(March 2, 2006 to May 27, 2006)
You can click on "photos"
directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second
page (if there is one).
After spending a great nine weeks traveling with
our friends Norm and Linda Payne, we parted company in Palm Springs and
headed to Mesa, Arizona for a two month stay. We arrived at Val Vista
Villages (VVV) on March 2. Occasionally, I have listed campground
warnings about some places we've stayed that were less than
satisfactory. I want to start this travelog with a short review of one
of the nicest campgrounds we have stayed in during our six years on the
road and that would be VVV.
VVV is a Cal-Am resort that grew over the
years as several surrounding parks were purchased and included in VVV.
These parks were referred to as neighborhoods in VVV, and there were
four of them: Val Vista Village, Fiesta, Ranchos, Casitas (which is
really like a small
motel). When we found VVV last September, we stayed on a nice pullthru
site in Fiesta and reserved it for our recent two month stay. When we
were there in September, RV
sites were being constructed in the Ranchos neighborhood. One evening
during our recent stay,
Diane and I were walking around and went into the Ranchos neighborhood
and saw the most magnificent RV sites. These sites were long concrete
pullthrus with large brick paver patios, nice table for six, a built in
gas grill, a privacy screen between the sites, garbage pickup at the
site, and even a mailbox in front of each site. The daily rate in the
Ranchos section was $55 per night and that is an outrageous price that
we would never pay unless we were stuck and it was the only show in
town. However, the monthly rate $550 per month is a great price
for the sites. Trust me, you can't
touch a site like these in Florida for that price. There were only 27
RV sites in an area where double wide manufactured homes were also
being built. I included a couple of photos of the RV site in the photo
section. Oh, and did I mention they had FREE WiFi (when it worked).
We liked the sites enough to ask if we could move
for our second month. Unfortunately, we were told that there was a $25
fee to switch sites. We had never heard of such a thing in our almost
six years on the road, so I asked to speak to the general manager to
see if that fee could be waved. We had a meeting with Christina Bamper
and she agreed to let us move from Fiesta to Ranchos without incurring
what is actually a penalty fee for switching sites. The Fiesta
pullthrus cost $460 per month and it was worth it to us to treat
ourselves and pay the
additional $90 for a month on the great Ranchos sites. It was easy to
entertain and have some cookouts, and the look and feel of the sites
Although we still love being fulltimers, it's nice
to sit for an extended period every now and then. The two months in
Mesa fit the bill perfectly. Once again we were able to see the pros
and cons of fulltiming and snowbirding. It has happened before when we
were in a park dominated by snowbirds. The excitement they feel as they
shut down their park models or get their RVs ready to roll to go home
to wherever they are from is very obvious. It seems to be a mix of
bittersweet having to say good bye to their winter friends and joy of
heading home to family and friends. I'm sure the reverse is true
in the fall when they leave their homes and head back to their winter
homes and the camaraderie of their winter friends. Even after six
years, I still maintain that I think the one thing I miss the most is a
regular dose of camaraderie. This winter was special, as it was in the
winter of 2001 and the summer of 2003, because we traveled with friends
for extended periods of time, especially extended long periods of time
with Norm and Linda. I'm sure we will have future extended travels with
them as we all want to go back to Newfoundland for a longer time and we
all want to go back to Puerto Penasco before they move the campground
back from the beach. We would like to spend a month in Puerto Penasco.
margaritas on the verandah are definitely a big draw.
Diane's sister, Carol, lives in the Phoenix area
and they got to see each other a couple of times a week. The new
touring Cirque du Soleil show was playing in Scottsdale and, as you all
know, we absolutely love Cirque du Soleil. Carol and her family had
never seen a Cirque show and we got to share that experience with them.
They all loved the show and were awed at some of the acts. Diane and
Carol had a sisters weekend away when they went to Tucson for a couple
of days. They spent an entire day touring the area and visited
Kartchner Caverns State Park, Tombstone, and a mission. That made Kevin
and I bachelors for the weekend.
The LPGA Tour had a tournament going on in Gold
Canyon, the Safeway International Tournament. Safeway was offering two
tickets for the price of one, so we got tickets for the Thursday round.
The tournament was held in the Superstition Mountain community
view of the mountain. The beautiful golf course wound its way around
and between multi-million dollar houses, probably just winter homes for
the super rich. We got to see most of the golfers we wanted to see,
including Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Grace Park, Julie Inkster
(who won the tournament), and Grace Park. Those ladies can sure hit the
ball a long way. It was fun watching them. It helped that it was a
beautiful day, whereas the final day on Sunday was cold and wet.
For the most part, we just hung around and did
what we would do if we lived in a house. We saw lots of movies, visited
with Carol and her family, I played a round of golf, we did a little
touring. Norm and Linda came into Mesa for a few weeks, but
were in another park. We got to visit with them often and
drove up to Fountain Hills to see the worlds highest
fountain and then over to Saguaro Lake.
One of the places we didn't know about during our
2001 trip out west was the Organ Stop Pizza. It's a restaurant located
in Mesa and it's primary attraction is it being the home of the largest
Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world. The organ is powered by three
turbine blowers and has more than 5,500 pipes. They have several people
who play the organ for diners. We went there twice while we were in
Mesa and both organ players were fantastic. They had huge repertoires
and played magnificent medleys of famous plays and motion pictures,
such as "Sound of Music", "West Side Story", and a great "Phantom of
the Opera" medley. My photos don't do the organ justice. You can get a
better photo of the organ on the Organ Stop website.
We got to visit with some other
folks who came into the area, including Rich Gorin, who we visited in
San Diego, and his partner, Bruce, who lives in Phoenix.
that know the Paynes came into town and contacted us and we
met them for lunch one day. It was nice to meet Bill Joyce
and Diane Melde and we hope to see
them on the road along the way.
One of our favorite things to do is to
spend Sunday morning at a Starbucks to nurse a coffee or tea and read
the papers or a book. Unfortunately, the nearest Starbucks only had two
of the nice comfortable chairs and there was too much competition for
them. However, there was a Borders in the Superstition Mall and that
was a great place to go as it had lots of comfortable seats. The
cappuccino wasn't as good as Starbucks, but I'd rather have the
comfortable chairs. One Sunday morning, a guy sat next to me as I was
reading the Tribune. He pointed out an article which, it turned out,
was his. His name was Slim Smith and he was a columnist for the
Tribune. I read some other columns that he wrote and enjoyed his
We usually spend the winter in Florida, but
decided to spend it in Arizona as it would give us a good place to
start our journey to Alaska. As a result, it would be a very long time
before visiting with my mother in Florida. So we opted to break the
time up with a short visit with her before we headed north. We flew to
Florida for a week in March to help my mom with some chores and to try
and get her set up with the new Medicare RX plans, the infamous Plan D.
What a mess. Not only to find a plan, but also because my mom qualifies
for some additional assistance which meant having to also deal with the
Social Security folks and that took months to resolve. UGH.
Our two month stay in Mesa came to an end on May 2
when we headed up to Camp Verde for a few days. We stayed there in 2001
and did a lot of touring in the area. If you are interested in more
information about that area you can go to the travelog titled "Roaming
America". We again stayed at the Verde River Resort, a Western
Horizons resort and also a Coast to Coast campground. It's listed as a
five star resort, but it really is nothing of the sort. For one, the
resort doesn't have 50-amp full hookups on all sites. Many sites are
just water and electric. The power is not adequate for many rigs using
air conditioners. When we got to our assigned site (#41), we found the
power hovering around 105 volts. It was hot and that probably explained
why the voltage was low, but it's not a good excuse for a park that
doesn't have enough power for all the sites. By evening, the voltage
climbed up to around 118-120. But it was a Coast to Coast park and we
were there as a member for $8 a night, so it may be hard to complain
too much about it. We attended a pitch for membership in the park when
we were here in 2001 which turned into a high pressure sales pitch. We
would never buy into a park that doesn't have
good 50-amp full hookups on all sites.
Norm and Linda arrived on Thursday for the last
two days of our stay in Camp Verde. We won't see them again until
probably sometime in late fall. We spent one day doing some touring in
the area and visited Montezuma's Castle, the Chapel of the Holy Cross,
and Sedona, all of which we had visited in 2001. We had lunch in Sedona
and drove back to Camp Verde via US 89A looking for a boondocking spot
that someone told Norm was along that road. It turned out that
the free BLM boondocking spot was actually off of Route 260 between
Cottonwood and Camp Verde (on Thousand Trails Road). I put some photos
on the website for this travelog, but if you would like to
read more about the Sedona area you can look
an earlier travelog titled "Roaming
One day while I was walking in the campground I
spotted what I knew was a Hymermobil, a German Class A motorhome. The
lady, Jenny, was outside so I stopped to talk about her motorhome. It
turned out they were from Holland but retired to a home in Portugal.
They purchased the 7-meter (about 22 feet) Hymer and had it shipped to
Baltimore. They were touring the US and Canada over the summer months.
asked if I could get my camera to take a couple of photos and she said
it was okay to do that. When I returned, her husband Hermen was outside
and we chatted for a while as I took some photos. He explained the
workings of what we would consider a small motorhome. One of the
interesting things is that electricity in Europe is 220 volts, not the
120 we are used to in the USA. When we went to Europe we needed a
device to change the voltage to 120. They had the opposite situation
and had a device to step the voltage up to 220. Diane came over and we
all chatted for a while. Nice folks and we hope we bump into them again
along the way.
We had planned our next stop to be in Bryce
Canyon, but we decided
to spend a few days in Page so we could check out the Lake Powell area.
It was a very interesting day. The drive up US 89 was fantastic and we
stopped several times for photo ops of the rig
against the red rocks. We parked at the new Super Wal-Mart in
Newell that we saw a few times during our ride up to Page was already
in the lot and I
chatted with the guy for a few minutes. He was going to a Newell
rally in Zion National Park and got separated from four other Newells.
Diane and I disconnected the CR-V and drove over to the Wahweap
National Recreation Area
to check out the campground. Although the sites were big and
paved and nice, they were pricey at $33.61 a night. They did have a dry
camping loop for $19 per night, or $9.50 for those of us lucky enough
to have the Golden Age Pass. However, we drove through that loop
and it was pretty much full of tents and popups and most sites wouldn't
hold a 40' motorhome.
We drove around the other three full hookup loops
and noted some
prime sites with great views of Lake Powell down below and then went
back to the office and made a reservation for the next two
nights. When we got back there the other Newells showed up.
They asked about a place to boondock and I heard the guy mention a
place on public land about five miles north of the north entrance to
Wahweap. The Newells all left and ended up parking in the lot for
the boat launch, even though the sign said it was parking for only
trailers for up to 14 days. That's for folks who are out on the
lake in a boat and leave their vehicle and trailer. We went
looking for that other place. We drove up to check it out
and it was actually the Glen Canyon
National Park with lots of camping space right down along the lake. A
dump station and fresh potable water was available. We did drive down
to the lake to see how rigs got down there and we
took the wrong way down and it was very sandy. We missed the turn
that was mostly dirt and light sand. There was a Kountry Star
parked down there so we stopped to chat for a while and he told me how
to get the motorhome down there without going through the sand..
The cost was $8 per
night. For me with my great new Golden Age National Park Pass, $4. I
find it's really nice being 62. I started getting social security
checks in January and got my Golden Age pass in February. Now if only I
can stay 62. Diane wanted to shop in the Wal-Mart and
it was already almost 5 pm, so we decided to stay there for the night
go boondock along the lake the next two nights. So we went from a
possible $100.83 for three nights of full hookups to three nights of
boondocking for a total of $8.
The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was
established in 1972. The dam backs up water in the Colorado River for
186 miles to form Lake Powell. The lake provides more than one million
acres of desert and canyon country for leisure time activities. It was
Major John Wesley Powell who explored the Colorado River and named this
stretch of the river Glen Canyon.
The Glen Canyon Dam was between where we were
parked and Page. Before the dam could be constructed a bridge had to be
built across the canyon. The Glen Canyon Bridge was built between 1957
and 1959 and stands 700 feet above the river. Construction of the dam
began in 1957 and was completed in 1964. It stands 710 feet, which is
only 16 feet shorter than the Hoover Dam down river. Power from the dam
is sold to approximately 1.7 million people in Arizona, Colorado, Utah,
Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. The city of Page was a
result of the dam and bridge construction. It started as a construction
camp in 1957 for the thousands of people who worked on the projects.
Today, the city of Page has a population of approximately 8,500
residents and thrives as a tourist destination for people who come from
around the world to enjoy Lake Powell.
One very interesting fact about Lake Powell is that it took 17
years for the lake to fill. The lake started to fill on March 13, 1963
when the diversion tunnel gates were closed. The lake continued to fill
until 1980 when it filled to capacity. The visitor center at the dam
had interesting displays, as well as three very good 20 minute movies.
We took one of the tours of the dam and recommend a tour to everyone
visiting a dam site. We enjoyed our two days along Lake Powell and
vowed to come back again for a longer stay.
While we were in Page we got a call from Fran and Karl Winckel who were
in Zion Canyon and heading to Bryce Canyon. We were getting ready to
head up to Delta for a stay in our Coast to Coast home park, Antelope
Valley RV Park. Our route would take us pretty close to Bryce so we
decided to spend a couple of days there before heading to Delta.
Besides, we both loved Bryce Canyon and were blown away by its beauty
when we were there in 2001. We hadn't seen the Winckels since we hooked
up in Atlanta in November 2005 and it was nice to see them again. We
went to see the hoodoos, went out to eat a couple of times, and hiked
the Navajo Loop Trail. Fran and Karl were into geocaching, which we had
done, so we went along on an easy geocaching expedition and found the
cache. It was fun. We made plans to travel up to Great Falls, Montana
together after they had some warranty work completed on a faulty jack.
They would head to the Camping World in the Salt Lake City area and we
headed to Delta. I included a few photos of Bryce Canyon, but not
many as I put up in the travelog for our stay there in 2001. If
you would like to see more photos of Bryce Canyon you can look
at an earlier travelog titled "Blown
Our plan was to spend a week at
Valley RV Park as it was the first chance we had to
visit our Coast to Coast home park. When we were making our plans to
hit the road full time we decided on an RV park in Oklahoma, but it
went out of business leaving us, and lots of fulltiming colleagues,
without a home park. Someone found Antelope Valley in Delta, Utah,
owned by Vince and Karen Lopez, that would take all of us in as
"orphans", that is, we wouldn't have to pay another membership fee,
only the annual dues. They are always available to service
the membership and have the best
prices in the country. Plus a great park. They also have RPI and AOR
memberships available. Give them a call at 1-800-430-0022 or email them
Please tell them you saw this link on the Roaming America website when
you contact them and tell them Rich and Diane Emond sent you.
We had planned on staying a week, but stayed five days because we
wanted to hook up with Fran and Karl in the Salt Lake City area. They
got the work completed on their jack and moved over to the Cabela's in
Lehi. When we arrived, their rig was already there, but they were out
hiking. We love staying at Cabela's stores around the country. They are
great to walk around and shop and we never get tired of seeing
the stuffed animal displays. Fran and Karl spoke to someone in guest
services who said it would be fine to spend a few days in their parking
lot. We were in the Salt Lake City area last May as we made our way out
to Oregon and loved it. Once again the mountains surrounding the area
were snowcapped and beautiful. There was more snow on the mountains
this year. If you would like to read more about some of the
things we did during our last visit to the Salt Lake City area, such as
Provo Canyon, Temple Square, Heber City, you can go to the travelog
One of the reasons we wanted to stop here on our way north was to catch
up on some movies and to see The DaVinci Code when it opened on May 19.
Our timing was perfect because it opened at the same time we were
passing through the area. We also wanted to see Mission Impossible 3
and Poseidon. It was also nice to finally be traveling with someone who
plays golf and Karl and I played a round. Naturally, we ate out
together just about every day.
There were several hang gliders and paragliders that we
could see off in the distance. One evening we drove around to see if we
could find the spot from which they took off and landed. After driving
around for a while we came across someone who told us where we could
see these flyers up close. It was in Hang Glider Park to the east of
I-15 and up the hill at the end of a housing area. We were too late to
see them take off, but we saw several folks come in for a landing.
Pretty cool. Diane and I have each been in a glider, or sailplane, but
neither of us had any inclination to be up in a hang glider or
MAY 19 - Today was our
sixth anniversary of life on the road as fulltime RVers. It's hard to
believe six years have gone by since that day in 2000 when we picked up
our new home at the Newmar factory in Nappanee, Indiana. People are
amazed when we tell them we've lived in the motorhome for six years,
but we know folks who have spent much longer as fulltimers, 10 years,
15 years, and some more than 20 years. People ask us when we'll come
off the road and the answer has always been that we don't know and have
no end in sight. We'll come off the road when one or both of us says
it's time. I expect that someday we'll reach that point and decide to
go off the road, but we have no idea where that would be or whether we
would live in a "stick house" again, or a park model, or a manufactured
home, or whether we would switch from fulltiming to being snowbirds. As
of now, we do have two places in our heads as potential places where we
could settle down and both would involve keeping an RV.
I have written several times about Fairfield Glade, Tennessee where we
have stayed on a time share exchange. We love the Cumberland Plateau
and the surrounding area. Living there would make us snowbirds because
there is no way we ever intend to live in any area where there is cold
and snow, regardless of whether there wasn't a lot of snow. We would
have to be able to head south for the winter.
The other place is the Phoenix area. We have done extended stays in
Mesa in 2001 and this past winter and like the area. Of course, the
problem there is that the summers are brutal and we would have to be
able to keep an RV to escape to the north during the summer. Who knows.
We may find other places to add to the list over the next few years and
then we'll really be confused as to where to settle down. But it sure
will be fun to have several places to choose from.
When we were in Camp Verde with Norm and Linda, I asked Norm if he
could hook up his Silverleaf monitor to the computer in our Dutch Star
to get some readings. For the 72 months that we have been on the road,
* driven 63,147.6 miles;
* used 7,920.5 gallons of diesel fuel for an average of about 7.97 mpg;
* put 1,309.9 hours on the Cummins engine.
I was curious about costs, so I ran some Quicken reports. I include the
results here for RV wannabes who follow our travels and as data that
may be interesting to veteran fulltimers. Over the last six years, we
gallon and $208.35 per month for diesel fuel.
* $358 per
for campground fees. We were pretty happy with that number given that
always wanted to try and keep our campground costs to around $400 per
This exercise prompted Norm to run some data from his spreadsheets and
the results were really amazing. He found that they have averaged $359
per month for campground costs for the almost seven years they have
Having gotten caught up on movies it was time to continue our move up
to the Canadian border. So we cranked up the engines and headed up I-15
with Butte, Montana as our next planned stay. We drove about half way
the first day and parked the rigs at a Wal-Mart in Idaho Falls. Fran
had suggested that we might like a meal at a Chuck-a-Rama restaurant.
It's a buffet type place and we enjoyed the meal. Of course, the
downside to buffets is that you can eat all you want, which is always
too much. But it sure was good.
We arrived in Butte on May 21 and got settled into our sites
before John and Roberta Hirth arrived. They were coming in from New
York and the three rigs had planned to travel together to Alaska for
the summer. Unfortunately, things didn't work out. The Hirths and the
Winckels decided to spend a week in the Canadian Rockies before heading
up the Alaska Highway. Diane and I had always planned to cross the
border no later than end of May given that was the advice we had been
given by many Alaska veterans who said the earlier the better. The
reasons are at least threefold: first is to avoid as many of the
and other travelers who will be heading to Alaska; second is to
hopefully avoid some construction along the highway because the later
you travel the highway the more construction projects that may be
encountered; third is that we
plan to spend a lot of time some summer touring the Canadian Rockies
(Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper) and it wasn't in our plans at this time.
Delaying our trip would take away about ten days from our Alaska
adventure. So as much as we really wanted to have camaraderie
along the way to share experiences, we decided to make the journey
by ourselves. Hopefully, we'll see the Hirths and Winckels up in Alaska
somewhere along the way.
As we move north through Montana we figured we would stop in Butte,
Helena, and Great Falls for short stays. It would be to just scout out
area for a time when we would spend much more time in Montana. What a
great state. The drive from Idaho Falls to Butte was fantastic. It's
just not possible to drive through the hills and see the snow capped
mountains all around you and be amazed at the beauty. It's awesome.
We spent two days at the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Park located between
Butte and Anaconda. It was a Passport America park so the rate was half
the normal rate. It was an okay park with gravel roads and sites. All
three rigs were in pullthru sites. We all went out for a meal to share
travel experiences since the last time we were all together in Atlanta
six months ago. There was only one day to do something and we opted for
different activities. Diane, Fran, and Roberta went into Butte to do a
self guided walking tour of the town. Karl and I took the opportunity
to play a round of golf at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort course. John
stayed home and relaxed and worked on his laptop. It was a short stop
in Butte, but it gave us an idea of things to do in the area when we
get back to Montana for a much longer visit.
It may seem old to keep saying how beautiful the area is, but the drive
up I-15 to Helena through the Helena National Forest was stunning. But
what a beautiful ride it was. We got to Helena and parked for two
nights at the Elks Lodge in town. John and Karl are members of the Elks
Club and we tagged along as guests.
Helena is situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Lewis and
Clark came through the area in 1805 and called it "Prickly Pear
Valley". Gold was discovered in 1864 and the mining camp of Last Chance
Gulch sprung up. The camp developed into the city of Helena. It became
the capitol of the territory in 1875 and Montana became a state in
A battle for the location of the state capitol ensued
Helena and Anaconda, but Helena prevailed.
The drive from Butte was less than
two hours so we had time to go into town to do some exploring. We only
had about a day and a half to scout out the area and we chose three
things we knew we wanted to see: the state capitol, the Cathedral of
St. Helena, the mansion district. We all drove to town to the
capitol area to see if the tour train was running, but it didn't
officially open until Memorial Day Weekend and we were three days too
early. We decided to take the city trolley for a loop around the city.
While we waited for the next trolley to arrive we walked up to the
capitol building and walked around for a few minutes. There was only
time to look at some of the paintings and look into the house and
senate chambers. They offered a tour of the building so Diane and I
made plans to come back to do that the next day. We all got on the city
trolley and paid our fifty cents to ride it around the city. The driver
was a retired guy from Helena and he knew lots of stuff about the area
and gave us an interesting narration as we made our way around the
city. Upon returning to the starting place in front of the capitol
building, we all drove to the information center to pick up some
brochures. Then the Winckels went back to the Elks Lodge while Diane,
Roberta, John, and I went to the cathedral.
The story of the cathedral started in 1905 when the site was purchased
for $25,000. The cornerstone was laid in 1908 and the exterior of the
cathedral was completed in 1913. However, there weren't sufficient
funds to complete the interior at that time. A well known local miner
and businessman named Thomas Cruse donated $100,000 towards the
completion of interior work in memory of his recently deceased
daughter. The total cost of the cathedral came to $645,590. If the same
structure were built today, it could cost tens of millions of
dollars. The cathedral is a geometric Gothic style and follows the
lines, in a small scale, of the nineteenth century Votive Church of the
Sacred Heart in Vienna, Austria. The stained glass windows are
beautiful and were made by a firm in Munich, Germany.
The next day Diane and I went back to the capitol building to take one
of the guided
tours. The cornerstone for the capitol building was laid
in 1899 and the building was completed in 1902. Between 1909 and 1912,
the building was enlarged to accommodate the growing government. We got
to walk into the house and senate chambers where our guide explained
the origin and meaning of all the paintings. The most impressive
painting was the one in the House of Representatives, "Lewis and Clark
Meeting the Indians at Ross' Hole", that was painted by Montana artist
Charles M. Russell. He was commissioned to create the painting in 1911.
The painting is enormous and measures 25' by 12'. He painted it in his
log cabin in Great Falls and the canvas was so large that the roof of
his studio has to be raised to accommodate the painting. It is
considered by modern art critics to be priceless. We plan to visit the
C.M. Russell museum complex when we get to Great Falls.
We took a drive out of Helena to Marysville to see the old mining town
and then back into Helena for a drive around the mansion district where
we saw some beautiful old mansions, some of which were on the historic
Our two days in Helena went by quickly and the three rigs made their
way north to Great Falls where there were two places we all wanted to
visit: the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and the C.M. Russell
museum complex. Plus, Diane and I wanted to see the final two movies we
would probably see for many weeks until we got to Fairbanks and
Anchorage. The drive north continued to be beautiful as we twisted and
turned along I-15 through the mountains. The drive only took a couple
of hours, so we arrived in plenty of time
to get set up and do some touring. We stayed at Dick's RV Park
not too far off the interstate. It was a nice park with long gravel
pullthrus. Part of the park had lots of trees and part of the park is
open. We, of course, always opt for the open sites so we can use our
dish, although they did have cable TV in the event our site line to the
satellite would have been blocked.
After setting up, we all drove to the interpretive center where we
spent several hours
watching two short movies and looking at all the displays. We did
several Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centers in 2004 and 2005 and this
one in Great Falls is not to be missed for anyone interested in Lewis
and Clark and the Corps of Discovery.
We had three days in Great Falls so Diane and I took the middle day to
go see the two movies on our list: "X-Men: The Last Stand" and
"Over the Hedge". We enjoyed them both and we will be ready for a movie
fix by the time we get to Fairbanks.
Our final stop in Great Falls was the C.M. Russell museum complex. He
lived from 1864 to 1926 and was dubbed "America's Cowboy Artist".
Russell completed some 4,000 works of art during his lifetime, and the
museum owns most of them. We spent a couple of hours admiring the works
this talented artist.
We were now within 122 miles from the Canadian border and ready to
begin our Alaskan adventure. We shared a final meal with our friends
and then bid Karl, Fran, John, and Roberta farewell with the hope that
we might bump into them up in Alaska. So we pointed
our Dutch Star north on I-15 towards the border with great expectations
for the next few months. Our plan was to drive to the Calgary area the
first day and the Edmonton area the second day and arrive in Dawson
Creek on May 30. On June 1 we plan to start up the Alaska Highway with
no predetermined length of time to drive the roughly 1300 miles to Tok,
Alaska. It will take us as long as it takes us. All we know is there
are several points along the way we plan to stop for some length of
time in British Columbia and the Yukon to take
in the area.
I plan to write the Alaska travelogs the same way I wrote the ones for
the Maritimes tour, which is more like a daily journal. I hope to be
able to find WiFi connections along the way to put them up on our
website at reasonable intervals lest they become too long and unwieldy.
So now the time is here and we're as ready as we can be. We are
disappointed that we won't have the camaraderie we desired, but we are
still very excited about starting up the Alaska Highway.
Until next time, safe travels.....
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Roaming America with Rich &
Diane Emond -
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