What a perfect time to release the fiftieth edition of my blog–just now going into Yellowstone National Park.
As we were entering by way of the north gate, things changed as we went into the world from years ago, a fantasy world of wilderness (except for all the tourists.) We saw that the park is basically divided into a northern loop drive, then one to the south–the north awaits–
Here we go!
As we are driving the fall colors are starting to show–orange, red, yellow–such a pleasure for the eyes, and, this is the perfect place to see the changes. This park is kept very nice, yet, too many people passing through. And, this being a Monday and Tuesday, I can’t imagine what I would be like in a nice summer weekend, bumper to bumper traffic for many miles, I would presume.
Four million people a year take the drive through this magnificent park, yet, we who are staying to the road are missing so much. You see, there is much more that can be experienced in this huge park. I would love to return to take a couple weeks of long walks with a backpack holding my stuff and sleep in the outskirts and mountains of the park to see what others won’t.
Tina keeps smelling natural things in the park that I cannot smell (you might say, “I smell bad?”.) I think this is from my brain injury from years ago; the nose does not work right. I feel that I am missing out on so much, but, when you don’t have it, you don’t know what you are missing, so I am alright.
August 29–After entering through the north gate, right away we were in the Mammoth Hot Springs. Bubbling water and steam in many areas, so strange to see.
At the entrance is the Roosevelt Arch, and then, as we entered, we came upon a herd of Pronghorn Sheep as a welcoming party. Then we saw boardwalks winding through the ever changing travertine terraces. We did the drive through the upper terraces.
At Norris Geyser we saw a variety of geysers and hot springs, quite dramatic they are. Quite an attraction for guests at the park.
We followed the road quite high into overlooks, and down into meadows and lakes where we saw many ducks and swans.
On to roaring mountain, where the heat and steam escaping the mountain is quite loud, and sometimes, I read, it has been heard up to four miles away.
There are five towns (well, kind of town like) located within Yellowstone, one of which is called Mammoth Springs. Restaurants, food stores, hotels, post offices, gas stations, everything you would need to live, at twice the price as outside the park. So, we did not spend much time in these towns.
There are five different ways to get in and out of the park. Each of the entrances has all of the above (I can tell they do like money from tourists.)
Rivers, lakes, forests, geysers, hot springs, animals, and waterfalls are in front of us, here we go further in. We saw more animals at The National Bison Range, but these lands hold so much.
We went to see Swan Lake, and we actually saw two swans on the lake. These brilliant birds were thought to be going extinct, but they are now making a comeback.
A nice drive, yet some of the drive was closed because of ongoing road work A park ranger said that with the newer vehicles the roads are too narrow. But, you know these Americans, the bigger the better (oh boy.)
This drive held so much, it is hard to remember all we saw. A park ranger said every day there is something new—in this ever changing park. As we were driving, we decided to exit by way of the northeast gate; you would not believe what awaited our eyes. The Bear Tooth Scenic Highway was spectacular. We drove up to a height of over 10,000 feet, way up there, though many switchbacks, but we did not see any snow patches, though.
A special thing, a fox walked across the road right in front of us, we could tell by the big bushy tail. Did not have time to take a photo, sorry for that. And, out in the distance, we saw many pronghorn sheep eating what they could.
Also in this upper loop, we saw a wild goat, a species introduced into the park and they are competition for the native bighorn sheep and native mountain goats. Sounds like some idiot a couple of their goats loose In the park and now they are causing problems (now, remember to keep your goats at home.)
Then down to Cody, Wyoming to spend the night at Kmart, which was right next to a McDonalds, where I could go online in the early morn the next day. For dinner we did a special treat for us, we went to a nice restaurant and shared a bison steak, which I’m told, is much healthier than cow (mow—I had to say it.)
August 30—Back into the park by way of the east entrance, and, look at that, tremendously beautiful High Mountain peaks all around us.
As we were going in we noticed a sign saying, “hard sided camping only”, meaning no tents. With the bears in the park, you have no safety in a tent—the bears will gobble you up. A disappoint for me, we did not see any bears in Jellystone Park (hey Yoggy), I was hoping so much we would. I joke with Tina often that I want to find a bear and play pat-a-cake with said bear.
As you arrive in through this entrance, you run right into Yellowstone Lake, a huge natural lake. In this lake, you can see many natural hot springs here and there. I don’t think this is a lake you would want to go for a swim in, you might turn out hardboiled (but then again, you may like that.)
Then we stopped at Le Hardys rapids, we were hoping to get a glimpse of a grizzly bear we heard was eating on a bison carcass, which the day before two bears were fitting over. However, when we got there, the buffet was already over. Where this carcass was, rapids were everywhere on the river, looking like it would be difficult for any boat to maneuver through.
We went to see the upper and the lower falls, which are in, what they call, “The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.” Magnificence is a word that comes to mind, what a display if power these falls held. The walls of the canyon were such a beautiful array of color. After a short walk in, you start to hear the falls, then before you, water is nonstop going over the edge, how beautiful.
On each side of the canyon, because of the river flowing, though, the canyon walls get higher and higher. And, the way the sides are cut out, it looks spectacular. Red and blue color running through the rocks with white like marble made this a feast for the eyes.
And, I cannot leave off “Old Faithful”, such a big part of Yellowstone, that had to be a part of our trip. Going off about every 91 minutes, we got there with about 35 minutes to go. Then the rest of the crowd started showing up, I could not believe the big crowd that was there by the time the geyser blasted, and for a Tuesday.
It went off, not too big a deal, but good to see it once again. I was in the park in the eighties and witnessed.
August 31—Directly below Yellowstone is Grand Teton, and grand it is. There had been a fire to the south of Yellowstone, which we had to drive through to get there, what was left looked devastating. For the Tetons you simply drive on one road and see the majestic mountains off to your right (driving from north to south.)
What a wonderful experience, if you ever get the chance, you must go. Until then, there are many videos on YouTube that will show you the sites.
September 1—This was a day of driving from the Tetons to Rock Spring.
September 2–Currently we are driving on The Sheep Creek Geological Loop, this is amazing. Around every corner is a different landscape for the eyes, just keeps getting better and better. From red rocks to very large boulders to green trees growing to pine forest–how surprising. But, being Wyoming, this state is a collage of colors, magnificent.
We had stopped by a park office and she suggested taking this loop, I am so glad we did.
The whole time we only saw one truck, a great thing to see, us alone in the wilderness. But, I am wishing we did more hiking in woods. Longhorn sheep are the only wildlife we saw. We were going to pass by this area quickly but got captured by the visual delicacies that it contained.
September 2-4—On the map, we saw The Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway and had to take the drive, boy, am I glad we did. The whole drive was quite beautiful. We drove to Spirit Lake, were we put up for the night.
This campsite was right on a breathtaking river and woods all around.
This trip is quite an amazing anthology of experiences that will last a lifetime, I am glad you are along for the ride.
In the last blog I had written that I am going to start posting this blog every Sunday, today is that day, here you go. I also write that my daughters, April and Jasmine, said they will write to me every Sunday, too, I hope they follow through.
Last night we awoke to a large thunderstorm, which kept us awake for a time. In the morning, as we were departing, in a meadow we saw a moose! His large antlers sticking up, I had to think of Bullwinkle.
Heading toward Colorado next, you will hear more soon.January 9, 2017
- Having trouble including photos again. I do want to get these words off to you, so you will see photos later when the connection is better.What a wonderful life on the road for Tina and I, if you ever get the chance to do the same, you must partake. Right now our plan is to visit all 56 National Parks (NP). Separately we have each gone to some NP, and we have done a few together already. Starting toward the north, and west we go.As I am sitting here typing this offline in a forest, I am so joyful my life has come to this. Tall trees starting to hide the sun as it goes down, a cricket making his cricket noise, grass covering the surface of the ground where I am typing and where the van sits, the lovely smell of nature–a peaceful tranquility overwhelms the place.
Yes, back to the wilderness, a place where I like to be. Seeing the amazing amount of elk and bison yesterday added so much. A comfort knowing I am back with Tina and we are back in the wilderness where we belong.August 8-9, 2016–Talk about wilderness, this was our first experience of being face-to-face with Bison, Prairie Dogs and wild horses–it is tremendous! Along with the animals, we saw a beautiful waterfall, as I dipped my head in . . .Currently at Niobrara River in Valentine, Nebraska, very nice. And, I thought Nebraska was only flat and boring. We popped into a Walmart parking lot for the night. Being unsure of how to pronounce the name, “Niobrara”, we had to ask a local the pronunciation; do you know yourself how so say this word? This area was a fort for soldiers.August 9-10–The Nebraska National Forest is spectacular. Red Cloud Campground was somewhat close to the highway, which I did not like because of the traffic noise, but, as night fell, the traffic noise dissipated more and more, so, here is where we spent the night. Firewood was plentiful, so I built a big one that evening and the following morning.In driving we saw a herd of long-horned steers, it was magnificent.The next night we went to Soldier Creek Campground, and, because there were no trees for shade, we did not want to stay. We found a place to spend the night outside the campground at a picnic area that had trees. Also, I built a fire ring with rocks and we had nice flames in the night.On forward we went by Wounded Knee. Tourists traps everywhere, I did not want to be “trapped” and my knee didn’t even hurt, we just passed through.Have you ever heard of a Prairie Dog Town? What a delight to see. In an area about 20 by 20 kilometers there were many burrows, with heads of bodies of small animals sticking up looking around, many standing on their hind legs as they make cute little sounds. We had just wanted to go and play with them. These little guys attracted many viewers.Why, lookie there, a big herd of Elk standing tall. Very gentle creatures, I could tell. They were off a distance, hoping the photos came out. It looked like they were in a club (The Elks Club, you might know.)All my life I have known them as Buffalo, now I hear that they are called American Bison. How this name change happened I do not know, but we saw many–and some within three meters of the van. Their heads are huge, hope you can tell by the photos.August 11-12–Our first night we huddled up at Badlands National Park Campground. Too many tourists for me; a lot of people around. We did meet Noe Detore, who was camping with his family. A good man, he had his wife and six adopted kids with them. Knowing him very little, I am still so impressed with how he helps people. Learn of him (and also help) at africatoafrica.org.We have been to other campsites like this, just too many people. And, the way it is set up is nice, but too structured, too organized, too clean, we like more remote sites nearer to animals. So, off we scurried in the morn.The Badlands offer much. I am not spiritual in any way, but seeing the wilderness of the Badlands makes me want to be. First settled by the Lakota Tribe, there are not many of them around anymore. We saw peaks and valleys of delicately banded colors and foliage, with a thousand tints of color which changes with the movement of the sun.In the past these lands were both dread and fascination for humans who viewed the landscape. The Lakota tribe knew the place as macu sica, meaning “bad land”. I have seen much of the world, but I was totally unprepared for the revelation of the Dakota badlands. This is a mysterious land of a distant architecture full of ethereal sites.
12-13–A strange name, we stayed in Nemo, SD at Fox Elder Forks Campground.We were the only ones there and, being hot from the sun, we stayed out of the park at the day use area, which was more comfortable.13-14–Next stop, Teddy Roosevelt National Park
Campground. Once more, many people at this park. The lady at the front told us there were no open spots, but we drove in anyway to look around. It was already late and we did see some empty spots, so we simply took one.August 14-15–Through freecampsites.org we found one in Ekalaka (what a fun word), a grassy park right in town.
At first I was unsure of I liked this place, but grew to like it. We did see that nearby in Custer National Park were some campsites, so off we went to look, instead of staying in Ekalaka. But, we could not find these remote campsites, so back to we went to the campground at Ekalaka. Turned out very nice after all. At one point a doe and her fawn meandered by, within about ten meters, so nice.There happened to be a town festival going on, we were there on the last day. A rodeo and other experiences were awaiting us.15-16–Deeper into Montana and the National Park System we go. Staying at Red Shale Campground in Custer National Park, the first thing I had to do, once again, was walk around and clean up “stuff” people left, one of which was about 25 cigarette butts. How can these people simply throw these things on the ground, but it seems to go along the mindlessness of smoking in the first place.We just visited the monument for Custer, Little Big Horn, and I felt anger and pain here. The Cheyenne peoples were decimated here–for no reason. Custer attacked, and they responded, winning the battle, but later losing the war.America is still doing this evil taking over of countries and the world, the middle east currently. It makes me ashamed to be an American.August 17-18–Stayed in Spring Creek Campground near Checkerboard in Lewis and Clark National Park. We had our own little stream running behind the campsite and loved this place.August 18-19–Cascade, Montana has a park in town where we stayed for the night.
Another place to sleep through freecampsites.org, we slept well, although the highway was near, there were not many vehicles driving. The temperature is the coldest we have experienced so far; makes for nice sleeping. Right now we are in Cascade, Montana. If you are a juggler you know this word well.I was up early as usual, Tina awoke to a sprinkler putting water droplets on the grass, also on the van.August 19-21–In Mortimer Gulch outside of Augusta, Montana. What a fabulous place. We are planning to go to Glacier National Park, but we do not want to arrive on a weekend. So, we are just spending time until Monday, and what a great way to spend time, this place if beautiful.This morning, as Tina was heading for the toilet she came upon six deer crossing the road. I heard a “yip” from Tina and went to investigate. The deer and Tina looked at each other, smiled, and went their separate ways. I think it started all parties involved.At places we like much we spend a couple nights, we like this, so here we are for two nights.As you might know, at most campsites we make a fire in the evening, then in the morning. What is really strange with a fire is, wherever you are sitting the smoke from the fire follows you and is in your face so that you cannot see or breath. So strange.Our plan is to travel with the warm weather, so, this will be about the end of the north before he meander south. Neither of us like the cold weather at all, so warmer weather lies ahead. Seeing a glacier at the end of summer is alright, but down we go, to ends toward warmer times.August 21-22–On our way toward Glacier National Park we found a roadside rest area that looked inviting, so we took the invitation and stayed for the night. It is 5am and I am typing words for you. We are on a smaller road, hardly any traffic at all. So, very quiet, although I hear the sounds of an owl off in the distance.Glacier National Park is such a delight! We would each like to spend so much time here. We were up at 7-8,000 feet and looking up at Mountains a couple thousand feet higher. We were quite cold.As we are driving toward Glacier Park we are surrounded by smoke, we found out there is a forest fire to the south. So, photos will not turn out so good, I believe. but, you decide. And, as we are nearing the top of the mountains we look all around us and there are dead trees, everywhere.Also, most of the lakes have water levels that are quite low, which is shocking. I thinking this is because much of each glacier has melted and so there is no new water to feed to the lakes. A sad thing. In fact, if you ever want to see a real glacier in this park, you better get here quickly before they all melt.
As we were exiting the park we saw a number of cars slowing down and looking at something over by a stream. Looking around we saw a moose standing in the stream. He was looking back at everyone and the look on his face seemed to say, “Yea, you bunch of idiots (Kit
included), I’m a moose, what’s the big deal?”All through Montana all the lakes and streams are Crystal clear–lovely to see.August 22-23–With no time restrictions we are traveling as we want, in time and direction.We stayed at St. Mary’s Lodge at the exit for Glacier National Park (actually, we stayed in the van while the van was parked at St. Mary’s Lodge.) I noticed that on our way south we would be near National Bison Range, a small green space on the map. We almost didn’t go, in that we recently did see many bison, but in we went, to our delight. This was like an American safari, we went from one section to another, through the loop tour and we saw:
23-24–Yet another Walmart where we slept.August 24-25–Lake Inez Campground in Lolo National Forest in Seely, Montana was one of the best free campsites we have been at. But, we awoke with temperatures quite low, so we decided to move on, south and lower states await, where it might be warmer.August 25-27—What a fantastic night at a free campsite, with a beautiful lake at our backdoor–Fishhawk Campground near Helena is on the Missouri River
- A black bear
- Bison (of course)
- Big horned sheep (rams)
- Golden Eagles
- Pronghorn antelope
.This is property that many would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to own, our back yard for the night–luxurious. We had a superb place right above a clean and clear lake with a nice view–couldn’t ask for better.We were the only ones here the whole time, it was magnificent.After we first pulled in, I did my usual thing of cleaning up the campsite how I can. At this one I must have picked up over 35 cigarette butts. I do hope that you don’t smoke, but if you do, please never throw your butt on the ground. It seems like this goes along with smoking for some reason. I would call you a fool if you smoke, but I won’t (oh, too late.)August 27-28–In a Walmart once again for the night. This one was noisy, a train going by nearby in the middle of the night for one thing.August 28–We went to a movie today! Tina had not seen “The King and I” for some years, myself, too. What a wonderful movie. Then it was off to a rest stop for the night right off of a road, but very quiet that night..August 29-30–Yesterday we went through the top loop of Yellowstone Park. It was almost overwhelmingly wonderful. I will be writing about Yellowstone in my next blog, so, look forward to it.
In the next Blog post I promise you I will put more effort into producing great words. I feel that in this one I simply stated experiences.My daughters, April and Jasmine, and I talked. We agreed that they would write to me every Sunday to let me know about their life in the past week and what is planned for the upcoming–I am so happy about that. Them and I agreed that my blog will fill them in on what I am up to.
What about you, are you going to write to me?As you know, I have been releasing these writings on no set schedule. From now on I plan on releasing a new post each Sunday. So, less words for you to read, but more often. As you know, if you no longer wish to receive my blog posts, let me know, I will take you off the list to receive (I will miss you, though.)On to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, you will hear more . . .November 22, 2016
- A black bear
- August 1, 2016–Finally on the road again, I’ve missed it. Right now I am writing you through gmail offline, I will write more later about this.We have been staying parked at various places near Allentown, Pennsylvania, one of which was Tina’s mom’s house while she was in the hospital. At 94, she is still living alone. She had fallen and needed some recovery.I myself had to go to the hospital while here. Food would get stuck in my esophagus and would not go down, it would also not come up. So, I had to suffer through and wait until the food would pass down, it was terrible. My throat narrowed because of an allergy, don’t know what I am allergic to to cause this, I will be care of what I intake.In the operation, the doctor put a tube down my throat while I was asleep under anesthesia. Then he inflated the tube and widened my esophagus.Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is thought to be a type of allergy that is often caused by food (I’ve had many allergies in my life.) When someone with EoE eats or even inhales some things in the environment, a type of white blood cell called eosinophils collect in the esophagus. As these cells aren’t normally there, they can cause symptoms such as swallowing difficulties, stomach pain, and vomiting.It had gotten to the point where I was having this trouble with swallowing almost daily. I had the surgery once before for the same thing a couple years ago; I do hope this does not occur every couple of years.They put me totally out before the procedure. Anesthesia is a strange thing,it puts you out so completely and quickly. Hard to believe they cannot find a drug of a mix that can be used to kill someone, as it is so easy to go under. I just drift off so easily and comfortable, then, I awaken (seems so quickly) in the recovery room. Have you gone through the experience? I have a number of times, quite enjoy it.I believe this is how death will be, just passing away and not knowing a thing. I would say I am looking forward to the experience, but, I don’t think so (not yet, anyway.)In the past, at times, I would not be able to go to sleep because I would try and see the point where I pass from consciousness to unconsciousness. Of course, I would keep myself awake doing such a thing. As I was passing out from the anesthesia I tried to again, but I just got more and more comfortable and did not see the point. Try this while going to sleep, let me know . . .
In my blogs I have want to start including segments from the books I have written, so now is the time to start. For upcoming posts I want to choose a topic to write inspirational words with, starting with this blog. The words will come at the end of my travel writings, hoping to inspire and motivate you.
August 3–Because there is not much to see, we went across Ohio and Indiana quickly; wanting to get back to the forests and wilderness. Long, flat, straight roads, we accomplished our goal of getting across quickly.
We stopped at a couple Walmart’s to spend the night along the way. These are just places to rest our head for the night. Not much to write about, in the wilderness soon, I hope, then words will fly.
The drive continues through the state of Iowa, more flat, more corn growing, not much to see. Corn and soy beans are the main crops that grow in this state, so very much corn, hard to believe. Our aim is to get to the mountains in South Dakota to start, then on to more wilderness.
August 5-7–Moving forward, north in Iowa we go. Through Freecampsites.net we came upon a site that is quite hidden away, hardly used I can tell–Hieb Memorial Park in Marion, South Dakota–is a delight.
No one around, yet they keep all the grounds in top shape, clean and nice. There are two baseball fields, a swinging walking bridge over the river, picnic tables, electric available and water available to about five campsites.
Also, within a short walk is a very large pool with two diving boards. I was the only one in the very clean pool at the time, hope it is used enough.
So hidden away, this place is fabulous. We had the whole place to ourselves. I’ve used the free electric to charge up all our battery powered things. We filled all our water jugs for the future. It is free to stay here for a week, then they charge $150 a month to stay, which is so little to live with electric and water supplied.
Such a small town, even the mayor of the town, Ron, came to greet us. Such a treasure this town is, yet the fields and area are not utilized enough, I can tell.
Because no one is around I will be using my outdoor sun heated shower today (once again, with no clothes on, don’t tell anyone.)Sorry, no photos.
Just one problem with this place, many many flies in the area. We had to shew away about 30 from the van before we could get to sleep.
Once again, the English language bothers me (not “bugs” me, I will write more later.) Why would a people use the word “fly” to call this small insect, simply because they fly around? Too simpleton, this bug can fly so let’s call it a fly, couldn’t they think of anything else?
Now we get to the word, “bug”. Most all insects are called “bugs”, why is it when something bothers us we say, “it bugs us”? Why not, “it insects us”?
August 7-8–On the map book we saw there were some lakes and the Missouri river in the southeast corner of the state of Nebraska, so off we went. We drove to a secluded spot then made and ate sandwiches (another strange word, sand has nothing to do with them, they would taste awful.)
While eating we heard some live native American music coming from the other site of the lake–we had to investigate. What we came upon was fantastic. This was on the Yankton Reservation near Lake Andes.
A group of Dakota (native American) people were having their annual powwow. There was drumming along with singing and chanting, also many kids and people dancing. Later there was food for everyone, we ate well; including buffalo meat.
This annual powwow event attracts some hundreds of people, it is fabulous. Friendliness was abundant and everyone was having a fantastic day; this was the last day of the three day event. It is like a family reunion in a big way.
I do not like to call these native peoples, “Indian”. You may know, when Columbus sailed over and found America he thought he had found a back way to India, so he called the people, “Indians.” To me this is kind of an insult that this name stuck.
While at the powwow I talked with a number of people, one of whom was Sharon Drapeau. Sharon is a member of the Ihanktonwan tribe (aka, the Yanton Sioux tribe, as the white man named the tribe.) Sioux is actually a French word, I believe.
At one point I asked Sharon, I said, “So, when are they going to give this land back to you?”
I asked one lady what she likes to be called, she said, Dakota. There is the wording, “Native American”, but that is like calling all Spanish, English, German, . . . people, European. Call these people by their tribal name. Just in this area there are the Dakota, the Lakota and the Nakota people. Each of the three groups of people speak somewhat the same original language, just different ways to say certain things.
We were about the only white people here. Funny, I am called white and I am actually kind of red colored. This is just like someone is called black and they are actually brown. So sad that people could not think of better wording then a name sticks. I like using dark and light skin.
August 8–The next day our journey continued, we drove down one road where we were the only vehicle for many many miles. At one point we passed two churches, one on each side of the road, at one point, yet there were no houses anywhere for many miles. How do these people and buildings make enough to keep going?
While driving along we saw a sign saying something about a shore area. We diverted and went down. As usual in this area, we were the only ones within many miles. I needed a cleaning and there was the lake, so off came the clothes, on went some soap, and in I went–Kit the skinny dipper. Within some minutes I reemerged quite clean, smiling and happy.We stopped to have lunch at a small remote campground with grass and a nice lawn. We might have stayed here, but they wanted $8 a head to stay the night. I know that is still a low price to pay, but when you can easily stay free in the van we just can’t do it. Tina did pay $2 to take a shower.
So off we went toFort Niobrara National Forest, and getting there was the best of the Fort.
First we passed by many elk whowere in an elk farm. Quite large, they did not come near the fence between us.
Just down the road we came upon hundreds of bison. Growing up I knew of them as “buffalo”, but that is incorrect. American Bison is the right wording.These were magnificent, I got within four feet (a big fence between us.) Sorry to say, they did not speak English.Next we saw a bunch of animals poking their head out of the borrow. Yes, prarie dogs were everywhere, and how cute they were.Heading west, you will hear from us soon again.November 22, 2016
My apologies for the delay in getting this next post to you. We have not been traveling, so not much to write about. So, b
Back to writing, I know it has been awhile, sorry for the delay in keeping you up. Tina and I have been parked at her mother’s house. Tina had some doctor appointments in the area, and Tina’s mom is currently in the hospital. At 94 years old, she is getting up there. And, she still lives alone with only Tina’s sister to help.
Actually, Tina’s mom was born in this house 94 years ago and never lived at any other locations. I have never heard of anyone living in one place so long. Also, she has a cat, as you might know, I am allergic to cats, so it is hard for me to be in her home. Not hearing well and not seeing much, I am surprised she has been able to live in her home so very long all by herself.
Also, my computer had to be sent back to Lenovo to get repairs, so we have to stay in the area until I pick that up. Hoping it will be back in a week or two. And, Tina has had her car parked at her mother’s house for some time (while we were traveling) and squirrels ate electrical wires in the engine, so, we have to wait until that is finished, too.
We haven’t been traveling, so not much to write about. Already getting tired of city noises and city life, we need to return to the wilderness as soon as possible.
First, I have to say, I had many words written for this next blog. I was working offline in a fabulous wilderness area and somehow I highlighted much text, the next time I typed it erased all that was highlighted. So then, I thought if I clicked on “Discard” it would get rid of the recent changes, but it deleted the whole blog, could not find it in the trash or anywhere. So, I am starting anew, going from memory. I did have some good words for you, hoping I can meet the level with this set of words. Yes, I learned something.
Using memory can be difficult for me, a challenge?
Through talking with some other travelers (other people who travel and live in their vehicle I will call “travelers”) we learned of welcomehome.org. Seems like a hippy type gathering, many people there, why not. I will write of that below.
June 10-14–Back to Delaware State Forest in northeast Pennsylvania. What a beautiful area, glad we returned. We went from one campsite to another, each as was lovely as the next. These are free campsites and quite all are quite secluded.
Then, we stayed in the Quakertown, Pennsylvania area for a time for doctors’ appointments and preparing for our long adventure in the world.
June 23-26–Off to Campground in NY State, Balsam State Park. A nice free campsite on a lake, yet, we were here for the weekend, so, many showed up. Some loud generators to make power were running (seemed like constantly) and someone was blasting music, I went and asked him to turn it down, which he did (a little.) So, a nice campground, yet, I did not like the people here. Cigarette butts and trash all around, this is the worst campground we have been to.
The people, too, seem to not be all with-it. Much drinking, smoking and loudness we did witness. So many mindless minds abounded? I even heard from someone who saw someone with a chainsaw cutting down young trees for fuel for their fire—disgusting.
In the afternoon on the 25th a forest ranger showed up and went down by the water where people were fishing. I went up and talked with him, asking exactly what he does, he said he just checks to make sure everyone is alright and checks for fishing licenses and if the fish are too small to keep.
I complained about not liking the control that people are under in this country, he made some excuses. Then, I ask him why he carries a gun and if he has ever used it, he said no and that it is, “just in case”. I let him know I thought it was ridiculous (glad he didn’t use it on me.)
June 27-28–Off to the Adirondacks! And back to Hapgood Pond Campground. Looking toward the north on the map, we saw some beautiful places to visit. We stayed at this campground once before, and liked it, so, here we are.
After that terrible time at that last campsite with all the people, we discovered one of the best places we have been at through freecampsites.org.
June 28–Earlier I wrote about the Rainbow Gathering (welcomehome.org) We decided to stop by a few days before, knowing that the event occurs from June 1-7, with July 4 being the biggest day. With only one road going in and out, hard to imagine how the expected 10,000 people could enjoy the event.
This was days before the start, there were already many cars parked on this road; people had to walk quite a ways into the goings on. In fact, because of the line of cars parked on one side of the road, cars could not pass each other and one would have to back up to a place that’s safe to pass. Remember, this is a National Park and wilderness and trees lined both sides.
Tina and I agreed that this was not planned very well.
We decided not to return when things started. We saw things were not really too organized, and, once the thousands of people showed up, there would be no where to park to sleep in the van. I could see if you brought your own tent and living stuff you could just park your car, hike in, and not return or drive your car for a week.
We heard that you could park some ways away and that there were shuttles to drive people in, but I cannot imagine a bus/shuttle trying to pass another vehicle on this small road, and, there really is no place to turn around once they are in.
So, off we went on our way.
June 29-July 2–We drove some kilometers in on a dirt road, five or so. The road ended at a lake, after driving down a long steep part of the road. We could tell that not many people come to this area, it was wonderful. At first the van had trouble climbing back up this step incline; the tires spun on the gravel and rocks. I backed up to the level earth, made a run for it, and we succeeded in ascending back onto level ground.
On our way out we saw some road/paths that lead to the side. We took one of these and found they were to campsites, excellent. The best we found had a fire ring, one meter high level stumps for tables, and someone even put a toilet with a seat a ways away. In fact, being so remote, this was one of the best campsites we have stayed in. (and, compared to the last, this was heaven.)
July 2-3—We actually paid for a campground, North Bay Campground, a whole $18, expensive for us. They have showers and wifi, so we were pleased. So easy go get here, it attracts many. But, we like real “remote” camping, like the last place we were at.
July 4-5—Off to Sugar Hill State Forest in the state of NY and Sugar Hill Campground. There are many big motor homes and they have stables here (for some reason.) There are a number of horses and, I am told, one guy has been staying here for three weeks and goes riding with his wife daily.
July 18–Still waiting for my computer to return from being repaired, then we will be on our way west. Once again, sorry for the delay in getting this most recent post out to you. We will be back on the road soon again and more words will fly your way soon.
Also, I would love to hear from you, but, please don’t delay like I did.July 21, 2016
Life keeps getting better and better.
- Back with Tina.
- Back to traveling.
- Back to living in the van.
- Back to happiness.
May 22–Today was an excellent day. Tina and I traveled to Bake Oven Knob, which is part of the Appalachian Trial. We walked for about a kilometer up to the Knob. As the trail started it was a dirt trail, and then got rockier and rockier with small and large rocks and boulders. Because of my balance issues and vision troubles, this was difficult for me to maneuver, I fell a couple times. Back in the old days I would dance along these rocks with no problem.
A couple people we talked to who were also walking the trail were traveling on the Appalachian Trail for many many kilometers, through a number of states. I gave them my card and they told me they will send me an email, and that they write a blog and I can get on their list, too.
What was absolutely terrible for me was, about every couple of meters, there was a cigarette butt or human trash. These idiots who smoke (hope you are not one) think they have a right to discard their butt wherever and whenever they want, this is just wrong.
After we did our walk in the woods, we had acquired a list of about ten local wineries to visit for wine and cheese tasting. We did try some good wine and purchased some bottles. By the end of our wine tour we were feeling quite nice (tipsy?) from our wine sipping, alright to drive, though.
We drove to a local Walmart, and next to this place to sleep was an Italian restaurant that lets you bring in your own wine, which we did. We shared a meal and enjoyed our wine. After that we found a parking place to sleep toward the back of the Walmart which was quiet and dark.
As I am typing this on the following morning, Tina is asleep out in the van and I am seated in a back room at the Walmart where I could plug in. Currently there is a “team meeting” going on, where the upper people are telling the under employees how to do better. They are doing cheers and such to get people going–just seems so ridiculous. I have never really worked for a company, so just seems so silly to me.
May 24–We decided to hit the road! Tina has to be back for a medical appointment on June 2, so we have until then to travel–just like the old days. We looked at a map of Virginia, liked what we saw with all the National Parks, so off we went. We had each already, separately, been through Skyline Drive, which goes through Shenandoah Park, so we took a different route.
After driving about 100 miles, half way down, we looked for another Wegmans (we had stayed at one recently, open 24 hours) for the night (much classier than Walmart), none around, we had to settle on parking in a Walmart parking lot. Much less class here, but with the windows covered and all light blocked out, we have no idea where we are, and so, this will do.
On our drive out we had to go through Allentown, Pennsylvania, a fairly large city. Anymore, I do not like cities–wilderness for me, for us, always. I’ve traveled much of the world; I have found that, worldwide, cities do not differ much. But, with different rock formations, various forest settings, different water architecture–the wilderness has a diversity that adds to my life, fulfills me. I hope you get out in the woods now and then, it heals.
May 27–The night before last we stayed at Wolf Gap Campground–so nice to be out-of-doors once again. We went for a hike up a hill, Tina is always being wary of bears, since she came upon one that one time.
Now it is morning and I awoke before the sun was up. No one else around, I like it this way, but, I miss you. This is a free camp place, and there is no drinking water available right now because of plumbing issues, but that is alright. We always carry five one gallon jugs full of water. Tina is getting some more shut eye in the van.
Last night we walked down to a little creek and washed up, felt good to be clean. Today I will be washing all of me including my hair at this little creek, and I mean little, it is only about eight centimeters in depth.
You may remember I wrote about the metric system previously a few posts ago. This is a superior way to figure. Every other part of the world changed to using the metric system, a good thing, why hasn’t the US?
Back in the seventies, under President Jimmy Carter, we were trying to convert to this system, so many lazy citizens here; the American people would not go for it. It is like learning a new language, something people here to not want to achieve, so sorry for that.
I will be learning and converting to this new system, will you join me?
As you might remember, with my old computer the battery did not work, I had to be plugged in. So, we would often have to pull over to find a McDonalds, with free wifi and electric. Right now I am typing with the computer sitting on the picnic table and me in a nice chair; very comfortable. I will be writing more and more while out-of-doors, very nice. Thank you again, Albert, for getting this computer for me.
On our way we stopped by The National Bridge of Virginia. Cost is $18 to go and see it; I thought the cost was too high, Tina still wanted to go; I stayed with the van doing some improvements. She took this photo:
Here is more about the natural bridge:
May 27–Now at North Creek Campground in Jefferson National Forest:
The coming weekend is Memorial Day, so I made sure we secured somewhere to stay.
Talk about a wonderful place to be:
- Very quiet.
- Spaced nicely between sites.
- Butterflies were abundant.
- Many birds everywhere.
- Saw two deer on the way up.
- The toilets were quite clean,
- No insects bugging us.
- Only nine campsites.
- Towering trees reach for the sky everywhere.
- Out our back door is a strong running creek.
- In the creek is a pool where we can bathe.
- Fish were swimming around.
- Birds are making their bird noises.
- The temperature is quite comfortable.
- I am able to write to you this morning while Tina is continuing to sleep.
Could not ask for more.
Last night, as we were preparing to make dinner (yummy tacos again) the rain started. So, we shifted everything into the van and enjoyed our meal much. Also, with the rains, I put the plants outside to soak in the drops. As you might know, we grow lettuce, spinach and cilantro in the van, serves us well.
What a pleasure to be able to sit in the forest and write you. As winter ends and spring begins, my mind turns to the wilderness once again.
In the technical age, our culture has almost forgotten the need for humans to experience the natural environment. We’re so busy, so connected, so wound up in our own unnatural worlds; we are losing our natural ways.
If you can, make time to get in the outdoors in a natural environment for at least twenty minutes daily–a local park can work. This will revitalize you and get your mind thinking clearly. Twenty minutes in nature and you are better able to face challenges and you will feel perkier about life in general.
Regular exposure to nature affects the body, as well. Your immune system improves; your body has lower concentrations of cortisol (a stress hormone) lower pulse rate and lower blood pressure. With the sun, your body and mind will produce more vitamin D, which will help prevent osteoporosis and cancer and lower your chance of having a heart attack.
If you work in an office setting, it is much better if you can have your window facing the outdoors and nature. Bring in flower plants and eatable plants to place on your desk. Even posters of nature can help your mind. And, sunlight is so important.
So, take time to get away from:
>>your smart device
Get back to nature–it will heal you and comfort you.
It’s easy to get holed up in our dens of technology, but stepping outside, nature or not, is the best thing for you–in oh so many ways. Whether you’re suffering from frequent coughs or colds or you are simply in a creativity rut, the outdoors may be just the fix you’re looking for.
Time spent outside, specifically, time spent immersed in nature, can bathe your mind in meditative relaxation. In Japan, this is known as “forest bathing”, but you don’t need to get deep into the forest to reap the benefits, although, I am loving being in the forest. Just stepping into a park or outdoor “green” area can confer immediate effects.
Reboot your brain with nature!
After some time spent outside, you will feel more productive, more focused and may even experience an improvement in your memory; being outside can especially rekindle that spark of creativity that may have dissipated from your daily routine. Your mind will be rejuvenated to aim toward betterment.
Above all else, those who spend more time outdoors also experience lower incidences of depression. Think of the outdoors as a soothing balm for your brain. Get as much of it as you can.
In 1977 I graduated from Point Loma High in San Diego, and, graduating with me was my friend, Daniel Powell. Because of some real estate investments early in his life, he has had the resources to travel and to live the life that he wants. He has been to many parts of the world exploring, although, not necessarily to visit cities, his latest escapade was a trip to New Zealand backcountry.
Jealous, perhaps, I just know that we can all live a better life, like Daniel. And, it will not take gobs of money to do it.
In the place where you reside, plant many edible plants, as well as many flower plants. Buy “fun”iture that you love, buying used works for me. Bring the wilderness to you, your home, and your yard. Don’t just “live” your life, design the life that “you” want, as Tina and I have done by buying the van and traveling.
May 28–Awoke before the sun was up at all, as usual. Laid in bed until light was into the area. Then, off to the races with me. This campsite is excellent. Always projects for improvement to the van, enjoyable for me, yes. We spent two nights at this luxurious campsite, we did not want to, but time to move on.
May 29–Off we went to Trout Pond Campsite in Washington National Forest. Many people here, after all, it is Memorial Weekend here in the US. We found a vacant campsite, not as nice as our last one, but there are a lot of trees and birds. And, a shower available here–yes, time for both of us to clean up. Tina is in there now, it has been some time.
A healthy life is a simple equation, really. You can either spend your life indoors and sad, or you can be gallivanting outdoors and loving it. You can either take years off of your life, or add quality to your life.
Get outside, you’ll use your muscles more, you may even smile more. You’ll also push yourself harder when you get outside. Addicted to your gym membership? Consider the outdoors as a free gym membership that you shouldn’t squander, it’s always available.
And, reset your eyes on your future. If your job entails you stare at a screen under flickering florescent lights for eight hours a day, you need to get outside more. The natural light of the outdoors relieves the eyes from the strain of artificial lighting and screens.
For children, especially, spending more time outdoors may help decrease the risk of a development of nearsightedness, too. Keep your eyes healthy by taking a gander outside on the regular basis.
The people who spend more time outside have a significantly higher immune function, including an increase in natural killer cells, than those who spend much of their time indoors.
Natural killer cells are powerful agents in the prevention of tumors and cancer forming in the body, so the importance of getting out into nature cannot be overstated. Even if you’ve found yourself simply succumbing to colds more frequently, maybe more outdoors time is just what the doctor ordered.
Load up on sunshine. Going outside into the sunshine allows your body to produce vitamin D. This vitamin, if you haven’t heard it enough, is very important for your health. It helps to stave off depression, strengthen bones and can decrease your risk of heart disease.
Reconnect with your roots.
If you’re looking to get more in touch with yourself and with your natural surroundings, just get outside. If you spend enough time in nature, you will begin to sense subtle shifts in your environment.
- You’ll notice fluctuations in your energy.
- You’ll become more open and calm when you feel how incredibly vast the outside world is.
- You will bring happiness to yourself.
In a way, spending more time outside puts you more in tune with our surrounding world.
Nothing is wrong with a little outdoor perspective now and then, it is a good thing.
May 31–After a night at that large campground with many people, we had to get back to something more remote. We found Hawk Mountain Campground. Difficult to get to, but being here is well worth it. Only nine sites in this free campground and only one other couple here–this is how I like it. There are no wifi or electric connections anywhere, so I am typing offline on battery power.
Also, at this campground were groups of butterflies that would all land together and meander around on the ground for awhile. They we not there for sex, but seemed to be eating parts of the ground, very strange.
Right now it is morning, I developed a large fire, and I am typing while listening to the fire crackle, a stream flow and birds making their bird sounds–talk about back to nature! On the way I had stopped at a Lowes, who sells wood and building materials. They had a bunch of scrap wood that I picked up for the fire.
Don’t just live life–experience life!
May 31–On we drove, with no direction or destination, and then we found Elizabeth Furnace Campground. Not many people here, but not near a lake or stream, as we like. We had our choice of any of the campsites, so we chose the best, of course.
At the last campground someone told us of a place to get water to drink, which was on the way. Water was diverted from a small stream by two pipes, always flowing. When we arrived, there was a guy there who was filling many gallon and five gallon containers. When he was done we took over. Yes, this was the best water I have tasted, and I have tasted much. The minerals were evident, and I am sure this liquid was packed with vitamins.
You may know from past writings that one of my joys in life is to drink water from a clean stream in the mountains. As you drink, it seems so healthy, naturally. Bottled water from the store is no match, whatsoever.
June 1–Back to city life, yug. But, we were on our way to Baltimore to see my friend, Lisa Polinari, perform at the inner harbor.
It was a Wednesday evening and the crowd was small. As usual, she did a good show, the crowd loved it.
June 2–Now back in the Allentown area of Pennsylvania:
- Back to all the cars
- Back to all the heat . . .
- Back to so many people.
- Back to sales of everything.
- Back to unhappy people.
Can’t wait to get back to the wilderness and back to nature.
And, can’t wait to write you again.June 8, 2016