2013-09 Florida - Grayton Beach State Park and our first florida bear!

After a noisy night at a Walmart in Jackson, MS...we made it down to the Florida Panhandle. Hot and Humid, so found a state park with electric hookups. Grayton Beach SP not only has full hookups available, and nice restroom / showers - they also have laundry facilities!We took a day off the drive to rest, relax, and try to kick this cold we picked up in Missouri.
The white sand beaches and barrier dunes are gorgeous...enjoyed strolling the beach...there are barrier fences also around the sea turtle nests. Gary bought his Florida fishing liscense and almost caught a shark. I really wanted to go snorkeling this morning. The gulf is like bath water, but water's a bit choppy from a storm coming through, so I didn't think I'd see much.

We saw a little black bear on the road to the market. I know they have bears here, but just don't expect to see one. After all that time in Idaho, we have to come to Florida to see a bear. Go figure.
pics from around Grayton Beach State Park, FL

2013-09 A great stop in Arkansas - Cane Creek State Park

We arrived in the evening at this state park south of Little Rock and Pine Bluff. What a very nice park - huge water/electric RV spots with lots of space around, many with views of the lake, nice clean restrooms including showers, boat slips, fishing piers, bike and kayak rentals. The visitor center was pretty impressive with live critters on display such as alligator, turtles, and a tarantula (even though it was a "chocolate" tarantula, I still wouldn't touch it). They had nice nature trails, from 2.5 to 15 miles long.

I hiked about 3 miles of trail that evening; the next morning Gary and I rode bikes to the first suspension bridge and back - about 6 miles round trip - before we hit the road. It was hot and humid but mostly shady, and if we'd had time, I would've done the whole 15 miles no doubt. Had a big stupid grin on my face the whole way (having a great time) but had to work hard to ignore Gary's moaning and groaning it's too hot, too humid, ugh, it's too hot, too humid, ugh.
Boy, you do know where we're headed, right?
Cane Creek State Park pics

2013-09 A brief visit to Missouri on our way to Florida

We used our timeshare on a brief stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City (a chain of waterpark resorts). Our friends Eddie and Naomi drove up from Joplin and stayed with us there, and from Naomi's giggles I think she had a pretty good time! Gary and Naomi both had a great time on the slides while I enjoyed the hot tubs, floating around the lazy river, and shooting hoops in the play pool. This place is really for kids, even big kids like us. I hope sometime we can use the Great Wolf in Washington so my nieces can enjoy the park. They would love it!

We also spent two nights at Downstream Casino (taking advantage of their free water/electric hookups) while we ran errands and visited friends. Funny story...after unhooking the trailer at Downstream, we took the truck into Joplin to get replacement registration stickers (lost in the mail). We've been driving around with what looked like expired tags for months, and here we are ON THE WAY to the liscensing office, and an officer pulls us over. Surely he thought we were full of crap when we said...."we're on our way there!" Anyway, he sent us on our way and new tags are now in place.

We drove by mom's old place in Seneca, looks very different with the new building in front, but nice and clean. I'm sure they are taking good care of the place.

It was also quite lucky timing that our friend Mark's band was playing in a small town in southern Missouri right on our route, so we were able to spend an evening with Felonious Monk. They played at The Tavern at Haven55 in Pineville, and just across the river was Campground at the Falls, so it worked out great. Enjoyed the park, lovely spot overlooking the falls, and the owners were very nice and accommodating.  Hard to believe that river overflowed its banks and flooded the campground this year. They also had a very sweet dog who was nursing an injured kitten - very heartwarming story.  

Really enjoyed seeing Mark's band and spending time with newlyweds Beth and Mark. Congratulations again, you two. But enough of the lovey lovey kissy kissy. you're making the rest of us jealous! (did I mention, the drummer is hot)  Love you guys!

pics from Missouri

2013-09 Vedauvoo WY - now on my list of very favorite places!

We left Saratoga Lake campground and found the dump station across the way to be a washed out, muddy mess! No problem, I'm sure if we get stuck, Stuart will come and pull us out.  Hahahaha. I can't believe Gary drove the RV into that, and can't believe we made it out. Yuck.

Our next stop on a very wet road from Saratoga was the little place called Vedauvoo. It had rained for several days and rained quite a bit of our drive along Hwy 80, so we were pleasantly surprised to find all the roadways and parking spurs are paved in the Vedauvoo campground. Nice! Soooo glad we didn't miss this gem. The name is derived from Arapaho meaning "earth-born"; it is called Land of the Earthborn Spirit. It truly is a very special place...wish we could've stayed longer.

There was a break in the clouds and a bit of sun, so we we headed out for a late afternoon hike on the Turtle Rock Trail. At first, we were....oooh, go around that puddle and don't get our shoes wet. Then, it started sprinkling, then raining, then pouring, then hailing, and at this point we were half-way around so we pushed on. Then we came to completely flooded out trails with no way around. It was either push on through, or go 3 miles back to where you started. Ultimately, our shoes were drenched and sloshing, along with everything else. Just from pouring rain, I might as well have jumped in a river. Fortunately, the water we trudged through was never more than knee high! And it only took an hour or so to get the feeling back in my fingers and toes. (My fingers were so frozen I was unable to operate my camera for most of the hike so didn't get many pics in the rain)

The next morning, we hiked the trail a second time (even Gary liked it enough to do it twice!) but without the numb fingers and toes. Great Fun both times!
Wyoming Vedauvoo info

Some of our pics from Vedauvoo

2013-09 Saratoga WY, Hobo Pool hot springs

Because it was on our way and convenient to wait out the rainy weather, we made our way to Saratoga to check out their free hot springs. The Saratoga Lake campground is a great deal at $10/night. Very hot here in the summer, but we are here for the first cool weather and rain of fall. Saratoga is a charming historic town we have enjoyed exploring, including one visit to the Snowy Mountain Brewery for their little 4-beer sampler. The hot springs are the real reward though, and a very welcome respit to soothe away all the sore muscles from months of hard labor.  :-) Met some very nice folks from Loveland CO who come here regularly and gave us good tips on other hot springs. Has been a great stop.

pics from Saratoga WY, Hobo Pool hot springs

2013-09 Our first day back on the road, stopping at Fossil Butte National Monument

It was a gorgeous day after a good rain....pretty blue skies with scattered clouds and a brisk fall breeze. Didn't leave Montpelier until noon or so, with only an hour or so to reach or first stop. Our visit to this national monument was fantastic. The visitor center is beautiful (staffed by the same long-haired ponytailed guy I think I've seen at every national park we've ever visited...the ponytail must be in the job requirements for national park staff). The timeline that wraps around the entire deck of the building really puts things in perspective....billions of years laid out around the deck and "recorded history" occupies just the last 6 inch plaque!

We hiked the Historic Quarry Trail (2.5 mile loop) to see the quarry, but Gary chose to sit on a bench while I hiked the last 600 foot climb up to the actual quarry. Now, I ask you, who would hike 2.5 miles and choose to skip the actual destination of the hike? His loss, it was really cool and a fantastic view from up there.

As we drove out of the trailhead parking lot, I noticed a white animal across the road....pony? sheep? No, it was a big white mountain goat! Unfortunately, we had vehicles behind us and the RV in tow, so did not have an opportunity to get a good photo, but was still a thrill!

pics from Fossil Butte National Monument

2013-09 Our summer gig ends at Montpelier Creek KOA but we leave with new friends!

There was a lot of hard work to do, but like I always try to explain to Gary, it's good for us. I really enjoyed the work. Plus I learned how to drive a backhoe (okay, well I know just enough to be dangerous) and a skidsteer (as long as no one puts any appendages they care to keep, anywhere near the machinery - Stuart!) It was a great work schedule which allowed us 3 consecutive days off each week to go camping / exploring in the area, so we were able to hit the tetons and logan canyon, both spectacular.

We had fellow work campers and real characters Ron and Carol Lee for most of the season (best green chili I ever had and I really enjoyed the pie iron treats!). The owners of the park, Stuart and Kathy, are our age and really fun to hang out with. Thanks for many outstanding home-cooked meals (and best banana bread on earth) from Kathy, and for Stuart's hilarious stories and terrific sense of humor (already missing that!) to make this summer fun.

Looking forward to meeting up in Florida (hopefully for something fun like kayaking in the keys,  not for something a bit less fun like us fleeing to Sebring to escape a hurricane!).

pics from Montpelier Creek KOA

2013-08 Bear Lake Wildlife Refuge, National Oregon California Trail Center in Montpelier, ID

Our last of many trips to Bear Lake Wildlife Refuge, we did not see as many birds but finally saw a moose. See if you can spot him! This moose was standing directly across the canal from us as Gary was fishing and had it not moved around, we never would have seen it.

We also visited the Oregon Trail Center which was terrific. Montpelier is about the half-way point on the trail and was known as Clover Creek at that time. Most fascinating fact I learned on the tour: every man, woman, and child was required to bring 21 pounds of coffee beans (at $1.50 per pound, that's a huge cost at that time). This was to chew to give them extra endurance for the gruelling journey.

Pics from Bear Lake NWR and Oregon Trail Center