Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander


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Blog 294: Casino Royale

From Cherry Creek State Park to Elkhart County Fairgounds

Loveland, CO
From Cherry Creek State Park, we took the short trip north to Boyd Lake State Park. As the name implies, the main attraction at this state park is the lake. We had a nice lake view from our site and enjoyed the many paths on which we walked the pups.

Day Trip: RMNP
Being this close, we couldn’t resist the opportunity of visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. We have been there many times, but every time is worthwhile. We took the one-way, dirt road up to the Alpine Visitor Center, and then circled back on the main drag. On the way up, we stopped by a stream and Jan built (I helped) a cairn in memory of her cousin Harlan.


Harlan Cairn

Ft. Collins, CO
Another short drive north put us into the Ft. Collins KOA on the northwest part of the town by a major reservoir. On Labor Day, we hooked up with old Pine Island friends who have a house in Ft. Collins for a nice lunch.

Day Trip: State Forest State Park
We took scenic Highway 14 north and west bordering the Cache la Poudre along the way to State Forest State Park. North and west of Rocky Mountain National Park this isolated area is one of the prettiest places in one of the prettiest states. As we approached the park we saw three really big moose in the exact spot we viewed them several years earlier (hey, they might have been the same ones!). After a nice lunch at Walden, we worked our way back to camp.

Massive Moose

McCook, NE
From Ft. Collins, we took 14 east to 6 east and found a “city” park in McCook. The small park has sites big enough for big rigs and 50-amp power. They do this as a public service—camping is free except for tips. You certainly could tell you were in the Midwest, because about every fourth vehicle you meet is a tractor, combine, or other motorized farm implement.

Fairbury, NE
Continuing east across the plains, we camped overnight at the Rock Creek Station Recreation Area. Another isolated but very pretty setting.

Osceola Iowa: Casino #1
Continuing east and north we spent a night south of Des Moines, at the Waterside Casino campground. Clean and easy to navigate—good one-nighter.

Coralville, Iowa
Our next stop in eastern Iowa was the Coralville Dam, another Corp of Engineer campground built along Coralville Lake. Huge sites, great views—very relaxing…we spent several days there and will come back again.

Coralville Campsite

Coralville Campsite View

Day Trip: Casino #2
We drove south for an easy half hour to meet my two sisters for lunch outside of the town of Riverside at the Riverside Casino. Great catching up on families and a pretty good buffet!

Joliet Illinois: Casino #3
There are relatively few RV parks or campgrounds in this area, and the Hollywood Casino is probably the best.

Kalamazoo, Michigan
From Joliet, we headed east and dropped the coach off at the Thor factory service center in Wakarusa, Indiana, on a Friday mid-day. With our two pups and a loaded jeep, we drove an hour-and-a-half mainly north to spend time with a longtime friend. We had the chance to enjoy beautiful weather and reconnect with many old friends.

Trip to South Haven
Other good friends had recently built a house in South Haven, a two-minute walk to Lake Michigan. We timed dinner right so that we took in a beautiful sunset from their private beach.

Lake Michigan Sunset

Lake Michigan Sunset II

Beach Walkers

Dog Park
As always, we enjoy a dog park whenever we get the chance.

Mitzy and Buddy

Run, Jack, Run

Goshen, Indiana
We drove back down to Wakarusa, picked up the coach, and drove the 30 minutes into Elkhart for the yearly chassis service. After checking out this town for three hours during the servicing, we picked up the coach and headed south and east to Goshen. Here we set up camp at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds to attend a five-day Thor Diesel Rally of 135 coaches similar to ours. Lots of seminars, get-togethers, and group meals. They had a dog parade in which Jan made costumes for both Mitzy and Jack. I think the judging was rigged, as it was apparent to anyone with class that Mitzy should have won the best costume, with Jack a close second. Oh, well, we didn’t like the prizes anyway.

Butterfly and Bat

Old Trucks
Here is an old truck shot in Michigan.

Old KL Truck

See you next time.

Blog 293: Eclipse Chasers

From Cheyenne Mountain State Park we took the short drive up to Cherry Creek State Park on the eastern side of Denver. Bigger than Central Park in NYC, it shares the status of being right in the city of Denver, so one is close to just about everything. Nice, spacious campsites, trails everywhere, water to swim in or fish—just a wonderful place to stay.

Dog Park
Regular readers know how impressed I am with the quality (and size) of the off-leash dog parks in Colorado, and the Cherry Creek State Park dog park is right at the top of the list. Below are a few pics taken over several visits.

Big Stick Jack

Fluffy Pup

Reflecting Ernie

Run, Jack, Run

Run, Jack, Run II

Shoeless Mitzy

Austie’s flag football team was undefeated for the season, and we got the chance to see the championship game.

Championship Opening Ceremony

Grab it, Austie!


Jan and I (mostly Jan) watched the G-kids a few times over our stay in Denver. During an overnight stay at our campground, we took Austie and Nattie out fishing. Everybody had a great time.

Fishing Austi

Fishing Nattie

Total Solar Eclipse

Cherry Creek State Park to Scottsbluff

Early Preparation
I knew total solar eclipses were cool, but I hadn’t considered them at a “bucket list” level. Then over lunch one day (about three weeks before the eclipse), I saw a TED video of a scientist who made the case that viewing a total eclipse should be one of life’s top priorities. As he described the visual treats he saw, the totally unexpected sounds, and the intense feeling he experienced, I changed my mind. Doing a little research, I found that Denver was not far from the path of totality (200+ miles or so), so I vowed to make the journey, if at all possible. There were three main challenges:

1. Total Eclipse Glasses: Now this seemed easy, at first. Should be able to pick up a couple pair for a couple of bucks each…not! These special glasses were sold out everywhere. However, getting close to giving up (down to eight days), I found that the Grease Monkey chain (quick oil changes) was giving them away as a special promotion. I called and found that the last two pair within Colorado were at a location 20 minutes away. We jumped in the Jeep, and when we arrived I put Mitzy in my arms (hey, she is quite persuasive) and went in. The person I met hemmed and hawed a little (he said people were lined up before store opening to get their glasses), and I just kept saying how much we appreciated it and petting Mitzy. Finally, after smiling at the cute pup in my arms, he miraculously found two pair tucked away in the back of a cabinet. I thought about hugging him, but a grease joint is a macho place. Challenge Number 1 handled.

2. Lodging: As you probably guessed, hotels, motels, B&Bs, RV parks, and campgrounds were all jacking up prices (e.g., they were asking $1,200 for one night at a Motel 6!) and most all were sold out. We had decided upon going to Scottsbluff, Nebraska (all the people I had talked to said they were going to Wyoming), and I called the tourism center, the visitor bureau, the Scottsbluff National Monument, the Chamber of Commerce, and even with local knowledge could find nothing available that cost less than a first-class ticket to London. However, checking back three days before the event, a private rancher was advertising dry camping spots for $75—sold! Challenge Number 2 handled.

3. Photographing the Eclipse. Ideally you use a special solar eclipse filter, or the poor man’s version is solar eclipse film that you use to cobble together a homemade filter. I did not anticipate an issue until going to the B&H website and finding all options were out of stock, and all were backordered and not anticipated to arrive soon. Well, of course, I checked out Adorama, Amazon, and a dozen other places. Next, I called camera stores. Finally, I decided, “Oh, well, I can document the spectacle. Furthermore, I could shoot filterless during the one-minute-and-forty-two seconds of the total eclipse—good enough. Challenge Number 3 partially mediated.

Getting There
There were lots of horror stories about 600,000 people leaving Colorado and heading north to Wyoming or northeast to Nebraska for the total solar eclipse. So, we had some mixed emotions and a little angst and prepared ourselves mentally for possible traffic gridlock. In an attempt to at least minimize the potential pain, on Sunday we got the coach ready, and by 6:40 a.m. we were heading out of the park on our 214-mile trek to Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Traffic on I-225 was light, modest on 70 East, and almost nothing on East I-76. Highway 52 was wide open, and although a little rough at times, we kept a good pace as we passed through the gentle fields of the Pawnee National Grassland. 71 East was quiet and smooth—almost lonely! We stopped at the Kimball Diner for breakfast (50% locals after church with the remainder Eclipse Hunters). 71 north of Kimball was a just-paved, four-lane road, smooth…easy-peasy.

We kept seeing signs along the road saying, “Expect Heavy Traffic,” but even stopping off at the diner, our journey was only four hours.

Once set up in our grassy field, we decided to check out the Scottsbluff National Monument, where Jan got her passport stamped, and then went on to adjoining Legacy of the Plains. We then drove around looking for the best place to view the eclipse and decided that where we were staying was just fine.

Scottsbluff NM 1

Scottsbluff NM 2

I decided I would set up two cameras and attempt to get photos and video footage during the one-minute-and-forty-two seconds of the total eclipse. I was a little nervous, as it didn’t seem wise, as I had only seconds to adjust the tripod, frame the sun, manually focus, and shoot the eclipse.

At 10:25 the partial eclipse started, and Jan and I watched the changing shadows every few minutes for over an hour—very cool. Our only regret was that our Grease Monkey shades weren’t very sexy, and there were very few people that were envious.

At about 11:47, I started the video. At 11:48, the full eclipse started, and with both cameras I quickly took off the lens caps, adjusted the tripods to frame the sun, and then manually focused for the one-minute-and-forty-two-second duration.

At least I wasn’t skunked! Here are two photos I took of the total eclipse.

Total Eclipse Diamond Ring

Total Eclipse

If you’d like to see the 3:22 second video featuring Janny’s play-by-play commentary, click here. Note that there is only audio for the first one minute or so.

The Trip Back
After lunch (our host kindly fed us hot dogs, hamburgers, and the trimmings), and then we were off. Yes, there was some going-so-slow-you-could-shine-your-shoes moments, but we still made it home in slightly over five hours.

Unbelievable experience! We are ready for Total Eclipse 2024. How about you?

See you next time.

Blog 292: Dogs and Rabbits, Turkeys and Bear

We took the easy but slow hour-and-a-half journey from the Chatfield State Park campground in SW Denver to the Cheyenne Mountain State Park campground in SW Colorado Springs, about 10 miles south of the Air Force Academy and close to the Cheyenne Mountain of NORAD fame.

The last time we camped here was when the big fire burned a few years ago, with soaring temperatures, darkened skies, and the ever-present smell of heavy smoke. We could clearly see the fires that threatened the Air Force Academy and much of the Colorado Springs area. This year was much different. Heavy winter snows and lots of spring rain kept everything a bright green color. It rained almost every day, and hail touched the ground twice during our stay. The park has a heavy population of rabbits, deer, prairie dogs, and wild turkeys for the pups to watch and try to chase. In addition, a juvenile bear was sited directly behind our site, but we never saw him.

Here is a view from our campsite.

Cheyenne Mt. Campsite View

Dog Parks
Like so many places in Colorado, the area has several very nice off-leash dog parks. Here are a few dog pics from our stay (including one bluebird that lives in one of the parks).


Black and Grey in Sunflowers

Black and White in Field

Black and White with Ball

Black Dog in Field

Bounding Brownie

Happy Gunner

Jack and Gunner

Running Brindle

Running Loki

Three-Legged Pup in Field

Pretty Girl

Wolfish Smile

It's my ball, Bucko

Where is Jack?

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks from the Old Truck Reserve.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.

Blog 289: Priest Gulch

Blue Spruce to Priest Gulch

From Blue Spruce, we dropped down and around through Durango, up to Mancos, sliding through Dolores, and out into the boonies to our Priest Gulch Campground.

Priest Gulch
This is one gorgeous campground with the rushing Dolores River sloshing and spilling right through the middle.

Priest Gulch Sign

Great trails all around.

Bear Creek Trail Sign

Calico Trail

Priest Gulch Trail Sign

Of course, the Pups love the hikes.

Thundering Pups III

Towering Aspen

Priest Gulch Trail

4th of July Parade
Over Independence Day we ventured up to Rico for an old-fashioned parade.

Rico Parade

Rico Parade II

Parade Watching Jack

Parade Watching Mitzy

Old Trucks
Here are two old trucks from the Old Truck Reserve.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

See you soon.

Blog 287: Slow Ducks and High Peaks

Cochiti Lake to Chalk Creek

North to Colorado
Leaving Cochiti Lake we backtracked south, got on I-25 North, took the 599 bypass, and continued north on 285. Our plan was to take 285 north all the way to Highway 17 just a few miles into Colorado and continue the 12 miles to our campground. Good plan…good roads…only 158 miles. However…driving a few miles past Espanola, I noticed that the highway sign I spotted did not declare Highway 285 as expected. It said Highway 68. Oops! A ways back we turned slightly right instead of slightly left. No big deal, I thought, thinking that there had to be several east-west highways that could get us quickly back on track. Not bothering to check my maps, Jan plugged in the phone Google Map and we followed their plan.

It told us to take 570 North, then 115 North to 567 West, where we would then link back up to 285 at Taos Junction. Sounded straightforward. However, a few alarm bells started to chime in the back of my head immediately upon getting on to 570, as the road was very narrow, very steep, and very curvy. One had to hug the middle of the road, look way ahead for oncoming traffic, and use both lanes in certain areas. So, it was a slow and a little tense driving. However, the views were spectacular.

In many places the road was less than twenty yards from the waters of the Rio Grande and almost at eye level. We were in the Rio Grande Norte National Monument and on the Taos Indian Reservation—beautiful country. We passed several campgrounds, and one of them (Pilar) looked big enough to camp in—we will consider in the future.

Back to our journey: We slowly wound our way around and were within a mile-and-a-half of linking up to our next road when we spotted a tall, very skinny bridge crossing the Rio Grande. Jack and I got out to explore. The good news was that the one-lane bridge was tall enough to pass under, and there was no sign stating a weight limit (that was probably a good sign). We walked over the bridge and saw that the narrow dirt road on the other side appeared to go straight up into the mountain—a 12%, or more, grade.

After staring at this scenario for 30 seconds, I waved down a local. He said the road was passable for many vehicles, except that the first curve was a doosey, and no way we could take the coach. So, on to Plan B. We backtracked down to Highway 68, turned east instead of west and took it all the way through Taos. From there we took 64 West, passed the Taos Brewing Company, over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and on to Tres Piedras, where we picked up 285, entered Colorado, and went on to our campground. Another small adventure.

Antonito, Colorado
Conejos River Campground is one of our favorites. It sits along the Conejos River and adjacent to the San Juan Mountains and the Rio Grande National Forest. At 8,500 feet there are views of mountains from all sides. I really like walking the pups down to the river and letting them run off leash. We had a nice time visiting with Pam and Gary, the owners, and told them we look forward to our next visit.

From here we turned east back to Antonito, and then north on 285. There were snow-capped mountains all along the way of this scenic drive.

Nathrop, Colorado

Chalk Creek Sign

We have been to the Chalk Creek Campground many times over Memorial Day, and it has turned into a family tradition with the G-kids and their mom and dad driving down from Parker (SE side of Denver) spending the long weekend with us. We handpicked our site a year in advance finding a large one directly on the river, close to the playground, with a big fire ring for roasting ‘smores and telling tales. Here is a pic I shot from our galley window.

View from Galley

There are lots of things to do in this area: hot springing, horseback riding, rafting, water sliding, paddling, ghost-towning, mountain viewing, duck racing, candy bar bingo-ing, playgrounding, scenic driving, hot-dog roasting, and ‘smors-ing, to name a few. This year both Natalie and Austie won at the big Candy Bar Bingo event.

A Winner!

Another Winner!

Carry a Big Stick

Alas, none of our ducks took the top prize in the Annual Duck Race. (We are all past winners :’), but it was fun nonetheless.

The Ducks Are Off!

White-Faced Pup

Happy Campers

Resting Jack

The campground is in the heart of the Collegiate Mountains, the range with the largest number of 14teeners in Colorado. If you like mountains, you have a 270-degree view from most anywhere. The large amount of snow that Colorado has received really emphasizes both the size and the majesty. For a few hours when Mom and Dad gave us a break, we took a drive up in the mountains in the Pike San Isabel National Forest.

Silos and Mountains

Collegiate Peaks

On another day, we took the backroads south of Poncha Springs and up to O’Haver Lake. We hope to be back next year.

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks from the Old Truck Reserve.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.

Travel Blog 269: Wild Weekend with Yogi

Riverview RV Park to Chatfield State Park

From our campground west of Loveland, we took 34 east, and then I-25 south down to our campground near Larkspur.

Jellystone Park
This campground and “resort” is the perfect place for kids. Since we volunteered to take our grandkids plus one friend, we wanted a place with lots of activities. We found the right place. Here are just a few of the activities: morning flag raising with Yogi and Boo Boo, goat grazing, bounce pillow, pancake breakfast (with sausage), swimming pool, afternoon ice cream with Yogi, movies, candy bar bingo, waterslide at the Old Swimming Hole, hayrides, and so on, and so on. However, the biggest hit was that we rented a golf cart for the weekend and Austie became the chauffeur. Great weekend—we packed a week into 48 hours.

Cute Swinger

Fishing Hole Slide

I Love Yogi

Nattie and Austie on Jump Pillow

Silent Specatator

Chatfield State Park
From Jellystone, we took the short drive north and west to Chatfield State Park. We have stayed many times at this wonderful park…full hook-ups, roomy sites, lots of privacy, rabbits everywhere, and one of the best dog parks on the planet.

Ala Carte


Ball Retriever

Black and White

Jumping Jack

.Run, Jack, Run


Wet and Wild

See you soon!

Travel Blog 268: Beautiful Colorado

Ridgway State Park to Riverview RV Park, Loveland, CO

Buena Vista
The trip from Ridgway State Park to the Buena Vista KOA was gorgeous. However, whoever was driving had to concentrate on the steep inclines and declines and pay close attention to curves and drop offs. Gladly the weather at our destination was wonderful—in the low to mid-80s instead of the high 90s. Although a dusty park, the views were beautiful. A nice feature was that there was a trail that started in the campground and continued up into the forest. Perfect place to let Jack off-leash and let the crazy canine run wild.

Fort Collins
We had intended camping in the Denver area, but every campground within 60 miles of Denver was booked! Never seen anything like this before. So we had to drive all the way to Fort Collins, and then we could only stay five nights instead of the ten we wanted. I guess cheap fuel and a slightly improved economy is having its impact! However, our campground (Fort Collins KOA) was a gem—great place for dogs and for grandkids. We will remember it for future family ventures.

Quick Trip to Southern California
I didn’t get a chance to experience much of the campground or the area, though, as I had a business trip to Southern California. Good client, great food, and just awesome weather made the trip a success.
Our next campground was off of Highway 34 in Loveland, only 30 minutes away from Fort Collins. Highway 34 is one of the main drives into Estes Park and on to Rocky Mountain National Park. 
Rocky Mountain National Park
One day we violated all our rules about visiting national parks, as we visited in the middle of the day on a weekend in the summer. Telling ourselves to be patient with all the traffic, we drove into RMNP, and finding it was re-opened after washing out many months ago, we took the Old River Road, the 14-mile, one-way dirt road up to the backside of the Alpine Visitor Center. There were wildflowers all along the way, and we saw a herd of elk and a brute of a marmot at exactly the same place I saw one last year.

RMNP Elk Herd

RMNP Marmot

On our way home outside of the park we saw some bighorn sheep overlooking the highway. Here is a pic of Momma and Baby.

Big Horn Mom and Baby

Afternoon Trip

Loveland Road Trip

One afternoon we decided to check out the Poudre River area. We headed back up and past the Fort Collins KOA, picking up the Scenic Byway Highway 14. Just a gorgeous trip along the Poudre River. At Road 27 we angled back south and east around curvy roads and 12 percent grades.

Pup Strolls
Close to our campground was an off-leash dog park and a big nature area complete with miles of paths and several  ponds. Each morning we started the day off enjoying this wonderful area.

Old Trucks

Old Community Fire Truck

Old Orange Truck

See you soon.

Travel Blog 267: Mountain Bluebirds and High Meadow Wildflowers

Paria Guest Ranch to Gouldings to Sundance RV to United Campground to Ridgway SP
Monument Valley
From the hot desert of the Paria Guest Ranch we traveled to Goulding Campground in the hot desert of Monument Valley that straddles Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. The location of some famous John Ford Western movies, the dramatic landscape is awe-inspiring in the right light and weather.

Monument Valley Sunrise

Monument Valley
Mesa Verde
After a couple days in Monument Valley, we headed north and east to Sundance RV in Cortez, Colorado. We took some short trips, including a tour of Mesa Verde, a wonderful national park that we had not visited in several years. Here is a shot from the Park plus one of Hunting Jack from a morning stroll.
Hunting Jack

Mesa Verde
From Cortez, we took the short trip east to United Campground in Durango. What makes this campground special is that the famous narrow rail Durango-Silverton train runs right through the center of the place! So every morning and every evening campers walked down to the train track to hear the whistle, smell the smoke, and view the trains chugging along…actually, it is quite addictive!

Durango-Silverton Train
From Durango we made our scenic way to Ridgway State Park, just north of the town of Ridgway and close to the great towns of Ouray and Telluride. This is one of our favorite areas in all of Colorado, and that says a lot.
Our large, wooded campsite was full of birds, and we spent much time viewing their antics. Especially fun to watch was the large number of bluebirds.

Male Mountain Bluebird

Female Mountain Bluebird

Pine Sisken

What Does It Take to Get a Drink Around Here?

White Breasted Nuthatch
Owl Creek Pass Day Trip
We took a wonderful trip up into the mountains to Owl Creek Pass. From there we headed north and east on to Silver Jack Reservoir, especially enjoying the wildflowers--Indian paints, cow parsnip, bull thistle, larkspur, daisies, scarlet gilia, penstemon, goldenweed, elk thistle, hawksbeard, fireweed, and on and on. This is the same trip we took a few years ago where we spotted our first mountain lion.

Owl Creek Pass Wildflowers

Morning Walks
Every morning we took the Pups down to the Ridgway Day Use area along the reservoir. Since there were only a few fishermen up at that hour, we let the Pups run loose. Jack chased everything that moved, including chippers, birds, and grasshoppers. Mitzy strolled along sniffing and peeing as the mood fit her. When she got tired we put her in her buggy and gave her a ride. One morning we saw a red fox, and the next morning we saw two of them together. We watched them jump, box, and chase each other as they played in the morning sun. I did not have a long lens, but I did at least capture the solo fox the first day.

Jumping Jack

Mountain Jack

Racing Jack

Run Jack Run

Brindle Pup

Jogging Mitzy

Smiling Madeline

Ridgway Fox
In the town of Ridgway there was a really cool mural and a really neat old truck at the train museum. Just a wonderful area.

Ridgway Mural

Old US Mail Train Truck
See you soon.

Travel Blog 262: Very Sweet at Cherry Creek

We said farewell to Nathrop and headed north again on 285 through the mountains. Near Denver we picked up I-70 East via I-470 West and stopped at a truck stop for a fuel-up and a wash. A short jag east, and then a few miles south on I-225 to Parker Road and our next camping location, Cherry Creek State Park.

Chalk Creek Campground to Cherry Creek State Park

Denver’s Central Park
We’ve stayed here many times and always enjoyed the nature. As it was Black Jack’s first time, he quickly learned to appreciate the vast quantities of rabbits, squirrels, chippers, prairie dogs, coyotes, deer, and birds of all variety.

Wily Coyote

Western King Bird

Bark Park
Another really nice thing about Cherry Creek State Park is their marvelous dog park. Many trails, lots of creek access, and over a four-mile jaunt around the perimeter. We were out there by 6:15 most mornings, but were never the first ones there.

Bark Park Pup

Your Move

Jack just loves to play, especially in the water--nothing more fun than chasing a big canine or a big canine chasing him.

Did You See That?

Run Jack Run

Wet and Wild

He has also learned to play fetch and brings the ball back…most of the time :’>>

Jack and Ball

Mitzy and Jack Tail

Mitzy thinks she is hot spit as she now has new wheels--whenever she gets tired of walking she has a chauffeured buggy from where she can direct the action of both dogs and people from a higher altitude.

New Wheels for Mitzy

Jan’s Art
Interested in seeing Jan’s latest painting? Go to and check out “Skyward” under “Acrylic Paintings and Murals” (the last painting).

See you soon.

Travel Blog 261: Chalk One Up

After our morning expedition to the Great Sand Dunes, we headed north on 285 the 86 miles to Chalk Creek Canyon Campground near Nathrop, Colorado. Once again, a beautiful drive.

San Luis SP to Chalk Creek

Camping at Nathrop
Located north of Salida and just south of Buena Vista, this is one of the prettiest areas in all of Colorado. With 14ers all over the place (mountains taller than 14,000 feet), there were snow-covered peaks in every direction. At over 8,000 feet of altitude, our campground mornings started in the 30s and reached the high 60s early afternoon.

View From Chalk Creek Campground II

Memorial Day with the Grandies
As we had done two times before, our grandkids (and their mom) drove 120 miles to spend a couple of nights with us over the Memorial Day weekend at Chalk Creek. We soaked in the hot springs, swam and slid at the water park, paddled at the Paddlefest in Buena Vista, and quacked at the annual duck race held at the campground. Several kids quickly became friends with our clan, and together they devoured large quantities of s’mores over the campfire and other assorted candies before and after.

Another Crazy Sliding Austin

Chilly Grandma

Guardian Pup

Paddling Fun


Sliding Kelly and Natalie

Sweet Natty

One afternoon after the Grandies had departed, we took a drive up over the Cottonwood Pass down to Taylor Park Reservoir. As we headed up to the 12,000-foot pass, the air thinned, the temperature dropped, and the big piles of snow deepened. Can’t beat it!

Chalk Creek Campground to Taylor Park Reservoir, Gunnison County, CO

No-Name Bird

Red-Shafted Flicker

Resting Bluebird

Sassy Sheep

Pickup Pup

Wonderful holiday weekend.

See you soon.

Travel Blog 259: Day Trips and Early Morning Jaunts

Leaving Elephant Butte State Park, we travelled 148 miles north on I-25 to our American RV Park destination just east of Albuquerque. Nice, easy trip.

Elephant Butte  to Albuquerque

Side Trip to Sandia Peaks
After settling in we left the 5,000-or-so-foot altitude of Albuquerque and wound our way up to 8,500 feet at Sandia Peaks in the Cibola Forest. As the altitude rose, the temperature dropped, changing our mind about doing a hike at the top. Comfortable drive with great scenery.

Dog Park
In our continued attempt to socialize our new pup Jackson (aka Captain Jack Black) we took him to the dog park where he quickly learned the rules of multiple canine behavior. Here is a pic of Jack (lower left) learning it is sometimes better to observe than to be actually engaged.

Watching Jack

Thirsty Pup

Quick Trip to Chicago
I made a quick trip to Chicago to facilitate a workshop, lead a panel, and give a keynote speech at a symposium. Great group of people and lots of fun. Chance to talk and catch up with folks I’ve known for decades. Hope to do it again next year.

Day Trip
After returning from my work trip, we had one full day before heading out. We loaded up and did a three-mile, high-desert hike at Petroglyphs National Monument. During our trek we saw a brightly colored roadrunner pass and numerous, really big jackrabbits. In fact, one looked about the size of a Great Dane--before I fully recognized that the creature coming at us wasn’t a big coyote, I was chastising myself for not bringing pepper spray!

National Monument Day Trip

From there we decided to take the Abo Pass Trail that followed the Salt Missions Trail Scenic Byway for around seventy miles. It follows old trade routes and rail beds through the center of New Mexico. So from I-40 East we took 387 South through Escabosa and Chilili. We picked up 55 South and went through Tajique and Manzano to our first stop--the Quarai Mission Ruins just outside Mountain.

With the pups we walked around and through what was left of the old Spanish mission from the 1600s. From there we continued southwest on 60, going through the spot on the map marked Abo to the Abo Ruins Salinas National Monument Historical Marker, another interesting site along the mission trail. From there we picked up 47 headed north, diagonaled over at Los Lunas to I-25 and then I-40, ending our 150-mile loop.

Jan and Pups at Quarai Mission Ruins

On to Antonitos
After our good stay at Albuquerque, we took I-40 West to I-25 North. About 20 miles from Santa Fe, Jan said, “Today is the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market!” This is no ordinary farmer’s market--the chili selection is celestial, the baked bread is off the planet, and the cheeses are made just south of Heaven. After a two-minute conversation, we decided to make this detour. Salivary glands had already engaged, and I could taste the bread and cheese for our mobile lunch. We got off US 285, no problem as we knew where to go…however, finding a place to park our 62 feet of motor-home-plus-car turned out to be challenging. We found a space within a couple of blocks of the market, but it took up six parking spaces, and I quickly calculated the possible fine this might bring and suggested we postpone our visit. Reluctantly, we pulled out, got back on 285, and continued north through New Mexico.

American RV Park to Conejos

About 50 miles from the Colorado border with a perfect high-60s temperature, sunny skies, and light traffic, the hills and snow-topped mountains surrounded us, taking in 270 degrees of our view. Absolutely inspiring vistas.

New Mexico Vista

New Mexico Vista II

Conejos River RV Park
Six miles after crossing into Colorado, we turned west on Colorado 17 at the village of Antonito for the 12 miles to our Conejos River RV Park. At 8,500 feet of elevation, the air was naturally thinner, but so was the fly and mosquito population. This park had just opened May 1, and very few souls were in the camp that bordered the Conejos River and was within six miles from two national forests.

Over our three days at this campground we saw scores of birds of many shapes and variety: bluebirds, several kinds of finches, Western Tanagers. Great people, great vistas, and wonderful solitude when you wanted it.

Mitzy Cart Ride

Say's Phoebe

Evening Grosbeak

Crazy Antonito Structure

View from Road Trip

Early Morning Jaunt
Before sunrise on day one of our stay, we drove up Forest Road 101 into the Rio Grande National Forest. Alone on the dirt road we saw deer and a nice size herd of good-looking elk.

Another Early Morning Jaunt
With the temperature just over 30 degrees on day two, we headed west on Colorado 17, then headed northwest at the town of Horca, and were again moving into the Rio Grande National Forest on Forest Road 250. This dirt road paralleled the Conejo River high in its banks. We again saw deer and elk, prairie dogs, yellow-bellied marmots, desert bighorn sheep, chipmunks on every rock (well, almost every rock), a coyote, and scores of hummingbirds feeding on the bushes by the road.


And Another Early Morning Jaunt
On our last morning, we were again up and out at 6:00 a.m. into the chilly but calm 30-degree morning. This time we headed east on 17, and then quickly turned south on Road D.5, which led us into the Rio Grande Forest of Forest Road 103 that paralleled Big Horn Creek southwest into New Mexico and the Carson National Forest. We wound through forests of Ponderosa Pine laced with trees just starting to bud. In the distance we saw several herds of elk, obviously skittish of hunters. We saw pronghorn along the way and deer, and of course, more chippers. After passing Sublette, Toltec, and Osier Mountains, we came to the end of the road, Osier, at 9,624 feet. It is the watering station for the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. At this wayside along the mountain we ran across a marmot sentinel, who was not happy about our arrival. Standing erect as a Queen’s guard on his rock pile, he loudly told me that I did not belong there.

Yellow-Bellied Marmot Sentinel

The railroad water tank was continually dripping and the whole locale was thick with swallows. In hopes it might connect with Highway 17, we took a narrow, steep, muddy path but it ended at the Rio de Los Pinos, much too deep to cross (six feet of fast-moving water). So we retraced our journey with mountain, valley, stream, and forest views along the way. During our three-hour trip, we saw only one vehicle and one person. Here are a few pics from the early morning jaunts.

Conejo Pano

Audubon's Warbler

Brewer's Blackbird

Dusky Grouse

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

Roadside Waterfall

Water Tower Drips

Blog 244: Back to the Old West

Zion to  Monument Valley

Leaving Zion we toured through Hurricane, skirted around the Kaibab Tribal Lands, went by beautiful Lake Powell close to Page Arizon, and then through Kayenta to our campground at Gouldings Campground Monument Valley.

Monument Valley
We took an afternoon trip to scope out our planned trip to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribe Park. As we were heading home, Jan spotted a wild goat eating weeds along the road. Here is a picture of the handsome critter.

Monument Valley Goat

The next morning we were up super early, hoping to watch the stars. However, clouds stopped that plan, but those same clouds helped shape the colors of a gorgeous sunrise.

Monument Valley is the location of many John Ford westerns, including John Wayne’s breakthrough role in the 1939 movie “Stagecoach.” As a youngster I recall many a-time watching this and other westerns in black-and-white on a little TV in the living room with my dad. Monument Valley was often the background for the action. As one gazes out at the horizon you can almost see the dust rising from the rumbling wagons, smell the sweat from the galloping horses, sense the pilgrim fear that Apaches were right around the next rock with knives in hand, greedy for scalps. This is how the Old West is supposed to be! Wonderful place.

Monument Valley

Almost Monument Valley Sunrise

Monument Moment

Monument Pup

Snarly Monument View

Vibrant Monument

Stagecoach Movie Poster

Natural Bridges

Monument Valley to Natural Bridges

The same day of our visit to Monument Valley, we drove up 163 through Mexican Hat and Bluff into Blue Mountain RV Park in Blanding. After settling in, we took an hour trip to visit Natural Bridges National Monument. On an uncrowded road, we took the scenic tour stopping to walk and view the three natural bridges (formed by water erosion, not arches, which are formed by wind erosion). Here is a photo of one of the bridges.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge 2

Back to Colorado

Blue Mountain to Chatfield

We continued north on 163 to 191 and headed past Canyon Lands National Park and Arches National Park near Moab. We hooked up to I-70, spent the night near Breckingridge at Tiger Run RV Resort, and then continued east the next day to our destination at Chatfield State Park.

Busy, but fun!

Here are a couple of pup pics.

Pup 1

Pup 2

Old Signs
Here is an old sign

Old Sign

Old Trucks
Here are four old trucks.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

Old Truck 4

See you soon.

Blog 234: Days in Denver and Stanley Sneak-Away

Estes Park to Cherry Creek

Days in Denver
From Estes Park we curved east on Highway 36, connected on 66, then took I-25 South, east on 470, and south on I-225 South to Cherry Creek State Park, an oasis of green tucked away within the Denver metro area.

Dog Park
Within Cherry Creek State Park (along with a lake, model airplane field, miles of trails for biking and hiking, a campground, and so on) is an off-leash dog park that we took Mitzy to a couple of times. Large and small, handsome and not-so-handsome, happy dogs from all over walked/ran/romped the park. Check out these pups.

Pup 1

Pup 2

Pup 3

Pup 4

Pup 5

Critters of Cherry Creek
The campground had critters of all kinds. Luckily for us, Mitzy made it her duty to rid our site and the campground of all bunnies, squirrels, and other two- and four-legged critters.



Northern Flicker

Prairie Dog

For us, Denver is synonymous with grandkids. Here is a pic of Austie batting a double in the playoffs, Nattie taking the water challenge, and the Backyard Soup they both made with grandma’s encouragement.

At the Bat

Nattie in Hose

Backyard Soup

The Stanley Hotel
Just a little variety from our rustic camping regime :’), we drove back up to Estes Park taking Austie and Mitzy along with us. We spent two-nights at the Manor in the pup-friendly, kid-tolerant, historically designated hotel. Here is an early morning shot from the verandah and a shot of a marmot from RMNP.

Stanley Foggy Morning


Old Signs

Old Sign 1

Old Sign 2

Old Trucks

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

Old Truck 4

Fun week! See you soon.

Blog 201: Meadow Morning

Meadow Morning
Jan and I took off early Saturday morning to a nearby open space for a stroll through a woods and meadow. Colors leaped from the ground in the form of flowers and other flora.

Stacked Flowers

Flowers and Flora 1

Flowers and Flora 2

Flowers and Flora 3

Flowers and Flora 4

Flowers and Flora 5

Flowers and Flora 6

Flowers and Flora 7

Flowers and Flora 8

Flowers and Flora 9

Mini-Family Reunion
Twenty or so family with a few close friends spent the afternoon enjoying a warm Colorado day chatting and eating, running and playing.

Nattie Meets Archer

Taylor in Field

Archer, Charlie and Jerry

Jan’s Old Signs

Here is one old sign from Colorado.

Old Sign

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next week.

Blog 196: Quick Trip to NASA

Quick Trip to NASA
I had a great two-day session with some professionals from NASA in Houston. As you’d expect, they were as smart as “rocket scientists” and quickly grasped the business concepts and skills and honed them to their environment.

As a youngster I was a huge fan of science fiction, devouring most of the works of Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, and others. So I was especially delighted that my friends at NASA were kind enough to arrange a private VIP tour for me. I toured the original Apollo Mission Control, the active Space Station Mission Control Center, and two exact replicas used for astronaut training, the Space Station as well as the now retired Shuttle. They shared with me lots of stories (I shan’t share) and invigorated me to anticipate the Orion spacecraft and (hopefully) a mission to Mars in the next few years.

Alex in the Space Station

Apollo Mission Control

In the Shuttle Commander's Seat

Shuttle Control Panel

Space Station Mission Control

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Jan and I and the Kids took a day trip out and around Florissant and Cripple Creek. At the Florissant Fossil Beds we walked a trail and learned about the fossilization of giant redwood trees and other insects, birds, and animals. Very interesting place.

Fossilized Redwood Stump

Old Homestead

From there we worked our way down to Cripple Creek, home of big-time gold mining and lots of casinos.

Cripple Creek

On the way home we decided to take a shortcut and work our way through the Pike National Forest. Lots of fun as the narrow forest roads became skinnier, rockier, and crooked-er…sure glad for clearance and 4WD.

National Forest Trail

No Shooting Sign

No Motor Vehicles Sign

More Baseball
Here are a couple of pics from the baseball tournament.

I Got It

Jan and Pups at BB Game

Bathroom Break

Jan’s Old Signs
We ran into a number of great old and newer signs at Cripple Creek and other stops along our day trip.

Blue Front Grocery Sign

Thunderbird Inn Sign

At Large Sign

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next week.

Blog 192: Big Bubbles and Greedy Goats

Big Bubbles
While in Florida, Stan the Bubble Man got us interested in big bubbles. After some Internet research, a purchase of supplies, and lots of practice, we are starting to get the hang of it. Take a look and tell me what you think of Jan’s work.

Big Bubble 1

Big Bubble 2

Greedy Goats
The Jellystone Park we are staying at does a great job with kids. Here are a couple pics of the feeding of the baby goats, plus Yogi and Booboo getting their mail accompanied by a group of fans.

Greedy Goats

Austie Feeding Baby Goat

You've Got Mail

Here is a shot of Sleepy Jerry plus a snap of Austie after just scoring a big run.

Sleepy Jerry

Run Scored

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.

Blog 150: Old Trucks Gone Wild

If you like to hunt and shoot old trucks, it is great to be in Colorado! Forty-eight new beauties have been added to the collection this week. See the last section of this blog post for a few of the distinguished old girls.

Over 7,700 feet in elevation, the mornings started cool in the low 40s, working up to high 60s/low 70s later in the day. We had an excellent variety of weather: calm and sunny, cold and windy, snowy and sleety, and thundering and lightning. Here is a view from our campground and a view of fishermen right behind our coach.

Campsite View


Sunday Truck Hunting Day
I took Sunday off, and by 8:15 a.m. Jan, the Pups, and I were out the door and in the car hunting old trucks and other good photo ops. We went west to Poncha, and then took highways, scenic byways, gravel and dirt roads north, east, west, south, and back, hard on the scent of rusted steel.

Salida to Hartsel

Our constant guardians, the Collegiate Peaks, were always in the background, and their snowy tops combining with pillowy clouds and perfect light made for some pretty scenic photos.

Old Schoolhouse

Jan Driving

We eventually made our way up to highway 24 and took that east, stopping off at the Antero Reservoir.

Antero Reservoir
The Antero Reservoir is deep blue water surrounded by mountains. Wrapping our coats up tight, we got out to enjoy the view. Here is that handsome devil Jerry breathing in the scenery.

Jerry at Antero Reservoir

Hartsel Lunch Break
At noon we stopped for lunch at the best place in Hartsel (the only place in Hartsel) and were pleasantly surprised at the quality of our meals (Jan had the burrito and I had the house special). Here is a shot of Cindy, the bartender/waitress/hostess/busboy/cashier (however, I don’t think she cooked).

It's Going to Be a Long Day

Monday Mountain Thunder
I worked all day Monday, but late afternoon it was time for a family drive. We took the back roads and found more old trucks. In the outskirts of Salida, I took a few shots. Here is a fun one of a big smokestack from a smelting plant long closed down.


National Forest
After exploring the town, we took a county road that turned into a forest road--left and right, down and up, over and back in the San Isabel National Forest. We found the remnants of an old town called Turret and drove through blowing snow to view the mountains being engulfed in dark clouds lit by the occasional bolt of lightning. Every few minutes the almost-spooky quiet was interrupted by thunder that started as a moaning growl, grew to a rhythmic rumble, and then crescendoed into an angry bellow that commanded both respect and a little fear to all within earshot. Here the term “awesome” does perfectly apply.

Big Thunder

Afternoon Trips
Cottonwood Pass
One late-afternoon family excursion took us up to Cottonwood Pass. At over 12,000 feet, spring had not yet sprung, and there was enough snow to fool you into thinking it was still February. Here are a couple pics from this trip.

Snowy Top

Snowy Landscape

Here are a few shots of pups and other critters.


Fishing Pup

Metal Cow

I'm Not Kidding, Ethel...

Old Signs
Here are three old signs that Jan selected and I shot.

Old Sign #1

Old Sign #2

Old Sign #3

Old Trucks
Here are five old trucks (the others I shot are in the Old Truck Reserve for future weeks when the hunting is scarce).

Old Truck #1

Old Truck #2

Old Truck #3

Old Truck #4

Old Truck #5

See you next week.

Blog 149: Troubled Toilets and Lightning Strikes

In the Air
A busy business week started Sunday and ended Saturday with trips to Baltimore and Dallas. I had two excellent sessions with fun services personnel from a software client. Mostly my views on this trip were of flight attendants, hotel lobbies, and conference tables, but I did get to see some intriguing vistas outside my airplane windows, and the sharp crack of lightning striking the port wing widened some passengers’ eyes to the size of serving plates at an Amish restaurant.

Flights were smooth except for one glitch: A mechanical problem caused by a running toilet motor that wouldn’t stop triggered enough delay so that I could not get back until Saturday. Oh, well…

Plane Seat View

Baltimore Inner Harbor
My hotel in Baltimore was located in the Inner Harbor, so I did have a chance to enjoy a stroll or two by the water.

Harbor View

Harbor Waitress

Move the Bus
Finally back to the motorhome, we broke camp at the Colorado Horse Park Saturday around 1 p.m. and took an enjoyable trip a couple hundred miles to our next location. Jan piloted the bus south on Colorado 83 and I-25 down to Colorado Springs. On Colorado 115, we drove by the area we stayed at last year among the smoke from the huge wildfire. We continued on down to Canon City, home site of the Royal Gorge, then ambled along side the Arkansas River another 60 some miles.

Colorado Springs to Salida

We are parked at the 4 Seasons RV Park, just three miles east of Salida. This is a magnificent location, as BERT’s (Big Expensive Road Traveler) behind almost hangs over the Arkansas River, while our view from the front of the coach is the Collegiate Peaks, home of eight of Colorado’s 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet). Here is a shot of our campsite and a picture of a couple boaters floating down the river taken from our picnic table.

BERT Over the Arkansas River


It is going to be a great stay!

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks--two were parked at our campground.

Old Truck #1

Old Truck #2

Old Truck #3

See you next week.

Blog 148: Baseball, Bubbles, and Prairie Dog Heaven

Baseball Game
Sunday was a “boys-only” Colorado Rockies game. They lost to the Rays, but the weather was pleasant, the hot dogs were tasty, and our third-base view was a fun location for photography.

Colorado Rockies Baseball Game #1

Colorado Rockies Baseball Game #2

Colorado Rockies Baseball Game #3

Baseball Bonding

Quick Trip to New Orleans
I had a quick trip early in the week to New Orleans were I facilitated the U.S. pilot of a new engagement. Smart, fun group--should be a great project.

Redheads and Bubbles
Of course, we had a few times during the week to enjoy the grandkids. Here are pics of Austie and friends going red, Natty in the tub, Natty ‘fessing up, and Natty hanging with Charlie the Pug. And, here is a comic pic of Aaron doing some deep reflection on his future.

Three Readheads

Tub Bubbles

Nattie 'Fessing Up #1

Nattie 'Fessing Up #2

Nattie and Charlie

Charlie and Nattie

Nattie and Daddy

Let's Think This Through...

Prairie Dog Hike
Late in the week the frost disappeared, the temperature rose, and the skies transitioned from rainy gray to vibrant blue. Jan and I took our first 2013 hike in Colorado, traipsing four miles among gentle hills with first spring flowers making their debut poking up reds, whites, and violets against the brown of the earth. Birds of all denominations sang for us and the brilliant plumage of bluebirds darted across the sky like smoke in a breeze.


The hike highlight, though, was a solid mile path right through the most impressive prairie dog town I have ever seen! Well-fed prairie dogs of varying sizes and hues greeted us at the rim of their dens chirping out their intruder alarm. Many times we were within 15 feet before these guardians of the plains scampered down their holes. In case you did not know, our rat terrier, Jerry, loves prairie dogs. He has leapt out of our car window to get close to these large, mobile gophers.

As Jerry tugged at his leash like a sailor weighing anchor, he sometimes drug Jan right to the top of the varmints’ dens. Standing proudly erect like a marine out of boot camp, a broad smile etched on his chiseled face as ripples of pleasure moved up and down his well-muscled physique. I don’ think life gets any better than this for a rat terrier. ☺

Prairie Dog

Hunting Old Trucks
Late one afternoon we piled into the car and headed east in a search of old trucks. There were dark clouds all around us as we drove through the occasional rain shower and watched a stray bolt or two of lightning dance across the horizon--perfect weather for photography! Here are a couple of old trucks from our hunt, plus a cool old truck sign.

Old Trucks #1

Old Truck #2

Truck Sign

See you next week.