Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

2014 Our Year in Review

January 1, 2015
Oscar Scherer State Park
Osprey, Florida


2014 in Review


2014 map1

Trying to put this post together I almost got whiplash over how much we moved this year.  My resolution from last year was to stay longer in one place.  We seriously did not do this. 

Some of that is because we bit off a big number of miles this year and got a late start due to the Solar fiasco.  We’ve also had some medical disappointments which changed things and forced an early and quick turn around.  Overlooking the sticky spots of this year, we have had a wonderful time, seen amazing sights and visited with great people.   It seems we were meeting up with one or two couples every month.

We spent the winter wandering all over Florida in an attempt to keep warm.

After a stop in Cumberland Island Georgia we headed back to Virginia for a couple of weeks and then on to our Spring/Summer Travels up into the Great Lakes.  

I sure wish I could remember how I did last year’s wrap up post with only one picture per month.  Maybe there weren’t as many highlights as there were this year as we went from almost the tip of the country in the south in the Everglades to the northernmost point jutting out into Lake Superior into Michigan, Copper Harbor. 

I’ve broken this up into two posts but they are still long ones as there are so many things I want to remember.  I hope you don’t mind coming on a long ride with me.





We have rung in the January 1st holiday at Oscar Scherer for 3 years now. So it book ends our 2014.  This choice stems from learning early in our fulltiming life that if you want to avoid temperatures in the 30’s, you do best to be south of Tampa.  We have lots of beach time, drumming circles in Nokomis and friends. 

We biked the Legacy trail with Nancy and Bill.   And had a drop by visit from the MoHo Gang.  At that time it was the 4 of them Mo, Sue, Jeremy and Abby.  We’re really glad we got to meet Jeremy and Abby who were both elderly and sadly passed away this year.




We spent a week at the lovely Myakka River State Park where we went hiking with Nancy and Bill to Deep Hole.   I’m not sure how deep it is but there are sure lots of Gators.

David’s myeloma relapsed just 14 months after his remission began. Not much of a birthday present for him.  January is turning out to be a bad month.  He was originally diagnosed in January of 2012 right around his birthday.  We moved up to E.G. Simmons County Park to be near the Moffitt Cancer Center and deal with the problem.

A new treatment was decided upon,  Luckily, David still felt fine so we headed down to the Everglades.





We stop at  Big Cypress National Preserve both coming and going from Flamingo.  On our second stop here, we go swamp walking again.  We seriously love this. 

Down in Flamingo, 40 miles from anything, it’s plenty warm. VERY NICE!  So warm the mosquitoes are outrageous.  Not so nice.



But that doesn’t stop us from having a fine time including several kayak paddles on the Florida Bay.

PM Florida Bay (7)


Next, we join Howard and Linda of RV Dreams and lots of dreamer friends for the First Ever RV Dreams Boondocking Rally somewhere near Fort Ogden, FL.  We spend a week in a cow pasture with no hook ups or dump station.  We have a GREAT time, biking, kayaking, visiting Cayo Costa Island and of course learning about boondocking.  It’s here at this rally that we hear that AM Solar is wanting to certify a solar installer on the East Coast.  He’ll do the install for just the cost of parts saving the first folks to grab the deal quite a chunk of change.   We jump on it.







March finds us doing the springs.  We love these parks with the beautiful spring waters usually 72 degrees all year round.   But the big draw in the winter is MANATEE.

First Blue Spring and then Rainbow Springs and lastly Manatee Springs.

Blue Spring keeps its promise, we see the manatee.  We also see the MoHo again!  Always a treat.  We are a treat for the scrub jay apparently.







At Rainbow Springs we kayak the river up to the springs and find some secret springs up narrow water trails.  The wildlife is terrific. Some of it even poses for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten such a good look at a wood duck without it zooming out of sight.  We bike the beautiful Withlacoochee Trail and kayak the lovely Withlacoochee River.  Both places we see more wildlife.  Rainbow Springs has it all

We celebrate the Spring Equinox at Manatee Springs where the spring itself has been left beautifully natural.   It’s wonderful for just a lazy float.  There are manatee in the spring run here too.  YIPEE!   Sadly because of all the rains and rains and more rains, the Suwannee River is up too high for us to paddle.  It’s usually just a lazy slow wonderful river but it’s out of its banks now and hard to follow.






We wrap up March at St. George Island State Park on the Panhandle where we have a great Linner with Rick and Gail.  It was great catching up with them.  Hope we’ll see them again down the road.

I really do think the Panhandle Beaches are the most beautiful in Florida.  Of course we haven’t been to the state parks in the Keys YET!

The dunes here are also fantastic as they have been totally protected.





One of the things we really love about St. George is being so close to the darling town of Apalachicola where we met up with Laurel and Eric of Raven and Chickadee.  Laurel and I have been commenting on each other’s blogs for ages so it was great to finally meet and talk in person.  We seem to have absolutely everything in common.  Later in the week we spent a wonderful day biking around the town, seeing the cute house boats at the town marina and the really gorgeous homes.  Laurel’s grandparents lived her so she knows the area well.  So nice to have a knowledgeable guide.





Laurel’s knowledge paid off in spades when she took us to a spot we probably would not have seen, Wright’s Lake which was literally bursting with pitcher plants and little sundews.   We also saw a field of a totally new to us flower called Oscelo’s Plum.  THANK YOU LAUREL!   What a great day!!  Yes she’s standing in a field of pitcher plants.




We spent another week at St. George enjoying the beach, kayaking the Slough, visiting the local branch of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System where they happened to have a showing of Clyde Butcher photographs.  He’s THE Florida nature photographer in my mind.



Lime Sink Redo (2)

Eventually we move on North to Suwanee River State Park.  It’s a cute little place and we hope to kayak in the river.  Unfortunately because we didn’t do it on the day we arrived and it rained torrentially the next day, the river boat launch was closed due to high water for the rest of our stay.  The heavy rains lately have changed everything here.  Even the trails are hard to walk but we manage. Rain on the river means that the highest water levels are the days after the rain as the rain washes down.  We’re here for a week but never get the kayak in the water

But we do find some BIG trees on our Lime Sink Trail Hike.






Our last stop just before leaving Florida headed North is at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.  Now that’s a mouthful.  This is a different sort of park than we are usually in but it was very lovely.  We enjoy the park and the little town of White Springs which was a Victorian health resort.  We learn about the Jeannie Competition and take a great hike to Big Shoals.

Upon leaving Florida we move to our favorite stop over spot at Walkabout in Georgia where we can head over to Cumberland Island National Seashore a place we really love




Every time we come we say, next time we have to bring the tent and sleeping bags and stay over night so we have more time to get further north on the island.  We didn’t manage that this time either so instead we take a history tour and ride up the island roads to the former Settlement which was created in the 1890’s for the black workers.  All of this is so much more meaningful after reading the book Strong Women Wild Horses.


From Cumberland Island we head back to Virginia stopping at the usual spots on the way between there and Florida.  It’s STILL raining.  




Back at our farm campground it is spring and beautiful. 




We’ve made it in time for the Dogwood festival and a visit from Carrie.  Carrie and I see lots of folks we know including my great friends Pam and Keith. 


We watch the parade from the curb with our nephew Justin, his wife Carmen and their family. Our niece Ashley, Justin’s sister, joins us.



We’re also lucky enough to be in town when Carrie’s friend since kindergarten Allegra is back from Boston visiting her parents who have been our friends for just as long.  They invite us for dinner.  It’s a great meal as you can tell by the empty plates.  Ted and Lynne are pretty excited that they are FINALLY going to retire and live the good life!



I visit the farmer’s market where I check up on my friends Maggie and Ellen.



I spend time visiting the gardens of UVA in Charlottesville where everything is in gorgeous bloom and then our two weeks are over and it’s time to move on.


Our houseIMG_2471 near D.C.

In May we actually brave the DC Beltway and spend some days at Greenbelt National Park from which you can walk to the DC Metro and take it into the city.  We are there mostly to visit Carrie and Matthew.  We’ve seen DC many times during our life in Virginia but it is always new, especially the Smithsonian which is where we hang out when the kids are working.

Our site is perfect and the path to the metro is lined with spring flowers – Jack in the pulpit in particular.  Very amazing in this urban area to find a place of such sanctuary.  But if you are longer than 35’, forgetaboutit.


Carrie’s House Near D.C. complete with Kitty in the window.IMG_2465

Another of Carrie’s childhood friends, Niels, comes by for a great breakfast cooked by Matthew.  Carrie and I know how to find the men who cook.  LOL



We spend Mother’s Day Sunday together at the National Museum of the Native American in DC.  Then Carrie has to go back to work and we spend our final two days at the Library of Congress and the National Museum of American History before saying good bye to Carrie and Matthew.
We don’t know it yet, but 2 days after we leave they get engaged to be married.  Wedding date is May 2015.





We spend the last 2 weeks of May in Pennsylvania getting a very complicated and cantankerous solar install.  It’s touch and go on a set up that should have taken 3 or 4 days but thanks to the endless patience of AM Solar and the persistence of Greg Young, in the end all is well and we move on to Ohio.




One of the things short changed by our extended time in Pennsylvania was  our stay in Cuyahoga Valley National Park which got only one day and deserved more time.   We really loved taking the train with our bikes down the trail and biking back.  The train even had beer.  David is thrilled.




We hustle off to Michigan where we visit Hartwick Pine State Park and the really TALL trees.  We’re in time in Michigan to see the spring ephemeral wildflowers including the pink lady slipper.  We also get a great live view of the Kirtland’s Warbler who is only found in this spot in Michigan.  No where else in the world.









I’m still amazed that I got this picture.




Next stop north is at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where an early morning campsite grab gets us a fine site in this boon docking national park. It’s our first test of our solar install on the road and too far away to return AGAIN.  But it does great.

The lakeshore, its dunes and its loons are wonderful.  We climb all the way up AND over the giant dune.  It’s a long slog through deep sand since the giant dune is just the front man for a series of very high dunes that continue to the rocky lake shore.  It was up up up one dune and then down and up up up another.  It’s a LONG sandy hike but we actually had a great time.  It was a wonderful pay off to be nearly alone on the lake shore.  Most folks don’t go “all the way”.







We spend a week at Sleeping Bear and even that isn’t long enough to see everything in this great area of Michigan.  So many hikes, biking the heritage trail, kayaking the Platte River, ice cream at Gemma’s whose small cone looks like a triple, fresh asparagus from the Norconk Family farm.  Fields of it.  Visiting the sweet little towns all along the Leelanau Peninsula, a heavenly place, fields of cherry trees, farm pie stands along the road and pie pie pie from both the Cherry Republic and the winner of the great pie tasting contest, Grand Traverse Pie Company in Traverse City Michigan.

And the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.



We reluctantly have to leave to head up into the UP.  We’re anxious to visit there but really sad to leave Sleeping Bear where we could have easily spent a month.  Next time??


 Our first stop in the UP is Tahquamenon  Falls which everyone has said is just drop dead gorgeous.  And it is but our week stay gets cut to two nights.  The extremely wet spring has been a great boon to the Mosquitoes.  They aren’t only outside, they are swarming INSIDE Winnona and we can’t keep up with the swatting.  We count hundreds.  We have our electronic gadget.  Forget it. 

So next day we don our “gear” and take some quick looks (don’t stand still or they will attack) at the falls which are indeed really beautiful.  But then after our second night, we drop the rest of our reservation and  hightail it off to Grand Marais another place we absolutely loved.  I heard later in the summer that people had no problems with mosquitoes at Tahquamenon.  Take home message: Go later in the summer.







 Our campground in Grand Marais had some of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen. It’s only steps from our site to the beach. 

Grand Marais is at the east end of the Pictured Rocks National Seashore.  It has beautiful lake shore, the Lighthouse at Sable Point, fabulous paddling, wonderful waterfalls and great trails including sections of The North Country long distance trail where we met a couple of through hikers.  The little town is wonderful and David supported the Lake Superior Brewing Company Pub there.






After 4 days in Grand Marais we move 52 miles to the west end of Pictured Rocks in Munising, MI.   Here we take the waterfall challenge and try to find them all.  It takes us days but we get them all but one and because of all the rain rain everywhere around this year, the waterfalls near Lake Superior are in top form.   It’s just wonderful to have hours to search for a waterfall even if you don’t find it.  The hiking is grand.

The MUST DO in Munising is the Pictured Rocks Boat Tour.  Yes it’s expensive at $36 a head but you cannot see the rocks, not really, except from the water and they are spectacular.  It was really impossible to pick just one picture of this amazing place.







We spend the Summer Solstice in Porcupine Mountains State Park.  Our site is right across the campground road from the Lake Superior water front.  Lake Superior is a mighty powerful body of water and with the winds and rain, it puts on quite a show while we are here.  We have a ring side seat.

The Porkies have wonderful trails among their old growth pines, yellow birch, maple and hemlocks.  Friends of the Porkies has a Solstice gathering and ritual which we attend.   It’s really wonderful to celebrate with others of like mind.

The East/West River Trail in the Presque Isle section of the park is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever hiked.  It’s all along a river with waterfalls and they are all full up with water.   Yes it’s still raining.




Taking the advice of our commenters, we leave the Porkies and head straight up the Keweenaw Peninsula to Copper Harbor, the northernmost point in Michigan.   We’re staying at Fort Wilkins State Park and while I don’t usually care much for Forts, this one is extremely interesting and detailed.  It’s as if the soldiers walked away yesterday and never came back.  

Copper Harbor is one of the spots from which you can take a boat over to Isle Royale National Park.  Neither Winnona nor Ruby can go.  We’ve been there previously and don’t go today but when we bike into town, we do visit Jameson’s Fish Market on the same dock.    Again we do lots of hiking and see wonderful sunsets, more waterfalls, another bakery, another lighthouse.   We never tire of any of it.  These are a few of our favorite things.  Each little town is unique and each place makes us feel we could stay and stay.


That takes care of the first half of our 2014.   Even the rain didn’t deter our wonderful times.   Hope I haven’t worn you out.  Next post will finish it up with July-December 2014.

It was in the main A Very Good Year other than the medical disappointments.  But we did too much moving.  Our total mileage for the year was 10,511.   Here’s the second leg map as a teaser. We leave the Great Lakes and head out West.


Map 2 2014 Travels


  1. I had forgotten how much traveling you did last year. We just have to get to Michigan one of these days, but I'm not sure I can talk Jim the mosquito magnet into it. Guess it's all about timing.

    1. A wonderful year to be sure. Makes me wistful but now I get to enjoy the travels through other's eyes. Well written, well photographed, thanks for sharing.

  2. I may have enjoyed revisiting your journey almost as much as I assume you enjoyed compiling it. Thanks. I remain envious of your Kirtland's sighting. :)

  3. What a great job you did with this, Sherry. I was traveling right along with you, so remember many of your moments, but some were still reminders. Delightful, and yes, I know how much work goes into these reviews, and soo appreciate them. It was wonderful spending time with you. I never would have known about Snake Creek without you, a high point of our year. We even managed a couple of shots in your review! Big hugs to you both

  4. Wow, what a fantastic year it was!! I can hardly recall it all without a refresher like this. Makes me really happy to have such an energetic, young-at-heart, and spirit travel planner!!! Never know when this train ride will end, so together we are making the most of our "good" health!

  5. I enjoyed your recap. Glad you fought the good fight and found a way to get it posted. In fact I should actually do the same and get a recap of the last year...I did an amazing amount of travel for being house locked.

  6. You guys did have a busy year for sure. Also glad you are continuing to post despite the blogger issues!

  7. I have so enjoyed following along on your travels. Great wrap-up of your year. We found that visiting Michigan's UP, Great Lakes, etc. after Labor Day (2013) there were magically no mosquitoes, and the temps and colors fantastic! Here's wishing you and David the best in 2015!

  8. Whew.......... You did more in 6 months than most folks would do in 6 years!!! I don't know how you do all that and still have time to blog about, but glad you do!!! Really it was an amazing half year!!!

  9. Now that was long but what a amazing year ! Well sometimes wrapping up bring lots of memories and a short recap would be very challenging. Thank you for the refresher, it was fun taking us back to beginning of this year. but whew! made it through.

  10. Wow! What a great year overall! That was an impressive amount of travel! What adventures you've had. Glad I got to share in them with you. Great summary!

  11. Wow! Given that you guys don't like to drive very far on any trip, I was amazed at the mileage! :ove seeing the pink lady slipper, manatees, birds and water. Your photos are beautiful! XXXOOO

  12. I think I joined you and David when you were hiking through the swamp, and thought "I so have to keep an eye on what these two get into!" So glad I did, it is so delightful. I thought I might be able to pick a favorite but it's really impossible. A couple that stand out are the manatees who came to see you just as you were returning and David was already docked, and for some reason the return to the gardens at UVA. Who we are when we're alone is very revealing and I think I started getting to know you in those posts, so they are special :-)

  13. I love the reviews because I get to live it all over again. And you two are So fun to follow around. Really, I'd like to just caravan behind you to all these amazing places. Too bad I still have to work half the year. If you stay southeast next winter I may have to join you. Does that mean I need a mosquito net hat? ;) Sure look forward to the second half of the year.

    BTW, I defeated recaptcha by staying signed in with google.

  14. That is a lot of get up and go for just six months. I live so close to Michigan. I can see from your visit there, I have much to see there that I didn't know about.

  15. What a wonderful recap of the first half of your last year's adventures. You certainly have given us a lot of ideas for places that we have yet to explore -- how fortunate for me that we have so much in common! Meeting you guys was a highlight for us -- we're looking forward to seeing you next winter in Florida. :-) Lots more adventures to come!


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