National Parks Vacation Continued

It seems like a long time has passed since my last post, yet it’s been less than two weeks. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster, with good, bad and everything in between.

From Needles NP, we headed to Northern Canyondlands and Arches NP. Staying again in a great BLM area, we found lots of excellent back country hiking as well as the chance to tour the National Parks. Arches was magnificent, while Island in the Sky Canyonlands was a bit of a dud – it’s all along a grassy mesa top with the occasional glimpse into the canyons below. I bet that if you are hiking in or have ATV/4×4 it would be a different experience. The car tour was nada so impressive. From there, we’ve come into the Salt Lake area, staying at a State Park right near Sundance.

Sadly, we got news that my cousin Steve Tilley, who has been battling leukemia for the past two years, passed away. His was a fierce and courageous battle against cancer and it is heartbreaking that cancer won. He is the third of my cousins to be taken by this horrible disease. His funeral was yesterday, and my thoughts have been with his wife Nancy, their kids, and my family as they gathered in Toronto to celebrate his life. Sadness continued this week as we also heard that Dan’s cousin, Shawn, had passed away as well. It is a terrible sad thing to say goodbye to your family, and to experience two in a week has left us a bit buffeted.

Unfortunately, my cold took a turn for the worse while camping, and I am writing this post from the health clinic, which I’m visiting for the second time this week. I was diagnosed with bronchitis, and after a run of antibiotics I’m still not running smooth. It seems a bit epidemic, as the doctor the other day said practically every other person is coming in with it in the past few weeks. At least I’ve got company. Am guessing I’ll be on another round of antibiotics before I’ll be up and running again.

Not all times can be good times, but I’m very grateful to be with Dan, and have Jesse with us. To be together and to support each other during tough times and the good means the world to me, and I count my blessings every day.

On to a happier note, our tenants have decided to continue to rent the property, so we are going to look at renting something in CA, but perhaps in location a bit out of the way. I have a vision of a little cabin on a mountain somewhere… We’ll see where we land, but it’s fun to be coming back to CA and feel like the adventures are continuing. We’ll be in the Tahoe area in a couple of weeks, then on to family 4th of July celebrations and to see friends in Santa Cruz area. Looking forward to spending time with friends and family!

My spot for contemplation and reflection in the morning

My spot for contemplation and reflection in the morning

 

Bridal Veil Falls trail

Bridal Veil Falls trail

Happy New Year from the Bermenders!

As 2014 comes to a close, it feels right to take a reflective moment to think about all of our friends and family, many of whom we’ve missed seeing this year while on the road – know that we think of you often. We hope that this holiday season finds you well, and that it’s been a good year for your and yours.

2014 was our year of the nomad lifestyle (we’ve borrowed the phrase ‘technomads’ to describe our adventure). Kimberley started travel early, with a wonderful 80th birthday excursion to Guatemala with her Mom. She had a fabulous time, and has probably left a few locals confused with her mangled Spanish – but it was enough language to do lots of negotiating during many shopping trips. The people they met during the trip were wonderfully hospitable and generous with their beautiful country – this set the tone for the months to come.

Once back in CA, it was just a few weeks of packing up the house, and we set off on our ‘year-long’ (more on that later) work-camping trip across the States. You can check out our route , or follow the details of the adventures in the Technomads blog.

Quick summary: we’ve really loved our travels, have met many great people, and are awed every day by the beauty of this country. It’s been a lot of work, as we’ve been on the move almost every week until we hit Florida, but we feel like we had a good balance of experiencing different places without being too rushed. Jesse’s turned into quite a traveler, and has loved hiking the many trail miles that we’ve covered – we’ve even got to do bits of the Continental Divide, Mah Dah Hay, and Appalachian (well, 3 miles of that one 😉 ) trails. We’ve visited a total of 24 states so far – half of this great country’s mainland.

Happily, both of our bosses have felt like it was a successful experiment, and we’ve had no issues on the work front, huzzah! We wrapped up last year with the plan that Dan would be leaving his work at the Defense Language Institute, but they decided to allow him to work from the road, and it seems like all are happy with the situation.

Dan is returning to California for the first time since heading on the journey, to ring in the New Year with his Mom and family, and to spend some time at DLI doing some in-person work. Kay continues to enjoy her work for Symantec, and couldn’t imagine a better software gig. After taking a semester off from her MFA program in photography, she returned in the fall. Next semester marks the mid-point of her program, and she’ll begin her thesis work. Very scary and exciting!

We are currently spending three months in Florida, just five minutes from Kay’s Mom’s house, 2 miles from an awesome state park with lots of hiking, about 2 miles from paddleboarding the Intercoastal waterway, about 3 miles from a rad dog beach at the ocean… all in all a pretty good gig while we recharge the batteries to make the trek back across the States.

As mentioned, the year-long adventure is definitely expanding. We’ll be gone at least until the summer, and may end up settling elsewhere in California for a while. We’ll see where the wind blows us. For now, the plan is for Kay to head to Mexico in early Feb for friends’ wedding, and then we’ll hit the road again.

For those of you that we didn’t get a chance to see this year, please know that our thoughts are often with you and we’ll hope to see you soon. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and happy 2015!

Happy Holidays,
Dan and Kimberley (and Jesse-dawg)

Happy New Year from the Bermenders!

Happy New Year from the Bermenders!

On the Road Again

The rain is falling softly on the camper roof, and we are tucked in quiet and reflexive after our day traveling through the Adirondacks as the leaves begin to turn color and we get the hint of cold weather to come, south to the Catskill mountains where we’re back to warm temps and humidity. Reflexive because we are back to just us three after almost two lovely months of spending time with family and friends. While Dan has been keeping up the blog, I feel like I have lots of catching up to do.

It’s been a really special few weeks as we’ve got to spend extensive time with my family. It’s been so nice to have hours and days to relax and enjoy company, rather than the usual frantic pace of a quick visit which is what I’ve done for many years. Hard to believe I’ve been gone for almost twenty years! We started the trip  at Mom’s house and visiting with Barb and Don, got in a quick camp trip with my best friend Pete and his son Lewis who were in from Korea, family reunions large and small, then while I went to spend time in CA with friends there, Dan got more time with cousin Andy, Melissa and the kids in Ithica (what great photos he got! And he had a blast hiking and spending time with the Ithica crew). When I got back to the east coast, we hightailed it out of Syracuse and moved into cousin Kate’s River House near Massena, where we’ve spent over two delightful weeks. It is a magical place, right on the St Lawrence with a small town nearby, hiking and dog-walking trails, and a private beach where we were steps away from glassy paddleboarding adventures. And with that as a home base, we had lots of time to have family visit us, hike the Adirondacks with Uncle Buck and Aunt Rose, share dinners, and over the past couple of days, enjoy cousin Kate’s company as well. It was definitely with mixed feelings that we said goodbye and headed out on the road today. It takes the sting out of things though, when I know that I’ll be seeing family again in just a couple of months when we reach Florida. Here’s to the next reunion!

Sunset at the River House

Sunset at the River House

Just doesn't get old... River House sunset

Just doesn’t get old… River House sunset

Ships pass by all the time - and that's Canada across the river

Ship! Ships pass by all the time – and that’s Canada across the river

Mom supervises the paddleboarding

Mom supervises the paddleboarding

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

Jesse’s getting the hang of the paddleboard – finally!

The Point - my great discovery and wonderful dog-walking trail

The Point – my great discovery and wonderful dog-walking trail

The Point - Jesse likes it too!

The Point – Jesse likes it too!

At  the summit of Mt Regis, Adirondack Mountains

At the summit of Mt Regis, Adirondack Mountains

Signing out of the register at Mt Regis

Signing out of the register at Mt Regis

Stone Vally Hike

Stone Vally Hike with Rose, Buck and Kate

My office view - that lanai rocks

My office view – that lanai rocks

Fall day driving through the Adirondack mountains

Rainy Fall day as we say goodbye to  the Adirondack mountains




 

Ooooh, A Map!

Well it took two of us (read, mostly Dan), but we got the custom Google map integrated into the blog, so now there’s a page at the top menu (under the Beastie photo) Map of Our Journey so we can track where we’ve been. And it’s here, below, for your viewing pleasure as well 🙂 While we were busy being such tech wizards, we figured we’d set Dan up with his own account, so we’re posting under our own names now.

From Prairie Lake to Prairie Lake

It was funny to drive from Prairie Lake, MN, be in the car all day, and end up still at Prairie Lake (WI, though). We spent a week at a private campground right on the lake at Prairie Lake Minnesota, and I had grand visions of paddleboarding every day, renting a peddle boat, sunsets over the water. Instead, I got a wicked head cold and when I wasn’t sneezing and weepy-eyed, then there were electrical storms. As the midwest and prairies got hammered, we got off pretty easy, but there were a lot of inches of rain that came down last week. I was glad to get to the laundry on Friday and get the mud and damp out of all of our gear.

Prairie Lake - It reminds me of the lake where I spent my childhood summers

Prairie Lake – It reminds me of the lake where I spent my childhood summers

But it wasn’t all rain and sniffles. We found an amazing paved bike/hike trail, the Mesabi Trail, which runs for about 70 miles (130 miles once complete). Dan got our bike’s flat tire fixed in Grand Rapids, MN, and were were off hiking and biking. And of course Jesse got to spend lots of time in the water, even if I was land-lubbered. I did manage to spend lots of time sitting on the dock, looking out over the lake in the morning and evenings, and reminiscing about my childhood spent at our family cottage on a lake not unlike this.

Jesse meets a cousin on the Mesabi trail

Jesse meets a cousin on the Mesabi trail

From there, we headed to Prairie Lake WI, where we had a fun overnight in a county park, again right on the lake. I’ve never seen so much algae in a lake – nope, no paddleboarding for me! That water was ggggreeeeeeen. We did have a nice bonfire on Saturday night, followed by the usual downpour, and then woke up to sunny skies and a beautiful morning. I took advantage of a short driving day to lollygag around camp most of the morning.



Dan and Jesse enjoy the bonfire

Dan and Jesse enjoy the bonfire

That's the greenest lake water I've ever seen

That’s the greenest lake water I’ve ever seen

We crossed the MN/WI border in Duluth, birthplace and early stomping grounds of Bob Dylan. We didn’t see him (or his statue, which is in the works via a kickstarter project), but played lots of Bob over the weekend in his honor. We did catch our first glimpses of Lake Superior. Wish we had time to make the loop around the lake, but will have to save that for another trip.

We’re now set up at Lake Wissota, WI. Dan says it’s his favorite spot so far on the trip. It’s pretty awesome, and I FINALLY GOT PADDLEBOARDING today, huzzah! There are great trails all around, some following along the lake, others through forest and prairie, as well as excellent biking, swimming, a boat/paddleboard launch, and lots of little inlets for paddling in calm water. Looks like a good week ahead! And then we do a big push over July 4th weekend, as we cross WI, IL and IN in one weekend.

Jesse exploring around the shore

Jesse exploring around the shore of Lake Wissota

View from this week's office

View from this week’s office

Family Time in Minot, North Dakota

From Medora, we then stayed outside of Bismarck at Cross Ranch State Park, right along the banks of the Missouri River. My big ideas about paddleboarding the Missouri were quickly dashed as I realized how huge the river and powerful the current. The sites were lovely though, and we had a space that was bigger than most back yards, backing onto the river. Beautiful hiking trails surrounded us, and I heard that the following weekend the park hosted a big bluegrass music festival… something to remember for next trip!

Along the Banks of the Missouri

Along the Banks of the Missouri

Dan enjoys a little quiet time after a long day's drive

Dan enjoys a little quiet time after a long day’s drive

We spent two lovely weeks in Minot, ND, staying with Uncle Dennis, Aunt Sunny, Cousin Elena and our fabulous cousin/niece, Phoebe, and the dog-cousins. Jesse was happy to have other fur-friends around, and ecstatic to be able to lounge on carpets and couches, and have a little girl to throw the ball. We all enjoyed being able to expand a bit in a house, and it was so wonderful to spend time with the family. We were torn between having such a good time and imposing ourselves for such a long time.

Dan went on a tour of Minot AFB, where both Elena and Dennis work, we went hiking through a beautiful reserve area (a brief hike in prairie-land, that was followed by the removal of about 40 ticks between all of us… poor Phoebe got it the worst, being so close to the ground, but Dan was a close second. We learned that the beautiful grasses blowing in the wind have some hidden hitch-hikers. I don’t remember reading about this in my ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books…).

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Here's what 10 pm looks like in North Dakota. I've had to swallow my pride and go to bed while it's still light.

Here’s what 10 pm looks like in North Dakota. I’ve had to swallow my pride and go to bed while it’s still light.

It was also nice to be inside during some of the most incredible electrical and hail storms I’ve seen. We’ve been hammered with storms across the plains, missed a few big ones by a matter of miles, but these were by far the most dramatic. It was like a hose in the sky was turned on full blast, followed by pelting hailstones. And the vibrations from the thunder would come up from my feet, they were so intense. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for smooth weather after this!

 

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We left on Father’s Day and Iliana/Sunny’s birthday, to continue our trek across North Dakota and the prairies, with a clean camper, lots of laundry done and the bug spray at the ready. It was sad to say goodbye to family, but it was time to continue the adventure!

Chatfield Lake SP, CO – Near Denver

We made a quick change of plan to stay in Santa Fe area for an extra week, as the snow fell and winds howled last weekend.

Paddleboard and snow - what's wrong with this picture?

Paddleboard and snow – what’s wrong with this picture?

We really enjoyed our extra time hiking the area trails and spent many after-work hours exploring the region. My knees hurt from all that climbing!

Top of the world view

Top of the world view

We headed out Saturday to Trinidad Lake SP, CO. This is my first time in Colorado, and I was so excited to catch my first glimpses of the Rocky Mountains. The park was really beautiful, and I was enraptured by the smell of the forest. It was the most sun-beat, sweetest scent, familiar but not really, and completely intoxicating. I found out later that we were surrounded by pinon forest, and that sun-baked sweetness was from the trees. De-licious! Maybe it smelled familiar from a pinon coffee phase I went through…

I wasn’t expecting hot and sunny in the Rockies, but we got up Sunday morning and headed out for a paddleboard session. You couldn’t see any camps or habitation from the lake, which made for the most pristine paddling.   There were some marsh areas to explore; I saw ducks with their hatchlings, lots of frogs and even a water snake. It was a great way to start a day of driving.

We logged some hours in the car, and arrived just south of Denver at Chatfield State Park, CO, where we’re set up for the week. Yet another place with good hiking, and miles of bike trails that run around the reservoir. AND a 70 acre dog park complete with lakes. Jesse’s been a social butterfly after so many weeks of mostly just Dan and I for company.

Jesse tearing it up at the 'dog lake'

Jesse tearing it up at the ‘dog lake’

One of the nice things about showing up on Sunday is everybody else is packing up and heading out. We’ve got about two acres to ourselves in this campsite; plenty of room to stretch out. We had a bonfire last night, and grilled steaks that we got from a food co-op in New Mexico, along with roasted potatoes and asparagus. A feast! Here’s our camp and my office this week:

We've got lots of space around us!

We’ve got lots of space around us!

My office this week.

My office this week.

I’m interrupting my camp week with a quick trip to Las Vegas for work. I fly out tomorrow morning then back in the wee hours on Sat. Just time for a few winks until we’re on to our next adventure…

Pecos National Monument and National Forest, NM

We’ve spent the week at the base of the Pecos mountains, just a few miles outside of Santa Fe, NM. The hiking has been fantastic, and we’ve put in many miles on nearby trails during the week, in after-work adventures.

This weekend, we’ve focused on the Pecos National Wilderness, on the reference of our friend Wendy, who described the area as one of the world’s magic places (my paraphrase). So we’ve spent this weekend in the area, and certainly have not been disappointed! First off, we visited Pecos National Monument, NP where we saw a wonderful archeological example of a pueblo, as well as the ruins of the spanish mission that was erected on the site. Photos to come, but it was a great hike through history, and standing on the ridge looking out to the distant mesa took me to a place where I could envision what this space looked like 300, 500 years ago.

We then continued our journey up State route 63 to ‘the top of the world’ (translation, end of the road) to Jack’s Creek wilderness trailhead; the drive up into the wilderness was spectacular, as we followed the Pecos river higher and higher into the mountain. As we started hiking, I quickly felt the drag of the 9000 ft elevation – I could either hike or talk, but not both at the same time. We gradually became acclimatized to the elevation, though were surprised to have been so impacted after so much hiking around Santa Fe this week.

Snow in the distance

Snow in the distance

Jesse the wonder-hiker

Jesse the wonder-hiker

Dan in the aspen forest

Dan in the aspen forest

Yep, it's cold up here at the top of the world!

Yep, it’s cold up here at the top of the world!

On our way back down, we followed old Route 66 (our campground is located on the route, too!), and saw this great marker of a bygone time. I’ve looked at books that followed the old Hwy 66 route (check out Kent Baker’s book), so this was a particularly sentimental marker for me to find. Score!

Old Route 66 marker

Old Route 66 marker

As I write this, I’m back in the camper, all snug and warm as a storm comes in. The winds are howling and the raindrops have turned into snow and hail. We’re expecting winds up to 60mph through the night, so am grateful for the timing that we didn’t feel the storm when we were at higher elevations. But really, snow??? In April-almost-May??? You’d think we were in the mountains 😉

And so what’s in store for the rest of the weekend? Colorado, here we come!

Albuquerque, NM, Whoosh… Santa Fe

I feel like I barely experienced Albuquerque. We came in on Sunday night and I flew out Monday for Mountain View, California, for work. I just got back in on Friday in time for Dan and I to pull out and head to Santa Fe, NM. So other than a great vegan sushi dinner and a few hours to roam the Nob Hill district on Sunday, I really didn’t see much of the city at all. Dan will have to share his insights from the area, as I am a bust.

On another note, I did have a good work session in Mountain View, and gave a presentation to a large group and was videotaped for it. Our work group also got to do an improv session with team members from second city. That was so much fun! I also had time for a quick visit over the hill on Thurs night to visit good friends in Santa Cruz and share some sushi with them, as well as have some time to say hello to my beloved Pacific ocean.

It was a whirlwind week, and by the time we got to Santa Fe I was completely confused whether I was coming or going. We found a great dog-friendly restaurant and have been enjoying our resort birthday weekend at La Posasda de Santa Fe very much (thanks Mom!). People all over this town, as well as restaurants and the resort, are so dog friendly! Jesse gets treats every time we leave our room as the staff ply her with snacks. We started the day at a yummy French restaurant, nibbling pastries while Jesse got hand-fed egg and bacon. We also found a great hike this afternoon and climbed up to 7800 feet. It took a while as I was slow as molasses after a week of sitting on my butt and eating so much good food.

View of Santa Fe from 7800 feet

View of Santa Fe from 7800 feet

Super-nice dinner spot by the fire (and Jesse's curled up behind the table)

Super-nice dinner spot beside the fire (and Jesse’s curled up behind the table)

And as if my day couldn’t get any better, I visited that Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, where I saw an exhibit of Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams’ works. They were presented side-by-side and I saw the contrast of both of their visions presented. Fascinating stuff!

Words of wisdom from Georgia O'Keeffe

Words of wisdom from Georgia O’Keeffe

Tomorrow… A rough day of spa treatments at 10,000 Waves, then we’re off to the Pecos National Forest to get set up for our work week and next adventure.

Special thanks to our friend Wendy who’s from the area and has given us so many recommendations while in New Mexico. We’ve definitely been on the ‘locals tour’!

Paddleboarding and Blue Dog

After a rocky start to our time at Elephant Butte, we ended up having a great time here.

In a classic karma scenario, after being plucked out of our sand-pit in order to arrive at fab camp spot, we ended up being woken up at 5 am to horrible noises outside. Turns out a couple of guys in giant truck got stuck right near us. So Dan went out with our tow system and pulled them out in our little 2wd. Paying it forward 🙂

When we woke up later, the howling winds had died, and we enjoyed the most amazing paddleboarding since we’ve hit the road. Dan even circled a distant island.

Paddleboard-maestro

Paddleboard-maestro

As we headed out of Elephant Butte, we met Blue Dog and heard his amazing story. This was a stray dog, adopted by a community, and who now has his own lawyer and support crew to make sure his canine-citizen-rights are maintained, after an attempt to lock him up. Great story, and it was picked up by many major newspapers! Read about Blue.