G has a "swell" time kayaking

G has a "swell" time kayaking
G has a "swell" time kayaking on Lake Michigan

Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico

Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico
Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico

Warren Dunes Sunset

Warren Dunes Sunset
Warren Dunes Sunset

Friday, February 1, 2019

RV Hobbies - Rock Painting

Bookmark and Share

When trekking hobbies are useful for evenings, quiet days and so on. There are the obvious hobbies such as photography and blogging.  However, there are also other hobbies such as watercolor painting and rock painting.

Rock painting seems to be very popular. We've encountered rock painters from Florida to Arizona and everywhere in between.  After painting many of the artists hide the rock somewhere outdoors where it can be found.  Some put a website or social media group on the flip side, if one is inclined to announce their find.

We've encountered "official" Rock painting groups at some RV resorts. The one we are currently staying at has such a group. Materials are provided for free!

Materials (paint and brushes) are available at hobby stores such as Hobby Lobby, Michaels and of course on Amazon.  Small, smooth rocks can be found in streams or at landscaping (stone) supply companies.   

There are lots of videos on You Tube which can get on started, and of course there are dedicated websites.

I decided to dabble a bit so here is what I've done so far.  I'm using acrylic paint over gesso. There are many different styles and sizes of rocks. I prefer smaller, although that does make painting more difficult.

Blood Moon
Cave Dweller

Moon over Arizona Resort

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Winter Trek 2018-2019

Bookmark and Share

It was lovely, but it was time to leave:

First Snow, November 2018

The national radar picture looked good. No nasty storms headed eastward. The local weather was cool (about 35F) and overcast. To the southwest the daytime high temperatures were 50F, with nighttime lows in the mid 30s. Good driving conditions along the planned route.

NWS Radar Mosaic
The winter trek began on November 18. We had already had several light snows and it was clearly time to go to warmth. Total distance would be about 1,821 miles. I travelled with traffic, in the second from the right lane in 3-lane interstates, or in the right lane on 2-lane roads and U.S. Highways. There was rain part of the way, and I did stop early one evening when temperatures hovered at 33F with light rain. I was concerned about freezing conditions. Departure the next morning was delayed by heavy fog, which lifted at about 7:45am.

Here’s some statistics.

The trip summary via GPS. I guess I was travelling at Warp 2!

Here's the actual. The fuel costs and consumption is based on receipts:
  • Driving distance: 1,821 miles.
  • Driving time: 28.75 hours.
  • Average speed: 63.34 MPH (using driving time clock).
  • Peak speed limit 75 MPH.
  • Average gasoline cost per gallon (86, 87, 88 octane): $2.433.
  • Lowest fuel price: $1.979 per gallon Missouri, 87 octane.
  • Highest fuel price: $2.869 for 88 octane.
  • MPG for the trip, including idling time, speeds most of the way at 70-75 MPH: 14.6 MPG.

Travel Route 1821 miles (some "detours" on the way)

I was surprised by the haze throughout much of Oklahoma and portions of Missouri. I attribute this to the fires in California. I’ve travelled portions of this route many times, and I’ve never seen conditions this poor.

Tulsa, unretouched photo

Oklahoma City, unretouched photo

I took interstates and U.S. highways for the most part. The speed limits on the interstates were 70-75 MPH and on the U.S. highways 70-75 MPH with occasional areas posted 50 MPH.

Of course, using highways means encountering slow patches, and the occasional house moving down the road (see photo). It does take one on long stretches of up to 40 miles with no stops. It also takes one through small towns where the speed limit may be  20MPH. However, the U.S. highways provide some interesting scenic opportunities and shortcuts.

Here’s the basic route I followed: Local roads, I-88 to I-355 to I-55 south, I-255 to I-270 (bypass St. Louis) to I-40 Oklahoma City, etc. U.S. 54 south, U.S. 70 south to I-10 west to local roads.  I did a short trek out of the way on I-44. Actual minimum distance could have been as low as 1730 miles, but I did some scenic drives.

Interior of Texas Rest Stop

Texas Rest Stop, early morning

At the beginning of Mountain Time Zone

On U.S. 54 south, in New Mexico
New Mexico U.S. 54

Arizona ahead

Entering Arizona

First evening with friends at the destination

Threesome: baby ship, daughter ship, mother ship

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Morton Arboretum, Lisle Illinois

Bookmark and Share

Driving through the Arboretum in mid-November, after an early snow. 

"The Morton Arboretum, in Lisle, Illinois, is a public garden and outdoor museum with a library, herbarium, and program in tree research including the Center for Tree Science. Its grounds, covering 1,700 acres (6.9 Square kilometres), include cataloged collections of trees and other living plants, gardens, and restored areas, among which is a restored tallgrass prairie. The living collections include more than 4,100 different plant species. There are more than 200,000 cataloged plants.

 As a place of recreation, the Arboretum has hiking trails, roadways for driving and bicycling, a 4-acre (16,000 m2) interactive children's garden and a 1-acre (4,000 m2) maze.

The Schulenberg Prairie  at the arboretum was one of the earliest prairie restoration projects in the Midwest, begun in 1962. It is one of the largest restored prairies in the Chicago suburban area.

The arboretum offers an extensive nature-centered education program for children, families, school groups, scouts, and adults, including tree and restoration professionals. The Woodland Stewardship Program offers classroom and online courses in ecological restoration techniques. The arboretum also offers credit courses through the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area, a regional consortium."
--- from Wikipedia

View of the Meadow Lake from the Dining Area of the Visitors Center
Pat, a friend has a Morton Arboretum membership pass. She was kind enough to take us to this unique place and we saw the troll exhibit. We dined at the Visitors Center and enjoyed the view of the Meadow Lake via the floor to ceiling glass windows.

Then we went to visit the trolls.  Here's only a few of the photos of the many trolls. This is a permanent exhibit and when Spring returns, one will be able to take the Tram and walk to these.

This one is at the main parking lot

This one is observing traffic on I-88

This one is lurking in the woods. 

Another view of the Meadow Lake.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Cacti Blooms

Bookmark and Share

We'll soon be in the Southwest and that will mean cactus blooms in the spring. We have yet to be in Arizona to see the Saguaro's in bloom.   Perhaps this year?

 Here's a time lapse over a few days:


Fully open

For comparison, here is our Christmas cactus:

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Trekkers and RVers need money to support their lifestyle

Bookmark and Share

I received an email from Jonathan Clements, former personal finances columnist at the Wall Street Journal and currently owner of the Humble Dollar newsletter. Jonathan has published a new book entitled "From Here to Financial Happiness".  Jonathan's says the goal of his book is to take us to a place where we need to "eschew snap decisions and instead take the time to ponder key questions, so we build the financial life we truly want." He also says "The book takes readers on a 77-day journey that helps them figure out where they stand, what they want and what steps they ought to take."

To do the things we want to do in life it is necessary for us each to come to grips with our finances. In his book Jonathan asks a lot of questions and provides an opportunity to reflect on the answers.

Jonathan asks "Consider these 31 questions—all of which are drawn from my new book:
  1. If money were no object, what would you change about your life?
  2. What are your top financial worries?
  3. What are the three smartest financial moves you’ve ever made?
  4. What do you consider your three biggest financial mistakes?
  5. How much financial help should you give a child?
  6. When in your life were you happiest, what made it a happy time—and what role, if any, did money play?
  7. What’s the minimum amount of money you need each month to keep your financial life afloat?
  8. If you were out of work, how long could you cover expenses before having to take drastic financial steps?
  9. What did you learn about money from your parents—and which of these beliefs have you adopted as your own?
  10. Think of three people you know who are in great financial shape. What have been the keys to their financial success?
  11. Is it important to you to drive a nice car and, if so, why?
  12. In the typical week, which moments do you enjoy the most—and which do you dislike the most?
  13. Is getting rich one of your overriding life goals?
  14. Think about your weaknesses. Are they acceptable human failings—or are they inflicting major damage, including major financial damage?
  15. Who depends on you financially—and how would they cope if you suffered an untimely demise?
  16. When is it okay to go into debt?
  17. Think about your life’s major expenditures, like buying homes, purchasing cars, remodeling projects, expensive vacations and paying for college. Which are most likely to make you smile and which ones disappointed you?
  18. What’s on your wish list for major expenditures in the years ahead?
  19. Do you believe a home is a good investment? Why?
  20. What’s your net worth—the value of everything you own, minus all debt?
  21. Does your stock-bond mix reflect your paycheck or lack thereof?
  22. Imagine your perfect retirement day. How would you spend it—and would you be happy doing these things every day for the rest of your life?
  23. Are there children—either your own or somebody else’s—whom you’d like to help financially, and what sort of assistance would you like to provide?
  24. In late 2008 and early 2009, did you buy stocks, sell or sit tight?
  25. How much do you pay in investment costs each year?
  26. If you weren’t burdened by the knowledge of what you hold, what you sold and how markets have fared, would you own your current portfolio?
  27. If you take your bonds and other interest-paying investments, and subtract all your debts, what’s your net bond position?
  28. Are you on track to have all debt paid off by retirement?
  29. If you died tomorrow, would you bequeath a mess?
  30. When was the last time you talked honestly about your finances with somebody?
  31. If you were writing your own obituary, what accomplishments would you include? In the years ahead, what further accomplishments would you like to add?" 
Here's a link to his website:     https://humbledollar.com/

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Acorn Theater Open Mic Night October 21

Bookmark and Share

We had the opportunity to attend a special open mic event at the Acorn Theater. It was a very positive and happy evening!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Beautiful Autumn Days - Time to shut down the Northern lily pad

Bookmark and Share

We've had some gorgeous autumn weather. Sunny, mild days interspersed with wet ones.  But, it is time to say adieu to the northland and trek to warmer climes.   So we're shutting down the Northern lily pad, and prepping the Roadtrek.

Last night was the final campfire.  This morning I cleaned out the fire pit. I added some Dicor sealant to the front seam of the lily pad, I could see the original sealant was parting from the trim piece.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here.

We discovered a long lost J. Pollock masterpiece, hidden in plain sight.

We had our final outdoor cookout last night.   And a campfire.