Exploring Story Molecules

Maybe you’ve noticed the posts here have been fewer and farther between. But that’s not because we haven’t been out there on the road, having adventures. It just means I’ve been doing more work on other things than attending to this blog.

Since last fall, we’ve gone through some heart-stopping, scary, and frustrating experiences (including one near-death experience and having an RV moved, which turned out to be almost the same thing…).

I’ll even write about some of those… if I get over the trauma enough. The good news is we’re both fine, no real harm done, but that doesn’t mean it was any fun to get through.

So if I can’t get things posted here, why not write a guest blog? I have Deb Sanders to thank for her invitation to share some thoughts on her blog! It gave me a chance to reveal how story molecules bombard us, sometimes forming into full stories.

You can read my post here.

Deb herself is great at this. A fellow RVing author, she pens mysteries and romances. So if you haven’t discovered her books yet, a visit to her site is worth the time.

If you’re interested in reading fiction by other RVing authors, you’ll want to check out my series of interviews, all posted on my companion ellenbooks site.

(See? I have been busy. Just not here.)

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What You See Is What You Get

Clearly this blog is lagging pretty far behind where we are today, leaving a lot of time and miles in-between. To bridge that, I thought I’d share some glimpses into travel on the road. It’s easy to get wrapped up in destinations — where we stayed, what we saw, the restaurants we visited — while ignoring the one of the main reasons we travel via RV: to see the country (the number one reason is to avoid snow and freezing weather).

But it’s amazing what you see when you just look out the window, even on a rainy day:

Back in mid-September of 2017 we drove from Medora, ND, south to just outside Rapid City, SD. It’s not a long drive, but I managed to snap a hundred photos out the windows of the Winnebago in those few hours we were on the road…

…like this sign, which suggests what we’ve discovered are the priorities for too many fellow RVers:

It’s always fun to see things on poles, right? Continue reading

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On the Ridgeline

The summer of 2017 went down as another year when we seemed to be dodging Western wildfires. In September we drove east from Joseph, Oregon, through Idaho and across Montana, boondocking a few times along the way, to get to Medora, North Dakota, at the edge of the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We’d lost the wildfire smoke about fifty miles west of Medora, but by our fourth day there, the smoke was already closing in.

We took a day off hiking to drive to Dickinson to pick up groceries and poke around, but by the time we headed back, the sun was shrouded in smoke.

We don’t like smoke. Smoke screws up an otherwise nice photo. Most of all we hate what smoke does to our lungs, throat, eyes… But we were also determined to do all the hiking we could.

Continue reading

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Wind Canyon

Once upon a time, if someone had said “canyon” and “North Dakota” in the same sentence, I would have told them they were nuts. Everybody knows North Dakota is a vast stretch of flat prairie.

Oops. Everybody knows that — except North Dakotans and smart people.

This past September we spent a week exploring the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, North Dakota. Because I was able to hike on this visit, we walked everywhere we could.

The trail wound along the high edge of the Little Missouri River…

…leading to gorgeous views of the river: Continue reading

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Veins of Coal

Back in September of 2017, we made our second visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in South Dakota — this time to hike (since I couldn’t manage that in 2016). And what a great place to hike!

After the three-mile Petrified Forest trek we opted for something shorter and at least as interesting — the Coal Vein Trail, just shy of a mile and stunning.

Continue reading

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Back in 2016 we visited the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota for the first time. We wanted to hike a few of the many trails, but I’d fallen coming out of the RV and twisted my ankle pretty badly, so hiking was out of the question.

So in September 2017, chased out of the Hell’s Canyon area by increasing wildfire smoke, we drove back to North Dakota. This time, we were determined to hike.

The Petrified Forest Trail had haunted me the most over the previous year, so we hit that one first. It wound up…

Continue reading

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Dragons — in Oregon!?!?

Some RVers are destination travelers: they know where they want to go, what they want to see. Some jackrabbit from one attraction to another — they want to visit all the oddball tourist attractions or follow their favorite sports team around the country, see national parks or local museums. Others are working, plying a trade, so they move from on job building roads or buildings or pipelines to another.

There’s a middle ground, where an RVer hears about something like the eclipse, then plan a travel route to be in the path of it, or maybe be in Pendleton, Oregon, when the big roundup is going on.

Some of us have favorite spots we’ve found in our journeys and we enjoy returning to them, and if something neat happens while we’re there, well, then… how cool is that?

That happened to us this past August, while we were in Joseph, Oregon. I saw something in the local newspaper about “Dragon Races” and, as it turned out, one of the managers or the RV park where we were staying was on the local racing team. We had to go! Continue reading

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Pea Body Review

Many thanks to Denise Fleischer for her review of Pea Body at her GottaWriteNetwork blog! You can read it here.

More info on Ellen’s novels and short story collection is at ellenbooks.com — where she’s been doing a series of interviews with other RVing novelists.

Back here soon with some final notes on Bob and Ellen’s Great RV Adventure for 2017 (yep… late as usual!)….

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Our Annual BEST EATS Awards — 2017!

Every year about this time we give a shout-out to the best restaurant experiences we’ve had. Bob’s such an awesome cook (see our Best Of the Best post if you want to make yourself REALLY hungry) we’re spoiled, which means if something makes our BEST list, it’s pretty darned good.

We posted our first BEST list back in 2011 (!) and over the years, the list got pretty long, some of the restaurants went out of business and the quality in others dropped…. We haven’t been back to many of the places where a specific meal or menu item caught our palate, so the BEST list now focuses on places we’ve visited over the last year or two.

Let us know if you’ve been to any of these places or add your own BEST EATS to the comments so everyone can check them out! Continue reading

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The Day the Sun Went Out…

…is also known as the day of America’s solar eclipse. We didn’t plan it this way, but when I saw we were going to be in the path of the solar eclipse, I was tickled. I can remember years and years ago as a kid making the tricky cardboard viewer and watching the shadow of the moon cover more and more of the sun. It was disappointing, but no less memorable.

This time, with the handy-dandy solar glasses, we would get to watch the real thing from eastern Oregon. From our side yard (when you’re full-timing, the yard moves around, you know). We had our specs, Bob made his famouns french-pressed organic, free-trade coffee with Ghiradelli cocoa and a touch of honey, we had the TV on, we were ready!

This Portland TV station carried the eclipse live, and we knew we were a few minutes behind, so we could watch the fun on TV and know what was coming (sort of… more about that later):

Remember, we’d been over on the Oregon coast just a week or so before, so we had heard all the hype, seen all of the reports about the prices of hotel rooms and RV park spaces. We were glad we were going to be out of the craziness. As it turned out, they raised the prices out there and nobody came (serves them right, eh?).

In our side yard, I tried to find a great way to capture the fading sunlight. Maybe photographing this pinecone as the shadow faded would work…

What do you think? Here’s the same pinecone, 21 minutes later:

And here it is, 40 minutes after the first photo (and about 6 minutes before the “best time to view” for this area):

We were not in the path of the total eclipse, but experienced a “98.6% obscuration,” which was like being in a bright place and having the lights dimmed. I got chilly enough I went back inside the rig to put my sweater on.

Pardon the awning arm in this shot, but it shows how dim things got, and if you look really closely, you can see that the lights in the lodge across the street came on.

It wasn’t as dramatic as the total eclipse must have been, but it was nonetheless an amazing experience to see the world get a little dimmer, despite the cloudless sky.

Most of the locals didn’t seem affected by it at all.

Wherever you were for the eclipse, I hope you got to see at least an edge of it!

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