Category Archives: travels

Plan, Prep, (pray)

We have planned. We have prepped. We now pray. And this being spring and summer of 2020 we do a lot of praying. It’s inevitable. Something will happen, it’s going to and nothing you do stops it. When the Coronovirus hit we prayed majorally. We prayed, like everyone else, for it to be some big mistake. Then school was cancelled. Being teachers we went into panic mode – they were going to cancel our summer! The very thing we looked forward to the rest of the ten months of the year. When one state after another shut down, we prayed they wouldn’t cancel our reservations in Michigan. They did. We heard that campgrounds across the nation were closed and it didn’t look like an end was in sight. We prayed for an alternative. Our prayer was finally answered in the form of Riverview Campground in Loveland, Colorado. Being a private campground they were able to open sooner than the state and national parks. Hallelujah! We were on our way.

Then the praying was kind of superficial. You pray for what you might have forgotten to pack. It can’t be helped, you will forget something. Usually, we forget something important. Our classic was when we forgot to pack coffee and the coffee pot into the Chrylser, our sailboat. You don’t just run over to the local Wal-mart from a sailboat! Coffee is Important!! That has never been forgotten by either of us and serves as a reminder every year to check twice. This year we did very well, primarily because our planning and prepping paid off. We only forgot a drill and our new “We’ve Camped There” stick on map. Livable mistakes. Make a list people; can’t stress it enough.

You pray for good weather and safe roads. We really had both this year, so far. For the most part, we have managed to steer clear of any real major rain. We had lots of wind in Kansas and one crazy storm in Limon, Colorado. Even the other day, coming back from seeing the Pawnee National Grasslands Buttes (which are amazing) we managaed to skirt around a really bad storm system. We could see it off in the distance, always keeping to the right of us. It made for some impressive skies. I don’t know why Capt’n Jim didn’t want to constantly stop for me to take pictures.

Crazy wind and rain at the Limon, Colorado KOA. Almost as bad as Kansas wind.

You pray that your travels are uneventful. Well the laugh is on you. Something always happens. Last year it was our wheel bearings seizing up on Betty Deux. We had to leave her at a rest stop overnight and Jim had to take off work to fix her just enough to get her home. The whole ordeal was awful! New axles, bearings and tires later…

This trip was no different. “Oh darn, I don’t think we turned off the water pump.” “It will be alright until we get to our stop.” No, I don’t think so. Several hours later, we stopped to get gas and turning the corner Jim saw water pouring from the camper. Water pump no problem, until something bumps against the kitchen faucet and turns the water on into the covered sink. 40 gallons of water throughout the camper. We spent the next several days soaking up as much water as possible. At one point, Jim even had to suck water out of the heater vents. As far as we can tell we got it all. Pray? Praying no further damage shows up later down the road because we didn’t follow our checklist. Of course, now it’s a joke every time we pack up and leave. “Is the water pump off?”

40 Gallons of water all over Betty’s floor, under the slides, cabinets, bedroom carpeting and even down in the floor vents.

Yes, you pray. We pray that we are making a safe choice this year due to Covid. But we are taking our precautions. We wear the dreaded mask any time we are in public. We keep our distance. Hand sanitizer is our new go to after store trips and yes we follow the arrows! Well, most of the time.

We have seen many people, for example in Missouri, not follow guidelines and it’s very disconcerting. Colorado, however, has been great. Very few people don’t follow the mandated protocol. Very few. We are outdoors, in some of the freshest air we have smelled. (Well, maybe except for Greeley, Colorado. But, that’s for another story.) It’s beautiful here and so worth it. Yes, we pray for our health, but knowing that we have partaked of the great outdoors of the Rocky Mountains and it’s surrounding area, I think we are good.

The Immensity of it All! Rocky Mountain National Park

PLAN (PREP) PRAY

For once, Jim feels the truck and camper is completely ready. He worked tirelessly over the past several months making many alterations and upgrades. He’s excited about our new cell phone booster. Boy will be doing online classes again this year, so he will need the extra connectivity.

In addition to the booster,, he also installed shock absorbers for the axles to smooth the ride. In addition to the shock absorbers, he put two new tires on the trailer and new heavy duty axles. We had the horrible experience of the bearings burning and caused the axle to bend. This is not an experience worth repeating! So, of course, prior to this trip all wheel bearings were greased and lubed. On the lighter side he installed a poop hose holder, cleaned the ac and the vents, replaced the thermastat with digital.

We also did a complete bathroom upgrade. I noticed that we were having a lot of separation of the vinyl wallpaper. We have had that issue in the main living area from the time we bought it and then it showed up in the bathroom. I was concerned for moisture getting into the walls and causing mold. I removed the wallpaper (with a hairdryer) and applied 4 coats of really good paint. Jim installed a real (not plastic) water faucet and then he installed a stone backsplash (again, real, no press on stuff) behind the sink. This was done after he also raised the bathroom cabinet higher. He was tired of bumping his head everytime he brushed his teeth. New caulking, new shower curtain and a few pretty photos and voila, new bathroom.

Cooking prep has begun: hamburger for taco salads in a jar, hamburgers premade, rice cooked and frozen for cauliburgers. I make salads in a jar which gave us an easy healthy alternative for a couple of nights. They can be made ahead and kept for up to 5 days. I baked muffins and egg/sausage “muffins” for easy breakfasts. Freezer was packed.

Clothes were packed at least a week ahead. I told everyone to wear it twice if you have too! We did buy a few clothing items to have some fresh wear on the trip. I never had the chance to do that in my earlier years so I like to take advantage of summer buying and then again right before school.

All laundry is done! House is cleaned (no one wants to come home to a dirty house.) Dishes cleaned. Coffee pot emptied (believe me that is not cool to come home to!) Mail stopped. Lawn guy hired. This was a new one for us and hopefully it will be helpful to come home to a nice mowed yard and not a jungle. I’m sure the neighbors will appreciate it. Betty Deux (camper) gets washed and waxed. Bertha too. That’s our truck. You know because she has a big butt!

Then comes the last two days. That’s when it gets real. Gas tanks filled. Toiletries and meds in. Pillows and of course Boy’s blankies. Cameras, printers and computers go in. All those little things you couldn’t put in ahead of time. We also turn off the AC and the water heater in the house. I empty the fridge and we turn it off. My daughter laughs that she needs to keep some room in her fridge for my yearly purge! If you are going to be gone an extended time why pay for utilities that you aren’t going to be there to use. We do put a light on a timer. That helps for safety purposes and have someone check your house often or use securtiy cameras connected to your phone.

Prepping takes time and is best done over time. Don’t wait until the last minute. It will not be worth it. Use your list you created in the planning stages and check it multiple times. Have your partner check it too. We really followed the list well this year and it helped tremendously. I think when it came down to it we only forgot a couple of things. We forgot the drill for doing the levelers, but bought another one at Walmart. We also forgot my new sticker map. I was so sad about that, but I’ve been informed that we can just buy another one as it wasn’t that expensive. YAY! Can’t wait to start inserting all those places we have stayed on the new map. (Oh, and if you are wondering, we are from the “It’s where WE have stayed overnight” camp.)

Next step: Pray

(Plan) Prep Pray

Planning for a normal camping trip can be daunting. Planning for a two month adventure is beyond intimidating. So many things to do.

Months before a trip, Capt’n Jim will haul out the navigational charts (Google Earth and Allstays) and plan our destination. This takes hours and days, months even, of careful contemplation. Virtual field trips help kindle the fires. It was to be the Michigan shores of the great lakes this year. That is until covid 19 put a halt to those plans and almost to the summer. After much watchful consideration we decided to veer westward again, back to previously charted waters, Colorado.

The creation of list become a daily habit. Jim writes his on small pieces of paper or on the back of personal business cards created with him in mind. He writes , scratches off and adds more until departure day. His lists keeps him motivated and organized. My list takes place on excel. I have created a comprehensive checklist that covers everything from inside to outside. We even have a take-down and set-up list. Since we are gone for an extensive bit of time I have included a checklist for leaving the house. My list were combinations of list found online and tweaked for our type of camping and camper.

Making lists is an essential part of trip planning. I cannot stress enough to find your way of list making, whether it be on post-its or computer. Life will be much easier. There is such a sense of accomplisment when something is marked off as done! And, that being said, make sure you follow the list. We skipped that step a few times and regretted it, but that’s for another post.

Think about your trip, plan it out. Don’t just wing it. Have steps in place and allow for times that you can wing it. Even that is part of the plan. Know a basic direction you want to go. If you veer from that plan because, hey, there’s Cadillac Ranch or a cool yarn shop, it’s okay! Just get back on the path and enjoy the journey.

 

Cadillac Ranch

Wanderlust

Wanderlust settles in me like a too tight favorite jacket.  I’m excited about wearing it, but it pinches all the same.  School wraps up this week and the countdown begins.  With that comes intense anxiety.   Can I get everything done in time?  What will I forget?  I’m adding to and amending my packing list constantly.  That, I think is finally almost publishable!

On the other hand, my mind plays previews of roads not even traveled yet.  Open highways, mountain views, and quaint towns. My excitement can hardly be contained.  Jim watches lots of YouTube videos and travels Google Earth in preparation for the trip.  I think this is his mental meditation.

We have a destination and a few weeks ago we weren’t even sure we would be going any where. Originally we were to go to Michigan, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic we had to change gears.  Now we are Colorado bound! 

In the past, travel took the form of short burst, several days to several weeks at a time.  This year we reserved a month at Riverview RV park in Loveland, Colorado where my daughter lives. We stayed 2 days there last year, so know pretty well what to expect. Of course even this causes that anxiety jacket to pinch again.

It’s the unknown that rubs at my nerves. It’s also the unknown that makes it exciting. I am reminded that the goal is not the destination, but the journey.

This is my first post in a long time. I find writing blog post time consuming and always seem to find excuses. Perhaps this year will be different. That being said, I would like to change the name of my blog site. 2bikes1boat served its purpose, but no more. I would like something that reflects our traveling ways, our sense of adventure and wonder. Ideas Welcome!

Blowing Rock

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About 10 miles from Julian Price lies a quaint town called Blowing Rock, North Carolina.  This town, according to Captain Jim, was designed, created and populated to attract women.  From it’s flower gardened main street to it’s many chic stores it does seem he has a point.  We chose a perfectly comfortable, overcast day to stroll it’s main street.  You will want to find one of their several free parking areas to stow away your vehicle as parking on the main street is at a premium.  We found ample parking between their public pool and a very lovely park.  A steep hike up some hidden steps and you are close to Main Street.  You can walk from one end to the other quite comfortably, as it’s not very long.

There were many fascinating shops and storefronts.  Myself, I’m not really a very girly-girl so the shops only really interest me from a “viewing” standpoint.  I like to see all the interesting wares and what-nots.  I love the architecture and did get to take some interesting shots of some of the buildings.  I was drawn to one shop though, much to the detriment of my pocketbook.  It was a lovely yarn shop named Unwound Yarn http://www.unwoundyarn.com/  I enjoyed perusing the many colorful and varied yarns.  Even Jim and Kaelin found the different yarns to be interesting, noting the textures and varied softness.  I did buy a wonderful kit to make a Christmas present for my oldest daughter.  Of course, I can’t share what it is yet, but I can say it had 21 different colors!

Of course, when you stroll through little towns like this you do work up an appetite and this is when you search out restaurants that are unique to the area.  We were drawn to Town Tavern http://www.towntavernbr.com/ and were fairly pleased.  The food was mostly pub style food and spirits.  It was a little pricey as probably most all restaurants and stores are in Blowing Rock.  It had a neat atmosphere and I can imagine it gets to hopping on weekends and evenings.

Blowing Rock is definitely worth the stroll whether you are a shopper or not.  And the area offers more than just the downtown shopping excursions.  Not far from there is The Blowing Rock itself, which we visited last year.  It is located off The Blueridge Parkway, a must do!  And it is close to Boone.  You cannot go wrong visiting this lovely area.  For more information visit this link:   https://blowingrock.com/

Singing Hills Campground Cave City 6-17-18

We used Passport America to find a campground near Mammoth Caves in Cave City, Ky.  Singing Hills Campground http://www.singinghillsrvpark.com/  was fairly nice campground very near the many touristy attractions in the area.  We were surprised at how many there were.  However, we were there for the caves!

Singing Hills is run by a very nice couple.  The wife, Beth Brown, we discovered was a retired teacher.  We ended up chatting with her for quite some time as we cooled off from our excursions.  She told me about a children’s book series, “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” perfect for my first graders and introduced herself as the author of her own book, “Parenting is Rocket Science.”  Listening to her stories about meeting Mr. Brown and raising their family were definitely uplifting.   https://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Is-Rocket-Science/dp/0929540093

The campground sites are clean, but too close for Captain Jim and my comfort and very little shade.  Shade was much needed as it was hot as Hades or the  according to Jim, “the 4th level of Dante’s inferno!”  We spent very little time outside; it just wasn’t possible.

We stayed 3 nights, but only because it was cheap (with the Passport America discount) and we would be going to the caves.  It would have been too much trouble to find another campground.

Kaelin was  happy with that decision because he could ride his bike and he even met a little boy he played with for short while.  He also enjoyed that Mrs. Beth allowed him to take a couple of books with him.  He’s now a fan of the “Warriors” book series.

I give Singing Hills a 3.5 rating.  They really need some shade and cutting the grass would have been helpful.  Also sites too close.  I hate to give it such a low rating as the Brown’s are lovely people.  Perhaps the cooler months?

Captain Jim would only give it a 3.  He was not happy with not being able to hang out in the great outdoors.  Of course, the heat was not the campground’s fault, but shade would have really helped that issue.

Little River Campground

Just outside of Ft. Payne, Alabama lies a quiet and most pleasing campground.  We found Little River Canyon Campground on the Passport America app.  We had driven quite a ways and was ready for a break.

The campground wasn’t hard to find and was fairly close to Ft. Payne, which made day trips to town easy.  Hardest part was some 6% grades downhill with some sharp curves.

We were fortunately met by the owner when we pulled up.  Normally it is pay by honor system, but she was there helping someone else.  Jim spoke to her telling her we wanted to use Passport America.  She made him a deal he couldn’t refuse.  We ended up getting a full week for $150 which broke down to approximately $21 a night (cheaper than Passport deal.)

We were so glad.  This campground could be the model for all campgrounds.  It was clean, had level sites, quiet and well maintained with beautiful landscaping all around.   Some of the sites even had tomato plants.  Others had daylillies, rock walls and lots of wildlife (frogs, lightening bugs). The sites were well spaced out and my favorite no blaring lights at night.  I didn’t have to Bat Cave it (towels pinned to the windows).  There was a pretty pond complete with ducks near the Back Forty.  It does look like they are expanding further and we wish them luck on their continued endeavors.

There were many activities nearby that we ventured on but one of the most important was…..laundry!  Being a camper can mean wearing outfits a few times in a row and Yuck!  Their laundry was small, but clean and inexpensive.  We were able to get it done and not have to endure a “commercial laundromat.”

Another plus was their WiFi, which was included.  This was important as Kaelin is doing an online class this summer.  Their signal was strong and took the worry off us.  He was able to get a lot done.

Tim and Janet are a hardworking couple that apparently have day jobs, but that doesn’t stop them from updating the campground weekly.  We admire what they have done with this little gem.

We went for the night and stayed the week and we’d do it all over again.  This campground is a must visit!

We give this campground a resounding 5 stars.  Again, we wish more would follow their formula.

http://littleriverrvpark.com/

Cherokee Rock

After a great fail trying to get to Chief Ladiga campground Captain Jim used freecampsites.net and found Cherokee Rock Campgrounds (Alabama.)  It wasn’t far from where we were and had promising reviews.  Hmmm?

Although we did not encounter anymore Bridge Out signs we did have to endure a quite steep, narrow entrance road to the park.  Once we got to the park our initial impression was quite positive.  It was very clean with almost new pavilion and office.  It was based on the honor system, however the prices did not match with what the website stated.  The website and the envelope stated $10 a night, the sign stated $20.  There were no maps to the campground and we had to just guess where to go.

As we drove through the park we could see tent camping along huge rock outcroppings.  It was obvious this was strictly for tents only.  We headed into the wooded area in search of RV camping.  There were, I repeat, NO road signs!  We ended up on a dead end and a dead end definitely means a dead end, NO TURN AROUND!!!  Captain Jim had to back Betty and Bertha up in a narrow, crooked area.

We were, at this time, then met by the “Campground Host,” which then proceeded to help us back up and find a site.  And they had to do this because NO SITES were MARKED!  They got us into a site not too far from them.  Was it a great site? NO.  It was so unlevel that we had to pull out every leveling tool we could find and warned the Boy, NO Jumping!

I will give it this, it was quiet.  No lights blaring in the window.  Some campers came and went, but we have a feeling they were camping on the sly (coming after dark and leaving before sunrise.)  I will admit we only paid the price that was marked on the envelope as this campground in no way warranted $20 per night price tag.  There was no water, electric, sewer and trash was definitely not in walking distance.

The campground host sounded like he and his wife had been there quite a while.  There were promises of future improvements, but it doesn’t seem like it has made it to the back forty of Cherokee Rock, including cutting the grass (which he said he was going to do the next day.)  Funny thing was Jim said he’s pretty sure he was “cutting grass” just not the kind we wanted cut.  He noticed quite a few “plants” in a tent on their site.  Perhaps this was why the “host” seemed so happy to be there.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad.  The rocks were amazing to walk through and climb on.  They were massive and parts overlooked a beautiful valley.  We were able to get some amazing photos, although we were disappointed that the sunrise did not cooperate with us.  It was quite misleading.

I’m sure there was quite a lot of history there.  It was a shame, however, to see so many of these beautiful wonders of nature defaced by senseless graffiti.  Really people?  Get a grip.  This is not a chalkboard and nobody cares that you were there.

Overall, we feel that this campground was good for tent campers and young people as their sites set next to the valley or rocks, not nestled in the bug infested woods.  We decided this was not a place to where we would back.

Captain Jim gives this place a  2 mostly because of the rocks if it were a day trip (no camping).  If you are a tent camper and young it would get a 4 or 5.  I agree with his conclusion.

Lake Pines R.V. And campground

June 7, 2018

Our stop in Midland, Georgia was precipitated by the use of Passport America. We had a mostly pleasant drive (except Columbus) through quiet State highways. We decided to stop at Lake Pines RV and Campground for some much-needed rest. The campground overall is very pleasant. It is fairly clean, however the sites are very close together. We were in sight 15 a corner site in the back of the campground. We found this much to our liking as there was very little traffic and the corner allowed us some privacy.

Due to the privacy and the temperate mornings we decided to stay more than one night. On our second day the temperatures were so comfortable we decided to cook out all day making our famous roast potatoes and carrots in the Dutch oven over a fire. Captain Jim got out the Panda and proceeded to do laundry in our little bathroom while we cooked the roast. He really enjoys using his Little Panda. All was going well until late in the evening when we decided to go for a swim and to dry clothes. Kaelin and I settled at the pool and Jim brought wet clothes to put in the dryer only to find out the dryers weren’t working. A woman swimming in the pool offered advice in going to a local laundromat. Captain Jim loaded up Bertha and headed towards said laundromat. The laundromat was clean and got the laundry done. Unfortunately, this and some very rude people at the laundromat did put a damper on the evening, but that’s life. Overall, the campground was okay.

I give the campground a 3.5. I could have done better if it had kept up with the laundromat, cleaned the pool better and wasn’t so close in space. It’s more of a city RV park rather than country.

Captain Jim agrees with my assessment. He did like site 15.

Campground Nowhere

Last night we stopped at a county park campground in Bastom, Alabama, called Neal’s Landing. This campground was an unmarked almost free campground. We found it on the site https://freecampsites.net/. We had to use their directions because Google tried to take us somewhere else. That somewhere was an exercise in determination and patience for Capt. Jim as he had to turn the camper around in a tight space. He did well!

Neal’s Landing was very pretty with tall pines throughout, surrounded by a thick wooded wildlife management area. We chose a site next to the river although we could not get to the river from our site due to a steep embankment. There was a boat ramp further up. We chose not to put the canoe in as the river was fast moving. Kaelin had fun running through the campground. It would have been perfect for his trike however, a flat tire flattened those plans.

We had many sites to choose from as there was only the campground host as a neighbor. Quite empty. Although it was very pretty and cost us a whopping $5, we stayed only the one night. The biggest drawback, besides the relentless bugs, was NO WATER. Anywhere! This is truly some boondocking!! We did enjoy a very quiet, dark nights sleep.

This campground could be such a gem with a little more management. Add even just water spigots and you might increase the camper population.

I give it a 3 star rating for cleanliness, quiet and layout.

Captain Jim gives it a 4 star rating for it’s boondocking mystique.