Well, we have our travel plans for this year pretty much set so I thought I would pass them along to ya’ll…that way you’ll have some idea ahead of time of what kind of pictures you will likely see.
We’ve moved our departure date from Seminole from April 1 to April 6…this will let Connie sing with the choir at Mass on Easter Sunday before we leave. We leave here on Monday for Jacksonville where we’ll stay a week at the Pelican Roost Campground on the Naval Station where we stayed last year…but we lucked into a pull through site with a view instead of the back in with a lesser view. After Jacksonville we’ll head north with 3 stops before we get to Fairfax VA in early May for Connie to meet with her students and boss and to get dental and financial appointments done. These 3 stops are somewhat in flux as Connie hasn’t picked the exact area yet…but will be in the vicinity of Savannah GA, Wilmington NC, and Virginia Beach VA for a week each.
After a week in Fairfax we’ll head south again to visit the human kids in Midlothian, drop off some stuff we don’t need for the summer, and leave our Mazda behind with the kids when we leave. Leaving Midlothian we’ll head to Marion NC for a week for the RV Dreams Reunion Rally…this is almost exclusively a social rally with no seminars scheduled. We’ll meet up with our friends Howard and Linda, Bill and Linda, Bill and Nancy, Gin and Syl and many others for a week of fun, hiking, campfires, and general merriment.
From Marion we’ll head north to Elkhart IN to get the brakes and bearings on the house checked at the MorRYDE facility there then head west for a week in Minneapolis MN then another week at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (the third national park established) and the Little Missouri National Grassland near Medora ND. We’re looking forward to that one as our long time travel buddy Gary Arndt believes it to be an undiscovered gem and one of the best national parks in the NPS system.
Heading north after Medora we’ll enter Saskatchewan CA with brief stops in Regina and Saskatoon before turning westward to Edmonton AB for a few days where we’ll meet up with Bill and Linda then on to Dawson Creek BC where we’ll arrive in late June for our 60 day Alaska caravan which starts on June 29 with RV Adventure Treks along with our friends Bill and Linda.
From Dawson Creek we’ll spend the next 60 days towing 4800 miles through BC Canada, Northwest Territories Canada and Alaska…along with probably another 1500 miles of non towing fun stuff. We’ll be moving about 30 days out of the 60 but most of the moves are short so as to allow plenty of time to see stuff. We have side trips scheduled on the caravan up to Anaktuvuk Pass and the Gateway to the Arctic National Park as well as (Neil only, Connie ain’t interested in bears) down to Katmai National Park for bear viewing. We’ll also hit up Anchorage, Denali, Talkeetna, Juneau, Fairbanks, Haines, Chicken, Valdez and Seward in Alaska and the towns and cities in the Northwest Territories including Dawson City where we’ll participate in the tradition of the Sour Toe Cocktail.
We end up the caravan in Prince George BC northwest of Jasper National Park the end of August and after a weekend to rest we’ll head east to Jasper National Park for a week stop. The highlights of that stop will be the mountain top finish of one of the stages of the Tour of Alberta bike race, some more hiking in Jasper where there were a lot of closed trails due to elk calving season when we were there last, and most surely some fall colors as by early September the leaves there will be changing rapidly.
From Jasper we’ll head down the Icefields Parkway…one of the great drives we have ever been on for more views of glaciers, rivers, and fall colors…proceeding through Banff and Calgary AB then down to Great Falls and Billings MT and on over to Devils Tower WY…Devils Tower is the monolith that was the scene of most of the action in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We’ll boondock there within sight of the monolith and will have some views like this (pictures by our friends Bill and Linda).
From Devils Tower we’ll head east to Indianapolis or 4 days then back to Midlothian where we’ll stay (again) in Pocahontas State Park campground. We’ll attend the 2015 World Bike Racing Championships, pick up the Mazda, see Alex and the kids and reload the stuff we dropped off before from our storage bin.
From Midlothian we’ll head to southwest Virginia somewhere for a few days then over to Knoxville TN to see Neil’s sister MJ. We’ll then visit Smokey Mountains National Park where we should get some more fall color as it will be early October by then then head southwest to Tuscaloosa AL…the home of the Crimson Tide. We were originally going to get tickets to the Arkansas game…but found out they’re almost 500 bucks so we’ll just hang out on campus, go to the various tailgates, eat some barbecue and maybe pickup some tickets from a scalper if they are cheap enough to be worth it. We’ll then head south for a stop in Coffeeville AL which is right near the Laubenthal Land and Timber Company property in Sunflower AL. Connie’s never seen the property and Neil hasn’t been there since high school. We’ll then head further south for a stop at either the Escapees Campground in Summerdale AL or Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores for a few days. We’ll then head east to the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key FL for a rest and recuperation week then arrive back in North Fort Myers on November 1 for our winter stay.
Sounds like a pretty full travel season to me…we’ll be hitting 14,000 miles towing plus another 1,500 or so for sightseeing on the Canada/Alaska portion of the trip…about 50% more than our previous high mileage year and a lot more travel days than we’re used to due to the caravan and the two relatively quick cross country trips to get to British Columbia and back. We’re looking forward to it though and will be having some great pictures, stories, and adventures to tell ya’ll about.
Speaking of adventures…we wandered down to the beach here in Seminole Campground yesterday and got a couple of shots of the sunset. The first one is what it looked like straight out of the camera, the second and third are after Neil’s photo magic with the computer, and the last is an Osprey that was flying around looking for dinner. We also heard but did not see the frogs in the lake and saw one of the gators way across the way but he was just a shadow like a log on the surface and it was too dark (and we didn’t have the long lens) to get a picture of it. We wanted to give ya’ll a taste of what you’re missing by staying in the cold, frozen hinterlands during the winter…it’s soooo much nicer down here. We were in shorts and flip flops walking over there.
Afterwards we came home and had a great dinner…well, we actually had great dinners two nights in a row. Connie suggested panic coated fried chicken breasts the day before and we had some of them on a bed of lettuce the first day…then had the leftovers with lemon garlic spaghetti last night. Both were really great. We also had a dessert pot luck Friday night…60 or so people there and a whole table filled with nothing but desserts. The Key Lime pie our friend Diane made and the Blondies were the hit of the evening, along with a performance by a magician who gave us an adult magic show.
Our current long range plans for 2016 are another caravan with the same company but this time up to the Canadian Maritime provinces. We’ll stop by Midlothian (since all roads now lead to Midlothian rather than Junction City) and meander up to Boston for another week stay before heading up to Maine and New Brunswick for a 39 day trek. After that we’ll probably head back south through upstate New York again although at this pint the only thing we have any confidence in is the Canadian trip and stopping by Boston.
That’s about it. Connie’s working today and Neil did laundry…he’ll probably go on a bike ride later but ya never know.