Sunday, August 22, 2021

Hurricane Henri

We've been parked at our favorite driveway for a little over a week now. It's Located on LBI. (Long Beach Island) New Jersey. During that week it's been hot, cool, sunny, cloudy, and now it's a hurricane.
Just the outer bands of the tail end of a hurricane, but it's a pretty good storm. I'm lying here awake at 3 in the morning, listening to the rain on the roof of the van and feeling the wind rocking us just like if we were driving down the road. The occasional bolt of lightning lights up thru the Windows and I count the seconds before the thunder - CRACK - that one was instant. It was close!



In all the years we've been coming here in august (nearly 20) we've never had predictable weather. Unless you call a little bit of everything predictable. It can go from suffocating heat without a breath of air at noon, to windy and cool at 2, to perfectly gorgeous for the sunset at 8, to a hurricane at 3am.
I feel close to nature here. Maybe too close.😁


Morning after Henri - The ocean has calmed down but there's good surf!

Our spot


Monday, August 09, 2021

Two wenches and a president

We haven't seen our old RVing friend Lynne in several years. She moved from Oregon to Minnesota last year and she said if we come anywhere within a day's drive, she'd get out her RV and come meet us. Well alrighty then, that sounds like a plan. We plotted our course east to use Highway 80 and found a campground just north of Iowa City. It turned out that we would be meeting over a weekend, so I had to make reservations rather than just trusting our luck. This was a COE (Corps of Engineers) park and they are very popular local destinations for weekend travelers. The reservation system (Recreation.gov) showed about 80% of sites were open and available during the week, but I snagged the last 2 sites open for Saturday night. Lynne would be arriving sometime on Friday night, we took advantage of the firewood for sale (6 pieces for $5) and started a nice fire in the campsite's fire ring - we had marshmallows now! This took a bit of doing because we had no kindling - nothing to get a fire going. We dug in the trash for some cardboard and it finally took.


As much as we were looking forward to seeing Lynne, anticipation was even greater for her beautiful dog, Finn. We've been seeing photos of him on Facebook for several years now and couldn't wait to meet him. What a joyful pup he is. I'm so glad that Lynne has him as a companion.



Jim's long-lost brother? They have the same mustache!

Saturday morning with our coffee, we asked Lynne if she'd be interested in visiting the Herbert Hoover Presidential museum which was only about a 20-minute drive. She said, "Sure!" So, off we went. Jim and I are big fans of Presidential museums - we've been to every Official Presidential museum, and Hoover's is one of our favorites. 
We left Finn in his air-conditioned RV, unplugged our van and drove it the 20 minutes to West Branch, Iowa, and the Herbert Hoover birthplace and museum. Little did we know that it was "Hoover Days" - Aug 6-7. What a treat. The streets were blocked off and there were tents, booths, and exhibits all thru town. The first item of business was lunch. We found this great bar/restaurant called The Downunder, because it was in the basement. Very cool ambiance with the old brick, good beer and great food. 



If you scan this code you'll get a video overview of Herbert Hoover's life

After a full and very interesting afternoon, we headed back to the campground to take Finn for a walk and relax. 

Lynne has always referred to family and friends as Pirates and Wenches. I'm not sure where that came from, but it's fun. 

We settled in for a quiet evening and wanted to build a fire. We had plenty of good firewood, but still no starter pieces. Lynne had an ax and tried to split some wood into smaller pieces, but it wasn't working so great. At one point, we both bent down and started blowing on the same spot of hot coals - voila! the fire took off,

Who needs fire  starter? All it takes is two wenches to blow..

What a great weekend. I love how RVing allows us to stay connected to friends. I was reminded about why we are friends with Lynne. Not only is she beautiful, talented and accomplished, she is also crazy smart. It was so fun exploring some history with her at the Hoover museum as she added some local Iowa farmer perspectives. We had non-stop conversation well into the night. And, marshmallows over the fire were pretty good too! We Love you, girl! err I mean wench.


After she left on Sunday, we stayed on and did one of our "What Does This Button Do?" shows. Episode 217 - prepare to be offline

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Rocky Mountain high


Time to head east. The normal route east across Colorado is Highway 70 - but it's had some major mudslides and is closed. Highway 50, going east out of Montrose also had some mudslides and is closed during weekdays. They have it open on weekends, so we decided to stay at Heath and Alyssa's one more night and leave on Saturday. Don and Kim recommended a side road over the Cottonwood Pass. We follow their advice whenever possible, so here we go.

A drive over a stunning 12,000 foot mountain pass, camping in a beautiful national forest campground with a nice walk along a creek and a real wood campfire. Then finish it off with a soak in a natural mountain hot springs. That was our last 24 hours






Jim was very happy with the ease at which our Roadtrek climed this pass


This is the Collegiate Peaks national forest campground. We snagged one of the last spots.

It was cool enough to have a fire. Where are the marshmallows?

Collegiate Peaks and Chris' history

This is an area in the Colorado Rocky mountains where there are several mountains, including Mt. Harvard and Mt. Yale, that are over 14,000 feet. Too bad none of them can call themselves the highest point in the continental US because that honor goes to Mt. Whitney in California at 14,495. A looooong time ago, when I (Chris) was a hippie hiker/backpacker I climbed the mountaineer route to the top of Mt. Whitney with my boyfriend, Bob. One summer we also took a trip thru Colorado and did some backpacking in the Collegiate peaks area. I can't remember exactly where, but I found this photo of me on the balcony of a cabin in these mountains. It had a sign in the window to the effect that backpackers were welcome to use the cabin rather than pitch a tent. Cool.


Chris - circa 1975 hiking in the
Collegiate Peaks
Jasper - the dog (left) and Bob

Bonus

We found a hot springs! Just down the road from our campground. Cottonwood Hot Springs They had several pools, ranging in temperature from 98 to 106 - that's hot! They also promoted the fact that these hot springs were not sulphur, that means they don't stink! They are mineral - mostly Lithium.



Thursday, July 29, 2021

Where travel meets business

We learned of Heath and Alyssa years ago from our friends Chris and Cherie. We followed their website and were particularly interested in their New Zealand travels. We followed their lead and rented an RV for our New Zealand adventure. We continued to follow Heath and Alyssa's blog as their life changed. They had a baby and started to look to settle down. Ever the entrepreneur, they decided to buy property for an RV park. They settled on a home and property in Montrose Colorado. 
But we're not talking just any RV Park. Heath and Alyssa are RV Entrepreneurs, and they have built a community of like-minded RVers. They produce an annual RV Entrepreneur Summit where experienced folks talk and wannabes listen. They wanted an RV park where their community would be happy to stay and work. An RV park, a community, a co-working space. A new place for a new kind of entrepreneur. 
We were intrigued.
We made arrangements to stay a couple of nights at their "Schoolhouse with a view" They made it clear that it really was not an RV Park yet. No hookups, no roads. But they did have boondocking parking areas and they did have the schoolhouse, a communal area with showers, kitchen, a gathering area for all the guests, and high speed Internet - fiber optic 300 mbps. 
We have a strong feeling that anything Heath and Alyssa set their minds to will be a success, and we wanted to see it.
We made our reservations using a booking system called hipcamp.com
We were coming in from the north after visiting the Colorado National Monument, so we stopped in town for a late lunch/early dinner. We found Horsefly Brewing Co. in Montrose that was quite accomodating. Beer and fish tacos - yum
Their campground is right on the main road (550) south of town, there is no sign so we had to pay close attention to the Google Map directions to the lat/lon position. Once we turned in we were in a large gravel parking lot with a line of trees at the back. That was the designated parking.
Boondocking only. See the schoolhouse at the left. That is the communal space.

The main room in the schoolhouse. This is where their RV Entrepreneur Summit will be held.

Separate rooms provide a space to do our online streaming, using their high-speed Internet connection


I hope we get to come back in a couple of years and see how it turned out!




Decisions, decisions

When the Escapade was over we found ourselves in a situation we haven't seen since our very first year of living in the road. There is nothing on our calendar until October in Florida. We could go in any direction our hearts desired, and take as long as we want.
After meeting up with Kim and Don, we were in Utah and just too close not to visit our friends in Park City.
Driveway camping at Tom and Margo's

What a view from their deck!

Lots of fires further west makes the sky so smoky

After we left Tom and Margo's we had some research to do. Were we going to go south? Monument valley is still on our list. Or do we go straight east and go across rocky mountain national park? Or can we go a little bit south and visit the brand new RV Park owned by Heath and Alyssa, then turn northeast? Once we're headed east, are we going to go all the way to the jersey shore before heading south, or turn at Missouri or Kentucky? We wanted to visit a friend in Minnesota, but that's awfully far north. We came up, roughly with 3 different routes to get from Utah to Fort Lauderdale, FL.
We needed to decide which of these 3 routes to take before we passed the blue star


The first decision point was in a little town called Duchesne, Utah (the blue star above). Going straight thru on highway 40 would lead to Rocky Mountain National park. Taking a right on highway 191 would take us to Heath and Alyssa. I decided to stop for the night in Duchesne! 
We stopped for the night in Duchesne (the blue star) to think about which direction to go

Yes, I was driving myself crazy, but I was also having fun. I love using Roadtrippers.com to play with different routes and see what's out there. It makes it oh so easy to "play what if." What if we go to monument valley, then east to Florida? What's the difference in miles if we go to rocky mountain national park, then east to new Jersey, then south to Florida?
Roadtrippers allowed me to plot each possibility, then turn them off or on to answer my what if questions. It makes it so easy. And it shows me cool things along reach route that I wouldn't know about otherwise. Like a hot springs on the west side of rocky mountain national park. We love hot springs! 
Armed with all the answers to the multitude of what if questions, Jim and I poured ourselves a glass of wine (or 2) and talked it over.
I said, it appears to boil down to seeing people, or seeing places. Jim said, unless there are other factors involved, I choose people! Ha! Decision made, we turned south-east at Duchesne in order to stay at Heath and Alyssa's property.

Bonus! 

Along the way was a national park that Don and Kim highly recommended we visit: Colorado National Monument. Wow.


And, we found a crazy place to stay the night - a Harvest Host location called Buzzard's Belly. It's located in an old ghost town called Cisco. One of Cisco's claims to fame is that the movie "Thelma and Louise" filmed some scenes there. So, we found Thelma and Louise on Amazon Prime Video and watched it. Yep, we recognized a few shots. This is one of our favorite things to do as we travel - watch movies filmed in the location.

You've heard about the middle of nowhere? We found it.