After a wonderful summer in the Hamptons, I hooked up Scout and headed southwest.  What is the best way to exit Long Island trailer in tow?  Years ago, Mom and Erv traveled cross country in an RV, after they arrived to visit me in Washington, D.C. their next stop was Robin’s Westhampton, NY home.  I came along for the ride and as we crossed the Verrazzano Bridge onto the Long Island Expressway it occurred to us we should have left the RV parked outside of DC and driven my Chevy Lumina, instead of inflecting the harrowing drive on Erv.  Mom and I thought he might have a heart attack navigating the RV across Brooklyn.  Not an easy drive in a car, so an RV is really crazy.

It has been my desired escape route to go north to Orient Point and take the ferry to New London, CT or west to the Port Jefferson ferry across the Long Island Sound to Bridgeport, CT bypassing New York City and surroundings.   At the last minute I choose and alternate route north of NYC via the Troges Neck Bridge onto the Cross Bronx Expressway – I won’t be doing that again.  When a ferry is available – take the ferry.

Avoiding multi-lane expressways (incorrectly named), because there seems nothing express about them.  I ended up in Pennsylvania with no campground nearby after dark.  I stayed in a Walmart parking lot, something I pledged never to do.


As I traveled west to my campground destination of Blackwater State Park, West Virginia at a truck stop I glanced at Facebook and saw my friend Karen was visiting the Flight 93 Memorial in Stoystown, PA.  The beauty of retirement RV travel is your ability to change or add a destination as you please.  So, two hours out of my way seemed like a good idea, and it was. 

A Common field one day, a field of honor forever

The Memorial is a somber commemorative of 40 souls who fought terrorist on 9/11 and died saving others.  If you are anywhere near this sacred and hallowed ground you should visit, if only to give them respect and acknowledgement they deserve.  I will want to come back for a longer visit.

I needed to press on so as not to arrive at the campground after dark, so onward to Blackwater Falls in Davis, WV, a beautiful drive to see the fall colors. 

Unfortunately, upon arrival and hook-up, my mysterious power problem persisted.  While plugged into 30 AMP, the lights came on, but the outlets and microwave were not functioning.  Instead of staying for 3 days as planned, I packed up and left the following morning for the Airstream dealer in Ashland, VA, 200 miles east.  I was so looking forward to returning to my vagabound life.

Leaving Scout has allowed me to hang with friends Liz and Tim, and Maggie gets to be with her BFF Lola and daily trips to the Congressional Cemetery.  I hope to catch-up with all my working former colleagues in Washington, D.C. while waiting for an Airstream diagnosis.

This morning when I was checking out Facebook, I saw my college housemate Lauren was in D.C. for lobby visits, unfortunately she boarded a flight last night for Tacoma.  Darn!  But other friends know my location and have reached out for visits, so Facebook is a great way to stay in touch, but not a place to make informed political decisions.  I post lots of my political opinions there, but ignore the ads, as we all should.

I am in D.C. for at least a week, so let me know if you want to get together!


Growing up in Southern California in the 60’s, Mom was an avid subscriber to Sunset Magazine, a wonderful magazine about southwest living.  A monthly feature was weekend or day get-aways, one of which remains a family joke, our trip to the 49 Palm Oasis.  Driving from Los Angeles my parents listened to our constant complaints of “how much longer?” and “are we there yet?”  At the end of a long car ride and hike to the oasis, we found it in ashes.

The National Park Service describes the 49 Palms Oasis Trail as “a three-mile round-trip hike to a fan palm oasis. It requires two to three hours and is rated moderately-strenuous, ascending about 300 feet each way. This well-maintained trail climbs to a ridge where large numbers of barrel cacti dot the landscape. After winding around the ridgetop, the trail descends steeply to the oasis located in a rocky canyon. Towering palms create a canopy over clear pools of water. Large boulders provide a place to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of this small ecosystem”.

Sister Kerry traveled from Anchorage, Alaska to help celebrate my 65 birthday in Palm Springs, and Maggie and I have taken a break from trailer life to spend a couple of days at the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, with Alaskan pals Diane and John.

Kerry and Diane did all the research and because the Park was closed in January due to (colossally stupid)  the partial government shut-down, they found an AirB&B just outside the Park entrance.  Today, Kerry and I completed the hike and found the oasis recovering from a more recent arson in March 2018Fortunately, the past two rainy California winters has allowed the oasis to recover, but several of the Palm trunks are visibly burned.  Sadly, during the government shut-down vandals cut down some of the Joshua trees. Yucca brevifolia is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua treeyucca palmtree yucca, and palm tree yucca.[2][3][4][5]

My idea of a good hike is usually punctuated by 18 holes, but Kerry and I had a nice hike catching up on our fond family memories, and enjoyed the wildflowers along the amazingly maintained trail.  Mom instilled in us a love of camping in the National and state parks as our family summer vacations, and often our destinations were first read about in Sunset Magazine.  If you are planning a trip west, pick-up a Sunset, the recipes are always wonderful as well.

As Ken Burns documentary films series illustrates, our National Park’s are still “America’s Best Idea”.  If you haven’t watched the series I hightly recommend it.

Swimming with Alligators

I had not planned on swimming in the Everglades, or losing my phone, car and trailer keys.  Excited to learn the National Park Service offers a FREE guided canoe trip, we gathered at 7:45 a.m. at Nine Mile Pond to meet our Park Ranger guide John Paul.  12 of us, an even number we listened as John Paul gave a brief demonstration of paddling and steering.

Bertram the other single, a young physics student from Israel, had no canoeing experience.  Apparently, Bertram had not learned the physics of canoeing in his studies.  So, why would I suggest he be in the back and steer?  You all know how much I love to be “in control”.

We were doing just fine half-way into the trip, having just stop for a short break to drink water, eat snacks, and enjoy the quiet of nature.  I shared apple slices and granola bars with my canoeing companion.   He hadn’t been great at steering, running us into the low hanging mangroves, but the trip was taking us through very narrow mangrove tunnels.  

The next thing I knew we were tipping over and I was in the water.  Thankfully, we had only seen one alligator earlier, but waist deep in Everglades water was not a comforting feeling.  I had carefully packed a sack with 2 bottles of water, apple slices, granola bars, a bug stick, and $20 bill.  I had put my iPhone in a zip-lock bag, my car keys were also in the sack, (a Christmas gift from Michelle).

Why did I let Bertram steer, in back where I could not see him?  Why didn’t I zip the sack, why didn’t I put my phone back in the zip-lock after taking pictures?

I lost my keys and iPhone, but the bug stick, bottles of water and $20 bill stayed afloat.   No point in kicking myself.  Now I had to get back into the canoe in waist deep water before the alligators discovered us.  I am grateful I still have good upper-body strength, because boarding a canoe isn’t easy.  I did it, with fear of alligators fueling me.

My cheap Timex watch is still ticking, after a rice dry out.

I am most grateful for the kindness of strangers.  The night before I had a conversation with a woman in the next shower stall, we spoke of our pending canoe adventure, and neglected to introduce ourselves.  Lucy and husband Paul would become my new best friends.  They gave me a lift back to the Flamingo Campground and the use Paul’s cell (AT&T) phone to call my insurance company.  Needless to say, locksmiths weren’t jumping at the prospect of driving 40 miles one-way to pop-a-lock.  

Thank you, Katherine.  I bought the Airstream from Katherine and she had the foresight and presence of mind to duck tape a key behind the front panel.  And, best of all it was the door lock, I had locked – not the deadbolt, which I thought I had locked.  I was back in the trailer where my extra set of keys hung on the hook.  No insurance or locksmith needed.  And, Maggie was happy to see me.

Visiting with Lucy and Paul later that evening, they both mentioned how Bertram was not paddling, and leaning over the water.  After we had our swim, I had heard Paul give Bertram a few paddling tips.  Paul told me, “he wasn’t really paddling and you were doing all the work”.  Paul was impressed that I could paddle as fast as I did…no consolation.  I wish my friend Marilyn Park had been with me, we would have been a great paddling team.

I look forward to visiting my new-found friends Lucy and Paul, when I visit Bellingham, WA on my next west coast journey possibly summer of 2020.

Here is the really funny ending to this story.

Waving good-bye to Lucy and Paul as we pulled out of the Flamingo Campground the next morning, I drove east two hours to Florida City and stopped at a Starbucks before entering the Ronald Reagan Turnpike & Toll Road for Ft. Lauderdale.  Waiting for my triple shot latte, I heard a lovely Englishman say, “Glad to see you have recovered from your swim!”  You have got to be kidding!  Barry and his companion Rebecca were sitting at a nearby table.  Karma, Kismet, or just plain luck, what an encounter.  Our National Parks attract visitors from all over the world. In addition to Bertram from Israel, there were four people from the UK on our canoe trip.  Nearly half, five out of 12 people were from aboard.  Our National Parks are a global treasure.

Since my iPhone is swimming with the alligators, I asked Barry and Rebecca if they could share a few photos from our trip, which are posted here.  Rebecca also writes a blog on hiking, Wild Pilgrims.   I hope our paths cross again.  Thanks Rebecca for the snaps.

I hope to see all my new-found friends Lucy and Paul, Rebecca and Barry somewhere again.

Tomorrow, I visit the AT&T store.

We’ll Follow the Sun

It has turned cold in Washington, D.C. and I am so very ready to head south for the winter. There are more leaves on the ground then on the branches.  Hopefully, Scout II will have the necessary repairs done this coming week, so Maggie and I can hit the road.   I have very little in the way of winter clothing, and I certainly don’t want to buy turtle necks and sweaters. 

Our delayed departure and colder temperatures are making changes to our travel plans.   After Thanksgiving we will head south to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or farther south.   I hope the weather in early December allows me to play some golf.  Our goal is not to be in weather below 55 degrees anywhere this winter.

The beauty of an RV is you can adjust your travels to follow the sun, and avoid rain and cold (regardless of a very nice heater in the Airstream).  That’s exactly what we will be doing this winter, following the sun. 

Counter top and drawers!

All the while getting comfortable with new Scout, more space and new features of a solar panel on the roof, and a backup camera on the rear.

I also need to install a truck bed cover for the new Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck, so I can hide my golf clubs and pull cart, which will give Maggie more room in her new back seat.

The solar panel offers longer battery power.  However, we try to stay in places with electric and water hook-up.  I enjoy the comradery of a campground, rather than the isolation of “boondocking”, which is the term for camping out in the boonies; on public lands in the middle of nowhere, without water or electric, and no port-a-potty in sight. 

I did lot’s of remote camping in Alaska.

Nellie Martin US Forest Service Cabin

Beach at Patton Bay, Alask

Years ago, I spent an August week alone on Montague Island in Prince William Sound, walking the 2 miles of beach and catching silver salmon on a fly rod.  Flying from Anchorage in my stepfather’s Cessna 172 and landing on the beach.  My pals Barbara and Howard were suppose to come with me, but Howard broke his ankle playing softball the week before.  It was an amazing week of sunshine and unusually warm weather.  At week’s end I looked like I had spent a week in Hawaii, and not on a beach in Alaska.

Later I cooked at a fishing lodge on the Yetna River for the month of July during the king salmon run.  It was an unusual vacation waking at 5 a.m. to cook breakfast and get the fishermen out on the river, making lunches for the guides to take along, and cooking dinner at 10 p.m. after the fishing had closed.  I was alone at the lodge with 3 dogs during the day and enjoyed the solitude.   I was never armed with any guns.  While I saw bears in the distance, I was fortunate to never have a close encounter on Montague or the Ketna.

Needless to say I gave up tent camping after my 20’s.  I prefer a cabin, lodge and now an Airstream.