These days, a trip to the Publix Supermarket in Estero, Florida is a surreal experience with understocked shelves and the haphazard displays of the kinds of frozen pizzas that people don’t want to buy. As I attempt to find words to describe this, my memory takes me back to my days as an English major at the University of Connecticut. One of my last semesters, under the guidance of my academic advisor, Professor Blanchard, I took a nineteenth century British literature survey course. There, I regularly walked the Hogwarts-like hallways of the University’s bricks and mortar library, encountering Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, the Brontë sisters, Oscar Wilde, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, P. B. Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Keats, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Lewis Carroll. Continue reading
For years, we have heard about the high country and remote beauty of the land around Sierra Blanca, one of the four sacred mountains to the Mescalero Apaches standing at 11,981′. An artist-friend of ours had talked of the nearby little town of Lincoln calling it especially lovely and filled with a very colorful history. We decided to take a day and check out the land and learn more about Lincoln. Continue reading
During our time here at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park we have had time to explore more of New Mexico. I wanted to share some of our discoveries, hoping that some may make it to your bucket list of things to do here in the Land of Enchantment.
Last post I mentioned that we visited White Sands National Monument. I wanted to comment on their Visitor’s Center because it is really worth a stop. It is architecturally interesting having been built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The traditional Pueblo-Revival style building includes a center courtyard, native plant garden, museum, a lovely gift shop and a theater that shows a wonderful orientation film called A Land in Motion, which tells about the formation of White Sands. The film is shown on the hour and half-hour and its very well done. Continue reading
Our time here at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park in Alamogordo, New Mexico is flying by. As I write this, we are just over the halfway mark of the ten weeks we are here serving as camphosts. There is one other couple here sharing the daily assignments with us in this 44-site campground. And for those inquiring minds out there who remember reading about our summer camphosting on the Cape, thankfully, cleaning bathrooms is NOT one of our responsibilities here! Continue reading
There are only two days a year that Trinity Site in New Mexico is open to the public and we were able to be there for one of them, October 5. We had just arrived in the Alamogordo area for our volunteer gig at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park and were told about the bi-annual open house. After investigating the details, we asked for the day off, and decided to go. It was a powerful experience and we were both deeply moved by it. This blog chronicles our experience. Continue reading
As many of you know, our life on the road has been largely unscripted. We tend to get an idea, do some research, talk to other full-timers, try something new, evaluate it, determine what we have learned and what we might want to do with the information, and then move on.
One of the most mysterious effects of being in one place for a long time is how time folds in on itself and neatly puts itself away. We’ve been in Estero, Florida for nearly five months and in that time, Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, we witnessed what south-Florida calls the seasons – winter (temperatures in the high 40s); spring (temperatures in the mid-70s); and currently, summer (temperatures in the mid-80s). We pulled together a wedding reception for two of our fellow volunteers here at the park, complete with a cake and champagne toasts. We made a quick trip to the deep and frigid north for a wonderful family weekend, we celebrated a reunion dinner with Triangle X friends who winter here in Florida, met up with people we met on the road in Ann Arbor, and enjoyed a reunion with our first Airstream friends who met in the panhandle of Florida in 2015. We continue to delight in the company of our Koreshan State Park fellow volunteers following our official fourth anniversary living full time on the road.
Returning to Koreshan State Park in Estero, Florida on November 2 felt like a homecoming. There was much that has changed since we left the park in April (more on that later) but somehow time compresses itself in the familiar and it seems like merely weeks since we were last here.
First, news about where we are living. Our new site this year in the Volunteer Village is our favorite of all three years here. We are up against the fence which means we are closest to the very busy Tamiami Trail but the huge advantage is we have a really lovely “front yard”, a place to securely store our bicycles and no neighbors on our front door side. Plus, we are removed from the center of the very busy Village, the bathhouse, and the Rec Hall. The morning sun streams in the kitchen windows and the afternoon sun hits the back of T2, keeping things much cooler than last year when we faced straight into the afternoon sun. We are next door to some friends from last year who are easy to be around. It’s all good.
Life on the road is full of unexpected occurrences. There are the happy ones, like discovering the creamiest and richest peanut butter ice cream we’ve ever had (more on that later), or the warm hospitality of strangers (we’ll cover this below), to the stamina-building mechanical breakdowns like the one we experienced upon pulling into Paris, Tennessee. Yes, gentle readers, we had an “event” and we continue to see how blessed we are.
The morning of September 6 broke hard, clear, and cold as we headed north from Colorado Springs on the final leg of our trip to Wyoming. Pikes Peak was dusted in snow from a brief encounter with winter, a prelude of things to come. At Fort Collins, we were at 5,000′ elevation but our ascent would continue as we headed north. As I learned from John McPhee’s Rising from the Plains, southeast Wyoming is a tipping point of geological wonder, higher in elevation than the plains of Colorado to the immediate south and higher than the northern part of Wyoming. Continue reading