Whirlwind Drive to New Orleans

We traveled through four states in a day… what a whirlwind! And Sunday night we landing in New Orleans!

Hello Ala-Missi-Lou!

Hello Ala-Missi-Lou!

We’re staying put for two weeks, and have found an awesome location just a couple of blocks off of the French Quarter. It’s very strange; right next to St Louis Cemetary #1, at the end of a dark alley, is a quite nice RV park (minus the giant billboard in the center). Great services, excellent security and as you can see here, most convenient freeway access 😉 We have our own patch of grass, a cobblestone parking area, and full hookups. Jesse and I tour the quarter every morning before work (and right after the street cleaners have been through), and have made lots of local friends. She loves it; what an urban girl! Here are some shots of our first hours in the city.

We are here!

We are here!

Dan and Jesse whooping it up on Bourbon St.

Dan and Jesse whooping it up on Bourbon St.

Parades everywhere!

Parades everywhere!

Cafe du Monde... Home of the world's greatest chicory coffee and beignets! I even brought one back for Dan to try.

Cafe du Monde… Home of the world’s greatest chicory coffee and beignets! I even brought one back for Dan to try.

Goodbye Pensacola

We had a great week in Big Lagoon SP, just outside of Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle. Our good friend Gary D just moved to Atlanta, and he drove down on the weekend with his love, Susan, to spend time with us. The weather held out for fun bonfires, and Gary and I have spent so many years (decades?) hanging around the campfire that it felt like old times. The weather held out for us, as there were huge storms all around us, but managed to miss us by miles. Good times with great friends, and the perfect way to say goodbye to Florida!

Gary, Susan and Otis at camp

Gary, Susan and Otis at camp

Gary and Dan

Gary and Dan

Gary and Kimbo

Gary and Kimbo

Our Last Week in Florida

It’s bittersweet as we prepare to get on the road again; what we planned as a 2 month layover in Florida to visit with my extended family has morphed into a glorious 4 months, but it’s time to set our sites West and prepare for the homeward journey.

We’ve had some really wonderful times with my family, and for the first time in almost 20 years, I’ve had the chance for leisurely get-togethers and deep time, rather than the usual frantic week or two ‘see everyone’ visits. We’ve been blessed to be 5 minutes from Mom’s house, so have spent many mornings and post-work afternoons walking with Mom, or spending time at her house visiting. With brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and aunts and uncles all in-state, it’s felt like one long, lovely family visit. And we even got a chance to spend a brief time with my best friend Pete, who visited his dad from Korea, and we were able to meet up.

After one last visit to the east coast with Mom and Aunt Barb this weekend to visit my sister Cindy, we’ll hit the road westward. We hope to meet up with our dear friend Gary on the Gulf coast, 2 weeks in New Orleans, then on to Texas to visit cousin Jake. After than, we’ll see where the wind (or the weather!) blows us.

We’ve obviously been having too much fun to update the blog, but here are some highlights in images from our last couple of months:

At the end of the road: Key West

Welcome to Florida!

 

Santa-Barb delivering presents

Santa-Barb delivering presents

Barb 'passes the hat' to Dan... Hello Santa Baby!!!

Barb ‘passes the hat’ to Dan… Hello Santa Baby!!!

Mom must have been good...her stocking overfloweth...

Mom must have been good…her stocking overfloweth…

Jesse and Don tussle for the mat

Jesse and Don tussle for the mat

New Year's Day at the beach with Shobi and Amiet

New Year’s Day at the beach with Shobi and Amiet

Jesse LOVES Shobi!!!

Jesse LOVES Shobi!!!

Visiting with Dave, Sinder and Sabrina in Orlando

Visiting with Dave, Sinder and Sabrina in Orlando (by Rollins College)

The 'Other Highway 1'... On the way to the end of the road, Key West

The ‘Other Highway 1’… On the way to the end of the road, Key West

We made it to the end of the road.... time to head home. Decision is made.

We made it to the end of the road…. and we make the decision that it’s time to head home.

Pete and Kimbo. Hard to believe he's been my BFF for almost 30 years!

Pete and Kimbo. Hard to believe he’s been my BFF for almost 30 years!

Love these guys! Pete, Kimbo and Dan hanging out on Sanibel Island

Love these guys! Pete, Kimbo and Dan hanging out on Sanibel Island

Sunset at the end of the road, and home to the world's greatest key lime pie

Sunset at the end of the road, and home to the world’s greatest key lime pie

A quick trip to Mexico to photograph Jillian and Monte's wedding

A quick trip to Mexico to photograph Jillian and Monte’s wedding

 

A quick trip to Mexico for Jillian and Monte's wedding

A quick trip to Mexico for Jillian and Monte’s wedding

A quick trip to Mexico for Jillian and Monte's wedding

A quick trip to Mexico for Jillian and Monte’s wedding

Next trip to Orlando... Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure with Amiet and Sabrina

Next trip to Orlando… Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure with Amiet and Sabrina

Butterbeer in Diagon Alley. Perhaps not the best 9:00 am dietary choice...

Butterbeer in Diagon Alley. Perhaps not the best 9:00 am dietary choice…

More fun at Universal

More fun at Universal

One of my favorite places to hike (Oscar Scherer SP), and my first decent photo of an eagle

One of my favorite places to hike (Oscar Scherer SP), and my first decent photo of an eagle

Hiking at Oscar Scherer SP; I'll miss this place

Hiking at Oscar Scherer SP; I’ll miss this place

Florida for Christmas

It’s been a couple of months since the last post, so this post is going to be pretty big. A lot has gone on in the last while.

With our slow pace we followed the fall leaves all the way down the eastern states to Florida. It was an amazing journey.

 

Claytor Lake State Park VA

Claytor was an amazing display of how beautiful the fall colors can be.

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Grayson Highlands State Park VA

This site was recommended to us as one of the greatest sites in Virginia. It definitely lived up to the expectations.

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Appalachian Trail

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One of the favorite pictures of all time. Kimberley is down there grabbing a photo of a graveyard just past that amazing tree.

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Appalachian Trail

 

Kings Mountain SC

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The colors really are that caramel color during sunset.

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Crooked River State Park GA

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Jesse just heard Kimberley’s telling of “Why the chicken crossed the road”.

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Florida has bugs like nowhere else.

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A big and colorful grass hopper.

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Sugar mill ruins trail

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Reminds me of Indiana Jones

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Sugar mill ruins trail. The canopy is filled with Spanish Moss.

 

Cape Canaveral FL

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Welcome to Florida

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The surf Mecca. Also known to the locals as “The house that weed built”

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If you’re the 11 time surf champion of the world, you might get a 25 foot statue as well.

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Nice to see that Ron Jon had the modesty to put the Surfer Dude flag lower than both the FL state flag and the US flag. Shows class brah.

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Venice FL

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Jesse’s first swim in the Gulf of Mexico.

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My nephew owns this store. Way to go Amiet!

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Oscar Scherer State Park FL

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There’s a bald eagle in there right next to the cloud

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If you look closely you’ll see a wild turkey

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The coolest dog on the beach. It’s amazing his shades stayed on with all his running around.

 

Myakka State Forest FL

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A word about Christmas

I’d like to finish up this post with a word about Christmas, in particular about nut-crackers.  Having once been a functional instrument it has morphed into something quite different than how it started (like TV).

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In this picture you see two quite useless nut-crackers branded with kid friendly characters. With the Mickey nut-cracker you’d be lucky to be able to crack a roasted pistachio. The Charlie Brown nut-cracker probably can’t even crack bird seed.

Fortunately these crackers are child safe, but the professional adult versions are equally quite useless.

My 2 cents,

Dan

 

 

Virginia

Driving across the boroughs of New York in an RV with truck in tow, cross-town thanks to the ‘no commercial vehicles on parkways’ rule which somehow manages to include RVs, is definitely not for the faint of heart. Lucky for us, with Dan at the wheel and Jesse helpfully navigating while I took photos and exclaimed over random points of possible interest, we made it out of the big city and to our next stop at Elk Neck SP, MD.

Goodbye New York!

Goodbye New York!

Beautiful lighthouse, reminding me of Santa Cruz and our wedding day, though not-so-romantically named ‘Turkey Neck” – who looked out over the vastness of Chesapeake Bay, the historic landscape, and thought, yep, there’s a name for a lighthouse, sure does look like a turkey neck to me.” Between the turkey neck and overpopulation of Maryland’s state bird, the stinkbug, I really didn’t feel like we gave this park a fair shake. But if you’ve ever had to do hand-to-hand combat with two stinkbugs in a shower, you may forgive my lukewarm review.

Turkey Neck Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay, MD

Turkey Neck Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay, MD

We packed up and headed to Virginia to meet up with our friend Joe (Dan’s good friend since elementary school, and co-adventurer in DC, Santa Cruz and Hawaii) for the grand tour of Charlottesville and area. Hello, US history! We stayed in a little campsite on the James River, near Scottsville, where a levee was created to deal with regular flooding of the river – up to 40 feet some years! That levee was also the local dog-walking hangout, and I met lots of local folk, two and four-legged, who gave me the run-down on the area, pointed me to the local farmer’s market and to a day spa where I got my first massage in months – heavenly. The oldest church I saw was built in 1745 and the newest was 1850. We spent lots of evenings dining out with Joe, met up with and old California friend, Melanie, did a bit of wine tasting (who knew that Charlottesville has so many good vineyards?), and toured Monticello and the Madison estate (where we had a partial tour by Joe’s dad, who is a docent there) as well as a visit into the mountains to the Walton museum (my idea ;). We crammed a lot of sightseeing into a week, and managed to get a good bit of work done, as well. One of the joys of our travel is meeting old friends in new places, and Joe is a master tour guide.

Joe, Dan & Mr. and Mrs. Lynch Joe, Dan & Mr. and Mrs. Lynch[/caption]

Madison House, VA

Madison House, VA

[caption id="attachment_809" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Walking the Levee Walking the Levee

We continued to chase the fall foliage as we headed to Claytor Lake, VA, where we spent some lovely hiking time, but with weather in the mid-fifties and overcast, I wasn’t too interested in getting out paddling and taking advantage of the lake. As I hiked through the forest, I started two new photo projects – I’ve been waiting a while for inspiration to hit, so am excited to get my mind and eye focused. We then spent the weekend at Grayson Highlands SP, well in the Blue Ridge mountains (is it the highest peak in VA?). We were expecting a huge colorful array of foliage, but instead found bare trees – it turns out that cold and wind make for early winter. Despite the lack of vibrant color, we had a great time doing some challenging hikes, including getting on the Appalachian trail (OK, only for a couple of miles, but they were tough miles!), and following a creek to its source, skirting several waterfalls.
Today, I get on a plane in Charlotte, NC for a brief work visit back to CA. While the plane heads west, my thoughts are in the East.

I love this forest!

I love this forest!

Jesse leads the way onto the Appalachian Trail

Jesse leads the way onto the Appalachian Trail

Chasing waterfalls

Chasing waterfalls

Heading South for the Winter (New York photos)

Our northward journey has come to an end. Time to start following the flocks south.

I haven’t posted in awhile and we have a lot of new images to share from New York.

Green Lake State Park (Take 2)

We stayed here again for a couple of days after Kimberley returned from Burning Man.

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The lake is really that green.

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Wow! Imagine what the penalty is for J-walking…

 

Waddington

As Kimberley said in the last post, we stayed here for a couple of weeks. Fun times for sure.

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Great sunsets in Waddington.

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Cousin Kate is a natural. This was her first time on a paddle board.

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I love that sign.

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Nice day for a family photo.

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Barb, Buck, and Don spending time with us on the Saint Lawrence River.

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Jesse's getting the hang of the paddleboard - finally!

Kimberley posted this picture last week. I just want to say that this is actually really hard to do with a 35 pound dog running up and down the board. Not my most stylish moment ever either.

Adirondack Mountains

A couple hiking trips guided by Aunt Rose and Uncle Buck were great. Uncle Buck and his friend Dave got us to a beautiful overlook on one of the peeks in the Adirondack Mountains.

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The journey continues.

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Good friends.

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Ready for work.

 

Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn

We camped out at this airfield in Brooklyn. It used to be the main airfield for New York City, now it has been turned into a park and an air museum.

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Picture of the gems inside a dilapidated hanger.

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One of the jets on display.

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It’s probably a good idea to remove that one before you fly. Otherwise you might have a 500 mph metal frisbee coming down the runway.

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Mario’s going to start work on restoring this one soon.

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The hanger at night.

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The berries along the field really are those colors.

Coney Island

A trip down to Coney Island was a great weekend activity.

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The old parachute ride. No longer operational, but still a very visible symbol of for the island.

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Kimberley walking off the metro platform all geared-up for an adventure.

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Beautiful architecture is everywhere (bad architecture is abundant too though). What a mixed bag.

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When the trains come along you really notice it! I had to drive the RV (towing the pickup) in this chaos on the way out of town. Not easy…

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Manhattan

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Manhattan here we come!

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You see amazing patterns everywhere you look.

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Park Ave, just like Monopoly.

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The world must have grown around that church.

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Is it just me or is this somewhat disturbing?

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My mom found out on ancestry.com that we’re part Huguenot. Who would have know. 

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French Episcopal Church – Interior.

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My hair’s getting long now. I might have to find a barber at some point.

Central Park

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Just when you thought you’d seen it all.

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K and Jesse

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A little to the left please.

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A little to the right please.

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Life is good.

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Grand Central Station – Manhattan

This place is amazing. We got in there right before sunset. It is dog friendly too.

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Glimmerglass State Park

They have the oldest covered bridge in the United States here. It was being renovated at the time we were there.

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The oldest covered bridge in the country.

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The “Tin Hat” (or was it “Tin Top”) at Hyde Hall

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Robert Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York

14094409541280Kimberley’s cousin Andy and his wife Melissa recommended Ithaca, and I must agree that it is spectacular!

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Matt, Sarah, and Monte-dawg

I was really fortunate to camp next to a couple of cool folks from Manhattan (with a dog no less). I must say that it was super nice to sit around the camp fire and hear stories about growing up around New York, especially while missing Kimberley.

Jesse and Monte also had a great time hanging out for five days.

Hopefully we’ll meet up again in Manhattan on the way south. Think of the photos. I wonder what Jesse will think when she sees downtown New York.

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This tree’s seen it’s share of things.

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Even Jesse got tired walking up these stairs. She probably ran through the hills for about an hour before this shot though.

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Good times for the dawgie

Green Lakes State Park, New York

14094409589208 14094409527587Kimberley headed off to Burning Man, and I hit up several parks in the area.

Green Lakes was nice, but the weather was pretty overcast most of the time I was there.

There was an endurance race (100K) going on when I was there. Quite a thing that people can run that far. Actually most of the people that I saw were walking, but I don’t think I could do even that for 100K. Maybe Jessie could though lol.

Peter McSheffrey

14094409627505An extended family member, and person that I very much respect, was on humanitarian business in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber and several other insurgents stormed the restaurant that his group was at killing everyone.

I didn’t know Peter very well, but I can tell you for certain that he was an outstanding person. He travelled the world over several times and was a great representative of the courtesy and respectfulness of Canadians along the way.

He was also an amazing photographer, and I feel very fortunate to have spent time with him and his wife Leanne touring San Francisco several years back.

Photos by Peter

More information on the incident

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You were taken way too soon. Rest in peace Peter.