Life on the road is everything we thought it would be.
We often are asked how we can support ourselves on the road and I have to say that fortunately for us, we are able to handle most of our bills with income from my websites.
However, we do need a buffer. And that is where KOA has come in. We are doing seasonal work at various campgrounds in order to supplement our income while we see the country.
Last week we left Circle Pines KOA in Williams, AZ and I have to say that it was a sad farewell. We not only loved this surprisingly beautiful area of the country, but made a bunch of new friends in the process that we definitely will miss.
And we absolutely loved working for Bruce and Lori. They made campground work an adventure.
Our cool shady spot underneath the tall pines is now just a memory. I would have loved to stay through the winter, but our coach does not love cold weather. So it is onto to warmer regions.
We work five days a week with two days off right now. So on those two days, we like to become tourists and visit something fun in the area.
I mean, who wants to stay in the RV all day?
Fortunately, there is so much to choose from around here that I doubt we will have a single weekend without some place new to see.
This photo was taken in May, shortly after we got here. We were very surprised to see snow capped mountains right in our back yard. This mountain range is called The San Francisco Peaks.
The tallest mountain in the range, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,633 feet in elevation.
We took a ride out to the Arizona Snowbowl, a ski resort located on the San Francisco Peaks. Opened in 1938, the Arizona Snowbowl is one of the longest running resorts in the West having been open for 75 years.
You see, we heard that they will take you up on the ski lift for a nominal fee.
And we totally couldn’t pass that up!
The chair lift officially opened for the summer right after Memorial Day. We were very excited to check it out.
Dave and I were skiers in our younger days. We choose not to break any bones at this stage in our lives, so we have to settle for a summer ski lift. But I have to tell you, that it brought back great memories!
We love to go on mini vacations on our two days off each week. In fact, we spend a lot of time doing research, trying to decide what we would like to visit each week. This week, based on a cool billboard off the interstate, we decided to visit the Meteor Crater.
And to make the adventure even more fun, we took the motorcycle. It was a particularly windy day, with gusts of 20 plus miles per hour, which made the ride to the crater a little nerve racking. But we were in for the adventure, right?
The crater is about an hour drive from the campground, which worked well for me, as I have about an hour butt-limit on the motorcycle.
But this was worth the wind and the tender rear end. You see the crater is a huge, huge hole located smack in the middle of the flat high desert of Northern Arizona. In fact, it is 3/4 of a mile in diameter and about 600 feet deep. A heck of a hole.
So how big is this hole? Well check it out!
Fifty thousand years ago, a giant meteor streaked across North America and struck the earth in what is now northern Arizona, exploding with the force of 2.5 million tons of TNT. It is thought that the meteorite weighed about 300,000 tons and was traveling at a speed of 26,000 miles per hour.
The force when it struck was about 150 times the force of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
The force of the impact not only melted most of the meteorite, but forced millions of tons of limestone and sandstone out of the hole, throwing rocks and meteor fragments for miles.
The crater and the land around it has been privately owned since the early 1900’s by the Barringer family. The family has built a nice visitor center along with a movie theater, restaurant and gift shop right on the rim of the crater.
Along the rim, there are impressive views. You can walk out on a platform that juts out over the edge. From this vantage point a sign informs you that a tiny rock on the floor of the Crater is actually as big as a house. In the center of the crater stands a cardboard cutout of a guy holding an American flag, but you can’t see him unless you’re looking through the platform’s fixed telescope.
We are currently living and working at the Circle Pines KOA in Williams, AZ. We arrived here about a month ago and were assigned a spot in the center of the campground.
I have to say that in our work camping career so far, this site is the best that we have had! It includes trees, a nice size yard (even when campers are around us), a huge fire pit and lots of flat space to store the motorcycle!
We love this laid back campground! It is a lot smaller than Bar Harbor, and St. Petersburg. With just 20 cabins, and about 150 pull through sites, it is not only pleasant to live here, but working behind the counter is that much easier.
We will be here until October 31, which gives us plenty of time to explore the area and take in all that we can.
And Circle Pines also owns a Go Cart track, putting a little variety into our work routines!
So why did we choose northern Arizona for the summer? Well, there were several reasons. At about 7000 feet above sea level, this area of the country does not get extreme heat in the summer. In fact, evenings are jacket weather!
But the biggest draw of the area has to be The Grand Canyon. Since neither one of us had ever seen it before, this area of the country was on our “bucket list”.
The Grand Canyon National Park
It is about a 60 mile drive from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive is actually very interesting as you move from pine forests to dry desert land. Keep an eye out for deer. They are everywhere!
Along the way, you will find the occasional camper parked off the roadway. You see in this area of the state, you can dry camp off road for as long as two weeks.
Entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park is $30 per vehicle. Parking spaces are plentiful and even include areas for RVs and buses.
Once parked, you can either hike along the rim trail, or take free shuttles to restaurants, stores and view points along the South Rim.
The canyon itself is absolutely breathtaking. No photos or words actually do it justice. You have to see it for yourself to understand the magnitude of this amazing Natural Wonder.
The Grand Canyon is about 277 miles long. At its widest point it is 18 miles wide. The average width is a distance about 10 miles. The average depth is about 1 mile.
On our way west towards Williams, AZ, for our new summer job, we made a couple pit stops along the way. One of the more impressive ones was Amarillo, Texas.
Traveling along Interstate 40, once you get on the west side of Oklahoma City, the land flattens out where you can see for miles and miles.
The winds were strong. Dave said it felt like he was driving a sail boat. We were getting gusts of 15 to 25 mile an hour winds which seemed to be from the south, rocking the RV as we tried to make our way west.
Car sickness may or may not have ensued…
We had a scheduled stop in Amarillo and were very glad to get off the highway after about a 5 hour drive from Oklahoma City.
So why Amarillo?
So much to see and do here! Unfortunately, we only had one day to take it all in, so we chose a couple places that intrigued us. But keep in mind if you are ever in Amarillo, there are canyons, museums, botanical gardens, and even a huge livestock auction where you can hang out with real cowboys and get a glimpse of the cattle industry that is so huge in this area of the country.
We stayed at the Amarillo KOA and pretty much had the park to ourselves. I loved the wide open spaces!
These little guys greeted us at the campground store entrance. Amarillo must be home of the mariachi bands!
Or maybe the home of colorful metal musicians…
Once settled, our first order of business was to go out and visit Cadillac Ranch. Unfortunately, we had an issue with the tow cables on the car and had to replace them first, which entailed a trip to Home Depot.
Cadillac Ranch is located about 5 miles west of city of Amarillo. With our late start, we got there just as the sun was setting.
Cadillac Ranch is actually a public art installation. It was created in 1974 by an art group called Ant Farm. The installation consists of Cadillacs, representing the car line from 1949 to 1963. Each of the cars is half-buried nose first into the ground at an angle that is supposed to correspond with the angle of the Great Pyramid.
Note the graffiti.
You see when the art work was originally opened up to the public back in the 70’s, there was an issue of folks breaking off souvenirs and painting graffiti onto the cars.
After fighting it for a bit, the artists decided to allow others to add their own personal touch to this piece of art.
Visiting Cadillac Ranch and adding graffiti to the cars is now encouraged. In fact, while we where there, at least 20 other people were there with spray paint adding a bit of themselves to this piece of art.
Bring a spray paint can and paint what you want! Just be aware that it probably will be painted over in no time. Cadillac Ranch is an incredibly popular destination for those that are passing through.
On our way across country from Atlanta, GA to Williams, AZ, we made several stops. One of which was to spend a couple days in Oklahoma City, visiting with my oldest daughter, Laura.
We stayed at the Oklahoma City East KOA. Check out this amazing site! We were so impressed by how beautiful this little campground was- and how well kept! Frankly, if it wasn’t for the scary tornado potential in the area, we would consider working here.
But there is the tornado thing and the fact that we really don’t have a basement. And I’m sure that is something that I just have to get over now that I live in a virtual tin can, but at the moment I am good with heading west.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
My daughter took us on a tour of the area, including a drive out to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, roughly 100 miles south of Oklahoma City. It is the oldest managed wildlife facility in the United States.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was important in saving the American buffalo from extinction. In 1907 the American Bison Society transported 15 buffalo, from the New York Zoological Park to the refuge. At that time, buffalo had been extinct on the southern Great Plains for over 30 years.
The buffalo herd now numbers about 650 on the refuge!
One “rule of thumb” when you are around wild animals. If you hold up your thumb in front of them, and you can still see them, you are too close.
And as you can tell from the photo, wild animals come in all forms!
Our tour of the mountains included a trip to the summit of Mount Scott which offers amazing views of the Oklahoma countryside.
And of course a visit to Meer’s Restaurant- a popular place in the area famous for it’s giant Meer’s Burgers. Because we had to eat, right?
Here is a short video of our visit! To see is in large screen, click here.
I’m currently juggling three websites, and this one seems to suffer a bit. My goal (hopefully soon) is to post twice a week on here. Currently, I’m really not doing well at that!
When we first hit the road, I thought I’d have tons of time to write. I mean, I quit a full time job that included a hour and a half commute each way. I should have tons of time, right? But we are work camping right now to help supplement our income. That requires at least 30 hours a week working for the campground for an hourly wage plus campsite.
My other websites, Suzy’s Sitcom and Daily Holiday Blog have taken off this year and I’m trying to keep up with them. Hopefully very soon we will not need the supplemental income provided by work camping. Not that I dislike working at the campgrounds, but I cannot somehow make more hours in my day!
Dave and our friend Judy on a rainy KOA day…
In the meantime, life goes on at the campground! We are currently in St. Petersburg, Florida for the winter, parked amongst the snowbirds from Canada and northern US. We will be here two more months and then will be moving onto the Grand Canyon in Arizona for the summer.
My sister came to town this past week to spend a few days with us. Here is a short video that I put together from her visit!
The winds were pretty strong and it felt like winter finally arrived in Florida. But we had tons of fun in spite of the the windy weather. We look forward to visiting with her again when she comes to Arizona!
Dave needs a haircut pretty badly. After taking a photo of him with his locks blowing in the wind, I couldn’t help myself. I had to make a romance novel cover out of it.
And then post it on Facebook.
Because that is what I do.
By the way, Buffy Dickenson is my make-believe stripper name. (Just put together the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on).
We officially left the state of Maine on October 2. What a fabulous six months we had! We met so many wonderful people and enjoyed an amazingly beautiful area of the country. And now the adventure continues!
Dave wanted to check out the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Faith was much more interested in seeing if there were any roadside hotdog stands.
Since Dave was driving, those hotdog stands would have to wait until another day…
It wasn’t too long and we left the state of Maine and all it’s Moose Crossing signs behind. Did we ever see a moose? Well, no. Lived there six months and the closest I got to a moose was this sign.
And I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t see a Fall leaf change too. Fortunately, we got to see plenty of colorful trees on the way to New Hampshire. Fall is definitely here!
Dave wanted to ride the Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington. So, we chose the closest KOA, which happened to be Twin Mountain KOA. This was a beautifully maintained privately owned campground at the base of the White Mountains.
We enjoyed talking to the owners who told us that they purchased this particular campground sight unseen several years ago. Since then, they had done many upgrades including beautiful private tent areas and even a caboose as a “cabin” rental!
It is the world’s first mountain climbing rack and pinion railway. It is the second steepest railway in the world with an average grade of over 25%, and a maximum grade of 37.41%!
The three mile trek up Mount Washington takes about 40 minutes as you ascend to the summit peak at 6,288 feet above sea level.
The Cog Railway originated in 1852 when after becoming lost near the summit of Mount Washington, Sylvester Marsh decided to create a better way for people to reach the highest mountain peak in the Northeast.
One Hundred and Forty Years later, The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a National Historic Engineering Landmark! The vintage steam engines, replica coaches and biodiesel locomotives are well worth the visit.
We loved the running commentary from the brakeman on board who filled us in on the history of the railway, the mountain, and other fun facts. And then there was the cool optical illusion of the trees and structures along the side of the tracks being extremely tilted. (When in fact it was us that was tilted!)
And then there was Mount Washington! The summit was cold and clear and we could see for miles!
In fact, in the photo above if you look where the sky meets the land on the horizon, there is a strip of blue there. That is the Atlantic ocean!
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 ft (1,917 m).
The mountain is famous for dangerously erratic weather. On the afternoon of April 12, 1934, the Mount Washington Observatory actually recorded a windspeed of 231 miles per hour (372 km/h) at the summit. This was the world record for most of the 20th century.
Like most big mountains, it makes it’s own weather and conditions at the top are often poor. We were fortunate to arrive on a clear day as more often than not, clouds cover the peak.
At peak of the mountain, there was a museum to enjoy which included an exhibit titled “Extreme Mount Washington“. This video is a bit about the exhibit and the crazy weather that Mount Washington loves to share.
And here above the clouds is the Appalachian Trail! One of things I’ve always wanted to do is take that trail from Georgia all the way to it’s end point in Maine on Mount Katahdin. I didn’t realize that not only did you have to tackle that huge mountain in Maine, but you had one quiet a bit larger just a state away!
The state of New Hampshire dressed up and greeted us with beautiful leaves, amazing weather and a wonderful start to our trek heading south.
Dave has a good idea every now and then. But don’t tell him I said so.
We are now on our way south, heading to St. Petersburg, FL for our winter destination. I wanted to put together a final post on the beautiful area of the country that we had the pleasure of living in- Bar Harbor, Maine.
One of the questions that I was asked the most while working at the front desk of the campground was, “What are the best things to do in Bar Harbor?”
Well, I have the answers for you, at least from our point of view. These are the things that you should really not miss if you ever get the chance to enjoy the coast of Maine.
Cadillac Mountain is located in the nearby Acadia National Park and at 1,530 feet, it is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. There are various hiking trails to the summit, some more challenging than others. There is also a paved road to the top.
From the summit, you can see most of Mount Desert Island. On a clear day, it is a beautiful site to see!
At certain times of the year, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the United States to see the sunrise. Getting up to see a sunrise from the top of the mountain is a common attraction.
Sunsets there are beautiful too.
Schoodic Point is the only part of Acadia National Park that is located on the main land of Maine rather than on Mount Desert Island. For that reason, Schoodic is a much more secluded, less crowded opportunity to actually see some wildlife. Because of the fact that it is located away from barrier islands, you can enjoy the crashing of the waves from an unobstructed Atlantic Ocean.
It is about a 45 minute drive from the tip of Mount Desert Island, but well worth the time. From Schoodic, you can see the peak of Cadillac Mountain and enjoy another beautiful Maine sunset.
Schoodic is where we ran across several huge porcupines. I’d say they were as big as my VW Bug, but I’d be exaggerating just a tad. Suffice it to say, they were huge!
Nearly everyone that checked in at the campground asked me, “Where do the locals go?” As visiting “locals”, we soon discovered our favorites:
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound– in Maine, any place that sells lobster by the pound is called a Lobster Pound. Imagine that. There are many of them all over Mount Desert Island and the mainland. They all compete with each other, sell similar items and their prices are very similar depending upon the varying prices of lobster. Trenton Bridge has the advantage of a great view and awesome Maine atmosphere.
Chart Room Restaurant– This restaurant is located right along the water on Route 3 headed toward downtown Bar Harbor. Because they are not downtown, they are not usually as crowded as those in Bar Harbor. You can eat right on the water and the food is just amazing. Loved their Stuffed Haddock. They also serve steak for those of us that are a bit tired of seafood, and of course, lobster!
Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium located on Main Street in Bar Harbor has lots of fun flavors in their homemade ice cream selection including Dulce de Leche, Bubblegum, (KGB) Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream base ice cream with a Grand Marnier fudge swirl, Rum Raisin, Root Beer Float, and many more!
Oh, and Lobster icecream! Yes, I tried it. Imagine butter pecan with little chunks of meat in it… yeah, that. I have to say that it wasn’t my favorite, but at least I can say I tried it! Ha!
Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar- If you love soft serve, good prices and lots of ice cream for money, you can’t beat Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar. It is located off of Mount Desert Island in the little town of Ellesworth right on Route 3.
It was one of our most frequent stops when going back and forth to Ellesworth for groceries. While the ice cream is fabulous, the folks that worked there never seemed to like their jobs much. I have to say it was a very surly group of individuals. Cash only. No samples. Make sure you know what you want when you get to the window.
In spite of the help, the ice cream was awesome! And well worth the stop.
Hadley Point is a great place to go if you love mussels. In the state of Maine, you do not need a license to go mussel fishing. Simply wait until low tide. In Maine, the tide drops 10 to 20 feet depending upon where you are. This leaves quite a bit of the seaweed covered rocks exposed. Put on some boots march out there, and start lifting up some of that seaweed. Underneath you will find mussels!
Place them in a bucket of salt water, add about a cup of cornmeal and let them sit overnight, stirring them and adding fresh water every now and then. This will get them to spit out any sand. Rinse them and then either steam or boil them with garlic.
A true Maine experience!
Whale Watching, Lighthouse Cruises
The town of Bar Harbor is the base for many different boat tours including Whale Watching, Lighthouse Cruises, Wildlife cruises, Schooners, Lobster Fishing and more.
Which one is the best?
Well, we think they all have their good points. Pricing can be as much as $50 per person, so be prepared. Decide what you would best enjoy and take advantage of the opportunity to get out on the water. You will love it!
Oh, and take a warm jacket and some anti-motion sickness meds with you just in case. It is at least 20 degrees colder out on the water and windy too!
Acadia Park Loop
Acadia National Park offers much to do including hiking, biking, kayaking, rock climbing, and more. For those of us that love to watch nature in action, it is a fabulous place to go. The Acadia Park Loop is a 27 mile road beginning at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center (near Route 3 on the northern side of the island) and connects the Park’s lakes, mountains, forests, and rocky coast.
Baxter State Park
Want a chance at seeing a moose? Head about 2 hours northwest of Acadia to Baxter State Park in central Maine. It is worth the trip. Miles and miles of wilderness where the opportunity to witness wildlife is at its best.
If you love to hike, you can climb to the top of Mount Katahdin which is Maine’s highest peak at 5,267 feet (1,605 m). This mountain is also the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
Some things to note: Baxter State Park has restrictions- no pets, no RV’s, no motorcycles, no large trucks. It is remote, so little to no cell phone coverage.
West Quoddy Lighthouse
The little town of Lubec is the home of the beautiful West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. But even more interesting, Lubec is the easternmost town in the contiguous United States. Since we have already been to Key West (the southern most point); it seemed fitting!
A visit to this beautiful lighthouse and the area around it is a must-see!
Located about 2 hours south of Acadia is Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. And…it is the lighthouse on the Maine State Quarter, making it the first lighthouse to be featured on a piece of US currency!
Coincidentally, this particular lighthouse is a top destination for weddings with its beautiful rocky cliffs and crashing waves. The lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the Maine coast.
So there you have it! Unfortunately, the list leaves out so many things. I could talk on and on about how much there is to see and do in the area. We are currently on our way south, and are already missing it. Who knows? One day we just may return!