From Kissimmee, Florida in December, 1981 to Aspen Highlands Ski Resort in March, 1982, the end of “Our Grand Tour.”

You may remember that the three of us were sitting on the beach at Titusville, Florida on November 12, 1981 watching the launch of Columbia STS-2. It was something that we will never forget and we were glad that we decided to leave Tennessee early so that we could see this special event.

We drove back to our trailer in Kissimmee at the KOA campground, now it was time to have some fun. This is Nancy and me at the park enjoying the sunny weather, and Bill at the pool. These are odd looking ducks at the campground. After a few days of relaxing, we were on our way to see the Walt Disney World Resort.

A few days later we then went to see Cypress Gardens, you can see the Cypress trees with Spanish moss hanging on them; this is common in this area. 

Several pictures of different birds in the park. As we walk around the park we saw many large Alligators, and large Cypress trees with moss.

We then went to the show where the water skiers performed, you will see many photos of water skiers performing various tricks, along with a hang glider.

The last photo is the world’s first four-tier pyramid performed by the water skiers at Cypress Gardens.

We left the area several days later and towed to Homestead and stayed in an RV park. After unhooking the  trailer the next day we then drove to the Everglades National Park. We spent several days exploring the area, and you can see by the photos the beautiful Great White Heron.  

The next photo is of a marsh called “Marl Prairie.” These large areas of freshwater marl prairie border the deeper slough of the Everglades. The marl allows slow seepage of the water but not rapid drainage. The sawgrass is not as tall and the water is not as deep, freshwater marl prairies look a lot like freshwater sloughs.

As we walk and drove to other areas of the park we can see the fresh water slough’s, Alligator’s, and a Blue Heron drying his wings. We walked the “Gumbo-Limbo Trail” and saw many air plants on the trees. Nancy is standing in front of a large hardwood hammock tree and this area has some of the largest mahogany trees in the continental United States.

Staying at Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park we were able to explore the many sites of the area. A photo of the brown pelican on the post next to the water. 

We got a canoe and paddled along the shoreline of the park and saw many brown pelican’s on a sandbar. As you can see sitting on the tree limb another Blue Heron, and a large Osprey.

This is an aerial view of Key Largo and the Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This is the only underwater park in the United States. Thousands of divers come from all over the world to see the beautiful coral reefs, and wildlife in the water.

We took the boat tour on the MV Discovery to the outer reefs located in the park. The boat has an underwater observation room with a glass bottom to see the reef and the fish. This is a picture of a Queen Angelfish, one of the more spectacular fishes that is in the park that has over 650 varieties.

We stayed at Calusa Camp Resort on Key Largo and launched our boat and fished the area. A beautiful sunset at the park. 

We were at the park over the Thanksgiving Holiday, and the owner of the park barbequed Smoked Turkey, Ham, and Wild Boar for the potluck gathering that we attended.

We left the trailer at the park and drove the truck down to Key West stopping at Islamorada on the Florida Keys driving the overseas highway to the Keys. We stayed at a KOA campground on Fiesta Key, and then to the tiny island of Conch Key that stands alone along a stretch of bridges between the Florida mainland and Key West.

More aerial views of Marathon Key taken from Sombrero Beach, shows the Country Club and sailing yacht basin and golf course. Then to Bahia Honda State Park, and over the seven-mile bridge that goes to the sea for 150 miles. Now at the Sunshine Key and an RV park on the key. 

We arrive at Seaside RV Park in Key West and spent several days there exploring the area.

This is a postcard explaining and showing the old southernmost house and the new southernmost house are shown on the southernmost point of land in the continental United States. This is also the South end of Duval Street, the “Longest Street in the United States,” going from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. South Beach, which is also the southernmost beach and south beach motel row are in the background.

We took the Conch Tour Train in Key West to see the sights of the town. Famous Mallory Square, and Sloppy Joe’s Bar. In the thirties, it became the hangout of Ernest Hemingway.

This is Hemingway’s House and Garden; he lived in this house from 1932 to 1961. The house was built in 1851 from coral rock quarried on the grounds.

Here is Duval Street in Key West, and as we walked the town we saw the John James Audubon House; he lived here while he painted wildlife of the Florida Keys in 1832. A view of the Key West beaches.

Here the three of us at the Southernmost point in the United States in Key West, Florida. Bill and I standing by a sign that reads only 90 miles to Cuba with sponges and conch shells on the ground. We had a great time in Key West, bought several pairs of handmade sandals and then it was time to head north.

Leaving Key West going back to Key Largo to hookup the trailer and heading North to Naples.

We arrived at the KOA campground in Naples and spent several days viewing the area and beaches. 

We drove to Collier Seminole State Park on highway 41 and you can see the large Washington Palms. We took an airboat ride through the Everglades and saw a lot of wildlife.

We are now at Fort Meyers Beach staying at San Carlos RV Park, we put the boat in the water and it is parked at a dock space so that we could go out to fish and explore the area. 

Bill and I did some surf fishing at Sanibel Island, and Bill caught this 5 pound Sheepshead Fish. Sanibel Island is noted for an area to collect many different shells along the shoreline.

Nancy and me on Christmas Eve at the park, everyone puts a candle in a paper bag in front of the rigs to light the path as people walk the area during the night. Our Christmas photo in front of our trailer at Fort Meyers.

Leaving the area we towed to Arrowhead campground at Ocala, Florida on January 1, 1982. On highway, 10 we towed through Tallahassee, and Pensacola, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana. 

An aerial view of the Superdome in New Orleans, and a view inside the dome. We walked the St. Louis Cemetery where all of the graves are placed above the ground because of ground water.

Here, we are at New Orleans City Park which is one of the country’s largest municipal parks that covers over 1,500 acres of a former plantation. A 100 year old oak tree is in the center of the photo.

We took the riverboat Natchez on the Mississippi River to the lock to the inland waterway through “Bayou Country.” Along the Bayou and, a large draw bridge.

Walking downtown we came across this beautiful three story building with the lace balconies at Royal and St. Peter’s Street in the French Quarters. At Bourbon Street and Bienville Street is the “Old Absinthe House,” and now the “Desire Oyster Bar,” in the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

The Old Absinthe House is a stucco building at the corner of Bourbon Street and Bienville Street and is one of the oldest structures in New Orleans dating back to 1806. This place was famous for its cocktail, the absinthe frappe, also known as the “green monster,” a mixture of absinthe and sugar water. 

On October 1, 1912 the U.S. Government banned the importation and sale of absinthe, alleging it was “dangerous to health.”  

A view of the Cathedral at Jackson Square. There are many horse drawn carts along the French Quarters.

Here, we are a Jackson Square where they had an outdoor market, and a singer on the street in the French Quarters.

Nancy is enjoying the famous “Hurricane Punch Drink,” at the Pat O’Brien’s Bar. Here is a group of friends enjoying the drink. This costs $100.00 for the drink made with Rum and $60.00 for the hand blown crested glass container.

Another view of the French Quarters and a Cornstalk Fence, which is a painted row of iron cornstalks in front of 915 Royal Street.

Leaving New Orleans it was time to continue on highway 10 to San Antonio, Texas. We toured the area and saw “The Alamo,” erected in 1718 as a church and fortress it became the symbol of Texas independence. A view of the alamo quarters and grounds.

Going to Port Isabel and South Padre Island we stayed at the Outdoor Resort RV Park for several days, then it was off to Falcon Lake in Zapata, Texas where we stayed at a campground on the lake. There are many winter visitors that stay here and fish for bass, crappie, catfish and more. In 2012 Falcon Lake was rated first for bass in the United States but fishing has declined in the area in recent years.

We then drove to Amistad Lake in Del Rio, Texas, and saw the joint venture between the United States and Mexico with the statue’s from each country. Another photo of a Mexican statue at the end of the dam on Lake Amistad in Mexico.

Now, it is time to head to Arizona where we stopped to explore the O.K. Corral scene of the Earp and Clanton feud fight in Tombstone. A view of boothill graveyard and the graves of the Clanton’s and McLaury’s. You will see a gravestone marker that reads: John Heath taken from County Jail and lynched by Bisbee mob in Tombstone on February 22, 1884.

Well we are back at Salton Sea with our trailer parked in our RV spot, our boat is in the water ready for some fishing.

We left on our “Grand Tour” on June 23, 1981, and returned to the Salton Sea on February 14, 1982.  

We were gone for 8 months, with over 20,000 miles, and covering 33 states, and 9 Canadian Provinces, and 87 campsites.  

This was a trip of a lifetime and while we did not get to cover the Central States on that trip, we did in April, 1987 begin another journey traveling to the states that we missed on our “Grand Tour.”  Another story to follow.


After this long and extensive trip do you think that we would sit still for a while, “No,” only 20 days later we left to go to Aspen, Colorado for some snow skiing.

Leaving on March 4th, for our annual ski trip we are on highway 89 to Cove Fort, Utah passing an old log cabin, and then on highway 70 going to Green River, Utah. Arriving at Aspen Mountain and skiing there we then went to Aspen Highlands and parked our rig in the parking lot next to the Aspen Highlands Inn.

Here, I am in the snow at Aspen Highlands, the pool at the Inn, and Nancy and me standing in front of our rig, Nancy in her ski outfit ready to go down the slopes.

You many wonder how they spent so many trips to Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk Mountain, and Vail, Colorado. Along with skiing in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and California. 

Back then it was okay to park in the parking lots with your RV, the only requirement was when the parking lot had to be cleared of snow that they needed you to move your rig out of the way for the snow plows and then you just move back into your spot. 

Sometimes in the middle of the night we could hear the plows at work and everyone woke up and moved their rigs out of the way, and then back into your spot.

Over the years, we knew that where we parked at the base of the ski lifts there were accommodations for dorms or hostels at the resorts, inns, or other lodging.

At Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, we would put on our swimming suits and a coat and walk over to the pool with our brandy and soak in the warm water and then to their dorm showers in the Inn. Because we did this for so many years, we actually saw the same people each year. Ah, the good old days!

Leaving Aspen we stopped by Glenwood Springs the world’s largest hot springs before heading back to California via Anza Borrego Desert State Park and an Ocotillo in bloom.

We stayed at Salton Sea fishing until June and left for our first trip to Vancouver lsland. This is Bill’s largest Corvina that he caught at the Salton Sea it weighed over 20 pounds with a length of 37 inches and a girth of 22 inches.

Well that is our Grand Tour, hope you enjoy traveling with us!


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