Posts Tagged With: suv camping

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 8

I slept amazingly well considering I was on bear alert and a little on edge.  I waited for daylight so I could go across to the restrooms to get cleaned up and ready for the day. I was hyper-vigilant walking on the path through the bushes and carried my pepper/mace spray in the ready position.  With my quick reflexes and physical acuity I’m sure if I ever had to press the nozzle of the mace it would be pointed in the wrong direction and I’d get it in the face instead of the bear.  At least I wouldn’t be able to see him eating me.

I was reluctant to leave the grandeur of the bay but will savor the beauty and plan to return to Grand Teton National Park as a destination with my sister, hopefully, next year.

Yellowstone National Park is only 18 miles up the road from Coulter Bay Campground.  That was a pleasant surprise and, again, I saved the $30 entrance fee thanks to my Senior Pass.  My plan was to visit Yellowstone then head north to Glacier National Park but cell reception in the Tetons had been patchy to non-existent.  I even had trouble with my GPS so I’m a little anxious about driving to Glacier on secondary roads without any type of cell service in case of emergencies.  A girl’s got to be careful and aware when traveling alone, especially if she can’t call Geico or dial 911 if she’s in trouble. I decided to not think about it until I finished at Yellowstone, having already established a beautiful alternate route to Seattle if needed.

On the way to Yellowstone I passed the Continental Divide for the first time this trip.  An elevation of 7,988 feet may not seem like much to most people, but I’m from Florida where the elevation of my home is 6 feet.  I checked Wikipedia for a refresher on the “Continantal Divide” since it’s been about 100 years since my last geography class. If you’re interested, America’s Continental Divide:

is the principal, and largely mountainoushydrological divide of the Americas. The Continental Divide extends from the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellan, and separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean (including those that drain into the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) and, along the northernmost reaches of the Divide, those river systems that drain into the Arctic Ocean

Of course my first stop in Yellowstone was to see Old Faithful.  I only had to wait about 10 minutes for its eruption and it looked exactly like the old newsreels and pictures you’ve seen.  What made it especially exciting were the hundreds of people from all over the world waiting with me and the “oohs” and “aahs” as the geyser took off.  I stopped in the Travel Center to get my National Parks Passbook stamped, wrote some postcards to the grandkids and continued my exploration.

So I  moseyed and meandered through Yellowstone for a couple of hours observing waterfalls, geysers and hot springs.  So beautiful.  It’s funny …  I packed my clothes and equipment for kayaking and hiking adventures but my heart led me to continue driving and exploring, observing the beauty around me.  I entered Yellowstone from Wyoming and exited the park to West Yellowstone, Montana.  I had a late lunch at the Bullwinkle Saloon.  An adorable restaurant but $18 for a cheeseburger?  Oh wait, that included a Blue Moon and the tip. I finally had a wi-fi connection so I called home to let everyone know I was OK, caught up with emails and messages.  Wait, maybe I had two Blue Moons.  OK, $18 isn’t so bad. I checked my Allstays app (don’t leave home without it) and my atlas and decided it would be foolhardy to attempt Glacier National Park this trip.  I did not feel prepared or comfortable continuing without cell service or warmer clothes that were stored in my rooftop carrier and I’d rather be beaten than try to get the duffel down from there after the fiasco with my kayak. So, on to Plan B – just keep driving west.

I passed through Billings and Bozeman looking for a place to stay and finally gave up and decided to boondock at a WalMart in Butte, Montana.  I had a leisurely dinner at a local restaurant and spent a comfortable night tucked away between two giant RV units. Unfortunately, I parked under a security light and gave up a little bit of comfort for the safety of the big boys parked on either side of me.  It was a long day filled with wonders.

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, Retirement, road trip, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 7

The WalMart parking lot looked like a campground (without the amenities) when I woke up after a comfortable and secure night.  No wonder they allow campers.  We re-stock, fill up with gas, buy coffee and donuts before heading out.  I purchased a few supplies then filled up with gas and met a delightful clerk who seeing my Florida tags wanted to talk about his dream of moving to Key Largo.   After I helped him clean up the coffee I spilled on his counter and register, he suggested I might enjoy the Great Sky Road byway to the Grand Teton National Park plus it would save me about 40 minutes.  I took his advice and enjoyed an incredible drive.

 

I arrived at the Grand Teton National Park at noon.  Entrance to the park was free due to my “America the Beautiful” National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. So, that saved me $30.  I’m telling you, this pass is the best bargain around.  For a $10 fee I have a lifetime membership to all national parks, monuments, etc.  Many state parks also honor the pass and will provide 50% off camping.  Beginning August 28, 2017 the fee will go up to $80.  Still a bargain, but get your pass now and save $70!  This is definitely one of the benefits of getting older.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no words to describe the beauty of the Grand Tetons.  Just imagine “breathtaking”.  I was told by several people to arrive before noon to get a campsite.  The Coulter Bay Campground had openings and by the time I checked in the campground was almost full.  When I left the next morning at 8 a.m. , campers were already lined up to nab a site although the campground doesn’t open till 9:00 A.M.  So, plan an early arrival.  I’m not sure if you can reserve a campsite in advance since I’m flying by the seat of my pants and I’m not making any reservations anywhere.

There is no wi-fi reception except for occasional “iffy” reception in the laundramat and in the restaurant’s bar.  So, I had a couple of martinis while catching up on emails & phone calls.  For $4 I took a hot shower at the laundramat — it felt delicious.

 

There are “Bear Aware” signs everywhere and the ranger assured me there was a bear box on my campsite, not that this Miami Beach girl knows what to do with a bear box.  I set up my camp leaving my propane stove on the table with a bottle of water, a can of soup, a spoon and being careful to put all my food or anything that smelled into the bear box, I walked down to the lake to sit and read for a while.  When I returned from the lake I found my stove and dinner gone and a citation.  Apparently I wasn’t “Bear Aware” enough. The ranger stored my stove, supplies and can of soup in the box.  I assumed that bears can’t smell food sealed inside aluminum cans but I guess they can smell EVERYTHING! I didn’t use any lotions or potions after my shower and even hesitated to use deodorant, but nothing is going to scare me that much.

I was VERY careful and aware the rest of the evening.  I enjoyed a little wine and appetizers while I planned my route for the next day then had dinner and made an extra trip to the bear-proof garbage bin. I prepared for the night and was safely ensconced in my SUV bed before dark with my pepper/mace spray within easy reach although I don’t think bears can get into a locked SUV.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I’m obviously not a bear expert.

 

 

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 2

My brother and his family are visiting from Israel and staying in Spring Hill, TN near Nashville. It’s about a four-hour drive from Atlanta so we piled all the toys my grandson Max (7 years old) wants to give to his Seattle cousin, Lou (2 years old) onto the passenger seat of my car.  This limited my space up front a bit but it was just too hard to open the rooftop carrier and load all 40 pounds of  wooden Thomas the Train engines and tracks.  I now have Thomas and his train friends traveling as passengers in the front seat with the seatbelt engaged to keep the alarm from “dinging” due to their weight.

I’ve always enjoyed the drive from Atlanta to Nashville.  Wendy’s has a terrific chicken and mango salad that I enjoyed at a rest stop overlooking a lake along the way.  It’s a beautiful drive with the elevation changing from flatlands to low mountains.  There’s a downhill section of highway where I like to measure how far I can “coast” without using the gas pedal.  I’m easily amused.

I spent a couple of hours visiting my brother and his family before heading to Montgomery Bell State Park for my first overnight SUV camping experience. I enjoyed the beauty of the drive as well as the fun of driving through lushly green winding roads from Spring Hill to Burns, Tennessee.  The park is 4,000 acres of forests, trails, campgrounds, lakes, a golf course, villas, an inn and restaurant. I paid $13 for my campsite, set everything up and hopped back in the car to locate the restaurant.  The food was just OK, the staff inexperienced but friendly and the view was terrific. You know what?  Who cares.  I was hungry, tired, the flatbread pizza was edible and with a glass Cabernet, I enjoyed just being there.

 

My first night sleeping in the SUV was great.  All  my plans came to fruition.  My window shades worked, my little rechargeable fan kept me so cool that I had to pull up my blanket and my 4-inch memory foam mattress was super comfortable.  I slept like a rock until 4 am and then just had to wait until it started to get light because I won’t roam around a campground alone in the dark.  First light I lit my propane stove to boil some water for coffee in my French press, made up my bed and got everything organized for the day.

Montgomery Bell is such a beautiful state park but I was disappointed that the bath/shower rooms have been neglected and need updating badly.  Nevertheless, I had a nice hot shower, got my makeup and hair done and dressed for the day without melting in the humid shower room.  I relaxed with a cup of coffee while I planned my route for the day.  I wanted to get a little west of St. Louis before stopping for the night.  I’m trying to limit my driving to about 300-350 miles/day so that I have time to enjoy wherever I stay and take my time visiting any locations along the way.

I was very proud and pleased that my SUV bedroom was comfortable and private and everything worked as planned.

Day 2 was a success.  I loved being with my family and enjoyed a comfortable night camping but tomorrow begins the real adventure into parts unknown.  Well, OK, I took a road trip to Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, MO last with my daughter so I’m not counting Missouri as a complete unknown but I expect there will be an adventure of some sort tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Family, Life, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America

Don’t lie.  Tell the truth.  At some point in your life you’ve wanted to run away. When you were a kid maybe you wanted to run away from school or siblings or parents. As an adult perhaps you wanted to disappear from responsibilities or relationships.  I think we’ve all dreamed of running away to be free of some challenge we don’t want to face.

Personally, I wanted to run away to be a cowboy.  Not a cowgirl because I didn’t want to wear a stupid cowgirl skirt like Dale Evans.  7bb1c95f5b52b94d7d3a68f0dcc759f9--cowgirl-images-dale-evans

Get lost Tonto!  I wanted to be the Lone Ranger’s sidekick.  I wanted to gamble with Maverick, ride with the Cartwrights, fly with Sky King, shoot with the Rifleman, right wrongs with Cheyenne and Sugarfoot, Johnny Yuma, Wyatt Earp,  Bat Masterson, et al.

bonanza

Well, after all these years I’m finally doing it.  I’m running toward my childhood dreams of the Wild West.  I’ve packed my car and will be taking the ultimate roadtrip solo.  From Port Charlotte, FL to Seattle, WA.  I will be SUV camping in state and national parks along the way with only myself and my audio books for company, my travel apps and Atlas to guide me and 50 years of imagining, dreaming and planning.

Many of my friends and family are appalled that I’m driving across the country by myself, flying by the seat of my pants, following my nose, drifting with the wind. I’ve made no reservations for campsites or hotel rooms because I don’t know how far I will drive each day or how long I will tarry at various locations.  What they don’t realize is that I have spent months poring over my maps and brochures from state tourism bureaus and Chambers of Commerce and have made this trip numerous times in my mind.  I want no schedules or appointments, no time limits or responsibilities.

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of running away you’re welcome to join me. I will describe what I see and feel along the way – – Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, a little bit of Illinois, Missouri, a tiny bit of Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Hi, ho Silver, away!

lone ranger

 

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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