Celebrating 6 Wonderful Years of Fulltiming

Our wonderful home Tigger

It is so hard to believe that we have been living this dream for 6 years now. And what adventures we have had.

Just for fun, we have tallied up what we have been doing:

  • 81,016 miles in the RVs and the Sled (our flat bed trailer) has followed behind
  • 12,823 Gallons of Diesel
  • 71,909 miles in our Land Rover Snowflake
  • 3,478 Gallons of Petrol

Places visited only count if we have stayed overnight in the motorhome:

  • 11 Provinces/Territories
  • 45 States out of the lower 48 and Alaska
  • 274 Campground stays (including multiple separate stays at some; does not include stays at RV Service shops, or with friends and family)
  • 38 Walmart stays (great and safe way to break up a long drive)
  • 67 National Parks (NPS)
  • 10 Parks Canada Parks
  • about 30 State Parks as well as county parks.

Places we love and have/will return to:

CANADA:
Banff NP (Lake Louise); Jasper NP; Churchill, Manitoba; Gaspé Peninsula, QC; Cape Breton, Kouchibouguac NP, NB; Newfoundland; Osoyoos and the Okanagan, BC.

USA:
Alaska; Oregon Coast; Washington Coast, The Palouse, WA; Death Valley NP, Yosemite NP, CA; Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP, WY; Bozeman, MT; Southwest Idaho; Custer City and Park, SD; The Great Salt Lake, UT; The Grand Canyon NP (north & south rim), Monument Valley, Patagonia Lake State Park, Tucson, Whitewater Draw, Benson Area, AZ; Fort De Soto County Park, Everglades NP, the Florida Keys, FL; Great Smoky Mountains NP, TN and NC.

Sunrise Panorama at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park

A few places we didn’t stay or will not return to:

Canada Glacier Park, BC; Northwest Territories; Vancouver Island, BC; New Orleans, LA; South Padre Island, TX.

We love finding “new-to-us” bird species – like the Elegant Trogan or finding adult wildlife with their young (they’re all cute!) – like Bison red dogs. Mother Nature continually astounds us with birds in their breeding plumage or the protective behaviors of wildlife.

Of course we love taking Tigger to see family and friends in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, Florida and New Jersey. And we have had many wonderful trips to see family and friends in the UK. We even squeezed in a visit to Italy.

When we began this we talked about being nomads for 10 years and then reassessing – and we are still saying that – another 10 years and then we will reassess.

Our traveling companions:

Beginnings

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Camping in Custer, South Dakota

It is wonderful to be back near Custer State Park. Our last visit was 5 years ago. About 2 years ago, new owners purchased the Flintstone Theme Park Campground in Custer City. They are carrying out a total make-over to change it into the Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort – and what changes they are making, taking full advantage of their views of the Black Hills.

Black Hills

They have added many more new RV campsites that are well spaced out with level parking spots, large concrete patios with large picnic tables and fire pits. There are a variety of sites for those with tents.

Site 103

There are beautiful furnished teepees with picnic tables and fire pits.

And for those wishing luxury camping you can choose between Glamping Tents

Or Premium Cabins.

Two new swimming pools and a hot tub are tucked in behind the kids playground and the Office and General Store.

Next year they are promising to have some Tree Houses available in the shelter of the trees. And they might even get the small train working again.

Tree House under Construction

This is a wonderful campground for a quiet retreat or to arrange a group/family get away. The staff are very helpful and courteous. Be sure to add it to your list when visiting Custer State Park, the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Rapid City and so much more in South Dakota.

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We just love flycatchers

To See all of my new Flycatchers click HERE

Until the current “lock down” on movements the flycatcher that we had seen most of in most locations is the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea). This one was an early start for us with Tyrant Flycatchers in Florida.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea), Circle B Bar Preserve, FL

To see my Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Gallery please click HERE

The first time we saw a Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) was during our first visit to Patagonia Lake State Park, (which is one of our absolute favourite parks and campgrounds). It was a single sighting on the birding trail.

Our first sighting of a male Vermilion Flycatcher

Since then, being a little later in our tour of the south in Texas and Arizona this year we are seeing more. It paid off to be a couple of weeks later this year as we had a good set of flycatchers in Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas.

Two males at Santa Ana

But when we arrived in Patagonia Lake State Park the flycatchers had not arrived yet, but thankfully they did before we left! I now also benefit from using a cropped sensor Nikon D500 body that gives me 50% more magnification over the D4s – so I can “get closer” to the birds, or at least appear to.

Male at Patagonia Lake State Park, AZ

We also saw female Vermilion Flycatchers and discovered that a lot of people, including us, first see them and believe they are Say’s Phoebes. There is great similarity.

Female Vermilion Flycatcher

This year, as we are still in Southern Arizona, we see more of the Vermilions. It is a little strange at first, having seen them in wildlife preserves in Texas and Arizona (i.e. places you go to see them), to see them in pairs in trees in large parking lots!

To see my Vermilion Flycatcher gallery please click HERE

To compare the female with the Say’s Phoebe please click HERE

We also love the variety of Phoebes that we see and stand and watch them on their perch. They flit off, catch and consume the fly, then return to the perch, then repeat.

Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans), Whitewater Draw AZ

To see my Black Phoebe gallery please click HERE

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), Santa Anna National Wildlife Reserve,TX

But one of the big surprises is the Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) that we see in Texas. It is so large, seems too large to live on flies! It is 60% longer than a Vermilion and 400% the weight.

Great Kiskadee Rio Grande Valley, TX

To see my Great Kiskadee gallery please click HERE

Gear: Nikon D500, Nikon MB-D17, Nikon Z 6 mirrorless, Nikon FTZ, Nikon 600.0 mm f/4.0 VRII, Nikkor TC-17 EII, Nikon 80.-400.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII, Nikkor TC-14 EII, Really Right Stuff tripod and full gimbal head, Sony digital film.

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We Are Keeping Safe – Are You?

Due to the shut downs resulting from the Global Pandemic of COVID-19 we are keeping ourselves in Arizona. We do move north of Tucson into the mountains in the hope it will stay a little cooler than in the Tucson area. We also feel that our lifestyle as full-timers helps us to be safer.

This is a great demonstration that plans are nothing but current intentions and not a series of activities set in concrete (unless you are building a river dam!).

Our current adjusted intentions are on the page 2020 Destinations.

Ince it is safe to move about the USA we will create a new set of intentions and let you know.

We both hope you too are behaving sensibly and keeping safe.

Keep well, Richard & Louise

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Wild Horses Couldn’t Keep Us Away

While we are staying in Mesa, Arizona we were told about the Wild Horses (Equus ferus) in the Tonto National Forest. Someone we met told us that he had been going in search of them for four years and only seen them twice!

We must be blessed because we saw some each time we went looking for them and once when we weren’t.

There are over four hundred wild horses in the Tonto National Forest. As they are descendants of the horses introduced by the Spaniards they are really feral horses. But they are just gorgeous anyway.

Click HERE to see my Whole Gallery of Wild Horses

Wild Horses Eating

When we visited the Deerwood Wild Horse Eco Sanctuary in Wyoming in 2017 we learnt that the beautiful condition of their coats was due to the fact that they “buddy up” and groom each other. Again we saw some of this happening with the Tonto Wild Horses.

Grooming Buddies

In the large group we met in the forest we were fortunate to see a new colt foal. The foal was very distinctive to us as it had blue eyes. Apparently this meant at least one of its parent had blue eyes.

Blue Eyed Colt

Our second encounter of a group of the wild horses was as we were taking a hiking trail along the Salt River looking for birds. We saw a group emerge from the trees on the opposite river bank and proceed to drink and walk along the river upstream then disappear back in to the trees. We were simply amazed when further up the river the group emerged from the trees and proceeded to walk out into the river.

Wild Horses Emerging from the Trees
Wild Horses Emerging from the Trees
Wild Horses in the Salt River, Tonto National Forest
Second Emergence from the Trees
Wild Horse Wading in the Salt River

What a great day.

Gear: Nikon D500, Nikon MB-D17, Nikon GP-1, Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII, Nikkor TC-14 EII, Sony Digital film

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