Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Autumn in Vermont!

Morning fog in the RV park in southern Vermont.

The autumn colors are just beginning to show themselves. This photo was taken on September 13th.

Salmond Bridge near Weathersfield, Vermont.

White Rocks National Recreation Area.
Hello from Dorset, Vermont! I've promised myself many times that I'd spend autumn in the northeastern United States and, finally, I'm doing it. I arrived in Dorset in early September and plan to stay until the middle of October. By then, the peak foliage season should be over with cold weather soon to follow and I will hitch up and get the heck outta Dodge! I'm not making any promises but, since I'd love to see this area when it's covered with snow, I'm considering stashing my rig in the south somewhere and heading back this way for a week or so once winter sets in. Only time will tell if I'm brave enough to follow through with that idea.

Things got off to a rocky start here due to a foolish mistake on my part. As I'm traveling, I normally stow things in the bed of my truck pretty securely but I failed to do so this time. As I was passing through the state of New York, one edge of a heavy rubber door mat was apparently blowing in the wind and caught the cable on the breakaway switch on the fifth-wheel. The breakaway switch is a safety device that applies full brakes to the fifth-wheel in the event that it detaches itself from the truck while being towed. Well, the fifth-wheel did not come loose from the truck but since the breakaway switch was pulled accidentally, let's say it "thought it did". So, it applied full brakes to the fifth-wheel and I felt a sudden jolt in the truck. I knew something had happened but just didn't know what. I was wondering if maybe I'd ran over a cow which I did not see. Luckily, that didn't turn out to be the case. My Ram 3500 dually with the Cummins diesel engine is a horse of a truck and said "I'll pull that trailer with the brakes applied, no problem" so we (my truck and I) continued down the interstate. Remember, I still did not know what had happened but since my truck was continuing to pull the trailer with seemingly little effort, I felt it best to find an exit rather than pull over on the side of the interstate. After I'd pulled over and was getting out of the truck, it didn't take long to figure out what had happened. Have you ever enjoyed the smell of burning brakes? It's a distinct odor you won't soon forget and I could smell it as soon as I got out of the cab of the truck. Okay, so at this point, I'll make a long story short. I found the breakaway switch was pulled so I reinserted that. Unfortunately, the brakes on the trailer were toast (literally) so I continued on my way, only with no trailer brakes. I arrived safely in Dorset and immediately arranged for a mobile RV repair service to come fix my rig. I was embarrassed by my mistake and paid dearly to have the damage repaired. Lesson learned.

That's about it for now! Until next time!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tombstone, Arizona!

Looking northeast from my rig, these are the Dragoon Mountains at dawn.

Afternoon light on the Dragoons.

In the Saguaro National Park on the west side of Tucson.

In the Saguaro National Park on the east side of Tucson. 

Hello from Tombstone, Arizona! Actually, the mailing address for this RV park is in Huachuca (pronounced Wa-chu-ca) City, Arizona but I think it's a little closer to Tombstone than Huachuca City. I arrived here on the first of October but, rather than setting out to explore the area as I normally would, I immediately sat up shop and started painting. The NatureWorks Art Show in Tulsa starts in late February and I needed to get several paintings ready for the show.

Every once in awhile, I'd put down my paint brushes and go for a drive. I found that neither Tombstone nor Huachuca City have much to offer in the way of restaurants, grocery stores or anything else for that matter. If you need something, you'll have to drive south to Sierra Vista, approx. 20 miles away. It's a nice little town and has a good variety of restaurants, grocery stores, hardware stores, barber shops and so on. I found myself making this drive at least once a week, just to get out of my rig for awhile.

There are two Saguaro National Parks not far from here, one on the east side and the other on the west side of Tucson. I visited both while here and took a few pictures. Unfortunately, the main road thru the western park was closed for resurfacing but I was able to get to the dirt road "loop" and see at least some of the park.

My plans were to spend the entire winter in southern Arizona but, as usual, my plans are a-changing, as they say. The furnace in my rig is giving me problems again, and, with temps now dropping down into the 30's at night, I'm getting kind of chilly. The warranty expired a long time ago but the dealer where I bought my rig has agreed to give me a little break on pricing so I'll be packing up and heading for Tulsa by the end of this week. Once the furnace problem is fixed, I think I'll probably head down towards San Antonio, Texas and spend the rest of the winter there.

Until next time!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why can't I get this wood to burn?

I spent one day going thru the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. I discovered one thing while there...the wood does not burn well so don't even bother trying to start a campfire!

If I had been successful with the campfire, my plans were to cook this baby!
One view from the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Some views, like this one, make my feet tingle. 

After leaving Taos, New Mexico, I continued west into Arizona. Since I limit the number of miles I drive each day while towing my rig, I stopped in Holbrook, Arizona and spent two nights there. On the day in between, I visited the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. The next morning, I was on my way again, this time for northern Arizona.

I camped for a couple of weeks at Jacob Lake. I chose this location because it was centrally located between the north rim of the Grand Canyon, the Vermillion Cliffs and Zion National Park in Utah. I suspect all three of these locations will end up as subject matter for some of my paintings.

When I went to Zion National Park, I was surprised that, even though I have an annual pass for all the National Parks, they charged me an additional $15 fee since my truck, which has dual rear wheels, is considered "oversized". At first, I thought the additional fee was unfair but it didn't take long for me to understand why the fee was necessary. What I didn't know was that there are two tunnels on the drive thru the park. If you enter from the east, as I did, the first tunnel you encounter isn't very long and is wide enough for "oversized" vehicles so, no problem there. The second tunnel, the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, is a different story. It's 1.2 miles long and isn't wide enough for two way traffic when an oversized vehicle is passing through. So, when I arrived at the entrance to the tunnel, they stopped me as well as the traffic which was entering the tunnel from the west. Once the traffic in the tunnel had cleared, I was given these instructions and then allowed to enter. "Drive no faster than 25 miles per hour, drive down the center of the road, turn on your headlights and remove your sunglasses." Driving 25 miles per hour through a tunnel that's 1.2 miles long takes a little over two minutes. So, for over two minutes on that day, I "owned" the Mount Carmel Tunnel in Zion National Park! That, to me, is well worth  $15!

The Vermillion Cliffs are beautiful. Since I was in the area for two weeks, I got to see the Cliffs at different times of the day and under different weather conditions. I'm anxious to see what compositions I can come up with.

The Grand Canyon is spectacular from any vantage point. This was my first time on the north rim and I don't regret coming here but I would say I was a little disappointed in the limited number of places where you can actually view the Canyon. You can see it from the Visitor's Center as well as Point Imperial and also Cape Royal. Along the road that goes to Cape Royal, there are a few "pull outs" where you can view the Canyon. Had I not visited the north rim, I would have always wondered what I'd missed but I'm certain that on my next trip, you'll find me wandering the edges of the canyon on the south rim.

Once the two weeks were up and knowing that cold weather was right around the corner, (We had a light snowfall one night at Jacob Lake and it was still September!) I hitched up and headed south. I'm now outside of Tombstone...but I'll tell you more about that next time!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Mexico!

The distant mountain is El Salto, just north of Taos.

This doorway is adjacent to the San Franciso de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos.

This is Pilar, located on the low road between Santa Fe and Taos. Notice the small dirt road in front of the building. I'll talk more about it in the blog below. 

This is also on the low road between Santa Fe and Taos.
Let me try this again! It's been ages since I've updated my blog but I'm determined to do better in the future. I have a legitimate excuse for not doing any new posts, at least for part of the time. I bit the bullet and had both knees replaced in 2015. My right knee was replaced in mid-June and my left knee on the first of September. After each surgery, I endured two and a half months of physical therapy...and let me tell ya, that was no fun. (But you HAVE to do it, otherwise the surgery is for naught.) Add in a few more months of walking very slowly and carefully and, before you know it, the better part of a year is gone! Here, I need to thank my friend Rita and her fiesty little Havanese dog named Lily Rose, for letting me recuperate in their home. I could not have gone thru the surgeries and therapy without Rita's help. Thanks, Rita!

I had fallen behind on creating new artwork so, once I was able to travel, I made my way to the Texas hill country. I spent four months in the area, creating as many new paintings as possible. All my new work went to the Whistle Pik Gallery in Fredericksburg since they had been very patient with me during my down-time.

Once I felt like I was "caught up", I hitched up and headed to Taos, New Mexico. (Actually, first I stopped in Tulsa, where I got a thumbs-up from the orthopedic surgeon on my knees. He told me no additional check-ups were needed. That was great news!) I'm now in Taos and have put many miles on my trusty Ram long-bed, crew-cab, one-ton dually pickup, always searching for good subjects to paint. That brings me to the picture of Pilar, above. You know, if a guy were to take a long-bed, crew-cab, one-ton dually pickup down that small dirt road, thru many tight turns and thru places that were so narrow, the side view mirrors had to be folded in to avoid being knocked off, that same guy might find himself in an area too small to turn his truck around! Not that I know anyone who'd be crazy enough to do that!

Until next time.....

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Welcome to Montana?

A snow storm in late May. I was looking north from I-90 between Billings and Livingston.

This photo was taken a few days later. These are the Crazy Mountains...honest, that's their name!

Another photo of the Crazy Mountains. 

I was on Hiway 89, headed south out of Clyde Park. I'm pretty sure these are the Absaroka Mountains. 

You know, I've lived in tornado alley practically all my life but had to go to Montana to experience one of the worst storms I've ever been in. After leaving South Dakota, I took I-90 West thru Wyoming and then into Montana. Shortly afterwards, and I'm talking less than an hour after crossing the Montana line, I noticed two storms that appeared to be headed my direction. At that point, I-90 runs pretty much north and south and one of the storms was directly to the west and the other was to the northwest. I could see the green skies in both storms and I knew what that meant....hail....or maybe I should say HAIL!!! When I heard that first "ping" on my truck, I got that sick feeling inside and knew I was in for it. Soon after the first ping, I heard another ping, then another and another. After that, the pings turned into bangs, then more bangs and then too many bangs to count. To be honest with you, I don't know how large the hailstones were. I don't know if I was totally focused on driving or if I closed my eyes but I did not see the hailstones. I do remember seeing an overpass some distance ahead of me and all I could think of was making it to that point. I finally made it to the overpass and tried to hide as much of my truck and trailer as possible underneath it. Once the hail stopped, the interstate was completely covered with hailstones. I felt it was safe to continue so I started driving again and soon regretted it. I don't know for certain but I think there may have been a tornado, or at least the beginnings of one, in the storm. The winds were intense and were blowing west to east but soon afterwards they reversed and were blowing east to west. The low clouds were whipping across the interstate ahead of me. This time I know for sure that my eyes were wide open...or should I say WIDE OPEN!!! I was driving and at the same time looking upwards into the swirling clouds above me. It was hard for me to concentrate due to all the screaming going on in the truck until I realized I was the only one in the truck so the screaming stopped. I don't know how far I drove in those conditions. It seemed like forever but probably was only 5 or 10 minutes. When I finally made it through the storm, I found the first rest stop and pulled in so I could breath for a few minutes. I got out and looked at the damage on my truck which was pretty extensive but I didn't see a lot of damage to my fifth-wheel....but only because I didn't climb up on top of it.

After driving another hour or two, I decided to stop at a Walmart parking lot to spend the night. That's  when I climbed up on top of my fifth-wheel and discovered the rest of the damage. My trailer suffered a broken skylight, broken vent cover, the awning was torn in five places (even though it was rolled up), broken running light, chipped fiberglass propane door and one dent in the metal trim that runs around the lower part of the trailer. As for my truck, it had two cracks in the windshield, a busted fog light, busted bug shield (on the front of the hood) and huge dents in the hood, cab and on the passenger side of the truck. The hail even bent up my front license plate. I knew I had to temporarily repair the items on top of the trailer that would leak if the rain continued so I got right to work. I found out one thing...if you'll climb up on your trailer in a Walmart parking lot, carrying duct tape and large plastic bags, people will drive by and look at you!

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Until next time!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Badlands!

The Badlands. I don't know about you, but I think this shot would make a great jigsaw puzzle!
This was late in the day. The cloud shadow added a lot to this photo, making it easier to distinguish foreground from background. 
This is one of my favorite shots. It was taken on the western side of the park in early morning light.  There is more color at this location than in most other areas of the park. 
I like the dark greens silhouetted against the lighter ochre and terra rosa in the background. 
Finally, I'm back on the road. I spent the winter in southern Georgia where the weather was very mild, only dropping below freezing a couple of times. My original plan was to spend the summer in the northeastern states but an opportunity has come up that brought me back to the northwest. I'll tell you more about that if and when it happens.

Since I made this same journey last year, I decided to take a different route and check out some new landscapes. I've wanted to see the Badlands in South Dakota for a long time and decided this was as good a time as any. I camped in Wall, S.D. which is only 8 or 10 miles from the western entrance into the Badlands. I spent one full day in the park, traveling from west to east and then back again, taking photos along the way. The park was smaller than I expected so I decided one day was enough and it was time to be on my way. I hope you enjoy the photos of this most unusual place.

Until next time.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Georgia on my mind!

This is the beach at Jekyll Island.

There are lots of marshy areas around. This particular marsh is near Jekyll Island.

This old fire pit is near the house shown below. I didn't stick around to see what was for supper. 

This spooky old house is near Shellmans Bluff. 

Hello! It's been ages since I've updated my blog and I apologize for that. I'll try to do better in the future.
I'm currently in Kingsland, Georgia and probably will be for a couple more months. Kingsland is in the very, very southeastern part of the state. If I traveled south only one more mile, I'd be in Florida, and, if I flew with the crows about 6 or 8 miles to the east, I'd be in the Atlantic Ocean. Although I'm not finding an over abundance of paintable subjects here, this area has turned out to be a very comfortable place to spend the winter.  While my friends back in Tulsa, Oklahoma were skating their cars around on the ice in temperatures near zero, I was having my evening coffee outside, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Now when those "polar vortexes" were wreaking havoc all over the country, we dropped below freezing several different times so I didn't escape winter altogether, but for the most part, this has been the easiest winter for me in many decades.

I'm going to attach just a few photos of this area. I haven't done a lot of exploring but I have tried to hit a few of the best areas along the coast. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to go out exploring in the next few weeks. If I find anything interesting, I'll tell you all about it, right here.

Until next time!