Saturday, October 28, 2017

It's Been a Great Ride!

September 11, 2017

The last eight posts have been sitting in my laptop for months! The pictures still need to be attached. When I finish that, Greg will be tasked with posting those and this, for now, final post. I am putting Kathleen's Window on hiatus. I don't know if I will come back to it later, or eventually start a new blog as our focus changes.

We are still on the road, and plan to be nomads for the foreseeable future. Home and hearth, though at times tempting, are not calling to us. Of, course not having a sticks and bricks home, would make that a huge decision, should we choose to make it. We still desire our nomadic life. Our first two years we were immersed in wide ranging explorations all over North America. After completing our two-year sabbatical, we chose to continue this lifestyle, but that required changes due to a baby granddaughter, elderly parents, and finances. We became official Florida residents with a legal address provided by our mail forwarding company. Then we settled into East Coast life and workcamping jobs that would allow us to rotate back to Maryland on a regular basis. That first summer after our granddaughter's March birth, we took our first paid workcamping job at Geneva Point Center on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. In two weeks we will be completing our third summer here in the Big North Woods.

Our second summer we did a two month stint at Beth-Page Camping Resort in Virginia to be closer to family, but finished out the summer at Geneva Point. This October we will tackle our third paid Peak Season at the Amazon warehouse in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Our first Peak Season was in Jeffersonville, Indiana. January, February, and March, the last two winters, found us volunteering at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park just north of Lake Okeechobee in south central Florida. We will return there in January for our third winter.

My posts were much more prolific when we were constantly traveling and exploring new places our first two years The first year of workcamping we still had new experiences to share. Since then, my posts have become fewer and fewer as we settled into the routine of familiar places, people, and jobs. The past year was one of loss, stress, and routine, interspersed with the spirit lifting joy of our lively, beautiful granddaughter. Both of our Dads passed away within a few months of each other and our work schedules left us little time to grieve those losses as well as assimilate all the other smaller changes and losses this year. I feel older, less fit, more fragile, and stuck in routines that we took up the nomadic life to break out of.

The pleasure I felt in writing and sharing on this blog went away. It began to feel like a chore. As evidenced by my posts sitting and waiting in my laptop, a chore that didn't get done. So, after these posts are published I will stop. At least for now. I have loved sharing with family, friends, new found friends, and strangers who stumbled upon my literary ramblings and photos. I hope that I have entertained, informed, and perhaps inspired others to take up the nomadic quest. I pray that my words and photos have done justice to the beauty and sometimes quirkiness of the continent we call home.

What's next? November 12, 2017 marks the five year anniversary of our launching out into RV full-timing after selling our home. My life has always seemed to naturally break down into five year segments. It's time for a change. While continuing to live as nomads, Greg and I are seeking a shift in emphasis to periods of volunteering in places and with organizations where we feel we can make a substantial difference, and periods of overseas travel. Both will allow us to continue to rotate back to Maryland to see family. I think it will be a good fit between travel, with its new experiences, and volunteering with the opportunity to give back. So, adios for now. I anticipate that I will be moved to start blogging again, but, start fresh as we start fresh travels and experiences. I will be sure to link any new blog addresses on this blog, and for those who I am Facebook friends with, you'll be the first to know!

October 28, 2017

Well, the posts are finally going up on the blog. We finished out our time at Geneva Point Center, spent three weeks back in Maryland with family and have now completed a week in Kentucky at Amazon. Our plans for the future are starting to fall into place, and our biggest change was trading in our too small View for an Airstream trailer! Our towed vehicle, the little silver egg, had to be traded in for a pickup truck to tow the trailer. We are exhausted from picking up the trailer at the dealer in New Jersey and transferring all our belongings from the View and then heading straight to Kentucky. We arrived Saturday afternoon and started work on Monday. In our “spare” time we are getting settled into the trailer. We are so happy with our choice. The Airstream is perfect for us! The view from Kathleen's Window will continue to change, as it has for almost five years. The new windows are larger, the interior newer, but the residents are the same, and we are still loving the nomadic life the blog began chronicling on November 12, 2012. Goodbye for now. We are heading out for more adventures!

Enjoy some photos from our beautiful summer in New Hampshire on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee

Dinosaur Bones, Rocky Mountain Breakdown, and Looking East

May 22, 2017

The weather was holding so we decided to descend from the higher elevations and head south to Dinosaur National Monument. We had visited here years ago with our daughter. We weren't so much interested in viewing the park again, but were attracted to the small campground along the Green River. By the time we reached the park, the riverside campsites were full, but we found a lovely site shaded by a large cottonwood tree.

Crossing the Green River to reach Dinosaur

Dinosaur camp

Our little oasis along the Green River
After lunch we drove to the visitor center and took the shuttle up to the dinosaur quarry. In the early 20th century huge amounts of fossilized dinosaur bones began to be dug up from the site. As the magnitude of the find was realized a choice was made to leave part of the hill exposed with the bones left in place. A national monument was established and a building designed to enclose the hill. Entering the building we saw a jumble of massive bones embedded in the wall. Scientists speculate that during a drought dinosaurs died in this spot. Later flooding swept the bones along and the skeletons were entombed in the rock layers.

Dino petting zoo

Inside the building

Touching a Real Dino!

The Dinosaur NM viewing building

The bone wall
With time left before dinner we decided to drive down the dirt road to Josie Morris Cabin, an old remote homesite that Josie, a widow, worked alone for 50 years. We hiked up Hog Canyon, a slot canyon where she used to corral her cows. The trail followed a wooded streambed into the canyon with towering rock walls. Lovely for a shady late afternoon hike. Then back to the Green River campground for a quiet evening listening to the sounds of the river.

Josie's cabin

Slot canyon ideal for cattle corral

Up at the top of the canyon

Rock art in a nearby the canyon

Dinosaur National Monument had one more very large section, the Canyons area, that we wanted to explore. The next day we checked out of camp and drove back to the main highway and 25 miles east to Harper's Corner Road. We drove up onto a high plateau above the tree line. After a few stops to see the expansive views, we drove 31 miles to the end. A one mile hike brought us to the overlook where the Yampa River joined the Green River way below us. Spectacular! It was wonderful to discover that the park had more than the famous dinosaur bones.

The Yampa River on the right joins the Green on the left

The Green River heading west

Lizard trying to warm up on a cool day.

Scaled Quail

Another lizard!

We needed a place for the night, so we drove an hour east in Colorado to the tiny town of Maybell, population maybe 300? The town had set up campsites in the town park around the sides of the grassy playing field in the middle. We picked out a small spot under the cottonwoods again. They had a water spigot, a dump, but what we most wanted were real showers. We hadn't been in a campground that offered them for quite a while, and we were tired of our “Navy showers”. After nice showers, a good meal, and the final episode of “Centennial”, we settled in for a good night's sleep in the very quiet city park. We did have a thunderstorm during the night. It was a foretaste of extreme weather to come!

Western Colorado plateau

Maybell Town park
The next morning Greg walked over to Gramma's Kitchen for breakfast. The slogan on her sign read, “Eat here or we both starve!” He had her special breakfast burrito and lots of attention to his weak “Mormon” coffee, since he was the only one there. After he returned, once again, we had a decision to make as to where to go next! Southern Wyoming and Nebraska were looking not too interesting and possibly cold and stormy. We decided to do some exploring in the Rockies, if we could find open roads. Rocky Mountain National Park had one very cold campground open and only one road plowed, so we vetoed that. We decided to take what turned out to be a very scenic backroad Rt. 57 south from Maybell to Rifle and saw lots of pronghorn, various birds, mule deer, and a bald eagle on a fencepost!

Bald Eagle

In Rifle we rejoined I-70, found a Walmart and resupplied. We had a tentative plan to travel to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and then over the rest of the Rockies to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We both pulled up our Weatherbug apps and started to check weather, first for those two parks and then all over the Rockies. The weather was still going to be good for the rest of that day, it was after noon by now, but the next day a storm system was coming in and promised snow at the higher elevations. We were running out of time to make the distance we needed to cover before night fell and we would need to find a place to camp. We didn't want to get stuck in a high elevation area with a storm coming in.

We both wanted to travel down Rt 550 to Durango, a favorite town, in the southern Rockies, but didn't want to get caught high up in the San Juan Mountains. The fastest way over the Rockies looked to be I-70. We could make good time beating the storm and drop over a scenic route to Great Sand Dunes. The weather there was looking like there might be some rain, but Greg would have a chance to use his Fat Bike again. Regretfully we canceled plans for Durango and started the climb up on I-70. Staying on the west side of the Rockies wasn't an option either. We had a deadline to get back to Maryland by May 23rd, so we needed to start heading east.

At 2 pm, just before Vail, an RV pulled up alongside us and the passenger was yelling and gesturing for us to move off the road. Greg rolled down his window and she yelled, “There is smoke coming out!” Greg quickly maneuvered onto the shoulder of an exit ramp. We both jumped out, Greg with a fire extinguisher in hand. Smoke was rolling out from under the hood and the smell of diesel was strong. Diesel was spurting out all over the engine and running out underneath as well. Greg called our Good Sam road service. At that point we were SO glad we were on an interstate highway with good cell service. We have a penchant for scenic backroads. If we had taken the road to Durango we would have broken down on a high elevation road in the middle of nowhere with no phone signal.

It still took Good Sam 4 ½ hours to get a wrecker to tow us into Denver over two hours away. Sprinter chassis are Mercedes-Benz and we needed to be towed to the nearest dealer. There was a lot of debate about what vehicle could handle towing us. We had a long uphill climb and a low clearance tunnel two miles long to get through before we were out of the mountains. One company asked if we could wait until the next day! His truck was already out on a call, and he needed to drive up from Denver. We said that we couldn't wait. In the meantime we were watching the storm come in. The temperature was dropping, the wind howling, and we were watching snow squalls on the surrounding mountains. Finally, Chris showed up from West Vail. A former Sheriff's Deputy from Las Vegas, he was an expert tower, and in his words, he “just loves to tow”. He got us moving by 6:30 pm. We rode into the Denver area with the three of us crammed into the cab with two and ½ seats. We arrived at Westminster Mercedes-Benz by 9 pm. Greg and I had a drink, dinner, and went to bed in the parking lot.

A late night was followed by an early morning. Greg awoke at 4 am when the garbage truck showed up! We left the rig in the service department's capable hands while we decamped to their well equipped waiting lounge. By 1:30 the rig was repaired. The fuel lines and various filters were replaced. A broken low pressure fuel line had spewed diesel all over causing smoke on the hot engine. Greg said that gas would have been a fire risk, but diesel was not as bad. What happened to us apparently was not unusual. Our next dilemma was where to go for the night. The late winter storm system was predicted to become bigger, snowier, and colder by the morning. Denver was getting ready for snow and freezing temperatures. We set our sights for Pueblo far enough south down I-25 along the front range to be on the fringes of the storm. We would probably have wind, rain, and cold, but no snow.

Camp at Pueblo Lake
We gave up on Great Sand Dunes since their forecast had changed to temperatures in the 20's and snow. We needed an electric hook-up so that we could run the space heater continuously if needed. Pueblo Lake State Park looked good, so we settled in for three nights on the reservoir to ride out the weather before making the run east and back to Maryland. We had a beautiful view of the lake and marina and snow capped mountains, including Pike's Peak, on three sides. Our two days and three nights brought us high winds, thunderstorms, hail, sleet, rain, and cold temperatures. East of us tornadoes were roaring through Kansas across our future route. We stayed until the weather cleared and on Saturday morning the 20th drove out of Pueblo for the flat prairies of eastern Colorado, and Kansas.

Today is Monday the 22nd. We have been in a fair weather bubble as we cross the country. After following US 50, a much more interesting route than I-70, we eventually connected up with it in Kansas City, Missouri and it is our “automatic pilot” route back to Maryland and family. Two nights at Flying J's and tonight at Cabela's in Wheeling, West Virginia, will bring us back for a week's visit and then on to our summer workcamping jobs at Geneva Point Center on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire!

Crossing the Mississippi