Summer Vacation Part 1. Phoenix to Texas 06/29/018-07/05/2018

These posts are going to be a bit of a jumble until we get to the present because we have done A LOT of things this summer. So I am going to start at the beginning of the summer and go from there.


We left Phoenix near the end of June, bound for New York, with one very strategically packed Honda Fit. We didn’t take the RV because it is much more difficult to maneuver and much more expensive to drive. Our summer was basically four 2 week trips. Phoenix-New York, New York, Alaska, NY-Phoenix.

First stop was West Texas-New Mexico border for cheap beer and a beautiful sunset.

You may have been to Texas, but if you haven’t been to West Texas, you are really missing out.  We camped, hiked Guadalupe Peak (the highest peak in Texas) , and went to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.



The entrance to Carlsbad Caverns. It is a massive underground cave structure with many huge rooms.



The pictures really can not do the park justice as the rooms are cathedral-like.


Next we went to Big Bend National Park in Texas. Some people had told us about Big Bend last year so we decided to check it out. It more than exceeded our expectations. There is a great deal of variety in elevation and climate with lots of interesting hiking and animals. We didn’t even have time for a river trip.


Our campsite in a beautiful valley.


Barbary Sheep-a “rare” sighting according to a Big Bend website.


The Rio Grande and its surrounding canyon.




This was a surreal sight of clouds and mountains.20180701_180847

20180701_182210P1000749P1000813Two-tone lizard.

This was an absolutely beautiful hike all along the rim of the canyon. Expansive views.


20180702_174233Javelina (Peccary)! We have seen these in zoos, but never in the wild!


Still in Texas, we followed a storm front for a few hours. The lightening was quite a show, but very difficult to capture.


Next, the Alamo and The River Walk in San Antonio.


We spent my favorite holiday, The 4th of July, in Texas on one of the many man-made lakes.  I have spent other Independence Days in Texas and there is never a shortage of great hospitality, patriotism, alcohol, and fireworks! Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of my cousins or their generous and hospitable friends but we had a wonderful and welcoming time (and another beautiful sunset).


Maybe Tom’s favorite fast food joint.



Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), Minnesota 08/26/2018-08/31/2018

Although I have been paddling for most of my life, the impetus to go to BWCA really came from Tom. He actually had such an interest in going to MN that he suggested I  get a job up there!  We didn’t exactly know what we were getting into, but we have enjoyed 3 or 4 paddling trips in the Adirondacks in the past and we figured this would be similar. In most ways it was. The biggest differences are the vastness of the BWCA and the types of wildlife we saw. We saw no fewer than 4 bald eagles, many frogs and toads and many turtles, as well as 1 leech.  As they are in the Adirondacks, Tom’s beloved loons were in attendance. The portages (carrying the canoe between lakes or bypassing whitewater) are also different in the BWCA-most are shorter and not nearly as muddy.  We were in the backcountry for 5.5 days and saw as few as 4 other people one day. We paddled and portaged a total of  about 76 miles over a frickin’ bunch of lakes!

This year was very light on the rain, so the water was much more shallow than usual (per locals’ reports) and I never found a good jumping rock at any of our campsites.   The lakes are also much warmer than the Adirondacks.  I had the pleasure of swimming every day (this also helps keep the stink down when there’s no shower around for 5 days).  We did get some rainy weather, but it was mostly at night and we had clear, beautiful, dark skies for 2 nights to view the stars and moon as well as couple of beautiful sunsets.

The leaves are already changing up here.
Making dinner and purifying water.


Tom forgot his hat so he had to borrow my purple one.
I know it’s a weird get up but I’m bound to get wet while paddling and it was cold with the wind and 70ish temps.  That’s all we packed, 2 dry bags of about 35 lbs each.
Kevlar canoe, about 40 pounds, considerable lighter than aluminum or plastic.
I swam out to that little island just left of center.


Our last campsite. Nice, high, vantage point that was shielded from the strong winds of the day.
Per usual, Tom doing lots of work while I lounge in the sun!






We have had a lot of interest in our pictures and stories over the two years we have been travelling. FB has a lot of glitches for sharing our pictures to both of our pages so after being inspired by our friends who have been blogging while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, we decided that this may be an easier method-both to post and to view. Things will be a bit out of chronological order for a while, but hopefully we can keep this updated regularly. Enjoy!