Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander


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Blog 155: Adios, Federales!

Once again no business travel this week, so I resumed the rhythm started last week. When not camp hosting, I was writing, hiking, and biking. Mitzy and Jerry, unofficial Park Ambassadors, were at our sides constantly, greeting visitors, guarding the Park, and accepting pets from worthy admirers.

Camp Ambassadors

Saint Bernard

Running Like The Wind

Morning Hikes
We had three nice morning hikes this week: Platte Plains Trail - Otter Creek Loop, Shauger Hill Trail, Pyramid Point Trail. All gorgeous, all quiet, as we met no one on any of these. It is remarkable and wonderful to have a national park to ourselves.

Forest Pines

Yellow Fungi

Red Fungi


Of course, there were lots of flowers along our paths.





Jack In The Pulpit

Bladder Campions #1

Bladder Campions #2

Mini Drones
However, since it was raining a little every day, the mosquitoes were in a frenzy by the end of the week. Even with an ample lathering of Deep Woods Deet, the nasty little critters and their ornery cousins, the deer flies, hovered like government drones, plotting their strikes at the quarter-inch of skin not inundated with repellant. Hence, Friday morning we altered our plans, and avoiding the meadows and forests we took an hour-and-a-half stroll down Esche Beach, one of the finest in Northern Michigan.

Beach Weed

Day Lillies

Beach Sunrise Couple

Canoe Crew

Campground Colleagues
Here are shots of Ralph, Geri, and Deb, fellow camp hosts, and Anna, a volunteer interpreter originally from Russia.






Rocky Racoon

While on duty one morning, we found a young raccoon, trapped in a dumpster, coiled up and looking pitiful. We scrounged around and found a ten-foot 1”x4” that we gently laid into the big metal box. Within two minutes, this nimble masked intruder made his escape. As he scampered out and down, I could almost hear him cry out, “Adios, Federales!” I don’t think we have seen the last of young Rocky.

Adios, Federales!

Jan’s Old Signs
Here are two old signs that Jan selected and I shot.

Old Sign #1

Old Sign #2

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks.

Old Truck #1

Old Truck #2

Old Truck #3

See you next week.

Blog 154: Writing and Hiking, Hosting and Biking

I had the luxury of no business travel this week, so we hung out at Sleeping Bear. When not camp hosting, I was writing, hiking, and biking.

Campground Office

Morning Hikes
We had four nice morning hikes: 2.5-mile Bay View Farm Loop, 3-mile Alligator Hill Trail, 1.5-mile Windy Moraine, 4-mile Bay View Ridge Loop plus Moosewood Trail. Woods, pastures, and some views of Lake Michigan.


Charles Olsen Preserve


Spring Flowers
Of course, there were lots of flowers along the way.


Orange Hawkweed



Wild Rose

Old Fashioned Rose

Old Friend
A dear friend from 20-plus years ago tracked down this blog via Internet search, and then came to visit over lunch and a quick trip to the campground. Here is a pic of this handsome, worldly devil along with his beautiful, charming wife.

Kevin and Aline

Campground Staff
Here is a shot of Dick, a fellow camp host, and another of colleagues Ranger Maryellen and Ranger Morgan. We are fortunate to have a great group of people to work with here.

Camp Host Dick

Ranger Maryellen and Ranger Morgan

Sandy the River Otter
A young river otter we call Sandy (one look at her face and you’ll know why) was out on the beach greeting strangers and trying to make friends. As one would walk along the water, Sandy would follow along.

Sandy the River Otter

Iris Farm
When we were out and about we stopped at an iris farm. Here is a picture of a vase of irises.

Vase of Irisis

Jan’s Old Signs
Here are two old signs that Jan selected and I shot.

Old Sign #1

Old Sign #2

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks.

Old Truck #1

Old Truck #2

Old Truck #3

See you next week.

Blog 153: Mackinaw Morning and Return to the Bear

Goodbye, Colorado
We left Colorado for 2013 heading NE on I-76, picking up I-80 east at the Nebraska border. After spending a night in central Nebraska, we traveled across Iowa camping near Iowa City.

Denver to Iowa City

Sibling Stop
We stopped in eastern Iowa where my brother and two sisters drove down to meet us for dinner. It had been three years since our last get together, so it was great catching up.

Iowa City to McHenry to Algoma

Good Friends
Our next stop was to visit good friends who live NW of Chicago. All was fun, but the Kids especially liked the boat ride. Even though we explained the concept of fresh water to the Pups, Mitzy continued to hunt for dolphins. :’>

Jerry and Dee

McDonald's by Boat

Mitzy Dolphin Watching

Door County
We had planned on heading down to the Homer Glen area to visit some other good friends. However, the weather forecast was not favorable for us going around the bottom of Lake Michigan. Hence, we headed north, stopping for two nights in Door County--the Wisconsin peninsula between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. We had a wonderful time driving/walking around this very pretty area.



Algoma to Green Bay to Menominee to Macinaw City

Mackinaw Morning
From Door County we headed west to the town of Green Bay, and then north into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, taking Highway 2 east along Lake Michigan. After crossing the Mackinaw Bridge, we set up camp in Mackinaw City. The next morning, the pre-dawn sky was the rusty color of old trucks. I grabbed my camera, a couple of lenses, and Gorrilapod to take some pics. Just me and the seagulls.

Here are a few shots taken in pre-dawn light and a 30-second video clip.

Mackinaw Morning #1

Mackinaw Morning #2

Mackinaw Morning #3

Mackinaw Morning #4

Mackinaw Morning #5

Back to the Sleeping Bear
From Mackinaw City we headed south on I-75, at Gaylord we took 32 east and then snaked over to 131 via County Road C42. We took 72 west to Empire, and then north to D.H. Day Campground.

Mackinaw City to Gaylord to Empire

It was great to be back! We spent two months camp hosting here last year, and have returned to assume our old role. All of our previous camp-host friends from last year are here, as well as most of the professional and fun campground staff. Looking forward to a great stay.

Jan’s Old Signs
Here are two old signs that Jan selected and I shot.

Old Sign #1

Old Sign #2

Old Trucks
Here are five old trucks I shot along the way.

Old Truck #1

Old Truck #2

Old Truck #3

Old Truck #4

Old Truck #5

See you next week.

Blog 152: Old and Rusty

On to Breckinridge
From Highline Lake State Park, we rambled down to I-70 and headed east on one of the most picturesque interstates in the entire country. We arrived with snow-topped mountains surrounding us as we camped at 9,100 feet and 34 degrees.

Colorado Trail Hike
Adjoining the campground is a segment of the Colorado Trail, so at dawn one morning I hiked the steep trail for a two-hour round trip.

Return to Denver
Monday it was back to Denver, where we set up camp at Cherry Creek Park.

Quick Trip to Chicago
Tuesday morning I flew to Chicago where I spent most of the week working with a good client.

Jan’s Old Signs
Here are two old signs that Jan selected and I shot.

Old Sign #1

Old Sign #2

Slug Bug
While hunting old trucks we ran across this old VW bug.

Old VW Bug

Old Trucks
Here are five old trucks with both rust and style.

Old Truck #1

Old Truck #2

Old Truck #3

Old Truck #4

Old Truck #5

See you next week.

Blog 151: Duck Race Double Dipping

Salida to Buena Vista
If you like the outdoors, the area in Colorado we have been staying (Salida/Buena Vista) is just about Nirvana: rafting, hiking, paddling, kayaking, hot springing, goat milking, bingoing, mountain viewing, mountain climbing, duck racing, jeep off-roading, ATVing, fly fishing, and more can all be done via the Arkansas River, National Forests, and really big mountains. The people are colorful as well. Here is a pic of a couple of locals who stopped for “breakfast” at the Coyote Cantina, a joint we frequented.

Cantina Cowboys

Duck Race Revenge
Our campground sponsors an annual Memorial Day Duck Race and it is a blast. The rubber ducks navigate a narrow, skinny creek that goes right behind our RV site.

Now, Jan and I are no stranger to duck racing, having been involved in the Calusa Pine Island Duck Race for 15 years. During that time we have bought hundreds of tickets and never won squat. Here at Chalk Creek we both bought one ticket each, and I placed third and Jan won! Yes, young man, persistence does pay off! Here is a shot of Jan the winner and a few more.

Jan the Winner

My Duck

Finish Line

Life Is Sweet

While we were there, Buena Vista hosted its annual PaddleFest.

Paddling Pups
Here are some pics of pups that attended, and one shot of Austie taking his first kayak paddle.

PaddleFest Pup #1

PaddleFest Pup #2

PaddleFest Pup #3

PaddleFest Pup #4

Austie's First Paddle

Hamster Balls
As part of the Paddlefest fundraising, there was a “hamster ball” concession, where kids (or anyone) could step into a plastic bag the size of a huge ziplock, have it blown up with air to form a ball, then be pushed into a pool of water and try to run like a hamster on a treadmill. Here is grandson Austie giving it a try.

Hamster Ball #1

Hamster Ball #2

Move to Crawford
After the Memorial Day crowds had dispersed, on Tuesday we broke camp and motored our way south from Nathan on 285 South, turning west on U.S. 50 at Poncha Springs, stopping at Gunnison for subs, continuing on through the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Instead of following the most direct route, we picked up 92, going west and north along the West Elk Scenic Byway and the east side of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The mountain roads where as crooked as a politician in an election year. Snowy mountains, gurgling creeks, greening hills, and black and deep canyons bordered our way the last 30 miles until we set up camp at Crawford State Park.



Campsite View

Arrowleaf Arnica #1

Arrowleaf Arnica #2

Scarlet False Mallow

Black Canyon East Side
Late afternoon we drove the dozen miles to the east side of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park where we took a short hike and then drove the park road stopping at overlooks. This is one impressive gorge. We’d been to the west side twice before, but this side is superior--great views and very little traffic.

Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon Hike
Early one morning we drove to the North Rim Ranger station to hike four miles at 7,700 feet on the North Vista Trail, going to Exclamation Point and back. On the way we saw deer and elk. The muddy trail took us through meadows and woods with several vistas overlooking the canyon. We shared the experience with bunnies, chips, meadow larks, magpies, and falcons as we wandered among lupine, larkspur, early paint, cannis, spring beauty, false lupine, and flowering cactus. There were no other humans in sight.


Meadow View

Indian Paintbrush

North Vista Trail

Hike Vista

Hiking Tree

Foxes at Play
On the ride back to camp, we ran across six young foxes playing alongside the road. I was lucky enough to get a few shots of these playful pups as we watched them romp for a couple minutes.


Back to Highline Lake State Park
Two years ago we camp hosted at Highline Lake State Park about 30 miles northwest of Grand Junction, close to the Utah border. While there, we made great friends with our camp host colleagues and wanted to see them again. To get there, we decided to once again take the road less traveled, taking 65 North, the Grand Mesa Skyway.

Grand Mesa #1

Grand Mesa #2

Grand Mesa #3

After setting up camp at Highline, we reminisced over dinner and s’mores over a campfire. The next morning, I hiked the trail around Highline Lake along with my small buddies, Mitzy and Jerry.

Highline Lake Weed

Blooming Catus


Jan’s Old Signs
Here are two old signs that Jan selected and I shot.

Old Sign #1

Old Sign #2

Old Trucks
Here are five old trucks from Colorado.

Old Truck #1

Old Truck #2

Old Truck #3

Old Truck #4

Old Truck #5

See you next week.