The house we are staying at is very nice. It is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath and a den. The kitchen and living room are all open and there is a great lanai we love to sit on in the afternoon. It is all fenced in which is nice for letting Shelby out.
Shelby is finally getting more comfortable here. He was a little out of sorts for a few days but seems to be happy now. We took him to a dog park where he met 2 dogs, Cooper and Ellie. We will take him again tomorrow as the dogs go there every day at 10 a.m.
Our temps have averaged about 80-85 all week which is certainly welcome after the cooler temps in Maine. The nice thing is there are no bugs here (at least not yet.) I did have a tick on me, however, so we haven’t escaped them.
It was time to get Shelby out for a hike today. I use the word “hike” loosely because the highest elevation for hikes around here is 125 feet. We found Silver Springs State Park about 30 minutes from The Villages. There were two entrances and the first one we found had the hiking trails we wanted. We hiked on the River Trail which has a loop by the river. We came upon a boat landing where some women were resting after kayaking down the river. As we left this spot, we kept hearing what sounded like a motor starting. It continued a few times and got louder and louder. We finally realized the motor sound was an alligator. He was making these noises and another alligator was answering him. We finally saw the 6-foot gator swimming off. Thank goodness we weren’t any closer to the river. As we walked on, we heard a snake in the bushes (and so did Shelby). We kept him away from the bushes so we didn’t have a snake encounter.
The next trail we took was Sinkhole Trail. We saw the sinkhole which was a ways away from the trail. It was the most elevation we saw on the entire hike.
The second entrance to the park had glass bottom boat tours and a beautiful crystal clear river where you could see the turtles and fish swimming. We saw a brave woman on a paddle board in the river and down just past where she was was a sign saying “No Swimming Alligators in river.” She was mighty brave to be paddling in that river.
Shelby had a great day out in spite of the fact that he had to be on the leash the whole time.
This wildlife state park was a pleasant surprise to us. We don’t particularly like zoos where they have animals caged but this was a great place to see the animals in their natural habitat. This park is a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned manatees plus other birds and animals that cannot survive in the wild. The day we walked through the park many of the animals were either sleeping or had their backs to us. I’m sure they get tired of looking at humans so they just look the other way. The hippopotamus weighs about 6,000 pounds and is 56 years old. He was also on the show Daktari for those of you old enough to remember that show.
We took a tram over to see the animals and a pontoon boat on the return. It was an interesting day all around. Two things I wanted to see while in Florida were alligators and flamingos. We saw those and much more at this wonderful park.
Our March-April 2016 trip is taking us from Maine to The Villages in Florida. It is a different trip for us as we are taking the car instead of the usual truck camper. We are also taking Shelby our 7 year old Springer Spaniel. Our first day took us from Washington, Maine to Elkton, Maryland. We stayed at La Quinta Inn and Suites because they are one of the few hotels that accept dogs and do not charge extra. Shelby was a great rider during the trip and managed to sleep the entire time.
Our second 8-hour day brought us to Florence, South Carolina. Traveling I-95 is not the most exciting or scenic way to travel but it gets us to our final destination.
Day 3 we ended up at Jekyll Island, Georgia. Jekyll Island is a small island about 7 miles long by 1.5 miles wide and has a beautiful beach with sand dunes for walking. We had a few hours to walk the beach the day we arrived and also the morning before we left. The one surprise about the beach was the lack of shells on it. We found one very small shell that was whole. Otherwise it was a very clean, shell-free beach the day we were there.
Never seeing the trees with Spanish moss we found them very interesting. Despite its name, Spanish moss is not Spanish and is not moss but a bromeliad—a perennial herb in the pineapple family. It is a flowering plant that grows upon larger trees, commonly the southern live oak or bald cypress in the southeastern United States from Texas and Florida north to southern Arkansas and Virginia.
Our next to last stop was in Akron, NY to visit cousins. We called from Niagara Falls to announce that we were arriving two days early. Pam and Ron were, of course, very gracious that we arrived so early. Rudy, (their maltese dog) seemed really excited to see us. Each time we walked out the door and re-entered it was like we hadn’t seen him in years. This trip was pegged as “I feel like I am an actor in the movies” trip. One night we went to Main Street in Akron where every week they shut the street down and owners of old cars line up and you walk down the street admiring all the “old-timers.” We felt like we were on the American Graffiti movie set.
Our next “movie set” was watching the little leaguers play baseball. We called this one “Field of Dreams.” This was a beautiful field that was created by someone that missed a lot of his kids’ games due to work so he built a field next to his house and allows the little leaguers to play at it. We were able to watch Jack (our cousin) first as shortstop and then as pitcher. His team won 12-5 that night.
We left on Sunday, June 28 for our two day trip home. We came full circle and stayed at October Mountain State Forest in Lee, Mass. which is where we started on May 18th.
Arriving home on Monday was wonderful and Shelby and Patches (the cat) still remembered us and were happy we were home.
We were excited to go on our trip and ready to arrive back home after six weeks on the road. Hope you enjoyed reading about our trip and seeing some of the places we visited.
Here are some trivia facts from our trip:
Miles traveled: 8,454
States driven through: 17 states plus Ontario, Canada
Discovered where there are more mosquitoes than we have ever seen: Signal Mountain, Grand Tetons
of license plates seen of different states: 49 (that elusive Hawaii just wasn’t to be found); 7 provinces of Canada
Favorite Park: Bryce Canyon NP (Cheryl); Grand Tetons (John)
Favorite camping spot: Rocky Mountains because of the view
Best Hike: Lower Paddock Trail (Theodore Roosevelt National Park)
You can find WalMart stores everywhere—even in Canada
Most expense gas: US Yellowstone NP ($3.89) Canada $5.00+/-
6/21 Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Marie Louise Lake, Ontario
6/22 Lake Superior Provincial Park
6/23 Grundy Lake Provincial Park
We stopped at Grand Portage National Monument which is close to the US and Canada borders. Grand Portage National Monument preserves a vital center of fur trade activity and Anishinaabeg Ojibwe heritage. The canoe we looked at was about 36 feet and held over 14 people.
Leaving Minnesota we followed Lake Superior into Canada. Crossing the border was no problem except they wouldn’t let us bring in the 8 eggs in the fridge. Wine and beer was no problem to have in the camper so donating the eggs to the homeless (that’s what they told us) was a minor concession. We were pretty much off the radar while in Canada…no GPS to find our way (and I’m not good on directions), no computer, no cell phone…but we survived.
We spent three nights in Canada at three different provincial parks. The parks are all very nice (but a little expensive at $44 a night). The weather didn’t cooperate for us while we were in Ontario. It was mostly raining and foggy so we didn’t get to see too much. We have been to Lake Superior before and it has a beautiful sandy beach. This visit we couldn’t even see it through the fog so for the first time, I didn’t even take any pictures.
Because of the weather we drove extra long days to get out of Canada. With gas at about $5 a gallon we had no reason to linger there. Driving through Toronto was an experience. We had been used to very desolate places with few cars and then we hit Toronto. With no GPS to guide us I had to rely on the map. Other than directing John the wrong way off the expressway and having a woman almost back into us, we found our way back to the QEW highway and made it back into the good ole USA with no problems.
Animal sightings: bald eagle, deer, black bear, great blue heron, painted turtle, elephant (okay that may be stretching it but we did see one as we drove by a circus just setting up).
We traveled Thursday for about 3-4 hours to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. The weather was overcast but still allowed us to get out and hike for a few hours. The hike was great as it was not only fairly flat but we were at about 900-foot elevation and we could breathe easily for the first time in a few weeks. We saw deer, wild horses, bison and lots of prairie dogs. The prairie dogs weren’t happy with us walking on their territory as they were screeching at us the whole way. They were very protective of their “house” but as soon as we got close to them they scurried into their little abode. There were many prairie dog towns throughout the park.
Traveling on the scenic road in the park, we came across more bison in the middle of the road that just didn’t care if they moved off the road or not.
Friday was a little sunnier so we were able to stop at Painted Canyon for a few nice pictures. This park was nice as it wasn’t crowded and we could stop and see the sites.
Traveling on Friday was spent mostly looking for a place to stay. Some we passed up as they didn’t look like a place we would be comfortable staying in. After four stops of looking for a place, one of the state parks recommended Lee Lake Campground. Since we had been on the road for about 6-7 hours we were ready for anything. This campground had 5 electric sites and the rest of the park was really mobile homes for summer use. But it was better than many we had stopped at along the way and sufficed for the evening.
Saturday brought us to Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota. It was pouring rain most of the day and as we got to Duluth, there were detours so it took a little longer to get to the park. This park has some beautiful waterfalls. Luckily the rain stopped as we arrived and were able to walk to see Lake Superior and the falls. It started raining again just as we were headed back to the camper so we were in luck once again with the weather on the trip.
6-15 Yellowstone National Park
6-16 Bear Canyon Campground, Bozeman, MT
6-17 Miles City KOA, Miles City, MT
Our stay in Yellowstone National Park wasn’t quite as wonderful as some other places although there were some good moments. We left Grand Tetons early in the morning to head to Yellowstone. It was only about a one hour drive so we stopped at the visitor center to check on campgrounds. They told us which ones were still available so we headed off to get a site. As we got to the first campground the sign outside said full so we continued on. Same at the next one and the next one. Amazingly there are over 800 campsites in the park and this was a Tuesday at 11 am and the CGs were full. We stopped to find out which ones were still available and were told Fishing Bridge (which is the only electric site in the park) had just opened up a new loop and we could get a site there.
We paid for the site and not asking the price until it was all paid for found out it was $54. (Most sites we have been getting range from $10 to $35.) We took it anyway and headed back another 20 miles. Upon arriving they gave us a site (told us we were the first ones to get into this new loop) and we headed through much construction and machinery to our site. The entire loop was empty except for a worker’s truck which was parked in our site. Finally got them to move their truck and when we went to set up there was no water spigot to connect to. Back to the reservation desk to get another site. She then told us that they are going to be paving and we couldn’t leave our site for at least 35 minutes until the asphalt dried. So we went for a walk to the shops (and you know how happy John is shopping). Their 35 minutes turned into about 2 hours. About 6 pm we decided to at least go see the Grand Prismatic which is a beautiful hot spring (39 miles away). As we got there the heavens opened up and it started pouring rain and thunder and lightening. It did stop long enough for us to get out and look but there was so much steam coming from the hot springs we couldn’t see it.
Along the way we did get stuck in traffic as a bison decided to walk down the middle of the road. And bison just aren’t the fastest of walkers. He walked down as if he were the master of ceremony in a parade. He was going to meet up with other bison on the left side of the road. After about 15 minutes he finally crossed over to the other side only to see his friends were now on the opposite side!
There was so much traffic and people in the park that other places we wanted to see, we just couldn’t get close to the attraction.
The one plus in this day was a beautiful elk standing at the side of the road posed for us and we were able to get a nice picture of him.
Next day before we headed out of the park we stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs which is a great section of the park. Prior to getting there we happened to stop at a pullout and I looked over and saw a bear. This was the last of the animals we hadn’t see so it was great to see the mother bear with her two cubs. The cubs were having a grand time romping and playing.
Luckily, we have seen Yellowstone National Park in the past so our visit wasn’t the big disappointment that it could have been had we never seen the beauty here.
Animal sightings: Black bear with her 2 cubs, bison and calfs, pronghorns, pelican, elk (up close and personal), crane, eagle.
6-17 Bear Canyon Campground, Bozeman, MT
Leaving Yellowstone, our next stop was Bozeman, Montana to see our niece. We arrived later than expected so didn’t get to go on a planned hike. We had a wonderful visit with Megan and her boyfriend Gannett (sorry not sure how he spells his name) and went to a great restaurant in Bozeman.
Bozeman was our turning point to start heading east. We were going to go to Glacier National Park however the Going to the Sun Road was still not open and that is what we had wanted to see. So we are headed east and will go up by Lake Superior into Canada.
After driving four hours on Wednesday, we arrived at Miles City, MT. There is not much to say about Miles City. We did walk down to the Yellowstone River in the afternoon. The cottonwood trees are shedding their cotton seeds and it looks like a snowstorm with it all coming down.
Leaving Dutch John, UT we headed to Grand Tetons. We were in another cow roundup even bigger than the first one. This was one of our longest drives at 6 hours to reach the Tetons. We stayed three nights in the Tetons as the weather was just perfect and we were ready to stay in one place just for a short time. There was not as much snow on the Tetons as the last time we were here but they were still outstanding. We took a nice 6 mile hike around Taggart and Bradley Lakes. We came across an animal that we think is a badger (see picture) but we were not sure. On the hike back we came across some people that came from another direction and had just seen a bear. The one woman was pretty shook up but her husband and friend wanted to go back and see the bear. We opted not to go that route even though the bear is the only animal we have not seen this trip.
On Sunday after reviewing all the hikes, we opted for an 8 mile hike with about 800 foot elevation gain. Sounded doable and we started off early. This was through the woods and might have been a nice hike except for the millions (and I mean millions) of mosquitoes. Naturally, I had taken out the bug spray from the pack the day before as we hadn’t encountered any bugs up to that point. There were at least 50-100 mosquitoes around us at all times. Halfway through the trip we met up with a family of 5 (from Ohio) coming from a different direction but still encountering the onslaught of bugs. We never hiked so fast to the top of a hike in our lives.Even the elevation gain didn’t affect us on this trip. The views at the top were nice and we saw the same family at the top. They had sent their oldest son down the mountain with a tour guide to get their car so they didn’t have to hike back down the trail. They were so nice and offered to take up back down as well. We took them up on their offer as we couldn’t visualize going back thru the hoards of mosquitoes. Thank goodness for some nice people in this country.
Our stay at the Grand Tetons was worth the trip. It is a beautiful area both for the views and all the animals.
June 9 Capitol Reef National Park (Wonderland RV Park)
June 10 – Arches National Park, Moab, UT; James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, Fruita, CO
June 11 – Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT; Flaming Gorge, NRA, Dutch John, UT
Another day in Paradise brings us to Capitol Reef State Park. The ride over was on a scenic byway so while the roads are pretty winding and up and down, the views make up for it. Most times when you get stuck in traffic it is due to an accident. This trip we found no accident but there was a roundup of about 50+ cows with the cowboys and dogs moving them down the highway to another pasture.
We were unable to get a site in the national park (again) so had to go to a campground outside the park. We did the scenic road in Capitol Reef in the park on Wednesday and again on Thursday morning as we were leaving. We hiked into the Hickman Bridge and also saw petroglyphs. The weather forecast was threatening rain all day with flooding but we had beautiful weather.
Opening up our camper when we arrived at this park gave us a chuckle. I got inside and saw something powdery on the floor. After opening up the cupboard (which had a bungee cord on it because the latch had broken) and found dry pancake flour everywhere. I had put it in a plastic bag which broke open during the ride. I’m thinking that when it burst there was a cloud of flour that went everywhere in the camper. It took a while to wipe it off the stove, countertops and floor.
Capitol Reef is one of the newer state parks signed into law by President Clinton. It is one of the lesser visited parks but is still a nice park to go through.