Sunday, 1 January 2006

The Year 2005 in Review

The year 2005 started out with us leaving our location at Lakeland, Florida and heading to the Florida panhandle for a few days. We stayed in Mexico Beach at another Passport America campground which is half price for members. The sand there is beautiful, silky and white! Mexico Beach is close to Panama City with mainly the Tyndall Air force Base in between.

From there we headed to Troy, Alabama and spent some time with a friend that Gordon had met through one of his camera forums. Jim and Wendy are Canadians who at the time were living in Montgomery, Alabama as Wendy is with the Canadian Air Force and was on training. We spent a nice day with Jim at the Montgomery Zoo taking photos and had dinner with Jim and Wendy at their house.

After Alabama, our next stop was New Orleans, Louisiana. While the French Quarter was fun and interesting, both of us agree that we won’t go back there. It’s a difficult city to get around in and very busy. We spent some time in Jean Lafitte Park but had to leave as we didn’t feel safe there. That was basically the feeling from the whole city and area outside the French Quarter.

We then headed to Texas where we basically followed the Rio Grande after leaving the Gulf Coast. We stayed near Galveston, then on to Rockport which we thoroughly enjoyed. Galveston was an interesting city on the coast and Rockport is a smallish town on the Gulf with lots of water birds and a nice climate. While at Rockport we took a couple of side trips to Port Aransas which is on an island that can be reached either by ferry from the Rockport area or by bridge from Corpus Christi. The beaches there are beautiful and you can dry camp right on the beach.. This is a place we’ll definitely return to. Also while we were there, we decided to buy cell phones so we now have Verizon cell phones with a Corpus Christi phone number. On from there to the southern part of Texas on the Rio Grande. We stayed at San Benito, about 30 miles north of Brownsville (the most southern part of Texas) and about ½ hour from South Padre Island. We stayed in this area for nearly three weeks and it was cloudy the whole time. Just when we had planned to leave, it turned sunny and 90 F so we stayed an extra three days before moving on to Laredo, then Del Rio following the Rio Grande. Lake Amistad at Del Rio is also a very pretty area. On to Alpine which is a cute little western town in the Chihuauan Desert but in the mountain area of the desert. While in Alpine we took the 80 mile drive to Big Bend National Park. What a fantastic place! The scenery is breathtaking! So, we visited the local campground at Terlingua, just outside the park and booked in for a week. We had a great week there, probably the best weather of our whole trip as the sun shone daily and it was warm and very pleasant. It rained a couple of times during the night which is the way we like it. Terlinga/Study Butte is a small town that lacks many of the amenities that we’re used to, like supermarkets and WalMarts that we’ve come to take for granted. We then returned to Alpine and spent a week there before continuing on to Carlsbad, New Mexico to see Carlsbad Caverns. We spent a couple of weeks there as it is also near the Guadalupe Mountains which is another photo opportunity. While there we took the two hour drive over to Alamogordo to White Sands National Monument and Riudoso, which is a pretty little tourist town in the Sacramento Mountains. We spent the day in this area and returned through Roswell, New Mexico and no, we didn’t see any UFOs.

We started out trip back from Carlsbad following I-10 cross country and going north through Alabama, arriving in Ohio mid April to see the children and grandchildren. Two weeks after we left, a new grandchild was born. I guess we’ll get to meet her on our return trip in 2006!

Our return to Ontario on April 15th was too early! We stayed for the last 15 days of April at theThousand Island Ivy Lea KOA. It was cold and rainy for most of the time we were there but it had wifi and we thought the Rideau Heights park in Ottawa didn’t open until May 1st. We returned to Ottawa on May 1st and spent the month of May getting our affairs in order for another year. It was good to see Margie,John,Nick and Danica. It sure seemed like a long time. I also had a day trip with Margie and Danica to Westport, a small touristy town near Ottawa.

The month of June we spent at the Alpine RV Resort in Lindsay as Betty and husband, Garth have a cottage at Pleasant Point. Betty & I did some day shopping trips and she and I stayed overnight in Toronto one night and attended a breast cancer luncheon at the home of Betty’s long time friend, Diane. We also had lunch at Betty & Garth’s club with another long time friend, Bonnie.

We returned to Ottawa for another couple of weeks and to get more medical appointments out of the way, then to Kingston for an RV rally, then back to the cottage at Lindsay for Betty & Garth’s yearly cottage weekend for the family. We were joined by the DeJongs and Nick’s girlfriend, Becky. We again returned to Ottawa to finalize things there before heading out for the winter.

We left Ottawa on September 9th, my 57th birthday to head west through Ontario. We found we really liked the scenery on the east and northern parts of Lake Superior and plan to return there this summer to spend some time. On our way through Ontario we stopped at Whitefish, Wawa, Thunder Bay and Kenora leaving Ontario on September 18th. We drove straight through Manitoba and spent our first night outside of Ontario at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. We wound up staying three nights at the KOA campground there as I had never seen the prairies before. What interesting skies they have there! Then it was on to Alberta stopping in Medicine Hat for a couple of days. Medicine Hat is a pretty little city and if it wasn’t so cold in the winter, I could probably live there. It has everything you need and some very nice scenery. It claims to be the sunniest place in Canada and it was indeed sunny, although rather windy when we were there.

Our next stop was at Banff, Alberta where we spent a week. Our plans had been to meet Betty & Garth there as they were taking the Rocky Mountaineer through the Rockies however it turned very cold and started to snow and we wanted to get out of the mountains before the snow hit. Banff is a beautiful area and would be a nice spot in the summer. On we went through the mountains, quite an adventure towing a 38 ft trailer! Our next stop was on the north part of the Shuswap near Chase, B. C. where we also spent a few days in a nice little campground on Lake Shuswap. We were starting to get cloudy, cool days so after meeting Betty & Garth in Kamloops for dinner one evening (their Rocky Mountaineer tour made a stop there), we headed to Kelowna where we spent a few days, another very pretty area. We actually did have some sunny days there and did some touring around the area before heading west towards Vancouver. We stopped at Chilliwack overnight and had some very heavy rain. The scenery was beautiful though and we were sorry we didn’t spend more time there. From Chilliwack we headed to Surrey, B.C. where we stayed until our border crossing on November 1st. While there we met up with a photographer friend of Gordon’s and the two of them went shooting photos a few times. We also had dinner one evening at his house with he and his wife. Vancouver has some beautiful areas, one of which is White Rock near where we were staying with Stanley Park being another. Vancouver is very difficult to get around in. It has no freeways and a lot of bridges. We also had a lot of rainy weather. Little did we know then, that was only the beginning of our rainy weather.

We crossed into the US on November 1st and headed to the coastal area ending up at Copalis Beach, Washington where we spent three days, lots of rain! From there we spent about 1 ½ wks at Woodburn, Oregon where we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. We had some RV problems that required someone to come to the park to fix them so we stayed longer than we expected but it was a nice park and within walking distance of an outlet mall. We traveled over to the coast a couple of times and decided that we would stay at the coast for a few days after leaving Woodburn. So from there, we stayed for a week at Port Orford, Oregon, The scenery around coastal Oregon is truly beautiful. We took many photos. From there we headed into California and stayed a few days at Smith River, California which is close to Redwood National Park. The giant redwoods are truly a sight to behold however we were again plagued with rain so we headed inland and stayed a few days at Chowchilla, California which is about 40 miles north of Fresno. From there we spent some time at Yosemite National Park, saw the giant sequoias and also had a day trip to Carmel and San Francisco.

Then we were off to Bakersfield where we spent a week in Bakersfield smog. It’s a nice city but in the winter the smog from Los Angeles gets trapped in the bowl that is Bakersfield making it quite
unpleasant. From Bakersfield we trekked through Barstow and then west to the San Diego area. Traffic was horrid and it was not a nice drive but we arrived at our campground in El Cajon in one piece. El Cajon is about 22 miles west of San Diego and very convenient for seeing the city. We spent nine days there and spent a lot of time sightseeing, doing their 59 mile drive which introduces a newcomer to the city. We also went to the San Diego Zoo, Old Town and spent a lot of time along the coast watching the surfers and the ocean in general. The campground was a lovely one and while we were there we used Passport America which made it half price, still nearly $30/night.

While in San Diego, I found out that a full time RVer whose blog I read daily was at a campground at Desert Hot Springs that is for members only but she could get us in on a coupon for 5 days for $25. For this price we had to sit through a presentation for purchase of a membership at the park. It wasn’t a high powered sales pitch and we got through it without depleting our bank account. It is a beautiful park though and we are going back there for a week in January 2006 as guests of another couple that we met at the Christmas pot luck. We had a few quite hot but pleasant days here, lots of sun and even had some pool time. Definitely shorts weather! There were lots of little hummingbirds flitting around the park as well.

While at Desert Hot Springs, Gordon drove up to Joshua Tree National Park which was about an hour’s drive and he decided that he would like to spend some time there so we headed out to Twentynine Palms, a small town at the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park and home to the largest marine base in the US. We’ve spent several days photographing Joshua trees, sunrises, sunsets and rock formations. This area is considered high desert. The days have been pleasant and the evenings cool with some high wind one day. We spent New Year’s at this location and that being said, this ends my blog for 2005.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! We’ve had a great year and are looking forward to the next year with some new and some old places in our itinerary….stay tuned……

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