Monday, September 29, 2014

Fun and more Fun!

After our visit to Carrie and her family in New Hampshire, we completed our loop when we arrived in Maine.  We spent the next week with Katrina and family. Here is a great picture of Tone and Torrey I captured when we picked her up from school.

At the end of that week, it was time to go to Blackwoods Campgound in Acadia National Park for the Second Annual Big Pine Key Reunion.  Last year we had six folks who came. This year we broke our record with fourteen participants.  Kayaking, biking, hiking, eating, and sharing around the campfire were the main activities.  Some of the folks participated in programs sponsored by the National Park and Stan motivated many of us to watch the sunrise (at least once) from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

The first night, Don and Pam hosted us at their campsite for roast port and sauerkraut.  We all brought something to add and we had an amazing feast...complete with SomeMores for dessert. 

We also enjoyed a group meal of crabmeat rolls one night, and a final dinner of Turkey/Eggplant Parmesan made by Rachel and Joel.  We topped that meal off with homemade Blueberry Pie.

Don and Pam


One day we ventured to Eagle Lake. Part of the group biked while others of us hiked around the perimeter of the lake.

Rachel and Joel

Stan and Alida

One end of Eagle Lake

Another day, part of the group biked into Bar Harbor, while some of us walked the Ocean Path, and hiked Gorham Mountain.

Michel, Michele, me, Latona and Stan

An early morning saw some of us join in the ranger-lead bird walk, Acadia's Birds.

The morning I saw the sunrise, it looked like this.  (Stan and Alida saw it every morning and I finally was inspired to join them.)

The final day, we joined Michele and Michel for a long hike along the shore of Jordan Pond, up to the  summits of Sargent and Penobscot, and down along the Jordan Cliffs.  A long day but a final great accomplishment for a wonderful week with our friends.

We had a great time renewing long term friendships and building new ones.  Don and Pam brought friends, Ed and Janet, and Rachel and Joel had relatives Steve and Lynne join into the fun. Our time together made us even more excited to be heading south soon.  It made us excited to think about going "out to play" again at Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WE made it! 23,977 miles...the circle is complete!

Here we are, back on the shores of Chemo Pond and hearing the loons calling in the night.  We have been here since Saturday, reconnecting with Katrina, Mike, Torrey and Cammi, and the dogs and the Guinea Pigs.  We had the van inspected in New Hampshire during our visit with Carrie and family,  and are now in Maine, to start the round of yearly appointments with doctors. Mostly, we look forward to catching up with friends and family here.

A few reflections to share today:

My first thoughts are filled with gratitude for the miles of safety.  So happy that the van worked so well and continued to maintain 24 miles to the gallon, and even better on Canadian diesel fuel. So many things that could have happened, didn't! No flats, etc...

I am also so grateful that the door opened for our trip. It was totally unexpected when we left Maine last fall. In fact, I had given up any hope of visiting Alaska and the West, as it just didn't seem like something that would happen for us. Little do we know what lies ahead for us!  (We are grateful to our families who endured our time away, and a special note to mom...we are getting closer.)


I am also grateful for all the support we have had for our trip.  For many, our experience was "living the dream" and you shared our journey as if you were along for the ride!  In our hearts, you were with us! Thank you for the comments and letting us know you have enjoyed the blog.  It was fun to maintain that form of sharing.  We also met so many wonderful new people along the way.  We would not dare to name some for fear we might miss one.  Please know you are all part of our "heart village" and we thank you.


We have had such an intense experience of seeing our country over ten months and now we have visited 44 of the fifty states, and driven the perimeter of the US. We do hope to visit the last six middle American states next spring when we travel back to Maine for the summer.  For many travellers, it is quite a moment when one enters state number 50!  We look forward to that as well.

We are so grateful for the beauty of the land and the glorious joy of experiencing the wildlife we have seen.  It is difficult to say an adequate thank you to all who have protected and preserved so much of our country that we can now visit these lands like the national parks, monuments and forests. Thank you to those who had the vision and the resources to make our parks a reality!  And thank you to those who continue to work for their protection.

My final thanks would be for Latona and her willingness to support a dream that was more mine than a shared one when we started out.  She patiently waited while I fished, captured pictures of birds, and arranged the boat rides to find whales and seals.  Our partnership has grown so much during our trip.  We have appreciated the van as our home more each day as we have lived out our life on the road.
We never know what lies ahead, but we are so grateful for all the wonderful moments of the past year.

She always finds the hearts! She will always have mine - filled with love, and gratitude for her and our shared journey in life!

PS. Here is the funny footnote..."she says Me too!"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Wonderful Times Ahead!

As we rolled along from Niagara Falls, we headed to the Finger Lakes region of New York.  It was a trip with two purposes.  One was to take time to remember our friend Ruth Buttler who lived on Oneida Lake. During a visit, she took us to the Sherwood Inn at the head of Skeanatales Lake for a memorable lunch.  It was also during the same trip that she took us to Seneca Falls to visit the Women's Rights Museum and this National Historic Site. This was our second purpose, and provided us another chance to thank all the women ahead of us in time who have worked so hard for the freedoms we enjoy.  We never want to forget any of them.

The road we chose to travel was a winding mountain road with beautiful views of New York as well as more local farm produce that we feasted on all along the way since Minnesota.  More corn, tomatoes and cucumbers please.

We entered Massachusetts and followed along the route of the Appalachian Trail, just for old times sake.  We had an arrival date arranged with Carrie that gave us a few days to camp before with landed in New Hampshire.  We found a campground called Lamb's City that was a perfect spot for a few days of catch up before our long awaited reunion with the family.  

Hiking on a trail with Red Apples for trail markers.

The lake in the Center of the campground.

One of Latona's favorites. They filled one end of the lake.

What we found in the driveway when we pulled out toward New Hampshire.

Finally, time to see the family. The girls missed their Meme.

And to celebrate Carrie's birthday with the traditional lobster feed.  

We had fun catching up with the menagerie too, the special sunflower that Lyla grew, and Sari's soccer game.  

Pretty Kitty

Tiger Belle


The new little rascal Rocky

And patient wonderful loyal Bo.


Sari on the left

As I sit and share these photos with you, I am overwhelmed with ALL the blessings of my life... my partner Latona, my daughter Carrie, Jay, Sari and Lyla, my Mom and my siblings and the extended family, my incredible group of friends, and the faith I have been given in my heart to believe, to risk, and to embrace Life. Living the dream with an overflowing heart.

In about five days, we will travel to Maine and our starting point in Katrina's driveway.  We will get to add even more happy memories when we get to see Latona's children and our other grandchildren. One more post will complete this Alaska Trip story!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Friends and the Falls!

In Minnesota, we had a fun night at an unexpected campground. We could hear the trap shooting throughout the evening!

But the next morning, it was time to start a fun series of visits to friends from Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge who live in the northern states.  Our first stop was in Eastern Minnesota with Ginny and Wayne, our first rustic neighbours in BPKFL when we first camped there seven years ago.

This is the plate on a new vehicle that we saw when we landed in their driveway.  It looks like our van had a baby.  We are excited for them and hope they will enjoy it as much as we do ours!

Our time together was so much fun.  After dinner we walked around the town of Stillwater, Minn, and enjoyed a treat of ice cream.  The St. Croix river was lovely in the evening light.  Thank you Wayne and Ginny!

This is the bridge we crossed the next morning into Wisconsin. The ride across a new state is always interesting and even though we are moving rather quickly toward home we always find great spots to call "home" for the night.

We do seem to gravitate toward water.  Next, we went to see friends in Grayling, Michigan crossing the Upper Peninsula and the Mackinac Bridge to Lower Peninsula. 

Debby and Howard are the parents of Al who owns the park in Alaska where we spent two months this past summer as camp hosts.  How lovely to see them and to visit their beautiful home in the woods, see their vegetable garden, and get a look at a very unique boat special to the AuSable River that lines their front yard.

We have been so grateful to them for opening the door to Alaska and now we appreciate them for a lovely visit to their home.  The salad from the garden was spectacular and the muffins to "die for".  Thank you Debby and Howard!

We continued on our way toward Niagara Falls and wanted to see friends Gary and Diana, who live near Detroit. We got a funny text that we would be having pizza made by "Mama Betzolonni".  We had no idea what to expect. With them it is always a fun surprise!

And here they are...two very fun loving friends.  "Mama" and Guido!

We had another amazing visit and especially appreciated all the special preparation of food made for us. It was fun to be with you. Thank you Gary and Diana.

We have such energetic, creative and amazing people who we spend time with in the winter in the Keys of Florida.  We are looking forward to being with you all again in the Conch Republic!

Gary gave me good directions and off we went to see another special place that we had on the "must visit" list...Niagara Falls.  We crossed into Canada and eventually followed signs to the Falls.  Parking was available in every little lot in the town for ten dollars.  We parked the van and started walking.  What an amazing array of tourist "opportunities" we passed along the way.


as we walked down the hill toward the River, we had our first glimpse over the traffic.  What a contrast!

Here are a few of the favorite pictures we took from the Canadian side.

We soaked in all we could including the mist that came from the Falls. Beyond description!

We crossed the bridge back into the US and continued toward the Finger Lakes and Seneca Falls, NY.

I will share another blog in a few days that will bring us across New York and Massachussetts (where we are now) and into New Hampshire where we go tomorrow.  We will get to see Carrie and Jay, and give our hugs that we have been saving up for Lyla and Sari, and the whole family.

We have traveled over 22,000 miles since last fall when we left Maine.  When we return to Chemo Pond in Eddington, which I consider our starting point, we will have driven the perimeter of the US including Alaska.  

                 In the words of a favorite Louis Armstrong song...What a Wonderful World!