Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Couldn't Let Christmas pass without. . . . . .

Wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas

Top Left picture: Trinity Site at White Sands Missile Range, NM; Top Right: Devil's Garden near Escalante Utah; Bottom Left is Monument Valley, AZ; and, Bottom right is Lake Abiquiu, near Espanola NM.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It Must be Christmas Time. . . catalogs, catalogs, catalogs!

Day 38, at home and 4245 miles later

Actually it’s a bit later than Day 38, but that’s how long I was on the road. Let’s see, where was I. Oh yes, I was last at Socorro Springs enjoying a pizza. I did a few errands while in Socorro and stopped by and saw son for around 45 minutes.

After my visit I headed back to camp and hitched up Eggcarto for departure on Sunday. Bruce beat me out on leaving and he was heading for Los Alamos and a tour. He later emailed and said that he had an enjoyable day touring around. I finally got away around 9:30 am and really still hadn’t decided which way I was heading home. I eventually went to Santa Rosa, followed the awful I-40 in NM to Vega TX. At least Texas is doing something about the condition of I-40 in it’s State.At Vega, I took US-385 north and US-87 east to Dumas TX where I spent the night in a WalMart parking lot.

From Dumas I headed to Dodge City KS and spent the night with my friend Sarah. Sherry came over for dinner and we, as always, had fun, lots of laughs and I caught up on gossip and happenings. Day 38 is when I got into home base and it felt good.

Been getting Eggcarto ready for winter. He’s got his “pink stuff” (RV antifreeze for those not familiar) so bring on the cold nights. Just have the top to finish waxing and then I’ll cover him up - hopefully before the leaves really start falling.

Then my attention will turn to getting the yards ready for winter. I don’t return to work until 10/20 and then it’s not too many hours each week, so will have time to do what I don’t get done this week.

We have a “new addition” to the family. Some of you remember, Juno’s longtime 4-legged companion of 13 years died on Mother’s Day. Nipper gave her lots of years of good companion and friendship and it was hard for awhile to think about getting another dog. This past Thursday, she and I were in Hays doing errands and she said “you want to go look at the kitties?” “Sure”, said I. So we did and the group at her vet’s thought she needed another dog -”Buster!” they all exclaimed in glee at the same time!

So now we have Buster, an approximately 13 month old Australian Cattle Dog who has seen and been thru some traumatic times in his short life. He possibly was dumped by someone and left to fiend for himself for awhile. A nice man took him to the vet’s refuge center and that’s where he had been for 3 weeks. He has a very subdued personality for a Cattle Dog. He’s well behaved and has had a little obedience training. He’s grown quite attached to Juno - she is what he needs to get his life back on track and he is what Juno needs to get herself back to being active again.

Life isn’t back to normal yet, am still catching up on my mail, looking thru all the catalogs that came in (must be Christmas time), reconciling bank statements, and thinking (just thinking) about cooking again! I got so use to really not eating while traveling. It’ll settle down here in awhile and they it’ll be time to plan for the next trip.

Unless something happens between now and mid-January, I’ll be off to the Apalachicola area in the panhandle of Florida to see Gerri, a fellow Casita owner, and explore that area of Florida and surrounding areas for awhile. Direction to and back home will depend on ‘followingthewinds”.

Have a great Holiday Season with your family and friends; and, I’ll be back in January.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Six days of posting, sit back and settle in, with your favorite beverage

Day 30, 60 miles east of Socorro and 4
miles west of Carrizozo NM

I am here at the Valley of Fires Recreation Area, a BLM campground. Just finished dishes and watched a beautiful orange sunset before that. The lights from Carrizozo are twinkling in the dark to the east of me. I’ll be here a week.

The Carrizozo lava flow came from vents in the valley floor 5000 years ago and is one of the youngest flows in the continental US (the youngest is near Grants NM at 3000 years ago). It flowed southward down the Tularosa Valley, burying everything in its path except the older sandstone hills of where the campground is located. There is a walk around the lava flow and in addition to plants and animals that have made the flow their home, you see pressure ridges, formed as the lava surface cooled while the lava underneath was still hot and continued moving down the valley. There are examples of gas bubbles that collapsed and lava tubes. It’s pretty interesting to see the little ridges and swirls that froze as the lava cooled.

My friend Sherry, from Dodge City, gave me a french press for making coffee. I did get a few days learning to make coffee but unfortunately it fell off the counter and broke. Sorry Sherry. I was getting pretty good too and really liked the coffee and said I would get another one but with a plastic or stainless steel container. It is tight quarters in here and it’s easy to knock something off a table or counter. It’s why I have very few breakable items. When son and I were in Albuquerque, we stopped by a coffee house as he needed some coffee beans. We both like to fresh grind our beans. I asked about a french press non-breakable container and she showed me a “traveling french press”. So I bought it and now make my french press coffee in it - thank you Sherry. You got me started. I get to enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning and not worry about breaking the container now.

Day 31, Corrizozo NM
Had a good night’s sleep. Was a bit chilly this morning, but am at a bit higher elevation now. Thanks to son’s giving me a memory foam mattress pad I put it on top of the regular foam pad I had. My regular foam pad has developed a bit of depression it seems where the hips are. Hmmmmm. He had gotten one of those air mattress’ for his extra bed and had the memory foam left over. The air mattress is really comfortable and I slept very well on it. The first couple of hours of the first night I kept worrying about falling off the bed.

Today I pretty much enjoyed the sights and sounds around me. I walked the nature course thru the lava fields again, this time without the camera so I could walk without interruptions. I also went into Carrizozo to get some gas, ice and newspapers (more on that in a bit). While there I explored town. Very quaint and Mexican style of buildings. Many attempts at fixing up and restoring have taken place. Layout is like a lot of small New Mexican towns - enough to drive an organized city planner crazy.

I did find an interesting business that sells old and new Mexican wood and wrought iron items. There are heavy wood doors and gates, furniture, benches, plants and animals. It is located on the corner of US-54 & US -380 in a bright red building, if interested. It is interesting to go thru but bring the $$$$’s if you are going to buy.

The reason why I bought newspapers is to soak up the olive oil in my rug. One of the ways to park my trailer next to son’s home, is to come thru a very rough, makeshift alley. Well, and since the cabinet above where the microwave wasn’t fixed yet. . . . . . . We even took the rug to the car wash when we washed Eggcarto and soaped and sprayed it, but there is still oil. I should have taken it to a laundromat with those large tumble washers when I was there; but, oh well, the newspapers underneath are doing good. Okay, some of you are wondering how I get newspapers under my carpet since Casitas come with carpeting on the floor. A previous owner put laminated wood flooring down.

When I got home from my little trip to town it was in time to “batten down the hatches” as the wind had picked up and we went thru several rain squalls the rest of the afternoon. I read and am now all read out!

Day 32, Corrizozo NM
I witnessed the most gorgeous sunrise this morning.
As I mentioned, the little town of Carrizozo is east of here. To the northeast of town lies the Lincoln National Forest and Carrizo Mt, as one of it’s highest peaks, at about an elevation of 8,000 ft. The mountain range extends in a northwesterly direction from Carrizo Mt. The mountain peak and it’s range were extensively covered in clouds rolling up the east side of the Tularosa Valley almost swallowing up Carrizozo. You cannot even see the mountain range, even now about an hour after sunrise. As the sun was rising, there were the most beautiful colors of orange, pink, and yellow around Carrizo Mt. Fortunately, I had my camera handy but the pictures do not do justice to what I saw with my eye. I am not that good a photographer to make all those adjustments that would have been needed to capture what I was seeing. The mountain range just southeasterly of Carrizozo is not covered in clouds, so the contrast is awesome. In fact now, about 90 minutes after I took the initial pictures, the clouds have reached such a height that an anvil head is forming over the top of the mountain.

Finally around 10:30 I was ready to leave and go exploring. I headed south on US-54 toward Alamogordo. My intentions were to stop at the Three Rivers Petroglyphs and go to White Sands National Monument and return back to camp.
The petroglyphs were some of the most fascinating and interesting and I ended up spending more time there than I had planned. In fact, it was one of the more interesting assortment of petroglyphs I have seen on this trip and other sites I have been to in the past. Over 21,000 have been documented and recorded which took over 6 years to do. You climb up several mounds and they are just all over the place. For those interested, these were made by prehistoric Native Americans that archeologists refer to as the Jomada Mogollon whereas others are known as Pueblo Indian and Mesoamerican Indian symbols.

There is a very nice BLM campground there with 2 spaces that have electricity and water, the others are for dry camping. Very new restrooms and there is a camp attendant in residence there. Also, 8 miles further up is a FS campground.

While climbing up the first mound I saw a bee on my right shoulder and I brushed him off and continued my climbing and exploring for the next 90 minutes. When I got back down and was taking a drink of water, I felt a sting in my right shoulder. Upon looking I saw something dark sticking out of where the bee had been. This very nice gentleman, who had heard me say “that @#&#*@% bee did sting me!” pulled out the stinger with tweezers from my handy dandy super first-aid kit and his wife swabbed the area with alcohol where upon they heard me sing a portion of an Italian opera in Spanish - something like Aye chihuahua! We then put an ice cube on it until the cube melted. Funny never felt anything until I got back down off the mounds.

I continued on down the road to White Sands National Monument and took their loop drive out into the dunes. That sand is really white. I could see it from atop the mounds at the petroglyphs site. By the time I finished that, it was almost 4:30 and I hadn’t had lunch yet. So combining lunch and dinner for the day, I stopped at Applebee’s in Alamogordo and had a Fiesta Lime Chicken dinner and topped it off with a blondie brownie and ice cream. Shouldn’t have done that. . . . . but it was so good and I was so hungry; but oh was I miserable when I got home. I don’t eat much while traveling and even when I am sitting like now and so when I do consume a big meal, ohhhhhhhhhh. I turned in early for the night.

Day 33, Still at Carrizozo and a day of frustration, starting with WATER, WATER
I needed to empty my holding tanks, so what should have been a fairly easy but laborious task and one that shouldn’t have even take an hour - took 4 hours! I pretty much had to get Eggcarto ready as if we were going somewhere else, but not as much detail as I only needed to pull him 1/4 mile to the dump station and back and set him back up again. I got everything unhooked and was just going to leave my hose at the faucet and re-connect it when I got back. Nope, couldn’t shut the water off, it kept coming and coming and spraying me until I was soaked from head to my shoes. I dogtrotted over to the office and the park resident took one look at me and said: “You got a water problem!”

While the help was trying to shut off the water, I was finishing up my getting hitched up. Finally got that done and drug the trailer over to the dump station. Thank heavens it’s one without a curb. These low to the ground trailers are require more work to get that last little ounce out of the holding tank when you have a curb. It’s bend and pick up the sewer hose and run your fingers along chasing the “liquid” down the hose, up over the curb and into the dang sewer hole. Okay, I put blocks under the wheels and tilt the off side up a bit higher, It just sounded better making you think I was really struggling. It’s still yukkie ole work.

I got back and started to set up again and they still didn’t have the water faucet fixed yet. Okay, now it’s ready - opps all 3 of us got drenched. Back to the shop they go for more thingies. Meanwhile, they are #%$&* the Dept. for not giving them the money they need to fix all the faucets in the Park. Okay, now I have it fixed (keep your fingers crossed) and we have a faucet splitter on, this way when I leave I can turn my spigot off and undo my hose and leave. Nope, the pressure didn’t like the splitter and here we go again getting wet. No remember I don’t pack much in the way of clothes.

Okay, now we are going to use the faucet at the next campsite and put the splitter on it (somehow they got the water turned off). Now the splitter won’t fit because there is some dumb OSHA thingie on there and they can’t take it off because they never know when OSHA will come along and they are a governmental entity, etc. etc. etc. So with an extra thingie, they hooked up the splitter (so someone using that campsite could have water too). Yea, nothing happened. I get my hoses (40 ft) hooked up to Eggcarto and stretched as far as 40 ft would go. Opps, not enough hose. So off to the maintenance shed to get another hose. Hook up the hose and lo and behold it has a hole in it! Off to get another hose. Opps again we are short by 5 feet, off to the shed again and FINALLY I get water. Now, since the guys worked so hard I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I could have done without the water hookup. I could have done like I do when boondocking. But, I was nice and we stood around soaking wet and had a good laugh.

The rest of the day was much quieter. Fellow Casita owner Bruce showed up around 5 p.m. and after he hooked up we compared trailers and funny stories. Gad, I hope tomorrow is better. Good night.

Day 34, Lincoln and Capitan NM
Today Bruce and I went to see the famous Lincoln NM - home of the Lincoln County War and stomping grounds of William Bounty, aka Billy the Kid. A lot of restoration has been done and there is a good museum walk. We learned a lot more detail than one learned in school or general readings. You got to actually see and touch and walk through the buildings that played a role in the Lincoln County War, see where Billy the Kid made his daring escape. The State Museum took you further back in time with history of the Apaches, who were originally in the area, the settlements established by the Mexican families, about their families and role in NM history, the need for Fort Stanton and it’s eventual role in the Lincoln County War. It also included bios of the individuals involved in the two sides of the War. All very interesting.

After lunch, I told Bruce we had to stop at Smokey the Bear’s final resting place in Capitan. There is a small State Museum there. I was more interested in the story of Smokey. We walked around the “zone” forests in the back and saw where “the Bear” is buried. As I remember, he lived to be 25 years old and spent all his life in Washington DC at the National Zoo. A lot of dignitaries of the time attended his internment service there in Capitan.

When we got back to Carrizozo, we stopped off and had good old fashioned malts at Roy’s. I mention that for a reason.

Day 35, Carrizozo NM, Mile 3377
It was not a good day. Apparently the ice cream base used for the above mentioned malt, had a strong soybean content. I am allergic to soybeans. I can take them in moderation as I have built up some resistance to them and other things I am allergic to. I don’t usually have the typically thought of reaction any more but my body at 3:30 a.m. let’s see how do I delicately say this. . . . decided to flush it’s self of everything including the allergens. It left me weak, tired and somewhat dehydrated. So all today, was just taking it easy and getting myself back on my feet for the trip to Trinity Site tomorrow.

Day 36, Trinity Site
Bruce and I took our own vehicles as I wanted to run over to Socorro and pick up some more cookies that I like (sorry am spoiled) and have a late lunch of my favorite pizza - stone fired pepperoni with green chilies. And, hopefully be able to upload all of this blog and pictures.

Am sitting here in Socorro at one of my favorite places to eat - Socorro Springs - eating my favorite pizza and checking all my email. Need to stop at the grocery store to pick up some things I don’t see at home then will catch my son at work before heading back to Valley of Firest campground. Tomorrow moring I head home and will be there probably on Tuesday.

Trinity Site was packed with people. Bruce and I spent about 90 minutes there. It was special for me since that is where dad was 57 years ago to help set off the first test. I’ll have more on it after I get home, along with a few pictures. Right now need to finish eating and get all this up loaded to my blog site. Time to sign off as my battery is getting to the limit I set. Finished my delicious pizza, finishing off with a pumpkin roll for desert. Until Later.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Son

Day 29, Socorro NM Mile 3095

Alas, the time has come to move on. I have been here since early Tuesday afternoon and I’ve have had a good time with my son. He has helped me get some things done to Eggcarto, like wash the trailer at a local car wash, wax half the trailer, help me with a temporary screen door, and other little things. He took the week off and will get back to work at the VLBA on Monday.

Wednesday, we ran around town doing errands and me picking up stuff I needed to replenish my supplies.

We took Eggcarto to Albuquerque Thursday to get some repair work done on the trailer. While that was being done I got the oil changed on the truck, visited several RV campgrounds for the visit some of us are making next year to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta that takes place in Albuquerque in early October every year, did a little shopping; and, of course went to Garduno’s for a Mexican lunch. Thursday, was also son Jim’s 41st birthday.

By the time we got home Thursday, I was too exhausted to fix him a special birthday dinner so we BBQ’d T-Bone steaks Friday evening. We grocery shopped and puttered around on Friday.

And of course, we had to eat at my two favorite places here - Socorro Springs and El Sombrero. I did email my daughter that I had lost 10 pounds on the trip so far, but I know I have gained it back in the last few days!

I head out to the Valley of Fire Recreation Area near Corrizozo NM for a week. There is a BLM campground there and it looks like from information I have been reading some interesting things to do in the area. There is Lincoln County - the heart of Billy the Kid country, Ruidoso, Carrizozo, Capitan, Tularosa; and of course White Sands and the Trinity Site. The Trinity Site is where the first atomic bomb was tested and since I have a connection, I wanted to see it. It is only open the first Saturday in October and April. I will be meeting a fellow Casita owner, Bruce from Texas, there. Sunday, I’ll head toward home taking a few days to do that. I may not be able to doing any updating until later in the week as there is no internet/WiFi at the campground.

Y’a all have a good week.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Southward Bound

Day 23, Abiquiu NM Mile 2425

A Casita friend suggested I check out the Riania Corp of Engineers Campground at Lake Abiquiu. I did and here I am in a really beautiful spot on a bluff overlooking the lake. I didn’t have to travel far from Chama, so took the time to do a little laundry and have a leisure breakfast.

We had a small rainstorm this morning and it was nice just to stay in bed and listen to the gentle rain coming down on Eggcarto. I didn’t even have to close my windows. My space is rather large and not close to others so I feel like I have a lot more privacy. I am boondocking again for at least 3 nights. My battery is holding up well and I am doing things to minimize use of it. I have the little solar panel out and it really does a good job of recharging the battery back up.

This is a very “artsie” area - in fact Georgia O’Keeffe made it famous starting back in the mid 1940’s. She bought a house in the Abiquiu plaza in 1945. She already owned a home at the Ghost Ranch (just about 7 miles north of here) and by 1949, she lived here year round. I am seeing the area through her eyes now.

The area, like so much of New Mexico, was first established by the Pueblo people, then the Spaniards in the 1730’s and 40s. Abiquiu residents were given full citizenship under the Spanish crown and were also given a 16,000 acre land grant for grazing and timber use. Abiquiu also became the trailhead for the Old Spanish Trail trade route that linked Santa Fe with Los Angeles.

The Abiquiu Lake Dam was completed in 1963 as a flood and sediment control dam, in 1986 the Corp entered into a water supply contract with Albuquerque. Okay, history lesson over.

Sun is coming out so off to Espanola and Los Alamos for visits.

LATER: I visited Los Alamos to see the changes. Our family lived there from 1944 to 1946. My dad was involved with the Manhattan Project at the time; my brother Fran was born there. Since I was between the ages of 2 and 4, I do not have a lot of memories. I remember a bad ear ache, I remember the doggie door to the back yard and sneaking over to the military tank artillery range and watching the tanks go through maneuvers. I remember my nursery school and learning about how fast rabbits multiply and rolling the tin hoops off of wooden barrels around the school yard. I remember my first puppet show and I kind of remember trips off of “The Hill” down to Santa Fe. I remember going up to mom’s hospital window to get the first glimpse of my baby brother. Those are all memories without the benefit of pictures reminding me. I remember trips to Bandolier and playing in the Rio Grande River and the houses we lived in and the dirt road up to “The Hill”. I remember Sunday dinners at Fuller Lodge (and by the way, it looks much smaller than I remember!)

I took a tour around Los Alamos with a Georgia Strickfaden, who operates Buffalo Tours. She has lived there almost all her life and it was a great treat to get a special tour of the area because I had lived there and there were some things I remembered. She took me to areas where dad probably worked and up on the hill behind Los Alamos where we probably had lots of picnic lunches, when dad was free. I went thru the Bradbury Science Museum and found a “badge” picture of my dad’s supervisor, but not him. It was a fun day remembering despite the showers and downpours we had.

I stopped in Espanola and got my hair cut and picked up a few items I needed and came home. Monday, Day 24, ended up being a day of “trailer cleaning”. After a little over 3 weeks on the road it was pretty dusty in the truck and Eggcarto. It was a beautiful, but windy, day so cleaning was just the right thing to do.

The next morning, Tuesday, I headed to Socorro to see son. I did have a little bit of trouble keeping the trailer plug plugged into the truck and had to make several stops. But, seeing him and getting a big, big hug from him made up for everything.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two days

Day 20, Mile 2436 Chama NM

Oh Pine Trees! And thee smell so good, even in the rain. There are clouds covering the mountain tops, but you can see the moon coming thru. It’s chilly and will get chillier during the night. And, it’s hunting season.

Am here at an RV park for a couple of nights. Tomorrow I have a ticket to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Narrow Gauge Railroad (3 ft wide). I take a bus up to Antonito CO in the morning, board the westbound train at 10 a.m.

The day driving went pretty fast. I came by the 4 Corners and wanted to go but their is a $3 entrance fee charged by the Navajo Tribe and I only had $2 cash, no credit cards used. Pretty commercialized around the Corners too. By the time I drove down to Teec Nos Pos AZ to use the ATM machine, I decided there would be another time to visit and kept going through Shiprock and Farmington NM. Big oil and gas areas since the 1950’s. I came along US64 entering the Carson National Forest and seeing pine trees! Too bad back in Kansas, the oil wells and storage tanks aren’t more environmental friendly like they are here. You hardly noticed them as the pumpers were those systems you just barely see or if they used the familiar pumpers they were painted to blend in with the background. Same with the storage tanks - painted green or sand or brown color. Ours are black, or dull red, or dull or faded blue - they stand out anyway. And the systems I saw here were clean around their areas. Okay off my soapbox. The Chama Valley is a beautiful mountain meadow area.

Day 21, Chama NM
The ride on the train was awesome. I have been wanting to ride on that particular train ride since the 70’s and I finally got to do it. I started at Antonito CO and rode all the way through to Chama. It’s a long day staring at 10 a.m. and finishing at around 4:30p.m. We took an hour for a wonderful lunch at Oiser CO so that broke it up. The train winds and turns and winds and turns upon itself as that is how the steam locomotives had to climb up to the 10,015’ summit at Cumbres. The east side of the mountains to the summit was created by volcanic activity and on the other side it was glaciers that carved out the valleys, leaving behind deposits of large boulders here and there. The west side is a 4% grade down into the Rio Chama Valley and the east side is less than half that, if I remember correctly. We saw some deer but ohhhhhhh the aspens. They haven’t reached their beautiful orange colors yet, but the yellows were starting. Many forests of aspen were still green, so in a few weeks it is going to be beautiful. I was glad I went, but glad I wasn’t around in the days when passengers rode the train!

Day of Lessons

Day 19, Mile 2181, Goosenecks of the San Juan River State Park

Mexican Hat, Utah. Didn’t go very far today but made my destination and here I’ll spend the night. Am out of the “John Wayne Monument Valley” but still in the Monument Valley area. The sand has been blowing since Goulding’s and my keyboard feels like it. I got recharged this morning with a good breakfast with Pam and Leo from Maine. Great couple. Hope I can get up their way sometime soon - they live near a cousin of mine.

Had something happen that will teach me. As I was just a couple miles from Gouldings, I glanced down at my brake controller and noticed that I didn’t have a “C” showing for connection. As soon as I could I stopped and sure enough my plug had come out and had been dragging on the road. Luckily, I caught it before much damage had been done. I readjusted a couple of the plugs, checked everything and was back on the road again. I had failed to do a walk-around before leaving Goulding’s.

The Goosenecks are just that. It takes the San Juan River 5 miles of goose necking to go 2 miles. I think the sign said that it has been doing this for about 100 million years - hey long before our time!

My plans from here will be to head toward Bluff UT, then head over to the 4 Corners, from there to Shiprock NM, thru Farmington NM and over to the Chama NM area. I have always wanted to take the Chama NM to Antonito CO narrow gauge railroad ride. It is like the Durango to Silverton train ride, one most people take, but this one is suppose to be more spectacular.

Until next time. Happy Trails to you. Did you come up with a bunch of John Wayne movies, and I should say John Ford, movies made out this way?

PS I didn’t spend the night at the Goosenecks. There was one other trailer person there and he went out onto a mesa walking around. I suspect he was looking for things. Then someone, I think a Navajo -maybe autority, couldn’t tell - went out to confront him and it became a standoff between the two. #1 one would not come in toward his trailer and #2 man just kept hanging around his vehicle blocking #1’s way back to his trailer. Once in a while I could hear voices but not what was being said. I have an idea what was going on, but decided not to stay - gut said leave. I went to Bluff UT for the night.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What a Place to Get Sick!

Day 18, Mile 2149, Goulding’s Trading Post Campground, Monument Valley AZ

Well, didn’t make it very far today. And to be sick in such a beautiful place too. I had lunch at Mickey Dee’s in Kayenta and within 30 minutes I had to pull over quickly and get out of the truck and run for the ditch. Mind you it is dangerous to pull over out here - very fine sand, no shoulders, often unofficial pullouts are littered with glass and pieces of radial tires. After roughing it over a rather bumpy turn off, I checked the trailer to see if the cupboards had flown open, stuff spilled out of the refrigerator or what ever. Only thing I found was a popped rivet at the top of the cupboard where my microwave goes. Everything had stayed put! In fact, just a few minutes before I stopped I passed the two guys who had gotten their meals just before me and one of them looked like he had made a run too.

Since I didn’t really feel like going much further I came here. Unfortunately, the campground was filled but am parking across the street boondocking again. Sure glad I had that shower this morning.

Speaking of Casitas (I know no one was), one pulled in right after me with a 2005 model. They are Leo and Pam from Brunswick ME. He goes by the handle “Papa Louie” in the forum. At Cottonwood Campground, there were two Casitas - a couple from Florida and Gordon from Arizona. Also, at Cottonwood was one of those new teardrop trailers and a late 80’s Scamp.

As I mentioned above in the first paragraph, this is beautiful country, very red and unfortunately no really good pull off spots for taking pictures, going awwwww or gawking. I finally learned to look for the school bus stop ahead signs and used those for my viewing as they are nice long paved spots for the bus to pull over. US191 and US160 are like mild roller coaster rides. There is good road surface and then there is bouncy, bouncy.

Saw something interesting I wish I could have taken a picture of. Out in the middle of nowhere east of Kayenta on US160, there was a FedEx delivery truck parked on one side of the road and a UPS van parked on the other side of the road and the two drivers were talking to each other. Now, to not get either one in trouble, one might have been broke down.

Just reread the end of my last post and see I am a day off along with time changes - AZ not on daylight, Navajo’s are, Hopi’s aren’t, I have no idea what time it is here - my time. You see hogans still being built out here. The best one I saw had skylights in the roof, an AC unit to one side, TV satellite dish, and house siding on it! But, true to tradition for the Navajos, the door faced the East. In fact, all housing, new or old, trailer or hogan has the door facing East. Oh, besides dogs and horses on the highway, add goats. I experienced my first gas spill ever at a gas station yesterday. I still smell the gas. I was refilling my little 2 gallon gas container and the dang pump wouldn’t shut off. There was gas all over the place. The guy filling up next to me came to my rescue and he said this pump does that often. No body moved, no body drove away until the guy came out and thru some cat litter on the spill. Then everybody left! What is really cool out here is you are driving on sand dunes that have been frozen in time and on top of them are semi-permanent sand dues due to the vegetation holding them. These in time may become like the ones underneath. The “frozen” sand dunes are so pretty with the mounds, swirls.

Well will be up and ready to go to Mexican Hat or where ever. Am having breakfast with the couple from Maine in the morning before I leave. They are really a great pair. Oh, this is the land of John Wayne. Remember his movies made out here? How many can you guess?

Well, anyway here is the news and the pictures will be when I can get them on shortly.

Wow, freebies & my new battery worked!

Day 18, Mile 2017,Cottonwood Campground Canyon de Chelly

Today I visited were our family spread my dad’s ashes, per his request, around 9-10 years ago. I went to Spider Rock here at Canyon de Chelly. That was the only reason why I came here. It is beautiful; and, as you can see, in a couple of the pictures I took, rain squalls in the distance. I soon had a squall upon me at Spider Rock and as I shed some tears they became mixed with the rain coming down on me. I didn’t really care how wet I got at that moment.

I stopped at the Junction Overlook on the way back to camp and there was an elderly Navajo (probably not much older than me but it sounds better) there selling his wares. He asked me why I was so wet, did I get caught in a rain? I explained to him where I was and why. And, he chanted something short in Navajo and didn’t tell me what, but whatever I felt better but drenched and he got his $5. It started to rain again so I got in the truck and just watched the rain blow down into the Canyon.

Okay, I’ve now been blessed or a prayer said over me and I feel good but I am soaked. It was dry here at camp so I discreetly hung my clothes around to dry. As I am sitting outside reading a book, this old mutt comes to my camp begging for any handout I know. I try to ignore him and he patiently waits. He is so smart by being coy about the whole thing (and he is so cute). I was good and didn’t give him anything and he finally wandered off. Because there are so many dogs around, the Park Service has had to raise the trash cans in a rack on stilts so the dogs won’t get into them. Don’t see dogs running packs, like I had heard, but in singles - maybe they figure a single dog won’t scare the humans and they are more apt to get something. Unlike the horses, in herds in Chinle, they roam around together, right out in front of you on the streets, etc. No wonder I noticed so many fences.

I arrived here early yesterday afternoon from Page AZ. Wasn’t a long drive. What I mostly saw was high desert terrain. I did take a few pictures just before getting to Tuba City AZ showing the different layers of color. I had been to Tuba City before but don’t remember it. I crossed the Hopi Reservation and was amazed at how modern the housing is - very neat and tidy and homes like you would find in a small town.

Chinle has really grown and is a hub city for the area - organized in a Navajo way. The Thunderbird Lodge is still here and I had breakfast where the trading post used to be (all that was saved is the safe for storing valuables, now a small art gallery). There is a new Visitor Center and new roads around.

I spent Sunday night in the Wal-Mart parking lot at Page AZ. I hadn’t planned on doing that. I had ordered some prescription refills on-line and would stop to pick them up; but, due to some technical difficulties it was mid-afternoon before they were ready. Hence, it was too late to go very far, so stayed. Glad I did because I ended up getting a new battery for the trailer as the old one just wasn’t holding a charge. I slept pretty good that night. I did stop and see the damn dam at Glen Canyon and listen to people say . . . . ”my look how low the water is.” That’s all my comments on that _ _ _ _ dam.
Thank heavens my calendar on this laptop keeps me straight on my days. I would be lost if I just had a regular calendar to look at and try and figure out what day it is. Tomorrow, Wednesday, I will head towards Mexican Hat and the Goosenecks of the San Juan River.

Battery is running down, so must quit and transfer this tomorrow morning before I leave while I have some WiFi capability.

Yuk, was going to fix some guacamole for sup tonight. I had this avocado for a couple of days, felt like it was ready like I am use to. Cut it open and it’s as hard as rock in side - where the heck is this avocado from I ask? Oh, Chile, nothing like a good ole California avocado.

Morning of 19th day, fortunately I got the tanks on the trailer dumped in time as they were shutting the dump stations and rest rooms down due to a problem in the sewer system because of all the storms we had yesterday. Well, am off up north.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Two Weeks Down

Day 14, Kanab Utah, Mile 1660 in trip

Two weeks tomorrow on the road. Wow and I am not ready to head back home yet. My pictures, as of yesterday’s activities, are updated through my trips to Coral Pink Sand Dunes (Utah) State Park and Pipe Springs National Monument. See my Flickr link to the right.

I leave tomorrow morning (Saturday) for Canyon de Chelly (pronounced sha-long A) National Monument near Chinle Arizona, where I will spend a night (or two) near the Visitor Center. Here I will test my skills I learned on this trip as there aren’t any hookups etc. From there I will travel up to Mexican Hat, Utah and stay in that area. I want to see the Goosenecks of the San Juan River. From there onto see the 4 Corners and wander over to somewhere in the mountains of northern New Mexico. It may be 4 or 5 days before I can post again, but I’ll keep a diary and post as soon as I can.

I have stayed here in Kanab, Utah for 3 nights. I am taking it easy today doing laundry, stocking up on things for the next few days, gassing up, etc. You have heard of Montezuma’s Revenge if you go to Mexico? Well, Utah’s “culinary” water has affected me the same way (it’s very good tasting by the way - beats the water at home by a long shot), so am back to Dasani water for drinking and cooking for awhile.

Today, I saw John and Ann at another RV park. They had apparently came down from Zion yesterday and didn’t see me in this park until they were out walking their dogs yesterday afternoon. I wasn’t at home at the time. They were to meet Don and Kathie this morning and go onto the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Don found me and he went looking for Ann and John but didn’t find them as they had left the park at 11 a.m. (check-out time) and were parked on a street next to the RV park waiting for him. Since Don didn’t find them, he and Kathie went on to the Rim. I got to talk with Kathie for a few minutes and she had a good time in Zion. Ann said she loved it. After Don and Kathie left, I went back to Ann and John and they were talking with Casita owner Sebastian, who lives here in Kanab. We visited for a few minutes and Ann and John then left to go back to west Texas. They decided since Don wasn’t exactly sure where he was going to be, it would be hard to find the camp among the many primitive campgrounds on the North Rim, so they would head back home. Besides, we learned tomorrow is the opening of bow hunting season there. I stayed and visited with Sebastian for awhile.

The experience with the others has been good, I did learn some things and was able to help others with things I had learned. As with any group, we did have our differences of opinion and conflicts but overall I am glad I was with them and learned what I did. Now that your are totally confused about this morning, I’ll move on.

Let’s see. Oh, yes . . . .Kathie and I took advantage of the free shuttle bus service through the Park at Bryce. You get off, spend as long as you want at each point then catch the next bus coming by. I am glad we did because there were so many vehicles at each point of interest - course that’s the purpose of the shuttle bus is to cut down on the traffic in the Park (Zion has it too). For a panoramic view and colors, it is Sunset Point. All the hoodoos and changing colors. We had lunch at the Bryce Canyon Lodge built by the UP railroad decades ago to bring tourists to Bryce, really good food but not good enough to put on “My Favorite Places” list. I found a Dutch Oven cookbook for Don and gave it to him that night when I went to say goodbye to everyone. I am sure glad that I have one of those America the Beautiful Senior Pass’s as it saved me the $25 entrance fee. I understand Zion has the same entrance fee. Those two National Parks are very popular.

Yesterday (Thursday), was a really enjoyable day. I first went to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park , just a few miles northwest of here and spent between 2 and 3 hours traipsing around the sand dunes. It is a very fine sand and not easy to walk in. I followed the nature trail that had been laid out and read about the wildlife, plants and why the dunes are there. Check their website out for more information. I came back, had lunch and took a short nap.

In the afternoon, I went to Pipe Springs National Monument and met the most fantastic woman. Bro, she reminded me of Georgie Clark White. (I had taken some exciting and interesting river trips with her 47-48 years ago.) Her name is June and she is a volunteer with the National Parks/Monuments. I would say she is in her 70’s and has done things that a lot of us dream about. She knows the area and has lots of stories to tell about Pipe Springs. She has lots of stories about her life too. I really had fun there and came away with an armload of produce from the garden at the Monument (it’s a garden like the settlers would have had).

I like to indulge once in a while, while traveling, in local cuisine. Tonight I had a super dinner at The Rocking V Cafe. The owner is witty, colorful and amusing. Their website is just as interesting as the owner. I had the Desert Oasis salad then finished up my dinner with a very delicious bread pudding with whiskey sauce. This is going on my list of FAVORITES.

Well, the local football game is in it’s second half and I will be able to go to bed pretty soon. My neighbors and I are getting a play-by-play account of the game as the football stadium is just a few blocks away. It is homecoming for the Cowboys and they shoot off fireworks every time the locals get a touchdown. So far that has been four times. Opps, the opponent, the Eagles, are catching up.

Good night, and will post again when I can.
PS New pictures and new Favorite Place to Eat

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's 3:30 in the morning

And here I am posting. Our group is in the Bryce National Park area. I am in a public/commercial RV park and the other 3 are in Red Canyon Park about 10 miles west of here. The reason I am here, plugged into electricity and water, is that my trailer battery needed some long-term juice. That's my excuse. I wanted to be able to turn a light on and leave it on for a while! I knew I wasn't an avid boondocker but wanted to learn some basics for those times when I wanted to go somewhere to see something and there wasn't electricity/water available and for those nights I just couldn't find anything.

Ya, the campground is crowded and neighbors are in close proximity to each other, but I have already met Cathy and Rusty, Cathy's father-in-law and his cat Charlie, and Linda. We also happen to meet at the laundry mat. It's quiet, there are pine trees to smell and the temperature outside is hovering in the upper 30's right now. I just turned my little heater on and I am snug as a bug in a rug. This is our first really cold night.

Sunday morning we left Capital Reef and headed for Escalante State Park located in the northern part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park on UT 12. I stopped in Torrey to use a WIFI signal from a motel, to check emails as we are communicating with several Casita owners in the Kanab area and send out emails to family, send another blog out, get some ice and a few groceries. The others went on ahead of me. I enjoyed being by myself but did catch up with them later near Escalante.

I drove thru mountain country with pine trees and loaded with aspen. The aspen groves are just like in pictures you see - the white trunks, beautiful. The leaves are just starting to lose their green color and will be covering the sides of the mountains with their gorgeous golden color before long. I did encounter a Miata car club from the Salt Lake Valley and we played leap frog for quite a while. At a view point, before reaching the summit of Boulder Mountain at 9600 ft, we met each other again. Some of them wanted to see the inside of the trailer.

It is also open range and cattle are still in the mountains, and on the highway. I rounded one curve going up hill about 40 mph and met a calf crossing the highway with his mama. I managed to brake in time but still lightly bumped him. He is okay and was showing no sign of injury, nor any to the truck. But mama wasn't very happy. She came back up on the road and gave me a look that only mom's understand.

On the other side of Boulder Mountain the environment changed and became more high desert like. The colors were still there but the geography was changing. At one point, we traveled across what I would call a "goat trail". Again, the sides of the road dropped off down the sides for many, many feet (it seemed more like miles) and no guard rails. They probably wouldn't have done much good anyway. This was my first encounter driving with a trailer down 14% grades. Weeeeeeeeeeeee.

We arrived at Escalante SP around noon, set up, had lunch and discussed what to do that afternoon. Kathie and Don went exploring back up near Boulder UT and the 3 of us stayed in camp, took showers, I worked on the computer. On Monday morning we headed to Devil's Garden on a terrible washboard road. Ann was getting sick and so she and John turned back. The Devil's Garden area has a lot of interesting rock formations. Don told me to speed up on the washboard road and it wouldn't be so bad. Boy, did my springs get a true workout as I barreled down that road for camp. Think I scared a very slow moving car at the crest of a hill!

We left Escalante SP, after spending one night there and headed over to the Bryce area. It was a short drive but as you got closer to Bryce we were treated to "Bryce teasers" I call them. The beautiful pinks, creams, and salmon colors in the pillars and spires. Tomorrow (errrr, today) Kathie and I get together and take the shuttle bus around to the various view points in Bryce and then go over to Kodachrome Canyon, south of Canyonville on UT 12. Ann and John are tending to some household (er, trailerhold) chores and then do some touring themselves. Don is going to stay in camp and work on his notes for the May 2008 trip others will be taking.

I will be leaving the group here and heading for the Kanab UT area for a few days. Haven't decided what to do or see yet, but that's the fun of this trip. The others are suppose to come thru Kanab, from Zion National Park, on their way to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. So maybe I will see them. It's been fun being with them and have enjoyed the companionship, laughs, and getting acquainted with some fellow Casita owners. I learned some things too - I enjoyed traveling more by myself from point A to point B, when with a group, I really do like my comforts, I can cook a meal on the stove, it is a bit tiring to me to move every 1 or 2 days, I can master those 14% downhill grades and narrow roadways, and the pine trees still smell good.

Until next time.
PS. Will work on some more photos tomorrow night.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

One Week and still going!

Day 8, Mile 1250 Capital Reef National Park

I am going to start from today and work backwards. Hopefully, as we leave here Sunday morning I can find a place in Torrey UT to send this out to my blog site. After all we have been spending a few days in a area that is estimated to be over 2 billion years old; and as many of you know, when you reach a certain age it’s very hard to make, adapt, to or accept changes. We did find a couple of telephones down here, so if necessary we could call out! It’s very remote as far as communication with the outside world goes.

It is really and truly beautiful here. The daytime temps are in the 80’s and the nighttime are in the 60’s. There is usually a nice breeze throughout the area. There have been very few threatening clouds, though we did miss some flash flooding up in the Canyons a few days ago when Kathie and I were in Moab.

Today, Kathie, Don our leader (who came late and will explain that later) and myself went looking for desert bighorn sheep back up in some of the canyons. We were not successful but we did get into a pretty remote area of the Park known as the South Draw area. This area was a cattle gathering area years before Capital Reef even became a National Monument. Ranchers would herd their cattle to this area as winter was drawing near and take them down to the lowlands for winter. It was the first time I had ever had Big Red on a 4 wheel drive road (and I don’t have 4-wheel drive). It was fun.

Kathie and I arrived here on Day 6 of my trip, from Moab. It was a relatively blah drive over here and only several hours in length, so we didn’t hurry our departure from Moab. We got here around 1 p.m. and quickly found two other Casitas belonging to Marilyn from the Phoenix area and to Ann and John from west Texas. After a couple of hours we finally had ourselves set up and ready to join the group. I am parked on a steep incline and have had to extend the trailer jack a bit more than I am comfortable, so I told the group there will be no partying or dancing in my trailer! I did not want to roll down the incline into Kathie’s rig.

We leaned later, from a message left at the Visitor Center, that Don our leader had called and needed to talk with someone from our group. Uh oh, we thought something has happened and we are on our own! This is how we found one of the land lines as I said in my first paragraph, we are communication remote. Well, due to an issue Don had at home that would be taken care of Friday morning (9/7), he wouldn’t be joining our group until after we had gong to bed Friday night or early Saturday morning. So we were pretty much on our own to decide what to do for the day of Friday.

Early Thursday evening we spent the time getting acquainted with each other. Later that evening we attended the Park show, put on by a Ranger, at the amphitheater and learned about the geology side and man’s discovery of the area and about the settlements. Briefly, this area was used by mountain men, John Fremont explored the area looking for passages, and right here in the area of the campground was settled by Mormon families. Community activities were established and all kinds of fruit and nut trees were planted. The area is just perfect with plenty of water, climate for fruit trees, etc. In fact the fruit trees are still here and are loaded with pears and apples right now. You can pick them when the orchards are open and eat all you want while in the orchard, but you must pay for what you take out of the orchards.

President Roosevelt established the area as a national monument in and later it was declared a national park. Not only is the geographical condition of the area under preservation but the little town area of Fruita is too. We were told to be sure and go the Gifford Farm House at 9 a.m. and get some of the locally produced fruit pies from the locally grown fruit. I purchased an apple and a mixed berry pie plus some other goodies Friday morning before we started exploring the area. And they are really good.

On Day 7, Kathie, Marilyn and I decided we were going to explore the Grand Wash area. You drive a few miles on a paved road, then a dirt road, then hike 1.3 miles to The Narrows. The canyon walls become very narrow and one can imagine the rush of water coming down the canyons and gaining speed. Marilyn and I could stand with arms outstretched touching each other and touching the walls on each side, that’s how narrow it got. We had an enjoyable walk taking our time, resting here and there. That was pretty much the extent of our activities for the day. It is somewhere between 5,000 and 6000 feet elevation so we weren’t pushing ourselves.

The rest of the afternoon, we visited at one of the campsites, called to see where Don was, and he was on his way just leaving Salt Lake City. He estimated to be in sometime after 10:30 p.m. Marilyn, Kathie and I went into the little town of Torrey, tried to call out on our cell phones, gassed up Big Red and found a place to have supper. While there, I found a place to send an Emil to family to let them know I was okay as my phone call to Juno got cut off after I got a couple of words out of my mouth, as my battery went dead. We waited up until 10 p.m. for Don to show but he hadn’t yet and everyone else in the campground was turning in.

I was just climbing into bed at 11 p.m. and saw what looked like a Casita coming around the bend into the campground. It was Don and I went out (in my pjs) and met him and helped him get temporally set up for the night. Marilyn had told us earlier that, due to pressing matters at home, she really needed to be hitting the road for back to the Phoenix area Saturday morning and Don would use her space so he would be closer to the rest of us.

Oh, one cute incident. I walked over to the House where the pies are sold and on the way I stopped to take some pictures of deer in the pasture surrounding the house. As I turned around here were a dozen mule deer coming toward me to go to the pasture also. It was so interesting watching them and seeing their relationship with each other. There were 4 or 5 fawns and one buck. Bringing up the rear was a doe. A man and his little Scottie dog had just walked by where the group had been and this doe saw the Scottie dog and could not take her eyes off of it. She wanted to go up to that little dog but the man kept shooing the doe away. She kept watching that dog, would walk a few steps, stop and watch, take a few more steps, stop and watch. Meanwhile, the dog was totally oblivious to what was going on.

Need to take a break and fix supper. The two men joined forces and made a peach cobbler in Don’s Dutch Oven for our dessert tonight. Can even smell it. More later.

Day 5 Moab, Utah
This was a day of exploration. I got up early in the morning to get to the Island in the Sky district located about 30 miles up a mesa. Unfortunately, it was pretty hazy and was hard to get good pictures. You were up on top of this mesa that is connected to a larger piece of land with a “neck” that is the width of a shoulder less two-lane road. At some point in time it would be an “island”. The Green River runs on the west side of the mesa and the Colorado River on the east side of the mesa. What the Colorado River has done is much more spectacular. There are 4-wheel trips you can take that take you about mid-way down the mesa and all the way around. It is a two-day trip and you camp out on the lower level. The area was extensively mined for uranium years ago and you can still see the scars. Some of the roads are used by the tour companies. I took several hikes to overlooks not accessible by vehicle.

After returning to camp, taking a short nap, Kathie and I headed to Dead Horse State Park. This is another mesa with a very narrow neck that was used in days of long ago, when cowboys would herd mustangs onto this small mesa and put a brush fence behind the horses to keep them there. Then the cowboys would cut out the horses they wanted and normally would open the fence so the unpicked horses could make their way back to grass and water. But, for some reason the horses stayed this one time and starved to death. The cowboys claimed they opened the brush gate. The view towards the Colorado River is really great. It forms goosenecks thru the country; and, once again you could make out people in 4-wheel drive vehicles or ATV’s along the roads below. I have pictures from that day on my “flickr” page, but not labeled yet. There are several large lagoons of a blueish water and this is salt brine being brought up from way down below, dried in large lined lagoons and what is extracted is potash. We were told that this area has never felt an earthquake because of the salt layer way below that acts as a cushion. There have been earthquakes, they have never been felt - otherwise there would not be the spectacular arches, pillars and so on there are.

Kathie and I went into Moab for dinner and they took a wonderful boat ride up the Colorado River at dusk. By the time we got about 4 or 5 miles up the River, it was dark and a truck that has 40,000 watt lights on it displays the canyon walls. Along with a narration about the area, its history and good music you really get wrapped up in the whole thing. It was cool and felt good, no bugs because the bats were taking care of that as they swooped over your head and around the boat.

Day 4
This day I traveled to Moab. Not much to say except that a few short miles into Utah, I passed a sign on the highway that said “Eagles on road”. Never saw one, never saw another sign.

Day 3
Took a designated Colorado Scenic Route to Gateway, Naturita, Narrows, Ridgeway, Montrose, Delta and back to Grand Junction.

The trip to Gateway - WOW, WOW and WOW beautiful canyons

Gateway - AMAZING, FASCINATING, WANT TO RETURN. John Hendricks, the founder of the Discovery Channel grew up here and he loved it so much he and his family want to share the beauty. He has moved his fantastic Auto Museum here, built a gorgeous lodge, restaurant, general store and soon to be amphitheater next year. An campground is in the works too. Their web site is and for the auto museum it is

Continued on south, more canyons, wooden flumes built on the side of cliffs in Dolores River Canyon during the gold mining days is astounding.

As you get closer to the area around Norwood, you are in high altitude meadows and it is ranching and some farming country. Very beautiful country. Several hours earlier there had been thunderstorms in the area. As I was going down “Norwood Hill” a 4-mile 7% downgrade the sign at the top of the hill said “Falling Rocks”. This is the first time I have ever encountered already falling rocks plus one falling hitting the tonneau cover on the back of the truck. No damage luckily.

The area west of Ridgeway is very beautiful, again high elevation, meadows, groves of aspens just starting to turn the dull green before they turn their beautiful colors.

I tried to keep this portion short as I got pretty windy on Day 2. And I’ll try not to go as long again. It gets hard to remember so I try and keep notes. See my pictures so far and they will explain my awe so far.

Well, my bed and bedding should be dry by morning. It’s amazing how big that 6 oz glass of water can grow when you spill it! And a note for my family and friends: Since I have come to the high elevation, I have only felt two incidents of heart flutter.
Good night. Off to Escalante National Park tomorrow.

PS For those following the road/highway routes I am taking, it has been west on I-70. Just past Green River Utah, I took UT 24 to Hanksville, west on UT 24 to the Fruita campground at Park Headquarters. When I took the CO Scenic Byway, it was CO 141 to Gateway, then to Naturita, then CO 145 to Norwood, CO 62 to Ridgeway, US 550 to Montrose, US 50 thru Delta and back to Grand Junction

Monday, September 3, 2007

Day 2, 563 Miles

Day 2, Mile 406 At the top of Vail Pass, 10,600 ft above sea level

Whew! The cyclists are unbelievable. They are in all shapes (not quite all shapes), sizes, ages, styles, etc. Opps, did see one hefty gentleman riding uphill near Eagle. Good for him.

It’s been a beautiful day so far. Thunder clouds are starting to form overhead over the mountain tops. There is no wind or even a breeze. I left this morning to a beautiful sun rise, no wind and little traffic on the Interstate. I think the area between Limon and Deer Trail (on I-70) is really beautiful, if you are into wide open spaces - one can see for miles and miles, cattle grazing, cottonwoods lining the banks of the East Bijou River, a cemetery on the hill with a lone tree standing over those interred there, located across from the little town of Agate. Ahh, the quietness of the open country - until a vehicle going 80 mph goes by you on the type of highway surface that makes your tires whine.

I chose to go straight thru Denver on I-70 and then up the Rockies. I did pretty good so far. At least I made it this far. I am hoping to get somewhere between Vail and Grand Junction for the night.

Day 2, Mile 563
GRAND JUNCTION CO. Am here at the RV Ranch at Grand Junction. A very nice park, lots of folks here with those big rigs all chatty and friendly. A lot of them seem to know each other and they just had a potluck supper over at the little “Patio Cafe” just two spaces down from me. They were quiet.

I didn’t have reservations so feel lucky I got a spot - a pull in and back out in the a.m. or a back in and pull out in the a.m. Unfortunately, the nice level concrete pad is not long enough to do either and stay hooked up! Either the back end of the trailer or the front end of the truck would stick out into the roadway. So I backed in at an angle (that was real hard to do mind you since I still haven’t mastered backing that well yet), unhooked the truck and was able to park it next to the trailer enough to get it out of the roadway and about 18” to open my door on Eggcarto. Course backing in put all the hookups on the wrong side, but alas I had planned for occasions like this (really)! The space isn’t quite wide enough to park alongside either.

I said “Oh the (fill in blank with your own descriptive word) I am tired, hot, grumpy and hungry”. I turned on the AC and crawled into bed and slept for 3 hours. I hadn’t really wanted to drive this far and the park I had wanted to stay at right along the Colorado River had RV’s with propane tanks out front of their units and the park wasn’t very well organized. My gut said forget it and drive on.

I just finished supper - a guacamole salad and now finishing off with one of my Rice Krispie treats I made at home.

I tried running my refrigerator on propane today for the first time while traveling to take the load off the batteries, as I had read on the website many travel with the refrig on propane. Well, that was a wasted effort. The wind shield for the flame is loose and hence the pilot light kept blowing out. Then my lighter wand thingy quit on me, so I did a lot of praying that my refrig would stay cold enough to get me to an electrical hookup to run it on. I think everything is okay. We’ll see in the morning how I feel or if I wake up even!

Back to the first part of this posting, if you ain’t into cycling (or skiing) in this State you got to be out of the element (sorry JE, stole your quote to me). There are cycling paths up and down both sides of the mountains, paved for the most part; and look out if you are standing in one of them taking pictures! And once you hit the Colorado River there are rafting trips, albeit calm compared to my experience thru the Grand Canyon, ohhhhhhhh a number of decades ago. Finding a parking spot at the rest areas along the Interstate are hard to come by too.

At Eagle, I pulled into the rest area there and lo and behold there was another Casita. It turned out to be Jane and Ron from Gainesville Florida. They had been vacationing out west and were headed back home to Florida. First Casita I have seen. Oh, did have some one honk at me and wave while I was going through Glenwood Canyon. Either had a Casita themselves or were from Kansas or saw the Pink Ribbon in a window in Eggcarto. I was too busy navigating the turns, watching my speed and trying to catch the sights at the same time to see where they were from.

The sights are beautiful and breathtaking and I did manage to get some pictures and tried to minimize the amount of people in the area. Wasn’t like this decades ago when I was last here. The change from the mountainous rock to the red soils to the almost painted desert effect as you proceed west. I can hear my brother now naming off the types of rock they are - ahhhhh brings back memories of traveling with the family when I was a youngster!

Guess I will be running the AC tonight, it’s hot. Last night at Limon I had to get a blanket out and cover me up it was so chilly. I’ll try and get some photos posted here in a few days. I haven’t really taken that many yet. Am recharging batteries for the camera and my phone is off as I need to recharge it tomorrow - I forgot the AC plug.

Good night.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Day 1, 253 Miles

LIMON CO, I managed to get away around 10 a.m. CDT and headed west on I-70. It was hard saying good by to Juno, but we parted after a bunch of hugs.

I decided to use the anti-sway bar, between the trailer and pickup, this trip and it didn’t take long to notice the difference - a big difference between the first trip where I didn’t use it and just 45 miles of driving in this trip. The first thing I noticed was the lack of “bucking” between the pickup and the trailer on rough road surfaces. About 45 miles down the road, the wind picked up considerably hitting the driver side of the vehicles. When the 18-wheelers passed there wasn’t any sway at all - it was as if tow vehicle and trailer were one. I didn’t experience much trouble on Trip #1 with sway problems but hated the “bucking” that went on between the truck and trailer. I am sold on using the anti-sway bar now. Hopefully, I don’t forget to back up with it on!

It was pretty uneventful today, only thing I wrestled with was being tired. The night before you leave on a trip, when you need a good night’s sleep, is not the time to have a glass of ice tea from the sun tea you had made earlier in the day - thinking the tea was decaffeinated! So I made it as far as here and am staying in a KOA campground.

I took a long, long nap. Fixed supper, took a shower and now ready for bed. We did have some light showers earlier and I can see lightening out my dinette window. It is pretty and also pretty far away. Maybe western Kansas is getting some rain.

Until next time. . . . .

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thank Heavens for the Hoe . . . . .

And tomorrow is the day. It’s been a hectic last 10 days getting ready. Saw the cardiologist last Friday morning and he reported my “flutters” are very common - I am just having premature contractions in the atrial and ventricle. Nothing special to do and said go have a good time.

Sarah from Dodge City, came up Saturday morning just to get out of town for awhile. She brought me one of those wind-up flashlights and also brought several things from Sherry, my other friend in Dodge City. Sherry sent up a wind-up combination radio and flashlight and a French Press coffee maker for those days when not plugged into electricity. I can just heat up water on my stove, which reminds me I should pre-grind some coffee beans as the first few mornings I won’t have electricity.

Monday morning I took the truck in to have the tires rotated and have belts, cables etc., checked over. Meanwhile, I was finishing up my last week’s work schedule of 6 days in a row of a 2-11p.m. shift.

Wednesday I just puttered as I was pretty tired. I worked on a grocery list of things I needed and things to leave Juno, did some packing of the trailer and mostly rearranged some things. I didn’t need as many dishes as I had so that left me more room for organizing.

Packed items for chilly nights, including a blanket (that I made no less) to match my color theme! I bought a small ceramic heater to use (when there is electricity), otherwise I will use the heater installed in the trailer.

Thursday was grocery shopping and errand running in Hays. I did some yard work out front and took some pictures of the flowers out front to remind me of what I am leaving behind. Think the worst job I had to do was get all my financial stuff taken care off - bills, reconcile statements and stuff like that. Yuk.

Today, pack the truck and trailer, check all the working stuff on the trailer again and make some Rice Krispie treats to take along! I’ll leave some for Juno. The day getting Eggcarto ready did not go well. At 10:30 a.m. I realized I had an hour or so to wash the outside off before I hit the “no outside watering” rule from 12 noon to 7 p.m. So hurried over there, got the hose out, hooked up my new fancy brush with extended handle, turned on the water and nothing but a shower from the hose end. I am suppose to be able to regulate the flow of water by turning the thing at the end. It wouldn’t open, so took the fancy new brush off and wet down a portion, scrubbed with the brush, rinsed, repeat, repeat.

When I took the spare tire off, the fiberglass had become terribly stained by the dirt that had collected behind the tire. Didn’t have anything on hand to see if it would come off. Decided to carry the spare in the back of the truck. Then as I was cleaning off the top driver side front, I hit the black water vent cap and it came off. Needs replacing anyway as the plastic (or whatever) is pretty brittle - just knew there was a reason why I decided to visit Camping World in Colorado Springs! So it is stuck back on temporarily. I checked the vent cap for the gray water tank and it’s okay for now.

I also wanted to see what was the matter with the microwave in the trailer as I have never been able to get it to do anything while it is hooked up to shore power. The finger pads on the control panel just wouldn’t work. While I was trying to get it out of its extremely tight spot, I pulled the control panel off breaking the little catches that held it on and pulling a couple of wires loose. Now it really doesn’t work. It got stuck on something on the bottom and since I didn’t have a whole lot of room to work with, I decided to take off the cabinet door above it. That was easy and then it made it a whole lot easier to get the microwave out; opps, now the upper shelf is falling down. Since Jim (my ex) was there, we emptied the cabinet and pulled out the microwave.

I thought I cut some boards long enough to fit underneath the shelf to hold it up but they are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch too short, had to jury rig something up so I could reattached the cabinet door and will use the vacant space for more storage. The microwave is sitting in my bedroom and will worry about it later after I come home.

I almost forgot to do my laundry. I do keep extra clothing on board the trailer, but just the idea of dirty clothes sitting for 4-6 weeks in my closet didn’t sound good! Eventually, I would have asked Juno to wash the clothes - probably after she complained of this “smell’ coming out of my closet!

I cleaned up my bedroom so if Juno has company she can use the bed. I stopped at the local library and picked up a couple of books to read by James Patterson.

Tonight I put my Casita Club Directory numbers on the front of Eggcarto so if anyone is coming towards me on the highway and knows about the Club they can look my number up in the Directory and see that it is NomadWoman. Only problem is I started drinking a beer when I started putting up the numbers. The 4 numbers and the “K” for Kansas are pretty straight, but the “S” in “KS” has become my beer “S”.

Got almost everything I bought for the refrigerator put in - and then I got home and saw my jar of ice tea! Opps, a little rearranging to do in the morning.

All that is left to do is load the back of the truck up with my camping gear, have breakfast, say my goodbyes, get gas and then I'll be on the Interstate to Colorado Springs.

Oh ya, the garden hoe. I accidentally discovered how great it is for retrieving things from the front of the bed of the pickup. l don’t have to climb up into the bed to get something up front. It’s also great for shoving things into place.

Good night and sleep tight.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Bed Sheets are in the washer . . . .

and that means it is getting close to departure time. Took Eggcarto to my friendly service repair man and he checked the tires, put a little bit of air in one, and put the new wheel bearing covers on for me. I flushed out the water pipes and put the water heater anode back in. Am here at the house getting some lunch while the sheets wash and dry then take Eggcarto back to his parking spot.

I did practice again backing the trailer up and am not doing too bad at parking it to my right. I have clear tape around my passenger side mirror (backed out of the garage to close to the door frame one night and it serves it purpose right now) and I use that as a guide as to where the rear right yellow clearance light should be in my mirror before I turn the steering wheel the other way. But if I have the opportunity for a pull-thru site, I'll take it!

I work for the next 6 days straight and then I am off until the end of October. I see the cardiologist this coming Friday, a good friend is coming by this Saturday morning to visit before I go to work, truck gets checked out on Monday, then start loading. Daughter Juno is going to have a nice quiet month plus while I am gone. And, she gets to do whatever yard and house work she wants to, for it's her house you see.

I am to be in Moab, Utah sometime Tuesday, Sept 4 where I'll meet up with Kathie, from Ft Worth, and where I have a reservation at an RV park for two nights. Wednesday, I hope to explore the Dead Horse State Park area and go through the Island in the Sky district. Thursday, Kathie and I will head out early morning to Capital Reef National Park where we will meet up with two other folks and start out excursion around southern Utah.

I'll have a short post before I leave . . . . . .

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Welcome you to my Traveling Boudoir. . . .

So what were you expecting? Maxine?

I have been wanting to personalize my living situation in a manner that would make me feel comfortable and welcome. One of the things I have done is to put some personal pictures around and to select themes for design... I love lighthouses and the southwest. Interesting combination? Yup. To accent the various seasons, I made valances to go over my windows - I have summer, fall and winter so far. Haven't found any material that sets off spring yet.

Here they are up close.

Summer w/leaves & Flowers

Fall w/ fall colors, natch

Winter with red and golden cardinals

My friend sitting at the dinette table holding a family picture. My kids picture is on the table beside her.

That's my brother Fran, at Knott's Berry Farm

Southwest pictures on the cabinet doors and lighthouse magnets on my stove hood

I have a new green rug for the floor as I figure that nights might be a bit chilly and that wood floor could feel a bit cold on my bare feet, especially if I have to get up during the night. . . .

The closer it's getting to depart, the more anxious I am getting. Anxious to leave that is. I will be climbing the Rockies and this will be my first experience going up and down those big mountains with a trailer behind me. Big Red ought to handle Eggcarto and the rest of us easily. From Grand Junction, it will be south on the western side of Colorado to a little town of Naturita, then west over to US 191 and north to Moab, Utah. There I will meet up with my Casita friend Kathie and we will head to Capital Reef National Park to meet up with other fellow Casitians touring southern Utah.

My list of things to do before leaving keeps getting longer instead of shorter. Ho hum, it will all fall into place and then we'll all be off on a new venture in a few weeks. I'll post again shortly before leaving.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

It's August Already!

Wow, a month since I last posted! Either shows you how busy I have been or haven't been.

Actually I have been busy. Am preparing for my next venture which will take me to southern Utah and northern New Mexico. Am meeting up with some folks, who own Casitas too, at Capital Reef National Park in early September. After spending a few days there, it's off to one of the other many Parks in southern Utah - Bryce, Zion, Escalante....... While the group is touring the north rim of the Grand Canyon I may head over to see Glenn Canyon, Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, Mexican Hat and the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, step on the 4 Corners of the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico and then head over to the mountain area of northern New Mexico before heading south to Socorro to surprise my son for his birthday at the end of September!

Some portions of this trip will include "boon docking" - in my case doing without plugging into an electrical receptacle or hooking the white hose to a water faucet for a constant flow of water, i.e. relying on my own tanks and electricity. I will be learning the "basics". I do have a solar panel to recharge the trailer battery and hope to learn more about that source of recharging from others. The contact with the outside world will be limited and that could be fun (or scary).

Some of my projects have included making a "box", for the refrigerator in Eggcarto, from plastic canvas and craft cord. On my first trip I got tired of pulling small items out to get to something in the back of the refrig, so I made a box that I can put small things in. It covers half of the space and the other half will include my large things - milk and juice containers, etc. I just slide the box out and there is everything organized (I hope). I also put a "railing" around the top shelf with left over canvas, as again, when I needed something it was at the back or when I pulled the shelf out, items fell off. So when I pull the shelf out, items will stay on the shelf (again, I hope).

The replacement windows are in the house. Ten windows were installed and it looks so much better - at least no more rattling from the storm windows when the wind blows. That will be nice this winter as that sound always seemed to make it colder. I got single-hung windows and they are the kind you can open from the inside to clean. And, with the rain guttering up that's enough projects for this year $$$$$.

I have bought some material to make "seasonal" valances for the windows in Eggcarto. Ahhh, cute you say but you refer to Eggcarto as a "he". And I finally drained my water heater on the trailer. Ugh, that should have been done when I got home. Eggcarto still needs a bath and I need to finish putting the clips around the blue rope light on the outside. I discovered a hole in the top of my television antenna, made by a hailstone. Right now good ole duck tape is covering it (haven't used it yet anyway).

Otherwise, doing exciting things like trying to keep up with the lawn mowing and weeds. Normally, this time of the year there isn't much to do since it is normally hot and dry and everything slows down; BUT this year like in other places, we have been unseasonably wet and a bit on the cooler side. Oh, and there is housework and work to fill my time.

Just got an email from a fellow soloist Kathie (met her at the Bluebonnet Rally in Bandera TX this year) and looks like she is planning on joining us for the southern Utah tour. We are going to try and meet up ahead of time somewhere and travel together to Capital Reef together.

An old friend from 30 years ago, whom I had lost touch with 10 or so years ago, found me via the Internet - my kids, etc. Sheryle and I are getting caught up and she doesn't live that far away - out in Colorado. So we will be doing that and eventually seeing each other. Hi Sheryle!

Wore a heart monitor for 2 days, nothing serious or to keep me from doing my thing. The cardiologist wants more information about the heart flutters/quivers I get. I did discover a acupressure point to make them stop - haven't told him yet - and the spot does work. The number of flutter episodes has decreased remarkably as well as the strength of them, in fact I hardly feel them now. The point is your eyelids - gently touch the closed eyelids with one finger from each hand. The first time I tried it, the flutters stopped immediately and the few times I have had them, they have again stopped. You might try it if you have the same thing. I'll find out the results later this month.

Until later.........

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Hot, Hot, Hot - - - BUT

not as bad as other parts of the west. I have friends who live near Boise Idaho and they are sizzling - 105 degrees in Boise on 7/6. They just got back from a trip to Lake Louise and Baniff in Canada. And, the folks in The Valley in Arizona are burning up with 120+ degrees. We are at a cool(er) temperature of 93 and humidity of 28%. Then you go to the other extreme for the folks in southeastern Kansas down into Texas and there over 30 days of rain!

One week of work down and ????? to go. Labor Day weekend is not coming fast enough. I don't like traveling this time of the year - heat, lots of other travelers who need to get away from the humdrum of home while I can do it later, kids without their electronic gadgets or can't be reached on their cell phones because they aren't within range of each other and out of reach of a cell tower!

It was rough getting back into a routine - a different routine. I like working days as it goes pretty fast - seems more like 6 hours of work instead of 8 - compared to working overnights or 3rd shift. I enjoyed the reactions of my fellow workers who kept looking at the light coming thru the skylights and saying "It's still daylight, what are you doing here?" And, daytime management feels more open and friendly towards me than when I encountered them in the late evening or when they had to work overnight! I could understand at the end of their shift but not, also, when they are coming to work in the morning. Please recognize the 3rd shift folks (except Mike the store manager, he does anyway no matter when he sees you.) If you haven't figured it out, I work for The Largest Big-Box company. Honestly, my store's management team has been good to me overall.

I get ye old map atlas out about every week and see where I could head to. So far, I have the southwest, north central states, northern mountain states, Pacific northwest, certain parts of California, the Oregon coast, thru Arkansas, Kentucky & Tennessee. We'll see which direction the winds are blowing from that day I decide to leave.

Until next time. . . . . .

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Humidity, a noun meaning "very uncomfortable when combined with high temperatures"

That's the way it has been during most of the month of June, along with the upper 80 and lots of 90 degree temperatures. Not a good mixture with my asthma.

Despite the weather, we did have some rain around the middle of the month resulting in 3 inches in 30 hours; our 90 degree weather started around the middle of the month too. We did have a couple of days when the humidity was below 40%. On those days I could work for hours outside.

Despite my complaining about the humidity, I did get a number of projects completed: trimmed the trees from rubbing on the roof and power lines, short trip to Salina for the Smoky Hill River Festival, put up guttering around the front porch, had windows measured for window replacement (to be installed in late July), planted shrubs around the front of the porch and uncovered a sidewalk around the east side of the porch. That was interesting as what I thought were stepping stones from the sidewalk to the driveway, is a a full-fledged sidewalk that had been overgrown by years of grass.

Then there was the weekly yard chores of mowing, weeding, trimming, and the weekly house chores. I did get some books read: Jack and Jill and POP Goes the Weasel by James Patterson. Then there was Sea Change by Robert B. Parker (the Jesse Stone series). Also, Alibi Man by Tami Hoag. Ceiling fans and the refrigerator and pop cooler in Juno's house were cleaned. There were naps, visiting, and waving at the folks driving by the house as I sat on the front porch. Still don't have the ceiling fans up and there are a couple of large shrubs that need a slight haircut.

Click on the Flickr link for some of my more active activities during MY JUNE.

I am spending some time getting to know my digital camera better (if only there weren't 128 pages in the Advanced Camera User Guide!) and Juno has suggested a book to get to learn more about iPhoto6.

Work beckons me starting Sunday, July 1. I'll work covering vacations/days off/July 4th, until the end of August and then off again until holiday season starts late October or early November. Am working on some trip plans for late September and early October and by mid-October want to have Eggcarto "winterized" and propped up on his jacks for two or three months.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the folks in Oklahoma and Texas who have been and are experiencing flooding and loss of life and all the tragedy that goes with something like that. Makes my complaining about humidity trival.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quick trip but fun

As I mentioned in the previous posting, I went over to Salina KS to see the Smoky Hill River Festival. Wow, that is really big. Couldn't get out of the Fine Arts section as there were so many beautiful works and pieces of art. I could have spent thousands, but due to lack of wall space in my little 16 ft trailer, I refrained from making any purchases. I just admired - I know that's not what the exhibitors wanted though.

I asked my ex if he wanted to go along and he did. He doesn't get out much and thought he'd like the short trip over to Salina and see something different besides 4 walls. We enjoyed the music and heard some great area bands. I say heard because we couldn't see the stage from where we were sitting. It apparently is tradition to line up very early in the morning (like 5 a.m.) and wait for the gates to open at 9 a.m. and then run as fast as you can to claim a spot in front of the stage and under
trees. Once you've staked your claim and have your chairs, blanket, and coolers set up you are free to roam around. Nobody will bother your stuff. We witnessed it a
lot. And, the Saturday temp was in the low 90's with a breeze periodically.

One of our favorite sections was the "Car Art". Here are a few pictures.
The Polar Bear Car

The Art Ark

The Chewburu (owned by a dentist, natch)

There were cars covered with bottle caps, corks, a vehicle that can go either way, a space machine and others. All a form of art.

On the way home Sunday, we stopped at the Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure (see previous post for link). It is located out in the rolling hills west of Salina, very neat and clean, lots of benches to sit and rest on (important when it's hot and you need some shade for a few minutes).

Have a few pictures:

View looking back towards the Hippo Barns from the tram stopped at the Museum

An Albino Boa. Glad she & he are behind the glass!

I recommend a visit if you are ever near Salina KS.

We stayed at the Salina KOA. Parked next to us was Jon and Denni from Albany CA in their Casita. We had a nice visit and it was fun comparing Casitas, as their's is newer and a different model than mine. Friday night a young couple was on the other side of us. He is with the Coast Guard and is being transferred from Florida to Alaska! (Wonder if he made someone mad to get a transfer like that?) Not too long ago he was followed around by a crew from the Discover show "Risktakers" as he is one of those rescuers that jump out of a helicopter into the ocean. His segment is suppose to be on sometime soon on Discovery HD and sometime next year for the rest of us who don't have HD yet. You meet some of the most interesting people in campgrounds.