Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #6

Bill and Kit's Woody and Airstream-2015Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.

Roy M. Goodman

 

Friday, January 13, 2017:  Good morning!

Before we continue the adventure, I must regress a bit.  There is another funny incident that happened up in Vegas last week on the day Kit and I took the boys shopping to spend some of the gift cards they had received.  Jack is a methodical and focused shopper who dislikes distractions.  So, leaving him to his task, I hauled Tucker into the electronics department of Target.  We were within sight of the toy section where Jack stood contemplating the offerings, and since I had a few questions about my new iPhone, and a technician was available…all was right with the world!  Well, upon completing my conversation with the Apple guy, I realized that Tucker had been unusually quiet…the reason became clear as I walked toward the iPhone display table.

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There, for all the world to see, were four iPhones sitting proudly on their display stands sporting his mug on their screens!  Yep, he had snapped a selfie then changed the wallpaper image on all four devices…just had to snap a photo of my own to document the little rascal enjoying his handiwork!

At 1053 hours, Kit and I hit the road and left Alamo Lake State Park under warm but hazy skies.  We retraced our route back on the narrow two lane road to the Arizona town of Wenden and civilization, such as it is.

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Reaching US-60 we turned right and headed the truck southwest towards the Interstate and a badly needed fuel station.

Apparently, folks in these parts have little to entertain themselves with, so they create unique and amusing signage…case in point, this business name emblazoned on a bulk propane tank sitting alongside the highway.

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Or this equally creative sign spotted as we rolled past the tiny town of Hope, Arizona.

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Curious about the genesis of the towns name, a quick Google search provided the answer.  Years ago the town fathers, and mothers I presume, wished to attract businesses to their fledgling community so they christened their town with the inspiring name, “Hope”.  Today there is one RV Park, one gas station, one church, an antique store, and a smattering of hardy year around residents.  Oh, and I think the sign painter is as confused about proper grammar as the rest of us are!

Reaching I-10 we headed east until intersecting US-85 South toward Gila Bend and Interstate 8.  Soon after hopping on I-8, we began seeing trucks with Sonora, Mexico license plates hauling previously used goods south of the border to resell.

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A common sight in this area, the practice of importing Americas discards to Mexico embodies NAFTA at the grass roots level, a win-win for the United States as well as Mexico.  Likely, the proceeds from the sales of these items will go to pay for “The Wall”.

At 1600 hours, Kit and I rolled into one of our most favorite dooryard surfing opportunities in America, the home of Dewey and Bea.  Or as it has become known to us…The Doobie RV Resort!

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As you can tell by the photo above, Dewey and Bea are RV’rs as well and have set up their nicely landscaped front yard with 30amp electric, water availability and even a pipe to dump off grey water.  But the best features are being neighbors with a fun-loving couple and the incredible views out our dinette window.

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All this, and the price cannot be beat…thanks folks for the opportunity to once again camp in your dooryard!

Following a great homecooked meal and a few cocktails, we sat on their rooftop deck and watched the sun set into the clouds bordering the western horizon.

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Goodnight!

 

Saturday, January 14 through Tuesday, January 24, 2017-Tucson, Arizona:  First, a note of sadness.  Dewey and Bea lost one of their beloved pet’s a few weeks ago…if you have been following our adventures, you may remember this wonderful dog.

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Nile, a Pharaoh Hound, is a rather rare breed from the island nation of Malta, primarily used in the sport of rabbit hunting.  Its name originated from images drawn on the walls of ancient tombs in Egypt that resembled the animal, but there is no evidence that the Pharaoh Hound ever existed in that country.  Nile was a beautiful specimen of the breed, exuding nobility and royal presence.  A large dog, he was as gentle as a lamb and his ferocious sounding bark was the epitome of “a dog’s bark is worse than its bite!  Rest in peace dear Nile, you will be sadly missed by all who came to know your gentle soul.

Kit and I spent the ten days in Tucson taking care of some business and legal items, getting haircuts, taking the truck to our favorite Chevrolet dealership for its periodic maintenance, celebrating brother Dan’s birthday, shopping, eating out, visiting folks, and relaxing at Dewey and Beas beautiful home.  We also made time to further explore this incredibly beautiful and diverse area full of interesting attractions.

To that end, we spent a day with Dewey and Bea at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

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Dew and Bea are long time members and allowed us to use some of their complimentary admission tickets which we appreciated.

This 98-acre open air desert museum features an aquarium, a zoo, a walk-through hummingbird cage, and an extensive botanical garden showcasing the many plants found in the Sonoran Desert.

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Some of which can be quite colorful producing brilliant flowers in season.  And many are even colorful when not in bloom…such as this Barrel Cactus.

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There are also funny shaped cacti that sprout from the desert floor in bizarre formations such as these classic Echinocereus Pectinatus Rubispinus’s

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And the slightly more common Creeping Devil.

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This cactus grows horizontally, sending roots down into the soil as it creeps along while eventually dying off on the older tail end as newer growth develops.  This gives the illusion that over time the cactus actually creeps along the desert floor.

In addition to the wide variety of cactus in the Sonoran Desert, there are trees, bushes, and shrubs and succulents…such as the ubiquitous Yucca.

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And the useful and majestic Agave.

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This succulent, sometimes referred to as a Century Plant due to its taking many years before it flowers, is supported by a vast network of roots located mere inches below the soil that help the plant gather any available moisture.  This Agave is a perennial, to a point…when ready to flower, the it sends up a tall sturdy stalk topped with numerous flowers, then after developing fruit, the entire plant dies off.  However, to ensure propagation, the Agave had been secretly sending out suckers during its life that will form into new plants…which are babies of the original.  The Blue Agave species is used in the making of Tequila and the dried stalks of most Agave are used by Mexican and native craftsman to make colorful walking staffs called “Quiote”.  Frequently, along the southern US border, you can discover some of these Quiote’s for sale with a tin cup to deposit your cash nearby.  Then, under cover of darkness, the money is retrieved by the Mexican craftsman and the inventory replenished.  Another NAFTA success story.

There are two miles of walking trails that wind about the desert landscape.  Along the route, there are strategically placed benches built under Ramada’s…shade canopies made of native materials using ancient techniques.

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Also, a nice restaurant and a more informal café is on the property where excellent meals can be purchased, such as this Taco Plate that I enjoyed on the patio.

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Nope, didn’t eat the whole thing, only half…the rest was brought back for another meal.

The plants are the main attraction, but the museum also features a selection of native wildlife such as this young fellow.

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A Mountain Lion, or Puma, is an inhabitant in the American Southwest.  They subsist primarily on animals that are smaller or a bit larger than they are…at a top speed of 50 MPH, the Mountain Lion can quickly overtake their prey.  A shy and nocturnal animal, they are seldom observed in the wild by the casual visitor.  Kit and I were privileged to see a Mountain Lion in Big Bend National Park a few years ago, and it was a thrill!  Oh, and all the scratches you see on the window of the above photo…are on the inside!

There are many captive birds in the museum as well, such as this fine example of a Common Barn Owl.

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Being primarily nocturnal in its search for prey has resulted in the Barn Owl being nicknamed a “Night Owl” in some regions of the country…and, of course, that is a common description for humans that exhibit the same behavior.  The Barn Owl does not give off the traditional Owl hoot, but will emit a loud snake like hiss to scare off would be predators.  In some areas of the world, holes are cut into the gable end of homes and the Barn Owls are invited into attics to take up residence, as this example in Germany found on the internet.

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Subsisting on invasive vermin makes the Barn Owl a welcome and suitable pest control device!

The museum has a small aquarium as well…since the Sonoran Desert reaches into Baja California and borders the gulf, sea life is a part of this vast ecosystem.

One of the more unusual creatures in the aquarium are these Garden Eel’s.

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This worm looking creature burrows into the sand where they remain, in the same hole, for life…while their food source, primarily plankton, drifts by.  Garden Eel’s gather in colonies for mutual protection and their main defensive mechanism is the ability to simulate seagrass by swaying in unison which simulates ocean current movement.

A unique fixture in the park is this collection of tree houses made from native materials.

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An elevated walkway allows one to climb above the desert floor and gain access to these structures.

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Where a commanding view of the parklands can be enjoyed.

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Upon departing, we all agreed it had been a great day at the museum and the weather was absolutely perfect!

An abutter of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is Saguaro National Park.

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Which we drove through on our way back to the city.

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This 91,000-acre National Park is divided into two sections…one to the west of Tucson and the other to the east.  The park is dedicated to the preservation of the mighty Saguaro Cactus, an iconic symbol of the American Southwest.

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Kit and I have visited this park many times over the past 40 years and enjoy seeking out parts of it that are new to us, such as the petroglyphs located in the mountainous western section.  A short hike leads one to an amazing collection of ancient native graffiti.

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After enjoying the late afternoon view we caught some of the sunset before scrambling down to the parking lot as darkness fell.

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A great day with great friends touring a great area of our country!  Thanks Dewey and Bea!!

Brother Dan couldn’t join us on today’s adventure as he’s still a working stiff, but not wanting to leave him out, here’s a photo from the archives taken many years ago!

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Danny has scheduled time off next week when we intend to hang out and do brother stuff.

As in most large cities, Tucson possess a collection of cool displays and unusual features.  On one shopping trip, north of the city, I spied this whimsical piece of public art.

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I felt kind of self-conscience standing in the road taking a picture of a man taking a picture of a man taking a picture…but, at my age, I don’t really care what people think!

Then there was this attractive cowgirl that kept giving me the eye in a western wear shop.

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I think she liked my tight jeans!

On another day, while driving about, we spied this pest control bug.

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Yep, the irony of that struck me funny as well!  Notice the big ears…they actually fold down as the bug accelerates.

Dewey and Bea have two wonderful dogs, Kali and Pillito.

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Who love to take walks about the neighborhood, sniffing and marking, sniffing and marking, sniffing and …? well, you get the idea.

A special treat was being able to see and spend some time with Bea’s sister.

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Jo lives with her partner in a beautiful home in the hills outside Silver City, New Mexico.  It was a pleasure visiting with Jo while sharing camping and hiking stories.  Please come to Maine for a visit…we would love to show you around!

Tucson is the epicenter for authentic Mexican cuisine of the Sonoran tradition.  As good as the fancy restaurants are, nothing can compare with the various food trucks that park on random street corners in the city and dispense great Mexican food at a reasonable price.  One of our favorites is El Nene’s.

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Owned by a Yaqui family from the area, their specialty is the Sonoran Hot Dog, of which we have had many over the years, but everything on the menu is freshly grilled in the open air and delicious!

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The aroma wafting across Flowing Wells Boulevard is enticing…it is their best method of advertising to the hungry motorist!

Brother Dewey is constantly discovering unique and interesting hobbies to ply his hand at.  In the past, he has mastered the art of Hypertufa, learned to braid survival bracelets from paracord, and currently is into making bullwhips!

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His father (my uncle) always called Dewey a young whippersnapper, and he has finally grown into the name!  The whips Dewey makes are works of art and handle well…he even was able to teach an uncoordinated person like me to snap the whip with authority!

A rather unique retail establishment was visited during our stay…one that I could actually enjoy browsing about in.

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Yep, Crown Concepts Automotive retails classic and special interest vehicles featuring mostly good old American steel!  The inventory is large and varied, and the prices seem reasonable relative to the value of the automobile.  My personal favorite on the lot was this jewel.

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A totally restored 1934 Ford wagon.  A real beauty, but at $72,000.00 a bit out of my league.  However, there was another car that caught my eye.

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Sporting a funky paint job, this 1930 Ford Model A featured modern running gear, was reasonably priced, and ready to go!  Now, how to get it back home, and how do I explain it to Kit, and what do I sell to afford buying it?  Problems, problems!

Speaking of cool cars, brother Dewey has his own classic…a 1955 Chevrolet!

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Restored by him a few years back, it features a 350 CID crate motor and automatic transmission.  He built it up as a second daily driver for he and Bea to use, but as a highway cruiser it’s a blast to roll about Tucson in!

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The numerous “thumbs up” we get from passing motorist are a benefit as well…notice the perpetual smile on Dewey face reflected in the rear view mirror!

Well, this issue has just edged past 20 pages, my self-imposed journal page limit, so the rest of our Tucson stay must wait for the next edition.  But before I go, here’s another rooftop shot of the beauty that is Arizona in the winter.

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Till next time, stay well!

 

Kit’s Bit’s:  We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Dewey & Bea, as always!  While Bill & Dewey were out doing guy things, Bea and I took a couple of days to do “gal things”!  We made a special trip to The Golden Goose in Oro Valley, per our friend JoAnne’s suggestion.  What an amazing place!  It’s a secondhand store, with a wide variety of merchandise for sale.  It’s absolutely the cleanest and most well run store of this sort I’ve ever seen!  It’s huge, and there are only 5 employees!  However, they are augmented by a huge number of Volunteers!  While it was crowded on the day we were there, everything ran so smoothly, it was amazing.  Located in a very nice area of the city, there was a lot of items available.  Each of us bought a couple of items. Then, on to Harvest House for lunch.  A very nice day, indeed!  Thanks, Bea!

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Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #5

Bill and Kit's Woody and Airstream-2015

 Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.

Pico Iyer

 

Monday, January 9, 2017:  Up at the normal retiree time and prepared the camper for the day’s travels.  After dumping tanks, Kit and I were on the road at 1000 hours under cloudy skies with a warm and gentle breeze from the south.  As we left the outskirts of Las Vegas on Interstate 95, the foothills of the McCullough Mountain range came into view.

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Kit and I were content and felt all was good with our little corner of the world…we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the area spending time with Suzie, Kevin, Jack and Tucker.  We obviously would prefer that all our offspring were living within an hour of our home in Maine, but being able to visit our expat west coast family as often as we do is a nice feature of the RV lifestyle.  Thanks folks for making Christmas 2016 an enjoyable experience!

Kit and I decided this morning over coffee to head back into Arizona instead of toward the left coast.  We have family in Tucson, and enjoy spending time with them and enjoying the area while camped in Dewey and Bea’s secluded and nicely landscaped dooryard.

There are basically two routes out of Las Vegas heading south.  Last month we came north to the city via Highway US-93, so today we decided to take Highway US-95 South which roughly parallels the Colorado River on the California side.

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As the breeze from the south picked up intensity, we had to deal with a 20 MPH headwind which drastically dropped our MPG into the single digits!  Upon reaching Interstate 40, I pointed the rig east and at around 1345 crossed into Arizona, and once again, entered the Mountain Time Zone, losing an hour of the day in the process.

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Kit and I don’t agree on everything, either at home or on the road, but we do compromise on most decisions…or frequently will let the other decide on something of importance to them.  One item that we seem to always agree on is our preference for the more scenic and rural parts of America…although Kit does favor towns, where I favor less populated destinations.  We both like camping in National Parks, or State Parks, even town owned municipal campgrounds far better than the mega RV resorts prevalent in and around major cities.  We find that Texas and the Arizona State Park system features the nicest campgrounds in the most scenic locations on the western side of the US.  Kit and I have camped in many Arizona State Parks over the past eight years and are on a mission to eventually sample all of them.  So, as we head south towards Tucson, we are taking the opportunity to visit four Arizona State Parks in four days!

The first stop was Lake Havasu State Park.  Pulling up to the ranger station we spotted a sign that read “Campground Full” …drat, our lack of advanced planning thwarted us again!  In talking to the rangers, we discovered that the Havasu Balloon Festival was on tap for later in the week and participants had reserved campsites a full year earlier.  They were gracious to offer us a spot in their parking lot, which we politely declined.  Being a Monday, we were sure to find accommodations at our next destination, Cattail Cove State Park.

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This campground is a hidden jewel situated at the more isolated southern end of Lake Havasu, and there were indeed campsites available!  A beautifully maintained and landscaped campground that features a nice white sand beach leading to the crystal-clear waters of the Colorado River…the water source that created Lake Havasu.

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In addition to the beach for humans, Cattail Cove also offers a dog only beach!

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Where Fido can splash about in canine joy while its owner must stay ashore and just watch.

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And taking the pet friendly concept even further, the campground has a Duck Beach.

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Named for the access gate that is only four feet high, the beach provides a fine place to exercise your “Comfort Duck” that accompanied you while flying commercial air into Arizona a few days prior.

Cattail Cove is an absolutely perfect canoeing and kayaking destination, the park service has even thoughtfully provided loaner paddling vests!  I can see this park ratcheting up to one of our top five favorite state parks in the nation!

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So, what makes this spot so attractive to paddlers?  Well, for one thing there are numerous small inlets and coves peppering the shoreline that invite folks to glide in for exploration.

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A few of these feature boat-in-only campsites!

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Secluded and well equipped, with a sheltered picnic table, fire ring, trash receptacles, and an enclosed privy!  Our state of Maine has a number of river and lake campsites similar to this, but not as luxurious!

As the sun set over the mountains of California to the west…

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…Kit and I enjoyed the suns warmth on this rapidly cooling early evening.

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Tomorrow we visit another state park, but for now…Goodnight!

 

Monday, January 9, 2017-Woke at Cattail Cove State Park to partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 50’s.  Since checkout time was twelve noon, and since our next state park destination was only an hour away, I decided to take a short hike on one of the maintained trails while Kit enjoyed some quiet (Non-Bill) time.  The trail I chose this morning features a four-mile roundtrip ramble that parallels the shoreline of Lake Havasu.

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The high bluffs rising off the lakefront affords one an incredible view of the water and surrounding countryside.

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In the photo above, you may notice the image of a first nations resident that inhabited this land long before we palefaces came along.  He must have taken a liking to me, as whenever I looked back, he was following along close behind!

At the trail’s terminus, there lies a large plateau that juts out into the lake.  Spent a while walking about and spied this interesting piece of stone art tucked away in an isolated corner.

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I think it might be a memorial to someone’s departed pet, likely a faithful and devoted hiking partner.  Looks as if the creator left room for another name…maybe his own?

I also notice a several seashells…an odd sight since the sea is 300 miles to the west.

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Then I recalled that this whole area was ocean back some four million years ago, and there are many areas where shells and fossilized remains of ocean animals are scattered about the desert southwest.

I thoroughly enjoyed the early morning hike, and the peacefulness of being miles from civilization.

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However, since the morning was wearing on, I made a hasty retreat from my lakeside mesa and returned to the campground.

Kit and I got underway at 1145, as a motorhome was idling a short distance away waiting for our spot.  Cattail Cove State Park is a place we agree belongs on our return-to list…however, next time I will be packing a kayak!

A short 13 miles down Arizona Highway 95 finds Parker Dam, which lies 155 miles downriver of its more famous cousin, Hoover Dam.  At 320 feet, Parker is noted as the world’s deepest dam as it impounds the Colorado River to create Lake Havasu.  A few short miles downriver from the dam lies our next destination…River Island State Park.

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Where we scored a nice isolated campsite hard up against a tall sandstone and rock cliff.

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The weather has warmed considerably…with temperatures in the low 70’s it was time for me to don shorts once again after which Kit and I sat in the shade of a nice Palo Verde tree and chatted over some cool drinks.

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River Island State Park is below Parker Dam and therefore officially on the Colorado River.  The cove that the state park sits on features a nice beach.

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Which is suitable for fishing, swimming, or launching a kayak to paddle the river.

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There are a few hiking trails that lead from the campground.

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And the trail I selected deposits you on a high outcropping where a bird’s eye view of the state park, and the island that gives it its name, can be viewed.

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Even though it is easy to forget you are in the desert due to the abundance of water from the Colorado that keeps riverside vegetation green, a short distance away from this riparian zone the desert and its plant life retakes the terrain.

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Back in camp, Kit and I enjoyed a nice dinner, a few cocktails, some catching up on personal and world events via the internet, and then turned in early.

 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017:  Today is a day that I’ve looked forward to for a year now…come heck or high water, we are gonna locate, and camp at, Alamo Lake State Park!!!  If you’ve been following our annual misadventures, then you may remember last years “lost in the desert” episode where I made an ill-advised decision to take a short cut to Alamo Lake on a long lonely dirt road.

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Figure 1 Photo from 2016 Excellent Adventure

After an eight hour “adventure” we were within sight of the lake but a large wash (dry river bed) loomed between us and our destination.  Then it started to rain!  Discretion being the better part of stupidity, I decided to fall back to the north and seek safe haven before the roads became unpassable.

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Figure 2 Photo from 2016 Excellent Adventure

The next morning, with the sun shining, we woke and continued our retreat to the north, and after 24 hours, finally arrived back at our point of departure.

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Figure 3Photo from 2016 Excellent Adventure

All’s well that ends well.  However, there remained a lasting desire to conquer the trail to Alamo Lake…by way of the more conventional, and longer, but safer, route!

In the town of Wenden, Arizona we pulled off highway US-60 and headed north on the paved Alamo Lake Access Road.

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Yep, 38 miles of narrow two lane desert driving…this place is isolated!

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Well, except for a farming operation we came across within the first mile.

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That hay-bale structure looked to me like one of the three little pigs went condo!

About half way to the state park, the road pretty much stayed the same.

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Except for on the GPS screen where the terrain look similar, but the road had disappeared…yikes, not again!

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But the paved road continued along, and the windscreen view was pretty much unchanged from an hour earlier.

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Eventually, the sign I had been thinking about for a year finally came into view!

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Dropping down into a valley, we observed the only water in this parched land for miles around with a campground ringing the mesa above it.

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Checking in we scored a nice campsite on the rim of the mesa overlooking the lake.

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Then spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing and congratulating each other on our success of finally reaching Alamo Lake!  Since it took us a year to finally get here, and since it’s a 76-mile round trip from civilization, we decided to spend two nights…one for the missed opportunity of last year and the second for our success this year.

Spent the remainder of the day getting acquainted with the area and relaxing in the warm afternoon sun.

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Then, following a nice meal and a nightcap it was soon time for bed…goodnight from the middle of nowhere!

 

Thursday, January 12, 2017-Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona:  Spent the night being serenaded by coyotes and wild burros, with the occasional wild animal sound that couldn’t be identified but sounded as if from the cat family!  Then, come daybreak, Kit and I observed a unique astrological vision…a setting full moon to the west.

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And a simultaneous rising sun to the east.

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It’s going to be a great day!  Well, I think so anyway…Kit is a bit perplexed that there is no cell phone service or Wi-Fi to be had. She spent a bit of time walking about to all corners of this land with her phone held high looking for the elusive signal!

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Being unsuccessful, Kit decided to retreat to the camper, build her a personal blanket fort, and pout.

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I decided Kit needed some alone time, so because It’s been a while since I’ve had the time or the weather to ride my bike, and today I have both, I un-racked the machine, lubricated everything that moves, topped off the tires, and took off on a cycling adventure.  The first stop was Bill Williams Overlook.  I should pause here to mention that a destination called an “overlook” is likely reached by traveling uphill…and this place was no exception.

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However, the effort was worth it as the promontory afforded excellent viewing of Alamo Dam

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In addition to a nice view of the impounded reservoir.

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Only spent a few minutes at the top as it was cool with a breeze from the north, and some threatening clouds off to the West.  Physics tells us that what goes up, must come down, so I pointed the bike downhill and released the brakes.

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Yep the yellow caution sign with the squiggly arrow denoted a twisting road…all the way to the bottom!  Fortunately, there wasn’t any traffic on this park road as I needed to utilize both lanes to negotiate some of the tight turns!  Yea, I could have squeezed the brakes to scrub off some speed, but gall-darn it, I earned this thrilling “E Ticket” ride!

Back at the camper a few hours later, I found Kit in a much better mood reading her latest novel…A Prayer for Owen Meany.

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She did seem perplexed however when she tried to swipe the written parchment to navigate to the next page.

After lunch, I went out on the bike once again…boy, I’m going to pay for all this activity by tomorrow!  Meandering through the foothills that surround the state park I came across this little fellow.

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That is one of the resident Wild Burros that prospectors brought to the region during the mining boom of the 1860’s.  Native of North Africa, the burros faired quite well in the arid Southwest after being released following the mines being played out.  Today, Arizona counts over 5,000 federally protected wild burros.

All along the trail were these happy wildflowers that have sprung up once the rains of winter have provided moisture to their roots.

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Back in camp, Kit and I spent time visiting with our campsite neighbors.

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DeGolden and Suzanne are retired elementary schoolteachers and love camping in their efficient right-sized camper.  They are in the forefront of an RV revolution to downsize from the 45 foot mega busses…the RV’s once coveted to impress your campground neighbors with just a few short years earlier.  We thoroughly enjoyed talking to them and hope they accept our invitation to travel east and visit us in Maine.

Tomorrow we head back to the city of Tucson and a long-anticipated visit with family…stay tuned!

Kit’s Bit’s:  We had a relatively relaxing few days on this little jaunt from Vegas to Tucson.  It was nice to see three AZ State Parks.  Cattail Cove was my favorite.  The others were nice, though and fortunately, the weather was very nice.  Bill was able to get some hiking and biking in so I had a little quiet Kit time.  I’ve been trying to finish the book I started weeks ago, and made some serious progress, but, haven’t yet finished it.  Maybe we can find another “hiking/biking opportunity” for him soon. 😉

Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #4

Bill and Kit's Woody and Airstream-2015

If something good happens, travel to celebrate.  If something bad happens, travel to forget. If nothing happens, travel to make something happen!

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Wednesday, December 21 through Friday, December 30, 2016-Oasis RV, Las Vegas, Nevada:  There are three must stops for every Excellent Adventure trip…Tucson, San Diego, and Las Vegas.  For the next few weeks we will be in and around the entertainment mecca of the world…Las Vegas, Nevada.

So, what do non-gamblers do in Vegas?  Well if one has two grandsons that reside there, then we do pretty much whatever they want!  And, if it is warm enough, they spend hours in the RV Resort’s heated pool.

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Looks serene and placid, doesn’t it?  Not for long!

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The boys would spend hours in the water. Laughing, playing, fighting (hey, they’re brothers!), and inventing various games to amuse themselves…that is until something else catches their eye.

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In this case, some hot air balloons floating over the desert to the Northwest of town.

Tiring of the pool, or if the weather was a bit cool for swimming, then a rousing round of pitch-and-putt golf was in order.

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Rules were loosely interpreted, and each hole had a par that was self-rated…often in the 10 to 20 stroke range.

Then, when tiring of this activity, or when the game degraded into “Combat Golf”, the boys turned their putters into climbing axes and scaled the hillsides surrounding the golf course.

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Those putters will never putt straight again…not that it matters as they were pretty beat up when we received them!

While visiting Vegas, it has become an annual tradition to take Jack and Tucker shopping for their parents Christmas gifts.  Here you see them discussing the relative merits of different packages of rectangular plastic nocturnal foot impaler’s.

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I tried steering them to more age appropriate gifts but the boys kept returning to the toy aisle.  Hope you enjoy Lego’s Kevin and Suzie…oh, and the bags of candy they selected for you as well!

A while back, Kit purchased a camper sized Christmas tree.  And on one evening during a sleep over, the boys were put to work in the trees decoration.

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Excellent job, don’t you think?

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On Christmas eve, Jack and Tucker stayed at their home in order not to waste any time getting to the presents in the morning.  At the ungodly hour of 0630 we were summoned to get over there stat…and that we did!  A Vegas tradition is for us to text the boys our ETA…so it wasn’t a surprise that when pulling into their neighborhood, Kit spotted these two munchkins waiting our arrival a few blocks from their home.

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Yep, in their Christmas pajamas and without shoes!  Taking pity on the cute hitchhikers, we loaded them in the truck.

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Delivering them home, it was time to get down to business…let the wild unwrapping rumpus begin!

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Amazon Echo Dot’s and Smart Bulbs for each of them and a shiny new Colt 357 Magnum for Tuck…which will come in handy at his bartending job on the Vegas strip!

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And, Jack was very pleased by his Lego sets and video game cartridges.

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Suzie and Kevin kindly gifted Kit and I a DNA test kit from 23andMe!

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Suzie had her DNA mapped a while back and discovered that she was not adopted from Tijuana as we had always surmised…but actually of Eastern European extraction.  Which still leaves the issue of adoption unanswered as Kit’s kinfolk hail from the British Isles, and my being born in Hawaii would lead one to believe there is a Polynesian connection.

The determination of one’s heritage through DNA analysis is a burgeoning field.  I’m guessing that the easiest way to tell a male chromosome from a female chromosome is to just pull down their genes!  So, with that knowledge, how long could it take to analyze our provided samples?  Anyway, whenever it is available, Kit and I will share the results of our individual DNA tests in a future journal.  I can just feel the anticipation of the few folks that actually took the time to read this!

As the boys continued to enjoy their new gifts, Suzie began organizing the traditional Hodgepodge Christmas meal…a random collection of each person’s favorite foods.  This year’s menu consisted of Buffalo Wings, Cheetos, roasted Brussel Sprouts, bacon, Broccoli salad, and Suzie’s signature homemade popovers!

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Then for desert we all enjoyed a real Maine treat…Wicked Whoopie Pies, sent for the occasion by our oldest daughter…Thanks Kim!

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Kit and I enjoyed a nice festive day!  Unfortunately, Kevin had to work, because as the saying goes, the show must go on.  However, I was able to capture a family Christmas photo before his departure.

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Thanks folk for once again allowing us to share in your Christmas traditions…we thoroughly enjoyed the spending the day with you all!

Everything quieted down a bit after Christmas day and I was able to take care of some preventative maintenance on the truck and trailer.  Traveling over 3,500, miles in all types of weather, rendered the camper pretty filthy.  Unfortunately, in the desert during a prolonged drought, one cannot simply wash their vehicles as we might do back home in Maine.  But fortunately, there are plenty of mobile RV wash business that use minimal water to get your unit sparkling as new!

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An excellent job and very reasonable considering the two young fellas spent the better part of the day washing and waxing every inch of the rig…upon completion, our baby sat gleaming in the waning sunlight!

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During our stay, daughter Suzie decided it was time to relinquish her 12-year-old Prius and get what she described as a “big girl car”.  So, while Kit and Jack went to Barnes and Noble, Suzie, Tucker and I went car shopping.  At the first dealer, this vehicle was front and center in the showroom.

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The Bentley Continental GT Convertible was very nice, but it isn’t a very practical family car.  In addition, at an MSRP of $255,570.00 it is a bit outside a sensible budget.

Grandson Tucker spotted another possible candidate…one he liked very much!

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But alas, the Ferrari did not pass the “mom practical car” test either…nor did the one I personally liked.

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Yep, this place sells classic cars as well. However, this 1957 Chevrolet belonged to the dealerships owner and was not for sale.  According to him, it is one of only eight authentic 1957 Chevy convertibles with factory fuel injection known to exist!

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A very rare automobile and worth far north of six figures!

It was obvious we weren’t going to find a suitable family sedan at this place so off we went to another dealership.

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Where Suzie found a perfect car, and being near the end of the year, the dealer was willing to negotiate!

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She really liked this vehicle, and admittedly it was far more practical then what Tucker or I would have had chosen…a nice upscale car, and it rides like a dream!

Well…tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and Oasis RV park is booked solid, so we must move on out.  This is one of the rare times that our lack of making reservations has resulted in being required to develop alternate plans.  Since we like traveling unencumbered by advanced planning, when it does happen that there is no room for us, we just deal with the inconvenience.

 

Saturday, January 31, 2016:  Since checkout time at Oasis RV isn’t until noon, we spent a leisurely morning with grandson Tucker’s help in getting the rig ready for the day’s travels.   Grandson Jack was on a sleepover party at a friend’s house and will join us later in the day.

On the road at 1130 hours and hitting Interstate 15 heading east.  A short 22 miles and 30 minutes later found us pulling into Nellis Air Force Base where we scored a partial hook-up site for the next few days.

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Spent the afternoon hanging out and walking the one mile trek to the base mini-mart for a Redbox movie and some snacks.  Around 1600, daughter Suzie delivered grandson Jack and we enjoyed a nice meal and viewed the movie “Central Intelligence”, a comedy starring Dwayne Johnson…it was pretty darn good!  As was this evenings Nevada sunset!

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With everyone tucked into bed we bid you a fond Goodnight!

 

Sunday, January 1 through Sunday, January 8, 2017-Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada:  Happy New Year from Las Vegas!

NEW YEARS FIREWORKS OVER LAS VEGAS STRIP

Being a few miles from the strip, Kit and I only saw a bit of the fireworks display but heard the booming noise while Jack and Tucker slept through the whole thing!

We have had family in Las Vegas for the past 12 years and have visited here often.  Kit and I have seen, and journaled about, many of the sites and cultural events in the city as well as the surrounding countryside.  We now spend most of our time with the grandkids doing whatever they want to do, which is usually just hang out with us.  It is a real treat watching as they participate in creative play and seem to enjoy time away from school, friends and their parents…as I’m sure Kevin and Suzie enjoy some alone time as well.  Jack and Tucker spent most of the time hanging out at the playground, digging in the dirt or walking to the mini-mart for treats.

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On one of our walks, Tucker spotted what looked like a giant pencil so he decided to use it to write his name in the dirt.

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And during a trip to the base exchange, the boys felt a need to receive a relaxing $1.00 massage.

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I guess it’s a lot more stressful growing up in white middle class America then it used to be!?!?

As avid RV’rs, Kit and I are occasionally on the lookout for our next rig, it’s also fun to visit RV dealers to peruse the newest floorplans and amenities.  For this stage of our lives, living in our 30-foot camper for six months a year, we are completely satisfied with our fifth wheeler…however, if we remain healthy, and if the lure of traveling the roads of America persist, there will be another rig in our future.  While in Vegas, Kit and I decided to visit one of the largest dealer networks of Class B motorhomes.

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After a few hours of checking out these diminutive but functional motorhomes it was time for a late lunch.  Checking on the iPhone for suitable candidates, we discovered a nearby joint with the unusual name of Skinny Fat’s.

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The eclectic menu has a “healthy” page and a “happy” page….we chose the latter.

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The above offering is called Snake Eyes…two tasty biscuits, covered with southern gravy, a chunk of fried chicken, and topped with a fried egg!  It was incredible!!!  Lingering over coffee we had a nice conversation about the current crop of RV’s as they relate to our future needs and desires.

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Not ready to trade in quite yet, but when the time comes, a class B motorhome might just fit the Bill (pun intended)!

Returning to the campground it was time to walk off some of that huge lunch!  Desert Eagle RV Park on Nellis Air Force Base is significantly upgrading their facility.  As one of the top-rated military RV parks it is frequently booked solid throughout the winter months.  The proximity of the Vegas Strip to the south and Las Vegas International Raceway to the north helps as well.  The plan is to build an additional 81 full-hookup pull through sites as indicated in the photo below.

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The new pull-through sites are shown in the upper left, replacing the partial hook-up ones which we tend to get assigned due to our not making advanced reservations.  This improved capacity should allow us to obtain a nice site in the future without planning a year in advance as the homesteaders do…well, except for NASCAR Weekend when every single site is booked!

While staying with us, the boys wanted to see a just released movie so we took them to a Galaxy far, far away.

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To enjoy the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One.

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Well, it wasn’t that far away, but the film was entertaining even though I was lost a few times following the story.  Fortunately, Jack who has seen every Star Wars movie multiple times, was able to sort out the characters and plot for me.

It has come to pass that our two-year-old, and very well used camper, needed some updating.  Being a mid-level quality unit, our trailer was outfitted with contractor grade components…better than the plastic seen on many entry level units but not as good as the high-end RV’s.  Considering this, it was time to continue our replacement plan, which this time was the kitchen faucet!

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The Moen brand Kit selected has a pull-out sprayer and goes better with the stainless-steel sink than the old bronze faucet…she was very pleased with the outcome!

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There are a few different routes to drive the 18 miles from our campsite in North Las Vegas to the kid’s house in the south.  Either Interstate 15 and deal with the congestion of the infamous Spaghetti Bowl…or straight down Las Vegas Strip, which takes more time but is infinitely more entertaining.

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You never know who or what you might spot along the strip!

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As our stay in the Las Vegas Valley comes to a close, I would be remised if I didn’t mention our family wintering over back home in Maine.  First there is our daughter Kim and her son Joe along with good friend Abby.

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Most days finds Kim hard at work as a Unit Coordinator at the local hospital…Abby caring for animals at the regional human society…and Joe working as a sailmaker for a prominent sail loft that specializes in traditional sails for antique vessels, including the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship in the US Navy!

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Then there is our son Joe and daughter-in-law Ann who live about an hour away.

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Joe works as an IT engineer for a start-up firm in Portland, and Ann is the COO/CFO for a nonprofit medical group in the same city.

Next are their two offspring…our granddaughter Katie and grandson Christopher, who we enjoy spending time with as often as their busy lives allow.

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Katie is a Junior at a New York College where she plays Lacroix and is a member of the National Honor Society.

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And Christopher is a High School Junior who also plays varsity Lacroix and is a high achieving scholar as well.

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The delightful young lady with Chris is his friend Maddie and the newest member of the extended Tucker clan.

As much as Kit and I enjoy traveling about the US, we really miss spending time with the family back home, which we try to make up for during the warmer months when it is safe for us to return!

Speaking of warmer months and Maine, below is a sunset shot from our porch at the family camp on Sebago Lake…great times and memories are made there!

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Tomorrow we break the cobwebs from the camper’s tires and hit the road in search of other adventures…stay tuned.

Kit’s Bit’s:  Another holiday season with our two youngest Grands, Jack & Tucker.  These boys are growing up so fast!  Jack, who just turned 12 is in the throes of puberty!  Yes, it begins earlier these days!  His voice is much deeper and he’s into that “spacey” phase where he is lost in his thoughts!  Until his brother Tucker starts teasing him!  At that point, they go into full battle mode, for about two minutes, then break into laughs and are best buds again!  Sound familiar, John?