Picturesque Medieval Charm an Hour from Paris – Moret sur Loing

September 2017 – While visiting Paris we took an easy train ride out to the beautiful town of Moret sur Loing. With architecture dating back to the Middle Ages, complete with arches and town gates, it is utterly charming and makes for a very fun excursion and change of pace from the big city.

Roman gate at Moret sur Loing France-min

Moret sur Loing is a very cool Medieval town.

Small towns are my favorite places to visit, and English woman Annabel Simms has written two books describing the many pretty towns a short train ride from Paris that are worthy of a day trip.

Moret sur Loing (officially renamed Moret-Loing-et-Orvanne in 2016) is filled with tiny streets. The homes and businesses are built right to the edge of the sidewalk.

Village street Moret sur Loing France-min

Cute streets.

We strolled the streets of town, marveling at the many antique buildings that are centuries old.

Medieval buildings Moret sur Loing France-min

Architecture from a fairy tale!

The detail in their decorations is wonderful. Doorways aren’t just an opening to get through a wall. Instead they are elaborately decorated. One doorway featured ornately carved wooden scenes and scroll work.

Carved wooden doorway Moret sur Loing France-min

An ornate doorway…

Wooden carving Moret sur Loing France-min

A closer look at the wood carvings above the door.

There were arches through buildings on several streets. They were barely wide enough for a car, although I did see a bus squeeze through the taller ones!

Medieval arch and buildings in Moret sur Loing France-min

An arch under a clock tower!

The early fall air was warm and clear. Flowers in window boxes gave the stone architecture a colorful flair.

Stone building and windows Moret sur Loing France-min

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We had gone to the town to enjoy the intimacy, tranquility and history of an antique village, but this place isn’t just a museum piece, and even though the architecture is old, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be used. I had to smile when a fellow rode up on a bike to use a modern day ATM built into the wall of a very old building.

ATM in antique building Moret sur Loing France-min

A modern ATM in an antique building.

A tall archway leads to a bridge over the Loing River. Looking back at the arch, I half expected to see a row of knights on horseback coming through, their lances raised and colors flying!

Medieval entrance gate Moret sur Loing France-min

Looking back at the arch tower from the cobblestone bridge.

Next to the tower was a very cute restaurant overlooking the river. It was the ideal spot for lunch.

Medieval gate and restaurant on the river Moret sur Loing France-min

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The seats on the deck were all full, so we thought we’d walk around for an hour and try again later. Unfortunately, the restaurant is open strictly for lunch, so when we returned it was closed!

Restaurant on the river Moret sur Loing France-min

Lunch with a view. How fun. But don’t be late or they’ll be closed!

Our walk down to the river’s edge was well worth missing a fancy lunch, however. We just grabbed a baguette sandwich at a boulangerie and had a picnic by the water watching the ducks and geese playing in the currents.

Medieval stone arch Moret sur Loing France-min

A cobblestone path under a stone arch leads to the riverbank.

Moret sur Loing France-min

OMG! Is this right out of a picture book, or what?!

A small walking path goes along the edge of the river, and we walked along it to the next village. Rivers and canals connect all of Europe, and we passed lots of barges tied up along the shore that looked like they could really go the distance.

Loing River scene Moret sur Loing France-min

A picturesque mirrored view of homes and barges along the river.

Barge and riverside buildings Moret sur Loing France-min

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A barge can make a spacious and fun floating home, and many of them looked very inviting to live in!

River barge Moret sur Loing France-min

What a cool lifestyle!

One thing that is really apparent in France, and especially Paris, is how well people dress. The men are dapper and the women are chic. There is a love of tailored fashion we just don’t see in our travels elsewhere, and as we would wait for the Metro or walk the city streets it was a true delight to see one handsome and impeccably dressed Parisian after another going past.

Well, Parisian chic extends into the countryside too, and French people aren’t the only ones in France who have a true sense of style.

As we strolled along the banks of the Loing River, I looked down to see the most unusual and smartly dressed cat I’ve ever seen. What a coat!

Exotic cat Moret sur Loing France-min

Feline Parisian chic.

Rivers and canals don’t all have the same water level as each other, so they are often joined together by lock systems where boats can be raised or lowered, allowing them to float from one canal to another.

As we crossed a bridge, we saw a barge coming towards us and noticed that there was a lock system on one side of the bridge right below our feet.

Barge approaches locks Moret sur Loing France-min

A barge chugs up to the lock.

The captain of the barge brought the boat into the lock and quickly tied the boat to the big cleats on the concrete walls of the lock.

Captain ties up barge at locks Moret sur Loing France-min

The captain secured the barge inside the lock.

He hopped off the barge and greeted the woman controlling the locks with the traditional French kiss on both cheeks. He obviously came through this lock on a regular basis!

As the doors closed behind the barge it was amazing what a tight fit the boat was inside the lock.

Barge in the locks Moret sur Loing France-min

The gates closed behind the barge. It was now in its own little bathtub and could be raised to the level of the next canal.

For the next few minutes the lock filled with water while the captain chatted with the lady controlling the lock and then with another fellow who rode up on a bike to say hello. Then he climbed back aboard, the lock gates swung open, and he sailed the barge out of the lock.

There was something very heartwarming about the whole thing. There are thousands of locks worldwide, and we’ve read many accounts of sailors taking their boats through the Panama Canal and we’ve watched the huge barges going through the Soo Locks in Michigan.

But this was a little lock in a scenic small French town, and there was something quite delightful about the simple traditions and conventions of moving a barge through the lock that were all in a day’s work for these people.

Barge leaves the locks Moret sur Loing France-min

After being raised to the water level in the next canal, the barge sails onward.
It might be really fun to be the captain of a barge in these waterways!

As we walked along the opposite shore back to town, the Medieval glory of Moret-sur-Loing came into view once again.

Moret sur Loing cathedral view from river France_-min

Moret sur Loing.

In between taking photos, I came across a plaque that told the town’s history. The first date on the plaque describing the earliest recorded events in this place was 1045. Wow!!

That predates many of the ancient Indian ruins and rock art we see in the American West, and it is fairly close to the timeframe that the Mayans were building Palenque in Mexico and the Khmer at Ankor Wat in Cambodia were erecting their massive stone temples.

Cathedral Moret sur Loing France-min

The cathedral in Moret sur Loing.

We made our way back to Paris and decided to catch sunset at the Eiffel Tower. There is a huge plaza overlooking the Eiffel Tower where vendors sell all kinds of trinkets on blankets spread out in front of them.

Vendors at the Eiffel Tower Paris France-min

Vendors sell trinkets at the plaza overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

When the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair it was the tallest building in the world. The base of the tower is enormous!

Eiffel Tower Paris France-min

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Base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris France-min 2

The Eiffel Tower has a huge base.

As the golden hour just before sunset came, the gold leaf dome of Les Invalides where Napoleon is entombed glinted in the setting sun.

Sunset on Les Invalides Paris France-min

The golden dome of Les Invalides (site of Napoleon’s tomb) glows at sunset.

And then, as darkness fell, the Eiffel Tower lit up. How magical!!

Eiffel Tower lit up at night Paris France-min

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Paris is as enchanting by night as it is by day, and we walked around town late into the evening.

Hotel de Ville at night Paris France-min

Hotel de Ville and all the antique buildings of Paris are lit up beautifully at night.

The Seine River in Paris France at Night-min

The Seine River.

The banks of the Seine River are as full of people at night as they are during the daytime. What a fun surprise it was to come across a group of people dancing Argentine Tango right on the riverbanks.

Talk about romantic!!

Dancing on the Seine River Paris France-min

What could be more romantic that dancing under the stars on the banks of the Seine?

As we made our way back to the Metro, we passed Notre Dame cathedral. She was aglow with lights.

Notre Dame Cathedral at night Paris France-min

Notre Dame Cathedral.

And the river boats on the Seine kept plying the water long after dark.

Notre Dame Cathedral and river boats on the Seine River Paris France-min

Boats take tourists along the Seine past Notre Dame well into the night.

My visit to Paris was capped off in the most charming way I could possibly imagine. On our last ride on the Paris Metro, while standing in the aisle hanging onto a strap, I suddenly heard the sound of an accordion. I looked up to see a young man coming through the doors connecting the train cars. He stared right at me and smiled as he played a classic tune.

Oh my!

I grabbed my camera and threw it into video mode as fast as I could. What an absolutely perfect way to bid goodbye to an elegant and inviting city.

So, here it is — a 30 second video from an accordion player on the Metro along with the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower shimmering in the dark and dancers on the Seine:

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Buffalo Wyoming – Cowboys, Cowgirls and Sheriff Walt Longmire!

Buffalo, Wyoming, and the nearby Bighorn Mountains stole our hearts during our RV travels this summer, and we ended up sticking around for a while.

Fifth wheel trailer RV camping at sunset

A Wyoming sunset.

On our first day in Buffalo, we were astonished to find the streets were lined with throngs of really excited people. As we made our way through the mob, we noticed the cops were directing traffic at every intersection.

Something really big was happening. But what?

Soon we realized a parade was about to come through town. What perfect timing!

Longmire Days Parade Buffalo Wyoming Home of Longmire

We arrived in Buffalo, Wyoming, just in time to see a parade!

We watched the parade go by and gave each other quizzical looks as we tried to figure out why there would be a parade in this small town in the middle of July. The 4th of July was over, so this must be something else!

Longmire Days Parade Occidental Hotel Buffalo Wyoming

A band plays on a flat bed trailer as it passes the Occidental Hotel. What on earth was this parade for???

Suddenly a turquoise truck came by with a guy standing in the bed of the truck. A huge roar went up from the crowd, and the man waved at everyone. It was as if he were some kind of beloved celebrity.

The woman standing next to me saw I wanted to take a photo and eagerly stepped aside. “Go on!” she said urgently. “Push on out there and get his photo!”

Walt Longmire in Longmire Days Parade Buffalo Wyoming

A roar goes up from the crowd as this cowboy goes by in the back of a Bronco!

I got my shot and then asked — still confused — “Is that the mayor?”

She threw her head back and laughed. “No! Of course not!” She said. “That’s Walt Longmire!”

Sheriff Walt Longmire in parade at Buffalo Wyoming

Of course this isn’t the mayor.
This is the famous Sheriff Walt Longmire!

I stared at her blankly.

“You don’t know who Walt Longmire is?” She was clearly shocked at my ignorance. “Longmire is a huge TV show that’s really popular around here. That guy is the lead actor! The show takes place in this town, although it’s called Durant on TV rather than Buffalo.”

It turned out that we had arrived just in time for a special weekend celebration called Longmire Days when Buffalo, Wyoming, welcomes the cast from the Longmire TV series and also welcomes thousands of out-of-town guests who come from as far as California to see their beloved stars in person.

There is a store in town devoted to memorabilia from the show, and the store owners later told us it is really fun — and a bit funny — to watch these starstruck fans come from near and far to see the heroes of their series in person.

Longmire Headquarters Buffalo Wyoming

The Longmire TV show, developed from a local author’s book, depicts life in Buffalo, Wyoming, but calls the town “Durant, New Mexico.”

I’ve been starstruck by celebrities before too, so I totally understood. But I have to say that it is really hilarious when you have never heard of a TV show to run headlong into fan hysteria and the celebrities who are at the heart of it.

To me, this famous and adored actor (that women were truly going nuts for) just looked like a regular old cowboy standing in the back of a truck!

Then again, after a decade on the road, largely in the western states, I have become a huge John Wayne fan. We watch his old movies all the time. If I were to see John Wayne in person who knows what crazy hysterics I would fall prey to!

Ironically, it turned out I wasn’t the only John Wayne fan in Buffalo, Wyoming.

John Wayne T-shirt Buffalo Wyoming

I wasn’t the only avid John Wayne fan in town!

Buffalo, Wyoming, is home to about 4,600 people, and the heart of the town is a small grassy park called “Crazy Woman Park.”

The term Crazy Woman is popular in this area. There are both a creek and a canyon named “Crazy Woman” along with various business and shops. There are several legends behind the name, and they vary a bit, but each one references a woman (either white or Indian) who witnessed or was involved in a terrible tragedy that made her crazy. She lived out her days in a canyon not far from Buffalo.

Crazy Woman Park in Buffalo is decorated with several big, colorful murals that were commissioned in 2012 to show that Buffalo isn’t just a One Horse Town.

Horse mural and cowboy Buffalo Wyoming

Buffalo isn’t a One Horse (or One Cowboy) Town.

The murals were painted by Aaron and Jenny Wuerker. The first panel on the left depicts old black and white photos of cowboys around the turn of the century.

Old cowboys in "More than a One Horse Town' mural Buffalo Wyoming by Aaron Wuerker

Original cowboys in Buffalo way back when.

The next panel shows two cowboys chasing some horses across the prairie and bringing them into the town of Buffalo. This is definitely not a One Horse Town!

Horses on a mural Buffalo Wyoming by Aaron Wuerker and Jenny Wuerker

Cowboys chase horses across the prairie…

Horse mural Aaron Wuerker and Jenny Wuerker Buffalo Wyoming

…and into town.

The love of horses and the cowboy way of life and cattle ranching runs deep in Buffalo, and every week in the summertime there is a rodeo at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

We stopped by one afternoon and had a great time watching both kids and adults dash all over the place with their horses.

Rodeo queen Johnson County Fairgrounds Buffalo Wyoming

A Rodeo Queen flies past on her horse.

The little girls were just too cute for words. They were fearless as they galloped past, and nothing would stop them from going full speed ahead, even if their hats flew off!

Rodeo princess loses her hat Johnson Country Fairgrounds Buffalo Wyoming

Hats off to this rodeo princess!

Rodeo Princess Hats Off Johnson County Fairgrounds Buffalo Wyoming

Woops!

From the pretty Rodeo Queen to the most adorable and tiniest Rodeo Princess, we loved them all!

Little Rodeo princess Johnson Country Fairgrounds Buffalo Wyoming

There’s no such thing as being too young to ride a horse.
Eventually both the helmet and horse will fit!

But there were plenty of adult cowboys putting their horses through their paces too.

Johnson County Fairgrounds Rodeo Buffalo Wyoming

There was full grown adult rodeo action too.

But this cowboy stuff isn’t just for show.

While in town one day, I had the really good fortune to meet an old cowboy named Dick and spend some time talking to him and listening to his life story. He described growing up in the area, and he painted a vivid picture of what it was like to be a rancher in the 1950s and 60s.

“It is the best life for a young man,” he said wistfully. The outdoors, the wide open spaces and fresh air — he had loved it all.

He passed his love of the ranching life to his two sons, and with great pride he told the story of putting his boys in charge of moving a hundred head of cattle from one pasture to another when they were very young. He told them he would meet them at an appointed hour and place, and he expected them to be there — with the cows — when he arrived.

I had to smile imagining two boys on horseback urging the beasts across the fields with their promise to Dad and his expectations weighing on their shoulders.

Sure enough, he told me, when he pulled up in his truck at the spot where the kids were supposed to be, they were there along with all the cows. Not one single cow was missing.

Chatting with an old cowboy Buffalo Wyoming

Longtime Buffalo area resident, Dick, shared his life story with me and painted an enchanting image of life on the ranch in Buffalo fifty years back.

There was an oil boom in Wyoming right about that time, however, and the lure of a better income in the oil fields took him away from ranching. As the years went by, he rose in the company and eventually ended up as the General Manager with a desk job in town.

But once a cowboy always a cowboy.

Dick had come to town on this sunny summer day wearing his cowboy hat and carrying his leather ranching gloves in his back pocket.

As we talked about the vibrant nature of the town, its festivals, its artwork and the bronze sculptures we’d seen around town, his eyes misted over when he told me that a locally noted bronze sculptor had created a beautiful sculpture of him with his grandson holding a calf.

There’s a romance to the ranching life, but there’s reality too. During our stay in Buffalo, we were touched by a bit of both as we paid quite a few visits to the small shops and tourist boutiques in town.

Cowboy boots Buffalo Wyoming

Cowbgirl boots are available in every style!

Several shops had fantastic arrays of cowboy boots. The pink and bling cowboy boots we’d seen on the cowgirls at the rodeo were all available in town. Just pick your favorite!

There were also lots of cowboy hats for sale, and we had fun at the hat rack trying different ones on. There were also lots of rifles for sale, many of them vintage guns from a bygone era.

Cowboy hat and rifles Buffalo Wyoming

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In one particular shop called The Office, I was idly scoping out the pens and pads when I saw a notebook on the display rack titled “Beef Calving Record Book.”

Beef Calving book for sale in stationery store at The Office Buffalo Wyoming

How often do you find a Beef Calving Record Book in your local stationery store?!

I opened it up, and inside were columns marked Calf ID, Cow ID, Sire ID, Birth Date, Sex and various measurements and weights.

Was this for real?

I asked the store clerk, and she said that oh, yes, those little notebooks were very much for real and the store often ran out of them in the spring when the calves were being born!

How totally cool is that?!

In this crazy era of history when we can’t let our cell phones out of arm’s reach and laws are being passed in Hawaii to remind pedestrians to look up from their phones as they cross the street, ranchers in the small towns of Wyoming are still recording the vital stats of their newborn calves with pen and paper in specialty “rain proof” notebooks!

Beef Calving book in Buffalo Wyoming at The Office stationery store

These little “weather proof” notebooks are hot sellers during calving season!

It is this very simplicity — not that calving is in the least bit simple — but it is this very straight-forwardness and closeness to nature and life itself that makes the cowboy lifestyle so romantic and appealling.

Lots of folks come to Wyoming to spend some time on a dude ranch, riding windswept trails past picturesque snowcapped mountains so they can savor a whiff of a the cowboy life.

We were photographing the mountains one afternoon when a group of horseback riders appeared out of nowhere.

As we got chatting with them, we discovered the ranch owner was a native of the area, but his wife was German. Decades ago she had made a career in the tourism industry in Austria selling western American vacations to Austrians who wanted to get a taste of our Wild West.

She ended up getting a taste of the Wild West herself one year when she took a short term job on a ranch, and she fell in love not only with Wyoming but with a Wyoming rancher too. In no time she was married, had started a family, and was hosting German and Austrian visitors herself!

Horseback riders in Bighorn National Forest Bighorn Mountains

German speaking tourists from Austria and Germany enjoy a tour with local guide Claudia.

We heard a lively exchange of English mixed with German as she talked with her guests on their horses, and the huge grins on their faces said it all. They were loving their week in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains!

Back in 1879, just five years after the Custer Expedition into the nearby Black Hills, a fellow named Charles Buell pitched a tent alongside Clear Creek where the town of Buffalo stands today. Some miners coming out of the Black Hills who were loaded down with gold asked if they could bunk in his tent for a few nights and store their gold with him too.

Buell instantly realized that opportunity was knocking, and he decided that these miners would be his first customers at his brand new hotel, restaurant and bank! Within the year he had built a wooden hotel building.

Ten years later he was charging $2.50 a night to regular visitors from all over, and in the ensuing decades he hosted celebrities like Buffalo Bill Cody, Teddy Roosevent, General Crook and Calamity Jane.

Occidental Hotel Interior Buffalo Wyoming

When you dream, dream big!
The Occidental Hotel started as a tent by the creek!

By the early 1900’s the current brick building filled a full city block, and now, over a century later, people still stay in the rooms upstairs and enjoy live bluegrass music jams every week in the classic old western bar downstairs.

The hotel still stands right next to Clear Creek where Charles Buell pitched his tent nearly 140 years ago, and there’s a little dispenser on the bridge where you can get a handful of fish food to throw over to the fish swimming below.

Occidental Hotel Buffalo Wyoming home of Longmire

Kids throw fish food down to the fish below the bridge by the elegant Occidental Hotel.

Folks of all ages love to cast a fishing line off the bridge in downtown Buffalo, and one day as we walked by a young boy reeled in a really big fish. Wow!!

Proud kid with trophy fish Buffalo Wyoming

Nice catch!!!

Part of the Longmire Days celebration was an antique car show, and after the parade ended everyone wandered over to a nearby park where the cars were lined up on the grass and glistening in the sun.

1948 Chevrolet truck Buffalo Wyoming

A late 1940s era Chevrolet pickup truck — Sweet!

Since this is ranching country, a large number of the old vehicles were vintage pickup trucks.

We chatted with the owners, and in more cases than not we discovered that the truck we were admiring had been owned by Dad or Grandpa and had had a productive life on the family ranch before being lovingly restored and brought out to show off.

Antique truck at a car show in Buffalo Wyoming

An antique Ford pickup. Many of the trucks at the show had done decades of duty on nearby ranches.

Of course every ranch has dogs as well as trucks, and we spotted a particularly pretty dog in attendance.

Beautiful dog portrait

Sunset in the Bighorns.

We had loved our RV trip through eastern Wyoming where we visited the towns of Chugwater, Douglas, Newcastle and Sundance, but the town of Buffalo and the nearby Bighorn Mountains enchanted us.

Crepuscular rays of sunset Bighorn National Forest Wyoming

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Little did we know that first weekend that Longmire Days and the antique car show would be just the first of several delightful celebrations we’d enjoy on our RV trip to Buffalo, Wyoming!!

Sunset over an RV Bighorn National Forest Wyoming

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Buffalo Wyoming River Runs Through It mural seen on an RV trip to town

Allow a few days when you take your RV to Buffalo, Wyoming!

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Eastern Wyoming Small Towns – An RV Trip through Wyoming’s Quiet Side!

August 2017 – Our favorite places to travel are small towns tucked into rural areas across America, and during our RV trip through eastern Wyoming this summer we found some real charmers. These small rural towns were not only really scenic, but each one had a different flair.

Eastern Wyoming landscape scenery

Driving through eastern Wyoming was a sheer delight.

In all our years of traveling full-time we have been enchanted by many small towns. From Joseph, Oregon, to Eastport, Maine, to McCall and Sun Valley, Idaho, to Sedona and Oak Creek Village, Arizona, to our all time favorite, Maysville, Kentucky, we have loved getting to know what life in small town America is like.

Whenever we look at the map to choose our RV travel itinerary to get from one place to another, we always opt to drive the back roads and stop in the many small towns along the way.

RV trip on eastern Wyoming scenic roads

Eastern Wyoming landscapes…beautiful!

This year we chose a back roads route through eastern Wyoming that took us through several towns and villages (there’s a map in the reference section at the end of this post).

 

CHUGWATER, WYOMING

The first town, Chugwater, Wyoming, turned out to be a thriving metropolis that is home to all of 212 people! And its name is no accident. Recently, Chugwater was voted to have the best tasting water in all of Wyoming. So, in February 2018 the town will compete for that honor nationwide!

We were so busy tasting the various gourmet offerings at the Chugwater Chili tasting room, however, that we forgot to taste test the water in town. Next time!

Chugwater Wyoming Chugwater Chili Company

Chugwater Chili Corporation makes not only a fabulous chili powder but fantastic chili dip powders too!

Chugwater Chili is absolutely delicious, and we stocked up and have made several batches since we left. They also have a sweet chili pepper jelly that is divine with cream cheese and crackers, and a yummy chili pepper sour cream dip too. Oh my!!

Another fun stop in Chugwater was at the Chugwater Soda Fountain which has a true 1950s style soda fountain inside where we got an ice cream soda (Mark) and a root beer float (me)!

Chugwater Soda Fountain Chugwater Wyoming

Chugwater Soda Fountain is a great place to get a root beer float!

But what we love in villages like Chugwater is simply to walk the streets, because you just never know what you’ll find. When we rounded a bend, Mark suddenly said, “Look, it’s a serpent — or a dragon!” Sure enough, there was the undulating and scaly back of a serpent going through the grass!

Chugwater Wyoming Dragon in the grass sculpture

A serpent makes its way across the grass in Chugwater!

By late afternoon we figured we’d seen all there was to see in Chugwater when we suddenly heard music coming from a tiny covered stage in the town park. We hurried over and soon became spectators numbers 24 and 25 sitting in the grass and listening to a wonderful musical performance by the duo Davis and Mavrick.

They were playing pop hits from the 1950s to the 1990s, and the whole audience (including us) sang along with gusto. They invited a few people to join them up on stage for each song to play percussion, and before we knew it, Davis was pointing at us and inviting us to come up. Oh no!!

Then a trio of boys who had been riding their bikes in and around the park got stopped in their tracks and invited up too. One of the kids was a real ham bone, and we all just loved his antics.

Chugwater outdoor concert with Davis and Mavrick in Wyoming

All of a sudden we were up on stage with Davis and Mavrick along with a trio of very adorable boys who were snagged right off their bikes as they rode by!

 

DOUGLAS, WYOMING

Lots of towns have an artistic theme of some kind, and they often decorate their public space with sculptures highlighting their mascot. In Sarasota, Florida, we found the Tube Dude, and in Custer, South Dakota, we got a kick out of the life-size buffalo sculptures.

Douglas, Wyoming, is into the Jackalope, an unusual animal that is part desert jack rabbit and part pronghorn antelope. Westerners love to tease easterners on their first visit out west by asking if they’ve seen a jackalope yet in their travels and describing what it looks like.

Jackalope Square in Douglas Wyoming

Douglas, Wyoming, is home of the Jackalope!

Jackalopes are fictitious, of course, but that doesn’t stop folks from trying to trip up their friends with a good natured jest.

Douglas Wyoming Jackalope sculpture in city park

Have you seen a jackalope lately?

Jackalope park bench Douglas Wyoming

We even found jackalopes on the park benches in Douglas!

Small towns also tend to have lots of celebrations, especially in the summer months, and we always enjoy these gatherings, especially if we accidentally stumble onto them without knowing anything about them ahead of time.

In July, we just happened to be in Douglas on the day of the Knight Kruiser’s Car Show where we saw a wonderful display of antique cars from old Model A’s to woodies to muscle cars and more.

Douglas Knight Kruiser's car show in Wyoming

Knight Kruiser’s Car Show was a great display of antique cars from all eras.

Knight Kruiser’s Car Show in Douglas Wyoming in front of Princess Theater

Cars lined up in front of the old Princess movie theater transport us to the past!

While we admired the classic cars filling the town streets, I glanced at the store fronts and the names of the shops behind them. Not far from the old fashioned movie theater there was a small sewing shop called The Prairie Stitcher. The big mall stores Joann and Michaels have their place elsewhere, but you don’t find them here on the main drag in Douglas, Wyoming!

The Prairie Sticher Sewing Shop Douglas Wyoming

We love finding small, one-of-a-kind shops where you park right out front and can meet the owner inside.

 

NEWCASTLE, WYOMING

Another town with a fun theme is Newcastle, Wyoming, where we found every street corner was adorned with an American flag made from an old wooden pallet. The designs were very creative and a lot of fun.

Wooden pallet American flag Newcastle Wyoming

Newcastle, Wyoming, had wooden pallet American flags on every corner!

American flag made from a wooden palette Newcastle Wyoming_

What a neat idea!

Rather than having conventional parking meters on the public parking spaces, Newcastle has little horse heads with loops. If you ride your horse to town, it’s easy to find a good place to tie him up!

Horse head hitching post Newcastle Wyoming

Parking meters in Newcastle? Nope! Just some very slick hitching posts!

I’ve written before that one of the best ways to get to know a town is to get a haircut at a local barber shop or hair salon because you are guaranteed a lively 20 to 30 minutes of conversation with the stylist. We often find that we learn a lot of little things about the area that we might not otherwise discover.

During our cruise in Mexico I gained some really heartwarming insight into Mexican culture while getting a haircut, and our visit to Newcastle, Wyoming, offered the same opportunity.

Besides a wonderful conversation with the barber, who had moved back to his hometown after some years away, Mark got a true straight blade shave as well. How many places offer that?

Haircut and straight blade razor shave in Newcastle Wyoming

Mark gets a haircut and a straight blade shave in Newcastle… fun!

 

SUNDANCE, WYOMING

Sundance, Wyoming, also has a creative western mascot theme — the cowboy boot! We saw just two in town, but what a neat idea.

Sundance Wyoming Cowboy Boot sculpture

We found colorful cowboy boots in Sundance, Wyoming

We were in Sundance during the famous nearby Sturgis Motorcycle Rally week, and the crowds of motorcycles in town were thick. There’s a Harley-Davidson dealer in Sundance, so lots of the bikers were stopping by to get repairs or souvenir gear.

One rider in particular had just gotten himself a pair of very cool motorcycle goggles.

Motorcycle riding dog at Harley-Davidson of Sundance Wyoming

Ready to ride…

Talking with the locals and getting to know them a bit is our favorite aspect of traveling, and finding common bonds is often very easy. Sometimes we find that our cameras help break the ice.

Sharing a photo with a special friend

Mark shares pics with a new buddy in Wyoming.

 

BUFFALO, WYOMING

Shortly after our very enjoyable stay in Custer, South Dakota, Buffalo, Wyoming, stole our hearts. Buffalo is extraordinarily warm and hospitable, and we soon learned that there is something special going on there almost every weekend all summer long.

Buffalo Wyoming downtown mural on brick building

Buffalo, Wyoming, has some wonderful murals on its buildings and some unique summertime festivals too.

We’ll be sharing a few tales from Buffalo, Wyoming, soon, but we wanted to urge RVers to check out these special eastern Wyoming towns as you make your way to or from the Black Hills or the Big Horn Mountains, especially if you’re headed to the area to view the upcoming eclipse!

RV boondocking in rural Wyoming mountains

On your next RV trip to Wyoming, check out the small towns on the eastern side of the state!

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Custer South Dakota Highlights on an RV Trip

July 2017 – We loved our stay in South Dakota’s Black Hills, and this plaque we found hanging on a wall in a restaurant says it perfectly:

RV Vacation in the Black Hills with an RV or travel trailer

Yes, definitely do!

The cute town of Custer is in the heart of the Black Hills, and one of the things that charmed us is that it is decorated with a slew of brightly painted life-size sculptures of buffalo. We found these fun creatures roaming all over town!

Buffalo statue Custer South Dakota

Life-size buffalo sculptures stand in front of businesses and homes all over town.

We had fun finding these guys and posing with them!

Buffalo statue Custer South Dakota

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Of course, the real ones are close by in Custer State Park too.

Buffalo with bird on his back Custer South Dakota

A bird catches a ride on the real thing!

We visited the town of Custer quite a few times, and each time we stopped at Calamity Jane’s for a fancy fluffy latte. This is a great little espresso shop and wine tasting bar that does a brisk business.

For decades the owners, Jim and Deb, ran a camera shop in this location, but with the advent of the cell phone camera age and tourists who love espresso and wine, they’ve switched gears and created a very friendly place to hang out a while!

Calamity Jane Wine Bar and Coffee Shop South Dakota

Mark jokes around with Jim, the owner of the Calamity Jane Wine & Espresso shop.

Calamity Jane Coffee Shop Custer South Dakota

Coffee is up front. The wine is in the back!

A little sign on the floor of Calamity Jane’s says “Go ride a bike!” and we followed that advice and headed out on the Mickelson Trail one day. This is a wonderful rails-to-trails crushed gravel path that goes on for 109 miles. The town of Custer situated near the middle of the trail.

Go Ride a Bike Custer South Dakota

Good advice!

Mickelson Trail Custer South Dakota

The 109 mile long Mickelson Trail is a wonderful rails-to-trails path through the Black Hills.

We did out-and-back bike rides in each direction from town and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. The Black Hills are filled with fabulous pinnacle rock formations, and we passed a few beauties while riding the Mickelson Trail.

Scenery on the Mickelson Trail Custer South Dakota

One of the signatures of Black Hills landscapes is pinnacle rock formations jutting up out of the earth.

Rock formations Custer South Dakota

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The Black Hills region was one of the last areas to be explored in the 19th century, and in 1874 Lieutenant Colonel George Custer arrived with his expedition to check out the area. This expedition has given us much pause for thought.

In our travels, Mark and I roam around the country in our cozy little fully self-contained luxury fifth wheel trailer. We travel easily at 65 mph, enjoy hot and cold running water, refrigerated meats and fish from every corner of the continent and veggies from all over the world.

Our barbecue, stove, oven and microwave stand ready to cook a meal at a moment’s notice, and our rolling home’s climate control gives us ample heat and air conditioning in all conditions. Most astonishing of all, we have 24/7 instantaneous access to much of the world’s populace via the internet.

Traveling effortlessly in this kind of style makes it very hard for us to fathom such a primitive expedition as Custer’s was, even though it took place less than 150 years ago, not even twice our parents’ age.

Custer undertook this expedition into the Black Hills 70 years after Lewis and Clarke did their cross-country trek to the west coast. Not only were there were well over 1,000 men in Custer’s group, they brought along 2,100 horses, 110 wagons, a herd of cattle for food (most of which returned home with them because the group found plenty of game along the way), plus surveyors, engineers, geologists, a photographer and a media crew of five newspaper reporters.

The whole caravan stretched out for over two miles when they were traveling!

Welcome to Custer South Dakota

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The expedition went from the current location of Bismarck, North Dakota, to the Black Hills and back, and lasted from July 2nd to August 30th, 1874. Custer discovered gold in the Black Hills as well as bountiful wildflowers and animals aplenty.

In 2000, a local photographer went around and took photos that matched the locations of where Custer’s photographer, William Illingworth, took his. There is a comparison photo on a plaque on the Mickelson Trail that brings the expedition to life. The scenery hasn’t changed much, but it was remarkable to stand in the spot where Custer’s photographer stood 143 years ago when the Black Hills were known only to the Indians who called them home.

It didn’t take long for prospectors to head to the Black Hills once they heard about the gold discovery. Just two months after Custer’s expedition was completed, a group set up camp near the modern day town of Custer.

However, it was illegal for them to be there, because the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie gave the region to the Plains Indians and prohibited white settlement. So, they built a stockade for protection but were evicted five months later by the US Cavalry.

The Stockade Custer South Dakota

The Gordon Stockade protected a small band of gold prospectors…but they were there illegally!

This was the wild west, of course, and on another day while we were mountain biking on a trail in the woods, we came across a sign that told of the fate of one murderous Billy Fowler. Yikes!

Frontier Justice sign Custer South Dakota

In the old days folks took matters into their own hands.

Pretty Stockade Lake is right next to the Gordon Stockade, and we wandered along the road that lines the shore taking photos near sunset one day.

Stockade Lake Custer South Dakota

Beautiful Stockade Lake is between the town of Custer and Custer State Park.

It was the new moon, and Mark returned to the lake in the darkest hours of the night to catch the Milky Way reflecting in the water. His photos were sensational and were well worth the near all-nighter that it took for him to get them.

Milky Way at Stockade Lake Custer South Dakota

The Milky Way is mirrored in Stockade Lake.


Milky Way at Stockade Lake Custer South Dakota

It was worth getting up in the dark to capture these images!

I was happily snoozing away under the blankets back at the trailer while Mark was out having fun in the dark that night. As he drove down the main drag in Custer he found it was utterly deserted. So, he set up his tripod right in the middle of the street and got a neat shot of the city lights.

Custer South Dakota at night

The town of Custer is so quiet at night you can do a long exposure on a tripod in the middle of the main drag.

Custer has many charms, and one of the big highlights for us was a stop at the Purple Pie Place. The pies here are out of this world, and we joined the throng of happy customers who were savoring scrumptious slices of blueberry(yum!), strawberry rhubarb (double yum!) and apple pies (all American yum!).

Purple Pie Place Custer South Dakota

The Purple Pie Place makes AWESOME pies!

As we wandered the streets of Custer, I looked down to see an odd collection of painted rocks right by the sidewalk. I looked a little closer and saw a small sign next to them that said, “The Kindness Rock Project.” I picked up a rock and looked it over. Just then a woman came over and said, “Keep it!”

Kindness Rock Project Custer South Dakota

A school counselor’s ingenious idea — a Kindness Rock Project.
Pick up a rock that speaks to you and share it with a friend. Leave one if the spirit moves you.

She went on to explain that she was a school counselor and that this project had been her idea. The kids painted the rocks, and the idea was to spread a little bit of joy with the townsfolk and with the many tourists who came to visit the town.

How cool is that?!

It reminded me of the fantastic walls lined with hand tiles that the students in Maysville, Kentucky, had created in the tunnel through their flood wall. Creative teachers and counselors who dream up these projects give a priceless gift to their communities.

Custer has a wonderful vibe, and we thoroughly enjoyed our 4th of July there. Down at the VFW Hall we got a huge kick out of the American flag mural that decorates the entire front of the building.

Americn flag VFW Hall Custer South Dakota

The entire front wall of the VFW Hall is a vivid American flag!

Inside, we found another clever idea. A small crate filled with little plastic toy soldiers was on a shelf, and a small sign on the crate said, “Please take a soldier home and place it somewhere that will remind you to pray for those who serve our country.”

Love it!

We took one and now have it on one of our window sills.

Toy soldiers to take home VFW Hall Custer South Dakota

Inside the VFW hall we found another clever idea: take a toy soldier home and put it in a place where you’ll be reminded to give thanks for the real ones serving in the war torn parts of the world.

There is a ton to see and do in the Black Hills, and one day we set out to drive the Needles Highway which twists and turns through some of the most dramatic scenery in the area. We had driven this beautiful road on our previous visit to the area ten years prior, and had been able to sneak through all of the very narrow tunnels in our old truck.

We knew our new truck would theoretically make it through the tunnels with an inch or two to spare on either side. After all, tour buses take groups through these tunnels all day every day. But it looked awfully skinny, so we turned around and saved the drive for another time.

Iron Creek Tunnel Custer State Park South Dakota

Threading the needle with a dually at Iron Creek Tunnel on the Needles Highway…or not!

There are many ways to enjoy the Black Hills. We saw kayaks ready to go on a lake and we came across lots of people on horseback too.

Kayaks at a lake in South Dakota

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Horse riders Custer South Dakota

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Zipping around in a Corvette Stingray is an awesome way to enjoy the many scenic drives around Custer, and bringing a side-by-side in a toy hauler is another great way to go.

Corvette Stingray and RV Toyhauler Custer South Dakota

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We saw a ton of RVs cruising through town, and there are both private and state park campgrounds to choose from too.

Travel trailer drives by Custer Historical Museum Custer South Dakota RV trip_

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There are loads of things to do in the Black Hills, and as is so often the case, we didn’t manage to “do it all” before our time in Custer came to a close. Oh well. Now we have a great excuse to go back!

RV trip to Custer South Dakota

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McCall, Idaho – Summer Beach Fun on Pretty Payette Lake

July-August 2016 – McCall, Idaho, is perched right on the edge of beautiful Payette Lake, and in the summertime it is a wonderful waterfront beach town if there ever was one. What a great destination for an RV trip!

Payette Lake shore near Legacy Park McCall Idaho

McCall, Idaho, is a fantastic beach town!!

Even though McCall sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the temps in August were toasty warm and everyone was enjoying cooling off at the waterfront beach parks. What a beautiful setting!

Jet skis on the beach McCall Idaho

A rainbow of jet skis ready for action.

Beach umbrellas McCall Idaho Payette Lake

A nice spot to unwind for a while!

Kids were everywhere, and they were just loving the town beach. Two little boys were standing in the water blowing bubbles and two little girls up on the beach were trying to catch them.

Beach at Legacy Park McCall Idaho Payette Lake

Kids blow bubbles on the beach.

A little ways down the beach a little girl was playing with a wagon.

Playing on the beach McCall Idaho

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Boats were lined up at the docks, and there was a steady stream of boaters heading out onto the lake.

Payette Lake Sports and Marina McCall Idaho

Bikes and boats – what could be more fun?!

The main street of McCall is very cute with historic buildings wedged together cheek-by-jowel. For those that want to cool off without going swimming, we found a skating rink just a few doors down with sessions that are open to the public.

Historic buildings downtown McCall Idaho

The main drag, just in from the beach, has some classic old buildings.

We made our way to Mountain Java on many mornings, sipping a tasty cuppa joe while sitting in the colorful Adirondack chairs that fill the lawn in front of the Mountain Monkey Business store and look out onto Payette Lake.

This was a wonderful way to start the morning, and we met both locals and tourists alike while kicking back and savoring the view and a brew.

Mountain Monkey Business and Mountain Java McCall Idaho

These colorful chairs on a lawn overlooking the lake became our morning hangout!

By a stroke of very good luck, we happened to be in town during the Antique and Classic Boat Show at the elegant Shore Lodge on the edge of Payette Lake. What a fabulous display of lovingly varnished boats from yesteryear!

Antique wooden boat show Shore Lodge McCall Idaho Payette Lake

What good fortune to be in town on the weekend of the Antique and Classic Boat Show!

These gorgeous boats were known as “lakers” in their day, because they were specifically designed for happy boating days on fresh water lakes. Their meticulously varnished and gleaming woodwork wouldn’t hold up to the salt water of the ocean.

Cockpit of classic wooden boat Payette Lake McCall Idaho

I could handle a day on the lake in a classy boat like this!!

I can just imagine spending a day on the water in one of these, complete with lunch at anchor in some secluded cove on the lake.

Antique and classic boat show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Let’s go for a ride!!

These boats have a lot of get-up-and-go too, and many of them have been upgraded with modern engines that have even more zip. The owners of these classic boats just love them and love talking about them too.

Antique and classic boat show Payette Lake Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

This boat won Best in Show. No wonder the owner is grinning!!

Whenever one fired up its engine, a little crowd would form around the boat to listen to the engine purr and to find out where the owner had purchased the boat, what its history was, and what he had done to refurbish it to its former glory.

There’s nothing like a classic yacht, and last year during our travels in Maine, we took a fabulous factory tour of Hinckley Yachts, a boat builder that has morphed from producing stunning sailing yachts to zippy, luxurious powerboats.

Antique and Classic Boat Show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Some of the boats went out for a spin while small crowds watched from the dock.

The boats here in McCall, Idaho, were a lot smaller than the Hinckleys in Maine, but their owners got just as much pleasure from taking them out for a spin. Every time someone began untying the dock lines and shoved off into water, there was a murmur of oohs and aahs from the rest of us watching in envy from the dock.

The setting for this fabulous boat show was the equally fabulous Shore Lodge, a high end resort hotel that presides over one end of McCall’s lakefront.

Welcome to the Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Welcome to the Shore Lodge… Come on in!!

We wandered through the elegant Shore Lodge and explored its many nooks and crannies. It dates back to 1948 and has many refined touches of an earlier age.

Shore Lodge dining room etched glass sign McCall idaho

The historic Shore Lodge is a very elegant hotel right on Payette Lake.

The dining room has a breathtaking view of the docks below and all of Payette Lake and the distant mountains too. For those that needed a break from walking between the antique wooden boats, this was a great place for a bite to eat with a bird’s eye view of the goings-on.

Waterfront dining Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Enjoy a fine meal while watching the boat show out on the docks!

McCall, Idaho, has a lot more to offer than just beach and boating fun, though. We found some fantastic mountain biking trails west of town near Brundage Mountain, and we enjoyed a beautiful bike ride through Ponderosa State Park which is located on a peninsula that juts out into Payette Lake on the east side of town.

Mountain Biking Brundage Mountain McCall Idaho

We found lots of mountain biking trails and dirt roads on both sides of town.

Flowers

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One day we took a drive down Highway 55 to do some exploring south of McCall. We came across the historic town of Roseberry which was settled by a few Finnish families in the 1800’s.

Roseberry Idaho historic Finnish settlement

Roseberry, Idaho, was settled by Finns and is an interesting townsite today.

The whole area is now a museum that honors those rugged settlers and offers a peek into their lives.

Antique cabin Finnish settlement Roseberry Idaho

Finns had unique log cabin construction techniques that they brought to the New World.

There are some old log cabins that the families lived in as well as a fun town site with a general store, church, school, barn and other neat buildings.

Inside a cabin Roseberry Idaho Finnish historic settlement

And we think RV living is simple!

The town of Roseberry had its hey day in the early 1900’s, boasting a hotel, two black smith shops , a butcher shop, logging mill, creamery and restaurant. However, ten years later, the Pacific, Idaho and Northern Railroad line came through about 2 miles west of town, and Roseberry wilted while the bustling town of Donnelly right on the railroad tracks thrived.

Amazingly, lots of Roseberry people moved their homes and shops over to Donnelly to take advantage of the boom there, transporting their buildings by wagon! It’s hard to imagine that kind of boom and exodus today, especially given the easily driven luxury homes we RVers get to live in.

Historic Roseberry Idaho

Wandering around Roseberry, Idaho, made for an enjoyable afternoon.

Down at Lake Cascade, next to the town of Cascade, we found several campgrounds along the shoreline. RVers, boaters and fishermen were enjoying these lakeside campsites. We didn’t stay, but what a great spot to camp!

Truck camper and boat at Lake Cascade Idaho

Payette Lake isn’t the only game in town.Lake Cascade a few miles south is very beautiful and quiet too!

Back in McCall, we enjoyed some moonless nights, and one evening Mark snuck out with his new 12 mm fish eye lens to catch the Milky Way straight up overhead. This made a very cool effect!

Milky Way above the trees McCall Idaho

The Milky Way crosses the heavens high above us while a shooting star zips by.

If you are looking for a wonderful area for an RV trip in the heat of the summer, McCall, Idsho, is a very fun beach town. There are more links to help you plan your travels below.

RV camping in McCall Idaho

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Here’s a little more info about McCall, Payette Lake, Roseberry, etc:

Some related posts from our Idaho and the NW Montana / Idaho Panhandle RV travels:

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    An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall

    July 2016 – After a truly stunning few weeks in northern Montana — from adventures on the east side of Glacier National Park to learning about the unique history of Libby, Montana, and photographing the special wildlife and unique giant trees nearby — we took our RV on Idaho’s scenic back roads in the panhandle southbound from Sandpoint through Moscow to McCall.

    RV on a river in Idaho

    On the back roads of Idaho

    The summer was really heating up in northern Idaho, and when we arrived in Sandpoint, on the shores of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, we were delighted to find that the small town of Sandpoint transforms into a beach town when the temps climb over 80 degrees.

    Sandpoint City Beach Park in Idaho

    Sandpoint City Beach Park on Lake Pend Oreille

    The small town hugs the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille, and people were taking full advantage of the summer sun to get out on the lake in anything that floated, from boats to kayaks to stand-up paddleboards.

    Standup paddle boards Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint idaho has lots of summertime action on the lake.

    We discovered the wonderful Pend Oreille Bay Trail that runs along the water’s edge. This biking and hiking path offers both brief glimpses of the lake through the trees and open sweeping views.

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail Sandpoint Idaho

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail

    The trail is wonderfully shaded for much of its length and is a joy to walk, run or ride at any time of day.

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail bike path and running trail Sandpoint Idaho

    This shaded path goes right along the shoreline.

    There are paved bike paths all around Sandpoint City Beach Park too, and we rode everywhere.

    Riding the bicycle path in Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint has bike paths all over the place.

    Sandpoint, Idaho, is such a bike friendly town, we even found a colorful sculpture celebrating two wheeled transport.

    Bike sculpture Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint is a two-wheeler town!

    One day we spotted a van with bicycles on the roof. It turned out to be the famous PAC Tour, a challenging cross-country bicycle tour that puts even the hardiest cyclists to the test.

    Pac Tour cross-country bicycle tour in Sandpoint Idaho

    We bumped into the PAC Tour in Sandpoint!

    Their route travels from west to east and takes a little over 30 days. The cyclists were still fresh, as it was only Day 5. They had barely hit the big western mountains and were still a week away from the daylong 130 mile slogs across the flatter plains states. Kudos to all of them for taking on this huge athletic challenge!

    PAC Tour cross-country bicycle tour route for 2016

    These energetic cyclists had just started and had a long ways to go…

    The town of Sandpoint is very cute, and we enjoyed walking around the historic district. At one end of town we found the Libation District which has both brewpubs and a winery on both sides of the street. No shortage of fun there!!

    At the other end of town we found Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters where we got a peak at all of their coffee roasting equipment. For lovers of dark, rich coffee, their Guatemalan roast is really yummy. We took home a bag!!

    Evans Brothers Coffee Raosters Sandpoint Idaho

    Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters makes delicious coffee!

    We later discovered that they won 3rd place in the America’s Best Coffeehouse competition at the 2015 Coffee Fest Portland!!

    Just a few blocks away, we were very surprised to find the Litehouse Bleu Cheese factory where the popular salad dressing is made.

    Litehouse Bleu Cheese Factory Sandpoint Idaho

    Litehouse Bleu Cheese salad dressing is made here!

    But Lake Pend Oreille was the real focal point of our time in Sandpoint. One day we decided to get a view of it from high above. Locals suggested we take a drive up Schweitzer Mountain, a nearby ski resort.

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort Sandpoint Idaho

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort is on a nearby mountain overlooking the lake.

    The view from up there was wonderful!

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort view of Lake Pend Oreille Sandpoint Idaho

    What a view — Sandpoint tucked up against Lake Pend Oreille!

    After a week in Sandpoint we meandered south a little further and bumped into the cute town of Moscow. Instead of finding the grand turrets of Red Square, we discovered a lovely shaded main street that is lined with all kinds of boutiques and tempting eateries.

    Downtown Moscow Idaho streets

    Tiny Moscow, Idaho, has a cute downtown area.

    A fun paved bike path passes through Moscow, and we jumped on the Latah Trail to ride through the farmlands out to the village of Troy about 11 miles east.

    Latah Bike Path from Moscow Idaho to Troy Idaho

    Lovely rolling farmland on the Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy, Idaho.

    Much of this pretty trail goes through open land with views across rolling hills covered with pastures and farm fields.

    Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy Idaho

    The Latah Trail goes through pretty farmland.

    After a few hours of riding on the bike path, we returned to Moscow and stopped in at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub. We got there shortly after the noon hour, perfect timing for a brew…either coffee or beer!!

    Bucer's Coffeehouse and Pub in Moscow Idaho

    We stopped for brews at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub — coffee for me and beer for Mark!

    Continuing our journey south along Idaho’s pretty US-95, we passed lots more farmland with hay bales spread across the fields and farmhouses looking very quaint in the summer sun.

    Farmland in western Idaho panhandle

    The drive on US-95 was as lovely as the small towns along the way.

    Motorhome among hay bales in Idaho

    We passed some beautiful rural scenery.

    The Little Salmon River accompanied us on our drive, and we had to stop a few times to get photos as we passed through a wonderful canyon.

    Idaho scenery Little Salmon River

    The Little Salmon River ran alongside us the whole way.

    We had never thought of Idaho as being home to vibrant beach towns, but when we arrived in McCall, we discovered that, just like Sandpoint, the whole town was out in force soaking up the rays at the town beach.

    Sunbathers were lying on beach towels, and people were swimming and playing in the water, eating ice cream cones while strolling the paths by the water’s edge, and fooling around on boats and jet skis on pretty Payette Lake.

    We loved the vibe of McCall so much that we stuck around for two weeks!!

    Legacy Park on the beach in McCall Idaho

    What a great surprise to find another sweet little Idaho beach town in McCall!

    If you are taking your RV on a north-south route through Idaho, Route 95 makes for a very scenic and enjoyable drive. There are some links with more info below.

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    Info about Sandpoint, Moscow and McCall, Idaho:

    Other blog posts from our RV travels in NW Montana and Idaho’s Panhandle:

    Scenic Drives for RV Touring in Idaho:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    Sedona, Arizona – Great Beer, Coffee, Red Rocks & Psychics!

    March 2016 – When we brought our RV to Sedona, Arizona, even though we had been there many times before, we still hung our heads out the windows of the truck saying, “omg omg omg OMG!!!” We’d forgotten just how stunning the towering red rocks cliffs are.

    RV travel to Sedona Arizona red rock country

    Driving into town, we were totally awed by the red rock scenery.

    We were utterly mesmerized as the road carved beautiful sweeping turns through these monoliths. We just drove around for a while, taking it all in, and marveling at the views out the windows.

    RV road trip and scenic drive Sedona Arizona

    Anywhere you drive in Sedona, the landscapes are breathtaking.

    RV adventure in Sedona Arizona and scenic drives

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    White flowering trees were in bloom all around town too. What a great combination these made with those incredible cliffs behind!

    Sedona Arizona red rocks and flowers

    White flowering trees were in bloom.

    Sedona Arizona rock cliffs and white flowers

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    Sedona is a funny mix of dramatic natural landscapes, upscale trendy shops, and outdoor pursuits, all overlaid with a mystical, New Age flair. The Hyatt Regency has a fancy resort hotel in the middle of it all, while the main drag is dotted with psychic readers, mountain bike shops, art galleries, hiking stores, elegant bistros and souvenir shops.

    Restaurants Galleries Shops Sedona Arizona

    For many, Sedona is all about shopping, artsy stuff, and eating great food.

    It is a vacation playground for people from “The Valley of the Sun” (Phoenix) about 100 miles away. Bustling shops selling homemade ice cream cones are lined up against a breathtaking backdrop of bright orange cliffs where tourists go on joy ride jeep tours into the rugged pink and orange desert landscapes.

    Uptown Sedona Arizona

    Gorgeous natural landscapes beckon just outside of town.

    And every few minutes a snazzy sports car or vintage car rolls by.

    Sports car in Sedona Arizona town center

    Some folks travel here in style.

    Fancy vintage car in Sedona Arizona

    Exotic car sightings are the norm in Sedona.

    It’s a fabulous town to stroll around, and we love the sculptures that grace the sidewalks.

    Horse statue Sedona Arizona

    Sedona is an artsy town with creative sculptures decorating the sidewalks.

    Sedona Arizona T-shirts

    No problem finding a souvenir t-shirt in this town!

    The town was founded in 1902, and camera buffs have been stopping in at Rollie’s Camera Shop for camera gear and supplies since it opened in 1961. We dropped by three times to visit our friend Tom Kelly who works there and also sells his beautiful photographs.

    How funny it was when a pair of tourists came into the shop to buy film. “Fuji Film or Kodachrome?” Tom asked them. They took the Fuji Film, but gosh, I never thought I’d hear those words again!

    Rollies Camera Sedona Arizona

    The back door of Rollies Camera where photographers have bought gear since 1961.

    Of course, part of vacationing in a place like Sedona is relaxing with a glass of wine or a good microbrew beer after the sun has crested its peak in the sky. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, though, and partiers occasionally wind up regretting last night’s wild party the next morning. We passed a hilarious sign showing a fish that…well… drinks like a fish…

    Murphy's Country Store Sedona Arizona

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    And where do you find the biggest selection of beer — at the best prices — in this oh-so-trendy and pricey town? At the Chevron station in the Village of Oak Creek!

    Really!!

    They have shelves and shelves of unusual microbrew beers, all at very modest prices, and best of all, you can build your own six pack. On Thursdays they knock even more off the price of the build-your-own-six-packs. So, if you plan your week out right, Thursday is the day to go stock up on beer.

    At Chevron!

    Chevron Station Village of Oak Creek Sedona Arizona

    This place has the best selection of craft beer (and at the best prices) in town!

    Why does a gas station have the best beer selection in a fancy dancy town like Sedona? Because it’s run by a very cool guy. Tony Pugliano is a young, entrepreneurial mountain biker who owns not just this Chevron but a 76 station over in Cottonwood too. His gas station in Cottonwood is even better. It has craft beers on tap!!

    Now that’s the way to bring customers in and make them happy at your gas station!

    We met Tony two years ago when we brought our RV to Sedona, and this year, while stopping at the Sedona Bike and Bean bike shop to get a part for Mark’s mountain bike, who walked in but Tony! He was picking up some parts for his bike too.

    Sedona Bike and Bean Sedona Arizona

    Mark recognized Tony at Sedona Bike & Bean right away. What a perfect place to run into each other!

    While we chatted, I got a latte. And why not? This bike shop is the Sedona Bike and Bean, afterall. When you walk in the front door of the shop, the first thing you notice — before the bikes, and bike jerseys and bike repair stands — is the huge coffee bar where you can order any kind of fancy coffee drink you can imagine.

    That’s the way Sedona is. It is a haven for lovers of gourmet coffee, great beer, and the outdoors. If you are clairvoyant and/or rich, you’ll fit right in too!

    Gypsy Jenny's Sedona Arizona

    Sedona is a great place for reflections — in store windows and introspectively too!

    Another fun place to go for a beer is at the Oak Creek Brewery. The brew master was busy making one of our all time favorite beers when we stopped by, their Nut Brown Ale.

    Oak Creek Brewing Company Sedona Arizona

    The Nut Brown Ale is as fresh as it can be at the Oak Creek Brewery in Sedona.

    When we cruised out of Sedona to the west, we found even more stunning scenery.

    Red rock scenery in West Sedona Arizona

    Even under cloudy skies, the scenic drives in West Sedona are jaw-droppers.

    Pink Jeep West Sedona Arizona

    Pink Jeep Tours are everywhere. What a fun way to get into the more rugged areas out of town.

    The red rocks and towering mountains just don’t quit!

    West Sedona Arizona scenic drives in the red rocks

    Sedona is in the heart of Arizona’s red rock country!

    Sedona is an awesome place for RVers to settle in for a week or two.

    Truck and fifth wheel trailer RV at sunset

    Mark catches a pink sunset over our truck.

    If you have a hankering for an RV roadtrip to red rock country, Sedona is one gorgeous spot, and the climate is ideal in spring and fall! There are more tips and links and info about Sedona below.

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    Maysville, Kentucky – Come for the History, Stay for the People!

    September 2015 – After a delightful two weeks in the New York Finger Lakes, our RV travels took us south through Pennsylvania and Ohio until we found ourselves on the shores of the Ohio River, staring at a very cute town on the opposite river bank in Kentucky. There were church steeples and old brick buildings, and it looked very appealing. What was this place?

    Maysville Kentucky seen from Aberdeen Ohio on the Ohio River

    Looking across the Ohio River from Aberdeen. The town on the other side sure looks cute!

    As night fell, the town on the other side became even more alluring. The suspension bridge that spanned the Ohio River was lit up, and the city lights from the town across the way were reflected in the water.

    Maysville Kentucky on the Ohio River at Night

    Wow!

    Maysville Kentucky at Night Ohio River reflections

    That town over there sure is cool, day or night!

    The next morning we just had to go check this place out, so we headed across the bridge.

    Driving over the Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge Maysville KY

    .

    We had looked the place up on the map and found out it was Maysville, Kentucky, a town loaded with history. As we looked out over it now the town seemed to sparkle in the morning sun.

    Maysville Kentucky sparkles in the morning sun

    .

    We hopped out of the truck and were soon prowling around town down by the river. We came across a huge sign painted on a towering concrete wall welcoming us to Maysville. This wasn’t just any old ordinary “Welcome to Town” sign. For one thing, it was enormous. For another, it had an orange butterfly in the corner. We would soon discover that this cheerful little guy was much like the spirit of Maysville.

    Welcome to Maysville

    What a warm welcome.

    As we walked back up into town and looked around we were charmed. We seemed to have landed in the heart of the historic district of Maysville, and everywhere we turned the buildings were all different colors.

    Streets of Maysville Kentucky and Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge

    Multi-colored buildings stand against the ever-present backdrop of the Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge.

    We wandered up Market Street where there was a fountain bubbling in the middle of the street.

    Maysville Kentucky Market Street

    The center of Market Street boasts a pretty fountain.

    Down at our feet we found cool wavy patterns of brick.

    Brick streets Maysville Kentucky

    The streets are brick — how fun!

    The buildings around us were downright jaunty. No two were alike. Tall, short, wide, skinny, they all stood together, wonderfully mismatched yet cozy and congenial.

    Historic buildings Market Street Maysville KY

    The pretty buildings are all different colors AND all different sizes!

    Looking more closely at one building, we noticed that even the windows were free spirited and jovial. None of the lines were square and each window stood at an angle.

    Angled windows

    The angles of the windows make quizzical expressions!

    There had to be stories behind these wonderful buildings, we thought. Fun stories and unusual stories. If only those old storefronts and upstairs apartments could talk!

    Market Street Maysville Kentucky

    Ornate buildings on Market Street.

    We wandered up and down the streets, marveling at the elaborate detail on the building fronts. One building had a fabulous rounded turret with a peaked top worthy of Rapunzel.

    Turret building Maysville Kentucky

    Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!

    Wrought iron and fancy carved woodwork adorned another, and next door to it the sun peaked through a wrought iron gate.

    Historic Market Street Buildings Maysville Kentucky

    Morning sun shines through a wrought iron gate and windows.

    Roses were blooming in front of a series of white houses, and a handsome church steeple pierced the sky. We later found out these row houses date back to 1816 and are called “Mechanics Row.”

    Row houses Maysville Kentucky

    .

    This place was just plain cool!

    Picnic area

    Come sit for a spell…

    The town was very quiet during the morning hours, and we almost felt like we had the place to ourselves.

    Doorway Maysville Kentucky

    .

    But what we were soon to discover is that these buildings are home to one of the liveliest, warmest and friendliest communities of people we’ve ever met anywhere.

    Historic downtown Maysville Kentucky

    The architecture is wonderful,
    but the people here are even better!

    It’s not the buildings that make a place lovable. As delightful as the architecture is in the town of Maysville — and some of the most appealing buildings in town are the seven adorable red brick “days of the week” row houses that run up a hill bearing names from Sunday to Saturday — it is the people that make a community come alive.

    Row houses days of the week Maysville Kentucky

    These row houses are named after the days of the week!

    On our first night in town we stopped in at O’Rourke’s Neighborhood Pub and soon found ourselves swept up in energetic conversation, laughter, and rapidly growing friendships, immersed in the local scene as if we had lived in Maysville all our lives. It felt as if we had suddenly taken off our jackets that had the word “Tourists” emblazoned on them and had put on the Maysville team jersey instead.

    O'Rourke's Pub Maysville Kentucky

    O’Rourke’s Neighborhood Pub
    “Where everyone knows your name,” even if you’re from out of town!

    This little pub was the kind of place where everyone knew who the out-of-town folks were, but rather than keeping the outsiders at a distance, they asked us to pull up a chair and join their big groups at the tables.

    On the next night, the bar owner, Norbert, sat with us, and between telling us tales of the town’s history, he introduced us to one person after another as they came in. From local attorneys to workers in the nearby limestone mine and power plant, we met one new friend after another, and they all openly shared tidbits of their lives and stories with us.

    Fiery sky over church steeple

    We enjoyed Maysville so much we stayed
    for nearly two weeks!

    What’s more, they all had wonderful recommendations of things we really must see and do during our stay in town. Suddenly, we couldn’t leave. There was just too much to do here! How blessed we felt to have the time to be able stay and relish this precious place.

    In our travels we’ve found it is really rare to be able to visit somewhere and truly become an integral part of it and enjoy it from the inside rather that remaining on the outside looking in. Our days in Maysville will forever stand out in our memories because the people we met let us bridge that gap and become locals for a while.

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    Maysville, Kentucky, is a great area for RV travel. Here’s a little more info::

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    Rockport, Massachusetts – Quaint Charm on Boston’s North Shore

    Usually we travel just a bit at a time, savoring each place as we go, and covering as little distance between stops as possible. This week, however, I jumped on an airplane in Florida bound for Boston, Massachusetts, to meet up with friends and family for a very brief visit.

    A few days ago, we took a daytrip to the scenic seaside village of Rockport, Massachusetts, a quaint and historic town that oozes charm and has long held a special place in my heart.

    T-Wharf Sandy Bay Yacht Club Rockport Massachusetts

    Sandy Bay Yacht Club on T-Wharf in Rockport, Massachusetts

    Rockport is just an hour north of Boston, and on any summer weekend it is filled to overflowing with tourists to the point where you practically brush shoulders with fellow walkers as you stroll the town streets. On this visit, however, we somehow magically caught it just right and got there on an ideal 75 degree brilliantly sunny day in mid-April when hardly a soul was in town!

    Rockport’s heart and soul is the lobster trade, and there are lobster boats all around the tiny harbor.

    Lobster boats Rockport Harbor Massachusetts

    A lobster boat in Rockport Harbor

    A classic red fishing shack, called Motif #1, presides over the center of the harbor. This iconic building is framed in countless photos and paintings, and ranks as one of the most photographed buildings in New England and the most frequently painted building in America.

    Motif Number 1 Rockport Massachusetts

    A New England icon: Rockport’s Motif #1

    Motif Number 1 is so well loved that when the original building was destroyed in the infamous Blizzard of 1978, a new exact replica was built in its place!

    Rockport Motif #1 Massachusetts

    Lobster boats in the inner harbor

    The land on the outer protective edge of the harbor is called “Bearskin Neck,” and it is the site where a man named Babson killed a bear armed only with a knife sometime around the late 1600’s or early 1700’s.

    On the back streets of the Neck there are lobster shacks where many generations of lobstermen have done the necessary maintenance on their pots and bouys.

    Lobster shack Rockport Massachusetts

    A lobsterman’s shack on Bearskin Neck

    Everyday, each lobsterman drops his pots off wherever he thinks the lobsters might be hiding.

    Lobster boat Straightsmouth Island Rockport Mass

    A lobster boat heads out for a day’s work

    Lobster pots are marked by colorful bouys, and the lobstermen go from trap to trap, hauling each one up to see what he caught. The lobsters that are too small are thrown back and the other critters that wander into the trap are thrown over the side too. Then he puts fresh yummy bait in the trap and drops it back into the sea.

    Every lobsterman chooses his own design of colorful stripes and dots and other markings for his bouys to make it is easy to identify not only that there is a lobster pot below but who the trap belongs to.

    Lobster bouys at a lobsterman shack

    Lobster buoys on Bearskin Neck

    Lobster bouys in Rockport Mass

    Each lobsterman paints his own patterns on his buoys

    Roy Moore Lobster restaurant Bearskin Neck Rockport MA

    We stop for a lobster roll at Roy Moore’s

    A tiny hole in the wall on Bearskin Neck, called Roy Moore’s, is a great place to see lobsters up close in glass tanks and to get a delicious lobster roll for lunch. A lobster roll consists of chopped up lobster meat mixed with a little mayonnaise and served on a hotdog bun.

    This may sound funky, but it’s a fantastic way to enjoy lobster without donning a suit of armor, grabbing assorted weaponry and surrounding yourself with dishes of butter melting over flames to grapple with the hard shell and strange anatomy of lobster served whole (bulging eyes, skinny legs, antennae and all) on your dinner plate.

    The Pewter Shop Bearskin Neck Rockport Massachusetts

    The Pewter Shop is an icon on popular Bearskin Neck

    The shops on Bearskin Neck are all small, colorful buildings, and the cute, bright red Pewter Shop has greeted visitors to Bearskin Neck since time began.

    The Country Store Bearskin Neck Rockport Massachusetts

    The Country Store has delighted kids with candy for decades

    The Country Store is a favorite among kids because of the huge candy selection, and there was a time, a rather long time ago, when the place was lined with glass jars filled with penny candy. Kids would excitedly point at the jars ordering “one of these” and “one of those” from very patient store clerks who filled tiny paper bags with candy behind the counter.

    Rockport is loaded with history too. Back in 1814 a British frigate showed up, and when the bell in the big, classic Old Sloop Congregational Church in the center of town rang out an alarm, they fired a cannon to silence it. They missed and hit the steeple instead, and a replica of the cannon ball is still lodged there.

    Dock Square Rockport Massachusetts

    Dock Square is lined with historic buildings

    Old Sloop Church Rockport Massachusetts

    The Old Sloop Congregational Church was struck by British cannon fire in 1814 to silence the bell.

    Rockport Art Association

    Rockport has been an artists’ colony for years.

    Front Beach in Rockport Massachusetts

    The Rockport Skyline seen from Front Beach.

    Rockport has also been an artists’ colony for a century, and not only is the town full of art galleries but there is also an active Art Association.

    For many people, however, it is the beach that makes this town so special, and combing the sand for pretty lady slipper seashells and well worn beach glass is a soothing way to pass a few hours. We were amazed that a mere ten minute stroll on Front Beach turned up a treasure trove of beach glass!

    Beach glass

    Beach glass gathered in 10 minutes of casual walking.

    In town we found an artist who is using the local beach glass to make jewelry. What a creative idea!

    Beach glass jewelry

    A creative jeweler in town is making jewelry from the local beach glass. How clever!

    Without doubt, the cries of seagulls — punctuated by the hourly chimes of the Old Sloop Church bell — are the song of Rockport.

    Seagull on Front Beach

    This guy’s mouth is full, so he’s quiet for the moment!

    Another kind of music comes from the Shalin Liu Performance Center that now dominates the Rockport skyline behind Front Beach.

    View from Front Beach in Rockport MA

    The Shalin Liu Performance Center (left) has massive windows overlooking Sandy Bay

    Once a grocery store and later a dress shop, this fabulous building has been expanded and renovated to offer enormous views of Sandy Bay from its back side.

    Shalin Liu Performance Center Reception Hall Rockport Massachusetts

    The Reception Hall on the top floor has a lovely view.

    Shalin Liu Performance Center Concert Hall Rockport Massachusetts

    Evening concerts are often accompanied by a visual feast of waterfront sunsets.

    A wedding reception in the upstairs Reception Hall would be nice, but a chamber music concert while watching the sun setting on the beach behind the stage must be truly out of this world.

    All kinds of groups and musicians perform at the Shalin Liu, but we were advised that if it is a loud, amplified band, they may have to close the curtains behind the stage because the sound reverberates off the glass windows. So if you go, keep that in mind!!

    ______________

    We had a picture perfect day in Rockport. If you take your RV anywhere near Boston’s North Shore, a trip to Rockport is a must. Midweek or off-season, it is a truly delightful excursion!

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    The Artsy Side of Sun Valley, ID

    Camping in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Ketchum Idaho

    Pretty as a picture…or a painting!

    August, 2014 – Sun Valley, Idaho, the “ski resort town,” has an artsy soul, and this is especially evident in the summertime.

    While happily camped in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, we got on our mountain bikes one morning and began roaming around the dirt roads through the woods.

    All of a sudden we came across an artist set up with oil paints and a palette, creating a painting on an easel.

    Sun Valley Plein Air Artist Bart Walker paints in the Sawtooth Mountains

    Bart Walker brings the landscape alive on his canvas.

    What a great place to paint!

    The artist introduced himself as Bart Walker, and we watched him quickly bringing the bucolic scenery around us to life on his canvas.

    It turned out that he was making paintings for the upcoming “Plein Air” art exhibition held at the Kneeland Gallery in town in a few weeks.

    Blurred water with trees at the Big Wood River in Ketchum Idaho

    We were inspired to get artsy with our
    cameras too!

    Even though he is from Wyoming’s Teton Mountains area, he knows the Sawtooths well, and he suggested we go to a spot down on the Big Wood River where we might get some good photos.

    Beautiful flowers in Sun Valley Idaho

    We promptly followed his suggestion and had loads of fun on the riverbanks getting artsy shots with creamy water.

    When the appointed weekend for the art exhibition came, we found ourselves surrounded by plein air artists in the woods recreating the stunning landscapes of the Sawtooth mountains.

    We wandered from one easel to the next, intrigued by how differently each artist interpreted their natural surroundings.

    Artist Lori McNee paints in oils "Plein Air" in Sun Valley Idaho

    We loved being surrounded by these artists out in nature.

    We discovered later that the 10 or so artists that are invited to show their work at the Kneeland Gallery’s Plein Air art exhibition each summer are all very accomplished and well known artists.

    We were watching true pros painting around us in the woods, folks who make their living from their art!

    A whole group of knowledgeable admirers were also roaming from one canvas to the next, and we fell right in step with them, getting the low down, in whispers, on who was who and who did what kind of art.

    Sawtooth National Recreation Area plein air artist paints on canvas

    Some of the artists were staying in their campers.

    Robert Moore creates colorful paintings in the national forest of Idaho

    Robert Moore’s unique style of painting is almost performance art!

    “That’s Robert Moore over there,” a fellow told me in a low voice. “He’s one of the best.”

    I looked aver at a guy with a huge palette of paints and a canvas spread out on the tailgate of a pickup truck.

    “He’s color blind,” the guy went on.

    What?!  I had to learn more.

    Robert was extremely friendly and unassuming, and as we talked, he painted in brisk strokes with two brushes, one held in each hand.

     

    Robert Moore shows off his unfinished painting

    Robert shows me his unfinished painting.

    He even dipped his rubber gloved fingers in the paints and squished them around on the canvas, like a kid finger painting!

    “I can’t distinguish between greens and oranges,” he explained to me, gesturing to those colors on the palette.

    “My assistant, Silas, helps me by arranging the colors on the palette so I know where each one is.” He worked very fast and with great self-assurance.

    At the beginning, when the canvas was blank, he had started by squeezing paint from the tubes directly on the canvas.

    Robert Moore Murdoch Creek Oil Painting

    Finished, framed, and on the wall at Kneeland Gallery in Ketchum.

    The lines of paint were still there, and as his brushes reached them, they blended the colors. Yet each brush stroke visibly retained all the colors that were in the mixture.

    Miraculously, a beautiful painting of a stream was emerging.

    “You can play Beethoven with one finger on the piano,” he explained to me quietly, “but it sounds so much richer if you play with all the fingers of both hands. That’s the way my painting is. You can see all the colors in every brushstroke. That’s how light is in real life.”

    He held the painting up for me. Wow!

    RV boondocking in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Ketchum Idaho

    Audience on the lawn at the Sun Valley Pavilion

    Families picnic and listen to beautiful music.

    The next evening we went to the gallery open house. Little did we know that every Friday night in Sun Valley there is an Art Walk where all the galleries (and there are lots of them) open their doors and pour generous glasses of free wine for visitors.

    With an increasingly wobbly gate, patrons and admirers of the arts wander from gallery to gallery, taking in beautiful works of modern impressionism, fine art photography, modern art, sculpture and more. After a few glasses of wine, even the most stark modern art makes total sense!

    Sun Valley is also famous for its outstanding free summer symphony concert series.

    Sun Valley Symphony free summer concert series

    The Sun Valley Pavilion is a beautiful home for the symphony orchestra.

    For three and a half weeks, the Sun Valley Pavilion comes alive almost every night with music played by the top notch Sun Valley Symphony.

     

    Sun Valley Symphony plays Brahms' 2nd Symphone - ahh!

    We are treated to a night of Brahms — sheer joy for me!

    Outside the Pavilion, families and friends enjoy picnics on the lawn where the music is played over mammoth speakers. Inside, there is loads of free theater seating that is all first come first serve.

    The Pavilion is a tens-of-millions-of-dollars architectural marvel and was a gift to the community from the owner of Sun Valley Resort. While waiting for Mark to get a beer, I happened to rest my hip on a low interior stone wall.

    An usher came over to me and said politely that I shouldn’t sit on the wall.

    Sun Valley Pavilion was built with stone from the same quarry as the Roman Colosseum

    Don’t sit on the walls…this rock is special!

    Slightly affronted, because I had been leaning on the wall, not sitting on it, I decided to joke a bit with him.

    “Is there something special about this rock wall?” I asked, laughing.

    “Well, as a matter of fact there is. The stones came from the same quarry in Italy as the stones that were used to build the Roman Colosseum.”

    A young violinist plays her own concert in Sun Valley ID

    A young violinist gives an impromptu
    concert of her own.

    Are you kidding?!!

    I sprang away from the wall and then gingerly reached back and touched it in amazement.

    After the concert was over, a little girl stood up amid her family’s picnic blanket and chairs and began an impromptu violin concert of her own, singing and playing some country tunes.

    A small crowd gathered around her, and her smile got bigger and bigger as she performed for a rapt audience.

    And that’s the way life is in Sun Valley, Idaho, where mega wealth and majestic natural beauty come together to make a playground for everyone that is full of fine art, exquisite music and outdoor fun. Best of all, most of it can be enjoyed for free!

    Boondocking in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Ketchum Idaho

    A sunrise worth leaping out of bed for!

    Here are some links with more info for you about the Sun Valley, Idaho, area:

    For more from our RV travels to Sun Valley, ID, both past and present, see these links:

     

     

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