Bringing You Up To Speed

Jan 13-Feb 12, 2011 Hi all,

Just a quick post to share our recent news.

We apologize for slacking off on the blog, but we've been preoccupied with family, personal and work matters.

Lloyd's mother passed away on January 21st. Fortunately, we caught the last two seats on two different flights that same day to make it to Valdosta, Georgia in time to say goodbye and to share the last few hours she had. We will dearly miss her yet we are heartened to know that she is no longer suffering and that she was surrounded by all of her immediate family when she passed. We spent a week in the comfort and love of our Georgia family and friends before returning to Malibu, California.

We brought back a few germs and have dueled with them since, but we are still up and at it so can't complain.

Since arriving in California in October we have kept busy attending screenwriting and related events, catching up with local friends, writing and generally enjoying our surroundings despite the occasional wind or rain storm and landslides farther north in Oxnard.

Otherwise, we celebrate 3 years on the road March 1st. And then? We're putting the bus up for sale in March and returning to Nova Scotia after one more trip across Canada with a U-haul. That will bring our full-time travel adventure to an end. On to the next adventure! We have arranged a rental house in the town of Lunenburg with a May 1st start. We look forward to coming home, back to the place, people and lifestyle we have missed.

I'll try to catch up, again, on blog posts. In the meantime here are a few pics, views from our campsite in Malibu Beach RV Park:

My walk on the beach during yesterday's sunrise:

We spent our first month in Malibu (Oct 24-Nov 23) here:

Now we're here:

Our view out the windshield:

The beach is beyond the green, a hop skip and jump (before the traffic gets ya!) across the Pacific Coast Highway.

My office (on a hazy day):

Nice, hm? :)

We have just four more days in Malibu then it's off to Playa del Rey (2 miles south of Venice Beach) for a few days, San Diego for a writers conference and back to Malibu.

We hope you are all well, healthy and happy.

Peace

-P

Dockweiler State Beach

October 3-24, 2010 Dockweiler State Beach has a wide stretch of sand and a section of The Strand, a 22-mile-long bicycle path that runs from Redondo Beach up to the Pacific Palisades. It's just 2 miles south of Venice Beach.

We had a front row site and our front driver's tire rested on the sand. In fact, after strong winds we often had to shovel sand off our site to keep a flat base for our chairs.

We had gorgeous weather (80F+) for the first few days then cold, wet and blustery days for two weeks. However, the sun managed to make an appearance for sunset every evening.

We jogged the path almost every morning, drizzle or shine, and otherwise enjoyed the seascape.

One rainy day a seal galumphed up the beach to the path to sip fresh water from the puddles.

Dockweiler proved a good homebase for all that we wanted to do and see in the area. We head back there for another 3-week stay starting February 12th.

-P

Back on Schedule

September 29, 2010 Morgan Hill, CA

We are back on schedule.

We are here:

And we are warm. It's 95F, real feel 99F, in Morgan Hill, California. And there was smoke between us and the hills. But now it is gone. :)

We are well and we are happy at Coyote Valley RV Resort, despite the smoke coming from the trees between us and the blonde hills.

Hot. Dry. Two lilac trees in front of us, also olive trees and something like a chestnut tree. Hey, and a yellow fire hydrant! That might come in handy...

I'm out here with the vultures and the whir and pulsing of every air conditioner. No sweat on me though. Shade from the neighbouring RV and a soft, warm breeze.

Nice place to just hang, or rally. Pristine grounds and clubhouse.

Will be in L.A. October 3rd.

-P

San Francisco Seascape

September 26-28, 2010 Though we love San Francisco, we needed to recharge. We settled into San Franciso RV Resort and stayed put until our departure for Morgan Hill. And why not with a water view like this?

We stayed on the widest site (site 16, I think, 18' wide) in the "resort" a few feet from the edge of the 60' bluff, where the remnants of the last walking path clings to the ledge. It's only a matter of time...

Just a minute's walk to the beach:

An almost unobstructed view of the seascape is wonderful to wake up to:

My favourite part of the campground was the walk/jog path. Great views.

Chilly enough for a hoodie as the sun drops:

-P

Mount Shasta, CA

September 23-26, 2010 We're in catch up mode again so posts for September and October will be photo heavy and word light.

Gold grassy folds sweep over the landscape on approach to the California border:

The California Poppy, the state flower, perks up the welcome sign:

Snow-capped Mount Shasta has the second highest peak in the Cascade Mountains:

Theodore Roosevelt said, "I consider the evening twilight on Mt. Shasta one of the grandest sights I have ever witnessed."

At a peak of 14,162 feet, Mount Shasta is the second largest volcano in the continental United States.

We stayed at Lake Siskiyou Camp-Resort, a wooded state park on the edge of Lake Siskiyou. That's Mount Shasta in the background.

Plenty of deer, raccoons, birds and other wildlife to explore ...

The park has a nice sand swimming beach and also a marina where we watched a weasel bound down the dock.

Every morning promised another one of Nature's masterpieces:

-P

Jasper, AB in Pictures

September 10, 2010 We've posted about Jasper, Alberta, one of our favourite places in the world, back in August 2008. You can check out those posts by clicking here and here and here and here and here and here and here, where you can see much more of Jasper (in much better weather) than you'll see in this post.

We were on the move and only had time for a one night stay and a few drive by snapshots this time.

We stayed inside Jasper National Park at Whistler's Campground, one of two big rig campgrounds.

-P

Broad Cove, Cape Breton

August 13-15, 2010 Broad Cove, Cape Breton, NS

One of few campgrounds with full services for large RVs in Cape Breton, the Broad Cove Campground also offers a great beach just a short walk from the campsite.

We plopped down just before sunset to take in the hush of the tide, and an impromptu rock game.

Jay made his mark in the reddish granite sand:

A calm evening welcomed us on our first night in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

-P

Fortress of Louisbourg

August 12, 2010 Lousibourg, Cape Breton, NS

Louisbourg RV Park on the waterfront:

From the wharves we can see the Fortress of Louisbourg looming over the sea.

Louisbourg is the largest reconstructed 18th-century French fortified town in North America.

The French came to Louisbourg in 1713 after loss of territory to the English in Newfoundland and Acadia (Nova Scotia) in the War of the Spanish Succession. Louisbourg soon became France's most important stronghold and seaport in the Atlantic on account of trade and the thriving fishing industry.

In addition to arms and imported goods, livestock and gardens were integral to the community's health and survival.

By 1760 the English ruled and the fortifications lay in ruin. The reconstruction and reenactments are based on life as it was in 1744.

Red Coat and Blue Coat interpreters march, pipe, drum and fire off a cannon.

Lloyd buys bread the size, and half the weight, of a cannonball. And about the equivalent in flavour.

Jay's workout for the day: cannonball presses.

The crier reads aloud from a scroll which states that the guy in white stole a bottle of wine. The French officers will parade him through the streets, drumming all the way, then fasten him to a pole with an iron collar where he will serve his time: 2 hours a day for several days. In fact, he served five minutes before the interpreters ignored the unsympathetic crowd and let him go.

Jay writes his name with a quill pen next to the recently freed thief.

Since we couldn't elect Eric for public punishment we ordered him into the lime kiln for a time out. ;)

Back at the campsites, the boys strum it up. It's difficult to see, but Jay and Eric each trade a hand to play: Jay's left hand plays Eric's fretboard and vice versa (their right hands strum their own guitars).

In the evening we attended a ceilidh next door at the Louisbourg Playhouse featuring Jason Kempt, Beverly MacLean, Erin Martell, Lyndon MacKenzie, and Troy Young. Celtic music is expected and oatcakes hoped for, but this ceilidh included a box drum called a cajón and comedic costumed sketches too.

In the morning we had time to enjoy the sun and cereal by the sea.

-P

Peggy's Cove

August 9, 2010 One of the most photographed sites in Canada:

We love watching the waves slam and spray over the cliffs.

There's something on the horizon?

A slew of buoys caught our attention from the edge of the village.

Apparently they make excellent bouncy balls.

Not pictured: Swissair Flight 111 Memorial, a moving and haunting installation.

Back at King Neptune Campground we were pleasantly surprised to learn about the lobster pound within a minute's walk from our sites.

We didn't expect a lobster handstand either, nor a one in a million ...

... blue lobster!

We chose the less talented of the lobsters and ate 'em later with Jim and Nancy who popped over from Prospect.

Ah! Can't forget. Debbie whipped up Brandy Alexanders. Sinfully delicious. It's a 1:1:1 mix:

1 oz  Brandy (good stuff)

1 oz  Creme de Cacao

1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Beat it up in the blender and it's win:win:win. :) Yum!

-P

Folk Fest Sunday Finale

Lloyd and I skipped out on the last session of the afternoon for a recharge at The Knot. Keith's ale, caesar salad, potato skins, mussels, and peanut butter pie. That ought'a do it. The boys outside the tent: Scott, Nik, Eric and Lloyd.

Scott made us beautiful rings for my birthday, despite "no gifts" allowed. Yes, we lashed him. ;) Well, I think he got kisses and hugs from me... Anyway, we love our rings; they're carved from wood with gorgeous grains. Just our style. We've looked for rings for a while now and never did we find rings we liked so much as the ones our own friend made for us as a surprise. Thank you, Scott!

All of us seated in the wind tunnel/exit row (note the extra layers, extra blankets and extra tongue sticking out of Scott):

One more time, the Mainstage Evening Concert lineup (I guess I was too cold to take photos):

Carmel Mikol - glad for another performance. We like everything about her musically.

Tom Chapin & The Chapin Sisters - a family with local ties. Tom is a Grammy-award winner, but is probably best known as Harry Chapin's brother. He often sings Harry's "Cat's in the Cradle" in tribute.

Maria Dunn from Edmonton sang a haunting song called "We Were Good People" about a 1932 Hunger March in Edmonton where peaceful protesters were met by police wielding clubs and running even women and children off to scatter the march. View the lyrics and learn more here. Maria has a clear and commanding singing voice and award-winning songwriting talents.

Artisan - a zany a cappella trio from England.

Suzie Vinnick & Rick Fines. Suzie and songwriting partner Dan Kershaw won the International Songwriting Competition - Blues Category this year. She's said to have a "crystalline voice", even a voice "spun of gold". We like it, however you describe it.

Matt Andersen won this year's International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He makes a fitting finale, especially when joined by a variety of the festival's top performers.

As always, the festival evening ends with the singing of Nova Scotia Song.

Our dear friend, Deb, stops by for a post-festival visit and a photo opp with Jay. We miss you already, Deb!

Another Folk Harbour Festival done, another reservation at the Blockhouse Hill Campground (Lunenburg Board of Trade Campground) for next August. If you want to join us, please make your reservations soon!

-P

Maine

July 18-24, 2010 Just time for pics and a few lines for now. Will try to catch up, again, soon.

We had a few days in Bar Harbor before the POG Maine mini-rally participants arrived at the Narrows Too campground. We thoroughly enjoyed our site, #318.

Bar Harbor

Opera House Cafe

Our new friends, Dan and Bob, joined us for a pre-rally lobster feast at the local Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound.

More feasting with our POGgers. Jay's lobster weighs about 3.5 lbs.

-P

Blue Licks State Resort Park

May 13, 2010 What's a Blue Lick? All that comes to mind is those square blue salt cubes we used to put out for the horses, so they'd lick the cube instead of chomping on the wood fence. We guess that's it.

Blue Licks State Resort Park. There's not much there. No blue cubes. Just trees, a narrow river and a "lodge" with a seven-day-a-week salad bar and no patrons. And "Primitive Camping" with full service sites? Hm.

Why did we stay there? So we could drive through horse farm country. We didn't expect a castle. Yep, a real castle. The farms were grand and immaculate, just as you'd expect with sprawling pastures, fancy white fences and barns that could be mansions.

And there's another pic of the bus because, well, there's just nothing else to show you of Blue Licks State Resort Park. You want quiet? You want no distractions, for miles? Blue Licks SP is for you.

-P

St. Augustine, FL

May 1-4, 2010 We stayed at North Beach Camp Resort, just a few hundred feet from a long stretch of sand and 4.5 miles from St. Augustine.

Lunch at Aunt Kate's, in the campground, by the busy intercoastal--wee boats, mega yachts, a skittish turtle, raucous gulls, white and blue trimmed clapboard bait and tackle shop, and a tabby cat mean enough to warrant it's own warning sign at the pier.

Blackened fish soft tacos with sweet potato fries, pico, spicy ranch sauce and sweet potato puree. YUUUUM!!!

Our first stop in St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the U.S.: Crucial Coffee Cafe, a tiny old wood shed-like structure with tricky sloping floors, great java and the coffee condiments resting inside an old brick fireplace.

St. Augustine has a busy waterfront (even a pirate ship), three great used bookstores, many heritage buildings, boutiques and much history around Spanish (first explored in 1513) and French exploration and settlement attempts followed and overpowered by British and English American attacks, then British rule, then a second Spanish rule and, finally, American settlement. That's the short, short version. Spanish colonial buildings still remain, including St. Augustine's most popular attraction, the Castillo de San Marcos national monument, the fortress, which we did not tour. In fact, we chose a leisurely route and only read about the city's historic highlights.

Music drifts from patio bars and grassy courtyards as we wandered the main streets.

No shortage of kitschy art and other vibrant sights:

We're not shoppers yet we found some charm in the area, worthy of a day, but I was eager to get back to the beach.

-P

Boyd's Key West Campground

March 1 - April 1, 2010 The waterfront sites, which "rent" at the daily rate, means no breaks for a month+ stay and almost double the (already high-priced) expense. But it is nice, yes?

The campground is a five to ten minute drive away from downtown Key West and it has its own beach. It's a tiny beach, not always accessible, but offers a good view.

We walked the waterfront a lot and often had company:

The pelicans congregate and patiently wait for a fisherman to fillet their fish (grunts, mostly, and the odd hogfish which, supposedly, tastes a little like scallops) and fling the rest to their huge gobs.

They are quiet as can be until a fishermen flings leftovers. Then it's a tug of war between as many as four birds at at time.

Sometimes we escaped to the only quiet area, the Tiki Garden. This is bipolar tiki kitty, who nuzzles up and helps to type, or just preens, or attacks a typing hand for no particular reason at all:

No tiki dogs available.

-P

P.S. - Campers, if you're choosing an off-water site, do not book a site in the second row from the street. Anywhere else will be better, in our opinion.

St. George Island, FL

January 28-31, 2010 We stayed at St. George Island State Park, surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Appalachicola Bay.

St. George Island is just a big sand dune, a 22-mile barrier island between Apalachicola Bay and Gulf of Mexico, a quiet island surrounded by nine miles of scraggly slash pines, coastal scrub, white sand beaches, oyster shells, gulls, and balls of blowing sea foam rolling up the shore.

In the 1900s the pine forests were turpentined and the dunes used for troop training exercises during World War II. The island became a state park in 1963.

Source: Florida State Parks

St. George Island State Park campground also accommodates alligators in the marshes that border the entrance road. You have to pass them to get in or out of the park and to and from the beach.

We wondered if the fisherman that went along with the abandoned cart below intended to fish with the gators, but we looked around and found no one. Then we wondered something else on account of the 11 foot gator basking in the sun to the left of the tree.

The fisherguy came along in a minute and began toting his cart toward the beach. He'd have a set up similar to this:

Source: Florida State Parks

Surf and bay fisherman catch flounder, redfish, sea trout, pompano, whiting and sometimes Spanish mackerel.

Most St. George Island houses perch on pillars.

And some reach high for the best views.

The dune on one side, the sea on the other:

In our search for high speed internet, we crossed the 4-mile John Gorrie Memorial Bridge from the island to Apalachicola and found Cafe Con Leche on Water Street. The cafe features organic dark roast coffee, scrumptious breakfast paninis, fresh baked pastries as well as art and boutique items. 

Apalachicola has a lot of character. Old waterfront warehouses and net factories have become galleries, shops, restaurants and hotels. Once the third largest port on the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola still boasts an active maritime culture and a working waterfront.

We highly recommend St. George Island State Park for campers, beach-walkers, cyclists, kite flyers, anglers, and for the lazy. ;) We wish we could've stayed longer.

-P

Jackson, WY

September 13-22, 2009 Elk antler arches in Jackson:

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Jackson is best known for its scenery, wildlife, skiing, fresh-faced and long-haired residents, and close proximity to Grand Teton, but the town Jackalope is hard to miss:

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Our stay coincided with the Jackson Hole Art Festival:

L1020826

We met Erik, Caroline and wee Nicole from Norway and thoroughly enjoyed a few campfires and outings with them.

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They camped next to us in Wilson Road Campground, as did a carpenter - in his 20' sailboat.

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A nature walk with Mathieu Ricard in Grand Teton National Park rounded out the Jackson experience. He is a Buddhist monk based in Nepal, the French translator for the Dalai Lama and researcher of the scientific benefits of happiness. He spoke of compassion and how we can use Nature's beauty to inspire inner beauty and cultivate respect for the environment and others.

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-P

Jackson, WY

September 13-22, 2009 Elk antler arches in Jackson:

L1020822

Jackson is best known for its scenery, wildlife, skiing, fresh-faced and long-haired residents, and close proximity to Grand Teton, but the town Jackalope is hard to miss:

L1020823

Our stay coincided with the Jackson Hole Art Festival:

L1020826

We met Erik, Caroline and wee Nicole from Norway and thoroughly enjoyed a few campfires and outings with them.

L1020833

They camped next to us in Wilson Road Campground, as did a carpenter - in his 20' sailboat.

L1020830

A nature walk with Mathieu Ricard in Grand Teton National Park rounded out the Jackson experience. He is a Buddhist monk based in Nepal, the French translator for the Dalai Lama and researcher of the scientific benefits of happiness. He spoke of compassion and how we can use Nature's beauty to inspire inner beauty and cultivate respect for the environment and others.

L1020848

-P

Craters and Taters

August 26 - September 1, 2009 Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID

No lunar travel required.

A 360 view from the peak of Inferno Cone:

L1020413

A lot of Craters of the Moon National Monument is lava rubble. Most of the volcanic debris is charcoal in colour, but some areas are rusty or a range of pinks, purples and oranges.

L1020475

"Spatter cones" formed as volcanic eruption petered out and spattered lava around the vent openings.

L1020430

Dwarf buckwheat dots the black expanse of Devil's Orchard - a dazzling contrast.

L1020433

The entrance to a lava tube cave.

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An 800 foot 'trail' zigzags through a lava tube cave. "Skylights" (collapses in the ceiling) illuminate the cave, but flashlights are highly recommended. The Indian Tunnel Cave Trail is not for cautious folk. Trail description: "If you are willing to scramble over (large rock piles) and (suck in your stomach to) climb through a small opening, you can exit this cave ... (through a barely big enough vent)."

L1020459

The wall of the exit vent:

L1020467

We stayed 18 miles away in Arco, ID. Arco is wee, weird and quiet, best known (actually, hardly known) as the first town to be lit by atomic power, but we like it best for the smoked baked potatoes at Mountain View RV Park. We also enjoyed the campground's free breakfast, but happily payed a little extra for the sweet potato pancakes with pecans. Yum! The coffee is weak, but I think the mini-golf makes up for that. :)

Also, Arco has a distinct landmark in Number Hill (I'll find my photo...). Local high school graduates have scaled this almost-mountain every year and painted their graduation year large enough to see for miles around.

Craters of the Moon National Monument is less a destination than a side attraction, but you won't see another place like it.

-P

Craters and Taters

August 26 - September 1, 2009 Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID

No lunar travel required.

A 360 view from the peak of Inferno Cone:

L1020413

A lot of Craters of the Moon National Monument is lava rubble. Most of the volcanic debris is charcoal in colour, but some areas are rusty or a range of pinks, purples and oranges.

L1020475

"Spatter cones" formed as volcanic eruption petered out and spattered lava around the vent openings.

L1020430

Dwarf buckwheat dots the black expanse of Devil's Orchard - a dazzling contrast.

L1020433

The entrance to a lava tube cave.

L1020474

An 800 foot 'trail' zigzags through a lava tube cave. "Skylights" (collapses in the ceiling) illuminate the cave, but flashlights are highly recommended. The Indian Tunnel Cave Trail is not for cautious folk. Trail description: "If you are willing to scramble over (large rock piles) and (suck in your stomach to) climb through a small opening, you can exit this cave ... (through a barely big enough vent)."

L1020459

The wall of the exit vent:

L1020467

We stayed 18 miles away in Arco, ID. Arco is wee, weird and quiet, best known (actually, hardly known) as the first town to be lit by atomic power, but we like it best for the smoked baked potatoes at Mountain View RV Park. We also enjoyed the campground's free breakfast, but happily payed a little extra for the sweet potato pancakes with pecans. Yum! The coffee is weak, but I think the mini-golf makes up for that. :)

Also, Arco has a distinct landmark in Number Hill (I'll find my photo...). Local high school graduates have scaled this almost-mountain every year and painted their graduation year large enough to see for miles around.

Craters of the Moon National Monument is less a destination than a side attraction, but you won't see another place like it.

-P

Escalante Sights and Eats

August 5-9, 2009 We stayed at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park on the edge of Wide Hollow Reservoir and at the base of a red and white mesa.

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We had an extremely private site (Site B a.k.a. Site 2), aside from the almost constant parade of wildlife including Steller's Jays, hummingbirds, whiptail lizards, squirrels, chipmunks, bats, and ...

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... jackrabbits.

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Petrified Forest Trail is a moderate 1-mile loop hike that leaves the campground and climbs 200 feet to the top of the mesa. We added on the Trail of Sleeping Rainbows, a strenuous 3/4 mile extension with the highest concentrations of petrified wood.

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And we finish off with a dining recommendation: Escalante Outfitters for the organic Vagabond Beer (amber) and vegetable pizza. We also filled our fridge with the Farm Market's offerings across the road.

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-P