Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not Bad for a GIRL!

Most of our friends know that Terry and I share the driving duties for Phaeton Place. Well, since we left Tucson, I have done all the driving and Terry has been navigating. He knows the Delorme program better than I and when we are in certain areas, I prefer to have him navigating.

We left Deming on Friday after Thanksgiving. It was really a bittersweet exit because we met several couples at the Thanksgiving dinner that I would have loved to spend more time with. Ross and Dorothy are planning on making it to the valley later this winter, so hopefully we may see them again. Dan and Rita are new fulltimers and really excited about traveling. They have done a lot of planning and are getting set up to do some serious boondocking as well. We wish all our friends safe travels and plan to see them on down the road.

Our plan was to take four days to drive to the Rio Grande Valley and our lot in Mission, Texas. The first day was such an easy drive, but rather boring across I-10. I didn't mind putting that leg of our journey behind us, so I suggested we travel on to Fort Stockton, a few more miles than we had planned. The park Terry had chosen for us to stay turned out to be a real dump and neither of us wanted to spend a night there. Instead of driving back to one of the other parks, we decided to drive on to Sanderson. We have stayed at the park there before and knew we would be comfortable. So after 409 miles, we got parked and hooked up for the night.

Leaving Sanderson the next day, we drove on to Eagle Pass. This was an easy drive, but finding the casino was not so easy. But we did make it and found an empty spot in their RV park. What a joke that is. I hope the next improvement they make is that park. We paid to park and then were never able to get the electric to work. We have a surge protector to save us from damaging equipment in the coach. It showed we had unreliable low voltage and would not allow power into the coach. We tried two different sites and decided after that to forget trying to get any resolutioin to the problem. It wasn't as cold in Eagle Pass, so we just boondocked. I had noticed one of our friends in Arizona had made an early move back to home base because of the impending winter storm. So I looked that up. I really need to be a little more diligent there because we had a storm heading for us.

Today was to be a short hop to Laredo, then on in to Mission on Monday. But Monday is supposed to be wintry weather in the high elevations of Arizona and Texas with snow appearing even at the valley floors. A slushy mixture is possible, and no one in a 40' diesel pusher wants to push slush and snow along the road. Today, however, was a beautiful day with sunshine and warm weather. So the choice as I see it was this: (1) lay over in Laredo and run tomorrow in rain and wind all the way to Mission where we set up in the same. . . OR (2) make the run to Mission today in the sunshine and warm weather setting up in the same. Hmmmmm, you guessed it. . . no brainer there.

So we arrived here at our lot in Mission at 2:30 after an uneventful drive. Those are the best kind. Mom and Dad were excited to see us and even fixed us supper. We just did minimum setup as we were tired from our three day/900 mile journey with me behind the wheel. NOT BAD FOR A GIRL!

Now we will see if the weatherman was right!

Till next time. . .


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Moving on. . .

Our time in Deming, New Mexico, is drawing to a close. We are here at the Escapees park and it is one of our favorite parks. There are not a lot of people here in the winter because it does get cold, but the ones that are here are very friendly and we have gotten to know several people since arriving on Monday.

Today was our Thanksgiving dinner. It started at 3 p.m. and we had signed up by tables. Each table had a designated person who met with everyone at that table prior to today to determine what each would like to bring. I took pecan pies and cranberry salad. Those are two of our favorites. The park supplied the turkey and gravy. It was all very good. There were twelve people at our table, three Canadian couples and three American couples. A nice mix. We really enjoyed talking with every one and we ended up visiting with new friends long after the dinner ended. We hope to meet with these people later on. One couple will be coming to Mission later this winter, so perhaps they will catch up with us there.

Tomorrow we set our sights on Mission, Texas, where we hope to be in a few days. We don't drive long or fast, so it will be a leisurely journey, but we are thinking by Monday we should be there.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Easy does it!

Well, we are enjoying the weather here in Tucson so have stayed a few more days. The days are wonderful. . . warm, sunny, no wind, etc. The nights, however, require the heat pumps as it gets into the 40's some nights.

Since we have great shopping near our camp, we decided to do a bit of Christmas shopping and so that is what we have been doing. Since our arrival in the valley is later this year, we would like to have it pretty much done by the time we get there.

We have met several people in our park here and they are very nice and friendly. We also meet their dogs. . . yesterday it was Taz, the basset. What a beauty at 55 pounds. He is a rescue and is fulltiming with his family. What a great story. Neal, our rescued Scottie, is doing well for 13 1/2 years. He is our handicapped boy, but he never complains. . . as long as his food is out on time.

Last night we started hearing a lot of noise-like explosions in the distance. We went out to see fireworks east of us against the mountains. What a display! We can only assume that since there was a big, big football game at the University of Arizona that perhaps the fireworks were a celebration of a victory. That would have been over 9 miles away, and the lights were low on the horizon, but we still got a good view.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, November 19, 2009


We are in Tucson, having arrived late yesterday afternoon. This is one of my favorite towns. My uncle and grandfather are buried here, having lived much of their lives here in the sun. We have been here several times and try to see something different each time.

Today we went to Sabino Canyon. This is a canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. In the 1930’s, a road was built through the canyon to allow visitors to access a variety of trails in the canyon. That road closed to traffic in 1978 and now they offer a 45-minute 3.8 mile tram tour into the foothills of the mountains through the canyon. There are nine stops and you can get off and hike the various trails and get back on whenever you wish. The main road ascends from 2,800 to 3,300 feet and crosses Sabino Creek over nine stone bridges.

In addition to the beautiful scenery, we were treated to a rare occurrence. A ring-tailed Coatie was rooting in the mud in a creekbed. Our tram driver stopped so we could see and he was still there on our return trip, only this time he had two roadrunners hanging around. It was quite awesome.

A lot of people were hiking the trails. There are, of course, the normal dangers of hiking in the desert, i.e., snakes and mountain lions; and the guide gave a few instructions to those who were going to get off and hike.

When I was about six years old, my parents drove me and my two sisters out here to visit my aunt and uncle and grandfather. We went off to a canyon and picnicked. I remember a stone dam where we walked. A bit of water was running over it. Tonight while I was telling my Mom about our day she said, “I wonder if that’s the same canyon we picnicked in when we were out there years ago. I described several things to her and we think it is probably the place. Talk about a blast from the past!

It was a most enjoyable ride through the canyon and I would highly recommend it. You may even want to hike some of the trails.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

California's Plank Road

Our last day in Yuma was spent sightseeing. We drove west on I-8 crossing into California and entered the area known as the Imperial Valley. It is here the Glamis Dunes sit in silent grandeur with ripples on the hills made by the winds whipping the delicate sand around. Here also is the site of a piece of history most people don't know about.

In early 1915, a road was built across seven miles of the dunes to allow automobile travelers quicker access to the west coast. From Yuma, the distance to San Diego was shorter than the distance to Los Angeles. The original road was made of planks which were laid end to end. Two parallel strips of wood 25 inches wide made travel across the shifting sand feasible and it quickly became very popular. However, it was not very durable and under heavy use it deteriorated. The solution was to built a second plank road, one in which the planks were laid across the roadbed and iron ties were used to hold it in place. These sections were preassembled and laid down with an elaborate contraption. The road was a single lane wide and there were many turnouts made to allow traffic to pass. The logistics of the road created to its downfall. Keeping the road clear of sand was a nightmare and the amount of traffic taking advantage of the road was indicative of the need for a better route. A new asphalt/concrete road was built and opened in 1926 and the Plank Road was history. Several sections were removed to museums and much of the wood planks disappeared as campers used it for firewood. A 1500 foot section remains near the Grays Well area in the recreation area. If you find yourself in Yuma, you should take a drive out here to see it.

Later in the day, Smokey and Pam came to visit and we sat out at our campfire with them and John and Doni. We decided to go to Da Boyz for pizza so we once again got to visit with our friends before we started our trek east. We had a nice campsite in Yuma and enjoyed our times with fellow members of our Graduating Class of 2005. We will see them all again, perhaps at Escapade next fall in Goshen.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yuma, Arizona

We have been relaxing here in Yuma. Yesterday we went to the Arizona Marketplace, a large flea market, and walked through the many rows looking at stuff. I bought a couple shirts and Terry a couple tools. Hard to believe there are tools he still doesn't own. We also bought a new RV mat to place outside where we sit. It is the type that is supposed to lay flat and wind won't catch it.

Today we are watching the Nascar race of course, so I am getting some laundry done. I fixed a large dinner (for us) of stuffed green peppers, potatoes, salad and flan for dessert. Now I have the first of two fruitcakes in the oven. I usually make them around holiday time and that is fast approaching. I plan to surprise my Mom and Dad and send them one of the cakes in time for Thanksgiving. They love them and last year I had found Mom ordering one on line. I told her we could make much better ones and we did. In fact, after I made the ones for Christmas, Mom and I ended up making them again before we left the valley. They are THAT good. I know, I know, you say fruitcake is never that good, but these are. First, they are all fruit and nuts. . . NO CAKE. No flour. They use Eagle Brand milk and coconut to bind it together. Super good. I will post a picture tomorrow when we cut one.

Till next time. . .


Friday, November 13, 2009

Say Goodbye to the "Q!"

I took this photograph one morning waiting for the sun to come up over the mountain. When it did, there was too much cloud cover by then to see, but this was beautiful nonetheless.

Last evening we spent our last night sitting around the campfire with our friends. It was a bittersweet time because I really hated to leave, but we have more places to see and more friends to visit. We had already extended our stay by one day, so it was time for us to move on. We said our goodbyes this morning as our friends were headed to Algodones, Mexico, for the day to check on dental procedures. I told Bob and Betsy I would let Chiquita, their dog, out before we left so she would be in good shape by the time they returned. About 10 o'clock, we pulled out into the street and hooked up and rolled slowly away from Rainbow Acres. This is really a great place to stay while in Quartzsite and we appreciate the hospitality of The Texan and company.

We drove on down to Yuma, which is less than 100 miles. It is a straight shot down 95 with a couple of interesting views. We drove through LaPosa North and South, which are 14 day fee areas on the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. The fee is because you have both water and a dump station available. There were RVs everywhere, but very few. That will change daily as people pull in to spend time in this desert oasis. Continuing on we passed through the Yuma Proving Grounds and the Imperial Dam cutoff. Just before we got into Yuma we passed the towers for the "Bridge to Nowhere." This 800-foot-long suspension bridge spanned the Gila River when it was built in 1929, and was named McPhaul Bridge in honor of Henry Harrison McPhaul, "the only Yuma resident who ever became an Arizona Ranger." But it was considered to be too flimsy for modern traffic, and when a dam was built upstream in 1968 the river was diverted and the highway was rerouted over a much smaller bridge. The bridge is closed to all traffic, but you can view it from the gate. We were there a couple years ago.

Once we got into Yuma, we pulled into the Flying J for fuel, saving 30 cents a gallon over what the truck stops in Quartzsite wanted. We pulled into the parking area then and called John, our friend who is giving us a place to park in the foothills alongside his 5-er. We fixed lunch and waited on John who arrived and escorted back to the site. It's a good thing because the foothills subdivision is built with a golf course in the middle and several arroyos or washes pass through which you cannot cross. So it takes making the right turns to get to where you want to go. We parked and got setup. This is a beautiful spot with a lot of RV's in this area. While we were talking, Pam and Smokey called and wanted to meet us for dinner tonight. We all met at the Mad Chef and had an excellent dinner. It was great to see everyone again, but I forgot my camera, so we don't have a picture.
Tomorrow we are headed to the Arizona marketplace. . . a giant flea market.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The "Q"

We are in Quartzsite, having arrived on Monday afternoon. Our friends, The Texan and his wife and Jim and Sue are here. The Texan has rented this lot for the winter and has graciously allowed us to crash here for a couple days. In the picture front row, me, Betsy and Bob (The Texan). Back row, Jim, Sue, and Terry.

The community we are in is known as Rainbow Acres, a development of 500 sites which have RVs, mobiles, stick-built houses, etc. They are well kept and all are fenced in with brick fences on three sides and gates on the front. Left to right, The Texan, Phaeton Place in the middle, Jim and Sue's rig on the right.

I must say that we have been having Datastorm problems which is why I haven't been posting. Our Datastorm is the internet satellite on the roof of the motorhome. When it works, it deploys at the touch of a button and locks onto the satellite within 10 minutes, then allowing us internet access. Lately it has been taking up to an hour to search and then sometimes it never locks on. We put it down and re-deploy and then it clicks in. But when we got here, it would just search and search till it got "tired," then it would quit. I started asking questions on the Datastorm users group and they were most helpful. We did our own troubleshooting and decided it could very well be the transmitter, aka radios. It just so happens that Jim next door had an extra set, so they went up on the rooftop early this morning and changed them out. That did the trick. A little tweaking later and we were once again surfing. So we went into the Q later and bought a new set of radios and tomorrow will swap them out for Jim's spare unit.

Our days have been spent running around Quartzite looking at what's new. There are people here, but of course nothing like it will be in a few months. But that is good because it is easy to get around. Not much shopping to do, but no matter. The Q is a mecca for RVers in the winter and there will be hundreds of thousands of RVs in January when the shows start. There is a different show every week, like rock and mineral shows, flea markets, RV shows, car shows, etc.

I have been a bit disappointed with the night skies, however. We have had some overcast skies and consequently, not many stars. But perhaps there will be before we leave here. We sit around the campfire every night talking with our friends, listening to the coyotes, and laughing at stupid things we've done and share. We have decided we have all done everything that was in the RV movie and if we'd been smart enough to film it all, we'd be millionaires. Hah!

Till next time. . .


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Wow! What an awesome site. . . Hoover Dam. It is so massive it is actually hard to see--your eyes play tricks on you. I have been across the dam before but that is all I remember. . . crossing it. There is a visitor center and a parking garage so we parked and walked the rest of the way. We went to the visitor center to look at the exhibits and learn about how this dam was constructed. It was truly amazing to think of how they built this structure with the technology of the time. There were men, called high scalers, who sat on wooden swings and were lowered down the cliffs on both sides of the river so they could chip away at the rock. They were paid 70 cents per hour. Hah!

Some of you know they are building a bridge across the Colorado River to take the traffic off the dam. Since 9-11, they have restricted the traffic on the dam and all vehicles are subject to search. There is no longer any commercial truck traffic. Once they get the bridge done, traffic will flow smoothly across the river from Arizona to Nevada. We could see quite a lot of the new highway they are building and the road is going to be much straighter than the road going to the dam. It will surely be a timesaver for people who use the bridge a lot and perhaps commute from state to state. You will be able to see the dam from the bridge but the dam itself will still be open for foot traffic. The bridge is very high. While we were visiting yesterday the workers were using the cable trams to set in sections of the stantions for the roadbed. I had seen earlier pictures of the bridge before the arch was complete, but the arch is connected now, so they are working on the supports now for the roadway. I cannot even fathom the technology it takes to begin a project of such magnitude. I have a lot of respect for the engineers and workers willing to do this type of work. I believe the pictures speak for themselves.

On the way back, we stopped at an overlook for Lake Mead. I remember many moons ago sailing my uncle's boat on this lake. I wish we had the boat here. We would enjoy time on the water.

We drove through more of Las Vegas and I snapped a couple pix down the strip. The pyramid with the Sphinx is the Luxor, then the other is New York New York. We plan on going by tonight to get some night time shots.

Tomorrow we are leaving here and headed to the "Q." Quartzsite, Arizona, a boondocking mecca for RVers. We will be the guests of some friends, so we will have hookups. We are anxious to experience the endless night sky we remember.

Till next time. . .


Friday, November 06, 2009

We're in Vegas, Baby!

We arrived yesterday and I mainy crashed. For some reason I was really tired and then got a little queasy. I finally decided it is from traveling at near warp speed through the many time zones and the changes to Daylight Savings time. Sheesh. Every time we turned a corner we were in another time zone and then the time changed, then we went through another time zone. We even renamed Phaeton Place to The Starship Enterprise. Hah!

Time is so screwed up here. It gets light out by 5:30 a.m. and at 5:05 p.m. this evening it was almost dark. It is now 5:37 p.m. and it is totally dark. What's up with that?

The last time I was here in Vegas was when I was 16. . . just about 20 years ago. Hehehehehe. Well, a few more than that. At any rate, I recognize NOTHING! Cesar's Palace was here then and I remembered the fountain, which is hard to see now from everything there is in front of it. I remember the strip being more remote and sparse enough you could easily see the many casinos. Now they are literally on top of each other and you have to look hard to see them. The buildings are massive. The lights are gorgeous, but I keep wondering what Al Gore must be thinking. It seems like we could make a lot of headway going green if we made Vegas tow the line. But I'm sure that will never happen.

This morning we went downtown and walked along the Fremont Street Experience. This is a covered pedestrian walkway now and no traffic allowed. I'm not sure when it was covered, but I don't remember the cover when we shopped here long ago. But it is very nice and allows you to wander across the mall area to the casinos and shops on the other side. Course, none of the buildings were lit up during the day, but they are still impressive. We tried a few of the slots, but nothing worked for us today. Good thing we are not gamblers; we really only play a bit for entertainment.
Once we left downtown, we drove around a bit. I snapped a picture of the Statosphere, which looks like a big space needle. It has an amusement ride on the very top, but I didn't see it moving. Terry was here years ago on business and stayed at Bally's. He also went to the buffet at the Rio and he took me there for lunch today. It was good but way too expensive for us. I was a bit disappointed when I realized after my meal that I didn't even see half the buffet. I was commenting to Terry that it was odd they didn't have a salad bar and he told me it was down on the other end. . . the other HALF of the buffet I never saw. Grrrr. We enjoyed our time browsing the buildings and casinos, but one day downtown was enough. We may go out on the strip yet before we leave.

Tomorrow we are going to Hoover Dam. We chose not to drive up from Bullhead City over the dam because of the possibility of searches of the motorhome. We have nothing to hide, but that would be a big headache and especially because we have to do the loading/unloading for inspection. Many people we have spoken with say they are never inspected, but the info I downloaded says it is a possibility, so we decided to drive around and then take a day trip out to the dam. That will be more relaxing and enjoyable for us.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Leaving Phoenix. . .

Well, I love Arizona, but I wasn't sad to leave Phoenix. Unfortunately it is a victim of its own success and growth. A haze of smog lays in the valley where the city is located and one never sees the colors in the mountains surrounding the city. They are obscured by the layer of smog that cloaks the valley. Several mornings we saw hot-air balloons aloft, but you could never see the color. . . just the outline and they looked gray. How unfortunate. My allergies have been really acting up and I was sneezing quite a lot.

Yesterday, our last day there, we went downtown and found the business of a high school classmate of Terry's. He and his wife have a custom drapery business right in downtown Phoenix. We stopped and visited with Mike and Muriel. We declined a dinner invitation because we had work to do back at the motorhome since we were leaving this morning. But it was good to see them again and we enjoyed talking with them. When we left there we ate lunch at the HoneyBear barbeque, which Muriel recommended. It was excellent!

We broke camp this morning and headed toward Kingman, Arizona, which is where we planned to stay the night. We had an easy drive, around 160 miles. We drove up on the Joshua Tree Parkway and were rewarded with views of the mystical tree that inhabits the area along this route. There also were lots of saguaro cactus. When we arrived at the camp where we planned to stay, we decided to travel on to the Laughlin/Bullhead City area. The camp looked good enough, but it was a good distance out of Kingman and we had thought it was closer. So we continued on toward Bullhead City. It was a mere 40 miles further, but as many of you know, there is a 12 mile 6% grade with a stoplight at the end when you arrive at the Colorado River near Bullhead City. When we crested the mountain and saw the sign to pull over and check your brakes before beginning your descent. . . Terry dutifully pulled over. Then he unbuckled his seat belt and announced he was taking over as passenger and I had the honor of driving the descent. He hates doing that, but I really don't mind. This was not all that hard, since it is 12 miles, there were flatter parts of the hill that you get a chance to catch your breath. At any rate, it wasn't difficult. At the bottom of the hill, we reached the stoplight and turned right into our park. We are camped at the Davis Camp on the Colorado River. It is one of the actual work camps built for workers building the Davis Dam. It is a very nice camp and reasonably priced. We can see the casino lights from our window!

Tomorrow we head to Sam's Town in Las Vegas!

Till next time. . .


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Does anyone really know what time it is?

Well, here in Phoenix, we are in the Mountain Time Zone, or so we are told. However, we are three hours behind the east coast, which is like Pacific Time. I guess it has to do with Daylight Savings Time. I have enough trouble keeping up with time zones without the added distraction of DST. I read that only the Navajo Nation in Arizona observes DST, so today we got up expecting to be one hour earlier, only to find out our time didn't change and we now match the Mountain Time. Go figure. Course, when you have no agenda, does it really matter? Hah.

Yesterday was Mesa Marketplace day. We love the flea markets, never buy much, but enjoy watching people and looking around. It is good exercise, gets us up and out and walking for several hours. I did find a golden barrel cactus! I have been looking for one and I am happy to report we now have one. I will leave it in Texas, probably in its pot, since I can leave it in there for 5 years. I also bought a wolf and kits, a plaster statue to set out in the rock at our Texas lot. I looked for them in Mexico, but I always thought they were too expensive. The Mesa Marketplace is open air, but covered, so sun is not a problem and this Arizona sun is really bright.

Afterwards, we drove north to Scottsdale and ate a late lunch/early supper at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill. What fun. There were multiple large screen TVs for sports, but we sat in front of the stage and one screen was all country music, so we enjoyed that. The menu is somewhat varied, but we got the traditional burgers and fries which were very good.

Back at the park, I sat outside with Neal. We have a lot of quail here across the road from our site. They run back and forth in the Aqua Frier Wash. This is also where we hear the coyotes at night. Neal will not walk over at the pet walk at night which is at the fence up against the wash. I know he smells the coyotes. We also see little bunnies over there every day.

Today is Sunday which means Nascar and today the race is at Talladega. Whoo hoo! It will probably be over about noon because of our time zone. . . Oh well, that leaves the rest of the day. Terry has also promised to oil my bike chain and I hope to get to ride around the park here. There are 1150 sites, mostly park models, but we have yet to look at the facilities, so think I will do that.

Till next time. . .