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
We have had a love affair with New Mexico since we first came here thirty years ago, and crossing the border this time felt just as remarkable. There were specific things we had on our itinerary and first was a trip to the town of Las Vegas, in the northeastern corner of the state where we were in search of a very special building.
The story is that years ago, in our life back in New Hampshire, we had purchased a large oil painting by a Massachusetts realist painter named Randall Deihl. For a decade, “Big Cowgirl” hung on the wall of our high-ceilinged condominium in Keene, reminding us of all things about the west that we loved. There were lots of stories about the painting that had developed over time, but what we did know is that it was painted when the artist lived in Santa Fe in the 1990s, because he was inspired by a mural on a building in Las Vegas, New Mexico and we were on a quest to see if we could locate it. Continue reading
On Sunday, we spent a glorious, lazy summer day with our friend Mark at his tiki bar, The Sunset Grill, on the shore of a lovely little lake in Brown County, Indiana. The tiki bar is dedicated to a sense of escape from the ordinary and humdrum into a paradise that those of us of a certain age have populated with common, even if distinct, memories. The tiki bars of our younger days often included a soundtrack of Jimmy Buffet songs, and a kitschy decor of fishnets and buoys and mermaids and drinks with paper parasols. The paradise of the tiki bar is unrelated to anything historically accurate and more like an island nirvana straight out of the imagination. Continue reading
I am an incurable romantic and quite capable of being brought to tears by the most improbable of situations. Today was one of those days where I have been reduced to a melancholy and teary reflection based on a decision that had to be made. Today, I parted company with Big Red, my well traveled, reliable suitcase. Big Red was huge and clunky compared to the standards of today’s suitcases with over 6,400 cubic inches of carrying space. His wheels were worn out, his retractable handle long ago succumbed to the indignity of duct tape and his zipper, twice replaced, had seen better days. His ballistic nylon fabric, once deep red, had faded and he had actually suffered a mysterious burn somewhere and his sides were deeply worn along the edges. After one long flight, he limped off the baggage carousel with a puncture and tear caused by some errant fork lift. It couldn’t be repaired. Continue reading