Friday, December 27, 2013

Blog Update - Where in the hell did the RV idea come in to play!

I have been asked this many times in my travels and via email from several of my followers, so I figured I would relate the story on how I decided to get rid of everything and start full-timing in an RV.

We need to go back to 2010...When I left the Lodge in Alaska in September of 2010 I took a very unique journey home. It started my yearning for travel and I figured that the next part of my life was going to be "on the road"!

I departed Ketchikan on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry and took a short overnight trip to Prince Rupert Canada...I over-nighted there and then boarded the Canadian Railway for a two day trip to Jasper Alberta on the "SKEENA" a wonderful train ride! The train stops in Prince George where you disembark for the night at a local hotel, then you board again in the morning to head to Jasper.

A good friend from Montana drove up and met me in Jasper - we hung out there for a couple days then drove back to his place in Montana...we had a wonderful time and it made me realize how much of our country that I had not seen the wheels to traveling started turning in my head. The rest of the winter was spent beginning to liquidate and downsize...I was interrupted in my plan when the Lodge asked me to return to Ketchikan early and man the office in town in February of 2011. So my house in Florida was a little less full, but not empty. But the plan was set in motion. I spent the early spring shopping on line for an RV. I knew it had to be fairly small and decided on a 5th wheel because I wanted the bed to be separate from the living quarters, didn't want to have to make the bed back into the dinette everyday and vice versa.

From the Lodge about mid-summer I found and RV I was interested in online, it was in Tacoma Washington and through several emails I got the full details and decided that this was the one I wanted. I put a call out on a photography forum I am active in for anyone from Tacoma...was contacted by a guy who lived in Tacoma and as it turned out just 4 blocks from the RV Place. He agreed to go by and see the RV and take some pictures for me, so I could be certain that the pictures were recent and all was above board. After he confirmed the trailer was in pretty good shape and no water damage or huge issues, and I saw his pictures - I finalized the deal with the dealer and made the purchase sight I needed a truck and close out Florida at the end of the season. One of my customers from Yes Bay happened to live in Oregon just about an hour South of Tacoma and they had a good 5th wheel hitch and gave it to me and even took the time to deliver it to the dealer in trailer and a hitch was waiting for me in Tacoma. Dealer agreed to store the trailer until I could return with my stuff and a truck.

When the season ended I returned straight to Florida looking for a truck there and in Seattle / Tacoma. I was lucky to find my truck in St Petersburg and traded my Isuzu Trooper for the truck....then set about trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid off and used the truck to take furniture to the Goodwill and a consignment place and had two yard sales etc...the end was in site...

On December 19th of 2011 I had the truck loaded with all my crap and headed to Ohio for the holidays....only one small truck issue, it had no heater!! Holy was a cold drive to Ohio in the winter...

Trust me the truck was FULL!!

While in Ohio I bought a heater and installed it in the truck along with a tonneau cover for the bed of the truck for the trip west! After the holidays I repacked the truck and headed West towards Tacoma...with a short stop in Denver and a short stop in Moab and a stop in Salt Lake City. I left Ohio on January 4th...arrived in Salt Lake on January 10th. Rested a couple days and headed for Tacoma on the 13th of January. I arrived in Tacoma at the RV Place on the 14th - saw the RV for the first time and unloaded a few things into the RV, however they could not schedule to install the hitch for a few days so I headed on down to Oregon to my customers who gave me the hitch to unload the truck in their garage so it would be ready for the hitch to be installed. Well the weather gods were not smiling and on the day I was supposed to get the hitch installed and pick up the trailer it was the Snow Storm of the century in Seattle and Tacoma...never fear I am an Alaskan and have 4 wheel drive...I easily made the drive from Boring Oregon to Tacoma and things were a mess...

The electric was off etc...and no employees arrived at the RV Place...spoke with the owner and was delayed back down to Boring for another couple nights and also made a weekend trip to Tillamook to see Kicker my partner in Alaska....went back for scheduled appointment on January 24th a full 10 days after arriving in Tacoma the first time...but things were finally starting to go right. Hitch installed and trailer hitched up and I drove all of 6 miles or so to Puyallup for a Sportsmand Show for the Lodge...worked the show for a couple days and "camped" in the RV at the fairgrounds....until the 30th of January.

I drove back down to Boring and retrieved my belongings from my friends garage and got ready to travel. They kept asking when I was going to leave...wonder why!!

I left Boring again for the last time on the 31st of January headed for Salt Lake City - where I went back to my buddies and proceeded to get the trailer set up for long term living. Installed electric hot water heater and a few other niceties and got things re-arranged in the trailer to make it more comfortable. Wore my welcome out there and headed South around the 14th of February and the rest is pretty much history have been full time in the RV ever since then...gathering stories of traveling adventures....and of course photos.

Since that time I have visited Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Zions National Park, Glacier National Park, Fire Valley State Park in Nevada, Lake Mead national Park, Colorado Grand Mesa National Park, Monument Valley National Park, Denali National Park and several others....and more to come!!

A few photos of the rig and it's travels!

With this past summers trip to Alaska and last years roaming I am over 20 states visited and about 20 thousand miles with the RV!!

Stay tuned for more adventures!!!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Blog Update - December 23rd, 2013 - Time to Reflect - I have been very Lucky!

With the computer issues I have had recently, I figured it was time to secure everything and that involves backing up 4 external hard drives to one external large hard drive which is 2 TB big - the new one is 4 TB, since the 2 TB one is full. Cleaning out old files that include a zillion pictures from my travels, both recent and from a long time ago, it gives me pause to think about how fortunate I have been in my life. This post may be somewhat lengthy!

Who would have ever thought an "under-achiever" from small town Barberton Ohio would ever accomplish the things I have done. I was extremely lucky to have been able to attend Photography School in Philadelphia and been able to capture many of my exploits on film. Some of the pictures here are very old and were scanned from 35mm slides and restored to the digital world.

I have sailed across the Atlantic on a 50 foot sailboat, delivered numerous boats throughout the Caribbean and up and down the East Cast of the United States. I have scuba dove the Blue Hole in Belize, many, many dives in Roatan Honduras and the Florida keys. I have been lucky enough to have fished all the coasts of Florida and most of the Bahamas and Central America and the past 8 years or so Alaska!

I have been told by many I should write a book of my exploits and it is in the works....but a story in pictures is what this post will be.

It involves a bunch about "ME" which I normally don't like to expose, but maybe it is time as age catches up with me to put things in writing and get my shit "in order" so to speak...

This will be a little difficult since pictures are not at this time in any particular order so I will post the pics with a brief description and establish a time on with the pics!

The story, of probably my most memorable escapade, begins innocently with a short boat delivery which turned into a 4 year adventure. Got a call from Gulfstar Yachts in Tampa Bay asking me to deliver a brand new Gulfstar 50 from their plant in Clearwater to Miami. I did the trip and met the new owner who happened to be Swiss - the boat was named and outfitted in Miami. About two weeks later the owner who happened to own Amstel Brewery asked me to spend some time with him orientating him to his new boat and sailing it to the Virgin Islands never one to miss that kind of we went.

The boat spent two years in the Virgins and surrounding Islands with the owner. It arrived back in Fort Lauderdale by the owner in early 1980 - about March or so...the owner phoned and asked me to help get the boat ready to do a trans-Atlantic to take his boat home to the Mediterranean where he had a place in Majorca. So a friend and fellow Captain and I spent about three weeks going through the boat from stem to stern getting her ready for the long ocean voyage. The owner also asked me to bid on the trip...which I did. You will have to wait for the book for the whole fiasco when he decided to let a friend of his wife's who owned a sailing school in Switzerland take the boat with some of her students...long story short, that failed and at the last minute he turned the boat over to me....and in a span of three days I had moved what I thought I needed to the boat and along with another Captain and his wife we left for Bermuda and on across the pond. The entire trip was fairly un-eventful other than a water in fuel problem in Bermuda...which was finally solved. I actually contacted my Family from Bermuda and told my Mom and Dad that I was headed for Europe...caused a bit of drama on the home front!

Here we are departing Bermuda headed approx 1800 Nautical miles to the East to the Azores!

Here I am 800 miles out of Bermuda trying to figure out Where the hell we were, looking for the spot to make a right and turn and ride the Latitude to the Azores.

We arrived in Faial in the Azores after about 2 weeks at Sea!

Pico - taken from the island of Faial, Azores - Portugal - Taken with a Nikon EL with a 75-150 Nikkor Zoom Lens - Kodachrome 64 ASA film - scanned with a Plustek OpticFilm 7200 slide

The harbor on the island of Faial, Azores - Portugal - Taken with a Nikon EL with a 75-150 Nikkor Zoom Lens - Kodachrome 64 ASA film - scanned with a Plustek OpticFilm 7200 slide scanner.

This is probably my favorite picture from the whole trip. Paula decided it was time after 2 weeks at sea to find a quiet spot and reflect! I managed to capture it on film.

This is from the harbor in Faial.

We spent a week in the Azores then headed towards Gibralter - another 1000 miles away and this happened to be the most difficult part of the trip...with severe weather most of the way - 60 knot winds and easily 25 to 35 foot will be in the book...the most difficult sailing I have ever done. Here I am with eyes on the Rock of Gibralter knowing we had made it safely on a very long journey!

But we finally made it to Gibralter - not without the Spanish Navy firing on us though - another chapter for the book!

On top of Gibralter

A brief two day stay in Gibraltar then a short sail around the corner to Estepona Spain where we would turn the boat over to the owner and get paid.

Went to a bullfight in Estepona!

Bullfight - Festival in Estepona Spain on the Costa del Sol - Taken with a Nikon EL with a 75-150 Nikkor Zoom Lens - Kodachrome 64 ASA film - scanned with a Plustek OpticFilm 7200 slide scanner.

Bullfight - Festival in Estepona Spain on the Costa del Sol - Taken with a Nikon EL with a 75-150 Nikkor Zoom Lens - Kodachrome 64 ASA film - scanned with a Plustek OpticFilm 7200 slide scanner.

After getting off the boat in Estepona - Ed and Paula and I rented a villa nearby and spent a month traveling around Southern Spain. Here are a couple pictures from Cassares one of the "white cities" in Andalusia Spain

Andalucia Spain - Casares near the Costa del Sol - Taken with a Nikon EL with a 75-150 Nikkor Zoom Lens - Kodachrome 64 ASA film - scanned with a Plustek OpticFilm 7200 slide scanner.

Andalucia Spain - Casares near the Costa del Sol - Taken with a Nikon EL with a 75-150 Nikkor Zoom Lens - Kodachrome 64 ASA film - scanned with a Plustek OpticFilm 7200 slide scanner.

Andalucia Spain - Casares near the Costa del Sol - Taken with a Nikon EL with a 75-150 Nikkor Zoom Lens - Kodachrome 64 ASA film - scanned with a Plustek OpticFilm 7200 slide scanner.

Another adventure in my life has been scuba diving all over the Caribbean - with my favorite location in Roatan, Honduras and Belize.

One particular trip involved me shooting a bunch of underwater shots for a company I worked for that made Scuba Gear - Sportsways! Here are a few shots from that trip.

This is actually a picture of me taking a picture by a friend on a deep dive in Roatan

Picture of Jim Lucas taking Underwater photos in Roatan Honduras

The three below are from the catalog shoot!

Here I am just hanging out on the porch at Anthony's Key Resort in Roatan.

A more typical picture of me in Roatan! Nothing like Salva Vida Beer - potent stuff!!

All of the above was done in the 70's and 80' something more recent, which some of you may recall from the blog and Facebook.

Years ago I delivered a sailboat (One of many) from Miami to the Virgin Islands and made a weather stop in Acklins Island and while anchored in the "Bight" of Acklins experienced the most productive bone fishing I had ever encountered. I caught and released over 80 bonefish in about a half day wading the flats where I was anchored. I always vowed to return there!

Several years ago the return trip became a reality. I was supposed to go with Kevin Hack the owner of Yes Bay Lodge so he could experience catching a bonefish on fly...however,, he slipped on the ice stumbling out of a bar in Pennsylvania at a Sportsman Show promoting the Lodge and dislocated his shoulder and had to a friend and I made the trip anyway. I really wanted Kevin to experience the thrill of a bonefish on light is one of the best experiences a fisherman can have!

The spot!

Just one of many that day - smaller but still a great fight!

And a few lobster for dinner!!

Some of this recall, was brought up by my wonderful time yesterday with my old classmate from High School Sherry Hathaway...and of course the need to consolidate my photos to fit on the new hard drive and to start "gathering" for my next project - the "book!

I get asked so many times, why I live the way I do, traveling in my little RV and living the life of a gypsy...well it is for the experiences.

My Mother called me the "Wanderer", she often remarked that she never knew where I was or where I was headed next....well I am still going!

Thank you everyone for following along and allowing me to share my Adventures, there are still more to accomplish, so Stay Tuned!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Blog Update - the week from HELL!! January 21, 2013

It has been Hell this past week...major computer issues and it has taken me most of this past week to get everything resolved.

It started out with sporadic BSOD - (Windows Blue Screen of Death) while this was going on I was able to get my most important work moved to an external hard drive so at least nothing would be lost. Well that went fairly well and the end result worked out pretty good seems I only lost one important file and was able to rebuild that! But the steps to fix the computer ran like this.

1. Check hard drive - seemed to be working fine.

2. Check video - seemed fine.
3. Ran memory check and all was good.
Figured I had Windows problem so looked at Windows recovery - should have done further checking on memory - but went ahead and recovered Windows which removed all my programs and took the laptop back to it's original state when I brought it home! UGH!

4. Restarted the recovered Windows and still got the BSOD! - Shut down and pulled the memory out and replaced with a new 8 GB stick I had bought a long time ago. Put the computer back together and it ran like a charm. Added back in one of the old sticks and it failed again...tried the other extra old stick and failed again. So decided to just run it with the one new 8 GB stick and everything seemed fine.
5. Dug out all my software and re-installed everything...all was running well, but this took about 2 days and then the computer decided it needed to update Windows with 149 updates that had happened over the past year...this took well over 6 hours...another day lost!
6. So finally on day 3 of struggles - all was running well and I was pretty happy that I solved the problem, frustrated at the amount of work, but happy!

So I decided it was time to get in the Christmas spirit and strung my one strand of colored lights on the trailer, that night I quickly realized it was embarrassing compared to my a trip to Home Depot and a long strand of icicle lights and back to the those hung up and decided while waiting for it to get dark and make final adjustments I would clean off the dinette from all the software installs and put all the disks away...well in the course of my cleaning I knocked a picture I had temporarily hung and of course it fell right on the screen of the laptop and it shattered the LCD display. So now the computer was running fine but I could not see the screen to operate any programs...DAMN!

Try and think of a solution and decided that a trip to Wal-Mart to buy an external monitor would solve the problem at least 30 mile round trip to Wal-Mart - plug in the monitor and it worked, spent an hour or so getting screen resolution set and some other crap and now I am operating the laptop with the external monitor and all is well again, except in my limited space the laptop and the monitor on the dinette is a little crowded, but it will do until I get a new LCD for the laptop.

We will start out with the happy pics....

Now the laptop screen!!

The good news is, I found a replacement LCD screen and detailed video on installation online and it is ordered and should be here right after Christmas - Just what I wanted for Christmas - but isn't the internet amazing...the video makes it look real easy...we shall see!

Now from the past a few fun photos I found while fixing my computer....

The above photo was taken in about 1956 or so of me and my family at Christmas! My Mom and Dad and my sister Beverly who is 4 years older.

I also found this drawing I made about the same time which my Mother saved for posterity!

Stay tuned for Christmas Week it will be a busy one here in the park and tomorrow I am headed to Palm Springs to meet up with old classmate Sherry Hathaway- Lewis....should be fun!!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Update - a Day of household Chores

I have been negligent in my household duties, so today was the day to clean the trailer and do laundry...5 loads including towels and rugs...UGH. It was to be a long day so I figured I would add some comfort food for dinner, so before I started cleaning I dug out the crock pot and made up a batch of my sauteed onions and ground beef first in the skillet then into the crock pot along with the other ingredients. Recipe below...cleaned the skillet and stove top and fired up the crock pot. Yesterday while shopping and knowing it was going to get cold, I bought the ingredients for chili.


This is really a simple but delicious chili...

2 lbs of ground beef - browned in a skillet with fresh chopped onions and a couple cloves of fresh garlic.
After browning put in the crock pot - total time in the crock pot should be about 4-6 hours.
Combine with - 2 cans of Tomato Sauce, 1 large can of diced tomatoes and two cans of kidney beans (drained)
Open the box of Carrol Shelby's Chili Fixins and stir in the chili powder and the package of salt and cayenne pepper.
While cooking stir regularly and about 2 hours into it, stir in about 1/3 cup of sugar. According to directions I like to add the mesa flour about an hour before eating to thicken the chili.

Serve with fresh chopped onions on top and shredded cheddar cheese I also like Oyster crackers.


Then it was clean the stove...

The floor was a disaster and required serious scrubbing.

After cleaning the floor it was time to put down my new entrance rug - finally found one that fits perfectly!

Time to also show off my new spice rack....

The wind the other day played havoc with the local repeater stations - so TV has been down to about 3 channels!

I have been actively promoting my photographs on Fine Art America. I am excited to be using their services since they offer in-house framing and matting which is new for me and something I think really sets off my photos and makes it easier to sell since my customers get a finished product ready to hang. I am also excited about their print on acrylic which is printed on the back of a sheet of clear lexan plexiglass.

Anyway - I have been playing with some photos and frame and mat combinations. These are lo-resolution so the actual print will be much higher quality...but check out my choices for mats.

Maybe I should have been a framer....

Stay tuned for more adventures...apologize for highlighting my household chores....if you are interested in some framed prints hit the link upper right for Fine Art America and my galleries.

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!