing all of Neil’s ‘stuff.’ What a collector he is.
I spent the next 2 days about as close to death (and hell) as I ever want to come. Somehow I either got a massive dose of food poisoning, or some kind of really virulent flu. Whatever it was, it really tore me up for 36 hours. Not at all pleasant.
As the ‘disease’ was beginning to wane, we limped back out to Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction. We had stayed there several months before, at the beginning of our trip and enjoyed it so much that we booked in for another 5 days. Here we once again met up with our Prescott buddies, Debbie and Gary. We took in a Mariners/Rockies spring training game out in Peoria (it takes 75 minutes, driving 60 miles an hour on the freeways, to get from Mesa to Peoria…the Phoenix area is huge.) Seattle lost 4-1, but we still had a great time. The Peoria stadium facility is very nice venue (heck, beer is only $7 for a 16 oz. can) and we chatted with lots of folks who come down here mainly to watch the pre-season games. Everybody was having a good time.
Well, just as our last stay (in December) at Lost Dutchman was disrupted by a chronic truck problem, this one was no different. The day after the game, Dee Dee and I were out getting diesel for the pickup (we did not trade this in on new RV) and we got a text message from Gary telling us he was in the hospital. What the heck is this??!! Turns out that about 11 PM the night before he started experiencing some chest pain, so he called the paramedics and they came out to get him. The weird thing is that they were staying right across the road from us and we did not hear a thing! And there was both an ambulance AND a fire truck! So, we head right over to the hospital to see him. He looks good, and is in fine spirits, but they want to do an angiogram to take a look at his heart, so he has to hang out for another day.
The day he was discharged was the same day we had to depart Lost Dutchman State Park and continue heading back home. So, we worked with the Park to get his stay extended for a few hours to allow him time to get ready to leave. We got his RV squared away and left. Turns out that he felt well enough (even after the angiogram) to drive back to Prescott. Debbie followed in their car. (We talked with him the next day and he said he was really tired and pretty sore – felt rode hard and put away dirty.)
Whew. Well, we have not given up on Lost Dutchman…as they say, 3rd time’s a charm…
So, we continue west, stopping at this totally cool RV park right on the river in Needles – Fender’s River Road Resort. We had this HUGE spot with a great view. Once again, we lucked out and got their last spot, due to a recent cancellation. This is on our list of good places to stay if we make a return trip in this direction.
By this time, the ‘free’ 1/2 tank of gas that La Mesa RV had given us was pretty much gone, so we headed out in the truck to find a place to re-fuel. We had heard that gas prices in California were out of line with other states, but imagine our surprise when every gas station in Needles was over $4 per gallon! We mentioned our dismay to our waitress at dinner (Wagon Wheel Restaurant, great place) and she told us to head back across the river into Arizona where it was about $1/gallon less. What a difference a mile can make. Turns out that Needles gas stations (greedy bastards) were an anomaly; the remainder of our gas stops in California were not that far out of line.
Next destination, Bakersfield, at a regular stopping place, the Orange Grove RV Park. We stayed there for a couple of days to cool our jets (we had an absolutely ‘delightful’ meal at Sizzler…don’t ask why we stopped there…just dumb, I guess.)
On to Lodi for 2 more days, where we stayed at this fairly nice, but W-A-Y overpriced place, Flag City RV Park, located near the intersection of Highway 12 and The 5. I guess you could say the best thing about it was the 5 acre fenced dog run; Charlie was in Dog Heaven. Here Bob met up with 2 really old and good friends and golfing buddies from Modesto Daze, Bill Woodard and Juan Alvarez. What a great time we all had playing a round at the Spanos Reserve course. Hard, but fair. Re-kindled many great memories. We also had a great dinner with an old water-skiing-and-drinking buddy, Daryl Verkerk, and his new girl friend, a delightful lady and lots of fun. That was a nostalgic evening of reminiscing about days gone by.
We left Lodi on March 20th and now the ‘end’ is really in sight. Next stop was Yreka at another funky place that we managed to squeeze into (also on our list of places to skip next time…). Then on to Albany, Oregon, for a stay at the Blue Ox RV park, a bit hard to find, and sorta cramped spaces, but adequate…except for no dog run at all.
And then, down the home stretch to Silver Lake, where we finally arrived HOME at noon on Sunday, March 22, after a short 3-hour drive. We made it down the driveway with no problems (I drove the RV all the way back from Mesa, with Dee Dee following in the truck.) We pulled in and let ‘The Boys’ out to finally be able to run free after being pretty much confined for over 4 months. They were pretty pleased about that. The house looked great – just like we had left it. Thanks to our neighbor, Karson, for checking it a couple of times a week and texting us that things looked good, and to our nephew Stacey and his wife, Lynne, who came down once a month to start the vehicles, water the plants and look things over.
So there you have it, folks. The end of our 4-month, 12,000+ mile journey all the way to Key West and back. We stayed at 50 different locations. What a wonderful, memorable time we had. We enjoyed sharing our adventures (and mis-adventures) with all of you and hope you had a good – vicarious – experience. This installment to the blog, Chapter 12, is the last for this trip…but stay tuned. There will be other travel experiences in our not-too-distant future that we will be sharing with you. We have already started the preliminary plans for our next trip, which will probably begin around next November 1. We might even head back to Florida…one never knows…
Following are the ‘Top 46’ most favorite pictures of our journey, since this post was somewhat devoid of visuals (too busy travelling…)
All the best to each of you,
Bob, Dee Dee, Charlie and Marshall Dylan
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: Al Cover, Baseball, Beach, Beaumont, Big Bend National Park, Bill Woodard, Cactus, Carol Lancaster-Mingus, Catalina Mountains, Charlie, Duson, Dylan, Florida, Frog City, Gary Paulsen, Gauvreau, golf, Houston, Juan Alvarex, KOA, Lafayette, Lake Charles, LaMesa, Landscape, Las Vegas, Lodi, Lost Dutchman State Park, Mesa Spirit RV Park, Modesto, Modesto Junior College, Neil Miller, New Orleans, Ocean, Oregon, Ozona, Peoria, Photographs, Photography, Prejean's, Seattle Mariners, Superstition Mountains, Tennis Ball, Texas, Tucson, Waves, Winnebago
Posted on February 9, 2015
Chapter 10 – The Forgotten Coast
So…..we departed New Orleans after a 1-day delay due to heavy rains and generally crappy weather. The Big Easy is a city that we will definitely visit again – there is so much to see and do, and we barely scratched the surface during our 6-day stay. One thing we will NOT miss about Louisiana are the roads – and especially in and around New Orleans. Really bad.
We continued our easterly travels, leaving Louisiana, then passing through Alabama and Mississippi on our way to Pensacola, Florida. The roads smoothed out as we changed states, making the drive much easier. Alabama and Mississippi roads are EXCELLENT! A pleasant thing we encountered were the rest areas we encountered, all of them located at the state lines. They were really huge welcome centers; very clean, great landscaping and many tree-covered picnic areas, as well as food services. Western and central states can take a lesson here…no comparison and like none we have ever encountered – at least so far.
After passing through 4 states in 4 hours, we stopped at a pleasant campground about 15 miles west of Pensacola. Very friendly, big spaces, a huge pond (turtles, but no ‘gators according to the friendly owner) and lots of room for Charlie to run and Marshall Dylan to roam (on his leash.) Pensacola, as you probably know, is a Navy town, home of the Blue Angels. Lots of water with long connecting causeways. It’s really a party place, with lots of restaurants, bars and incredible white sand beaches. We drove out to Ft. Pickens where there is a great NPS campground, several WW2 gun emplacements and historic buildings. If we come here again, we will definitely try to stay there. One downside of the beaches here is that they are generally not very ‘dog-friendly.’ Most areas don’t allow dogs at all, and those areas that do are small (like maybe 100 yards of so long) and we noticed that most people kept their critters leashed. Charlie was the exception. As mentioned previously, he has become a real ‘surfer dog,’ and has started spending a lot of time in the water.
Our next stop was the Ho-Hum RV Park in Carrabelle, Florida. Of all the places we have stayed up to now, this was – by far – the very best. Funky, yes, with fairly big spots. Everyone there was super laid back and overtly friendly. What a great place! We had this way-cool site right on the on the beach – it was literally 10 feet to the Gulf of Mexico. We spent about a week here and enjoyed every minute of it. Ho-Hum lives up to its name: it really has a feeling of ‘Old Florida;’ this part of the state, in the center of the Florida Panhandle, is known as the ‘Forgotten Coast.’ In most places it is uncrowded, with little encroachment of condo’s and hotels. Pretty undeveloped overall and really beautiful.
Ho-Hum is also unique in that it is on the ‘beach side’ of Highway 98; the other RV parks we encountered, all the way up to Mexico Beach (about 60 miles away) are on the ‘other side’ of the road; most of them were full and pretty cramped. Another nice thing about this place was the mile or so of totally empty, unpopulated, beach that was immediately adjacent to the campground – lots of room for dogs to swim and chase tennis balls. Wahoo!
I managed to get in a round of golf at a very nice near-by course (with a special ‘tourist rate.’). It was without a doubt one of the most difficult I have ever played. Every hole – EVERY SINGLE HOLE – had at least one water hazard that crossed the fairway in the form of a swamp. The guy in the pro shop told me they have 5-6 resident ‘gators, but I did not encounter any of them. The course was in excellent condition and the greens were like pool tables.
From Ho Hum, Dee Dee and I drove back to the west and visited Apalachicola, Port St. Joseph (which at one time was destined to be the State capitol – until the entire town was destroyed by a storm and the capitol was then located to Tallahassee, not too far away) and finally Mexico Beach. On another day trip we drove across a long causeway to St. George Island, a long barrier island that is home to a very nice state park with beautiful campgrounds. However, even though you can have leashed dogs in the campground, all the beaches are totally closed to dogs. Charlie was pretty bummed. But, this is also a place we would consider staying sometime in the future…maybe.
The day before we left delightful Ho-Hum, we made a reservation for next year – we plan to spend a month here next time. If all goes as we expect, we will be travelling with our good friends Gary and Debbie; we both made side-by-side reservations for spots right on the beach.
Next, we were off to Cedar Key. Now, keep in mind that we made all of our reservations last August, using information we garnered from the Inner-Net – which we all know is a bastion of truth – and never lies…or at least hardly ever. Maybe the truth was stretched a bit for this place. As soon as we drove into our destination – Sunset Isle RV Park – we turned to each other and said, simultaneously, “I think we screwed up.” Even though we had a site right on the water, with a small dock, the entire campground was the most cramped we had EVER experienced almost anywhere. Postage stamp sites. It took us a good 20 minutes just to squeeze into our site. Also, the volunteer campground hosts kept a fire going day and night, that most of the time was like a smudge pot; the smoke was carried right into our site by the prevailing wind. Worse, there was no place to run Charlie. Not good. We got so fed up with this place that we departed a day early. They had a policy of ‘no refunds,’ so we lost that day, and also got stuck with a good portion of the space rent (and it ain’t cheap here) for another 5 days we had reserved for our return trip back up the state from the Everglades and Key West. After some discussion with the site manager, that revolved around their misleading web site on the Inner-Net, we managed to get some – but not all – of our money back. OK…lesson learned.
The general area of Cedar Key was ‘Florida Funky,’ but unfortunately its popularity was also its downfall. To us it seemed way over-built. Too many people, too much traffic. On the upside, there were lots and lots of restaurants. Generally pricey, but good. As an interesting (at least to us) side note: when we were visiting St. George Island we met some people on the beach who were also headed for Cedar Key, where they were renting a condo. We had dinner with them one evening at this place called Peter’s. Excellent food at a very reasonable price. We also had a chance to visit them at their place – 3rd floor water-front condo with an amazing view.
We drove around the area for a couple of days and visited this site called ‘Shell Mound.’ The location was significant; in ancient times, local indigenous people discarded oysters shells (oysters being one of their primary food sources), creating a huge mound of shells that covered several acres and reached a height over 100 feet. There was a path to the top and although now covered by huge live oaks and palmettos; you still get a sense of the huge scale of the place. Absolutely amazing. They also constructed oyster shell causeways through the low-lying beaches.
We also got badly needed haircuts while here. Badly needed. Did I say BADLY needed?
During our exploration of Cedar Key, we did find another RV park about 5 miles outside of town. Spacious and quiet. If we ever return to the area, would definitely stay here. And, the cost was about the same as Sunset Isle.
On Wednesday, February 4th, we headed off to Dade City to visit some old friends from Modesto, Diane and Jim Weatherford, who had been collecting some of our mail. While there, I played a golf course that was adjacent to the RV Park where we were staying. I got on with 15 minutes’ notice. I pretty much knew what I was in for when I paid $14 for a round (18 holes) of golf AND a power cart. If it was not the crappiest golf course I have ever played, but it was darn close. But, what made the round somewhat enjoyable were the 2 characters I played with – both from Michigan (Upper and Lower – two separate states as I better came to understand.) Good ‘Ol Boys. Not exactly big fans of The Guv-ment. Kinda basic red-necky, but pretty funny overall and fun to be around. When they asked where I was from and I told them ‘Seattle’ (don’t ask…it’s just easier to say that to most people when you are in Florida), one guy says to me, “That’s about 200 miles north of San Diego, ain’t it?” Somehow, I think he would not do well in the ‘Geography’ category of ‘Jeopardy.’ Down in this part of Florida, most snow-birds come from the Northeast US, or Eastern Canada. (I just got this great t-shirt that says ‘What Does Snow-Bird Taste Like?’)
Unfortunately, our friend Diane contracted a bad case of the flu, so our planned visit together got short-circuited. We did talk a bit with Jim, though, and have plans to visit them on our return trip from Chokoloskee Island (near Everglade City and right on the edge of Everglades National Park), where we are now.
So, that’s it for this installment. We are sure that you are all beside yourself waiting for the next chapter of our exciting adventure. We will be here in Chokoloskee for 2 weeks, during which time we have plans to attend the annual Everglade City Seafood Festival (that swells the local population from 5,000 to over 100,000 for a single weekend.) We also hope to make it down to Key West, and also to explore the Everglades. After this, we will be making The Big Turn and head back to the PNW. To date, the odometer on the truck has logged just over 6,000 miles…
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: 2 Al's, Beach, Carrabelle, Cedar Key, Charlie, Dade City, Dock, Dylan, Florida, Gauvreau, golf, Ho-Hum RV Park, Hog Wild Barbeque, Live Oak, Mexico Beach, Pal metto, Peg Leg Pete's, Pensacola, Photographs, Photography, Pt. St. Joseph, Shell Mound, Stone Crab, Sunset Isle RV Park, Tony's Clam Chowder
Posted on January 14, 2015
Back-Track To January 1, 2015…
So, to bring you all up to speed, recall that we decided to depart Big Bend National Park (heading for Del Rio, Texas) a few days early due to impending snotty weather (which we escaped by a matter of hours) and just way too much humanity.
But, let’s back up just a bit. I wrote all of the last blog post whilst still in the midst of a nasty bout with the flu. In doing so, I left out some stuff I should not have (and left in quite a few typos…).
First of all, I forgot to post a picture of my friend Neil Miller and me, sitting in his classic Morgan roadster, while we were still at Lost Dutchman State Park, near Apache Junction. A thousand pardons Neil…so here it is now.
Next, fast forwarding to Big Bend National Park, I neglected to mention a side trip we took into an area called Chisos Basin. It’s about an 8 mile drive off of Highway 385, turning off not too far from the Panther Junction Visitor Center. The drive into the area offers some magnificent views as you pass through several different desert and high desert ecosystems during the roughly 2000 foot elevation gain on the way in. An extremely magnificent part of the Park…at least until you get to Chisos Basin. What the NPS has allowed to happen there (for whatever reason) is a total atrocity. After passing through a beautiful environment on the way in, you are dismayed to find a hotel, restaurant, bar, incredibly horrible traffic and a campground that is so cramped and crowded that it comes close to resembling tenement housing. OK, this is just our opinion. Also, unless you are either tent camping or pulling a small tent trailer, you won’t even make it down the road. Perhaps this place would be more palatable during such a non-busy time of the year, and yes, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is probably about the worst time to be staying almost anywhere. But, that’s just our opinion.
January 3, 2015 – San Antonio, Texas
We arrived in San Antonio, Texas, with me still fighting the flu and a persistent, horrible cough. Despite this, we did some normal tourist stuff, like going to The Alamo and then to the River Walk. The Alamo on a Sunday was predictably crowded. But, still and all, it’s an extremely informative historical site, about 30% of which has been preserved (the rest falling to ‘progress.’) The monument is maintained and funded by a Historical Society, composed totally of volunteers; they have done an extremely commendable job. It’s free to get in, but there are copious donation boxes spread throughout the site. What is somewhat disappointing is what now surrounds The Alamo: a sprawling mass of places like ‘Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not’ and numerous other establishments of the same venue. Sorta takes the air out of the piece of history you have just visited. The River Walk area is OK…but touristy as one would expect. We had a couple of over-priced margaritas and some damnpretty good ceviche. Another kinda cool thing we did was take the city bus from the RV Park where we were staying into the downtown area. Not bad at all getting there, but the trip back proved to be somewhat of a challenge for two old geezers who have not had to figure out a bus schedule in years. After about an hour or so and walking more than a just few block, we finally found the right stop. The Bob was so excited on the way home that he pulled the ‘stop cord’ about ½ mile too early. You could see Dee Dee mouthing the words ‘Dumb Ass.’
January 7, 2015 – Corpus Christi, Texas
We are now at the Mustang Island State Park, located on Mustang Island, just South East of Corpus Christi.
It has been 10 days since we last saw the sun (except for a brief moment in San Antonio). We feel like we are doomed. And, we gulped down our last dose of Vitamin D several days ago.
This Texas State Park has a good campground, complete with a cabana to provide shade from the sun, which we did not have to worry about the whole time we were there. It rained hard and was very windy most of the time. The only saving grace in all of this was the fact that the rattle snakes stayed ‘indoors’, which certainly provided Dee Dee with a certain degree of relief. We were almost right on the beach – maybe only about a 3 block walk. Charlie was in doggy heaven; he got to chase a tennis ball and swim in the surf until he could hardly lift his tongue off the sand. Wahoo! Texas State Parks has an interesting fee structure: the campsites are fairly spacious and have water and power (there is a sewer dump conveniently located on the way out.) The rate is $20 per night, which seems reasonable until you factor in a $5 per day, per person, park use fee. That brings your stay there to $30 per night. Still and all, given the locale, not too bad a deal.
We drove down the island and took the FREE ferry (there were FIVE of them running full-tilt boogie) off the Island and over to the mainland, and then drove a big circle back through Corpus Christi and back to Mustang Island. The next day, we headed over to Padre Island, driving over a small causeway that links it to Mustang Island. At the end of the road is Padre Island National Seashore. Located on the south Texas coast, Padre Island National Seashore protects the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world, with nearly 70 miles of sand and shell beaches, windswept dunes and seemingly endless grasslands. And the majority of the 70 miles is roadless. But, you can drive on the beach (most of the time, except certain portions that are closed when sea turtle are nesting) and camp. Four-wheel drive is almost required to do this. There is an excellent campground there as well, but it’s total dry camping. The cool thing about this campground is that it is RIGHT on the beach. The surf seems to almost break into your campsite. This place is first-come-first-serve, and it was pretty full.
Due to the still crappy weather in the area, we opted to spend an additional day here and wait out the weather.
January 11, 2015 – Galveston Island, Texas
It’s been more than 2 weeks since we have seen the sun (well, it did manage to peak out for about 5 seconds one afternoon.) Our skin is taking on a bluish tint and our hands are now perpetually wrinkled due to the rain. One piece of good news is that finally, after more than 2 weeks, my case of the flu and cough seems to have almost totally dissipated.
Galveston is a very cool place. And, it’s really a ‘summer-time’ place as you can see by the multitude of tourist business that dominate the 14+ mile long Seawall Boulevard. It almost resembles Coney Island in many ways. As your drive down this long stretch, the city is on one side of the road and the Gulf of Mexico is on the other. We are staying at this very neat place called Dellanera RV Park, which is run by the County Parks. Our site is right on the beach – so close that we hear the Gulf of Mexico surf breaking, all the time. As we look out our back window, and especially at night, we can see a few off-shore oil rigs and several anchored tankers, waiting to be off-loaded at the several refineries in the area.
One issue we encountered, however, is that the beach immediately out front was being reconstructed because it was pretty much destroyed during the last hurricane. This is accomplished by essentially hauling tons and tons and tons of sand and re-positioning it on the beach. This is really a minor issue as we can walk about a block through the RV Park and take a small path down to portion of the frontage that is still in good condition. Once again, Charlie is very appreciative of the surf-and-sand environment we continue to provide for him. And, he now seems to spend an equal amount of time in the surf as he does chasing a tennis ball. We need to get him a board.
As we drove around exploring, we came across another of the FREE Texas ferries, off the north east side of Galveston Island. Very efficient operation. We counted 5 ferry docks at this location. Another thing we noticed is that almost all the houses on Galveston Island are built on ‘stilts’ – 12” X 12” pressure-treated timbers (or in some cases, telephone poles) driven into the ground. The actual house sits about 12 – 18 feet in the air. The reason is obvious – protection from flooding caused by hurricanes.
January 15 – still no sun! We depart here (Galveston Island) this morning, headed for Carencro, Louisiana, where we will be staying at the Bayou Wilderness RV Park. Stay tuned…
Category: Photographic Adventures, Travelling To Florida Tagged: Alamo, Beach, Big Bend National Park, bus, Charlie, Chisos Basin, Corpus Christi, Dellanera RV Park, Dylan, ferry, Galveston, Galveston Island, Gauvreau, houses, hurricane, Landscape, Mustang Island, Ocean, Padre Island, Padre Island National Seashore, Photographs, Photography, posts, River Walk, Texas, traffic, Waves
Posted on November 17, 2014
And Away We Go…
Finally. We are on the road to Florida, with many stops planned before we get there in February.
We got the house closed up (well, except for leaving Bert and Ernie, our loyal pit bulls, on the premises…) and departed Silver Lake at 9 AM in 27 degree F, clear and sunny weather. As usual, we hit the first major obstacle, getting out of our driveway, within the first 20 seconds of the trip. We made it up the first try, which sometimes does not happen. Dylan and Charlie were settled into the back seat and ready for their next big adventure. We just had to be careful not to say ‘beach’ or ‘ball’ in front of Charlie.
We took The 5 thru Portland and eventually connected with Highway 18, which we followed all the way into Lincoln City. As a side note, as we were cruising down 18 just SW of McMinnville, we were startled (I mean STARTLED!) to see a Boeing 747 parked in the middle of a plowed field. Closer inspection revealed it was ‘parked’ in front of the Evergreen Air Museum, a large and impressive place. If you are an aircraft aficionado, then this place would be like dying and going to heaven. IT’S HUGE. And believe me, that 747, along with another one sitting on the roof of one of several museum buildings, will definitely get your attention.
After a brief stop, we continued on to the Logan Road RV Park in Lincoln City. This place is affiliated with the Chinook Winds Casino, owned by the Confederate Tribes of Siletz Indians. The RV park advertises itself as being ‘adjacent’ to the Casino. (As Dee Dee says, ‘adjacent’ is the operative word.) As soon as we pulled into the place, I knew it was not going to be (anything) like we had envisioned. All concrete, narrow spaces. But, clean and a HUMONGO dog run that pleased Charlie to no ‘end.’ And, Norman, the campground host was one of the friendliest guys you would want to meet. The Wi-Fi in the parked was pretty much non-existent as the many long-term renters all seemed to be streaming movies from Netflix all at one time. We just gave up on it. They do have a free shuttle that will take you back and forth. We tried it once and it was actually pretty good. They will also take you out to the Tribe-operated golf course for free…but Bob skipped it…too COLD to play.
The Chinook Winds Casino is huge and not too bad. Very nice bar overlooking the ocean, with decent food. (If you want to sit near the windows, you have to order food with your drink. Even though there were 20+ window tables and only 2 were occupied. And, the drinks are watered…so if you want any kind a buzz, order a double. Our first waitress (we ate lunch there 2 times) was pretty snarky, but the 2nd time our new waitress was great. The Casino is 19 years old and beginning to show its age, but it’s still in pretty good shape. And, they do bring in some big name entertainment (Willie Nelson and Foreigner, for example) at very reasonable ticket prices. If you are into slots (we’re not), there are only about a billion machines there. As well as an ample supply of blackjack and crap tables. I had a blackjack dealer who was ranked as one of America’s Biggest Jerks – total butt-head. Even so, I walked away relatively unscathed after only about 45 minutes of play. Dee Dee’s favorite thing was the free Pepsi and chocolate cake.
Charlie ran his ass off on the beach…we took him down 3 times and at the end of each session his tongue was dragging on the ground. That dog will chase a tennis ball until he has a coronary.
We explored Lincoln City a bit; Dee Dee picked up an ‘authentic’ glass Japanese fishing ball. BTW, Lincoln City has a cool tourist thing going where they deposit – above the high-tide line – glass balls, and other artifacts, made by local artists. We did not see any. Sigh…
Lincoln City, along with most other towns on the northern Oregon Coast, is an incredible compression of humanity and traffic congestion. If you are looking for not-too-many-people-and-no-traffic, head further south, at least past Newport.
After 2 days, we continued south on Highway 101 to Florence, Oregon, a delightful down, far less-congested than Lincoln City (which we will skip – with no regret – the next trip.) There are many, many Oregon State Parks on the way to Florence from Lincoln City. Next time we will do more careful checking and try to stay at one, or more, of them.
So here we now sit, at the Hecata Beach RV Park, as I type. This is a wonderful place; friendly office staff, lots of trees, very quiet, and only about .2 of a mile from beach access – and it’s a very nice, very dog friendly, beach. Charlie met several new friends…or should I say they met him. He was pretty much fixated on his tennis ball.
I will mention again that the Wi-Fi at the Logan Road RV Park more than sucked. Not the case here in Florence. Good, strong signal. (Hence the 3-day delay in our first blog installment.)
Tomorrow we turn away from the Oregon Coast had head overland for The 5, and then south to Canyonville to the Seven Feathers RV Park, one of our favorite places. Nice casino, too. After that, off to someplace in Northern California, with maybe a brief stop in Ashland, Oregon, to see an old friend.
(As a side note: our posts to this Blog depend on our ability to connect to the Internet. Crappy WiFi = No Communication. So, we may go a few days between posts, either because there was not that much to report, or we could not get online to make a post. So, please be patient.)