Our return to Bisbee marks the end of another season on the road. As we made the last left hand turn in Lordsburg, NM, passing tall golden grass and stubby cinder cones along the homestretch, we were filled with a sense of bittersweet happiness. Call us crazy but as much as we look forward to being home, we will miss the challenges and rewards of our gypsy life. And now that we are home the real work must begin. We have the Eastern and Intermountain Region Guides to complete and the Rocky Mountain Guide to update, than must get all three to the book distributor before our departure next year. And of course, we have to work on marketing the books and other "everyday" stuff. Not as exciting as exploring another National Forest but . . .
From our visit with Tyler in Big Sky, Montana, we headed for Grand River, KY and the newest national forest in the Forest Service inventory, Land Between the Lakes. We left Big Sky with the clouds hugging snow-capped mountains and a half-hearted threat of rain/snow; it seemed appropriate. The day's drive saw a dramatic change in the landscape but not the weather. By noon we had left rugged towering mountains that were covered with aspen, pine, and spruce behind. The landscape became gentler with rolling hills of golden grass and dull green sage separated by dry creeks lined with yellow-leaf cottonwood. (It should be mentioned, these "rolling hills"would be considered mountains on the other side of the Mississippi River.)
Our route took us to Buffalo, Wyoming were I-90 bears east and I-20 heads south. Just east of this interchange were what appeared to be a bunch of buffalo laying on a rise beside the Highway. It was a very exciting sight until we got close enough to see the buffalo were actually huge chunks of dark brown and mahogany colored volcanic rock. Bummer!!! That was the second biggest disappointment we experienced all month.
The number one disappointment was the reaction of the Winniebago factory folks to our suggestion they encourage their dealers to provide a copy of a U.S. National Forest Campground Guide with a purchase of a unit. Basically, the reaction was "Our buyers don't use National Forest Campgrounds." Boy, are they wrong! Now, our problem is do we make an effort to education these poor fools or expend our efforts elsewhere?
However, our chagrin didn't last long as we had work to do in Kentucky at the Land Between the Lakes (LBL). Initially, we thought five days would be enough time to research this little slip of land between Barkley and Kentucky lakes in Kentucky and Tennessee. Wrong!!! We spent 9 days, and every one of them filled to the bream. What a super neat place. There was so much to do, see, and experience both inside and outside the forest. One weekend the town of Grand Rivers, KY had a harvest festival with a very long parade (you have never seen so many politicians in such tiny town) and the next weekend the tiny community of Aurora, KY had a city- wide flea market/yard sale (every space seemed occupied for 2 whole miles). We spent one evening observing elk bulls bulging and an afternoon at the Nature Center watching the rehabilitated wildlife carrying on. And than there was a planetaria show to attend, were we
learned about the Leonid meteor storm (it is to be a spectacular display November 19), and a brisk morning at the living museum called the "Homestead". Of course, we also had to visit campgrounds and collect data. The challenge there was the size of several of those campgrounds - some had more than 300 individual sites. The variety in levels of camping facilities also posed challenges. It took hours to complete the larger campgrounds and proved to be quite taxing. But we enjoyed every minute at LBL. One reason was the quantity and variety of hardwood trees. Although this year there was a very sad display of autumnal colors, it was nice to see trees that aren't always green and pine scented. Another reason the wonderful people we met there.
After collecting all our data for Land Between the Lakes, we took a little side trip to Cadiz (pronounced Cady), KY to spend some time with our friends and fellow RV ers, the Browns. It was good to visit and catch-up on all their news. The following day, we headed for Bisbee and soon they'll be heading south for Key West, FL.
Although not planned, every town we spent a night on our return to Bisbee began with "A" Arkadelphia, AR, Abilene, TX and Anthony, NM pretty weird, right? That's right, we drove from Cadiz, KY to Bisbee, AZ in four days and three nights. Fred was like stable nag who smells the barn - couldn't stop him. But after months away, it was good to be heading home.
Some interesting sights from our trip home buzzards in cell-phone towers (were did they roost before?), dads taking children to the bus stop in a golf cart, Arkansas's Interstates are horrible, washboard ribbons of cement, from the Arkansas/Texas border to Abilene, TX the Interstates are lined by a wall of humanity, and last stretch of the road home feel like the longest. Other observations deal with political ads seen in Texas the words "conservative" and "compassionate" are used more than other states, in Missouri and Kentucky ads were nasty and mean spirited, and Arkansas ads were honey-sweet (Vote for me and I'll be your friend).
And with these observations we concluded our 2002 Wanderings. We did a lot, saw a lot, and enjoyed a lot of this year's many adventures. Hope you enjoyed sharing our travel with us. Until next time, be healthy and happy.
Suzi and Fred