Palm Trees in southern Florida

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Another Free Camp Area Goes Away

Bastendorff Beach in 2017
A couple of years back we came across a small chunk of BLM land on the ocean, not far from Coos Bay Oregon. It was a place you could hang out for a few days at the beach, listen to, and smell, the ocean. It was free to stay there.

We came back to see if there was any room. And there was a lot of room. Probably because of all the signs that said "No Overnight Parking or Camping" with a few "Day Use Only" signs mixed in, just in case you weren't sure.

I do understand. This was a nice place and it's not too far from things. I'm imagining that some people started homesteading in the area, and it was noticed and dealt with. A squeaky wheel may get greased or they may just toss the cart.

There is a County Park & state park in the vicinity, it's not like there are no options.

There are more RVs out in the U.S. these days;  boomers who retired, people who found some aspect of vanlife appealing and those moving to a van-car-tent simply because it gives them a roof over their head.  If you look on YouTube, FaceBook and the other 'modern' means of (controlled) discourse in our world there are a lot of people looking at this form of being a nomad.

Bob Wells and his CheapRVliving has a yearly rendezvous (the RTR, the rubber tramp rendezvous) that has grown huge since he started using YouTube. I'm talking about thousands of people who show up to visit, meet like-minded folks & learn how to get free rent. 

Overview of some of the RTR in January 2018
IMO it worked well when it was a just a few people, but when thousands and thousands get together it's noticed. When society notices someone trying to do something out of the norm it gets dealt with. Marking Bastendorff beach as "No Overnight Parking" was one result of it being noticed.

There are still places where you can camp for free in the West, just not at Bastendorff Beach anymore.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Whale Watching

We took a whale watching tour with Puget Town Express out of Port Townsend, WA and had a great time!

We boarded the boat at 10am but it was a very short walk from the campground we stayed at. We were back in port by 3 pm. We ordered the box lunch and that turned out to be a worthwhile sandwich and a big step to a no-hassle outing.

Glacier Spirit

The crew was knowledgeable, professional and friendly. The boat Glacier Spirit was comfortable and the coffee was good.

Yes we saw whales! I'd go again!!

Good views on the way

Folks dressed to be outside

Our position was tracked and displayed

Thar She Blows!

Any whale sighting brings out all the whale watching boats 

The other two boats

Seeing the whale's tail like that gave me a good feeling

I enjoyed it, it was worth the money and I will do it again.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Wedding!

After doing the genealogy in Ohio and Michigan, we traveled across the top of the country following US Hwy 2. 

US Hwy 2

We stayed at casinos quite a few times. They were free, often  offered electrical plug ins, had good places to eat, and I always enjoyed the chance to test my luck with my $10 entertainment money!

We had a wedding to go to!

My youngest daughter got married. I walked her down the aisle. I didn't give her away - she is a free woman - I just walked her down the aisle.

Walking Gwendolyn Down the Aisle

It was a wonderful time!

All my kids were there & that is something I don't see often. I have a picture now so I can see them anytime I want!

Ethan, Jed, Gwen (the bride), Alex (the groom) and Brandy

One thing I did observe... a number of my daughter's friends from Minnesota came out for the wedding. All these people who were kids for so many years are now all grown up. It didn't leave me feeling old, but rather amazed at being able to see the world work like it's supposed to!

Friday, August 23, 2019


One of the points on my map of "things not to forget if I go by there" was the graveyard where my great-great grandparents are buried in Ohio.

The "not to forget if I go by" map

It did take some looking but they were found.

My great great grandparents

David Milroy 1814-1850, my great great grandfather is on the left and my great great grandmother, Catherine (Boyd) Milroy 1815-1869 is on the right.

Her dad, my 3G grandfather Robert Boyd 1789-1869, was buried next to his daughter. That was unexpected.

Learning about where I came from made the words "great grand parents" real. 

A "great grand" was something you knew everyone had, no big deal.  Now I have them, they are real people!

It wasn't just me who was looking for past relatives, my wife had some places to check out too!

Krum-Blanding Cemetery
Vergennes Township
Kent County, Michigan

Monday, August 12, 2019

The National Air Force Museum

I wanted to stop & see the Air Force museum at Wright/Patterson AFB in Dayton Ohio.  I heard lot of good things about it from different sources.

They were all correct! 

A great museum, free too!   I really don't want to get carried away with airplane pictures, I could!

Space Suit

R-1820 engine, the 1st aircraft engine I worked on
in the Coast Guard

This drone is HUGE!
It's a Global Hawk, RQ-4A  44' long with a wingspan of 115'

A selfie in front of THE Apollo 15 capsule 

President Kennedy had the 1st jet powered Air Force One
This is it.

All the past "Air Force Ones" are on display, you can walk thru them and see how it was.

This is where Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn
in as the 36th President.

We stayed at an Ohio State Park for our Dayton/AF Museum visit, and that was a pleasant stay. The park had a good vibe and leaves a happy feeling when I think of Ohio.

Going north thru the different states, up the middle of the Republic has been good, it freshened the memory I'd had of them. There is a lot of agriculture going on out there!

Just one more airplane picture.....

An HU-16, that was my first aircraft in the Coast Guard

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fort Knox Kentucky

We went & took a look at Fort Knox in Kentucky. The gold depository was what I wanted to see.

The Fort Knox gold is in that building

That's it....

We did go to New Albany, Indiana to tour the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site. 

The Culbertson Mansion in New Albany Indiana

It's owned & operated by the state of Indiana and it was a great tour! 

We got to see the whole house including the places they were still restoring & the places that had not been touched.

Restoration work in progress
It can only be restored to what is under the old paint
or what it looked like if they had an old photo

The top floor with the wall still covered with
soot from heating with coal back in the day.

Children were seen but not heard and back then, they had some unusual ways to insure obedience..

The "time out room" for the kids

Before this room they locked the kids in a closet....

The door side of the "time out room"

Culbertson, who had the house built, made his money off wholesaling dry goods and he did really well. He built & supported an orphanage, a house for widows, the water purification plant  (after several of his kids died from water borne illnesses), and he built the bridge over the Ohio river where the rapids were, opening up the whole area.

Our tour guide really cared about the house, the history, the restoration & the restoration process. She was good!

Tall rooms!

Fort Knox was ok, we stayed at a military RV park for two nights then we headed north again. 

The next goal was up into Indiana, then into Ohio for a couple of stops.

On the way up we had a brief stop in Milroy, Indiana.

I wanted a picture with the town sign 
Rob Milroy, Milroy Indiana, June 2019

It's part of a collection 

The Milroys in Milroy, Minnesota, some time around
the turn of the century.
Dad, Aurora, Brandy, Gwendolyn (in front) and Ethan

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Mammoth Caves in Kentucky

We were heading north from Georgia, where we'd spent some time & had taken care of a few things. The idea was to see some new country up through Tennessee & Kentucky as we headed north.

I had a couple of spots along the way that I'd heard of in passing. If I was going to be close to Rabbit Hash Kentucky that seemed like a place to stop and check out the general store! Then my wife mentioned that we'd be going right by Mammoth Caves National Park. Now that sounds like a place to stop! National Parks are always worthwhile.

The traditional opening to Mammoth Cave

We found a Corps Of Engineers campground not too far from the NP and headed that way.  Most COE camps have electricity... it was a bit warm & humid so plugging in and running the air conditioner was a good idea. They are always well kept, usually have good bath/shower rooms and with the senior pass we get half off! So we settled into Montardier COE camp in Bee Spring, Kentucky for a couple of nights.  (On a side note, I think Bee Spring is as good as name as Rabbit Hash, maybe better!)

With two-night stays, the first night is leisurely, and the second day  (and as far into the evening as we want) is tourist stuff. The third  day is a travel day, and we need to roll by the check-out time.

Inside the cave


I do realize that my lack of planning & 
homework is my own fault, but I never, ever thought that tour reservations would be required to see the caves! A friend mentioned this on FaceBook, so I checked it out. You can roll the dice and get 'walk up' reservations - IF anything is available.  But they're often sold out days in advance for the most desirable tours. So do consider online reservations before you arrive.

Wide passage cut by a river long ago

The Rotunda 

We were able to get "walk up" tickets for the last "self guided" tour during our first full day.  Then we spent our "extra time" checking out the museum and the surrounding area. We were also able to buy "walk up" tickets for the next day (our travel day) for the earliest "Frozen Niagara Tour
".  It started early and checkout time at the COE park was well into the afternoon. The self-guided tour was great! There were rangers stationed in places to answer questions & point features out. The rangers were knowledgeable and the cave complex is something!

On the drive back to the camp we went over the Green River ferry. This was unexpected! A small ferry for 3 or 4 cars that just goes back & forth across the river as needed.

The Green River Ferry

We were up early, got most everything packed for travel and went to the caves for our tour. It was good!  Then back to the campground, we loaded up the Toyota on the tow dolly, and we were on our way again!
Limestone that built up like flowing ice

On the guided tour, going down

Sadly no rabbit hash after we left the caves... 
I saw Fort Knox on the map!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Sitting here looking out the window at the palm tree

It's almost 7am here in southern Florida, next to the Gulf of Mexico.  I'm doing my morning computer thing, writing this blog and looking out the window admiring the palm trees. I really like palm trees.

It's a 'Payday Friday', that means there are bills to be paid, but my credit union is on the West Coast so it's way too early for that. It's a travel day:  we're going back to Georgia, where we left the RV & the cat, but with the timing to get thru Atlanta it's way too early to be leaving. Besides it's a chance to visit a bit more with the in-laws and that is why we came down here.

Getting married doubles your family and with family you don't get much choice, as in, "You can pick your friends but you can't pick your family."  I lucked out.

It's been a good visit.  My bride is happier, I've had a pleasant time and I've gotten to see not only palm trees but banana trees too! I really like all the sub-tropical growth here.

Southern Florida is a good place.  I can sit here and look out the window at the palm trees.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


I was going thru some stuff the other day and came across a cigar box with mementos & souvenirs. After spreading them out & looking at them I realized I had a box of memories. Memories kept in a box... then I thought of my last souvenir.

The last souvenir I bought was a replica Spanish silver piece of eight. I bought it at The Mel Fisher Treasure Museum in Sebastian Florida.  Right after I bought the coin I drilled a small hole in it and put it on my key chain!

The "piece of eight" coin right in front
of the P-38 can opener

This is a reminder of finally making it down to Sebastian Inlet.  It only took me 50 years... but putting this on my keys keeps it in my life rather than in an old box that lives in a cupboard.

The Sebastian Inlet beach I first read of
in a treasure book in 1968

This is not the only souvenir from this winter.  I have a Key West hat and a light blue zippered sweatshirt with a Key West decal ironed on the back!

This is the back of my sweatshirt

Having souvenirs on my key chain means that I see it everyday, it's not put away in a box.

Maybe I'm learning something?

Friday, May 3, 2019

Out of Florida...

With Spring arrived, we left Florida.  It was a great winter!

A sea shell on Sebastian Inlet beach

We need to be in Washington state come the middle of July, so we're heading in that general direction, but there are choices! 

The first plan was to travel along the Gulf coast in Texas and hang a right at Mexico, up the border and continue north. There would be sites to see, boondocking spots to check out (plus Whataburger is in Texas!), a long coast with salt water, camping on the Padre Island beach and 
down by Brownsville you're supposed to be able to see the SpaceX stainless test rocket (Hopper) from the road!  Then lots to see before getting to the "Very Large Array" (SETI) up in New Mexico....

There were some other options too, one of them was the Spring SE Vandweller GTG (get together) that was coming up in northern Alabama. This is a gathering where I met my wife a few years back and we have been visiting with friends there every year since then.  

GTG camp 2019, Raccoon Creek WMA
Stevenson, AL

We had maybe spent a touch too long in Florida (Florida was NICE!), but timing does count.  
It starts to get warm in Texas sooner than later, and the social security check only comes once a month.  Not having gotten to Texas in March made the timing for going to the GTG better.

So we went to the SE GTG at Raccoon Creek WMA (Stevenson AL) to hang out, visit old friends and meet new ones.  It's a place for hiking, biking, wildlife, barges on the Tennessee river, campfires, friends and a relaxing time. I thought we could adjust the route and see what's best when the GTG was about up.

The Tennessee River from the GTG 

While sitting around the fire one night someone (Ronda without the "h", maybe?) mentioned a music festival up in Ohio, so I looked it up.  (I have a computer in my pocket, I do that kind of thing). 

Sitting around the campfire

No music but it seems the music festival location has other things going on, plus the location sounded familiar. I had to pull up a map and look, that was really close to the town my great grandfather was born in!  I have relatives buried there (live ones too I understand) and it has been my intention to visit there: it's "on my (places to go) map!"

A side note - my outlook on life changed the day I actually "saw" the grave of my great-great grandparents in Santa Cruz Calif.  That was the moment in time when I KNEW I had great-great grandparents. They were buried there in 1883.  Knowing I had ancestors and actually seeing the graves were (in my mind) two different things.

Samuel and Martha Besse's marker
Santa Cruz, Calif

That is enough of a hint from the universe for me, Ohio is right on the way! Plus that takes us right by the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, that's "on my map" too!

Oh lookee there! Milroy, Indiana is almost right on the way, I want a photo with the sign for that town too.  

Back in the late 1990s, I took the kids to Milroy, Minnesota for a picture by the sign. Everyone needs a hobby.

Dad, Aurora, Brandy (back), Gwendolyn and Ethan
at the sign for Milroy, MN

We're stopped in Georgia now, my wife was from here. We are visiting and doing some medical stuff. As soon as the medical is completed, we will be heading up towards Indiana & Ohio. Some more genealogy in Michigan, a trip up the coast of Lake Michigan, a stop in Traverse City (I retired from the Coast Guard there) and up across the Mackinaw Bridge, then take a left to follow (sort of) US 2 West to Washington state.

Heading west from Georgia