Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas in Hot Springs, Arkansas

Elizabeth & Hana in front of the gingerbread house at The Arlington. James & Hana also got in some Saturday nigh jazz band and dancing at the hotel.
Pete & Hana decorate a 'found' Christmas tree composed of discarded evergreen branches that we wired together. It worked out so well that I think we'll try this method again!
Pete & Elizabeth opening gifts.
Pete & Frankie cuddlz
New bathroom fan! A slight upgrade from the old 50s era (?) hunk of metal. This project did end up taking much longer than expected (as usual) so it's a good thing we stayed so long!

James was busy all month packing the freezer full of fresh caught fish for the journey ahead. He also cooked up some of the BEST fried catfish we've ever had last week. Get ready for James' Ragin' Cajun RV Kitchen.
  My month in Arkansas was solitary. Hot Springs is a busy, congested town, and I usually find the more people I'm around, the more alone I feel. My phone and fishing gear were swept away at Lake Catherine below the dam when the water was raised suddenly. I heard a short beep, and my jigs, phone, bucket, and the fish I had caught were all swallowed up.  Nonetheless, my time in Hot Springs was solitary in a good way. I caught the biggest Walleye I have caught yet, and I emphasize on the 'yet', and had a lot of time to practice the guitar I picked up in a Memphis pawn shop. 

  One of my favorite activities in Hot Springs was filling jugs with fresh untreated water from one of the town's several public water stations. They say every spring has a different sort of flavor, and Hana and I did find one that we gravitated to the most. We also tried out the bathhouse experience and got a massage. I don't usually want one unless the person has a gift for really digging deep into the tight spots, but I did leave feeling much more relaxed than when I went in. We did a bit of hiking, but most trails in the area were steep and my body just can't take the inclines anymore. 

    A cat followed Frankie and I home while out walking one night. I thought something wasn't right when he kept approaching Frankie, but he also wanted me to pet him a lot. The next day Hana and I were out with the dogs and he popped out of a ditch and followed us home. We fed him, and he hung around for much of the evening. Sadly, we didn't see 'King David' the cat again after that night. 

  Now that we are on the road again and settled back into the rv I realize there are new friends to make, new waters to fish, and many new adventures to come. We still have months ahead of us to chase our vision of what would be an ideal life for us, and sometimes finding it can take longer than a year, or lead you somewhere you didn't expect. You just never know in this life. One thing I will say is that I have really gained an appreciation for people in the smaller towns. You just never know where you will want to call home, and that is part of the adventure. 



We had a great time, and after enjoying an extended holiday stay in AR we're moving on to our next state, Leeziana.

Thanks to Pete for being such a gracious host.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Uncle Pete's for Thanksgiving!

Destination: Memphis, then Hot Springs, Arkansas
This week brought us to one of our favorite stops yet, an unassuming place called Tom Sawyer's RV park in West Memphis, AR. It's located right on the Mississippi & the view was incredible! I got to watch the sun rise over the river every morning right from our RV and James got to fish the ponds within walking distance. It also had FREE laundry, fast wifi & warm, clean bathrooms.

We made sure to stop by the massive Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Memphis. It's in a gigantic pyramid shaped building and includes tons of ponds filled with real ducks and fish. Kinda felt like being at Disney World. We also went downtown Memphis for a bite to eat and a drink (for me) at a local bar and eatery called Flying Saucer Draught Emporium just around the corner from the neon lights of Beale Street.

Sunrise over the Mississippi
James' carp: tastes like chicken! (really)
Pete and Hana teamed up to make a delicious sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving we made our way to Uncle Pete's in Hot Springs, Arkansas! It was great seeing Pete and meeting his friend, Elizabeth. The dogs enjoy having room to run around and play again after a month in the RV. I spent my weekend replacing Pete's worn out kitchen faucet and 50 year old toilet. (I was met with fierce opposition by Pete, of course.) Next weekend I'll be replacing the bathroom vent/light!


< Before  & After >

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Destination: Big South Fork National Park, Nashville, Meeble-Shelby Forest State Park (outside Memphis), Tennessee
The road to Nashville
Here in the south I can't figure out if I have lost track of time while living the life of a 43 year old Tom Sawyer, or if my sense of time has become keener. This week while fishing the New River in the Big South Fork I really didn't care enough to look at the time while I worked my way up and down fishing where the water eddies when the water was high and the current was strong. Time seems to be moving at a different pace when you are spending all of your time in the woods. I'm more aware of the  squirrels time schedule and the fishes habits than I am of what is going on in the world outside, but somehow it has become a game with Hana today in Nashville that I have been able to accurately tell her the time without looking at a clock. 

  After giving up most of my possessions I'm not really sure of what I had, or how much it was worth hanging on to. I used to hold onto every dog eared book I read until my collection got so big that it was cumbersome. I claimed that I held onto them so I would always be able to go back on them for reference, or to remember the ideas of the authors that I read, but in actuality I carried all of those heavy books out of vanity. I was once proud that I had so many beat up books to show that there was something going on in the brain of what appears to be a somewhat absent minded, simple man that loses things often. I now really don't care how simple I appear, or who knows what I read, because in actuality they don't care nearly as much as my mind would anticipate. It is all just vanity. It felt good to sell and donate all of my books, and even some of my paintings I held on to. There is a lot to be said for the simple life that I am having an easy time adapting to. Material possessions after a while just seem to slow you down, and even all of the information in those books can be just as much of a burden. This week I was finding more useful information in how the river was acting before, during, and after a heavy rainfall than in a good 60 percent of the books I was once so proud that I read anyway. As King Solomon stated, "All is vanity and vexation of the spirit." 

  What I have learned is thankfulness. There is nothing like gutting trout that you just caught and putting into the fire along with some sweet potatoes and corn. To breath the fresh air all day and observing the beautiful things big and small that God created is a gift. In seclusion I find that I am not secluded at all. Some creatures move silently, squirrels rapidly shuffle the leaves about, and woodpeckers make this distinct pecking sound that I only once knew in cartoons. Twenty five years ago I had envisioned an off grid hobo adventure, but never would have believed that it would have happened to me now at this time in my life or in this way. 

  Hana and I spent the day in Nashville and will be heading for the hills again to a state park on the Mississippi River tomorrow. The RV park we are in now is one big parking lot which is the opposite of what we are used to. There are no trails here but the owners are nice. They offer 3 square meals a day, karaoke on Saturday night, and church on Sunday morning. It is also nice to have the full hookup for a couple nights where we can wash dishes without thinking about the water tank running low, or the grey tank getting too full.

 We were able to drop in on a few pawn shops in search of a broken-in accoustic guitar, shop in the Wrangler outlet, go to a gun and knife show, and have dinner at a place that served all you can eat catfish and corn pudding family style. The name of the restaurant is Monell's. If you ever stop in Nashville I would suggest going if you want southern cooking done well. The plates of food move around the table faster than you can eat. The food was so good I found myself eating meatloaf, which is something I haven't ventured to try in years. The corn pudding was so good I had three servings. While everyone was full there was still a lot of food left on the table. I found myself contemplating how to sneak some of the fried catfish out in my pockets.

  When I saw there was a gun and knife show here I was pretty exited, envisioning beautifully crafted collector Bowie knives, along with some vintage six shooters and black powder guns. There was some of that, but nothing like what I used to see around the Detroit area when I was younger. It was still a good show, and I did come across and old codger that had a nice collection of Case Knives, and introduced me to a similar brand of stag handled pocket knives called Fighting Rooster, which is a highly respectable company that once got as wild to create a 12 blade knife. I could have easily purchased a few knives from that guy, I could hear Hana disapprovingly say I have enough knives already, but I am going to have to say that that is just a matter of opinion. 

  We did have to stop at the now l Dukes of Hazard museum which is really a store to sell cheap, gimicky stuff to tourists. I still enjoyed it for Nostalgic reasons, and they did have some vintage memorabilia which jogged my memory of being a kid and getting exited every time they drove the General Lee sideways.  

  While it was nice to enjoy a day in the city, Hana and I are now ready to head for the hills again. We really don't want to go back to conventional life anytime soon. Both of us would feel the same way as when the old woman forced Huckleberry Finn to dress up.t's hard to put on a stiff pair of shiny shoes after you have been running barefoot in the woods for a while.

 Since none of us can truly boast of what we will accomplish the next day we will keep our other future ideas silent at this point. We looked for a house in the country, but kept getting outbid. Now we have a house that moves all over the country, giving us a variety of beautiful back yards larger than what we could own.  We had no idea things were going to work out like this while our house was for sale in Ypsilanti, so I reckon I can't accurately say what we will be doing when this year long adventure is over. Now, as we drive our rig down these winding roads through mountains and horse farms we are satisfied and thankful. 


Sunday, November 15, 2015


(Note - We've added an email notification feature to the blog! ---->)

Destination: Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky

We crossed over the bridge into Ashland, Kentucky.
New favorite store: Rural Mart. They give you free popcorn and coffee at the door, and you can bring your dogs! 
We were STARVING when we got into Kentucky so took a chance on this rickety looking pizza shack. Turns out it was the famous local eatery, Miguel's Pizza. Miguel also runs a camp for climbers located directly behind the restaurant. Very college-y hippy ultra-climber scene. The place was packed inside and out and the pizza was delicious! You can order by 2, 4, or 8 slices and choose from a huge list of toppings like pesto, corn, cilantro, garlic, you name it. We loved it so much we went back later in the week. The Ale 8 in the photo is a local lightly flavored ginger/lime soda, not actually an ale. The park happens to be in a dry county.
Our campground in the valley
Cue breathtaking scenery: 

 If pictures could describe my affection for a lake, I would say that these do perfectly. It's name is Mill Creek Lake. It sat just above our campground, and it's deepest point was 75 feet.  I was told by the nice woman who owns Ledford's Bait Shop that the lake is only 60 years old, and that on a sunny day you could still see the wreckage of some of the houses that were once there below. Still so far this is one of my favorite lakes I have come across since we have been on this trip, and my love for it ran so deep that I was up at 5 am every morning to spend the day with it. Some days when it was getting close for Hana to be done working it was still hard to tear myself away. All day long I would listen to the water flowing down the spillway into Mill Creek Lake while working both of my fishing poles. I caught my first trout in this lake, and there were nineteen more to follow, along with 2 bass, a gobi, and a crawdad. I probably lost just as many as I brought in. There was even a time I had a fish on both poles at the same time. I also found that the bites slowed down tremendously after 9 am.I also had been asked for the first time for my fishing license in all the times I have fished with or without one. Fortunately the warden, who talked a bit tough at first had a soft heart and let me go, sparing me a 250 dollar fine and possibly the confiscation of my equipment. 

  I had seen a couple other photographers set up their equipment, but didn't capture quite a morning like this one. Even though it was dark, I knew to bring my camera with me, and when I was finished shooting a few of these pictures I had to run back to one of my poles that had a fish on it. This lake brought my heart as much excitement as it did peace, and if our campground would have stayed open later I would have begged Hana for another week. Nevertheless, I got to know parts of the lake well, but still had more to explore. On one hike I also discovered a small 19th century cemetery with stones placed in no particular order covered by tall grass and weeds. 

  The area of the Natural Bridge State park had a lot to offer for hardcore hikers and rock climbers, but after I hiked a couple of miles up some steep mountains through the Daniel Boone Forest my knees let me know that I was not going to burn off all the trout I would be frying up and grilling all week. While there was one point I would have felt sad that I would not be able to see all that I could see, I found my heart saying "now you can go back to the lake to fish." While it is called Mill Creek Lake, I will always also remember it as Lake Jumpin Bobbers.

We climbed that mountain

End of week three and I'm so exhausted this evening I can barely focus on writing anything. I guess the constant activity has finally caught up with both of us and we feel drained! One of the biggest issues for me has been the cold, since I apparently have the internal thermometer of a lizard. I got myself an electric blanket, though, so I'm feeling a little toastier on those chilly nights. The campground was packed on Saturday night as temperatures fell into the 20s. The bath house water line actually burst (!) leaving some without toilets & showers. I don't know how people tent camp in this weather, but many of them do it! 

Comments are appreciated, as always! See you in Tennessee..


Sunday, November 8, 2015


Destination: Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio
Now with more pictures, by popular demand! What else do you guys want to see more of? Questions you want answered? Leave a comment or email us!


This week featured lots of bugs! Our RV is covered in lady bugs inside and out, they are everywhere! Luckily it's not spiders or something.. And I won't show you the picture of the 1/2" tick I pulled off Frankie. That makes about 6 tick sightings in the RV since we started this journey. I'm sure we'll both  have Lyme's disease soon :(. I know, I know, nothing to joke about but they are everywhere. 

Last week we were learning to conserve water, which we've managed to do quite well now thanks to James's monitoring of the system, and emptying/filling as needed. We went the whole week without having to move our whole rig down to the dump station, which is a huge pain. Last week we had to do it twice. 

This week we are learning to conserve internet data! Conservation is the name of the game when you're RV living; water, internet, space, and clean dishes are all in short supply. Although we don't watch videos & turned off Flash so they don't play in the background, I've stopped streaming audio podcasts and radio, and we even heavily limit browsing it's still hard to keep data use to under 1G per day. Did I mention we haven't watched a single movie, TV show or YouTube video since we left? That could be a whole new blog: Our year without TV

The state park campground was nice, and got really busy on Saturday. The rest of the week we had it to ourselves, as usual. We got in a ton of hiking and sightseeing. This place is definitely a worthwhile visit, plus it's totally free for visitors who aren't camping!


We drove by a windmill farm that stretched for ~20 miles. Pretty cool! I've haven't seen hundreds like that in Michigan, only a few at a time.
Here are the dogs snuggled right behind our seats as we drive. Frankie keeps a vigilant eye on us the whole time, probably checking to make sure James is alert! Maya just conks out immediately.

Rose Lake

We love this photo!
Haunted Hocking. At first glance at this title on a flyer I thought they may have been advertising for Halloween, but something inside my gut told me to look further. Nonetheless I found several stories related to Hocking Hills concerning supernatural activity in the caves. I also saw that there was some activity on Rose Lake right where we were camped.  Now I did not know if these stories would play hockey with my brain and fill my imagination with invisible chupacabras lurking behind rocks and trees, but I will say I am now feeling much more at peace now that we are in Kentucky. There definitely was something that had my senses buzzing that I was not alone, and still wonder if that lightbulb in the rv did go out on it's own on our first night..  

   The campground wasn't good or bad, and the showers were at least heated. Even Hana just felt there was an eeriness about it. It was impossible to get the rv even close to level, and had to strategically prop myself against the dogs so I didn't roll off the bed at night. By the end of the week I had a sore back and felt like something was pinched in my arm. I had also read that people were seen creeping in the trees spying on kids, so I would recommend keeping some assortment of protection near you as anyone can get in this campground at night, and it is a remote area.

   I went to a local mom and pop everything shop that was close-by called Grandma Faye's and since the fishing season was ending they didn't have the bait I was looking for. The ladies seemed pretty nice and so not to leave I bought some fudge and ordered a buckeye. When I found out the buckeye was a nut not fit for human consumption instead of a chocolate ball filled with peanut butter I returned it. They informed me that they carried these poisoness nuts around for good luck. Not being superstitious and putting my trust in powers greater than a nut, I returned it and made my way 10 miles down the winding road to Down's Bait and Guns who had a good selection of both, as well as minnows for a buck. 

  The best chance I had for shore fishing was Lake Logan. I saw a couple people at the dam, so I decided to try my minnows out there. Nothing. Everyone left empty handed. "This again?" I thought to myself. I had already spent a month getting skunked chasing salmon in northern Michigan because they were late coming in. I wasn't giving up though. The next morning I woke up at 5 am and headed down to the damn, praying that I would have a profitable fishing day. Lo and behold second cast I pulled in an undersized largemouth. Cast it back in a couple more times and I got a crappie. That day I caught an assortment of bass, bluegill, crappie, and perch. It seemed like I had a hit every other cast, bringing in a total of 15 fish. It was like I had a magic dancing bobber.  I almost considered begging Hana to stay another week if the fishing was going to be that good. One of the locals informed me that he fished that spot several times and got nothing. One thing I do know, I didn't pester the good Lord for any more fish, and I caught no more than four crappie the rest of the week. 
James caught 15 fish on ONE day!
Now that we are in Kentucky I am much more at ease, and after a nice, sunny drive through picturesque farms on rolling hills my spook meter isn't buzzing off the charts. I am hoping for good fishing here in Slade, but am seeing more hiking dudes in man buns than I am fishermen around here. Either way, it is beautiful and our site is the most level site we have had so far, so stay tuned next Sunday evening for the update. 

Rugged mountain dog

At the mouth of haunted Old Man's Cave 
Can't make this stuff up.

Lastly, I want to mention the company I work for, UGP,  because they are awesome! And because this shirt happened to go online this week and I thought it was appropriate:
Ohio is Erie, my design :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Indiana Continued

We have just  spent our first week in Pokagon State Park, Indiana. We are camped in a hilly area and we can see Lake James through the trees, with a short walk to the water. So far this campground has been great. It has been especially nice during the weekdays when there is barely anyone else camped around you. Even if there was the campsites in the area we are in are exceptionally large. There trails are beautiful and I spend a few hours every morning walking. The only downside to this campground is that the showers never get hot, and the bathrooms can be a little dirty. I was told that if you let the water run a long time that they will get hot. We also noticed that the campgrounds lower than us that were a lot closer together. If we came back we would book ahead far enough so we would have more of a chance of getting a site in the 100 camp on the hill.

Our spacious campsite
  Hana and I are getting settled into the rv life pretty easily, and so are the dogs. We have lived in all types of places and spent weeks in the motel six, so far It's not hard for me to find ways to keep myself occupied outdoors all day. The hardest thing to adjust to is stretching out the water supply in places like this where you don't have full hookup. We are much more aware of how much water we are using every time we turn on a faucet, and showers don't exceed more than a few minutes. After our first week we have devised ways of extending and adding to our water supply, and keeping our grey tank from filling up too quickly so we don't have to drive to the dump/fill-up station every other day. The trade off to not having a full hookup is having much more space for exploration right outside your door. Also you cannot beat the amount of space we had on our site. The upside to having to conserve water is that you realize just how much in excess you use. The downside is that washing dishes will drain a good amount of your water supply. Peace and seclusion is a priority for both of us, but we do realize we will have to learn to live close to other people in other campgrounds.

 So far in our first week we have  learned how important it is to work as a team. The space in an rv is more compact, but people get on each others nerves and bicker in large houses just as much. Our bed is a little smaller than what we are used to, but on cold nights we snuggle up with Frankie and Maya and it's not so bad. In the morning we will be heading to Hocking Hills State Park in southeast Ohio, and will be giving an update closer to the end of our week there.

They touched noses but I missed getting the pic! :(

At the Spring Shelter with an actual fresh water spring we used to re-fill drinking water. (We're not good at getting pictures of each other. I guess we're a little old for appreciating our own 'selfies'. We'll try harder next stop!)

Sunday, October 25, 2015


The rig
We made our way out of michigan and into Indiana. Specifically, to James lake. Aptly chosen based on it's inclusion of the word "James". Oh, and also excellent park ratings, waterfall, lake, etc. Driving through Grand Rapids served as a reminder that we hate cities and never want to go back to them again.

We've already run into a number of issues, pretty much all of them revolving around the stupid tow dolly! Who's idea was it to tow a car again? I won't get into detail, I'll just say that I am >this close< to trading the whole thing in for a Jeep Wrangler..

So far it's been gorgeous during the day and coldd at night, but that comes with the territory when you're camping in November. Yes. It's almost. November.  On the plus-side the campgrounds are almost vacant, aside from a few full-timers like ourselves. More to come to come on our Indiana stay.

Lake James, just steps from our camp site in the woods.

Sticker shock! That's  not even a full tank.....

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Moving into our new "house"

The RV was FINALLY delivered and we can now move what's left of our belongings into it.  Now we just have to find a tow dolly for the car, and figure out how this thing works! I personally have absolutely no experience with motorhomes, campers, or trailers so this learning curve should be a delight. :)