Thursday, April 30, 2015


Today was Jesse's last day of school.    Most "kids" are happy on the last day of school,  most adults are happy too!   Congratulations Jess you've worked hard and today is the last day of a very successful academic career.   Its first day of the rest of your life.

We've moved from the beautiful bucolic setting at Cherry Creek State Park  to our spot for the next 5 (ish) months at Dakota Ridge RV Park.   We have one site for a month, then we have to move to another for a bit, then back to this one, but we're happy to have a site at all at this late date.   The Elks Lodge in Westminster didn't work out for us so we were a bit at odds finding somewhere for the entire summer season.

The park is full of honey locust trees (at least that is what we call them back home) and the fragrance is intense.    The wind has come up and their tiny white petals are blowing around like snow flakes.

This location will be perfect for our time here and it will be so nice to sit still for awhile and relax.   We'll travel a bit from here this summer but Golden will be our "home" until after Jesse and Erin's wedding in September.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Ah.....absolutely perfect weather.   Sunny, warm, low humidity.   The trees are a beautiful shade of tender green against the impossibly blue sky.     I'm so glad we're finally here.

view from Beluga

Snow capped mountains peak over the Cherry Creek Reservoir.

I think we've nailed down our accommodations for the next few months.  That was the big event of the day.     Other than that, we didn't do anything shopping, laundry (hung towels out in the fresh air, so nice), and Dave grilled steak and asparagus for dinner.

Happy hour visitors today were two raucous magpies in the tree next to Beluga.   They made mincemeat of a clueless squirrel that ventured too close to their nest.   These guys are tough!

Tomorrow we move to Dakota Ridge RV Resort in Golden.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This morning we went into Westminster (a north and west suburb of Denver) to lay claim to a spot at the Elks Club there.     We did, but we're having second thoughts now.   Its not in the best neighborhood and the sites are terribly close together.      We drove over to the small city of Golden (home of Coors Beer) west of Denver to check out a private park that some of our RV friends will be staying at in the coming months.   It is quite pricey and the sites are close, but its in a much better area with views of the wonderful mountains.    What to do, what to do....

 For lunch we found a sweet little Mexican restaurant on Golden's main street and sat outside in the warm sun debating the pros and cons of both places.   There aren't many camping choices in the Denver area, we decided.    Plenty of lovely state parks, but they only allow a 14 day stay and we want to be here for much longer.    Oh well, stay tuned to see what we pick.

The weather today was sunny, breezy and a little chilly out of the sun.   We managed to find a sunny sheltered spot for happy hour and Lewis did very well dealing with the occasional pogo stick boy sightings.   Neither dog seemed bothered at all by the deer strolling all around us.   Go figure.

 It seems so long since we were able to sit outside, it felt really good today.   Perhaps we've turned the weather corner.

Monday, April 27, 2015

We're here!

We've crossed into the Mountain Time Zone, Sasha is still on Central.   She insisted we go to bed way too early last night (she twisted our arms) and woke us up at her regular time, earlier than we'd like.    I'm sure she'll adjust now that we'll be in this time zone for a few months....I hope, I hope.

We got a relatively early start this morning and continued our drive north through the plains.   We started out in grey drizzle, had a bit of beautiful sunshine, then plunged back into heavy mist as we approached Denver.   We haven't been able to see the mountains yet.

We're in for the night at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.   We enjoy this park, it is close to everything, yet feels very far away.   The sites are large with plenty of trees and grass and even some wandering wildlife.

the Denver skyline seen over Cherry Creek Reservoir

our site - #44 in Pioneer Loop

If it had been warm enough to have happy hour outside tonight, we would have hosted this bold visitor.  At first look I thought it was a deer, but I realized he was a young elk.  

Happy hour was held inside  mostly due to the very chilly and damp weather but also because of a young child across the way trying to master the pogo stick.   We know children on bikes terrify Lewis, but a wild and erratically bouncing child sent him to a new level of panic.

Tomorrow we'll drive up to the  Elks Lodge in Westminster to stake out a claim on a site for the summer.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Dave beat it to the office this morning to collect our 2 free donuts and good strong coffee.      We all enjoyed second cup, except Lewis.    He hates donuts.

He enjoys eating most things.....we can't figure out what the difference is between donuts and....say, coffee cake, or birthday cake, or bread, or cookies, or biscotti.     He eats tiny bits of the other "second cup goodies" happily.   Just NOT donuts.   He claps his lips, he backs away with a horrified look on his face.     Today, Dave offered him a very small bit of his bright pink donut.   It was gingerly taken, rolled on, frosting licked and ultimately rejected, once again.

take it away

We've stopped for the night in tiny Lamar, Colorado in the midst of the great plains.  The weather is cold, wind driven rain and The Elks have taken us in with a 50 amp gravel site and all three networks on the antenna.    Life is, once again, good.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


The weather forecasters were right!   Today we continued our drive on US 287 under brilliant blue skies and relatively light winds.     This is a good road with fast speeds and relatively little traffic.  

I have to admit I find this northern Texas scenery very restful.    Nothing in sight as far as the eye can see, and here the eye can see far!

We arrived in Amarillo around 3:30 this afternoon and settled down in the Amarillo Ranch RV Park.   It is a typical private rv park with close sites and close neighbors.    This park, however, has plenty of green space to walk the dogs,  offers free coffee and donuts in the morning and is close to a delicious, albeit extremely kitchy, steakhouse that has been here for at least 45 years (we ate at The Big Texan Steak Ranch on our first trip out west that many years ago.....).

Beluga is trying to ignore her neighbors

We enjoyed a great steak dinner, and are ready to turn in early.   Our original plans for tomorrow, for the rest of the week really, changed this afternoon.    Instead of heading to Albuquerque, we'll continue on US 287 north through the plains of eastern Colorado and into Denver.   Our campground for the summer has begun to fill up and it is first come, first served, so we want to make tracks to the Westminster Elks Lodge to make sure we get a spot.     We've never driven through eastern Colorado before, so we're looking forward to a new experience.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday in Vernon

It rained all night last night.    It rained hard.     When we pulled into our spot in tiny Alvord, Tx. the ground was already saturated, so the overnight downpour put Beluga smack in the middle of a red mud lake.   Sigh.  

This morning, in the rain, Dave walked the campground roads to be sure our exit wouldn't sink us in the mud.     He found a path he felt we could manage and we were off in Amarillo's direction.   The radar showed some hefty storms that were going to cross our paths, somewhere.    We decided to gamble rather than stay in Alvord and drown.

We drove in and out of downpours for a few hours, then the wind picked up.   We don't have an anemometer on board but Dave estimated the speed to be about 30 mph steady with gusts of at least 50 mph on Beluga's left rear corner.    The drive was a real battle.  Amarillo was a long way off.   We passed by a decent looking campground in Vernon so we made the first available U-turn and parked ourselves for the night.   Watching the radar, we saw storms raging all around us, but not one drop landed here at the Rocking A Campground.    We made a good choice.  

Our site is on the end of a fairly empty row, our only neighbor is a beautiful wheat field, rippling in the wind.    As the day wore on the sky over us cleared, the wind calmed  and we were treated to some bright, warm sunshine for a change.

The wheat is edged by a narrow row of bright blue bachelor buttons.     Oh Dave...

Vernon seems to be a nice little town in what feels like an endless no where.    We did a few errands, got the jeep washed and had a pleasant relaxed dinner.   On our way back into the campground we saw this fantastic scissor tailed flycatcher plying his trade next to the roadway.    What a beauty he was!

Tomorrow is another day.    The forecast is for sun and relatively calm winds so we're excited (excited, happy not excited, trepidatious) to continue our trek west.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday - beginning and ending

beautiful, soft mist on the lake this morning

just one of many traffic tie ups on I-20 and I-820

We're safely in for the night at a tiny RV park beside State Road 287 in  Alvord, Texas, between Fort Worth and Wichita Falls.

If I ever think about driving Beluga through the Dallas/Ft. Worth megalopolis during rush hour you have my permission to draw your  six shooter and peg me right between the eyes.......

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


This morning we enjoyed watching a couple local's working our waterside site.   A pair of bluebirds were considering moving into a martin house at the water's edge.    One of them checked out each hole in the house, going in and out and then chattering to the other one, waiting on our nearby post.
Must have been the guy waiting down below......

I don't know what the final decision was, or who made it.....    Meanwhile, two very busy and acrobatic little king birds zoomed around taking care of the little flying bugs that have been bedeviling Dave.    They don't bite, they aren't mosquitoes, but they swarm around his head and get behind his glasses - drive him out of his mind!

Small pleasures.

After our busy morning and second cup we loaded the dogs into the car and drove about an hour west to Livingston, TX and the Escapees Headquarters to pick up our mail.   When we were in the planning phase of our move from Florida we had considered staying at the Escapees Livingston campground but decided that the Sandy Creek COE would be more to our liking.   We're really glad we did.   To be fair, I won't go into detail but suffice it to say, we won't be staying with the Escapees in Livingston the next time we're in this part of Texas.    On the bright side, we picked up the large amount of accumulated mail (I finally have my new credit card!) and headed back to our peaceful spot by the lake.

our beautiful site from across the bay

Sadly we leave here tomorrow morning, drive northwest through Ft. Worth and on toward Amarillo with one overnight stop along the way.    We never saw the alligators, managed to avoid the fire ant  towers and thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the water's edge.

8 inch high fire ant tower - stay away!

Once again, we're watching the radar screen, keeping an eye to the sky and heeding the watch boxes so wish us luck.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday at the lake

view from the bedroom window


This morning we packed up, left Henderson and took I-10 through the rest of Louisiana and just over the border into Texas.

While on I-10 between Lafayette and Lake Charles, Louisiana we passed miles of flooded fields on both sides of the highway.   They looked like they were probably rice fields as they were uniformly shaped and flooded but these had small red "balls" at regular intervals

a very bad picture of a rice/crawfish paddy

It turns out they were rice fields, that is to say, used to be just rice fields - but now they were "growing" crawfish as well as rice!   Evidently rice has become an expensive crop to grow and market.    Wild crawfish were already living in the rice fields and eating the rice soooooo, some enterprising farmer decided to cultivate those "mudbugs" instead of  trying to market the rice.    I read that they sell them as fast as they produce them and it has turned into a huge industry - 90% of all crawfish now come from these fields.

Once we crossed over into Texas we exited the craziness of I-10 and headed north on state route 62 toward Jasper, Texas.   The road was in far better condition than the interstate and we rarely saw any other traffic.    The thing that was interesting to us was that the speed limit was the same - 75 mph - on this small two lane road that passed through little communities and businesses (those of you back home think route 15 type road!).      In Buna we turned on to US 96 and drove it into Jasper where we picked up US 190 west.    After about 10 miles we turned off onto a much smaller CR777, then down to a really small (one large, twisting lane with muddy ditches on either side) road, more like a lane.
We were at the weight limit for this particular road so we drove along, hoping that we had the correct directions and that we wouldn't crush the road or sink into a bayou before arriving at the lovely Sandy Creek Corps of Engineers Campground.   I took no pictures of the drive - I was holding my breath for the last part.

At any rate, we're settled for a couple nights in a really perfect campsite right on the lake in the middle of the Piney Woods.    There is no one else in our sight and its so very quiet except for the birds.....ah.

(only 3 things to watch out for here.....alligators (2), fire ant hills (obvious and hopefully easy to avoid if careful) and Sasha's southern enemy - sweet gum pods.)

Oh how Sasha hates to step on these babies!

Beluga is always very happy when we let her park next to the water.    She's happy tonight.

the new jeep listens attentively while Beluga explains
the finer points of camping by a lake

site 24

Tomorrow we'll drive the 50 or so miles into Livingston, Texas to pick up our mail!

Monday, April 20, 2015

And....we're off

This morning we said farewell to a soggy Florida panhandle and headed west on I-10.    It was a mostly  uneventful ride, dry roads, light traffic.      We passed one bad spot, one that no one ever wants to see.

The burning SUV didn't look like it was the result of an accident, but it doesn't matter how it started, it was awful to drive by.   The traffic on that side of the highway was at a standstill and the fire trucks trying to respond were as stuck as everyone else was.   They couldn't move.     We can only hope that no one was in the vehicle....

Our route took us over the mighty, muddy Mississipi River north of New Orleans and on probably 40 miles of raised highway over the deep swampland of the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge.

Mississippi River at Baton Rouge

It was good to be moving again, even though it was a fairly long driving day.    We've stopped for the night in Henderson, Louisiana at a private campground that is fairly empty at this time of year.   Its a good place to spend the night and for the first time in many weeks we can sleep without the air conditioner!

the campground even provided a Mallard escort to our site

Tomorrow we'll continue on to the Sandy Creek COE campground just west of Jasper, Texas.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Black and Blue

We woke this morning to Tornado warnings flashing across the television screen and on the weather radio.    Black Sky

I called the RV Park Office and asked where we should go if the warnings progressed to a watch.....Their answer was a bit disconcerting.    No shelters anywhere in the area.   "just get in your car and drive the opposite direction"......very reassuring advice don't you think?

The warnings persisted until around 2 p.m. and by that time we had lost any interest in sightseeing so we hung around the campsite for the rest of the day, planning our move west.

By cocktail hour the sky had cleared and the threat of bad weather had passed.    We're leaving in the morning before Mother Nature has a chance to regroup.