Deep In The Heart of Sweltering Dixie

We were in the deep in the heart of Dixie over July 4th weekend and looking forward to celebrating the holiday southern style.  As you can see, southern glampers really know how to do it right!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

But first, can we talk about the weather?  This California girl is just not used to this sweltering heat.  I was a dog on a hot aluminum roof!

It was so hot the birds had to pick up the worms with potholders.  It was so hot that when I chased a cat we both walked.  It was so hot the chickens were laying hard boiled eggs.

And finally… it was so hot the squirrels were fanning their nuts.

And the thunderstorms?  I didn’t even know how much I hated thunderstorms, or as they are now called after this summer – Derechos, a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.

Our first campground was deep in the woods at Skidaway Island State Park.  The first thing we did was set up the mosquito room.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Then we rushed into town to join the July 4th festivities. The waterfront area of Savannah is lovely but it was so hot I thought I was going to swoon Scarlet O’Hara style.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We got there mid-afternoon and quickly learned that when in 100 degree heat with 100% humidity it’s best to let the sun go down before going outside!

Savannah was stunning and is America’s first planned city.  General James Edward Oglethorpe (who had previously founded the colony of Georgia) founded the town in 1733. He designed his new capital as a series of neighborhoods centered around 24 squares.  They provide such a cool respite.  See if you can find Forrest Gump’s bench!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We also visited Warmsloe Plantation.  General Oglethorpe leased 500 acres of land to Noble Jones, a carpenter, constable and doctor to the colonists who had also laid out the city of Augusta.  Jones then began work on a combination plantation/fort along the Skidaway River, one of a myriad of Georgia’s coastal rivers.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We loved Charleston, SC but we just couldn’t bear the heat during the day and it’s hard to take pictures in the dark.

We happened along these kids, who had the right idea about how to beat the heat.  I tried to join in but no dogs allowed!  We did enjoy a nice breeze at the rooftop restaurant at the Vendue Inn in Charleston.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Because of the heat we stayed close to the coast after Charleston.  Next stop Myrtle Beach!  They have the biggest campgrounds I have ever seen!  They were so big you can see them from  space!  But seriously, there were a least 5 humongous 125 acre compounds with over 2000 sites each.  Cray!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Hungering for isolation after that mass of humanity we hightailed it north to The Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Ahhhhh!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We were so excited to finally get there, but unfortunately we had more bad weather.  The storms seemed to stream directly over us for days.  But we did get a few good pics of the Hatteras Lighthouse and had time to see the Wright Brothers museum.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© Richard Broadwell

Next stop was the very isolated east coast of VA. We actually dodged another tornado (we are the blue dot emerging from that purple red cell) on the way north to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

And this monster was lurking inside that storm cell (picture courtesy of the local newspaper).

We arrived shaken but alive a half hour later at Tom’s Cove Park Campground in Chincoteague and hunkered down for some more storms.  Can I talk about the weather again?  I watched my radar app and that red cell stayed in the same exact spot for the next 5  hours even though other cells were racing by.  It never moved, just dumped rain and flooded the entire area.  Never saw anything like it.

The next day was 100 degrees and sticky but no more storms and luckily we snagged this great waterfront campsite where we could watch the wild Assateague ponies graze across the water.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

I fell in love with them.  Virginia really is for lovers!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Next up was Annapolis, MD.  We had the best time visiting friends and family there.  I loved catching up with Wyatt and his wonderful human, but we got no darn pictures because it rained the entire time.  But I really loved that town.  Not too small, not too big, it has a gorgeous setting with sailboats galore.  It really is a mini Newport.

So let’s see, I count 10 times I’ve talked about the weather.  I guess I’m done now.

Coming up next:  Lobsters and (more) Lighthouses

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Florida – The $unshine $tate

After my Mexican adventure we spent two glorious weeks with our wonderful homies in California before we hit the road again.  Florida here we come!  It’s just a measly 2300 miles away.

But before we get to the subject of how darn expensive it is to camp in Florida we made a few stops along the way.  First up, White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

It’s a stunning 275 square miles of the world’s largest gypsum dunefield.  But where’s the ocean?

Next stop was New Orleans where we devoured crawfish with ice cold beer and visited some dear friends.  My buddy Marti gave me the sailing bug!  He is refurbishing a 37 foot L Francis Herreshoff Meadowlark, a boat that draws less than 2 feet of water so he assured me we can just jump off the bow right onto the beach.  Count me in!

Finally we arrived in the Florida panhandle.  After much effort we secured a spot in Grayton Beach State Park.  It was beautiful and affordable like all the FL state parks, but  not easy to get a reservation.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

The beaches are beautiful along this stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, talcum powder white sand and clear blue water.

And we were right next door to the famous town of Seaside, a place I’ve always wanted to visit.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Next stop was Siesta Key in Sarasota.  This is one of my favorite beaches in the world.  Unfortunately this is where the weather stopped cooperating.  Spring in Florida is usually rain free and temperate.  As we drove into the state they were experiencing a drought, it hadn’t rained in months.  But our visit put an end to all of that.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We did manage to get a few good days on the beach though.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And some sunsets!!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

But the best part of the West Coast of Florida was visiting with our family and friends.  I got to see my Uncle Jake, and my cousins Jordan (RIP), Angel, Baby Bear and the latest addition to the family, Riley.  Missed you Snoop, hopefully one day soon.  A big shout out to Aunt Turkey Lurk, Sarah, Grammy Judy, Papa Stew and Linda.  And to all the Broadwells.  Also thanks to Buddy and Maggie for letting us park in their driveway and to Ringo and Maddie for taking us booze cruising.  And Elvis, thanks for the great steak dinner!

It was a blast!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Glamping is all about the real estate.  Location location location.  The quest for the best spots officially began.

It wasn’t easy finding RV parks right on the beach, or any body of water for that matter, especially ones you can afford.   Jeez, and I thought British Columbia was expensive!

There were only a couple of private RV parks right on the beach in the Panhandle, all costing at least a $100 a night.  We’ve never spent anything close to that, even on the coast of California.  There was a reasonable park on the beach in Siesta Key, but darn if dogs aren’t allowed.  Total canine discrimination!!  We were determined in our search but then the tropical storms started rolling in.  First Beryl in May, then Debby in June.  Maybe being right on the water wasn’t such a good idea?

We had a great spot (see below) on Long Bayou at the Madiera Beach KOA for $46 a night.  But after a few days we were evacuated to higher ground when the water encroached after 13 inches of rain due to Debby.  And then there were the tornadoes!  We actually had to run to the nearest concrete building as the news anchor said “get to your tornado rooms right now!”  It touched down a couple miles south and did all sorts of damage.  Us Westerners just aren’t used to all this weather!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We did score beachfront on North Ft. Myers beach, the Red Coconut RV Park, but only stayed one night as it cost… $100 a night!

Then it was off to the Florida Keys!  Surely we would find some affordable waterfront spots there?  First stop, the Calusa Campground Resort and Marina, but again for $100 a night with fees and tax.

Next up was Curry Hammock State Park.  It was great and affordable, as they all are, but  we could only get a spot for 1 night.  All the state parks are booked way in advance even in the summer months.

Finally we found the best deal in the entire state of Florida at the Bluewater Key Resort, which is only 10 miles from Key West.  Not only was it waterfront and NOT a $100 a night (off season), they give you a lot of bang for your buck.  There are various ways to book but we used the Bluewaterkey.NET website.  Pat and Dennis were the best of hosts and pride themselves on their concierge service.

We loved our premium canal front spot with it’s outdoor living room, a kitchen and dining room under two palapas.  All spots are individually owned and decked out differently and though most every spot has it’s own dock (bay front or canal front), ours had an underwater light that made it a living aquarium at night.  And all this for only $68 a night (cash price)!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

After a year on the road we were thrilled to have real furniture and such a lovely outdoor living space.  We had a nice breeze but depending on the time of year, the bay front spots can actually get too windy.  We stayed 10 glorious days and wanted more time.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

When Pat and Dennis didn’t have availability they kindly referred us to the Bluewaterkey.COM group and we were able to get a bay front spot for around $86 a night.  There was a palapa but no furniture yet the dock was great for fishing and you know how I love seafood!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We rented a boat for 5 days and had a glorious time  before the storms resumed.  I love boats!

This was our favorite hangout, the flats off Lois Key, about a mile offshore.  We could watch the tarpon, sharks and barracuda swim by.  “Watch” being the operative word.

© 2012 RIchard Broadwell

As my human would cast and cast again, trying to actually catch these creatures with a tiny fly I would just dunk my head under water, lunge at them swimming by, snag them with my teeth and hurl them into the boat.

But did they thank me, no!  All I heard were screams, some words I can’t repeat here, then a lot of scrambling around and finally a splash. For some reason my humans didn’t want these cute little guys in the boat.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

I hooked up with this really cool dude at a nearby party island.   We belted back a few beers together and talked critter patrol.  Look at that hottie!  He really knows how to live!

All good things must come to an end but we made one more stop on the way back to the mainland, in Marathon. We stayed at Knights Key Resort and Marina for $68 a night.  We didn’t have an outdoor living room but the view was great.

And we loved the Sunset Grill Tiki Bar right at the foot of the 7 mile bridge. You could swim, drink and eat all at the same time.  And I was allowed on the deck!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We had some more beautiful sunsets before the gully washers started again!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

As we headed up the east coast the first waterfront spot we found was in Melbourne Beach on the St. Johns River.  It was an Outdoor Resorts, with a pool on the beach side and spaces right on the river for $60 a night.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

In Ormond Beach we stayed at the Coral Sands Inn RV park (see below).  We loved this spot right on the ocean and it was a bargain at $75 a night.  Further north along the A1A in Flagler Beach there are other beachfront spots, but again for around $100 a night.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We wanted to see Saint Augustine so we stayed at Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort.  There are dunes between you and the water but the breeze was good and the price was about $70 a night.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

St Augustine was a fascinating town! Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menendez de Avilis it is the oldest continuously occupied European- established city and port in the continental United States.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And the place is haunted!  Locals and visitors alike have experienced a wide range of unexplained phenomenon, captured amazing ghost pictures while strolling the cobblestone streets, and have even found that when they were video taping various areas that they ended up with some spectacular ghost videos.

Castillo de San Marcos (seen below), or “The Old Fort” to the locals, is rumored to be one of the most haunted places in the entire city.  Among the various sightings are in the watchtower it is said that a light ignites on nights that are relatively stormy.  And a soldier is often seen dressed in lavishly clothing that represents the era, looking out to the vast sea.  This is normally experienced when the sun is just starting to rise, or when the sun is setting.  And in the dungeon of the fort, many individuals have experienced strange sensations.  These sensations include goose bumps, breezes, the feeling of being touched, and many individuals have even experienced physical sickness in the dungeon for no apparent reason.  I call BS cause it didn’t happen to me!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

There is a long list of haunted places and tours are offered… if you’re brave enough!  Stayed tuned for more of my adventures up the East Coast, all the way to Nova Scotia.

Coming up next:  Deep in the Heart of Dixie!

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Viva Mexico!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – One and Only Palmilla Resort

Wondering where I’ve been?  Don’t worry, I didn’t get kidnapped in Mexico!

You haven’t heard from me because I’ve been having too much fun.  Margaritas and fish tacos, mucho mas margaritas and tacos!

And don’t forgot the martinis at Nikki Beach in Cabo San Lucas. Yum!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

But what kept me really busy was driving a 1000 miles down the Baja in a RV Caravan.  It was perfect for the wary first timer though safety wise, it’s not necessary.

Not that I wouldn’t do it again, Becky and John Smith who own Baja Winters Travel Club were the bomb!  They offer various tours, we did the “Hammer-Down and South-Bound” where they escort you down the Baja, then drop you off for 2 months, then get you back safely.  It was perfect for us.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

 

The road is definitely a challenge.  It’s 10 foot width and lack of shoulders make it a white knuckle drive fosho.  And then there were the 18 wheelers, the buses on a schedule, and the livestock wondering around.  I had to pry my fingers off the steering wheel at the end of the day, but it was worth it.

There were a couple of breakdowns and some mirrors were lost.  But our Wagon Masters were able to deal with any unexpected surprises with calm and expert knowledge.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

The best part of going with a caravan was the great friends I met.  I want to give a big shout out to my besties Hurley and Jemma (and their humans too!).

I met so many other great friends, too many to name; Sarah, Chet, Bella, Briana, Mindi… but they all know who they are!

Here we all are boondocking at Santispec Beach near Mulege.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

But the very best thing about Mexico… I’m allowed to run free on the beach!  What a civilized country!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Los Cerritos, BCS

The water activities were endless; surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and kite surfing.  You never knew what you’d find in the water!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Isla Espiritu Santo, BCS

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Los Barriles, BCS

The other thing I loved about Mexico, the people!  They’re so resourceful and hard working, with a real “can do” attitude.  MexiCAN! The entire experience was a total pleasure.

And the whales!  They were everywhere, jumping right out of the water wherever we went. In Guerrero Negro I got to see where the Mama whales birth their babies.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And boy were they yummy!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Now before you have a fit you know I can’t resist grubbing for seafood!  Just kidding.  A big shout out to Carlos at Bahia Magdalena for rolling out the red carpet for us.

In Cabo San Lucas we stayed for a month at Vagabundoes Del Mar Trailer Park.  Muchas gracias to Doug and Kathy for their wonderful hospitality, and for helping us get in and out of our spot, twice.  We loved being under a palapa with our own outdoor kitchen, covered parking and great neighbors.  Another big thanks to Noel for the great golf at Costa Del Sol.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

The restaurant at Vagabundos also had the best margaritas in town.  And in case you had too many, here’s your ride home.

Cabo has lots to offer with it’s beautiful beaches, fun restaurants and great fishing.  Sunset Da Mona Lisa Restaurant was one of our favorites.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And the El Farallon Restaurant at Capella Pedregal also.  This is how you order your dinner!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And of course our all time favorite, the Esperanza resort.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And my favorite beach, Santa Maria Bay.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Once we left Cabo I had a couple of brushes with fame.  First I agreed to be in a Sears Mexico commercial.  Our incredibly resourceful production hombre, Aleph Alighieri, hinted the commercial was going to be all about me and my glamping.  But somehow only the Airstream made it into the final cut.  My nerves!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We loved Los Cerritos with it’s laid back surfing vibe.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

A great place for sunset cocktails and whale watching was Hacienda Cerritos, a gorgeous boutique hotel on a cliff overlooking the Pacific.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Hacienda Cerritos, BCS

I was so excited to see Hotel California, in the wonderful town of Todos Santos, and was determined to get to the bottom of the urban legend that the Eagles had stayed in the hotel while writing their famous song of the same name.

After one minute of googling while using the wifi in their bar, I was able to ascertain that this myth is false!  But the drinks were great and it was… a lovely place.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Hotel California, Todos Santos, BCS

But I saved the best for last.  My favorite spot of the entire trip was Playa El Tecolote, near La Paz.

Here we spent 10 amazing days and felt like we were part of the community thanks to the wonderful Mexicans and Gringos that live and work nearby.

A big gracias to Manuel, Gary, Francoise, James and the whole gang at Palapa Azul!

I also met some new friends, Ruff (who has since sadly passed, RIP Ruff), and Inca from Santa Fe, NM and their wonderful humans who are fellow Airstreamers!

I followed my bliss at Tecolote Beach.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Playa Tecolote, BCS

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Playa Tecolote, BCS

At Playa Tecolote we booked a boat tour from my main hombre Manual at Marlin Adventures to the beautiful Isla Espiritu Santo, where we saw some incredible sights.

Including the famous Blue Footed Booby!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Isla Espiritu Santo, BCS

Nearby Balandra Bay is beautiful but please remember to shuffle your feet because of stingrays.  Manuel has his hands full taking care of tourists who don’t shuffle!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Balandra Bay, BCS

The famous mushroom rock at Balandra Bay.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Balandra Bay, BCS

This was my favorite bar and hangout, Palapa Azul.  To all our buddies we met there, we miss you so much!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell – Playa Tecolote, BCS

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Their margaritas were killer.  The secret ingredients; fresh lime juice, tequila, and Damiana.

Damiana is a herbal based liqueur grown in Baja.  It has an ancient reputation that goes back to the Mayans.  And I know why, it makes you crazy!  In a good way.

As you can see I wasn’t happy that we had to leave my favorite place or all of Baja for that matter!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

I vow to return, by hook or by crook!

Coming up next: Florida, Here We Come!

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California Dreaming!

Homesick, me?  No way… not with all of my wonderful adventures.  Yet crossing the border into California felt like coming home.

Having dealt with our share of fog in WA and OR we blew right through the pea soup in Eureka and headed straight for Avenue of the Giants.  This world-famous scenic drive  runs through Humboldt Redwood State Park.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

After staying the night at the worst RV park of the entire trip (it shall remain nameless) we were anxious to get back to the coast so we left the 101 and jumped onto Highway 1 in Mendocino County.  The white knuckle drive on the winding narrow road was so worth it for when we hit the ocean… NIRVANA!

Our first stop was Westport State Beach- Union Landing.  It was perfection.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

We camped right on the bluff overlooking the Pacific for $11 a night (no hookups).  With sailor showers we can last 3 days without having to refill the fresh water tank.

@ 2011 Richard Broadwell - Westport State Beach

We turned on the iPod and dined every night at sunset with a roaring fire.  I’m talking prime real estate here with million dollar views!  Check it out.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Talk about a perfect sunset!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Even though we were nearly out of water we didn’t want to leave, ever!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

One last picture of me in my favorite spot!

The northern part of Highway 1 follows the pristine Mendocino coastline with it’s rugged canyons, fog-shrouded cliffs, and windswept cypress trees.  It rivals, if not exceeds the Big Sur portion of the same highway.  This coast was so stunning, so isolated, and so beautiful I wanted to cry at the thought of leaving.  But then we got to the Sonoma coast.  More bliss and crab chips to come!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

We stayed just north of Fort Ross at the Ocean Cove Campground.  It was a private RV park with no hookups on 20 oceanfront acres that borders Stillwater Cove State Park.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

We would walk the bluffs everyday where one of my humans would negotiate the headlands, with waves crashing on either side, just so she could point her phone south towards civilization and try to get a cell signal.  And it worked!  We still needed to know  the world was turning without us.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Our night sky!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

After we negotiated many miles of hairpin curves on the cliffs heading south we stopped in Bodega Bay where they filmed Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS.  Sheez, did they really have to watch it again?  I was careful not to excite any birds after that.

We hit San Francisco during an unusually early winter storm so no good photos to post but we loved walking the city and had a fun dinner with San Fran city girl, Amber!

On to Half Moon Bay where I was reunited with Bella, my BFF from the very first post – Girls Gone Wild in Lake Havasu.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Half Moon Bay, CA

I was disappointed my fiance Charlie was unable to make it, but I was so glad to see my other homies, Eileen, Jason, Susan and Bob!  Unfortunately, I had come to think of the trailer as MY big dog house, so I was a little territorial when Bella first arrived, but I finally chilled enough to have a sleep over.

We continued south to Santa Cruz and stayed right on the beach where it was hot, hot, hot!  Love those Indian summers on the coast.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Seacliff State Beach

Feeling guilty about lounging on the beach everyday we headed inland towards the Sierra Nevadas.  It felt good to be back in the mountains.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Yosemite National Park

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - June Lake, CA

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - June Lake, CA

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Convict Lake

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

This picture was taken on my last day in the wilderness.  Over the last 5 months we had visited 20 National Parks, 6 Canadian National Parks and countless State Parks covering over 15,000 miles.  I didn’t want it to end!

But instead of freaking out – I got my party on as we arrived in Los Angeles just in time to see my boy and brotha from anotha motha DJ S.co at The Roosevelt Hotel’s huge Halloween bash!  I was rubbing elbows with the glitterati all night. Luckily I got the memo about this years costume and wore my tutu.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

When we hit the CA desert near Palm Springs it was full circle back.  Tired but happy, our 5 months on the road have been the best times of our lives.  So good in fact we’ve decided to keep going for another year, at least.  Who knows, we may never stop…

Coming up next:  Baja, Here We Come!

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Back in the US of A!

We left Victoria, British Columbia on a ferry only to land smack in the middle of vampire country.  Welcome to Olympic National Park!  I did not like dem woods.

It was only when I crossed the vampire treaty line and arrived on the coast at La Push, WA that I let my guard down a little.

That is, until a “test” tsunami warning blared over the loudspeakers.  From then on I kept one eye on the ocean and one eye on the woods at all times.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - La Push, WA

And then, in the middle of nowhere with who knows what lurking about, my humans locked us out of the trailer.  The moon was full and there wasn’t a locksmith for miles.  It took me about 20 jittery minutes to jimmy a window and crawl inside.  My nerves with my humans!  But hey, they do all the driving, shopping, cooking, cleaning and setting up so I can’t complain too much.  They also know how to build a great fire to keep the critters away!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - La Push, WA

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - La Push, WA

We continued south to Copalis Beach, WA where you can drive for miles on a very wide flat beach.  We took the truck onto the sand for a test drive and since it was so easy we decided to try this further south on the 26 mile Long Beach Peninsula with the trailer hitched up.  Camping right on the beach… sounds great, right?  People have been driving on this beach since the automobile arrived in the west.  So we followed all the other cars to the beach access, but when we arrived at the shore it was high tide and there was nothing but soft sand.  Everybody else just turned around, but we couldn’t with our 45 feet of rig.  So we backed up for a 1/2 mile!  Let me just say this was not the highlight of the trip and all pictures have been destroyed.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Cannon Beach, OR

We were so happy to arrive in Oregon.  I have longed to see this stretch of coast, and we did, all 363 miles of it.  People actually bike the twisty 101, lugging all their camping gear and stopping overnight in the 48 or so beautiful State Parks along the way.  Watching them struggle their way up the many Capes with vertical climbs of 500 to a 1000 feet made me so glad to be zipping along in the silver bubble.

We first stopped in Cannon Beach where we learned to appreciate that beast called “the fog”.  So in that spirit I am dedicating this post to fuzzy landscapes.

Ecola Beach State Park

Luckily we still had lots of beautiful sunsets!  It was here that I discovered the joys of grubbing for sea food.  Much better pickings than the left over bits of marshmallows I was finding in the woods.  I’m not sure why my humans put a stop to this, I thought dead crabs are good for you?

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Cannon Beach, OR

© Richard Broadwell

Next we took a little detour inland to a very warm and sunny Portland to visit some dear friends.  What a great city!  A big shout out to Ruth and Debbie who lovingly showed us their wonderful town.

This is me in a little Zip car Debbie rented. We had a blast!

Back to the coast, and the fog!  We hunkered down at the Sea and Sand RV park in Depoe Bay for 3 days until it broke.  But when it did…WOW!

The further south you go the less developed it becomes.  It’s a wild coast, full of rocky sea stacks and crashing surf.  Below is lovely Gold Beach.

© Richard Broadwell - Gold Beach, OR

And we loved this long stretch of Samuel H Boardman State Park.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Samuel H. Boardman State Park

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Samuel H. Boardman State Park

But as much as we liked the Oregon Coast, the best was yet to come.

Coming up next:  California Dreaming!

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British Columbia (BC) = Bring Cash!

Just kidding!!  It’s just that the two things we consume the most of… wine and gas, were more expensive fosho!

BC is the land of lakes and you know how much I like lakes!  But seriously, I’ve never seen so many BIG lakes and I wanted to swim in every single one.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Our very first, Kootenay Lake, is 90 miles long and glacier carved with snow capped mountains hovering above. The roads were squiggly and ran along the entire length on both sides.  There is the charming town of Nelson which transformed itself from a struggling lumber town into a thriving arts and mountain sports mecca.  Not too far away they hold the annual Shambhala Music festival at the Salmo River Ranch.  We cut across the mountain at Kaslow to Slokan Lake which connects to the Upper Arrow Lake which connects to the… well you get the idea.  There’s so many lakes and they’re so big that twice we got to take a ferry across for FREE!   The best deal of the trip.
Because the rivers were still blown out from the late snow melt and the fishing stunk we ended up in yet another lake mecca, the Okanagan Lake area.  We stopped off in Vernon at the very north end so my human could play golf.  And then we headed south to Oliver, the wine capital of Canada!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Oliver, BC

Oliver is in the desert but with vineyards.  It was like home, so warm!  We visited wineries and did tastings, discovering some great Canadian Pinot Gris.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

From Oliver we headed to Vancouver, where the weather was perfect.  I could see the total livability of this city but don’t know if I could take the rain, 47 inches a year.  We took the Skytrain downtown then took a tiny taxi ferry to the Granville Island Market.  The food!  My mouth was watering but all I got was some kibble.  Have to keep my girlish figure!

We couldn’t wait to get to Vancouver Island, until they measured us at the ferry terminal. Ay yi yi!  We’re 45 feet long and they charge by the foot.  But we thought it was worth every penny.  On the ferry ride the rig was parked on the outer lane underneath but with open portholes and when we flung the windows open the trailer transformed into a houseboat.  Ah, the ocean air!  I really want to look into buying a barge.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

But Tofino was my favorite – I went crazy when I finally got to the beach!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Free at last!

And though we had some fog it was still beautiful with great sunsets.  We had lots of campfires and tons of halibut fish and chips.  Tofino is the gateway to the Clayoquot Sound region, a world UNESCO biosphere reserve.  It is a pristine wilderness with surfing, whale watching, kayaking and more.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Tofino, BC

Tofino is the northern most accessible spot in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, a combination of rain forests and rugged coastline.  The drive there is quite tricky, especially with the rig and lots of people take a float plane or a ferry.  Now here it really rains, 118 inches a year.  I would love to be there during a big winter storm, it must be wild.  We had a lovely early dinner at Wickaninnish Restaurant on Long Beach after a drive to Ucluelet, just south of Tofino.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Long Beach, BC

There are a couple of great campgrounds in Tofino; Bella Pacifica right above the sand and Crystal Cove with campsites off the beach.  Both are on beautiful Mackenzie Beach.  We didn’t have to worry about bears at our campground, just cougars! There was an attack nearby while we were there.  I love kitty cats but come on.

When we first started this adventure I thought I would have lots of horrible but funny stories about living the RV life, it wasn’t my idea to go on this trip you know?  But instead it’s been the most uplifting experience.  I’ve met the most incredible people along the way, eh?  In Vernon it was the Scott family, who were missing their Miller and gave me tons of love.  And the humans all had a pretty good time too.  And in Oliver we met Annie and Frida.  I tried to teach them how to swim but I’m not sure it comes naturally to pugs and fugs (french bulldog and pug).  Their humans, Pat and Dallas, invited us to their home on Vancouver Island and fed us a yummy steak dinner with all the fixings while we finished the last of the Oliver wine stash together.  Like I said, it turns out the nicest people go glamping.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Victoria BC

The last night before our return to the States was quintessential BC.  We spent the night smack on the waterfront in Victoria at the ferry dock  for FREE, that is if you don’t count how much 45 feet of rig costs.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

The classic wooden boat show was in full swing and an outdoor concert on the waterfront was our playlist.  The joint was jumping on a warm Sunday night.  Everybody had the next day off as it was Monday, Labor Day, which made for quite the festive evening.

It was the perfect ending to our BC experience.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Victoria, BC

Coming up next:  Back in the USsA!

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OH! Canada!

On my very first day in Alberta, Canada I saw 8 bears at Waterton National Park.  But I wasn’t afraid, as a matter of fact, I just ignored them like they aren’t even there.  We had a resident black bear at the fabulous Crandell Mountain campground turning over rotten logs looking for grubs.  I love to grub around the fire pits myself, we’re dining buddies!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

My humans got all nervous and whipped out their bear mace when they saw 2 black bears on a hike to a nearby lake, but not me.  I’m just like la di da… no big deal. You just have to be careful if they have cubs, like this big mama bear pictured below.  Luckily we saw her from a boat, not on a hike.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Prince of Wales Hotel at Waterton NP

After Waterton we headed north to Lake Louise.  Talk about great swimming, I LOVED the glacial lakes.  The colder the better became my motto!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

I even went on a long uphill hike to the Lake Agnes Teahouse just so I could swim in the coldest water possible.  Even though my humans think I’m cray cray to swim in ice water don’t knock it till you try it.  Totally invigorating!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Lake Louise

I thought Moraine Lake was as beautiful if not more so than Lake Louise.  Here I am just hanging out, getting some sun!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Just in case you want to see what it looks like without my mug in the way.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Moraine Lake

We were off to Banff next and were lucky enough to snag a campsite at the Two Jack Lake Campground at the bottom of Lake Minnewanka.  There are only 74 campsites with no hookups, and 23 are for walk-in tenting so it’s not easy to get a spot but worth waiting in line for any of the all first-come first-served sites.  It’s the best place to camp in Banff National Park.

While there I met the nicest couple from the Netherlands, Katrien and Tim.  We all had a great time hanging out and they gave me all the loving I wanted (and deserved) and I vowed to somehow visit them in Amsterdam.  I’ve heard it’s a really happening place.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Lake Minnewanka

After Banff we hit the Icefields Parkway heading towards the Great White North and just when I thought the landscape couldn’t get more beautiful, BOOM!  I was skeptical when I heard it was one of the most scenic roads in the world but now I’m a believer!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Bow Lake

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Bow Lake

Here we are, just hanging out at the Wabasso Campground outside of Jasper.  It was the only campground we could get into on a Saturday.  All the other 1000 plus campsites nearby were full!  The Canadians really take advantage of their summers and who can blame them?  Luckily we got some good pictures on the way up because the weather turned and we even had some snow… in August!

Brrrr!  Cold cold cold!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell - Maligne Lake

While waiting out the storm in Jasper we met some wonderful Canadians!  A big shout out to Tezz (and his Dad) for helping me with ideas to get more viewers for the blog.  I don’t know if I mentioned it before (ahem) but I’m hoping to go viral, eh!

Well that’s enough about me for today, it’s really all about the pictures anyway (wink wink).

Next up:  British Columbia (BC) = Bring Cash

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My Own Private Idaho / Montana

In case you’re wondering about the headline, I’m tired of always being two states behind in my posts hence the combo.

We arrived in Idaho hoping to start the serious fishing portion of the trip but alas the rivers were still too high so we headed to Ketchum for some fun.  I’d heard a lot of great things about the Sun Valley area over the years and I was not disappointed.  Due to a huge bike race in town there was no availability at the only RV park so we stayed in Hailey, a delightful town just a few miles south. We had a stupendous dinner at Three Ten Main Restaurant and then explored the stunning Sawtooth Mountain Range the next day.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Sawtooths

Not wanting to give up on staying in Ketchum we decided to scout boondocking possibilities.  We had dry camped (no hookups) in various campgrounds but we had never just driven down a dirt forest service road and found a spot to pull over.  We scouted the area first and found the perfect place.  It was only 5 miles north of Sun Valley off Trail Creek road, had a view to die for and it cost zilch!  But would it still be there in the morning with all these people streaming into town for the weekend?  Taking the chance we hooked up the airstream and set off from Hailey as early as possible and sure enough nobody else had discovered it.  We set up our camp with not a soul in sight… no other tents, trailers, RV’s or people.  It was heaven on earth and a river ran through it!

See that tiny silver spec in the middle of the picture?  That’s us!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

We met our nearest neighbors from a mile or so away, Bodie and Alli, two gorgeous Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and fellow airstreamers who are living off the grid full time.  I invited them over for cocktails and hor d’oeuvres along with their delightful humans.   We traded tips about our rigs and told tales of our travels as the sun set over the valley.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Finally after a few days and the first trout catch of the trip we reluctantly left this heavenly spot and headed north to Stanley in the Sawtooths.  This is a must see area with tons of camping, fishing and whitewater rafting right along the Salmon River.

We had a fun dinner on the roof deck at The Bridge Street Grill and then headed north along the Salmon River to Montana.

It was time to get serious about fishing.  We went straight to The Big Hole River near Wisdom, MT but alas the water was still too high.

Getting a tip from a local we moved up to the famous Rock Creek near Missoula .  To my loyal readers… I apologize for what’s to come.  It’s going to be a real fishing report, sorry!

Now they say not to bring a trailer or an RV down Rock Creek Road, there are signs everywhere warning you.  But do you think that stopped me?  We came in from the north off the I 90.  The road is paved for a short while but very narrow.  IF you met another vehicle somebody might have to back up if there wasn’t a turn out nearby.  Our destination was Norton campground, at the end of the paved section.  It was reviewed on parkcamper.com as the only spot for RV’S.  WRONG!  When we got there it was tent camping only.  Now what?  We were 9 miles in and I wasn’t about to give up.  As we headed further south the road turned to gravel and then to dirt and became a little rough and rutted.  But I knew the silver bubble could handle it.  We came to the turnoff for the next campground, Grizzly, but it was a mile down yet another dirt road and we didn’t dare go in unscouted.  Could we turn around if needed?  Beauty and the Beast (trailer and truck) combined are about 45 feet long. I sent one of my humans to check it out on foot, he came back to report that a fellow fisherman was kind enough to tell us about a place 4 miles down that would work, Dalles Campground.  But would the road get worse?  I said let’s go for it and so we did.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Rock Creek, MT

At the 14-mile marker we came to a suspension bridge across the river, a sign told us we had only a ½ mile to go.  We continued on, the ruts grew a little larger but were still manageable.  Finally we pulled into Dalles Campground and it was perfect, right along the river’s edge.  We found a large enough spot that took some maneuvering to get into and proceeded to set up camp.  It was glorious and I met another buddy, Marley and his very interesting humans from Syracuse, NY as well as some other wonderful folks from Helena and Missoula.  One of them made me his special rock creek fly which worked perfectly!  I would post a picture but I traded it for some Canadian flies (it’s little, black with some elk hair and a hint of red).  I caught cutthroat, Brook and Rainbows.  The dry spell was over… the real fly fishing had finally begun!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Cutthroat Trout

The last day we drove south in the truck to check it out.  Just south of our Dalles Campground the road turns into a super highway.  Though still dirt it was graded with no ruts and pretty wide.  I think those 4 miles of bumps were dug on purpose to keep the non-locals out. We investigated Harry’s Flat Campground at the 17-mile marker.  Some of the sites were right along the river and we could have easily fit in many.  We continued on to mile marker 23 to see the Bitterroot Flat campground, also very accessible. We were told that eventually there are switchbacks that prohibit RV’s from going any further even though the road continues on to Philipsburg, but I’m here to report that with just a little determination you can at least make it south to Bitterroot Flat.

From here we went to the Yaak River Campground outside of Troy MT and met Kie from Canada (a huge handsome yellow lab) along with his very nice humans who gave us lots of fishing tips and flies for when we get to Canada (that’s where the Rock Creek special fly went).

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Yaak River, MT

As a matter of fact we are currently staying in their hometown of Fernie, British Columbia.  From Troy it was on to Glacier National Park, which is absolutely stunning.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Glacier National Park

We went hiking and loved the scenery along the famous Going to the Sun Road.  We stayed at the wooded Glacier Campground in West Glacier where they had a wonderful outdoor Grill with great food and atmosphere, I highly recommend it.  There we met some more fantastic Canadians who were missing their kitty cats so they they gave me LOTS of love.

The Many Glacier Hotel was spectacular and I got to swim in all the lakes I could find.  You know me, the colder the better!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Many Glacier Hotel

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

From there we decided to come out of the woods and find some civilization so we went to Flathead Lake.  It was full-out summer mode there; boats, bikinis, and booze.

That’s me loving the lakes!

We had a fabulous time at Margarita Monday at the Raven Restaurant in Woods Bay.  So much fun in fact the next day we made a run for the border.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Coming up next:  OH! Canada!

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Running with the Buffaloes!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Yellowstone National Park

We arrived in Yellowstone National Park and got our first “bear aware” orientation of the trip.  I was like, “hey, no bear will mess with the mighty me!”  But that very same day a California couple was attacked by a grizzly protecting her cubs on a very popular trail just a mile and a half from the parking lot. The husband was killed and the wife just barely escaped with her life.  I shut my pie hole about the bear danger after that and followed all the rules very closely, making sure nothing was left outside that might attract any critters.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

And we saw lots of critters; this baby elk, deer, antelope, and a black bear with two cubs. And of course tons of buffaloes.

Where do the buffaloes roam? Anywhere they damn please.  Check this guy out in the middle of the road.  He gave me the evil eye and then finally agreed to let us pass.

You would have thought I’d learned my lesson about leaving these beasts alone but it just whetted my appetite.  I would go crazy every time we saw one.  After the mozzies chased us out of Yellowstone we went south to Grand Teton National Park there was a whole herd of them stampeding across the road right in front of us and one of my humans (who shall remain nameless) forgot to shut her door when she jumped out to take pictures and I saw my chance.  I leapt out of that truck and went charging after them.  I wanted to run with the buffaloes too!  Unfortunately she caught up with me and after 3 loud shouts of my name I stopped.  I let her think I did it for her but in reality once I got up close and saw their gnarly faces I had second thoughts.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

We loved Grand Teton, one of the most breathtaking landscapes of the trip!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Grand Teton National Park

After my near death experience we decided we needed some civilization for a few days and Jackson, Wyoming was exactly what the doctor ordered.  We stayed at the Jackson Hole Campground outside of town near Jackson Hole. It was within walking distance to two wonderful restaurants.  Calico (Italian) and Q Roadhouse (BBQ).  We had wonderful meals at both, sitting outside and enjoying the crisp mountain air.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell – Grand Teton National Park

But the best part of Jackson was when met the most wonderful family! There were at least of dozen of them celebrating a graduation and guess what? We were in the mood to celebrate too!  As a matter of fact it was me who met them first and then I introduced them to my humans.  We had so much fun it was hard to leave.  A big shout out to the Blashak/Strahan family! Hopefully we will see them again when we go through Texas next fall.

Coming up next: My Own Private Idaho / Montana

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Good Times in the Badlands

We arrived in the Black Hills of South Dakota ready to celebrate the 4th of July holiday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore and boy did we get more than we bargained for… black skies and tornado warnings.  Having lived in the desert for so long I’m not used to weather.  It’s either hot, cold or windy.  Not a whole lot in between.  Luckily the huge thunderstorms went all around us with no direct hits.  The worry being that a hail storm could total out the silver bubble in just a few minutes.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

The next day we drove to the Badlands, what a crazy landscape. The theory that rapid dinosaur extinction followed a gigantic meteor impact was confirmed by the discovery of the 65 million year old Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, the layer of the earth which formed after the asteroid hit the planet.  If the dinosaurs died during the massive impact, why hadn’t paleontologists found any bones in the zone right below the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary?  Well just this week they did!  Yale researchers found a triceratops horn just five inches below the boundary in the Hell Creek formation in Montana.  This same formation lies uncovered in the Badlands.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

The next day it was off to Custer State Park for the sighting of my first buffalo.  Man that thing was huge and hairy!  It made me cray cray.  I also saw lots of antelope, some elk and deer and even some crazy burros who accosted us in the car looking for handouts.  Hey guys, all scraps go to me!

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

 

 

 

 

Custer State Park was where “critter patrol” officially began.

On July 4thwe visited Mount Rushmore along with the mass of humanity.  I guess a few other people had the same idea.  But it was still great, and everybody was dressed in red, white and blue.  No fireworks though because of the fire danger from bark beetle disease.  It was the second year the famed show couldn’t go on.  Oh well, we had more lightning and thunder to look forward to anyway.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

Can you imagine the thrill when I first looked up at Mount Rushmore and saw my own likeness alongside the Presidents!  What an unexpected honor!  I mean I knew I was an internet star and everything and that my blog was getting thousands of hits a day (I’d gone viral you know).  Hell, I even broke the record of reaching 10 million followers on twitter in the shortest period of time.  Only 1 more million and watch out Bieber!  But I didn’t really expect this honor and I blushed and hemmed and hawed.  The crowd was yelling speech, speech!  And then I woke up… my human was shaking me, something about my snoring.  Hard to believe it was all just a dream…

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

On our way out of South Dakota we drove through the town of Deadwood, it didn’t look anything like the TV show.  But then it was off to Devils Tower just over the Wyoming border.  Now that did look just like the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”!

I caught a whiff of something and thought it was possible there might actually be aliens inside the tower so I insisted we climb it ourselves to check it out but for some inexplicable reason only humans are allowed to venture close.

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

© 2011 Richard Broadwell

 

 

 

 

 

 

It must be because the superior power of the canine species is so well known and the government knew I would be able to detect their lies so I’m not allowed near.  Hmmm, I think I’ve just uncovered a huge conspiracy!

Coming up next:  Running With The Buffaloes!

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