Monday, May 22, 2017

Painting in the desert

One of the view points of the Painted Desert.
FLAGSTAFF, AZ - - We've been playing the tourist thing the past two days:  Checking out the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert plus the Grand  Canyon.  We entered our first national park of the trip supposedly at the Petrified Forest end.  We quickly found out that the forest is but a small part of the desert.  We hadn't been here before so we spent a good amount of time checking out trails and view points.
     Wi-fi spots have been scarce so the next post will be the Grand Canyon.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Wimped out

SANTA FE, NM - - It was 27-degrees this morning.  There was slush in the water jug left out last night.The campfire felt good, but we knew that within an hour or so the wind would start again making things seem even colder. Black Canyon campground is nice.  We had a good site.  But the wind during the day is frustrating as you can't enjoy yourself if you are always trying to stay warm. And we've  got clothes we would normally take to Alaska.
     So we've packed up the bus and are leaving Santa Fe two days early.  We'll continue to wander slowly west

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Liven up your cooking

Never double-click when adding a photo
Hot chili peppers are a great souvenir
SANTA FE, NM - - After  breakfast at a French bistro, we wandered around the streets of the Plaza.  The area is a tourist magnet with lots of shops and street vendors selling just about anything southwestern you could ask for.  A small bunch of these chili peppers could arm you with enough 'firepower' to spice up your cooking for years to come.


SANTA FE, NM, - -  We're used to surprises on our travels.  So  I was up at 5:30am and noted overcast skies.  Lydia was up a half hour later and it began to snow lightly.  And then it really began coming down.  It snowed long enough to cover everything with about half an inch of wet flakes.  We decided since this was our day to play "tourist" in Santa Fe that we might as well head out to start the day in a dry, warm  place for breakfast.  Soon after we left the blue skies peeked out, but the breeze and low temperature kept things lively.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Happy 25th anniversary among the ponderosa pines

Note the carefully placed shadow of me (bottom left).
SANTA FE, NM - - May 17 has always been a special day for Lydia and me.  We've been going strong since 1992.  Over the years we've traveled to France and surrounding countries in Europe;  spanned our northern neighbor, Canada; and been to at least 48 states including Alaska.
     This was breakfast this morning:  30-degrees, a campfire and hot coffee.  Add a kindle e-reader and we're all set to hangout and watch the little creatures who are checking the area for crumbs.  The kindle doesn't work too good when you try to turn pages with gloves on.  With gloves off, your fingers freeze.  Solution:  tap the screen with your nose.  It works

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We're cool

SANTA FE, NM - - We're cool, as in  it was 36-degrees at 6am.  We expected it and we were looking forward to it.  Nothing like a nice fire in the fire pit and a cup of French Press dark roast coffee to warm things up a bit.  Cold mornings will be the norm while we're in this campground for a few days as the sun takes its time in meandering down the mountain side before gracing us with its warmth.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Getting up in the world

Lydia sits by the campfire while "the Bus" is in breakfast mode.

This sign got my attention.
SANTA FE, NM - - The 'getting up' in the blog title refers to our current camp site in Black Canyon forest service campground in Santa Fe, NM. At 8,300' it's breath taking...literally.  At $5 a night you can't beat the price (half off for holders of the government's park pass for seniors).  We plan on spending at least 5 nights as we did two years ago.
     Anyway, on Sunday night we were in Villaneuva (NM) state park.  We weren't too high (6,000') but we were remote.  And remote is good when you're looking at the heavens.  By 10:30pm it looked as if you could reach up and touch the stars.  We were camped on an area halfway up the surrounding canyon wall and with no tall trees and no ambient light sources to dull the sky so you could scan 360-degrees.  It's not something you can see in Florida.
     Earlier on Sunday we crossed through Texas.They have an easy way to keep kids from wandering off, at the Gray County rest stop (I-40) in the Panhandle.  The adults stay on the paved walking areas too.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bargain prices in Oklahoma

We saw gas as low as $1.85 but were past the exit by the time we read the price
CLINTON, OK - - The weather forecast for today was:  sunny, breezy and with great gas prices.  Take advantage now because low prices won't last.  We've found Oklahoma to always be easy on the wallet.
     Oklahoma's barely rolling topography and very straight I-40 made for an almost easy day.  A major traffic backup in Oklahoma City at the main interchange of intersecting interstates led to hitting the alternate route...longer but quicker.  When we rejoined I-40 all was good.  The Texas panhandle looms down the I-route with New Mexico after that.  We're still trying to outmaneuver the nasty weather the TV out here keeps reminding us about.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Elvis slept here...but we didn't

Hang this on  your wall if you're an Elvis fan.  (Right, I should have straightened the pic before using it.)

We spotted the Elvis souvenir at our lunch stop, in Forrest City, TN. (Wavy image due to rain falling on windshield.)
CARLISLE, AR - - Of course we're talking about The King of Rock and Roll, none other than Elvis "the Pelvis" Presley.  And the mecca for long time RR fans...Graceland.  Unfortunately the best we could do was wave as we sloshed through Memphis in a heavy, heavy rainstorm.  Lots of rain has been the byword for today and it appears it will be with us for at least the next two days.  There's plenty of evidence of what it has been like here in Arkansas and western Tennessee as small streams and rivers (including the Mississippi) have overflown their banks. Farmers fields, visible from I-40,  are sodden with standing water.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

On the road notes

COOKEVILLE, TN - - A long day in the van...or so it seemed.  Actually 400 miles isn't bad unless your  posterior hasn't been subjected to  that much sitting in one place in 19 months.  Lydia and I split the driving so that breaks things up.  Not much photographic material, but we sure like being in the mountains even if we barely broke a sweat rolling over 2900'.
     Today's edition of this blog is courtesy of the wi-fi at the Alpine Motel in Cookeville.  Usually if we were camping (strong thunder storms heading this way later tonight according to tv) we would have stopped at a McDonalds.  They are everywhere.  Two senior coffees and you are set for at least an hour.  However, we'll take a wifi signal anywhere we can find one.  Real Estate offices are a good source, but if you are parked "stealing" a signal the local law enforcement really frowns on it.
      Tomorrow?  More Tennessee and probably some Arkansas.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On our way

GREENSBORO, NC - - We got away from OB late Monday afternoon heading out for another five month wander around the West.  My health problems kept us home last year which seemed more like a ten year endurance test...since we've been on the road each summer since 2006.
      We stopped at South of the Border, a well known destination for anyone who has  traveled  I-95 in the Carolinas.  My first time there was in 1970 on my way to Daytona and the Cycle Week motorcycle races at Daytona International Speedway.  My second time was yesterday.  The only real change is that it has gotten bigger. 
     Why call it South of the Border??  Because you can see the North Carolina state line from SOB.
     The funky shot of Pedro and the rest of the gaudy atmosphere  gives a good idea of what you might miss if you drive by.  Now it's onward tomorrow towards Tennessee and points West.
The viewfinder lies because it showed the top of the huge sombero

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Hi, biscus

ORMOND BEACH, FL - - No birds today, as much as I like their antics.  Instead of hitting the road to look for our feathered friends, I walked to the end of our driveway. Our hibiscus.bushes  have been in constant bloom over the last few months...first red then pinkish and now yellow. 
     This full bloom appears to have a buddy getting ready for the spotlight.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

From the 2004 archives

Yoho NP, British Columbia, Canada
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - A look back at a 2004 vacation stop in Yoho National Park.  Perfect weather and good hiking.  From this location we were heading back to the trail head at Lake O'Hara in the middle of the photo.  No hikers cars were allowed at the lake.  We took a bus to the exclusive resort there and headed out.  Only a small number of hikers are permitted each day.  You have to buy a ticket at the park visitor center and hope there are seats/spots available.  We got lucky to get our tix on the day we hoped for.
     The "friendly folks" at the resort were not happy if you ventured onto their area for the guests  and we expected to see 'no sweaty hikers' allowed signs.  Oh yeah, there was a designated time the bus left for our special parking area...miss it and it was a six mile walk back to the car.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Another bad hair day

I just can't do anything with my fluff.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL - - The latest happenings from the Alligator Farm.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunrise, Easter morning

ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Easter sunrise at a beach near our house.  If you are going to enjoy the sunrise and do some beach walking you better bring a camera along.  Or you bring a beach chair and hot coffee.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Quit yakking, I want some food

Please don't forget about me.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLe - -  Poor kid.  The parents squabble while he/she tries to get their attention.
      (It appears I've screwed up the photo somehow...which shouldn't be a problem if I had the slightest idea how to fix it.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dance, dance, dance


TITUSVILLE, FL - - Some male snowy egrets who are yearning for love ... or at least a date ... resort to all sorts of things to garner attention. This fellow,. for instance, was practicing his ballet-style moves.  Note the moorhen nearby who was transfixed by this fellow's stellar moves!!  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Raptor rapture

TITUSVILLE, FL - - A short excursion to the wildlife refuge at Cape Canaveral found us on a drive out among the mangroves on a connection of marl/gravel tracks favored by fishermen.  It usually is also pretty good for a good collection of birds very early (just before sunrise) in the morning.  The very narrow roads - -with water on both sides - - meanders all over.  You can't get lost if you drive around enough.
     Way out there the navigator spotted a large bird perched on a scrub with a good view of the water.  I backed up slowly and there was an eagle maybe 15 feet away almost at our level.  Usually unfamiliar noise or movement with spook an eagle into quickly flying off.  Not this one.  It was a juvenile, maybe three years old and scruffy looking.  No real coloring that you expect to see in a mature bird.  It checked us out and then went back to checking out the waters nearby looking for breakfast.
     (I refer to the eagle as it because while the raptor probably is male, I can't tell.)
The real eagle-eye

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Green eyes and noisy neighbors

ST AUGUSTINE, FL - - Last post focused on red eye makeup and now it's green eyes which look sharp.  Explanation:  green eyes are for Great Egrets while red eyes identify a Snowy Egret.  This green eye tries to look regal while scouting out the neighborhood.
     When you've occupied room / nest in the apartment building you sometimes have to put up with
The eyes have it.

Waiting for the dancing to stop.
noisy neighbors.  You can't leave (because someone might swoop in and steal your spot) so you do your best to ignore the noise and antics of those around you.

Monday, April 03, 2017

My fine feathered friend

Of course, I'm just a shy kind of guy

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL - - In the Spring, a young bird's fancy turns to finding a mate.  For that, you've got  to look sharp.  Note the red eye-liner and the gel in the head feathers.  Don't we look hot.

A little bird told me...

Hello!  Hello!

 ST. AUGUSTINE, FL -- Hello I'm back.  I took three months off because I couldn't think of anything to write, because nothing exciting was going on.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Vacation time

We've headed out for a few days of camping at Fort DeSoto on the West Coast near Clearwater Beach.  No snow in the forecast.  Happy Holidays 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Early Turkey Day

Herding turkey vultures

Trying to look regal while waiting for you to keel over
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Early Thursday morning we stopped by Lake Woodruff Wildlife Reserve to check on what once had been a very good place for photographing birds.  Over the past two years the winter time population has dwindled.  It looks like it may be the same this Winter.  Unless you like taking photos of turkey vultures. They congregate almost everywhere. 
     Fortunately, they didn't ruin our appetites for the Thanksgiving Buffet at Brian Bar-B-Que.  It's been our turkey day meal stop for about four years.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Smile for the camera!

Whoopee.  We're going to be famous

No smiles during  yoga time
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - We took a ride to St. Augustine and the Alligator Farm to see what, if any,  damage the recent hurricane produced.  The alligators didn't look any the worse for wear.  The birds, however, were another matter.  It appeared the high winds had stripped most of the limbs of their carefully built nests.  And blew nearly all the residents out of the area.  We wonder if the avian nest owners will return to rebuild. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

The color green and a warning

Green heron and camouflage

Be careful
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - It's a bit early in the season to expect a lot of birds at our favorite viewing / photographing spots but our Friday trip to Viera Wetlands turned out fine.  There were a lot of the usual characters and a few who usually don't make an appearance where you can  photograph them.
     The green heron is usually a recluse.  We got lucky.  The info sign tells you all you need to know about watching how close to the water and weeds  you get and what to watch for. Of course, a good 50% or more of the photographers out were pushing their luck.

Crunch time

Crunch time
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - After waiting nearly three weeks one of the FEMA work trucks started clearing the hurricane debris from our street.  There's a second trailer behind the one you see with a total capacity of 100 cubic yards.  The trucks filled quickly; left for an off-load destination where the debris was ground  into wood chips and then returned for another load...about 10 trips per  team per day.  The individual; operating the loader was very good.  We didn't have much to rake/sweep up after they moved on to the next house.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hurricane to Veterans Day to meal time

Hurricane Matthew left our back yard covered in debris

It's hard to see the length/height of the debris piles...and they are still here

Showing the colors (Ormond Bridge) on Veterans Day

Lunch Time!! A great blue heron deciding on which wine to have with fish

Friday, October 14, 2016

Notes on crossing the road to get to the other side

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this blog
FRACKVILLE, PA - - My previous blog mentioned we'd seen signs for "moose crossing" and "goose crossing" in a number of New England states.  After some deep research, I discovered a Moose conspiracy.  It seems the actors union to which the moose belong played a fast one on the town committees in the areas affected.  The areas put up "moose crossing" signs to keep the tourists happy and thinking they might really spot a moose.  Hah.  If the moose do cross the road they do it in another area so they don't have to put up with weird human behavior.
     The areas of "goose crossing" actually do have lots of Honkers lolling about on nearby ponds.  They might waddle across the road but are more likely to take to the sky in flight formation and honking so you know they are coming.  The "V" formation flight should be heading North, but East, West, or South are just as likely to be their direction.  These are Canada Geese so if they come down from Canada and points North then they are Canadian.  Right?  Some folks will fight you on that distinction.
     We spent a day in the environs of Boston recently where it looks like things/house haven't changed in a long time.  Reminded me of Poughkeepsie where I grew up.  I was back last year and the downtown still looks like a bombed out wreck.  The thing which amazed me most were two bars which I might have frequented back in the late '50s for a beer or two.  They were dark, sleazy and run down then.  A bit over 50 years later they were still the same.  Why renovate when the same old crowd shows up every day?  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sights seeing

Set your easel by the sea (ocean) and inspiration will follow

A purple breakfast awaited us in York, ME

Ever wonder where parking metet heads go for Winter
BRATTLEBORO, VT - - In New England you can spend hours and hours of driving and get practically nowhere.  Like today we spent six hours driving from the outskirts of Boston to our current location:  active mileage - - 106.  But the leaves are beautiful; the houses historic and there's always something to create a conversation.
     Never did see what the subject the man in the top photo was so intently working on.  Not too much of a choice really...just sky; rocks; waves; ocean and trees.  I quietly watched him as he resolutely dabbed and thought; stroked and thought in a rhythm sort of like the waves on the rocks.
     York. ME basically closed shop after Monday's holiday, but  few hardy souls like Sandy's were open for those exploratory types like us out wandering. The breakfast - - eggs, bacon, toast and home fries - - was very good.  But when I asked for hot sauce the waitress who we figured was also the owner went far above usual service.  I has SIX brands to choose from.  I tried the three brands I didn't know,
     Later, while checking out the beach we spotted a dump truck more then half full of parking meter heads. And a city worker hard at work wacking meter heads off.  Hey, you've got to have something to do during the winter and refurbishing a money-maker for York will probably be a top priority.
     SIGNS TO THINK ABOUT:  Snowplow turn ahead;  Goose crossing;  Moose crossing;  Driveway plowing;  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Way up there in the big Down East

Mono shadows on a multi-colored foreground

"The Bus" is our home
ELLSWORTH, ME. - - Maine has been as good a place as any to wait out the outcome of what damage Hurricane Matthew inflicted on our house in Ormond Beach.  Luckily, aside from tree limbs (and two limb-caused holes in the roof) and  trash debris our home made it thru pretty good.
    Meanwhile I feel pretty good being away from home.  Strength and stamina is s†ill down from past trips but still my shadow-selfie.  We spent a day and a half on Mt. Desert Island better knonw as the location of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.  Today's trip to the top of Cadillac Mountain was notable for sustained wind speed of over 20mph with higher gusts.
     Now the planning begins since areas of I-95 have flooded and detours are not on good roads.  Going out of way West seems like a better deal but will add a day or two to travel.  At least we have 'house #2' with us. 

Monday, October 03, 2016

On the road

WILKESBORO, NC - - Greetings from McDonalds...where else are we gonna get free wi-fi?  We left home late Thursday and  have been traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway while camping out.  The quickest way we knew we weren't in Florida anymore..41-degrees on Friday night camping on Mt. Pisgah.  Best Oddity:  A church in rural NC advertising "Drive thru prayer"  
     Once on the road we quickly saw the first of many road signs we have been familiar with through out our past travels:  "Road work ahead"
     I'm feeling pretty good so we'll see where we end up going. The plan now is three weeks after an enforced 10 month stay at home.  Subject of course to the hurricane brewing in the Caribbean.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hot time

2010 Burro Pass (11,500')
ORMOND BEACH, FL -- Time drags.  Recovery is slow...especially if you are used to being a lot more active.  And used to being any where but home in OB.
     So I scanned through past summer trips and found a photo which made me feel good.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Alligator Farm - - 6/11

Waiting for Mom to return with more food

Only the tough survive the  food fights

These small Parrot family (conure) members were hidden in the shade in a large wire enclosure.

Just a funny pic of one of the fat boys hangin' out..alligtor-style