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We interrupt this program…

#bethsdriver here. Just want to take a second to let you all know there has been an emergency that will affect the blog. We were in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when there was a family medical emergency in California. We traveled 5 long days and are now in CA with the family. The emergency has been resolved but there will be some recovery and follow up issues. #explorerbeth has lots more to write about and will probably be back at it soon. As she has put out things like clock work I wanted to explain the hitch. Thanks so much for all of you who have been following and stay tuned as there will be more to come.

EB 1

#Bethsdriver here. I get a kick out of telling people “You know I really don’t like to travel.” I never have. But I always then follow up with “But I really like going places with Beth.” #Explorerbeth (too long to type so EB from now on) has always had her explorer heart. Travel and exploring has been a continuous passion since I have known her (married 43 years today!). So when it came time to think about retirement going on the road seemed a logical next step.

We have been on the road now about 21 months (643 days but EB likes months better). In that time we have seen and done a lot. We have taken over 36,000 pictures. I have gone through and looked at some of my favorite subject, EB. Me taking pictures of her taking pictures is a favorite pastime. So, I am going to post a few and hopefully they will be entertaining.

Her passion for this life we are living now is a delight. We both feel very fortunate to able to do what we are doing. Beth loves exploring and I love Exploring With Beth.

I’ll just put a few in no particular order. Can’t do too many because I constantly hound her to keep the articles short. But there may be more (You see the title is EB 1, to be followed by 2,3 and who knows?).

Banding humming birds in Arizona
On the Blue Riidge in Virginia
Well, Texas of course!
The desert
Sunsets,. one of her favorites
Waterfalls, another favorite
Saguaros, a favorite among favorites
Any danger for a good shot
My favorite. Frantically deleting pictures on her full phone to make room for the next.

I hope these have been fun. There are a lot more, I stopped at 100 in my album. Maybe I’ll post a few more from time to time.

We appreciate all you who take the time to check out the blog. EB puts a lot of effort, and really enjoys putting it out.

I have to hurry and get this out because she says she has one about ready to go and I can’t get in her way. Bye.

Video Test 2

The dancing clip seems maybe too long. I found another and trimmed it down to about 10 seconds. I’ll give it a try. It is Beth taking an archery lesson, yes, you heard right, in Maine. Let’s see if it hits the target?

Again let me know if/how it works. Thanks. By the way it is slow motion. Wanted to capture her in all her glory.

Video Testing – It’s alive!

One of the things (I hope) we can do now is put video on the blog, so I want to give it a test. It is kind of a complex process so it might take a few tries and adjustments. This one is kind of wacky. It is a sample of flat foot dancing at a jam session in Appalachia. We haven’t done many videos so not much of a selection. This one is about the length I want to try, about 30 seconds. If it does seem to work I will leave it up. I’d appreciate it if you could give a quick feedback as to how it works for you. Plays ok? Has sound? Whatever? No comments needed on the dancing, I have my own thoughts on that.

Wish me luck.

Testing and a note

Hello there and Happy New Year. Mark here with a little test and note about some changes. We use a program called Word Press to put out the blog. It is probably the most used platform for blogs, They have jut made some big changes to the program. It will not change what you see much, but the whole back end we use to make the blog is now different. So, we will have to do some learning and growing. A glitch or two might sneak in and we may have to do some testing from time to time.

Thanks again for all who are following us as we explore!

Checking out a lighthouse

I’ll throw in a pic of Beth to test adding pics.

Thanks again for looking!

Looking Back on 2018

As we reach the end of the year, I thought I would write a post highlighting our travels in 2018.   It was a big year of travel as we journeyed through the South, covered all the states along the Eastern seaboard and into the Appalachian states.   We finished up the year back in California where we started in August of 2017.   Our travels will continue in 2019 when we leave California in February and head for Arizona.   At this time our plan is to focus on several southwestern states before heading up to the Midwest, our focus from late spring through fall.   For now, follow along with us for a monthly summary of where we landed this past year.

January found us in Alabama staying in the city of Mobile for a while before heading south to our two-week campsite on Mobile Bay near Gulf Shores.   In Alabama we enjoyed Gulf Coast beaches, a nature preserve and great shrimp.   Highlights were a visit to the U.S.S. Alabama ship and Mardi Gras museum.   The third week of January we headed to our next camping spot for two weeks in the Florida Panhandle and our first look at the turquoise waters near Panama City, a sight I will not soon forget.   Above is a sunset photo from Gulf Shores, Alabama.

In February we enjoyed exploring Florida State parks along the Gulf, visited the Pensacola Air Museum and on the 10th of the month arrived to St. Augustine on the Atlantic for two weeks.   This was one of my favorite camp spots and cities we visited this year.   As the oldest city in America, there were more attractions and things to do here than any other place we visited so I was kept quite happily busy.  Above is a photo of Flagler College, a favorite architectural gem in St. Augustine.

March found us in the beautiful cities of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina.   People like to debate which of these two southern cities are their favorite.   Mark preferred Savannah but I fell in love with Charleston, although I found Savannah very nice too.   Exploring those cities on foot was a highlight and seeing all the azaleas in bloom made me very happy, especially at the plantation gardens near Charleston.   Above is a photo of azaleas at Savannah’s Forsyth Park, our favorite park to hang out in that city.   It was difficult to leave the South with the huge live oaks and hanging moss that I so enjoyed seeing every day.   Below a photo from the Wormsloe Estate in Savannah which features a 1.5 mile entrance of huge live oaks.

April found us spending four weeks in Virginia, two in Williamsburg and two in Charlottesville.   We saw lots of colonial history in Williamsburg, Jamestown and the Yorktown Battlefield.   In the Charlottesville area we visited the homes of three former presidents.   Spring in Virginia was gorgeous with green fields, hills and lots of blooming trees.   Below a photo of the fife and drum corp marching in Colonial Williamsburg.

In May we camped a week in Maryland, four nights in a state park in Delaware and then to New Jersey for our base camp while visiting Philadelphia.   Our family (Shannon, Jonathan, Luke and Levi) came out to join us for a wonderful week in this incredible city.   We walked the city seeing lots of historical sights and eating great food.   Mark and I then headed to the Amish country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a few weeks, an area I found fascinating to visit.   Below a picture of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.   Little Levi is dwarfed by the building.

June found us in Gettysburg where we toured the historic battlefield, the amazing National Park museum and the neat town of Gettysburg.   Mark and I had seen a number of Civil War sites in other states before arriving here and this turned out to be a perfect grand finale.   We got to camp here with our son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Emma.  In mid June we traveled to the lovely Finger Lakes area of New York, camping again with Matt and Emma.   We finished up the month in New York’s Hudson Valley where a highlight was visiting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s house and museum.   Below is a photo of Matt, Emma and me hanging out at Lincoln’s statue in the town of Gettysburg.

We spent the whole month of July in Maine, one of our favorite states.   Could this be the most beautiful state we visited this year?   After arriving it looked so good that I added on another week stay for us, making the total five weeks.   While staying at three different campgrounds we explored much of the coastal areas including Acadia National Park.   The lobster rolls were pretty good here too.

August found us in New Hampshire for a week staying in the beautiful White Mountains.   We explored waterfalls, rivers, a scenic byway and I took a tour up Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeastern U.S.   We next journeyed to the very green state of Vermont for a week before moving on to Massachusetts.    In the Berkshires we visited the museum of one of my favorite artists Norman Rockwell as well as a very cool Shaker farm.   Moving to another campsite in Massachusetts we explored the sites where the Revolutionary War started and hit the Massachusetts coast too in Gloucester.   Below, a photo of me near Glen Ellis Falls in New Hampshire.

In September we landed in delightful Newport, Rhode Island, another favorite city and some of the best weather on our trip – a whole week of sun and no rain!   Here we found history, beaches, coastal scenery, sailing, fancy homes to tour and a nature preserve to walk.   September also found us in Connecticut with much to explore including a trip highlight, the wonderful Mystic Seaport Museum.   We next headed to the rugged mountains of Eastern West Virginia where we had some of the funnest days of our trip enjoying several different historic train trips.   Below, a tall sailing ship in Newport, Rhode Island.

In October we enjoyed the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.   We had a great time listening to old-time mountain music and explored Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited park in America.   We also traveled and stayed for a week in southern Kentucky where we saw our first moon bow and then finished the month in Tennessee with visits to the Appalachian Museum and other scenic sights.   Below, late afternoon along the Blue Ridge in North Carolina.

In November we started driving west with a stop on the Mississippi River and the city of Memphis as well as a stay in Oklahoma City.   We made our way through the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico and Arizona followed closely by snow storms and freezing weather before finally arriving back in California.   We had a smoky drive north through the state, the result of the Camp fire in Northern California as well as other fires to the south.   We enjoyed a stay in Chico visiting with my parents and a very nice Thanksgiving with family.  After Thanksgiving on to French Camp RV park where we have been ever since.   Below, Mark enjoys a sunset at our Mississippi River campground.

I hope you enjoyed a look back on our year of traveling.   Wishing everyone a very happy New Year!

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Testing connection to facebook.  We are looking at how to connect Beth’s travel blog to facebook.  Please be patient while we fiddle.  Thanks.

Where We Have Been and Where We Are Headed

Since it is now a new year, I thought I would write a post about our travel plans for the next four months.  But first, a recap of where we have been.  As I write this we are located on the Alabama Coast near Gulf Shores and have now been on the road for four and a half months.  On August 25, 2017 we moved out of our home and into our trailer.  In the past four plus months, we have traveled through 11 states and stayed at 25 different RV parks.  For some reason it seems like we have been gone longer because we have seen so much and stayed so many different places.

Living in such a small space has been a challenge.  Finding room for everything and keeping our belongings organized in a 21 foot trailer takes some work.  I used to think my house in Modesto was small, but it doesn’t seem quite so small any longer!  Sometimes I would like to have more room to spread out and perhaps a comfortable chair or couch to recline on.  It would be great to have more counter space when cooking, a bigger refrigerator and more cabinet space to keep our food stuff.

Perhaps our biggest challenge has been dealing with the weather.  Traveling through the South and especially along the Gulf of Mexico has been much colder than we expected.  We had snow in Louisiana and the owner of the RV park said he hadn’t seen weather like this in 20+ years.

We have had chilly temperatures in Mississippi and Alabama.  During our stay in Mobile, temperatures were below freezing for five nights in a row.  I was glad I brought along my heaviest coat.  Mark is a whiz at knitting hats and he knit this baby alpaca for me during our trip.  (When we left California, he had to trade his wood shop for a set of knitting needles).   I have been taking advantage of his hats and scarves!  This little guy below was a welcome fixture in the trailer.  When it is freezing outside it can be cold inside, especially since we sit near the door.  We have heat and air for our trailer, but having a space heater warming my legs is really comfortable.  We recently replaced “old faithful” for a newer, quieter model.  The funny thing is that it took us several weeks to locate a replacement.  They were sold out of them in five major stores in Mobile after the cold weather hit!  Mark even tried to order one on Amazon and there were none in stock.  When we reached Gulf Shores, Lowes had a model that was just right.

The sacrifice of space and comfort though is definitely worth it to be able to explore our wonderful country.  In each state, city and town we have visited we learned things we didn’t know about the people, their culture and history.  We have seen beautiful scenery in every state we visited.  Being able to hit the road and go from place to place whenever and wherever we want is truly a delight.  It does take time and research to figure out where to go, attractions to visit and the best places to stay, but it is a small amount of work for all the adventures we find in each new place.  Although Mark and I are sometimes a little sad to move on, we usually feel we have seen and done most of what we wanted to and are looking forward to what the next location has to offer.

Our travels have opened our eyes to so many unique places and people.  It is neat to see the pride that people have in their states, cities and towns and how happy they are to show it to visitors.  No matter where we go, I believe we will find much to interest us, even in the out of the way, lesser known and visited places.   The difficulty is not being able to see everything as we can only scratch the surface of what is out there.   This is especially true since we are trying to visit as many states as possible.

From January through April, we will continue our travels through the southeastern part of the U.S.  Here is where we are hoping to travel during the coming months.  It will be interesting to see if we keep with this plan.  There is so much to see, it is easy to get distracted!

January:  We will be staying in Alabama’s Gulf Shores area for another week and then heading January 23 to the Florida Panhandle.

February:  We plan to spend a month in Florida with the first few weeks in the Pensacola, Destin or Panama City areas.  I hear that finding an RV site in Florida in the winter can be tricky as others who are wintering here have reserved their spots months in advance and parks could already be full.   It will be interesting to see where we end up.  As I have probably said before, I don’t like making reservations way in advance because I feel it ties us to a schedule we might not want to keep.  After our stay in the Panhandle, we will head to St. Augustine, Florida on the Atlantic Coast for a few weeks.  Excited to visit the oldest city in the United States!   Around February 20, we hope to move on to Jekyll Island, Georgia for a week stay.  I visited here for a few days some years ago and vowed to return for a longer visit.

March:  We hope to be in Savannah, Georgia a few days before the beginning of March and spend two weeks there.  This is a city I have been wanting to visit for some time!  After leaving around March 13, we will move on to Charleston, South Carolina to spend around 10 days before continuing to North Carolina.  At this point in planning, I am looking at staying in Winston-Salem for a few weeks as it is mid point between the Blue Ridge Parkway and other cities of interest in this state including Raleigh, the Capitol.

April:  This month will find us moving into Virginia and staying in the Richmond or Williamsburg areas.  There are a lot of historic sights including Colonial Williamsburg, the capitol building in Richmond, Montpelier, Jamestown, Yorktown and Monticello.  Around April 20 we will travel into Maryland and hope to stay in the vicinity of Annapolis the Capitol for two weeks.

Although our first four months went pretty close to what we planned, the next four could wind up going in a completely different direction.

We hope you will continue to follow along with us and appreciate your support through our journey.  Just a reminder, that you can subscribe to the blog and then will be notified when new blogs are published.

How’s it Going? Beth

Mark asked me to write on three different topics of our life so far as full time RVers:  1). First impressions of full time RVing; 2) How do I like traveling and 3) What are the challenges so far.  We are each going to cover these topics separately and it may be interesting to see how they compare.

1) Full time RVing has gone quite well with little problems.  I tend to be a worrier and want things to go smoothly.  I worry about finding a good place for us to stay and if the route we are traveling is the best one for us to take.   I worry if we are staying too short of a time or too long.   So far these things have not been an issue.  Every place we have stayed has been good and the places we have traveled have been interesting with plenty to do and see.  Full time RVing and carrying our house with us has given us the chance to “play” tourist almost every day, experience and learn new things.  I get to think each day about where I want to go next and what activities to do.   I marvel at this opportunity we have and don’t want to lose sight of that or take it for granted.  Living in a small trailer full time is working out even though we don’t have much space.  We have the things we need and do not go without.  As minimalists have found, you don’t need a lot of belongings in life, you can learn to do with less and be satisfied.

2). I love traveling and could happily go sightseeing every day!  At least at this point in time.  Although I don’t mind some down time and relaxing, my mind is usually filled with all the places we could be seeing or the activities available.  I knew before we left that I would really enjoy the traveling and exploring.  I was worried about leaving family, friends and my daily life behind which is the most difficult part of full time RVing.  I wish I didn’t have to be so far from those I care about!  I don’t seem to miss my home or think about it much.  It might be nice at times to sit on my comfortable couch and chair rather than a thin, rather hard RV cushion seat and back.  Being able to spread out my things and have storage space for everything would also be nice.  Having more kitchen counters and cupboards for cook ware and gadgets would also come in handy.  But I don’t think often of those things because the traveling is worth the inconveniences.  It will be interesting to see how I feel in several more months!

3). One of the challenges I face as we are on the road is deciding which places to see and which ones to pass up.  This is so difficult as I want to see almost everything!  I find I have to “let go” and realize that I cannot explore every where we go as we don’t stay long enough.  I have to make priorities of what would be the best for us with the time and energy we have.   I try to plan to see and do things that are unique, educational and will be interesting for Mark and I.  Mark and I are different in many ways – had to take this picture of him as he loves Diet Coke and I wouldn’t touch the stuff!

Mark and I have a different level of interest in traveling.  I want to see everything and sightsee every day and Mark doesn’t have the need to see everything and would probably not be disappointed to pass up many of the things we do stop to see.  Mark is often done looking at a point of interest before I am and then I feel bad that I am holding him up. Mark always tells me to take my time and that he is fine sitting, waiting and relaxing.  He says he enjoys the down time.  We are different in that I get excited about a new place I have seen and Mark gets excited about a new hobby or finding something for one of his hobbies at a store we come to in our travels.

Mark has a different schedule than I do.  He likes to sleep later and gets going slower.  I want to get going sooner although I am definitely not a morning person either.    Mark is happy to hang out more at the trailer than I am.   I could sightsee from morning to dark, trying to get everything in.  In spite of the challenges we are able to work it out.  I get to see lots of new places and Mark still gets to pursue his hobbies while on the road.  We try to be supportive of the other’s interests.  Mark does have an ongoing sense of humor!  He sent the picture below to family members via text and titled it “tempting.”  It was fortunate that day that he loved seeing the sights at this Civil War Battlefield.   No sitting on benches for him!

Thanks for reading this!  In my next post I will continue to write about our travel experiences while in Kansas.

How’s it going? Mark

 

We have been going now 2 months and I thought it might be fun if Beth and I checked in on how’s it going without seeing what the other one said.  We are so different in our thinking I bet it will be interesting.  So I picked three questions or topics and we will both write.  The questions/topics are 1) How is RV life? 2) How is traveling/sight seeing? and 3) What are the challenges so far?  So here goes mine…

  1. RVing

The first two months of RVing have really not been bad.  Beth and I have divided up the work with me taking physical care of the RV and her doing all the planning/routing/reserving.  We have pulled the trailer over 3,000 miles and stayed at 16 or 17 different parks without a major problem.  The trailer is easy to pull  and easy to set up and take down.  So far we have always stayed at places with full hookups so that has helped.

The trailer is actually pretty comfortable and it is really nice having all the upkeep of a house and yard.  I will do some posts and show the trailer and how we have adapted to it.  We bought a nice mattress right away because the ones that come with them are pretty bad.  I think I sleep better now.  Showering is not bad and I actually kind of like the water on and off during a shower.  The hot water seems just right and there is plenty for us to both shower.  Cooking (when we do it) is not too much different.  Before it seemed we would use dishes and keep going until the dishwasher was full then run it.  Now we just use a bowl then wash it and put it away.

As far as clothes I really like it!  For and old retiree like me the fewer clothes the better.  Jeans and a tee shirt is my uniform.  I keep a shirt around for going somewhere and 1 or 2 can last me for weeks.  A little spot for my shorts and socks and I am good.  Trailer fashion works for me.

The one thing I will say is that Beth does a terrific job on her side of planning and arranging!  We have really stayed in some good places.  The drives were a little long at first but now we have slowed quite a bit.

2. Traveling/Sight Seeing

I’ll talk more about this when I do my “Opposites Attract” blog but I really don’t like to travel much.  I never did much growing up and most likely wouldn’t travel if not for Beth.  That surprises people a lot.  I explain by saying that I don’t like to travel, but I love going places with Beth.  That being said the 2 months of travel have been really fun.  Beth comes up with great places to go and see.  They are interesting (mostly) and easy.  We go to places that are not crowded and easy to get to.  I have a pretty good collection of pictures( where our truck is the only vehicle in the parking lot.  It has also been interesting that places we go seem to go together.  Like we went to a museum that had WWII aircraft then went to the Truman Library that talked about his role in the bombings.  We go to a lot of history type places and it has been fun learning.  Beth tries take it all in, but I take a smaller path.  There were people living in the East and they took some paths to go West.  Do I really need to know more?  Names? Dates? Wagon models? I don’t think so.  For me a good museum has parking spaces big enough for the truck, some stuff to see and a nice gift shop at the end, preferably that sells Diet Coke and has a comfortable bench.   I can park, stroll through, see some things and be refreshed while waiting for Beth to finish her studies.

So, traveling, even for the non-traveler, has been good, but only having Beth along.

3. Challenges

For me there are 2 real challenges to this so far.  The first and by far biggest is the eating.

Eating well with this lifestyle is very hard.  As we travel there are so many good, new, interesting places to eat and they generally don’t specialize in healthy food.  I realize I have a choice, but going to a top BBQ place and ordering just the cole slaw is hard.  Plus, our oppositeism comes in here too.  I really love breakfast and Beth is a lunch/dinner fan so we wind up going to both a lot, some for her some for me.  Also, cooking takes time and cooking in a small space even longer.  Many days we are out and away early and back late so there is little time to quality cook.  The other downside is that eating out is really expensive.  We are doing ok on a budget except for eating out which is like 4 times over.  We are getting better, but still have a long way to go.

Number 2 challenge for me has been the pace.  We have done a whole lot in these 2 months.  For me, sometimes, too much.  For me there is a difference between being on vacation and living in an RV.  I used to say that Beth on vacation covered more ground than the space shuttle.  She would have 5,6,7 things planned for 1 day.  It is hard to keep that up.  I think we are doing much better now and most days the pace feels good.  I also know it is hard for Beth to pick which things we CAN”T see.  There is just too much.

(Another thing that is a huge downside is being away from family and friends.  I can’t say enough about that.  Using technology helps a little, but there is no fix for not being around the ones we love.  Can’t talk too much about this one.)

So eating better and finding a good balance for our time are 2 areas that I think we can still work on.

Over all, Exploring with Beth has been a lot of fun and gets better as time goes by. We worked hard for a long time planning and preparing and it seems to be paying off.   Some times I think my RV part is too easy and there will have to be problems.  We’ll just have to deal with them as they come.

We both feel very lucky to be able to travel together like this and are thankful for every day.

So, I hope this was a little interesting.  I am really curious as to what Beth will say.  She works hard on her blogging and will struggle with this one for hours I am sure.  We really appreciate all you that connect with us by reading and especially by leaving comments.  Please let us know how we might make this interesting and any questions or topics you might have.

Thanks.

Beth is pretty trustworthy and so I will go ahead and post this with her promise not to look until she has posted hers.  Should be fun.