Friday, May 15, 2015

J. Dawg Journeys Has Moved!

J. Dawg has moved to a new address!  I'm now at jdawgjourneys.com with many new travel stories and lots of new info.  Everything that you found here has been moved to my new address; all my blog posts, pages, pictures, and links that you found here.  If you subscribed to my posts with email or RSS, those have been pointed to my new address so you'll get notified when I post something at the new address.  Everything will remain here at the old address so that people can get used to finding me at my new address. 

But there's lots of great new stuff, new journeys, new travel pictures and videos, and new lessons posted at jdawgjourneys.com.  Click on the link and check it out.  If you have me bookmarked, please change to my new address.  I also have a FaceBook Page for J. Dawg Journeys.  You can follow my new posts from there and even register a "Like" for the Dawg.


You can contact me at the new address using the Contact J. Dawg form.  I'm still traveling at the same pace and posting new articles.  I hope you continue to follow my travels and journeys at jdawgjourneys.com.



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Eight Tips for Taking Better Travel Photographs

J. Dawg in the mirror
I am not an expert when it comes to taking photographs.  But, over the past two years, I've been working at learning how to take better pictures of my travels.  Pictures help convey the imagery and feeling of a place and they enhance the memory of a trip.  Combined with the words of a blog post, they're the visual record of what it it looked and felt like. And if done right they create a wow factor for a blog post.  Its also been a fun new skill and hobby for this "old Dawg" to learn and to try and master

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How to Use a Dashcam to Record RV Journeys

Panorama G Dashcam
While driving and exploring in my RV, I spend a fair amount of time behind the windshield seeing beautiful places or driving on scenic roads.  Its part of the fun of RVing, seeing landscapes and vistas that take our breath away.  Taking pictures of these places is great for creating a memory, but I also like to capture what it's like driving in scenic places.  I want to remember what is was like so I can relive and share my experiences.  Using video is a great way to do this.  I always try to shoot some videos of place that I visit, but it hasn't been that easy to do when I'm driving.  With a Dashcam, I've found that it's now super easy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Beauty of West Texas

West Texas
Guadalupe Mountains
I just got back from spending some time in west Texas.  I was there for much of March.  We visited Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and the towns of Alpine, Fort Davis, Marathon, and Terlingua.

I wrote about our stay in Big Bend in this post - Big Bend National Park.  I also did a post about Marathon here - West of the Pecos - Marathon, Texas.  I just got home and I'm editing together some videos I shot and organizing my photos.  I thought I'd share some more photos and videos of West Texas in this post.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Simplicity of RV Living

Simple RV Living
      *******  Update - June 2015 *******
Thanks for finding my my blog!  You are welcome to continue reading here.  My blog has moved to a new address at:  jdawgjourneys.com.  You can read more about my current journeys at the new site.
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I just returned home from almost four months of living in my RV.  It was a first for me.  I took the RV south in December and spent a wonderful 2 1/2 months at an RV park in Fort Myers Beach, FL escaping the cold New England winter.  From there, we hung around St. Augustine for a couple more weeks and then headed west for a month on the road exploring west Texas.  I had a great time.  The Fort Myers stay was the first time I had stayed parked in an RV for such an extended time and it worked out just fine.  And the roadtrip was paced with several multi-day stop overs.  I was gone 111 days and drove over 7,000 miles.  It was a long time to be away, but I grew very accustomed to the simplicity of living in my RV.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cowboy Hats - Facts, Folklore, and Fables

Cowboy Hat
I love wearing cowboy hats.  Partly it's a guy thing, but they're super functional for keeping the sun off my face.  And they make a pretty good fashion statement.  I've collected a few on my travels and seem to get a new one each time I go out west.  While wearing a baseball hat may be a fashion standard in New England during the summer months, cowboy hats are a year round standard in certain parts of the west.  Out in the rural areas of states like Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming where the sun is intense year round, cowboy hats are much more prevalent than baseball hats.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Journey to Nashville - Music Cty

Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry
Last year, I drove right through after spending a couple days in Memphis and doing the whole Elvis thing.  Being a big country music fan it was a borderline sacrilegious act.  But, I vowed to returned and do a proper visit to Nashville, Music City.  Home of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Also home to numerous musicians and what seems like the largest number of honky tonk music joints in the world.  Its a busy tourist trap and far from the beautiful stark southwest desert that I had just come from.  But, for a country music fan, it's Mecca.  A pilgrimage I had to make.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Return to Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon
It's one of the prettiest places to camp that I've experienced.  The red rock scenery is mesmerizing.  Not as good as Sedona, but pretty damn good.  Its remote, quiet, and uncluttered.  There's no stores, no restaurants, no traffic, no wifi, no TV service, and cell service is almost no existent.  But, there's plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails.  Its a great place to unwind, disconnect, and just enjoy nature.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Caverns to Canyons

Our base while visiting Carlsbad Caverns was the Carlsbad KOA. Like many KOA’s, this is a very nice place to stay.  The sites are large, level and spread out.  This KOA even does BBQ dinners and pizza 7 days a week.  You place your order at the office or can call it in and they will deliver it to your site.  It’s a little pricey but super convenient.  This is probably the nicest place to stay near Carlsbad, but "near" is a misnomer.  The campground is 15 miles north of Carlsbad.  The National Park is 19 miles south of Carlsbad, so from the KOA to the National Park is almost a 70 mile round trip.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Carlsbad Caverns - My Journey Down a Big Deep Dark Hole

Carlsbad Caverns
I'm not much of a cave man.  Going underground into a dark hole where I might be not able to get out doesn't really appeal to me.  I'm more of a mountain or beach type of guy.  My wife on the other hand, loves to explore caves and unusual places.  So while we were leaving west Texas heading into New Mexico, we visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  And yours truly, J. Dawg, did go subterranean. Did it for you, Sweet Pea!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park
Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park
This is our second visit to Big Bend.  We visited last year for a few days, but only scratched the surface of this huge National Park.  It begged for a return visit.  So, this time I planned a five day stay during our southwest road trip.

Big Bend is one of the most remote and most diverse places in the US.  From Marathon, which is in the middle of nowhere, its about 70 miles of driving through the desert to get to the park headquarters.  And once you're in the park its at least a another 20 mile drive to get to anywhere.  It's got deserts, river valleys, canyons, and high mountains.  Its loaded with wild life and wild flowers.  Its all these things that makes it a beautiful place and one of my favorite National Parks to visit.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Return to Boquillas Del Carmen Mexico

Boquillas Del Carmen
Boquillas Crossing
We're camped (more like parked) about 500 ft from the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park.  Mexico dominates the view from my windshield.  Today we drove about a mile down the road, parked, and crossed the river to the little village of Boquillas Del Carmen.  We did this last year when were here and really enjoyed the visit.  You can read my blog post about that trip here - Boquillas Del Carmen.  Its a fun day trip to take while in Big Bend.

Friday, March 13, 2015

An RV Stop West of the Pecos - Marathon Texas

Marathon Texas
Just a little ole place in the middle nowhere.  That about sums up Marathon, population 430.  It was established in 1885 as a stop on the San Antonio to El Paso railroad.  The train still goes thru about 4-5 times per day, but it doesn't stop in Marathon anymore.  Now its a stop over point for tourists on their way to Big Bend National Park.  It sits about 60 miles south of Fort Stockton and about 60 miles north of the park entrance.  All that's here is a motel, small RV park, hotel, bar, grocery, and two gas stations.  A place of splendid isolation!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Return to The Texas Hill Country

Texas Hill Country
J. Dawg on a hill in the Texas Hill Country
Last year, we did a brief one day stop over while passing through the Texas Hill Country.  This is a pretty area about 70 miles west of Austin.  In my opinion, it one of Texas's nicest areas.  Its a rural area of rolling hills, sparse trees, small towns, cattle ranches, and wineries.  You can read my blog post about last years visit here - Texas Hill Country.  Last year, we agreed that one day was not enough and planned for a return visit.  This year we did a three day stop over so we could explore and see all the things we missed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Breaux Bridge - A Small Dose of Cajun Culture



Breaux Bridge
Street signs in Breaux Bridge
On our way to Texas, we spent an overnight in Breaux Bridge, just off I-10 east of Lafayette.  I’ve been to Breaux Bridge a few times.  It’s a nice small town near the highway with and some good places for sampling Cajun food and music.  I really like the Cajun culture and would not pass up an opportunity to eat some tasty food and do some two stepping.  And, you don't have to go to the big tourist cities to find it.  Its right in the small towns like Breaux Bridge.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Passing Through the Emerald Coast



Emerald Green waters of Gulf Islands National Seashore
After enjoying four relaxing days of beautiful ocean side setting on St. Joseph Peninsula, it was time to move on and continue our westward trek.  We left the sparsely developed Forgotten Coast in our mirrors and continued on Route 98 into the heavily developed condo land that seems to typify the Emerald Coast.  I’ve driven through this area a couple of times.  There's not much here that I find interesting other than Gulf Islands National Seashore on Santa Rosa Island and some attractions near Pensacola.  This time it was just to pass through on our way to Louisiana.  But, I wasn’t in a rush and there were couple of new places that I wanted to check out along the way.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

Its a very remote place - at the far western end of Florida's Forgotten Coast.  Its a narrow spit of land that sticks out into the Gulf like a skinny fore arm.  The nearest grocery store and restaurants are 20 miles away.  Cell service is spotty and unreliable.  Most of the peninsula is protected land, hence the lack of people and services.  But St. Joseph Peninsula is home to a lovely state park and the best beaches you can find anywhere.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Florida's Forgotten Coast

Carrabelle Beach
Florida seems to be loaded with "coasts".  There's the First Coast near Jacksonville, the Space Coast near Titusville,  the Treasure Coast near Stuart, The Sun Coast near Fort Myers, the Gold Coast near Miami, and the Emerald Coast (aka the "Redneck Riviera") near Panama City and Pensacola.  The one I like the most is The Forgotten Coast, which is on the Gulf Coast and goes from St. Marks to Port St. Joe.  Its a very different part of Florida.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hello Texas!

We're about to start the roadtrip part of our winter sojourn.  One of the things I like about spending the winter in Florida is that it's an easy launching point for a spring trip to the south west.  The RV is already outfitted and ready to roll from our winter stay.  It's only three days of easy driving to get to the west Texas Hill Country from St. Augustine.  And spring time (March) is a great time to visit west Texas.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Florida's Scenic A1A Coastal Byway

One of my favorite roads in Florida is Route A1A along the northern Atlantic coast.  This two lane road hugs the coast for 72 miles from Daytona to Ponte Vedra Beach.  For many of those miles, the ocean is in your windshield and just a stones throw from your RV's side window.  Much of Florida's Atlantic coastline is heavy developed, but along A1A, you can experience many miles of undeveloped coastline. On a recent stay in northern Florida, I got a chance to re-experience A1A.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Living in a Small RV - Parked for Two Months

Our two months of being parked in our small RV is up and we're moving on to the travel phase of our winter sojourn. We had a very good stay in Fort Myers Beach and it was so nice to avoid the cold winter weather in a nice warm climate.  Living in our small RV worked out pretty good.  I wrote about my observations after the first month in this post - Living in a Smal RV - Parked for the First Month.  Not much changed in the second month.  Here are some final conclusions.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

J. Dawg's List of the Best of Fort Myers Beach

One of the benefits of staying put for an extended period of time at Fort Myers Beach is that I got to spend time exploring and sampling what the local area had to offer.  I got to live a little bit like a local resident and eat where the locals eat.  Here's a picture story of what I consider to be some of the best of Fort Myers Beach.  Its based on my tastes and preferences.  Its also sort of a scrapbook that shows how I spent some of my time. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were close friends.  In 1886, Edison built a winter residence in Fort Myers, FL.  Henry Ford bought a house that was next door to Edison's in 1916.  The families spent time together fishing, boating, and exploring southwest Florida.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

What is the RV Lifestyle?

As a blogger and blog reader, I read some blogs that write about the RV Lifestyle.  Most of these bloggers tend to write about their travels, what they're doing, or what they've learned.  And they all write really good stuff.  But its mostly practical and not philosophical.  Few actually put a definition on what the RV Lifestyle is.  One talks about getting out there, seeing the country.  Some seem to infer that's its constant traveling in an RV.  Some write about how they live full time in a RV.  But not many actually write about what the RV Lifestyle actually is.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

San Carlos RV Resort - My Florida Winter Home

We've been spending the past month at San Carlos RV Resort in Fort Myers Beach, FL.  We're here for two months.  This will be our third year staying at San Carlos and its now become our favorite winter roost.  The RV park is relatively small and is about a mile from Fort Myers Beach.  Its situated right before the large "sky bridge" that goes over to Estero Island.  The location makes it easy to walk or ride a bike to stores, restaurants, and the beach

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Living in a Small RV - Parked for The First Month

We're at San Carlos RV Park in Fort Myers Beach and have just about completed the first month of stay put living in our small RV.  Its the longest we've ever stayed parked in one place.  In a nut shell, so far so good.  We're still married, still mostly sane, still talking, nobody's been hurt, and we're having a pretty good time.  It took a little time to find our groove, but we've settled in and developed our routines.  I think it's working out.  Here's some observations.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I'm Not a Camper. I'm an RVer

I'm not a camper.  I'm and RVer.  I heard this phrase recently while listening to a podcast and it struck a chord with me.  The person who said it, (Nick Russell of the Gypsy Journal) was talking about what he does while living full time in his motorhome.  According to Nick, RVer's don't sit around the camp fire and sing Cumbaya.  RVer's are in their motorhomes or trailers cooking, using the internet, and watching TV.  I wrote this as I sat in my air conditioned Winnebago motorhome, listening to satellite radio, and bogging on the internet.  I'm definitely an RVer.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sanibel Sunday

The last time we visited Sanibel Island, it was overcast and cool.  We didn't have ideal beach or photo conditions and it left me wanting to go back on a better day.  So, this year I waited for the holiday crowds to thin out and for some ideal weather.  We got both this past Sunday.  With an early start we unhooked the RV and drove the short six miles over the bridge and causeway to spend the day at Sanibel Island.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Scenes from Fort Myers Beach

It's rated as one of the top snowbird destinations.  Its casual and summery.  Its got plenty of beach side bars and eateries - places you can walk in with bare feet wearing just your swim suit.  Its got large public beach sections with nice facilities.  Its popular with families and snowbirds.  The beach is flat, great for walking and people watching.  All the things I like about Fort Myers Beach.