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Weather Effected
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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Weather Effected
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    As I drove through the Smokey Mountains on my last leg of my Adventure, I thought of what I’d seen and done. I thought maybe that’s enough and considered pulling the plug on my meanderings.  Then, as I sat in a restaurant tucked away on a hill, waiting for what the menu calls a home grown burger in Murphy, N.C., I heard a guy say the dreaded four letter word - snow!  That did it; I knew I was heading out of these mountains first thing in the morning as quickly as I could.  I want no part of the white stuff and cold!  At home I can turn up the heat.  I’ve heard the weather forecasts the last couple days and I’m a day ahead of the coming rain, but in these mountains that rain will be snow.  I wanted to spend some time here enjoying the red buds and dogwood flowers that accent the panoramic mountain views.  Maybe next year (Oh yeah, I said that last year, too, as I got the same weather!), I hope it doesn’t follow me to Ocean City.  I still want to stop for some sunshine in Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I’ll listen and hope for a good weather forecast.
    Later that day as I descended the Smokey Mountains on Rt. 64 along cascading water in the Ocoee River and creeks, I listened to a forecast, which was the kiss of death for my travels.  The radio guy said, chilly for the next several days including temperatures in the thirties during the day in the Outer Banks.  That put a lid on it!  I’d eked out a bunch of good times from this El Nino weather year of extremes for 10,614 miles and 117 days.  All in all it was a good trip and I’m certainly grateful for my opportunity to wander carelessly for months.
    Little did I know on April 1, when I left Big Bend National Park in the tip of southwestern Texas, I would not be enjoying any more days deep in my nowhereland places.  I didn’t know that Mother Nature had pulled the plug on the sun.  I still had the Smokey Mountains and Ocracoke Island to go to.  I’d seen a bear, an orchid blooming in the wilds, an amazing display of critters (blue crabs, lizards, a spoon bills fly-over, and birds I can’t ID) in or near Padre Island, Tx., and 18-story sequoia trees, and I was ready for more.
    Then weather lost any promise of warmth.  It’s the major controlling factor of where I go and what I do.  The weather had been crazy and unpredictable in most places where I went since December.  Big Cypress & Key West in December were very hot.  It was almost too hot in my nest (slide-in camper on an F-150 pickup truck) to sleep til 10pm.  Then Key West got rainy and chilly in January.  I’m a kayaker and usually I’m in the water three or four days a week in the Keys; this year I was in the water only three days in the six weeks I was there, and I wore jeans and a sweat shirt most days.  I was in southwest Florida most of February and the chill continued, although I did get some nice days.
    In March I headed west.  A monsoon swept through Louisiana with 40-45mph winds.  I cancelled my trip to the Houma south of New Orleans in bayou and alligator hunting country to hopefully eat and buy some alligator meat.  I ended up marooned in a MegaMart parking lot for two days to avoid driving in the wind.  No thanks!!!
    I escaped to Padre Island/Port Isabel. There I was treated to delicious texmex seafood and lots of critters.  Reports of hordes of spring breaking school kids in Big Bend N.P., Tx., made me change course and head west.  “Wonder Rocks” (Coronado Mts., N.M.) was next with a camp ground tucked away amongst the towering rocky peaks, few people and was very relaxing; then to where the hippies went and stayed in the seventies; and birds in Arivaca, Az.; then Cabeza Prieta N.W.R. where I hoped to see hummingbirds, but the drought there took the canyon’s stream.  The yellow blooming Palo Verde trees were gorgeous, though, plus there’s a cactus forest.
    From there I was in driving distance of Visalia Ca., where the giant trees I wanted to see were, so I went for it.  The first Sequoia tree I saw was an OMG moment, but it was way too chilly to sleep there, so I began a liturgy of parking overnight at a MegaMart.  After touring Sequoia N.P. and King’s Canyon N.P. and lots of driving each day, I headed south east.
    The next destination was the wilds at Kelso Dunes in the Mojavi Desert and then Big Bend with the spring breakers absent; but the last six nights of my trip I was MegaMart’s guest!  It’s convenient once in a while when driving between remote places but, not my style!  Neither is touring beautiful natural areas from behind a steering wheel.  I want to park and not move the truck for several days and enjoy what is within walking or bicycling distance.  That’s how I get to know the place.
    One thing I know for sure: next Adventure I’m going to spend at least half my time in my nowhereland places.  It’ll be easy because I’m going to natural nowherelands hoping the weather, without the effects of El Nino, allows me to enjoy.  I’ll spend a month in Indian land, Four Corners, where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet, and then go to southern Utah and include Glenn Canyon, Arches N.P., Capital Reef N.P. and Escalante and especially to ToroWeep on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  Where it works, I’ll be there for a week or more.  That may mean I’ll get to less places, but that’s ticket to serenity, peace, and lots of nature, wild life and good photos!  That’s what I do it for.  Oh yeah, and be warm in the winter!  Of course I’ll begin in the Keys, south west Florida, and south Texas and Arizona before the nowherelands places I mentioned.  I’ll pull the plug and be back in O.C. for the Best Bloody Mary on the Shore Contest, Fager Island’s first Deck Party, SpringFest, and some steamed crabs.  I was looking forward to getting some in Louisiana, but the weather snatched my chance away!
    I’ll be writing about all those places where I was on this Adventure # XVIII in the coming months, plus some Eastern Shore places that most people don’t know exist.  I’m on the downslide and lovin’ it!!!  See ya on the boards, the beach and/or HH.
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
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