Many of our friends and family have requested that we “publish” the travel logs we write as we travel. Let us know what you think – what you like or don’t. But most of all, enjoy with us the beauty of nature and the joy of travel.
The site is divided into several major sections, and our most recent postings will be duplicated below. Please click the “more…” link to read the full article of any entry that interests you. You can view the pictures “full size” by double clicking on them, then use the “back arrow” to return to the page.
We’re happy to hear your thoughts. There is a comment box at the bottom of each page. Thanks for visiting with us,
Judith & Mark
We started off volunteering at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument as Interpretive Guides winter 2015-2016. We then took the month of April 2016 to travel the southern California desert country. We spent summer 2016 at Palatki Heritage Site near Sedona, AZ. Fall of 2016 we were in southern New Mexico at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Dec. & Jan. was time for family and friends in Florida.
We are now at Grand Portage NM in northern Minnesota for the summer of 2017. For the Fall of 2017, we are planning to travel to the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Four Corners, etc., plus all the quirky stops we can find along the way. For more details, see our “Where we plan to go” page.
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May 15, 2017
As we ended our time at Anahuac there was a lovely good-bye lunch at the Crawfish Place. Then we headed north toward Dallas to visit Judith’s brother, Don. Then, on toward Wahoo, Nebraska! We visited Judith’s friend, Leah, on the farm that has been in her husband’s family for generations. We were able to satisfy our “kitty fix” with her nine cats.
A stop in Minneapolis to visit long time friend, Debbie, and trash her lawn.
And finally, a slight detour to see volunteer friends, Bill & Kay, near Lake of the Woods.
May 7, 2017
The refuge is a wonderful place with birds, birds, birds… In one drive around the Shoveler Pond I identified 26 different species of birds. Here are a few of the pictures:
What would a visit to Texas be without a “cattle drive”. We learned that the Farm to Market roads, like the one passing the entrance to the Volunteer Village, allow the moving of herds of cattle down the road! Real cattle and real cowboys right down the road!
Before we left the area, we made sure to visit with Judith’s nephew, Zac, and his son, David, one more time.
March 9, 2017
Some visitors at the Refuge commented that the Rookery at High Island was active and exciting. They sure were right! Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-Crested Cormorant….
February 28, 2017
Things got off to a slow start: A couple days after we got set-up, we went for a bike ride on the refuge — as I dismounted I got my big feet tangled up, lost my balance and fell! Pulled muscles in my upper calf and sprained my ankle! The volunteers here are great and the local ER was just fine. … more …
We did make it to Houston while Judith’s brother, Don, was visiting with Zac and David. Great fun! David is a ball of energy! Don was there, but David was the star of the show.
The refuge is beautiful, and our surroundings are VERY pastoral… … more …
January 28, 2017
We had a wonderful month “vacationing” in Florida and visiting with family and friends.
We met with our friend Karen and her friend Mike in St. Augustine to celebrate her 70th birthday. Unfortunately, there was a little too much celebration so they ended up in the old St. Augustine jail!!
We met two of Judith’s long time friends (from nursery school in Youngstown!) – Carol & JoAnn – in LaBelle, which is an “old Florida” town in Florida cattle raising country. Had a great lunch and lots of laughs!
We had a great time and many laughs with Barbara, Allison, and Clint!
Judith’s sister, Barbara, took us to a wonderful wildlife refuge near Winter Haven called the Circle B Bar Refuge (it once was the Circle B Bar Ranch). A delightful place with thousands of birds, alligators, and other wildlife. — more —
My daughter, Nikki, came down to visit for most of a week.
We joined Nikki at The Magic Kingdom where we watched the parades and rode the gentle rides — until she persuaded us that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train wouldn’t be “too bad”. ..Whew! A whole day from opening to closing at Disney! — more —
The “Let’s Dance” Parade:
We also went to Blue Springs State Park to watch the manatee’s swim. The site and the river are picturesque. — more —
January 1, 2017
Looking back on the past month we see a period of change … good-bye’s to friends from Bosque del Apache NWR, good-bye’s to other friends we have made while in New Mexico — Bud & Barbara, Roger & Cindi — and traveling to see old friends & family as we visit Florida.
Thanksgiving was a wonderful community event with turkey and all the fixin’s shared with friends at the Bosque del Apache Volunteer’s Lounge. … more …
With the Thanksgiving festivities past it was time to “hitch up the wagon & head ‘um out”. We did hitch up the trailer and head to Alamogordo NM for a final few days with Bud & Barbara before heading East. We spent an afternoon at White Sands National Monument enjoying the beauty of the wind sculpted dunes, playing in the sand, & just goofing around. We made “sand angels” and Judith did a little body surfing! … more …
We visited Cloudcroft, in the mountains above Alamagordo. With the elevation change we found that it had snowed up there over night! The snow was nice to visit, but it was nice to be able to leave it behind!
We had made reservations to visit the McDonald Observatory, home of the second largest optical telescope in North America, … more …
After saying our “See you later”s to Bud & Barbara, we headed toward Houston. We were able to link up with Judith’s nephew, Zac, and his son David. … more …
Then, across I-10 to Destin FL to visit a few days with our friend Fran. Life on the beach is “so” tough! Right!
Finally, on down to Winter Haven FL to spend some time with her sister & family — Barbara, Clint, & Allison. Good times, lots of laughs, and way too much food. … more …
As we start the new year, here are wishes for a bright new year filled with love, and hope, and joy, and dedication, and peace, and light!
November 22, 2016
After having run around New Mexico, trying to partake of all the sights in a whirlwind of activity, we have settled down to enjoy our current home – Bosque del Apache NWR, and to enjoy the company of some of our new friends.
We have spent time with new friends, both from the Refuge and other full-time travelers. Dominion with Cindi (and her dogs), Truth or Consequences with Bud & Barbara.
Generally we have enjoyed Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge: … more …
Carlsbad Caverns. Whatever you may have heard about the caverns, it did not contain enough superlatives! They are huge, fantastic, amazing…. … more …
We also were able to once again link-up with another traveling couple, Roger & Cindi, who have infected us with an obsession for the game “Dominion”.
Santa Fe is another fun town. It has lots of shopping for those who enjoy that sort of thing. But It has some beautiful sights as well. … more …
Bandelier National Monument – The Ancestral Pueblo People (Anasazi) occupied cliff dwellings and other structures in this high canyon for about 400 years, starting around 1150 AD. … more …
Tent Rocks National Monument – We have hiked in many places and the hiking around Sedona is fantastic, BUT the canyon hike at Tent Rocks National Monument is one of our 2 or 3 most favorite hikes ever! … more …
We took a three day excursion to visit Gila Cliff Dwellings and the surrounding area.
The drive through Gila National Forest was spectacular: … more …
And the cliff dwellings themselves were great!
We stayed at City of Rock State Park — It was like camping in the middle of Stonehedge!
On our way to the Three Rivers Petroglyphs and White Sands, we stopped at the Valley of Fire. What a treat! … more …
After a good lunch at a delightful little cafe in Carrizozo, we headed on to the Three Rivers Petroglyph site. The site contains over 20,000 petroglyphs from the Jornada Mogollon people. We loved the place and only took about a thousand picture — but we won’t post them “all” here! … more …
Some of the petroglyphs:
We ran out of time before we ever got close to White Sands… that will be for another adventure!
The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array is a radio astronomy observatory located about 50 miles west of Socorro, New Mexico, which is the administrative center for the Array and our source of groceries. But even though we couldn’t understand “all”of the science, it was a very interesting place to visit.
We then visited the “El Camino Real Historic Trail Site” a museum along the path of the original trail that ran from Mexico City to Santa Fe during the Spanish era.
September 5, 2016
After leaving Sedona we headed to Albuquerque for a couple days of “vacation” before starting our new volunteer position at Bosque del Apache. Our first surprise was the driving distance from one to the other — over 375 miles and with a time change about 8 hours! — more —
We started at the Petroglyph National Monument where they say there are over 20,000 ancient petroglyphs. — more —
We then visited the Pueblo Cultural Center, which represents all 19 New Mexico Pueblos — each a distinct entity with separate lands and languages, but similar belief structures and probably similar ancient origins. — more —
Saturday we went to Acoma Pueblo – Sky City. This is a mesa top settlement that has been occupied since the 13th century and is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America. The views from the mesa were fantastic. Also, the scenery on the drive to and from the mesa was amazing! — more —
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Sunday we drove to Bosque del Apache NWR and got set up. The staff and other volunteers have been very welcoming and friendly. We were absolutely surprised when one of the other volunteer couples is Kathy & Bob Hailey — Kathy was a volunteer with us at Casa Grande Ruins NM. We will continue our training on Thursday and will begin our regular schedule next weekend. — more —
August 27, 2016
We have had a wonderful time as volunteers at Palatki Heritage Site. The weather was substantially hotter than we anticipated (of course the whole nation was setting record temperatures) but that limited our ability to hike and do some of the things that we love about the Sedona area. So it is with mixed feelings that we face the end of our time here. There is still so much to do and explore here, we truly love the Red Rock country, but we are excited about the new learning ,challenges, and experiences awaiting us at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
We have had some excitement in the waning days of summer — rattlesnake, rainbows, waterfalls, and beautiful sun on the red rocks. — more —
July 20, 2016
We have settled into a comfortable routine, nestled in our little Red Canyon, sharing the site and responsibilities with our new friends – Tom & Jan. It is beautiful here in the canyon, and especially with some of the crazy things happening in the world, we sometimes just want to “hole up” here and avoid the rest of the world. Sunset & moonlight on the red rocks, mule deer visiting the watering bucket, agave in bloom — a beautiful place! — more —
But we have done a little hiking. One of the trails we recommend to visitors is the “Broken Arrow Trail”.It takes you past “Submarine Rock” to “Chicken Point”. — more —
We also had an outing to Tuzigoot National Monument – another Sinagua site just outside of nearby Clarksdale, along the Verde River. — more —
We also made a trip to Flagstaff and Walnut Canyon National Monument. The site is spectacular with approximately 300 rooms nestled along the faces of the cliffs. — more —
We can hardly believe that our time in Sedona is winding down so quickly! In only six weeks we will be saying “goodbye till next time” and heading to southern New Mexico and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. — more —
July 10, 2016
First, the BIG news — we have been accepted as volunteers at Anahauc National Wildlife Refuge near Houston, TX, for Feb. – April 2017!! We are looking forward to this very much.
Sedona has been much warmer than we had expected — in fact record and near-record high temperatures have been recorded throughout Arizona, so we have seen many days in the high 90’s and a couple over 100. But we are enjoying the many visitors from all over the world who come to Palatki.
About a month ago as I lead a group tour, we had an unexpected guest:
A Diamondback Rattlesnake was resting along the path – until we came along. This picture comes from Wikipedia, since I was too busy helping my guests back away from danger, but looks very much like the nearly 6 foot long visitor we saw. However, most of the guests managed to get their cameras and phones into action to get a record of the encounter.
We took a hike to a nearby canyon and its pictographs on one of our days off.
June 16, 2016
We have settled in at Palatki and are fairly competent giving the primary tours. This site has an ancient dwelling built by the Sinagua people about 900 years ago, a “Rock Art Grotto” with images that range back to the Paleo-Indian or Clovis Culture that lived here at the end of the last Ice Age — 10,000 – 12,000 years ago, and includes every society that has occupied this area since that time: Paleo-Indian, Archaeic People, Sinagua, Yavapai, Apache, and early Rancher. — more —
Here are some images from, the grotto:
Entrance to Palatki Heritage Site:
May 12, 2016
We have now been settled in at Palatki for a week. We met Doug & Brenda – our outgoing neighbors; and Tom and Jan, our new neighbors – both have made us feel welcome and helped us to settle in with our duties at Palatki. We still have more to learn to feel “competent” in giving some of the tours, but we’re making progress – and the site is amazing. … more …
April 28, 2016
We have spent the last week “boondocking” beside Mittry Lake and enjoying the setting. When we first pulled in, Judith & I debated where we should camp — she was right! Here is a panoramic view from our front door: … more …
Boondocking in the desert & San Diego — April 22, 2016
After leaving Anza-Borrego we wanted to “get away from the crowds” for a few days. We had allocated some time for “down time” before going to San Diego to see the sights. So we went to the South Carrizo Creek camping area – a “public lands” site. …. more ….
We went to the Silver Strand State Park on Coronado Island —
Of course, no visit to San Diego is complete without a visit to the San Diego Zoo —
To see all the pictures, click here: …. more ….
April 13, 2016
Greetings from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern California. We are in a beautiful campsite (check out the views from our front door and back window below) and loving every minute of this scenic, diverse park. It’s the largest state park in the lower 48… more …
April 5, 2016
Death Valley National Park
Day 1 – Dante’s View – Golden Canyon – Wild Horses
April 2, 2016
Monday (3/2/) we had our last day for the season as Volunteers at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. We pulled our trailer out after the park closed – that way we had the whole parking lot to maneuver the truck & trailer! Not a scratch!
The last few days at the park have been beautiful and exciting. There has been a mated pair of Great Horned Owls and “She” has been sitting on the nest the past several weeks. Sunday when she was off the nest we saw a fuzzy white head , two eyes, and a beak!
Many cactus and trees are also in bloom.
We started off Tuesday morning on the first leg of our April Adventure. We stopped at the Bill Williams NWR… pretty, but a bit of a disappointment…
We traveled on to a Bureau of Land Management property that is $FREE and we are not right up against anybody! THIS is why we put in the solar panels!
Arizona Excursions – Two Scorpions, a Snake + more | Judith & Mark’s Travels
Arizona Excursions – Two Scorpions, a Snake + more | Judith & Mark’s Travels
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The Owls, the Kestrels, the flowers… (more…)
St. Anthony’s Monastery, Biosphere2, & Petroglyphs
Our friends, Roy & Theresa, from Escapee’s Boot Camp are staying in the area and we got together for an adventure — to St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery and to Biosphere2. (Such an unlikely juxtaposition, but they are sort-of along the same route.)
St. Anthony’s Monastery
A beautiful setting in the middle of the Arizona desert. And we may have found a new fashion statement for Judith!
The place is still alive with many massive ongoing ecological experiments that could not be performed anywhere else — including a huge “ocean” where they are attempting to re-create a miniature Sea of Cortez to study the interactions of various aspects of sea life.
Absolutely fascinating, especially if you have a little “geeky” streak!
On our return we visited “The Ore House” in Oracle, AZ. Some fun metal sculptures … now if it were just located on Delphi Street!!!
Petroglyphs in the Picachu Mountains
Hundreds of ancient petroglyphs! Boulder after boulder covered with ancient designs!
And Judith’s Mishap:
Arizona Excursions – Tonto National Monument & Besh Ba Gowah
January 29, 2016
Tonto National Monument
Up in the mountains, high above the Salt River and Roosevelt Reservoir, sits Tonto National Monument. This is a National Park site dedicated to the Salado Culture and preserving two rock cliff dwellings. We visited the Lower Cliff Dwelling, which required a half mile uphill hike to an interesting ruin. — more —
Besh Ba Gowah
This gem of a site is nestled right in the city of Globe, AZ, and is operated by that town. It was a much larger Salado site, with an estimated population of 300 – 500 people. Besh Ba Gowah has attempted to reconstruct a portion of the original village using the original rocks and materials found on the site. This has an amazing museum. — more —
Here are some of the pictures we have taken of and around the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument — birds, sunsets, and of course, the Ruins: — more —
January 26, 2016
Last weekend we had Judith’s niece, Allison, visit for a brief but wonderful time. She is so cute, and so much fun! We had a wonderful dinner together — ate WAY too much, then a day of “seeing the sights” — Taliesin West (Western School of Frank Lloyd Wright) and Phoenix Botanical Garden.
For those who do not know Allison, she is the family’s “nature girl” — NOT! Of all the wonderful plantings at the Botanical Garden, her favorite was the Chihuly glass sculpture of a cactus. — more —
January 19, 2016
Last weekend we had a wonderful visit with friends from Cleveland, Kristin & Mark, who came to Arizona to see the sights, visit family, and visit with us.
The Huhugam Cultural Center is part of the Gila River Indian Community and remembers and celebrates the accomplishments of and commemorates their ancestors – the Huhugam (literally, “our ancestors” or “those who have gone before”). The museum houses a select number of “knock your socks off” artifacts: beautiful pottery, excellent stone tools, a great display of projectile points, and exquisite etched shell pieces. — more —
Phoenix’s Pueblo Grande museum is the site of a large Mound Village that is located in the heart of the city, right next to the Sky Harbor Airport. It is very weird to be looking at ancient structures while jumbo jets are flying close overhead! — more —
January 11, 2016
Just before New Years’ we drove to Picacho Peak State Park to do a little hiking. — more —
We continue to enjoy our role as volunteers at Casa Grande Ruins.
The big news is that we have been accepted as Interpretive Volunteers for the Forest Service Heritage Sites in Sedona! We will be parking our trailer right IN one of the Red Rock Canyons while we are staying at the Palatki Heritage Site. — More —
Saguaro National Park – West
San Tan Mountain Regional Park
We have just completed our third day as Volunteers at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. It is FANTASTIC!
The museum and site are outstanding. The museum is well laid out with beautiful and informative displays, even the movie is an award winner! — more —
After leaving the New Orleans Area, we headed to Livingston, TX, home of the Escapees RV Club, to attend Boot Camp and to become “Real Texans”. Well we are now “Real Texans”, we still don’t have our cowboy boots!
Our new adopted home state sure is BIG! It took three days from Livingston to Arizona!
We have now reached Casa Grande Ruins. It is everything we expected! The staff and other volunteers are very welcoming. We “finally” got our trailer situated the way we wanted. The Ruins are most interesting! The night sky is just unbelievable!
Following the most memorable and interesting visit to the World War II museum was going to be a challenge for any adventure. However we found a “Groupon” for a “Taste of NawLeans” walking tour. We walked around the French Quarter with a funny & most interesting guide, learning about the Quarter and visiting five different restaurants for a taste … more …
Fairview-Riverside State Park
The World War II museum is billed as the #1 attraction in New Orleans (and #4 best museum in US and #11 in the world) so we decided to make the visit. We purchased our tickets and were able to thank the World War II veteran sitting at the “I was there” table. I almost started to cry right then … more …
After leaving St. Augustine, we headed to Winter Haven, FL, and the Cypress Campground & RV Park that was only a very few miles from Clint, Barbara & Allison’s homes (Judith’s sister, brother-in-law, and niece). Her brother, Don, also flew in & spent a few days with the family. Good family times, recounting the old family stories, eating well, laughing lots, and enjoying one another’s company.
In St. Augustine, we booked a site at the Anastasia State Park campground , which is just across the bridge from the old city and on the beach. The trailer tucks into the site and is surrounded by palms, ferns, complete Florida forest. We can’t see the trailers on either side of us!
St. Augustine is filled with history and has wonderful sightseeing.
Charleston has the largest & most beautiful, well kept collection of historic homes that I have ever seen anywhere!
Our self-guided walking tour started with the “Four Corners of the Law” at the intersection of Broad Street and Meeting Street. This is reportedly the only place in the world where these four aspects of the law occupy the four corners of the intersection. St. Michael’s Church: God’s law; Post office: Federal Law; Courthouse: State Law; and City Hall: Local Law.
Many of the homes are of the “Charleston Single House” design. They are only one room deep with a large veranda always oriented toward the harbor. This gave the advantage of allowing the sea breeze from the harbor to flow unimpeded into every room of the house! A great solution for those hot South Carolina days before air conditioning!
Mark “mostly retired” on September 30. Judith retired on Friday, 10/16. For each of us, our co-workers gave us a delightful send-off and good wishes for our new adventure.
We packed up our trailer “Lucy” and pulled out of Woodside Lake Park, stopping by ALT to let Judith’s co-workers see our new home, and headed south out of Cleveland just before the first snow of the season (just a dusting) hit Cleveland.
We headed South, spending two nights “Wal-docking” en route and awakened on Sunday morning ready to start investigating the Charleston area.
Our choice for the day was Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, just north of Charleston along the Ashley River. There are many historic plantations around Charleston, but the Magnolia Gardens sounded particularly interesting. This property has been in the same family since the late 1600’s and the gardens are the oldest and largest Romantic Gardens in the US.
The Gardens were spectacular! They are dsigned so that there is always something blooming. In Mid-October it was some of the Camilla and the Encore Azalia.
September 3, 2015 – Time is absolutely flying! Our planned departure date is rushing toward us at amazing speed!
The house is SOLD! The buyers’ have accepted our revised list of additional “repairs”. Now we just need to cut down that little tree, dig out the dirt & mulch along the back of the garage, replace the cracked garage door window, have the electrician install a new GFCI outlet, … We have also cancelled our home phone & home internet — please use our cell numbers to reach us, the home number will no longer work! — more —
August 19, 2015 — The countdown is approaching the “zero hour”!
Mark will end his “full-time” work on September 30; on October 16, Judith will start two weeks of vacation before her official retirement date. We plan to “pull out” and start our adventure the next day, October 17. — more —
Even before we had really decided to begin full time RV living, we had met a couple at the V-bar-V Heritage Site south of Sedona, AZ. They were volunteering there for the season, working as interpretive guides, etc. — and receiving their site & utilities in exchange for their service. This concept SO intrigued us! As we left that site we discussed how perfect such an arrangement would be for us
Last December we had sent in one volunteer application — for Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Last night (6/15/2015) the Director called to ask us to come to Casa Grande for the winter!!! — more —
The transition from living in a house with week-end outings to being ready to live full time in the RV is a big one! We were somewhat prepared from our readings, but still…. more…
Woodside Lake is about a 30 minute drive from our house – but a world apart in living!
Technical Details — All the geeky details about calculating truck capacities, composting toilet, solar installation, etc.