Sunday, December 22, 2013


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year   2013

It’s that time of year when Gaila ties me to a chair and makes me write a year-end holiday letter. Last winter I was looking out of the motorhome across a beautiful white sand beach to the distant Gulf horizon. This year I'm still in Michigan tucked up next to the wood stove, as close as I can get without scorching my posterior, looking out across a beautiful white field of snow to the distant Meijer construction site. Gaila says I have to stay up here until after Christmas every other year, so I don’t forget how to start the snow blower. My escape plan is to leave December 26 weather and roads permitting!!
Yes, I said Mejier construction site. Gaila has always wanted to move to a little town where she can walk to everything, and I have always said, “Be patient, a town will move to you.”  It looks as though our future is going to be very bright. I think there are going to be about a million parking lot light posts just over the hill from us. When the Department of Motor Vehicles someday takes our licenses away we can simply ripoff a shopping cart and wheel each other back and forth to the Meijer Superstore. I think we should be gone 9 months like we did this year, then we'll miss a good part of the construction noise going on over the hill. 
Over the past year we explored Florida as far south as the Everglades, then worked our way back to the panhandle and west to California for our niece's June wedding. In our travels, besides visiting family, we made a lot of new friends and met up with many of our friends from home. We hope to do the same this year. We have our favorite little hideouts in many remote natural areas. You'll know where you can find us by following Gaila's blog. I'm gearing up to hike the 800 mile Arizona Trail in April. During part of that time Gaila will be near her parents and then part of the time she'll be my support team like she did when I did the CDT hike.

Maggie (you may know her as Magnolia blossom, Magpie, Magdalena or Magda) is still wild and crazy (Gaila says she has many of my traits). She works at our local Oryana Food Co-op and her fiance', Brenin, continues to do his CSA farming (Community Share Agriculture). They are meeting Gaila and I in New Orleans in January before we head west.

 Annual Animal Update: We still have a granddog, Morgan. Now we also have a grandcat, Poncho. Not to be outdone by her daughter, Gaila got a kitten to give Funny Face some companionship. Unfortunately, she didn’t consult Funny Face before the decision. Funny Face is an old curmudgeon cat, who after a couple months is still slapping the heck out of this playful, constantly attacking kitten. Every morning we get to watch the Ali/Fraser fight all over again. The kitten dances like a butterfly and Funny Face stings like a bee. I demanded that a new cat be declawed, but Gaila doesn’t agree with that procedure. She says it’s like cutting someone’s fingers off at the first knuckle. She didn’t have a second thought of cutting his balls off though. She just happened to find a rescue kitten that someone had already cut all his fingers off at the first knuckle. They are so much more entertaining without claws. Through the evolutionary process their little brains still think they can stick like Velcro to whatever they leap on. After a few horrific climbing accidents they temper their exuberance. Gaila doesn't seem to find this funny.
I will probably never get any more phone calls from my daughter. I became her full-time mechanic after giving her our old Saturn. I would only hear from her when something major went wrong with the car. I think I may have been fired because she just gave us the old Saturn back. It might have been warranty issues. The window was taped shut, the clutch was burned out, I found the spoiler planted on their property next to the Brussels sprouts and the gas/trunk release latches were frozen in the lock position. Brenin’s dad gave them a newer vehicle. I will miss our daughter/mechanic relationship, but who knows, we may get back together again someday. I’ve replaced the clutch and window motor. I washed the cold dark earth off the spoiler and glued it back on the car. I doused the trunk/gas latches with WD40 and put the windshield wiper on right-side up. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I know the drill. Khalil Gibran said, "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." I just quiver every time I hear that. We have the most wonderful daughter, and the Saturn is still running after 200,000 miles. Life is good!

--Keep Smilin’, Dick (and Gaila)

Thursday, August 15, 2013


  Experiencing Glacier National Park was a wonderful way to end our nine month adventure.


We are traveling across Hwy 2 from Montana to Michigan. It's time to get home and mow the lawn.

Janice Henshaw, who we met in FL in December, met up with us in Glacier for two weeks. Here is her blog which is fun to read.  THE WOMAN RVER - Around the Next Bend

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Joel and Cameron at Avalanche Lake
I'm sitting here at our favorite campground in Glacier National Park. All of Glacier is spectacular, but this place is special. We've been asked to keep it a secret but someone is spreading the word because this time it was packed with campers and unless you arrived early you wouldn't get a space. I've always loved the magnificent views here and the smell of spruce is addicting. 
My brother, Joel, and his son, Cameron, drove from California to camp with us for a week on the west side of the park. Joel traveled here with us in 1978 when he was fifteen years old and loved it so much he's always wanted to return. Now he was sharing it with his son. My parents visited with them for a couple days then began their trip to Michigan. They'd been traveling with us for three weeks.

1978 when Joel traveled with us to Glacier. This was taken on a hike to
Sperry Chalet. (We're the couple next to the ranger in case you didn't know and Joel is kneeling)
Visiting Polebridge for some baked goods before going to Bowman Lake.

Dick and Cameron went on a three day hike. They saw lots of wildlife but the
most exciting was a grizzly swimming about 70 yards away.

Joel hiking on the Highline trail to the Garden Wall. My favorite trail in the park.

Beautiful Bowman Lake
Dick enjoying his favorite place on earth! 
A beautiful view outside our door.

We got our dog fix by offering a few times to watch Allie while her parents did some long day hikes.Can't believe we didn't take a picture of Dick and Nancy too. 

We meet so many people in our travels and always hope to meet some again along the way.

Renee and Jacques from Tucson, AZ. were in the campsite next to ours.  They were a load of fun.
Eva and James from Englewood, FL. are walking 1,000 miles of Montana's CDT. They found out the Bob Marshall Wilderness is on fire so they have to change their plans.

We are heading for Many Glacier tomorrow for awhile before heading home. If all goes as planned we'll be pulling into our driveway mid-August. My parents camped in our driveway  when they arrived in Michigan and my mom said our grass is up to her hips.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


My parents continued traveling north with us all the way to Glacier National Park. From Durango, CO we visited Dinosaur National Monument.  QUARRY TOUR  After taking the tour of the quarry we all agreed it was too hot to stay at the campground so we headed to a higher elevation for a night in the very NE corner of Utah along the Flaming Gorge. This National Recreation Area is shared with the state of Wyoming.

Watching the deer and antelope under the blue skies and wide open spaces of Wyoming, I couldn't help but burst out singing, "Home, Home, on the Range." 

We stayed in a quiet campground near historical South Pass City and Atlantic City. Two small frontier towns built in the 1800s as a result of a gold mining boom. The Oregon Trail passed just north of South Pass City and the wagon tracks are still visible today. We stayed here in 1999 when Dick hiked the Continental Divide trail which passes through South Pass City a popular mail drop for the long-distance hikers.

We traveled to Dubois, Wyoming to talk with the Forest Service. Dick was hoping enough years had passed that something had been done to build a trail from Union Pass to Togwotee Pass for CDT hikers. He hoped to hike this new trail.  He talked to a ranger who had been funded all last summer to route a trail through this area, but he said there is no money to build it.  So Dick would have to follow Forest Service roads. He hates road walking so he scratched those plans and we continued on to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

US 26 West of Dubois, WY

We camped near Jackson Lake

So Dick again made plans to do some backpacking along the backside of the Teton Mtn. Range. I was hoping I was finally going to get my alone time. He was told by two different sources that the trail was still under snow in areas and he could lose the trail easily and he would need an ice axe in some areas. He decided against attempting it. So we traveled the park enjoying the beautiful views, animal watching and day hiking. 
This has been an interesting trip from Durango, Colorado to Glacier National Park. We have experienced fires in Colorado, snow in the high country, high winds and hail in Yellowstone, crowds in the National Parks, plus there were postings everywhere warning visitors of the Norovirus that was affecting visitors in both of these parks.  Norovirus News 

Bison, Bison everywhere!
Yellowstone Falls
We camped over the 4th of July at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone.
It was packed with people and the elk with their young enjoyed the town too.

The highlight of our stay in Yellowstone was soaking in the Boiling River. 
The hot and cold water mix along the river's edge and it was the best!!

We are so happy to have reached Glacier National Park. We both love this place. If I hadn't had this beautiful place to look forward to we would have been on our way home by now. Dick will for sure get his hiking fix over the next few weeks and me some much needed alone time. We're both ready!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


After leaving California we headed back across Nevada, again driving the "Loneliest Road in America" (Hwy. 50). Not only is it desolate but very hot in mid-June. One night we stayed at the Hickison Petroglyphs. When we arrived, the campground was alive with loud buzzing sounds until it cooled down.  At dusk we took a walk and all was silent except for a clicking noise in the pinion pines. I finally stopped to try and find out what was making this noise. It was the cicadas. I did a little research and apparently it's the males that do the singing (buzzing) and the females flick their wings to make the clicking noise.

Lehman Cave with it's amazing formations. This is the best cave I've ever been in.
A rock glacier nestled in 13,000 ft. Wheeler Peak. Wow - a glacier in Nevada?

We traveled across the great basin, a desert of sagebrush to the Great Basin National Park on the Nevada/Utah border. The higher elevation of this park was comfortable. This park is a well-kept secret. We were pleasantly surprised with the variety of wonders it has to offer.
So many birds! We couldn't sleep past 5:30 a.m. because of all the singing.

One of our favorite spottings - a Poor Will. 

Beautiful wildflowers everywhere. This is the arrowroot blossom.
Bristlecone Pine Forests with pines up to 5,000 years old!

We traveled from there into Colorado to Mesa Verde National Park for a couple days and toured some Puebloan cliff dwellings.

Exiting the Cliff Palace

From Mesa Verde on to Durango where I would set up base camp while Dick went on a 200 mile backpacking trip.  CLICK HERE TO READ DICK'S BLOG ABOUT HIS ADVENTURE. Of course I do have some concerns about him hiking alone in the wilderness. Especially since I'd been hearing about the Colorado fires. One night at midnight there was a knock at my door. I didn't answer hoping whoever it was would move on to the next campsite. Then a second knock and "this is the sheriff". My first thought was he was here to tell me something happened to Dick. I still didn't answer and peeked out the curtain to see if he was in uniform and get a look at his vehicle. I asked what he wanted and he said that someone had reported several gunshots up near the campground and wondered if I'd heard them. It took me awhile to get back to sleep but thankful it wasn't bad news about Dick.

I drove Dick to Cumbres Pass near Chama, NM to begin his 10-12 hike
The Campground hosts were so much fun.  We would visit them everyday during "HAPPY HOUR".

We had an enjoyable evening with Amy and Dave Long, kids of friends from home.
My parents drove up from Arizona to camp with us for three days.  From here they planned to head for Arkansas to visit family and we would begin our journey north to Wyoming and Montana. The day before we parted my mom thought it would be more fun to go with us. So the caravan continues....

Monday, June 17, 2013


While at Washoe Lake in Nevada, my brother drove over from California and camped with us a few days.  He's the best cook!!  Together we visited the Carson City Mint, Virginia City and then Joel drove us to the top of Mt. Rose to an amazing view of Lake Tahoe.

Then we headed for California for my niece's, June 1st wedding.
When we arrived in California we parked in my sister's backyard. What a beautiful campground!
We arrived a week before the wedding and were given lots of jobs in preparation for the big day.  One of my jobs was painting signs.
Oops! Made a mess - dropped the can of paint!

Even though we were busy getting things ready for the wedding, there was always time for fun, food and relaxation with family and friends.

Maggie and her cousin Balinda flew out for the wedding.
Our nephew, Matt, with his fiance, Chelsey.

My sister, Kathy, and husband, Pat, with Julia (the bride).

Dick and Pat were invited to fly to Half Moon Bay for lunch - what a treat.
A spectacular view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge on their return flight.
Joel and his family visited from nearby Newcastle.
Dick and Patrick (the groom) playing a few tunes together.
Dick and Pat never ran out of things to talk about.
More conversation and Joel trying to get a word in edgewise!
Maggie and Balinda with one of their favorite uncles...
...and another of their favorite uncles.

Maggie cooked a meal for all of us to give her Aunt Kathy a rest.
Kathy, finally relaxing a bit.
Good friends from home, Therese and Jerry Allore, just happened to be visiting their daughter and son-in-law in Grass Valley only a few miles from my sister.

Had a wonderful time visiting friends in Benicia for a day.

THE WEDDING - click here

The wedding was wonderful and then we stayed the week following before saying goodbye to family and heading on to Colorado.  To be continued....