Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thoughts & Collections

Seems like I have used that theme before. It's good then.

We made it home on Wednesday, Oct 15th in time to rest a little and, as I mentioned in the previous entry, attend daughter's first modeling debut. I am back at work with one week down and 10 or 11 to go.

Last Thursday morning, my friend Bonnie called me (I saw her in Kentucky on my previous trip) to tell me her breast cancer is back for the 7th time. She's one tough cookie (more on this in another posting), so my trip in January will include a visit to her out at her home in California. That will probably be my first goal.

The weather has been beautiful since we got home. I made a trip down to Dodge City to see my friends Sarah and Sherry, before starting work. We had fun just enjoying a leisure morning together.

The trip was a good one and I am very happy that Jim was so glad to see his youngest brother, Scott. When he laid eyes on Scott for the first time, that just made everything worth while. I just wish I hadn't gotten sick so we could have included his middle brother Ken. I didn't want to risk taking something to them, if it was contagious. But, we'll work on that. We had some funny moments, like with the raccoon; some happy moments, like with being brother Scott and with son; some interesting moments like me learning to be patient with someone else in the trailer with me. Best, I think was seeing Jim be able to get out of his little world at home and enjoy himself.

It will be interesting to see how the holiday season plays out in the retail environment, whether we are as busy as in the past. I am seeing a few Christmas things go past my register, but not near the decorations as normally see at this time. Tomorrow is Halloween, so that may spur some buying. It will be interesting to see how the economy does over the next several months after the elections, how much longer will we be in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lots of interesting things coming up. But, even with the feds lowering the interest rates to spur borrowing, I think it is foolish to wrap oneself up in more debt at this time. If it helps to lower one's monthly IOU's that could be a blessing. I am just waiting to see before I do anything.

You all have a good Thanksgiving and Christmas and I'll be back towards the end of December after everything plays out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One More Entry, but not Today, Later

We got home on Wednesday, Oct 15th just exhausted to a longer drive than I like to do - 4-5 hours is my limit. Have spent Thursday and Friday unloading and cleaning the inside of the trailer.

While we were gone, I had a neighbor tear down an old, old wooden shed in the back yard leaving a nice concrete pad to park the trailer on - maybe. It's wide enough and sits parallel to the alley. I'll have to do some playing around for the next few months to figure out how best to utilize the pad. Meanwhile, I am replacing the pigtails for the propane tanks, doing a little more rust removal and painting, getting the trailer winterized before it really gets cold - which it's suppose to start sometime this week. My dinette table is back up and the solar panel is putting a bit of extra charge to the battery to make it thru the winter months. I don't take my battery out of the trailer but the occasional charge from the solar panel seems to help it. The closet is stocked with clothes and ready for the next trip, my food replenishment list has been made and the cleaning inside makes it ready to roll come January (I hope). I have a few other little projects to work on but that's later.

Saturday, was the local Day of Caring for local breast cancer survivors. My daughter, Juno, is a 3-year survivor and she was debuting as one of the models in the show. I tried getting some pictures of her on the runway, but due to still some digital camera ignorance, I didn't get any real good pictures of her. But I did get one that I played around with and really like, even though it is blurry everywhere, but her face is so beautiful (can't tell I am a proud mom can you).

It's back to work on Saturday, the 25th and I will work thru the holiday season until sometime after January 1. Meanwhile, where am I going next? That time of year, well. . . . . where it is warm! And, I hope to include a visit to see my brother out in So. Cal. I'll wrap up sometime this week with the final blog for this trip, thoughts, etc.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can You Smell It? It's a Chili Night here in Amarillo.

Pacific Hurricane Norbert sure has made the day miserable for this part of the country. We spent Saturday night in Roswell, NM at a very nice RV Park - Town & Country RV Park -More later.

It started raining on us shortly before we got to Lincoln NM, then let up until we got to the RV Park. Then it became a dodging game getting set up between rain showers. In a few hours we learned the area we were in was under a Tornado Watch until around midnight. It rained off and on during the night. We left around 9:30 a.m., again getting ready to leave between rain showers. On the road, it was almost 100% rain until we got here at the Amarillo TX KOA campground, east of the city. I am getting better from my Friday episode, but driving in the rain tired me out after 4 or so hours of driving. We may stay here Monday night also as there is another storm coming right behind Norbert. Probably do me some good to rest another day anyway. It's a very nice KOA - away from Interstate noises, cattle surround the place, and you don't really hear the jets taking off nearby - and I ended up having the manager back me in - whew, he did it in one swoosh. I gotta practice some more at home! There aren't many trees so this place could be hot during the hot time of the year. The restrooms and showers are clean.

Monday, Columbus Day. It was cold this morning with a cold front that went thru during the night. Suppose to get up around 54 here today. Since we have one/two extra days, we are going to stay here a couple more nights until it warms back up again before heading home. There are some things to see, if we want, that are close to us here.

A Scamp trailer parked in the space behind us last night. They are from Tennessee. Haven't met them yet. It's almost check-out time and they are still hooked up to water and electricity, so assume they are staying another night.

On our trip to here, we stopped in Lincoln NM to see the territory of Billy the Kid. We visited the courthouse where he was tried and escaped from, learned about the Lincoln Country Wars that took place between two mercantile owners. Jim had said that he always imagined the area where the LC Wars took place, was flat and not in a low mountainous area. The drive to Roswell was pretty with the trees changing color. The area is high desert and you gradually drop down to a lower elevation. If I had been to the Roswell area, I didn't remember it.

The Roswell RV Park we stayed at - Town & Country - is very nice and a Good Sam Park. I would recommend it to others that could find themselves in this area. Yes, one is close to their neighbor, but it's a nice park that I have considered staying at sometime in the future. It is quiet, not close to a major highway or interstate. The rest rooms and showers are clean. The shower stalls are big - even bigger than the one at my son's place! And, hooks, lots of hooks. I have never been in a shower stall with so many hooks.

Roswell, is known for the Roswell UFO sighting back in 1947. The city has "themed" itself on that, in fact, catch the City's street lights in the picture I took. Roswell has an interesting history and is the birth place of Demi Moore and John Denver - learn something new all the time. Frank Joyce, a radio DJ at the time, who interviewed the rancher W.W. Brazel, changed Roswell for ever. He died recently at the age of 85.

Here are a few pictures I took after leaving Socorro: Son, dad and mom and the famous Owl Bar in San Antonio.

Not much to report on our activities since deciding to stay because of the rain. We had lunch at Cracker Barrel yesterday and today I went to get gas - that's about all the activity, besides walking around the trailer and

outside when the rain has let up. We are ready to get home Wednesday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Our Week in Socorro

Sunday night, after getting into bed and was just about dropping of, the trailer was jostled. Oh my gosh, is someone trying to get in, I thought. After a slight pause, I heard plop, plop, plop, plop running up and down the top of the roof about 4 or 5 times, then whatever it was jumped off. It must have been the neighbor’s cat that had jumped off the garage roof onto the top of the trailer.

Monday morning we took the truck and trailer down to clean the grasshopper parts and butterflies off. It took awhile, but it’s a lot cleaner.

Tuesday, found us at the famous Owl Bar in San Antonio NM for their famous green chili cheeseburgers. The Owl opened it’s doors around 1945, in time to feed the needs of the military and scientists located out at the Trinity Site, just 25 miles east of San Antonio, In fact, my dad had told our son that he remembered going to the Owl Bar a number of times. Since that time the bar was moved from one side of the building to it’s present location and the dining area has expanded. It has some really neat traditions - the original owner’s daughter, Rowena Baca, collects shoulder patches from various law-enforcement individuals who visit there. Also, another tradition, is putting a dollar bill (or higher amount), with your name or whatever you want to put on it, and tacking it to the wall somewhere. Once a year the bills are removed and the money is donated to area charities. The current bar came from the original Hilton Hotel. In the late 1800’s A.H. Hilton moved to San Antonio and opened the Hilton Mercantile Company. It also housed the first Hilton Hotel. Conrad Hilton, the originator of the Hilton Hotels was born here. On the way home, we stopped at my favorite tourist vendor in Socorro, and bought some new house numbers for Jim’s house - ceramic numbers with sunflowers painted on them. Tuesday night we watched the second Presidential Debate. No comment.

Wednesday was Reuben Day. We went to Socorro Springs and had Reuben Sandwiches. I expected a wonderful sandwich and I was somewhat disappointed. Wasn’t the worst, but I kind of expected more flavor. We went to bed a little on the early side as we were to get up around 4 a.m. to head to Albuquerque and spend the day seeing the various activities at the Balloon Fiesta, an annual week-long event held there.

We got up early Thursday morning around 4. I wasn’t feeling the whoopiest, a little bit of a headache; but I didn’t want to spoil the day for the other two so didn’t say anything and take some Tylenol and would make the best of it. Well, it turns out it was just son and I that went as Jim didn’t feel good. I ended up having a really great time with son. We got there in time (well, over an hour’s drive up there to the Park) to see the mornings ascension of the special shapes starting at 7 a.m. Following that are the games that are played which includes dropping a marker as close to the center of a bulls eye as possible by flying low and slow over the target and trying to grab an envelope off a tall pole by flying real close to the pole. In the envelope will be a prize - money, vehicle, etc. There are 4 poles and two were claimed. Today there was $2000 in each envelope. The balloonists have until 10 a.m. to try.

We did not stay for the evening activities of the balloon glow where the balloons are tethered but the burners are turned on - they usually try to do it in time to music so you get a mass look at the shapes at night “glowing”. Instead, we went to Gardunio’s for lunch. I had a smothered shredded beef burrito and it was good and very filling. From there we went to Uptown ABQ, which is a developed “city” shopping area that includes retail shops, restaurants, and apartments surrounding the area. It is really a fascinating area and has lots of major shops to tempt you. We went there only because they have an Apple store and I have never been in one and I wanted to see what one looks like plus all the products at once. I had fun playing with an iPod and an iPhone. Didn’t buy anything. From there we went to Fremont’s Fine Foods (, where they import specialty foods from all over - including my favorite Walker’s Pure Butter Shortbread cookies from Scotland. There are other cookies, biscuits, jams and jellies, teas and coffees too. Again I didn’t buy anything.

For supper, the guys got a pizza from Pizza Hut and I got a salad from McDonald’s, as I wasn’t very hungry, and what was suppose to be a cherry slush from Sonic but ended up being a cherry limeade mixed with diet Sprite or Sierra Mist. I love cherry limeades but not made with diet pop as the artificially sweeteners used in them do not set well with my stomach.

One thing I did at the Balloon Fiesta is buy a generator for my trailer! I have had, in the back of mind, someday of getting one. So I did. No lectures about buying stuff in that kind of environment. I did it and the price was where I’ve seen from national suppliers on the Internet that sell less then the recommended mfg price.

Friday, I woke up around 4 a.m. not feeling very good and it has continued all day. I feel the salad from McDonald’s is the culprit. Son said that Socorro’s fast food places have a bad reputation for not following procedures for food handling, preparation or maintaining proper temperatures. Guess maybe I am a victim. I wasn’t bad enough to be 100% miserable as I did get some work done on the trailer and we went to the grocery store for some things. We also brought home my favorite pizza to bake in the oven at home. Hopefully, that hot green chili will make me feel better.

We are going to start heading home Saturday, if I feel okay. I am just tired and this episode today has wore me down. Jim called his brother in Phoenix tonight for a rain check on a visit. We’ll just take our time going home so as to not push me, in case I have something else. Haven’t decided on direction yet, but it will be eastward and not toward Albuquerque.

As a sad side note, the folks that flew this hot air balloon were involved in a tragic accident today, with the balloon hitting some electric wires, the gondola catching on fire and both men fell to the ground with the copilot being killed and the pilot in serious condition.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sights on Socorro!

Wednesday, 10/01/08

Slept in again and was awakened by the Park Patrol checking on our registration. We hadn’t paid yet as the clerk in the office said wait until morning as they didn’t like to have money left in the paying tube overnight.

We have been watching the wild life - quail, roadrunners - and just enjoying the quietness around. There was a man, Rick and his dog Lady, from Ajo AZ with his little 13’ Scamp trailer parked near us and we met him last night. Scamps are also fiberglass trailers like mine.

Here is a picture of the markers I mentioned in the previous post:

Jim is getting anxious to see his son, so we’ll call him tonight to see if we can come up a couple of days early. Jim has been doing pretty good on this trip, doing something he’s never done before. He’s not really ever liked to travel either so I have to give him a big pat on the back at how well he’s done. We talked with son and we’ll be heading his way on Friday.

Thursday - 10/2/08

Taking a leisure day. Went up to the library in Columbus and posted my recent entry on the blog, Jim picked out some books for sale at the library and is busy reading them now. I just finished a leisure lunch and finishing up another Lisa Scottoline book “Dead Ringer”. I am sitting under the awning and hear this funny noise behind me - not exactly a rat-a-tat-tat sound but close and I see a roadrunner on the top of the pickup cab! He is catching bugs as they fly by and did a good job of catching several while he was up there. I asked him to quietly get my camera. Meanwhile, the roadrunner jumped down on the back cover and caught a few more. Just as Jim was handing me the camera, he jumped off, ran about 5 yards and jumped up in midair and caught another bug.

It’s around 85 degrees in the shade with a nice breeze blowing, pretty comfortable. I did learn this morning at the SP office, that a fellow solo Casitian was here and left Monday. He is currently, they told me, up at Rock Hound SP which is just up the road towards Deming about 20 miles. He goes by the name of Dutchman and I thought I would drive up there later this afternoon and see if he is around. I have been wanting to meet him for a couple of years now and I am finally in the area he is in. He is a full-timer and spends his winters down in this area.

Friday - 10/3/08

We attempted to find the Dutchman today on our way to Socorro, but he had left Rock Hound Park and had headed north, I learned later - up in to the mountains area around Silver City. Next time I’ll catch him.

We stopped at Denny’s in Deming and had a brunch. It sure tasted good. I love crunchy hash browns and that’s just the way they fixed them. I was a happy camper. From Deming we headed northeast on a cutoff to I-25 at Hatch NM - famous for its perfect chili, nice and hot. Somewhere after leaving Deming we encountered what must have been a swarm of locust. The road was just littered with grasshopper parts as thick as the pavement. It was gross. There were whole bodies along the side of the road and occasionally they would hop up and get on the hood of the truck. This went on for 10 miles.

As we got closer to Hatch, the chili harvest was in its final stages and there were many places along the road to the Interstate that were selling the chili. One vendor was using his corrugated metal roof to dry his chili pods out.

From Hatch we headed north to Socorro and got into son’s around 3 p.m. He was waiting for us. Is so good to see him. It’s now Sunday. I did discover on Friday, after unloading the trailer, that “grasshopper parts” are all over the passenger side of the trailer and the truck’s mud flaps! Gross. Guess what is going thru the car wash next week?

Son and I just took a drive out on what is known as the Quebradas (kay-brah’das), which means “breaks”, Background Byway
- a scenic drive among colored cliffs, arroyos and rock formations. We had had rain during the night and had been having sprinkles/rain off and on all morning. The road is a 24-mile graded dirt road and it travels across BLM land. At some points turning around and looking at the rain squalls coming at us was pretty, but. . . . . . . We got to a sign that said the road was best done in 4-wheel drive or high clearance vehicles, so we decided to turn back since son’s car is a Focus. We hoped to get off the dirt road before too much rain hit us and got us stranded or one of the washes filled up with water. We made it and back to Socorro.

Friday night, we went to my favorite place to get a good pizza (and other delicious meals) at Socorro Springs Restaurant & Brewery (see My Favorite or Interesting Places, to the right and click on their web site - their menu does take Adobe 7.0). My favorite is the Elfego - pepperoni pizza with Hatch chili on top. Their pizzas are baked in their pecan wood fired ovens; and, I had not one but two glasses of Pumpkin beer (a popular seasonal beer)!

Tonight, we went to El Sombrero, my favorite Mexican Food restaurant. I had two soft tacos with shredded beef and a side of soapillias the way I like soapillias, not made from tortillas dropped in a deep fat fryer. Now it’s home and time to watch Amazing Race on TV.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Onward and Westward

9/27/08 - DEL RIO - We spent the night at the American RV Park west of Del Rio, just opposite Amistad National Recreation Area - right on the Rio Grande River. Very deserty here with lots of scrub brush, hot and dry and not a whole lot of trees for shade. The RV Park is pretty empty, but clean and the camp hosts are very nice. In fact, most campgrounds we have stayed in are fairly empty this time of year and we have had the pick of sights so far. Lake Amistad is filling up about 20 ft per week due to an abundance of water in the Rio Grande. The River is backed up even past the Pecos River.

We discovered the winter vacation land of the butterflies. It’s located between San Antonio and Del Rio. It’s like driving down a parade with confetti in the air. They look like the sulfurs and white butterflies - different colors from yellows to whites to blacks and in between. They are big ones and little ones. I asked a clerk at a convenience store if they were migrating or was this there spawning ground and she just said that they do this every year at this time. I forgot to bring my butterfly book that I bought on the last trip. We got stopped by a train sitting across the road and got to watch all the butterflies. It was pretty cool. I had never seen such a sight before.

Think we’ll stop over at the Amistad information office and learn more about the place after leaving here, then head to Langtry for some more history, over the Pecos River, then up to Fort Davis. I am hoping we can stay at the Old Prude Guest Ranch Campground . Today is son’s birthday. Happy Birthday Son.

We’ve learned a little bit more about the butterflies - the locals are tired of them and want them to go away. They, apparently, have been around for 3 weeks. They are of the snout-nose variety. We left most of them back before Sanderson and haven’t run across too many since then. A lot of them are on the front of the truck.

On the way, we stopped at Seminole Canyon and where the Pecos River joins the Rio Grande. I didn’t see near as many Border Patrol vehicles as I did on the trip through here in April of ‘07. We visited the Judge Roy Bean park in Langtry.

Currently, we are at the Prude Guest Ranch, using their RV park. We have full hookups (no cable or WiFi). I use to be a working ranch back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. In 1921, the Prude’s starting taking in guests and that has been their primary purpose since then. There are a number of cabin rooms, a guest lodge and the ranch bunkhouses. It’s in a very pretty canyon nestled among some hills. Would be a nice place to spend summers as the average high is 88 degrees and average low is 30 degrees. The humidity is low and there is a nice breeze right now.

Lots of things to explore in this part of the country - Historic Fort Davis,
the cute little town of Fort Davis and it’s interesting shops, the McDonald Observatory, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Garden and have a dinner or lunch at the Indian Lodge. And then there is just doing nothing. We’ll be here for a few days.

We got up this morning a bit on the late side for us - almost 8 a.m.! Fixed our coffees - although I had to try this mesquite roasted coffee I bought in Langtry. It was pretty darn good, but it would come second to my kona coffee I get from Hawaii (and it’s not really that expensive either) We sat outside, did some coffee sipping and watched the vultures/buzzards perching on fence posts or railings in the sun, drying themselves out from the nights dew. Speaking of the vultures/buzzards, we have seen a lot of them since the first day. Must be the “international” bird of Oklahoma and Texas!

Around 11 a.m. we stopped at the Fort Davis State Park office to find out the hours of the Indian Lodge and learned that the Sunday buffet they served would start in an hour. I drove Jim through the campground - which was quite full - and we wound ourselves up at the Lodge. We took the time to walk around the place, read some history on it (built by the C.C.C. in the mid-30’s), looked at the old pictures of the place. While we were sitting outside, a couple told us there was a BIGGGGGG tarantula on the wall. WOW, he was big - between 5-6 inches across with his body being around 1 to 1-1/2 wide! I measured him using the knuckles on my fingers. I attempted to get pictures of him, but alas, the batteries in the camera chose to expire on me, even my spare ones weren’t up to par.

We had a delicious buffet lunch, enjoyed watching many locals some in, greet each other and visit for a few minutes before getting in line. After lunch, we went down to Fort Davis to learn about the history. Because the place is so large, we used the electric golf cart they provide. They only do this for those who would have trouble getting around - so I used Jim as an excuse. (Still going to do that in a Walmart sometime!) We went around the whole place, read all the signs, went inside the restored buildings and looked at how life must have been, watched a 10 minute video and went through the museum. Jim likes western history, so seeing these places brings the history more to life.

After touring there, we needed to stop off at the local grocery store; but first, a stop for some ice cream was necessary. As were driving up to the Caboose Ice Cream Parlor I saw the word FUDGE at the Fort Davis Country store next door. I am a sucker for a good fudge. This is good fudge, a nice buttery creamy stuff. I didn’t get much but it’s going to take me awhile to eat it.

After getting the few groceries we needed, we came back to the trailer, I took a nap, Jim read. Then we got to the duty of emptying the holding tanks and as usual, it was an uphill job. With the two of us, it doesn’t take long to fill up the tank. Had a light supper of a couple slices of bread with my special butter (half butter and half canola oil whipped together - lasts longer and the oil sort of offsets the bad stuff of the butter - at least in my mind it does). Going to get comfortable and read some more in my book by Lisa Scottoline “Mistaken Identity”.

More tomorrow.

“Tomorrow - 9/29/08”

This morning, once again, we didn’t get up until 8 a.m. Must be this mountain air! We had breakfast at the Indian Lodge and because the bigger meal than Jim is use to, he wanted to come back and take a nap. While he was napping, I watched the turkey vultures drying them selves out - counted over 34 this morning. Did some reading and watched one of the prettiest flycatchers I have seen. It is a Vermillion Flycatcher and is only in this part of the country. It was the most beautiful red color. Have to see if I can get a picture. This afternoon, we’ll probably go into the town of Fort Davis and look around, browse thru some of the shops then come back to start getting ready to leave tomorrow heading westward - not sure of the direction yet but have a general idea.

I can see the Fort Davis Radio Antenna from our campsite. Just the top part of it is showing. The lady at the desk said they call it the “radio shack”. This radio antenna is just one of many large array antennas that look into outer space for radio waves. It is the system that our son works for at the VLBA (most people are more familiar with the VLA) in Socorro NM.

In the afternoon, we strolled around town and I did some browsing while Jim sat outside. I picked up a Christmas gift for Jim and a couple of other things. I always find these shops interesting and somethings something I can use or as gifts. Back to the trailer and some more reading and getting things ready to leave Tuesday morning. Will be heading west on Texas 118 towards I-10 and then westward.

Tuesday - 9/30/08

After getting our stay squared away, and loaded up we headed to I-10 via Texas 118. The road takes you up to the McDonald Observatory and since the road is not used much after that, it becomes a narrow two-lane road that must have been built when vehicles were slimmer. We only saw a pickup and a jogger on the next 25 miles or so heading down the other side of the mountain. When we got to the junction of TX 118 and TX 166, the road vastly improved - with lots of turnouts that had been landscaped with local plants and large boulders, fancy drainage areas with flagstone. Guess Texas had some extra highway money they needed to spend so they wouldn’t lose any in the next budget year! It was a road to die for out in the middle of nowhere and the only vehicle we saw on this road was the one that had passed us earlier.

The country is high desert, with lots of arid country plants and animals. Saw three tarantulas crossing the road and I tried to not run over them. We hit I-10 and headed west. Not very interesting although I am glad to see that some of the bad segments I remembered from ‘07 had been redone and were much better. We passed through El Paso without any trouble and hit it before the rush hour traffic started. I found the turnoff to take NM 9 to Columbus, NM by accident again, when I needed to fill up with gas before trekking across the desert. I don’t have a good city map of El Paso and I had to guess to take TX 178 to get to NM 9. Jim was getting a little bit uncomfortable at how close we were getting to the border when we turned off - just 2 miles. We saw a lot of Border Patrol vehicles on the highway and alongside the highway on a dirt track. I have been told one of they things they are looking for are footprints crossing the dirt road made from the last check. There is a volcanic rock area where one can see many piles of rocks obviously made by man. These, I was told are marker signs for folks crossing the border illegally and marking the way for them.

We got into Pancho Villa State Park around 4:30 p.m. and set up camp. Noting from our literature from the office, the local cafes closed around 6 p.m. and the grocery store at 7 p.m.. It was 6 p.m. when we read the closing hours, so we fixed a supper of sandwiches.