UP Top in Arizona

We really enjoyed  the time we spent at the Grand Canyon. So much so that we had no plans for where to go after! No reservations, just a few ideas as to possible destinations. Don’t get me wrong. No plan is not all bad. Part of this lifestyle is to go with the flow. That being said, we’re in snowbird heaven and parks fill quickly when winter in the North sets in. So fire up the internet in search of our next stop.

After a few phone calls of “Sorry, we’re full”, we were referred to a new park in Cottonwood, a small town a short distance from the very popular town of Sedona. Although still under construction a portion of the park was completed with very few occupied sites. The best part? It’s on top of a Mesa which overlooks the entire Sedona Valley!

As a nice added bonus, just a short walk from the park, …Horses! One of Susans’ favorite photo subjects!

We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful spot!  The scenery all around us is just breathtaking! Beautiful sunsets making the surrounding red colored  mountains explode with brilliance. And when stormy weather is around, we have a front row seat!

Just one of the many places to stop and enjoy the view!

A short drive from Cottonwood is the old mining town of Jerome. Built on the side of a mountain, Jerome was once booming with a population of  several thousand mainly due to the rich copper mines the town was built on top of. Eventually the mines closed and the town all but died.

One of those mines was purchased and turned into a museum of sorts. More like an antique collection intermixed with the old buildings that were once home to the many miner that worked there.

Being the old wood chuck  that I am, (woodworker for those that don’t know the term) I was fascinated watching this old steam/gas fired saw mill which was still in operation. The giant blade was chewing its way through cedar and mesquite logs with the slabs sold to craftsmen willing to pay dearly.

Blade guard?…NOPE!
The view from Jerome

Taking road trips is one of our favorite thing to do. Looking at the Arizona road map, RT89 out of Sedona was through a canyon. So armed with PBJ’s we’re off! No large trucks on this road and this is why!

Switchbacks wind you up the canyon.

Our initial thought was to stay in this area for a couple weeks. We ended up staying for six! This part of Arizona is just gorgeous! We’ve had many highlights in our travels. This area certainly makes that list.

Last year Texas was pretty chilly so this time around we decided to spend a couple of months in southern AZ. We’ll move to Texas in February so for now, we’re off to Benson! 

The Push for the Grand Canyon

We’ve been pounding pavement day after day making our way west hoping to make the Canyon before the weather changes. Moving everyday several hundred miles is exhausting. We decided to break the pace in Amarillo Texas.

There’s not much to see in Amarillo but we did manage to find a privately owned antique car museum that was amazing. Bill’s Backyard Classics had everything from modern type Hot Rods, 1920’s-30’s oldies, and lots of really cool Caddies!

Comparing these to modern-day cars…..I think we’ve truly lost a sense of design!

After 1900 miles, traveling through what seemed like endless road construction, the remnants of a hurricane, and having gotten the coach stuck, we finally park in Williams, AZ. The Grand Canyons’ south rim is still 50 miles away.

We wake up early, pack lunches, and we’re off! The morning air is crisp and the weather forecast for the canyon is a bit iffy but we’re not deterred! This has been a bucket list item for some time!

We get parked and make our way to the visitor center to get the lay of the land. Shuttle schedule, hiking trails, the best picture spots and “what not to miss” suggestions top the agenda for the awaiting park ranger.

Armed with more info than one can remember it’s off to the closest observation point to get our first glimpse. And this is what we see…….2018 October Grand Canyon day 1_10 04 18_7664

FOG! The entire canyon is fogged in! Visibility is less that a quarter-mile and with the exception of a couple hundred feet down….nothing but white! We’re SO BUMMED! And to add to the enjoyment, (sarcasm intended!) it’s starting to rain. We make it to the gift shop just in time before the sky opens up to a torrential down pour! PERFECT!

Hey wait! The clouds are moving on….Sunshine and blue sky! And no more fog! YES! Now this is more like it!!2018 October Grand Canyon day 1_10 04 18_7823

You can look at a thousand pictures and until you are standing on the edge and looking down five thousand feet, you just can’t appreciate how magnificent this place is! The vastness, the colors, and depth…This is one serious hole in the ground!

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10 Feet back and it’s a loooong way down!

Every now and then I grab the camera away from my bride in order to put her in the shot. Admittedly, she’s the one that adjusts the settings because, well, I haven’t got a clue how to work the thing! This shot almost looks like Susan is standing in front of a back drop!

So many great observation points are along the length of the canyon. And so many photo opportunities. Just click on a pic for a better view.

We were excited to finally see a few Elk. This bull was just standing off the road and seem to pose as the shuttle moved slowly past. The other two were not far from a parking area.

At the far eastern end of the canyon was “Desert View Watchtower”, and observation tower built by and artist/architect and first opened in 1932. This construction exudes the presence of an ancient people who were the canyons earliest inhabitants. At seventy feet tall it offers awe-inspiring views of the canyon. 2018 October Grand Canyon day 1_10 04 18_7772_edited-1



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Wall art carefully restored.

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Upper floors inside the tower

Part of the enjoyment of our travels is meeting great people and sharing our experiences. We had a great time exploring and spending the afternoon with Joe & Nicki from Natchez, LA.2018 October Grand Canyon day 2_10 05 18_7883

To both of you, our sincere thanks for helping make our afternoon so enjoyable. We  enjoyed your company and are honored to have met you! We hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip.

I mentioned earlier that we were on a fast pace to the canyon in order to beat the winter weather. The day prior to our leaving and moving further south, we woke up to this!

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Early October Snowfall

Westward Ho!Again!

It seems that the older we get the faster time goes by. So true was this past summer. When we started this adventure, we agreed that we would travel for 2 years and then decide if we would continue. It seems like yesterday we began traveling and year three is underway. So I guess we continue!

We ended up staying in Michigan longer than expected. Dr’s appointments and a unexpected trip to the hospital petty much put the brakes on an earlier departure. We thought about going east and then south but a hurricane changed that plan in a hurry.

Having missed going to the Grand Canyon twice because of weather, we set that as our destination goal. Leaving Michigan mid month meant we would have push it in order to beat winter weather.

We stopped for the night at Grissom Air Force Base Museum. What a great place to spend the night. Classic war planes, trainers, simulators and a front row seat to air tankers shooting landings. It was a blast!2018, Sept. Grissom Air Museum_09 20 18_7551_edited-1


Our Best Maverick & Goose impression!

These one night stops are part of the Harvest Hosts network of museums, vineyards, farms etc. that allow RV travelers to stay overnight.

Our next stop was Hodgson Mill in Effingham Ill. Another great stop where we stocked up on some of their excellent baking products.2018 September Amarillo, Tx_09 21 18_7647_edited-1

Moving right along we thought it would be fun to stay at an alpaca farm just a few miles in Oklahoma. The owners said we may have trouble getting through their gate due to our height. It turns out the gate was the least of our problems!


Better known as an”Awwe S&*% Moment!

The incline of the entry combined with the crown of the gravel road were too much for the coach to make. Our cars’ tow bar and hitch dug deeply into the hard gravel road and both drive wheels of the coach were off the ground! 45 thousand pounds of motorhome are now stuck…. out in the country…..on a one lane gravel road! It doesn’t get any worse! 4 hours and a whole lot of lumber later I was able to finally back it up. Fortunately there was no damage to the coach. Needless to say we never saw any alpacas!

Time to move on!

Summer Back in Michigan

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So good to be back! Steamboat RV Park on the banks of the Grand River will be “home” for the summer. It’s our chance to reconnect with friends, hug our family, and help the owners with maintaining the park.” Since Steamboat is new,”Work Camping” will give us an opportunity to pass along some suggestions of best practices from some of the established parks across the country. And truth be told, doing a little work is a healthy thing.

Steamboat RV Park is home to the “Grand Lady” a 106′ true stern wheel river boat. Part of my work duties was to help captain her. I’ve been around and owned boats all my life. Big ones, small ones, power and sail. This one however is pretty unique compared to all the others in my past so actually I would have paid them to have this experience!

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The Grand River is a real success story when it comes to cleaning up. Years ago it was a cess pool of pollution. Now through pollution control the river has over 40 species of fish and other wildlife including several pairs of Bald Eagles.

All of our grand kids have birthdays in the months that we are traveling so we decided to  celebrate all of them at once. So we stock the coach with all the treats their parents say they can’t have, name the trip “The Cousins Crew, and head to a popular park north! (may God give us strength!!)


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Swings, monkey bars, swimming pool, bounce pillow, and a 30′ water slide!


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Not too tired to pose for the goofy shot!!

I don’t know……..Do you think they had a good time??? Nana and Papa are exhausted!

Grandkids bring you into a sweeter, slower present. They show you the future at a time when so many are thinking about the past. And they bring you back to childhood–theirs, their Parent’s, your own: a three-time admittance to wonderland.  

We are so blessed to have a loving family that supports our lifestyle. When we leave them behind, we feel a void in their absence. There’s always a fear that our absence will create a disconnect in their lives. But it’s not the case. And when we return we’re reminded that even with our adult children ,we’re still Mom and Dad!2018 August Grandkids_08 25 18_7468_edited-1

Hot Springs & Muddy Waters

It’s been a while since our last post so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

As we made out way back to Michigan, we stopped at Hot Springs Arkansas and toured the famous bath houses that were so popular during the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Now a National Park, a couple have been restored to their original glory while others have been re-purposed as restaurants or boutiques.2018 April Hot Springs & Garvan Woodland Gardens_04 20 18_6360_edited-1

Hot Springs got its name simply because the area is geological hot spot and hot mineral water, a constant 130 degrees, flows from underground springs and pools on the surface though-out the area. 2018 April Hot Springs & Garvan Woodland Gardens_04 20 18_6400_edited-1 The bath houses harnessed these waters and touted they’re healing powers which resulted in wealthy visitors coming from all over the world seeking cures. The treatments, some of which are really bizarre, were performed in total opulence. In short, these bath houses were amazing!bathhouse

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A gym for a health work out

While we were in the area we visited Garvin Woodland Gardens. What an awesome place! This ranks as one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited.2018 April Hot Springs & Garvan Woodland Gardens_04 21 18_6274_edited-1

Serene paths led us through a forest of lush flowers, themed landscapes, and incredible architecture such as the Glass Cathedral.

I keep trying to think of different ways to describe this incredible place. But in this case, Susan’s pictures are worth a thousand words.2018 April Hot Springs & Garvan Woodland Gardens_04 21 18_6321_edited-12018 April Hot Springs & Garvan Woodland Gardens_04 21 18_6302_edited-1

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By now I bet you’re wondering where the “Muddy Waters” I mentioned in the title is. Well, it’s here, our view of the mighty Mississippi as we moved on to West Memphis Arkansas. And ironically the RV Park where we stayed was called Tom Sawyer. For two days we had a front row seat watching the endless commercial river traffic.2018 April Mississippi River West Memphis, AR_04 23 18_6510_edited-12018 April Mississippi River_04 24 18_6529_edited-1

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“Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas With Waylon and Willie and the boys”

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Yup,that’s a beer hanging from the mic stand!

If you know the song, you know Luckenbach Texas is a hub for country music, good food, and layed back friendly folks!

Luckenbach , population 3, is actually a ghost town that was purchased by 3 investors hence the “Population 3”.  There’s a dance hall, post office/general store, food shacks, a hat store (more like shed) and an outdoor stage. Well known country recording stars have performed here and there is an ongoing venue of country and bluegrass entertainment.2018 March Seed Farm & Luckenbach, TX_03 30 18_5838_edited-1

So what do you do here? You sit back with a barbeque beef sandwich, a beer, and enjoy an improve jam session or a scheduled performance. It’s just an old fashioned good time!

You know you’re in country hog heaven when the local rooster sits on the bar and up stages the musicians!!

And for the record, the musicians who were jamming during our visit ..WERE AWESOME!!

The Texas White House

FF160158-155D-451F-6709398755064794HiResProxyLocated just outside of Johnson city, and in the heart of the Texas hill country, is the homestead and ranch of our 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson.FF0B4268-155D-451F-6765EC2EE1CC9BF0HiResProxyNovember 22, 1963. The kitchen staff at the Johnson Ranch busily prepared for the arrival of  President & Mrs. John F. Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connolly who were scheduled to be guests at the Johnson Ranch that evening. Several loafs of fresh baked bread and pecan pies had come from the oven when over the television  came the report that President Kennedy had been shot. The news of his death was later delivered by a Secrete Service Agent who said: “You are now working in the kitchen of the President of the United States.”

What happened to America that day?  Years later, we’re still looking for answers.

After he left office, the President and Mrs. Johnson made a proclamation that upon their passing, their property would be donated to the National Park Service with the condition that it remain a working ranch.

2000 acres is plenty of room for cattle to free range . Driving about, it’s not uncommon to stop and wait as the huge Herefords meander across the road, or see a nursing calf, or baby goats playing like children.

A 6000′ runway allowed small aircraft including this small jet to ferry cabinet members and military officials from Washington and the Johnson Ranch. This plane, now on permanent display, was always fueled and could be airborne within 20 minutes.  fullsizeoutput_51Inside the house is the office where President Johnson conducted the business of the nation. I have to say that it was pretty humbling standing in the same room where so many leaders of our country once stood. 27 phone lines, 3 tv’s in just about every room, (to watch news on the three networks) a communications center, Secret Service housing, and an aircraft hanger complete with movie theater!  A pretty amazing place!FF3DD4DB-155D-451F-6777561A1D6B066EHiResProxyJohnson enjoyed cars and had a new Lincoln Continental (equipped with all terrain tires!) every year. He also had a rare Amphicar along with an antique 1940 Roadster equipped for hunting. Next to the gun rack was the wet bar!!2018 March LBJ Ranch_03 26 18_5778_edited-1At age 63, President Johnson passed away and was buried in the family’s plot. His marker  is the second from the right next to his wife who died in 2007 at the age of 94.2018 March LBJ Ranch_03 26 18_5720_edited-1The state purchased the property across the Pedernales River which was settled in the mid 1800s. It too is a working farm reflecting life as it was. The staff make lye soap, grow and can vegetables, raise and sheer sheep, butcher swine, raise chickens, smoke meat and make sausage. The real deal!

We thought visiting here was going to be a couple hours. It turned out to be a full afternoon. Both interesting and educational.


Gates, Bars, (and other assorted stuff!)

We’ve been cooling our heels (literally!) in Texas since mid December. If you think it can’t get cold in Texas, well think again! A lot of nights have been way below freezing with days gray and overcast. The locals tell us it’s the worst winter in decades! Only recently has the pattern changed with warm temps.  At least there hasn’t been any of that white stuff to shovel. But I digress!

Traveling around Texas, and a lot of the Southwest for that matter, it seems that every piece of property has a fence around it and a gate across the driveway entrance. Now, we’re not talking your basic chain link fence with a simple gate! We’re talking… Ornate “can you top this” fences and gates!! It must be a lucrative business around these parts because every place seems to have one! Check these out!

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….And just because the sign says “Ranch” doesn’t mean there are animals! As a matter of fact, most don’t. Turkeys? I don’t know, maybe!2018 March Spring in the Hill country_03 06 18_5627_edited-1

This one, though not really over the top gets the prize for the scenic driveway.

We have to give prompts to the local businesses and Bars for their taste in decor, landscaping, and entrepreneurial spirit . Let’s just say it’s,,,,,,weeeeelllllll,,,,,,,creative!txbar1

Bar stools made out of old boat seats….and bases from buckets, boots, cans,….you can’t make this stuff up!


And this is a Bed & Breakfast! Love the balcony!2018 Feb. Hill country, TX_02 24 18_5469_edited-1

And just in front of this….complete with mannequin! And you just have to love the giant chicken!!2018 Feb. Hill country, TX_02 24 18_5468_edited-1

We’ll spend another month here in Texas while the weather improves in the Midwest. Then back to Michigan to be with family and hug our grandkids. Truth told, we’re a little home sick.

We committed to this life style for a minimum of a couple years. Year 3 coming up and still going!

Viva Las Vegas!

What can I say about Las Vegas? Glitzy, flamboyant, amazing, crazy, glamorous, busy, and proof positive that money can do just about anything if enough is thrown at it!!

 Visiting here was a blast!  On top of the list was the chance for Susan and I to visit her cousin Judy and husband Les. It was such a pleasure to sit and enjoy lunch and catch up with family. 

To add to the enjoyment was an impromptu class reunion of Susan’s best high school class buddies.  Of course not one of them has changed in 40 years, (Right! Let’s go with that!) although it was amazing to hear the years dissolve away as they reminisced days long gone by.  Listening to their banter, I couldn’t help to think of a lyric line from the song “Another Aule Lang Syne” written by song artist Dan Fogelberg:  “Just for a moment we were back in school.”

Thanks Dale for being the the social director!2017 Nov. Las Vegas_11 08 17_5019

Like to people watch? Come to Las Vegas! Like to gamble? Come to Las Vegas! Like great entertainment? Come to Las Vegas! Like hotels that go on for blocks?Come  to Las Vegas! Like peace and quiet and no traffic? Well you obviously read the wrong brochure!!

Below is just a glimpse of some of the sights in this amazing city!

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So much fun!

It’s on to Kerrville Texas where we will spend the winter and take a break for 3 months before making our way back to Michigan for the Summer.

Into the Valley of Fire!

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When we think of a desert, our minds usually conjure visions of drifting sand as far as the eyes can see. We might envision Arabian Knights mounted on camels with attire covering them head to toe blocking the sun’s searing heat.

Carved out of the vast Sonoran Desert is The Valley of Fire located between Mesquite and Las Vegas Nevada. The landscape is nothing like what we think of a desert. Dry for sure though greenery grows everywhere. Blazing sun and cloudless skies but pleasant temps in the 70s during our visit. Towering red rock formations are everywhere!Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada_11 01 17_4919_edited-1

There are a number of hiking trails available throughout the park depending on your level of skill and risk tolerance. Getting lost in this place could end very badly! Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada_11 01 17_4927_edited-1

Looking at the map and our surroundings we thought it best to choose a hike that was, according to the description, easy.

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Wait! They call this EASY!!

Somewhere in the midst of the rocks is a trail…..I think! Thank goodness I bought the hiking stick. (And since I had it, Susan held on to me!) It really helped us to stay vertical.

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Sure we’re going down there…….ARE Y0U KIDDING ME!

We made it down without bumps of bruises! Look carefully at the pic above and you can see a plaque denoting the site of a movie set shot here in the 70s.

Continuing on, the trail goes between two massive rock formations and follows a wash. It was a little eerie as well as fascinating as we made our way through.

So the question that comes up when we mention being in the desert is “did you  see any snakes? Well despite all the warnings that rattle snakes, scorpions, and other not to friendly critters were indeed around, the only sign of life was these tracks,Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada_11 01 17_4812_edited-1

and some overly aggressive desert rats trying to swipe our lunch!

We never would have guessed that being in the middle of the desert would be such an enjoyable experience. It’s beauty lures you in but if you aren’t careful, it will ruin your day!

Below, enjoy some more beautiful shots from the Valley of Fire.Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada_11 01 17_4763_edited-1


On to Las Vegas!