Tuesday, September 6, 2011


During our last week in Glacier National Park Dick went on a 100 mile backpacking trip with Rich Ward from Atlanta, GA. They had a great seven days hiking some of the beautiful areas in the park. Maggie flew out to visit us and she and I had some mother and daughter time before the guys walked back into camp. It was great being together again in this beautiful place. Yes, Dick is alive and well. He and Rich never saw one bear. He still says it’s because he smells too bad. Glacier and Yellowstone have been in the news several times over the summer because of bear attacks, fatal falls or near drownings. Dick wanted to stay in Glacier and help search for a young man who we heard was missing the day we started for home. We kept hoping for a good outcome but sadly his body was found on Sept. 2nd where he had fallen 800 ft. The following John Muir quote was sent to us by a friend’s daughter who was part of the helicopter team that located the body.
“I never have held death in contempt, though in the course of my explorations I have often times felt that to meet one's fate on a noble mountain, or in the heart of a glacier, would be blessed as compared with death from disease, or from some shabby lowland accident. But the best death, quick and crystal-pure, set so glaringly open before us, is hard enough to face, even though we feel gratefully sure that we have already had happiness enough for a dozen lives.” - John Muir

We left Glacier National Park on August 30, and slowly traveled east to Michigan, taking another route through Montana that we love, down to Choteau and then across Hwy 200 through Lewistown and into the Great plains of North Dakota to stay at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We drove the 36 mile scenic loop at dawn and saw the beautiful landscape and wildlife of this area, including prairie dogs, bison and feral horses (a few pictures at the end of the video). What a beautiful place honoring the memory of Teddy Roosevelt and his environmental efforts. We then went from the plains thru Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, into Wisconsin and then Michigan. We camped at Walmart a couple nights with several other RVers. One morning Dick went into the store to get a donut for breakfast. I suggested he should get something half way healthy like a muffin. He returned with a smile on his face and a frosted covered pastry in hand. He said it was healthy because it had a fruit filling.
It’s good to be back at “Oleo Acres” Campground (the cheaper spread). All looks well but the lawn has six weeks of growth waiting to be cut. We are contemplating staying in the motorhome and heading out for a fall color tour in a few weeks.

Interesting facts:
1. “Bears bear bare bears”
2. In England Fireweed has been given the nickname “Blitz weed” because it was the first flower to come up in the devastated areas that had been bombed during WWII.
3. Wind turbine blades are nearly 150 feet long. We saw several single blades being hauled down the expressway.
4. The guy in the video, cooking at Ciao Mambo Restaurant in Whitefish, MT, is our nephew Kevin. Great food! Thanks Kevin!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


We are loving being here at Glacier National Park. The first seven days we camped with our friends, Bill and Diana Plyley, who are visiting from Australia. So much time has passed since we were together last, yet we felt like we just continued where we left off nearly 30 years ago. We met them in 1978 and traveled together before they moved to Australia where Bill took a job in a gold mine. We had fun catching up on our children, family, jobs, travels etc... It’s interesting listening to the different words they use and we started using a few of them too. MOZZIE - Mosquito, LOO - bathroom, FANG IT - step on the gas, BREAKKY - breakfast, MATE - friend or buddy, TELE - television, QUEUE - line. Whenever Dick saw a line up at the restrooms he would say, “Is this the queue to the Loo?” It’s also interesting listening to their thoughts on America after being away so long. Diana loves Walmart - “It has everything and cheap.” “Everything over here is a bargain compared to Australia.” They are also amazed at how friendly everyone is. “Strangers approach you and look you in the eyes.” “Americans seem more confident and always say hello and start conversations.” Another observation is how big our cars and trucks are and no matter what level of income almost everyone here has an RV. Diana also commented on how Americans are “giagantuan.” There are overweight people in Australia, but Americans take it to the next level. One more thing they observed is how we have TV channels that rehash and beat the news to death.
Of course you know living with Dick there’s never a dull moment. The morning we were heading into Glacier I was percolating coffee and Dick decided he would get the RV ready to go. He checked the oil and the tires. The coffee wasn’t quite ready so I asked him to let me know when he’d be rolling off the leveling block so I could hold onto the coffee pot. Enough minutes must have gone by that he forgot to tell me to hold on and down we went. It was quite a fast drop. The stovetop cover that I had leaned against the back wall fell and knocked the coffee pot onto the floor. We were so busy wiping up the hot coffee off the floor as fast as we could that we didn’t see the stove top cover was now on top of the burner that was still on. So we then had a fire to put out. It was a wild time.
The next “PreDickament” was after a day of hiking several miles Dick sat out in the sunshine drinking a cold beer and got sleepy so went inside for a nap. When he got up he said he wasn’t feeling well and a little dizzy and sat down. The next thing I heard was a loud snore and his head was tilted back in the chair and he was chalky yellow. I tried shaking him but got no response. I then put his head down to his knees and tried carefully to lower his dead weight to the floor, all the while yelling at the top of my lungs for someone to help me. I was frantic trying to decide whether to stay with him and start mouth to mouth or run and get help. I saw Bill was at his campsite so I yelled out to him to get Diana and come help that something was wrong with Dick. By the time they arrived he was lying in a pool of blood. Fortunately, he then came around but was still weak and confused. He then could sit up. We all came to the conclusion that he didn’t drink enough water on the long hike and then drank a beer that isn’t good for dehydration and fainted. As far as why the bloody nose? Apparently when I lowered him to the floor he must have landed on his nose which started the bleeding. I was accused of hitting him.
Now for the last “PreDickament.” Dick was getting ready for his first overnight backpacking trip here in Glacier and realized he must have left his tent back in Michigan. That’s a big problem but that didn’t stop him. He went over to the Swiftcurrent Campground Store and bought a 10 X 12 tarp and away he went. When I told someone he wasn’t sleeping in a tent she said, “Oh, you’ve seen the cartoon where two bears are looking at two backpackers sleeping on the ground with no tent and one bear says to the other, “Mmmmmmm, soft on the outside, crunchy on the inside.” I didn’t need to hear that one.
There’s only been one mini-maul since we’ve been here. The man was bit in the arm and the leg but was able to hike out to get help. It made national news and when I finally got a phone connection I had several messages wondering if it was Dick. I think he’s bear proof. He assures me that he’s safe because he sleeps in a rip stop nylon tent. Three years ago a young seminary student from Kentucky was hiking alone and turned up missing in an area Dick knows real well. He’s been following the story over the years and while we’ve been here they finally found some of his remains. Dick tells me there is no danger but I still worry if he doesn’t show up at the time he says he will.
We stayed in three different areas of the park on the East side but just moved to the West side and will be here until we leave for home at the end of the month. It has been amazing so far. Dick has hiked over 120 miles and plans to hike at least another 120 before we leave. I’m a day hiker and stick to shorter hikes. I enjoy ranger led walks, not only because there is safety in numbers, but they explain so many things about the area. We loved camping at Many Glacier and every evening a volunteer had a scope set up to view goats and bighorn sheep and sometimes a grizzly with cubs on the mountainsides. There are grizzlies everywhere in that area. Also in the evenings we loved sitting on the Swiftcurrent Store porch and eating huckleberry ice cream. We have met so many great people. We’re like one big happy family enjoying this incredible place together.

NOTES to KNOW: In the Youtube video the guy in the costumes is Pat Hagan, our favorite park ranger, giving two of his famous campfire talks. The background music is Jack Gladstone, musician, storyteller, poet, philosopher of the Blackfeet Tribe. He gives concerts throughout the park.

Monday, July 25, 2011


“Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” - John Muir

We are heading for Glacier National Park. It is Dick’s favorite place in the U.S. to backpack. I must admit it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We were there last year and didn’t expect to go back this soon, but friends we met and traveled with in the late 70’s, are here from Australia visiting their families and touring the west. We haven’t seen them in the nearly 30 years since they moved to Australia for a job.
When they contacted us to see if we could arrange to connect before they flew back home, we quickly made plans to rendezvous in the Rocky Mountains. It’s only 1800 miles one way! Why not! We love this route crossing the magnificent straits of Mackinaw and then taking Hwy 2 through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana all the way to Glacier. Traveling along Lake Michigan in the U.P. there was very little traffic or people. I think everyone was in Traverse City at the beach. This would be the place to vacation. Almost white beaches all to yourself and beautiful. There are times traveling this route when I feel like we’re in a time warp and returned to the 50’s. Wide open spaces, little traffic, small towns, trains, farmland, grain mills etc... Most of Hwy 2 is still two lane. Many of the little towns have free or almost free camping. We pulled into Chester, MT. to stay at the city park and were invited to join a farewell picnic for a choir teacher who took a job in Billings. I think the whole town was there to wish her well. It was touching listening to the choir sing the "Irish Blessing." It reminded me of the years Maggie was in her High School choir. They sang that song many times. We talked with some fellow campers who were from British Columbia and traveled by motorcycle to Eastern Canada and then down into the US and were now heading back home. When we mentioned we were from Michigan they couldn’t say enough about how beautiful Michigan is compared to all the other places they’d been. Clean, well-marked roads, great campgrounds and Welcome Centers and how they loved the U.P. We agreed.
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, but North Dakota is the land of 10,000,000 prairie potholes. These potholes provide the most productive wetland habitat for waterfowl in North America. The water levels were abnormally high because of extensive flooding this year from storms during mid-July - especially around Minot. As we traveled through this area I thought about a book I read titled The Children’s Blizzard. I thought of the people who tried to settle and farm this area and the difficulties they had during the harsh winter blizzard of 1888 and how their descendants are still living here today and still fighting the elements.'s-blizzard
Dick’s grandpa Mallery told Dick about a cousin who in his 20‘s homesteaded in the Dakotas in the early 1900s. They built a sod hut and started farming. Grandpa told Dick that he and grandma visited them when they traveled west once. We wish now we would have asked more questions when his grandfather was still alive. Like where in the Dakotas?
Because of the new technique of fracking for natural gas in the Bakken shale formation, many of the little towns of North Dakota have been taken over by oil field workers. There are RV camps behind every bush and gas station. There are infrastructures going up everywhere. The fracking oil business is booming. Fracking has caused much concern around the country because of so many chemicals being forced into the aquifer. Once the workers get all the infrastructures built then they move on. It reminds me of the “tent cities” in the gold rush days. I guess this is what we call progress.
It feels great being back in Montana. I just love the open spaces and big sky. I’m on the lookout for those mountains. Should see them sometime soon. The Empire Builder will be passing by on it’s way to Chicago anytime. Gotta go.
Westward Ho!!

I like reading the Historical Markers along the road except there’s no way we’ll stop at each one. I read the title as we drive by and look it up on the computer. (Yes, I’ve had a good Wifi connection all the way except through one Indian Reservation) One especially sad but interesting marker was by the town of Chinook. The Bear Paw Battlefield. This is where the Nez Perce surrendered after their long fight to stay on their own ancestral land. When Dick hiked the Continental Divide Trail in 1999, we camped near Wisdom, MT. and it was a very emotional experience visiting the Big Hole Battlefield.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Bud Ward admiring a Loblolly Pine 
Traveling north thru Georgia and into South Carolina the first day out of Florida, we headed for the Congaree Swamp National Park.
It’s off the beaten path, so we almost decided to pass it by. This 24,000 acre park protects the largest contiguous area of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States. We hiked through the forest and were amazed at the size of the bald cypress and Loblolly pines.  Spring is an excellent time for birding and the trees were alive with the sound of music. Our friends, Joy and Bud Ward, from home, had been trying to catch up to us on their return trip from Florida. They joined us at Congaree Swamp and camped near us. It was great. We also met up with them again along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls.
We tried to talk them into camping with us again but since they were tenting they decided to get a motel. That night it rained hard. We were on the outskirts of a tornado. We were thankful we were high and dry in our motorhome and Bud and Joy had decided on a motel.
Enjoying the view of Linville Falls from a high point

Between Florida and home, we made many stops to visit family and friends.  Friends from Tennessee met us halfway for breakfast at Em’s Place up in the hills. They warned us we may pass it by because it doesn’t even look like a restaurant. Well, they were right. As you can see from the picture below it must have been a gas station at one time. Our new trusty GPS got us there. It was the only place open for breakfast for miles around. All the truckers ate there so we figured it had to be good (or else it was because it was the only place around). Even though it wasn't the greatest atmosphere, we enjoyed our visit.
Our Tennessee friends, Beth, Steve, Michele and James at Em's Place

Speaking of our "new trusty GPS," we almost had a bad accident because we were in the wrong lane to exit the freeway. It scared us so bad we stopped at the next Best Buy and Dick bought the best buy they had. You may remember he named the other one "The Witch" because I didn't like the name he was calling it. He hasn't named this one yet.

Earl & Linda Stewart, Mt. Morris, PA

Linda with her father, Walter, who is 98 yrs old
(We'll be there to celebrate your 100th, Walter!)

It was great to reconnect with our Mt. Morris, PA friends. We met the Stewarts in 1979 when Dick worked with Earl in Arizona. We try to spend time together every few years. As usual, they were the best hosts and treated us like part of their family. Mt. Morris is located right on the West Virginia border and it's always interesting to explore that part of the country.

Enjoying a visit with my brother, Curt, and his wife, Lucy.

We traveled on to the Elkhart area to visit my brother and his wife but while we were there we scoured the RV Salvage stores for parts for our 1989 motorhome. We also took in the RV Hall of Fame which I highly recommend to anyone who is an RVer.
Our last stop was the AirZoo. My cousin is the Tech Service Mgr there and gave us the grand tour. My Aunt and Uncle joined us and we caught up on each other's lives as we took in the amazing exhibits and murals. What an interesting place and another place I highly recommend.

Enjoying the Air Zoo with my Aunt Rosemary and Uncle Red

The last couple of days of our trip we drove in the rain and made it home in a downpour. We decided to stay tucked in the motorhome for one more night and move back into the house the next day. The rain stopped during the night so we enjoyed the sounds of our campground. The peepers were in full force. It was a nice welcome
P.S. Dick says we'd better leave town before something else happens. So far the creek backed up and washed out our driveway and he set the back forest on fire, but that's another story.
Info on other places we visited on our trip north.
New River Gorge
Amish Country, IN

At turn of year, when winter's past
and spring's at hand, I think at last
I understand. Then comes the night
when peepers shrill and geese in flight
gabble the moon. And then I say
that all I know can be stowed away
in an acorn cup. But this is plain:
That snow is snow and rain is rain,
that wind is change, that water ran
before earth felt the foot of man;
that flesh and blood of me are kinned
with grass and bush and tree and wind;
that love is sweet and salt are tears;
that days become the turning years;
that I am new and time is old;
that love is warm and hate is cold.
What more is there to understand
when winter's past and spring's at hand? - Hal Borland

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Miles of secluded beach at Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area
The park was named after the folk singer who drowned here 

 For several weeks we enjoyed the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Sebastian Inlet, Gamble Rogers at Flagler Beach and Anastasia by St. Augustine were some of the State Parks we camped in. Dick had no luck in his search for treasure. He even tried on the site where they are still salvaging treasures from the Spanish Fleet that went down during a hurricane in 1715. I don’t think he has the patience for this hobby. If he hasn’t found anything right away then he’s done. He says he’s selling the metal detector when he gets home and buying a camera instead. He’s always wanted to be a wildlife photographer. Patience is not one of his strong points so I’m not so sure he’ll have the patience for that either
While he searched the beach for treasure, I picked up trash. I had one bag for fishing line, hooks and lures, and another for other trash. I expected the State Park beaches to be clean. I was also disappointed in the recycling system in the parks. Most only recycled aluminum and glass. Which brings up another point - why don't all states have deposits on cans and bottles. Florida is one that doesn’t and it shows. But the beaches are still beautiful and we enjoyed early morning and evening walks watching all the shorebirds. I especially loved watching the pelicans fly overhead or skim along the surface of the water and dive for their dinner. My favorite shorebird. 
A Mallery Reunion in New Smyrna Beach 
A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican. - Ogden Nash

We connected with several friends and family this winter. One day we received an email from friends who we had spent time with in Silver Springs. They were going to be in St. Augustine while we were there and wanted to spend a couple days with us. I called them on the day and time they said they’d be arriving and they asked, “Where are you?” I told them we were at the Anastasia State Park campground and asked them where they were, thinking they were at a condo somewhere. They said, “We’re at the campground in space 53.” This was a bit of a surprise because they were definitely not “campers” but as we hopped on our bikes and headed for space 53 we thought they probably had borrowed his dad’s camper van. In space 53 there was a a 30 foot Class A motorhome. They were so happy with their new rig. They wanted their first RV camping experience to be with us so we could answer any questions and help them figure things out. We had a great time.

There was a starving stray cat hanging around our campsite at Ft. Clinch State Park and, of course, being the softie I am, I fed it and made sure he was caught and taken to a rescue facility. He was very friendly with me but caused havoc with our two cats through the screen door. Several times throughout the next night the tent campers next to us would yell at something in their camp, "get outta here! Scram!" We all had a sleepless night but I felt good knowing it wasn't MY rescued cat causing their problems. It was either raccoons or rats but we didn't find out because the worn out campers were still sleeping when we headed north for the Georgia/Florida state line.

Lester & Lylah Mallery heading for Florida - 1956
It's a good thing we are heading home. Dick is sick of all the people and traffic. He really wanted to go west this winter again but he agreed to go to Florida for me. He refers to it as a "sea of humanity". He does admit, it's still better than shoveling snow all winter. We tried to stick to the natural areas as much as we could but it's the driving in between these places that he hates. Florida has some great state parks and they do try to preserve and protect but development is encroaching on their boundaries on all sides. Things have changed so much since his grandparents traveled with their little airstream and spent their winters in Stuart, Florida. Like Dick says, "the boomers are coming!" That includes us!
A visit with my Aunt Ellen in Vero Beach

One of the many boardwalks along the Inner Coastal Waterway
Spent the morning with John Hibbard in Jensen Beach
Formerly from Michigan. (A damn Yankee)

The travelin' cat

Looking out our window at the Spring breakers at Sebastian Inlet 

Friday, April 1, 2011


Gators galore at Paynes Prairie
We left the Gulf beaches and headed for inland Florida staying at several state parks. Paynes Prairie Preserve, Rainbow Springs, Silver River and Myakka River. These are magic, quiet, beautiful jungles preserved for future generations. Places of refuge for wildlife with peaceful rivers flowing through. A birder’s paradise. We love all wildlife, even the alligators and snakes which we saw plenty of.  At Paynes Prairie there were even buffalo and wild horses and Whooping Cranes. 
Water Moccasin - watch where you're stepping!
We are enjoying our little blow-up Sea Eagle Kayak. At first I was hesitant to navigate the alligator infested waters, but we started out on the Rainbow River where there are very few and worked our way up to the Myakka where they are all along the banks sunning themselves or cooling themselves in the water. As we would approach they would slowly lower down into the water where we could only see their eyes. I would rather they stayed sunning themselves on the banks where I could keep an eye on them. We enjoyed every minute of our river trips. 
When deflated, our kayak is stored in a bag and weighs 32 lbs. It was a mile hike to the Silver River to the launching site. After one day of Dick carrying the bag over his shoulder, we found a used golf cart at a thrift store and it works great!! The Silver River is still our favorite. It is located east of Ocala where we spent our winters from 1978 until the mid-80’s when we were full-time “gypsies” before Maggie was born, and then a few winters with her. We lived in our home on wheels on the banks of the Ocklawaha River and from there we’d paddle up to the Silver River whenever we had the chance. The family who owned the property became our family. For several of those winters we worked at Ocala Breeder’s Sales Company, a thorough-bred horse auction, to save enough money to travel for the summer months. The man who managed the company invited us to meet his family who adopted us immediately. We have kept in touch with all of these people and enjoyed seeing them again on this trip. Lots of reminiscing about all the years we were together. We also connected with a few other friends in South Venice who gave us a tour of that area. 
We're now in Sebastian Inlet State Park on the ocean. We’re here for a few days to enjoy the beach and Dick is now hunting for some washed up treasure from the Spanish Fleet that went down off this coast during a hurricane in 1715. He's getting bored with his metal detector just finding small change.

The beautiful Silver River

Lots of birds, gators, turtles, fish and even monkeys!
Birdwatching on Upper Myakka Lake

Sandhill Cranes Photo by Jerome

Kayaking the Myakka River 

Sheba napping on the motorhome step

Lunch at Snook Haven with the Barkers and Jankowskis

Watching an eagle at Paynes Prairie

“What has happened to awe? Where has wonder gone? I suspect that too much has been "explained" by the ignorant to the stupid. Modern man's greatest loss of spirit may be that he has ceased to be amazed at the wonders all around him.”  - Ernest Lyons, My Florida

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The last I blogged was August when we returned home from our eight month trip west. I have been blessed to live in northern Michigan. It’s true - going away does make you appreciate home. I enjoy traveling, but I also like being home. I need that balance. 
Our plan was to leave again after Christmas. Last year the holidays on Padre Island, Texas just didn't feel right. I wanted to be home this year and experience a real Christmas with snow and family and friends.
Also, with Maggie living in Traverse City again, I didn't want to leave until after January 1st.
The holidays came and went, but then other things kept us in the snow country. I didn’t have a problem with that, but I’m not the one who has to do all the shoveling, plowing and keeping the home fires burning. Warm weather was beginning to sound wonderful.
We left February 22 in 9 degree icy weather after a whole day of loading the motor home and cleaning and winterizing the house. (see above picture of ice cycles hanging off the motor home) We tossed the cats in at the last minute and they finally accepted their fate after the first day on the road. Funny Face hid under the bed in her “Cat Cave” and Sheba cried all day and wanted to be on my lap.
As we traveled south we were just ahead of a storm but it caught up to us when we camped in Clanton, Alabama. About midnight I was awaken when a community alert siren (air-raid) went off. Dick kept on snoring while it blasted for 5 minutes. Then over a loud speaker a man's voice blared out a warning of approaching severe wind and rain and to take cover. He kept repeating it and I finally shook Dick awake to listen (he was sleeping on his good ear). I figured it had to be bad because surely they don't announce every approaching storm?!  I checked the area weather on the computer and it was saying the same thing as “Speaker man”. I went back to bed because Dick was snoring again and everything was still peaceful outside but woke up about an hour later to the motor home rocking back and forth in the strong winds and rain. It rocked me right back to sleep. 
We were so happy to reach Florida. We camped among the hardwood forest at Florida Caverns State Park in the Panhandle for a couple days. It’s so nice being outdoors hiking and biking again.   Living in the frozen north makes you appreciate the warmth, and sounds and sights of spring. The trees down here are beginning to blossom and the birds are singing. We loved listening to the barred owls at night. 
We are now camped on the Gulf at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. on the “Forgotten Coast”.  What a paradise. The campground is out on a spit. 

We watch the sunset on one side of the campground and sunrise on the other. The beach is so beautiful! It sure is nice to see all this white and it’s NOT SNOW!!! 
On our 8 month trip you may remember me saying that I wasn’t getting enough alone time. Dick has solved that problem. He is now into metal detecting. He’s so into his new hobby that so far I’ve had a couple of hours by myself every day. He’s saving all the money he finds because he now wants to upgrade to one that goes into the water. 
Dick does a weekly column called Dr. RV Shrink. Many of them are based on our problems and solutions. Check it out at Dr. RV Shrink