Wednesday, May 2, 2018

3rd year in review

We started year three on May 20, 2017. Once again it was hard leaving Asheville but there was still so much to explore. It was a year filled with great adventures, bumps in the road, health issues and of course friends and family. We put 13,013 miles on the RV and 47,537 on the car. We traveled through 30 states and stayed in 75 campgrounds. We have broken our adventures in groups and there is a link back to the original post where of course you will find more pictures and details.
We feel so very blessed to be living this life and honestly we are not sure we could do it without the support of family and friends. Thank you for following along with us and encouraging us along the way.

Zoos and Gardens

North Carolina Zoo
The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC is now one of our favorites. The walkways were created through the trees making it feel like a walk in the woods. Nancy even got to feed the giraffes.

Detroit Riverwalk
The Detroit Riverwalk was such a wonderful surprise. We loved exploring it with Katrina and Steve. It made us very happy to see all of the growth and development in Detroit. The Outdoor Adventure Center is a must see. (covered in the Warren, OH, Belleville, MI link in family and friends)
Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is in Colorado Springs, CO and it is such an amazing place, there are numerous trails. The Riverwalk in Pueblo, CO has a number of  gardens to enjoy. (both are covered in the Pike's Peak link in National and State Parks) 

NOLA - City Park

City Park in New Orleans is an oasis of nature, art, sports and more in the heart of the city. Sharing it with Katrina and Steve only made it better.

Peter "Wolf" Toth Indians ~ "Trail of the Whispering Giants" 

We found four Toth carvings this year, unfortunately our cruise in Alaska did not take us past the one there.
L: Colorado ~~~ R: Utah 
Redman stands in a cow pasture in Loveland, CO. (covered in the Rocky Mountain National Park link in National and State Parks)

Chief Wasatch sits at the entrance to a park in Murray, UT(covered in the Three stops in Utah link in National and State Parks)

L: Oregon ~~~~ R: Mississippi
The 57th carving, Iakla Nawan is in Astoria, OR. (covered in the Worked our way to Alaska link in National and State Parks)

The original Indian in Ocean Springs, MS, Crooked Feather, was destroyed by rot and termites. In 1999 local sculptor Thomas King carved a new one. (covered in the  Pass Christian, MS link in Roadside Oddities)

Roadside Oddities and Attractions 

Bishop's Castle
Bishop's Castle in Rye, CO  is one of the largest roadsides we have been to, and oh what fun it was. Up on Cripple Creek we found fun mining memorabilia, Dinosaurs in CaƱon City, and beautiful Murals and Art Sculptures in Pueblo, CO(all covered in the Pikes Peak link in National and States Parks)

In Boulder, CO we watched a Unicycle Riding Juggler and saw the house from Mork and Mindy. In Lyons, CO we hung out with a Banjo Player, and one of the things we found in Longmount, CO was a Muffler Man holding a pitch fork. (covered in the Rocky Mountain link in National and State Parks)
Mt Rushmore ~ Utah

In Salina, UT a Guard Tower is a memorial to three German POW's killed there. The Home of the "Ho-Made" Pies is in Mt. Carmel, UT and replicas of Mount Rushmore and Stonehenge were found in Salt Lake City, UT. Plus a few others. We also visited the home offices of doTerra and Young Living Oils(covered in the Three stops in Utah link in National and State Parks) 

The Hole in the Rock gift shop in Moab, UT is quite unique and was once the home of Albert and Gladys Christensen. The Movie Museum at the Red Cliffs Lodge was fun. (covered in the Arches National Park link in National and State Parks)

A fun roadside in Portland, OR brought back memories of when Katrina was little. The sculptures of Ramona, Henry, and Ribsy The Dog are beloved characters of Beverly Clearly. A more serious one was The Grotto, Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother. We also found a Giant Candle in Scappose, OR.  (covered in the Worked our way to Alaska link in National and State Parks

Heavy Metal Band
Reno, NV offered up lots of fun neon signs and we found a "Heavy Metal" Band in Truckee, CA. Just outside of Beatty, NV is the ghost town of Rhyolite and the Goldwell Open Air Museum (covered in the Nevada link in National and State Parks) 

Pie Town, NM is a roadside oddity all in itself, and delicious pie to boot. A Knight in Shinning Armor, the Statue of Liberty and the House of Pain were about all we found in Truth or Consequences, NM (covered in the Arizona and New Mexico link in family and friends)
Blarney Stone

Lubbock, TX was one of our stops through Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. It is where Buddy Holly was born and buried. You can also kiss a piece of the Blarney Stone here. The World's Littlest Skyscraper and the Wee-Chi-Tah Sculpture is in Wichita Falls, TX and you can find the Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX, wearing a cowboy hat of course!
Colgate Clock

The Colgate Clock and the Louisville Water Tower were the biggest of the eight oddities we found in Indiana and Louisville. The Schimpff's Candy store was the tastiest. (covered in the Indiana, Louisville, Michigan link in Family and Friends)

While in Florida we found the Four Freedoms Monument in Madison, FL which resembles a headstone and just down the road in Greenville, FL is the birthplace and childhood home of Ray Charles.

Knight in the woods
Bamahenge, Dinosaurs and Knights were a few of the things we discovered in Foley, AL (covered in the Alabama link in Historical places)
Tree Carving

We found beautiful tributes to Hurricane Katrina in Pass Christian, MS, along with Tree Carvings, Crazy Store Entrances, a Giraffe, a Giant Rocking Chair, an Old Car Museum, a Train Museum and of course Lighthouses

Out of the half dozen or so oddities we found from our stop in Hattiesburg, MS, our two favorites were the Medicine Wheel Garden and the Grand Canyon of the Mississippi.

Windsor Ruins
The Windsor Ruins in Port Gibson, MS, are what is left of a plantation home that survived the Civil War but burned down due to a negligent guest at a dinner party. Plus, you will find a Submarine that was used to smuggle whiskey during prohibition at the Grand Gulf Military State Park(covered in the Vidalia. LA link in Historical Places)

14-story murals are something that Nancy dreams of and a 19-foot Dalmatian could be a dream come true or your worst nightmare. The Shreveport Waterworks Museum was very interesting. We found these along with a number of other fun things during our stop in Simsboro, LA.

During one of our three stops in Texas we visited the State Line Post Office and Courthouse in Texarkanna. The state line of Texas and Arkansas runs right down the middle of the building. 

The Iron Man Billboard that we found while in Athens, AL is a 100-year old iron cut out of a man advertising medicine.

Historical Places

Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park in Appomattox, VA was the first National Park we hit on this trip. General Lee surrendered to General Grant here, ending the Civil War. We also explored Red Hill ~ Patrick Henry National MemorialWe do think if history classes could come to all of these sites it would have made learning much more fun.

Les and Jefferson
James Madison Montpelier in Montpelier Station, VA is a 240-acre complex with his home and 8-miles of trials for hiking. We continued our history lesson at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Charlottesville, VA, Les was thrilled as Jefferson is his favorite President. Woodrow Wilson's Museum and Library in Staunton, VA was a must visit as Nancy's grandfather changed his name to Wilson when he came to the U.S. from Finland because Wilson was president at the time.

We made a pit stop in Dodge City, KS, on our Mad Dash to Colorado. We were expecting a little bit more but still an interesting place.
Hanger - Tuskegee Airmen

Our travels through Alabama took us back to Montgomery for a second time. This time we were able to tour the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

We made two more stops on the Mississippi Mound Trail during our stay in Vidalia, LA. Across the river in Natchez, MS we found the Emerald Mounds and the Grand Village of Natchez. Plus a number of Civil War era homes and plantations. 

National and State Parks and other Natural places

Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge State Park in Natural Bridge, VA is one of the oldest tourist destinations in the U.S. We could certainly see why it is still so popular, it is a beautiful park. The Swinging Bridge is Buchanan, VA's claim to fame and dates back to the 1850's. Nancy couldn't muster the courage to conquer this one but Les and Mielikki did. (covered in the Appomattox Courthouse link in Historical places)

Crabtree Falls
Crabtree Falls, located in the George Washington National Forest, in Virginia is the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The series of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones create a total distance of 1,200-feet. (covered in the James Madison Montpelier link in Historical Places)

Raccoon Creek State Park in Hookstown, PA was a favorite of our son-in-law Steve, as he grew up in nearby Beaver Falls, PA.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak National Landmark in Colorado was amazing, all 14,115-feet of it. Nancy had to sit in the backseat for some of the drive up and down - but Wow what a place.

Rocky Mountain NP
From Estes Park, CO we explored the Rocky Mountain National Park, this is one we would like to go back and explore some more.

Dinosaur National Monument
While we visited the Dinosaur National Monument from Rangely, CO it is actually in two states, Colorado and Utah. We spent three days exploring all of it. The Rock Art in the Canyon Pintado was pretty impressive, stories that have lasted for 100's and 100's of years.

Four Corners
The first of our last two stops in Colorado was Montrose, CO where we went to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a last minute decision that we were glad we made. The next was Cortez, CO where we toured the Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, stood in four states at once at the Four Corners National Monument and Nancy just about had heat stroke on a hike at Hovenweep National Monument.

Arches National Park
Arches National Park was our first stop in Utah, the entrance is just outside of Moab. There is so much more in the area to see and do. Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse State Park, Newspaper Rock, Wilson's Arch and Faux Falls at Ken's Lake are some of the things we did.

Zion National Park
Three stops in Utah were covered in one blog post and we visited lots of parks. Freemont Indian State Park was discovered while I-70 was being built. Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park - another one we want to go back to, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Cedar Breaks National Monument and the Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest. So much unbelievable beauty. Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, UT, was the easiest hike of them all.

Latourell Falls
As we worked our way to Alaska we experienced the Solar Eclipse in Hagerman, ID. Also in this link are our hikes to the Bridal Veil Falls, Latourell Falls, Horsetail Falls, Middle Oneonta Falls, Triple Falls and the famous Multnomah Falls, all just a short drive from downtown Portland, OR.
Mt Shasta

Cape Lookout State Park, Kilchis Point Reserve, and Cape Mears Lighthouse were great hiking places while we stayed in Tillamook, OR, the first of four stops down the western coast. From the second stop in Sutherlin, OR we finally made it to Crater Lake National Park, and even though we were in shorts and sandals we encounter snow, and a lot of it. The third stop gave us a little bit of snow at Mt. Shasta, but perfect weather for hiking at Lake Siskiyou.
Mosaic Canyon

It took us two days to drive around Lake Tahoe while we were staying in Nevada. Most people think the lake is in Nevada, but it is actually in both Nevada and California. Death Valley National Park is very much like what you think of based on the name! Our hike through the Mosaic Canyon was our favorite part.

We encountered some winter weather in Birmingham, AL while we headed south to Florida, 3" of the white stuff fell while we were there - no we did not venture out on the roads to see how they drive in snow!

Driftwood Beach on Jekeyl Island, in Brunswick, GA is beyond imagination. It was one of our favorite stops through Georgia and South Carolina.

Alaskan Adventure 

Our adventure started on September 5 and ended on September 17, 2017 and involved planes, trains, automobiles, buses and a cruise ship. We spent two nights in Vancouver, BC. The Granville Public Market was our favorite place in Vancouver.
Savage River - Denali NP
We spent one night in Fairbanks, which is small enough to walk the entire town. The Riverwalk was very pretty and we caught a small glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Denali National Park was spectacular, we wish we had more time to explore it. The train ride to Anchorage took us through amazing scenery. A bus took us from Anchorage to Seward where we boarded the Holland Cruise ship, the Zaandam.
Mendenhall Glacier
We cruised Glacier Bay National Park and our port stops were in Haines/Skagway, Juneau, where we hiked to Mendenhall Glacier; and Ketchikan which was our favorite.


Jesus in boots
Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, TX is where we found Jesus in Cowboy Boots.  (covered in the Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee link in roadside oddities)
Wooden Marker

Both the Old Biloxi Cemetery, in Biloxi, MS and the Bay St. Louis Cemetery, in Bay St. Louis, MS have wooden headstones - something we hadn't seen before. (covered in the Pass Christian link in Roadside Oddities)

Jewish Headstone
There is a beautiful Jewish Section in the Historic Natchez Cemetery in Natchez, MS. (covered in the Vidalia, LA link in Historical Places)

Friendship Cemetery
Old Aberdeen and Odd Fellows Resting Place are filled with unique headstones and are right across the street from each other in Aberdeen, MS and the Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, MS is where Memorial Day got its start.

Family and Friends 

Grant and Luke
We love hooking up with family and friends as we travel. Our stops in Warren, OH and Belleville, MI gave us much needed time with Nancy's sister Linda and her niece Becky along with her family - husband Jeff and two boys Luke and Grant. Our timing was perfect as we got to celebrate Grant's birthday with him.
Our time with Katrina and Steve is always precious and never long enough but we enjoyed every minute, hitting up some of our favorite places with them.

The Bryson family came for dinner one night, it has become a family tradition to not get a picture. Another birthday was celebrated, this time Nancy's nephew Mike as he turned 40-years old.
Being in Michigan always gives us a chance to reconnect with friends. Les enjoyed lunch with "the girls" from his office and Nancy and Katrina had lunch with the "gang", Mary Ellen, Erika, and Lee Anne one day and Gail and Lynne another. Nancy had coffee with Terry and even got a little art time in with Connie.
Canadian Clan
Fox Family Picnic

Les got to visit with family in London, Canada while Nancy enjoyed a Fox Family picnic.

Shirley and Nancy
While in Pueblo, CO we visited with Nancy's cousin Shirley and her husband Lee, we hadn't seen each other for close to 20 years. (covered in the Pikes Peak link in National and State Parks)

Nancy and Gabi
From Estes, CO we went to Fort Collins, CO to visit with Gabi Aelabouni, Nancy met him in Michigan when he was just a young intern at Antioch Lutheran Church. We toured the New Belgium Brewery which was a blast. (covered in the Rocky Mountain National Park link in National and State Parks)

We were lucky enough to visit with Michele Brinkert twice, once in Boardman, OR on our way to Alaska and again in Tillamook, OR, where we got to see Eric too, as we headed south back down the coast. Forgot pictures both times.
Nancy ~ DJ ~ Sue
While in Gig Harbor, WA, we spent time with our sister-in-law Sue, nephew David John and his wife Rebecca and finally got to meet their son DJ. They also helped us out on our trip to Alaska by storing our RV and keeping Mielikki for us while we were on the cruise. (covered in the Worked our way to Alaska link in National and State Parks)

We always love spending time with Jan and Dave Leap in Sacramento, CA. Nancy and Jan worked together in Michigan and we always pick right back up where we left off the last time we were together. (covered in the four stops down the western coast link in National and State Parks)

Les, Nancy, Chuck, Gina
While heading through Arizona and New Mexico we made a stop in Cottonwood, AZ and family came to see us. Nancy's nephew Chuck and his wife Gina came up from Phoenix for a couple of days. We had so much fun. This was Les's first visit to the hospital with concerns of a heart attack. He was told he didn't have one - but.... we found out later that he actually did.

Fox Clan
Our Indiana, Louisville and Michigan stops were all about family and getting Les healthy. We stayed in Clarksville, IN while Les had a stint put into his heart - he was misdiagnosed in Cottonwod, AZ and actually did have a heart attack that day. The care he received at the Robley Rex VA Medical Center in downtown Louisville, KY was outstanding. While we were here we spent time with Nancy's niece Sherrie, her hubby Eric and daughter Lilly. They also kept Mielikki for us while the RV stayed at the campground and we drove the car to Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with Katrina and Steve and the Fox clan. We also got to have lunch with Nancy's niece Lillian and Larry on our travels to Michigan.

We spent Christmas in Silver Springs, FL with Nancy's brother Bob and Bonnie. (covered in the Florida link in National and State Parks)
Wally and Janet

In early January, Les stayed at the campground in Greenville, SC while Nancy headed to Asheville, NC for an eye doctor appointment and was treated to great hospitality by Janet and Wally. (covered in the Georgia and South Carolina link in National and State Parks)

Our stop in Foley, AL allowed us to have dinner with Peggy and Paul, Nancy and Peggy went to high school together and it had been years since they had seen each other. (covered in the Alabama link in Historical Places)

Beads galore 
Katrina and Steve flew into New Orleans in February, for a five day visit - we had a blast celebrating Mardi Gras and eating and drinking our way through town. We watched a number of parades with our favorite being the Nerd Parade and we received well over 500 strands of beads. We were able to donate those to a worthy cause. (covered in the New Orleans link in Zoos and Gardens)

Emily and Barrett
Our three stops in Texas included the wedding of our great-nephew Barrett and his lovely bride Emily. Then we got to spend some time with them again when they came to visit us in Asheville. (covered in the three stops in Texas link in Roadside Oddities) 

Well, no wonder we were tired when we got back to Asheville at the end of March! There were still places we didn't get to and things we didn't see. As they say, you should always leave something to come back for.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”― Mark Twain

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