Monday, December 30, 2013

Best Day at Work EVER!

Academic Outpost … or …. Van Down By the River?

I had a lot of grading to do today so I decided to go find a peaceful spot in which to work.  We are under siege from a massive construction project in our neighborhood and the noise is horrific. 

So that’s the great thing about having a house-on-wheels, right?  You know ... because it has wheels!  After coffee, I packed a lunch and drove the 38 pleasant miles to Horseshoe Bend National Battlefield.

I’ve been here many times before but never to work.  This battlefield has to be one of the smallest in the NP system.  And it is serene, clean, and uncrowded.

A stop along the auto tour

No construction, no road noise, no hunters.  Also no camera.  The shot inside the van was taken in the same spot last year.  The others are web photos. 

This was the site of a major defeat for the Creek in the Indian Wars.  In 1814, a small group of Creek warriors decided enough was enough and banded together to (gasp!) fight for their homelands.  The strategy was to encamp here and wait for the enemy.  

An equally determined Andrew Jackson cooperated by arriving with his troops in March.  During the bloody battle, the Creek became trapped by the horseshoe-shaped bend in the Tallapoosa River you see here.

Andy Jackson rode his victory all the way to the White House.  And we all know what happened to the native peoples.  

I parked by the river and worked a bit.  Stopped for lunch.  Worked some more.  Took another break and hiked the 2.8 miles through the woods, over creeks, and alongside the river. 

It’s a vigorous hike with lots of uphills, great for conditioning.  I returned to the office energized and ready to finish the job.  It was a wonderful afternoon - a perfect blend of productivity and fun.

Like I said …….. best day at work ever. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reflections on 2013

As 2014 looms, I’m reflecting on this past year – a wildly successful year of travel!

Some rest stop in Oklahoma
As I prepared for my first mega-trip in December 2012, I had owned the GDB for about 3 months.  Until then, I had taken a few trips of short distances and durations, always with hook-ups.  My 7-week journey to the annual Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Quartzsite, AZ was to be my first real test. 

Approaching the Guadalupe Mountains, TX

When I departed on December 29th (exactly one year ago), I was still green as a cucumber RV-wise.  For example, I had never even used the entertainment system, furnace, water pump, or the water heater.  Nor had I ever camped without hook-ups.  

That all changed on this epic trip.  2013 became a year of liberation!

First WMT overnighter - Lafayette, LA

I endured temps down into the high-teens and even some snow.  Despite my inner qualms, I happily lived off-grid with the RTR tribe for 11 days.  

In fact, I didn't want to leave!

That roadtrip was a real initiation into the Part-Timing life.  Two more long trips were to follow.  And the next big step came this fall as I began my career as an online nursing professor.    

McDonald Observatory

This year, I camped from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam.   I crossed both the Eastern and Western Continental Divides.  I reconnected with old friends and made new ones.  

Bob assessing solar possiblities

Nelda & Jerry






Authentic people, non-conformists, freedom-lovers, nature-lovers.  I engaged in very little small talk this year. 

I also learned the important skill of keeping in touch on the road.

There were some glitches.  

All were overcome.  

My experiences this year confirmed the fact that I want to keep doing this as long as I’m physically able.  It’s just too much fun to stop! 

2013 by the Numbers

3                  Road Trips

5                  Camping Trips

116              Nights in the GDB: 

66               National Park stamps

12                Fellow bloggers met

54                Generator hours

10                Propane refills 

3                  Oil changes 

8                  Repairs: galley window leak, outside compartment lock, auto battery, 
                    house batteries, front rotor, torque converter, flat tire, 2 cabinet latches   

16,353        Miles

I haven't calculated how many gallons of gas I bought, nor do I want to.

After this initiation year, I feel as though I am prepared for anything.  I’ve developed a comfortable and efficient travel routine.  And I’ve pared my possessions down to the absolute essentials.  My home-on-wheels is simplicity itself. 

I still get a kick out of pulling off the road, making coffee, and doing the crossword.  

Blue Ridge Parkway stop

And sometimes I just gaze out the window marveling at my good fortune.

Me and the Bison

Looking Ahead

In 2014, I won’t put as much mileage on the GDB.  I made a conscious decision to skip the RTR in order to save a bit on fuel.  Likewise, I scuttled my post-holiday plans for a trip to Key West, but will still try to visit Everglades National Park.  I’ll spend some of the winter on monthly week-long camping trips.  

And – bonus! - it looks like Bob Wells will make an Eastern RTR happen in March.  If so, I will head to South Carolina and hang with the nomads for a while.

In the meantime, I'll save my pennies for a 2014 summer on the road.  I want nothing more than to escape the unbearable swamp that is summer in the Deep South.  I haven’t decided whether to head north to explore the Great Lakes region or head west to join the WINS in the Pacific Northwest.  

I look forward with great excitement to another joyful year on the road.  

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 - Wild Life

Blue Ridge Parkway

I was looking through my travel photos for the past year and decided to pick and post the best of the wildlife shots.

Looking back, I'm amazed at how much I witnessed.  I wouldn't trade these glimpses of nature for anything.  And I look forward to capturing more images in the year to come.

McDonald Observatory, TX

Sandhill Cranes, Rural Nebraska

Custer State Park, SD

Salida, CO

Canaveral National Seashore

Antelope in Custer State Park, SD

Dickcissel at Homestead National Monument, NE

Gray Breasted Jays at Chiricahua National Monument, AZ

Blue Ridge Parkway

Javelina at Fort Davis State Park, TX

Gila Woodpecker at Saguaro National Park, AZ

Niobrara Wildlife Refuge, NE

Egret at Anastasia State Park, FL

Blue Ridge Parkway

Douglas, WY

Niobrabra Wildllife Refuge

Badlands National Park, SD

Scott's Bluff National Monument, NE

Black Vultures at Canaveral National Seashore, FL

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The End

Monday, December 9, 2013

St. George - Days 2 & 3



Not much to blog about the last few days.  Just some beach-sitting, beach-combing, beach- walking.  You get the idea.  The weather has been great.  That will change tomorrow with the predicted rain storms.  But we leave tomorrow anyway.

So, here’s my seagull photo.

Here’s Peggy on Dolphin watch.

The campground has a nice wide trail that winds some 2.5 miles through a pine forest. Though unseen through the woods, the pounding surf is always within earshot. 

I don’t know what species of pine these are, but they make for some interesting shapes.

It was back to town for lunch today and another dozen on the half-shell.  Just love those tasty little bi-valves!  Here's Peggy enjoying her appetizer.  

I thought for a moment this boat was going to pull up to the table with our order!

It’s been a pleasant 4 days.