Posted by: daveB | January 24, 2015

We’re warming up, and so is the Desert!

We’ve really been enjoying the American Southwest this year! The aftermath of four months’ of travel, much of it in a Canada we’d never seen, but obviously had heard a lot about, that included a month in the province of Nova Scotia, was met with a giant, big, sigh of relief when we finally arrived here. The 9,000 miles that brought us here, through cities with names like Boston, New York, and Washington, DC, had showed us a lot, had actually given ourselves a strange sense of accomplishment, but had also cautioned us to slow down…and what better place to do this than here where we’ve been staying, now into our 47th day at the Fountain Of Youth RV Resort, situated far above California’s Salton Sea, a lake that has gone very salty. So much so that only a single type of fish has been found exist in its briny water (the Talapia, we’ve been told) and that fact alone has seen its former heyday evapourate within the past sixty, seventy, or more years. One important fact about the sea: although it’s the largest lake within the state of California, you will probably never see a boat plying its waters. It’s just that bad. And Americans love their boats.

A playground for the rich and famous during those early years, Bombay Beach is ten miles away from us, but the ten miles could be a thousand nowadays, and how it still exists would be an extraordinary study, on many fronts. We have a small store here at the resort, but it doesn’t sell cigarettes, and Bombay Beach has a small store that does. It also has a vibrant American Legion where we had great hamburgers last week. But beyond a few commercial ventures, one can really tell, it’s on a downhill side of its life. The salt just keeps accumulating.

But above the Salton Sea’s surface, reported to be located at minus 250 feet elevation, and the second lowest spot on the continent, we are camped at an altitude of about plus ten feet and enjoy the view afforded from here, the Sea included in that. It often gives us a great reflection when the sun sets behind it over some pretty high mountains. At site number 864 (of more than 900) we’ve been enjoying ourselves, and that relaxation has been on the table for nearly two months now. We’re feeling good. And actually wanting to get back home soon. After all, our times are almost up, both for being in USA and for being out of our beloved province of British Columbia.

We’re among the many Canadians here and said to be about 70 per cent of those who are here, here to enjoy the many facets offered once you’re checked in. For us, especially, the pools and hot tubs heated by the water that springs from the earth at 131 degrees F. at a rate once measured at 600 gallons a minute, are the Thing. The water is generally not used directly but is used to heat the fresh water that is used for hot water, in the pools and everywhere.

During the Christmas season there were a group of us who had enjoyed the Bahia Tenacatita, Jalisco, Mexico beaches, especially the coral beach, who used to celebrate Christmas right there. We did that for four of the seven years we visited. Anyway, this year there were 19 of us who were on the beaches of Tenacatita, for a Christmas dinner and other special activities (we were proficient Happy Hour Attendees!).

It was nice to see so many old faces again.

Posted by: daveB | December 9, 2014

After ten days in the New Orleans, we finally pulled out when we no longer could stomach the last week of cold weather. The long causeways, Lake Charles (the city) had us moving west , soon into Texas, but some nearly 900 mile Oxford road

Posted by: daveB | November 15, 2014

Friends Pop In

The cold weather was just beginning to abate. The sky had cleared, and the wind, so biting and ferocious two days ago- and even yesterday-had diminished. We were ready for a warming trend, our eight pound bottle of propane, an important piece of our heating plan, had just become exhausted, and we wanted no more of what had transpired during the past three days. We were fed up with the unseasonal weather in the Big Easy. On the media we were being taught how it worked and what it was, this, the Polar Vortex. The reason we get cold.

A phone call in the late evening last night had us delighted, though garbled as it was, we determined finally who it was, our friends from the winter deserts of Arizona, Gerri and Eric! They would be stopping by the park for a very short visit before heading west.

They have slightly different destinations than we’re planning, but we should be meeting up in all the usual places in the weeks to come. We’re hoping they will join us for Christmas.

While they were temporarily parked near us for the late morning, we visited them in their coach noticing, for the first time since they acquired it, that they were towing a small pickup. It had come in handy as they spent some weeks with family, in Ontario. They are searching for a good cruise, one limited to the Gulf and Carribean , so leaving from here (New Orleans)or perhaps Galviston was in their plans. But high on the list is good, economical storage for their new coach and towed. Here at this park, they do offer storage at $20 per day, or $110 for the year. Not actually what Eric wanted to hear. We talked at length about life and travel before it became time to let them be off, on their way. They made our day!

New Orleans. Heard about it, forever…now here for the first time. Our first night was in the RV park’s overflow, and next day we could get a spot with full hook ups. But next morning we checked out the place we were destined for, but found it was ( and weren’t they all) plunked down on a gravel pile, the odd shrubby tree planted nearby…yes, nearby all the other closely spaced campers. We’ve become addicted to the wide open spaces of Walmart parking lots (when going long distances between places of our choice) and the wide open spaces of desert BLM lands, preferably the ones that are unregulated, or at least have no camp host. In fact. we’re cheap, just like most of our friends we see Down South (sorry to say that, guys!) so, we’re still in overflow, the only ones now. We have half an acre of smooth concrete under and around us. And directly behind our bedroom window is an arm of Lake Pontchartrain, only 20 feet away.
We’re happy enough here, alone since our neighbours from Ohio packed up and went north yesterday. We have some young folk staying about 50 yards away, but they have been no trouble for us. The downside to our short term in Utopia is there is no sewer connection here, and the rate is the same, either here or in the gravel pit. We’ll take it. For us it’s all about the Solitude. Even in the centre of a big city, near the end of the 23 mile long bridge over what has so recently been, troubled waters. Our Ohio friend, John, worked here weeks after Katrina blew havoc here. While he worked he carried a machine gun with him, he said. It was every man/woman for him/herself, the way he told it, as a contractor.

Clouds moved silently over us during the night. Not to worry, we have found out we can deal with the cooler day time temperature and maybe some rain later in the day, should it come to that. We’re happy to be in the town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We have found lots of friendly people here , to go along with the very long string of these, all strung out behind us, although lost in time and distance, but not at all forgotten in our minds. We understand we won’t likely be meeting Dolly Parton, who grew up in this area., But some folks who we have spoken to, say that when she is in this area she will always go out into her domaine and mix with the people.

Travels so far have encompassed the breadth of the North American continent, from home on the Pacific Coast of Canada to the Atlantic shores of Nova Scotia and beyond. The “beyond” is happening now and has been, for the past three weeks, after crossing the border into these United States of America. We had earlier seen some of Her this trip, from the headwaters of the Missouri River, and finally leaving the mountains behind us, driving into the big sky areas of South Dakota, into Minnesota and Wisconsin, then doing a brisk ride down through Michigan.

Back into Canada, Niagara was a delight, and so good to see our Son Michael and his three son, ourGrandchildren .Theymade the trip west from Montreal to join us there, and later while camped in Saint Lazare in SW Quebec visit. After all, this too long in coming though it was, was the initial kernel which brought us on this long journey. Today, it amounts to more than 11,000 kilometres, or over 7,000 miles with four or more thousands of miles, and more than three months left to enjoys it.

Posted by: daveB | November 3, 2014

Where is my writing gone….?

Posted by: daveB | November 3, 2014

Our Smokey Mountain Hideaway, in Tennessee!

We’re nestled by the Walden River in the town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where we’ve been for six days. It’s a very pleasant area, not far from the south reaches of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the hometown of a very famous singer/songwriter, Dolly Parton. We came here off Interstate 40 and just before that, Interstate 89. That change marked our swing to the west.

In the past very few years this area has grown immensely in popularity as a destination for people seeking something out of the ordinary to do. Dollywood caters to that, and in a big way. But along with it, have come many secondary draws, although the season for some of it has run out of time for the year-at least until the next influx of travellers who will make the most of the Christmas season.

We had snow fall here this Saturday morning, followed by two nights when temperatures fell below freezing overnight. But glorious sunshine has followed, and it is thought that we will get up into the sixties this week; looks like that is happening right now.

The weather notwithstanding, we have our heart set on more warmth, found yet farther down the pike, in places like New Orleans, west through Texas, and into Arizona and Southern California. The last two have been our winter hideouts for the past five winters. And, we’re hoping, for this winter as well. Perhaps we can do that trip down the Pacific coast even longer to continue to beat the northern winter doldrums so easy to find oneself in, during the months following October.

Posted by: daveB | October 18, 2014

September is Flying Right Along…

But we’ve been driving! With feet firmly planted on the floorboard!
We’ve been in Nova Scotia since September 16th, coming up to a month of being here. First stop was Cape Breton Island. It is now connected to the rest of the province by the Canso Cuaseway, an unassuming jut of landfill that nevertheless spans Canso Strait, doing away with the need to board a ferry to attain the other side. We went north there after leaving Prince Edward Island via the Northumberland Ferry, from Woods Island, to the New Glasgow area of Nova Scotia, to stop at Baddeck on Cape Breton.
From our camp there we traveled about the region, first to the gigantic Fort at Louisberg, built by the French in the 17th century as a base to guard the St. Lawrence River and utilize the incredible fishery in the nearby waters.
The fishing was so good, it was said, that some years the catch amounted to 30 million pounds of cod. The fish themselves were up to 250 pounds individually and the take led credence to a claim that this area was the most productive fishing location in any of earth’s waters.
Another day was spent right in the Baddeck area, now dubbed the “Cradle of Canadian Aviation.” Near this place, his house still visible from town, Sir Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, built the airplane first to fly Canada’s skies. This was one winter’s day over the frozen waters of the bay nearby. Always concerned with safety, he thought the flight over ice would be better, maybe safer. He also invented a boat equipped with hydrofoils which, for awhile, held the world speed record for a boat, 71.1 mph. In the town of Baddeck there is a very good museum devoted to the life and inventions of Bell. A native of the British Isles, he came to Canada, but soon was offered a job in his field, in Boston. Most of his descendants today, live in that city.
While the Cabot Trail is known far and wide, it really encompasses several other, named scenic highways. One we took on a drive was to Cheticamp…the site of French settlement in the northwest of Cape Breton. These folks were descendants of Acadians who had escaped the vicious roundup and expulsions of 1755 and later. The wind was howling as we drove, and the watery vistas were impressive, as the sea waves crashed along the coast, for mile upon mile.
Not wanting to do the entire circuit of the Cabot Trail at once, we turned around and headed south, for Inverness, and a little beyond. For here there had been constructed a distillery unlike any other, except for those in Scotland: one that made a whiskey that tasted like Scotch!
The Glenora Distillery was just off the road south of the small town of Inverness. Advertised as having music in the afternoon, we were happy it had the Maritime flare we expected, from a piano and a violen, played in a room full of luncheon patrons. Seated by the fireplace, we enjoyed lunch ourselves, and tasted a ten year old sample of their whiskey. Yes, it did taste like a single malt scotch. I would have bought a bottle but was a little startled by the price. The ten year old, was 100 dollars. At the gift store one could buy the oldest available from the distillery, but for 300 dollars for this 19 year old product. The distillery brings barley from Scotland, and uses local water from a selected stream nearby. From what I hear, it’s the only non- Scotch made. Kudos to a group that have made this a Nova Scotia first.

Posted by: daveB | September 6, 2014

Bathhurst to New Anan.

Hard day on the road, the wind always threatening to blow us off, into oblivion. Finally made it onto the Confederation Bridge…and got the gift of a tailwind! 16 kilometres later we were onto another province, Price Edward Island. Someone said it is a 4 hour trip from one end to the other. But this is a full province in the Confederation of Canada…all signed right here 147 years ago.

Pictured here in February, 2014, we’re at Kool Korners, known to a few RV’ers who either heard about the area, or stumbled upon it after seeing others camped on its slight incline. Beside us, the interesting sound of a bubbling canal comes from the small weir a few yards away beyond the single-lane gravel access road. The weir itself allows for an accurate measure of water flowing through which is vital to the farming practices on the plains below. In the distance shown in one of the photos below, large groves of date palms flourish, on the California side of the Colorado River. The harvest of vegetable crops is happening closer.

Several RVs have converged here to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia. Canada led all nations in gold medals won at the 2010 Winter Games held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Of course, we were a group of Canadians who were hoping to repeat the success in Vancouver, and we all watched carefully the several days of the contests at Sochi on Shaw Direct satellite television. The core of our group had watched the Vancouver games at Senator Wash, AZ, another BLM (Bureau of Land Management) regulated land located no more than 15 miles away from where we were. Senator Wash is a vast area a little beyond the Yuma Proving Grounds army garrison. Marguerite and I had never had television in our unit until there and then. With those 2010 Olympics games beginning that year our fellow Canadian neighbours, all of whom we camped with on a tropical Mexican coral beach for several years, donated all we required except for the television, which I went into Yuma and bought. We all hoped to repeat the 2010 Olympic wins, especially in Hockey. Nice to be among these good people, who had become great friends.

From our place on the hillside, the substantial activity on the plain below is ongoing, some taking place even into the night. Then, some of the preparation for harvesting another field will be done. Through magnifying lenses it is interesting, otherwise we are just bystanders too distant to even notice, except maybe when another heavily laden truck makes it out to the highway, on its way with food to feed the world.

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