Friday, October 4, 2019

Visiting Vermont and New Hampshire... In the Fall

Ah, Vermont...
Vermont is absolutely beautiful, but in the fall, when the leaves begin to change colors, it is stunning. 

We spent two nights in Brattleboro, Vermont. At the higher elevations surrounding Brattleboro, the colors are really starting to show. 
Murphy and I spent a few hours one afternoon driving around the area, soaking up the beautiful scenery. 

We found a gorgeous lake where we got out and had a little walk through the fallen leaves. Somehow I managed to keep Murphy out of the water.
There were so many tree-lined roads with stacked stone fences and golden leaves. I could have driven for hours. 
The next morning we were off to New Hampshire. We used our Harvest Host membership for the first time. With Harvest Hosts, you pay an annual membership fee and can dry camp at business such as wineries, breweries, farms, etc., at no charge.
We stayed on the grounds of the Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was easy and convenient, and I'll definitely try it again. 
The next morning was bright and sunny, and we were Maine bound!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Ohio to New York with Unconventional Overnight Stops

After leaving Michigan, we spent the night in Ohio in one of their Service Plazas. They provide overnight RV parking spaces with electricity, a dump station, and freshwater. They have a machine where you pay $20 and get a ticket for your windshield. 
The next day we moved on to Pennsylvania. I chose a casino in Erie, PA for that night. They had many, huge parking lots. I'm getting the hang of this dry camping thing. I make sure my phone and blue tooth speaker are charged up so I can listen to a book for entertainment. 

Later that morning we were off to New York and another casino. We started this particular evening RV batteries weren't as fully charged as I would have liked. 

It was time to set up and start my generator for the first time since I bought it nearly a year ago. When I got it, my brother and I set it up and started it so I'd know how to use it. That was a very long time ago. 

I climbed my ladder and dug the generator and gas container out of the back of the truck. I was thrilled when I actually got it to start. I connected the power cord to the RV and the generator and I had electricity.  Very exciting! I also found a dollar while playing ball with Murphy.
I charged my batteries for several hours then at bedtime I turned the generator off and put it away in the truck. 

The next morning I opened the window shade and saw this. Of course, I rushed outside to take pictures. What a beautiful thing. 

Our destination for the day was Brattleboro, Vermont.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Loving Michigan

Michigan never disappoints. 

Each and every time I've been to Michigan, I have loved it. I'd like to stay longer, but I want to visit Maine, and I have a reservation in Florida for November. Gotta go tomorrow!

Michigan is two parts, the Upper Peninsula (UP) and the part that looks like a mitten. My first night here in this beautiful state was in Escanaba, which is part of the UP. I stayed one night at a Fairgrounds. Gotta love those fairgrounds campgrounds. 

Unfortunately, the dump station was flooded due to very heavy rains. So, my gray water and I hit the road. 
Beautiful sunset at the casino in St. Ignace.

Next stop, St. Ignace. We dry camped in a casino parking lot. They have a dump station, so I was able to empty my tank. I didn't unhook the truck and trailer at either of these locations. They were just pitstops on the way to my true destination. 
The next morning I was excited to tow Bridget over the Macinac Bridge. There was construction on the bridge and it was down to one lane but it was as beautiful up there as I remember it. 
The Mighty Mac, taken by Rob, my late husband, in 2014

My goal for this visit to Michigan was to find Petoskey stones. On previous visits, I hunted for beach glass and other interesting rocks but Petoskey stones weren't really on my radar. 

I did some research and decided to camp in the area of Traverse City. The beaches around this area are good for hunting Petoskey stones. Also, Murphy really needed a good grooming and Traverse City has several options for that. 

Our second day in the area was a beautiful, sunny day so we headed out in search of a rocky shore to hunt the elusive treasure. 
So, so Petoskey stone front and back

You don't see a lot of rocks on this beach but the other direction there was a really rocky point perfect for my hunt. 
Better Petoskey stone front and back.

There were a couple of other people hunting also but they left and Murphy and I had the whole beach to ourselves. Heaven!
The prize-winning Petoskey stone front and back!

I found a total of six Petoskey stones. Only one of them is really nice but I love them all. 

So now I'm hauling rocks around! 

Ohio here we come!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

South Dakota to Michigan, A Catch Up Post

We arrived in South Dakota after a very long driving day. Murphy was getting really restless in the back seat.  I happened to notice a nearly empty RV park beside the freeway, so we stopped for the night. 

Confession Time: Since Rob passed away, I rarely watch or listen to the news, and I have decreased my TV watching by at least 50%.  I can't handle all the negativity and keep my head in the right place. 

I wasn't aware of the tremendous amounts of rain they had had in the planes and midwest. The sheer number of mosquitoes took me entirely by surprise. I was desperately trying not to breathe them into my nose. 
Mosquitoeville, SD

We checked in, moved to our site, and got out to get level and hook up the utilities and got swarmed immediately. It was so bad I only hooked up the essentials and we raced inside. Walking Murphy required copious amounts of Deep Woods Off, and I still got multiple bites each time. 

Needless to say, we got out of Dodge first thing in the morning. We were heading for Minnesota. 

Along the way, there was clear evidence of flooding. One spot along I90 still had water over the roadway, lane closures, and a flagger. 
We ended up in a Blue Earth, Minnesota. Home of the Jolly Green Giant Statue. 
If you've been following along you know backing the trailer into a site terrifies me. However, I did put my big girl panties on and choose a place with only back-in sites. I looked at the satellite view before deciding, so I knew there was a lot of room to maneuver. I'm happy to report, I parked with ease. I only had to pull forward and adjust twice. 

We stayed at this little fairgrounds campground for two nights. 

There was a collection of historic buildings near us that were moved onto the fairgrounds to form a little town. 
The weather was hot and humid, and the mosquitoes were present, but nothing like we experienced in South Dakota. 

And then we were off to Oakdale, Wisconsin. We really only spent the night and were off to Michigan. I love Michigan. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Views of Devil's Tower from our Campsite

After leaving Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks behind, we had a harrowing drive through some narrow, winding roads and a mountain pass over 9,000 feet in elevation. That drive had the most beautiful scenery but there was no place to pull over. I was dying to take pictures. This one is at the top of the pass.  

We spent two uneventful days and nights in Cody, Wyoming. We did some basic life stuff like picking up groceries, catching up on laundry, that sort of thing. 
Then we hooked up and headed out for Devil's Tower National Monument in Eastern Wyoming. 

The campground where we stayed is at the base of Devil's Tower and the views are spectacular. All of the photos in this post were taken from within the campground. 

I love the green foliage against the red rocks of the canyon.

And the teepees are so fun. Can you see Murphy?
We spent two nights in this beautiful place. It was hot but dry, and there was so much space for Murphy to run. I hated to leave. 
Here's a photo of Devil's Tower at night. It really takes on a creepy feel, but it's still beautiful. 

Off to South Dakota!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and My First Boondocking Attempt

The day I knew I'd be traveling through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, we were up and on the road early. 

This leg of the trip was part of my route so I was towing Bridget through both parks. I knew it would be a long drive and there would be a lot of traffic and slowdowns.
We entered Yellowstone using my National Park Pass. I'm really glad I bought that pass. 

The weather was a little cloudy but warm and dry. Pulling Bridget through the parks was no problem but I wasn't able to stop very often because there was no room for us to park so I missed a lot of photo opportunities. 

I was truly surprised by the lack of visible wildlife during my visit. I only saw two lone, male bison during the two days I was in the parks. 

As I came to the south end of Grand Teton NP, I began looking for the area where I wanted to try boondocking for the first time. It's called Upper Teton View. I had entered the information into my navigation system but wasn't able to locate it. 
Honestly, I could have tried harder but it was getting late and with the traffic and no co-pilot I just gave up and continued south. I really need to teach Murphy how to help with these things. 

I drove on through Jackson, Wyoming and started looking for a place to camp for the night. Eventually, I saw this sign and took a chance. 
I pulled into the campground and drove slowly around the loop looking for a spot where we might fit and found one. I drove back to the pay kiosk and dropped my payment and registration in the metal post and around the loop again to pull into my spot. 

Murphy and I jumped out and had a quick look around. He approved because there were lots of trees, chipmunks, squirrels, and fabulous smells. 
I pulled forward as far as possible to get mostly level without having to unhitch and we did a very minimal setup. It was late and getting dark. 
So, I had failed at finding a boondocking spot but succeeded at finding a dry camping spot. What's the difference you ask? 

  • Boondocking is camping in a dispersed wilderness area with no hookups. For years I have dreamed of doing this near a river or creek. 

  • Dry camping is just camping without any hookups in a place like an organized campground, a driveway, a parking lot or similar. 

Where Murphy, Bridget, Max and I have been so far.
The next morning we were up and out of the campground to make our way back through the parks and east to Cody, Wyoming. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Sapphires, Yes Please

When I was a kid, my parents took my brother and I to a sapphire mine in the town of Philipsburg, Montana. 

It was a lot different in those days, but the mine is still open. I stopped by the retail store to pick up a bag of gravel. 
Photo credit:

If you prefer, you can mine your bucket of gravel at the store. They have tables set up and will wash the gravel for you. 
After I paid, I went to the side of the store where they let me choose my bucket. They dumped my gravel into a bag and sent me on my way. You get 25 pounds of gravel in a bucket. 
My bag has been in my truck for a few days untouched. Today we decided to stay put and have a rest day, so mining seemed like a great idea. 
After removing what I wanted to look through, I rinsed it really thoroughly and dumped it upside down onto a towel on the picnic table. 
My sapphires

I only went through about a few cups of the gravel, but I got a few beautiful stones. I'm looking forward to looking for more gems.

You can send your stones back to the store for evaluation, heat treating, faceting, and setting.