The South Riding RV Travels

29

News Update 2005/6 - 29/05/2006

29/05/2006

The travels are now continuing in France. To follow our travels in Europe please go to the following link http://www.seven-square.com/intrveu/index.htm
Future updates will be posted there until we return to the US (currently planned for April 2007).

05/03/2006

And so our journey is ended - for now. We have returned to Springville, New York, from where we started almost a year ago. The weather is bitterly cold (17F), and snowing, just like it was when we arrived. We have covered over 27,000 miles with little trouble, except for the brake pads needing replacement in California, and five new tires in the last 1,000 miles. We have seen a lot, but not all that America has to offer, and have thoroughly enjoyed it, and the people we have met, who are really just like us, with the same concerns for family and environment. They are not at all like they are portrayed on television, in the news or the movies, and it is nowhere near as dangerous a place to be as we sometimes are led to believe by the news. But I would not want to live here, as a society they have many problems, most notably with their health service and their government process. I can now see things that are right and wrong with our own society much more clearly than I could before.

We will keep the RV and we will be back (all things being equal). We plan to travel the north-east quadrant, New York to Newfoundland and Montreal in April 2007. Then in successive years we would like to visit Alaska and Mexico. Then perhaps revisit for longer some of the places we have enjoyed most.

Some places have not lived up to their hype (California and Florida) and others have exceeded expectations (Utah and Georgia). But now we understand the geography. We have visited 36 states and 4 provinces on this trip (and 6 New England states on a previous trip). We have 8 US states yet to go and that includes Alaska and Hawaii.

I have a couple more pages to add, on the budget and costs and future plans but that will be all. However look out for the link to the next trip we have in mind. Watch this space.

I hope we have given pleasure to those who have followed our travels - wish you'd been here!

31/01/2006

Time is rushing away from us now. We are down just short of Key West in the Florida Keys. The weather is fine, if a bit muggy. Finding sites has been horrendous. Everywhere is full of snowbirds and the sites are more expensive than in California in peak season. ($100/night is not uncommon) There is still quite a lot of damage from hurricane Wilma last year. But nothing in comparison to the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi. They will be ten years recovering and some areas never will, why worry, they are black and poor and their votes don't count. In some ways the victims of the Asian tsunami are better off and they will recover quicker.

Florida is a different world, far wealthier, and yet poorer in some ways. Most of the coastline is built up and owned privately or it is at sea level and consists of swamp and mangroves. But it isn't swamp as I imagined it. Much of it just looks like a sea of grass, but it is almost all virtually under water.

We will be down here for another week before we start north. But we aren't likely to go north of the Carolinas until almost March because it will get cold quickly. Buffalo is mostly at zero Fahrenheit!

We are starting to think about what to do next when we get home. No firm plans but a period in France seems likely. Watch this space....

31/12/2005

And so we reach the end of another year. We have been fairly static for Christmas and New Year, partly because there are usually so many people on the roads at this time. We have also tired to an extent of travelling. The places we can go now are significantly limited by the weather. It is seriously cold further north. It snowed even here at Corpus Christi at Christmas last year. Hard to figure when it is 80F and sunny, but it can still get down to freezing overnight. We will have to go north to get round New Orleans which still seems to be a no-go area. I haven't thought about it yet.

I've made some changes to the web site, having rewritten the control program to allow you to search by state and subject area. The data to drive this still has some work to be done but it is a start. I've also started to add pages of comment on the US. This will not please everybody. The views are mine alone, and even if you think you recognise yourself as the source, I have always had the view modified by more than one person. I'm sure it has bits which are incorrect or biased or reflect my own political stance, but everyone acquires a view and is entitled to it even if it may seem incorrect, remember the image came from somewhere.

It seems quite scary that we only have 8-9 weeks left. There still seems so much to do and there are many places we would like to have gone but didn't make it for whatever reason. For the moment we will just do what we can. We will be back.

So Happy New Year to you all, and for those we would normally spend this time with, we will have a drink for you, even though it may be some six hours behind you.

03/12/2005

I did catch up, but only briefly. We saw so much in San Diego and took so many photos that we are now way behind. I've been trying to catch up and put the pictures up and then follow on with the words. I've now only got pictures for about seven pages and words for about twelve to do to get to the end of November. Please keep watching. I will get there.

We spent far longer in San Diego than we expected, although we had planned to slow down a bit. I could have stayed there longer, and it was with some embarrassment that we finally descended on more friends as we had promised to do. We suddenly realised we had invited ourselves for the major holiday of Thanksgiving. Fortunately they made allowances for our culture gap and made us very welcome.

I have talked with a lot of people about politics over here and we were subjected to a major TV advertising campaign. I am contemplating adding a page on my thoughts on it all so watch the menu.

The weather has turned much colder here with overnight temperatures approaching freezing. Not as cold as it is further north but much colder than we expected.

We have also booked our return flights home on 9-10th March. But I don't know where we will be because the house is still rented out until May. Of more immediate urgency is where to stop for Christmas. We had hoped to reach New Orleans but that now looks impractical because the infrastructure damage is still so severe. So we are currently expecting to be in South East Texas. Watch this space.

31/10/2005

If it was behind before, things are worse now. September was spent crossing Canada and early October with friends at Lake Tahoe. But the real problem has been the last half of October. This was when we visited some of the most awe inspiring national parks in the USA. We have been in Death Valley, Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon. Each has been more awesome than the one before. In each case we have taken so many photographs that choosing a few for the web pages has been so difficult. We were in a hurry because everywhere normally closes down mid October. Because they were late opening this year, they planned to be late closing which meant we were actually in time to see things before they became snowed in and closed. At over 8000ft, they spend the winter under feet of snow.

Now we are in the Los Angeles area and basically chilling out and doing nothing. It is of course the time of a vote on various propositions in California. The wall to wall TV advertising is very polarised on a set of propositions which are fairly complex and beyond the ability of normal people to make a sensible decision. We are very glad we don't have to live in this environment.

27/08/2005

The website has been a bit behind in the last month. My brother joined us for the first week of August which left little time for maintenance. Since then we have been travelling east on our mad trip to Toronto to meet the dance teams from England. We did have a few spare days which we used to stop off at the Rocky Mountains National Park. It was well worth the stop with wonderful views and walks The whole area is over 8000ft and so can be quite exhausting although we are more acclimatized than we used to be.We also ran into our usual communication difficulties as we moved across the Nevada desert and again across Nebraska and Iowa. However we started travelling Interstate 80 and managed 300 miles per day. We found some wonderfully laid out roads in the National Parks with steady  grades and gentle curves in stupendous scenery. We also found some pretty dreadful road surfaces particularly on the Interstates where the surfaces are corrugated concrete. The RV gets shaken to bits. The roads are also pretty boring being long and straight and flat. We will now spend a few days in Springville sorting out the RV before starting part 2 of the trip

24/07/2005

I'm not sure when this will hit the website since it has been over a week since we last saw Internet service. The Oregon coast is spectacularly beautiful but quite empty of people and centres of population. I think they are all scared of tsunamis. There are signs everywhere but I think the last significant one was in 1964. The vehicle registration process worked OK so we are still legal. The next hurdle will be the insurance renewal due in September. The English tax folk have not been helpful either, presenting us with a number of problems to solve at long distance. The weather here on the coast has been quite cool. With the rest of the US roasting in 100F+ temperatures, we have had days where 60F was good. The problem seems to be sea frets which cover just the coastline. 30 miles inland and it is 30F warmer. Fuel is now $2.70 gallon as a norm. The sites are also more expensive, and more crowded. We have prebooked sites up to mid August when we start travelling east. This is actually a constraint because you don't know what a site is like until you get there and you are under pressure to travel that distance. We have been doing under 100 miles/day and sometimes even that has been a struggle. There are too many things to stop and see and the roads are very twisty. In the RV you need to keep stopping to let stuff pass. There is a law which says slow traffic cannot hold up more than 5 cars. But we are both still well and becoming more relaxed about it all. It is hard to grasp that we have still only been travelling for four months and we have another seven to go.

08/07/2005

Now in Montesano on the southern edge of the Olympic National Park which is the bit to the west of Seattle. We've been taking a few days off from mountains and the like. But ended up in the back of beyond. It is as empty here as in the other places we have been recently. And it rains! like they get 12 FEET of rain a year. You can have too much of a good thing! We are now waiting for our tax renewal discs for the RV and the scooter. We asked Ohio DMV to send them to friends in Seattle, but they haven't arrived yet. This could get difficult! We also have a few tax wrinkles to sort out at home. The internet is alright in theory but sometimes you need a personal touch which is a mite tricky from here. We had a few problems here trying to find a site for 4th July but we stayed on a county fairground which had all we needed and was cheap. Things seem to be quite a bit more expensive over in the west. Petrol here has been as high as $2.70 and they are talking about adding another 9c tax. We were asked to sign a petition against it, but they lost interest when they discovered we were English and wanted us to go away and stop spoiling their pitch. The Cascades were not as interesting as the other National Parks we have visited, partly bcause there was less to do and see there. Olympic was almost worse. It is like an 80 mile square block with no way in. Even today I think most of it is unsurveyed. There are dozens of little Indian reservations here of Indian tribes I've never heard of. But when you look, they are just as depressing as all the others. The only prosperous looking thing they have is a casino! We are starting to run a little slower. We will be on the west coast for the next month before we start being hectic again. So you might find slightly fewer pages this month as we find opportunities to sunbathe.

19/06/2005

Currently in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, North Dakota. The weather is now summer sun but with a spectacular thunderstorm and light show last night. This is the start of the main holiday season and this site was virtually full when we arrived. We will have to start planning a bit further ahead for the next couple of months or so. We have finally found somewhere more boring than western Kansas. I always thought of Montana and the Dakotas as being rocky and high, but we are only at about 3000ft and there is nothing but rolling grassland for 100 miles in all directions. There are very few towns and people and the advice to not pass a gas station is well taken. Phone service is patchy but seems to be present along the major highways. The mast here is about 200yds away so the signal is pretty good. We have made a deliberate attempt to try to slow down a bit and have taken to having days off. Apart from anything else it is too hot to do much. We have had a couple of weeks without trains so last night's whistle was a welcome relief. The Badlands of the Dakotas were interesting geological features, I wish I knew more about geology. But the land does not seem to have great value. They measure stocking density at acres per animal, instead of our animals per acre. Still we are still talking, haven't put on too much weight and even Jan has added a little colour.

30/05/2005

Now camped in Salt Lake City for the holiday weekend. When we arrived this site was packed and we had had to book but now (Monday) it is half empty. They could not find our booking when we arrived. I knew that when the receptionist asked which State England was in that we had a potential problem. Today it is raining - English type rain. So we have been bringing the web site up to date, reorganising cupboards and generally housekeeping. We have booked sites from next weekend for Yellowstone Park because the schools are beginning to break up. But I think we will stay on in this area for a day or two. I would like to find out more about the Mormons, but not from their young missionaries. I now understand what they mean by brainwashing. So we may try to find so older wiser folk. We might also go and see the new Star Wars movie - yes we are still kids at heart.

The travels are less planned from here. We are further north than I thought but still 750 miles from the coast. Perhaps we can afford to stop and smell the flowers a little. It has felt a little manic in the last month.

We may also go out of touch again. There is unlikely to be much cover in Yellowstone and Montana and the Dakotas have no coverage at all. But watch this space, we might find the odd WiFi spot.

I'm still in trouble with the trains keeping Jan awake at night but avoiding them seems impossible.

08/05/2005

Camped in Lake Ozark MO. We have now left the Verizon area so will have no communication we think for about three weeks unless we find sites with WiFi like this one. Arkansas and Mississippi were blank areas too.

We move on to Wichita KA tomorrow where we will stay until Thursday before heading south for the weekend to Oklahoma City for a weekend of Western Square dancing.

From there we will head west to Albequerque and then up to the Grand Canyon. We've not really thought beyond there except that we will be heading towards Yellowstone.

30/4/2005

Camped in Nashville. The weather has been quite stormy with torrential downpours - most unseasonable. But the campsite has been good and surprisingly quiet, given the proximity of the ring road. This site has given us our first experience of WiFi and a really high-speed link (11Mb/s). Not as high as the 54Mb/s we can handle but still pretty good. Just as well because after our next stop in Memphis we believe we will be in a barren area for a while.

A weld broke on the scooter causing the front mudguard to come away. I think I've now fixed this.

Still can't get the GPS to work reliably. I don't think it likes trees or something. Maybe it will be better when we pick up the laptop.

Tried to find some dancing here but to no avail. I guess we weren't looking for Line Dancing. We might have found some Western Squares for Oklahoma when we get there.

The flag of St George still provokes much interest. (I just love keeping the colonials on the wrong foot)

Moving on to Memphis tomorrow. Guess we'll just have to visit Gracelands....

24/04/2005

Currently camped in the 'resort' of Pigeon Forge best known for its main attraction - DOLLYWOOD

We had thought to go there but it is just too cold 39F this morning. We had hoped to spend the weekend in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park at Elkmont but the predicted 4" of snow and freezing temperatures have driven us to lower elevations. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valour.

I've added this page by way of providing some explanation via the front page of what is going on and to tell you when I've done an update.

The original plan was to update as we went along but this has proved impossible. We bought a Verizon package which was supposed to give us phone and EMail communication throughout the US at local rates. It was also supposed to give us faster access whilst within their 'enhanced network' area. Unfortunately most of our travels so far have been in their 'extended network' where phone service is provided by partner organisations but other services don't exist.

All you folk who bitch about BT don't know you are born. National coverage here does not exist, and not just for reasons of geography. I can understand no coverage in the mountain passes but I did expect some coverage whilst driving on the ridges. To date we have experienced NO coverage for West Virginia (arguably understandable) and virtually none in Virginia. I found a bit down near Charlotte and we appear to have coverage now we are in Tennessee. But on the basis of our experience to date it is patchy to say the least.

Thus I'm afraid the website is currently about two weeks behind for which I apologize.

The weather is also most unseasonable. I hope it improves as we move on towards Nashville which we should get to mid week.