Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 Year in Review - Park 2

This is a continuation of our 2016 year in review.  

By the beginning of July, we were in Washington state where we spent two weeks visiting Olympic National Park from Forks and then Port Angeles. The diverse habitats at the park including wild coastal beachestemperate rain forest, and Olympic Mountains were all rugged, yet beautiful.

Chihuly Garden and Glass was absolutely gorgeous and a must-see if you are ever in Seattle!

A week at Mount Rainier was next (26 glaciers on one mountain) although the peak was obscured the entire time we were there!  

We stayed a week in Spokane where we hooked up with new friends, Mike and Trini, and Vicki-Ann, a friend of John's from high school (class of '67). Great time! 

And saw the beautiful Buck Moon there in July. 

Glacier National Park in Montana was our next stop for a week. Honestly, you need more time to see a fraction of this place, one of our favorite parks. Sadie made a lifelong friend with our neighbor, Run-a-muck. He was always at our door each morning and every afternoon when we got home from the park. 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park was our next stop and our first visit to the state of North Dakota. The bison and wild horses were beautiful as were the canyons and prairies. The quaint, small town of Medora has many unique shops, restaurants, and historical buildings.

Sioux Falls, SD, then Des Moines, IA, and then HannibalMO were our next three stops. We loved the Mark Twain Boyhood Home, Cave, and riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River in Hannibal. 

PaducahKY, has the amazing National Quilt Museum and Floodwall Murals. We also visited the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, the location where are Corvettes have been (and are being) manufactured since 1982. 

Mammoth Cave National Park was our next stop in KY...over 600 miles of the cave have been mapped thus far with no end in sight. Hiking the dog-friendly trails in the park was also great fun. A childhood friend, Bonnie, and her husband, Earl, began full-time RVing a couple of years ago and, coincidentally, they were staying at the same park! From Mammoth we went to Great Smokey National Park where we explored areas of the park in both TN and NC. 

By September we were in Concord, NC, with our grandson, Andrew, (and his parents) to celebrate his first birthday. What a precious child he is! We enjoyed every moment we got to spend with him. Also, in September, I spent a weekend with three high-school girlfriends, Amy, Cynthia, and Marsha (class of '71). We had a blast at Lake Lure catching up on the last 45 years of our lives!

We stayed at Andrew Jackson State Park a few nights and hooked up with another close friend, Angela and her husband, John, from high school. (Both John and I graduated from South Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, NC.) From there we went to Lexington, SC, and visited Congaree National Park. Hurricane Matthew hit the coast of northern FL and the Carolinas, causing us to cancel our plans to travel to Charleston or Edisto Beach, SC. 

StMary'sGA, was next on our itinerary. We planned to visit Cumberland Island National Seashore. Hurricane Mathew caused damage to the island resulting in closure of the park during our stay. The Naval Submarine Base at Kings Bay is here. We enjoyed visiting the tabby ruins of a sugar plant and nearby Okefenokee Swamp.

This historic waterfront district of St. Mary's was so picturesque. 

Cocoa Beach, FL, was our final one-week stop before reaching Bonita Springs, FL, for a two-month stay. My parents were married here when my dad was in the Navy in the mid-1940s and we found the small church where the ceremony was held. 

Bonita Springs, FL, was a great location to visit Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, NaplesFt. MyersSanibel Island/Captiva, and various state parks. It was wonderful to be in sunny southwest FL. We also got to hook up with friends from CT, Carole and Dave, which was a real treat.

I visited Amanda in NYC for three days in December where I got to hook up with friends from PA (Claire and Lisa) and went to two shows, Sweet Charity and Blue Man Group (as Amanda works both), and enjoyed the amazing window displays along 5th Avenue and Macy's. The best part, of course, was spending time with Amanda near Christmas! The worst part, of course, was the cold weather! 

We celebrated Christmas in Bonita Springs and visited the Bonita Springs Dog Beach and Naples Botanical Gardens before leaving the area.

December 29th we travelled to Lutz, FL, near Tampa where we will be until the end of March, 2017. Our first adventure here was to visit Honeymoon Island State Park where there are beautiful beaches and a large population of osprey and an eagles' nest. 

We are finding ourselves drawn more and more to the awesome beauty of nature. This, our third year of full-time RVing, has been even better than the last. Planning has begun for 2017. 

We love this retirement lifestyle and count our blessings every day. My sincere thanks for following our journey. We continue to live by this philosophy: Live as if there's no tomorrow. Learn as if you'll live forever!

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