Nov 19, 2010


We are back in the Grand Rapids area.  We are spending the week plugged in and hooked up at the home of our friends and business partners Stan and Kathleen.  They have just finished building a beautiful home in the country and have a pad with 50 amp power and water next to their house.  We are so thankful for their hospitality and use of their home.

This is unfortunately not a fun trip.  Our friends Chris and Teresa are going through one of life's darkest moments.  Teresa is dying.  We have known Chris and Teresa for over 10 years.  We were there when their daughter was born and have traveled together several times over the years.

Teresa, who is only in her late 40's, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer two years ago.  We thought she had it licked, but it came back last spring and there is nothing more the doctors can do.  Chris who just turned fifty one has been taking care of her and also trying to be Dad to their daughter who is now nine years old.  As you might imagine this is a very difficult time. Hospice is involved to help with the medical issues, but it's still not easy talking about upcoming funeral plans and related matters.

One of the bright spots this week is that we were able to spend time with our new grandson Harrison "the bear" Randall. What a good natured little guy.  He has brought some sunshine into this difficult time.  How can you not smile when you see this?

Not a good day on the scales.  In spite of watching what I ate, I am up two pounds. I'm going to have to be very careful during the Thanksgiving period.  It's easy for me to use food as a mood booster, so I'll have to watch it.

Until later.

Nov 16, 2010


Yesterday we drove from the middle of Missouri to northern Indiana. So far we have had stops in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri, and now Indiana.   Last night we found a Passport America park in Remington, Indiana to spend the night in.  So today we have a relatively short three hour day.  After four days on the road we are both ready to stop for a while.  We have had good weather, relatively light traffic, and been blessed with safe travels.  There are some crazy drivers out there, and we sometimes feel it is a miracle when we arrive in one piece.  And maybe it is....

On the weight loss front.  Apparently I don't eat much when traveling.  This morning I was down 4.5 pounds.  That is a total of 7.5 since I started this last push.  That means I am half way to my goal of losing fifteen pounds by the year end.  This would bring me to a total of losing 50 pounds for the year.

Until later.

Nov 12, 2010


We are tucked in for the evening just east of Albuquerque at a Passport America Park in Tijeras.  We really enjoyed Dead Horse State Park and hope to return next year. We still have lots to see and places to explore.   After using the dump station and hooking up the Explorer we were on the road by 8:40 this morning north to Flagstaff and then east on I-40.

We stopped in Winslow for some fuel and Judy mentioned she wanted to stop at the PEFO visitors center to get her passport book stamped.  As we drove in I noticed a Lazy Daze pulling a Honda Fit.  I recognized it as Andy Baird's rig.   Andy spends most of his time in New Mexico and has an interesting blog.  He also published a E-book which I had purchased a year ago.

While Judy fixed our lunch I took Mollie out for a walk.  I could see Andy inside his rig so I stopped and introduced myself. We had a nice visit.  He was heading towards Cottonwood where we just came from.   It's a small world out there.  You never know when you will run into someone you have met on the internet.

The rest of the day was spent just keeping the RV between the lines and heading east. Judy and I were very touched by all the kind comments, emails, and text message today.  Our email shows up on our phone so it was great to be able to read the comments while we were traveling down the road.  We are still getting used to the idea of having friends most of whom we have never met yet we share so much in common.  So again thank you!

Until later.


On Wednesday we took a trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad.  The weather was beautiful, and we had great seats. We splurged, and bought first class tickets. This was a long train holding over 400 people and our car was next to the last.  We had access to an outside viewing car which was nice for taking pictures.  The train also has a caboose which can be reserved for parties of 6 or more.

We left right on time as everyone in our car offered up a complimentary champagne or apple cider toast.  They also provided a light buffet with chicken wings, salad, pickles, olives, and crunchy veggies. Our trip took us 20 miles up the Verde Canyon to Perkinsville.  On the way up we had to make one unexpected stop to let some wild burros cross over the tracks.

For me the highlight of the trip was the 640 foot long tunnel.  It was fun to see the long train curve through and disappear into the mountain.  The tunnel was curved so as you entered you really couldn't see the light at the end....

The only disappointment was we were not allowed to get off the train in Perkinsville.  Instead we came to a stop, they unhooked the engines from the front of the train, ran them around us on a siding, and hooked them back up on the caboose end for the return trip.

Even though the trip back was on the same tracks the views were different and just as spectacular.

We were back into Clarkdale a little ahead of schedule.  As we came in we noticed an ambulance waiting. The train stopped short so they could remove someone who had suffered an insulin reaction.  We later heard that she was doing better.  All in all it was a good day, and if you like trains this is a great way to spend the afternoon.

On a more sober note.  We are changing our travel plans.  We were planning to leave here next Tuesday and slowly work our way into Texas.  We were going to meet up with our friends Bob and Linda in Fredricksburg and spend Thanksgiving with them.  Instead we are on our way back to Michigan to support some friends of ours who are going thru a very difficult time.  After talking and praying about it, we have decided we need to be there.  We will be in Grand Rapids by Tuesday if all goes well.  

I am down one pound since Tuesday.  That makes the total three pounds.  Twelve to go before the end of the year.

Until later.

Nov 9, 2010


There isn't much to report today.  We went on a walk this morning to explore the park a little more. Mollie loves going on walks but she doesn't like the desert very much. There are too many things that get stuck in her paws. This certainly is a beautiful setting and we can see why people enjoy coming here.

After breakfast we headed into town to do some errands, post office, drug store, wash the car, Home Depot, that sort of thing.  Since we are going to be here a few days, I placed an Amazon order.  The office said they would hold it if I brought them some goodies.  Might as well give them something fattening since I'm on a diet.

Speaking of  the diet.  No loss since Friday.  In fact I have stayed exactly the same.  I was kind of surprised, given the amount of exercise I've had lately.  I weigh myself each day and chart it on a graph.  There seems to be a pattern of dropping a few pounds, leveling off, or going up a pound and then dropping a few more pounds.  As long as the graph keeps heading down I'm happy.

We are going on the Verde Canyon Railroad tomorrow, so maybe I'll even have a few pictures to post. Meanwhile, there is a new picture posted almost every day over at my other blog, Camera Vagabond.

Until later.

Nov 8, 2010

Weary...Body and Soul

Have you ever sat down to write a blog entry and just stared at the keyboard?  That's how I feel right now.  I have so much I'd like to say, but the brain is not cooperating.  We had a great stay in Page, Az and look forward to our next visit.  I spent two and a half days just wandering around in the desert, saw some of the most amazing formations and an awesome slot canyon.  But I'm worn out.  I've got over 25 gigabytes of images to edit and I don't know where to start.

My friend Rich Charpentier was my guide and we visited three different locations.  Friday afternoon it was the Paria ghost town, which was the location of many western movies.  Saturday we spent the day at Coyote  Buttes, south area, and Sunday we hiked four and half miles into Buckskin Gulch to the slot canyons.  It's not the four and a half in thats the problem, it's the four and a half back out.  So here are a couple of youtube videos to give you an idea of what it was like.  These were shot by Rich with a simple Ipod Touch.  He gave me permission to share them on our blog.

This morning we packed up and headed south to Cottonwood, Az.  We are staying at the Deadhorse Ranch State Park.  We have been reading about Jo and Fred volunteering here during the month of October, and although we missed meeting them by a week, we are looking forward to spending a week or so here.  On Wednesday we are going to take the Verde Canyon scenic train.  We will also be visiting Jerome, Sedona, and the surrounding area.  If any of you have any must see attractions let us know.

Until later.

Nov 5, 2010


What is a ghost town?  When I think of a ghost town I'm thinking about old abandoned buildings and tumbleweeds blowing down the street and no one else around.  Well yesterday I learned that many times all that is left is a few bricks and broken bottles.

Wednesday our friends Bob and Linda played tour guide and took us to several settlements and abandoned cemeteries.  Even Mollie came along.  Our first stop was Eureka, Utah.  Not officially a ghost town as there are still people living there, but the downtown certainly was abandoned.

We then headed off to see if we could locate an old  cemetery. After backtracking down several roads, we were fairly certain we were in the right area so we stopped and pulled over.  With Bob pointing his gps towards the woods, we scrambled through barbed wire fence, trees and brush, and there it was, the Fitch family cemetery. I was so impressed with Bob's discovery that I forgot to take pictures.

We repeated this exercise several more times that day.  Stopping, heading off into the brush to look for pottery and artifacts.   Bob saved the best for last.  We headed up an old railroad grade and after crossing a fill barely wide enough for the explorer, we arrived at an old abandoned railroad tunnel.  Even though you could drive through it, we elected to explore it by foot.  

By now it was time for happy hour and dinner so we headed back to our RV.  Judy made a wonderful Indian curry for dinner, and we all enjoyed a glass of Opolo Tempranillo.  We then spent the next few hours hearing about Bob and Linda's adventures in Alaska this summer.  I have a feeling we will be heading in that direction in the next couple of years.  Maybe even by water!  

Yesterday we hitched up and headed down the road to Page, AZ. We took our time heading south on I-15 then cut over to I-89 through Kanab and finally arrived at the Wahweap campground on Lake Powell.  I have been bragging about the cheap parks we have stayed in recently.  Well I think we blew the budget this weekend. This park is $38. a night.  But with full hookups, paved level sites and a view to die for, well, I think it is worth it.  We were surprised to find that our phones and air card work here.  So it's all good.

I am meeting a photographer friend of mine here.  Rich Charpentier lives in Prescott and is an accomplished photographer and printer.  He has a business reproducing art work and original photography on canvas and other materials.  I'll try to post a few pictures on Monday.  

On the weight loss front.  I am happy to report a 2 pound loss.  13 more pounds to go.  8 more weeks.

Nov 2, 2010

Travel Day

This will be a short post.  We had a nice drive from southern Utah to Nephi, Utah which is south of Provo.  We are here with our good friends Bob and Linda and tomorrow we are off to explore some ghost towns in the area.   The weight loss is off to a slow start.  I have not lost any weight since Friday.  Next weight loss report on Friday.

Until later

Nov 1, 2010

Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and other thoughts.

How far did you walk today?  I thought about that question when we were watching a movie about the Oregon Trail this morning.  For most of us a couple of miles, maybe even 5 or 6, is a good walk.  Now imagine walking 15 to 20 miles every day for 5 or 6 months straight.  By the way leave your fancy running shoes, water bottles, ipod, gps and power bars at home.

I don't know about you but I am soft, too soft.  10 years ago Judy and I participated in the Disney Marathon.  We speed walked it.  26.5 miles later I sat down and couldn't get up.  The next day I could hardly get out of bed.  If Judy hadn't dragged me the last couple miles I wouldn't have finished.  I know today I could not even walk a half marathon.

It is amazing that whole families walked from Independence, Mo. to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  Yes, they had a small wagon pulled by either Oxen or Mules.  The wagon was for all of their stuff.  So they walked, and walked, and walked some more. All in search of a better life.  These days I get upset if the internet is too slow, or if we park under trees and our Direct TV dish won't work. This afternoon we drove across the corner of Idaho in just a few hours.  They walked for days.  And when they weren't walking they were cooking or feeding livestock or fixing their wagon so that tomorrow they could....walk.

So where does that leave me?  About a month ago I wrote a footnote on a post about an upcoming 30 day challenge.  Well life got complicated and I didn't get back to my plan.  I have lost 35 pounds since January and want to lose another 15 by the end of the year.  So I am going public.  I will share with you twice a week whether I have gained or lost weight.  And I'll tell you how far I have to go.  And at the end of the year I'll even tell you my starting weight and my ending weight.  I am doing this to give myself an added incentive (embarrassment).  It's one thing to tell you I had a "good" or "bad" weigh in, it's another to put the actual numbers out there.  Your job is to help keep me honest.  So every Tuesday and Friday you'll get an update.

Until later.