Category Archives: Travel Posts

Lake Havasu, AZ

Last week we enjoyed some time in Lake Havasu. We stayed at the Lake Havasu State Park. We liked the park for its location and the sites, like at most of the other Arizona State Parks, are spacious.

Sunrise at Lake Havasu State Park

We arrived from Tucson around noon. We parked the RV, unhooked the Jeep and took off for the Nellie E Saloon (better known as ‘The Desert Bar’).

There are two ways to get to the bar. One way requires that you have an high clearance off-road vehicle, such as a Razor.

The other way is also off-road, but most vehicles can make it via this route.

There is always a band playing on stage and we found the food to be very good. They only accept cash so if you go there be prepared.

http://www.thedesertbar.com/

While in Lake Havasu we hiked a couple of trails at SARA Park. (https://golakehavasu.com/activity/attractions/parks/sara-park/) We hiked the 5 mile roundtrip Crack-in-the-Mountain trail. This trail is fun as you have to snake through a mountain, use a rope to shimmy down a 6 foot sheer incline and maneuver over waist deep water on wobbly metal planks. At the end of the trail you end up at the Colorado River where you can dip your feet in the water. It was too chilly for that though.

On another day we hiked ‘The Lizard Peek’ trail. There is a 600 ft elevation gain to the top of the peek, which overlooks a Lizard formation made out of stones. Can you find the lizard in the picture below? It looks pretty small when you are 600 ft above it.

Once you reach the peek of the mountain you are surprised to find a picnic table there. While there we met some fellow RVers.

In the picture below you can see a couple of hikers making their way back down from Lizard Peek.

The hike getting up was a little interesting at times and required some fun rock climbing.

Below is a picture from the top of the mountain.

I mentioned that we met some fellow RVers while at the top of mountain. Well, they invited us over to their RV park (at SARA Park) one evening to view some fantastic fireworks. It just so happens that we were in Lake Havasu during the Pyrotechnic Convention. The show lasted for an hour. Aside from being pretty darn cold, it was quite enjoyable. I captured this photo with my iPhone. While not a great photo, you can see the large number of fireworks going off at the same time.

For those that may not know this, the London Bridge was purchased by Robert McCulloch from the City of London back in the 1960s. It was dismantled and shipped to the US where it was reconstructed in Lake Havasu. Each brick was numbered so that it could be replaced in exactly the same location.

Along the coastline of Lake Havasu you will find numerous miniature lighthouses. They are scaled-down replicas of lighthouses found along the East Coast, West Coast and Great Lakes. They are actually functional and are used to alert boaters of the lake’s coastline. Funny fact: the city of Lake Havasu, in the landlocked desert state of Arizona, has more lighthouses than any other city in the entire country.

A few other notes about Lake Havasu:

We’ve never seen so many RVs in one area. They seem to be everywhere. The city of Lake Havasu is surrounded by BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and RVers can dry camp anywhere they find a spot. If you don’t mind dry camping then it would be almost impossible for you to not be able to find a spot to camp out for a few days.

The Colorado River and Lake Havasu make this area a desert Oasis.

Overlooking the city of Lake Havasu

If you like ice cream, then try out Scoops. They have the best homemade ice cream in town.

Somebody has humor in town, as seen by this phone booth.

If we ever return to Lake Havasu I think we will look to stay at Arizona’s Cattails State Park, which is between Lake Havasu and Parker. It is located on the Colorado River, is away from the city traffic and has beautiful scenery and hiking trails nearby.

The weather during our stay was surprisingly chilly, in the 50s and low 60s. We had one day of non-stop rain, which came with flash flood warnings. The cooler weather made hiking nice though. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Lake Havasu.

We are now in Indio, CA for the next 2 weeks. More on that later.

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Tucson, AZ: Feb 2-9, 2019

We arrived on Saturday at the Tucson KOA to overcast skies and chilly temps. It was not the Arizona weather we had been looking forward to. It rained nearly all day on Sunday, which was fine with us since it was Super Bowl Sunday and we planned on hunkering down anyway to watch the game.

Charlie spent much of the day on Monday at the Pima Air & Space museum while I ran some errands. He enjoyed touring the museum, except for the portion outside where he had to walk through mud to see the planes.

Tuesday’s forecast remained cold and the winds were picking up so hiking did not seem like a good idea. Considering this, we decided to explore the Kitt Peak National Observatory ( https://www.noao.edu/kpno/ ). Now, one would think that going to the top of a mountain where the wind speed was 20-30 miles per hour and the temperature was hovering around 30 degrees, would not be the wisest choice. I might also add that the mountain top was in the clouds. When we arrived at 9:00 am we were the only crazy tourists there. We signed up for the telescope tours and then strolled through the very informative museum until the first tour began. The Observatory is an easy hour drive outside of Tucson. The Observatory offers 3 telescope tours. The first one we took was to the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope. This particular telescope is used primarily during daylight hours to study the sun and other close stars. The second tour was to the 2.1-Meter Telescope. This telescope originated in 1964 with a mirror made of a new material at the time, called “Pyrex.” The telescope has been instrumental for researchers to understand dark matter in the Universe. The last tour was to the 4-Meter Mayall Telescope. This telescope is the largest optical telescope on Kitt Peak. The telescope is currently being reconstructed for a multi-year research project exploring dark energy.

When we were not touring the telescopes we were learning a lot from our guide back at the visitor center. It was a very interesting day and we were very happy that we went. If you decide to take the tours make sure you take a lunch with you, as we did. It is an all day event and there is nowhere to purchase food on the mountain.

Click on a picture to activate the slideshow:

After a day of getting educated and excited about telescopes we decided to tour the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab at the University of Arizona (https://mirrorlab.arizona.edu/) on Wednesday, since it was again supposed to be wet, windy and cold outside. The Mirror Lab is currently casting eight 8.4 meter segmented mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope which will be installed in Chile. There is no other lab like this one in the world. The hour and a half tour included about 45 minutes of information in a classroom setting followed by a tour through the mirror lab. We learned a lot about telescopes and how the mirrors are fabricated. We highly recommend taking the tour if you ever have the opportunity.

After our mirror lab tour we stopped by the University of Arizona’s Planetarium and Mineral Museum. We enjoyed the Planetarium show and even found the Mineral display to be quite interesting.

Finally on Thursday we got some sunshine and temps in the 50s so we headed over to the Saguaro National Park – East. We took the 8 mile loop drive in the park to check out the scenery and then we drove a few miles outside of the park for a hike. We took a 5 mile roundtrip hike from Douglas Spring. The weather was perfect and the trail led us to a small ‘waterfall’ where we sat and had lunch. I’m always amused with the tall cactus figures, as you can see from the pictures below.

In the last picture, in the distance, you can see snow capped Mt. Lemmon. The road to get up there was closed due to ice and snow so we did not get an opportunity to venture up there.

For our last day in Tucson we hung out around the RV, for the most part. We also had to take our 4 week old Jeep Wrangler to Safelite to get a crack in the windshield repaired. It looks like new now. Hopefully it stays that way.

We did not eat out at all in Tucson because early on I discovered a fantastic market nearby that had the freshest seafood. Yuri, the fishmonger at Rincon Market, has fresh fish delivered up to 4 or 5 times a day. During the week I cooked up Halibut, Ahi Tuna, Scottish Steelhead, and Scottish Salmon. Everything was exceptional. One evening, after our long day of tours, we stopped by the market but I decided I was too tired to cook so we grabbed a bottle of wine from the market, sat at their counter and ordered dinner. I had salmon while Charlie had New York Strip. I highly recommend the Rincon Market https://rinconmarket.xyz/

We are now on our way to Lake Havasu for a short week, and then onto Palm Springs, CA. On our way we are stopping over in Eloy, AZ for a Chinese New Year celebration with friends. More on all that later…..

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Chiricahua National Monument

We left Fredericksburg TX and drove 9 hours to Las Cruces, NM. Our friends suggested the St. Clair Winery and Bistro for dinner. It is just down the street from the Hacienda RV Park, where we were staying. I’m so happy that they suggested it because we thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance, food and wine. We highly recommend it. https://stclairwinery.com/las-cruces/

In the morning we drove to Wilcox, AZ for the sole purpose of visiting the Chiricahua National Monument; https://www.nps.gov/chir/index.htm

As soon as we arrived at the Lifestyle RV Resort in Wilcox we unhooked the Jeep and drove the 37 miles to the park. There are no towns or services between Wilcox and the park, but it is a scenic drive.

We got to the park mid-day and decided to just do a short hike up Sugarloaf Mountain for a 360 degree view. It is a short 0.9 mile hike up to the top, with an elevation gain of 470 ft.

The following day we arrived at the park just before 9:00am to catch the shuttle up to Echo Canyon. We then hiked the Echo Canyon Trail and the Upper and Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trails back to the visitor center. It was a scenic 2.5hr walk through the rocks. When we started our hike it was barely 40 degrees on top of the mountain. When we ended it was nearly 50 and partly sunny. Perfect weather for a hike.

In the afternoon we decided to take a scenic drive over the mountain via the Pinery Canyon Road. This road is not maintained in the winter and you drive it at your own risk, but since there wasn’t any snow we did not have any issues.

The only negative with taking the canyon drive was that we ended up on the other side of the mountain, near Portal, AZ and had to drive an hour and a half back to our RV park. Portal seemed like an interesting place with beautiful mountains to hike, but we didn’t have time to explore. Maybe another time.

We are now heading up to Tucson for a week. More on that later…..

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Fredericksburg, TX

We spent the last 5 nights in Fredericksburg, Texas a town founded by German settlers in the 1800s. We visited the area a couple of years ago, but only for an afternoon, as we were on a day trip out of San Antonio. We decided to return for a longer stay to explore the Nimitz WWII Pacific War Museum and enjoy some of the wineries in the area.

It took a day and a half for Charlie and I to explore the museum. It is one of the best museums we have ever visited. http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/

There is a focus on music in the town and many restaurants have live bands each night. We stopped by Hondo’s and listened to a band called the ‘Almost Patsy Cline Band.’ They were pretty good, but it wasn’t my favorite genre of music.

When I was about ready to fall asleep to Patsy Cline music we decided to go across the street where a more hip hop band was playing at the Crossroads Saloon. We had fun dancing to the music.

One morning we took a recommended scenic drive west, along TX337 to Medina, Vanderpool and Leakey. In Medina we stopped at a fantastic Apple Store. We bought a piece of apple pie which was about the best I’ve ever tasted.

The area between Medina and Leakey is very scenic with rolling hills and country ranches.

Back in Fredericksburg we toured the Vereins Kirche museum. The building housing the museum is a replica of the original building built by the founders. We learned a lot about the challenges the early German settlers had to overcome as they established the town, and how the small town grew over the years to become what it is today.

If you visit Fredericksburg, we suggest the Mamacita’s Mexican Restaurant. It is fantastic!

Not too far from Fredericksburg is the Lyndon B Johnson National Historic Ranch. We visited the ranch during our last trip to the area and really enjoyed it. We did not revisit it during this trip, but highly recommend it.

While in Fredericksburg we stayed at the Fredericksburg RV Park. It is a quiet and clean park just a half mile from Main street. The park worked well for us and we’d stay there again.

We are now on our way to Wilcox, AZ to visit the Chiricahua National Monument. We’ll stop on our way in Las Cruzes, NM for the night. Following a couple nights in Wilcox we move onto Tucson. More on that later……

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Galveston, TX

Galveston was not in our original trip plan. However, once we learned that friends of ours, Jon and Cathy Kling (www.rvgreenboard.com), were going to be at the Jamaica Beach RV Park for the month of January and that Jon would be willing to build me some new cabinets in our RV, we headed that way.

Jon converted 5 paneled spaces to cabinets, giving me a ton of more storage space. I’m quite excited that he was able to do this, especially considering that we are embarking on a 10 month road trip.

The weather ranged from the low 40s, with wind and rain, to the mid 50s. We only had a couple days of sunshine. On one of those nice days we joined Jon and Cathy and took a tour of the Oceanstar Oil Rig. We found it fairly interesting. It is hard for me to imagine working on an oil rig for any length of time.

Down the street from the Oceanstar is a Train Museum, which we also toured. The museum is done very well, offering a lot of interesting history and things to see. It was also enjoyable strolling through all of the trains.

While walking around the old district of Galveston we came upon an old fashion ice cream and candy store called La King’s Confectionery. It brought back memories of similar stores visited in our youth. I wish my 5-year old grand-daughter was with us, as she would have LOVED this store.

We only went out for dinner once, and it was great. We highly recommend Gaidos if you are ever in Galveston. We enjoyed a great dinner with Jon and Cathy.

Not too far from the Jamaica Beach RV Resort is Allex’s Seafood Market where I picked up some locally caught fresh shrimp and Red Snapper. I then made a very yummy dinner.

While at the Jamaica Beach RV park we also had an opportunity to catch up with some fellow Atlanta based RVers, Lisa and Ricky Gonzalez. We saw them for the first time in years last week at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay, Alabama. Turns out, they were also heading to Galveston. Small world.

Well, we are back on the road, heading to Fredericksburg, TX. More on that later…

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Lafayette, LA & Tabasco

We stopped for a night in Lafayette LA, on our way to Houston TX. We arrived at the KOA just off I-10 shortly before sunset. We ventured out to see the Old Town district, but did not find anything interesting there. We went a little further down the road and stopped for dinner at a small restaurant called Steve & Pat’s Bon Temps Grill. The food was fairly good and the local atmosphere of the restaurant was great.

In the morning we drove over to Avery Island and toured the TABASCO Museum and Factory. TABASCO was invented back in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny on Avery Island. Today, his descendants run the company which provides the spicy red sauce to nearly every country around the world. We enjoyed learning about the history of the family and the famous sauce.

Following our TABASCO tour we headed back to the RV, packed up and prepared to work our way to Houston. However, right before we got back on the road we received a call from our kids, whom we were to meet in Houston. They were on the plane in Atlanta preparing for take-off when our five year old grand-daughter, Kensie, had a seizure. She had never had such an event. Long story short, Kensie had a Febrile Seizure. She is doing better now, but their trip to Houston was cancelled. Since our primary reason for going to Houston was to see the kids and they were no longer going we changed our plans and went straight to our next destination; Galveston, TX. More on that later……

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Natchez Trace Parkway

We pulled out of the Tiffin Service Center yesterday afternoon and decided to take the Natchez Trace Parkway towards Jackson, MS. If you are not familiar with this parkway it is a 444-mile federally protected scenic drive through three states. Back in the day Indians, slave traders, soldiers and settlers traveled along a similar route. We have travelled on different sections of this road, from Nashville to Jackson, at various times. It is always an enjoyable and peaceful ride. Often we were the only people on the road.

We stopped at the Jeff Busby campground (CG) on the Parkway, just before sunset. The CG was completely empty. Not sure if it was because of the government shutdown, or the season. The RV sites were up a hill and designed primarily for smaller campers. We could have parked in one of the sites, but it would have been tight so we decided with everything shut down and nobody around we would just park in the entrance parking lot for the night. That worked out great.

In the morning I took a very nice 3/4 mile walk up the hill to an overlook. The views and trails were very nice.

In the morning we got back on the parkway and drove to Lafayette, LA for the night. More on that later.

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On the road again: Jan.12, 2019

It is hard to believe that it has been nearly 10 months since our last road trip. That’s not to say that we have not utilized our RV during that timeframe. Upon returning from our Winter 2018 road trip we headed up to our home base resort in Lake Toxaway, NC; Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort (MF) (http://www.mtn-falls.com/ ).

We absolutely love MF. We have made so many wonderful new friends there and the surrounding lush mountainous area will take us many years to fully explore. We purchased a coachhouse on the top of the mountain ridge and have enjoyed many stunning sunrises, storms and Fall Colors from our back porch.

(You can click on the pictures to enlarge)

There are endless opportunities to explore nature around Mountain Falls. The Blue Ridge Parkway is just up the road and there are over 250 waterfalls in the county of Transylvania.

My daughter, Sarah, and granddaughters joined me on a hike to Log Hollow Falls in nearby Brevard, NC.

My other daughter, Stephanie, joined me on a visit to Living Waters Waterfall and captured me taking a photo.

My favorite waterfall in the area of Mountain Falls is Eastatoe Falls. It is on private property in Rosman, NC but the landowner allows the public to see this beautiful landscape.

Charlie and I enjoyed a day driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway this past Fall.

Some quality time was spent with family and friends at our house on Lake Chatuge, in Hiawassee, GA.

We also enjoyed a few hot air ballooning adventures. Charlie has been ballooning for over 40 years and always looks forward to getting his “Dense Fog” balloon up in the air.

One of the ballooning events that Charlie really enjoys participating in is in Helen, GA. Unfortunately, this year the balloons were unable to take off due to an extreme amount of rainfall. In fact, the river nearly ran over in front of the hotel.

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC had a couple of good exhibits this past summer and we took the opportunity to check them out. One of them was the Titanic Costumes. It was neat to see the costumes from the movie incorporated throughout the mansion.

The Biltmore also hosted the Chihuly Exhibit, which was really nice to see.

In December we took a vacation via Charlie’s plane. We visited many of the new friends we had made at Mountain Falls, as well as some of Charlie’s friends from his past employment. Our first stop was in Panama City, FL. We saw some of the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael back in October. You can see all of the blue tarps and downed trees in the photos below.

We then flew onto St. Petersburg, Orlando and Hilton Head. It was great to visit with so many wonderful friends. I also loved flying over the Atlanta airport.

The biggest adventure we had over the last 10 months was a 2-1/2 week trip to Iceland. I’ll do a separate blog on that fabulous trip.

We are now in Red Bay, Alabama having our annual service completed on our Tiffin RV. We expect to be done here tomorrow and begin our adventurous 10 month trip. Below is a map of our planned trip. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with the blog, as we expect to have many great experiences to write about.

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Naples, FL and The Everglades: Mar 8 – Apr 1, 2018

After four days in Ft. Myers we made our way to Pelican Lake Motorcoach Resort in Naples. We spent 2.5 weeks there. It is a beautiful resort in a beautiful area. We enjoyed site seeing, shopping and dining in Naples and Marco Island. We met up with friends from Mountain Falls and met new friends. We spent a bit of time simply relaxing, which is unusual for us.

Our favorite restaurant in Naples was a small place called USS Nemo (https://ussnemorestaurant.com/). I was skeptical about it, considering that it is a small restaurant in a strip mall along Tamiami Trail. It was difficult getting a reservation though, because it is so popular. You even need reservations to sit at the bar. Well, it was FABULOUS. I highly recommend it. I’m very thankful to our friends Don and Sherri for suggesting it.

During our stay in Naples a fire in the Everglades area affected us. Ash would blow into the resort and rain upon our car. A couple of days it was difficult to even go outside. Visibility was very limited and breathing was tough with the smoke ridden air.

We loved our stay at Pelican and look forward to a return visit in the future.

Our final destination for our winter trip was Outdoor Resorts of Chokoloskee, just south of Everglades City. Our friends, Van and Jane, from Mountain Falls, and whom we visited with in St. Petersburg, are owners at the resort. They are photographer hobbyists, as am I, so we were looking forward to a week of shooting in the Everglades.

We spent a couple of early mornings along the Loop Rd Big Cypress National Preserve Rd, just off of US41 looking for good photography opportunities. We were excited to spot a few Roseate Spoonbills, along with a ton of alligators.

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We passed a very strange residence, a closed down service station:

At the Everglades National Shark Valley Park we spotted many more alligators, including babies.

In the parking lot we spotted this. I told Charlie we need to step up our game and pull this set up behind the RV.

One evening we decided to capture sunset in the Big Cypress National Preserve. I was pretty nervous about walking out into the field to take the picture. I kept envisioning stumbling upon a large python. YIKES! But, all went well.

We travelled back to Marco Island a couple of times to seek out and photography the burrowing owls. I had no idea that their burrows were throughout the neighborhoods. We also spotted a busy woodpecker.

To top off our week at Chokoloskee we played in a Euchre tournament. Being from Michigan, I love Euchre. Not a lot of people know this card game, but they play it at Chokoloskee because many of the owners are originally from Michigan.

On April 1st we ended out Winter RV roadtrip and headed back to Atlanta.

Until next time…..

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St. Petersburg and Ft. Myers, FL: Feb 24 – Mar 8, 2018

Our next stop was Palmetto, FL, just south of St. Petersburg. We were lucky to get a reservation anywhere in the area, considering that we didn’t make reservations until just a month or two prior. We ended up at Fiesta Grove. It is primarily a full time residence park, which we don’t typically like. However, we found it to be very clean, quiet and friendly. We had a very large paved lot close to the pool. We’d have no issue staying there again. It was centrally located for us, as we were visiting lots of family and friends within a 20 mile radius of the park. We also felt safe leaving the RV there for the weekend when we headed to St. Petersburg to stay with friends.

We enjoyed catching up with many friends and relatives. We also really enjoyed our stay in downtown St. Petersburg with good friends, and fellow RVers, Van and Jane. We had lots of fun walking around the downtown area, shopping at the Saturday Farmer’s Market and eating at various local restaurants. The Farmer’s Market is fabulous and our favorite was the Red Mesa Mexican Restaurant. We highly recommend it.

One morning we drove over to Ft DeSoto Park for a photography shoot. We were on the hunt for birds and a nice sunrise. The early morning colors in the sky were spectacular.

Following a week in the St. Petersburg area we made our way down to Ft. Myers. We were scheduled to spend a week there. However, we did not care for our RV park so we cut our visit short by a few days. We stayed at the Ft. Myers Beach Encore RV Resort. The positive was the staff was very friendly and the park was centrally located for getting to the beach. The negative was we were crammed in next to our neighbor so much so that we could not even put up the small outdoor window shade without touching our neighbor’s RV. The roads were very narrow, no more room than the width of an RV. Across from us were cabins and cars parked in front of them. We had to search around for the car owners and get them to move their vehicles before we could pull the RV out. We would not stay at this park again.

Cramped space, as seen from our RV window.

During our stay in Ft. Myers we toured Sanibel Island. It is a beautiful island with fabulous beaches. The island is also home to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We enjoyed a slow drive and occasional walk through the refuge, spotting many birds and even an eagle, along the way.

We spent an afternoon kayaking in Lovers State Park. We spotted numerous manatees and dolphins swimming nearby.

On another day we visited the Audobon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, referred to as the Western Everglades. We strolled along the 2.5 mile boardwalk through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, around a marsh, and into the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America (www.corkscrew.audubon.org). We spotted alligators, snakes and numerous birds, including an owl. It was an enjoyable adventure.

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It was a little too chilly to hang out at the beach and since we felt we had seen what we had desired to see in the area and did not want to hang out at the RV park, we packed up and headed to Naples.

 

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