Road Trip – Shelby, North Carolina (May 2-3, 2020)

I had booked a really nice Airbnb room from a older woman named Mirna in a nice housing subdivision for a month in Dallas, North Carolina, a little town outside Gastonia. She was originally from Hondorus and came to the United States as a young girl at the age of 13. Her husband passed away a few years prior and so she rents out one of the spare rooms for extra income. It was a large room with a King size bed, a chair and foot stool to sit on and my own private bathroom. We shared the kitchen and she gave me a couple of shelves in the fridge to use for my personal food. I also had rented a car for a month, so one of the weekends I was staying there I decided to take a road trip. We were in the midst of the COVID-19 panademic and so many places were closed so about the only thing I could do was siteseeing in nature and viewing places from outside among some of the towns I passed through.

One of the things I have really enjoyed about North Carolina is the history. So I hope you won’t be too bored but as I made this trip and passed through several small towns with all their history, which was and is the making of our great country I am sharing what I saw and learned with……. you my readers.

I left Dallas, North Carolina traveling on Hwy 74 to the town of Shelby…………In 1841, Cleveland County was named for Colonel Benjamin Cleveland who was a Revolutionary War hero at the Battle of Kings Mountain. In 1842, the county seat was established and named after Colonel Isaac Shelby who was also a war hero at the Battle of Kings Mountain. James Love and William Forbes donated land for the city. James Love had visited Washington D.C., and liked the design with the wide streets. He asked the city planners to adapt the same ideas for Shelby. Shelby’s main streets are named for Revolutionary War heroes. Shelby was home to several important political leaders in the first half of the 20th century. A powerful group know as “The Shelby Dynasty” that included two brothers James and Edwin Yates Webb, Oits Mull, Max Gardner who was elected to governor in 1928 and Clyde R. Hoey also elected governor in 1936. Shelby is also the birthplace of country music legends Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson.

James L. Webb began his career in government as a state Senator, then in 1882, he served as District Solicitor, and in 1894 was appointed as a Superior Court Judge. Edwin Yates Webb, James’s younger brother, served in the State General Assembly and then moved to Washington, D.C. were he served as Congressman for North Carolina’s Ninth District for 26 years. He became Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and his legislative efforts included helping draft the constitutional amendment for prohibition, introduced the bill to charter the Boy Scouts of America, promoting regulations for food and drugs and co-authoring an antitrust bill. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Edwin Webb as a Federal Judge. He served in that capacity for 28 years.

Although Otis Mull did not hold any major public office like the others did, he was still an influential figure in state politics. He served six terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives–one as speaker of the North Carolina House–and he was Chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee for six years.

The Webbley House

Shelby has a rich historical district and is home to one of the most historical residences in the state. Webbley, also known as the O. Max Gardner House, was built sometime around 1852 to 1855. The original house was two-stories and is an example of the grandeur and grace of the old south’s architecture. Augustus W. Burton was the builder and original owner of the house. He sold it shortly thereafter and it changed ownership many times over the next 50 years. In 1905 J.A. Anthony a prominent local attorney bought the house and along with his wife, Ollie Gardner Anthony, did a drastic renovation to the house. The Colonial Revival drastically changed the appearance of the house to what it looks like today. They also added on to the house increasing its size from the original construction done in the 1850s. Anthony’s brother in-law and business partner was Oliver Maxwell Gardner, who had married into the politically influential Webb family. Gardner not only was a lawyer but he also owned a farm. Gardner’s father-in-law, Judge James L. Webb bought the house from Anthony. He moved his family and the Gardners in, and the locals quickly started calling the house Webbley. Webbley remained in the family and in 1993 O. Max Gardner III and his wife, Victoria Harwell Gardner, turned the home into a bed and breakfast with a political theme. The Inn at Webbly was one of the nation’s finest inns, but closed in 1998 due to an illness in the family which made operation of the inn difficult and the house was converted back to private use. Another interesting fact is that Thomas Dixon used Webbley as inspiration in his 1905 novel, The Clansman. The home was also used as a real life model in the movie based on the novel, Birth of a Nation in 1915.

When I visited it was not open to visit so I could only view from the outside and walk around the property. It appeared to me that no one lived there and was in need of some fixing up as it was looking a bit dilapidated.

THE CLEVELAND COUNTY COURTHOUSE

The centerpiece of Shelby is the Cleveland County Courthouse, with its Neo-Classsical Revival design in a park-like setting was built in 1907 at the cost of $75,000. The North Carolina General Assembly created Cleveland County from parts of Rutherford and Lincoln counties in 1841. Before the first courthouse was built, court was held on the second floor of Williams Weather’s home southwest of Shelby. Courthouse Square became the site of the county government once the first courthouse, a log building, was erected here in 1842. In 1844, a committee was appointed to draft plans for a formal courthouse. A contract was awarded to George Smith to construct a red brick courthouse, that was completed in 1874. This courthouse was then replaced by the limestone building standing on Courthouse Square today. In front of the courthouse, facing Lafayette Street, is the Statue for the Confederate Heroes of Cleveland County dedicated on November 21, 1906. In 1974, the county court moved to the law enforcement center and in 1976 this building became home to the Cleveland County Historical Museum which closed in 2004 and became home to the Earl Scruggs Center in January 2014. The museum focuses on both the life of local musician Earl Scruggs and the music, history and culture of the American South. The museum also hosts concerts and music lectures.

Earl Scruggs Center

January 6, 1927 – March 28, 2012

Earl Scruggs was born in the Flint Hill community of Cleveland County, North Carolina. Here he learned a love for music and perfected the “Scruggs Style,” a distinctive three-finger style of playing the banjo.

Earl’s debut at the Ryman Auditorium led to the birth of Bluegrass and revolutionized the banjo across many musical genres. His work with guitar player Lester Flatt and the Foggy Mountain Boys put Bluegrass in homes all around the world. Later, he formed the Earl Scruggs Revue with his sons, and continued to innovate, push musical boundaries, and reach a new audience of music lovers and fans.

Earl Scruggs left a mark on every project and person he touched throughout his legendary life and career. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, received four Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a National Heritage Fellowship. His legacy continues to influence countless musicians and music fans today.

When I was here so many things were closed because of COVID-19 so I was not able to tour the museum. I really enjoy museums and all the things one can learn from them, so I was bummed that I missed out on this opportutiny. From my research on the internet the museum is full of historical information about Earl Scruggs and the area. It is a simple museum that is a great tribute to a man who had a significant influence on music.

Shelby Cotton Mill

As I was driving around town I came upon this warehouse…..I knew it had to be some manfucaturing plant that had closed down years ago as evidence of overgrowth and vines growing up the walls, and the decay. There were no signs or markers indicating what this building/business used to be. I later was googling the town of Shelby and actually found only one pretty good source that told the story of this cotton mill.

The textile industry in Cleveland County, North Carolina was a major economic asset during the 1900s. The county had over 25 textiles mills and was the leading producer of cotton in the country, with over 80,000 bales in a year. One of the mills was the Shelby Cotton Mill. The first part of the mill was completed in April of 1900.

The first expansion of the mill was added in 1901 to accommodate for the 8,784 ring spindles, 250 broad looms, and 14 carding machines which were required for the rapidly growing industry. This expansion doubled the equipment previously at the mill. Another wing was added to the growing building in 1909.

By 1916, the company had 250 employees. Additional office buildings and other structures behind it were built in 1920. The mill remained one of the largest manufacturers through the early 1920s with materials such as yarn and “pajama check,” a lightwaieght gighman or plaid woven cloth.

The next Shelby Cotton Mill expansion was in 1938. The finishing room was added during the 1950s. Two years prior in 1948, Cleveland County produced 83,549 bales of cotton for the year, turning it into one of North Carolina’s leading textile producers and the premier county for cotton production in the state.

The building was finished in the 1970s, after having gone through more than 15 expansions and renovations. In the 1950s, droughts, insect infestations, and government acreage controls resulted in the decline of cotton as Cleveland County’s primary crop. By 1975, the county was producing a mere 1,934 bales of cotton, compared to the peak of more than 83,000 bales. The decline in cotton was accompanied by a shift away from textile manufacturing in the city as competition from foreign exporters combined with Shelby’s inability to compete with larger, more modern mills. Many of the mills are still standing today, one of which is the Shelby Cotton Mill, but few are still in operation. Cleveland County has remained an agricultural environment supported by cash grains like corn and soybeans. You can still drive through and see cotton fields.

Shelby High School

Shelby High School was built in 1937 with assitance from the Works Progress Administration, a depression-era Federal Relief Program. The school was designed by a local firm of V.M Breeze who designed most of the significient commerical and institutional buildings in Shelby from the 1930’s through WWII. This building served as Shelby High School for almost 25 years. It looks like now it is used for the school district adminstrative offices. Breezes design for the high school was a blend of classical and modern elements. The 2-story building with a concrete basement contains large classrooms on all three levels. Like many schools designed during this time period, the entryway is recessed and flanked by fluted pilasters. A concrete panel above the entrance is inscribed with the initials SHS.

Irvin-Hamrick Log Home

The Irvin-Hamrick log home is located about 10 miles outside of town set back off a two lane country road in the woods. It is easy to miss and I actually did drive past it and had to turn around. The home is a small dwelling of half-dovetail notch construction, a type of building which once thousands of small farmers in Piedmont and Western North Carolina used to build their homes. This log home is a rare surviving example of the type of house most North Carolinianas lived induring the 18th and early 19th centuries, and this is one of the few that has seen consisent maintenance and the hope of continued preservation. The small rectangular gable roof house is built of hewn logs joined with half-doved notches, the dominant corner-timbering method in Western North Carolina for many generations. Weather boards cover the logs in several sections and the the entire house may have been covered at one time. One fireplace warmed the two interior rooms, and a small enclosed stairway that lead to an unfinished attic. James Irvin, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, proably built the house sometime after his purchase of 200 acres along Beauerdam creek in 1794. Irvin married Rebecca Hardin of Lincoln County, and the couple raised 10 children in the tiny house-five boys and five girls, providing for them through land deals and working farms. After Irvins death in 1845, the house and land passed to his children, who sold the property to Cameron Street Hamrick in 1850. Hamrick and his wife, Elmire Bridges raised 6 sons in the house. Hamerick was a disciplinarian who believed his sons should remain in the home until the age of 21 and consquently, the fmaily added to the present frame rear addition sometime after the civil war. All of the Hamericks sons raised large families and their descndants remain in great numbers in the Cleveland County and neighboring areas of the Western Piedmont of North & South Carolina. The house has never left Hamrick ownership. In 1951 it was acquired by the Cameron Street Hamrick Memorial Association, a family organization dedicated to the preservation of the homestead and the maintenance of the adjacent family cemetery. An annual Cameron Street Reunion is held at the house each year, the 4th Sunday in August.

Rogers Theatre

The Rogers Theatre Block has been a center of cultural, social and political activity for Shelby and Cleveland County since its construction in the late 1930s. Named for its original owner, Robert Hamer Rogers, the theater first opened in 1936 showing Love on the Run starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. Built in sections through the early 1940s, the theater’s grey limestone façade exhibits Art Deco details and is the only example of this popular 20th-century architectural style in Shelby. Considered one of North Carolina’s finest historic theaters, it is now an historic building. The theater has been little altered, still retaining its original marquee and a signage mast above which reads “theatre” that was an early addition to the theater. The 1,000-seat theater was constructed with a working vaudeville stage, as this type of traveling entertainment was still very popular in the western part of North Carolina at the time of its construction. Between movies, live acts took the stage. The Rogers Theatre held live performances and showed films well into the 1980s. In the mid-1980s famous North Carolina movie producer Early Owensby used the building to showcase many of his productions. In 1985 Rogers Theatre closed. In 1999 the Rogers Theatre Consortium formed to lead the effort to restore the building and to bring back an important film and performing arts center. The National Trust for Historic Preservation singled out the Rogers Theatre in 2001 when it was included on its “11 Most Endangered Properties” list, as one of the country’s threatened independent movie theaters, and designated the theater as an official project of the “Save America’s Treasures” program. Although there have been groups and moves to restore the theatre, it awaits a new owner who will hopefully one day bring it back to its former glory.

Rogers Theatre when I visited in May 2020

Don Gibson Theatre

Originally known as “The State Theatre”, opened its doors as the area’s most beautiful movie house on October 27th, 1939. The local paper praised it as “one of the most strikingly beautiful building fronts of the modern day”

“The State” was a typical popular small town movie theatre, but in its later years (as The Flick) it encountered the same challenges that befell literally thousands of such film houses around the country. Retail stores moved to the malls along the highway… downtowns dried up, cable TV became a more dominant force in our lives and so many movie theatres went under…..But thanks to a dedicated team of passionate volunteers, a group called Destination Cleveland County was formed just a few years ago and it’s thanks to them this old movie house is coming back to life after having been dark for almost three decades.

The renovated theatre is now the “Don Gibson Theatre”, this 400 seat venue is primarily a very intimate concert hall. Their vision is to bringing the best in touring nationally known acts and musicians who have graced magazine covers, earned Grammy Awards and Gold Albums and “Best of the Year” Awards… people whose CD’s (and albums) you may already have in your collection. They plan to very carefully select the newest up-and-coming acts out of Nashville,d New York and Austin…..acts you may not have heard of yet.

So who is Don Gibson? Don Gibson along with a few others changed the sound of Nashville and country music. Even outside of country music circles several of his songs are instantly recognized by fans and musicians all across the globe, and across almost five decades of music cultural change. Don was one of the most influential forces in the country music industry from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Many remember Don’s two best known compositions, Sweet Dreams which became one of Patsy Cline’s most biggest hits, and the Ray Charles classic single I Can’t Stop Loving You, both were chart-crossing smash hits that shattered stereotypes.

Don’s third unforgettable country classic, Oh, Lonesome Me original recording was a revolutionary single for its day, as Don and producer Chet Atkins dropped the traditional fiddle and steel guitar for a new and more aggressive sound that featured multiple guitars, a piano, a drummer, upright bass and background singers. Although it doesn’t sound like a radical move today, it was then, and Don and Chet are given credit for having helped what became known as the Nashville Sound. Don’s recording of Oh Lonesome Me hit #1 on the national charts and stayed there for eight weeks, an almost unheard of feat in that era.

Don Gibson was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973, an honor he shares with Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffet and Johnny Cash. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

Don Gisbon passed away in 2003, but he left behind a musical legacy that has touched the hearts of millions.

Central United Methodist Church

Central United Methodist Church is the oldest church in Shelby. In 1841 when Cleveland County was formed James Love and his wife Susan gave 147 acres that is now the heart of Shelby. William Forbes who later become a member of the church congregation, gave 50 acres to make up the western section of the city. The two gifts of land provided for schools, a city hall, court square, and a building lot for all recognized denominations – Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Methodist.

By March of 1845, when Cleveland County was just four years old, the 25 member congregation needed a place to meet, so Dr. Thomas Williams, who was a Baptist let the group meet in his office. By summer the group moved into their first church, a one-room wooden structure. By 1878 the congregation had grown larger and needed a bigger meeting house, so the one-room wooden church was sold for $450 to start their funds for a new building. In 1884 their new building was completed but had no plumbing or water as these were not available to the city of Shelby until 1908 which was also when they added Sunday School classrooms. In 1922 the pastor at the time, Rev. Edgar Poovey decided it was time to build a new church after they started to have problems with the furnace and serveral other needed repairs. On January 11, 1925 the building that is standing today held its first sermon in the new building and became know as the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

During the 1930’s, one of Central’s Sunday School classes became widely known throughout the state. Its teacher was Clyde R. Hoey, who later became governor of Noth Carolina. The class membership exceeded 300 men, meeting in the “south pasture” where the present class still meets every Sunday morning as the Hoey Bible Class.

By the late 60’s a new Education Building was badly needed, and work was begun. The new building was dedicated in 1968.

First Baptist Church

I love the old churches and their beautiful architecture intrigues me, so as I was driving around the town of Shelby I happened upon the First Baptist Church. The first organized church began with 25 members on June 19, 1847. The church declined an offer of land from the county and instead paid $300 for the 130 foot square plot of land on North Lafayette Street on which the present church stands today. The first building constructed at this site was a white frame church. The Baptists became the largest and most influential denomination in Shelby. Reverend James Webb, of Shelby’s influential Webb family, was the first pastor. Shelby’s early families–the Loves, Blantons, Webbs and Gardners were all members of the congregation. In 1889, a brick church replaced the originial building, but the congregation soon became unhappy with its poor construction. In April 1904, an additional lot was purchased and the first of several additions were added.

The 1911 Gothic Revival church is the third Baptist church at this site. It is considered the most elaborate church in Shelby. The use of yellow brick for the church was a major change from the red brick that had been used since the 1880s for most of Shelby’s commercial and industrial buildings. It’s Tiffany stained glass windows were bought for $1,300 from George Hardy Payned of Petterson, New Jersey. The church’s three steeples rising from the top towers are prominent architectural features of the building.

Shelby City Hall

Shelby City Hall was constructed in 1939 also with assistance from the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era Federal relief program. This Georgian Revival 15,700-square-foot building was built in three sections, the two-story center section is set at an angle to the corner of East Graham and South Washington streets housed the city offices. Hyphens connected the central section to two one-story wings. The public library was originally located in the wing to the south, while the police and fire departments were housed in the west wing. Distinguishing features of the building include the octagonal cupola with arched openings and dome, and the scrolled pediment with central urn above the main entrance. Interior elements include marble floors, brass handrail, intricate wooden detail ceiling moldings and trim which all reflects the status Shelby enjoyed during this period.

Here are just some other miscellaneous pictures out and around Shelby, North Carolina

Road Trip – Hendersonville, North Carolina (May 2-3, 2020)

So I have been in North Carolina for about 5 weeks and living in a world that is revolving around COVID-19…….I am going stir crazy being at home by myself with nothing much to do and not able to see what little family I have here. I decided I just needed to get out and do a little sightseeing but practicing social distancing. My route started in Dallas, NC where I am renting an Airbnb…….from there I caught highway 321, then Hwy 74 through the towns of Shelby and Forest City to Hendersonville which becomes Hwy 64. Highway 64 is the Waterfall Scenic Byway that took me to a few waterfalls that were right off the highway. This highway takes you through some beautiful scenery as well as several small historic towns. From Hendersonville, I went on through to Brevard, Rosman, Lake Toxaway to Cashiers, Highlands and Franklin. From Franklin, I caught Hwy 23 and 74 to Waynesville and then Ashville, which was my last stop before heading back to Dallas NC.

I found over the years that I really love history and being able to visit all these great places has been awesome and deepened my connection with the world we live in. One of the things I really loved about Hendersonville was its small town, mountain feel and all the old buildings that have within stood the test of time because they were built by amazing architects. I love knowing and learning the history of how the town came to be, the businesses and people who came before and those who have made it what it is today.

HENDERSONVILLE

Founded in 1838 and named for the 19th century North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Leonard Henderson.  The historic downtown main street is well preserved with many restaurants, antique shops, and boutiques located in architectural buildings that reflect the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Historic Henderson County Courthouse (1905) – The building was designed by Richard Sharp Smith, the supervising architect of Biltmore House. The Greek goddess Themis adorns the dome. The statue is without a blindfold, holding a sword in her right hand and scales in her left. It is believed to be only one of only three in the United States without a blindfold, statues of Themis/Justice are blindfolded to typify that Justice should be impartial.  The Courthouse also houses the Henderson County Heritage Museum. It features public displays, artifacts, collections, archives, libraries, demonstrations, performances and other similar exhibitions relating to the heritage of Henderson County.

Hendersonville City Hall Built between 1926 and 1928, this Neo-Classical Revival building was designed by Erle Stilwell. A flight of stairs leads up to the main entrance which is under a tetrastyle portico, on which is inscribed ‘”Erected by the People, Dedicated to the Perpetuation of Civic Progress, Liberty and the Security of Public Honor.” This building reflects the prosperity of Hendersonville during the 1920s and the architectural refinement that Stilwell brought to the city.

State Trust Company Building  houses the Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society and the Mineral and Lapidary Museum. The McClintock Chime Clock is located on the corner of this building and was added in 1927. The clock was reactivated through community efforts in 1983 and is now maintained by the local chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. Built as a bank at a cost of $125,000, it operated until November 20, 1930 when it closed. It reopened in 1936 by State Trust Co., later Northwestern Bank, then Home Bank & Trust, then Bank of N.C.

First Bank and Trust operated until November 20, 1930 when it closed. It was reorganized by local investors and reopened 2 weeks later as State Trust Co., merged later with Northwestern Bank, then First Union Bank until 1998. Designed by prominent architect Erle Stillwell.

Woodmen of the World Memorial Water Fountain. The water fountain was carved out of native stone. It was dedicated to Woodmen founder, Joseph Cullen Root, in 1947 near the site of where Root passed away in 1913, in the former St. John Hotel which stood on the corner.

Coca Cola Mural – The building was built in 1900 by Dr. William Hicks Justus to operate Justus Pharmacy. The soda fountain advertised in the mural first opened in the former Justus Pharmacy in 1907. Today it is a sandwich and soda shop.

Peoples National Bank Building – This building, dating back to around 1910, is a two story Neo-Classical structure of cream colored brick and was built by W.F. Edwards. It has a recessed central entrance beneath entablature supported by Ionic columns, and storefronts to either side. The bank building was the earliest use of Neo-Classical style and reinforced concert construction for a commercial building in Hendersonville.

IMG_4480 Maxwell Store Building – This building once housed a fancy grocery business run by Maxwell Brown, a longtime proprietor. It was built around 1910 and is a two-story pressed brick structure. Highlights are round and segmentally arched windows with fanlights.

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Ripley-Sepherd Building – This building is believed to be the second-oldest building on Main Street, one of several buildings built by Colonel Valentine Ripley and once known as the “Ripley Brick Store House.” It is said to have served as a district commissary under a Major Noe during the Civil War. Later it was also a post office for Hendersonville. Later still it was the home of Shepherd and Hart’s furniture store and undertaking business.

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This building at 122 N. Main (1920) has been tenants to Beck Hardware, Court House Cafe, City Cafe, C&D Music Shop, and Elizabeth of Carloina Women’s Wear. For more thatn 30 years the Justice of the Peace office was upstairs.

Here are a few more pictures of places and things in downtown Hendersonville

More history and information about Hendersonville visit the attached link

http://www.hendersonvillehpc.org/hendersonville

RV Workamper Resources – January 2020

I started my RV traveling/work journey 4 years ago as of January 1, 2020. In those four years and prior I have learned so much….in the beginning, I had a couple of friends who had been RVing and working full time so I did a lot of talking with them and researching several of the resources they shared with me. Along the way, I have continued to research and pick up additional information of where to look and find jobs and because people are often asking me what I do and how do I find jobs I decided I would make this post with a list that I am aware of and have used.

https://www.coolworks.com

Workamping jobs.com

https://careers.delawarenorth.com

https://www.xanterra.com

https://www.foreverresorts.com/employment

https://careers.aramark.com

Amazon Camperforce – Fulfillment centers

https: www.amazondelivers.jobs/about/camperforce

KOA Work Kamper Programs $35.00 membership Fee

https://KOA.com/community-camping-progrms/work-camps

The first 8 months I was on the road I had the finances so that I did not have to work and that was wonderful, but I knew I would have to go back to work. My first on the road job was in Vacaville, CA working part-time at a thrift store cashiering for 6 months, I then applied with Delaware North and got a retail/cashiering job at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon working at Desert View. I mainly worked at the Trading Post, but I also cashiered at the General Store and the Gas Station during the summer. I spent 10 months working and living at the Grand Canyon……I can tell you it was an awesome experience to be able to spend that much time getting to know the Grand Canyon and then being the tour guide to friends and family who came to visit. While there I was able to venture out on my days off and visited so many awesome places. From there I went to Phoenix and went to work for a heavy equipment/RV company doing office work and was there for a year and 3 months. This job came to me because I had been referred to them for some RV work of my own in February of 2016 and my RV was in the shop there for about 4 days. During that time I got to know the owner, we stayed friends and I ended up coming to work for him January 1, 2018. It was a situation that worked out well for me at the time as I was able to get some additional RV and car repairs done. Things were very flexible for me here, I lived on site so no commuting to the job, was able to do a lot of site seeing around the Phoenix area as well as traveling further out to Sierra Vista to visit friends who lived there, I also had the opportunity to take off for a few weeks to see family and travel (unpaid) the end of August 2018 and did a 4,000-mile road trip. Read my blogs titled Road Trip – September 2018. By the end of January 2019 things were shifting and changing at Dynamic Diesel and my hours were getting cut, so I took a part-time/seasonal position with Delaware North in Phoenix, AZ as a Cash Room Attendant at the Spring Training Games at the Maryvale Sports Stadium with the Milwaukee Brewers till the end of March 2019. This was a great experience and opened even more doors for me. A couple weeks before the Spring Training games ended I was browsing the Delaware North job site and found a opening for a Cash Auditor at Kings Canyon National Park. I applied for the position and was hired. I gave Dynamic Diesel my two week notice, packed up my motor home, loaded my car onto my tow dolly and off I headed to start my new job on April 12th, 2019. I arrived in Kings Canyon April 8th, so I had a few days to get settled in and explore a bit before my first day on the 12th. I spent 6 months at Kings Canyon National Park which was another great experience and made many new friends. You will find more information on my time there on separate blogs.  One of the awesome things I enjoy about this life is the opportunities I have had to see so many great, beautiful places and make many new friends. I am going to be honest here and say that living this life is not always perfect or with out its struggles and frustrations, because that is just how life is. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people….but the trade off you get makes it all worth while, and when things start going sideways or get to frustrating or the season ends I always had the option of moving on to somewhere else for a new adventure.

Victoria B.C – Butchart Gardens, Craigdarroch Castle, Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread Fundraiser and Parliament (December 2019-January 2, 2020)

I decided that since I was back home visiting Washington and had renewed my passport in 2019 that I would take the opportunity to make a visit to Victoria B.C.

Day 1 (December 29, 2019) – I boarded the Blackball Ferry Coho for the 2:30 P.M sailing in Port Angeles, Washington. The day was a little overcast and cold. The hour and a half crossing to Victoria B.C. was pretty uneventful, other than a short stroll I took out on the deck for a few pictures and spotted the tail of a whale. I waited around for a bit hoping I would see the whale resurface but I never did. It was pretty windy and cold to be outside so I wandered back in where it was warmer.

I arrived in Victoria B.C at about 4 P.M and after 45 minutes of waiting in line to get through customs, I was finally on my way to spending 4 days exploring Victoria. Now the last time I was here was about 37 years ago when I (being pregnant with our son Aaron) came with my husband Randy, our daughter Erika, and my parents.

It was quickly starting to get dark so I pulled out my map and my instructions to get to my hotel. I had done my research before I left the U .S as to how to get to my hotel from the ferry…..boy was I off base and it turned into an hour and a half public bus ride craziness, first of all, it appeared to me that I could ride the bus or walk it in about 15 minutes, so I started out walking and realized after walking a few blocks that I was at 700 Douglas Way and my hotel, Island Travel Inn was at 1850 Douglas Way, so I caught the bus and it was my understanding from previous research if I rode the bus I needed to get off at Jackson and Douglas. So I paid my $2.50 bus fare and got on the bus….so we’re traveling along a bit when the driver turned down a different street. I was like … Oh no, this is not right…. I have not ridden the public bus in a long time and I was in a place I was not familiar with and not completely sure of my directions. So after we traveled a couple blocks I asked the driver if this bus would circle back to Douglas?, He said no…..you need to get off at the next stop, walk to the corner of Qudra and cross the street to catch bus #6…..so I did….I get on bus #6 pay my $2.50 bus fare again and I tell the driver where I need to go….he said he was not sure where that was but that I needed to get off at Douglas and View and catch bus #30 or #31 because that is still a ways to walk….so I ask him for a pass since I have now paid $5 in bus fare and for $5 you can get an all-day pass. He gives me a pass, I get off and find my way to the next bus stop. I get on bus #30 and I tell the driver where I need to go….he doesn’t speak English very well and I finally get out of him that I need to get off at Hillside. I get off at Hillside and see the building address is 2610 Douglas…. Really!!! Now I have gone to far….by this time it’s been dark for awhile other than street, traffic and store lights….I’m still in the downtown area and plenty of people out and about. I cross the street to catch the bus going back the other way. I get on the bus and again explain to the driver where I am going and how I keep getting fouled up…the driver says he thinks he knows where my hotel is at. It seems the drivers know cross streets and bus stops, but not so much the addresses and this hotel is not well known I guess…..so we’re rolling along and this lady on the bus has obviously overheard my situation…..she tells me she is staying at the same hotel and will show me the way…….our stop soon comes up, we get off and sure enough it’s just a block and a half from my motel. I was so thankful for this lady and told her she was my angel. So finally I made it to my hotel, my room wasn’t ready so I got a deluxe suite with a Jacuzzi, King Bed, little refrigerator, and two separate sitting areas. This is an older hotel, a bit dated, but clean and decent. What an adventure! 

Day 2 (December 30, 2019) – After a really great nights rest in the very comfortable, huge King size bed I ventured off to the Butchart Gardens by public bus.. ..let me tell you after yesterday’s escapade I figured out the bus system…..so with a little more map quest research I knew which bus to take and I was right….made it there and back with no issues….I have to say I knew that the gardens were not going to be in bloom like they are in the Spring and Summer, but I really thought there would be more colorful winter plants and some flowers, so I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong it was a very awesome place and I can imagine how gorgeous it is in the Spring.

The Gardens began as a limestone quarry dating back to the early 1900s. Over time the quarry was transformed into one of Canada’s premier garden attractions. The floral gardens were started by a cement contractor by the name of Robert Pim Butchart.

Robert and his wife, Jennie Butchart, moved to Victoria, BC from Ontario, Canada. The Butchart family has carried on the legacy of these now-famous gardens. Jennie Butchart recognized that the mild temperatures and the lush environment was an ideal setting for gardening. Slowly the gardens grew and the Butchart Gardens were born. The Butchart’s received many accolades…… Robert Butchart was given the key to the city and was made a Freeman of the city of Victoria in 1928 and Jennie Butchart was named Citizen of the Year in 1931.

After the death of Jennie Butchart, the gardens fell into despair. The grounds were left unattended until 1946. It was then that Ian Ross, the grandson of Jennie Butchart and his wife, Ann Lee Ross, brought the Butchart Gardens back to life. In order to help with the costs, they began charging admission and generating revenue from their seed and gift store, as well as the Benvenuto Tea House.

The gardens are open year-round and you can see hundreds of different colors and varieties of flowers.  During the holiday season, the Butchart Gardens are decorated with Christmas lights and decor depicting the 12 days of Christmas. I had arrived at about 2 P.M in the afternoon so I stayed till the evening to see the lights. Here are some photos I hope you enjoy.

Day 3 (December 31, 2019) – Rain was in the forecast for today so I made plans to be indoors and go see the Craigdarroch Castle which turned out to be amazing……so gorgeous and so much history. Craigdarroch is a four-storied stone mansion that wow’s you the minute you see it, it sits on a hill in an older, nice residential area overlooking Victoria B.C.  You pay an admission fee in a modern building just a short walk across the driveway from the castle. Tickets are at $14.85 for adults, $13.85 for seniors (I don’t know what the senior age is…..I completely forgot to even ask and paid the adult ticket price), students 13 or older $9.75, children 6-12 $5.35 and a family $36.00 (2 adults/seniors and 2 students/children).

The castle was built by wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during the reign of Queen Victoria and is now a National Historic Site. Visitors are able to have a glimpse of privileged life in the 1890s.  You are met at the front door by a guide who gives you a self-guided tour brochure that takes you through all rooms on each floor. The tour starts on the 1st floor and up the front formal staircase. On each floor, you are able to view reception rooms, bedrooms, and studies that are furnished, with a portion of the furnishings being original to the home. The woodwork and stained glass in the formal areas of the home are so amazing and beautiful. The view from the top floor at the top of the stairs gives you a panoramic view of the city of Victoria. Once you reach the top you are then directed down the stairs to the backside of the house where you will find a few servants quarters, the kitchen, pantry, and storerooms which are still in the stages of being restored. Robert Dunsmuir died April 1889, 17 months before the home was completed. His widow Joan and a few family members lived in the home for a short period of time, but eventually, it was abandoned since none of the children wanted the home. For a time it was used as a residential school and a military hospital then was saved from ruin by the government and opened for tours.

After my day at Craigadorrch Castle and being a little soggy getting to and from the bus and castle I stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant just across the street from my hotel called the “White Spot Caledonia” which was pretty good. I got a small caesar salad with a toasted turkey sandwich, fries, and a soda. I went back to my hotel room to watch some TV and just relax as it continued to rain. It was on my mind that being in was New Year’s Eve I had wanted to check out the “Wonder of Lights” exhibit that was just a block and a half up the street from my hotel, but with it raining I did not really want to go out and I was feeling so warm and cozy in my room. I had relayed this thought to my daughter as we were texting……she said: “Mom you went to explore and experience what is there, so you best go check it out”……I pondered on it a little longer and the rained had started to let up so I went. Centennial Square in downtown Victoria was transformed into a holiday wonderland. There were themed light exhibits, light tunnels, and a 40 foot live Christmas tree that was decorated. When I arrived around 7 PM it had recently just stopped raining, it was still early and so there were not very many people out….it was all free,  soft Christmas music playing and people walking around, and taking pictures. I did not stay long, I just wanted to check it out and see what it was all about and take some pictures……. and that was how my New Year’s Eve wrapped up as I then walked back to my hotel and hunkered down for the night.

Day 4 (January 1, 2020) –  Happy New Years Day……Today there was no rain and a nice day to be outside, so off I went to the 11th annual Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread fundraiser at the Parkside Hotel and Spa. I had run across this event when I was looking on the internet for things that were happening in Victoria while I was here and this was free and sounded interesting so I went and checked it out. It was a small venue that featured Gingerbread exhibits that were created by professional and amateur bakers. This year’s theme was “Building a Diverse Community.” Habitat for Humanity Victoria brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership.

Across the street from the Parkside Hotel and Spa was an interesting old church…..The Church of our Lord….It was not open to go inside but there was a historic marker out front that said that this building was constructed in 1875 for the Reformed Episcopal Church. This building is one of the finest expressions in wood of the Gothic Revival Style in Canada. The architect enhanced the building’s Gothic character by exploring the advantages of board-and-batten siding to reinforce the vertical thrust of its pointed roof, pinnacles, and spire. Inside is a Gothic Hammer beam ceiling that spans the broad open space to provide an unbroken view of the apse and pulpit. I really love old buildings, and churches with their history, and architecture.

From there I walked up Belleville Street that runs in front of the Parliament Building. The very beautiful and grand BC Parliament Buildings sit on 12.5 acres of land on the waterfront of downtown Victoria. The building was started in 1983 and completed in 1897 but details, refinishing, additions and upgrades were ongoing right up until 1915. The parliament building was designed by 25-year-old architect Frances Rattenbury, a “Free Classical” Romanesque and Renaissance style. Rattenbury and his crew used local material, resources, and expertise. At night the 500-foot long building is illuminated with thousands of light bulbs.

I walked a little way along the waterfront on Government Street, sat on a bench for a while to people watch and admire the view of the Parliament Building, The Harbor and the Empress Hotel.  Fairmont Empress Hotel commonly referred to as The Empress is one of the oldest hotels in Victoria, it sits in downtown Victoria, facing the city’s Inner Harbor and also was designed by Francis Rattenbury. The Empress Hotel has been a symbol of Victoria since its opening in 1908 and has hosted Kings, Queens and Hollywood stars from around the world.

I next made my way to the nearest bus stop and caught the bus back to my hotel and stopped by a small mom and pop Chinese restaurant you could eat in or take out. I ordered chicken chow mein to go and it was very filling and good.

Day 5 (January 2, 2020) – Today I was up early, checked out of my hotel, caught the bus to the Blackball Ferry Coho to catch the 10:30 A.M sailing back to the United States – Port Angeles, Washington. The hour and a half sailing back was again uneventful and that concluded by adventure to Victoria B.C.

 

Olympic National Park – Hoh Rain Forest (December 2019)

On my trip back home to visit my family in Washington, we (my daughter, her boyfriend, and his 3 children ) decided to visit the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park as they live only a two-hour drive away. For the 30 plus years, I and my husband had lived with our kids in Washington we had made a few trips over the years to the Olympic National Park, but we had not been to the Rain Forest. I think with working, raising kids and the fact that we lived in Gig Harbor, WA another two hours further south made for a 4-hour drive just one way.

I was really excited that we were going to the rain forest, the weather forecast was for rain which is not surprising since the Hoh Rain Forest gets as much as 14 feet of rain a year, along with the fog and mist which adds another 30 inches of rain, making this one of the world’s lushest rain forests, and designated as one of the wonders of Washington State.  So we packed some lunch and off we headed about 9 AM this Saturday morning. As the morning progressed the rain held off and some sun actually started coming out.

Some of the most common trees that grow here are the Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock (Washington’s official state tree), which can reach heights of over 300 feet and seven feet in diameter. Most of them are covered with huge clumps of hanging moss and ferns. Moss is an epiphyte, which is a plant that grows on another plant without harming it as opposed to a parasite. Epiphytes get their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, fog, and debris that accumulates around them.

We arrived at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center at about 12:30 P.M. and took a look at our map as to the different trails we thought we wanted to do. We decided on the most popular trail….”The Hall of Mosses Trail” is a 0.8-mile loop. This trail proved to be just right for me since I have bad knees. Walking through this trail was absolutely awesome and beautiful, it’s like walking through a living, green cathedral.  The best time to visit the rain forest is when it is damp and raining because that is when the moss is the lushest and greenest. The rainy winter and spring seasons are also the best times to see the Roosevelt Elk that live in the area since they move to higher elevations in the summer. The best way to share our day is through my pictures, hope you enjoy them!

After our hike, we ate our lunch that we packed and started heading back home…..our timing was perfect as within about 10 minutes of leaving it started to rain. On our way out of the park we stopped and got some pictures of this beautiful herd of Roosevelt Elk…..Olympic National Park is home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt Elk in the Pacific Northwest. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, they are the largest variety of elk in North America. The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the best places to see these amazing animals. They are non-migratory herds that stay in the Hoh Rain Forest area throughout the year as they feed mainly on ferns, shrubs, and lichens from the rain forest, as well as the meadow grasses.

Our drive back took us through Forks, WA  where the “Twilight” story took place. We stopped at the Visitor Center just outside of town where we got a “Twilight” map of Forks and saw “Bella’s Trucks.” Next, we stopped in town to check out the “Forever Twilight” collection at the Rainforest Arts Center. The space is small but it’s pretty cool, you can view the authentic on-screen costumes that were worn,  authentic movie props used by the actors, a backdrop for photos, fan quilt, and other interesting memorabilia.

And our last stop of the day was at Madison Falls. Madison Falls was a short paved walk through a lush forest from the parking lot. At the end of the paved trail is a viewing point where you are able to see the falls drop 40-50 ft into the creek below which runs into the Elwha River just across the paved road opposite the parking lot. The Elwah River is a 45-mile river on the Olympic Peninsula and runs into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roaming around the Pacific Northwest-WA (November 2019)

This post is about some of my roaming and wanderings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Many of you who know me and who have been reading my blog know that before I started my nomadic lifestyle I lived and raised a family in the Pacific Northwest of Washington State for almost 40 years. I still have family there and so I, of course, get back to spend time with them.

FIERO MARINE LIFE CENTER

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I stopped one day at the Port Angeles waterfront and checked out the Fiero Marine Life Center. The facility is very small and the young woman who was volunteering that day was so full of amazing information about all the sea life that I ended up being there for about an hour and a half. There are about 5 tanks containing various marine life that are fed directly by seawater from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The natural water flow keeps the habitats at exactly the right temperature and provides the food source the habitats feed on.

I enjoy the Sea Anemones with their beautiful colors, they are among the most colorful creatures in the ocean that range from purple, red, green and white. Their bodies consist of a stalk that ends in a flattened disk with a central mouth surrounded by tentacles. Anemones are carnivores and will eat fish, crabs, and anything else that swims within reach.

I found the Pacific Hagfish to be disgusting looking but amazed at the by-product it produces that is used in consumer products. It lives near the ocean floor and excretes huge amounts of slime in self-defense, so when a hagfish feels threatened, it releases hagfish slime, a protein-based, jelly-like substance from slime pores that run the length of its body. This slime is a thick glycoprotein excretion called mucin. The mucin is made up of long, thread-like fibers. These strands, which are arranged in bundles called skeins, are thinner than human hair, stronger than nylon, and extremely flexible. When the skeins come into contact with seawater, the glue holding them together dissolves, allowing the slime to expand rapidly. It is said that one hagfish can fill a five-gallon bucket with slime in only a few minutes. This gooey material has a surprising number of uses…… Hagfish are already used for making products such as “eel-skin” bags. The strong, flexible fabrics made from hagfish slime could replace petroleum-based materials like nylon which would be more durable and environmentally-friendly.

There are many uses that are being researched…..such as protective gear like safety helmets and Kevlar vests, airbags in our cars, lightweight strength and flexible car parts. The U.S. Navy is currently working with hagfish slime, hoping to create a substance that can protect divers from underwater attacks, fight fires and even stop missiles.

PORT WILLIAMS / MARLYN NELSON COUNTY PARK

Little remains of Port Williams which was once a thriving commercial port on the bay of the  Strait of Juan De Fuca near Port Angeles, WA.  In 1944, the waterfront with beautiful views was renamed Marlyn Nelson County Park in honor of a Sequim born Navy sailor who died from wounds in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Nelson was 19 years old and a 1940 graduate of Sequim High School. He was an engine room mechanic on the battleship USS California. A monument bearing his name and a photograph was erected at the one-acre park in 1999.

DUNGENESS LIGHTHOUSE

Operating since 1857 at the tip of Dungeness Spit, the Dungeness Light Station was the first lighthouse built in the Washington territory. Once towering 91 feet, the upper portion of the light station’s brick tower was removed to deterioration in 1927 and is now 63 feet. Living quarters were added and modified over the ensuing decades to accommodate lighthouse keepers, who often lived at the lighthouse with their families, and an armored marine cable bought power to the light station in 1934. The light station and 80 acres surrounding it were designated a National Historic District and placed on the National Historic District and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

PUGET SOUND SPOTTED SEALS

I drove out to the spit in Port Angeles and found some spotted seals hanging out on the logs on the bayside of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. If you did not have binoculars or a camera like mine that zooms in I would never have seen them and they blend in with the logs. These harbor seals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal protection act and Washington State. Their populations in Washington State have recovered since the 1970s. Here are some pictures of the seals, the harbor and the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

More miscellaneous photos I took while wandering

 

 

Washington State – Family Visit (November-December 2019)

After leaving Kings Canyon National park on November 4, 2019, I made my way back to Washington State to spend some time with my kids and grandkids. I always have a great time with this crew of mine…..Here are some of our adventures:

Within a couple days of my arrival back in Washington, I rented an Airbnb for the month of November……it allowed me space to have my grandkids spend time with me, cook, and hang out with them without being so cooped up in my motorhome.

Here is my cute little Airbnb in Port Orchard, WA along the waterfront of Sinclair Inlet across from the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA:

Hanging out with Grandma making Christmas ornaments, and painting name letters

The Bug Museum

Harborside Fountain Park

 Puget Sound Naval Museum

  Rock N Bowl

 

Ice Skating

Thanksgiving

Roaming around Gig Harbor

Christmas Lights

Seeing Friends

Kings Canyon National Park – End of Season November 2019

Well here it is November 4, 2019, and my 6 month season at Kings Canyon National Park has come to an end. Today was the day I was pulling out and heading to Washington State. I had spent the week packing things up in my motorhome for traveling and today I was up early to do last minute things and get my tow dolly connected to the motorhome. I thought I had it all figured out and I pretty much did, but there always seems to be a hang-up here and there. A few days prior I had managed to pull by hand my tow dolly out of the brush where it had been sitting since arriving here back in April. A few of the rental trailers had been picked up by the rental company so the two spaces next to me were empty and made it easier to pull the dolly out and place it in the empty spot next to me. My plan then was that I could just pull my motorhome out of my spot and then back up to the dolly and hook it up. Well, my motorhome is 34 feet long and for some reason, after several attempts, I just could not seem to get it backed into the position I needed. I was close but just not where I really wanted to be, so I decided that maybe I could just pull it by hand to line up with the hitch on the motorhome. Well, I just did not have the psychical strength to get it moved and pulled by hand to line up correctly and in fact, it ended up rolling kind of sideways into the backside of the motorhome. No worries no damage. Knowing I was not going to be able to do this by myself I called up a couple of my guy co-workers, but they were working and involved with a year-end audit so they could not leave. I called my co-worker Andrew, who is the restaurant manager. Things were slow so he was able to help me out. He had the muscles to get the dolly moved to where we needed it and between us, we managed to get it hooked up on the hitch. My next obstacle was since I had been there one of the power lines was lower than it had been before due to some work that had been done over the summer, so Andrew kept a watch as I pulled out and up the hill that I was not going to catch the top of my motorhome on the wires…..Yea!, I cleared the lines. The next obstacle was just getting down the rutted out dirt road that was always a mess to drive even our cars on. I just took it really slow and easy so that I didn’t rattle and shake everything out of the cupboards in the motorhome. I made it down to the flat area of the parking lot where I had parked my car the night before. I knew Andrew had to be getting back to work and I thought I could load my car myself. So I proceeded and was able to get the car pretty much loaded by myself…..this was really the first time I was doing it by myself as the previous few times since I have been towing the car I have had help. I was doing good till I was at the part where I had to place the tire webs over the front tires and just wasn’t sure about if I was placing them correctly. About that time two of our girl co-workers came by in the company truck and asked if I needed help…..I was debating whether they could be of any help when I saw Rick our housing manager. I told the girls thank you but I thought Rick would proably be able to help me, so I got Rick and YES, he was so much help, he actually gave me good tips and got me all setup and the car secured for travel.

I made my last rounds stopping off at the Market, the Trading Post, and the Restaurant to say my last goodbyes to everyone. It was bitter-sweet. My time at Kings Canyon was amazing but also had its frustrations. I was ready for a change and ready to get back to Washington to spend time with my family. I made so many good friends at Kings Canyon and I knew I was also going to miss them a lot.

I was finally pulling out about 12:30 P.M. made my way down the mountain which is all downhill for 57 miles from Grant Grove Village to Fresno, CA. I made it to Stockton, CA by late afternoon where I was meeting up with a friend who lived there to have dinner, visit and stay overnight. It was great to catch up with my friend and take a good break from the day of just trying to get loaded up, on the road and driving. I stayed overnight at the Walmart parking lot.

November 5th – This morning I was back on the road knowing I needed to get the air checked in my motorhome tires before I went to much further. After sitting for 6 months at Kings Canyon I knew they were a bit low and you just can’t get air in your tires anywhere. The tires are much bigger than car tires so I needed a truck place. In Lodi just off the freeway about 12 miles from where I had stayed at the Walmart, there are several truck services, so I got off at the exit and spotted a truck tire and wash place that was an easy pull in and out. Pulling a tow car I can not back up so I always have to be thinking ahead about getting in and out of places pretty easily.  I parked alongside the road and walked into the place of business to make sure they would be able to help me out and sure enough, they could. There were no other trucks being serviced so I was able to pull right in and get taken care of. My tires were a bit low just as I thought…..all tires were checked including the tow dolly tires. I was not charged at all, but gave him a tip for the service and helping me out. So off I went, hopping easily right back on the freeway. I drove this day till I stopped at a rest stop about 4 PM just outside of Weed, CA as it was getting later in the day, I don’t like to drive in the dark and did not want to be driving over the Siskiyous in the dark.

November 6th – I made it through the night just fine although it was cold. One of the things I have going against me right now is my propane heater and my generator does not work, so I have no heat when I am on the road and its November…..Brrrr! I bundle up a bit more, put on my gloves, turn on the front dash heater but it’s not really made to heat up all the space in the motorhome, but it does a good enough job after a while that I am fairly comfortable. Today I drove a few hours and stopped at a rest stop at about noon for some lunch and to get a shower while the temperatures were warmer. I proceeded on my way and stopped again for the night around 4 PM just a couple hours before Portland. OR.

November 7th – Today I drive the rest of the way to Washington close to my destination of Gig Harbor arriving about 7 PM. I drive to Port Orchard, a small town about 15 miles outside of Gig Harbor where I can park at Walmart for the night. My son lives about a half-hour away so he and his girlfriend come to see me and welcome me home. I stay the night in Port Orchard but the temperatures really drop during the night and it’s very cold without any heat.

November 8th – This morning I called my son and talked to him about how cold it had gotten during the night. My son talks to the homeowners where he lives to see if I can bring my motorhome to their place to park and hook up to electricity for the night….I am so grateful as they say that it is fine. I have an Airbnb reserved in Port Orchard on the 9th for a month, so I just needed to get through one more night in my motorhome. I drive out to the Key Peninsula and my son helps me get parked and all settled in. I am happy to be warmer.

November 9th – It rained during the night and I awake to some drizzling rain. I spend a few hours getting some things packed up and loaded into the car that I will take with me to the Airbnb that I think I might need and some of my scraping book stuff to work on while I am staying there. I borrow a car from my son’s girlfriend since mine needs to be worked on. I head out about 1:30 and pick my grandson up from high school at 2 PM. He is going with me to the Port Orchard Airbnb to help me unload the car and get set up. Check-in time is 3 PM…..We get to the Airbnb, meet up with Shannon the host who was very nice. The cottage is just as awesome and cute as I thought it would be from the pictures that were posted on the website. The cottage sits at the front of the property near the road with a circular driveway between the cottage and the main house which is on the waterfront. The cottage is blocked from street noise and view by a row of very tall Juniper trees….its a lovely place.

 

 

Kings Canyon – Last Trip to Cedar Grove October 2019

October I took my last drive to Cedar Grove. This post will mostly be pictures, as I have shared most of the information about the area in my other posts. As much as the Sequoias trees are amazing and beautiful, Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon was my favorite. I love rivers and waterfalls and I loved seeing the changes that took place over the season of the landscape and water flows. The heavy spring runoff that made the rivers and waterfalls swell so high in Spring was beautiful and amazing…..but I loved just as much coming back over the Summer and Fall as the river and waterfall levels receded and I was able to see what laid beneath all that roaring water. So take a ride with me on my last trip and I hope you enjoy this beautiful landscape as much as  I did.

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Roaming Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park with my daughter – September 2019

My daughter, Erika came and spent 5 days with me in September……It had been years since she and I had been able to have one on one time, so it was a really special time for us.

Our first day of exploring was to Sequoia National Park General Sherman Tree. The General Sherman Tree is the largest in the world at 52,508 cubic feet.

I never saw a Big Tree that had died a natural death,” John Muir wrote of the giant sequoia. “Barring accidents they seem to be immortal, being exempt from all diseases that afflict and kill other trees. Unless destroyed by man, they live on indefinitely until burned, smashed by lightning, or cast down by storms, or by the giving way of the ground on which they stand.”

Muir’s observation remains generally accurate. Giant sequoias can live for over 3,000 years, outlasting all of their mixed conifer forest neighbors. What is it about giant sequoias that allow them to persist through millennia? Surprisingly, a major factor in the longevity of giant sequoias is a chemical called tannin. The tannin, present in high concentrations in sequoia bark, gives the sequoia resistance to rot, boring insects, and fire.

It is difficult to appreciate the size of the giant sequoias because neighboring trees are so large. The largest of the sequoias are as tall as an average 26-story building, and their diameters at the base exceed the width of many city streets. As they continue to grow, they produce about 40 cubic feet (one cubic meter) of wood each year, approximately equal to the volume of a tree that’s 50 feet tall and one foot in diameter.

To avoid toppling over, sequoias lose branches, weak branches make for long-lived trees when they are attached to a stout central trunk and has the ability to grow new branches in its old age.  What this means is that during extreme storms, branches will fail but the tree itself is likely to survive.

This is what happened to the General Sherman Tree during the New Year’s storm of 1978. Powerful winds howled through the tree-tops, threatening the very existence of this ancient organism, but before the tree could be uprooted, one of its huge branches failed and crashed to the ground.

With a diameter of over six feet and a length in excess of 100 feet, this branch formed a huge “sail” during the storm, catching the wind like the sails on a square-rigged ship.

General Sherman - we think this is the branch that broke offGeneral Sherman - Broke tree branchGeneral Sherman BranchGeneral Sherman - The tree branch broke the fence when it fell and broke

German Sherman Loop

Our next stop was Big Tree Loop……This1.5 mile paved trail was great! A beautiful meadow, large trees, and boulders.

On our trail walk we ran across this beautiful Golden Marmont living in the base of one of the fallen Sequoia trees. He was so awesome!

Another day we took a ride to Hume Lake and to one of the look-outs on the Generals’ highway.

Then a trip to Cedar Grove

10-Mile Creek

 

Kings Canyon River

Grizzly Falls – By this late in the season the river and falls were pretty low, but it had a different kind of beauty from earlier in the spring when they were gushing with water.

On the banks of the Kings Canyon River at Cedar Grove

John Muir Rock and Kings River

Roaring Falls at Cedar Grove

River walk to Zumwalt Meadows – We did not get to walk the meadow loop due to the wooden walk bridge was washed out.

Knapps Cabin

Long before Kings Canyon became a National Park in 1940, George Owen Knapp, a successful businessman from Santa Barbara, built a small hunting and fishing cabin along the banks of the Kings River. The cabin was subsequently used and preserved by the Park Service with the incorporation of the land into the park, and it has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The cabin sits about a100 yards off the main road between Cedar Grove and Roads End.