Category: camping across country (Page 2 of 4)

Simple Joy of a Camper Kitchen


A tasty sandwich like this with snappy pretzels and real mayonnaise is whipped up in a few minutes without the hassle of cruising for a place to eat, a menu selection and the down time between decision and delivery. Bonus: price is about $2.00 a plate with fresh greens and a pickle. This is liberating!

Getting into Wren

It took me a few thousand miles perhaps to figure out how to remember which foot to step up first when entering from driver’s side or from navigator’s side of the van. Great relief to discover that all it takes is putting the foot closer to the van up first, then the other foot naturally goes on second step and one’s feet do not wind up entangled and the rest of me unbalanced when I try to sit down. Who knew?

Elk, Elk, where are you?

Glenwood Hot Springs, CO

Glenwood Hot Springs, CO

Overheard in the pool

“The elk are out there. Saw a bull elk today grazing by the fence along the highway. On private property though. It’s said that the elk are staying at higher elevations this fall. They think it’s September.”

While this may not be literally true, it says something about the change in the way things used to be climate-wise.

Notes on the Midwest

From the pov of an easterner visiting the Midwest, a few things stood out. Drivers seem content to travel at the speed limit and will stay behind our big van from Vermont, with a driver clearly unfamiliar with the territory, for miles and miles even though the van is going the speed limit or less. My experience traveling up and down the east coast in a Prius with VT plates was that every car and truck was eager to pass me with or without the broken center line. Nice change.

To my surprise, the yards, porches and doors of houses and apartments along our way were not overloaded with Halloween decorations. I would see just an occasional gesture, one much more like decades ago, before the blow-up ghouls and witches were available. A pumpkin or two and bunches of Indian corn could be seen occasionally. A friend in CO confirmed that the craze has not reached her yet. I don’t

Earlier travelers in the Midwest mostly passed through this land.

Earlier travelers in the Midwest mostly passed through this land.

miss the shrubbery strewn with fake cobwebs or the lawn that includes a rep from every conceivable Halloween theme.

I’m Back

So busy being a tourist, no time to write about what we are doing.

We had a great time with Kate and David Johnson in Blaine, MN.  They treated us very well, but Lady Bess even better.  They were constantly giving her a snack or a select piece of steak or fish.  We had some good meals with them, with the local fish, one of Dave’s walleye as the standout, and they shared some of the cooking duties.

We watched the second debate together, men in one room and women in the other.  We will keep our opinions to ourselves. David was very helpful in getting me to a tire store for a tire rotation and to check out one slow leak. No solution- more about that later. We also tried to top off the propane tank. I’m still learning how all this works.




It’s All About the Sky


Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The day we arrived, the sky was blue with puffy Georgia-O’keeffe clouds floating about. This photo is from the next morning from Wren. Is that rain? Skies cleared on our way from there west 40 miles to The Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore. The day delivered sunshine, snow, rain, cloud cover and finally a red sunset as we headed back to Cedar Pass Campground where 4 sites remained open after official closing. It had poured there and was pitch dark when we arrived. First thing we did was step out and into sloppy, sticky mud. The sandstone Badlands are eroding rapidly due to rain, wind, snow, and visitors’ footsteps. No one had to convince us after we could see the sediment in every puddle under clear skies.

It was a beautiful place to stay. While I was told camping would be dry this late in the year, the restrooms were open, and heated, as were the showers.  Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails or boardwalks.

Wine Steward on Board

Jerry pouring wine

Jerry pouring wine

Somewhere in Iowa he found what was for us, when first married, a go-to celebratory drink, Andre’s cold duck. It just about as cheap, sweet and bubbly as it was in the 70’s. This was a nice way to christen brand-new pure plastic wine glasses that will bounce when jiggled and jounced around on our way west.

My Great-Grandmother’s Diary

Part of this long road trip over three seasons is learning more history of my mother’s family and sharing some of what I know. This took us to Wisconsin and a large town outside of Madison where my ancestors settled after migrating from Vermont and other places East. My grandmother’s sister remained on the farmland there, so cousins who stayed on the land or nearby know a lot of the history. From there we visited a first cousin outside of Minneapolis, MN, and her husband. Kate was eager to hear all I’d learned and see what I’d brought from home. My mother was the only daughter and perhaps because of that was given much of what her mother had of family artifacts. These included a chest of drawers that made the trip west from Orwell, a spinning wheel from Vermont and fabric woven from its threads, and a tiny bureau made by one of our ancestors for a child. I did not bring these items in the camper.

img_4540Kate with Kate’s Daily Diary 1936

What interested Kate and me the most was a diary kept by Kate Buell Ranney, the woman my cousin is named for, in 1936 at the age of eighty-two when she is a widow and living part of the year with her daughter who left the farm to live in Des Moines and the other part of that year with her only other child, daughter who stayed on the farm and married a neighbor farmer. The lady had a busy social life with lots of calling and callers, club meetings, and church events. Letter writing and receiving was a vital part of every day.

Simplicity in a Swish

A simple daily joy of living out of a camper van as we travel across the country is how little time is spent cleaning up. For example, doing the dinner dishes takes about ten minutes from start to finish with everything is back in its place snug and tight for the next push down the road.


Part of that is that no steps are involved, just a bit of pivoting. It’s even better when Wren is plugged in, and someone remembered to turn on the hot water heater.

Traveling with Jerry and Jill

By Bess

OK , we have been on the road for a month.  A nice stay at Trout House with my daughter Jenny and Flora, both beautiful springers too.  Good morning walks and some food droppings on the kitchen floor help stave off the hunger.  Then a few days at Lake Dunmore while Jill was hiking with her friend Beth.

Then off to Newark, NY, to spend a couple of days with Jerry’s Aunt Helen.  She was very nice to me as she once owned a Springer named Patsy.  We also spent some time with Kit and Bill for dinner, then time at their new apartment.

Heading West through Ohio and then on to Wisconsin to visit Jill’s cousins John and Bob, plus their wives Gail and Jane.  I really enjoyed the cats there and the pond with the ducks.  They also had some weird looking chickens.

Northern Wisconsin was next with a trip to see Lynn and her cats Tommy and Chloe.  Lynn was in Afghanistan with Jill in the Peace Corps in the early 70’s.  Lots of great cat food there, and Lynn always provided a fresh snack when I scratched at the door in the early morning.

More to come later, traveling can be exhausting..


Lady Bestonimg_4495






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