Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 In Review

Where does the time go? It seems like just a few days ago that we were beginning our 2007 travels, and here it is another year in review. This was a year of new travels, new friends, and a new home. Brenda finally saw her first moose in the wild, we watched the wolves of Yellowstone, and even watched a foursome of baby badgers play. We managed to reunite with old friends all across the country and, of course, discovered many, many new restaurants.
Our year started with a journey north to Palo Duro Canyon, a wonderland of red rock canyons that just doesn't seem to belong in Texas, then to Colorado and the Air Force Academy, where we met old friends and visited breweries and mountain tops. Then to the Bitterroot Valley of Montana and a summer of volunteering at the Lee Metcalf NWR. This year we departed from our usual visitor center and woodworking projects, and become tour guides into the normally closed portion of the refuge. We also developed programs to take on the road, and had a great time entertaining children at the local campgrounds. While there we traded our much-beloved Tiffin motorhome in on a larger, more opulant Itasca Ellipse, and on the day after Labor Day, started south back to Texas for the winter. On the way, we spent 10 days in Yellowstone NP, where we marveled at the variety of wildlife and were amazed at the size of a bull moose we caught grazing alongside the road. We drove the Bearthtooth All-American Highway, truly one of the country's treasures, and spent time in Grand Teton National Park. Driving through Utah, we visited Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley. We stopped in Albuquerque for a rest and to visit friends, then traveled to Ruidoso, NM, where Brenda won some gas money at the Inn of the Mountain Gods and loaded up on pistachios at a local farm. We drove through Roswell without seeing any aliens, and then through Southeast NM and a part of Texas that truly looked like an alien landscape. Back in Texas, we stayed in San Marcos where we completed our medical checkups, then found a jewel of a park in New Braunfels at Camp Huaco Springs. Our Thanksgiving and Christmas days were spent with our good friends and gourmet cooks Tom and Janet, and we managed to visit our old full timing (now off the road) friends Dennis and Ann in their Sun City home. We met another full timing and Escapees couple, Art and Bev, while in Montana, and had dinner with them here in Texas; and once again met up with our friends Joe and Susan from Colorado and Kirk and Sue from Dayton. And along the way made new friends that we'll meet again in our travels. What a great year it's been! Here are some of our favorites for the year: BEST RV PARK- American RV Park in Albuquerque. Beautifully maintained, staffed with friendly workampers, free breakfast buffet, and a reasonable price. RUNNER UP - Palo Duro Canyon. Although sites were electric and water only, each site made you feel like you were alone in the canyon. Surounded by colorful rock formations and flocks of wild turkey, the sound of coyotes singing at night...an must see place. MOST SCENIC AREA - the Beartooth Highway. Simply breathtaking and beyond description. Don't miss it. RUNNER UP - Grand Teton National Park. Expensive and crowded, but oh, the mountains! BIGGEST SURPRISE - coming around a corner on a dirt road in Yellowstone to find a huge Grey Wolf watching us. BEST WILDLIFE EXPERIENCE - (Tie) Watching four baby badgers frolic while mom watched from a distance, finally finding a moose for Brenda! BEST RV DEALER - Bretz RV, Missoula, MT. Honest and open salesman (Thanks, Matt!), fair prices, and $.99/gal propane. MT MOST DISAPPOINTING AREA - Monument Valley. The Navajo tribe controls everything; and it will cost you at every turn. BEST CASINO - Inn of the Mountain Gods, Ruidoso, NM. Not just a beautiful building, but an art museum with incredible views. Great food in the buffet and the best desert bar, ever! MOST BEAUTIFUL BUILDING - the Air Force Academy Chapel. Truly a national treasure. BEST DINING EXPERIENCE - The Grubstake, Hamilton, Montana. 2000' up the mountainside overlooking the Bitterroot Valley, great food, entertaining host, and a mule that scolds you if you leave without feeding him a treat. MOST FUN OF THE YEAR Year - Watching the face of the woman, who without looking, ran into the road at Yellowstone to see a bison - and who turned around to see our motorhome less than a foot from her behind. And then I hit the air horns.
Along the way I noticed a couple of interesting and clever signs for restaurants; as you can see, oriental food restaurants seem to have the most fun with their names:
We're anxious to get started on another year of travels, so stop back and see what we're up to! Thanks for traveling with us!

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