We have had an absolutely lovely time in Virginia! It has been fun to return to the place our adventure started and reconnect with dear friends. And, wow, we really have the most amazing friends here!  It has been such a blessing to spend time with so many of them. We’d missed them all and today we say goodbye and we’ll be missing them again.

Yesterday, I had a wonderful lunch with Caleb to say one last goodbye before leaving town.  I sure am going to miss that kid! But, I am finding (some) comfort in the fact that he is happy and he is doing very well.  Thank you to everyone that has kept him in their prayers.

Wednesday we visited our dear friend Mollie and her awesome girls. They have been taking care of our two giant puppies while we have been away on our rv adventure (Now that is an AMAZING friend!!!). Nick and George were so excited to spend some time with our dogs Ellie and Jeb.

Wednesday we visited our dear friend Mollie and her awesome girls. They have been taking care of our two giant puppies while we have been away on our rv adventure (Now that is an AMAZING friend!!!). Nick and George were so excited to spend some time with our dogs Ellie and Jeb.

Though we are sad to leave Virginia, we are excited to be heading back to North Carolina.  We spent six years there (4 years in Wilmington and 2 years in Raleigh) and it still feels like home. We will be spending a week just north of Raleigh and then we head for the coast.

Categories: Uncategorized, Virginia | Tags: | 2 Comments

Hello, Michigan!

We arrived in Michigan this evening. We’re spending the night in Lake Gogebic State Park. We have a lovely spot right along the lake. Unfortunately, we are on quite a slope and I really hope I don’t wake up in the water. Haha!


Tomorrow we head for Frankenmuth!

Categories: Michigan, state parks, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Caribou-Targhee and Darby Wind Cave

This is Nick, Anna’s husband, guest blogging again. Last Saturday George and I took a hike while the others had a down day. We had originally planned to do an overnighter on the back side of the Tetons but sadly Grand Teton NP only allows camping in designated, reserved sites (boo!) so we decided instead to hike to a cave on Caribou-Targhee National Forest which forms the western boundary of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

The South Darby Trail is 5 miles with 1800 feet of elevation gain on the way in. The trail tops out at just under 9000 feet, which means 25% less oxygen than sea level. Not that high, but for us non-acclimated folks it’s hard to breath when going up. We had brought a pack with us but we saw two groups of local folks heading up without packs so we decided at the last minute to leave it behind. I always bring a pack when heading into wilderness because you never know what you might end up doing. This trip would illustrate why and we would regret the decision to leave the pack behind more than once.


George with his game face on (or not).


The setting is incredible.


First view of the cave waaaaay in the background.


Almost there. Yes, that’s a waterfall coming from the cave mouth. If I were the poetical sort I’m sure I would be breathless with verse right now.


Behind the waterfall, just below the cave entrance.

The Interwebs had led us to believe that the cave was basically a grand chamber with a couple of crawl spaces and that’s it. The reality was much more grand. There was a main cavern with ceilings reportedly as high as 200 feet. There were several places where water entered the cavern helping to create the river flowing out.


The cave entrance. For a sense of scale, if you look closely you can just make out George in the lower right of the picture.

Apologies for the quality of the following pictures, but this is a real cave, unmolested by boardwalks, lights, signposts, or any of the other things that usually adorn the more touristy caverns.


The main cavern. It was chilly enough to warrant a jacket. Our jackets were in the pack back at the car though, so we toughed it out. This was our first opportunity to regret not bringing the pack.


Here’s the back of the main cavern about 200 feet in. You can see that it starts to narrow dramatically as does the available light.


Not the best picture, but you see that tiny hole in the circle of light? That’s the crawl space to go deeper into the cavern.

On hands and knees I was scraping the top. At this point I felt a knot start to grow in my stomach at the thought of millions of pounds of rock overhead ready to come crashing down at the slightest provocation. George, however, is not the reflective sort and was manically rushing forward to see what new delights might be in store. Not wanting to be ‘that’ guy I swallowed hard, put it out of my head, and pressed forward.

Entering the crawl space the wind picked up dramatically and it was very cold. By the time we made it through our hands and legs were starting to get numb. Those gloves and sweat pants in the pack sure would have been nice. Regret number 2.

The crawl space opened out into a long tear in the heart of the mountain, narrow and jagged, with intriguing platforms unreachable overhead and a 9 foot drop about halfway through.


The crevice.


Climbing down the drop off (or up it maybe).

George’s head lamp was starting to run out of batteries. I traded him for my flashlight since his monkey like frame had him moving much more rapidly through and around the cave. As he moved off to explore, I just stood there for a minute watching the darkness draw closer like a living thing. Feeling the weight of the earth and rock overhead, sideways in the cave with chest an back touching rock, cold enough that the fog of my breath caught the last of the light fading around a bend, I had a brief moment of disorientation. Then, suddenly, I felt completely calm and almost at home. There was a peace in being so disconnected from the world outside. For a few brief minutes there was nothing in existence but my thoughts and they were flowing like water, smooth and gentle.

Then George came bouncing back around the corner breaking my reverie and encouraging me onward.

Moving on, we came to a belly crawl and were greeted by voices further down. Waiting, we soon spied a light heading our way, followed by an older gentleman and his teenage grandson. It turned out that he is a local and has been coming to the cave for decades. According to him the crawl space leads to a cliff that requires gear to climb down. Once at the bottom you can scale the other side to come to an underground lake fed by a waterfall. This is apparently the main source of the river outside.


Belly crawl anyone?

Here, we decided to turn back. We had climbing gear, but as you probably guessed it was in the pack, in the car (regret number 3!!!). George and I were both freezing at this point and not looking forward to crawling over sharp rocks on bare knees only to be stopped at the other side.


The long crawl back to the main cavern. It’s hard to tell form the camera angle, but I was scraping shoulders and on hands and knees through here.

The return was uneventful, if a bit melancholy at the missed opportunity. As we neared the cave mouth we could see that it was pouring rain. The weather had been perfect when we came, but it changes quickly in the mountains. Our rain jackets were in the car leading to regrets #5, 6, 7…well, you get the idea. It was a long walk down the mountain.


A rather dramatic illustration of our return to light and the world above.


Waiting out the storm.


A last best view of the waterfall.


Taking shelter during the descent.

Rain and hail followed us down the mountain but we finally arrived back at the truck, tired, soaked, and half frozen. We determined to never again go to any cave without our pack!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ghost towns and mines in the high desert

Anna wasn’t able to participate in part of our Nevada fun so she asked me, her husband Nick, to be a guest blogger for this entry.

We arrived in Nevada on Thursday and stayed overnight in Reno and moved on as soon as work was finished on Friday.

The only thing worth mentioning was this uncommonly honest advertising.


Friday night we stayed in Winnemucca. It quickly become obvious that if you’re not a gambler there’s not much worth seeing in Nevada’s living towns. It was the ghost towns we were really after so we moved on with nary a photo to slow us down.

After a few hours of driving we found ourselves in the tiny village of Wells. I found a great website called ghosttowns.com which lists hundreds of abandoned towns, mines, and buildings in Nevada and elsewhere. The site doesn’t give directions in order to help protect the ruins but some research revealed the nearby town of Metropolis.


This looks like the middle of nowhere.


The remnants of the old Lincoln School.


What’s left of the three story hotel after it burned.

We knew that another town called Afton was somewhere near by but we weren’t able to find it and there was no one around to ask. Instead we headed over Angel Lake in the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest.


What a setting! The green mountainsides towering over the stark scrub desert below was almost metaphorical in its contrast. The lake itself is fed by snow melt via a series of waterfalls from near the peak.


Yes that’s snow. In Nevada. At the end of June. We were pretty high up.

Saturday evening I did some more research and found Spruce Mountain. Sunday morning Caleb felt like a down day and Anna wasn’t feeling up to the purportedly rough 4×4 only trails. Betsy, George, and I packed a lunch and headed out around 10:30.


The road to the mountain is not exactly an Interstate.

There were meant to be maps at the highway turn off but they were all gone. Not to be deterred I took the lay of the land and figured we could find our way back to civilization.


This is true desert so the forest service has a few wells scattered around the park.


The first ruins we found were the old Spruce Mountain post office.


After this there were buildings and towns seemingly around every corner.



The abandoned mines were definitely the highlight of the trip.

It’s hard to explain the feeling that staring down an old mineshaft gives. There’s something in the cold air it breathes from deep in the earth, the weight of history and the lives spent digging into that dark. It’s humbling and sort of terrifying, but evocative too.


No idea what this was for, but it’s a giant compressor that pumped into the ground, presumably to a tank, driven by a steam engine.


We went to the top of Spruce Mountain (elev 10,266 ft).


After twisting and turning all over the mountain we ended up on this road in a wide valley with no other signs of civilization. After half and hour or so with one eye on the sun and the other watching the mountain I started to doubt my navigation skills. After another 15-20 minutes we were starting to feel like the only people on Earth but finally found a sign telling us that we were on the right track and the highway was approaching. Interestingly it turns out that this road was actually part of the original California Trail.

During 6 hours of mountain trails and ghost towns we didn’t see a single other person. Finally returning to the highway felt surreal in a way, almost as if we were suddenly thrust into a different time and place. This had been the adventure I hoped to find in Nevada and it was a little sad to reach the end of it.

Categories: Nevada, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


We spent a terrific weekend in Portland with our wonderful family!  Spending time with relatives who live on the opposite side of the country is definitely a perk to this cross country adventure. Friday evening we went to my cousin’s birthday party. We had so much fun and we were happy to get to celebrate a milestone birthday with him.

Saturday we went to the Oregon Zoo with my Aunt and Uncle. It was a fantastic day!























We packed a lot into Sunday – breakfast in Estacada (Yum!), downtown Portland with Powell’s Books, lunch at Canteen (delicious!), shopping at Fry’s (What could say Father’s Day better than a trip to Fry’s?!), a trip to the airport (Likewise, what could be more fun for Father’s Day than airplanes, races cars, and manly tools?), and a fun dinner out!  It was definitely a fun Father’s Day and Nick had a great time!


Categories: Oregon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Mobile

Our great adventure is about to begin… and all truly great adventures deserve a theme song.  Going Mobile was my dad’s song for many of his travels in the early 70s. He suggested I take this one and make it my own. After all, I am a bit of an air-conditioned gypsy. 😉

Out in the woods
Or in the city
It’s all the same to me
When I’m drivin’ free, the world’s my home
When I’m mobile

-The Who

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.