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Camping our way across the USA

PAULETTE BALLARD
Guest Columnist

As told by Ken Hovis

Ken Hovis retired from Trans World Airlines 17 years ago after working for them for 33 years. For 12 years now Ken and his wife, Janice, have constantly been on the road pulling a fifth wheel camper and living in it as they tour the USA. When asked how many states he has visited he indicated they have been to every state in the United States at least once and some states more than once. He loves the lifestyle they chose for retirement and says he would find it difficult to live in a house again.
Their travels take them to places where he enjoys his hobby as an avid bird watcher. He has seen over 500 species of birds during their journeys and says there are many more that he has not observed yet. He showed me pictures on his cell phone of some of the most beautiful birds imaginable. I could see the pleasure on his face as he told me about some of the different birds he has seen and where he was when he saw them.
“Tell me about some of the places you’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing,” I said to him. At first he said there were so many it would take a while. Then he mentioned going to Glacier National Park where they saw huge grizzly bears. He laughed and told me the bear biologist there knows all the grizzly bears by name. He said most people go to Yellowstone hoping to see bears, but he never saw one there. “The national parks in southern Utah are some of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen so I have to add that one also,” Hovis said.
I mentioned to him that after seeing “The Horse Whisperer” I had always wanted to go to Montana. He said Montana is wide open and one of the most scenic places they have camped. He called it “the big sky” because it seems as though you can see forever.
I asked him, “Where do you consider your favorite stay out of all the places you and Janice have passed through.” His answer was, “Thousand Islands in New York. The water there is so clear it seems as though you can see as far down as this building is tall.” Thousand Islands consists of 1,864 islands that straddle the Canada-U.S. border.
We talked about various places I had always wanted to visit and he had been to almost all of them. During his school years he enjoyed geography and learning about Spain.  He remembers saying to himself that someday he was going there. I asked him if he had been there and he laughed and said, “Not yet. I’ve been to many places in Europe, but never to Spain.”
“What’s next when you resume traveling,” I asked him. “We’re going to Michigan to try to see a warbler I’ve never seen.” From there it’s on to the Upper Peninsula at Sault Ste. Marie where the big ships come in from Lake Huron on their way to Lake Superior. He says this is a sight to see.
The Hovises are in town visiting family at this time and he is looking forward to moving on to their next destination. After living this way for 12 years he can’t wait to travel on and see what’s around the next bend.
Paulette Ballard collects interesting, funny and unusual stories from people in and around Lincolnton. If you have a story you would like to submit for her column, e-mail it towww.pballardnc1029@yahoo.com. In the subject line type “For your column.” Include your name and phone number for her to contact you.

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