Great times around the Great Lakes

As we arrived in the furnace otherwise known as Kansas in July it was apparent that we have lost our patience for high heat and even HIGHER humidity! Colorado spoiled us in many ways. The air was drier and the temperatures were just as we like them in the 70’s!

Traveling across Kansas was familiar in more ways than the flat scenery. The crosswind out of the south made the drive even less fun for my Handsome Chauffeur! His grip on the wheel was so tight his knuckles were white! The sun was beating on us through our 8’x4′ UNTINTED windshield gave us the feeling of the ants under a magnifying glass that someone use to do as a little boy… karma is real people….because we indeed felt like we were ants frying! Our dash air conditioners were unable to keep up with the heat and we were beyond uncomfortable! To add to the drama of the 600 mile journey was the SCREECHING noise that we “thought” had been repaired in Colorado was back with VENGEANCE. Needless to say, we were not only uncomfortable,BUT uneasy about what was wrong with our engine. We were incredibly HAPPY when we pulled into our dear friend’s driveway. Ahhhhh Kansas the land of familiarity and people we love!

First things first, we had to get our fix of wings from our favorite restaurant. We ate at this establishment most every Wednesday for the 20 years we lived in Kansas. This place was where we met friends, shared life and laughs with more times than we can count. It is where we came up for our Blog name We Be Winging it… not only because we thought we would travel without a plan BUT also to sample wings across this great nation.Our time in Kansas was filled to the brim with work for my Handsome Chauffeur. He spent hours investigating the internet, all the while having full use of a very well equipped garage of our friend. The guys were able to diagnosis where the screaming noise was coming from. The beauty of being in Kansas and having this challenge was that we knew where we needed to go and get the job done ….CORRECTLY this time! Off to Kansas City, Missouri to have the repairs done.

We spent an entire day in the Truck Driver’s lounge of a large diesel repair facility. To say the time spent with all these truck drivers was educational is an understatement. Oh the stories I heard!!! Living life behind a windshield ,working full time, these folks sure do have experiences!!

After six hours of waiting and being educated by my new found friends, our Mobile Condo had a new exhaust manifold gasket and she was no longer screeching! We began our northward journey towards Wisconsin and our first Great Lake stop on Lake Michigan!

We grew up in the midst of Lake Michigan. Thinking back we really didn’t spend all that much time on the lake. Now my Handsome Father-in-law makes his home upon Lake Michigan living aboard his beautiful boat 4-5 months a year escaping the HOT season at his other home in Tucson, AZ.

Not only did we get to visit our Dad and Judy, our kiddos from Tennessee flew to Wisconsin to visit us! We had a great time camping and making memories!Our visit to Wisconsin flew by. Soon it was time to follow the shores of Lake Michigan to our next destination near to the shores of Lake Superior.

The road heading north along the shore of Lake Michigan is very familiar to us as we have made the trek through Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan many many times in the past to see our family aka as Yoopers.

As we traveled the 2 lane highways along Lake Michigan enjoying the scent is of pine trees and the beautiful White Birch trees the coolness of the weather was so refreshing.

We took off on our Harley to explorer the back roads and many waterfalls with a stop by beautiful Lake SuperiorTime flew by visiting with family on the shores of Crooked Lake. Fishing for dinner and fires lakesideSoon we were on the road again to an area of Michigan we had never visited. Next stop St Ignace, Sault Ste. Marie, and Mackinac Island!

We hopped on the “scooter” and headed north.This is the closest I had ever been to Canada. Alas, we didn’t take our passports with us so we had to see Canada from the shores of the USA.

Sault Ste. Marie is a beautiful mariner city filled with history. We spent time at the locks learning the history and importance of the locks.

A ferry ride across Lake Huron with our bicycles in tow took us to the BEAUTIFUL Mackinaw Island. We rode around the entire island along with HUNDREDS of other bicyclists stopping here and there to take in the splendor of it all! Everywhere along the shore were cairns (stacked rocks) that people went to great lengths to commentate their trip to the IslandYou cannot go to Mackinac Island without a visit to the Gorgeous Grand Hotel!Built in the 19th century and famous for the world’s largest porch. The building and grounds were SPECTACULAR! After riding around the island we were ready to sit and enjoy an adult beverage. We made our way through the halls of this amazing hotel to the upper most bar to take in the majestic views while quenching our thirst.

Our visit to the Upper Pennisula of Michigan came to an end. We enjoyed the beauty of the lakes, the cool nights around our campfire and the rides through the woods. We were ready to start our journey south.

Southward bound would take us over the Mackinac Bridge. Oh the stories we heard about going over the bridge had this Nervous Navigator a wee bit distressed! The night prior to our travels I was praying for no wind or minimal winds and NO FOG! Wellllll this is the warning we were greeted with the morning of our departureOH MY LANDS! To say I was NERVOUS was a BIG understatement! I was terrified! The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge over the Straits of Mackinac where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan come together. The bridge connects the Upper Peninsula to Lower Michigan. It is 26,372 ft ( roughly 5 miles). It’s the 5th longest suspension bridge in THE WORLD! The 4 lanes that move traffic both direction are a total of only 54 ft wide! Mid way over the bridge it is 200 feet above the water with the depth below water reaching 230 feet!

So we joined lots of folks heading south Flashers flashing per instructions traveling at 20 miles per hour it seems like an ETERNITY going across. I know I was holding my breath. My calm cool Handsome Chauffeur kept telling me to open my eyes, but I just couldn’t for any length of time FINALLY we were back on land in lower Michigan! Prayers answered and regular breathing resumed.

We had never really spent time in lower Michigan. We were excited to explore and meet up with some friends we made our first year out as Nomads who call Michigan home in the summer. We also were excited to see the town our Dad first called home when his family immigrated from Germany.

We spent time golfing, taking rides on sand dunes, riding our motorcycle and eating FABULOUS cherry pie!

One more Great Lake to see on this journey took us further south to Ohio and the shores of Lake ErieWe have made some fabulous memories on the shores of Lake Erie over the years with our family. Northern Ohio has lots to offer us. We not only love the Lake, but riding roller coasters and good old Rock and Roll hold special places in our hearts too.

First stop was Cedar Point to ride roller coasters. We had the time of our lives AGAIN! We spent 10 hours in the park and only got to ride 6 coasters. The lines were LONG! The rides were an adrenaline RUSH that lasted only minutes, but OH SO WORTH IT! We actually were a wee bit thankful to wait in line for the next ride as long as we did because it took a bit to get our equilibrium back from being tossed and turned. I guess our age is starting to show as we don’t rebound as quickly. Still our minds are willing and our bodies say ” do you know how old you are” by rebelling on the quickness of recovery between rides.

Another all time favorite place to visit in Ohio is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We have made 4 trips to this museum and EVERY time we get goosebumps when we enter. The day we visited this time was unfortunately the day Aretha Franklin passed away. It was a somber time. Her music was piped in everywhere. She held the distinction of being the very FIRST female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The tribute was amazing

We also toured Johnny Cash’s bus. We also completely agree with his statement and feel the same about our Mobile Condo.Before we left the Lake Erie area we had the best time visiting with my Aunt and Uncle. Nothing beats spending time with family on the road.

We starting heading further south in Ohio to visit the Air Force Museum. This was such a great place… so rich with history. As a retired member of the Air Force, my Handsome Chauffeur truly enjoyed our time there. We especially enjoyed the exhibit regarding the missile system he worked with during his time in service.Another exhibit that really tugged on our heart strings was the actual Air Force One that was President Kennedy’s plane. We learned that this plane returned him to Washington after the assignation. What truly was amazing is that his Secret Service detail would not hear of his body being transported in the belly of the aircraft. They actually took saws and enlarged an area in the airplane that would allow his casket to be flown inside with his security detail and his wife sitting at his side.

As our 2018 travel season wrapped up we made a trip through Kentucky and Tennessee. Again traveling the back country roads on our motorcycle. While riding in Kentucky we came upon a huge Marina. They had amazing houseboats. These homes on water had been featured on HGTV. The builders were so gracious and gave us private tours. These homes are amazing! Who knows someday we may give up wheels for propellers on our home!One more beautiful waterfall before we left KentuckyOur hearts were fluttering as our travels were taking further south to Tennessee where our kids and grandbabies lives.

We spent days playing in the park, swimming in the swimming pool and just having tons of FUN.

Soon it was time to head further south to our winter home of Tampa, Florida. Our travels in 2018 took us close to 8000 miles in the Mobile Condo… hundreds additional miles on our Harley exploring areas. In total we made 27 stops in the 7 months since we left Florida. We went as far west as Tucson, AZ , as far north as the Canadian border and back south to Tampa. We had a glorious adventure. We were ready to be “planted” until Spring of 2019… to rest, rejuvenate and plan our next adventures.

As we reflect on our season and plan for the next we remind ourselves of how incredibly blessed we are…We are looking forward to what 2019 holds for us… more adventures await!

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Captivating Colorado

Colorado has always held a special part of my heart. For years we made the trek across Kansas with our family to hit the slopes. Those were fast trips as work and school were a part of our lives. Most of our travels were along the I70 corridor with an occasional visit to the Colorado Springs area to visit friends and most recently north of Denver to spend time with family. We had never seen the southwestern portion of Colorful Colorado With the help and recommendations of our good friends we winter with in Tampa we planned the adventure last fall.

Our travel day from the Flagstaff area to our first stop across from Mesa Verde National Park was not so much fun for my Handsome Chauffeur. The wind was gusting at 45 mph with steady winds around 30 mph hitting us on the side of the Circus Train. It took all of him to keep us on the road! As we came uponwe contemplated on stopping, but I for one was ready to get parked at our next “home” and get off of the “rollercoaster” ride. It didn’t take much persuasion to get my Handsome Chauffeur to agree so I clicked a photo of the sign and we proceeded to our destination with the idea of coming back to see it another day.

We made it safely to our camp ground just outside of the National ParkSo thankful to be stationary and be able to call this beautiful area home for a week with amazing vistas for as far as one could see. Soon we hopped on our Harley to start exploring.

First stop Mesa Verde National Park Home of over 600 cliff dwellings made by Pueblo people from 550-1,200 AD. We joined Ranger guided group to explorer. Down very narrow rock cleftsDown approximately 10 stories to get an up close look at these spectacular architectural feats. It is AMAZING to think how they built these with rudimentary tools and the engineering involved! Once the tour was completed… what goes down must go up so we began our climb of several wooden ladders to the topI am not saying that we are in poor shape, but coming from the flatlands we certainly were sucking wind after the climb! It was all worth it though!

Just as in Arizona, Colorado was in a severe drought. No open fires, no charcoal grills and no smoking outdoors. While we could see snow on some of the distant mountain peaks the lower areas were dry and yellow. Many of the rivers were drastically low due to the lack of snowfall this past winter. We were told by the locals that depend on tourism with river rafting etc… many outfits were already closed down due to lack of water flow. Wildfires were breaking out just north of Durango which was a route my Handsome Chauffeur had considered taking to our next location. Many evacuations and major road closures were hurting the economy in huge ways. Thankfully, we were advised by locals to take a different route, not only due to the fires, but Red Mountain Pass was in their opinion not the best drive for our traveling Circus Train😉! Even Facebook was watching over us

While the fires were to the east of us we were able to take a ride and found beautiful McPhee Reservoir nestled in the San Juan National Forestthere too we could easily see how the levels of this reservoir were low due to the lack of snow. The campgrounds within the forest were like Ghost Towns. Just after we made our ride through, the entire forest was closed to people because of the extreme high fire danger and the 2 large fires already burning with only 10% containment.

As we left Mesa Verde area with our sights set on our next “home”, Ouray, CO. there was smoke visible everywhere!Our travels took us over Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 feet in elevation through the San Juan mountains. If this was a “better pass” than the Red Mountain Pass my Handsome Chauffeur wanted to take you could have fooled me. The steep climbs and the descending about gave this Nervous Navigator a heart attack!!

Fellow Nomads gave us some sage advice… they travel on Saturdays as the traffic is usually better. No worries about hitting cities during Rush Hour and most folks are already at their destination by Friday. From our previous travels this advice seemed very reasonable to us….. until we were traveling on a Saturday over Lizard Pass! The winding pass with very few guard rails was a busy road filled with weekend drivers!Loads of cars, Fellow Circus trains AND Bicyclists!! Holy Cow, I cannot even tell you what it was like to come to a curve and meet up with a vehicle rounding the bend going the opposite direction AND a bicyclist on our side of the road with little to no shoulder! I wish I had a photo to share, but things happened so quickly there was no way to take a photo while holding my breathe, eyes closed and PRAYING all of us made it through the scene!

My Handsome Chauffeur handled the pass like he drove it daily! He often had to remind me to open my eyes and take in the glorious sights Indeed they were SPECTACULAR!

We arrived in Ouray and immediately fell in love with the quaint town. Our campground was situated in the middle of town and surrounding us by the San Juan Mountains… breathtaking!Ouray’s nickname is America’s Switzerland. Not only are there mountains surrounding the city, but they also are home of seven natural hot springs! A short walk through our campground brought us to the community hot springs pool that offers three different pools with temperatures of 88-105 degrees and miraculously no sulfur smell!!!The entire downtown is on the Historic RegisterOuray was originally established as a mining community. Miners chasing gold and silver. There are still mines in the area. We took a Jeep tour to get a closer look at the mines and the many beautiful waterfalls! What a treat for my Handsome Chauffeur!! He was able to relax and enjoy the beauty! I assumed my same white knuckle anxiety filled ride as we traversed single lane mining roads up, up and UP until we reached the waterfalland snow If the Jeep ride wasn’t enough of an adventure for my thrill seeking husband… we HAD to make the drive over the Red Mountain Pass (11,000 ft in elevation) aka as the Million Dollar Highway. Thankfully, we did the ride on our Harley which for some strange reason doesn’t create as much anxiety for me. It must be that we have more room on the road than when traveling in the Circus Train😉.

True to the description the road way is filled with narrow lanes, winding and hairpin turns. The side of the road is covered with yield signs that show not only vertical curves but horizontal as wellThere are a few theories of how the road got its nickname “The Million Dollar Highway”. The roadway was originally founded by Otto Mears in 1883 as a toll way for Miners and operated as such until 1920 then rebuilt. There is also rumor that when the road was rebuilt they used gravel from the nearby gold and silver mines hence the road was rich in ore which was worth a million dollars. My favorite theory is that a traveler had experienced such a bad case of vertigo from traveling the steep and hairpin winding road, he said he would have to be paid a million dollars to do it again … I think he and I are kindred spirits!

The pass is accurately named. As we wound through the turns Red Mountain came into view… Our journey ended in Silverton, CO. For as far as you could see the roads were full of ATVs. Many waiting to be rented. Yet, even though the air was filled with smoke from the fire, a few people were out for adventures. We also noticed many of the restaurants and shops were closed. We spoke with one shop owner that informed us due to the fires and road closures the once bustling town filled with tourists was virtually a Ghost Town. Many couldn’t afford to stay open due to the lack of customers. The town itself was preparing for pre-evacuation. Such a shame. The scary part was the fires still were not contained and they still were unsure of how it had started! We spent a good portion of the day touring the town’s museum dedicated to mining learning about the amazing dedication of the folks who settled the area.

Sadly, our stay in Ouray came to an end. The morning we woke to leave our windows were covered with “snow” from the enormous Cottonwood trees everywhere!It’s no wonder we had trouble with allergy symptoms. Between the smoke and the blizzard of cotton off the trees! Even given the CrAzY ride over the mountain passes, smoke, fires and mounds of cotton in the air …Ouray has stolen a piece of our hearts! We most definitely will be back! We hated to leave this little piece of heaven on Earth. Next stop Gunnison, CO!

The trip to Gunnison was also filled with narrow winding roads. You would think that I would get better managing my anxiety… alas I failed. I will admit it wasn’t AS bad, but I have yet to figure out how not to gasp LOUDLY as we make a curve around the mountain when there is a STEEP drop off less than 3 feet from my Navigator seat!

Finally the stunning Blue Mesa Reservoir came into view The photo does not show how really beautiful blue the water is! The Blue Mesa Reservoir is the LARGEST lake located entirely within the state of Colorado. It is a fisherman’s meca. It is filled with Lake Trout and Kokanee Salmon. Our home for the next week was located across the street from a portion of this beauty. In fact most of our neighbors were here solely on a fishing mission. They were gone by day break and home in the afternoon limited out.

While the Reservoir was beautiful we came across a snafu that has not happened in the entire 4 years of being Professional Nomads….. neither of us had cell phone service!! Rutro Houston we had a problem! We each purposely have different cell phone carriers to hopefully never be without communication. This area was a big FAT dead zone! I was a bit distressed. The campground offered free internet for emails ONLY! I immediately sent email messages to our parents, children and friends who knew we were traveling to let them know we arrived safely and would not be able to be reached for a week. The lack of ability to communicate was equal to being on a deserted isle! People often ask “How can you be away from family, friends and your precious grandchildren?” Which I retort .. “No problem as we talk often with everyone via text or FaceTime!” Well no instant communication ability with our family and friends about made me insane!

The beauty of staying near Gunnison there were wonderful Harley rides to take. Every day we set out to new location. First stop Crested Butte.The ride there was spectacular. The wild flowers were just starting to bloom. Pops of yellow, blue and orange peeking out along the mountain side. We were a bit early to see them in full bloom the locals informed us. I guess they are stunning the first 2 weeks of July. Maybe our next time out we will plan to see them! For know my eyes were peeled on the mountain tops in search for cell phone towers! Each and every time one came into view I would send family an update letting them know we were doing well!

Another day ride to the Black Canyon!At the rim we were 8,000 feet of elevation! Below the Gunnison River cuts through the mountains 1,800 feet below. When we entered the park the Ranger told us we should consider taking the ride to the base of the canyon. He told us the ride is about 5 miles in length filled with lots of curves and many folks on motorcycles really enjoy it. So off we went! What the Ranger left out was that the road grade was 16%!!!!! Oh MY GOODNESS… I get choked up and so anxious on a 6% grade when traveling in the Mobile Condo… this 16% grade on the Harley about did me in!!! AGAIN with the hairpin curves, no guard rails and steep drop offs I was BEGGING my Handsome Chauffeur to please turn around there was absolutely no need to see the bottom of the canyon! But noooooooooo we were going to see this! I believe he had bruises on his sides as I had a death grip on him! We are a team and if one of us goes over the side of the canyon we were for darn sure going together as my death grip grew tighter and tighter! Finally we reached the rivers edge safe and soundThere were a few folks fly fishing and picnicking. I was trying to compose myself and summon the courage that was needed to go back up the 16% grade from HELL! My mind was reeling with the thoughts that we had no cell phone service, our kids had no idea where were and they would never find us in the depths of this canyon…. but what a majestic place it was indeed! Finally, I got on the Harley and just like the Mountain Goats we have seen, that Harley climbed up the mountain and got us back up to 8000 ft in elevation! As we made our way back to our campground I kept my eye to the sky in search of cell towers to let our family we were still alive, but did not share our latest escapade we just did! Why worry them🤣!

It was time to head to our next destination Colorado Springs, CO. The next pass to conquer was Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet in elevation, 7% grade located on the Continental Divide. You would think this would be old hat for this Nervous Navigator, but sadly I was a wreck! You see there were a few mechanical things going on with our Mobile Condo that My Handsome Chauffeur had been working feverishly to figure out what was going on. Our Mobile Condo uses air pressure for her braking system. When we start up our engine to travel we watch our gauges to see the air pressure build up for safe travel. We also have a nice beeping noise that indicates that our pressure is too low to operate the brakes. Wellllllllll, the pressure was taking so long to build up the beeper must have gotten laryngitis as it stopped warning us! The first thing MacGuyver did in Mesa Verde ,at the advice of the folks who are professionals,was change the air dryer filterUnfortunately, that did not fix the issue. The air pressure DOES build up for safe travel, but takes longer than it should. MacGuyver has spent hours on the phone, reading our manual and has a better idea of what it could be, but his little red tool bag doesn’t have the tools needed. We were heading for “civilization” and He made a reservation for service in Denver area, BUT we had to get to Denver which caused me a WEE bit of anxiety. Not only do we have that pesky air pressure issue our fuel gauge went on the fritz and reads EMPTY even though we filled our tank.Often times we are asked by folks “What kind of gas mileage do you get in that thing?” My reply always is that we have no idea what mileage we get. That bit of knowledge would not change how we travel and would only put a HUGE damp rag on our party😉. Now that we have NO working fuel gauge that little mpg calculation would have come in handy!!!

After about 30 minutes of the engine idling, the air pressure gages were up to where we could be assured our brakes would work. The fuel gage still read empty and there was a screeching coming from the engine compartment that could “possibly” be an angry belt???!!? Off we head over Monarch Pass.Thankfully the air pressure held and we had no need for one of theseI had to laugh as they had a sign 2 miles before the ramp letting drivers know that it was coming up… or it was giving you warning that if your brakes went out you only had 2 more miles to gain excessively higher speeds due to the grade and to Hold on Nelly🤣….

We made it safely over the pass and down without incident. I was never so glad to see a flat straight away in my life!We decided to stop to top off the fuel tank as we had no earthly idea how much fuel we used climbing the mountain pass. To our astonishment we only could fit 6 gallons of fuel in! Holy COW!

It was hard to believe we only used 6 gallons of gas going over the mountain pass, but it was a pleasant surprise indeed!

Soon we arrived at our new home, The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO! A sigh of relief from this Nervous Navigator! No more mountain passes, civilization, cell service and closer to repairs getting done! While we wait for our appointment day at the repair shop we hopped on the Harley to explorer The Garden of the Gods We took a long ride to the Royal Gorge. There were people walking a bridge across and zip lining! It all looked like fun, but we decided to spend our time taking the Gold Belt Scenic Byway back to the Academy. Riding through the mountains catching glimpses of Elk, Alpacas and cattle. The ride was not only beautiful, but breath taking with Pikes Peak in the distance.

We spent an entire day touring and learning all about the Academy. What an amazing place! The new group of Cadets were scheduled to arrive a week after we had to leave. It would have been fantastic to see that! We got a taste of what they would be going through by watching a video in the Visitors Center and speaking with the Docents stationed here and there on the campus. It brought us a sense of inspiration and a swell of pride watching the video of young men and woman going through their steps from beginning to end of their schooling then serving this great Nation. Pops made future plans for our 3 year old grandson to become a Cadet😉

One of the beautiful buildings on the campus was the Chapel.Stunning both outside and inside! We were so thankful to be able to tour it as it will be closed soon for the next 4 years to be renovated. Since it has been built, it has leaked water which was evident on some of the upholster and wood pews. When it was being constructed they were rapidly going over budget and made some cutbacks in not only the size, but what they used to put it together with. Sadly, it has leaked from the time it was built in 1962 until now due to inferior supplies. The plan is to completely dismantle the structure and put it back together. What an undertaking this will be!

The setting of the entire Academy is beautifully situated in the mountain side looking down onto the city of Colorado Springs. Founded in April 1954. It is home to 2 of the most beautiful courses we have played

The day of our appointment with the mechanic was upon us. We made a change in plans. Instead of service in Denver we chose to have it done at our next location of Loveland, CO. We have family to see in Loveland and IF we had to move out of our Mobile Condo while repairs are made we could stay with family. This sounded like a great plan except Loveland is about 60 miles further travel! The symptoms that we were experiencing earlier in our travels were there, but miraculously our fuel gauge was reading correctly.. so strange!

We made it to our appointment without a hiccup. The mechanic made the diagnosis. We were in need of a new alternator (the screeching noise), we needed a new governor for our air compressor ( air pressure for brakes) and we most likely will have to replace the fuel sending unit (for the fuel gauge to register accurately) and our radiator hose had seen better days! The next hurdle was to locate the parts! My Handsome Chauffeur changed his cap again to Procurement Specialist! It took an entire day for him to get parts ordered. The next day he drove all over to pick up the parts. Thankfully, the mechanic came to us at our campground to make the repairs. Four hours later my Handsome Chauffeur fires up the Mobile Condo… air pressure built up immediately, the screeching sounds was gone and our fuel gauge read accurately! Whew we are back in business.

We have enjoyed spending time and doing life with our extended family who get to call Loveland, CO home. They were a soft place to land through all the CrAzY repairs.

As we close on our month in Captivating Colorado I have to pinch myself. I feel as though we have been dreaming for a month! The beauty we have seen, the people we have met on our way and even the challenges we have endured(and overcome) have grown our hearts and our faith in unimaginable ways! Yes, we will always have our memories of this amazing time and we WILL return to make more memories… you can count on it Colorado!

I am clicking my ruby red slippers as Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz and quoting her “There’s no place like home.” We’re off to Kansas to start the next part of our journey seeing family, friends and “framily”! The road we traveled so many times over the years is a familiar FLAT route, but at the end of the journey we will be surrounded by LOVE! Kansas here we come💗!

Spring Southwestern Style

One of our desires when we started our Nomadic life was to avoid snow at ALL costs! Our hope is to follow 70 to 80 degree weather.. 70-80 degrees has been a bit of a struggle to achieve for the most part, but we continue to try!

As we made our way across the lower part of this beautiful country our next stop was Arizona. We arrived in Tucson the first week of April. Our campground was virtually a ghost town as the masses of Snowbirds who called Tucson home for the winter had flown the coop back to their homes up north. We were so excited to to be reunited with family who now call Tucson home! It had been too long since we had seen our Dad. The reunion was chicken soup for our Nomadic souls.

We had been to Tucson plenty of times over the years. We were familiar with our surroundings, but we had never been there in April OR for 6 weeks. Soon we found that our quest for 70-80 degree weather was a pipe dream! It became HOT and remained HOT for the entire visit!

After all we were in the desert what were we to expect?? Soon 95 degrees would be a welcomed relief as the thermometer was in triple digits for days on end. Our 3 air conditioners were running CONSTANTLY! Welcome to Springtime in the desert!

Even though the temperatures didn’t feel so Spring-like to us… Spring most definitely was in the landscape and air. All the varieties of cactus and trees were in bloom. Their showy blossoms were STUNNING against the earth tone mountains and This beauty also came at a cost to many of us. Not only was it hot in the desert, the winds were fierce. There were wind gusts upwards of 45 mph which filled the air with loads of dust, sand and pollen! On a clear day we enjoyed the vistas of the Santa Catalina, Rincon, Tucson and Santa Rita that surrounded the city.There were some days the winds blocked the views and the roadsides were filled with pollen that were reminiscent of snow after a storm in the Midwest. Thank goodness for allergy medicine as my Handsome Chauffeur was sneezing constantly!

Sunny HOT days were spent poolsidewhich was a welcome relief!

Another way we beat the heat was to take a ride on our Harley. The ride up Mount Lemon was a treat as we climbed to 8000 feet. The landscape changed from Saguaro cactusto deciduous bushes and treesthen to a Pine tree ski resort at the top Gone were the 90 degree temperatures! It was so cool we donned our jackets and gloves!The views were spectacular and the cool fresh air was so welcomed!

Instead of staying cooped up in the Mobile Condo under the roar of our air conditioners we took any advantage to ride the “scooter”. There were plenty of options to get off the beaten path. One day we made our way on the scenic route to Bisbee, AZ. situated in the Mule Mountains Bisbee was founded as a copper, silver and gold mining town in the 1800s. In the distance on the above photo you can make out the Copper Queen Mine.

The town is a cool quirky place that is supported by Artists with lots of history.It is said to be one of John Wayne’s favorite places too!As we headed back to Tucson we were waved through Border Patrol stations. We passed through Tombstone, AZ

We called Davis Monthan AFB home while we were in Tucson. The base is the home of the Aircraft Boneyard. Since after World War II it is the LARGEST aircraft storage in the WORLD! For as far as you can see there are all types and sizes of airplanes and helicopters Because Tucson’s low humidity (10-20%), and meager annual rainfall of 11 inches annually, altitude of 2550 and hard packed soil allows the aircraft to preserve naturally. It is a sight to behold!

We did spend a day at the Pima Air Museum that is next to to Boneyard.

Soon we were boarding an airplane ourselves headed to Nashville, Tennessee to spend quality time with our precious grandchildren. We unearthed and dusted off our suitcases buried in our “basement”. We couldn’t remember the last time we used the suitcases as we are somewhat like turtles…. we take our home and belongings with us where ever we visit. The trip via the friendly skies was a welcomed treat… it would only take 5 hours by air to cross this great country instead of at least 5 days of driving! 5 short hours and our hearts would be filled as well as our days creating “rocket ships” out of pillows baking cupcakes afternoon snugglesand just hanging out Too soon that big jet plane that took us to Tennessee was headed back west carrying two Nomads with heavy hearts but loads of fun memories made.

Our time in Tucson came to an end. The wheels on the Mobile Condo headed north to Scottsdale, AZ. Silly “blonde” me, I thought because we were heading north of course it should be cooler… NOT! Scottsdale, AZ is WARMER than Tucson because it is lower in altitude than Tucson and air cools as it climbs in altitude according to Wikipedia🧐🙃

So Scottsdale was smoking hot as well, but such a cool place to visit! Our landing spot for our stay in Scottsdale was a place called Westworld.This is not your “regular” campground. Westworld is 386 acres of desert at the base of McDowell Mountains. It is a multipurpose venue that is host to many events including assorted horse competitions and car auctions such as Barrett-Jackson Collector Car. While we were staying on their property there was a Reining Competition. We hopped on our bicycles and made our way to the stables to be educated.We met a few competitors who were more than happy to tell us about their sport. As we asked questions it became obvious we are “City Slickers”. We have ZERO equestrian knowledge. Our new found friends patiently explained their sport.

Reining is a western riding style where the rider guides the horse through precise patterns that include circles, spins and stops. To me it was like watching figure skating on horseback. The riders were dressed and the horses were groomed to perfection. This particular competition awarded the winners $40,000! Whoa..SO COOL!Speaking of Cool … we were in search of some cooling off so we hopped on the Harley and made a trip up the McDowell Mountain to the Tonto National Forest. While we enjoyed the scenery and the cooler temperatures our eyes took in the beauty of Bartlett Lake

Soon we our stop to Scottsdale was over. We had sights set on cooler temperatures so off we headed to Flagstaff, AZ. The trip would take us from 1248 feet of elevation to about 7000 feet! My Handsome Chauffeur at the helm we started our climb over mountains. Going up isn’t so frightening for this Nervous Navigator. Our trusty Mobile Condo handled it with ease. It is the 6% downhill grade for what seemed miles at times that had me holding my breath and clutching the metal bar next to my seat, which by now is custom fit to my grip😳

As we climbed the air WAS cooler! The scent of Piñon Pine, White Pine and Juniper was heavenly! Our home for the next 8 days was 10 miles west of Flagstaff at a small campground (only 14 sights) on a Arizona National Guard Base. It was a little piece of heaven as far as we were concerned after living in cities for the last 6 weeks.This remote campground came at a small price… no sewer connection! We had to be cognizant of our water use in order not to have to pack everything up to go “dump” out our tanks before we were leaving the campground for good. It can be done, but no matter if you move the Mobile Condo miles or just a few feet we have to secure everything etc.. aka HASSLE! Sooooo we were officially “Glamping”. Showers were taken at the shower house, laundry done at the laundry mat and we ate using paper plates more as not to have to do multiple loads of dishes which wasn’t such a bad thing as far as The Queen of the Mobile Condo was concerned! 😉

As we traveled we couldn’t help but notice the contrast of the green pines and the dry yellow grass everywhere.Arizona is in a drought and it was OBVIOUS just looking around. The Flagstaff area “only” got 100 inches of snow for the 2017 season. In 2016 they received 312 INCHES of snow. There hasn’t been any rain to speak of either. There were Red Flag warnings…. no campfires, no charcoal grills and no smoking outside as there fire danger was extreme! Our camp hosts highly recommended that we be careful setting up camp . They suggested just setting out the essentials as we needed to be ready to evacuate if there happened to be a fire in the area.

The next morning we awoke to a very brisk day. Just like the old adage says…”be careful for what you wish for.” All the prayers for cooler weather the past few weeks came to fruition when we awoke to find the temperature in our Mobile Condo was 48 degrees!!!!After we thawed out with hot coffee we set out to check a box on our bucket list… The GRAND CANYON. We had experienced the beauty of the Canyon from the window of an airplane plenty of times at 35,000 feet. Our visit would be a first for us up close and personal! The ride to the Canyon was through LOTS of flat yellow grass areas nothing to write home about. As we entered the park with the masses of tourists we saw HUGE Elk munching away without a care. Thankfully they were more interested in eating than crossing in front of us… that would have made for a really bad experience!

After securing a coveted parking spot (the “scooter” can squeeze into the greatest spots) we started to walk towards the South Rim. There are NO words that can express the first time you come up to see this AMAZING Creation of God! Photos don’t do it any where near what our eyes were taking in! We were in AWE!!!!There were plenty of people trying to capture its majesty. Some were crawling over the metal barriers to step out on cliffs. Not us!!! Although my Handsome Chauffeur did take leave of his senses to stage this photoWe took a tour through the park to find the hotel that was featured in a scene in the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation…..one of our ALL time favorite movies! Often in our travels it feels as though we can be characters played in the movie due to shenanigans that we find ourselves in😉. There have been plenty of instances that I referred to my Handsome Chauffeur as “Clark”!Northern Arizona aka the High Country has some of the best motorcycle riding we have experienced! We took a trip south of Flagstaff to Sedona,AZ along 89A winding our way through mountains along Oak Creek Canyon. It was a SPECTACULAR ride. The red rock against the greens of the forest is out of this world! Years ago we did a quick stop through Sedona and it captured my heart. One of the greatest sights was a church up on the mountain. We had to make the trip up there again as it is breath taking!As we entered the chapel and looked out the windows over the Canyon we were taken back by the majesty of the entire experience. One of God’s masterpieces!

Riding in the mountains I often wonder how in the world the trees and brush make their way through the rocks.I guess if there is a will there is a way when it comes to Mother Nature!

One last ride around Flagstaff we saw remnants of snow on the tippy top of the mountain. As we start our journey over the mountains in Colorado we sure hope we don’t come across any of the white stuff!

Right outside of our campground there was a National Weather Service office. My curious Handsome Chauffeur is very interested in weather. Some of his favorite apps are weather predicting and wind speed which are necessary tools when driving our Mobile Condo. The opportunity to speak with and get a tour of the facility made him a Happy Camper.

The office there is one of many through the USA. The meteorologists working around the clock are responsible for issuing warnings and alerts. The current drought and wind were a major concern at this time. Fire was on the minds of many not only in our immediate area, but wildfires were popping up all over the western states. Our hosts at the center were more than happy to show us some of the things they use daily to keep us informed. The day we were there they were keeping an eye not only in their region, but the first Hurricane of the season(Alberto) was about to make landfall somewhere in the southeast. The meteorologist was monitoring 4 computer screens that were each showing a different layer of atmosphere. So interesting!We were taken outside to see rain gauges, anemometer, satellites and other necessary instruments to help them with predicting weather.

Twice daily at 12 hour intervals they along with all 800 other locations around the world launch weather balloons into the atmosphere with this attachedThis gadget relays information back to the center regarding atmospheric pressure, temperatures, humidity and wind speed all the while being tracked by GPS. Two of these are sent up per day and unfortunately are not returned. It would be like hunting for a needle in a haystack trying to locate them. The information they transmit for the duration of their flight is valuable and outweighs the cost of the equipment which can be considered disposable. Wow, what an education we received thanks to our host.

As we packed up our belongings and reflected on our long stay in Arizona, off in the horizon we saw the weather balloon that was just launched head in a northeastern direction. We too would be headed that way in the morning. Arizona’s motto is Ditat Deus which means God Enriches. How very true! Our stay in Arizona DID enrich us in so many ways. We look forward to our next visit. The wheels on the Mobile Condo are rolling on to Colorful Colorado to make more memories!

The Great Lone Star State

The 2018 Circus Train tour continues ….next stop TexasWe have been to Texas plenty of times in the past visiting family and friends. We would travel south from Kansas and stop in the Dallas area. My Handsome Chauffeur also called Texas “home” for 8 1/2 weeks 39 years ago when he was in Basic Training to begin his career in the United Sates Air Force. This trip through Texas we were crossing the state east to west with a slight northern detour to Austin. As we crossed the state border from Louisiana we were greeted with a milage sign stating El Paso, TX was ONLY 857 miles away

HOLY COW Texas was going to take awhile to cruise across!

As we motored across Louisiana on Interstate 10 along with HUNDREDS of other motorists in all different types of vehiclesThe John 3:16 flag came in sight just in time to calm my nerves. We crossed more water on bridges than we ever had!

Miles and MILES of bridges with water not to far from touching the bottom of them. This Nervous Navigator’s brain started getting away from herself with thoughts of “What happens if we breakdown?” There seemed to be minimal shoulders available to pull over…then “IF we broke down it would be quite the feat to get to us AND we would be the cause of MANY unhappy travelers as we would be blocking traffic FOR SURE!” Thankfully those thoughts never came to fruition! Prayers work people!!!

The thoughts of a breakdown were not just a thought… there were plenty of potholes that we could not avoid that rattled the Mobile Condo to its core! It was a wonder we didn’t have a blown out tire! There were so many road hazards to count and no where to swerve to avoid them. Not only was the roadway TERRIBLE the wind also was blowing us too and fro! My poor Handsome Chauffeur was earning more gold stars keeping us on the road! Finally, in the distance we saw the greeting that we were entering the GREAT state of Texas! Hopefully they had more money in their budget appropriated for highway maintenance!Indeed the roads DID improve, but after the harrowing drive we endured across Louisiana My Handsome Chauffeur was READY to call it a day. Home Sweet Home for the night would be a Walmart parking lot in Vidor, TX . We had traveled ONLY 268 miles, but it felt like a MILLION! We were grateful to be OFF the road even IF it was Vidor, TX. My Handsome Chauffeur got out and did a walk around of the Mobile Condo and discovered that all of our tires were thankfully intact, but we did lose a hub cap👿hubcaps can be replaced! At least it wasn’t a blown out tire!

Vidor, Texas has a reputation that we were VERY unaware of. If we had any idea about it’s reputation we would have traveled further down the road, but ignorance is bliss as they say! When we let a friend know where we were spending the night she said “Please don’t base your opinion of Texas on Vidor” It wasn’t until the next day did I google Vidor and see WHY we were given this advice! WOW!

The next travel day was far easier than the previous one. Next stop Austin, TX! We were so excited. We heard so many GREAT things about the Capital of Texas…. beautiful city, bicycle friendly, great live music scene and delicious Texas BBQ… right up our alley! The campground we had reservations at was smack dab in the middle of the city… convenient to all of the things we wanted to see and do!

Pecan Grove campground is perfectly named as it is nestled amongst protected Pecan trees. The night sky of stars competed with lights of the city, high rise condos and apartments surrounding the campground. A number of folks make Pecan Grove their full time home. There are very few “transient” camping spaces. We felt so lucky to make Pecan Grove our “home” for the next week. This campground is FILLED with the most friendly people we have met! As we walked around the park we were greeted with friendly smiles, invitations to dinner, happy hour, given recommendations on what to see, do and where to eat! We were also asked not to judge Austin by the recent news reports!!

As we were traveling we had not heard the news that Austin was being terrorized by a serial BOMBER!!! WHAT???!!!! We immediately got ourselves educated on the current events plaguing this wonderful city. We determined that we were not going to let these random acts of terrible violence keep us from seeing the city. There are far more good people in the city (and world) than bad. We would indeed keep our eyes peeled for any unaccompanied packages or backpacks as we road our bikes all over the city.

First stop the Capital

We learned so much about this great state from our docent.. here is a link that gives some cool facts about the Lone Star State9 Things You May Not Know About Texas

We road bike trails following Lady Bird Lake where people were kayaking and paddling on paddle boards. One of my Handsome Chauffeur’s favorite musician, Stevie Ray Vaughn, has a place of honor along Lady Bird LakeWhile we were in Austin we were treated by a visit with our dear friends who were in the area from Missouri visiting their daughter! What a treat to share wonderful Texas BBQ with them!Not only did we ride our bicycles around, but we we also able to get on the Harley and ride the wide open spaces of the Texas backroads in the “Hill Country”! It was so WONDERFUL to have the wind in our faces and the sunshine warming us! We rode the Devil’s Backbone and came upon beautiful Canyon Lake!

The beautiful blue water was a sight. We also saw someone land a fish! We made a mental note that we would someday return here with the Mobile Condo and call this place “home” for awhile!

We met up with some friends that make Texas their home at The Saltlick for another delicious taste of Texan BBQ.My Handsome Chauffeur was a part of a BBQ team that competed at The American Royal in Kansas City when we lived in our Stick and Brick home. He is always interested in how others prepare their version of BBQ. Saltlick did not disappoint!As our time in Austin came to an end we spent a night being entertained by a great bandNext stop San Antonio! The trip was to be a blip of time …… only 80 miles. A piece of cake! Unless you check the air pressure in the tires of the Mobile Condo only to discover one tire is 30 PSI below what it is suppose to be!😬Not a happy Handsome Chauffeur and now a VERY Nervous Navigator! Thankfully, we did check the tire pressure instead of assuming all was well. We have a air compressor on board, but unfortunately it was not cooperating. We set out with our eyes scanning the interstate for a Truck stop that would be able to air us up. That was probably the longest 30 miles we ever traveled! While my Handsome Chauffeur added the much needed air to the tire I hit the phone locating a Michelin dealer to check the tire out as we began to wonder if we picked up a road hazard on our trip through the HORRIBLE roads in Louisiana. As luck would have it there was a Michelin place just 30 more miles down the road that could see us right away!

Of course the tire in question was an inside tire of the duels so the diagnostics took a bit of effort!After removing both tires the diagnostician determined we had a bad valve stem. Phew! Not a bad tire! The nice fella went to work immediately and in less than 30 minutes we were road worthy again! Not only that, when my Handsome Chauffeur went inside to pay for the service he was told it was FREE! Wow what a wonderful gift!

On the road again we were treated to the beautiful display of Blue Bonnets and Poppies that adorn the the highways in Texas. Soon we were at our new “home” for the next week San Antonio, TX! What was to be a short trip if 1 1/2 hours turned into a 4 hour trip, but we were there safe and sound!

When we planned our trek across Texas we had planned to stop for just a few days to see the sites, visit long time family friends and Lackland AFB where my Handsome Chauffeur attended Basic Training many moons ago. Low and behold the time frame we planned on coincided with San Antonio hosting the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament AND our beloved KU Jayhawks were playing in the tournament!!! To say we were THRILLED to be there for the festivities and tournament was a HUGE understatement!

Torrential rains for a few days gave us “lake front property”and “helped” us determine that we had a “little” water leak. We took care of some caulking and maintenance. It’s always something😉!

When the sun finally came out we hit some of the sites and we joined in the festivities that were associated with the tournament.

The City was FILLED with fans from all four of the schools playing. The excitement was electric wherever you turned!

The day before the tourney We joined hundreds of LOYAL KU fans to watch them practice in a Shoot AroundWe were so blessed to enjoy dinner with our nephew (a KU SUPER FAN) who was also in town from Kansas for the games!None of us had tickets for the game …. YET. The prices were a wee bit inflated and not in our budget 😉 .

Over Tex Mex, chips & salsa, and local adult beverages with hundreds of KU faithful fans we formulated a plan to wait until the very last minute to see if the prices went down, or suck it up and pay the big bucks for this “unique opportunity!”

Game day proved to not be so kind to the Navigator of this Dynamic Duo! Unfortunately, I had picked up food poisoning the night before. I was beyond sick ….not only physically, but heartsick I was not going to be able to make it to the tournament!

The closer it got to game time I encouraged my Super KU fan to go have fun and try his luck on getting a ticket. I had a wonderful seat on our couch with 7up and saltines to keep me company. So all dressed in his KU regalia with a sign that he made stating”Need 1 Ticket” my SUPER KU fan left the Mobile Condo to join the other 999,000 people who were in town for the game!

He positioned himself with his sign in an area where there was tons of foot traffic heading to the Alamodome. He had plenty of offers to pay $400 for a single ticket. Little did those sellers realize, not only is my Handsome Chauffeur VERY frugal, BUT he is the most PATIENT person I know when waiting for a deal!

It was close to tip-off time. He was beginning to think he may need to spend some of his hard earned cash if he was going to see this event in person.

Patience paid off BIG for him this time. As he waited, a trio approached him and told them they had an extra ticket in “nosebleed” section. My KU Super Fan inquired “how much?” They then told him they would give him the ticket for F R E E! Oh my goodness I know my SUPER KU fan heard the Angels singing in his ears!!! Free?? What are the chances of that happening?

So in the Alamodome he walks with his new 3 BEST friends and sends his ailing Navigator this photoOh my gosh I was beyond THRILLED for him! Yes, the seat wasn’t the very best, but being in the atmosphere was beyond COOL and for FREE made it sweeter than honey!

After the first game was over fans from the losing team started to leave the dome. Just in time for the KU game to begin My Super Fan was able to move into a vacated seat still up high, but mid court…. he was in heaven!

Alas, our Jayhawks didn’t play well AT ALL! They did not advance in the tournament. Our bubble was bursted. Still we had the time of our lives being a part of the excitement! As the saying goes for most KU fans….There is always next year!

Before leaving SanAntonio we did a quick drive through where my Amazing Veteran started his career in the USAF back in 1979To say he wasn’t excited about it is a BIG understatement. Ironically, as we entered the gate the radio station we were listening to began to play the Star Spangle Banner! GOOSEBUMP moment for us both!

As we drove around we saw lots of new Recruits walking in formation. It brought back memories (or nightmares) of his past. The recruits looked like BABIES! Well, I guess compared to our age now they are😉. It also brought a sense of pride and appreciation for what these fine men and women voluntarily signed up for to keep our country safe. The tour brought up lots of memories for us both. It was a lifetime ago, but in the same sense feels like it was only yesterday we were a military family.

Our visit to San Antonio was completed by being able to spend Easter with our “framily” (friends that are family to us) The meal was such a treat! Many of our favorites recipes were prepared by our amazing hostess. Some were passed down from generations. The food and company was chicken soup to our Nomadic souls. We left not only with our tummies filled, but our hearts were FULL as well just being able to be with them.

Up early the next morning with El Paso, TX in mind. Another 552 miles to get there and we would STILL be in the state of Texas! Whoa!

There really is not much between San Antonio and El Paso. It reminded us of our travels thru Nevada a few years back, except for the Border Patrol cars and inspection stations The speed limit was 80mph. Unfortunately, the Circus Train’s Conductor keeps it at 65mph so we had lots of folks passing us. We are not often in a hurry, but when the scenery is not so great it really would be nice to travel a bit faster, especially when it’s legal to go 80mph!

We finally made it to El Paso. We were thrilled to see that the city was beautifully surrounded by mountains. Home Sweet Home for the evening with fellow Nomads in the Walmart parking lot. We enjoyed looking out at the vista!

As Morning was breaking behind the mountainswe said farewell to Texas. The 857+ miles east to west was so worth the journey! Thanks for the fun memories….We’ll be back to see you again Lone Star State!

Get Ready… get set.. GO!!

As our time drew near to leave our winter nest we not only started making reservations and travel plans, but the daunting task of cleaning things up and storing them away was upon us. Sitting dormant for months you would be surprised how spread out we got. We have our outdoor living area, screen tent, yard art, ladder, multiple grills etc… etc… that all at one time had a space in the “basement” of our Mobile Condo. It was now our task of remembering how we had things packed long ago when we were moving every few weeks. Thank goodness my Handsome Chauffeur is also the “King of Tetris”! Seriously, the man can look at a space that I would try to fit one measly thing into and fit 4 to 5 things in the same allotted space! He continues to astound me!

Thankfully, we started the process about a week before our departure working a wee bit at a time. Cleaning sand off of everything was hard enough, but this winter for some reason the campsite was inundated with these itty bitty snails! They were EVERYWHERE!! Persistent little buggars as well. Every day I would sweep them off the screen tent. I can only imagine the effort it took for them to crawl at their pace up the walls of the tent to only get swept off in the morning by a silly human to start their journey AGAIN! As persistent they were they were sneaky too! I would find them hiding in the most unusual spots. As I picked up chairs to fold away I would hear what sounded like a Maraca as hundreds of snail shells fell to the ground! My work was cut out for me as I made sure not to have any stowaway snails or red ants brought on our westward journey! As I cleaned, My King of Tetris stowed. It took us a week, but we “Got ‘Er Done”… we were ready to set on our 2018 adventure!

The date of departure was upon us. All packed, reservations in place, journey mapped out. The only thing that wasn’t cooperating was good Old Mother Nature! You see she decided to be a “bit blustery” with 30-35 mph wind gusts from the west which made our north, northwest travel a bit of a challenge. The Mobile Condo is a VERY HIGH profile vehicle and wind coming at its side didn’t make my Handsome Chauffeur’s job the least bit easy! There were times that I swear we were going to blow right off the interstate! I was absolutely no help to my Handsome Chauffeur as I had resorted to the fetal position and about started sucking my thumb!!! We of course were not alone fighting the hellacious wind… we were one of MANY Snowbirds heading north. All of us bobbing and weaving with the gusts. I just kept praying that all the drivers of the other vehicles were as well equipped for the conditions as my calm cool and collected Chauffeur or there was going to be a big mess somewhere along the route.

After traveling what seemed like thousands of miles north, our route turned us west which helped. We left our “flock” of north bound travelers. NOW we had straight headwinds …our gas mileage was probably 3mpg! At least we were no longer getting tossed around from side to side. Our GPS took us off the interstate and on county roads that proved to be a hundred times better as there was far less traffic. After an 8 hour journey that seemed to take 8 days we were in our temporary home of Panama City, FL. for the next 3 days to much needed rest and a few unexpected “projects”.

When traveling we have a sliding platform that comes over the stairs to create a flat surface for the passenger (Moi) to rest their feet. Welllll …..our step platform decided that it was more comfortable in the retracted position leaving this Nervous Navigator’s feet to dangle. I may be showing my age, but back in the 60’s or 70’s there was a show we watched called Laugh In. Lily Tomlin would do a character Edith Ann in a big rocking chair with her feet dangling… you get the picture right? Yep, I was the 21st century Edith Ann in the Navigator seat feet dangling due the a silly step cover not working… it was going to be a Looooong ride with all the blood pooled into my dangling feet until I remembered that my way cool Navigator seat also was a recliner! Yippie Skippie my feet were saved!

Bright and early after a much needed rest My Handsome Chauffeur came to my rescue donning his MacGuyver hat he YANKED on the step an WAHLAH it came out!but the motor wasn’t connected any longer….Oops! Now with the step out it was a long JUMP in order to get out of the Mobile Condo! MacGuyver was able to connect the motor to the step again .. of course! He needed a device to aid in clean up of his repair.He asked his trusty assistant (Moi) to get him thiswith instructions to wrap with a rag and attach with a ponytail holderWith his project cleaned up by his MacGuyver certified “tool” it was time to try the step. BINGO… step retracted and went into position just like new!he NEVER ceases to amaze me!

Panama City Florida is a Spring Break destination for many College coeds. This year I hope the packed their parkas along with their bikinis as it was COLD!! We were not use to this… our blood must have thinned staying in Tampa! Our feet that were use to wearing sandals were now encased with SOCKS AND SHOES! Maybe we left Tampa too soon??? The morning we were scheduled to leave Panama City our Mobile Condo was also not pleased with the cold temperatures. Our brakes need air pressure to build up in order to work and due to the cold crisp temperatures that morning they were not pleased Our neighbors were most likely less than pleased to be awoken by the sound of a huge diesel engine idling at high rpms as we watched and prayed that our gages would go up. At last the air brakes were pressurized and we were heading further west. Next stop New Orleans, Louisiana!

Our travel weather was PERFECT as we motored across the panhandle of Florida, Mississippi and finally Louisiana. As we neared the city of New Orleans the roadways resembled a plate of pasta! Roadway, ramps and bridges all jumbled up to this Navigator’s eye, but our trusty GPS was guiding our way. Traffic was heavy! Finally we were directed to get off the Interstate… Whew! We were traveling through Parishes in search of our next home Arbor Aviation NAS. Unfortunately, our GPS guided us on a route that had signs stating “No Truck Zone”! We prayed that there were no low hanging wires or branches all the while justifying that we were “not” a truck! We made it through the neighborhoods waving to surprised motorists with their mouths a gapped as they came upon us. With only 5 miles left until we reached the base we saw a tunnel approaching on our route that was going UNDER the Intercoastal water way! Not only was it UNDER water the clearance sign read 13′ 7″!!! Our Circus Train Measures 13′ 6″!!! As we approached the tunnel we saw markings on the cement left by previous HIGH profile vehicles! There was NO TURNING AROUND! We collectively held our breathe and entered the tunnel. My Handsome Chauffeur, taking up both lanes of traffic as to center in the “highest” part of the tunnel. You could hear a pin drop as we crept through all the while waiting to hear the dreaded noise of one or ALL 3 air conditioners being removed as we scrapped through the tunnel. Much to our surprise we made it through without disaster! This episode reminded us of our trip to the east coast last summer. How soon we forgot the lessons learned about trusting “Lola” aka Google maps! We vowed to no longer trust Google maps as our GPS and will now ALWAYS use a Truckers app to ensure our route will not include neighborhoods or low bridges!

Up early the next day we made our way to downtown New Orleans! Thanks to advice from a dear friend we had a game plan in place to see this amazing historical city. The weather looked like we were going to see lots of rain. Our weather app cautioned us of flood warnings as the Mississippi River was at 16’4″ and flood stage is 17′. Ever the optimists and only having a day to tour we grabbed our umbrella and walking shoes and headed to the ferry boat to take us across the Mississippi into New Orleans!

We hopped a trolley car and toured the Garden District. The homes were beautiful as were the campuses of Loyola and Tulane. Stunning show of pink Azelea bushes every where! Spring was in the air. Some of the trees and bushes donned Mardi Gras beadsThe City seems to always be in party mode. We happened to be there St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The closer we got to Bourbon Street the more people were dressed in green. The party had started! As we made our way through the sea of green clad party people we saw street musicians, drum team of little boys and heard every genre of music coming out of the many drinking establishments. It was hard to decide where to stop. We knew one thing we were starved and in need of an adult beverage.

I had visited New Orleans MANY moons ago and had fond memories of Pat O’Brien’s. What better place to kick off St Patty’s day? Off we went in search of a world famous Hurricane…. and they certainly didn’t disappoint!Now that our whistles were wet our appetite for some good old Creole food was in order!With our tummy’s full and our feet ready to call it a day we made our way back to our ferry. It was a fun day and we made tons of memories. Good night New OrleansOur visit to Louisiana was coming to an end. Our last day there we felt the need to get our bellies full of Cajun one more time! We noticed a few restaurants near by that were PACKED so of course they had to have great food! Everywhere was touting Crawdads… so we too needed to see what the draw was!As we entered the establishment with our bellies growling we saw a HUGE all you can eat buffet. Shrimp, Gator, Soft shell crabs,Boudin, Gumbo, Jambalaya etc..Everywhere we looked people had platter size plates heaping with Crawdads aka “Mud Bugs 😳

After our trip to Maine and the “Lobster incident” we decided we better ask a few more questions before ordering. These Crawdads looked like a miniature version of the whole Maine Lobster we had tried to eat Our server was the sweetest gal and was more than happy to explain the intricacies of eating Crawdads to us. She could tell by the look on our faces and our KU collegiate wear that we most definitely we NOT local. She grabbed a Crawdad and proceeded to break off its head, SUCKED out the innards, before breaking apart its itty bitty tail to get what appeared to be a piece of meat the size of a Grub Worm and said, “That’s how you do it…they are soooo delicious!” Needless to say I DID NOT want ANY part of sucking out the innards of a Crawdad! The memory of the green goo/exploded pancreas of our Maine Lobster is still burned into my brain! We both politely declined the Crawfish feast and ordered shrimp and oysters FRIED and PEELED! No steamed anything for us! We left with a full belly of delicious Cajun food and an education for a lifetime!

The first leg of our 2018 adventure is in the books. We are ready to travel further west. We have set our sight towards the “Great State of Texas”. Here we GO❤️

Our LONG Winter’s rest

Well HELLLLOOOO THERE! Long time no Blog from your friendly Professional Nomads! While I have been thinking about checking in every so often I would think to myself ” nothing really to report” yet as I read my last post and glanced over my photos that I have taken since September I guess lots of life has happened so here is an update of this life of ours!

After dashing from Maine to Tennessee to meet our beautiful granddaughter we have been pretty stationary. We spent August and September in Tennessee. The unexpected arrival of our little blessing caught us all by surprise. Her parents were in the midst of some home improvement projects. So my Handsome Chauffeur donned his construction hat and I with a paint brush in hand helped finish up the list of projects that needed to completion. We enjoy these projects as it gives us something to do. Sure, we have projects to keep up with on our Mobile Condo, but they rarely require a saw, hammer or paint brush! For the most part the projects were taken care of allowing our son to continue to work at his new job and our daughter in law to spend her days with our little blessing in the NICU. It certainly wasn’t all work and no play as we did spend lots of quality time with our Grandson who instantly became a big brother. We were in heaven!

Soon our little girl came home after only ten days in NICU. Prayers were answered and we were thrilled to be there to help all of them settle into being a family of four. Our little buddy fell right into his role as big brother without missing a beat! He loves his “baby Dylann”Soon it was time to load up the Mobile Condo and start heading south, but not before we got to fulfill one of our dreams… we were thrilled to take our little buddy on a camping adventure. He was SO excited to go with us in our “B I G Camper Bus.” Our adventure took us just an hour or so away from his home. This was the first time he would be away from both of his parents for a week so we decided to stay relatively close as an insurance policy if he got homesick or his Mimi & Pops ran out of energy😉.We all had the time of our lives! He fished with his Popsswam in the lake saw B I G airplanesWe spent a day at an aquarium played in the Parkwatched movies and had a popcorn partyand to end the week we visited a hands on science centerAll three of us had the time of our lives. He never complained or got homesick and very soon it was time for us to give him back to his parents. We made amazing memories and look forward to more adventures in the future.

As fun as it was to have a 2 1/2 year old with us for a week we were ready to be back to our “normal” Nomadic life. Next stop would be Tampa, Florida our home for the winter.

We were watching the weather closely as it was October and hurricane season in Florida. Tampa was scheduled to be hit. Good ‘Ol Mother Nature spared Tampa as predicted, but did cause quite a bit of damage due to wind. There were plenty of fellow Snow Birds that were not so lucky as there were many destinations that were hit by storms and camp grounds were closed. Some of displaced Snowbirds had to scramble to make other accommodations. The military campgrounds work on first come first serve basis so we were felt the need to get down to Tampa to secure our spot all the while watching storms head north into our travel route. My Handsome Chauffeur is also a novice weatherman. He keeps a weather app on his phone and maps out our travel according to conditions. With information in hand he determined that we needed to leave Tennessee NOW as to get ahead of the torrential rains training up our way. We worked as a well oiled machine packing up and loading in record time. Our travels went as planned. We avoided any terrible weather. My Weatherman’s next plan of action was to locate a place to call home for the night and that would have satellite signal to watch his beloved Kansas City Chiefs game! Another app on his phone guided him to find the satellite in parking lotwe were in for the night!

Up early for our last leg to Tampa. We made it through the much dreaded Atlanta area without a hitch! Score one for the Circus Train😎! As we traveled further south the sky began to darken the wind picked up like CrAzY. Our VERY HIGH PROFILE vehicle was being tossed two and fro. My Handsome Chauffeur’s knuckles had turned white as snow and his Nervous Navigator was beyond anxious and had resorted to the fetal position when all of a sudden appeared a Camping World store! Thank goodness! To make this even better we had a coupon that we needed to use! Not only were we no longer driving through torrential rain… we were going to get a deal as we waited out this band of terrible travel weather! Anyone who knows my Handsome Chauffeur knows he loves a DEAL! I had a VERY HAPPY CHAUFFEUR!

An hour passed as we perused the aisles of Camping World along with other travelers waiting out the storm. Soon it was all clear in the sky. We gathered our newly purchased grill ( such a deal 😜) to added to the other three we currently own and began the rest of our journey south.

As I have previously mentioned we try very hard not to drive when it is dark. We try the best we can to adhere to stopping by four o’clock or dusk whatever comes first. The storm/shopping trip put us behind schedule and it was beginning to get dark FAST! The beauty of returning to Tampa again was the roads were familiar. We didn’t have to rely on GPS. The night travel was easier as we knew the landscape. The skyline and bay as our guide we made it “home” without a hitch.

Ahhhhh it was a great feeling to be surrounded by all things and friends that we are familiar with after spending spring and summer exploring new places. This is a time for us to relax and take care of maintenance issues on our Mobile Condo. We truly enjoy our time on the road exploring this great country of ours, but it is equally as nice to be stationary. We felt like we were “home”.

Many of our neighbors and friends have been making MacDill AFB home for years. This being our second time making it our rest stop for 5 months felt great. It was great to see familiar faces and meet new o es as well.

Right off the bat our projects got started. First was the washer/dryer. this little beauty is tucked in tighter than a drum in a closet of our bedroom. Macguyver at the ready using an end table from the living room and a throw rug from the kitchen extracted the beast out of its “home” without damage to our floor or his back! In his element trouble shooting why the washer would randomly fill with water when not being used. Using our dining table as his work benchhe discovered the what the problem was and fixed it. We were back in business.. no more leaks!

To say we rest while being in Florida is not quite accurate. Sure, we puhtz around tinkering and tweaking things on the Mobile Condo. Give her a much needed wash and hand wax, rearrange storage etc… but we ALWAYS make time for bicycle riding, exercise class, golfing, Harley riding and just plain relaxing in the sun. We even gave our luck a try with BINGO

We also made a road trip to Alabama to spend the Christmas holiday with family Our kids and grandkids came to Alabama too! What a treat it was to have 4 generations together Our Little Granddaughter was growing by leaps and boundsand so BEAUTIFUL if I do say so😉💗

We enjoyed visits from friends we haven’t seen in many years. We also got to have our daughter visit us for a weekher Dad took her for a spin to see the bay.

As our time approaches to leave Florida we are plotting our course of adventure for this Spring and Summer with recommendations from some fellow Nomads. Our maps are spread out, all the while manning our phones to set reservations. There won’t be any moss growing on the Mobile Condo as we will be moving and grooving. We hope to see some of you along our journey! Our travels are taking us as far west to Arizona, then north through Colorado, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and back to Florida for another long winters rest!

We love our Nomadic life and do not take one day of it for granted. Thank you for coming along with us via this Blog. Who knows maybe you too will join us as We Be Winging It across this beautiful U.S. of A.🇺🇸

Glamping in Maine

We set our sights on Maine long ago. We heard so many wonderful things about the state…its natural beauty and of course LOBSTERS. We were excited to see it for ourselves.

The morning leaving Boston area was gloomy and raining….not the most perfect traveling weather for a Circus Train, but we  can’t control Mother Nature OR Boston traffic…. YIKES!

As I have said plenty of times in previous posts I am Nervous Navigator. I have gotten better, but there are situations I get overwhelmed with fear and control issues. My Handsome (and oh so calm) Chauffeur does  his best at trying to keep me calm. I can’t help myself…I gasp loudly when folks are cutting us off in traffic, I try to stifle screams as people try to merge into our lane! My reactions don’t help my Chauffeur in the least. One of the things I do to try to remain calm is crochet. It distracts me from watching the road. The more nervous I am the faster I crochet. So this morning of travel I got my hook a flying and started a scarf. The project works well as not only does it distract me from the traffic, but it serves to cover my eyes and makes a perfect mouth gag to prevent my screams from distracting my Handsome Chauffeur Once we got away from the metropolitan areas traffic wasn’t a problem I began to relax. Our journey for the day was only 196 miles which took us 6 hours! We took US Highway 1 that meanders through quaint little towns and villages. The further north we got we saw road side stands offering Lobsters at 5.99/lb and wild blueberries! Heaven… we were in heaven!

We arrived safely at Camden State Park. To say we stuck out like a sore thumb is an UNDERSTATEMENT! Here many folks are tent campers, smaller travel trailers NOT a 42 foot Mobile Condo. The majority of the people in the park are on a vacation. We too are on a vacation…we just happen to bring our home with us.

Thankfully we made reservations well in advance to secure a sight that could accommodate us. Instead of being nestled amongst the Balsa Fir and Birch trees we were in a wide open field. We got to enjoy the beautiful scents of the woods without the nuisance of sap dripping on our Mobile Condo or Pine Needles covering our roof which makes for a HAPPY Handsome Chauffeur… which in turn makes me happy too! Back four years ago we dreamt about traveling and staying amongst the trees, but that dream proved to be a nightmare when our Mobile Condo got covered with sap and such, so now we try to avoid such situations at all cost…. we Glamp not Camp.

Glamping in our Mobile Condo has other things to consider while staying in a State Park. Most of the parks have electric on site which is GREAT. Some have water on site, but there are those that we have to fill up our fresh water tank (which holds 100 gallons) and use our water pump to access water. Then there is the issue of not having sewer hook ups on site. If the tanks get filled we need to pack up our entire Mobile Condo to drive to the dump station within the park to empty our tanks. This can be done, but we try at all costs to stay put at our site until we are leaving for good! Our site in Maine has water and electric …. no sewer. We have grown accustom to having full hooks over the years and this wee adjustment of not having a sewer connection at our site would keep us very cognizant of our water usage both grey and black! So we joined all of the other campers by using the shower house instead of our own. We are getting our exercise walking to the restroom multiple times a day and perhaps using a laundry mat instead of our own washer and dryer! We are Glamping!

What the State Park lacks in the “creature” comforts we have grown accustom to (electric, water AND sewer on site) it surpasses all with the beautiful night sky filled with stars, fire rings to enjoy a campfire and vistas from top of Mount Battie!We were overlooking Penobscot Bay name after the American Native indigenous to the area. It is Maine’s largest Bay spanning 30 miles long and 30 miles deep and contains hundreds of Islands. It has an amazing look out we were able to climb and see forever!We visited with some locals and asked where they recommended we get our first taste of Fresh Maine Lobster. We were directed away from the little town near our state park dotted with quaint Bed and Breakfasts, restaurants and boutiques. The drive was a short one. We came upon a Lobster Pound which was a new terminology for us. On our travels we saw signs advertising Lobster pounds and now here we were.

According to Google:

The first time the term “lobster pound” was used was on Vinalhaven Island, Maine in 1875 to describe a method of storing live lobster by running fresh seawater through their storage containers. It would only be a matter of time before the enterprising lobster pound owners would add outdoor kettles of seawater heated over wood fires to boil their lobsters to serve to tourists.

Lobsters Pounds are all about the lobster and the view. We were told there is no better Lobster than one right out of the ocean. We entered the Lobster Pound recommended and just stared at the menu…who knew there were so many choices?? Being from the Midwest we were quite familiar with meat cuts and ways that it could be served, but we needed help deciding what order. Offerings of soft shell vs. hard shell Lobster, How many pounds we wanted, did we want a Lobster Roll??? Yikes! The gal at the counter gave us a QUICK tutorial. We finally placed our order and took our adult beverages outdoors to enjoy the spectacular view. We made new friends while we waited for our dinner who told us the boat in the Bay was the one that brought the lobsters in daily….talk about FRESH! Lobster traps ready for the next days haul.My Handsome Chauffeur inspecting the Lobster Pound.

Our beautiful dinner arrived. Our mouths were watering! Yummo!!!We had waited and dreamt about this moment all along our journey. After admiring its beauty we crack the shell AND…..Instantly LOST our appetites!! The green frothy GOO that spilled out made us instantly disgusted! We looked at each other and got hysterical with laughter. If there had been a video taken while we cracked it open we would certainly have entered and won Funniest Home Videos!! We began to pick around the goo. The tail and claw meat was DELICIOUS we avoided at ALL costs the frothy mess which we later found out to be an EXPLODED liver and pancreas which is considered a delicacy according to our helpful server! Well, that was the END of me EVER ordering a whole steamed lobster for the rest of my life!

Up early the next morning we headed towards Acadia National Park. It was a spectacular drive. Thankfully we chose a week day to explorer Bar Harbor and Acadia. The traffic was heavy, but nothing like reported on the weekend! We were told that the sunrises and sunsets at the summit of Cadillac Mountain are spectacular. We chose to avoid the crowds and traffic jams and go mid day. Even at mid day the park was full!The summit was WINDY! We didn’t miss the  sunrise or sunset as the day was overcast and cold! We made plans to go to the top of Mount Battie where we were camping to see the sunrise the next day.

Our stay in Maine was coming to a close. After the long drive back to our Campground we decided to stop once more for Lobster dinner…. at least I had lobster… my Handsome Chauffeur was not interested after his first experience🤣! This time I was smart and ordered it as a Lobster Roll sans the bread! I was more than happy to have someone else pick the meat and present it to me without the GREEN GOO! It was delicious!

We closed out our day of exploration with a warm campfire and making plans to set our alarm (something we try NOT to do as we are retired) to catch the sunrise on Mount Battie. Then our phone rang.. it was our son telling us that he was taking our daughter in law to the hospital as she was having some pain and bleeding. She was 33 weeks pregnant with our second grandchild. In a matter of seconds our course and plans were changing!

After plenty of texts we were told we were going to be welcoming our newest member to the family 7 weeks early! Prayers were being sent constantly for a safe delivery and healthy baby! Then at 11:13 pm on July 27 we welcomed our BEAUTIFUL itty bitty Granddaughter to the world! Mommy was healthy. Baby was in NICU. Older brother was staying with friends…our son asked how soon we could be in Tennessee to help.Needless to say…we did not see the sunrise on Mount Battie. I think I finally fell asleep after the huge adrenaline rush right before sunrise. Plans were set into motion to leave Maine headed to Tennessee.

I manned the phones cancelling reservations we painstakingly made early in the year. We know from past experiences that WE can do all the planning we want to, YET God has different plans in store for us …and the birth of our precious granddaughter was one of the BEST plans God had in store for us.

Three days of driving, three different Walmart Parking lots to call home for the night. We arrived safely in Tennessee. Our hearts were bursting when we met our little blessing. Her brother seemed to have grown by leaps and boundsWe are so thankful for our Nomadic lifestyle. We get to see so many places, meet fabulous people and we NEVER take it for granted. Vermont, New York and Ohio will have to wait… for now our hearts have been Glamping in Tennessee and couldn’t be happier!