2018 Rick & Karen’s Blog

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This is a posting for youtuber folks that we like and follow give them a watch.

Nov 2018
Can’t wait to see Nov 7th!!!

Oct 2018
Exhaustion is setting in. 
I’m at the point where I can’t watch anymore news on TV.
It is all about Trump and the midterm elections.
Personally I don’t believe the tide will change for anyone but I hope so.
The Democrats don’t like to vote, only complain. 
Republicans have rigged the elections to win and do almost every time!
They are the minority as far as registered voters but like I said they vote
and others don’t. The registered Independents are a larger number of 
voters but they like the Democrats don’t like to vote either.
Worst for them they can’t even pick good candidates because they aren’t
Dems or Republican! They have to vote for what others have picked.
Usually it’s not worthy their time to vote!

Woman, minorities are in more trouble.
So now Kavanagh is now a new justice for the Supreme Court.
Turn back the hands of time for America will probably be easier now.
It will be similar to the Taliban living in the 5 century, but we’ll be living in the 1940s. If you’re an older white guy with some money you’ll be super fine! The only way it could change is if people vote Democratic and
I don’t think they will. Trumps core 35 million people are in control now.

Learn to travel cheap series.
The best and frugal way to travel cheap is to make good plans. Don’t get into the
idea you have to stop at only KOAs on the way, think FRUGAL!
In Part 1 of Traveling Cheap series I talk about our frugal plan for traveling out west.
We joined some RV travel clubs PassPort America and Escapees to save some money.
The Elks Lodge was another important way for us to save money no our trip.
Read “Traveling Cheap Series” for more information on this subject.

San Antonio TX 10/2018
We finally made it San Antonio Texas and for me, not fast enough.
We’ll be here in San Antonio until the 17th and then we leave for Florida.

Well the truck has worked well for us but again I need to do some repairs.
When we first started the trip back in July 13th the window behind the driver
broke and went down into the door. We had to prop it up using a camera 
mono pole. Well this week the driver side window also broke and slide down
into the door! I was able to order more window controllers from Amazon for $75.
A YouTube video I watched made it look easy to fix, we’ll see soon.

Karen and I both enjoyed San Fe NM so before heading down to Texas
we stop here for a couple of days. This place is beautiful and we got lots more pictures.
We stayed at the Elk Lodge here and met folks waiting for the balloon festival 
that was about to start in Albuquerque NM. 

Sept 2018

On our way back to the Elks Lodge from Seattle Roxanne told us about the
Washington State Fair and was just starting on Friday. We walked over there on
Saturday it was about two miles from the lodge. The plan was a hang around for
a few hours. But once we got there everything change because the fair was so BIG!
We caught two music acts that were worth the $22 we paid to get in.
We saw “The ShoppeYoutube video for Shoppe and “MJ LiveYoutube video for MJ Live.

Aug 2018
We flew out of Seattle to Anchorage and then flew down to Kenai Alaska on the 15th.
It was a long day of traveling but wow what a great day also.
Flying over the Olympic mountains in Washington I was surprised to see glaciers.
There were quiet a few on top of these mountains. We saw many more glaciers over the
mountains of Canada and as we finally go to the Alaska coast. 

My cousin Donna picked us up at the Kenia airport and drove back to Soldotna where she lives.
Our first day there we saw a mother moose and two babies in the yard!

While in Alaska we got to see; Homer, Seward, Anchor Point, Ninilchik, Soldotna and Kenia. 
One of the most interesting stops we made was at Norman Lowell Studio in Homer Alaska. 
While in Homer we drove up to the Kilcher homestead just outside Homer.
We were surprised to see how close the homestead was to Homer, just a few minutes ride.
These are the folks on the TV show Alaska the last frontier. 

Glacier 22

Well we finally got back on the road August 3rd heading for the Elks lodge in Kalispell MT.
Around 5 pm we rolled in the parking lot and found out all the RV sites were taken! Now we
were in big trouble, we didn’t have a plan B. We couldn’t stay there so we decided to head
towards Glacier National Park. Not far from the park we saw Hungry Horse Dam and there
were campsites there in the national forest. We drove down and found all of them also full.
On our way out there were campers in the side of the road in a cleared, flat spot. We
drove into the area and parked for the night, FREE! The next morning (Saturday) we decided
to see if there was any chance of getting a campsite in Glacier. We got the first campground and
was turned away. Got the second campground and it was also full. We decided to take a
chance and drove through the place. We thought we got luck, there was an empty site.
I backed the camper in and started to setup when we noticed it was already booked!
We drove on through the campground and on the last leg, the last site I noticed the guy was
about to leave. He drove out and we drove in! What luck we got a campsite in Glacier on a
Saturday. Right in front of our campsite was the Fee Shuttle pickup. We took the shuttle to
the top of Logan’s Pass and then foolishly hiked to Hide Lake, very far up the mountain.
There we saw mountain goats!

On our way down the from the pass there was a notice on the shuttle radio of a fire.
It seemed like it was going to be put out easily but we later learned that the fire
wasn’t put out so easy and burned lots of the park.


From Glacier we headed to the Cascade Mountains in Washington. On our way there,
we saw lots of smoke in the air. At one point there was so much smoke we called our
son in San Antonio to see if we were heading into the fire. You couldn’t see the mountains
because of the smoke.  We stayed at Colonial Creek Campground on Diablo Lake.
The water in the lake has rock dust in it. When the sun light reflects off it you see a
bright green water.

We stayed here for two nights before heading to Puyallup Washington.
While in the Cascades we drove to Newhalem village. It was a place where the
Seattle Electric company housed all the workers that were building dams.
There was lots of history to be learn here. While there we walked through
a forest trail and saw the biggest trees we have every seen. There were
big Red Cedar trees, you could smell the Cedar in the air.

We got to the Puyallup Washington Elks Lodge on Friday not knowing how everything
was going to work out. We needed a place to leave the camper and Durango while
we were in Alaska. Shortly after arriving at the lodge everything was great. The folks
at the lodge said we could leave everything there while we were in Alaska!
We got to the lodge a week early and planned a few day trips.

Startbucks 1
Startbucks 4

First day trip was to figure out how to take a the Sounder Train up to Seattle.
It took a little while but we figured it out and bought tickets. It wasn’t very long
before we were walking around Seattle. Pike Place was our destination there.
The plan was to get a coffee at the first Starbucks and we did it!

There are lots of homeless in Seattle and they literally live on the sidewalks.
We saw many people living in tents on the sidewalks!

Soldotna AK (6)

We went to Mt. Rainier for a day trip. This active volcano is only about 30 miles
from the lodge. There are big sirens in Puyallup that will sound if the volcano blows!
When we first got to the lodge it was overcast and we couldn’t see the mountain.
Then the clouds cleared and it was a OMG moment. If she blows this whole place is gone.
This picture is from the street in front of the lodge.

Then we got a ride to the Seattle/Tacoma Airport and we were on our way to Soldotna Alaska!
We took a Delta flight to Anchorage an another flight on Ravn Airline to Kenia. My cousin
Donna Cusson picked us up at the airport and drove us to their house in Soldotna.
Right after we got there Chelsea came into the house a sold us that a mom and two baby moose were in the yard! This pictures is a different Mom and 2 kids, moose were everywhere.

While in Alaska we went to Homer and had steaks in AJ’s Steakhouse and caught the
famous “Hobo Jim” show.  Good food and a great show. While in Homer we drove out
to the Kilcher homestead but couldn’t go down the road because road construction.
We were able to stop at the Homer Elks Lodge and hang out for awhile before the show.

Homer (7)

On our way to Homer we made two stops. First stop was a Anchor Point. This is the
farthest west point you can travel to by car.

Also on the way south we stopped at Normal Lowell’s art studio.
This artist is outstanding and he was mostly blind for some of his paintings.

Our next big stop was Seward Alaska where we took a boat tour of the fjords.
We got to see many animals and glaciers from the boat. It was a 6 hour tour and
worth the money spent for it.

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While in Soldotna we were told to get over to the Moose is Loose and have coffee and a
donuts, so we did. My but the donuts are very big in Alaska!

July 2018
July 21st
We left Palm Harbor heading for Arkansas with a stop at Wilderness RV in Alabama.
We stayed there for 2 nights and it was so hot we decided to move north and postpone our
Arkansas visit.

On our way north while we were still in Florida riding up US19 we had all the windows down.
We don’t have air conditioning in the Durango so the window must be lowered.
Sure enough we could see rain ahead and started to move the windows up.
There was a big bang in the door behind me and we turned just in time to see the
window drop into the door, then is started to rain! We drove all the way to
Wilderness RV with the window down in the door. Once we parked I took the door
panel off and wedged my camera mono poll inside the door to hold the window up!
So far the window is still in place.


We stayed at a Pilot gas station in Missouri for FREE the first night heading north.
We pulled in for gas and it was about to rain, Karen came back and said the guy inside
said we could sleep here for the night. I backed the camper into the corner out of every bodies way.
Soon it started raining and sure enough there was 4 inches of water around us!
It was not a big problem we went to sleep.

After we left the Pilot station Pat McBride called and said he was in Wisconsin Dells.
So we book a campsite there for two nights and headed that way. It was a terrible long ride.


The Wisconsin Dells were nice and interesting to see. We went to McDonald’s for
breakfast. This McDonald’s was not like any other. It had a mountain log cabin look.
Very interesting place to stop if you’re in the Dells.

From there we headed to Tad & Janice home in Roseville Minnesota. Here we stayed tree nights.
It was a good time catching up we good friends.

From Roseville Minnesota we headed up to North Dakota on route i94.
We stopped in Fargo and picked up supplies at Walmart and had pizza at Sam’s Club.
I thought Fargo would look much more county than it was, it was a regular city!
We kept going west until we found a campground in Valley City. It was a city run
campground that we stayed overnight in and it cost $10 dry camping. A very nice
little town in North Dakota. Onward we moved to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

ND Pic 1

Theodore Roosevelt NP was a great stop with lots to see and do.
We drove through the park loop and saw wild horses, prairie dogs and bison.
One very big bull walked right by our Durango while I was videoing. I thought,
great I’ll get good video of him. Then he stopped and started looking at me and started to
grunt real loud. I decided to move away very slowly so he didn’t charge the SUV.

Medora is a little town just before you enter the National Park. We took one day to
walk through the town. There are lots of little shops and eateries to enjoy. We got
ice cream at the “Fudge & Ice Cream Depot” and coffee in the square. The timing was
good because there were some folks playing music there.

From the ND badlands we traveled with Diane Richards to Columbia Montana.
The city of Columbia has a campground there on the Yellowstone River and it’s free!
We stayed here through the weekend and started towards Yellowstone on Sunday the 29th.

We got 40 miles from Columbia when the wheel hub on the camper blew up!
It broke into pieces and blew out the tire. We thought our luck has finally run out.
We call AAA and got our camper towed to Livingston RV in Livingston Montana.
It was only 8 miles from where we were on the  I90. Livingston was not or planned stop
but it couldn’t have been a better place to stay. The folks there were very helpful in everything.
Nobody had the right wheel hub for our camper so I called Northern Tool for help.
They had two wheel hubs available and shipped to to us in the campgrounds.
They wheel hubs arrived on Thursday morning and to my surprise they went right on.

During our time in Livingston we toured the town and found lots of interesting things to
do there. Livingston was a big railroad stop where the engines were repaired. Lots of train
related things in town. We noticed a hamburger joint “Mark’s In and Out Burgers” and there
was a very long line waiting for food. We decided we needed to check it out and wow good
cheap burgers and very fast service. Here was the first time we heard about Huckleberries.
We ordered a Huckleberry shake and it was delicious. We love Huckleberries!

We did drive down to Yellowstone NP for a day. It was about a 1-1/2 hour ride from
Livingston to the Mammoth Hot Springs area. We also drove up the Lamar Valley and
saw lots of bison.

Exhaustion is setting in.    July 9
I’m at the point where I can’t watch anymore news on TV.
It is all about Trump and thank the stars above we are heading
into the mountains. This weekend we purchased our airline tickets to Anchorage AK.
Also lined up a car for the 2 weeks we’ll be there.
Sometime this week we leave Palm Harbor and head
for Hot Springs Arkansas.

My cousin Donna lives in Soldotna AK and we headed there to me visit.
She has a daughter that lives in Mountain Home AR. She and her husband Mike
have several coffee shops there; Brewed Awakening where they sell their own coffee.

We have friends in Minneapolis MN, Tad and Janice. They used to live in our area of Florida.
They must of decided the cold air of Minnesota was better then the hot humid air of Florida!
Our plans include a stop up there to visit.

First week in July and the Durango is ready, I hope. Mike McCarthy and I changed out the
front end controller arms, ball joints and shocks. Got 4 new tires and front end alignment.
Oil change and air filter is good. New spark plugs, rotor and cap.
When I was done I put the key in the ignition and IT STARTED!

June 2018
We decided it would be too much to do if we bought a van now.
So we are going to use the Dodge Durango.

Oh my it’s hard to find the right van to buy and there is only a week left!
It turns out that vans are pretty pricey people are buying them up fast.
The hunt goes on but the prospects of success is looking bad.

The website rebuild is coming along nicely.
But what a big job it is to get it all back up and running properly.
It all started with me deciding to make videos. Then I got a notice that all website must
comply with the new standards of security. I was using http:// and now it has to be https://
looks easy enough to do but NO! I had to migrate the website to a new server that
included SSL certs. Once I purchased the server space I had to move the website there
from another server. Oh my, that took awhile and not everything went well.
This is were I’m at now, just trying to fix everything before we leave for our
3 month run to the north rim of America. The plan is Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana,
Idaho, Washington (maybe Alaska from there). Then onward to Oregon, California,
Nevada and then back to Utah and Yellow Stone before going to San Antonio.
We are planing to purchase a used cargo van and fix it up to make the trip.
With a van we figure we could do some stealth camping and it would be easier
to camp on BLM land. We’ll see soon because we are leaving mid July 2018.

We this month is more cleanup in Florida and  work on our websites.
I can’t believe how much rain we are getting and how fast the grass is growing!
The Frugal Way website has become a huge monster to work on.
All search engines are giving warning to people that visit website that don’t have
good security on them. That is a good thing but for the website owner to get
all the certifications is a lot of work. I had to move the whole website to a new
server (GoDaddy) then reinstall everything, then update all the details, it took
over a week to accomplish. The site is now up and running properly with all its
certs (SSL) in place. It’s like a new start to a very big project but now I’m encouraged
to  push on.

May 2018

Oh boy! we spent ten days in Elkmont and Gatlinburg TN in the rain!
Everyday it rained and my solar panels, all 3 didn’t work well.
But we did meet some interesting folks that gave up lots of new ideas
for stops in Georgia. John Tanner State Park is now on our list of places to
stay on the west side of Georgia. Also talk with Sandy from Hadleigh FL a
very independent world traveler, she gave us encouragement to go more places.
And yes we finally saw a bear!

This month I started to work on the YouTube channel and posting videos.
It took time to organize all the video we took on our trip west last year.
Also I did a lot of work on the house and yard, so much work.
Next week we’ll be heading up to Gatlinburg TN so see friends and relax.
Plus I get a chance to test some of my new additions to Camper 2. Stay tune!

I decide to add another solar panel (100Watt) to the roof, now there are 2.
That doubled my power to the batteries and might work better on cloudy
rain days.

Karen spent time crafting some now shades for the camper inspired by
Beth Blaisdell.

April 2018
Where did it go!

Feb 2018

This is a picture form the block party at Honeymoon Mobile Home Park.
Jane and me singing! Great block party.

Beth told us about a drum circle at Fort Island Beach near Crystal River, FL.
The weather was perfect for a drum circle so we went. What a great time we all had.
Karen even found a drum to bang on!

It has started to warm up some and we finally got to get out and about.
We went the Manatee State Park Reserve in Homosassa Springs FL.
This is a place where animals that can’t live in the wild go and we get to see them.
The animals there are in great shape all things considered and if you get a chance to
drop in you should.

Beth Blaisdell is our Maine friend we met at Village Pines.
She winters here in Florida and goes back up to Maine to work the summers.
This is her place in paradise. She made it her’s in every way!

About Rick Mercier 184 Articles
Retired, Building Trailers and seeing America

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