#5. June 2022 Continental Divide – Colorado

Night 10 and 11 and 12

June 24-25-26

First to Salida, and then the Ute Trail north to Harstel on the 12 GDCR kevin.gps tracks

The trail quickly opened up to some pretty baron terrain. It was pretty, but very odd. Miles and miles of nothing. the roads were good, but expect washboard areas.

A whole lotta nothin’

STOP, Side trip for Urgent care

After days of self treatment of a raging eye infection, (no pictures please) I had to go get some medical help. The best option was to head toward Colorado Springs. Thanks to my little group for sitting in the parking lots through hours of urgent care and sourcing prescriptions. It was an all day affair. Bummer, but I’m on the mend.

In a hurry on our way into Colorado Springs we figured a KOA would be a good choice since we needed to stay two nights and campgrounds were full. The Cripple Creek KOA had one vacancy, hurry!!

First of two nights….

Aren’t we fancy? This was really an amazing site with beautiful views.

AND this was the world’s highest KOA Campground. And WE had the highest camp space in the world’s highest KOA. And WE couldn’t breath….. 😳.

Seriously? Nice idea, but that’s just too far down and back up when you’re at 10,000 ft.
And here’s wonder dog Lotti Da performing the worlds highest
FRISBEE CATCH at the world’s highest KOA!

There’s worse places to be stuck in than Colorado Springs!

I’m not sure we’ve ever camped at 10,000 ft. We were really feeling it. The showers and restrooms were so far away it was an exhausting trek. Luckily we we have a stash of canned oxygen. The pictures look sunny and beautiful, but the weather was horrible at night. We had rain and it was sooooo cold. Luckily we have a dandy diesel heater.

Cripple Creek ended up being miles out of the way for everything we planned to do in Colorado Springs. Between Dr. visits we checked out the Florissant Fossel beds and made a quick drive through the Garden of the Gods.

The Florissant Fossel Beds

We were expecting ordinary fossils, like bugs, fish, or maybe dinosaurs. What an amazing surprise! This is a fossilized stand of giant redwoods! Of course it was pouring rain but I “ran” out onto the trail and got some shots.

This was The Petrified Forest on steroids.

I just love National Monuments. Got the stamp for my book. (I didn’t take pictures at the Urgent Care.)

The Garden of The Gods, the quickie drive:

Woaaaaa! That’s a weird angle.
Love the little kids holding up the rocks for the pic 😁
Of course it’s still raining

Hey! Isn’t that Pike’s Peak? Let’s go!

We were thinking about making a run (drive) to the top. But no, it’s another one of those experiences that require registering for a timed entry reservation.

Turns out that the second night at the KOA was impossible due to the weather. We sat in the Jeeps in the pouring rain. Luckily there was an Air B&B just a couple of miles away on a ranch. They had an RV that slept 6 and allowed dogs. Whew. It wasn’t fancy, and we went a bit higher in elevation where we were actually looking down on the worlds highest KOA, and across from the crest of Pike’s Peak.

Had to get by these knuckleheads
There it is, shelter from the storm
Still raining the next morning, nice front yard at the Air B&B RV
That’s the top of Pikes Peak!
Good night…..

After the medical break, back toward Harstel and back on the CDT trail to Breckinridge.

Night # 12

June 26

More rain

We turned north on Elkhorn Road headed toward Breckinridge.

Old buildings in historic Como

We followed the old rail line path up and over Boreas Pass before coming into a very cold and rainy Breckinridge.

This was a very steep grade. More amazing bikers on the CDT.
The bad weather doesn’t stop the tourists in Breckinridge.
A huge mysterious mine of some sort. We couldn’t figure out what it was. No signs. 🤔
Still raining

We made great time getting to Kremmling, so we considered taking a side trip over to Rocky Mountain National Park. But no. We realize we’re in for enough chaos at The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone due to the floods.

If we ever want to complete the Continental Divide Trail, we need to stay the course!

It just seemed too early to stop and camp around Kremmling so we opted for the 11 EZ1 kevin.gps and made it to Stagecoach State park. There is plenty of room for group parking at this lake.

Beautiful lakefront property for night at the Harding Spur section of Stagecoach State Park.
From near Harstel through Breckinridge and Kremmling to Harding Spur Campground for night #12

#4. June 2022 ~ Continental Divide – Colorado

Night 7 and 8, At the Gunnison KOA

June 21 and 22

After we left the Monarch campground we followed the CDT track down to Sargent and then west to Gunnison. Yes, we’ve deviated one more time to visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

The KOA advertised “has a petting zoo”. The zoo was actually roaming free. You don’t see this everywhere. There were goats, burros, chickens, and ponies…… and they were pet-able.

The dogs learned to ignore this…..

On to Gunnison National Park

This was a nice sized herd. Luckily they all made it across the highway ok by a hair. The babies were adorable.

Awwwwww

There was unforeseen road construction which was going to keep us from returning on the same highway that day, so we figured we’ll just make an alternate loop and see both the north and south rims of the canyons. It’ll be quick they said,……

Lotti of the Black Canyon
Not as grand as our Grand Canyon, but very impressive!
It was amazing to see that there once was a town down in the canyon for the purpose of building this complex water tunnel, dam and diversion system. “Harnessing this water paved the way for the future.”
???? Maybe Yaks?
Breakfast at the KOA
Another casualty of the trip. That’s our old Coleman stove in the new Coleman stove box in the garbage. We’ve had that stove since we got married 47 years ago. We were sad……. till we used the new stove. Wow! It heats up FAST!

Back on the Continental Divide Trail

June 23rd

Night # 9 Boondocking

This is humbling.
Moose!

O’Haver Lake, Recreation.gov says first come first serve. it is a beautiful lake but don’t count on getting a spot. They do have some spots available to reserve. We got the feeling that the regulars keep these unavailable. It would be difficult to get spots for a large group here.

It was beautiful, but we moved on about a mile and there were plenty of options in the open forest less than a mile away.

There’s our new pop up tent to replace the soccer mom failure. It was supposed to be able to set up in less than 5 minutes. In the strong wind it took about 45, but gives us a nice hangout in the rain.

We found this as well as that shiny new stove at amazing Gene Taylor’s Sporting Goods store in Gunnison.
There’s Libby! What a good traveler at just 9 months old.
You’re a good girl too!

#3. June 2022 ~ Continental Divide – New Mexico and into Colorado

Day 4, Saturday June 18

We’ve learned to not trust the signs designating whether roads or forests are closed. The best thing to do is go find the local Forest Ranger Station and ask. In this case, ALL roads north were closed indefinitely due to fire and severe washouts. We had to completely abandon the Continental Divide Trail today as the entire Santa Fe National forest was closed.

So… on to plan B (which I have to admit was my secret plan A). My Passport Book was wanting me to go out of the way to catch three historical monuments. This turned out to be a very relaxing day. And luckily, we all love this stuff!

At the Valles Caldera we were actually standing in a huge sunken volcano. When it erupted 1.25 million years ago it was 300 times the magnitude of Mt. St. Helens.
These water bladders were full and staged all over the forest in case the helicopters needed to grab water and go.
We could see why the primitive tribes settled in this beautiful canyon. It’s always interesting to see how they lived and adapted to the area.
We appreciate the nice visitor center. One of the most beautiful you’ll see.
The third leg of our day trip was Los Alamos, home of the A Bomb. It’s a pretty sobering claim to fame for a town. But it was interesting to see the history of how this small town masqueraded centrally as a boys school and how even the small number of citizens kept the secret as the scientists worked.

We camped at Raina Campground overlooking Abiquiu Lake.

Day 5, Sunday June 19

Same story, another day. We scouted out the trouble spots, headed up the main highway for and were quickly into Colorado. We sure hated to miss such big sections of New Mexico but felt lucky to be able to see as much as we did.

Everything changed when we entered Colorado. No more fire! We cut back West at Antonito in order to get back on the CDT tracks. It was great to be back on the trail. Wow! What an amazing section of trail. I’m glad we didn’t miss this one. we climbed nearly 12,000 feet up and over the South San Juan Wilderness Area. Wind, rain, high altitude, sleet and even a little snow!

There was a beautiful little first come first serve cabin stocked with necessities for the hikers and bikers to use. There was plenty of firewood. It would be hard to leave once you rested at this place.

We’re hoping our friend Will gets to use it when he gets to this point…… On his bike…. 12,000 foot elevation. Dang. We see the bikers and hikers everywhere. Amazing.

So sorry, but we can’t pass by a National Park so as we finished the section we purposely headed toward the Great Sand Dunes NP. It was a long cold rainy day. We were late getting to the KOA Campground in Alamosa, but the rain let up and they delivered pizza to our car and the warm showers were welcome. 😊

Buffalo!!

We also tried out Eberspacher Diesel heater. Score! Success! David ordered all of the components and assembled our custom heating system. I have to brag. This thing is cool! We were able to find just the right size Dewalt storage box in which to permanently assemble our portable heater, including the fuel tank. I went to take a shower and came back to find David giddy in the rooftop tent at a comfortable 91 degrees. We still have a little bit to learn to fine tune the digital temperature controls, but EUREKA!! This is a game changer! 😁 The temperature outside by morning was below freezing. We only turned on the heater a couple of times during the night and stayed really comfortable.

Day 6, Monday June 20

I hate to say it, but the Great Sand Dunes National Park was a bit of a disappointment. We were expecting something more like White Sands in New Mexico which was amazing. Oh, well maybe it was just us. I got the stamp in my book and checked off another National Park. 😐

We had to go quite a ways north and west to pick back up on the actual CDT trail at about Camp Rock Gulch (??). This is a little confusing if you’re trying to follow the maps because we went further north to Ponch Springs and actually backtracked on the Kevin.gps tracks and found a beautiful state campground, Monarch Mountain near the Ski Resort. We had the place practically to ourselves. It was great to be able to spread out and let our goofy dogs run and play.

The weather was a little iffy so we tried to set up our little “Soccer Mom” pop up shelter one more time so we could all gather out of the weather for the evening. The thing has always been a pain but we do have some nice memories of jeeper friends huddling in it in the pouring rain. Enough already. We left it for garbage pickup. 😥

For those who asked, here are screenshots of our ACTUAL tracks laid over the keven.gps tracks. Our tracks are the heavy red lines. The numbered points are where we camped nights 1 through 6. Questions??

Night #6
More fire. Night 5
Night 4
Night 3
Night #2
Day one, starting at Mexico border.

#2. June 2022 Continental Divide – New Mexico

Night 2, 16 June

As we moved north on the CDT, the biggest problem day 2 would be avoiding the fire areas. We’ve had huge thunderstorms all over the state which we believe are finally giving the firefighters a break, but the National Forests and all campgrounds have been closed. We’ve found alternate routes and made it work.

I’m obviously a couple of days behind posting. Over the past 3 days we’ve seen the terrain change considerably.

There’s our new friend Will again! The trail is popular with bikers and hikers. We REALLY admire their ambition.

We met Will at our campsite the first night and had him over to dinner. 😁 He just graduated college and wanted to accomplish the CDT on a bicycle. He sent me the link to his SPOT drops so we can follow his progress. We’ll probably see him again.

The biggest problem for the bikers is finding water. They can’t carry much so must rely on creeks, cattle tanks, and whatever else they can find to filter. We gave him a gallon and a half this day. He reminds us of our oldest grandson. We’d like to just hang with him and make sure he’s ok. He says his family is nervous also, but he’s well prepared and doing a great job.

New Mexico is just beautiful!

Mirrors are helpful to see incoming traffic on these single lane shelf roads.

In the middle of nowhere, there’s a little old town that still has a few inhabitants. We just had to ask why anyone ever wanted to settle here. It’s miles from anything and obviously floods often. People still live here!! Why!!???!

The water runs this deep right through town. Crazy…
Time to let the air down….. and get some frisbee action!
Hmmmmm, just a collection maybe?
Awwwwww

We had a hard time finding a camping spot for night #2 in this lava flow area. In a designated wilderness area it’s illegal to get off of the trail to camp, so we camped right on the road in a wide spot. Not one vehicle ever came by. It was interesting, but hard on the feet!

Night #2

Note for you off-roaders trying to compare my maps to yours:

We originally downloaded the “gpsKevin” maps from the internet. I then changed his multicolored route tracks to simplify at a glance. I alternated the colors of primary sections gray and black, then changed the designated “easy” sections to pink and the “hard” sections to red.

Our ACTUAL TRIP tracks are laying down as we go as the heavy red line.

In the next post and going forward I’ll include a screenshot of each day’s progress on the maps. I hope this is useful.

The dust at times is almost unbearable.

These roads were horribly rutted out as we meandered through a series of wash outs. The ranchers just keep repairing the damage over and over.

Here comes the rain…. Good for New Mexico, not so for us.

Night 3 June 17

We found this little Frontier Motel in Cuba. We had to get out of the pouring rain.
Night #3 in Cuba
Good morning!
Nope, this route is closed, time to turn around.

Stay tuned, it’s getting much more difficult to navigate the Continental Divide Trail with the fires and new washouts …..

#1. June 2022 ~ The Continental Divide Trail

Here we go again!

Last minute prep ….. our home on wheels

We had been planning to take this same trip sometime this year or next with the Jeep club ( https://jeepexpeditions.org ) The timing just hasn’t worked out. We’ve decided to just wing it and go NOW!

This is our blog that we will be updating with trip details and pictures just for family and friends that would like to follow along. If you haven’t already, please add your email in the block within this link to subscribe and you’ll receive updates as we post.

“A Continental Divide occurs at a grand scale, directing water into different watersheds and ultimately oceans or seas. North America is separated by The Continental Divide that spans two continents, stretching all the way from the Bering Strait in Alaska to the bottommost tip of South America.”

The official start to the trip is on the Mexico/New Mexico border on June 14th. We’ll finish up approximately 3,000 miles and ??? weeks later at the Canadian border near Glacier Park.

We’ll be following the tracks in the U.S.A. originally laid out by cross country motorcycle enthusiasts. We could hike the actual trail 😳 ……. But we choose to follow the backroad trails by motor vehicle, camping along the way. These mostly off-road trails cross cross back and forth and sometimes on top of The Continental Divide.

But we’d never go off-road alone. Bruce and Donna are always up for a new adventure and are luckily geared up and ready.

Lotti Da is a doggie pro at this travel stuff, but Libby is just a puppy and is going to be learning as we go.

Could be worse. Will be worse!
Just go to the yellow tire and turn right….. the fun has started!
Canada here we come!
First of many nights camping

Day 1

Jan/Feb 2022 – RV Road Trip!

Destination ~ Key West Florida

This IS NOT a jeep expedition, so to our Jeeper enthusiasts, unfollow us now if you don’t enjoy long boring RV travels!

Here we go! We made reservations at Boyd’s RV Park in Key West, Florida over a year ago for the first week of February, 2022. We have a month to get across the country and plan on taking it slow. Can we really do that? It’s not our style, but that’s the plan.……. slow down!

January 3rd

We left Mesa and went through Globe to hit the US70 to New Mexico. We always try to stay on the roads less traveled. The 70 through Eastern Arizona was desolate and beautiful. The first stop for the night is The D.H. Lescombes Winery. This is our first Harvest Host stay since signing up at harvest hosts.com and downloading the app. This is GREAT! For a small annual fee, we can stay overnight for free in any one of 2500+ registered hosts across the U.S. A big percentage are wineries and breweries, but also small farms, historical points of interest, local museums, golf courses and more. We plan on taking advantage of this option all the way across the country. We were the first rig to pull to the designated grounds tonight, but 7 more followed. It’s great business for the wine tasting room. They count on getting a little business in exchange for the free parking for the night. (no wine purchases from us, but I did buy some soup and sandwiches! 😁)

Lotti’s not to sure about tiny house living. We did stop in a park in Safford to get in some Frisbee action. As long as we get in several chances to play fetch per day, we should be ok.

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Day 2 – 3 The Carlsbad Caverns Experience

Jan/Feb 2022 RV Road Trip! Destination Key West Florida

We’ve been on a quest to visit all of the National Parks at some point. We’re so cool, we even have a National Parks “Passport” book. It’s a bit hokey, but it gives us great satisfaction to get that stamp. It proves to no one but us that we’ve been there, done that!

Our passport book that actually survived a bear attack in 2020. True story.

Big Bend National Park in Texas is our next major destination, but there are two National Parks calling out to us along the way, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Carlsbad Caverns. Whoopie!! Let’s go get those stamps!

We didn’t stop to see this….. supposedly the worlds largest pistachio. Maybe next time.

El Paso Traffic is no fun any time of day so we took the northern business loop and wound up on a beautiful new section of the 62 that climbed up and over the mountains on the way to Guadalupe Mountain NP. The park is beautiful, but the wind was blowing about 100 mph and the hiking trails were really steep and long. 😬 (we just got the stamp)

There’s a camp ground on top of that butte! Up at 8300 feet. For hearty backpackers only.

Backstory…. When I was 11 years old, I went to Carlsbad Caverns with the Girl Scouts in a short bus, which broke down at the Caverns. So we spent a few extra days camping in tents in hot weather waiting for parts. We only actually went on the cave tour once which was great, but the REAL fun was waiting every night for the millions of bats to come out of the cave. OMG! It was magical!

So here we are, the caves are ok, but where are the bats??? Turns out they already went south for the winter. No bats. Oh well, we got the stamp, and souvenir bats.

It’s a beautiful 7 mile drive back off the highway to get to the caverns.
Confession: We didn’t take the cave tour this time. We’ve been spoiled by Karchner Caverns in Arizona. And we were really bummed about the bats.
New travel buddies

Who knew that southern New Mexico had such a bustling oil industry? As RV’rs, we’re fascinated by the oil worker “man camps”. These are some of the nicest RV accommodations you’ll find.

the man camp RV parks have covered parking. Nice!
Texas is a whole lot of this….
This place sells tires AND furniture!

Tomorrow, Big Bend National Park!

Day 4 and 5 BIG BEND National Park

JAN/FEB 2022 RV ROAD TRIP! DESTINATION KEY WEST FLORIDA

Amazing! We weren’t quite sure what to expect, where to stay, or which end to approach the huge park from. We definitely made the right choice picking Marathon, Texas for our base camp for our two, which turned into 3 night stay. More about Marathon later

This National Park is over 800,000 acres. We left our base and drove over 300 miles in one day to make a big loop around the park. We could have spent several more days and not seen it all. This would make for a good jeep expedition as there are many off road trails that we wouldn’t want to take in the truck and scattered campgrounds. The main roads follow the Rio Grande.

The main road south from Marathon
Take a quick ride through some of the park. THE Rio Grande! we didn’t expect to get that close, but we drove “The River Road” or FM 170 which parallels the Rio Grande for 120 miles. The road snakes around the river and into some amazing rock canyons and up into the mountains that are just breathtaking. And there was almost no traffic.
The Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande River.

No picture can do this justice. I walked across the river into Mexico. (Sorry Mom). I couldn’t go as far as I wanted because no pets are allowed and David and the dog were back at the truck. I wish I could have waited for better sun angles on the canyon walls and hiked further in. Next time!

And we had to have a little bit of this……

We would love a jeep expedition here. We stuck to the main paved roads except for the trek across the Old Maverick Road which was a washboard dusty rocky road. It was a nice shortcut and no problem for our truck.

The best surprise of the stay was charming little Marathon, Texas. “Where the Big Bend and the dark sky meet”. The Big Bend region offers the darkest measured skies in the lower 48 states. There are several large telescopes available for stargazing. They have star parties almost nightly!

The tiny RV park was basic, but the surrounding grounds with tiny rental cottages, tent area, cantina, Spanish courtyard, and star gazing tools were some of the best we’ve experienced.

Downtown Marathon was just as charming

And then Lotti puked on the passport book and my camera….. the end of an otherwise perfect day. 😕 the little heater in the bathroom should have it dried out in no time and ready for the next National Park or Monument. Up next should be The Alamo!

Day 6 and 7 We remembered the Alamo.

JAN/FEB 2022 RV Trip Destination Key West

We couldn’t see much coming across Texas to San Antonio due to the fog. It’s so cold and dreary here. We spent Saturday night at an unusual Harvest Host, The Texas Air Museum near downtown San Antonio. What a gem! The all volunteer staff were very friendly, and so proud to share the collection of military flight memorabilia. We took the tour and then settled in to one of 2 grassy Harvest Host sites out in front of the building.

This is unbelievable! There was a large display containing the stories and accomplishments of underage military men and women in World War 2. (just boys and girls!) Most had lied about their age, but some were signed up by their parents where age wasn’t questioned. The youngest we saw was was twelve. One 13 year old went on to become an admiral in the Navy.

Wow!

Hmmmmm. I think we could use this. We need another trailer…..
Images of The Mission Grounds

We disconnected the trailer and took a very short drive downtown to see the Missions of San Antonio National Historic Park, including The Alamo which is most famous from the battle in 1836. They were originally built by Spanish Colonists mostly around the 1700’s.

You just can’t visit San Antonio without seeing the Alamo! It’s really tight driving and parking downtown, and the Alamo is now surrounded by the city skyscrapers which is pretty startling when you drive up to it. We managed a good parking spot one block away.

There it is!

AND, we can’t go to San Antonio and not go see our good friends Barry and Sally! We had a great visit and we’re treated to some really good BBQ (of course!)

Now on to Houston tomorrow. Are we ever going to get out of Texas??

Days 8, 9 and 10 Goin’ back to Houston

JAN/FEB 2022 RV Trip Destination Key West

We’re still in Texas….. it’s really big

Buc-ee’s!!

Our first stop in the Houston area was for fuel, which turned into an hour and half at amazing Buc-ee’s. I’d been looking forward to this. It’s sorta like a truck stop, but no big trucks allowed. It’s quite an experience. We picked up their beef jerky and pulled pork sandwiches, and stayed clear of the fudge.

Houston’s freeway system is nuts! I’m sure the locals appreciate it, but our navigation devices were even arguing with each other.
Heading into Downtown Houston

Our Harvest Host site was right downtown near the stadium. Equal Parts Brewery provided a nice level field behind the brewery for 5 rigs. We decided to try an Urban setting and we’re right in the heart of Houston. It was different. The staff was very friendly, and we had a nice view of the inner workings. Turns out brewing beer is pretty complex.

We’ve been to Houston many times, mostly for work. We both have friends here. We made a quick stop at Sunstate for David to check in with AJ.

Thanks to my Hertz/Herc/Hirg (??) friend Craig and his wife Mary for a welcome dinner out. We had a nice relaxing visit and proved that we can leave our fiesty dog back at the RV park with so issues for over three hours. We don’t think she barked and howled while we were gone.

It seemed like we circled around downtown Houston several times in the couple of days we were there. Harvest Hosts only allow one night stays, so we spent the second night at the Trader Village RV Park on the Houston Flea Market grounds. It was HUGE, but there was no event in progress so it was pretty quiet.

We were checking the maps, trying to determine how to visit Galveston without too much back tracking and yet another pass around Houston. Well, what do you know? There’s a ferry! And it’s free!!

There are some beautiful buildings and homes on Galveston Island. It’s obvious that all building is done planning for hurricanes and tsunamis. In 1900, a category 4 hurricane ripped through Galveston killing an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people. The city is less than 9 feet above sea level. It’s pretty obvious that homes are now built to withstand the storm surges. Everything is built on stilts, even the schools and churches. The city was pummeled again by major hurricanes in 1961 and 1983, but they caused much less damage.

Typical houses on the island

This is a vey busy port. They have up to five ferries at a time running back and forth taking travelers on SH87 between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.

The birds like the free ride
Even churches are on stilts. Many of the homes and other buildings appeared to be recently rebuilt on Bolivar Peninsula. It was due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008.
2008 Hurricane Ike devastation.
It seems that most of these homes have been rebuilt.
Hmmmmmm. Curious about this place.

Yes! Finally, Louisiana!

Day 11 and 12 Camping at the Oil Rig

JAN/FEB 2022 RV Trip Destination Key West

Another successful Harvest Host camp experience.

“Mr. Charlie”, the first offshore oil rig was built in 1954. After it was retired in the 80’s, it was eventually moved to the current location in Morgan City on the Atchafalaya River. It’s now serves as an educational museum and training facility.

We are really enjoying our Harvest Host experiences. The grounds at the rig were huge and we were the only visitors. (Lots of frisbee action)

We arrive yesterday afternoon, too late for the 4 o’clock tour. We just took it easy, slept in and went on the 10:00 tour. As usual the camp site was free. The tour was $7 each.

We had a beautiful sunset.
Careful though, there are alligators on the banks here. It IS Louisiana Bayou country.
There is a 30 foot flood wall surrounding the property and down the coast line. We did soon realize that we were on the wrong side of the wall in case of a flood or tsunami. 😬

Take the “Mr. Charlie” slideshow tour. It’s hard to imagine living and working on a rig for weeks at a time.

I am on this trip!

After the tour, we were on the road again. It was a quick drive over to our next stop, New Orleans!

Crossing the mighty Mississippi!
The entrance to the RV park.
Nice way to tow your “Toad“

Our RV park is downtown, actually in the French Quarter. We’re within walking distance to Bourbon street and more. It was a little tight getting off of the I-10 and into the city. The park is amazing. It’s even better than expected. The spots are huge, but ours is literally right under the freeway.

Location, location, location!

We will be here 3 nights. Many pics to follow!

Day 13 and 14 New Orleans!

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

This is where it all happens….

It rained all day our first full day in New Orleans. We drove around anyway in our big truck which was not made for these little tiny one way streets. Excuse the picture quality. It’s impossible to get good shots out of steamy wet windows.

We love big bridges!

Day two was much better! We took an Uber to and from the RV Park to Bourbon Street which was only .7 miles. We aren’t that lazy, we’re just staying safe. We weren’t expecting anything festive in the city on a quiet Sunday but it was Betty White’s would be 100th birthday! We were glad to be able to experience the parade atmosphere. Everybody loved Betty. Even the marching band was playing “Thank You For Being A Friend”.

Lots of Bettys are here today

When I’m close to the gulf or any ocean, I always feel claustrophobic like I’m below sea level. Wait…. We are below sea level. – 4 feet. 😳

The city is really old and crowded but beautiful in its own way. It would be a very different way of life than what we’re used to. And I prefer about 1200 feet above sea level! And where do all of these people park???

Closed….. due to Covid. Darn.

The cemeteries are really spectacular. All are buried in crypts above ground due to the water level. There are cemeteries like this all over the city dating back hundreds of years. We’re not sure how all of this has withstood all of the hurricanes. The entire city is in a bowl surrounded by sea walls and levies.

Yes, that’s the I-10 right above us.

Our RV park had beautiful large individual spaces. But IT WAS LOUD! Probably the loudest place we have ever stayed on the road. The traffic never stopped. It was a constant roar all night long. We were there 3 nights and didn’t get much sleep. Can’t beat the location though. We highly recommend it!

Day 15 Gulf Shores and Fort Pickens

JAN/FEB 2022 RV Trip Destination Key West

Leaving New Orleans, we crossed the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway which is two fixed bridges spanning almost 24 miles. This is the longest bridge over water in the world!

And first we had to cross the shores of Mississippi and Alabama and enjoy another fuel stop at Buc-ee’s! We’ll spend more time in the Northern part of these two states on our way home.

Mobile Alabama (I think…)

The Gulf Islands National Seashore spans 150 miles. We chose to access the Fort Pickens area so that we could also see the fort. The RV park turned out to be better than expected. We agreed that this could be a spot we’d like to spend a week. There are miles of hiking and bike trails, a cute town and beautiful beaches. The beaches have the whitest sand I’ve ever seen.

Getting that below sea level vibe again 😬
Privacy, please!
Beautiful sunset through the trailer window

Fort Pickens was a short distance further down Santa Rosa Island. We had a nice self guided tour. It was pretty amazing, and surprisingly intact considering it dates back to the 1800’s. It was one of the few forts in the South that remained in Union hands throughout the American Civil War. It remained in use until 1947. It also survived a direct hit from Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Leaving the island we were pretty impressed by the bridge construction. Barges we’re loaded with bridge components. It’s amazing that theses massive bridges are built over water. We see this everywhere in the Gulf.

Day 16 Tallahassee

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

If only……. This would be so fun to convert to an RV. This is the finest old milk truck we have ever seen, in THE best automobile collection ever.

We had another Harvest Host success with our stay at the Tallahassee Automobile and Collectables Museum. The grounds were beautiful with plenty of room for many rigs. There were only two others this night. Lotti had plenty of frisbee action.

Free parking for the night. But we did spend $15 apiece to tour the museum.

I WANT THIS MILK TRUCK!!

And David wants this ‘66 Nova!!

Sigh……

They had a huge doll collection, but not one Betsy McCall doll. Hmmmmm…… I think I could help them with this.

This museum is the collection of one individual. All items are owned by this museum founder. None of this is on loan. That makes the collection even more amazing. We were intrigued as to how one person could ever amass such a collection. Who IS this guy?

Check out this video if you LOVE car shows.

Here’s another one of our favorites.

He also had an old hearse that carried Abraham Lincoln to his final resting place.

And guns, guns, and more guns.

This one’s special. 357 Magnum.

Day 17 and 18 and 19 FAST FORWARD!

Clearwater, Pine Island, Tampa Bay and Fort Meyers

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

Darn! Missed the turn off for this one….

The plans have changed. Instead of arriving in Key West on February 1st, we’ve moved the start date up to January 23rd. Long story….. so we picked a couple of convenient KOA Campgrounds in Clearwater and Pine Island for nights 17 and 18 and made it quite away down the coast putting us near the Everglades.

Leveling the 5th wheel without disconnecting the truck…..
Draw bridge rising for a jet ski! 😁

De Soto National Memorial

Collecting Passport stamps and trying to check out all of the National Parks and Historic sites forces us off the beaten path and into interesting little communities we wouldn’t see from the major highways.

Yikes, we still have some “old man’s beard” stuck in the awning….. not all visitor center parking lots are RV friendly.

For three years we’ve been talking to the Tampa Bay Swim Spa dealer. Since we were going to be in the neighborhood, we had planned on stopping by the factory to check out their spas. Salesman said “Just look for the giant rubber ducky!)

Call us crazy, but we just drove to Florida and bought a swim spa! (well, put down a deposit anyway.) Hope all goes as planned.

Big Cypress Natural Preserve

No need to worry about the alligators in the swamps, the panthers will get you first! Yes, they actually warn “Panther Crossing”.

Day 20 The Everglades and Biscayne National Park

We’ve made it to Miami! Two nights at the Miami Everglades RV Park and then on to Key West. We’ve made it clear across the country!

Just a little creepy…..

We found what seems to be an old KOA Campground that has morphed into “The Miami Everglades RV Resort”. The shape of the office looks familiar. 🤔

We had a spot in the resort right up against and under “the tree”. It came with a squirrel that was determined to get in, on, or under our trailer. Im sure he saw that big orange bag of dog food in storage.

The drive through the Everglades National Park was beautiful, but we didn’t see any alligators, or panthers!

She would really like to see inside those Amazing Mangroves.

It seemed like the entire area was popular with kayakers who were gearing up to paddle out and camp in the swamps. But what about the alligators and snakes??? There wasn’t much to see from the road. It’s hard to believe there is dry land out there that you can camp on.

We did find some dry ground at the visitor center.
Lotti calls time out….
Biscaine National Park

Going to Biscayne National Park did give us a reason to drive though the outskirts of Miami which had horrible traffic with some very rude drivers from New York. All of the rude drivers seemed to be from New York. Coincidence?

We’re welcomed back to the “Resort” for the night, then on to The Keys!

Day 21 Driving down to the Keys

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

The last 110 miles! The famous Overseas Highway is an amazing driving experience. The bridge system includes 40+ bridges connecting 100 tiny islands or “keys”. The original road was built on the former overseas railroad system that was completed in 1912, but heavily damaged and partially destroyed by a hurricane in 1935.

The new highway and bridge system were built in phases from 1944 to 1978, and it is still continually being worked on. Most of the old bridges are still standing and long stretches are open for pedestrians and bicycles.

Eventually the Florida Keys Heritage Trail bike path will connect the old bridges and stretch 106 miles along the length of the Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States. The trail is also part of a larger effort called the East Coast Greenway, which will link multi-use trails from Florida all the way to Maine!

Of course there needs to be a turtle hospital

We’re here!! Boyd’s RV Park. This is the only RV Park on Key West Island, and they have done all they can to fit as many rigs as possible into a very small footprint.

That’s a bad place for a palm tree. We’re in, but we may not be able to get the trailer out. We’ll worry about that later.
There we are!

We’re finding that most have been here for weeks or months. It’s a very laid back party atmosphere. The Christmas decorations are still up! We made our reservations a year in advance and still had some minor issues with the dates. We got the problem more or less resolved, and will be here for 6 nights instead of the 7 originally planned. 🙄

We can visit the entire island on bikes, but we have to drive the dog across town (3 miles) to access the only dog park big enough to throw a frisbee.

She’s not impressed with the locals……

Day 22 t0 28 We’re Tourists in Key West

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

Boyd’s RV Park, our home for the week was just lovely. Lovely but very crowded. The nicest spots were actually the tent sites on the outer loop. Right on the water, these spots are spacious and beautiful.

These spots have no hook ups and are for tent campers, small vans, rooftop tents, etc. It’s amazing how many motor cycle riders are traveling and tent camping across the country.

If we had kayaks……
If we had a boat……
Our yard
They also have pastel 20 foot Conex boxes. Very tiny houses!

We took a 14 mile bike ride on this island that is only 4 miles long and 1 mile wide!

This video of the ride out to the pier gives the illusion that we had a nice peaceful ride with no traffic. Ha!! I also have an eight minute video of us trying to cross the main highway to get to the main bike path. OMG! But we actually met another couple from Mesa AZ and had a nice conversation while stuck in the median for over 5 minutes!

We made it to the “Southern Most Point” in the United States but didn’t want to wait in the long line to get the picture. But we were there!

We tried again in the truck. No luck, no place to park.
And Santa Claus was following us
The Hemingway house
Walgreens moved into the old downtown cinema??
Amazing murals
Shrimp boats are out
Oops
The life is too short bus
There’s an International Airport that takes up a good portion of Key West Island. The planes take off straight up!

Time to move on…. Leaving Key West

I’m wondering if the cars used to drive on the upper deck above the train? Yikes!

Day 29 Harvest Hosts Are Amazing

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

Life on the farm

Our first stop for the night after the Keys was a beautiful 2500 acre working Accursio Farm in Miami that offers free RV dry camping for the night. As is with all Harvest Hosts they would like for you do purchase something that they offer but it’s not mandatory.

It was just a short walk back to the produce market. We picked up a few items including the best corn on the cob we’ve had in awhile. I’m glad we brought the air fryer. It roasts the corn perfectly!

Lotti Da is smiling. She likes farm life!
This is just amazing

Never mind that there must have been a rave somewhere out here in the boonies. It was off in the distance, but the music didn’t stop until around 4 a.m. 😬

Florida is very flat, and big! We’ve had enough of the crowded beach towns, so we avoided Miami and the beaches and headed up the inland farm roads. It was a little bumpy at times, but we enjoyed the farmland. Who knew?

Sugar Cane is a prominent crop. (We think, someone told us it’s sugar cane). And just like in another parts of the country, they burn the fields after harvest before replanting.

Why? Anyone?

Time for a break, and suddenly there was Port Mayaca Lock and Dam on Lake Okeechobee which is HUGE!! Nice surprise!

No, that’s a lake, not the ocean.
Plenty of room for action…..

By 1:30 we were already at our next Harvest Host in Fort Pierce. This one is the beautiful The Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery. They host concerts and events regularly, and today was a car show.

They have 24 Harvest Host free RV sites. Of course they are counting on guests joining in on the wine tasting and purchasing a bottle or two. Seriously, we really need to start consuming some wine if we’re going to be staying at wineries!

We did purchase tickets to the car show. 7 bucks apiece. What a deal. Sorry no pictures of the cars, we took a nap. 😴

Can’t beat this!

Tomorrow we are off to St. Augustine for a couple of days. We have no reservations, we’ll see how that goes!

Day 30 and 31 St. Augustine and The Forts

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

We happened to score 1 night at the Anastasia State Park which was highly rated and supposed to be wonderful. What? We wondered around in the dark and creepy man-groves. The lanes were so tight there is no way we could back in to our spot. Had to get a refund and move on.

Back on the internet, I frantically was able to secure 2 nights at the St. Augustine KOA! Premium spot also! Whew!

Nice waterfront spot, but the signs warned us to watch out for alligators and snakes. Also leave the snapping turtles alone……. It is Still Florida.
Yay!! We think Greyhound busses are cool. We don’t see them anymore.
The St, Augustine Light House

The bridge into St. Augustine

The old gate entry to the city.

A little history: “Beginning in the 1500’s, many European powers, including Spain, France, and Great Britain were fighting for control in the New World. In 1565, Spain established St. Augustine to protect its Gulf Stream shipping route and anchor its claim to La Florida (roughly today’s Florida and parts of surrounding states.) By the early 1600’s, British colonies encroaching from the north threatened the city. The Spanish built nine wooden forts before constructing the massive stone fort that stands today, preserved as part of Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Constructed between 1672 and 1675, this structure never fell in battle.”

This fort was in amazing shape for its age.

This city is really beautiful. We were really surprised what we found here. The streets are tight, but it was definitely worth taking a drive up and down all of the one way streets.

Part of the Flagler College Campus.

*

But wait! It gets better. You can drive on the beach!

😎😎😎

And the beach is empty! Where are all of the tourists? This is sooooo much better than Key West!

The other fort, Fort Matanzas is just down the beach. It’s a really small fort on the other side of the inlet. Unfortunately the ferry boat doesn’t run on Monday or Tuesday.

Day 31 Fort Pulaski and More

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

We had a short travel day from St. Augustine to Savannah that turned out to be a great day for historic sites. So much happened in this area. We’re using the Passport Book to lead us to these obscure off track forts and National Historic Sites.

The goal to get all of the stamp cancellations has taken us to places we would have never been aware of. We do love the roads less traveled, especially when they provide a good history lesson. 🇺🇸

We left St. Augustine and continued up the coast into Georgia. Finally out of Florida!

One more fuel stop at Buc-ees!!

The Timucuan Historic Preserve was our last stop leaving Florida.

The Georgia Seashore! Not to be confused with the Florida Seashore. When they say Seashore, they mean miles of swamp and intertwining rivers. We rarely ever get right on the actual shore of the Atlantic and have seen surprisingly few beaches.

More “shoreline”
We made it to the 80! Our plan is to follow the 80 all the way back west. This old US Highway Goes coast to coast, starting in Tybee Island, Georgia and ends in San Diego.

Fort Pulaski. The best of the best.

This is by far the most beautiful and well preserved historic fort that we have ever visited. We took the self guided tour and we’re amazed by the beauty of the structure as well as the surrounding seashore.

Inside the fort
On the upper level. There once were many more cannons.
Don’t jump Lotti Da!
We were wondering why they would build the fort so far from the waterway. 🤔
I get it……
This is sad. 2/3 of the 630,000 casualties of the civil war were from disease, not battle.

We drove on down to the tip of Tybee Island to the actual start of the US 80. We had to get the picture! It was a charming little beach island town and we got a better view of the a nice little light house.

On to Savannah Georgia!

Day 32 through 35 Savannah, Georgia!

JAN/FEB 2022 RV TRIP DESTINATION KEY WEST

We were able to get a great camp site at the Fort McAllister State Park for a few nights so that we could take our time touring Savannah. We dropped the trailer at the camp ground and took a quick drive to the city to get an idea of the surroundings.

The problem with sight seeing in an old city in a full sized pickup is that you can’t maneuver easily and you can’t see. My pictures from the first day weren’t worth saving. We regrouped and went back the next day. Much better!

The best way to see an old city is taking the guided 90 minute open air Trolly tour. It was a great!

Savannah is famous for it’s beautiful Mansions, churches and city squares. There is a college located in multiple old buildings here. SCAD is the Savannah College of Art and Design. Students and and alumni have worked together to repair and restore hundreds of homes and other buildings in the city.

Mansions, mansions, and more mansions. Every home has a story. Many are now museums.

Beautiful row houses….

Duplex?

The city is laid out around a series of town squares or parks. Each square is named after a famous person from the past. Most have some kind of statue or memorial in honor of its namesake. That is why all of the pictures you’ll see of downtown Savannah are lined with trees. I’m sure the tree canopies are much more lush and green in the spring and summer, but it is still very beautiful this time of year.

Winter tulips

Our tour guide offered insight into what it’s like to live in this area. It seems to be a very warm and friendly town for the locals. They have a lot of tradition and festive celebrations all year.

The commercial and shopping streets in the city are all in walking distance of the residential areas. It was very clean and well kept. The “River” streets were still very original with the old stone stairs and walk ways. It would be a fun place to walk and hang out. If we wouldn’t have had the dog with us, we would have taken advantage of the hop on hop off trolley and made a day of it.

Paula Dean has restaurants here! She also lives in Savannah.
Hey, wait! I think I know that guy!

Forrest Gump was filmed here. The park bench where he sat and waited for the bus throughout the movie has become kind of a destination. It’s like “standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona”.

He got on our bus 😁 That was fun!

The churches and cemetery were even more beautiful.

It was definitely worth the drive to get here! It’s a very unique city. We think we’ll be back!