Sunday, May 26, 2013


So it’s been a whole year…. Three hundred sixty five days on the road and that translates to: 17,889 miles, 1,255 gallons of diesel, (for those inquiring minds, that’s 14.25 mpg at an average of $4.21 per gallon), four oil changes, one fuel filter, one set of windshield wipers, one set of tires and shocks, forty gallons of propane, eleven states, thirty-nine RV parks, four hotels, seventeen national parks/monuments, over 25,000 photos (gotta love digital technology) sixty museums, three submarines, one aircraft carrier, three fish hatcheries, thirty five restaurant reviews, countless bottles of wine, beer, ales, port, vodka, rum, scotch, rye, cognac, absinth, assorted liqueurs, and a large bottle of Advil.

But these stats only tell part of the story…

Over the past twelve months we have had the privilege to meet and interact with an amazing variety of people.  In the eleven western states we met local residents and travelers from all over the world.  They shared with us the wonder of the landscapes, the energy of the cities and the quiet of the countryside. But more important they gave us part of themselves with their travel stories, family anecdotes, clever jokes, tales of the economy, and general discussions about… well just about anything.  We had adult conversations and some not so adult exchanges. (FYI we’re talking adolescent humor here, usually fueled by the list-o-libations above, not serious altercations.

Speaking of the economy. (And this is purely subjective and anecdotal.) The signs of the past recession are everywhere.  Small businesses closed and a high percentage of For Sale signs in the downtowns while across town the Wal-Mart parking lot is packed. Businesses offering multiple unrelated services from one location like Haircuts and Home Alarm Security Services, Hardware and Mini-Mart etc…  Half finished upscale housing developments and Price Reduced banners slapped on residential For Sale signs. But there are also the dreamers, the entrepreneurs opening new businesses, expanding successful companies and revitalizing old establishments.  This speaks of the resiliency of the American people.

We have gained a better understanding of our Nation’s history and the ancient civilizations that preceded us; and how this fits into the history of our planet.  The Geological time line is clearer in our minds and we have witnessed the power of nature.  All in all it’s been a pretty good year.

And to set the record straight:  Dave and Dimples are still in love and so are Chris and Karen… yeah it’s been a really good year!


Sunday, May 19, 2013


After an uneventful drive north to Bend, Oregon we land at the Crown Villa RV Resort.  The spaces here are huge and level with beautiful lawns surrounding the sites.  Wi-Fi is great and we can continue researching everything we need to know for our upcoming Alaska adventure.

Monkey Rock
Downtown we discover Navidi Oils, a wonderful shop selling gourmet olive oils and vinegars. They offer fused extra virgin olive oils, which are created when herbs or fruits are pressed with the olives.  (As opposed to infused oils where the flavor is added after pressing.)  The flavors are amazing and we stock up on an assortment of 2 ounce bottles of oils and balsamic vinegars for the reasonable price of $5 each.  We also stop at A Good Drop Wine Shop and procure a couple of bottles of local Pinot Noir.

The weather here is typical for Oregon. (Translation: RAIN… everyday…) It’s a good excuse to catch a couple of movies at the local Cineplex. Both Iron Man 3 and Star Trek into Darkness are fun and stay true to the franchises. Shopping is also a good rainy day activity and we pick up some smaller sized clothes at the local outlet center and a couple of ThermaCELL personal mosquito repellant devices from the Sportsman’s Warehouse.  Since there are no mosquitos currently hovering around our heads we’ll have to get back to you as to their performance, but we’re pretty sure these will be invaluable in Alaska, where mosquitos are reported to be the size of small poodles LOL.

Crooked River
Smith Rock
Rock Climber
Smith Rock

Between thundershowers we head over to Smith Rock State Park for a little hiking and photos.  We hike along the Crooked River teaming with waterfowl to our left and athletic climbers inching up the shear rock walls to our right.  As the trail begins to climb up Misery Ridge (aptly named) to the Summit of the rock we see the famous Monkey Rock from Planet of the Apes. It feels good to be out and using some of the muscles that have been resting through the winter.

We really love this area and the town of Bend, but we have a date in early June with the Ferry in Bellingham so we need to move on…


Saturday, May 11, 2013


Working our way North, we stop at The Topaz Lodge Resort andCasino. They have a small RV Park here and it’s a perfect spot for an overnight stay.  The next morning we head on to Reno.  Here we stay at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. (Hmmm we seem to be setting a trend here… but hey, it’s Nevada and we all know what Nevada is famous for LOL.) 

We spend time with our ever-gracious local relatives and get a surprise visit from a cousin from the Chicago area who arrives in Reno for business.  We all enjoy the Atlantis Casino Toucan-Charlie’s Friday Seafood Buffet, which is touted as the best in the area. (We whole-heartedly agree with this!)  After a few days in the Biggest Little City in the World, we head westward back to Northern California.

Cow Creek

In Palo Cedro, we have a lovely grass site under the towering oaks a few hundred yards from Cow Creek.  This park is so exclusive that, well… you have to be us to stay here.  Thanks Auntie J & Uncle G for a wonderful visit!

Kool April Nites Parade

Although most of our time is spent visiting with family we do get out a bit.  We venture to nearby Redding for the “Kool April Nites” classic car parade and go back the next morning for the pancake breakfast and car show.  Chris also takes advantage of the time to make a few repairs & improvements to Dimples so she’s road ready for Alaska.

One highlight of our stay is the purchase of 2 Bio-Mats.  We first learned about these devices when Chris had a massage back in Arco, ID last summer.  And low and behold Uncle G has one that he generously offers to let us tryout.  After a few days of enjoying the therapeutic effects and fighting over who gets to sleep on it, we bit the bullet and bought one for each of us.  Since installing them on our bed, we both sleep better, and wake feeling really refreshed and definitely more limber.  We enjoy these so much that I have signed up to be a distributor.  So if you are interested in the Bio-Mat or want to learn more about it, drop me a line ;^)

After over three weeks of family fun we need to get back on the road before we overstay our welcome.

Our first stop on the northward trek is the Lava BedsNational Monument.  The Campground is pretty empty and we find a nice spot with views of the surrounding mountains.  We’ve been to this park a few times in the past and it’s nice to see the improved visitor and nature center.

Petroglyphs Lava Bes N.M.

Our first outing is to the petroglyphs.  These are much older (4,500 to 2,500 years old) and definitely more primitive than the petroglyphs in Vernal, Hovenweep and Chaco Canyon. It’s interesting to compare them although we have no idea what any of them represent. 

Tule Lake

We drive around Tule Lake checking out the variety of waterfowl. In some places the air is thick with clouds of mosquitos. (Might be nature’s way to prepare us for Alaska this summer?) 

Medicine Flag
Captain Jack's Stronghold

Captain Jack’s Stronghold is the most historically thought-provoking area in the park.  As we walk The Stronghold Trail through the rough lava, it is easy to see how fewer than sixty Modoc Warriors held off the 20 times larger and technologically superior force of the U.S. Army with for nearly five months. But there is no happy ending to this tale. Here the cultural identity of an entire people was lost… so settlers could graze a few cows.

 Heppe Ice Cave

The weather has been sketchy with heavy thundershowers every afternoon. A trip to the lava beds is not complete without a bit of spelunking and down under we can escape the rain, so into the depths we venture.  The Heppe Ice Cave is adorned with ice crystals and icicles. In Merrill Cave our hands stick to the metal rails as we descend to the bottom that used to be covered with a small frozen pond. We also stop and hike up to the rim of the Mammoth Crater.

At the end of our third day here we return to camp to find that 40 eighth graders and their 20 chaperones have invaded us!

It’s time to get back on the road… Next Stop… Bend, Oregon…