Custer State Park Working Adventure: Sturgis or Bust


Well let me just start out by saying, that I said a lot about not needing to ever go to Sturgis, but…I talk a lot…I say things that get changed…awe heck…I guess I lied! Because after we did a pre-Sturgis ride, we had to come back and see what it was really like during the rally.

Here are some pics from the roads and byways. We did many rides from Custer State Park to all the best spots in the Black Hills. Hill City, Deadwood, Newcastle, Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, and of course Sturgis. The roads and riding here are awesome.

The cool thing about the Sturgis rally is all the nearby towns which get caught up in the action, and all the riding that needs to be done to get to each one. So although almost 506,000 bikes showed up for the rally, they were nicely spread out as they explored the area.

That said, here is downtown Custer during the rally.

The roads in the State park filled up too, this is the entrance to Needles Highway. The park sold over 300,000 bike bands during rally week.

We really like Deadwood, it’s a real town of the old west, and apparently they numbered their saloons! We had lunch, an awesome lunch, at the Eagle Bar. I think their seating is a bit questionable however, lol.

We will definitely make some more trips back to Deadwood to explore the history. But for this blog…it’s on to Sturgis!


Sturgis a few days before the rally began.


And then…boom…a hundred thousand bikes and bikers.

Some of our favorite bikes we saw around town.

(Hey there’s someone else from Florida here!)

And out about there were lots of group rides.

In the end…we were a bit worn out.

But is was worth it, the Black Hills and Sturgis has to be some of the best riding we have been able to do.

We appreciate you taking the time to share our adventure with us.

Custer State Park Working Adventure: Being Tourists with Friends and Family

We love when family and friends come to visit us on our adventures. It not only helps with our homesickness but also gives us a great excuse to become tourists, or travel guides, as the case may be.

Lee and Lynda came through the Black Hills on the way home from their trip out west. We made a whirlwind day of adventure looking for buffalo and wildlife, and checking into Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore. There was lunch at the Purple Pie somewhere in between too.


Crazy Horse with Lee and Lynda

State Flags at Mt. Rushmore

Lee and Lynda at Mt. Rushmore

Lee, Lynda, Jennifer and Russ. Mt. Rushmore

Our drive took us through Wind Cave National Park, where we saw buffalo and prairie dogs.

Buffalo in Wind Cave National Park


Buffalo in Wind Cave National Park


Prairie Dog. Wind Cave National Park


Prairie dogs. Wind Cave National Park

Our animal sightings in Custer State Park included pronghorn deer, donkeys and water buffalo (haha, just kidding…it was really buffalo in water)!

I haven’t heard his name yet, but the small herd of burros has an addition. Custer State Park


Triplet pronghorns. Custer State Park


Water Buffalo. Custer State Park

The following week, our son Josiah took a few days in between tour dates to come and visit us. This mamma can never spend enough times with her babies and we had a great time doing a little sight-seeing and some hiking.

Hey…I didn’t get a copy of the pic you took…

It’s what he does.


These two! What are they into now?


Over there. Where?


The only time we gets pics together (with both our heads in the shot) is when Josiah is in town.


Exploring Wind Cave National Park


The truck straddling French Creek in Wind Cave National Park.

We had bison at the Bugglin’ Buffalo.

Did the touristy stuff at Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore. (I have no pictorial proof of Crazy Horse for some reason!)

Hi George. Mt. Rushmore


These two! If you’ve ever wondered why I have gray hair…its definitely one of these two.


My boys.


Mt. Rushmore National Monument

I made him go hiking. Told him he had to get off the electronics and get fresh air. Just kidding…but grateful to have kids who love the same things we do.

We hiked to Little Devil’s Tower in Custer State Park. The views are spectacular and the hike isn’t half bad either.








He actually doesn’t care for being this high up. Thanks for hanging out with us!




What’s for lunch mom? Still PB&J son.

Best cell service in town. Hi Sami…we missed having you!

Only one of the three of us wanted to swim after our hike. Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park is beautiful, but it’s too cold for this Floridian.

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park.

The cool breeze coming off the lake is nice too! Sylvan Lake

And just like that the friends and family left us to our adventure. Everyone is welcome to join us, we miss you all! Thanks for sharing our adventure with us.

Custer State Park The Working Adventure: Baby Animals

I’m having a difficult time picking just the right pic for the feature photo. As you will see there is an abundance of cuteness in this blog post of the babies we have seen in the past few weeks. So enjoy!

Buffalo calf. Custer State Park.

Since I’m at Custer State Park, and one of the main animals many come to see here are buffalo, I’ve chosen one of the baby buffalo as my feature pic. There are over 350 calfs in the park this season. They start out cinnamon color (above) and darken up over their first year. If you zoom in you can even see the start of the horns. One of the things I keep encountering here are people who think its cool to get out of their vehicles to get a closer view. Definitely not a good idea. Buffalo can run at 30 mph. Last time I checked…I’m not outrunning that on foot.

Older Buffalo calf. Custer State Park

Babies in the herd. Custer State Park

Along Highway 16A, we spotted the mountain goats. This mamma had twins.


Mountain goat kid. Custer State Park

IMG_8202 (2)

It’s better…they are mountain goat twins! Custer State Park

There are plenty of nicknames for the parks small herd of burros, the most common is begging burros. But I could beg to take this little guy home. He’s no bigger than a large dog, and he is definitely cuteness on over-load. I’m calling him Buddy Burro.


I haven’t heard his name yet, but the small herd of burros has an addition. (I’m calling him Buddy Burro.) Custer State Park


Foal “Buddy Burro.” Custer State Park

“Buddy Burro.” Custer State Park

The Pronghorn are busy too. This mama has triplets!

Mama Pronghorn with triplets. Custer State Park

Triplet pronghorn fawns. Custer State Park

There are no shortage of white tail deer here. The fawns are just mesmerizing to watch. They hop about and jump with no restraint as they enjoy the day.

Mama Deer and her fawns. Custer State Park

This shot cracks me up. Fawn #1 is poised and ready to follow mamas lead. Fawn #2, not so much.

Every family has the obedient child…and the other child. Custer State Park

And with a little sibling scolding…they were off.

Come on brother…time to move. Custer State Park

What a beautiful treat to see the babies in the park. Living proof that life goes on and the promise of newness. Thanks for taking the time to share our adventure. We will be back with more from Custer State Park soon.

Spring Forward: St. Augustine 2018.05.01

We arrived in St. Augustine. Six days wasn’t overly ambitious of us, we would have taken longer, but when there’s favorable winds you do what sailors do…sail!

Here are a few pics from the trip, enjoy.

Home is where the eggs are.


Salty getting his sea legs.


Obedient Pelican.


No Ka Oi in the Mosquito Lagoon.


Sunset Mosquito Lagoon.


Sunrise Mosquito Lagoon


Ponce Light, New Smyrna Beach.


I’m sure I’ll fit, right here!


We have seen many old bridges go and new high rises replace them, but we never saw one torn down before the new one was built. Memorial Bridge, Daytona Beach.


Nice Ride! Daytona Beach.


Good dog/Bad Dog?


Marineland Beach.


Marineland Beach.


Marineland Beach.


ICW sights.


Sunrise, St. Augustine Marina Mooring Fields.


Our favorite bagel shoppe!


Bagel bites for Salty Dog.

It’s going to be a laid back week for us. Thanks for stopping by and sharing our adventure with us!

Georgia 2017_04_01 to 2017_05_31: The Fun People

Fun wouldn’t be the same without all the great friends we have made along the way. Our time in North Georgia was filled with friends and family…what a blessing!

Rick and Jennifer came up to their cabin in Blairsville, the second week in April, and we had a great time with them.

They came over to Cleveland to check out our camp site, and then we took a ride, to Helen, along with some of our Paradise neighbors, Bruce and Teri, and Brian and Lynn. We had a great lunch at the Old Bavarian Inn. I look forward to their Reuben sandwiches any time I can get one.

Reuben Sandwich, Old Bavarian Inn, Helen, Georgia

However, this was not the highlight of our afternoon. It seem that a certain someone forgot the key FOB for his motorcycle. It is possible to start your bike if the key FOB is nearby (say hanging on the hook in the camper) and then one is able to drive far away from their key FOB. It only becomes apparent that one has made such a mistake, when, upon shutting down the bike, they cannot start it up again.

There is another way to start the bike, if a security code has been set up. Everyone was hungry, so over lunch, a security code was searched for in the owners manual, phone calls were made, and Iphones diligently searched. To no Avail.

NASA we have a problem.

I’m not going to name any names, but dessert on this ride was humble pie.

Humble Pie for dessert.

The guys went to retrieve the key FOB, while the ladies did some shopping in Helen.

Feeling a little Jerky?

Fortunately, Helen isn’t that far from Paradise Valley R.V. Resort, so once the key FOB was retreived, we still had time for a great afternoon of riding.

Sunday afternoon ride through the mountains of North Georgia.

Hanging with Rick and Jennifer means relaxing on the porch, enjoying the beautiful mountain view.

Best seats in North Georgia. Rick and Jennifer’s porch

Great riding.

Out riding with Rick and Jennifer.

A picnic lunch at Brasstown Bald.

Hey…we have cell phone service! Can we make it all the way to the top? In these motorcycle boots???

Getting silly after all those curvy roads.

Out for more riding with Rick and Jennifer. Hay, what’s the hold-up?

Rick and Jennifer’s cabin is not only comfy, but it has a beautiful view!

Finally got to see their dogwood tree bloom.

Relaxing sunsets.

Sunset at the cabin.

We also finally finished up the curtains for the man-cave, had many wonderful meals, and Spades! Alas, our week went too quickly…time to retire you two…hurry it up already!

Right after our week with Rick and Jennifer, we headed over to Charlotte, to spend Easter weekend with my brother, his wife and family. We had a great weekend, which included fabulous food, great games, and some hiking to work off the calories. I’m going to group their return visit to us, over Memorial day Weekend, right here. It is so wonderful to get to have more time for family! Time with Bert, and Soher is always full of love and fun.

Easter weekend with Bert and Soher, in Charlotte.

We focused on seeing a few water falls, while Bert and Soher came to visit us. Anna Ruby Falls, Vogel State Park, and Helton Creek Falls, as well as…lots of good food.

Anna Ruby Falls, with Bert and Soher.

Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher. Hofers Bakery and Cafe for dinner and some take home desserts.

I have to go back…they are closed! Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher.

Relaxing after dinner in Helen, Georgia. Bert and Russ. FUDGE!

Too many Jerky signs in this town! Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher.

At trip anywhere near Blairsville, has to include food at Jim’s Smokin Que.

Lunch at Jim’s Smokin Que, with Bert and Soher.

Then onto Vogel State Park and Helton Creek Falls.

Vogel State Park, with Bert and Soher.

Vogel State Park, with Bert and Soher.

Helton Creek Falls, with Bert and Soher.

View from Richard Russell Scenic Highway, with Bert and Soher.

We spent a great day with John and Janet. Of course it started out with a quick lunch at Jim’s, but we took the adventure to Paradise Hill Vineyard, for a bottle of wine and great music on their patio. Then back to our campsite for dinner, which unfortunately did not include a camp fire because of the rain!

John and Janet, at Paradise Hills Vineyard, Blairseville, Georgia.

It’s nice having some retired friends around! Gary and Debbie, whom we met in Marathon a few years ago, when they were sailing Aldeberon, have moved along to Hiawassee, Georgia. They build an adorable little retirement house and we enjoyed our visits. We really enjoyed the building project, because the “pay” was completed with fantastic gourmet meals prepared by Chef Debbie!

Russ and Gary built steps and a deck to connect the driveway to the beautiful front porch.

Completed front porch access deck.

We all know that all work and no play…is just not fun, so we made sure we had lots of time to go out and explore, a few fire-side nights by the creek and plenty of hiking outings were fun for all.

Hiking Brasstown Bald with Gary and Debbie.

Hiking Amicalola Falls, with Gary and Debbie.

Hiking Smithgall Woods State Park, with Gary and Debbie.

We made fast friends with Bruce and Teri. It seems we have lots in common, their winter home is close to our place in Umatilla. They love motorcycle riding. They just love life!

Shortly after they arrived from their winter home in the Villages, they began making preparations for the newest addition to their Paradise homestead. Their caboose arrived with much fanfare and activity. Finally by the end of the day, I spotted them relaxing in their chairs, admiring the caboose!

The Caboose arrives, Bruce and Teri’s new RV! (look how cute they are sitting their at the end of the day)

Out for a beautiful ride.

Riding the mountains in North Georgia, with Bruce and Terri.

These two love-birds do this at the end of every ride!

Love this…they do this at the end of all their rides. Sooo cute!

We are always excited when we get to spend time with our family. Especially our California gang, who don’t get back to this coast as often as I want them too. Fortunately for us, Ray’s younger sister graduated from UF (Go Gators, Yeah Maggie!) We became part of the two week loop they did from Orlando, to South Florida, to Gainseville, to Georgia and then South Carolina! Wow, I’m tired for them.

Nanny is ready for two little grands!

Ready for the Grands!

Good morning Nanny. Is PopPop awake yet?

Monta and Gabby visit Nanny and PopPop.

Out for our first Hike, at Dukes Creek Falls, located on Richard Russell Scenic Highway.

Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby at Dukes Creek Falls

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

PopPop has hiking buddies. Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

There is never a dull moment with this guy!

Nanny, I stacked the shoes by the door like you asked.

Extra shoes make Nanny’s heart happy.

Time for bed! Deep sigh, Nanny is tired!

Sleeping in Nanny and PopPops camper with Thomas is the best.

Day two, more hiking, at Smithgall Woods State Park, with fun in the creek!

Hiking Smithgall Woods State Park with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

Having fun in the creek, under the covered bridge at Smithgall Woods State Park, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

We made the best of a couple of rainy days. Babyland was a big hit, with an afternoon trip to Dahlonega. The Cleveland library had lots of games that were PhD approved by Dr. Daddy! I’m not sure I ever truly appreciated an inside playground this much! Thank you Chick-fil-A.

A rainy day was meant to be spent at Babyland and holding newborn Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Babyland, taking care of the Cabbage Patch Babies. I think she will fit, I can make her fit!

An afternoon trip to Dahlonega, with a stop at the Cottage Vineyard and Winery.

Lunch at Zaxby’s ana an afternoon in Dahlonega. PopPop, stick to the story line!

Rainy days and Libraries with PhD approved games, and Chick-fil-A! Thanks for the indoor playground!

Then just like that it was time for them to leave!

Time for Nanny to cry!

PopPop says don’t worry, I won’t let her cry for long!

No crying aloud!

We loved our Georgia Mountain spring visit. Of course we have moved along and there are more adventures to come.

Thanks for following along with us.

Georgia 2017_04_01 to 2017_05_31: The Fun Stuff


We are worse than glampers (glamorous campers,) we tend to take everything, including the kitchen sink with us. It’s how we roll. We made reservations for the the months of April and May at an RV park in the Georgia Mountains. We didn’t really know what we would do while we were there, so we brought plenty…just so we didn’t run out of things to do!

When all was said and done…the kayaks were the only toys we brought and didn’t use. Not bad for a two month stay. (But, in our defense…the water is very cold in April and May…Florida people just didn’t know!)

I’m busting this up into two blogs because there are a lot of pictures of all the fun things we did and all the fun people we did them with. This is the fun stuff Blog.

We made a two day trip on our way to Cleveland, Georgia. We stayed one night at O’leno State Park, in High Springs, Florida (just Northwest of Gainesville.) I love this park. It is full of CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) hard workmanship that is still in place since the 1930’s. It was one of the first nine parks in the Florida State Park system. The trails along the Santa Fe River are quiet and relaxing. We only had a night, but my evening hike was filled with birds, fish, squirrels and a snake! It was a great way to stretch my legs after a long day of driving.

We took the long way…Yeah the turnpike was shorter…Do you know how much that many axles cost???

CCC Workmanship from the 1930’s is still awesome to look at.

O’Leno State Park. CCC built the suspension bridge. Beautiful hiking along the Santa Fe River, and (bottom right) the view from our campsite.

We did one night at Casa Walmart, so we could get on our site in Paradise Valley RV Resort, first thing in the morning. Our creek side lot was beautiful. The Park itself is very friendly, quiet, and offered a variety of activities.

Our arrival the first of April allowed us to watch spring happen in full force, something these Florida people don’t see at home. Cleveland is located only 15 minutes from Helen,  offers stunning rides across the mountain (on 129 or the Richard Russell Scenic Highway,) to Blairsville and Blue Ridge, and is about 45 minutes to Hiawassee and the North Carolina State line. It was just the right home-base for our two month stay.

Everything and the kitchen sink. Glamping, at Paradise RV Resort, Cleveland, Georgia

Our first week was full of rain and cool, well actually, down-right cold for us Florida people! But we survived and took the time to have some much needed rest.

April showers bring May Flowers! Might as well take a nap Pepe!

Time lapse of our back window view. April 1st through May 28th.

We were excited when the rain stopped and we could get out and explore. After a little off-road exploring…we decided to work on my mountain skills on paved roads for a while!

Riding the Enduros to Blairsville. I’m not sure I can do these curvy mountain roads!!!

Just another riding day! Out on the Harley and a picnic lunch overlooking the waterfall at Vogel State Park.

These are some of the views on a ride to Helen, and a loop around to 129, back to Cleveland.

Roads and Rivers…along the way to Helen, Georgia.

We definitely used the Jeep on this adventure…the truck would have done fine, but…it’s a Jeep!

Dick’s Creek Falls while we were out for some off-road jeep riding.

Another Jeep adventure through Raven’s Cliff Forest Road. There was a beautiful meadow right beyond the road closed sign.

Smithgall Woods State Park was just around the corner from us. We had many great hikes and on this trip we decided to ride our bicycles. Do you want a leg work-out…yeah…forget the spin class! We even saw a bear, making his way through the woods.

Smithgall Woods State Park. We made it to the other side of the park!

Actually, the video is hilarious…I’m almost convinced to go with a paid WordPress site just so I can show you Russ getting his feet wet. He said it wasn’t deep…he was wrong!

What’s the last thing you hear a red-neck say…”Watch this!” Smithgall Woods State Park.

We parked the bicycles and headed out on the Cathy Ellis trail. It was a fairly easy hike back to the Chunanee waterfall. The problem with Smithgall Woods, is getting from the parking area to the great hiking areas. We still have several trails, like the gold mine trail, to go back and visit.

Cathy Ellis Trail to Chunanee Falls. Smithgall Woods State Park.

Russ decided we needed to check out some property for sale near Clayton…and we hadn’t checked the area out…so off we went for another day of fantastic riding and views!

Harley ride to Clayton, Georgia.

I was blessed with a new camera for Mother’s Day. I will have to change my name from Nanny Click Click to Nanny Click Click Click Click…..

Mother’s day 2017. New Camera (from Russ) and professional strap (from Josiah and Jennette.)

One thing this area of Georgia is not short on is fantastic waterfalls. We saw as many as we could and still have many more to see.

Amicalola Falls, Dawsonville, Georgia.

Amicalola Falls, Dawsonville, Georgia.

Back out of the Enduros to check out Unicoi State Park. Looks like a great place to camp, with three different areas, and just a short ride to Anna Ruby Falls.

A quick ride on the enduros, up to Unicoi State Park, just outside of Helen.

Dahlonega is a cute little town, with something happening all the time. We drove over several times to stroll through the antique shops and we had a grand time at the Art, Wine, and Jazz Festival.

Dahlonega Art, Wine and Jazz Festival.

Helton Creek Falls are located between 129 and the Richard Russell Scenic Highway. We actually found out about the other access point from a young couple in a little car, who asked if there was another way out, without having to ford two creeks! Yep…Jeep time! Creeks are on the Richard Russell entrance side. And so are the geese!

Helton Creek Falls, between 129 and Richard Russell Scenic Highway.

Our weekly trip to Jim’s. Mmmm!

Jim’s Smokin Que. Blairsville, Georgia.

The ladies at Paradise get together on Thursday mornings and do a little quilting. I was blessed with great instruction from our leader, Anne Raptis. This is my little table runner, not bad for my first quilting project.

My little quilt project at Paradise.

Also sewed a nice vest for Pepe Le Pew.

Mom made me wear this ridiculous contraptions. She said she could contain me.

She was wrong!

Early April view, before the leaves filled in.

Things you see in North Georgia.

Where’s the House?

We had so much fun on our trip to North Georgia. There is so much to do, the scenery is absolutely fabulous, and we will be back!

Creek-side, Fire-pit and a table for your drink. What else do you need?

As always, thanks for following along with our adventure. I’ll post all the picks with all the wonderful people we met and hung out with on our trip to North Georgia next!

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: The Last Chapter 2016_10_30 to 2016_11_13

Our end takes 14 days. All we really intended to do was get closer to I-10 and begin our way back to Florida. But, if you haven’t figured us out by now, we never take the simple route!

From Joshua Tree National Park, we decided to check out Quartzsite, Arizona.  Back in Death Valley, the couple (Dave and Nancy) who helped us out so much, sang praises of their winters on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas outside of Quartzsite, AZ. Where they pay a mere $180 for six months. We of course had to see for ourselves. This was not out of our way to some places in Texas we wanted to see, so off we went.

Leaving Joshua Tree National Park


Quartzsite, AZ

Once in Quartzsite, we headed out the main highway, looking for a good place to stay the night. We would check out the BLM land, but tonight we wanted some A/C, which unlike heat, we had brought on this trip, we are finally prepared for something! This was a very friendly park, they had a nice club house, laundry facilities and the managers, Mel and Ann (from Washington) were fabulous. They made cookies (made in the avocado green stove below) and coffee several mornings a week for everyone, and in the short time we were there, they had a movie night and several dinners at the club house. The only down side, was the dusty campsites…but every place in Quartzsite was just the same, or worse.

Split Rail RV Park, Quartzsite, AZ

Oh my! Can I take this home to the Lake? Yes, it still works perfectly…and no, that is not a microwave on top!

Our campsite at Split Rail RV Park

Art around Quartzsite, AZ

Cactus, its what’s green in Arizona.

Quartzsite is a winter destination for those who live in the cold Northwest. People from Canada, Washington, and points north, flood into this area when it is time to escape the cold. The town swells from 2,000 off season, to up to a million in January and February, when the annual rock and gem or RV shows are in town. The sunsets are amazing, too!

Sunset, Quartzsite, AZ

We settled in at Split Rail, and went exploring. We found the BLM land. It was expansive, but very dusty and remote. The town itself was very small. There was this great shopping area…I thought we could find a cute old trailer to convert. Which one do you like best?

Contenders for longer trailer

If I can’t have a fixer-upper trailer, how about a cool car…or two?

I really like the red one!

One thing led to another, and we found our way to R.V. Lifestyles…of course, we are just looking…right?

Just looking right?

We spent some time considering our options and talking about the things we wanted to do in the coming years. The new, two year old fifth wheel, really fit into our plan…so we added it to the family.

Our new second portable home.

It took us a few days to get everything set up, and hooked up, and ready to go. Our biggest issue was getting all this back home. This is what it looked like from Arizona to Louisiana. Did we change our name to the Clampetts? Hope we didn’t loose Granny!

Triple towing

Homeward bound. No more site-seeing for us, we gotta get this mess home!

Home, we are going home! Don’t mind my stoic look…I really am excited!

I-10 East

Triple Towing, it’s only hard to get gas!

You can only go so far in that rig. So a few miles into Alabama, we had to turn to other options.

Triple towing, not allowed in Alabama, Georgia or Florida. Plan B for getting the rest of the way home.

We are getting close!

Pepe Le Pew! We are home. I missed you!

There’s no place like home!

So that is how our Short, Short Trailer, went on a Long, Long Trip. We had a fantastic time on our trip out west. We have set in motion more camping and land travel. We just have to work out the balance of how to split up our time.

We really appreciate you following along and being patient with the time lapse of my posts. We love you all, thanks for adventuring with us. Stay tuned…I’ll fill you in on what’s been happening since we returned!

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Death Valley 2016_10_22

There are several reasons why Death Valley will be remembered. Although, it ought to be for its wonder and beauty, on this trip at least, we will be remembering for other reasons.

It all starts on October 22, 2016. We have spent another night at a Casa Walmart in Bakersfield, CA. We know where we need to go, only, the GPS does not recognize anything we put in for Death Valley. We settle for Lone Pine and hope for the best. As we got closer to Lone Pine, we found our sign, and we veered off into Death Valley.

We know this is a desert…but it is the end of October…and we have been freezing in several places. Anyway, I am rambling, here’s our Death Valley tale, and we’re sticking to it!

Saturday, October 22, 10:00 A.M.: Leave Bakersfield, CA, heading to Death Valley. No GPS address.

Pilot and Co-pilot, I’m not saying which is which. With vague GPS information, we are off to Death Valley

Saturday, along the way:

Trains and train tunnels everywhere. Awesome! Death Valley National Park

California, of course there are more wind turbines. Death Valley National Park

Have you seen anything green for a while? Death Valley National Park

Getting closer. Death Valley National Park

Saturday, 5:30 P.M.: Arrive in Death Valley. Take touristy photos in front of sign. 5:59 P.M. Stop at Father Crowley vista point for more touristy pictures. All is well.

We made it! Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Saturday, 6:15 P.M.: Decide to camp on the other side of the park. We need to go down, through the valley, and then back up the other side. All is still well.

I know this is elevated by Florida standards…but it’s only 3,000 ft. Death Valley National Park

We need to go down there and up yonder. Sounds good. Death Valley National Park

Saturday, 7:15 P.M.: Destination Stovepipe Wells campground, 28 miles. It should be cooling off soon, right? All is going to go hell in a hand-basket soon.

Campground 28 miles. We got this. Death Valley National Park

A little dry down here, huh. Death Valley National Park

We did that. Death Valley National Park

Saturday 7:40 P.M.: The temperature is rising. We have the A/C off. We think we can, we think we can. Radiator decided we could not.

Pull over. Fortunately, we are carrying our own water supply…do you think all that extra weight had anything to do with this problem? Naw.

Add water. Wait. Temp down, elevation rising. Can she make a 9% grade…up?

Are you kidding me? It’s 7:30 P.M. How can it be 95 degrees. Death Valley National Park

We passed a private campground a few miles back. Panamint Springs it is. Time for a U-turn.

Saturday, 8:00 P.M.: Register for site at Panamint Springs Resort. (are you kidding me, they call this a resort???)

Panamint Springs Resort. CA 190 Death Valley National Park

Panamint Springs Resort, Death Valley National Park

Saturday, 8:20 P.M.: Resident mechanic, trouble-shooting over-heating issue.

Resourceful. That’s my man! (and a little epoxy) Death Valley National Park

One of the things about camping is the good people you meet along the way. James was visiting Dave and Nancy, a couple of sites over. Dave and Nancy are heading South, to Quartzite, AZ, and James came for a get together of the group. (yes that’s a real thing!) He had just the right socket that was necessary for removing the radiator. The Captain patched the hole with 2-part marine epoxy, let it dry, and put it back together. They also had local knowledge of the best place to get parts and other resources that we might need.

Did I mention that we were in Death Valley? In the middle of no-place. And I mean no electricity…they made their own with on-site generators. No cell service. The “resort” used a satellite phone, and the little bit of wifi they put out might open an email…if 200 others, weren’t trying to do the same thing. It looked as though we would have to wait until Monday to get out and find the parts we needed. There was running water (piped in) from nearby Darwin Camp, so we did have showers and a good nights sleep.

Views from Panamint Resort, Death Valley National Park

Views from Panamint Resort, Death Valley National Park

Views from Panamint Resort, Death Valley National Park

Views from Panamint Resort, Death Valley National Park

Sunday, October 23, 9:00 A.M.: Pressure test. Can we drive her out of here? Will we need to make other arrangements to get a new radiator at the the nearest town with an Auto Zone? Ridgecrest is 65 miles away. Dave and Nancy, were heading out, and were stopping at the only place around that received cell service…a small pull-out off of Panamint Valley Road (Minnietta Road.)  So we followed them to cell service and called Auto Zone, and amazingly, they had the right radiator for an ’04 Safari Van, on the shelf. Thanks Dave and Nancy! We really appreciate you both!

Morning walk. Death Valley National Park

Sunday, 1:30 P.M.: On the road again…

Following Dave and Nancy to phone service, and then we headed to Ridgecrest, CA. Radiator temp is holding perfect. Death Valley National Park

Yeah, I’m not too sure about that.

Hey, thanks for visiting! Death Valley National Park

Sunday, 3:30 P.M.: Auto Zone: New radiator. Sears: New socket set. Since we didn’t have any temperature issues, during our 65 mile drive, we decided to take it with us to our camping site for the night. It is October 23rd…that would be our anniversary!

Sunday 6:30 P.M.: Arrive at Trona Pinnacles. We hit some rain on the way, but this is Death Valley…its a desert, right?  Are we really going to get stuck by a train in the middle of no-place?

On our way to Trona Pinnacles. Trona Road from Ridgecrest, CA.

Not sure. Not everything you see on the side of the road is explainable. Trona Pinnacles

Campsite at Trona Pinnacles.

Happy 18th Anniversary! Every year is a new adventure, and a new place to celebrate. Trona Pinnacles

Monday, October 24, 2016, O’dark-thirty (6:00 A.M.): It rained all night. We got little sleep.  All we could think about was the flash-flood signs we had seen on the way in. As soon as it was light, we hit the road running!

Storms = flash floods? Florida ppl just don’t know. Trona Pinnacles

Monday, 9:30 A.M.: Breakfast at Kristy’s, in Ridgecrest, then heading South on CA 395. Joshua Tree National Park, is our destination today. Radiator holding up fine.

Monday, 1:20 P.M.: Pass NextEra Energy Kramer Junction Solar site. Turn left at Kramer Junction onto CA 58. Van stalls. Radiator is fine, still holding and outside temp is in the 60’s. Seems like a fuel issue, turn around and go back to Kramer Junction, which is literally a Pilot gas station and not much more. We stop. She won’t start. We call a tow truck. Nearest town for service is Barstow, CA, 35 miles East. That would be an expensive tow bill, thank you Allstate for paying some of it! Geez Louise!

NextEra Energy Kramer Junction Solar site. Kramer Junction, CA. and what a real rig looks like.

Monday, 2:40 P.M.: Tow truck arrives.

Poor baby. Kramer Junction, CA

Nyah’s first tow truck ride. She liked that comfy bench seat! Kramer Junction, CA

Monday, 3:35 P.M.: Arrive at Barstow Tire & Brake. They can’t check her out until the morning, but we can stay in the Short, Short Trailer, in their parking lot. “It’s safe,” they said! Overnight tale would be a whole other rabbit trail of a story. Suffice to say, we made it out alive…with little sleep.

Barstow Tire & Brake, Barstow, CA

Monday, 4:00 P.M.: Unload Harley, take a little ride…to the Ford dealership…just to see what they have…really!

Monday, 10:00 P.M.: Remember, we are just looking. Drive new F250 4×4 pick-up truck back to the Short, Short Trailer. Try to get some sleep already.

Couldn’t they throw in the caboose, too? Mojave Auto, Barstow, CA

All that money, and we don’t even get a temporary tag? California issues a sticker for the front window, which is a one way ticket to your destination to get tag and title.

How to get a vehicle out of California. Barstow, CA

Can you fit the gas pump in the back? Barstow, CA

Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 9:00 A.M.: Auto Zone opens, return radiator. Yep, we never installed it, it was still sealed in the box. Eat breakfast, get out of Barstow, CA.

What do you mean I don’t get the same room as I had in the van? This stinks! Barstow, CA


We need some rest, Joshua Tree National Park, we are headed your way. Thanks for sharing our adventure with us.

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Family, San Jose, and San Francisco, CA 2016_10_10

We made it to the West Coast, to enjoy a week of family, and exploring the area like a real tourist. Even though the drought wrought area was blessed with rain, almost our whole stay, we still had a great visit! We spent the week with our daughter, Jennette and her husband, Ray, and our grands, Monta and Gabby. Our son, Josiah and his girlfriend, Sami, flew in to meet us also, so it was a great week for family.

Nanny was excited to see the wind turbines, because that meant we were getting close!!!

Are we there yet?

We set up camp at Sanborn County Park, just up from Saratoga, CA. Although we had an awful time with our reservation due to lack of any cell communications and the fact that we arrived on the Columbus day and that is a holiday for County employees. We managed to get a site for the first night, and a move to the site we would have for the rest of the rainy week! The park had an area for tent camping, RV electric hook-up sites, a dump station and a huge park for picnics and hiking.

Sanborn County Park

Sanborn County Park, we had a cook out, of course!

A fun day at Happy Hollow Zoo. I think PopPop may have had more fun than the grands!

Happy Hollow Zoo

Happy Hollow Zoo

PopPop helped someone master the stepping stones over the water.

Happy Hollow Zoo

Happy Hollow Zoo

Happy Hollow Zoo

PopPop can even make fun at Costco!

Shopping with PopPop

Do these ducks look a little spoiled? I guess the drought is real, when the ducks have to find swimming pools.

California Ducks

We celebrated Ray’s birthday with cupcakes and assorted shenanigans.

Happy Birthday Ray!

The shenanigans included lots of excitement in the bear castle.

PopPop and Uncle Josiah might be a bit large for this bear hut

Hanging out fun. PopPop where did you find that famous orange hat?

Strong Mama. And, yes, this hat does have a story! What goes around comes around, hahaha

Noooo, Uncle Josiah!

Playing outside in between the rain, at Jennette’s courtyard.

Playing outside in between the rain, at Jennette’s courtyard.

Dinner inside! Yea, more rain!

This is how low tech Silicon Valley really is.

Low tech

Who’s bigger, the kid or the cat? Say hi to Tyson!

Let’s do a family photograph!

Family photo time…

Ok, that works…I guess?

As good as it gets around here!

We all headed out on Saturday, to the Campbell Oktoberfest celebration. I somehow managed not to get pictures of everyone.

Campbell Oktoberfest. Nanny checked for trains…no grands were injured during this photo-shoot!

We had a great visit with Josiah and Sami, but they had to head back home…wish you could stay longer!

Josiah and Sami

On our last full day, we tempted more rain and headed to San Francisco. Off and on, but we had a great tour guide…Thank you Ray!


Nyah made it to San Francisco

Nyah heading into the City

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

Fun at the Fort. San Francisco, CA

Bridge view from the fort. San Francisco, CA

Yea, that hill that thinks its a street, or is that, street. Lombard Street

San Francisco, CA

Dinner in China Town at Brandy Ho’s on Columbus Avenue.

Brandy Ho’s, San Francisco, CA

After dark. San Francisco, CA

Well we had one last morning at the park, and then it was time to say goodbye to our babies.

Saratoga, CA

Saratoga, CA

Saratoga, CA

Saratoga, CA

Last smile for Nanny…you know I cried all the way to our next stop!

Saratoga, CA

I never understood my grandmother’s tears when we left…until now!

Saratoga, CA

We had to be on our way. Thanks for stopping by, this trip isn’t over yet…and you won’t believe what’s going to happen. Come back again!

Over the mountain to our next adventure

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Moving West – Making Miles 2016_10_02

Running from the cold is what Florida Crackers do best! Who wants to be cold, if it isn’t necessary. We wanted to stay a few more days at the beautiful Atherton Creek National Forest Campground, but the weather was calling for snow…soon, and we wanted no part of it!

So South and West we went.

Day One: 243 Miles to Willard Bay State Park, just outside of Salt Lake City.  We only stayed one night because it started raining, and the “campground” was nothing more than a large paved parking lot. There may have been amenities, we would have loved to ride our bikes around the dyke or done something on the water, but the rain pushed us on.

Driving Utah

Making miles, Utah

Are we there yet? Utah

Willard Bay State Park, Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, Utah

Day Two: 388 miles to Casa Walmart, Winnemucca, Nevada. One more State behind us. We stopped for a lunch break at the Salt Flats, and made it to Winnemucca well after dark. This was definitely a little town with a big gambling problem! It took us a bit to get past all the casino joints (please, don’t think Las Vegas style,) and find a friendly place to eat some dinner. We had just O.K. BBQ at The Pig, it could have been the late hour, but it was a little dry for our taste, but everyone was very nice.

Welcome to Nevada! Salt Flats? We love Salt Water. Nyah is suspicious, this doesn’t look like her kind of beach!

Usually a stay at Casa Walmart includes a little shopping for food and ice, but today’s adventure began with a trip to their tire center. Seems the Trailer tires aren’t wearing evenly, so this was a good opportunity to have them switched on the rims and try to salvage a few more miles. Job accomplished, sandwiches in the parking lot and we are on our way.

Wearing out rubber

Day Three: 186 miles to Washoe State Park, Carson City, Nevada.

We went under several of these odd bridges along the way. A little Googling indicated they were Wildlife Bridges. Top one is under construction, bottom one is up and working (we guess…didn’t actually see any wildlife out here. Should I be looking for them to cross 2 by 2?)

Wildlife Bridges, Nevada

Washoe State Park, Carson City. We loved everything about this park, except the night-time temps (more to come on that one!) We were greeted by several B.A.S.E. jumpers careening towards our camp site from the cliffs and hills above. Not a sport for the faint of heart, looks interesting, but I’m sure my motion sickness would kick into high gear over that stunt.

B.A.S.E. Jumping, Washoe State Park, Carson City, NV

Our campsite was right in the valley/lake basin. There are no reservations here, first come first serve. But there were plenty of sites to choose from.

Washoe State Park, Carson City, NV

Washoe State Park, Carson City, NV

Washoe Lake. Washoe State Park, Carson City, NV

Nyah lovin the run and jack-rabbit fun

Which Way did he go? I could get that jack-rabbit, if I get another chance!

Which way did he go?

The bridge to Carson City, NV

This was our camp site, right in the thick of things.

Washoe State Park, Carson City, NV

The wild horses came through the back side of the camp every morning!

Wild horses can’t keep me away!

Going into Carson City gave us the opportunity to try the In and Out Burger place. It was good, for fast-food.

In and Out

We stayed at Washoe for an extra few days because we finally had cell service, and there was this little problem at home which required attention. Fortunately, we avoided a direct hit and all went well, except for a few days without power. Thank you Ashley and Ron for rescuing the conch and Ashton for keeping No Ka Oi safe!

Hurricane Matthew!

Hurricane avoided at home! But here we had a different weather concern. The freezing weather finally caught up with us! Night one, we were cold. Night two…we were really cold. We woke up several times…we had every blanket we owned on…we wore several layers of sweatshirts and pants…we snuggled…we shivered! In the morning, when I picked up the tea kettle, the water was frozen. The dog’s water dish was frozen. The top of the trailer and the van had a layer of ice. We went to Carson City to shop for a heater! Night three…we slept much better!


The cold weather caught up with us, and we were ready to move along and we were ready for California. Next stop, Calaveras Big Tree State Park.

Time too find some warm weather!