Saturday, October 21, 2017

Along for the ride

Everyone needs a mascot...that's been around a while.
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - We've been home a week and I'm ready to go again.  But medical appointments and air conditioning to battle 80% humidity and higher temps well keep us here a while.
     Anyway, for those who are keeping count here's a short tally:
     Duration - -  Leave OB 5/08 & Return 10/15
     Trip Mileage  - -  15, 135 miles
     Route     - -   18 states / 2 Canadian Provinces
     House sit       Tucson, AZ - - 3 weeks
                           Poulsbo, WA - - 3 weeks

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Southern Comfort

No, this is not a college president's mansion

The Aberdeen, Carolina & Western rolls past a closed furniture factory

RICHMOND HILL, GA - - This is it.  We're on the way home. Five months and one week after leaving.  Are we happy that we'll be back in Ormond Beach tomorrow?  Hard to answer.  I know that about two weeks from now we'll be ready to go again.  It takes about that long to check out the new restaurants, new businesses, new construction and get frustrated by high humidity and temperatures to match.
     Anyway...  The top pic is the house we looked after for the past two weeks.  It was purchased by Lydia's  great grandfather in 1903.  Four bedrooms and a sun room were eventually added.  With only the two of us in residence, it was pretty empty.  It's owned by a member of the extended family and serves as a gathering place for get togethers.
     I realize I used a A,C&W train shot in my previous blog post.  But, hey this train is heading in a different direction.  And I like trains.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Just the thing for decorating the front yard

The perfect front yard decoration...

...Or maybe you're partial to a red caboose

A 90-car freight train rolls through Aberdeen

100 yards from where we are staying you can hear the whistle and feel the rumble of a long freight
WEST END, NC - - Things are very quiet in West End where we are staying...except when a freight train rumbles through.  We've seen the 4-car style; the 13 car style and, once in a while, the 80-90 car version.  About a mile away is a siding with 4 locomotives  of a 20 unit fleet for sale.  The Aberdeen, Carolina & Western company was incorporated in 1987, taking over the operations of the former Norfolk, Southern Railway. It runs 150 miles of track from Aberdeen to Star, NC and is the largest privately held short-line / regional freight carrier in NC.  The AC&W connects freight with CSX and other regional freight networks.
     Aberdeen is about 12 miles away. It has more rail traffic and is the headquarters of the Aberdeen & Rockfish RR.  This 47 mile short-line / regional freight does most of its business between Aberdeen and Fayetteville (home of Fort Bragg, army base).  What A&R lacks in length it makes up in a long and colorful history, having been founded in 1892.
     NOTES:  The 'side door' caboose sits in front of the A&R company headquarters.  'Rockfish' comes from the name of a creek the track runs along or maybe from a small town which used to be in the area...nobody's really sure.
     It's raining outside, a nice October shower.  Leaves are falling like a light snowfall.  There are vast forests of pine trees all around as turpentine was big business over 100 years ago.  However, we are surrounded by a good amount of hardwood trees  with lots of leaves.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Staying cool

There's nothing like a big jar of iced tea on a hot day
HOT SPRINGS, NC - -We were rolling down a back road in NC looking for interesting things.  The Smoky Mountain Diner in Hot Springs fit the bill.   Good food, lots of iced tea...although they used Ball jars instead of Mason jars.  And, as we were eating on the back porch, an older couple showed
up in a two person horse-drawn buggy.  I've seen tractors parked at places (out West) but never a 1-horsepower / four-wheeled mode of travel. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

When in doubt...BBQ

The BBQ cookers are smokin'  I'm ready
NEWPORT, TN - - Wednesday was another fairly long day on the interstate.  Luckily, we seem to be able to find a  BBQ spot nearly everywhere we travel.  Does that mean BBQ lovers have migrated all over  or have more cooks decided to try something different??  Who cares as long BBQ becomes more popular. 
      The Gigglin' Pig satisfied on all levels.  And, best of all, we're now entering(NC)  real BBQ country.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I-40 sights in Arkansas and Tennesee

This farmer wanted to provide the folks whizzing by with a bit of sculpture

Big wheels keep on rolling

The Bass Pro Shops pyramid in Memphis...we're on the Mississippi River bridge
HOLLIDAY, TN - - We just keep on rolling at about 400 miles per day.  Tennessee is a wide state so we may not make it to Noroth Carolina tomorrow.   

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Resting while the world thunders by

Time to watch the 18-wheelers roll by

Synchronized residents of a wind farm
CONWAY, TX - - We've departed our campground near Santa Fe, NM and we are on the way back to FL by way of NC.  Our final night turned into a thunder and lightning show.  Naturally, Sunday was bright and sunny.
     We stopped at a rest area on I-40 and decided to dry out.  Farther down the interstate the land had sprouted wind farm after wind farm doing their electric-producing dance.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

There are road runners then there are ROAD RUNNERS

Wylie coyote wouldn't tangle with these flyers.  
SANTA FE, NM - - Actually, the road runner is the symbol of the Rail Runner commuter train system.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hot today, green chili peppers when roasted

Red hot

Chili love on your license plate
Getting all roasted up
SANTA FE, NM - - You can get your roasted green chili peppers fresh from the grill (drum) at Whole Foods store in Santa FE.  We hit town yesterday and headed to WF this morning for their breakfast buffet.  While we were eating, we could see  an employee filling  two heated rotating drums with large green chili peppers.  He then watched as they roasted while spritzing  them with water.  As soon as they were finished they went on sale.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ouray to Durango


...the clouds are rolling in...

...and the rain turned to hail at 10,000'
DURANGO, CO - - Last night, we watched a big black bear raid a dumpster about 30 yards away from our campsite at 1:30am.  We were leaving Ouray this morning anyway, but apparently this omnivore is a regular visitor to the neighborhood.
     After an extra coffee stop to fuel up for the up-and-down, twisty 75 miles to Durango we took off.  It was one of those days when the weather was a bit unsettled.  The sun was nice, even the dark clouds rolling in weren't bad.  But the rain turning into hail which lightly covered the road as we crossed one of three 10,000' or better passes was a bit much.
     So tonight we've opted for a dry spot with a nice sized tv.  We don't always 'rough it.'  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Is that snow??

OURAY, CO - - We got heavy rain last night, then it stopped so we got a campfire going   and then it started to really rain.  Cover / stuff chairs, wood, insulation and then crawl in and go to 7:15!!  The rain stopped sometime around 11pm.  We waited til morning to check things.  The bags I used (3mil contractor clean up bags) are good when new, but these have picked up some holes in use.  So..we had a lot of wet stuff.
     Now, when we checked the mountains around, some of those about 12,000' had a nice sprinkling of early season  snow.  Seeing that can put a smile on your face real easy.  (NOTE:  our campground was at about 8,000'.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Along the road

Fall is rushing to get ready

Cowboys herding the 'hard' way

One more high point on our trip

Silverton, CO

Ouray residents

Red Mountain reflection

Silverton's main street is paved...the rest of the streets are dirt.
SILVERTON, CO - - We're camping in Ouray after a trip to Telluride where we learned the entire area was full up with a 'Blues & Brews' festival.   Ouray is more up in the San Juan Mountains so you either walk down or up main st.  Our campground is called "Ampitheater" because the mountains surround us on three sides and we can look down on the town below.   

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Into Colorado

Clouds hug Grand Teton's peak with Colter Bay in the foreground

Wind and rain erosion carve the lower flanks of these mountains on the way to Montrose, CO
MONTROSE, CO - - After three nights camping in Grand Teton NP, we headed out in a general southerly direction.  300 miles down the road, we spent the night in Rawlins, WY.  From there it's been lots of scenic but lonely state highway (WY & CO) miles to land here in Montrose.  Tomorrow  were headed to either Ouray or Telluride;  maybe Durango or Silverton.  Actually we'll probably hit them all as we have some time to spare.
     I can already hear you saying:  How can they have time to spare when Florida was trashed by the hurricane? Fortunately, our house survived really well. Somehow we never even lost power.  Now, about a mile away there was much more destruction.  What we learned from last year's October hurricane (we were in Maine when that one struck) was not to hurry home because you may not be able to get there or you may be just two more souls looking for food/water/gasoline or some semblance of normal life.   

Monday, September 11, 2017

We actually saw the sun

A sunny day in Teton NP
TETON NP, WY - - We haven't gotten a (possible) damage report about our house in OB because wifi and the power is out.  We actually saw the sun and clouds for awhile Saturday...the fires clear day in about two months.  Never fear as a light smoky haze returned.  (Monday) and we're heading towards Colorado.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

We're waiting on Irma

TETON NATIONAL PARK, WY - - We're camping in Teton,  checking for updates on Irma where we can as there is slim / none cell service. To get wifi we've found a restaurant in the park with service....just be hungry as a meal is needed.
       Our house in OB is boarded up and awaiting the storm.  Neighbors are keeping an eye on  it.  We worry most about the big trees we have coming down on the roof or worse. 
     Meanwhile, our good friends at Glacier Campground (MT) are choking on smoke and ash from a large wildfire in Glacier NP and dreading an evacuation order or worse.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Cheat sheet

Do you know how fast 70 kilometers is in MPH?
BOZEMAN, MT - - We left our campground in Glacier and rode through smoky areas much worse than Glacier.  Tomorrow it's more smoky areas, but now we're worried about Hurricane Irma which looks set to kick the crap out of Florida.  Maybe it won't trash Ormond Beach.  We've got hurricane prep in we wait.
     While we were in Canada I employed a 'cheat sheet'  to equate my speed (mph) to the correct equal of kilometers or at least close.  A kilo equals .62 mph so the easiest speed zone of 100k equals 62 mph.  You'll note on close inspection that I've rounded off a lot of figures.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Back to Logan Pass

Sunday sunrise at Logan Pass parking lot

Early Monday morning view of Lake McDonald   
WEST GLACIER, MT - - I'd like to say we're doing all sorts o fun things, but the smoke is getting smokier and the Sprague Creek wildfire continues to grow.  We were all set for a hike to celebrate Lydia's 67th birthday.  The heavy smoke at Logan Pass made the decision easy...take the short one.  The fun continued when we tried to head back down Going to the Sun (West) to the campground.  The fire was getting to close to the road so the park closed it to allow the fire fighters clear work access.  Late Monday the winds kicked up making the fire fighters job tougher still and sending fine ash to lightly cover everything.
     Heavy smoke is still covering some areas Monday morning encouraging more and more visitors to hit the road.  At this point we're undecided on staying one more night.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

How we get photos...#3

You can't see the nasty rock c limb to get into position
WEST GLACIER, MT - - This pic is from Canada's Jasper National Park where we hiked up Mt. Edith Cavell, one of our favorite hikes in the area.  On the way down, Lydia spied a good spot to have me take a pic of her.  Reaching the location required a nimble descent and ascent in a rock field.  Nimble is no longer part of my vocabulary so off she went.  It looks like she is taking a photo of Angel Glacier.  But no, there is a marmot on the rock in front of her  so she now has a nice gallery of marmot photos..mainly back end and side shots as this marmot was a union member and would only pose for food.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Wrapped, closed and smoked

Fire crews put protective wrap on the Mt. Brown fire lookout.

Heavy night time smoke forced the closure of Lake McDonald Lodge

At night, fires can be seen. In daylight its smoke, smoke, smoke
WEST GLACIER, MT - - You can smell the fires at Lake McDonald Lodge.  The cool night time temperatures allow the heavy smoke to blanket the lodge area.  Air quality deteriorated to hazardous levels so the Lodge closed two days ago.  Not what you want to do before Labor Day Weekend.
     The Sprague creek fire,  in hard to access terrain,  has now incinerated the historic Sperry Chalet.  Itself a long, hard hike from anywhere, the chalet fell victim to strong winds whipping up the fire.  The Mt. Brown fire lookout, wrapped to look like a turkey ready for the oven, shows one weapon the fire fighters can employ in critical areas.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Life be berry, berry good

Actually, we prefer huckleberry ice cream
WEST GLACIER, MT - -  Hey, we're back in our home-away-from-home ... Glacier Campground.  Our trip north of the border was fun, had way too many people trying to do the tourist thing and, ultimately, the smoke of forest fires caught up with us.
     I have lots of photos to sort through and pick out some representative ones for the next blogs.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Yoho National Park

FIELD, BC, CANADA - - We're sitting here in  the Yoho NP visitors center grabbing some much appreciated free wifi.  Sunday, we were still in Jasper, but our site for three days (the library) was closed.  So today (Monday) we headed down Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise to visit a deli we know to grab some goodies in case we found a campground with available sites.  Kicking Horse had plenty so now we have a nice spot in the woods unlike our four-night Jasper stay in the asphalt overflow area of  Wapati park.
     Dubious history:  The legend goes that Yoho NP got its name from a First Nations tribe looking for a trail  through the mountains and into the valley.  After many attempts one of the scouting parties discovered a trail.  Legend goes that the first Indian to sight the valley yelled "hot spit" or some interesting expletive.  In the interest of political correctness this was soon changed to "yoho" so even little braves could shout the name.  That's the story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Icefields Parkway

Two of the prominent glaciers along the way

JASPER, AB, CANADA - - Our trip up to Jasper, a nearly 150-mile jaunt, is, for us, a trip on memory road.  Or as it is better known, The Icefields Parkway.  Visualize the Canadian Rockies on either side of the road with an abundance of glaciers.  Our first time up IP was in 2002.  15 years, global warming, sometimes inconsistent snowfall (think 12-feet instead of 20)  have conspired to shrink the "ice fields."
     We still marvel at the size and number of glaciers from our first trip,  but sadly realize that time and Mother Nature are moving on.  A case in point:  Just over 100 years ago Glacier National Park counted 150 glaciers as its namesake.  Today there are but 25 and they are shrinking fast.

Look, an elk (ch.#2 of an ongoing saga

Bull Elk and 200mm long lens out the passenger side window

A young Bighorn sheep blocks we look through the windshield

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Canadian humor...unless you're from Quebec

In English or French you could get into trouble
All regular signage is mandated to be bilingual

Into Canada

Lots of trains, this one with empty coal cars

Bighorn having a sparse breakfast

Early morning Lake Louise with a glacier reflection

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total solar eclipse...almost

Nice glasses

I put special eclipse viewing glasses over the camera lens

Marshall, the corgi,  got dressed up and brought his buddy, C-C to the party
WEST GLACIER,. MT - - We did get to see the eclipse as the area where we are  in MT got 90% viewing.  Unless you had a special solar adapter for your slr camera you couldn't take photos.  So we improvised.  I used my Canon point-and-shoot with the lens from our solar viewing glasses over the lens. Lydia found a way to take pics with her I-pad.  While this was going on, a group got together and made breakfast.