Monday, December 25, 2017

The 7 Year Hitch

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope your Christmas is fun, relaxing and safe. And that your New Year is healthy and happy.

Joan and I find ourselves back in Boulder City, NV this holiday season, volunteering at Lake Mead NRA until March 2018. We have volunteered here 5 times; the 1st time in 2013 doing maintenance at Echo Bay marina and the other 4 as Road Monitors out of Boulder Beach. If you haven't figured it out by now, we kinda' like it here in the winter. The volunteer campground has 19 sites; this year with 8 returning couples. It's kind of like 'coming home' and seeing our family when we're here. Every once in a while, a couple misses a season (like we did last year), but there is a core group that has been coming as long as we have; Liz and Bob - originally from this area with family here and in new England; Barb and Bill - from Wisconsin wintering here in between family in Montana and California; Daryl and Barb - staying warm waiting for the snow to melt in Colorado; Ginny and Don - our role models, well into their social security years physically but still teenagers at heart, in their 11th RV over the years, planning a 25 day Mediterranean cruise in 2018 and Alaska in 2019. Energizer Rabbits, both of them; Leslie and Chris - with 2 RV's, 5th wheel for living, truck camper for short trips. New couples Bob & Dawn, Malcolm & Sheree and Glen & Gina just finding out what winters in Lake Mead are all about; Temps range between the 30's and low 70's, sunshine and no clouds for weeks at a time; and a great location to explore Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Vegas.

The 7 year Hitch.......yes, we're now into our 7th year living full time in our RV. We moved full-time into our 2005 Monaco Knight in October of 2011, and after 6 months we left Florida in March of 2012 headed to our 1st workamping gig in Mt Hood National Forest, Oregon. Since then we've worked in Colorado, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and New Hampshire. We've visited dozens of National Parks, Monuments, Recreation areas and State Parks. We've met hundreds of new people, many of which that have become close friends. We continue to be amazed about the 'connections' and coincidences encountered as we travel; example -  fellow full-timer friends that called to tell us about meeting a couple at an overlook in California and while visiting with them at their campsite later that night and sharing stories about the RV lifestyle discovered that their daughters had worked with us mapping BLM roads the summer of 2015....small world!

Our 'Train' as Joan likes to call it
Things are changing for us in Year 7. We sold our 2005 Monaco and bought a 2014 Entergra Anthem 42DEQ; Joan is no longer following me in the car while I pull a 12' motorcycle trailer with the RV; rather she's riding up front with me (and driving at times) while we pull a 24' trailer carrying our jeep and motorcycle; we're also volunteering year-round giving us more flexibility in where we work and how long we work at each location. In 2018 we will be working at Sullys Hill National Game Preserve near Devils Lake, North Dakota; our first time volunteering with the Fish & Wildlife service. We're working on our plans for 2019 with a tentative nod to work at a fish hatchery in Washington or possibly a National Forest in Idaho. We spoke to a Forest ranger about working in Coconino National Forest in Arizona in future years and we've still got thousands of locations in the midwest and north central US to consider in the future.

Joan and I had no idea what this lifestyle would be like when we started in 2012. Some things worked like we thought; others, not so much. We have been continually surprised and excited about the things we see and do; the people and friends we meet and share our life with; and the adventures we find ourselves engaged in unexpectedly. People have asked us where or when we'll settle down. We don't know. Neither of us can imagine a life where we are static; in one place. We intend to travel more, explore more and to learn more. We intend to seek out more adventure and new friends. And to share our life via the blog more often.

We enjoy unexpected surprises, phone calls and knocks on our door. We encourage phone calls from family, friends and acquaintances to catch up on what's going on; emails or calls from folks curious about a place we've visited or a job opportunity we've experienced. And we enjoy sharing our adventures with friends. Don't hesitate to call or stop by anytime. Or 'Friend' us on Facebook and enjoy the 100's of photos Joan has posted. Enjoy the New Year.

That's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Color, Sox, Football, Chief, Secretary and Moose.....What's Next?

Kancamagus Highway, NH

The color is really starting to show as we make our way through the White Mountain National Forest here in New Hampshire. The locals are telling us the color appears to be early this year, maybe peaking within the next 7-10 days. Joan posted that the color was becoming a job hazard as she was having a hard time focusing on the job at hand; rather she was looking around and snapping pictures as if there was no tomorrow.

With only a few weeks left in our volunteer position we're trying to take in as many sites as possible. 2 weeks ago we drove east into Maine and spent the day driving along the coast. Lots of small inlets and bays; checked out LL Bean (Joan picked up some hiking boots); and a colorful sunset.

On the way home the next day I told Joan I was taking her somewhere she had always wanted to go.......Norway!
Along the same route we visited......



.....and Paris!
I even managed to take her through Russia! An international trip right here in the good ole' USA. Might get Hubby of the Year points for this trip.

Last week was really busy with a trip into Boston. We managed to swing tickets for a Red Sox game...

The 'Sox' won 6-1 over the Blue Jays
. Wahoo!

The next day we took a trolley and harbor tour of the city.....

...including a walk thru of Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution.

After a quick 2 days in Boston we headed west (yes, west) to New York. Joan's nephew Colby plays football for the University of  Richmond Spiders. They were playing Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.

#92, Colby normally plays Tackle, but for this game they changed things up and had him as Defensive Center. He played Tackle the previous week in Houston and won 'Defensive Player of Game', so this week Golgate usually had him double-teamed. He played almost every defensive play and the Spiders ended up winning 20-17.

Forest Chief Tooke
and Smokey
I've said it before, and it's still just never know who or what you're going to run into in this lifestyle. A few years ago in Wyoming, while mapping roads for BLM we were asked by one of the local ranch owners to show him where we would be crossing his land to complete some GPS points. We met him for coffee and after a little show and tell, he gave us permission to cross his ranch. As we were leaving the coffee shop we noticed how popular he seemed to be with our waitress, so we asked why he was so popular. "Mark is the State Treasurer for Wyoming" was the answer we got. Well it happened again. The Forest Supervisor for White Mountain NF retired this summer. We were invited to attend the Induction Ceremony for the new Supervisor (or so we thought). We show up for the event only to realize it wasn't the Supervisor who was being inducted, rather it was the Chief of Forest, Tony Tooke who is responsible for all the National Forests.

Then to top it off, we met the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue who was in attendance to swear him into office. I guess my mom was right when she said to always wear clean underwear and be on your best manners! Joan's BFF Terri who lives in Seattle once worked for Sonny, so we took a pic and sent it on to her.

And then there's the wildlife......we managed to snap this shot as we were working one day.

Well that's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come!

Monday, August 28, 2017

How the H#%* Do We Get Up There?

Lincoln, NH
L-R Joan, Don, Steve, Ginny, Deb B, Jim, Deb D and Dale
Things are really starting to pick up in this area as the pleasant summer months are winding down. Lots of folks from all over New England are visiting to hike, camp and enjoy the spectacular scenery offered in and around Lincoln. To the left is a pic of our volunteer team of Roving Caretakers. Only 6 more weeks and we'll complete the season here in White Mountain National Forest.

The daughters Daniel & Jessica
You just never know who you're going to meet in this lifestyle. A few weeks ago we received a call from fellow RVer's Pat & Diana Brown. We met them in South Dakota 3 years ago. They called to share a little 'small world' story. The were traveling through California and stopped at a scenic overlook near the campground where they were staying. While enjoying the vista, they struck up a conversation with another couple nearby. They discovered they were staying in the same campground and made a plan to stop by their site later on to discuss their RV experiences. Later that evening while sharing stories the other couple told them about their daughters who were spending the summer living in a small RV while working for a company that was mapping and inventorying BLM roads. When they described their daughter's job of driving their 4x4 jeep throughout the back country roads of Idaho and Utah while GPSing the roads, Diana commented that it sounded a lot like the job their friends Steve & Joan (yes, that's us) had the year before. As soon as they mentioned our names the other couple knew exactly who we were as their daughters had worked with us in 2015. Yup, it's a small world!

Diana also mentioned that her nephew Michael was hiking the Appalachian Trail and would be in our area in a few days. Joan got all the pertinent information and we made a plan to meet him. Sure enough, a few days later we got a call from Michael telling us he would be camping overnight just a few miles from where we're camped. At the appointed date & time we drove to the trail crossing on Hwy 302 near Crawford Notch and met up with him. We drove to a nearby diner and spent a couple of hours listening to some of Michael's stories about his trek. He's been hiking for a little over 4 months so far and has about 3 1/2 weeks left to complete the entire 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail in mid September. Quite an accomplishment as only a little over 12,000 hikers (only 10-15% who make the attempt) have completed the entire trail since it was built in 1937.

Lake Champlain Ferry
Fort Ticonderoga Ferry
Over the last few weeks we've also spent some time being tourists. We drove west through NH andVermont into New York to see the Adirondack Mountains. That trip included 2 ferry crossings of Lake Champlain; 1 of those on the oldest cable ferry in operation in the US, the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry established in 1759.

L-R Johnny, Denise, Jim, Deb, Joan & I

We drove over to Portland, ME with Jim & Deb to visit with long time friend Johnny North and his bride Denise.

We made a trip into the Boston area to see Joan's oldest friend, Florence, who turned 95 in July. She's still living on her own and drinks 1 beer a day, which she claims is the secret to her longevity.

Last week Joan & I hosted the First Ever Russell Pond Volunteer Putt Putt Challenge. Almost every Tuesday evening since June, our volunteer group has gotten together to go out and eat. We changed that up a little and set up a putt putt outing.

Awards were handed out for 1st Place.......

1st Hole in One.........

 and Highest SPD (strokes per dollar....or in other words, Last Place). Everyone had a blast and we're thinking we might do it again before our season ends.

The abandoned radar tower
The other day Joan & I took a ride about 40 miles north towards Concord, Vermont. We were exploring some of the forest roads through Victory National Forest when we pulled over to check out a structure set back into the treeline. About that time a truck pulled up beside us to make sure we weren't broken down. Once they knew we were OK, they asked if we were "going up". Not knowing what "going up" meant, they went on to explain they were headed up on top of East Mountain to an abandoned military radar installation. They stated that the sunset views from that vantage point were 'Wicked'. So we followed them up Radar Rd until we saw this........and how the heck do we get up there?

We climb up the ladders......

A little scary...but well worth the effort. The views were absolutely wicked.....

Our radar adventure guides Jake, Lindsay & Ethan
Thanks guys. 

Shout out to my oldest son, Happy Birthday Doug!

Well, that's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Nova Scotia - New Brunswick

Russell Pond Campground - Volunteer Village - North Woodstock, NH
Steve, Ginny, Joan & Don
Just arrived from a volunteer position in Kentucky, Ginny & Don Pair. 1 of the other 3 couples volunteering with us in the White Mountains had to leave and head back to Florida for knee surgery following a stumble out of their motorhome. We've known Ginny and Don for several years from working with them at Lake Mead. We had spoken with them earlier this year when they stated their intentions of stopping by the White Mountains for a visit later in August. With an open volunteer position here, we called them up and asked if they would be interested in coming earlier and finishing out the season with us. Their answer was an excited "YES!" and 2 weeks later here they are. We're so excited to spend more time with them!

While waiting for them to arrive we found ourselves scheduled with 7 days off in a row. So we decided to make a trip to Nova Scotia. Jim and Deb decided to join us so off we went. Over the next 6 days we traveled just under 2500 miles visiting Nova Scotia as well as New Brunswick. Check out the pics below......

lots of churches....

a few covered bridges......

lighthouses...of course....

....someone is making a fortune during the season at this location as the inside of the working lighthouse is actually an ice cream parlor...a sweet treat with a view!

beautiful houses.....

fishing villages......

In the last few pictures you'll notice the boats are "out of the water". These were taken in areas near the Bay of Fundy; an area between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that has the highest tides in the world. In various areas of the bay, depending on the moon, tides can rise and fall between 36'-48'.

These 2 pictures were taken at Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy. The area where the people are walking is 36' underwater at high tide.

We also visited a small restored 1860-1940's community called Sherbrooke Village in Nova Scotia. There are 16 rescued and restored buildings which include a school house, church, printer, grocery, boat maker and Masonic Lodge. There are guides in period correct clothing demonstrating and/or informing visitors about the lifestyle and work of that time period.

Shout out to Emily and Ryan, both celebrating birthdays!

Joan and I have also been updating and/or changing things around the LED vanity light in bathroom, LED upgrades in the primary lights of the coach, replacing a damaged counter-top range cover, new vent fan motors, etc. We're thinking we may try to upgrade ourselves into a slightly newer motorhome over the next 6-12 months; something with a little more towing capacity, a king size bed and some newer amenities. To that end we're getting our Monaco Knight ready to sell or trade. So if you know anyone interested in a great coach, send them our way!

Well, that's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come.