2017 Rick & Karen’s Blog

Nov and Dec 2017
We moved the Zoom 18″ trailer up to Village Pines for the winter.
Met some new friends and relaxed.

Oct 2017
We finally made it back to Palm Harbor Florida!
I stopped at Village Pines in Inglis FL. and rented a lot for the Zoom trailer.
Our plans are to park the trailer there for the winter, a great getaway for us.

Sept 2017

Well we are in Windham NH for 6 weeks. Going to enjoy family and a couple of weddings.
We also want to see the fall leaf change and get some pictures. We take a little time each week to walk the Windham Trail and get some more pictures.
This is a link to pictures from the trail; Click Here

Leaves are starting to change.

Blue Heron

Windham Train near trail

Bee hive on trail

Green Heron! Windham Trail
Green Heron

Aug 2017
We arrived in Windham New Hampshire on the 24th and settled in for a 6 waeek stay. We want to see the leaves change color in October.
When the cold comes we are leaving for Florida.

Second night stay was at the Promise Land in Pennsylvania. A very nice campground and we got to watch a big black bear walk through the campground!
First night stay on the way to New Hampshire was the Shenandoah Mountains at Loft Mountain Campground. Nice place and cool night to sleep.

We stayed in Dave Postin’s yard in Gatlingburg and got to watch the eclipse over in Cades Cove. We saw the full eclipse 100%.
Well we a preparing to leave Florida for New Hampshire with a week stop in Gatlinburg TN area. We are looking forward to seeing all our Tennessee  friends.

July 2017
Not very much happening this month but we did manage a 4 night trip to General Coffee State Park in GA. We got a great discount using Goupon, great deal. This was a beautiful place to camp and very close to Douglas GA were there is everything you might need. We went out to eat Mexican food at El 1800 Mexican restaurant. The food there was very good and not over priced, I would go back there anything I’m in the area.
Our friends were there also and they brought up our motorcycle. We got to ride the area for about 150 miles. On our way up to McRae on route 441 we saw lots of interesting site but by far the best was Barney Fife!  To see more pictures Click Here.

Barney Fifi

We got to use our Harbor Freight Tarp at the campsite;

Karen and Diane got to wear their pajamas also;

June 2017
Back in Palm Harbor Florida!
Next stop on our way home is Wilderness RV Park in Alabama. We stop here often on our way back and forth to Texas.

We left San Antonio and stopped at the Beaumont Texas Elks Lodge. This is always a great stop.
Now we are back in San Antonio Texas and now I have to repair the Durango. I ordered a new radiator and fan. Changed them out and everything seams good.
We made it to Tawakoni Lake Texas campground, Patrick and the family are heading here for a short vacation.
The campground was nice but way too many fly’s! The temperature during the day was 100 degrees, too hot! I saw one of the biggest spiders ever walking on the gazebo and I hit it with a spatula. To my surprise and Patrick’s horror the spider flew through the air and landed on his back! I never seen him move so fast, the spider was riding him like a bucking horse, holding on with just one leg! On our way south on route 35 the Durango had the first problem with overheating.

This was Oklahoma City Elks Lodge in Oklahoma. We took time to go downtown and see the City Monument to the folks that died there. We started using the air conditioner now because we are south enough that it is hotter.

Today we stopped at Airport Park in Concordia Kansas. This little park was very nice with water and electricity also a bathhouse. They only ask for a donation to stay here and it was a welcomed stopped.

We stayed today at Bessey Family Campground in Nebraska. This National Forest is a hand planted forest. There aren’t enough trees out west and this forest is proof the a forest can be planted if folks wanted to plant trees.

We made it to the Badlands National Park in SD. This is a great place for getting pictures. While there we were able to catch up to folks we know from Pigeon Forge TN; John, Lou, Larry, Sherry and Joe.


On to Rapid City Elks Lodge to stay for the next few days. This Elks Lodge is the biggest I’ve ever seen. They have an 18 hole golf course a pro shop, restaurant and RV park! The first thing we did was headed for Mammoth Site in Hot Springs SD. This is an active Paleontological dig site where they are finding lots of mammoths and other animals.  From Hot Springs we drove to Wind Cave but because they only have two tours a day we didn’t take the tour. You are not allowed to tour the place without to tour. If you go there plan the whole day. Then it was off to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments.
Rapid City Elks Lodge  



Our first stop after leaving Yellowstone is Sturgis SD. We drove most of the day through Wyoming, we planned to stop in-between somewhere but it didn’t workout that way. Sturgis was great, we stopped at the Days End Campground in Sturgis SD. Got a shower in and went down town and our first stop was Full Throttle Saloon. That was interesting because all we saw was a shed where they sold T-shirts and there was a refrigerator with beer. We bought beer and talked with the bartender about Full Throttle Saloon. From there we stopped at Knuckle Saloon and had another beer before going back to Days End.


May 2017
On our way to Yellowstone National Park but first we got to stop in Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons. Our first stop was Jackson WY were we stopped at the visitor center and learned that it was the National Elk Refuge!
We drove through town and saw the Jackson Town Square that was a beautiful park. After Jackson it was the Grand Teton Mountains, snow covered and big grass planes with bison walking around.


From there we drove into the Yellowstone National Park and the first thing we saw was snow and a frozen lake.
Yes it was cold here for the end of May. About 100 miles into the travel we made it to Bridge Bay Campground.
Got our assigned campsite, setup and started exploring the area. There first thing you see is signs telling you not to approach bison, good advice! We drove down to Lake Lodge and walked around. Inside the lodge was a nice little cafe where we got coffee and ice cream everyday. The menu in the cafe said there are 2000 earthquakes in Yellowstone each day! In Yellowstone we saw many animals geysers and amazing things to get pictures of .

Yellowstone Pictures;



More Google West Trip Pictures

We moved from the Rocky Mountains to Firehole Canyon WY. This is about 17 miles south of Rock Springs. On our way into the campground we had to stop and wait for the cows to get out of the road, they were not in any hurry to move. The one thing I can say about this Wyoming area is it’s very windy, non stop wind! The campground uses cement walls around the picnic tables so you can go outside and sit! We had to kill some time before getting to Yellowstone National Park and Firehole Canyon is where we stopped. This is one of the few places we had trees and some small amount of shade. The trees were Russian Olive trees and they look great, they should be planted all over the west.




We made it to the Rocky Mountains National Park and parked the trailer at Stillwater Campground. Not many campers here at this time but is was cold. We went down town to Grand Lake and walked all over town. Stopped at “The Hub” and got coffee and scone, very good food. We got up on the first day to snow! Not deep but still cold and snow on the ground. We went into the park and stopped at the visitor center and got our magnet and was told the road is closed 10 mile up. We still drove the 10 miles and saw elk, moss, deer, rams and saw bear track but no bear.

Finished in Farmington NM we started moving north. Once we got north of Durango CO it was all up hill. We went over a mountain pass that was 10,880 feet high and snow was everywhere. The Durango took some time to reach the top of the mountains. On our way down the first pass there were cliffs maybe 2 or 3 thousand feet straight down on the right side, it was scary driving it. Shortly after going over the pass we camp down to about 9000 feet and into a little town called Silverton CO. There is a steam train that comes up here from Durango. This town was the picture of a mountain village like you would see in the Alps with a wild west twist. We drove around the town and found a place to park, then we walked around. We went to a bakery and got coffee and cake and then waited for the steam train to arrive. Karen saw a little boy selling rocks and she bought a rock from him, nice rock $2.

Our next stop was unplanned at Black Canyon National Park. Found this by accident and glad we did because there was lots of great picture taking opportunities. We camped at the top of a mountain and saw mule deer in the campsite aside of ours.

Mesa Verde National Park was next and we got a campsite at Morfield Campground. We got a chance to see lots of old ruin home sites and cliff dwellings. We signed up for the tours at the visitor center at the park entrance, it was only $5 a tour. You can’t go through the cliff dwellings alone you must book a tour. The tours are worth the money because of how informative the rangers are. We also took a nice ride down to the Four Corners monument and got pictures. This is on an Indian reservation and it was nice to see native American folks getting some money from tourism.

It’s here in Morfield Campground that I noticed the trailer hitch iron was about to break off! To make everything worse it snowed! We managed to get off the mesa and got down to Durango Home Depot and bought some iron for the repairs we needed to do. Then we went south to the Elks Lodge in Farmington NM. There we were able to repair the trailer. Plus on our way to the lodge we drove by the Aztec Ruins National Monument, we didn’t know it was there. After the repairs were finished we went back to the Aztec Ruins for the day.


Going to Mesa Verde in Colorado today. We left Capital Reef and rolled into Hanksville UT. I saw a gas station and decided to top off the tank. A very good thing because we drove for about 243 miles over 5 hours before we saw another gas station! Between Capital Reef and Cortez CO. There is next to nothing, no gas, food, bathrooms. We saw maybe 4 other cars on this stretch of highway. Along the highway as we neared Colorado we came upon Natural Bridges National Monument and of course we stopped. This was and interesting stop to see the natural bridges all cut by water over thousands of years.

We drove to Capital Reef National Park in UT. Another very nice park to see. We got a great place to park the trailer in Fruita Campground near the Gifford House Museum and Store. We bought a cinnamon bun there and wish we bought more. We drove all the way down to the end and then walked another couple of miles down the trail at the Petroglyphs Narrows. This area is very interesting to see.

Next park was Bryce Canyon National Park UT. This is a magnificent national park to stay at. We got our campsite and hiked up the hill to an overlook of the canyon. We walked the rim for awhile and stopped at a place were there was a hole in the rock. You had to walk over a walkway with a long way down to the bottom sides. If you fall you probable won’t live! The walkway was only about 15 feet long so I did it. Got to the other side and looked through the whole and it was a straight down cliff with an amazing scenery. I took some pictures and walked back across the path. Then Karen walked across and got some pictures. It was good until she turned around and looked down. She panicked and I had to walk back across and pull her back to the other side.

Left Page heading for Zion National Park Utah. This was a long interested ride and Zion was amazing. We drove up and learned there was no available place to park the trailer in the park. We drove out and found Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. The resort was still being built but Karen said we only need a site to stay and didn’t need anything else. They gave us a spot for $15, great!
We parked the trailer and went back to Zion.

We are staying a the Elks Lodge in Page Arizona and picking up things that we need. We stopped here because there is a Walmart at the end of the street and we can get what we need there. Also on this trip our phones, MetroPCS and AT&T works only occasionally. At Walmart I noticed a big display of phones and learned that Verizon is the system that works best out west. I purchased a cheap Verizon phone with a $50 per month plan. This phone worked nearly everywhere we went including Yellowstone!

We left Sedona heading for the Grand Canyon! We didn’t have a place to stop that night but we did stop for the day.
The canyon is amazing and very big. We parked the Durango and trailer in town and took a free bus ride to the Grand Canyon visitor center. After this stop we headed to the Elks Lodge in Page AZ.

We went to Montezuma Well to see the ruins there where the Native Americas lived long ago.

We got lucky and was able to get a campsite in Pine Flats Campground on route 89A Sedona AZ.
The site we got was near the water spout on the north side of the campground. Everyone in the Sedona area
headed here to get the mountain water, very good water.

Folks we met at the Petrified Forest told us they were heading to Winslow AZ to go and stand on the corner. We were in Arizona but I wasn’t thinking about Winslow until she mentioned it. We traveled west on route 40 to Winslow AZ and stopped for a quick picture. We were “Standing on the corner of Winslow AZ.”
Great picture taking opportunity and an interesting stop. They had statues of the Eagles and painted murals on the walls.
Further on route 40 we stopped at Meteor Crater. Another great spot for pictures.
Then onward to Sedona AZ.

This was a very busy traveling month for Karen and I. we left Amarillo heading for the Petrified Forrest and Painted Desert. We stayed two nights at the Petrified Forest Gift Shop, you can park for free but we paid $10 a night to hookup to the electric. There are no amenities here.

Santa Fe New Mexico we stopped at the Elks Lodge there and stayed in the back field. There were no amenities there but we didn’t need anything. The best part of this stop was that the lodge was only about two miles from the downtown area.

April 2017
2/29/17 Saturday At the Elks Lodge in Amarillo TX. As for the Elks lodge, there are no amenities here only electricity. The folks don’t really greet new comers either. However, the lodge if well attended on this night. The place was filled with people and lots of volume. When we woke up this morning it was very cold. The little heater didn’t do the trick, we needed a bigger heater. So, we went to Walmart and picked up another small heater and it is working great. The weather tonight is going in the 20s and snow in the morning. After that it should get back up to the 70s. We got stuck here for two days waiting for the weather to get better!

2/28/17 Friday
We left Palo Duro State Park for the Elks Lodge in Amarillo. The lodge was easy to find and we got our spot in the back next to Mr. Bill. A very generous nice loud man with delicious whiskey and butterscotch.  Nice folks from California and they are traveling Route 66. It started getting cold and overcast so we put the TV on. We received lots of channels here in Amarillo. The weatherman was talking about a winter storm and we are going to get 1 to 2 inches of snow in Amarillo! Our little heat was good when the temperature was in the forties but didn’t do well with temperatures in the 30s. The temperature in around 33 degrees and yes, it’s snowing on and off.  It is supposed to get into the 20s tonight and I want to be prepared for that cold.
4/27/17 Thursday
Woke up to 43 degrees outside! We had our little 250 Watt heater was running and it was quiet comfortable inside the camper. The weatherman said it will cloud up later a chance of rain. He also was talking about SNOW! But for now, the sun was shining so we got started. Today we disconnected the camper and took the Durango down the valley. The deeper we got down into the valley the more amazing the scenery was. We managed to get lots of pictures while driving around. The park ranger came by and was asking about the camper also. He wants to build one also.

4/26/17 Wed
We had a good night’s sleep and the morning air was pleasantly cool. We left for Amarillo around 9:30am. On our way to the highway we took lots of pictures of the windmills. Thought that it was cool to see oil pumps on the bottom land and on the top of the plateaus there were windmills. When I think about Texas I think oil well all that has changed now. Once we reached the highway all we saw was windmills on every plateau and oil pumps down below. I’m talking about thousands and thousands of windmills! You never hear about windmills in Texas but there are more of them than oil pumps. From Abilene to Lubbock Texas you will see windmills.

We stopped for gas somewhere and folks camp up to the Durango asking about the camper. There is always some interest in the camper.

We stopped for gas somewhere and folks camp up to the Durango asking about the camper. There is always some interest in the camper.

We arrived a Palo Dura Canyon State Park around 3:30pm. It was astonishing to us because we never seen a canyon so big! The woman at the check-in counter said that the place was almost filled up and we would only be able to stay one night. Suddenly she said; Oh, I found you a place where you can stay for two nights. We were very happy about that until we got to the campsite and found nearly all were empty! All over the canyon the sites were mostly empty for both nights that we stayed there. The girl obviously wasn’t telling us the truth.

The campsite we got was at the front of the park and beautiful. There canyon walls were all around us and we couldn’t stop taking pictures. Every time the sun moved the pictures just got better. There were a bunch of turkeys and a roadrunner around of campsite. They were not worried about us being there, they came right up and looked in the camper.

We met Nolan and his wife Ann there and they had a Casita Camper. They live in Orem Utah and gave us lots of advice on place to go in Utah. Nolan really emphasized Goblin Valley in between Bryce and the Arches.  So this is a place on our list and we’re looking forward to it. They had a friend they meet there his name was Gene and he was from Arkansas.

2/25/17 Tue
We left San Antonio on Tuesday 25th and headed for Abilene State Park in Abilene Tx. Route 87 was a festival for our eyes with all the flowers. Nice ride on a long road with very little traffic. We arrived at the Abilene State Park about 3:30pm and the temperature was 99 degrees! A notable thing we saw as we drove into the park was a bunch of windmills. When we finally found our campsite #64 someone else was setting up in it. They thought it was #84, wrong so they moved. The bathroom was nice with flushing toilets and showers. We found our refrigerator was open when we stopped. It was opened for a couple of hours,” I forgot to put the bungee cord around it. I glad there is electricity here the batteries will get recharged.   We actually used the air conditioner on to sleep. Sitting outside in the evening we found lots of gnats and no seems, so buggy we finally went inside the camper. One thing that I liked about this park was the bird watching blinds. We got a chance to see lots of birds and got some great pictures.

We are finished all the tasks we came to do; build a fence for Pat & Krista and do some more work on the mini camper2. I was not sure about the battery system that I installed and decided to change a few things. I purchased a MightMax 100ah deep cycle battery, A load tester for the batteries and specific gravity tester also. To my surprise the battery was the same size and weight as the marine deep cycle! I put these two batteries in parallel and connected them to the inverters. I also moved the large batteries from the front metal container to the inside of the camper over the axle. I think the weight being on the axle will be better then on the hitch. I also purchase a meter to monitor the batteries; Bayite DC 6.5-100V 0-100A LCD Display Digital Current Voltage Power Energy Meter.

We are now on our way to San Antonio Tx with our next stop in sight; Wilderness RV Park AL. This place is nice and we have been here twice now. Most of the folks here are friendly and helpful. The majority of the folks here and long term RVers, maybe snowbirds. We chose this place because it was in our Passport America book and I’m glad we stopped. In the future we both want to stop here for an extended stay and see the area. Photo at Wilderness RV Park, AL.

We had one more stop to make before getting to San Antonio and that was the Elks Lodge in Beaumont Texas. They have RV spots there and it’s good spot to stay the night. Plus they almost always have fresh cooked food available. This lodge is also listed in PassPort America you don’t have to be an Elk member to stay here. Yes I am a member of the Elks.
Elks Lodge Beaumont TX

Our first weekend in Texas was spent at Garner State Park in Concan, Tx.
We have been here before and this park is beautiful. There is a lot of thinks to do here like swim, hike, camping and picture taking.
Photo of Garner State Park Campsite.

Feb and March 2017
Well these months were spent building our new Mini Camper #2.
It was a lot of work but it was worth the effort.
On our first time out with the mini camper to the Green Swamp, Hampton Track in Florida with Diane and Mike everything went well. Until I met Jeff! He had a modified cargo trailer with a refrigerator in it. All of his electronics was all running; fridge, radio and computer all working off solar power. Well that was all I had to see, now I needed all that in my new camper too! Almost $600 later we now have a small refrigerator 2.6 cu, ft. in our new mini camper also. So far it works well using one 100 Watt solar panel and 3 12 VDC batteries. More on this later. Our visit to the Hampton Track campgrounds was great. This is one of the free sites to camp in Florida. It is part of the Florida Water Management system in Florida. They have lots of land and you can use the land for equestrian use, hunting, fishing and camping. There is a catch tough; there is no water, electric, showers or anything. You’ll need to bring in everything you will need and carry it out when you leave. You can’t leave an garbage there.
Green Swamp, Hampton Track, FL

Our second time out with the new camper we went to Koreshan State Historic Site, Estero, FL
This is a great place to go but it is very difficult to book dates here.
It is always booked way out so you got to plan well.
We got lucky one weekend when someone cancelled their dates.
I booked them fast and I’m glad for it. The place is easy to get to and there is a lot to see there.
We walked around the old homestead and workshops there. A great picture taking opportunity.
You don’t have to be camping there to visit, put this stop on your list if you are in the area.

We got all packed up for our trip out west next. Tuned up the Durango and we were ready. Started out about 9am from Palm Harbor, FL and got all the way to Port Richey and the Durango died! Yup in the middle of the street it was totally dead. Called AAA and got towed all the way back home. It turned out the rotor melted down and destroyed the distributor cap. I replaced it all and we got back on the road about 4pm. Our first stop west was in Inglis Florida at Bob and Paula’s place. We stayed there two night and hung out in the forest. Got pizza at Our Pub, 253 Hwy 40 W, Inglis, FL 34449; good pizza.

Jan 2017
Well we started this year out going to San Antonio Texas for visit family for Christmas.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to bring a trailer with us because included in the trip to Texas was a cruise to Mexico. I didn’t know of a place to park the little trail and was afraid that it would get stolen. We did a lot of tourist stuff in San Antonio with Jim, Peg, Pat, Krista and Oliver.
Did the downtown River Wake and I believe we eat at every restaurant, maybe not but it seems like we did. Everyone had a great time and can’t wait to travel somewhere else for our next get together.
The Alamo

We got on the Carnival Triumph ship in New Orleans. Nice ship and plenty to do on the there.
Again, it seemed like there was a Golden Coral every 200 feet! I was surprised how far up the Mississippi River the ship was parked. It took hours to travel out to the Gulf of Mexico. Our first stop was in Cozumel Mexico at the docks that were more north of the city. It was all new and nice to explore. From Cozumel, we went to Progresso Mexico on the north side of the Yucatan peninsula. We got on a bus and went to the Dzibilchaltún, Merida, Mexico Maya ruins.
We got there early in the morning and the weather was nice. It was sunny and cool making it easy to walk around the archaeological site.
On our way, back to the ship we stopped at a ranch called “Tierra Bonita”, Carretera Mérida – Progreso, Temozon Norte, Merida, Mexico. They served us lunch, Mexican rice, chicken and much more. It was all very tasty and there was plenty to eat. After lunch, they put on a Mexican ranch style wedding show. Riding horses, roping and dancing, it was a nice show and a great stop.

Progresso is a small town on the Gulf of Mexico. Carnival has a dock there. It is all new and the town is quiet poor. We didn’t get a chance to stop in town, just rode through. I can say that the stop we made in Progresso was very nice, we all enjoyed it.
Cruise Pictures on Google Click Here.

Our current plans for this year are;
– Finish building our new mini-camper by the end of March.
– April we head back to San Antonio Texas for a few weeks.
– Then we are off to see;
New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon and California.

After that We are not real sure but we are planning to visit family in New Hampshire in the fall.

Rick Mercier moved from FrugalWay.com Feb 2020

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