Mardi Gras is over and it’s time to hit the road – heading west.
Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.
Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable.
— Horace Greeley 
We were going to the FMCA “Rally in the Valley” in Chandler, AZ and we had 1550 miles to go in 5 days. Doable? Yes!
Oh my gosh – where do I start? How do I even begin to capture the excitement, colours, costumes, people, floats, marching bands, elaborate masks, traffic? Did I mention the people? the traffic? Welcome to Mardi Gras!
It’s surprising that we’ve been on the road since July 2014 and we only just now make it to Florida.
Our travel plans did not originally include Florida as we were heading to the Canadian west again – to personally greet the arrival of Grand Baby #9! But, as is always the case, plans can change. Due to ‘sold-out’ RV parks in the Victoria, BC area we had to re-visit our itinerary. My family was going to Naples for Christmas and New Years – so, we did too.
The beauty of St. Augustine lies in its magnificent preservation and distinct historical character – and has always been high on my ‘go to’ list of ‘very old places’. The beach, lighthouse, historical buildings, restaurants, bars and shops simply enhance the beauty. However, it all comes at a cost…
When we 1st revealed our travel plans for 2016 I very naively admitted that we were going to take it slow and easy and stay in places long enough that we don’t simply scratch the surface but get to ‘dig deep – really deep’. Well, we started out the 1st 3 months doing just that – driving a total of 880 Mi / 1,416 Km and staying 4 weeks in beautiful Oceanside, CA and 7 weeks in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. From there it went ‘downhill, uphill and sideways’ – one might say!
Yes, we’re here in Florida!
The 1st time in this ‘humid & hot state’ since we bought the coach in June, 2014. We spent Christmas and New Year’s in Naples, FL with family from Barrie, Boston, Tara & Toronto.
AND, the blog has been corrupt and unavailable all this time – until just NOW! I finally figured out the problem – BUT, I’m not really sure what I did!
In my younger days – not so long ago – I was in love with all things country – especially what I called Southern Country. I collected hearts, candle snuffers and santa’s. My favourite colours were navy, rust and cream. I wallpapered bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen with small print paper and hung ruffled draperies. Furniture was pine, tables were pedestal and kitchen chairs had ruffled seat cushions. I had a porch swing, regularly switched out the “Welcome” flags and hung seasonal wreaths on our front door. I stencilled borders, candle wicked, embroidered, cross stitched and occasionally sewed. Homemade Christmas decorations included burgundy ribbon bows, popcorn and cranberries strung into individual wreaths and decorated gingerbread hearts. I collected Country Living magazines and read them cover to cover – again and again. I especially remember one New Year’s Day, in my younger days – not so long ago – spending the entire day in bed piled high with my collection of Country Living magazines that I had already read cover to cover.
We’re on the road November 30th! One day earlier than our planned December 1st departure and 2 weeks earlier than our original thinking of December 15th. We realized leaving Ontario on December 15th wasn’t realistic – especially weather wise. In fact, the Toronto park we were in turned off the water on November 18th – with 2 hours notice – and we had to move!
Have you heard that those living full-time in an RV are considered just one step away from being homeless?
I was shocked when I heard it the 1st time. Us? Living full-time in the coach? One step away from homeless? No way!
BUT, there are those RV parks you drive into, look around and think yuck! The junk, the mess, the tents, the lean-to’s, the trash. Now I don’t want to mention any specific names of these RV parks – you’ve all seen them and you know where they’re at. But, I have a hard time seeing this in my home town of Toronto.
The alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. and I throw the pillow over my head and think ‘maybe it’s too windy; maybe they can’t fly, maybe I can sleep in…’ The 2nd alarm goes off at 5:45 and I lift the blind, peek through the window and see the glow of the 1st balloon. I see them! They’re going up!
Jump out of bed, splash water on my face and brush my teeth. Throw on the pair of jeans and sweater that I wore the morning before, grab our jackets, scarves and gloves, pick up the flashlight, our entry pass AND CAMERA and we’re off!
It’s 6:00 a.m., the dark grounds are a sea of people, you can smell the breakfast burritos and green chile and the Tiny Tom donuts, souvenir booths are open and busy, the hospitality tents are serving breakfast to invited guests, the balloon trailers and chase vehicles are parked on the field – it’s a beehive of activity! Some of these people have been here since 3:30 a.m. and I say out-loud for the hundredth time –
This is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. From its modest beginnings in 1972 when 13 pilots launched from a shopping mall, this year’s Fiesta – with over 650 beautiful balloons from 19 countries – has grown into the largest & most photographed balloon event in the world!