Friday, October 30, 2009

Sightseeing in Phoenix

Today we got out early (for us) and went to the flea market in Goodyear. What a bust! It is a huge place, but very few vendors were even set up. The were some things to look at and I did get a wallhanging of cactus and coyotes howling at the moon. It's pretty cool and it is to put in our building if we ever get it built in Texas. If not, I guess it is doomed to forever be stored under the bed in the motorhome.

After leaving there, we drove to the Mystery Castle, which is really no mystery and no castle. It was built by a man who left his wife and daughter in Seattle, came here and over time, scavenged articles and materials from the nearby (at that time) town dump with which to build the castle. He came here because he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and thought he would be cured from the air. The story is that he didn't want to infect his wife and child, so he left without telling anyone where he was. He continued to live for another 16 years and eventually succumbed to cancer. Once his will was read, his wife and daughter were contacted and they came to Phoenix and moved into the "castle." The father had always promised his daughter he would build her a castle and as he continued to live, he kept adding rooms on until there were 18 rooms and 13 fireplaces. It is rough, rustic, etc. It is hard to described. He was extremely eccentric, but his daughter is probably more so, decorating the place with a sense of the macabre. There are skeletons all around and stuffed life-sized dolls, all permanent residents of the house. The doors and windows certainly do not fit tightly, many windows are broken and have been glued back together. It is just bizarre. When we entered the main part of the living quarters, the owner herself greeted us. Mary Lou Gulley is the daughter for whom the house was built and she has lived here since 1946 with her mother, until her death in the 60's. She is a lovely person, albeit a bit strange to share her home with all the strange and wild furnishings. I read one description which said visiting the house was like stepping into someone else's dream. That is pretty close . . . or stepping into a Charles Dicken's novel.

From there we went up the mountain against which the house is built. Terry drove up to the lookout at South Mountain Park, but I had to drive down. It was five miles, but slow going because of the hairpin turns.

We drove through Scottsdale on the way home and had a late lunch at a pizza place. I snapped a picture of a beautiful horse fountain. This was in an historic shopping district which had a lot of little shops and lots of Indian jewelry. I think the turquoise and other Indian jewelry is beautiful on the Indians, but I find it a bit too gaudy for my tastes. I just was never meant to wear that stuff, but I do admire the workmanship that goes into it.

Tomorrow we are off to the Mesa Marketplace. Terry does not remember going there a few years ago, but I do. That is extremely surprising that I remember something he doesn't. Afterwards, he has promised me lunch here I can't wait!

Till next time. . .


Phun in Phoenix!

We arrived to a cold, dry, sunny Phoenix. The weather man says two days of this and then it will be warmer. We have always had two days of cold wherever we go. . . are those same two days following us everywhere we go? I'd like to know. We could fool them into thinking we were leaving and stay. Hah! We did enjoy the scenery on the way down from Camp Verde. As you can see from the pix, we are back in the land of the saguaro cactus. They are truly beautiful.

We are at the Sunflower Resort in Surprise, Arizona. Very nice park. It is a Can-Am park and we have stayed at Can-Am parks before and had a great time. This park has a special section for "short-term" stays and we were sent all the way to the back (of the bus, so to speak) and parked into one of the 50 side-by-side sites. They are very narrow and on dirt, which is okay. I guess if you are staying a bit longer, they will actually let you have an actual site in the park. We are facing the dry Aqua Frier, which according to our park guide, has not had water in it for at least five years. At least there is a tall chain link fence because I am certain there are coyotes in there. The other night when I was out with Neal, some local sirens kicked off a cacophony of coyote song. That was it for Neal, he was ready to come in. I don't blame him.

The park has lots of rules regarding pets and they will not allow us to set up our ex-pen for Neal. Most of you know Neal is our handicapped Scottie who cannot walk well. We always use an ex-pen for him to "do his business." He understands what he is supposed to do in there when we let him out at night. He also feels very safe and secure. He would be a target for other dogs when they see him stumbling around, they might feel the need to "cull the herd." Our vet has made us aware of this threat and cautioned us always that even dogs who appear to be friendly can be a problem. The pet walk is directly across from our site and that is where we are supposed to walk him on a leash. Leashes are not Neal friendly because he falls so much and gets tangled up in them. We have been allowing him out on his mat and sometimes I take him over and prop him up against the fence. I know parks must have rules, but it's kind of like telling the guy in the wheelchair he has to stand for the pledge of allegiance, no exceptions. I told the park attendant who said I had to walk Neal in the pet area. . . "You make him walk, I'll hang on to the leash." I wonder if there is a ADA for dogs! Hah!

Yesterday we went to IKEA which is one of our favorite stores. As fulltimers, we cannot buy much. . . you know. . . something new in, something of Dale's out. At least that's how it works in this house. But we do have fun walking through the store. We had lunch there which is always good and then traveled back through the city proper. We tried to find the business of one of Terry's high school classmates. We think we found it, but a lot of city redevelopment seems to be going on, so we aren't sure if the address is still correct. On our way back home, we found the Cabela's and did some shopping there. Today we are going to a large flea market. When we stayed in Mesa a few years ago, we went to the Mesa Marketplace. This one is supposed to be larger and west of Phoenix, in Goodyear, Arizona, closer to our location in Surprise.

We are very close to Luke AFB here and the military jets fly over dozens of times everyday. At night they are easy to spot--first the sound, then the flashing lights, then they streak across the night sky. Truly awesome. There are almost always four flying, two by two, but sometimes they flying in formation. On the way back to camp yesterday, we drove by the air base.

It appears to be a clearer day out there today. We sure are having trouble adjusting to the air. We are running a humidifier. I suspect since there is a lot of haze, there is a great deal of pollution in the air. The last time we were here, you could see the smog laying over Phoenix as we approached. Yesterday the mountains around the town were barely visible. So sad. But we are enjoying the lower altitudes. Terry was having problems at the higher elevations. He doesn't adjust as well or as quickly as I do, but I did notice it.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Say Hello to Phoenix

We were supposed to get our coach washed yesterday, but the guy never showed up. He gets big bucks for the concession here at the park, but Phaeton Place is so dirty from pushing mud through all the rain we had before we got to Arizona, we really wanted her washed. No place will let you wash it, but we asked the guy to do it while we were here. He said Tuesday morning, so we didn't plan anything and stayed here in anticipation of a clean coach.

Alas, 'twas not to be. He never showed up. Every day we have seen him in the park, but not Tuesday. Finally, we put signs on the windows stating he was two hours late (actually 4 by that time) and to cancel the wash because we had to leave. (The casino was calling.) Later when one of the park guys was rolling around in his golf cart, he stopped to chat. He wanted to know about the signs. So Terry filled him in. The guy said, "Well I will talk with him because there are other people who want the concession. . . if he isn't even going to call when he cannot come, we may have to look elsewhere." A couple hours later, the guys calls. Said he "lost our card." Well, that's a lie. . . we never gave him a card. He wrote us down, along with our phone number, in his notebook he kept in his pocket. But no matter. He asked about doing the coach today. Terry said, "No, we're leaving Wednesday morning." So then the guy said, "If you can wait to leave by 9:30, I will be here at 8 a.m. and wash it FOR FREE!" So guess what? That's right. . . we were up at 5 a.m. and will be ready for him at 8. Actually we are all ready for him anyway.

We did take the car to a car wash and also put the bikes on the back of the truck and took them in to wash them. They were really dirty too, but they are clean now. We are headed to Sunflower Resort in Surprise, Arizona, for a week. I hope their air has cleared. They were having air pollution warnings from dust flying around due to wind. It is supposed to be better today. Hope so or we will be staying in.

Till next time. . .


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Red Rocks of Sedona

Sedona is always a beautiful experience. The red rocks are outstanding and breathtaking in their silent and majestic dignity. We have been here before, but always enjoy the views.

We drove in from our campground, just 18 miles south. We did go to the Chapel in the Rock this time, but it was so crowded and the walk is uphill once you get parked. We chose not to do that. If we could have parked closer and had a smaller crowd, we might have managed it; but I did get a great picture.

We went on into Sedona and found a parking place, then walked the town, down one side and up the other. Bought very little. . . a couple of red dirt shirts. These are T-shirts dyed with the red dirt Sedona is famous for. We also ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant which we thought to be terribly expensive, but all the restaurants had about the same prices on their food. Nothing under $10. Hah!

We were really tired by the time we had completed the walk. We drove through Cottonwood on the way home, because there was a lot of road construction on the main road into Sedona and didn't want to get stopped in that again.

Tomorrow morning we are going to be home as the motorhome washers are coming. Can't wait to get all that dirt off Phaeton Place. She should look like a new rig after that! We washed our bikes this morning, so perhaps tomorrow we can go for a nice ride.

Till next time. . .


Monday, October 26, 2009

Fun in the Sun!

Finally. . . warmer weather. We are at Distant Drums RV Park, owned by some Indian Tribe, in Camp Verde, Arizona, 53 miles south of Flagstaff. The park is beautiful, but it amazes us how some parks are done.

You would think with an investment like this, they would hire someone who knows what they are doing, wouldn't you? The park is beautifully landscaped and sites are paved. But I don't think there is a level site in the park. Why do they create such a nice place with all the amenities and fail to bring a level? Backed into our site, we are a FULL bubble out. I went to the office and asked for another site. They were very nice and showed me four other sites which were available. I checked those all out. . . same problem. But two of those sites, while the pad was long enough, had a rise right behind the pad, and the longer motorhomes on that row were backed into the dirt. Hmmmm. Then the landscaping. While beautiful, you cannot get to any of your bay doors without having someone lean against a bush to hold it out of the way. We have to walk around the bushes onto our neighbor's site in order to get to our wet bay. Now that is convenient.

But no matter. We have already met the neighbors and others down our street as well as several dogs. Neal finally got his long awaited bath yesterday. What a chore. He fights like Bruce Lee when you try to bathe him. For a handicapped dog, he has more moves than Steven Segal. But he is clean and I changed his bedding. He has to feel better.

Phaeton Place is getting a bath tomorrow. We cannot wash it here, but there is a guy who comes around and uses his own water. So we are on the schedule. The motorhome is so dirty and no place will allow you to wash your coaches. I don't think there is a dirtier rig in here. We took the bikes off the back to make it more accessible. We put the bikes on the back of the truck and we are going to find a car wash and wash the bikes as they are also very dirty.

On another note. . . to borrow a phrase from my favorite comedian, Ron White. . . you just can't fix stupid. We saw this yesterday on I-17 coming south out of Flagstaff. This gal had one lane closed off due to stupidity and when the proper equipment arrives to get her out. . . they will likely have to close the southbound lanes for awhile. Less than a mile down the road was an interchange where she could have exited, crossed over the bridge, and entered on the northbound side. Sheesh!

Till next time. . .


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Flagstaff, AZ

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yesterday we left the Grand Canyon Camper Village and drove on down to Flagstaff to Black Bart's RV Park. We did some driving around the historic district of Flagstaff, then came back to the motorhome.

Today we went out exploring. There are some ruins north of the city, so we headed up that way. Less than 800 years ago, the Wupatki pueblo was the largest around. There remains foundations and walls of several buildings, one inside a box canyon. They were built near cracks in the earth where water would run during the rainy season. The main pueblo had a community meeting area and a ball court. The sites were quite extensive and evidence of a highly organized community.

We continued along the road and stopped off at an overlook where we were treated to a beautiful vista of the painted desert. This is an area that has desert, mountains, craters, lava flows and more. There are so many different landscapes. . . everywhere you turn the ground looks different. We continued on down the road to Sunset Volcano Crater. This volcano erupted almost 1000 years ago. It created lava flows that are still very much a part of the landscape and showered the land with cinders which seem to be the main covering of the ground. The cinders are hundreds of feet deep and nothing except a few plants and trees grow in it. I think someone needs to scoop up all that stuff and spread it wherever you don't want any vegetation to grow. It would work better than weed killer. The lava flows were most impressive. They are huge fields of lava rock, once molten and flowing down the mountain. There they have remained for 1000 years undisturbed. They look to be very deep, very rugged and massive. Quite interesting.

We got back to the motorhome and relaxed a little. We fed Neal, then headed over to the Beaver Street Brewery where we met John, our son-in-law's brother. He is a graduate student at Northern Arizona University. He has lived in Flagstaff for 10 years. We enjoyed visiting with him and sharing a meal.

Tomorrow we hopefully be out of cold weather. The weather during the day here at Flagstaff has been great, but it has gotten down to freezing at night. We will be driving to Camp Verde tomorrow for a couple nights before heading down to Phoenix. We are in S L O W mode, just moving along and exploring as we go.

Till next time. . .


Friday, October 23, 2009

Grand Canyon, Day 2

Terry had suggested that since we missed sunset last night, we should try and do sunrise this morning. That would involve getting up WAAAAY too early for me and we would also have to get Neal to cooperate and "do his business" so we could "safely" leave for a couple hours. Well, I woke up at 5. Terry got up as well and we thought. . . . Hmmmmm, this could work. Let's see if Neal will cooperate. We started getting around and sure enough Neal got up, went out and cooperated and came in for his breakfast. At 6:00 we were headed out to the park and to the observation point where we thought would be a good spot.

It wasn't near as crowded as last night, but there were still quite a few people out. It is really quite awesome because people are very quiet waiting on the sun to show its face. It wasn't long. . . I mean, we just made it there. I snapped several pictures of the sun peaking out. Afterwards we drove east along Desert View road and stopped at several lookout points and snapped more pix as the sun continued to rise in the sky. We were asked a couple times to take pictures of people. Foreigners aren't bashful about asking, and most speak enough English that we were able to carry on a conversation. So we happily obliged.

We were out for a couple hours, then came back to the motorhome and Neal. I downloaded all the pictures I had taken and we rested up a bit. Then about 11:30 we left again. We drove to the Grand Canyon Village this time, parked, and walked to the bus stop for the shuttle busses that ran west onto a road where private cars are prohibited. The busses run every 15 minutes or so. We stopped at every stop along the way and got back on, riding to Hermit's Rest which is the turnaround point. We took a break there, then hopped back on the bus and rode back to where the car was parked. We had lunch in the cafeteria there and then drove back to the motorhome.

On the drives through the park we have seen quite a few elk, squirrels, a bluebird, and mule deer. It has been beautiful while we have been here. Cold at night, down to 28, but warm enough during the day we only need a sweatshirt. Tomorrow we are heading back down to Flagstaff for a couple days, then on down to Sedona.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ah, so Grand

We left Meteor Crater Park this morning and drove to Flagstaff. We both had to have bloodwork done and we had located a LabCorp in Flagstaff. There is virtually no place to park Phaeton Place in Flagstaff. . . they are very restrictive about parking and leaving RV's. So Terry located the lone truckstop in town to ask if we could leave the motorhome there while we went into town. The answer was yes, so we drove into the truckstop and fueled. Then we hopped in the truck and drove to LabCorp which was only about three miles away. We got in and got our blood work, then drove back to the truckstop and fueled the truck and went into the restaurant and ate. We thought it fitting that we give them some business since they were gracious enough to allow us to park for a bit.

We drove on up to the Grand Canyon and Terry snapped a couple shots of the road. We took the scenic mountain road. Once at the Grand Canyon Park, we drove into the park to the Trailer Village only to find out it was full. We certainly didn't think it would be full when it is freezing at night, but apparently there are some hardy campers out there. We came back south to Grand Canyon Camper Village and got a spot for a ridiculously high price. They think nothing of raping you on the price of a 30Amp dirt campsite. But we took it for 2 nights so we could take our time tomorrow looking at the canyon.

After we got setup, we headed up the road to watch the sunset. We were a little late and almost missed it completely. We will plan differently tomorrow. But even in the low light, the view was spectacular and awesome. We were at a lookout which had a viewing room with wrap around windows so we were nice and safely tucked inside. We stayed until dark then drove back to the camp. Tomorrow we hope to head up early and ride the shuttle busses to other viewing areas.
Till next time. . .


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Red Rocks and Craters

Last night we were in Gallup and stayed at the Red Rocks Park. It previously was a state park, but when they wanted to shut it down, the city took it over. It is hard to believe they would close this beautiful venue which includes a campground, rodeo grounds, convention hall, and a hot-air balloon launch field in addition to red rocks which are beautiful and lit at night. The red rocks were just gorgeous. They have been here since the dinosaurs roamed the earth. They form three sides of the park and are totally awesome. The biggest problem was dust and the wind was blowing, of course. Neal does not handle wind well and will take forever to do his business if it is windy. While I was out with him last night, I saw a coyote strolling through the parking lot at the office. It was far enough away that I would have been able to scoop Neal up quickly and toss him in the coach. Hah!

Today we headed out for Meteor Crater to view the depression left when a meteor slammed into the earth 50,000 years ago. The crater is 700 feet deep and 4000 feet wide. It is a bit surreal to stand at the top and look down. It is a big hole, no doubt, but you really don't think of it as deep as it is until you look through the telescopes at things down in the meteor. Wow! At one time it was thought the crater was the result of a volcanic eruption, but a scientist dispelled that theory when he found rocks and minerals that were clearly meteors. They drilled down in the crater in three different places in order to ascertain the layers that lay beneath the surface and to again confirm the theory. It is a most impressive site.

While rolling down I-40 we started smelling something hot, like wires burning. One thing no RVer wants is a motorhome fire. Once we realized the smell was us and not another vehicle, we pulled to the side. Terry got out and inspected front to back and underneath. He could not find a problem. When he got back in the coach, he looked over the inverter stats on the control panel above and that is when he noticed his AC meter (which is always plugged into an outlet) pegged in the red zone. He immediately turned off the inverter which was pumping out too much voltage to the outlets. We continued on and the smell dissipated, so we apparently have an inverter problem, which is no small problem, but one that won't keep us off the road. We just have to find a qualified service company to deal with it. He has put in a call to Tiffin and has some things to try and also has a message in to Xantrex, manufacturer of our inverter. Hopefully we will get some direction tomorrow. At least we are able to go somewhere to get it fixed and it should be warm once we get out of the frozen north.

Ahhhh yes, the weather. Well, we are warm during the day, quite comfortable. It is cool to cold at night but dry. It will be cold at the Grand Canyon, so we will probably just be there a day. That will have to do, but we can see a lot in a day.

So tomorrow we will probably be off to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.

Till next time. . .


Monday, October 19, 2009

Friends, Roads and Motorhomes!

Not long ago I read a statement on an RV forum which warned people about intrusions in their motorhomes. It seems a friend of his was boondocking (camping without hookups) in a remote location (I think it was desert BLM land) and was awakened at night to hear someone breaking into their trailer. I will just say that it ended well, with the vandals leaving in a hurry. After having read that, I woke up a couple nights later from a nightmare that involved an intrusion into Phaeton Place while I was in here alone.

When our friend Dave knocked on the door Saturday night, it was dark, about 8 p.m. and I told Terry not to open the door but to talk through it. What made it even more difficult was that the last time we saw Dave, a former law enforcement official in Chicago, he had long hair and a full beard. He looked like he could play with ZZ Top or the Oakridge Boys. Now he is clean shaven and his hair is cut short, but Terry recognized him soon enough and he came in to visit.

He and his fiancee Sandy had been to the Balloon Fiesta here and then went over to the Four Corners area. Their destination there was Chaco Canyon which is the best preserved pueblo of the "ancient ones." While taking the road to the Canyon, they saw a sign that said "pavement ends" and it immediately went into a rutted, washed out road that was impossible for them to instantly avoid. Within seconds, his shower doors shattered and one of the door frame rails poked a hole in the fiberglas shower floor, grout popped up from the floor tile and his windshield twisted enough to create an air leak which obviously has to be repaired. They turned around and headed here to Albuquerque to get the necessary repairs made. So that is how they ended up here just one lane over from us.

Some of you who know them know that their border collie Max was viciously attacked by five German Shepherds last year while they were south of the border. They drove a marathon trip back to Texas to get him emergency care to save his life. They did and Max survived. Today his hair has grown back and he shows no signs of that attack, although the scars are visible down in his hair. They have had him on a diet because he had gained some weight because he couldn't play his beloved frisbee, but he looks good. He has, however, become deaf. He started having trouble with his ears while he was recovering from the attack and there is some speculation that infection caused it, but they can no longer take him out without a leash because he cannot hear them call him anymore. He still likes to play frisbee however, and he is the same lovable Max as before.

Yesterday we went with them over to the casino and had breakfast. Then we went out in search of one-armed bandits since we all got $25 of free play money from the casino. I am happy to report that we all walked out with more money than we went in with, just playing on the casino's money. We were entertained for about two hours, so we were happy campers.

Since Dave and Sandy had some shopping to do, we went down to Old Town Albuquerque and walked around the shops in the square. We have been here before, but it is always interesting to visit an area well preserved and steeped in history.

Today we travel on toward Arizona on our quest to see the Grand Canyon before it snows. Hope we make it early enough. We have said that if the weather turns cold, we will turn south, so we shall see.

Till next time. . .


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beep Beep. . .

We woke up yesterday in Elk Valley to 32 degrees. Terry and I both decided we were tired of cold weather so looked at the map and made some changes. It was decided we would drive to Albuquerque since the weather promised to be in the 70s during the day and the 50s at night. My kind of weather. When we arrived we put Neal out in the grass and he seemed excited that he wasn't wet and wasn't cold. We are staying at the Isleta Lake RV Park at the Isleta Casino south of town. Adjacent to the park is a field where graze a herd of buffalo. They don't like people near their fence . . . they just walk away!

Before we started our trek south, I emailed my Uncle John to see if we might visit him and his wife Joanne. They were delighted we called and anxious to see us. So today we drove to Rio Rancho and met them at their house.

Uncle John showed us around his house which is just beautiful. He has a garden and a lot of flowers in his backyard. It surely is a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the colors of the flowers and plants. BUT, the neatest item in his back yard are the roadrunners he feeds! Joanne said it started years ago with a roadrunner that showed up at the door and had an injured foot. Because it couldn't run, she started feeding it so it wouldn't starve. Eventually others showed up. She thinks these may be the grandchildren of the original ones as they only live about 4-5 years. There are 3 they currently feed, but we only saw one this afternoon. They come by in the morning and again in the evening. How cool!

Uncle John took us up to the National Petroglyph Monument and we made the trek up the side of a volcano cone. It is an ancient volcano and thousands of years ago, Native Americans used it as a homesite and there were areas on the very top where there were dwellings at one point. You actually drive in and park in the area which would be the center of the volcano and the walls of the volcano are visible all around. The rock around around the sides is basalt and the early dwellers scratched and carved images on the rock. It was quite large and very impressive. Uncle John and I climbed all the way to the top while Terry and Joanne waited for us down below.

From there we went to the Native American Museum. This was a day they were having Native American dancers and we were able to take photographs. We watched three dances which had two boys, one girl, and a small child. The dancing was impressive and the dancers were perfectly in time with each other and the music. The announcer was also the chanter. When he announced they would be doing a rain dance, Terry tried to tell me to run out and stop them! Hah! We enjoyed the museum.

We then went to Lotaburger where Terry got to try a green chile cheeseburger. He said it was very good. I wasn't that brave.

Afterwards we went to the Botanical Park and saw so many flowers and beautiful plants. One with orange berries was particularly beautiful and colorful, called pyracantha. We also got to glimpse the koi in the pond. It was a beautiful walk and we could see many Christmas decorations they are beginning to hang. Once back, we said our goodbyes and thanked Uncle John and Joanne for a great day and a great visit with them.

We got back to let a very grateful Neal out to do his business in the grass and were planning what to do tomorrow since we are still here. Turns out the Nascar race we planned to watch was actually on tonight. As we were watching it, there was a knock on the door. Imagine our surprise when our friend Dave Gibson was at the door. He and his fiancee are parked just across from us. They had been to the four corners area, but his some rough road on their way to a canyon. They have some damage to their motorhome and came back here to see about getting it fixed. We have a breakfast date with them at the casino. I see some slot machines in my future.

Till next time. . .