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The Quebec Province, Part I: Parc national de la Mauricie and Old Quebec City

Our plan to travel through the Quebec Province, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for the summer has finally become a reality. We left the states on Monday June 12th and crossed into Quebec without incident. Our preliminary itinerary includes 9 National Parks with several provincial parks along the way.

Unbeknownst to us, it is Canada’s 150th anniversary and all of the National Parks are free all summer! Lucky happenstance!

Our first stop was in Shawinigan, an area we visited years ago for a snowmobiling trip. Must look real different without the snow cuz we remember none of it… This time our focus was Parc national de la Mauricie (La Mauricie National Park), the first on our current list.

We found a nice private campground convenient to everything. We took the first day to get our bearings. We started with a little shopping and exchanging funds. Currently the exchange rate is 1.3… Not bad.

We quickly learned that the province of Quebec is not super dog friendly… No dogs allowed at all in the provincial parks and basically not out of your vehicle in the national parks. We headed out for a dog friendly hike just outside of the national park suggested by the owners of our campground. Wow… Lasted only 1/4 mile in before the bugs won. Unbelievable I think some of them were the size of Mothra (King Kong/Godzilla reference…). Change of plans. We drove through the National Park instead. We stopped a few places to take pictures but again found ourselves fleeing swarms of bugs… La Mauricie is known for its conifer and hardwood forests and the more than 150 lakes within its boundaries.

 

 

 

After the ride we went on a hunt for bug netting for our heads… This proved to be a little bit of a challenge as Quebec is a French speaking province. Armed with our translation apps and a smile it was actually fun trying to communicate with people and find things we needed. We were successful and this will be a new staple in our hiking gear!

 

 

 

 

We took a motorcycle ride through the park and a short hike to Les Cascades one day.

 

 

 

 

Our next adventure was a 13k (8 miles) loop trail passing several lakes. Boy are we out of shape… We fatigued early but pushed on. We found a few shortcuts and did 7.25 miles completing the loop using a combination of several different trails.

 

 

 

This area is home to a variety of winter sports and there were big shelter buildings with fireplaces along the trail. The ranger who suggested this hike suggested we eat lunch here to avoid the bugs…Thank goodness… It was nice to be protected from the bugs while eating.

We enjoyed our stop here but were not overly impressed with the park. It was very pretty but was missing that wow factor for us…

Off to Quebec City to explore old Quebec for a few days…

 

 

We lucked out and found a campground, Passport America even, that provided a free shuttle service to the Levis (the town we were staying in) Quebec ferry. The ferry drops off right in the port of Old Quebec City…

 

 

 

 

Taking advantage of this opportunity we spent a full day exploring the city. Amazing old historic town. From what we could gather from the French interpretive signs… It was founded sometime around 1608 by Champlain. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some structures dating back to the 17th century. It is the only North American city to have its original ramparts intact.

We walked and walked… Making sure to stop at the many historical sites… There was plenty to see. It really felt as if we were walking and hanging in a town in Europe…

 

 

 

Terrase Dufferin with Chateau Frontenac in the background. Quite the impressive hotel…

The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec… Unfortunately it was being restored so the really impressive sections were closed off, no pictures made the cut.

 

 

 

The Citadelle of Quebec, also known as La Citadelle, is an active military installation and official residence of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada…

 

 

 

 

 

Place Royal…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We even stopped for lunch at one of the many cafés. Of course we had to sample some traditional food from the French province… soupe à l’oignon gratinee’, pate’, and poutine! Not on the diet but what the heck.

 

 

 

Oh… By the way I did this with my back out. Not fun walking all over looking like you are 90 years old… hunched over like a question mark… Eventually we needed to sit. What better way to end a great day than a cold pint with a view!

Staying another day crossed our mind but I don’t think my back could handle that much walking 2 days in a row… Tomorrow we push on to the Gaspe’ Penninsula.



Home… Family and Friends

We arrived home… Interesting term for us these days since we no longer actually own a home or have a permanent residence in the Rochester area. We will continue to call it home until we find another place where we want to hang our hats… Right now our friends and family make it home for us.

It was a busy three weeks.

We set up our home base at Brenda and Dennis’s while spending some nights with mom and dad in the basement (a story unto itself…).

 

 

We spent my birthday with friends at Brennis Farm…

Celebrated Mother’s Day at Anne and Stephens with the Strobridges and mom and dad… Nice to see everyone especially Sami and Adam!

We had a casino date with mom and dad at the new Del Lago Casino…

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hit Stoneyard Brewing with some old friends…

We helped celebrate Mikes 50th (Chris’s brother). He came in with Carri and Chase to celebrate at home with old friends and family. It was nice seeing some of his old friends and some of our extended family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had several picnics at the farm. Yummy Lucky! (beef reference) Good food, cold drinks, good friends, and a bonfire for good measure.

 

 

 

 

Of course there was Belgian Night at the Boudreaus….

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was girls day with Vicky and Brenda… A visit with Judy (Brenda’s mom), some retail therapy, a few wineries, and Del Lago for dinner and some gambling.

I am sure there was more… Oh yeah I went to the dentist😜

After leaving “home” we made a few stops to visit other friends.

 

 

 

 

We spent two nights with Mark and Sally in Boonville. Fun day out jeeping… Then a fun night out watching a singing duo… Ok and a lot of participating…

 

 

 

From there it was a visit with Nat and Ted. Again a two night stay. Donna and Jeff joined us for dinner Friday night! The next day they gave us a tour of their new property and we hit a few breweries on the way home. Before we left we checked out Cohoes Falls and stopped in at the studio for a last time…

We mad a quick stop in Hinsdale NH and did nothing for 2 days at this point… We were pooped and peopled out!

 

 

 

Feeling rejuvenated we were off to the Mazzallas for a visit and to celebrate AJ’s graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always love our visits at Club Mazzella. Too much food, lots of noise, and laughs!

We left New Hampshire on Monday June 12th. Canada here we come!



Washington DC 2017

After we left Pete we decided to head to Washington DC. There was no rush to get home as the weather was horrid… Rain, flooding and general gray yuck… Washington was showing some reasonable weather and we have wanted to do the National Mall and the historic sights for a few years. Although we aren’t big city tourists sometimes it makes sense!

We lucked into a campground in Virginia about an hour from downtown DC for $40 a night. Steep for us but great price for the area.

 

 

 

It was a 1/2 hour truck ride to the Metro and another 45 minutes on the train. Actually very easy and convenient… The metro dropped us right in the heart of the city an easy walk to everything we wanted to see. Another bonus and nice surprise…just about all the sights are free! All the monuments, government buildings, and museums are free!

 

 

 

 

The first day was beautiful and we walked 9 miles and took in many of the buildings and memorials. We saw the Capital Building (active protest and all!), the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, World War II Memorial, Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, walked through the US Botanical Gardens, and toured the National Archives. We were pooped when we got home!

A few days of rain allowed us to take care of some business…5 loads of laundry and some grocery shopping! No rest for the weary!

Another day we decided to do a car tour… We accidentally found Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate and farm along the Potomac River. It was crazy busy as there was a Revolutionary War reenactment going on. The big truck is always a bear to park so we didn’t think we could stay… Thankfully we lucked into a parking spot at the Washington Gristmill and Distillery. Here we hopped a shuttle to the estate, awesome! We walked the grounds of the estate and took lots of pictures. We didn’t stay long enough to get our inside house tour, because of the crowds it would have been another 3 hours before we could get in…Next time.

 

We found the Gristmill and Distillery very interesting and actually got to see the gristmill in action! First time either one of us has actually seen a working gristmill with waterwheel. They still make the grain that is used in the production of the whiskey. No tastes of the whiskey though…

 

 

 

Our next full day in DC was a bit more focused. Our fist stop was tour of the Library of Congress, wow! Our favorite building!

 

 

 

 

 

Second stop was the Capitol Building. This time we actually went in and took a tour. Again, pretty impressive. Would have liked to see the actual meeting rooms of the House and Senate but long lines are not our thing…

 

 

 

Our final stop was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Lots of reproductions, some originals… Interesting. Another busy day!

 

 

 

 

 

They had the first plane flown by the Wright brothers in 1903…

 

 

 

 

Ok… One more day… On our last DC day we fit in a tour of the Ford Theatre and the house where Lincoln died. It is really humbling to be in some of these places…

 

 

 

 

Our second stop was the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. A little disappointed… Think I like the one in New York better! From there we made the Holocaust Museum our last stop… Wow, really well done. Hard to put words to this visit, so much sadness. Amazing how many people and kids were there yet you could hear a pin drop the whole time we were there…no pictures… Just didn’t feel right.

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, it was time to head out… Or not… The last day of sunshine would have been a drive day so we opted to stay one more day and enjoy the campground. Great choice! There were lots of trails in the Prince William Forest Park where we were camping. We took the girls on a 7 mile hike, much of it along a creek. We all had a fun day and enjoyed the sunshine.

Off to Rochester to visit some family and friends for a few weeks!

 



Land Between the Lakes and Matewan West Virginia (The Stolen Pig Rally)

After we left the Buffalo River National Rec area we headed for Land Between the Lakes. We have been wanting to stop and check out this area between Kentucky and Tennessee for quite some time, however weather and general travel timing have precluded it. This time we made it work! LeeAnn and Jeff, friends from Lajitas are work campers there so we also thought it would be fun to pay them a visit.

We stayed at Piney Campground and Jeff and LeeAnn were very accommodating. We had a pretty nice site with water views close to the facilities. They even loaned us their golf cart to get around in! This came in very handy since we didn’t take the camper off the truck and it rained almost every day… It was good dry transportation around the park.

With the challenging weather we laid fairly low. We took one good motorcycle ride along the Trace and one hike around the park. We spent each evening with Jeff and LeeAnn having dinner and fires when it was dry enough. LeeAnn is not a picture fan so no photos to commemorate the events… It was a nice visit!

While working our way north and east we decided to pay a visit to the first park we stayed at on our very first trip in 2008-2009. The trip that launched a lifestyle… (Corny but true…). Cumberland Lake State Park in Kentucky… We even got the same campsite.

 

 

 

We had fun reminiscing… Found some old friends in the trees…mom, Scott… Anything to say? We also hiked the loop trail and recreated some photos… Short stop but a good one! See the pictures from 7 years ago here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop was Matewan West Virgina and the Stollen Pig Dual Sport Rally. The area is home to the Hatfield and MacCoy clans and the subsequent history. The rally was put on by a descendant of the MacCoys and his wife who was a Hatfield. Our friend Pete joined us for a visit and the guys were happier than pigs in shit (pun intended) to ride the Hatfield MacCoy trails. We stayed in a public parking lot that is set up with electric for RV tourism… Not the best but better than some.

 

 

 

We met some nice guys and the boys had lots of fun riding in the dirt (and mud… Of course we had some rain…). I wasn’t left behind all the time and enjoyed several road rides with the guys. Some of the best road riding I have seen… The rolling hills and small towns tucked in the valleys were quite a site to see. The whole experience was quite interesting…

 

 

 

 

From the rally we set off with Pete to Ohio looking for some more riding and maybe a brewery or two. Go figure… More rain… We did find Jackie O’s Brewery and enjoyed an afternoon of sampling. Nice end to the evening with a campfire and grilled meat! The next day we said goodbye to Pete and headed down the road.

Next stop… Washington DC

 



Arkansas 2017

After leaving Lajitas we spent 3 full days switching out the campers, organizing, cleaning, and restocking. The campground in Gatesville where our storage is isn’t much, albeit convenient. A passport park charging $15 a night for full hook ups and very flexible about parking… This time we scored 2 sites right next to each other, making the transition even more convenient!

From Gatesville we made a beeline toward Arkansas. We spent one night in Atlanta State Park in Texas. A tight spot, closed trails, and a very nice but loud neighboring family all encouraged us to push on after one night.

 

 

 

We landed in Tompkins Bend State Park on Lake Ouchita in the Ouchita National Forest in Arkansas. The campground was packed when we got there, it was a weekend but it was still more crazy than typical. It was obviously a very popular fishing lake, bass boats, trucks and trailers everywhere… Never giving up hope and reassured by the number of other campgrounds in the area we kept looking. In the last loop there was a perfect site… Actually one of the best in the park, really… Someone must have just pulled out as the fire was still smoldering. We got set up and made our way to the self pay booth smiling all the way!

We were at Lake Ouchita for 4 nights. We spent a bit of time just enjoying the campsite, right on the water. The girls enjoyed it and even got to do a little swimming. We fit in a few walks in the park and a few motorcycle rides around the lake and in the National Forest. We had a little rain so out came the awnings and easy up… then the games. Chris won both Mexican Train and Phase 10 but only in the last rounds… Some good games and a fun way to sit out the weather.

We decided to push on further into Arkansas. Eyes closed and map open… the finger on the map landed on Greers Ferry Lake. It looked interesting and was on the route to where we were headed. We thought we would stay for a few days but the park we were planning on staying at wasn’t open yet and the one we found just didn’t do it for us. Imagine, a campsite right on a lake and we poopooed it… Not even picture worthy. Jaded we are… (Yoda reference implied…)

 

Next stop was Buffalo River National Recreation area. Wow… Great find in the Ozarks. This area was the first ever National River Rec area declared by the National Park service in 1972. It was beautiful… Great riding, hiking and floating opportunities! We stayed at Buffalo Point Campground and got an awesome site at the very end of one of the loops. We even had our own private bathroom for much of our stay! The things that make you happy when in the truck camper and not on sewers…

We wound up spending 6 nights in this area. We had a bucket list of to do’s for our stay. Even with a few days of rain we managed to accomplish everything but a float trip. Always nice to leave something undone for the next time!

We took several motorcycle rides… Great road riding. We didn’t explore much dirt here but I am sure it is there! We hiked along the Buffalo River Trail… It was obviously springtime… lots of flowers coming up in the woods.

 

 

 

On one of our rides we noticed a little brewery in the middle of nowhere… After our hike we stopped in to check it out. Gravity Brew Works was a small operation run by a husband and wife team, Billy and Toni, who were also the brewmasters. Really nice people, great beers, and a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere. When we got back to camp we chatted up the only other couple on our loop, who also had dirt bikes of course… Audry and Jeff hung by the fire with us until 11 talking life and motorcycles.

 

 

 

We spent Easter Sunday hanging around camp. The weather guessers said it was going to be an all day rain. We decided to try and fit in a hike in the morning thinking we could out hike the rain but not so much… We were soaked to the bone! Great 3.5 mile loop to Indian Rock House. A huge cave with a running stream through it where natives lived many years ago.

 

 

 

 

There were several other worthy features along the trail like another large cave, waterfalls, mines, and streams. Since we were already wet when we got back home Chris took advantage of the rain and washed the truck, camper and trailer. I made some Chicken Soup, the perfect meal for a cool, rainy Easter Day! After drying out a bit and warming up with some soup we played some Mexican Train. I was a loser again.

 

 

 

 

 

For our last day in the area we headed out on the motorcycles toward Blanchard Caverns. Apparently this was a renowned cave, rated in the top 5 in the country. Who knew… When we got there we would have to wait an hour and a half for a tour or return for a much later one, we decided to ride a bit and take our chances on the later tour. We started by checking out Blanchard Spring, a really pretty little waterfall that comes out of the mountainside in another area of Blanchard park. As we were leaving an older lady took a headfirst fall off the trail. It was not pretty and she had a huge open gash… (we actually are still bothered by it). We took off on the bikes to get help as there was no cell service there… As it turns out she was dying of brain cancer with less than 8 months to live… We got help to her and headed on our way. Hope she is ok…

This changed the course of our day and we decided to head back to the Caverns for a tour before riding. We were a bit shaken up…

Wow… We have visited many caves/caverns in our travels but this one ranked pretty high! Not a big one but wow… The formations were amazing! Any cave feature, you name it and it was there… Stalactites, stalagmites, straws, curtains, columns, popcorn… Will have to revisit and take the other tours when they are open! This time of year the bats had right of way to the other sections of the caverns.

We really love Arkansas and will return to check out other sections of the Buffalo River Rec area and the Ozark National forest. Word of caution… It is a haven for tics! We had the unfortunate experience of finding them on us and the girls… Yuck!

Off to Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky, and West Virginia as we make our way back to New York.



Lajitas March 2017

The end of February found us spending time apart. Chris stayed in Arizona with the girls while I spent a few weeks in Florida with dad. March 1st Chris set out on his own moving from Queen Valley Arizona back to Lajitas Texas. It was the first time he had to pack up the house on his own… He found a new found appreciation for his professional cleaner and hunkerer… He did great and made it to Lajitas early March 2nd. Meanwhile I was in Boca helping dad while he rehabbed from back surgery. Thankfully dad did great and a week after surgery I headed back “home”… Funny, now home is where the hubby, girls and camper happen to be!

Chris picked me up from the airport in Midland Texas on Monday March 6th. Midland is the closest airport at 4 plus hours away… A long day for all when you combine travel time, a huge grocery shopping, and a new set of tires for the dually.

Ahhhh, Lajitas our winter home… where we spent the rest of March. It was good to get home and settle in. Having been here so many times we don’t really consider this “traveling” and don’t document each event as we did in the past. With that said there really is rarely a dull moment.

Chris had some great rides… Some on his own, others with friends and even a few with me.

The past few months I have attempted some motorcycle rides/riding that have alluded me in the past. I have tried more off road of varying difficulty and have become a bit more confident, resulting in me riding better overall. I finally did South County to North County road, did the road from Terlingua Ranch to the National Park (sand, ugh…), and rode out to the water hole on Agua Fria road. Looking forward to seeing even more next year”

We fit in several repeat hikes and also explored some new ones. We had a double fail, trying to find some old ruins in the State Park… First time we set out on our own, the second time was with Robin and John. We know what we need to do next time having set a few GPS points and discussed it further with the park ranger. Nice to leave something for next year! We also conquered a past fail… Last year we failed to loop the North Mesa and were determined to complete the loop this year. 13 miles later success! Next year we do it in the opposite direction!

Of course there were numerous social events like pizza, 2fers, campfires, happy hours, pool time, Mexican train…

I even worked a few days at Long Draw Pizza.

It was a very HOT March which at times limited what we could do. With that said it was another great month! We always love our time in Lajitas with our winter family! All good things must come to an end… but we are excited to do some traveling and see some new stuff. Off to Gatesville to switch out campers. See y’all next year!

 

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The Superstition Mountains, Arizona

We arrived in Queen Valley Arizona on February 2nd not knowing what to expect. What we did know was there were lots of mountains (The Superstition Mountains)and supposedly a great deal of dirt roads to explore. Our site was a far cry from our roomy home in Lajitas but Chris did an amazing job getting us in there… Of course having about 10 people watching put a little pressure on. We knew one couple who were staying in the park, Di and Greg, who greeted us with big smiles and cold beverages the moment we arrived. Everybody was very nice. We finally got to meet Lavon and Rick, friends of the June and John Grimm and Di and Greg since high school. We had heard so much about them it was nice to finally put faces to the names!

We planned on only staying a week but within 2 days we booked for the month. A bit pricier than what we are used to, but that is the way it is in these parts… Very popular in January, February, and March. Interestingly enough we needed fake ID’s to get in… Most of the parks around here, including this one, are 55 plus… Apparently they let in a few underage people so they aren’t dinged for discrimination or… I need better face cream!

Wow, the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest are pretty amazing! We had no idea it would be as spectacular here as it was. There were so many things to do we had a hard time deciding from day to day.

 

Sooooo, what did we do?

 

A big thing around here are side by sides, four wheel drive atv’s on steroids. Rick was nice enough to take me out one day on a big ride to Martinez Mine.

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of fun! Even got in a 3 mile hike to the old silver mine. Amazing that people actually got the materials for building and huge machinery out there in the middle of nowhere. Great day with Di, Greg and Rick.

 

 

 

Another day we headed out with Di, Greg, Lavon, and Rick to have lunch at River Bottom Grill. Great day of riding dirt! They had their side by sides and we rode our motorcycles. I even impressed myself with some of the obstacles I was able to handle. Not ready for prime time but not bad for an old chick!

When we weren’t socializing we found lots to occupy our time…

Our first field trip was a motorcycle ride through Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat, Apache Lake, and Roosevelt Dam. Wow! First real look at what was around here and we were hooked! Great motorcycle loop!

 

 

 

 

Our friends Mark and Sally passed through the area for a few short days. We had a fun tourist day with them at Goldfield Ghost Town, then a ride through tortilla flat to show them the amazing views!

 

 

 

 

Mark isn’t a fan for heights so the drive and our timer shots may have caused him to need a drink or two… Stopped in at Tortilla Flat to solve that problem on our way back home. Always fun hooking up with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We bought a hiking book at the ranger station and had to check out some of the trails in the Tonto National Forest. We decided to do the Peralta Cave Loop since we didn’t have much time. We wanted to make it back for happy hour to say goodbye to Di and Greg who were leaving the next morning… Well, the guy who wrote the book may not be the best at trail descriptions… After getting to the saddle and seeing the awesome view of Weavers Needle we opted to make a loop instead of the out and back. The writer mentioned this “may” require some trail finding… He missed the rock scrambling, 45%grades and lack of trails to find… It was a bit sketchy at times but we found our way! Great hike!

Go figure… The Arizona Renaissance Festival started its run while we were here. Every few years we like to make an appearance since it brings back such great memories. We went for the first time 6 weeks before we got married back home in Sterling. That was where we bought Chris’s wedding ring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was HUGE and we went on the first day. The lines to get in were a bit crazy, but once inside it wasn’t bad. We had fun checking out all the people in costume, seeing a few of the acts, and of course catching a Joust! It was a fun afternoons!

 

 

 

 

We took a crazy 250 mile loop in the truck up through the town of Young in the middle of nowhere. We had planned on taking the bikes but it was very cool and windy… Lots of mountain roads, dirt cliffs, and high elevations… Even found snow!

 

 

 

 

The next day we set out on the motorcycles for a road ride to Salt River Canyon. We didn’t know what to expect but we again were very pleasantly surprised… Wow, like a mini Grand Canyon. We were going to try and get to Show Low but never made it that far. By the end of the day we had done 200 miles! Never a dull moment!

 

 

 

Another day we set out to do the out and back near Picketpost Mountain, Alamo Canyon, which is part of the Arizona Trail (AZT). Of course being the adventure seekers we are we set out to find a loop around the mountain! Again, we had some trail finding to do. Thankfully at one point we followed a long set of orange ribbons that we think were marking what would one day be the loop trail. There were other indicators we were on the right path… Lots of horse poop! We coined the term “follow the poop to complete the loop”… Ok, don’t judge… What else do we have to do on these long hikes when we don’t know where we are…

Lost Dutchman State Park was not far and came recommended by some people we met at Quartzsite. We took the girls for this one and didn’t expect much… There is an epic hike there called Flatiron that is over a 3000 foot elevation gain with much of it being a climb… We didn’t plan on it but did wind up going up the Siphon Draw Trail which apparently was much of the beginning of the Flatiron hike. We made it to a cool waterfall at the end of the draw but it was crazy slippery after the weekend of rain. With the dogs it was just to risky to go on… We will do it next time! We came back down then finished with the Treasure Loop trail, nice day!

Some days we hung closer to home and walked around the hills in back of the campground. We tried to get up to a flag on one of the hills but failed on our first attempt. While I was in Florida Chris eventually conquered the flag!

 

 

 

 

We loved doing laundry here… They have a great billiard room right next to the laundry room. Nothing like playing pool and having happy hour while getting the laundry done! Even better when I win!

 

 

 

 

 

Chris managed to fit in a few rides on his own. He found there was an abundance of great dirt to  test out his new toy! Oh the places you will go…

Of course there were several Happy Hours and a few dinners. Great hanging with with friends and meeting all the new people.

I had to take off the last week in February to visit dad and help out during his back surgery. Chris stayed with the girls and held down the fort. Suffering I am sure while riding his new dirt bike everyday!

Next stop… Back to Lajitas!

 

 



Quartzsite Arizona and Southern California

After leaving Lajitas we made a beeline to Quartzsite Arizona and the Grand Design Rally. We did 877 miles in 2 days with a big grocery shopping thrown in for good measure, a bit frenetic to say the least. This destination would prove to accomplish 2 “firsts”. This would be our first “rally” of any kind and our first trip to the infamous Quartzsite. We have heard a great deal about the desert community that evolves every winter in this area and knew one day we would check it out. The rally being here and the timing just made sense!

Well, what is Quartzsite you ask… It is a town off I-10 that resembles the worlds largest swap meet… Lots of dust, people, and markets… You can buy anything from bamboo socks you can wear for 4 days before they smell (yuck), discount groceries out of bins in a tent, a beer at the “adult day care”…(Outside bar), or a new or used RV… For many RVer’s the draw is all the free camping on the surrounding Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. There are RV’s everywhere… And I guess nowhere…

 

 

We camped with about 70 other Grand Design owners about 5 miles from town. In my mind a rally should be more informative and provide opportunities to learn and share about whatever you are “rallying” about, this one did not fit that bill… However the rally experience was a good one and we met lots of nice people. The weather was unfortunate and the cold and rain may have put a damper on some social activities. We did enjoy a ginormous pot luck, group campfires, and of course the corn dog guy. Yes, up until that day Chris and I were corn dog virgins! They were actually very good!

We had planned to stay in Quartzsite longer but, wait for it… The weather stunk! We decided to head further west to Southern California. It had been almost a year since visiting mom and Chris. Our last visit was not the best, having been drawn together due to my uncle Gary’s passing (moms brother).

Big Horn Sheep keeping an eye on us
Overlooking Lake Cuhuilla

 

We found a county recreation area with a campground about 45 minutes from moms house. We thought this would be a good central location for visiting family and friends and also doing a little sightseeing. While there we took a few short hikes in the surrounding mountains and look what we found… or did they find us…

 

 

 

Originally we were only going to stay for 4 nights but we needed more time for visiting, business stuff, and some fun. As luck would have it our house finally closed! On January 31st, 2017 we became homeless. Ok, not homeless but stick and brick homeless. It is very surreal… Not sure if it will really sink in until we head home and don’t have one to pull into… Very excited about having no strings attached!

 

 

 

 

While in town we went to visit John, a long time family friend. He and my uncle were very close for many years. He is now the papa to my uncles two Bijon Frise doggies, Desi and Lucy. The girls enjoyed hanging with their cousins (so corny).

Mom and I enjoyed some time just hanging. We always like to walk at 1000 Palms preserve!

 

Mom and Chris (yes, her husbands name is Chris too…) came out to the campground a few times and Chris and I enjoyed strolling around the lake with them. We also made some very yummy meals…Yes, I do say so myself!

 

 

San Jacinto at sunset from Mom’s backyard

 

It is always nice to visit at mom and Chris’s house too! There are some awesome views, this was a particularly stormy night…

 

 

 

 

 

We were able to fit in two motorcycle days. The first day we headed toward Borrego Springs, a town in the middle of nowhere. After fighting horrible winds and some pretty chilly temperatures we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw! Chris had read an article in one of his motorcycle magazines about some interesting statues in the desert which immediately became a must see for us. Galetta Meadows statues are the “gifts of visionary town benefactor Dennis Avery and the craft of sculptor Ricardo Breceda“.  It was a great afternoon driving around checking out all the sculptures and posing! A must see if you are in this area!

 

 

A second day we just headed up into the San Jacinto mountains… Route 74 is a great scenic ride. Not for the faint of heart but another must see/do in the area. We had tea and coffee in Idyllwild, a funky little town way up in the mountains. There was actually plowable snow up there!

 

 

 

One day we got real thirsty at Costco and decided to stop into the La Quinta Brewery.  They had a few good beers of there own but we really liked the Firestone Walker guest taps!

 

 

 

 

Overnight Quartzsite campsite, not bad for free.

All good things must come to an end… We left Southern California Wednesday February 1st, officially nomads! We decided to holdover in Quartzsite one night before heading into the Phoenix area and the Superstition Mountains! This visit was much quieter… No rally, no RV show… Amazing what kind of real estate you can get for free

Oh yeah… Picking up Chris’s new toy tomorrow… He is the proud owner of a 2017 Husqvarna 701 Enduro. He is a happy camper… Pun intended!



Home Again… Lajitas

Typical Lajitas Sunset
North Mesa…

Well, after fighting some weather in the Texas Hill country we decided to head home. Our Texas home that is… Lajitas. It really does feel like home. As we have been here so many times it almost seems superfluous to post. Much of what we do and see we have done here before. Each time however we may see a little something extra or meet a new face or two. We had a great month… Really flew by… it was hard to leave as there is just always something fun to do and somebody fun to do things with.

 

 

 

 

Riding with Robin and John
Off to see Kim and Bill’s Property on the Ranch

 

Chris and I managed a few motorcycle rides… Some with friends…

 

 

 

 

 

Chris and Chris
Never a bad view…

 

Some Chris went alone or with the guys…

 

 

 

 

 

South Mesa to Fresno Overlook

 

Yikes…

We hiked a few of our favorite trails around the campground…

 

 

 

 

 

Old General Store in the Middle of Nowhere
Wow…

 

We even explored a few new ones that were off the beaten path.

and Wow…
Magic Mushroom

 

South Rim
Christmas View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Day we hiked the South Rim Loop in the Chisos! Awesome way to spend Christmas! Even better to end our day having Christmas dinner with Larry and Polly at the Chisos restaurant!

 

 

Happy New Year!
Texas New Year with my Honey

 

 

 

We hung with the regular gang and met some new friends. New Year’s Eve brought us all together, old and new… Thanks to CeCe and Tex for opening their house once again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresno…
The Girls…

I managed to fit in a few hikes with the girls…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the workout gang…

 

I worked out almost every morning at the clubhouse. Thanks Eileen for your aerobics classes, Lee Ann for sharing your tapes, and everyone else for joining me in some PiYo! Gonna try and keep it up this time.

 

 

 

 

So many friends!

 

Broke lots of bread and happy houred with many friends… Enjoyed several football games at Casa De Vistas… Always too much food, drink and fun! Then there was Mexican Train… I think the ladies are on top!

 

 

 

 

Yay Gloria!

 

We cheered Gloria as she finished her 30k race through Big Bend Ranch State Park…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing how fast the time went… We have a list of things we just didn’t get to. No worries as there always will be a next time! Time to head out for some new adventures for awhile… Heading to Quartsite Arizona for a Grand Design Rally! Then who knows…



Exploring Hill Country…

From Natchez it was a quick trip to New Orleans. We were feeling the need for some oysters! We have been enjoying the freedom to move around more frequently without worry of rig size when we land somewhere. The truck camper is very convenient for this kind of travel. The downfall we are finding is comfort. The weather hasn’t been great and there is limited space and limited comfy choices on those dreary days and cold evenings… The fact that it gets dark by 5 has also been a limiting factor. Complaining aside…everyday is Saturday!

Having been in New Orleans several times we didn’t have the same NOLA bucket list or need to be in the city all the time. We were excited to scope out some of the surrounding bayou areas, eat some seafood, and get out on the motorcycles. We stayed in Bayou Segnette State Park about 20 minutes south of New Orleans.

Right next to our campground was an open air seafood market. Unfortunately we didn’t capture the market or our fishy purchases on camera… Oops… However we had some fun with it… First night… We bought oysters and trout… Fried oysters and broiled trout for dinner, Yum! Another night we did alligator sausage and gulf shrimp 2 ways.

We spent one day in the Garden District…

 

 

 

 

Another taking in the sights and sounds of the French Quarter… Never disappoints… Interesting people watching, artwork, music, and of course food! Would have liked to stay and play there a bit more but we had doubled up on Chris’s motorcycle because the dually is no fun in a big city… Safety first! Party in the quarter next visit.

 

 

 

We happened upon the Barataria Preserve, one of 6 sections in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve , while exploring south of the city. Interesting geographic history…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we hiked several of the trails and spotted a couple of interesting creatures along the way… According to a fellow hiker, the snake is a black moccasin (don’t think so, but makes a good storyline!) very poisonous water snake… The spider, well we just thought he was cool!

 

 

 

 

This area was not conducive to motorcycling as it was either very congested or flat and boring… We took one ride that ended with a stop at a farm market… (I had to go potty… who woulda thunk that?) We grabbed some creole tomatoes, sweet potatoes and boudin for dinner! Love trying the local foods! All in all a good stay but ready to move on.

 

 

Working our way toward Texas, we stopped in Abbeville, a historic little town on the gulf. Rumor has it that due to the uncomfortable living conditions… heat, humidity, and swamps… it was where the original Cajun people settled since nobody else wanted the land… Having heard the restaurant up the road was outstanding, we walked from our campground to “Shucks” for dinner (pun intended apparently, lots of oysters on the menu!). We were still craving seafood and knew we wouldn’t get much of that in Texas… Wow, great night! One of the owners, David, chatted us up the whole time and told us what to try while giving us several free samples. We filled up without even trying some of our original choices. It was so good we stayed a bit later the next day and hit Shucks again for lunch on our way out!

 

Next stop Lake Livingston State Park. This would be our second time here and it turned out to be a very different experience. The weather was a bit better so we got out to explore more of the park than the last time. The girls were happy to run around a bit.

 

 

Well, as stated earlier in the post… With the weather, early darkness, and terrain, the truck camper wasn’t doing it for us. It was time to get the big rig… We spent several days switching out the campers and also fitting in a visit with the Schmidts! We got to see their new house outside of Fort Worth. Always a great time with that family!

Thankfully everything went smoothly with the camper switch and the Grand Design seemed to be as we left her, ready to roll! Sooooo nice to have all the space. Good thing too since it has basically been cold, gray and rainy since we hit Texas.

 

We pulled out of Texas Station in Gatesville, our storage place, on Tuesday December 6th. First stop Blanco Texas in Hill Country. Figured it was a good central location to hit a few breweries, state parks, and take the truck in for some warranty work. Have to love our yellow loaner! Notice the neighbor has a Grand Design Momentum too!

 

 

The weather in Blanco was cold and gray and I have been fighting a cold… we still managed to get out a bit… Oh no… limited choices due to weather…we had to go to some local breweries…We hit Real Brewery with our Momentum neighbor Gil.

 

 

 

We also stopped in for a tasting at Middleton Brewery… Belgian style!

 

 

 

 

Can’t say things have been super eventful but we know it is coming!

So excited… Mark and Sally, friends from NY have caught up with us and are spending a few days here in Blanco. We had a fun day at Perdernales Falls State Park where everyone got to stretch their legs a bit. Dinner at Old 300 in Blanco was also a fun time!

 

We all decided to leave the RV park we were in and head for a nicer location for a variety of reasons… We had a short ride to Inks Lake State Park in Buchanan Dam Texas. It was a much nicer place to call home for a while. We had awesome sites right on the lake with lots of real estate!

From Inks Lake we did several day trips. The sun didn’t want to come out but that didn’t stop us!

 

First day was Enchanted Rocks State Park, one park we have wanted to see for a few years! Mark, Sally and Molly (their black lab) joined us for a bit then we split up to do some exploring on our own.

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed a 5 mile loop trail around the “Enchanted Rock” and had some fun taking pictures. We planned on doing the summit trail afterward (no dogs allowed) but Chris was breaking in new boots and some blisters got the best of him… next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was… wait for it… yup… cold, gray, and drizzly. No problem, the perfect day to explore Longhorn Caverns State Park.  Chris and I had done the tour before but thought Mark and Sally would enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark was a bit apprehensive at first since he had never done a cave tour but a good time was had by all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris and I had one more State Park we wanted to check out in the area.  Finally a nice day with sunshine and reasonable temperatures! Colorado Bend State Park is a bit off the beaten path but it was worth the hour and a quarter drive.  We did about 5 miles of trail… The Tie Slide Trail to a nice overlook of the Colorado River and the Gorman Falls Trail which led to a very cool waterfall.  The waterfall was a cascade of solidified limestone drips covered in moss… Hard to capture but very interesting in person.

 

Well, our plan to move on and try and find some warmer and sunnier weather was delayed a day due to the return of the polar vortex. Temps dropped from 80 degrees and sunny at 4 pm yesterday to 35 and windy at 7 pm. We woke up to 20! Heading out tomorrow…We will miss Mark and Sally but we are looking forward to visiting our Big Bend Friends! Off to Lajitas, home away from home!




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