Monday, June 29, 2009
R & R.....
Here it does.....We are recovering from the many, many miles and "Roadhouse" has been in the "RV Hospital"....our fave mechanical team here in Tampa....a small garage owned and operated by a fine couple who, along with their fantastic mechanic, have helped us with vehicle repairs, maintenance, etc for 20 years.
If you are ever in Tampa and need some work....See "Butch's" on W. Hillsborough. They are fantastic.
"Roadhouse" now sports a repaired grill, new front brakes (The Rockies took their toll) and new oil and filter...plus some smaller jobs.
Ready to go again? YOU BET!
In fact the last half of July seems good. Last Doc appointment is July 14th for both of us. Then we will be off on our next adventure.....finding COOL!
This, for a short trip, means Blue Ridge time. Probably Fancy Gap (at the NC/Virginia state line, and alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway). Cool nights, several good restaurants nearby, and a cool pool. Nights here in July still mean a fire alongside "Roadhouse".....In fact last Summer in July I remember well Duchess in sweat jacket, and blanket beside the fire....& Mornings bring the chance for deer in the woods adjacent.
Tampa heat is de-press-ing in the Summer. Speaking of which I need to arise early tomorrow and mow before the yard reverts to a complete jungle.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
More On Grand Cayman!
Now the fun begins......airlines.....This is possibly the most stupid use of computers I can imagine. The engines some of these sites use must be Model-Ts. I have so-far found Cayman Airlines most reasonable at about $430 per person, round-trip and non-stop from Tampa! I checked American airlines as a comparison and one of the options was a two-stop out of Tampa to Dallas Fort Worth, then back to Miami and then to Grand Cayman.....three airplanes and a total of 9 hours with a ticket price about $30 higher than the Cayman Air tickets. The Cayman flight is about an hour plus.
Also, must rent a car, and of course drive it on the LEFT side of the road. I am sure the driving part will be little trouble. However, the turning part is going to tax me for a few turns at least. Finding nice restaurant suggestions from several folks.
Trips are fun.....particularly flying. I prefer the motor home, but the bridge to Grand Cayman, over Cuba, has not been completed as of this writing.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
That is our odometer mileage total as Roadhouse backs into its home port. Our trip is finished (while the posts, pics are not!).....
There is a lot more to post....a lot to discuss, and now plans for work on the tired bus and rest for its tired occupants.....however, there was a sadness about seeing our trip end. It would have taken little to turn us around and send us into the Blue Ridge or Northeast!
More on that later. For now....collecting my pics and thoughts for final posts. Great night's sleep last night which had been much needed as our last two road days were in Jacksonville with Little Duke and we partied a bit too much.
Diet time kiddies!
Duchess off to water aerobics this morning, which she missed perhaps as much as anything here at home. I'm unloading.
Cats CJ & Jackie have returned to normal in the house in a matter of minutes.
More later folks!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Happy Anniversary......Happy Anniversary......
Sometimes One FAILS!
I have been working to surprise Duchess for our 15th anniversary for MONTHS!
We both loved Grand Caymen......
Then when the return call of an availability came it was at lunch with Duchess, and entire Texas family......I had to reserve with her watching.
Sometimes one cannot surprise another......We are booked, and I am now planning flights.......Love it...
Happy, Happy Anniversary my beloved Duchess!
Monday, June 08, 2009
High-In-The-Sky Thrill Ride!
If one wondered why the bull was needing rest, they only had to drive on a few hundred yards to see the object(s) of his affection/exhaustion! An entire herd of female Elk.
The 48 mile drive across the park is a variety of scenes, views, and climbs. Switchbacks, loops, and narrow winding roads. Near the top...The Continental Divide...
The divide is not, of course, the actual top of the mountains...It is the place where rivers flow East on one side and West on the other. We climbed on, and on, and on...Clouds descended, rain then snow and sleet began to fall and visibility dropped to a couple hundred feet...all this along a road with small boulders as the only buffer keeping one from driving off into the drop of thousands of feet. Our top out....12,200 feet above sea level. The "Roadhouse" was down to 16 miles per hour on the final steep climb. Scary drive...and no view because of the clouds.
When we topped out and descended we stopped for the night in Estes Park, CO at Mary's Lake RV Resort still at 8,000 feet.
As twilight settled on the campground, Duchess looked out the window and found 5 yearling bull elks feeding on the grass beside our coach.It was a wonderful day...in spite of some anxious moments atop the Rockies.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Jackson, WY to Vernal, UT
Along a lake we passed this building resembling some sort of ship...
Then the final piece...about 50 miles North of Vernal. One of those signs of a truck going downhill...with an attached description: "9% Grade next ten miles with 10 switchbacks" Yoicks! I had seen lots of 5%-6% and even 7% grades. NEVER a 9%. Then throw in a set of 10 switchbacks???
It was all the sign proclaimed. I used low gear for much of the descent, and also my brakes. Both transmission and brakes were HOT and screaming by the time I got to the bottom. Whew.....
Butun for now, we are landed in Dickinson, TX near home of kids/grands & today going to Cleveland, TX to visit with Son-In-Law, Lance's folks Bob & Lissi at their log cabin. They just purchased this "ranch" and are in process of complete rebuild of the cabin. Should be a fun day!
Thursday, June 04, 2009
OOPS! - That Dxxx Bird!
I was on Rt. 285 & saw two large black birds (crow/whatever) devouring roadkill out in front of me. i let off the gas, and hit the horn.....They flew to my left, and as I slid by one darted back to the right dead in front of me.....and i mean dead.
Roadhouse does not have her nice smile currently!
The aluminum grill behind the front bumper/radiator protector is bent badly and sagging.
I'm going to have some work to do at home to restore her good looks! Pics to follow, and the intervening days as well in Vernal; Rocky Mt. Park; and Carlsbad, NM.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Jackson, Tetons, etc.
The place deserved a much longer visit. We'll be back one day!
The Grand Tetons!
This, from straight on, is The Grand Teton.
Lake Jenny, located along the base of the Tetons is supposedly the result of a melting glacier or glaciers thousands of years ago. It is beautiful.
The shoreline picture shows how clear the icy-cold lake is.
As Duchess found, the quiet of the park near Lake Jenny provides a place of contemplation.
The Tetons are the only mountains in the entire chain not limestone. They are composed of granite, thus providing a clue as to their stark, sharp-cut features.
Ignoring their geological history, they are simply breath-taking in their beauty. Some of the few mountains lacking row upon row of smaller mountains. They are just THERE!
Good Food & The Arches are NOT Mickey D's
An up-scale dinner was ours at The Gun Barrel....A combo of Elk chops, Buffalo prime rib, and Venison Bratwurst! A fine meal and served in a restaurant entirely decorated by huge wood beams. Great place.
Outside Jackson, just North of the airport was Dornan's. A combination clothes shop, fine wine store, and restaurant/bar. The restaurant has two stories...the upper one a deck on the roof in full view of the Grand Tetons. The fare? Excellent pizza with the nice crispy crust of home-made!
Not a restaurant, but the city square in Jackson has elk-antler arches at all four corners.
We really enjoyed Jackson, and could spend more time there....in spite of the most-expensive campground to date.
Rafting the Snake River!
Our guide was Joseph....in his early 20s as are most of the guides here. He was relaxed, funny, and an intelligent young man.
The trip was not without some concerns as we were at the peak of the Spring runoff, and the water....flowing at 4-5 million gallons a minute in August, was now clicking along at 18.5 million gallons per minute and a speed of 7-8 knots. We launched and passed under a bridge within seconds.
Downstream we saw many fine homes, some animals we did not expect in the mountains of Wyoming....pelicans! Thinking of them as Florida birds we were surprised to know they live year round along the Snake River.
One of our guides snapped this shot of Duke and Duchess in their required gear. (OK...I was in a nautical mood and added the U.S. Coast Guard cap as a final touch! & YES, the bottle has WATER in it...nothing else.)It was a fun trip, although we'd have been much more happy if we'd seen more animals.
National Museum of Wildlife Art - Jackson, WY
The entrance is a huge demonstration of logs and statuary.
The museum, identified by a large sign from each direction, is marked at the entrance road by this sculpted display of a bull Elk and four does.
At the entrance to the parking lot, buffalo captured in sculpture.
From the cafe inside this picture of a reclining bear sculpture outside with the local mountains behind it across the plains of the National Elk Refuge.
Unfortunately, the inside is not open to cameras, but the art is amazing.
Another unplanned and marvelous surprise on our trip.
South of Yellowstone, On The Way to Jackson....
and a beautiful downstream picture which could grace any post card.
When I stopped to picture the bear (in the post below) I turned to return to Roadhouse, and found this view of the Grand Tetons behind the motor home.
Our Tetons adventure was underway.
As we left West Yellowstone, the city, and entered the park for the final time leaving for Jackson, WY & The Grand Tetons, up popped the buffalo....en masse! They were, in fact, being moved by park rangers to new feeding grounds....down the park road. We waited....
As we entered the Tetons area we finally saw our first and only bear. The animal was feeding on plants in a small grove and, using 10X zoom, I managed this picture.
Hope you like it......
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
NEXT UP: Jackson, Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons.....all-in-one! Grand indeed!!!!!
First though the Yellowstone to Jackson trip which took one short day, but provided lots of interesting views, experiences, pics, etc.
Food....I'll be posting pics of two faves in Jackson, WY......Dornan's....where one sits on a rooftop platform and views the Tetons (French for.....er, Breast) while embibing in marvelous local brews (I once again found the lovely heavy Moose Drool) and their fantastic pizza! The other, Gun Barrel Restaurant and Pub....We dined on a quite unusual combo of Elk Chops; Bison Prime Rib, and Venison Bratwurst! YUM!
Well, there it is folks a bit of a teaser.....stand by for lots of pics and stories this evening.....we're in Las Vegas......WELL, actually Las Vegas, New Mexico! and I have a couple of hours, and a fine new Vodka......44 North....made in Oregon and flavored of Huckleberry! On-the-rocks is F-I-N-E!
Monday, June 01, 2009
Yellowstone, Our Visit Concludes
I'll be working to catch up as we have now moved on, and this day we topped 12,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park....in a cloud, snow and rain mixed, and visibility of about 70-80 feet. The road was narrow and the drive a bit more than we had planned.
Each day a new adventure.
Each day a new set of memories.
Upper Loop Part 3 - Animals, Animals
Running across the road in front of us this coyote made it to the edge of the road and then began hunting in nearby brush.
On the road from West Yellowstone into the park there is a high nest by the side of the road. Mother Bald Eagle was busy feeding young when we were there.
We stopped to take a picture from above a water fall, and as we spoke with another picture-taker this mother mountain goat and her foal appeared below us.
The pair moved around us, then crossed the road, and next appeared above us on a rock-slide where they made their way to new grass.
The animals of Yellowstone are a delight. We enjoyed almost every sighting.
Upper Loop Part 2 - Elk
After taking photos of Elk during our Yellowstone visit, we finally located a male Elk with his antlers newly-grown and still covered in fur.
The animals Winter often in the area of Jackson, South of the Park, and then move back North in Spring.
Upper Loop Part 1 - Snow
Driving around the mountains the sn ow was drifted above our little "Sideroad Suzie"....
For Tampa, Florida folks the idea of snow is strange. Drifts of it along the road were a true wonder.