Happy New Year – Here’s hoping

Seasons in the Sun RV Resort, Mims, Florida

It’s been hard to know what to say about the past five months since my last post. Like many, we’ve adapted our lives to the needs of safety and health. We’ve been lucky to be able to travel and see our family. Unlike millions of others, we haven’t suffered any losses amongst our close family or friends for which we are grateful.

We have travelled to some beautiful and interesting places and taken note of places we might like to revisit when the world opens up and we can return to see what we missed.

Sioux Falls

Following a two month stay with our family in Rochester, Minnesota, we made a short hop to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to get our driver’s licenses and complete the process of establishing our legal residency there. Although our visit was strictly business, we were able to take the time to visit Sioux Falls Park where the actual falls is located. It’s a beautiful park and we were enjoyed an afternoon outdoors exploring the falls.

Indiana Dunes – Over the dune to the lake

After a brief stop back in Rochester to take care of some needed repairs, we began to make our way south. Again we were fortunate to be able to stop along the way to see our kids in Chicago and Cleveland with some outdoor, socially distanced visits. With some cooperation from the weather, we were able to include a couple of day trips and hiking in Indiana Dunes State Park with Josh and Shaina and dinner and an early birthday celebration for Ziv in Matt and Danya’s lovely garage in Shaker Heights.

Beautiful trees draped in Spanish moss in Charleston

We continued on southward with some nice stops along the way: a couple of days near Athens, West Virginia affording us time to hike along Brushcreek Falls; we explored Charleston, South Carolina; Tybee Island, Georgia; and St Augustine, Florida finally landing in Mims. All the while taking note of the things we would like to be able to do if or when we return to those locations — visitor centers, indoor museums, shops and restaurants all off limits to us or closed.

Canaveral National Seashore on New Year’s Day

So here we are, ensconced in Florida for the winter, like the snowbirds we never thought we’d become. We continue make our best efforts to stay safe and keep healthy. We’re looking forward to getting vaccinated some day (vaccine is sold out here in Brevard County through February), learning all about Zoom and online bridge, online shopping, curbside pickup, reading, walking and way too much TV. We did get to see a nighttime rocket launch from Canaveral which was visible right here in the park. Otherwise, life is quiet and we hope it will remain so until the world is ready to open up again.

Our plan remains to be back in Pennsylvania in the spring and then, who knows what the summer will bring.

We sincerely hope this missive finds you and all who are close to you well and thriving as much as is possible in these extraordinary times. We look forward to seeing you and hugging you close.

It’s been a long time and we thought we’d just let you know we’re still here. Frankly, in the past six months there hasn’t been a lot happening to write home about.

January and February were a whirlwind of activity. In January with life continuing as normal, we left Daisy with a sitter and flew from Palm Springs to New York (and back) for a fabulous Becker Family Thanksgiving. At the end of January we started our trek east with some fun sightseeing stops along the way. A visit to the quaint town of Las Cruces, New Mexico; a few fun and musical days in Fredericksburg and Luckenback, Texas; a brief stop in Houston for a visit to the Space Center (worthwhile visit, horrible traffic); a long awaited week in New Orleans – great fun, food and music (and did I mention the awesome food?); we took some time to explore Northern Florida interspersed with a trip to Georgia for a family visit and a side trip to Annapolis for a family Bat Mitzvah; back to Florida for more family time in Jacksonville and a week in Christmas that included an air boat ride on the St John’s River for a closeup look at alligators in their natural habitat.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe we did all that in such a short space of time. In fact, it’s hard to imagine we did those things at all. It makes me tired and a little bit scared just thinking about it.

Finally, heading north in March we began a planned a civil rights tour through Alabama. There we got “stuck” outside of Montgomery when the world shut down. Fortunately, we found ourselves in a beautiful RV park just outside the city, near enough to have the availability of food and necessary services, far enough to enjoy the quiet surroundings of woods and pond and plenty of social distancing. We looked around and said to ourselves, “We might as well stay where we are.” We were extremely lucky to be able to hunker down in a beautiful park, enjoy gorgeous weather and everything we needed close at hand. With good Internet service we sat and watched while the world sorted itself out. We discovered services we never thought we’d need like grocery delivery and drop off laundry service. We began to learn how to maintain a balance between safety and sanity. Bridge tournaments were cancelled and the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League) went online. Gyms, hair salons and other “non-essential” services shut down.

We stayed put in Alabama until the arrival of tornado season added stress upon stress so we determined it was time to continue north. Plotting a route that allowed us to keep ourselves safe while providing for overnight stops when so many states had closed campgrounds and were not permitting overnight stays was a challenge. We managed it with some adjustments along the way as circumstances evolved. We made it to Pennsylvania by early May.

In the succeeding months, like you I’m sure, we have focused on adjusting to our new normal, finding safe ways to visit with our immediate family and close friends, and learning about Zoom. Since July we have made our way from Hatfield, to Cleveland, to Chicago to Rochester, Minnesota where Hank and his family have relocated in the midst of all the craziness of the world. Once we have established ourselves as new residents of South Dakota next month, we will again head south to Florida for the winter — traveling safely and with little or no sightseeing along the way.

Our family has been touched by the virus although, as far as we know, we haven’t lost anyone. We are among the lucky ones. Our hearts go out to the millions who have. We hope that by this time next year the world will have returned to some semblance of normalcy. We pray that you and your family are safe and well. Please get in touch and let us know how you are doing in a world gone crazy.

As always, we love to hear from you.

Be well.

I know it’s been a while and I must confess that since I asked the question, I’ve become more adept at being lazy, thanks to some good advice I received from my loyal readers. Just to clarify, that’s lazy in the most positive sense of the word with no negative implication. It turns out that laziness requires some attention and diligence. It can be difficult to sit and enjoy a good book or just close your eyes, relax in the sun and listen to music while quelling the voice in your head that says you should be doing something more productive.

Old Faithful

To be fair, since we left Anacortes on August 5 we have traveled through seven states and visited 17 national parks and monuments. From August 5 until we arrived in Anaheim on October 20, we didn’t stay in any one place for more than seven days, more typically four or five days in each location, sometimes less. It was a grand adventure and quite exhausting. You can see our map of all the places we have visited here.

Sunset at Zion National Park

Some of our favorites included Yellowstone, Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks; an exciting helicopter ride over Grand Canyon; Petrified Forest and Painted Desert which has been on my bucket list since I was around eight years old. We also enjoyed an unexpected visit to the corner in Winslow, Arizona. I’m working on posting the many pictures we took of our travels. We’ve had minimal or no Internet service until now so I’m way behind on that.

Petrified logs at Petrified Forest NP

And while we’re at it, we also had the adventure of driving down a bumpy road and glancing in the rear view mirror to discover the side of our trailer flapping in the wind. Since it was a Sunday and no mobile service was available, we were forced to make the remainder of the drive down the highway at 35 mph with cars whizzing past as we prayed not to see the side of our home flying off into the desert. We did make it safely to Holbrook, AZ where we were fortunate to locate Joseph, a wonderful mobile tech who drove an hour twice to help us out and make us roadworthy again. Joseph managed a temporary repair that has held up better than the original work. So much for quality control. That repair will keep us going until we can return to the dealer in Pennsylvania for the permanent fix. Joseph, by the way, turned out to be a fascinating character who has lived in various places around the US and Germany, a former professional ballet dancer who now maintains a farm, keeps horses and teaches ballet to children in addition to his mobile RV service business. The mishaps we’ve experienced on our journey have certainly brought us the joy of meeting some wonderful people. I assure you, there are still good people in the world.

Sunset at Grand Canyon

Experiences such as that and some other minor issues (like discovering that our kitchen cabinets had started to come loose and were in danger of crashing down around us) keep the journey interesting.

We stayed three weeks in Anaheim, California (actually Yorba Linda), resting and catching up with our family there, then moved on to Indio, near Palm Springs, in the Coachella Valley where I am writing now. The park here is beautiful and we’ve so enjoyed the area that we extended our stay for an additional month, cancelling our scheduled month in Tucson. Staying in one place for so long has been luxurious — our longest stop since we took to the road 15 months ago. There is a bridge game available every day of the week and a friendly synagogue in Palm Desert that boasts an interesting and lively Saturday morning Torah study. We have enjoyed regular workouts at the nearby Planet Fitness (although I admit I blew off the workout today and sent Steve without me). The people in the park and around the Coachella Valley are friendly, welcoming and relaxed. The Valley boasts an embarrassment of riches when it comes to shopping, dining, culture and entertainment; traffic isn’t horrible and the weather is mild. As we sit surrounded by palm trees, we can see snow topped mountains in the distance. With all that in mind, we’ve booked a return stay for a full four months for next winter.

We’ve also figured out that planes still fly so Gail flew to Washington to celebrate Chanukah week with the family there. In a couple of weeks we fly to New York for a long weekend to observe our traditional non-traditional family Thanksgiving.

Once we return from that trip we’ll be hitting the road again, heading east with some scheduled sightseeing stops in Texas and New Orleans. Plans for the spring and summer are fluid at this point but we expect to be back in Pennsylvania by early spring.

Home for now

So, the adventure continues. We extend sincere wishes to all our family and friends new and old for a happy and healthy year. Please keep in touch. We’ll see you down the road.

It’s been one year since we dove in to life on the road, and a busy year it has been. We have traveled through 38 states; visited 28 National Parks, National Monuments and National Historic Parks (so far) and numerous beautiful state and local parks around the country; visited with our family scattered across the continent and met interesting people along the way.
We’ve had many new experiences; seen life from 10,000 feet to 300 feet below sea level. From oceans to forests to desert. We have had adventures as well as mishaps that have introduced us to local auto repair shops, body shops, RV repair technicians, one local urgent care clinic and one local hospital ER (Don’t worry, we’re fine). Steve has managed to play in not one but three bridge tournaments including the national in Memphis (although he’ll tell you he’s had not nearly enough bridge), while Gail has enjoyed her alone time.

The moment of “Oh, my God. What have we done!”

The once daunting and stressful tasks involved with picking up and moving from place to place have become routine. We’re more comfortable with driving a two ton diesel truck towing a 7 ton 36 foot trailer. We can be closed up, hitched up and ready to move in an hour.

We’ve learned a lot about living together in harmony in a small space, dealing with sometimes difficult challenges, and more about what we are capable of. We have learned to be more forgiving and more tolerant of each other’s mistakes and frailties. And, by the way, Daisy has also mellowed quite a bit, learning to take things in stride and seemingly to enjoy the mobile lifestyle.

In spite of two years of research and planning, when we took the leap we didn’t know that we really had no idea what to expect of this lifestyle and we are fine tuning as we go.

Since it’s been a year on the road and since Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is upon us, it’s a good time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going. Well, we know pretty well where we have been and we have no idea where we are going. Lewis Carroll wrote, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” We took a leap of faith based on the notion that, when we get to the end of the road, we’d rather regret the things we’ve done than the things we haven’t done. In the meantime, we’re exploring a lot of roads to see where they will take us and contemplating a possible future in which we might settle down in one or two places, if we can only figure out where they might be.

Staying put certainly would have been easier. We sometimes miss our familiar routine. We miss spending time with friends. Stability is comforting and predictable. The truth is, neither of us have been risk-takers in our lives and jumping into the unpredictability of this life represented a huge risk. That said, we agreed then that it was a “now or never” proposition and we felt confident that we could handle whatever came along, as long as we faced it together. On that front I can only say, so far so good.

We hear a lot of comments from people who say, “We’d love to do that.” “We envy you.” “We hope to be able to do that someday.” We said that to someone more than 40 years ago. That was the germ that blossomed into our final decision to take the plunge.

So, as we eagerly anticipate whatever unknown adventures and opportunities the next year will bring, we wish all our friends and family a Shana Tovah, a good year. We look forward to seeing you down the road.

We have covered a lot of territory over the past few weeks both geographically and geologically. It has been a roller coaster ride through time and space. During the past two months we have visited 9 national parks and there is more to come. Each park has its focus not only on a different landscape but a different period in time. I am running out of words for the beauty, grandeur and fascination these parks have to offer and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to experience them.

Crater Lake

Since Mount St. Helens, we have gone back in time 7,700 years to the eruption of Mount Mazama which resulted in the creation of the now pristine and beautiful (although still active) Crater Lake.

View across a lava field at Craters of the Moon

From there we moved forward to 2,000 years ago when the last major eruption of the Great Rift in Idaho left the amazing lava fields, cinder cones, lava tubes and other weird formations now protected in Craters of the Moon National Monument. We also went forward in time to visit EBR-1, the first Experimental Breeder Reactor in the world, now a fascinating museum. Check out our pictures of what a revolutionary and now antiquated atomic power plant looks like.

Active fumeroles (steam vents) at Yellowstone National Park

Then on to today and the alien looking landscape of the many active thermal features of the Yellowstone caldera, sitting atop an active supervolcano. Although there hasn’t been an major eruption at Yellowstone for 664,000 years, the daily geyser eruptions, hot pools and springs and steaming fumeroles present a constant reminder that Yellowstone is still alive and active.

Grand Tetons viewed from across Jennie Lake

From Yellowstone to Grand Tetons to Dinosaurland (Dinosaur National Monument). In contrast to the strange volcanic landscapes we’ve explored, the jagged peaks of the Teton Range reaching to over 13,000 feet, first began to thrust upward 10 million years ago making them one of the youngest mountain ranges in North America.

Part of the quarry wall at Dinosaur NM

Dinosaur National Monument turns our attention from geologic formations to life existent when dinosaurs roamed the continent. Although the monument is relatively small, it has a huge impact. Excavations began there around the turn of the last century and we are fortunate that those scientists had the foresight to protect a portion of the excavation for future generations to witness and learn from. It gave me a chill to see and touch actual fossilized bones from dinosaurs that lived and breathed 140 million years ago.

Back to geology and Zion National Park, one of our favorite parks to date. See our picture page to get an idea of the beauty of the sandstone cliffs created by the seemingly benign Virgin River. Once again Zion is so spectacular that we just couldn’t take enough pictures. The sandstone cliff walls rise straight up on either side of the deep canyon. There is so much beauty here that it defies description.

And, by the way, Zion is a great place for a family vacation. There is something for everyone with walks and hikes from easy to challenging. Opportunities to wade in the river. The town of Springdale which abuts the park to the south has many motels, shops, and restaurants. And, best of all, once you arrive, you can put your car keys away. The free Springdale Shuttle will take you from stop to stop through the town and the Zion Shuttle will take you throughout the park. As far as weather, the best time to visit is in the late spring or early fall. Temperatures during the summer reach close to 100 degrees during the day (as it was while we were here) and roads begin to close for the winter by mid November.

We’re sad to be leaving Zion tomorrow but there are more adventures to come. Life in the slow lane is good as we’ve become fairly adept (most of the time, chuckle) at the routine of RV living and travelling and we continue to hone and refine our planning and scheduling.

We hope to see you down the road and look forward to hearing from you.

I was deeply moved by Mount St. Helens’ story. Yes, we all know there are volcanoes erupting all over the world every day. Many of them are in remote locations and some are in populated areas. When I was in school I was fascinated by the story of Pompeii. How the city was buried in ash, the inhabitants unable to escape. The preserved forms that were unearthed thousands of years later tell the tale of a population that was felled as they ran for their lives. Perhaps that’s why I was so struck by the cataclysm that was Mount St. Helens in May of 1980. It could have happened just like that here if circumstances had been different; if the technology had not existed to provide the early warnings that allowed for evacuations to take place; if the area within the “blast zone” had been more densely populated instead of having been dedicated to national forest and recreation years earlier.

On a clear day, clouds hover above an active volcano

You can look it up and read about it…the early warnings…20,000 earthquakes in the weeks leading up to the blast…the bubble that formed in the north side of the mountain growing at the rate of 5 feet per day as scientists and local residents looked on…the blast when the bubble burst with a force that destroyed everything over 234 square miles within 10 minutes, followed by an ash plume rising 15 miles into the atmosphere during the next 8 hours, covering much of northwest Washington, encircling the globe over the next two weeks…the only road up the mountain completely destroyed…and so much more. With close to 150,000 acres of trees killed along with thousands of animals, only 47 people died. Tragic, yes, for them and their families, but amazing that the death toll was so small.

Then comes the story of rescue and recovery. Helicopters flew in to rescue those people who had remained within the blast zone and somehow survived. The Army Corp of Engineers set about repairing the only bridge and building an entirely new road up the mountain. Logging trucks started hauling away downed trees. And, within days, new life began to emerge as burrowing animals emerged and plants began to poke their way up through the debris.

An interesting experiment is going on there. 68,000 acres destroyed by St. Helens is owned by Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest timber companies. They have an interesting story to tell as well and have built and continue to operate a public education center there. As soon as possible after the blast, Weyerhaeuser began to send in loggers to salvage as much lumber as possible. Then they began to replant. Over the next 7 years, 18 million trees were carried in and planted by hand, one by one. Now, through sound forest management practices, there grows a healthy mature forest. By contrast, the National Forest Service which is responsible for management of the Mount St. Helens National Monument, following the standard practice and policy of minimal interference, has not done any planting (other than a small area planted for comparison purposes) but rather is offering scientists and other observers the opportunity to study how the land heals itself. From a distance, the line between the planted area and the natural area is clearly evident. And, yet, it is also clear that the land is recovering on its own and the opportunities for study and learning are endless.

Now, almost 40 years later, the land is growing green again, animals have returned in full measure, human recreational activities have resumed on the new lake and waterways that were formed by the event, and life goes on with, perhaps, hard earned respect for the power of the mountain. On the one hand, we are saddened by the destruction. On the other, we are filled with optimism to learn how this event and others like it form an integral link in nature’s cycle of growth, death and regrowth.

Next up, more volcanic discovery at Crater Lake, Craters of the Moon and Yellowstone.

and sometimes I just sits.

Question: I’ve been retired now for almost a year. When can I stop feeling guilty about being lazy, doing nothing, relaxing, just sitting and enjoying the view? Ah, well.

The Yankee Drivers on stage at The Heart of Anacortes

We had a wonderful month in Anacortes, enjoying quality time with our family while getting some needed repair work done on the RV and eking out some time to relax a little. We ventured out for a day trip to North Cascades National Park; clapped and stomped at an outdoor bluegrass concert; Gail had a great time at the Anacortes Arts Festival with the kids not to mention lots of Bubbie time all month.

North Cascades National Park

We’re thrilled to have an awning that works; a new toilet and hydraulic system that don’t leak. Until next time… One note of excitement – on our last day as we were closing up to get on the road, hydraulic fluid came pouring out of the hydraulic compartment. That put a halt to everything. Good news is that our intrepid on site tech, Brandon of HQ RV Mobile Services, who had done a great job with all our repairs, was nearby and he got us up and running with only a couple of hours delay. While we waited, we were able to have breakfast with our family one last time. All’s well that ends well.

So, we’re on the road with an ambitious itinerary for the next couple of months that takes us to 12 national parks before we vacation for a couple of weeks at Lake Mead then hop down to Southern California followed by Tucson through to mid-January.

Through the haze – snow covered Mt. Olympus

We’ve already spent last week exploring the beauty and variety of the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park. Within one relatively small area there are ocean beaches, temperate rainforest and glacier topped mountains. As soon as we have better WIFI, we’ll upload pictures.

We’re currently parked in the area of Mt.St. Helens. We’ve learned a lot already about the devastation caused by the cataclysmic eruption that occurred in the spring of 1980 as well as the amazing regeneration that has taken place since. I’m sure many of our readers will remember that world shaking event. We haven’t actually seen the mountain yet due to extensive cloud cover but we’re hoping for a sunny day tomorrow. Next stop, Crater Lake. It turns out that the Pacific Northwest is a pretty scary place when it comes to active volcanoes. Who knew?!

What’s next? Who knows? Stay tuned.

RV Trip Wizard – PA to WA

It’s hard to believe we left Pennsylvania just a month ago. We’ve covered a lot of ground, enjoyed visits with our children and grandchildren, once again we’ve experienced some of the mind bending beauty of this vast country and continued to learn about the country, ourselves, and mobile living.

Lovely overnight stop on the way to Ohio

In a nutshell: Traveling west we had a great week visiting our children and grandchildren near Cleveland. On our way to Chicago we enjoyed a couple of days at Indiana Dunes National Park. This park is the newest addition to the National Park system having been upgraded in February of this year from the designation of “national lakeshore” to National Park.

Walking the trail up a dune

We had fun visiting and hanging out with Josh and Shaina in and around Chicago before continued our trek to Washington. Along the way we added
South Dakota and Montana to our collection of states visited. We’ve finally agreed to get one of those brag maps to show off the states we’ve visited. For the uninitiated, I’m referring to a line drawing map of the US on which one places a sticker for each state visited. This map is then placed in a visible location for all to see. This practice engenders much discussion regarding what criteria must be met in order to “claim” a state. Eg, does driving through a state qualify for addition to the map? Are “feet on the ground” adequate, as in a fuel or restroom stop? Does one have to spend the night or is it enough to eat a meal? What about states visited without the camper or RV? Of course, everyone gets to make their own rules and, in any case, it’s a good conversation starter.

The Badlands

We declared our time in South Dakota to be a mini-vacation. We stayed in the badlands just outside of Badlands National Park. Once again we were surprised by the beauty and stark contrasts in the landscape. We just couldn’t stop taking pictures. We also visited the town of Wall and the Wall Drug Store, which dates back over 100 years. It was a small town in the middle of nowhere when Wall Drug was purchased in 1931 by a couple with an entrepreneurial spirit. Dorothy Hustead had the foresight to advertise free ice water to parched travelers and the legend began. Wall Drug is a testament to what can be accomplished with creative marketing and it continues to be popular tourist destination. Check out the badlands photo page here.

From the Badlands we traveled about 100 miles north into the beautiful and richly forested Black Hills. There Steve satisfied his lifelong desire to see Mt. Rushmore and we checked off a couple of other nearby national parks at Wind Cave and Jewel Cave. Unfortunately circumstances prevented us from actually entering the caves but the visits were enjoyable and educational nonetheless. We rounded out our time in South Dakota with a drive along the popular Needles Highway, a stop at glorious Custer State Park and a hike around Scenic Lake (that’s actually the name of the lake and with good reason). What had been purported to be an easy walk on a level path turned out to include scrambling over rocks and through streams. I assure you, Daisy was not daunted at all by the difficulty of the trek.

Scenic Lake at Custer State Park

With “housekeeping” stops in Butte, Montana and Spokane Valley, Washington, we have now settled in for a month in Anacortes to enjoy some quality time with our children.

On the road heading into Montana

As I chronicle our journey, I find myself struggling to find words for the amazing beauty and variety of this country. I seem to be constantly repeating myself with words like “awesome” and “spectacular”, but sometimes words just fail to convey the impact of stunning vistas and lush landscapes. I hope the pictures help.

On the more mundane side of things, we’ve continued to learn and improve our functionality in hitching and unhitching, setting up and taking down and generally finding the traveling aspect of life easier. Harking back to our early days just over a year ago, when we wondered if we had made a terrible mistake and had to go on faith that things would get easier over time, our faith seems to be justified. Steve has gotten quite proficient at backing the truck up and hitching up the trailer and we’ve continued to improve at backing up the trailer when necessary. We have settled into a comfortable routine when setting up and closing up so it can all be done fairly quickly when necessary. We’re still fine tuning our travel scheduling to determine the optimal mix of driving hours and days to stay.

The mundane side of things

For those of you who are more entertained by the downs than the ups of our experiences I will share that our awning has not been functional since we left Pennsylvania. Then there was the uproarious experience of the “poop explosion” we had at 4 am when we discovered that, unbeknownst to us, outside water had been running into the black tank (if you don’t know you can guess what that is) until the tank became overfull and, under pressure, it exploded into the bathroom. No pictures of that fiasco. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. We are looking forward to the upcoming visit by a local mobile RV tech to take care of these and other needed repairs.

On a final note, it has also occurred to us that a side benefit of all this moving about is that it keeps the brain active. Not only because of the new experiences and learning opportunities we encounter but because, after living in the same home for more than 30 years, we now get to learn our way around a new living situation every few days – new campground or RV park, different town or city; remembering where we live with everything from finding our way to the grocery store and back to walking around a campground or RV park and making our way back home.

As always, keep in touch. We love hearing from you.

It’s been a busy and most enjoyable month in Pennsylvania. Although it was a hectic time getting everything done we needed to do…seeing various medical professionals for all three of us, having much needed service done on the RV…we also had time to visit with many of our friends and family. in and around the area.

Steve got to play a lot of bridge. We even finally made time to take a trip to Independence National Historic Park., get our National Park Passport Book stamped, stroll around the area and enjoy a visit to the new Museum of the American Revolution. Steve said a sad goodbye to his beloved Toyota Solara.

Left here this morning

As often happens when we’ve enjoyed a lengthy stay, the leaving is bittersweet, even more so possibly this time as we are leaving home once again. On the one hand, we’ve been comfortable and feeling at home. It’s been wonderful to see so many of the people that we’ve missed since we left in September. On the other hand, adventure beckons (as do more of our kids we have yet to see.) We have a wild and wooly trip planned over the next few months. First with stops in Cleveland and Chicago. Then we’ll hightail it to Washington. (with a few days off for Badlands National Park.

Arrived in time for an afternoon nap.

After our time in Washington, we are working on an itinerary to take us through many of the western national parks. We have a lot of ground to cover bef0re we settle in Tucson for a month or two. After that, who knows? We certainly plan to be back on the east coast next spring.

This visit has also brought to light a difference in perspective between myself and Steve. After spending years in the planning, and carefully aligning our expectations, we failed to take into account a difference in perspective that we weren’t aware of until now.

As Steve has been retired for a number of years he’s had time to develop a comfortable routine that he was quite happy with — enough meaningful activity to keep busy without being overly stressed. Time for bridge and time to relax along with running, working out and household chores. I, on the other hand, was getting up and going to work every day until three days before we hit the road. Weekends were for getting done all the things that there wasn’t time for during the work week. Vacation time was limited and my idea of a vacation was to go somewhere warm to sit and veg.

Our RV on the road lifestyle is the only retirement I have known. Steve wants to take a vacation. As far as I’m concerned, I’m enjoying an extended vacation, free from the stress of a demanding job. We go where and when we want to go. We have busy days and we build downtime into our schedule as well. Yes, the planning is work but it’s also fun to look ahead at the possibilities. We’re getting better at setting up and taking down so that part of the travel is not as stressful as it was in the beginning. We’re both becoming more proficient at driving. The world, or at least the continent for now, is our oyster.

For now, we’ll keep on truckin’ and see where it takes us.

Home again, home again. Seven months, 25 states, 16,000 miles and back where we started. We’ve been across the country and back – east to west and north to south. People often ask what’s the highlight of our travels or what’s been our favorite place or what’s the most beautiful sight we’ve seen. I personally have found that to be an impossible question to answer – until now. When I consider where we’ve been and the amazing sights we’ve seen so far – and we certainly have a lot more to see – I can’t help thinking of the opening lines of Phil Ochs’ song “Power and the Glory.” In case you aren’t familiar with the song, here it is:

Come and take a walk with me thru this green and growing land
Walk thru the meadows and the mountains and the sand
Walk thru the valleys and the rivers and the plains
Walk thru the sun and walk thru the rain
Here is a land full of power and glory
Beauty that words cannot recall

Phil Ochs

We’ve driven across the plains and over the mountains. We marveled at the spectacular beauty of the Pacific coast – entirely different from the familiar sandy beaches of New Jersey and Florida. We traveled through the Mojave Desert, spent several months in the Sonoran Desert and drove through the Chihuahuan Desert, getting to know them a little with their stark beauty and surprising variety. Our arrival in the heavily wooded and hilly park in Hot Springs, Arkansas brought a bit of a shock to eyes that had adjusted to cactus-laden barren landscapes.

Cherry Blossoms in our RV Park in Maryland

In April after an all-too-brief visit in Jacksonville, we headed north. A few overnight stops brought us to Maryland where we spent a week in College Park, close to DC and near enough to Annapolis to enjoy Passover with our family. We had a wonderful week with Matt, Danya, Ruth and Ziv mostly just playing, visiting friends in the area, plus a day of sightseeing in DC. The most exciting sights? Julia Child’s kitchen and Dorothy’s ruby slippers. We also were fortunate to arrive just as the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Time to break out the Claritin!

View from the back porch of our temporary home in Lumberville

After that wonderful week, we said our sad goodbyes and headed to Pennsylvania. So, ask me now about the most beautiful sight we’ve seen. As we passed the Pennsylvania welcome sign and continued north on Rt 83, I looked around at the greening landscape of York County. I commented on the staggering beauty of Pennsylvania’s rolling hills and lush forest. I wish I had taken some pictures on the road but I was too mesmerized by the beauty around us. Now, I’m sitting here in a pretty little RV park in Hatfield surrounded by magnificent, tall oak trees. As I’ve written about our travels over the past few months I’ve tried to conjure up the sights we’ve seen across the county with words like spectacular, awesome, majestic, stark; craggy mountains; savage ocean; barren desert. Nothing surpasses the calm, nurturing beauty of the rolling hills and mature forests of Pennsylvania.

Oak Grove RV Park in Hatfield

I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago when we first arrived in Pennsylvania but it’s been a busy time and I’ve been negligent about getting back to it.

We first dropped our home off at the dealer on Saturday for a week of repairs and maintenance. It was definitely a pain to have to empty the refrigerator, pack for a week and find places to stay. Thanks to the generous hospitality of Pat and Earl, Ric and Mirabai, and Lynne and Simon, we had comfortable beds a-plenty for us and Daisy until we were able to pick it up and move back in. We’re grateful for the expert and cheerful service provided by Family Camping Outlet in Pottstown. That said, it was also great to have a chance to make a new friend and spend quality time with family.

Since then we’ve been busy with doctors, dentist and vet and there’s more of that still to do. This month also will be for visiting friends and family nearby and playing LOTS of bridge for Steve while we work on travel plans for the rest of the year.

Overview of tentative plans for June – January
–RV Trip Wizard

One of the challenges of our chosen lifestyle is the need to be constantly planning for what’s next. Campgrounds and RV parks are packed, especially during the summer, on holidays, and “in season” wherever we go. Sadly, one can’t count on just showing up and finding a place available so much advance planning is needed. After our month in Pennsylvania, we’ll be heading west again. First to visit kids in Cleveland, Chicago and Washington. Then we hope to amble through many of the national parks in the west before landing in Tucson again. So, stay tuned. There are more adventures to come.