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We spent ten days at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to see it from all angles – above, below, and on the rim.  We were so impressed with the magnificence of this natural wonder that we went overboard on the pictures.  With hundreds of pictures it  was impossible to pick only a few for a post, so we made a video instead.  Please comment below and let us know what you think.

wthrvdoing in The Grand Canyon - YouTube

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We took the name of the park literally and expected a forest of petrified trees standing vertically. Before we arrived our pals, Bob and Becki, told us that this was not the case.

So what’s the deal? Millions of years ago, when there was only one continent instead of seven, this area of the US was where current day Costa Rica is today. At that time, this area was a rainforest with a tropical environment. The continent broke up, volcanoes erupted, and the trees were buried beneath layers of silt, mud, sand, and volcanic ash. Over time, the organic tree material was replaced with minerals like silica and quartz. Now this petrified forest is not made of wood, but of stone.

Painted Desert Painted Desert Painted Desert Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark

We took a short walk in the wilderness area along the sculpted badlands. We saw some wonderful formations and some wildlife.

Petrified tree The collared lizard is the largest lizard in the park.

Route 66 used to go right through the park. The electrical lines in the background show where the highway used to run.

Exhibit commemorating U.S. Route 66, a 1932 Studebaker. Tepees and Blue Mesa The Tepees The Tepees Blue Mesas all around us Ruins, Petroglyphs, and Trees Puerco Pueblo Ruins Newspaper Rock -petroglyphs, some over 2000 years old. Agate Bridge – 110 ft petrified log spanning a gully (reinforced underneath by concrete) Jasper Forest – the highest concentration of petrified wood in the park Crystal Forest

Many petrified logs glimmer with quartz crystals.

Long Logs and Agate House Trails Agate House Reconstructed pueblo home made of petrified trees Long Logs – another high concentration of petrified logs Giant Logs Old Faithful – almost 10 ft across its base Old Faithful

Next stop will be the Grand Canyon for 10 days.

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Guadalupe Mountains National Park protects the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef, the four highest peaks in Texas, and an environmentally diverse collection of flora and fauna. Plus, it’s kinda cool to see.

We were going to hike the Guadalupe Peak – the highest peak in Texas at 8,751 ft. – but it is a strenuous hike and with the high winds; we decided to pass this time.

Instead we took our new to us 4×4 Ram 1500 truck to Williams Ranch Road, a very bumpy 7.25 mile drive over what used to be the Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Line. It is surprising the mail ever got delivered and the west explored as it was an incredibly jarring drive.

Our new to us 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Butterfield Overland Mail Company  ruins Butterfield Trail Sign Williams Ranch House El Capitan Guadalupe Mountains Guadalupe Mountains Guadalupe Mountains

Next stop will be Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

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We stayed in Amarillo previously for a night and everyone said you must come back to see Palo Duro Canyon. We stayed for two weeks to explore. The colors of the canyon are amazing. Our stay included a brutal windstorm that swept through the country. We hunkered down in the RV with the slide-outs in for two days at the RV park. It was cramped conditions, but we were concerned about the slide toppers tearing with the 70+ mph gusts forecasted.

Palo Duro Canyon is a canyon system located in the Texas Panhandle near the cities of Amarillo and Canyon.  As the second-largest canyon in the United States, it is roughly 120 mi long and has an average width of 6 mi. Its depth is around 820 ft, but in some locations, it increases to 1,000 ft. Palo Duro Canyon (from the Spanish meaning “hard wood”) has been named “The Grand Canyon of Texas” both for its size and for its dramatic geological features, including the multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls similar to those in the Grand Canyon.

Scenic Drive

We took a 40 mile drive along TX Highway 27 to get a view of the Palo Duro from outside the State Park. The colors are spectacular and worth a trip.


CCC Trail Lighthouse Trail Capitol Peak Lighthouse rock formation Lighthouse (you can see me at the base) Rock Garden Trail

This trail takes you to the top of the rim for a beautiful view of the canyon below.

Rock Garden
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Alabama

We left Florida and headed along the Gulf Coast first to Alabama for a short stay to see friends Don and Nancy. We met them two years ago in Gulf Shores, Alabama and we clicked right away. They were escaping the cold weather by traveling south and we were fortunate to meet up.

Mississippi

Next stop was Mississippi. We stayed mid-way between New Orleans, LA and Biloxi, MS. Biloxi was devastated after Katrina, but they have come back strong. Since nearly everything needed to be rebuilt, it is essentially a new town along the Gulf. We went on a paddle boat ride on Betsy Ann. Only one of 16 paddle boats in operation. This was a fun and educational trip.

Ahoy Captain Paddle of the paddle boat Biloxi Bay on the Betsy Ann At our campground in Waveland, MS Sunset on the Gulf Buddy enjoying a walk with Mom Buddy enjoying the sunset

While in Waveland, MS, we drove to New Orleans to the KISS concert. This is KISS’s final tour and Scott is a big fan. We put on the make-up and joined the craziness that is New Orleans.

Rock n Roll pneumonia Can’t believe she talked me in to wearing makeup
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Within sight of downtown Miami, yet worlds away, Biscayne protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands, and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. Here too is evidence of 10,000 years of human history, including pirates and shipwrecks. Outdoors enthusiasts can boat, snorkel, camp, watch wildlife…or simply relax in a rocking chair gazing out over the bay.

Biscayne National Park is 95% water so the best way to see it is by boat or in the water. We went snorkeling on a cold and windy day. Our pictures are grainy because of the silt that is being stirred up.

The best time to go is summer. So we may try this again some summer and include Dry Tortuga National Park in the lower keys of Florida.

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The Miami Art Deco District is a U.S. historic district located in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, Florida. The area was well known as the neighborhood where Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace resided. It contains 960 historic buildings.

We had a lot of fun walking around this beach city with its, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and buff swimsuit wearing individuals.

Next stop …..

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We spent two weeks in Homestead, Florida about 35 miles south of Miami.  Homestead is our jumping off point for two National Parks, Everglades and Biscayne.

Everglades National Park protects the southern twenty percent of the original Everglades in Florida. The park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, and the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River. Everglades is the third-largest national park in the contiguous United States after Death Valley and Yellowstone.

Most national parks preserve unique geographic features; Everglades National Park was the first created to protect a fragile ecosystem. The Everglades are a network of wetlands and forests fed by a river flowing 0.25 miles per day out of Lake Okeechobee, southwest into Florida Bay.  The park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America and contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere.  Thirty-six threatened or protected species inhabit the park, including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee, along with 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles.  The ecosystems in Everglades National Park have suffered significantly from human activity, and restoration of the Everglades is a politically charged issue in South Florida

Driving to the park we saw several gators sunning themselves by the side of the water.

The Shark Valley entrance of the park has a 15 mile bike path that allows bikers to go at their own pace to take pictures and enjoy the wildlife.

Up close and personal. I’m about 10 feet from the gator on my right. Ring around the rosie… Snuggle time On the alert “Hey, no cuts, not buts, no coconuts” Refrained from tickling the tootsie I’m watchin’ you Face only a mother could love Come on in…the water’s fine View from the observation tower Purple Gallinule Wood Stork Roseate Spoonbill Great Egret Great Blue Herron Great Blue Herron enjoying lunch Limpkin

Our post of Biscayne National Park should follow in a few weeks. We took some underwater pictures with a disposable camera that we have to get developed. We will be leaving this area of Florida on Tuesday and heading toward Gulf Shores, Alabama.

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Scott and I enjoyed a month in Cedar Key, Florida. This is old school Florida, no Disney or fast food chains. A laid back environment where stores and restaurants open when staff show up and close when the staff leave. Our time there was centered around experiencing manatees (though we did not find any wearing novelty tees)

Manatee Springs State Park

We visited Manatee Springs State Park where rainfall had flooded areas of the park. So much so that the manatees had taken over the swimming hole, closing it to people.

Manatees in the swimming hole Manatee sleeping in the swimming hole View of the park

Swimming with the Manatees

We had to do more than just look. I did a lot of research to find the best place to swim with manatees and found Bird’s Underwater Dive Shop in Crystal River (ask for Paul and Rob).

Boat ride out A curious manatee Catharine getting a kiss from a Manatee So friendly and curious Mom and baby manatee Scott being sized up New friends Awwww…so cute Wish you were here They loved the algae on the side of the boat Going somewhere?
Manatee Swim - YouTube
Watch video to see Scott swim to his new friends What did Scott think??? Two thumbs up!!!
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We were looking at the pictures from 2018 and decided to throw together a year in review slide show. Overall, we visited 3 countries, 16 states, and drove the RV 6940 miles. Hope you enjoy. (Sorry there is no background music…stupid copyright laws enforced by youtube)

WTHRVDOING 2018 in Review - YouTube

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