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.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another delicious meal!

Good morning. Hope you all slept well, especially those of you back home. The local power company had announced a four-hour shut off in town (midnight to 4 a.m.) while they did some electrical replacement thingy - and it happened to be the night for the first hard freeze warning.

Son and I had a good afternoon yesterday. We went to Trader Joe's first but didn't have a lot of time because my appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store was for 2:30 - and I was hungry and everything in Joe's looked so good and interesting. But, did have time to get something for the "grand doggie Buster". Hey Buster, got you some peanut butter treats and Jimmy got you some dried chicken. The chicken doesn't look that good to this human.

Got the bottom of my laptop replaced. Sure glad I didn't have to pay for it as the initial invoice said it would cost $112 for part and labor. It was very busy in there as they were having some kind of sale going on. I had time to observe the make up of the customer base and the work staff. There were two Genius Bars - one for laptops and the other for iPod/Pads (not sure where iPhones went, probably with the iPod/iPad) - this is where you took your problem item. There were 6 to 8 working each Bar. All but one was roughly under the age of 35, all but one were male. All the sales people were under 35 male; and any females I saw were delivering sold products to a sales person or filling in at the "registration desk" where you checked in for your appointment at the Genius Bar and occasionally answering questions. As far as customers went, it was under 35 age - more female than males - mostly looking at the "iPod/Pad/Phone items and hardly anyone looking at laptops (probably where the sales were). As far as customers at the Genius Bars, the majority were over 35 and the majority were female. I did this in the 30 minutes waiting for my repair, so these observations were for that time frame only.

After getting my laptop back and since I was hungry, we went to Garduno's. Located not too far away it was still early for the Happy Hour crowd to show up so we almost had the place to ourselves for an hour. Took awhile to decide what I wanted and I settled on a machaca chimichanga. Here is a copy of their menu. (Click on the green arrows at top left to change pages.) If I had had room, I would have had the chocolate taco for dessert. That's son and I waiting for the meal. And that is our waiter, Cedrick- he was really a great waiter. On my plate, starting at the bottom and going counterclockwise is the side of chile verde con queso made with fresh Hatch green chiles, my chimichanga smothered in quacamole, refritos, sweet corn cake (1st time had ever had that - really good), arroz (rice) and a sopaipilla - the fluffy kind not like the fried tortillas we get in Kansas - and honey. And that's sour cream in the middle.

On the way home, we stopped at a Whole Foods Market that is natural and organic foods. I could have spent a couple hours in there, but the big meal was getting to me. At home, caught up on a couple Sunday night shows and one this morning (Thursday). Now getting ready to jump into the truck and head south. Geri just called and said they might be late as the part that is needed for Chuck's air bags in his truck hasn't arrived yet.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Now That I Have My Chili, It's Time for Fun

Yes, I have my chili. It's Hatch Green Chili and I buy it in cans since I don't have means right now for fresh - and it's been years since I roasted and peeled chili. Canned is easier to store. Running to the grocery store was the second thing I did after arriving at my sons Tuesday. The first thing was going to Socorro Springs Restaurant and ordering my fav pizza - Elfego. It's a pepperoni pizza topped with fresh autumn roast green chili. I had devoured it when I thought of getting a picture of it. Guess will have to go back and have another!

Another item I bought was some locally made sourdough bread made at a community kitchen here in Socorro. I haven't tried it yet, but it's coming up time to have some toast as I write this posting.

Backing up to Sunday. My first day of travel was a short one, first stopping for lunch in Greensburg Ks, were I spent some time looking at the progress that has been made since the F5 tornado that wiped out 95% of the town in May of 2007. The County Courthouse was one of the few buildings not leveled.

I drove just a couple hundred miles to Fort Supply COE campground located near Fort Supply OK. Uneventful, except when I couldn't find the turn off to the campground from Fort Supply. I had directions coming from Woodward. No signage at the Fort Supply, ended up asking someone.

Since the end of the season is at the end of October, there was only one loop open. And I joined 9 others there. Had a beautiful site right at waters edge. Didn't take long to set up, didn't even lower the rear stabilizers or hook up the water. Did the electricity though. Cost, with geezer pas is $10. Spot was perfectly level - bubbles on front to back and side to side levelers was right in the middle. First time that has ever happened to me.

I visited with some local folks, from nearby Woodward and understand this really isn't a park to come to from Memorial weekend to Labor Day weekend - Party Central. It was quiet, just a bunch of old retired people getting the last visits in before closing. As is with a lot of lakes, it is low. Conservation pool is 61.4% full at 2001 feet which covers 7541 acre feet of water stored. Looks like a lot of water, but I could see some old tree tops starting to break the surface.

I woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the dam. I should have remembered the old sailors warning: "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning" as to what was going to hit me later in the day!

I left around 9:30, not particularly in any rush as I was just going to the Oasis State Park, just outside Portales NM. I had been there before and knew what to expect and how to get there. I stopped for lunch at a roadside rest area, outside Canadian TX, with a historical marker telling about the Marcy Trail - one of many that cover this part of the country. It served as a major road to the California goldfields in the 1840's and was later used by the overland stagecoaches.

Hint, hint. I started running into typical winds on the east side of Amarillo as I drove down US 60. It was pretty good as it was a bit of a tail wind and helping with the gas mileage. I took a FM road and cut down to I-40 into Amarillo, then take I-27 south to the Hereford TX turnoff. Opps, missed that turnoff and continued westward on I-40 until I could turn around. Well, I kept going and then decided to either find another FM road down to US 60 or go south on US 385 from Vega to Hereford. I found a FM road that would come out at Dawn TX on US 60. Oh yea. The wind on the trip down to US 60 was at my back side and even a better tailwind. Headed westward toward Clovis NM. Now the wind was getting stronger and hitting me on the passenger side. Dust around Hereford was terrible, all the way down to the TX/NM line wind/dust was bad as well as the road surface. Little Eggie's tire tracks just didn't fit very well in the semi's tracks grooved into the pavement!

I stopped at a Mickey Dee's to get something to drink to wash the "mud" down my throat. As I was getting back into the truck, I looked eastward and saw this huge cloud of red dust coming at Clovis. Oh lordie, time to get moving. I got about 5 minutes down the truck bypass to the highway to Portales, right beside the fairgrounds and wham, the biggest ole dust storm I have ever been in hit. The first round that hit, I couldn't even see the front end of my truck - like someone threw a bucket of red sand at the windshield. Wished I had a mind to grab my camera, but I was too busy hoping and praying someone wouldn't run into the back end of Eggie or me into the semi in front of me, as all traffic had come to a stop (I hoped). The semi in front of me and I stopped two more times because of visibility before we got to the intersection with the Portales highway. Here are some pictures, courtesy of the Clovis News Online.

The drive down to the Oasis SP wasn't a piece of cake either - except we kept running into white dust, then red dust, then white dust, then brown dust. Finally made it to the Park, found a site, hooked up electricity and that was it. Again, had perfect leveling site, no adjustments. Fixed a light supper and went to bed. Wind finally started dying down around 10 p.m. and by 3 a.m., when I awoke again, it was quiet. Oasis SP was a real oasis, there was wind, but no blowing dust or sand although the Park is made up of sand dunes. The sky overhead was clear unlike what was to the west of us or the east of the Park. Yup, it was an oasis for the 8 of us there.

Next morning took a shower in a nice warm shower house and left by 8:15 a.m. No problems with wind on the way to Socorro. Took US 60 all the way to I-25 at Bernardo and they south to Socorro.

This afternoon, we are off to Albuquerque to do a little shopping at Trader Joe's, get the bottom cover on my MacBook fixed (looks like a fish mouth) as found out there was a problem on some MacBooks shipped out during a certain time frame and am hoping mine is one of those. Then we'll have an early dinner at another one of my favorite places in Albuquerque - Garduno's.

This morning, besides posting this update, I took son's vacuum out to the trailer to clean up some of the sand inside. Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be heading down to an RV park located just outside the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge to check to see which migrating birds have shown up - looks like a fair number of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes are there already. Here I will be meeting up with friends Geri and Chuck, from Truth or Consequences.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Time for a NM Chili Run . . .

Having NM green chili withdrawals. I get these when I run out of my supply. I feel this is a drawback at having lived in NM for so long many years ago. Just something about chili grown in Kansas doesn't have the same uniqueness. Oh ya, I could have son send me some, but . . . you know it's not the same as when buying in person - plus, I get to see my son too!

I am feeling better this morning - all those little "bugs" giving me fits and the aches and pains seem to have mysteriously disappeared! Up at 5 a.m. and ready to hitch up but it is still dark out and it is Sunday and the neighbors might not appreciate the noise I'd make. So, will start this posting, read the Sunday morning paper, fix some coffee and eat some of my scones I made.

Today, I will head for Fort Supply OK and spend tonight at the Corp of Engineers (COE) Fort Supply campground. It's only about 200 miles down the road and I'll get there sometime in early afternoon. I don't like to drive far the first day, especially when I haven't pulled the trailer in awhile - driving tension the first day with me is not a comfortable feeling. This will be my second visit to the campground and as how the first time I was there it rained most of the two days, I wanted to see it when it wasn't raining. Housemate and I spent two nights there on our way to see his brother, who lives hear San Antonio, back in Sept 08. October is the tail end of the season there, so I don't expect too many campers in the 110 site campground. The Park is open until Oct 31st this year and I see by their calendar they will be open until Nov 28 next year. The campground opens around the first of May.

Monday, it will be on into somewhere in the eastern side of New Mexico, probably near Portales area and the Oasis State Park, just north of Portales. Been there too and as I remember they had great showers. Tuesday, it'll be on into Socorro.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Only How Many More Projects to Work on Before Winter. . .?

My gosh, the cold weather will be here before long and I am working as hard as my injured lower back will let me to get as much done outside as possible.

I injured my lower back a few days after I got back home from the Ks Egg-Stravaganza. I have a bulging disc in 5th lumbar which I have had most of my life and it got a bit bent out of shape that day. I haven't been babying it but have slowly and steadily getting my list shortened.

My list consists of 40 projects: 18 I would like to have done by 10/15 (I got 14 done); 14 I would like to have done by the end of October; and, 8 I can work on throughout the winter. Oh, that doesn't include about a dozen other projects around the house, like paint the bathroom, re-insulate and label the water lines - you know stuff like that.

I replaced the 2 chains that hold the cabinet door over the microwave in the trailer. Unlike the newer Casita trailers, my cabinet door opens downward and held level by chains. They broke last summer.

I finally finished all the work on the window awnings for the trailer and since I had so many PVC pieces, I painted the side supports for the awning a bright blue! Now I can tell them from the base pieces. (see an earlier posting dated 9/22/11)

I got my Fantastic Fan, in the ceiling of the trailer, to run. I hesitate doing things with electricity, even if the trailer is unplugged and battery disconnected, it's what happens when plugged back in that scares me. With the schematics supplied by Fantastic Fan along with the new parts, I got them replaced and hee, hee, hee, everything worked! While I had the Fan apart, the fan parts got a thorough cleaning.

While the FF was apart, I attempted to find the leak on the inside. I did some patching and sealing. Now wait for a good rain. LATER NOTE AFTER A RAIN: Welllll, I fixed that first leak but now it's moved to the next two rivets, so it must be running down under the factory installed caulking. Am going to attempt to fix the leaks from underneath, plugging up the rivets from the underside. MUCH LATER NOTE: Going from underneath didn't work. Onto Plan C. I sprayed water on top of Eggie, to simulate a hard rain - and nothing went drip, drip, drip. Now to just await a real rain to see if Plan C worked.

I took off the upper refrig outside vent removing rivets and replacing the rivets with stainless steel screws. This way it will be easier for me to clean the upper vent area along with the refrigerators outside fins. I am hoping this will encourage me to clean more often. In the picture, I haven't trimmed the butyl tape off the edges yet, letting it set for awhile. Was miserable working out there because the gnats have been so bad - and they bite with a bite that stings. Seem to immune to DEET bug spray.

I made a sling in the back of the truck to carry my hoe and the weather station poles. I cut the weather station 8 foot pole in half to make it easier to store when traveling. The two halves are connected with a connector. The hoe is what I use to pull items, that are at the very front of the truck bed towards the tailgate. Climbing up onto the tailgate is waaaaay to hard for me, so hence my "grabber". I also lay strips of leftover fabric on the bed of the pickup, to pull items toward the tailgate.

One project I have been wanting to do, is to make it easier for me to close my "bear locks". A previous owner use to go bear hunting in Wyoming and didn't want any bear getting into the trailer while he and his wife were in there, so he installed two sliding dead bolts on the door - top and bottom. I always had trouble successfully sliding the bolts to their full length because the bolts sat a tad low. I removed the bolts, put a double layer of shims behind to build them up, got longer carriage bolts and wala I can slide the bolts to their full length. I don't use them that much, but may more often now - just to keep the bears out!

Started putting my "summer" clothes away in another closet and pulling my "cold weather" clothes out. Having two days of rain got the fire lit under me to get that done. Son emailed me and said they had frost that morning. Glad am taking my electric blanket. Oh, I know "softie" but I ain't as young as you!

The trailer propane tanks need re-painting, so painted them white and added pink ribbons to each side.

Now that the rains have passed for a bit, I want to get started on making my drying rack, which I will hang off the back of the trailer. This will mainly be to dry bath towel out after a shower or other items - no no personal items. I have been to places where there aren't any trees to string a clothesline up, so the drying rack will do in those instances. NOTE: drying rack is going to wait until I get back from New Mexico. Just too many other more pressing things to do.

I also attempted to temporarily fix a leak in the house guttering at a corner, but suspected will have to reset the corner or replace with a downspout and somehow run the water away from the house/sidewalk in the winter so there won't be ice buildup. LATER NOTE: well that temporary fix didn't work either. At least the drip guard, I have to reinsert from time to time, from the roof to gutter is working! I also took down some bird nests that had been built in the outside roof supports. See the "painted" rock (that triangle shaped thing) sitting up there to discourage them from coming back (works on my front porch)?

It's getting time to start loading up the trailer and heading to NM. Will go to daughter's Day of Caring first and then head out and get as far as I can. I try to stick with the "Rule of 4" when traveling, especially with the trailer. Drive no more than 4 hours, or not more than 400 miles, or quit by 4 p.m. Since it's hard for me to cover 400 miles in 4 to 5 hours of driving, I don't have to use that rule too often. There have been a few times I have stretched it a couple days in a row and paid for it the third day.

Welp, trailer is almost loaded, back of pickup has essentials and a few items for "just in case", i.e my RV antifreeze. Getting the trailer ready is enough but need to get the house ready and check and recheck to make sure the housemate has food for meals, bills are paid, plants get watered and so on.

Didn't get away as planned. Had a "burp" in how I was feeling, so delayed the departure a day. I did make it to daughter Juno's Day of Caring and see her model an outfit from a local business. The Day of Caring's models are all breast cancer survivors and is a fundraiser for the local cancer council. You go Survivors - women and men.