MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA

We arrived at this popular beach for a visit and night’s stay at the Myrtle Beach State Park.  The park is lush with large oak trees and pines.  I was surprised to see forest growing right up to the beach.  The beach was large with tan sand and people of all ages enjoying the sun.  We met a very nice couple from Georgia that have an LTV just like ours and exchanged travel storiesIMG_2531IMG_2534

VIRGINIA

Richmond:

St. John’s is the oldest church in Richmond and is the location where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech, “give me liberty or give me death”.   We also drove down Broad Street straight through this historic town then to Monument Ave. passing grand old homes to statues of Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson.  A city rich in history of the revolutionary and civil wars.

Charlottesville – Monticello:

We toured Thomas Jefferson’s magnificent home outside Charlottesville.  One item that was particularly interesting was his polygraph invention, a copying machine with two pens.  When Jefferson wrote with one pen, the other made an exact copy.  We learned he died at 82 leaving his family to pay his debt of $100,000.00. His family had to sell all his belongings and eventually the house to repay the large debt.  So sad, luckily Uriah Levy and his nephew later purchased the house and worked to restore and preserve it until 1923 when the Foundation was formed to carry-on.

Spring time in Virginia:

Mid-April to the first of May a perfect time of year to visit Virginia as spring as sprung to its full glory. The bright colorful azaleas decorating everyone’s yards and the dogwood trees in full blossom along the highways, parks and yards – absolutely gorgeous.  This is the first time I have seen a dogwood tree and I have fallen in love with them.  Oh, and the tulips, everywhere with tall stems and bright colors decorating Williamsburg, Monticello and several other sites along the way.  The drive has been very picturesque and most enjoyable.  It has been a wonderful trip.

Skyline Drive/Shenandoah National Park

I was so looking forward to driving along skyline and spending time in Shenandoah Park but unfortunately spring had not sprung in the mountains and the trees where still dormant.  It was like driving through a forest of tall standing dead trees, it was very depressing and cold.  The overlook views of the valley below where pretty and colorful but the drive and the camping not so much.  We stayed one night on the mountain and drove to a nice state park, Morrow Mountain, in Albemarle, North Carolina.  Our plans are to visit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina tomorrow.

NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA

A few miles from Virginia Beach is Newport News where Charlie and Susan live.  They use to live in Austin where Charlie had worked with Lonnie.  They moved from Austin about 30 years so we were really looking forward to meeting up with them and getting reacquainted.  We had a fantastic visit, they were excellent tour guides showing us around Newport News and Colonial Williamsburg.  We had lunch at Kings Arms an 18th century tavern located in old town Williamsburg where the servers dress in costume.  We had a good lunch served with a peach/orange ginger ale punch, which Lonnie really found memorable.  Charlie and Susan were so gracious and opened their beautiful home located on the River to us.

We thank both couples for welcoming us so warmly for a few days and showing us a very enjoyable visit.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA

IMG_2484We had a wonderful visit with Peter and Mary Lee in Virginia Beach.  Pete and Lonnie served in Viet Nam together 50 years ago.  They were stationed on the USS Corpus Christi Bay repairing the avionics on damaged helicopters coming in from the battle field.  They enjoyed catching up on each other’s life and it was nice for me to meet the guy Lonnie so often talked about from this time in his life.   Pete and Mary Lee are a lovely couple, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and we hope to meet up with them again in the future.IMG_2481

CHATTAHOOCHEE – OCONEE NATIONAL FOREST

CHATTAHOOCHEE – OCONEE NATIONAL FOREST

The drive from Arkansas to Cherokee/North Carolina through the National Forest was absolutely beautiful.  The forest was dense with the road weaving its way between a high cliff covered with ferns with occasional small waterfalls and Oconee River rapidly running on the other side.  This area must be very popular in the summer as there were numerous white water rafting adventure businesses all along the way.  We stopped over in Cherokee for a couple of days waiting out the rain to stop before we continued on to Virginia.

LEISURE TRAVEL VAN TEXOMA CLUB RALLY aT DEGRAY LAKE STATE PARK – HOT SPRINGS ARKANSAS

We began this new adventure by meeting up with 36 other Leisure Travel Van (LTV) owners at DeGray Lake Resort State Park in Arkansas just outside of Hot Springs for a 3 day TEXOMA club rally of which we are a member.  There were LTV’s of various models and years from mostly Texas and Oklahoma but a few came from Tennessee and one couple from Mississippi.  We had a wonderful time meeting other LTV owners, seeing the new 2018 models, sharing travel adventures and learning about various modifications or enhancements one can make to their coach.  The second night we all meet up for a large pot luck supper and fellowship.  The third day we all drove into Hot Springs for a day of exploring the city.  We walked the promenade along Bathhouse Row and strolled up and down Central Avenue.  It was a lovely cool day perfect for sightseeing.

We begin our travels to Virginia to visit with an army buddy of Lonnie’s from Viet Nam and visit with friends that one time lived in Austin.  The rain started and has not stopped so far  — we had planned to stop at an interesting state park in Tennessee on our way to North Carolina but in was raining so hard we decided to keep going as the park would be muddy.  We stopped for the night in Murphy N.C. after a long days drive.

OASIS STATE PARK, NEW MEXICO AND HORD’S CREEK LAKE, TEXAS

There was wind warnings for north and central New Mexico yesterday and we were unfortunately right in the mist of it all.  We drove mostly with a modest tail wind but as we near our campsite the wind significantly increased causing a warning message to come on the dash indicating a tire or tires were not getting sufficient traction – now that’s some cross wind.  I am not sure exactly the speeds but the news had published sustained winds of 36 to 40 and gust 50 to 60.  This horrific wind blew from 11am Sunday to sometime after 1am Monday morning.  I found the shaking RV and the loud wind noise to be alarmingly unpleasant throughout the night.  Thanks to be God we made it through with no damage to the RV or ourselves.  We gratefully departed for Texas this morning.

Tonight we are staying at Hord’s Creek Lake a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground at the Lakeside Park area.  This is a beautiful park with a tranquil lake, large oak trees and extensive openness.  We are enjoying the relaxing atmosphere and grilling a steak for dinner.

We will be home tomorrow and this trip from Austin, Texas to Palm Springs, California and back has been very memorable.  We have experienced majestic landscapes through New Mexico, Arizona and California and various temperatures from hot to frigid, we have rode horses, boated, rode the tram, hiked and have camped in the mountains to the valleys.  We also had some other experiences as my car was stolen from the dealership where it was in for repairs.  The dealership was most helpful in dealing with the police and keeping us informed of the on-going situation while we were traveling.  Luckily the car was found with no damage and the person arrested.  The dealership retrieved the car in our absence from the impound lot, detailed it and are storing it for me until our return.  Also, on the way to Phoenix a truck through a rock, like a bullet it hit the driver’s side causing enough damage we will need to replace the windshield.  Fortunately we have insurance to cover the windshield.  Whew, a nice nights rest tonight in this lovely campsite, hopefully uneventful, and up early heading for Austin.

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FROM MOUNT SAN JACINTO, CALIFORNIA TO OASIS STATE PARK NEW MEXICO

We departed Mount San Jacinto early morning with light rain, spotting a beautiful rainbow on our way down the mountain toward Yuma, Arizona.  Spent the night in Yuma where the wind was strong and dusty, creating a thin layer of dust throughout the RV.  I wanted to drive through the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, outside of Phoenix, so off we went stopping at the Wild Horses Casino in Chandler to spend the night were we enjoyed an exceptional steak dinner at Shula’s steakhouse.  The Apache Trail through the Superstition Mountains is 40 miles long beginning at Apache Junction and ending at Roosevelt Dam.  The Apache Trail was a stagecoach trial and named after the Apache Indians who originally used this trail to move through the mountains.  The road, no, the trail winds steeply through rugged desert mountains with two lakes, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake.  The pavement ended after 18 miles leaving the rest of the trail mostly one lane dirt road, rough as an old wash board, and with hair pin turns.  It took us 4 hours from start to finish.  The scenery was remarkable but not sure it was worth the long and tedious drive.  We found a lovely park about two hours away called Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area near Show Low, AZ.  The drive on HYW. 60 to reach the lake was even more scenic than the Apache Trail and it was paved, the highway passed through a beautiful mountain range with deep gorges.  We spent a wonderful day at Fool Hollow, located in the mountains with tall pines, cool temperatures, fresh air and good hiking trails.  We are now beginning our return route homebound and took off for Albuquerque where we spent the night at the Route 66 Casino RV park, which was one of the nicest private RV parks we have stayed and would recommend it to anyone passing through this area.  Today, New Mexico has issued high West winds alert, 25 to 35 winds with gust as high as 70 miles an hour.  The drive west from Albuquerque heading to Texas has been windy and after about 250 miles we stopped at the Oasis State Park where the wind is alarmingly high.  The RV is rocking, the wind whistling around the windows, the air vents rattling, with a dust storm blowing outside and is forecasted to last until around 1 am tomorrow morning.  It should be an interesting night.

PALM SPRINGS AND MOUNT SAN JACINTO STATE PARK CALIFORNIA

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We made it into Palm Springs late afternoon after a long drive through the Mojave Desert.  Palm Springs is a pretty city with business and home entrances filled with an abundant display of colorful flowers.  It seemed like there was a lush golf course every few blocks and streets are named after movie stars and presidents.  Unfortunately there must be smog or some other air pollution because we both had sinus problems so bad that we were ready to depart after one day.

Up to Mount San Jacinto State Park to experience the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  The Tram departs about every 10 minutes up the mountain from zone 1 of 3,500 feet to zone 5 of 10,834 feet, straight up the mountain with absolutely gorgeous views.  Once on top the mountain there are several trails to hike, we took the desert view trail.  The temperature was cold enough for a coat but not too cold, the air was fresh with the scent of pine.  Immediately we both felt better and our sinus problems were no longer.  We enjoyed the mountain so much we decided to find someplace in the mountains to spend the next couple to days.  Off we went to find one of the Mount San Jacinto State Parks that allowed RVs.  The only ones we found were located on the other side of mountain from Palm Springs.  We drove from Palm Springs up the steepest, narrowest mountain road toward Idyllwild I believe I have ever experienced and we have been on some thrilling mountain roads in Colorado, but this one beat them all in terms of scary – I was too scared to close my eyes and too scared to keep them open.  We finally made it to Thousand Trails RV Park about 8,000 feet elevation.  The park is very large with numerous trails, giant pines, the freshest air and perfectly cool temperatures.  We hiked 5 miles today and feel pleasantly exhausted.   It is so quiet here, only the whispering of the wind blowing through the trees and so scenic one cannot help but feel peacefully one with nature.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona continued

Our second day at Dead Horse we went for a ride on a couple of live horse through the 400 acre park.  Bill, a 77 year old cowboy that has been riding horses most of his life was our trail guide.  He worked the Dead Horse ranch in his younger days when it was privately owned.  He was very entertaining sharing numerous stories of his years riding horses, driving wagons, ranching, and dealing with mules (he doesn’t much like mules).   The trail ride was especially exciting when crossing the fast running creeks and for a moment I thought me and my horse were going to end up floating downstream, but we made it safely to the other side.  Whew!

Petrified Forest National Park and Dead Horse Ranch State Park

We drove highway 40 West from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Sedona, Arizona stopping at the Petrified Forest National Park that is located just off HWY 40 about a 2 hours from Flagstaff, Arizona.  We drove the 28 mile road that runs through the entire park.  The main sights are the painted desert, the blue mesa, the jasper forest and the giant logs.  The painted desert is characterized by colorful bands of sedimentary rock called the Chinle Formation.  This formation was deposited between 227 and 205 million years ago by northwest flowing river system.  The petrified wood are colorful specimens of massive tree trunks strewn across the landscape.  The trees were knocked down by wind or water and carried downstream being buried by layers of sediment over 218 million years ago.  The logs soaked up groundwater and silica from volcanic ash and over time crystallized into quartz.   Truly breathtaking sights of beauty and wonder.

We settled in the Sedona area for a couple of days in a state park called Dead Horse, don’t like the name but the park is large with numerous hiking trails, horseback riding, three lakes and surrounded by mountains.  The park received its name because the original owners of the ranch asked their children which ranch they liked best when they were searching for property and they replied the one with the dead horse and so it was

named.  When the owners gifted the land to the state for a park they requested the name remain  — so there you have it — dead horse ranch state park.  Yesterday we hiked in Sedona at Red Rock Crossing along a clear river gently flowing along the trial to view the impressive red Cathedral Rock.

On The Road Again To Palm Springs

The first stop on our new adventure was Lake Colorado City State Park which is located about 30 miles north of San Angelo, TX and serves as a peaceful resting stop after a long days drive.  We basically had the park to ourselves with only a couple of other visitors.

Our next stop over was Bottomless Lakes State Park in Roswell, New Mexico which is located half way between Lake Colorado City and Albuquerque.  This state park consist of a chain of eight lakes that are actually sinkholes that range from 17 to 90 feet deep and are nestled along the red gypsum bluffs.  The sun was hot and the water was cold making it the perfect place for Vegas to enjoy playing in the water and running around.

Today we are in staying Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Sandia Resort and Casino in their RV lot.  The winds yesterday were blowing at 60 miles an hour which made for windy drive.  Today the winds have calmed and we hope to be able to go up on the TRAM to the top of the mountain and have lunch.

Looking for a warmer place

We are on our way to Florida and for the last two days we have been in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. Last night it got down to 27 and I had to winterize the tiny house. The sun is out this morning and we are heading for Orange Beach Alabama. Ah to be warm again.