September 13, 2019 A Search for Foliage Yields Turkeys and Butterflies

I took off very early this morning and headed up to Florida, MA and Rowe, MA., driving the back roads looking for any sign of early fall foliage color. Usually the swamp maples and other trees near water turn way before the overall colors arrive in October, …

… but in over 100 miles of driving today, I found just a couple of trees that had started to turn. Well, it is still very early and they have had a very dry summer up here, so I will just have to wait and see what happens a little later.

One thing I did find were wild turkeys … everywhere!

Every time I have gone out I have spotted flocks of wild turkeys, really don’t ever recall seeing many, or any, around here when I was growing up.

I passed many fields of ready to pick corn …

… and some very suspicious looking new farm crops, that I have to assume might be hemp?? since there were signs around these fields saying ” This is not WEED”.

Not finding much on the back roads I headed south to Deerfield, MA.  and bought some delicious fresh sweet corn at a roadside farm stand. I know it was fresh since the farmer was just unloading the corn from the back of his pickup as I pulled in.

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory

So, since I was in the area, I decided to visit the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory , a place I happened to discover by accident many years ago when I lived in NH.

I am not going to attempt to identify all these butterflies since I didn’t take notes while I was there.

There are feeding platforms with over ripe bananas as well as these colorful glass feeder bowls, scattered throughout the exhibit.

In addition to the butterflies, there is quite an assortment of exotic flowers …

… in the enclosed butterfly exhibit …

… as well as a few colorful birds ( ones that don’t eat butterflies, I presume).

If you are ever in the area of Route 5 in Deerfield, MA, I highly recommend stopping by to visit this place, located just a short distance from I-91.

 

September 8 – 10, 2019 Escape From Little Rock

Plenty of corn in Indiana
Plenty of corn in Indiana

Day One Little Rock to Columbus, Ohio

Day one of my first trip in the RV in five months and the initial journey with a new 4 wheels down toad, turned out much better than expected! I pulled the motorhome out of it’s spot and positioned it away from other campers at the Downtown Riverside RV Park, my home for the past two months. Then I pulled my new 2019 Chevy Equinox out and positioned it behind the motorhome and started my first attempt to hook it up … in the dark at 1:30 in the morning.

Of course I was nervous trying to be sure to get everything hitched up just as the manuals stated and then set up the car for being towed. If anyone was watching, I’m sure they would have gotten a kick out of watching some old fool fumbling around in the dark trying to read manuals while hooking up the the towbar. I wasn’t terribly confident as I exited the campground and headed up onto the interstate, but everything seemed to be as it should be, and 666 miles later when I finally stopped for the night, I was very happy with my decision to trade the old reliable Prius and be finished with my days with a tow dolly. The new car towed easily being about the same weight as the tow dolly and Prius combined and after a few hundred miles of towing, when I first stopped for gas and went back and started up the Equinox for a few minutes, as called for in the manual, and everything seemed fine, I was relieved for sure and on my way to preferring this new to me, way of moving the toad.

Did I mention that my motorhome cab’s AC does not work, despite being “fixed” by three separate Workhorse approved mechanics, in thee different states over the past two years? All three claimed to have it working after recharging the system and, with combined repair charges of over $1,000, yet in every case the AC would be blowing hot air after 24 hours. While in Little Rock, I tried unsuccessfully to get it into Whitey’s Truck Repair , he came highly recommended, but he could never get me in, always had more business than he could handle. Thus, the reason for me leaving Little Rock at 1:30 in the morning, when it was already a very muggy 81 degrees. The forecast called for temps in the 90’s, as it has been every day for about three months, and I wanted to get started and north of there ASAP.

Turned out I never had to suffer from the heat after all as I made it 400 miles and 10 degrees cooler, before the sun rose on Sunday. By then I was under cloud cover and then rain and more clouds and the temps never rose above 80 as I proceeded north and east. Instead of taking what would have been my normal route, which would be east on I-40 to I-81, then north, I opted to head directly north out of Little Rock in an attempt to quickly get out from under the heat that has been broiling the southeast for weeks.I took I-40 just a couple of miles then headed north on Route 67 to I-55 in Saint Louis, Missouri, where I picked up I-70 East to Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio, where I finally stopped for  the night around 6 PM, when I just happened to be at the entrance to a rest area, stuck in the first traffic jam of the trip. After advancing just a quarter mile in 45 minutes and seeing no sign of moving any faster for the next TWO miles of construction delays, lane closures, I pulled into the rest area and set up to watch the Patriots first game of the season, hoping I could get a little sleep, and escape the traffic backup if I left in the middle of the night. At 3 AM Monday there was no traffic delay through the next 30 miles of work (DESPERATELY needed on I-40), but easy to see what was causing the horrendous backup of traffic. 

Day Two Columbus to Elmira, New York

Enjoyed watching the Patriots game last night, then got a good nights sleep at the rest area. As I suspected, when I set out at 4 AM, the traffic backup on the Interstate was gone and it was clear sailing to the Ohio border. Not hard to see why the backup yesterday was so bad. Three separate lane closure stretches, each going on for 6 miles or more with a couple side highways coming in during the same stretch .. I would bet, during the day, it probably would take 3 or 4 hours to get through here, if not longer. Avoid at all costs unless traveling after midnight.

Just a gorgeous 70 degree day with blue skies, what a change from Little Rock! A summer down south makes me appreciate the weather up north a bit more (not including winter). Continued on I-70 into PA. where I took I-79 North towards Erie, PA, then got on I-86, the Southern Tier Expressway, and made it to Elmira, NY before giving up for the day. Not quite as many miles today, had to stop and nap a few times to recover from yesterday’s long haul.

No more Tow Dolly or Prius

Day Three Elmira to Charlemont, MA

Up at 3:30 so I could be on the road by 4 AM in order to miss the morning rush hour traffic around Albany and Troy, New York. From I-86, I took the slow way on Route 7 through Albany and on through Troy.  From Route 7 I took Route 278 to Route 2 east to MA. That last stretch, especially on what passes as a road in New York, I don’t think I will ever try again. The roads from Arkansas to Massachusetts are an embarrassment to all who have to attempt to survive them, but this short stretch of Route 2 in NY took the cake as far as conditions go, paved ( sort of) and all but impassable. The road surfacing on Route 2 in MA was in much better condition but this stretch has some serious curves and long, steep grades. I won’t do this route again in the motorhome!

Pulled into the Country Aire CG in Charlemont, MA around 2 PM and signed up for a week. Nice little campground, all but deserted today but I was told they fill up on weekends, so I will have a few peaceful nights here while I explore how much this area has changed, an area where I grew up, so very long ago.

I can’t believe I actually covered 1592 miles in just three days, but my fear of getting caught in the heat down south without AC, kept me moving on, moving on more rapidly than I realized. The new toad behaved as it should, actually easier to pull than the tow dolly and Prius, barely knew it was there, until the final few miles through that rough stretch of Route 2. Took the Equinox out immediately after setting up camp to go get some farm fresh sweet corn (Boy, was it GOOD) just up the road, and it seems to be none the worse for wear after being towed almost 1600 miles on it’s first road trip.

Sorry about the lack of photos but in the coming month up here, I hope to get some nice foliage shots and perhaps find some interesting subjects down along the seacoast. Stay tuned!

September 5, 2019 Finally Leaving Little Rock, Arkansas

On the Road Again !

The image above shows some of the very colorful landscaping in one of the older, more established neighborhoods in Little Rock. I was pleasantly surprised by the many older neighborhoods all around the city, almost all shaded by massive live oaks and most beautifully landscaped.

Today, September 5th, I had my checkout appointment with my oncologist at UAMS and received permission (and a whole lot of medical instructions for the upcoming months) to leave Little Rock,  Arkansas, after the longest, and most grueling five months of my life. The Bone Marrow Transplant that was originally estimated to take roughly 3 months was extended in my case by a couple of unfortunate complications, but at last I am done here, at least until I have to return for next April’s checkup.

The intense chemo and extended hospital stays resulted in my feeling and getting around like an old man. Well, I guess I am an old man, just never felt like one before. Considering that I left the hospital almost two months ago using a walker and was barely able to make it up the four steps into my motorhome, I guess I can see that I am actually slowly, and I do mean slowly, regaining my strength, but I still have a long way to go. My Multiple Myeloma is not in total remission so I will be taking what they term a “maintenance” drug routine for the foreseeable future and will have to have regular blood testing done to monitor how quickly this horrible disease comes back, and unfortunately, it always does.

In the meantime I will be heading north back to New Hampshire next week with my new Chevy Equinox in tow. My weakened state and brittle bones meant I had to ditch my previous toad setup of my old reliable Prius on a tow dolly, just can’t risk pushing the tow dolly around anymore. The Equinox is one of the dwindling few new cars that can still be flat towed, four wheels down, and so far, I am really pleased with the vehicle.

I hope to get some nice New England foliage shots and indulge in some Ipswich  fried clams (at Boardman’s or The Clam Box), some Maine lobsters, and maybe even some fresh Swordfish, three favorite foods that I have gone without in the last six years out west. Hope to visit some of my old photographer friends around Lebanon and Hanover, NH, and then just may spend some time with my little sister, who generously donated almost four months of her life to act as my caregiver down here in Little Rock, putting up with the intense heat and humidity (and me), and was simply invaluable to me, especially during some of the dark days I spent in the hospital. Don’t know if I would have made it without her.

So, I will soon start doing some blog entries once again, taking photos as I used to, and eventually making it back down to Florida for the winter.

Stay tuned!

February 19, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Mittry Lake Wildfire
Mittry Lake Wildfire

A Little Nightime Excitement and a Trip to the Picacho State Recreation Area

Mittry Lake Wildfire
Mittry Lake Wildfire

A slight smell of smoke woke me from a dead sleep the other night and I glanced out the bedroom window to the scene above. The wildfire was about 3/4 mile away at that time and the wind, fortunately was driving it towards the Imperial Dam, not towards the area I was camping. The fire smoldered for three days and the burn covered a distance of a couple miles all the way up to the road going through the Yuma proving grounds.

Imperial Dam LTVA Sunrise
Imperial Dam LTVA Sunrise

Just another desert sunrise from the campsite.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area

Picacho State Recreation Area

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area

I was waiting for a day with blue skies and cumulous clouds to venture out the very washboarded 18 mile gravel road to the Colorado River and the Picacho State Recreation Area. I had those conditions when I left camp but the clouds were blown away by the time I reached the river.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area
Colorado River
Colorado River

The gravel road is dusty and washboarded, but there are no serious grades along the route and the road can pretty much be traveled by any type of rig. There is a nice primitive campground near the river, probably close to 50 level campsites with water and a dump station and when I was there only about five small camping units were present. Certainly a place to get away from it all, but I probably would not subject my motorhome to the washboarded road in.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area

There are a couple of nice picnic areas and boat launch ramps along the river.