Boy, can we identify with that sentiment!
Tired as we were after our long Alaskan adventure, described in the last
entry, we started talking about
"where to go next" before we even got back to our house for a break!
Old stone fire tower on Harney
Peak, South Dakota's highest summit at 7,244 feet; we enjoyed
hiking and cycling in the Black
Hills on our way back to Virginia from Alaska. (9-26-12)
Here's what we've come up with for 2013.
2013 WINTER TRAVEL PLANS: SUNSHINE & PALM
We made major changes to this winter's escape in the region of the
country we're visiting, in the duration
of the trip, and in our usual departure date from Virginia.
It's very typical of the spontaneity we exercise in our retirement,
The more we travel, the more we do things "by ear." We
often change our plans and for a variety of reasons, which is why I don't give any details about our
schedule ahead of time in these journals.
Palm trees near Imperial Dam LTVA in California;
the Southeastern U.S. has palm trees, too.
Why are we so flexible?
Mostly because we can be. We have even less structure in our lives now than we
did just a few years ago when we were running ultra-distance trail
races. We used to return to most of the same races and campgrounds each
year because we enjoyed them so much. We added some minor variations
each year but didn't completely re-write the script every trip.
Now we have even
more freedom to wander at will. That allowed us to enjoy trips last year
to completely different places than we've traditionally gone. Ditto for this winter.
Live oaks line the impressive 1½-mile
avenue leading to the visitor center at the Wormsloe
State Historic Site in Savannah, GA,
which preserves part of early colonist Noble Jones's plantation.
On our way back to Virginia from Alaska this fall we made the decision to stay
at our house longer than usual.
We really were tired from that
journey, both physically and mentally. It was as exhausting as it was memorable.
We often joke that we aren't 35 any more. Ironically, now Jim's
youngest offspring is older than 35!
Ruins of the fortified tabby house built for the
family of colonist Noble Jones in 1745; tabby walls
and floors were made from sand, sea shells, and
lime, which were abundant along the Georgia coast.
We also made the decision to get a young puppy while we were at the
house since we'd be there long enough for all the necessary vaccines and
With all the traveling we've been doing since Tater (our female
yellow Labrador retriever) died in the summer of 2008 it just hasn't
been practical to get another dog as a companion for Cody, our male
black Lab who will be 10 in March.
We adopted a sweet 8-week-old female yellow Lab a couple days after
returning to the house in October. You can read all about our first few
weeks with Casey, who recently turned five months old, in the
Puppy love: Casey meets Jim
at the kennel.
She's the kissing-est dog I've
ever had! (10-12-12)
Casey's first training session with a Gentle Leader
collar. If there are no major distractions
she heels pretty well with her regular collar or
harness. (12-22-12, age 4 months)
As soon as Casey had some basic training and got her last puppy shots
in early January we began our current winter trip. She was not quite
five months old yet.
Casey already loves riding in the truck and
living in the camper as much as Cody does! Labs are great. They just want to be with Their People
as much as possible and everything is a grand adventure to them.
Casey loves to carry and chase sticks when we're
hiking, just like Cody. Here she's hiking up the
road on Roanoke Mountain with me. Look at that
long, curly hair! She has a beautiful soft
coat like her dam and sire. She is just over four
months old in this picture. (12-19-12)
This will be a shorter trip than we have taken in recent years;
we want to get back to Roanoke in late March or early April. It didn't make much
sense to travel all the way to the desert Southwest, our favorite winter
destination, since we got such a late start.
We decided to head south and east instead, to the Georgia and
That's a much shorter drive to reach warm sunshine and palm trees and
we'll get to see some places that are either new to us or ones we
haven't visited for several decades.
Currently we're at the Lotts Island RV Park at Hunter Army Airfield
in Savannah, GA for a little over two weeks:
In Savannah we have found palm trees, live oaks dripping with Spanish
moss, camellias and other flowers in bloom, lots of sunshine, and warm
temperatures -- in just one day's drive south of Roanoke and in
January, no less!
Pretty camellias (above) at
Forsyth Park (below) in Savannah last Sunday
During our first week here the city has set four new high-temperature
records with ~ 80 F. highs in the afternoons. Ahhh!
Although a cold
front yesterday brought the temperatures back down to the norm for this
time of year (upper 30s F. to low 60s F.) it sure beats the snow
and colder temps in the Roanoke Valley right now.
Impressive memorial to James E.
Oglethorpe, founder of the Colony of Georgia,
in one of 22 of the 24 original
squares laid out in Savannah in the early 1700s.
We have reservations at two other military campgrounds farther south
on the Atlantic coast in February and March.
On the way back to Virginia we may stop along the Gulf coast in
Florida, go farther north along the Atlantic coast (Charleston or the
Outer Banks, e.g.), and/or travel through the Appalachian Mountains in
Georgia and North Carolina.
Above and below: scenes
from Fort Pulaski National Monument near Savannah, GA
As usual, we'll make most of it up as we go!
The weather is an
important factor in our travel decisions and we often learn about
interesting places from other RVers we meet in campgrounds.
That happened this week, in fact, and we've already modified our
original ideas about places to go a couple times just since arriving in
SOME CHANGES IN OUR TRAVEL STYLE
With a teething puppy on board we had to make some interior
modifications to the camper for this trip. It isn't the first time
we've moved the furniture around (or out) and it won't be the last.
We had to find room for the 30" x 48" wire kennel where Casey-Girl
sleeps at night and when we leave her in the camper unsupervised.
Despite all the cool stuffed and chew toys she has, her favorite targets
for teething are our shoes, the carpeting, the furniture . . . actually,
anything unapproved that she can wrap her teeth around! Typical pup.
I found this box of six dog toys
from The Dog House at Sam's Club in December for
about $12, which is a bargain.
The dogs liked them so much I got a second set for them.
Jim came up with the best solution.
We took out two narrow end tables and the long leather sofa that came with the Cameo, replaced
the sofa with his smaller, ultra-comfortable leather recliner from the house,
and moved the locations of the desk and dining room table. That was a
lot of heavy lifting.
I was skeptical at first but we were
both pleased with the results after living with the new arrangement when we got settled into our first campsite.
I'm happy that my desk is farther from the TV. Jim's happy that his
recliner and laptop table are closer to it:
Above and below: our new
furniture arrangement for this trip (1-18-13)
If we don't need
Casey's kennel during our summer trip (hopefully she'll have outgrown
her chewing stage by then) we can either put the sofa back in the
bay window area where it was or travel with my comfy recliner
from the house, too. There is room for it and one of our narrow end
tables next to Jim's recliner.
The Cameo came with dual leather reclining chairs in the form of a
two-piece loveseat that Carriage, Inc. called "theatre seating." We
don't need that many seats. We do need space for my desk, so we took the
loveseat out as soon as
we got back to Virginia when we first bought the camper three years ago
(we were in Texas when we bought it). Until now my oak
desk has been in their space, where Jim's recliner is located in the
This new arrangement also leaves more room for two dog beds out of the way
on the floor of the living area.
During the day Casey likes to be as close to Cody as she can get, not alone in her kennel (even with the door open). You can see what I mean in the next
photo, which I took a few days before we left on our trip:
Every chance Casey gets, she cuddles up with Cody.
(1-3-13 at 4½ months of age)
The only other major change this trip is the new laptop computer I
got in November.
Portable technology -- what a concept! < grin >
I've been traveling in the camper with a compact PC tower and
separate thin, wide-screen monitor since the fall of 2008. Although we saved some
set-up hassles by velcro-ing the monitor base and printer to my desk so
they were temporarily permanent (!) while we traveled, I had to unplug
the cords and pack up
the computer, keyboard, and mouse each time we moved the camper, then
set everything up again at the next stop.
Nor did I have the option Jim had with his laptop of taking my
computer with me in the truck to locations where we could get free WiFi
when we didn't have it at our campsite. I was also a little envious that
Jim could sit outside the camper on nice days to use his laptop while I
was confined inside if I wanted to use mine.
I can't believe how convenient my new laptop is!!
I knew all the advantages of getting one but my old computer worked
fine, I loved the 20" monitor, and it seemed wasteful to give them up
and buy a laptop.
We found a deal we couldn't resist at Thanksgiving, however, and I caved in.
Jim's been trying to talk me into a laptop for about as long as I had that PC.
Statue of the "Waving Girl" along
the Savannah Riverfront; for 44 years Florence Martus
waved at ships heading into the
port. Captains often toot their horns as they pass by the statue.
I'm pleased with my new 17.3" laptop. I've adjusted to the smaller
screen (still bigger than most laptops, though) and the idiosyncrasies
of Windows 8 (had Vista on the old PC). Jim set everything up for me;
he's the techno-geek in the family. I just write, take pictures, and up
load the entries.
To our surprise Jim was able to load our old versions of PhotoShop
and Front Page on the new laptop so I can continue to do this website
mostly the way I was used to doing it.
I even have a whole terabyte of hard drive capacity for the gazillion
photos I take. With all the writing I do we also got a wireless keyboard
and mouse to use in the camper and house. I'm not fond of laptop keyboards.
And no, I don't want a little tablet, iPad, or smart phone screen for
internet use! I've got 63-year-old eyes.
SUMMER PLANS: CHILLIN' IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Our 2013 summer trip won't be radically different like last year's
journey to Alaska was.
We will include some places where we've camped previously in the
Rockies, although it won't involve most of the ultra marathons we used
to run and work.
Turquoise Lake and Mt.
Massive near Leadville, CO
The summer trip will also start later than usual because of our
schedule for receiving Orthovisc injections in our knees.
That series won't be finished until mid-June.
Orthovisc has worked great for
over three years for the osteo-arthritis in both
of my knees. The injections also seem to be helping the knee Jim
injured in a bike wreck 2½ years ago.
Because of our knee problems neither of us can run any more. We
joke that between us we have only one good knee. Eventually
we'll need three total knee replacements. Yikes! Hopefully, that'll be
several more years.
Did it again: approaching
Mt. Elbert's summit (elev. 14,433 feet), Colorado's highest peak
I'm lucky -- I can still hike all day, including climbing
14,000+-foot mountains in Colorado (unfortunately, not 20,320-foot
Denali in Alaska).
I can also bike, although I don't enjoy cycling nearly as much as
hiking. After 30+ years of competitive running in races I have no
further desire to compete in any cycling events.
Jim does, though. He was also a competitive runner for over
thirty years and really misses being able to run and participate in
In the last 2½ years he's
thrown himself into cycling, which
doesn't hurt his bad knee. Although he hasn't ridden in any bike
races yet he's trained a lot of miles and completed a 109-mile
solo ride in one day on the Michelson Trail in South Dakota.
Jim on the Michelson Trail in
the Black Hills of South Dakota
Recently he sent in his entry for one of the toughest 100-mile
mountain bike races in this country, which gives him a
challenging athletic goal to
work toward again. It also gives him the incentive to get out the door more often to
train and stay in shape.
I'll identify the race when his entry
has been officially accepted; so far it's only a verbal
If he doesn't get into his goal race we might stay on the East
Coast again this summer, perhaps traveling through New England and
When we ran ultras we often did shorter trail events as training
runs for the longer goal races. Jim will probably use the same
MO as he trains for this summer's goal race. There are several
events he's considering between now and then. He hasn't entered any of
Jim stops for a short break
during a long ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Sharp Top and Flat Top,
part of the Peaks of Otter, are in the distance. (11-30-12)
I've been encouraging Jim to do a multi-day long distance journey
ride someday like the Colorado Trail or the Blue Ridge Parkway. Both are
about 500 miles in length. I could crew for him like he did for
me when I did thru-hikes/runs on the Colorado and Appalachian
trails. He's thinking about that concept.
The closest we'll probably come to that in 2013 is Jim maybe
riding a few of the CT segments that are accessible from places we plan
to camp while we're in Colorado this summer.
That's about as specific as I can get right now. Just check back
periodically to see what we're up to!
Bottom line: a quiet, relaxing trip along the GA/FL
coast this winter, lots of hiking and cycling wherever we are
this year, and one or more mountain bike races this summer -- but
nothing as exotic travel-wise as last year.
Jim and I enjoy historic
buildings, such as this house in Savannah.
The city has a wide variety of architectural
periods and styles from the 1730s to 2013.
I'll try to keep halfway current with updates about what we're
doing and seeing in the Southeast this winter and out West this summer.
More interesting, perhaps, will be the entries I'll continue
writing in the
2012 journal about the Alaska-Canada trip so check that topics
periodically, too. I'll put the most recent entries with the
dates I uploaded them in red.
Next entries: camping at Hunter Army Airfield and tours of some Savannah, GA sights
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil