Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Family Christmas & A White One Too.

Monday before Christmas, it appeared that we might have a little snow - maybe giving us a white Christmas. It kept snowing and snowing until we ended up with around 14 inches. And ten days later, it's still there - probably get us through New Year's.

Son Jim, lives in New Mexico and has been coming home to Kansas for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. I prefer Christmas.

We had our family time together, we eat, laugh, tell stories, watch TV. I fixed a roast for Christmas dinner with all the trimmings - and lots of wine.

Housemate got a new TV, so a bit of time was spent getting that set up by son (oh, thank heavens for the young ones). I like it better because the sound from his TV stays in the living room and while I am watching mine, the sounds don't co-mingle. My bedroom is adjacent to the living room with door between.

Buster, daughter Juno's dog, got doggie biscuits galore this Christmas and after dinner as we were relaxing, all those doggie biscuits he was given as Christmas treats during the day fart "fragranted" the air in my bedroom where she, I and Buster were relaxing watching TV that evening (well, Buster had konked out and think Juno was there off and on too). Here he is "investigating" my new scarf from friend Sarah.

My son gave me a "tailgate mirror" that I will use when I am hitching up my trailer. I do a pretty good job of aiming the hitch in line with the receiver on the trailer, but it's the last few inches that keeps me jumping in and out of the truck to see how much closer I need to get. I won't be able to "practice" with the trailer hitch for quite awhile due to the snow and the ground being pretty muddy afterwards; so, will practice in the driveway with some object to learn how to use the mirror.

Since the house has only 2 bedrooms, I let son use my bedroom and I stayed in my trailer at night. It's the first time I have stayed in it with nighttime temperatures below 20ยบ. I wanted to try it and see if it was something I could do. I do have the trailer hooked up to shore power, so I could use my electric blanket and run an electric heater. I couldn't do it without my electric blanket I have decided, so would need to be hooked up to some kind of power to last me during the night. The funny thing is that I had to bring the electric heater into the house to warm it up so it would run to warm up the trailer. Just wouldn't start when it was so cold. I have a memory foam mattress, and WOW that mattress was ice cold when I'd first get into bed. Did like how fast it warmed up though.

Jim, Juno and I went to town Monday. Jim wanted to wash all the brine off his car and pick up a few things for his return trip home on Wednesday. We snuck a stop to the Mall Cinema to see War Horse, a Steven Spielberg movie. Oh, it was so good to see a good movie, a tissue movie. I'd go see it again.

We celebrated Juno's 43rd birthday (on Friday really) on Tuesday nite with pizza topped with Hatch Green Chile. Hmmm, she picked out a DQ Oreo ice cream cake and ohhh that was good after eating a "hot" pizza. I gave her a tie-dyed Pink Ribbon Tee shirt I had purchased in Truth or Consequences last October at Dukatt '71.

Wednesday morning we said our goodbys to Jimmy.

No plans for seeing the New Year in - probably about like housemate and I do every year, watch the crystal ball drop on Times Square and then hit the sack. I wish all my readers a good, better or best 2011. I like what Benjamin Franklin once said: "Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man."

Monday, December 26, 2011

Trans Siberian Orchestra - A Bucket List Item

For a number of years I had wanted to attend one of their concerts. I am not a concert goer and my lifestyle is pretty quiet and simple. I don't care for loud noises, flashing lights and all those spectacular things that goes with many concerts. Except for TSO. They are known for their song Wizards in Winter, which is real popular this time of year, especially for those who like synchronized lights on their houses.

Well, my kids made it possible for me to go to their Christmas themed concert in Wichita KS a couple of weeks ago. It had loud noises, fantastic singing and instrument playing, laser lights, spinning lights, fog, and oh pyrotechnics. I was so excited and the show satisfied some hidden craving for everything I normally don't care for - maybe it's a youthful yearning. I loved the athleticism the performers exhibited, was fascinated by the production side and all the mechanical side affects going on. I took these pictures with my phone.

I had not reserved a motel room as I wasn't sure where I wanted to stay. It's just as well I didn't. I was so pumped up that I wouldn't have fallen asleep for a long time, so I headed back home at 10:30 that night. I figured if I pooped out by Newton, I'd stop. Well, maybe McPhereson or Salina. If I didn't stop in Salina I had better be still pumped up to make it home as there isn't much between Salina and Russell. I wound down by the little town of Walker, about 25 minutes from home. Got home around 1:30 a.m. and startled my housemate as he thought someone was breaking into the house and threatened me. Whew!

Thanks kids, it was the bestest.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Look

I know it's probably a bit juvenile, but that's the way am feeling right now; plus, a new year is coming up shortly and wanted to celebrate that.

Am feeling good for two friends: Mary who sold her RV Park and now she will be embarking on a new chapter in her life; and Sue, who sold her home back in Georgia, bought a Casita and has been hanging around Elephant Butte area in New Mexico, getting her little trailer outfitted with a catalytic heater and solar panels so she can get out there and do her thing with out relying on being plugged into an electrical socket all the time. It's finally done and off she will be going.

Way to go you two. Live your lives.

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Workamper Employer Wins Award

Owner Mary of High Plains Camping of Oakley Ks was awarded a GuestRated "A" Award - one of about a dozen RV parks in the US to achieve this award for 4 years in a row. This was presented just tonight at the National Association of Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) conference in Savannah GA.

Congratulations Mary. I have summer workamped at High Plains for two years, so with my inside knowledge, it is a well deserved recognition.

Great going kiddo.

Breaking News: Mary has sold her Park to Jim and Jessie DesRoches, as of today - Dec 7, 2011. Mary, right now, is thinking about packing, training the DesRoches and looking forward to the new chapter in her life. No definite plans.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey has been consumed, leftovers are almost gone. . .

Hope your Thanksgiving was a pleasant day and you had something to be thankful for - me I have lots to be thankful for.

Daughter and her dog Buster came over for dinner in the late afternoon. We ate and ate and even Buster got his dogie plate of turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes and yams. Then I think the tryptophan from the turkey crept up on us, even the dog - or was it that we ate so much?

Today, the wind is blowing a bluster from the northwest and my right ear doesn't like it when combined with a cold temperature. I was going into Hays to participate in the Shop a Small Business Day, but my ear said "no". Wind gusts are around 25 mph here in the valley, but see gusts have been around the 50 mph mark up on top where the Interstate is. Ya, good day to stay inside and read - maybe start looking at those projects I need to do in the cellar - replace the old insulation around the water pipes, insulate some of those heater/ac duct pipes I can reach, stuff like that. Oh, there are the wall cracks to fill in, in the bathroom, before painting. Ya, ya, got stuff to do to keep me busy - later.

Glad I got my little boxwood shrubs covered in burlap earlier in the month. They don't like the cold icy winds of winter and short daytime thaws, so this year am trying burlap around the little ones. The bigger ones don't seem to have as much problem.

Son will be coming for Christmas and staying with us. He'll sleep in my bed and I'll try out the Casita trailer during the night when it's really cold. I have not slept in it when the night time temperature is below freezing, but I have a little heater and an electric blanket . . .

Oh, an early Christmas present from the kids will be to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and I'll be going to Wichita to see the show in a few weeks. It has been on my "bucket list" to see them sometime. I am not really a concert goer, but this will be fun. My ears will be ringing! Maybe I can get a picture or two.

Happy shopping.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Goodbyes, Turkey Texas and the Long Haul Home.

It's always hard to say good bye to good friends. Geri and Chuck are such super hosts and I came to see why they love Truth or Consequences. It will definitely be a good home location for them when they decide it's time to stay put (that won't be for quite a while yet). I like TorC too.
I decide to meet my son in San Antonio at The Owl Bar for one last good green chile cheeseburger. We had a short lunch. I wanted to just hang around and be with him but I still had a way to go on this first day and he needed to get back to work in Socorro. Ya, ya I shed the tears for the next 30 miles; but as soon as I saw the snow on the mountains I told myself to get it together since didn't really know what I would encounter. Assumed the roads would be okay as it had been warm and they would still be fairly warm to melt any snow. I was traveling US380 eastward toward Roswell and Bottomless Lakes State Park.

I had some light snow through the mountains and misty rain to Roswell, highway was fine. Made it through Roswell and followed the signs to Bottomless Lakes SP. For most part, roads weren't too bad. 'Course I kept thinking about my converter bouncing around. I did manage to stabilize it somewhat by putting my step stool (now with a bent leg when I backed the trailer over it at Chloride) up against it (to the right) and turning the wastepaper basket on its side to keep both of them from moving. Will have to put some blocks of wood on the inside of the converter's cabinet and drill holes through the wood and replace with longer bolts to secure the converter - sometime after I get home. Current holes have been damaged.

The area around Bottomless Lakes is "interesting". "Bottomless Lakes are a chain of 8 lakes that are actually sinkholes that range from 17 to 90 feet deep. They were formed when circulating water dissolved salt & gypsum deposits to form subterranean caverns. Eventually, the roofs of the caverns collapsed from their own weight. Sinkholes resulted and soon filled with water & formed the existing lakes." from the hand out. First pictures are from a bluff over
looking the campground and Lea Lake.

There is a huge day use area and swimming area.Geri mentioned that the pull thrus were huge and they are. I bet one could get 3 (at least) Casitas w/tow vehicles, if not 4 Casitas w/tows in one pull thru. The Park is open year round and are very nice. I was told by the park host that the shower room was heated and the water nice and hot - not! The water was tepid. The left is a view from my campsite of the red gypsum bluff. And right is the swimming area with the low overhanging clouds that hung around the mountains to the west.

The next morning I got away about an hour later than usual because I decided to take the time to do some cleaning and put some more RV antifreeze into the water lines. I had initially put antifreeze in the water lines the day before leaving TorC, but learned with the use of the toilet, I lost some. Not much, but some. I put antifreeze in the lines because I wasn't sure what "freezing" or "below freezing" weather I would encounter at home - besides it is better for me to put the RV antifreeze in when it's warm versus a cold temperature. I would empty the holding tanks later and add the antifreeze.

I continued on US380 until the little town of Post TX (yes, there is a strong connection to C.W. Post, the cereal manufacturer), then headed north on TX 207 toward Rails, then take US62/TX207 to Floydada. My plan was to either stay in Floydada or move on to Turkey TX. Turkey is the boyhood home of Bob Wills, known as the King of Western Swing. I had the chance to meet him around 50 years ago in Flagstaff AZ at the Museum Club.

Since I had trouble finding the camping area in Floydada, that Geri told me about (and I got blank looks at two places I stopped), I headed to Turkey TX. I took US62/US70 eastward until I reached TX 70. North on TX 70 for about 20 miles until I reached Turkey.

Caprock Canyon SP is just a little west of Turkey and when I stopped at a convenience store to get directions, a lady across the counter from me said: "No, you can stay here in our little city park. Have you been to the Bob Wills Museum?" "Okay", I said and no to the museum. She told me to drive down this street and park in front of the fire house and her husband would come down and show me where to park.

I parked in front of this brand new fire house and in 5 minutes her husband, Alfred, was there. He told me that they had had the day before 1.5" of rain in a couple of hours and that the road to the camping area (can fit 12 units, w/water & electric, in there by the way) in the city park was muddy. I could park here in the group shelter area. So as I was maneuvering the trailer around, he said to park under the shelter roof. I did. Alfred works for the City of Turkey, so I guess it was okay to park that way. Sure had a lot of spectators that evening and the next morning before I left. (Oh, I paid something for my site, even though Alfred said it wasn't necessary.)

Well, Alfred asked if I would like to go through the Museum and I said yes. He went home and called Lorene. Alfred's wife came back about 15 minutes later and said that Lorene would open the Museum for me the next morning at 10:30. Well, since I wasn't in any big hurry, that was okay. The next morning I had breakfast at a local cafe up the street. The proprietor asked if I was that little trailer that was down at the City Park. He told me stories about Turkey as I was eating.

After breakfast, I drove up to the Museum which is located in the former school building along with the City Hall. Lorene opened the Museum up and turned a video about Bob Wills on for me. Oh, Lorene is over 90 years old and full of stories. I watched the video all the way through and read every sign and informational piece. It is a very nice and professional done Museum and I recommend it.

After spending an hour going through it, I left for home, continuing on TX70, until I reached US 83 and headed northward. I spent the night at an RV park so I could empty my holding tanks and put the remaining RV antifreeze in both of the tanks. Overall, I liked the way I came home, the roads overall were pretty good and there was enough "diversions" - scenery, little towns - to keep the drive from getting boring. Am sure I will be taking that direction again when I head to New Mexico.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Happy Belly Mixed with Some History & The Turtle!

I wasn't feeling quite up to par for a few days, but did manage to really enjoy all that my hosts showed me. We went to breakfast Wed morning at a place called the Happy Belly Deli. It is located next to Groovy Gritz (parking lot between) and the Deli is located in one of those old time motel motor courts, that many of us older readers are familiar with from years ago. There is an outside patio which use to be were one drove into the courtyard. It is open for breakfast and lunch and they make homemade breads and goodies. You can see the "car entrance" behind Geri.

We visited the Geronimo Springs Museum. Outside is a beautiful hand crafted display surrounding the Geronimo Springs. Currently, the Springs were not flowing due to some maintenance issues. The Museum covers the history of Sierra County and has a section dedicated to Ralph Edwards, host of the TV show Truth or Consequences. Here is some history of TorC and how it got it's name changed from Hot Springs to TorC.

The afternoon was spent getting ready to leave my hosts, Geri and Chuck, and head for home. Oh ya, the Turtle. The mountain to the southeast of TorC is known as Turtle Mountain. I had trouble distinguishing the Turtle. Chuck kept telling me I had to wait until the lighting was right before I would probably see the Turtle. It looked like an African elephant to me no matter which way I looked at it. Can you see the Turtle in Turtle Mountain?

Monday, October 31, 2011

From Ghost Towns, to Tie-Dye and a Turtle!

Sunday morning, Sue and her Crew (two rat terriers) came up to Chloride to meet us. I have been following Sue for some time now. She came to a point in her life where she could travel full time in her Casita with the two dogs. Following her from the decision point to do this to where she is now, has been an entertaining adventure in life. As she says, "Living on less and enjoying life more." I had not had the pleasure of meeting her until now.

The four of us and the now combined "crew" of 5 dogs had a good afternoon, exploring the town, sharing adventures and tales, giving advice and telling of experiences.

Because of the efforts of the Edmonds', other folks have been coming to Chloride and buying property to rejuvenate into living quarters. I hope to visit many more times to see the progress.

Monday morning, the Mothership and it's current little satellite headed to Truth or Consequences, where Geri and Chuck live. What an eclectic town it is. From (old) hippie, to cowboy, to snow-birds from all over the country, to hobo, to southwestern folks, to artists, to the curious. It is also a New Mexican town that rambles in somewhat an organized manner. It is also growing with new businesses on the north end and some "groovy" ones in the old hot springs district. Lots of hot springs. And, soon to be home to the Spaceport America's Visitor Center in the old downtown district.

The first place to eat, Geri and Chuck took me to is a place called the "Cafe Groovy Gritz". Now, the co-owner Joyce is a hippie era lover and along with her co-owner husband Larry, he's a cowboy; hence the name Groovy Gritz. We sat on the "hippie" side, where they claim to have NM's largest lava lamp.

Chuck is decked out in his tie-dyed shirt made by friend Jeff of Dukatt '71, who owns a fantastic tie-dye shop where he can tie-dye almost anything (asked him if he wanted to try tie-dying my little trailer - nope he said).

Well, check out Groovy Gritz when in Truth or Consequences and meet our kool waiter Charles and have a laugh with Larry. And you are sure to come away stuffed. Oh, and don't forget to try a piece of the Groovy Gritz cake. I love to try out local eating places when I travel and this trip has been filled with them! Slim eating at home.

What an end to a great day.

PS The Turtle is coming.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Forts, Loose Screws & A Ghost Town

On the way to the little ghost town of Chloride, we stopped at Fort Craig National Historic Site, following NM1 south, from Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park, until the turnoff (about 35 miles south of Socorro). There we traveled over 4.5 miles of washboard gravel road - hence, the "loose screws" in the title. I didn't lose any rivets in the trailer but all the screws holding my converter came out and the converter tried to walk across the floor!

That is one big Fort. I managed to cover one-third of the grounds and being as warm as it was that was enough for me. If you click on the link in the name above, you will learn more about it's origin and history to early New Mexico. It wasn't hard to imagine what it would be like in the summer months. The Fort is located close to the Rio Grande River and you can see where the River is by the changing colors of the cottonwood trees.

Now it was time to go back over that washboard road and get to I-25 to the turnoff to Chloride on NM52 to Winston and then take the Chloride road for 4-5 miles.


Chloride is located on the east slope of the Black Range Mountains, in the western part of Sierra County. There is so much information about Chloride, I won't repeat a lot of it here. But, Geri, Chuck and I had a wonderful time. It is so quiet, it has such an interesting history, it has a couple and their daughter dedicated to bringing life back to this little town. Don and Donna Edmund and their daughter Linda, have spent so much of their time building back what sat for 70 years.

The Pioneer Store Museum is full of so many items of the times. The shelves and walls hold so many items from that era - food containers, clothing, tools, books, jewelry, etc.

This old typewriter still works.

A fascinating device is the McCaskey Credit System. The upper portion is where the businesses credit customers names were recorded and then assigned an account number on a piece of paper stored on this page, where Donna is showing us. This made it faster to find the particular customer when they came in to charge additional items or to make a payment. The customers activities were stored and recorded on this sleeve.

This is an old saloon, now serving as an outlet for local/area artists and craftsmen. Beautiful items inside.

The old bank is being rejuvenated into a cafe for the area and will be a good addition to the community's visitors and locals.

This gate sign was noticed and provided a good laugh for us.

I'll finish up later with another entry to include more on Chloride and my visit to Geri and Chuck's home town of Truth or Consequences. Wow, are they fabulous hosts!

The Battle for the Best Green Chili Cheeseburger

in New Mexico between The Owl Bar and Buckhorn Cafe in San Antonio. And the winner for best green chili cheeseburger is:

The Owl Bar Got 6 thumbs up from us for food, but service (which am told always has been) got 5 thumbs down. Now the Buckhorn got 6 thumbs up on service, but 5 thumbs down on food. Okay, so it's settled - in my mind at least.

Birds, ducks, cranes and geese . . .

I forgot to mention that son and I had dinner at one other of my listed favorite Mexican food places - Frank & Lupe's. Well, ever since Frank and Lupe turned the helm over to one of their children or several, the quality or maybe authenticity, hasn't been the same that made me fall in love with them. Since I got to compare the shredded beef between F&L and Garduno", Garduno's shredded beef was much, much better. F&L sopaillias are drier than I remember, more like puffy crackers. The last 3 times have been a disappointment, so sorry Frank & Lupe's Mexican Restaurant, am taking you off my "Favorite" list on my blog page.

Son came home for lunch, and we went to Socorro Springs for lunch. I had a Hawaiian Pizza, with green chile on it; didn't quite go together in my palates opinion. Back at his home, we said our goodbye. I always get teared up and I watched him walk down the street to his office at the VLBA, there on the campus of New Mexico Tech. Even now as am writing, am tearing up. Sorry son. I even do it when your sister (and Buster) go back home after visiting us - even though she lives in the same town as housemate and I do. Must be a parent thing.

I arrived at Birdwatchers RV Park around 3 p.m. I parked the trailer to wait for Geri & Chuck, knowing that they would need a big site for their 5th wheel. I watched flocks of birds/geese flying around, visiting with incoming folks. When they arrived, they selected a site and I moved Eggie next to them so our doors would face each other. The Park is pretty plain jane, provides water, sewer and electricity and a rest room. Trains are close by but so few of them. The owners are real nice and it's inexpensive. Some of the other folks here are volunteers at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. After getting set, we sat in the shade of The Mothership (as Geri and Chuck call their rig) and talked for a while.

We went to Socorro for a dinner of pizza at the Socorro Springs Restaurant. Chuck and I split an Elfego pizza and Geri had a 49er pizza. My son, Jim, joined us for a little while (ya more tears). We were so stuffed when we finished that it was all we could do to get back to the Park and get inside and ready for bed.

I woke up with the light coming through my window, turned the heater on to warm up the inside before getting dressed. We enjoyed our morning visiting again in the space between The Mothership and it's little spacepod Eggie. Around 11, we loaded up into Chuck's truck and headed over to Bosque del Apache, stopping first at the Visitor Center and getting some pictures of us with the sand hill crane statues. It's a nice drive around the various loops. Unfortunately for us at this time, not many migrating birds are in at this time. We saw lots of ducks, about dozen snow geese, couple dozen sand hill cranes and lots of Canadian geese. The Refuge's peak time starts in a month when there are well over several hundred thousand's of migrating birds here settling in for the winter and when it is time to head back to the nesting grounds.

In mid-November, a celebration is held between the Refuge and the City of Socorro (just about 10 miles north) called the Festival of the Cranes. The Festival draws many birdlovers, school children, photographers and those that are also amazed at the beauty and phenomenon of nature. The RV Park is full, as Chuck found out when he went to reserve a site so that he and Geri could come up. They are going to use the boondocking part of the Park and send a few days here. Geri is a photographer and wants to get some pictures additionally.

The cottonwood trees display such a brilliant yellow this time of the year. The contrast between the green and yellow is so striking. After we had lunch, in the little town of San Antonio (more later on lunch and dinner), we headed back to the Park and just relaxed. At around 4:30 pm we loaded up again and headed for the Refuge to see if we could catch any cranes or snow geese feeding. In the search for them, we found a beautiful "sunset" of cottonwood colors, the sun going down and perfect reflections on the water. It only lasted just a few minutes and we were able to capture those few moment.

We drove back to the areas that were being flooded and found some snow geese feeding across the huge man-made pond and started to drive over there. As luck would have it, they decided to take off. So we turned around and then saw that they were headed to the area we had just left! And, they had landed on the road. We later realized they had found some grain on the road. Now how did they know, from 1/2 to 3/4's mile away there was grain on the road?

As darkness fell, we decided it was time to fill the bellies. A beautiful full day and it will even be more so, for Geri and Chuck, when the Festival is going on as there will be more birds. Daughter reported from back home, that she heard her first flight of sand hill cranes.