Latest Update: December 30, 2008

 

On the Road - 2008
Return to the Trouser Rollers' Home Page

Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
and
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)

          This Log is a journal of our travels during our fourth and final year as full timers in Clementine, our 24' home-in-a-box.  To read about where we finished up, click hereThe map to the left shows our route. Click on it for details.  

          We started the year in Texas, then wandered along the Gulf Coast looking for a place we might spend the winters. Not finding anywhere we decided it was time to settle down permanently. We sold our RV and bought a car in March, then travelled through the northeast visiting dear ones before heading west to catch the ferry to Juneau, where we're settling down for the future. To follow us there, read the Juneau Journal.

          Links embedded in the log's text lead to photos of our travels. They are assembled together on a page of the Photo Album - as are photos of our camping spots.

          For further details see also our Campground Ratings. The RV Statistics page shows how many miles we traveled each year, etc.

[Read about our travels in other years]


                                           TO READ ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Ancient Oaks RV Park, Rockport, TX

          We woke up to a clear and cold New Year morning in Austin. Nice time visiting Andrea and Chuck, and enjoying Austin. We left their comfortable but chilly driveway around 8:30am that day, and drove south towards the coast. Made a couple of shopping detours, arriving in Rockport and settling into our campsite. in the early afternoon. 205 miles. The cruise control quit not far into our trip, we'd gone all of 300 miles since it was "fixed." The cool was not quite so here, and on arrival we sallied forth on foot (Bill) and bike (Pat) to do some preliminary exploring. Looked like this place will suit us fine for January. Good thing, we've booked a month - our longest one-spot stop so far. We're sliding into being "winter Texans." The last few week has been positively balmy, with overnight lows near 60 or above and sunny warmth during the day.

          Andrea came down with the 'flu the day before we left Austin, and no sooner had we settled in here than we came down with it too. We reefed our sails, battened down the hatches, lay low in our snug little home, and waited for it to pass. Which it seems to have done. We had 5 days of misery, but are now are mostly recovered. This is a great place for biking, and birding, though it's spread out to be sure.

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Ancient Oaks RV Park, Rockport, TX

          The 'flu is gone, no complications. And the weather has chilled. Oh well, can't have everything. Strange times and much happening.

          First. Pat decided to upgrade her web design/development software while she is upgrading the website (do you like the new look?), and also for her non-profit support projects. Her version of Dreamweaver is now 4 years old, and not up to current web best practices. There have been two major upgrades since she bought it. Plus its beginning to crumble - she could uninstall and reinstall it to see if that helps. Anyway, it being the beginning of the year and with our reduced travel there's a bit of slack in the budget. So, she checked the specifications for the new Dreamweaver CS3, it should run OK on her laptop. She ordered the complete design package (Dreamweaver + other software). It arrived, only to find out you can't install the programs separately, and there's not enough RAM in her laptop for the complete suite. Did research to identify compatible RAM modules to add (including 2 calls to HP/Compaq support - in the Philippines). But, learned the motherboard can't handle more RAM. Ouch. Didn't want to buy a new laptop, especially didn't want one with Windows Vista. Much teeth gnashing. Decided to bite the bullet and buy a Macintosh laptop, a MacBook. Ordered it. Tracked it's shipment from Shanghai (2 days). Safe arrival, looks good. But the Leopard Operating System is a new interface so she's back at the bottom of yet another learning curve. Next, she tried to install the new web design software on the MacBook. Oh bull feathers, it doesn't work. 2 more support calls (to Adobe - in the Philippines, and to Amazon - you got it, also in the Philippines). Returned the software and ordered the Mac-specific version. What is this with the Philippines? Has that country outsourced all US help lines? Imagine those nice young people sitting at the phone and putting on a different hat depending on which line the help question comes in on. Yikes. Now she's a (reluctant) 2-laptop person, talk about planned obsolescence. But... Must say, the Mac looks and acts like a gem compared to an often klugy Windows computer. So much for Microsoft.

          Second. We're working through another time of transition. We're half way through our 4th year of living in Clemmie, and 8 years of full-time roaming the land and sea. More and more we're coming to miss being in a community. Our travels have enlarged our perspective astronomically, but - now - we feel ready to settle down. So where does this take us? We think we'll continue to the east coast and our dear ones this spring. Once there, we'll trade in Clemmie for a minivan that we can sleep or camp in for short periods, and we'll ship our wordly goods from Clemmie and the few boxes in Nikki and Gordon's basement to Juneau. Then, during the summer in the van we'll visit dear ones in the northeast, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario. Thereafter, we'll head west and in the fall, take the ferry to Juneau, and move into our (currently rented) house. It feels like this plan will fit for us. We'll still have access to van camping in beautiful places, and we'll plug into the Juneau community - which, as previously noted, already almost feels like home to us. We'll most likely continue to make an annual east coast excursion to our dear ones there - hoping, also, that they'll visit us in beautiful Alaska.

 

Friday, January 25, 2008
Ancient Oaks RV Park, Rockport, TX

          Disappointed in the weather. All week it has been very cold and very wet. Daytime highs in the mid-40's, and inches of rain saturating everything. Living in Clemmie we are confronted with the weather, can't escape it. The cold dark walk in the mornings to the bath house for our ablutions. The hammering, dancing, or sprinkling of rain on the roof above our bed. The patter of bird feet too. We'll miss that in a house. Maybe "miss" is the wrong word, we'll certainly be less likely to notice it as life gets more comfortable and convenient. Hoping to continue our light footprint on the Earth as we move into our next life phase, house dwellers. To alleviate our feeling of being trapped inside Clemmie due to the weather this week, we rented a car. Birded in the rain at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (didn't see the whooping cranes). Took the ferry to Port Aransas and birded the Birding Center there, Mustang Island, Corpus Christi, and in Rockport. The birds are out there regardless of the weather so we're trying to live up to their stoicism. Got a bunch of good bird pix. Researched minivans. Dealt with tedious and drawn-out paperwork issues around a piece of Pat's retirement savings from her time in D.C. government. Continued guitar practice (Bill) and transition to Mac (Pat.) All's well, but we're more than ready to move on.

 

Friday, February 1, 2008
Dellanera RV Park, Galveston, TX

          Things warmed up a bit the last several days, made it easier to move around. We've enjoyed the gulf shore and wetlands here, not a bad place. This morning we left Ancient Oaks, and Rockport, around 8am. We were well ready to leave. It's the longest we've camped in one place and we needed to find out that we're just not snowbirds, it doesn't work for us to stay put in a campground. We don't exactly fit with other winter residents, seem to have little in common. So we're back on the road. East on Rte 35 to Port Lavaca where we stopped to provision. Ran the generator to exercise it, and noticed how nice it is to sit in our own house drinking a cup of coffee in a supermarket parking lot. Then through Palacios and east on coastal routes to Freeport. Flat farm land, some grim poverty, a few flocks of airborne sandhill cranes, a field full of snow geese. Through Freeport and past a humongous Dow Chemical factory, south to Seaside and east across the bridge onto Galveston Island. Watched a barge working along the Inter-Coastal Waterway through the mudflats. We were last here 2 years ago. Then, western half of the island was bare, undisturbed grassflats and dunes. Now, it is all built up with new condos and Mcmansions by the sea. Ouch. Wonder how long it'll be before the next hurricane levels them. Migrating birds have lost a major stopping point on their way north. Drove along the seawall in Galveston looking for the Visitor Center. It had moved. Came back through town to the Galveston Island RV Park which we had selected based on reviews at RV Park Reviews, a usually reliable source. Drove in and drove out. An armpit. Did some fancy footwork and found this nice public park on the beach just past the end of the seawall. Serendipity! Lovely spot, adequate bathrooms, fast and free WiFi and a lovely Seawall bike ride into town. Plus (unknown to us) Mardi Gras starts in Galveston tomorrow. We lucked out! Think we'll stay here a while, hoping for decent weather.

 

Sunday, February 10, 2008
Bay Colony RV Park, Dickinson, TX

          Weather tanked the day after we arrived at Dellanera RV Park in Galveston, and we sat in a fog of windy salt mist for four days. Poor Clemmie acquired quite a crystal coating. But then the sun came out Wednesday, though the wind was still too fierce for much biking. Nice beach walking, however. Decided to move on Friday, couldn't get into Brazos Bend State Park over the weekend because it was full, so came here until Monday, when there'll be room. This place is a pleasant large parking lot, big concrete campsites, good WiFi. Mostly winter Texans with big rigs, and a truck, and a car. Our little Clemmie seems a bit out of place. We spent yesterday planning our route to DC and made reservations at some State Parks along the way, hoping for some nature time. We'll be pretty much out of Internet access after we leave here but hopefully our phone will work. Looks like we'll get to DC around March 10. Our focus these days is on getting on with our transition! Pat spending chunks of (pro bono) time on upgrading the DDR website while Bill practices guitar and researches which vehicle we'll acquire as we kiss Clemmie goodbye. (Boo Hoo.)

          We can tell we're eager to settle down - we just booked our ferry trip to Juneau from Prince Rupert, BC, for the very end of August. Virginia Satir said all transition comes with relief and loss, and that if you don't deal with the relief you'll feel guilty and you won't know why. And if you don't deal with the loss you'll feel angry and you won't know why. This is most often applied to death or divorce, but it's applicable to most major life transitions. And we're certainly into one. So, for the record:

  • Relief. We'll be anchored together in a known and attractive community and no longer be a roaming island of isolation. Our social interactions will increase vastly. We'll watch our grandsons grow up. We'll be able to have a consistent exercise schedule. We'll walk to the library, the swimming pool, the exercise club, the bookstore, two grocery stores, the bagel shop, the waterfront, to many hiking trails, take one of the dogs with us if we want. Good and easy bike rides. We'll have plenty of running water for washing up cooking mess. A big oven and more refrigerator space. Room to move around inside on a rainy day. Reliable WiFi all the time. Access to PBS all the time. We'll join or create groups, get guitar lessons. Get NetFlix. Go to the symphony or theater. We'll be more immediately mobile because we'll have a car. No more constantly hooking up or unhooking electric and water supplies, or dumping the waste every few days. Not having to climb onto the bed to make it every morning. Not having to negotiate a wide vehicle in city streets or on TX and CA freeway hells.

  • Loss. We'll miss much about traveling in our moving home. It's so cozy. Having so little stuff. Everything is at hand, no need to go out to the car for anything. Life is very simple. No bathroom to clean. No yard work to do. Cleaning house only takes 5 minutes. Not trapped by having a car - so we don't get sucked into unnecessary trips. We walk or bike instead, or learn new bus systems. We're constantly exposed to people who live in much different circumstances, humanity is in our face. Nature is in our face. Our landscape is always changing in interesting ways. We don't have cold dreary weather in winter. We visit dear ones in places we'd otherwise never go to. We're low maintenance visitors so we can stay longer. Camping is very deluxe. It's great to always have your bed (for a nap) and toilet (you know why) with you on a long trip. We'll miss that early morning encounter with the outdoors as we head for the bathroom. We'll miss all those sunrises and sunsets.

          And for all of this we're very well aware of how lucky we are: good health, loving families, and enough resources not to be burdened by money worries. We are truly blessed. Meanwhile others freeze to death in Afghanistan, starve to death in Africa, or suffer untold violence in war-torn places. Once we're settled, it may be a bit easier to pass our good fortune along in a more substantial way.   

  

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Brazos Bend State Park, TX

          Bliss. Sunday we took Clemmie to be desalted at a truck wash near Houston. And Monday we happily left Bay Colony RV Resort and drove north and south on the I-45 service road a half dozen miles stopping in at a bunch of car dealers to look at vehicle options. We're pretty clear on our priorities: AWD, good gas mileage, plenty of cargo space, long enough for us to sleep in for a night's camping. Then we made our way to this beautiful state park, southwest of Houston, spreading over 5,000 acres of lakes, prairie, and bottomland hardwood forest. Nearly empty after a busy weekend, so we had our pick of spots. Heavy downpour overnight. Woke for a little and watched fireflies blinking through the tree branches. No more freeways (for a while.) No more man-made lights and noises (for now.) What a relief. Watery sun brought forth a morning loud with songs of cardinals, crows, woodpeckers. Yesterday and today the weather turned gorgeous and we have had much needed quiet nature time. This is a birdy place with over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails. But watch out for the alligators. No wonder this state park gets into the 10 ten best in the nation.   

 

Sunday, February 17, 2008
At Danielle's, Houston, TX

          Friday morning we left Brazos Bend and worked our way north the the freeway mess around Houston. A few traffic jams, much construction, a world dedicated to the car. Eventually arrived at Danielle's and squeezed into her driveway. I very pleasant little neighborhood buffered from the city. Andrea and Chuck arrived on Saturday and we had a nice time reconnecting. We went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and saw the Lucy exhibit. We helped Danielle get ready for her Open House today, and during it went to the movies ("Juno," excellent.) She's moving to California in a few days.

 

Friday, February 22, 2008
Bayou Segnette State Park, LA

          We left Houston early Monday morning, a dazzling sun right in our eyes as we fit in with the heavily trafficked I-610 going east. Then I-10, rattle and bump, to the Louisiana border. At the LA welcome center, the docent suggested we take Rte 90 to New Orleans, swinging south through the swamps, rather than busy I-10. Dreadful road surface, stop lights, through Lafayette and south for 30 miles, then improved dramatically. Many of the southern parts of this route are elevated above the swamps of the disappearing Delta, filled with cypress trees. Arrived here around 4pm, 365 miles. This handy state park is about 4 miles south of New Orleans, across the Mississippi. It's been rebuilt since Katrina (signs of devastation still showing in the undergrowth and broken trees.) Unexpected gifts: free but slow WiFi and free but slow laundry! Tuesday morning watched a gorgeous misty sunrise break the day. Earlier, too. We're gaining some easting. Wednesday we rented a car and drove to Algiers Point to take the ferry across the River. Spent the day in New Orleans, passing historic buildings, eating beignets in the French Market, found the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park headquarters, and followed a ranger on a guided wet walk through the French Quarter. Then we found the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, a segment of John Lafitte NHP, and lucked out - enjoyed a free 1-hour concert by jazz pianist John Royen. Rain started in the afternoon and continued through the night, heavy downpour in the morning. Wrapped in rain gear we drove to the Barataria Preserve (another segment of the NHP) for a nature hit. Thankfully the rain dried out, and we spent over an hour watching birds and alligators as we hiked along boardwalks beside swamp, marsh, and bayou. Later, we drove further into the Delta to the village of Jean Lafitte and ate gumbo for lunch. Signs of hurricane and flood damage widely evident everywhere.

         A few interesting things we learned about the Delta: This whole area of southern Louisiana between Texas and Mississippi was once a shallow bay. In less than 5,000 years, the Mississippi, draining 40% of the US and discharging 450,000 cubic feet of water per second into the Gulf, dumped millions of tons of sediment along its path and filled in an embayment that once reached to Cairo, Illinois. This 20,000 square miles of new land is the Mississippi Delta, where 1/3 of the nation's seafood is now harvested. The bounty of this vulnerable land (lumber, cane, rice, seafood, petrochemicals, and transportation access) drew population growth, and rapid development. Canals, levees, port facilities, refineries, concrete, roads, buildings, pumps, pipelines, and introduced species have now utterly destroyed the natural drainage system. For nearly 300 years, human efforts to tame and harness the river slowly starved of the Delta, destroying the river's ability to create new land to match that which washed away. The infrastructure built to access the area's abundant resources is rapidly destroying those very same riches. The golden egg is gobbling up the goose. Absent a huge coordinated effort, it is estimated that the Delta will disappear in our lifetime. The coast lost 2,000 square miles of land in the last half of the 20th century, retreating inland 20 miles in the last decade alone. The first line of defense against hurricanes, and an incredible human and natural resource, is gone (it seems) for ever.

 

Monday, February 25, 2008
Three Rivers State Park, FL

          We drove across the Mississippi early Saturday morning into downtown New Orleans, where we picked up I-10 going east. On its way to the Lake Ponchartrain causeway, the interstate cuts through the middle of the upper Ninth Ward. Those views will be etched in our minds for ever. Abandoned apartment complex after abandoned apartment complex. Subdivisions with a few cars in the driveways of a few rehabilitated houses, neighboring houses vacant and decaying. Miles and miles of it. Misery in the air, palpable. Through Mississippi and Alabama into the Florida panhandle. The sun came out as we arrived in the Sunshine State (FL) and helped us disconnect from the ravages we'd seen. Then near the little town of Sneads to this small State Park nestled on the shore of Lake Seminole, created by the Jim Woodruff Dam. 357 miles. The Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers flow into the Lake, which drains into the Gulf through the Apalachicola River. We're (literally) on the eastern edge of the Central Time Zone here (we entered it at El Paso, 1,000 miles back) and the sun rises early. It's a lovely, laid back spot, filled with bird noises and marshes busy with turtles.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Country Oaks RV Park, Kingsland, GA

          We drove out of lovely Three Rivers at crack of dawn this morning, ahead of what sounded like some nasty weather. East on I-10 to Jacksonville, then south on I-295 west of the city to Rte 17 and south to Green Cove Springs to pick up accumulated mail from our agent, St. Brendan's Isle. A big pile, 2 months worth. (It's so nice not to get mail every day.) Then back north to provision just south of Jacksonville. The skies by now very dark, the forecast a tornado warning. We hunkered down in a mall parking lot while the skies opened. A bit of wind, but not terrible. Once it passed, then back north on I-295 to I-95 to the Georgia border and this convenient campground. 290 miles.

 

Monday, March 3, 2008
Myrtle Beach State Park, SC

          Last Wednesday, a quiet day at Country Oaks, with Bill fighting a cold while Pat did laundry and caught up with email and photographs. The free WiFi was inadequate for updating the website from laptop to the Internet. Not sorry to leave Thursday, 29°F overnight. Continued north on I-95 then Rte 17 through the Georgia flatlands round Charleston to this lovely state park. 297 miles. Nice surprise. Free WiFi, decent laundry, and nice heated bathrooms. Cold again at night, Pat has caught Bill's cold. Both of us coughing and spluttering. The sun has shone, but it's been chilly, though warming up. We've had mostly stay-at-home days, nursing our cold/cough miseries, wading through the accumulated mail, doing taxes, working out the scheduling of how to fit the next 6 months travels together. Not easy, but we're fully engaged in making this transition. Today we took Clemmie for her 50,000 mile oil change and check up, and ourselves to a clinic since our colds seemed to getting worse not better - Pat's in her sinuses, and Bill's in his chest. Result, some relief and Rx $$. Did the 'flu diminish our resources and make us more vulnerable to follow up lurgs?

 

Thursday, March 6, 2008
On the street at Don and Carolyn's, Richmond, VA

          Left Myrtle Beach on Tuesday morning, continuing northeast on Rte 17 to Wilmington, NC, then I-40 to I-95 north to Richmond. Arrived here soon after 4pm (346 miles), jacked Clemmie up on levelers in front of Don and Carolyn's and plugged our long electrical cord into their power. Bill feeling better, Pat miserable. Her symptoms finally subsided enough for some sleep yesterday which she spent napping in bed, and (at last) a good night's rest last night. Nice to reconnect with Don and Carolyn.

 

Sunday, March 9, 2008
In Carolyn and Don's driveway, Mathews, VA

          Pat and Carolyn drove the 80 miles to Don and Carolyn's getaway in Mathews County, on the edge one Mobjak Bay's creeks, one of the many indentations to the Chesapeake Bay. Don and Bill followed by car later. Pat recovering slowly, happy to be able to cook and get back to her DDR web work. A nice low-key weekend.

 

Saturday, March 15, 2008
In Martha's driveway, Takoma Park, MD

          Monday morning we left Mathews around 8am and drove north on Rtes 14, 17, and 301 then west a short way to reach the east side of the Washington Beltway (I-95/I-495). Awful to be back in heavy traffic. Drove into Martha's driveway around lunch time - she was in bed with early stages of a very nasty 'flu virus. Said hello from a distance and decided to borrow Martha's car and stay at Mary's as our home base. We've been sick for 4 of the last 10 weeks and have no need to catch this particular bug. Thanks to Bill's online research we became car owners within 48 hours. Happy to have the freedom of our own wheels, fearful of being trapped by 'em. Martha was very ill for 5 days. We got sick of driving back and forth from Mary's to Martha's and back again through DC's traffic to check on Martha, run errands for her, take her to the doctor on Wednesday, and work on sorting out our belongings on Clemmie: stuff to throw away; stuff for the Goodwill; stuff to move to Juneau; stuff we'll keep with us for our travels. We're both fearful of the pressures to "stuff up" that'll inevitably face us once we settle in Juneau. We've loved not having much stuff these last 8 years. The negative energy from all of the area's urban and traffic stress has quite flattened Pat, but she's slowly bouncing back. We'll adjust, like people do, but won't be sorry when it's time to finally leave it behind for good. For now, we're settled for a while to spend quality time with dear ones in this area where we used to live, and to work on our various project and on our transition.

 

Friday, March 21, 2008
At Mary's, Washington, DC

          We're well into transition. We drove Clemmie to Gordon and Nikki's Monday morning and emptied her out into their copious basement. Bless them for letting us use this space to organize our belongings - including a pile of boxes they've stored for us since we gave up our house and moved into Callipygia those many years ago. Over the next couple of weeks we'll go through everything, weed it, box it up, and get move quotes for shipping it all to Juneau. Tuesday and Wednesday we thoroughly cleaned Clemmie's insides (and outside lockers) and yesterday we took her to Beckley's (where we bought her 4 years and 51,000 miles ago) and sold her. A few tears as we took one last look at our sweet little rolling home. It's been a wonderful time, we've learned and enjoyed much, but it's time to move on to the next phase.... So for the next couple of months we'll split our time in this, our former home, area between Mary's, Martha's, Gordon and Nikki's, and haul off to Frederick to Dana and Marge's for a few visits there. Hoping to have quality time with Pat's daughter and grand-daughter, Sarah and Dasia, and reconnect - even if only briefly - with many old friends. This is hard.

 

Monday, April 28, 2008
Bouncing around the Washington, DC, area

          We're bopping around between Mary's, Martha's, Niki and Gordon's. The boxing up of our stuff was at first intimidating but then turned out to go fairly quickly. We began by going through most of what we'd left behind when we went off cruising. We'd lost attachment to quite a bit of it, so made several trips to the Goodwill and/or Salvation Army to offer some stuff to be reused. Several trips to nearby liquor store and UHaul for boxes and packing supplies. Horrified to find by the end that we have 72 boxes including a dozen boxes of books. And we thought we didn't have much stuff! A rude awakening. Arranged for 3 movers to come look at it and give us estimates for shipping it to Juneau. Picked one, got references, clinched the arrangements. All set to be picked up the first week in August. Ate supper one night with Michael and Cathy in their new home. Hopefully we'll arrive before our boxes.

         Webmaster very busy on web work for others. Tearing hair out with clients who don't understand web development, design, or best practices. Facing the pitfall of pro bono work - clients treat your time as if it's an endless resource of little value. Practicing patience. Also, she's been moving towards a traditional blog for some months now - not that she'll stop updating our Travel Log - but as we transition from full time travelers to house-based dwellers our roaming will be reduced. Ergo, she decided to install Word Press on our website and set up a traditional blog for each of us. Having read through Lisa-Sabin Wilson’s instructions in Word press for Dummies she was a bit intimidated. Thankfully, Network Solutions (our wonderful web host, highly recommended) has an (essentially) 1-Click install for Word press available from our Hosting Control panel. Now you can read Bill's blog (the Psychology of Good and Evil) and Pat's blog (Awakening Consciousness.) And, the look of the basic Word press blog theme is slowly being modified to be more compatible with our website.

        Weather varying between spring like and summer like. Birds in full song. Jackie still murdering them, Nick being a good cat, and Martha's backyard awesome. Good hiking trails reasonably accessible, especially along the C&O Canal. Nice to have plenty of time to visit with dear ones - who knows when we'll be back in this area next. We've managed to reform our diet a bit and loose a little weight round our middles.

 

Sunday, May 18, 2008
Bouncing around the Washington, DC, area

          Still bopping and very busy. Precious quality time with Mary, Martha, Dana and Marge, Niki and Gordon, Sarah, Dasia, not to mention Eva and Mahayana (16 months), Bob and Celia, Mike and Cathy, Joan etc. Enjoyed Albert's visit, he's Martha's brother and a big time bird watcher - went to Huntley Meadows with him, a little wetland oasis in the middle of Alexandria, VA. Our remaining time before we leave for points north on June 7 is sliding away fast. Pat has finished the Constellation Group's website, and has put a new face on the DDR website. She met with the latter's owner and resolved some issues that were holding up the work. This one is a big job, will keep her busy in spare time during her travels. Pro-bono web work for helping organizations is turning out to be a useful way for her to pass on her good fortune (time and skills) to others.

          Activities of note: Pat took the train to Philadelphia and spent a long weekend with an old high school friend Marion. Enjoyable and serendipitous. Result - among other things, she (Pat) is hugely enthusiastic about reuniting with her long-lost pile of piano music and has consequently ordered a Yamaha digital piano which we'll ship with our other boxes to Juneau. Yesterday, Pat went to Sarah's dear high-school friend Diana's wedding, today to Frederick for a family gathering at Dana and Marge's, this evening movie night at Bob and Celia's. Enjoyed a 5th/6th grade concert at Dasia's school. Wrapping up loose ends and chores to make sure we accomplish what we have on our todo list for this area with its easy access (and hellacious traffic) before taking off. Not much spare time! Downloaded 6 weeks worth of photos to the computer, still to finish them and put them on the website. Hopefully soon.

 

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
at Betsy's beach house, Dewey Beach, DE

          In appreciation for the work Pat did on the Constellations Group website, Betsy invited us to stay at her beach house for a few days R&R and to watch the incredible shorebird migration through the Delaware Bay. Timed to the spawning of horseshoe crabs, many species of shorebirds stop to refuel on crab eggs during their long migration from wintering grounds in South America to breeding grounds in the far north. Some populations, like Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, and Semi-palmated Sandpipers are almost entirely dependent on this stop; increasing harvests of horseshoe crabs threatens their survival. We drove down with Mary and spent time on the beach and at Gordon Pond (Henepin Point state park), Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, the Dupont Nature Center at Slaughter Beach and the Little Creek wildlife area. 56 (bird) species sightings today.

 

Monday, May 26, 2008
at Walt's Paradise, Red Creek, WV

          After a day back at Mary's we drove here on Saturday with Martha. This, the Price family retreat, is a beautiful, isolated and very birdy place near the Dry Fork River, on the edge of the Monongahela National Forest. Woke each morning to the sound of the Wood Thrush singing, soon accompanied by a veritable chorus of other species. Logged a bunch of warblers (including the American Redstart.) Helped Martha with some house chores, prepared (Pat) a training session for Mary to take over as editor of the Constellations Group website, practiced (Bill) guitar, just sat and be'd, and hiked among the greenery. Worked on a horribly growing pile of virtual photos and readied some for uploading to our website once we get back to WiFi-land.

 

Friday, June 6, 2008
at Mary's, Washington, DC

          Made the 5 hour journey from Red Creek back to Mary's a week ago Wednesday. Life became increasingly hectic. Pat trained Mary, then Patty, on their respective websites. Were pleased to be present when the first copy of Patty's new book arrived. We made a flurry of final visits to assorted dear ones, and a final visit with Sarah and Dasia. Took all of our stuff to Niki and Gordon's and packed up 5 more boxes of things we don't need until we get to Juneau. Had Rusty's (our (red to match our house in Juneau) trusty Toyota RAV-4) oil changed and gave her a bath, and loaded our belongings into her. We prepared ourselves mentally to move into the next phase of our transition while we're back on the road living out of the car for the next almost 3 months. Ate a final supper with Mary and enjoyed one last Story Group gathering this evening.

 

Saturday, June 7, 2008
at Susan and Henry's, Easthampton, MA

          Eager to go, we left Mary's at 5:30am yesterday. In view of the intense heat wave and lousy air quality, we decided to avoid the NJ Turnpike and New York city metropolitan area. Drove north on I-270 then through Pennsylvania to Scranton, and east from there through the Poconos to Connecticut and north into Massachusetts on I-91. Pulled in here mid afternoon (457 miles) with Rusty managing to reach 35 mpg as we drove along peacefully at 55 mph. Clemmie trained us well to travel in comfort not haste. Hung out with Susan and Henry on their deck overhanging the Manhan River's bank. Henry informed us that the lampreys were running up the river. He took us down to the area below the dam where he snagged one in a fishing net for us to look at. Strange animals, unchanged for 350 million years. Don't miss the city environment one bit. Miss our dear ones in the DC area though.

 

Monday, June 9, 2008
at Joe and Anne's, Plymouth, MA

          Up early yesterday morning, we went on a canoe ride with Susan and Henry on the Manhan River, thick with bird sounds and sunbeams. Beautiful. After a leisurely breakfast we took the Mass Turnpike to I-495 south of Boston, then Rte 44 to Plymouth. There, we ate fried clams for lunch on the waterfront and sweltered in the blistering heat. Bill showed Pat some Plymouth nostalgia points (his first teaching job was at the town's High School, nearly 50 years ago) and the house on Great South Pond where he and Dot lived when the kids were little. The town has changed, much more touristy. Then a few miles south to Manomet where Bill's brother Joe and his wife Anne live. (178 miles today.) Happy to see them, especially to see Joe so looking well after a bout of ill health. Enjoyed their air conditioning (the heat wave continues) and Anne's social proclivities - with several get-togethers with their neighbors and friends.

 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
LaQuinta Inn, Andover, MA

          Said goodbye to Joe and Anne after an early breakfast this morning, and drove to Concord to see Sue (Bill's niece) and Sophie. Scott is out of town, so we miss him. After a trip to the playground to entertain Sophie (nearly 4) and the grocery store back to their house for lunch. We found it unbearably hot so, wilting, we drove to Andover and spent a couple of hours cooling off in our air conditioned hotel room before venturing back into the heat. Next stop was Billerica to visit Bill's sister Lillian and Gus and eat dinner with them. Then back here to cool off again. (140 miles today.) The day's high was 102°. We're glad we're going to Alaska; as the climate changes and the energy situation turns critical it's not going to be much fun in some parts of the U.S. Or elsewhere for that matter.

 

Friday, June 13, 2008
at Al and Vicki's, Kennebunk, ME

          Grateful that the heat wave broke overnight, we left Andover and drove 9 short miles to West Boxford to check in with Herb and Gini. Enjoyed meeting Cody, Herb's grandson. Hung out with them through lunch, and then onto I-95 through New Hampshire to arrive here in mid afternoon. A mere 70 miles today. Lovely to see Al and Vicki, and their yard - a poignant reminder of the last time we were here with Clemmie parked in the yard from mid-March to the end of April, 2006 so we could be with Laurie through her final weeks. Loved the spare room Vicki set up for us near the bird feeder. They've converted part of their house into a small apartment for themselves while renting out the main house as they downsize in preparation for Al's retirement.

 

Sunday, June 15, 2008
at Donna and Nick's, West Paris, ME

          Weather switch! Rain and cool this morning. Drove from Kennebunk to Lewiston for lunch with Ashley, Joe and Hayden (16 months). Then through the bucolic Maine countryside and a quick stop for provisions in Norway, arriving here soon after 2pm. A busy place with 3 teenagers. Nick's house project has advanced substantially since 2005. New also this year is WiFi, 'twill let Pat get on with some of her piled up webwork. You can see some of it - photo links are now current in this travel journal. We're here for a week, looks like it's going to be rainy. Looking forward to quality time with all in this house.

 

Thursday, June 26, 2008
at Al's, Rochester, NY

          Good times in West Paris. Mostly cloudy and thundery but managed to get some exercise by doing laps up and down the ¼ mile long driveway to the main road from Donna and Nick's house or driving the 7 miles to South Paris and doing laps around the high school track. It's a lovely, but isolated, spot. Watched the kids at Agnes Gray Elementary school perform a dance choreographed by Kady. Took on responsibility for dinner each day - a way to meet our own nutritional needs and at the same time alleviate the parental burden of meal preparation with everyone running around on assorted sport and social activities leaving cooking as a lesser priority. Visited Dot (for nostalgic lunch of salmon and peas). Spent time with Lillian and Gus who drove up from Bullerica for the weekend. Saw a bit more of Ashley, Joey, and Hayden including a family gathering at their house. Went to Freeport to see Bill's niece, Chris and Tom, and twins Matt and Andy.

          Monday we said early goodbyes and started back on the road. West through Bethel and New Hampshire to Vermont. We stopped for the night in Rutland (having booked a discount hotel room on Priceline the day before.) Not a very interesting town, nowhere to explore, and hot. Yesterday morning we (as usual) left early and drove round Lake George then through New York state on nearly deserted Rte 8 across the Adirondacks. Hard to find a place to stop for a picnic lunch, not many picnic tables. Then to Rte 104, bypassing Oswego (bridge closed) and eventually to Rochester, it's still hot. Yesterday a great hike with Al through trails near the Genesee River, and this morning a birdwatching expedition along Norway Road. Tuesday evening we went to watch Al and Judy at their ballroom dancing class - great fun.

 

Sunday, June 29, 2008
at Dave's, Etobicoke (Toronto), Ontario

          Left Rochester around 8am Friday morning. Took Rte 104 west, then north to Lockport (for a fuel stop before hitting Canada). Border crossing at Niagara Falls quick and uneventful - though it was logjammed with vehicles coming the other way into the U.S. Looked like they'd be waiting for hours. Glad we're not coming back that way. The QEW under construction through St. Catherine's, and then stop and go near Hamilton and into Toronto. We hate city freeway traffic. Good to see Dave again. A low-key weekend with a hike along the lakeshore, a trip to the laundromat, some Wimbeldon watching, a bit of technical training, much talk and support, and a night sky lit with early fireworks celebrating Canada Day.

 

Thursday, July 3, 2008
at Roger and Adrianna's, Ste. Alexandre, Quebec

          We departed from Dave just after dawn on Tuesday, minimal traffic before rush hour already reduced from the Canada Day holiday (July 1) and drove east on the Gardiner Expressway, north on the Don Valley Parkway to highway 401, the main highway to Kingston. Arrived around 9:30am and found our way to Helene's where we went for a hike in and around [get the name, Pat] through some fields and woods and along the lakeshore. Great birding. Then found a picnic table by the water where we ate lunch, and finally a quick preview of Helene's paintings in her basement. She's getting ready to do her first show. Left Kingston a bit before 1:00pm, and back east on Rte 401. Crossed the St. Lawrence on the last bridge before Montreal and were able to follow the signs to reach our destination just after 5:00pm, Roger sitting on the porch to greet us.

          Yesterday was sunny and hot. We drove into Montreal with Roger, found a parking spot, ate lunch and then cruised around watching performers in the annual Montreal jazz festival for many hours. Home way past our bedtime. Today, low key and enjoyable, including several hours for Bill and Roger to talk and play guitar, and watching the DVD that Adrianna made of their time cruising on Iguazu, which paralleled our time on Callipygia. [That's how we met them.] This triggered Pat's interest in learning how to make videos so she went back and looked at her collections of photos as potential resources. More than she recalled, only a soupçon of them are in this website. Added this to the lengthening list of things we plan to do once we are nested in Juneau. There aren't going to be enough hours in the day. We're eager to settle down.

 

Sunday, July 6, 2008
at John and Kris's, Halifax, Nova Scotia

          We had planned to break the 700+mile drive to Halifax at a motel somewhere between Montreal and Halifax. Couldn't get a cheapie on Priceline when we tried on Thursday, so we left Roger and Adrianna's just before 6:00am on Friday with the night's lodging left open. We drove on Interstate 10 to Sherbrooke, Quebec, missed the exit for our road east into Maine and immediately found ourselves in dense fog. Followed our nose to a gas station where we got directions and continued through the lovely Quebec and Maine countryside (sun soon cleared out the fog) and worked our way east across Maine towards Calais on the New Brunswick Border. Stopped for a few groceries and lunch (and a brief argument) near Skowhegan. Thought about trying to catch a ferry from St. John to Digby, scheduled for 4:45pm. $120 and 3 hours - wouldn't shorten the trip much, so abandoned that idea. Good thing because we'd forgotten the time change and would have missed it by 50 minutes instead of catching it with 10 minutes to spare. Decided we'd drive straight through to Halifax, and once through customs and onto the Trans Canada it was boom shoot all the way. Parked on John and Kris's street at 10:30pm (Atlantic time.) After a brief connection time (with appropriate lubrication) we slept like logs - John/Kris gave us their bed, bless them.

          Bill spent several years living in Halifax in the '70's, made many long-term friends. It's a really nice town, one of the best cities we know for liveabiity. Yesterday, after breakfast with John and Kris at the nearby Ardmore Tearoom, we walked through the beautiful Public Gardens to the fabulous farmer's market in Kieth's Brewery, bought 2 litres of maple syrup (what a deal), and on the way home stopped to eat some street food beside a group demonstrating the practice of Falun Gong. This morning, the four of us ate breakfast at Cora's with Elsie and Dennis, and then Pat joined Kris in a 2 hour yoga session while Bill hung out with John and Mocha. Good times here, we'll be in and around Halifax for a couple of weeks.

 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008
at Heidi's, Herring Cove, Nova Scotia

          With Kris scheduled for some oral surgery yesterday, we figured she ought to have her own bed back, so we decamped to Heidi's for a while. She's moved and has buckets of space in her new home. Sunday Pat and Kris cooked up a picnic and we all drove together to Point Pleasant Park. There we were joined by John and Kate, and then Heidi and Jordi, a sweet little 11-yr old cairn terrier that she rescued in January. The rehabilitation Heidi has achieved with Jordi is amazing. She has put her outstanding healing skills to work on him with truly miraculous results. After, we watched a dress rehearsal for a Midsummer Night's Dream, part of the summer Shakespear-in-the-Park series. Our dance card is filling up with all the people we want to see, and things we want to do here. Pat is into Halifax's history and half way through The Town That Died, by Michael Bird which describes the events leading up to and after the explosion that devastated the harbour and town in 1917. Also, Heidi has WiFi - chance to update the website!

 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
at Heidi's, Herring Cove, Nova Scotia

          On and off weather. More visiting, hanging out, viewing the beautiful Nova Scotia shore, and a bit of beach sitting. Checked out some lighthouses. Went to the Public Gardens and the Saturday Market. Watched the morning fog each day. Ate breakfast at Cora's. Pat went to the Nova Scotia Art Gallery with Kirs, learned about folk artist Maude Lewis, and watched the sweet video "the Monkey and the Deer" made by artist in residence, Graeme Patterson. Back to Maine on Friday, we're chomping at the bit to get out of the car and into our house in Juneau.

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008
at Donna and Nick's, West Paris, ME

          Rather exciting time our last two days at Heidi's. Came home from somewhere a week ago today late morning, Heidi not there but Jordi blithely sitting untethered on the porch. Let him into the house, made our lunch, then Heidi returned. Evidently Jordi snuck out the door as she was leaving. Then, in mid-afternoon as Heidi was working with her clients, one of them from the waiting room came to get us - Jordi had made a massive barf right on the (lovely oriental) rug. Pat cleaned it up, told Heidi between clients. Doggie beginning to look unhappy. More barf. Not hungry. Ate a little supper, barfed it back up. Overnight more discharges so Thursday morning Heidi rearranged her client load and took him to the vet, suspecting a serious dietary indiscretion while he has been loose and unsupervised. Possibly a blockage? At the end of the day, she went and brought him home for the night. A very sorry/sad looking little doggie. Bad color, muzzle and ears bluish. Thankfully, by Friday morning he had perked up quite a bit. We said goodbye to Heidi with instructions to call us with a doggie progress report. Amazing how quickly we became attached to the little sucker. Bill even googled "Cairn terriers" and learned about their temperament: fiesty, highly intelligent, independent, affectionate, good with children, and will run the household if permitted. [Pat and Heidi decided this description also matched Bill.]

         Regardless, we left around 7am and drove north on Rte 101 arriving at Mary and Cal's in Wolfville just in time for breakfast. Thoroughly enjoyed this reconnection and tour of Mary's studio. [Pix coming.] Then continuing on to Yarmouth to catch our ferry to Portland. A 5 1/2 hour catamaran crossing, uneventful except for a terrific thunderstorm plastering lightning flashes on the windows. An hour to get through customs, then pick our way in the dark along Rte 26 (re-routed - managed not to get lost) finally arriving here near 11am their time, midnight Atlantic time. Late to bed that night.

         Yesterday, a call from Heidi, Jordi is eating and had produced a very nice looking poop. No blockage to worry about. We relaxed. Very hot weather in Maine, we sweltered through the day. Pat very excited - she discovered the amazing suite of video applications that came bundled with her MacBook. So she started galloping up a whole new learning curve to harness the power of iPhoto (to organize her 14,000 digital photos), iMovie (many videos are planned), and iDVD (maybe get one ready in time for holiday gift giving time.) On the back burner is GarageBand, a neat little recording studio application that will allow her to record Bill's guitar work and/or make podcasts. Is she ever going to be busy when she gets to Juneau. For the moments she's ensared in a major photo organization project - revisiting thousands she'd forgotten about. They'll be great fodder for videos.

         Weather cooled down nicely over the weekend, we kept busy with laps around the highschool track, cooking/shopping, a daytrip to Freeport to take young Dave for his (can you believe it) first visit to the LL Bean flagship store, eat lunch in rememberance of Laurie at her favorite Harraseekit Lunch and Lobster shack on the waterfront (this was her favorite place), and then visit Ashley and her day care center. Plenty of birds to listen to in this bucolic spot, perched on the hill top above Snow Falls on the Little Androscoggin River. Since we don't expect to have much Internet access over the next month here's our schedule: Friday, we go south back to Plymouth for the (first ever) Dillon family reunion on Saturday, then Sunday back to Maine to Cape Rosier for a week with Mary in the cottage she rents each summer. After that south to Rockville for a week at Niki and Gordon's at which time the movers will come and pick up our boxes. On August 11th we'll make a 3-4 day beeline for Heise, Idaho (2,200 miles) to hang out with Craig before heading (850 more miles) to Bellingham to catch the ferry on August 22nd. We moved our ferry date forward a week, decided we'd no need to do more sightseeing en route to Idaho. We're very ready to get to Juneau and start nesting.

 

August 1, 2008
Undercliff, Cape Rosier, ME

          We left Donna's last Friday (a week ago today) and drove to West Boxford for lunch with Gini and Herb (plus some table time with Gini), and then to Plymouth to Bill's brother Joe's for two night. Enjoyable to expand the connection between the two brothers and their wives. Saturday we followed behind Joe and Anne for a somewhat hair-raising (get lost, make sudden U-turn) ride to a little restaurant overlooking the Plymouth airport. Sat on the balcony watching puddle jumpers come and go while eating lunch. Then to the home of Patty and Chris, friends of Bill's nephew Leo, who hosted the first ever Dillon family reunion. Great weather and a fabulous spot overlooking one of Plymouth's many ponds. Over fifty people of all ages gathered to swim, canoe, talk, eat, reminisce, and reconnect. We took many photos and some videos. As a winter project, Pat is going to try to make a DVD of the event including some family history from old photos.

         Early Sunday we said goodbye to Joe and Anne, and drove along the Maine turnpike yet again. Exited onto Rte 3 near Augusta, and continued east to Bucksport, then followed Mary's directions south onto Cape Rosier to the coast where she had rented a cottage for a week. Lovely spot, beautiful views, very quiet. Mary's son Felix arrived with Penny and Ella (now 5) later that day and we spent the week watching sailboats go back and forth along Eggemoggin Reach, Mary et al puddle around in assorted boats, the beautiful views, friends staying nearby swimming off our stony beach, some guitar time for Bill with Felix, a visit to Blue Hill, and a celebratory lobster dinner. Nice time.

 

Saturday, August 9, 2008
at Gordon and Niki's, Rockville, MD

          As seems to be our wont, we upped and left Mary's cottage on the Maine coast early (before 6am) last Satuday. A cool 62° with light fog as we drove through Cape Rosier, back onto Route 3, and south along the Maine Turnpike. Heavy traffic, slow along I-495 west of Boston, crawling frequently near the entrance to the Mass Turnpike. From there we took I-84 into a horrendous 30-minute deluge in Harford, CT, and then to Scranton where we joined I-81 to Harrisburg, then Rte 15 to Frederick, and I-270 to Rockville. Couldn't bring ourselves to face the thought of New York City and New Jersey traffic, even though it's a shorter route. Driving at 55 our trusty Rusty (red Toyota RAV-4) gets near 35mpg on the highway, a surprisingly good 29mpg on average since we bought her 9,000 miles ago. We couldn't be happier with our not-so-new wheels. What with traffic slow downs, one accident, and the deluge, it took us until 10:30pm to do this 740 mile trip. Time for a belated "happy hour" with Gordon and Niki before bed time. Sunday we spent in recovery, then took Niki to the train on Monday morning (she's gone for a week while we hang out with 95-yr old Gordon.) Picked up Pat's piano on Monday afternoon and watched the movers come and haul it away with our 79 other boxes for transport across country to Seattle in a moving van, into a container and onto a barge to troll behind a tug for the 1,000 miles up the inside passage to Juneau. Niki and Gordon's basement hasn't been this empty for 8 years. Ours is an international move since it goes through Canadian waters (and costing us a fortune.) Thank goodness we didn't have any furniture... No regrets, though. It's miserably hot. We've had a (too) quiet week with early-morning walks before the heat set in, occasional forays into the gosh-awful traffic of the Washington area, and a visit from the Price clan for dinner. Nice quality time with Gordon. Time with Sarah tomorrow before Niki comes home, and then we (finally) depart on our westward journey.

 

Friday, August 15, 2008
Visiting Craig, Idaho Falls, ID

          A long and waring trek - but the biggest/worst part is now over. We left Rockville around 6am on Monday morning, headed up I-270 to Frederick then onto I-70 west planning to take the Pennsylvania Turnpike into Ohio. Warning signs indicated long delays on the spur to the Turnpike, so we took I-68 through the hills towards West Virginia, then Rte 40 northwest. Weren't paying attention going round Uniontown, PA, and missed our exit. Ended up going northeast on Rte 119 adding a good 30 miles to our route. Oh well, so it goes... Back onto I-70 through the West Virginia panhandle into Ohio. skirting Columbus to the south, and Dayton to the north. Spent our first motel night west of Indianapolis, where we picked up I-74 to head northwest to Rte 80. Tuesday, left early again (after coffee, shower, and the Kata to make up for all the sitting) crossed Illinois to pick up I-80 on the Iowa border. Then west across that state to Nebraska, stopping for the night to the west of Omaha. Wednesday, same morning routine, and back onto I-80, heavy with truck traffic. Given the 75mph speed limit, and speeding tractor trailers, we periodically upped ourselves to 60mph, from our usual 55. It's a mad house out there. That day we crossed Nebraska, following the Platte River, a significant wetland. We're at the wrong time of year to watch the bird migration spectacle, but we weren't sorry since we're eager to keep moving. Into Wyoming, flat semi-desert. Crossed the continental divide 3 times before we ended the day at Rock Springs in the southwest corner of the state. Thursday, we thankfully left the Interstate system and drove north on Rte 191 towards Yellowstone. Beautiful scenery as we worked our way into the foothills along the Hoback River. Joined Rte 26 to go west into Idaho, along the magnificent Snake River, and then into Idaho Falls, arriving near lunch time. We'll stay here for a couple of days with Craig as he housesits for some friends in the town.

          Almost 2,200 miles in 3 and ½ days. Each day, we made stops to change drivers about every 2 hrs, do the pit thing, buy coffee, and fill up with gas. We carried our small cooler full of finger veggies, boiled eggs, humus, fruit salad, yoghurt and a milk crate with fruit, pretzels, bread, peanut butter, jam, sardines, canned beans. We happily avoided the interstate fast food zoo. Felt the better for it because we ate less, and it saved time because the passenger was able to prepare food using our handy tray as a lap table. Today we did some walking along this town's falls, but not much else - it's decompression time. This transition feels huge. As huge as starting on our cruising period 8 years ago we think. Of course, we've dragged it out with our car travels the past 5 months. 12,000 miles, lots of hugs and affection from our dear ones, 27 different beds (6 of them on more than one stop), and a different abode approximately every 5 days. If we wanted a strategy to make ourselves EAGER to settle down, we couldn't have improved on this! We've been feeling quite home sick, but haven't had a home since we sold dear sweet Clemmie. Wonder where she is now - Callipygia too.

 

Monday, August 18, 2008
Camping with Craig, Kelly Island (BLM) Campground, ID

          Saturday evening we went to the ball game (the Idaho Falls Chukars are an A-league farm team for the Kansas City Royals.) Fun. Yesterday morning we drove north about 20 miles across flat Idaho farmlands to the foot of the Menan Buttes, then hiked up the side of the North butte. These interesting geological formations have been designated as National Natural Landmarks, extinct volcanoes formed by violent eruptions 10,000 years ago. These rock formations erupted through the cold waters of the Snake River - and when the molten magma met the cold river water it cooled so quickly crystals were unable to form so the lava solidified into tachylite (a glass). The heat of the magma flashed the river water to steam, shattering the glass into tiny fragments that welded together as the hot ash settled to the ground. The Menan Buttes are the only volcanic eruptions in fresh water in the United States. The soil over the rock of the butte was very sandy and dry. Craig gave us an interesting lesson in tracking; we missed out turn to descend the Butte, so he backtracked until he found our particular footprints leading up from the path of our ascent. Learned how easy it is to adjust one's mental map to conform with where one thinks one is. Gained some insight into how we reconstruct our memories to fit where we think we were. Interesting... Explains why witnesses sometimes mislead.

         After our hike we came back to the house, cleaned it up, packed our bags and drove the 25 miles northwest to this BLM campground where the agency is housing Craig for this summer project in a camping trailer. Towards evening, we went to the nearby Cress Creek natural area and made an enjoyable sunset hike through several diverse habitats. This morning we rose early and drove to the Conant Boat Launch on the South Fork of the Snake River. Inflated a raft Craig borrowed from a friend, launched ourselves, and floated down the river about 25 miles (5 hours later) at our campground. A fabulous experience in mostly blazing sun. How lucky we are to have an experienced white-water raft and kayak guide for a son. (There was, however, no white water (or hardly any) on this relaxing trip.) Didn't see much wildlife, except for ospreys, bald eagles, and one golden eagle - the latter a rare treat. Strange to be back in an RV for this brief period, gave us an attack of nostalgia. There's something beautiful and special about living in a small space, the simplicity and intimacy of it. Yet so many people wonder how we could do it for so long. Not a bit hard. We're afraid we'll find it hard to live in a house, even though it's on the small side - at least by this culture's measure.

 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
In Craig's Apartment, Moscow, ID

          We left Craig and Kelly Island just before 6am yesterday, found our way to Rte 48 and then I-15 north to Montana. Joined I-90 just east of Butte, then through Missoula and into the Bitterroot Mountains, that portion of the Rockies in western Montana and the narrow Idaho panhandle. Hazy and smoky, hinting at fires in the distance though we didn't see any actual burning. Saw two different Forest Service fire crews at pit stops, however. Thundery clouds marred the view as we approached the spectacular Look Out Pass (Look Out is right, this tortuous windy road has a speed limit of 75 - yet 50 felt prudent to us) then down into a valley at the Idaho border, and up over the 4th of July pass towards Coer d'Alene where we took Rte 95 south to Moscow. 565 miles from the southeastern corner of Idaho to Moscow in the northwest. Pulled into this, one of our favorite small university towns, around 5pm having gained an hour at the border with Montana. Today, rain and some sore muscles from sitting so long as drove across country, the hiking, and the rafting. A slog day to spend in the One World (Internet) Cafe, do laundry, and relax in readiness for our final (400 mile) leg to Bellingham and catch the ferry to Juneau on Friday. A bunch of photos to process on our 2 1/2 day ferry trip up the inside passage to Juneau. Come back later to look at 'em.

 

Thursday, August 21, 2008
In a motel, Bellingham, WA

          As usual, we were up before dawn. Left Craig's apartment at 5:30am and drove west across the Idaho border to Pullman, WA, then Colfax where we joined Rte 26 going more or less straight west through the Palouse and WA farmland for 150 miles to Vantage. Light traffic, an easy drive and beautiful dawn skies. At Vantage we joined I-90 and crossed the mighty Columbia River and climbed up onto the plains ahead of the Cascade Range. Through the mountains, rain, no views. Heavy truck traffic. Wouldn't like to do this in the winter. East of Seattle we turned north on I-405 to I-5 running north to the Canadian border. Reached Bellingham in the early afternoon, stopped to check in with the ferry, and get Rusty cleaned and pressed for her trip. 3,000 miles of dirt and dust are gone and she's sparkling (on the outside at least.) Spent the afternoon organizing our belongings and planning our strategy for finding space tomorrow on the M/V Columbia where we can settle comfortably for the 3 night trip. It's warm and sunny so far, though cool and rainy in Juneau - which has had its wettest and coldest summer on record. Now, webmaster beginning to mull over in her head how to reflect our changed lifestyle on this website. A Juneau Journal perhaps? Or a major section devoted to Alaska? Or both....

 

Sunday, August 24, 2008
On M/V Columbia, in the Inside Passage to Juneau

          Strange feeling Friday morning. No rush to get on the road. A leisurely rising, left our Bellingham motel around 10am after breakfast and a morning walk. A lone gas station offering a 30¢ discount so filled the gas tank at $3.59/gallon ($3.99 is usual round here) since it'll likely be much more in Juneau. The reality of our global and energy situation seems finally to be sinking into the public awareness as both fuel and food prices skyrocket. We no longer quite feel that we're alone in pointing out that the sky is falling. Then to the ferry terminal to check in and park Rusty at the front of the Juneau line. Since the ferry makes multiple stops, arranging the vehicles so they can exit in order is a challenge. Passed the time until boarding (4pm) walking, sitting, people watching, and browsing a nearby bookstore. Lunch too. After boarding, we found a spot in the solarium where we could sleep (?) on plastic lawn chairs (no cabins were available when we switched our reservation date.) Enjoyed the warm sunshine until the 6pm ferry departure. Rain was forecast for our 3-nite, 2-day trip, and it did. A not very comfortable transit for our aging bones, with few views - a good thing since our camera started acting up, couldn't take photos of anything. Our ferry made short detour in Queen Charlotte Sound in response to a potential distress call. Two fishing boats arrived at the scene just as we did - then the small boat in question turned out to be OK. The Alaska ferry system has a commendable history of rescues in these inhospitable and isolated waters. This final "On the Road" jounral entry is written at 3am in the ferry cafeteria area, our sleeping time is fitfull at best. Next: the Juneau Journal will begin as soon as we're settled.

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