Along the Shores of Gichigami

Gichigami is the Anishinaabe name for the largest freshwater lake in the world. It has been given the name Lake Superior by the United States and Canada. The Anishinaabe are the First Nations Peoples who are from the areas surrounding this great lake. They are also known as Ojibwe, Ojibwa or Chippewa. I vaguely remember hearing Longfellow’s 1855 poem about this lake and more clearly remember a racist I Love Lucy sketch. It saddens me that I didn’t know, until 62 years of age, that this is a real place and with real people.

We have had a lovely 2 weeks driving and staying along this amazing lake. Our Gichigami drive started in Minnesota, continued in Ontario, Canada and concluded in Michigan. We’ve only driven about 2/3s of the lake!

We stayed at wonderful campgrounds with winding trails that led to the lake.

Along the way we got to learn a little Anishinaabe history. They were integral to the vibrant fur trading industry of the 1800s.

In Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario, Canada there is a beautiful trail called Bimose Kinoomagewnan (Walk of Teachings) trail. Along it you can read and learn of the Seven Grandfather Teachings from Anishinaabe elders and enjoy art work, representing the teachings, from the younger generation. The teachings are love, honesty, respect, wisdom, truth,humility and bravery.

In Sault Saint Marie, Michigan we saw the locks which enable ships to travel from Gichigami to the lower great lakes.

We are now on Anishinaabe land, staying at the Kewadin RV Park and Casino. It’s a beautiful and restful place. We are looking forward to attending a pow wow on Saturday. I’m really humbled by how little I know about this area and First Nations Peoples. I’m really grateful for any opportunity to learn even a little bit more!

BOLT Adventures in Serendipity

Kathy and I are very blessed to live a life which affords a lot of opportunities for serendipity.  When we were working, vacations and travel took a lot of planning with deadlines and time constraints. Retirement is truly glorious! We rarely have set time lines and we often make spontaneous plans, one day at a time. 

 Our puppy, Kahlo, is a great example of the gift of serendipity. We had no plans of getting her and yet she has brought so much joy to our lives! 

Whale Watching in Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico 

The White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand 

Charlotte and Pete Hill O’Neal, Arusha, Tanzania  

Serendipity has given us fabulous adventures,  visits to so many great places, and led us to meeting unforgettable and wonderful new friends. 

Now we are in Minnesota, a place I thought we’d simply be traveling through. We love it here! There are beautiful parks, affordable campgrounds, friendly people and lots to see and do.  Thanks to serendipity, we’ll be here a few weeks.

We’d love to hear about your experiences of serendipity as well as any comments, suggestions or questions you may have. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog and for your support. 

Through BOLT Eyes…

Kathy and I love the National Park Service. There is such an abundance of nature, history and wonder within the parks, monuments and forests that it administers. We’ve found something to love in every place that we’ve visited. 

However, there are often things we find disturbing to our Black American and People of Color consciousness. This week we visited the Little Big Horn Battlefield Site.  It was essentially a monument to the fallen soldiers of “Custer’s Last Stand” and to American  imperialism. There was little mention of all the injustices perpetrated against First Nations Peoples that led up to the battle. The memorial to Native Americans there was much smaller and felt like an afterthought. 

When I was in the gift shop I watched a little white boy playing with the toy guns and knives for sale there. All I could think of was Tamir Rice and how it is not safe for  black children to play in this way. 

We visited “Pompey’s Pillar”, an ancient geological site sacred to the Crow people. The park service felt it more important to highlight the fact that explorer William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) wrote his name there.

Now we are at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It’s breathtakingly beautiful here! It’s very fitting that “Teddy”a great conservationist is honored here. But he also embodied military might and colonialism. Kathy reminded me that the saying he is credited with “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” is one he appropriated from West Africa. 

So what do we do with these thoughts and feelings? We try to find beauty and enjoy it where we can and to tell the truth about our history and our present.  We try to learn more about our own and other marginalized people’s history. We show up and make use of these parks and forests, knowing that our ancestors did much to make them possible. We write these blogs, share our pictures and adventures. We try our best to share our truth.  We hope to affirm that America is beautiful, still and America is ours.

A Wonderful Week of BOLT! 

BOLT had a wonderful week, one that makes me appreciate RV life even more. We’ve stayed at a variety of places and had nothing but positive experiences. I am reminded that, despite the insanity of our current political situation, all the tragedies and injustice, America is beautiful.

From Walmart parking lots (great spots for RV overnight stays) to private RV parks with pools and casinos we’ve encountered friendly, helpful people and great natural beauty. RVing is a great, relatively inexpensive, way to see the country and meet interesting people. 

This week we traveled five states (Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana), visited 2 fabulous national parks (Grand Teton and Yellowstone), went to a wonderful museum (the California Trail Interpretive Center) and stayed in 2 national forests (Targhee and Gallatin).  We hope you enjoy these pictures of our week. We love getting your comments and please, ask any questions you may have. 

Sometimes Walmarts are the best overnight option.  This one in Layton, Utah was great!

We both really enjoyed the interactive exhibits at the California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko, Nevada. 

The Grand Tetons were magnificent and we got to see bison.

There is nothing like waking up in forest and seeing these for neighbors. This is Beaver Creek Campground, Gallitin National Forest, Montana. 

A highlight of our week was our visit to Yellowstone National Park. It has great boardwalk walking paths, views of the Snake River, lots of crowds and of course “Old Faithful”.

We find the national forest campgrounds to be wonderful: very beautiful and inexpensive too.  This one in the Targhee National Forest on the Idaho – Wyoming border was only $12 a night.  This compares really favorably to the private RV park prices. The one we stayed at in Elko, Nevada was $30 a night for really just a big parking lot but it did have a pool and great staff.

So that was our week, we hope yours was fabulous as well! 

On the road again! 

As you can see from this picture, Kahlo likes road trips as much as Kathy and I.  We really enjoyed our time in Southern California, seeing family and friends.  But we are excited to be on our next BOLT adventure. 
Right now we heading north on beautiful Highway 395. The scenery is amazing! We’ve seen pristine lakes, the majestic Sierras and even some snow.

Our intention is to slowly travel up to and then through Canada. I’m really looking forward to seeing Niagara Falls. We plan to be back in the USA in time for a visit to the Smithsonian African American Museum in late September and back in California by November.   As always we are traveling serendipitously, fearlessly and fairly pennilessly.

Follow us on Facebook  and Instagram for our current locations.  Please let know if you have suggestions of things to see or places to visit (especially if you are on our route).

BOLT Reviews: Baja California, Mexico 

Our five and a half months RV adventure through Baja California was fabulous!  We’ve been back in the USA for almost a month now. We’ve had lots of time to reflect on and share with one another about our trip.  Now we’d like to share with you. 

We both agree that we liked Baja California Sur far more than Baja California (norte).  Our favorite place was Loreto followed closely by Mulegé and Guerrero Negro.  For us, towns relatively close to the U.S. border were not our favorites nor was the big city of Ensenada. What we decided would be most helpful in this blog would be to retrace our route and share about our stops.  We hope this will be a useful guide for anyone visiting Baja, particularly in an RV.

We entered Mexico through Mexicali, where we had an uneventful, easy border crossing.  Our first stop was San Felipe with its lovely malecon (ocean walkway).  We found the RV parks ($25 per night) there to be crowded and pricy for our budget ($15 per night).  The great thing about RV life is that there is always the option to “boondock” and that’s what we did.  We spent 2 nights in San Felipe, parked for free, on a quiet street, no trouble. We spent our days exploring the town which is full of “Gringo” tourists, restaurants and curio shops. We got to experience our first Mexican supermarket where we were pleasantly surprised by the great prices. We had a really bad restaurant meal but enjoyed seeing the Sea of Cortez for the first time. We were ready to move on on our third day in Baja. 

Our next stop was Puertecitos, a tiny fishing village. This was the Baja I dreamed of.  We found a small, family owned RV park right on the beach.  $10 a night was perfect for our budget and we enjoyed waking up to the sounds of our fisherman neighbors launching their boats.  Aside from walking on beach and enjoying the ocean view there was nothing for us to do there. We were ready to move on in 3 days.

The worst road ever (4 hours to travel 15 miles of rocks, ruts and dirt) brought us to the paradise of Bahia de los Angeles.  We were right on the beach again, for  $10 a night, with priceless views of ocean, a delightful school of dolphins and varied, wonderful birds.  We settled in here for a few days, enjoying our home cooked meals and lots of time for reading and relaxing (no wifi).

Next stop on our travels was Guerrero Negro.  This small city is the first one in the state of Baja California Sur.  It was the first place where we enjoyed a fairly long stay.  There was a great walking path along a bird sanctuary which we really enjoyed. We alternated our time in this area between “boondocking” on the city streets and staying right on the beach at beautiful Ojo de Liebre. The city has the advantage of good internet  (through Tel Cel), a good grocery market, laundromat and restaurants. There was none of these on the beach…but Oh! The views!

Ojo de Liebre is one of the most amazing places.  It is one of only three places in the world where grey whales come to give birth.  For $5 a night you can park your RV right on the beach and spend your days watching hundreds of whales go by.  For a very reasonable price you can take a boat out and get close enough to touch them!

Our next stop was the dessert city of Vizcaino. This is a great place to get repairs done. We stayed here both heading south and on our return north.  There are many great mechanics in Vizcaino and the Kadekaman RV park has great wifi and lovely restrooms but there’s not much else in town.

About an hour from Vizcaino is the tiny town of San Ignacio.  It is a lovely town with a centuries old mission and RV parks right on the lagoon. Don’t make the mistake we did: there are no banks here. P We had to go all the way back to Guerrero Negro for a working ATM.  The one in Vizcaino only seems to work for Mexican bank cards.

Santa Rosalia is a small city with some interesting architecture. We enjoyed walking around and seeing the sights but there was no RV anywhere close to town so our stay was brief.

Heading further south we  found the beautiful town of Mulegé.  A good measure of how much we like a place is how long we stay.  We were in Mulegé for over a month. It’s a perfect spot for RVers.  The Huerta Don Chano RV Park is less than  $10 a night with good wifi and full hook ups ( electricity and water).  There is a real feeling of community here with lots of full time residents from the U.S. From there we could walk to town where we enjoyed the tranquility.  There were several food markets, a drug store and a few restaurants but no bank.  Mulegé is also home to lots of U.S. retirees so there are frequent activities like chili cook-offs and pig racing. 

I could not imagine loving a place more than Mulegé until we landed in Loreto. This is a great town, one we are seriously considering retiring in.  It’s just the right size with well stocked supermarkets, banks, drug stores, restaurants and curio shops. There is always something happiness in the town square. Our RV park  (El Morro) was a block from the beach. It was a great bargain at $10 a night, including wifi and full hook up.  From El Morro we were able to walk everywhere. We stayed in Loreto for almost 3 months. 

From Loreto you can make a day trip up the mountain to see the town and mission of San Francisco Javier. There is an ancient olive grove there and lovely kind people selling freshly made goat cheese. 

In big contrast to the tiny San Javier is the bright lights, big city feel of La Paz.  I’m sure you can find and do anything here, just like any big city.  The RV park we stayed in, Maranatha, was several miles outside of town. While we enjoyed the pool and our site there and the malecon of La Paz, overall this was one of our least favorite stays.

We did enjoy a few days visit to Todos Santos, about an hour south of La Paz.  This is definitely a more “touristy” town, reflected in higher prices and lots of restaurants, bars and shops.  

There was no RV park in the area although we found a surf camp willing to accommodate us.

Our map showed an area called the 7 wonders of Comundu.  On the map it looked like a collection of medium sized towns and good roads. NOT!  While we don’t regret going, as we got our dog in one of the towns, there is not much to recommend RV travel in this area.  The roads are really bad and the towns, while charming, are almost empty. We ended up back tracking to Loreto. 

With the new addition to our family, Kahlo, we decided to stay another month in Loreto before heading home.  We really love this town!

Not wanting to overstay our six months visa we left Loreto, heading slowly north.  We stayed several days in Vizcaino for some repairs and then traveled rather quickly.  Several small dessert towns are kind of a blur before we got to Ensenada and the Rosarito. These 2 cities reminded us very much of southern California and were not our favorites. The closer we got to the U.S. border, prices were higher, things were more crowded and the less natural beauty was seen.  We crossed uneventfully across the Tijuana border at 4 a.m. and said our farewells to Baja. We will definitely return!

I know this is a longer post than usual and yet I feel I left lots out.  I hope it’s helpful, especially for RVers traveling Baja.  Please feel free to share any comments or ask any questions you may have. 

Coche Lento, Casa Rápida (Slow Car, Fast House)

I’ve always wanted to travel in an R.V.  What I imagined was long days of driving, visiting lots of beautiful sites for brief periods. The reality has been much more wonderful than I had imagined. R.V. traveling, BOLT style has come to mean slow travel with fairly long stays in beautiful places.  I know this type of travel is not possible for everyone and I am extremely grateful for the privilege. If you are someone who is considering a full time R.V. lifestyle here are some of the top reasons why I have come to believe slow travel with extended stops is best.

Longer stays mean you really get to experience, explore and enjoy the place.  You find favorite stores and restaurants. You get to see sunrises, starry skyes, sunny or rainy days.  During almost every longer stay we’ve been able to participate in festivals or other community activities. You really get a feel for the place.

There are substantial savings to long stays. Obviously you are using far less gas and that’s not a small thing in our 30 foot R.V.  A tank of gas currently costs us about $100 and takes us about 250 miles.  Every day we stay parked is a good day for our budget. Also, most R.V. parks offer substantial discounts when you stay a week or longer.  We find places that include water and electricity in the rate, which cuts down on our propane and water costs. When we find a spot within walking distance of shops and town activities we are truly in finance paradise. 

While we’ve met interesting, friendly people on brief stays, one of the great things about longer stays is you can really get to know people. There is camaraderie among RVers and a lot of helpful information gets exchanged. 

I think the best thing about longer stays is the chance to slow down and really enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I love our quiet, slow mornings; long, aimless walks; lots of time for reading, and sharing BOLT life with my beloved, Kathy.

If  you have any questions about RV life or experiences of your own to share we’d love to hear from you.  Your support and interest are always appreciated. 

!Seis Dias en Mexico!

Today is our sixth day in Mexico. We have been without internet for the previous four days.  No internet or cell service but wonderous vistas, magnificent coastline, frolicking dolphins, kind and helpful people and the blessing of safe travels. Here are our six days in pictures. 

Day  1: We entered Mexico through the Calexico-Mexicali border station.  3 hours later we arrived at the town of San Felipe,right on the Sea of Cortez.  We spent the day walking around this sleepy little tourist town and spent the night safely in Winnie. It’s so nice having our home on wheels, we can just park and go to sleep. 

Day 2: The next morning we headed out for the tiny town of Puertecitos. Really it’s just a little fishing village.  We found a lovely spot in a fishing camp,right on the beach. We woke up to the fishermen launching their boats and the sound of lively music. 

Day 3: From Puertecitos we wanted to head south traveling along the Pacific. Little did we know that we would encounter the worst detour ever! 30 kilometers of rutted, rocky, dusty dirt road!  Our Minnie Winnie is not made for this kind of driving but Kathy slowly and carefully guided her along.  It took 3 hours to go 30 kilometers  (20 miles) but we made it!  Instead of heading to the Pacific, as planned, we decided to rest in the town of Bahia de los Angeles,  still on the Sea of Cortez side.  We made the right choice!

Day 4: Bahia de los Angeles was paradise!  We found a campground right on the beach.  We spent our days walking, reading and watching dolphins and pelicans.

Day 5: I ended up with a little cold and I can’t imagine a better place to be sick then parked in Winnie, looking out at the beautiful sea. 

Day 6: (Today) We left idyllic Bahia de los Angeles for a beautiful drive down Mexico Highway 1.  We are now on the Pacific Ocean side and will be spending a couple of weeks here in Guerrero Negro. Lots to see and do here and the town has pretty good internet and cell service. We had our first great Mexican meal at the Las Cazuelas Restorante. There will be a whale festival here soon. Tomorrow we are going to find a spot on the beach,  not sure if we will have service there. BOLT will definitely keep you posted as often as we can…and you know we love hearing from you!

!Adios Estados Unidos!

I am writing this post as we sit (comfortably in our Minnie Winnie RV) in a Walmart parking lot in the border town of Calexico, California. In the morning we will cross over into Mexico. 

January 20th will be a sad day for our nation and we decided we did not want to be in the USA on the day when Trump becomes president. We know that it is a great privilege to be able to make this decision.  Many of you must stay…to work, to care for children or elders and to fight. My son, Malcolm, and many other brave folks will be in Washington protesting. Our thoughts and prayers will be with him and with all of you.  The struggle will continue but for now BOLT is continuing our world travels. 

We are very excited about traveling through Baja California and seeing all the beautiful of the Mexican coast.  We are going to attend a Whale festival,  eat delicious food and enjoy the beaches and the sun. We may even go into mainland Mexico and all the way to Belize. 

We are going to post lots of pictures, share positive stories of love and encouragement and keep reminding you that America is beautiful still!  We’d love to see you on our travels, let us know if you’d like to meet up somewhere along the way. 

BOLT Reviews: Quartzsite, Arizona 

Not far from the California – Arizona border lies the tiny town of Quartzsite, AZ.  Tiny as in 3,600 permanent residents.  During the winter months Quartzsite becomes home to the largest gathering of RVers in the world.  Largest as in over 300,000 RV visitors! 

RV enthusiasts come from all over the country, especially “snow birds” from the colder states. As new RV owners, Of course Kathy and I wanted to check it out.

There is a beauty and serenity to the desert that I have always loved.  I felt it as soon as we found the perfect spot in the La Posa Campground to park Winnie.  It’s on United States Bureau of Land Management land. For $40 we can stay for 2 weeks, which includes water and a spot to dump our holding tanks.  For the  $40 we can also move around to any of the other 6 BLM campgrounds.

There’s lots to see and do in Quartzsite if you like swap meet/flea market style shopping.And there are plenty of quirky characters like this group of street musicians. 

We took long, lovely walks every day into town. 

There are of course, lots of RVs and accessories on sale.

Some of them are really amazing and we had fun being looky loos.

We also arrived just in time for the annual Gem and Mineral Show.  It was wonderful walking around soaking up the energy and beauty.

We really enjoyed our stay, so far, I Quartzsite.  We got to try out the solar panel for the first time. It works great!  We’ll be in the Arizona area for a while more. Looking forward to a visit to Lake Havasu (50 miles away) and to sharing more of our travels with you.