Thursday, June 22, 2006

Driving around the USA 2006

country
On June 22nd, 2006 we left with our van camper to circle the whole country.
We drove 10,800 miles (17,280 km)
Please click on pictures to view slides shows.
May 7th: Peter added a second battery and a solar panel and I think, that all we have to do now, is pack.
May 9th: We found it very annoying, that our camper did not have an outside cable hook-up.  We had to hook up the TV cable inside and lead it through the door gaskets for the campsite hook-up.  Peter wanted to avoid drilling through the walls and found another way to fix our problem.  See pictures below.
Our home for 7 weeks.
Our Van

June 22/23/24th: OK...the 'big' day was finally here.  We left New Jersey towards Delaware Straight to Virginia.  Once in Virginia, we went to Shenandoah National Park and it was breathtaking.  The Skyline Drive is awesome and the Blue Ridge Parkway, that is actually the continuation, is a MUST SEE - you have to bring time along though, because it took us about 5 hours to drive 120 miles.  It was worth it.  We stayed two nights in the park and and even hiked to see a gorgeous waterfall.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6075406624662763985?authkey=CIKGyrXE9pqk2wE

June 25/26: We went to see our friends Maureen and Neil, whom we haven't seen since Dennis' wedding.  They now live in North Carolina and we had a wonderful time.  We even got a welcome sign. ;-)
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June 26: Arrived over Atlanta, Georgia at John Tanner State Park, where we stayed one night.  Then off to Biloxi.
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June 27: We were supposed to stay at Big Biloxi Campground, but it was closed so we stayed at Wal-Mart.

June 28: When we first started this trip, we planned on staying in Louisiana at least 2-3 days.  Because Big Biloxi was closed, we decided to find another campground.  The lady in the information center recommended one down-town New Orleans.  OK...lets go there! Well.....little did we know that the place was a total dump.  The whole city still looked like Katrina was there yesterday.  We were disappointed and sad, as well as outraged, thinking that billions of our tax money is going to foreign countries, while we are in dire need for help ourselves.  Please look at the pictures and tell me if I am wrong.  I am furious and don't understand how our Government is allowing this mess.  We are still very much in shock.
The French Quarters were still standing and looked very interesting.  We had a nice walk and took hundreds of pictures.  Can't up-load them all though.  OH....the good part....the city of New Orleans has WiFi.  (Yeah)!
We were told to eat Crawfish while there and we tried to find a restaurant that has fresh ones, just to find out that the Crawfish season is from November to June.  We were too late, so we sacrificed and ate ribs.
On the way to our next stop, we say a car that flipped over, seconds before we got there.  Fortunately, the people in the car made it out alive....on foot...into the woods.  Hmmmm...WHY?
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6075408221998008337?authkey=COuO6PXan9i43gE

June 29: We are on our Way to Texas.  Houston our first stop.  Well, about 25 miles away from Houston...close  enough.
The Campground is nice and it is HOT.....no, SIZZLING HOT!
Texas is a state located in the Southern and Western regions of the United States of America. With an area of 268,581 square miles (695,622 km²) and a population of 23.5 million in 254 counties, the state is second-largest in both area and population—behind Alaska and California, respectively. About half the state's population resides in either the Dallas–Fort Worth or Houston metropolitan areas.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6075409280924855313?authkey=CPni-b2rl5mwAg

June 30: Today we went to see the Forbidden Gardens in Katy, Texas, is a fascinating outdoor museum replicating some of China's major historic scenes. Guided tours take you back to the third century BC to view the first Emperor's amazing 6,000 piece terra-cotta army replicated in 1/3 scale. The tour continues to the intricately detailed miniatures of the famous Forbidden City in Beijing. (It is unfortunate, that in 2011 this beautiful Museum was closed due to a new highway being built.)
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6075409280924855313?authkey=CPni-b2rl5mwAg

July 1: A three hour ride brought us to Boerne, just 30 miles west past San Antonio.  We found a nice, extremely clean campground on top of a hill.  We will stay here until Monday and tomorrow, we'll take a ride to San Antonio.  When visiting San Antonio, besides seeing the the Alamo, one MUST visit the River Walk.   We walk it all and it was absolutely gorgeous, despite the 95 degrees.  We walked 4 hours and enjoyed it very much.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6075411790027803489?authkey=CNbb0Zf4x6vuPw

July 2: The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.  Originally named Misi├│n San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio's five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields, once the mission's but now their own, and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6075428982427629121?authkey=CIjPqeyPw6Ou8QE

July 3: Guadeloupe Mountain National Park was our over-night stop for today. On the way we stopped at the David  Crocket Monument.  Crockett County was named in 1875 in honor of Texas hero and Alamo martyr Davy Crockett. The 13 ft. tall granite monument was erected in the city park of Ozona, Texas in 1939.
If you drive through Texas, as well New Mexico, you'll see oil pumps everywhere.   It even smells like oil.
Note the size of the beetle....we are still wondering what they feet them here.  I always thought that Florida has the biggest ones....no way!  Guadalupe Mountains National Park safeguards the world's finest example of a fossilized reef, a surprisingly complex and unique assemblage of flora and fauna, and West Texas' only legally designated wilderness. Here, one can experience solitude, tranquility, and the joy of finding plants and animals whose mastery of survival renews our sense of wonder.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6075429906463717329?authkey=CLatrqqq5s29bQ

July 4: The Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico are truly huge and awesome.  I love caverns anyway, but the size of these just topped all the once that I have seen in my lifetime.  Inside the mountain - the elevator took us down 750 feet in one minute. From Carlsbad we went to Oliver Lee State Park near White Sands Monument.

July 5: White Sands National Park.  At this point, White Sands National Park topped everything that we have seen so far....(I know...we are not at the Great Canyon yet and all the other beautiful things yet to see)
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Back at the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park for Dinner at sunset.
The park's namesake, Oliver Milton Lee (1865-1941) was one of the most colorful careers in New Mexico history. Life of late 19th century settlers can be experienced through the guided tours of Oliver Lee's ranch headquarters.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6077488370982720993?authkey=CPjQg7-H9q6GYA
July 6: Just traveling to Tucson and when we arrived at Catalina State Park we were please to find another great State Park with the a gorgeous view.  The sun was just about to set and the mountains looked like a painting.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6078225662648123393?authkey=CM6m0OD5oo2Kbw
July 7: We visited the Pima Air Museum, Tucson Arizona and it was well worth the visit.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6078226787032195809?authkey=CKebjIiYu7a07AE
Dinner was once again served with the prettiest sunset. :-)
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6078227942808097537?authkey=CN6jvc_Knty1ag

July 9th: Who would have thought that we will ever ride on Rt. 66?  Couldn't help but take a little detour onto Rt. 66to Williams.  It was great and interesting, and fun.
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July 10th:  I guess the Grand Canyon was so far the highlight of the whole trip.  We stayed at the Grand Canyon National Park and it was awesome, and beyond anything I ever imagined.  We left the RV at the campsite and took the shuttle from one end to the other.
Lots of walking in between and enjoyed a deserved ham dinner.  We ended the day with another shuttle tour to the sunset.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6078229565127165889?authkey=CL6l4YCxwaCp8QE

July 11th: The Hoover Dam....AWESOME!  Before we got to the Dam, there was a roadblock and a State Trooper checked out our RV.  Just a quick peek.....and off we went.We didn't drive much further and stayed at the Lake Mead National Park in the Lake Meat RV Village.  Lake Mead is beautiful and we there, just in time for another pretty sunset.
https://plus.google.com/photos/112479589325572375527/albums/6078230386124986385?authkey=CJfwieHfrp3hfQ

July 12th: We are in Las Vegas today.  We are staying at the Roadrunner RV Park and it is 110 F (43.3 C).
It goes without saying that we had to see the 'Strip".  It was everything we expected and then some.  We stayed until 12:30 am and we saw people pushing baby strollers, while drinking beer from a bottle, hookers, guys trying to hand us coupons for all kinds from a night of pleasure to a circus show.  We also enjoyed Bellagio's world-famous fountains.








July 14th: We went to see the Valley of Fire and once again, we were amazed by so much beauty in the desert.  BTW...even in the desert are UPS deliveries.







We wanted to see what Las Vegas looks like in the daytime and took the long way home to the campground.





July 15th: Here we are - driving from the sizzling hot Las Vegas to Yosemite Park in California.  The ride was nice.  First the l-o-n-g desert...as far as the eye can see, nothing but tumbleweed, sand, hills, old and weird towns, mountains, some lonely cows and even some wild horses.
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From Vegas to Yosemite
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We finally reached Yosemite National Park and got a site for two nights.  On the way the the camp, we noticed that the mountains had white caps and thought that there was sand on the top.....boy, were we wrong, don't forget, that a few hours back we were in Las Vegas with 110 degrees.  The next thing we noticed that the very same white substance was on the side in the road. We stopped the van to take a closer look and wouldn't you know...it was snow!!!  We went on to our campsite, and had to turn on the heat at night.
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Snow in July
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The next day we discovered the East side of the park. We met people from all over the world and the couple on the bottom was from Switzerland.  You would think that they weren't impressed by our mountains.  They were!
On the end of the second day we went towards San Francisco and found Woodward Lake State Park, about an hour and a half away from the City.
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Yosemite Natl. Park
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July 17th: Right after breakfast, we drove to San Francisco.  After parking near Fort Mason piers, we walked to find the nearest cable car station.
On the first trip on the cable car, we had a seat, but on the way back, we were standing outside on the step and hanging on to the post.  It was quiet a trip.
San Francisco is a great city.  We loved every bit of it and had a great time.  On the way to the Campground, we drove over the Golden Gate bridge.
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San Francisco
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July 18th: Leaving San Francisco, we went to Napa Valley and stayed one night at a state park called Clear Lake.
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July 19th: 270 miles from Napa Valley to Redwood National Park.  It was a gorgeous ride on Route 101 and sometimes I wished that it would never end.  Forest on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.  The temperatures dropped from 1oo to 57 degrees.   What a difference!  The ocean was cold, but we had to at least get our feet into the water, because we want to be able to say "we've been there."  The beach sand was dark gray, yet real fine and it didn't dirty the feet.  I found some pretty nice looking flowers growing right in the sand.  I don't know the name, so if anyone knows these yellow flowers by name....please let me know.
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Looking for Redwood Trees
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July 20: The Redwood National Forest is stunning with it's tall trees and we, the visitors appear dwarfed in the backdrops of redwoods.
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Big Trees
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July 21: We didn't stay long in the forest, because we were a little disappointed with their campgrounds, so off we drove to Crater Lake and we are glad that we did, because it is unlike anything we have ever seen.  The beauty and intense blue of Crater Lake has awed us beyond believe. (yes...the white spots are snow)
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Crater Lake
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July 22: Nothing but driving........leaving Oregon and arriving in Washington State.  Exhausted, we arrived at Mt. St. Helen RV Park in Castle Rock, WA.
July 23: Mt. St. Helen was OK.  I saw it...it's a mountain that steams.  It didn't impress us as much as all the other things we've seen and we turned around to drive one, after we took a few pictures.
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Mount St. Helens
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We went on to Idaho the same day.  Some pictures that I took on the way.  The first one shows a fire on the road, the second one, just a cute little house that I liked and the third, is the Columbia River.  It flows for more than 1,200 miles, from the base of the Canadian Rockies in southeastern British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon, and Ilwaco, Washington.
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Road Pictures
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July 24: My big day......for the first time in my life, I am going to ride a horse.  I was pretty excited and it turned out to be an awesome experience.  I know it won't be my last time.  The horse I was riding was Cindy.  My friend Adela has three horses and all three are beautiful.  I like Cindy the best, because she is gentle and I think that she knew I was a novice in horseback riding.
After we were done, the horses needed a cool shower, because it was 90+ degrees.
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My first time on a horse
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July 25: Next stop Historic Wallace Idaho.  We didn't stay long.  It was nice to walk around a while.
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Wallace, Idaho
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We then continued on to Montana, which I think is the prettiest of all states that I have seen.  We stopped at Ninemile Ranger Station and passed by and saw Earthquake lake.  Earthquake Lake is a lake in southwestern Montana in the United States. It was created after an earthquake struck on August 17, 1959, killing 28 people. Today, Quake Lake is 190 feet (58 m) deep and 6 miles (9.7 km) long. US 287 follows the lake and offers glimpses of the effects of the earthquake and landslide and visitor center is just off the road. The lake is mostly within Gallatin National Forest.
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Stops on the way
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July 26th and 27th: WOW!  We thought we saw it all when we saw the Grand Canon and Yosemite.  It never ends...one attraction is nicer or as nice as the other and everyone is different. Yellowstone National Park is amazing.
The Yellowstone Grand Canyon, the geysers, the landscape, the wildlife, we didn't know what to look at first.
The world famous 'Old Faithful' was faithfully doing it's thing at the time it was predicted and it was worth waiting about an hour for it.
You can smell the sulfur the the geysers produce and the hot steam at already 110 degrees doesn't help much, but it's a sight that we will never forget.
The camper that you see was from Germany.  We have no idea how it got here.  It just looked cool.  The flowers are from Yellowstone Park.

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Yellowstone Natl. Park
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