Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Several inches of snow demonstrates the benefit of the
window visors.  They allow me to open the windows about
an inch for ventilation, letting air in while keeping the rain
(and snow) out. 
I got mine on ebay for less than $50.  Installation was easy.
Thank you to everyone who responded to my questions about which topics to address next.  I've taken a few pictures and outlined some blogs.  But, have yet to put together a full article that's ready to post.  As a preview, I included a couple of pictures here showing the window visors I installed on my Prius RV. 

Lately my time has been spent supporting my husband who is fighting kidney cancer.

Picture from current ebay listing

I hope to get back to this blog after the holidays ... maybe sooner.  In the meantime, I'll be helping John decide on his long-term survival activities and preparing for Christmas with him and our family.

To follow our family blog, including John's health issues, go to

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Debriefing ... More Posts to Come

 This is the first blog I've ever done.  I've liked it as a central place to share my traveling adventures and a bit of my emotional healing.  It's nice to have it as a future reference of what did and didn't work for me.
Grand Tetons.  One of my favorite pics.

I now want to do a bit of debriefing before I loose my memory of the details.  But, would like to know if there are any particular topics of interest that you, the reader, would like me to address first.  If so, leave a comment or email me and I'll make it a priority post.  Here are some of the topics I'm considering:
  • - Ventilation in the Prius (how I used the car's AC while sleeping, screen installation on back passenger windows, awnings on side windows ...)
  • - Food (eating on the road without a cooler, food preparation before leaving, costs, eating out, 12v appliances, stoves ...)
  • - Overnighting (preferred sites, where it felt safe, favorite places, pros and cons of sleeping in my car ...)
  • - Security (which self-defense devices used, actual set up in car ...)
  • - Clothing (what did I bring and use, what did I bring and not use, what do I wish I had brought, washing clothes where and how often, how did I pack, how much room did my clothing take up in my car ...)
  • - Bathing and Bathroom (how did I wash up and how often, how did I use the bathroom in the middle of the night, how did I maintain my privacy ...)
  • - Walmart (why did this department store chain play an important role on my trip, pros and cons ...)
  • - The not so fun times (boo boos, what I would change -- places, supplies, routes ...)
  • - Favorite times (where I want to return, nice surprises, most useful stuff I brought with me ...)
  • - Emotional Healing (daughter's death, self as counselor, pet's death, physical journey mirroring emotional journey, self-definition, where ever I go there I am ...)
  • - My Future on the Road (more places to visit and roads to travel, replacement vehicle specs ...)
  • - Any other ideas that you submit ...

Another favorite picture. 
Rio Grand, Big Bend NP

Unfortunately, my husband is facing some medical challenges.  So, if I'm unable to travel more this year, I will stifle my wanderlust for another time. 

FYI:  I've reorganized the archive of my blog posts according to the date of my visits, instead of by the date in which each blog was posted.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Olympic National Park, October 17-19

View from back porch at
Hurricane Ridge
I took off for Olympic National Park on Sunday, going over the Narrows Bridge in Tacoma to Port Angeles on the Peninsula.  I visited the Visitor Center on my way to Hurricane Ridge.  The weather was beautiful, the view amazing.  Then, I drove to Rialto Beach on the west coast and arrived as the sun set, overnighting at Mora which is about a mile inland.
Rialto Beach at dusk
The next morning, I went back and visited the Elwah Valley and Sol Duc Hot Springs.  My favorite part going through the old growth forests.  It felt like sacred ground, like I would hear Gregorian Chants at any moment.  From there I went to the Hoh Rain Forest to overnight next to the Hoh River.  

Flock of pelicans at La Push's First Beach
I got up early and hiked the Trail of Mosses in the Hoh Rain Forest ... beautiful, other-worldly.  I was there as the first shafts of light came through the trees and onto the trail.  I then drove further south and explored the Queets and Quinault Rain Forests where I'd love to come back to spend more time. 

Lake Crescent
This park whole park needs more time.


Sol Duc River
Hoh River at Campsite

Very large stand of moss covered Maple Trees
One super large,
fallen maple leaf
First shaft of morning
light on Trail of Mosses
in an old growth forest

Old Growth, Hoh Rain Forest



And more mushrooms

Moss at Hoh Rain Forest
Visitor Center

Autumn color next to Hoh River

Big Cedar Tree & Prius RV

Ruby Beach

Quinault River

Graves Creek Road
Quinault Rain Forest

Roosevelt Elk near Quinault River

originally posted 11/1/10

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mount Rainier National Park, October 11

Mt. Rainier looming over
road to Sunrise
After arriving home on October 1st, I decided to check out some local National Parks when the weather was nice and I wasn't needed by John.
Ground Cover with
Fall Colors

On the 11th I went to Mount Rainier, coming in from the northeast corner.  The drive was relaxing and beautiful.  I explored the road to Sunrise (schedule to close the next day), and other roads on the east side of the park, driving over both Cayuse and Chinook pass.  The Fall Colors at Chinook were spectacular. 

Mt. Rainier peeking out from behind the clouds
Unfortunely, the campgrounds had just closed for the season.  So, I made it a day trip instead of an overnighter.  I'll return later to explore other areas of the park.

Chinook Pass

Entrance to park at Ohanapecosh
originally posted 10/31/10

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Journey Home (SC to WA),
September 25 - October 1

Hubby John
On my way back north from Congaree National Park in South Carolina, I received a call from my husband John.  He had an abdominal CT scan for an intestinal issue and the doctors coincidently found kidney cancer.  He would likely need to have one of his kidneys removed in 3-4 week.  After overnighting at Char's in Virginia, I headed home.  My intent was to take the scenic route home, but stay close to the Interstates in case I needed to get home more quickly than expected.

In Spotsylvania,
1,492 Union deaths on Neil McCoull's Farm,
an unknown number of Confederate burials

Many thanks to my friends who graciously changed their plans, even canceling airline tickets, from our scheduled rendezvous.

On my first day traveling west (9/26), I visited Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield (which was a continuation of the Battle of the Wilderness).  When I stopped at their information station, a historian was there ... enthusiastic about sharing information about Spotsylvania and the Civil War period of US history.
Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania
20 hours of hand-to-hand fighting

After learning about the Fredericksburg Battle earlier in the month, I had some basic, larger questions about Civil War history.  He helped me understand the political climate of this time when the country was expanding west, and both the North and South battled for control of each new state.  He explained that "the Southern Way of Life" was about living the Jeffersonian Ideal, each family being self-sufficient on their own land.  He further shared how it was the North's victory that freed slaves vs. the Emancipation Proclamation.   I also found out that Abraham Lincoln was not popular during his tenure as President ... and much more. 

US Hwy 33 in the
 Mongahela National Forest

My head was spinning as I left to join the ranger-historian and other visitors for a guided tour at the Bloody Angle where, for 20 hours, during pouring rain and into the dark, men fought hand to hand.  Bodies laid 4 to 6 feet deep.  May 12, 1864: a very terrible, very sad day.  Hard history to hear.

Sculpted Walls on the
Lincoln Boyhood NM

 Now late afternoon, I continued going west to overnight at Shenandoah National Park.  The next day (9/27), the fall colors on US Hwy 33 were spectacular. 
One sculpted wall at
Lincoln Boyhood NM

I drove some beautiful scenic roads, overnighting in West Virginia and then in Kentucky.  Next, I visited the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in southern Indiana (9/29).   The building itself had beautiful sculptured walls depicting significant times in Abraham Lincoln's life.  Lincoln lived at this location from age 8 to 22.  It is here that his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, is buried.

Driving by the
Gateway Arch in St. Louis at the
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Upon leaving the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, John called to tell me that one of our beloved dogs would need to be put down that day and that his scans showed two swollen lymph nodes which may mean that the kidney cancer has spread.  Here is the post on our family blog about that hard day.  I decided it was time to stop meandering and get home straight away.

Bad Land in southern unit of
Theodore Roosevelt NP
I overnighted in southeast South Dakota, and the following night in southwest North Dakota (9/30) at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I arrived a couple of hours before sunset.  Although I was dog tired from long days of driving, I decided to at least do the scenic loop around the southern unit of the park for a bit of relaxed sight seeing. 

Buffalo at Theodore Roosevelt NP
I'm glad I did.  I saw buffalo, deer, wild horses and elk.  I went to bed early, and woke up before sun rise to bugling elk and coyote howls ... magical.

Wild Horse at Theodore Roosevelt NP
I took scenic State Hwy 200 across Montana, and then hopped onto I-90 through Idaho and Washington.  I arrived at my Western Washington home at 10pm that night (10/1).

Prius RV shadow at sunset
Theodore Roosevelt NP

Leaving Theodore Roosevelt NP
at dawn

I'm glad to be home with John.

originally posted 10/30/10

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Neighbor in Virginia, September 15-19, 25-26

Char fixing
Julia's hair
After I began my National Park Tour, one of our long-time neighbors moved to Virginia to be with her daughter's family.  I was fortunate to be able to visit with Char while I was in the area.  It felt a little like being home.

Gabby with Julia
modeling bday gifts
Char is a multi-talented hard-working woman.  She's a good grandma, helping her daughter and husband with the kids.  She's writing a novel that's based on the TV show "Supernatural."  Check out this work in progress here:  She's very handy and can fix just about anything mechanical or electronic.  For downtime, she enjoys playing Farmville.  And, she's one of the most giving people I know.

While at their place, I took time to rest, catch up on some online tasks, visit the Fredericksburg National Battlefield, and prepare for my trip home to John.


Char's dog Pebbles

Playing with the kids

A dog and his couch

Chillin' with Farmville
originally posted 10/14/10

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Congaree National Park (SC), September 23-25

Board Walk Loop Hike
Congaree is the last US location to be named a "National Park."  It use to be Congaree Swamp National Monument.  But, in 2003, the US Congress made it Congaree National Park.  They removed the word "swamp" because it is not a swamp, rather it's a river floodplain.

Bald Cypress and their "knees"

I made this place my last park visit east of the Mississippi because I knew it to be hot and muggy here.  But, fate had other ideas.  It was still quite hot and humid in late September.  So, I just had to deal with it, making sure to slather on both the sun screen and bug spray.  I was sure glad to have the window screens on my "Prius RV" to keep the skeeters out and let the breeze in.

A very large loblolly pine
I was fortunate to time my visit with both a ranger-led canoe paddle, and an evening "Owl Prowl" hike.  Earlier in the day, I also did a self-guided hike on the 2.4 mile boardwalk through dense floodplain forest, among amazing bald cypress, water tupelo, and loblolly pine.  This is the largest remaining old growth river floodplain forest on the continent, with the largest loblolly pine tree (southern yellow pine) in the US.

The canoe paddle on Cedar Creek was wonderful.  The creek was low and had almost no current; a very easy paddle.  We saw several birds, heard barred owls, saw several water snakes, raccoons, and a cardinal flower.  With the long Spanish moss hanging down and the bald cypress knees pointing up, it looked like cave stalagmites and stalactites on the creek.  Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera ... I don't trust myself in a canoe with any electronic devices that aren't water resistant *lol*. 

Dwarf Palmettos
The "Owl Prowl" hike was on the same boardwalk as my morning hike, but in the pitch dark.  We heard several barred owls talking back and forth.

Every 4 to 5 years, the portion of the boardwalk that is 8' off the ground gets covered with water.  The rangers shared that the only places in the park that aren't under water are the road, visitor center, and campground.  During my visit, there was very little water.

 Despite the heat and humidity, I really enjoyed my visit to this park.
Portion of an old still
back in the woods

originally posted 10/27/10