Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The last of Moab

Friday, May 25, 2007
When we extended our stay here, we knew we had to move as our site was reserved. So we moved to the space behind us first thing in the morning. It took us all morning, as we did some much needed cleaning of the camper and washing of clothes. The sky was 97% blue, so we decided to have a good lunch, nap and then drive to Canyonlands to observe sunset. And so after five, we did. The entry station and VC were closed and the enforcement ranger passed us going out. When we got to the overlook, there were only three other cars. By 7pm, we were by ourselves. We put on two Charlie Christian CD’s and Dorothy had G&T and I had Ardbeg. As the sun went down the canyons to the east were bathed soft light. The sunset was not spectacular, but decent.

On the drive out, there were a few other cars, but the surprise was the number of cars inbound at 9pm. My guess was their plan was to get in for the weekend without paying.

Saturday, May 26, 2007
We are saving our third trip to Arches for Tuesday hoping for less people, so today we decided to go to Fisher Towers up Hwy 128. This is another of the places used in movies. We have found that the pictures in the morning do not turn out well, so we did not leave the campground until 10:00. The dirt road was not very good, but only a one mile or so. The hike was not advertised as easy, moderate or strenuous. It was silent on the subject. It’s a 2.5 miles to the end or one mile to the first tower. It was the hardest hike we have ever done. We had to scramble over rocks and my legs aren’t as long as Don’s, so I did some crawling. It took 1½ hours to go the mile because I had to take so many breaks. Starting out, we descended 200-300 feet and then we hiked up 400 feet and it was hot. I would recommend it to anyone in good physical condition and in cooler weather, but I would not do it again in the heat. But the main thing is that it was worth it. The scenery is spectacular and the only way to see it is to hike. When we back to the campground, cloud cover had moved in, and made the weather perfect for hiking – you just never know. I was totally wiped out for the rest of the day.

The rocks on this hike had many odd shapes, vastly different from Canyonlands or Arches. One spire that was favored by technical climbers was topped with a Geisha. When we rounded the spire and viewed it from the opposite side it looked like a duck on skis.

We see more than a few couples hiking with infants on their backs. You have to be in good shape to carry an extra 20 pounds any distance.

Sunday, May 27, 2007
A lazy day, some shopping in the morning, lunch, nap and a drive up the La Sal mountain road to see some green trees and a babbling brook. We hoped to find a camp site to take the LD this fall, but they are all quite primitive and most beside the road.

Monday, May 28, 2007
Another lazy day, we washed clothes, read, surfed the web, had lunch and a nap. After dinner we drove to Windows section of Arches NP. The light was perfect. Perfect until the sun went behind a cloud and stayed there until after sunset. And so it goes.

Two easy days has allowed Dorothy’s feet to partially recover. I am stiff from to little activity.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Our last day in Moab. Thankfully we had the best weather day we have had in weeks. It was a little cooler in the morning with a nice breeze. The only clouds were on the horizon and the haze was nearly gone. We drove to the Garden of the Gods at Arches NP. We thought this is the best area in the park. We hiked about 2 miles and decided the save the rest of the hikes and Dorothy’s feet for our return trip this fall.

That's all folks!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Moab II

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
There was another light rain last night, that the weatherman did not expect. It added more snow to the mountain peaks, so the peaks really sparkle when the sun sneaks through the clouds.

Since the forecast was for mostly sunny, and it was not so we decided to do grocery shopping and get the tires rotated in the morning, have lunch and they head back to Arches NP. So we did. While the sun was out south and north of us it never did get to Arches. And so it goes.

Our friends, the Wood’s, told us to hike to Delicate Arch, if we could. Meaning, we would like it if we could manage to haul ourselves up the trail. It’s billed as a three-mile hike, with a 475 foot elevation gain. Phooey! It’s longer and much higher. We think it was the most difficult hike we have taken in some time. The trail path is fine, it’s going straight up that winded us. We took 1:15 to do it. Before we got to the end, some we started with were already headed back down. Maybe it was just a bad day for us, as we saw two old geezers in their 70’s, at least, one running it and the other fast walking it.

Since the sun did cooperate we will have to go back up the trail again sometime. Maybe in October?

Thursday, May 24, 2007
We decided to take a break from Arches and go across the road to the northern section of Canyonlands, which is called Island in the Sky. An island because you are on a mesa overlooking the canyons below cut by the rivers and streams.

We had more sun today and the much of the haze was gone, but we had thin cloud cover on most points of the compass all day.

In the morning, we did the short hike to Mesa Arch and spent some time just sitting and looking out at the canyons. After driving to a few more overlooks, it was lunch time. We had a short nap in the van and Dorothy said she wanted to try the hike to Upheaval Dome. And so we did. This hole in ground was likely caused by a meteorite. Whatever, it is a great view into more canyons. We lingered for an hour or so on top of one the slick rock overlooks. That’s when the feeling of tired muscles overcame us and we realized that we would not get back to the CG until after 5. Recreating is hard.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Moab, Utah

Sunday, May 20, 2007
We were up and on the road at 8:00 this morning. We had two destinations today, the Needles Overlook and the southern entrance to Canyonlands NP. We kept thinking that we had seen the best until we got to the next destination and declared it to be the best. This land is just so gorgeous I cannot do justice describing it. It would be a string of superlatives. At one overlook, Don said “Don’t need to go to Grand Canyon after seeing this”. It wasn’t three minutes later when a couple walked up and the man made the same the comment.

We were surprised there were no crowds on a Sunday, but as we left in late afternoon, the traffic was picking up. Our plans are to return to Moab after we pick up the Lazy Daze. There is so much to see. This place has it all, except a seashore.

One interesting thing today was a very large rock that we kept seeing and thinking that it looked like homes were built into the rocks. Finally we found the dirt road (of course) and drove to the rock. Sure enough, houses were being built into the rock. It’s Rocklands Ranch, home to a polygamist excommunicated Mormon family who has four wives and 38 children. There are several homes there and they are digging more home sites for another group of excommunicated Mormons that will be joining them. If you are interested in seeing it: http://www.ericandsylvia.com/pictures/2001/Utah/part5/

Don writes: There has been a slight haze over the SW the last month. Today, there were thunderstorms in the area. [We actually felt three or four drops on us in two different locations!] The combination of haze and clouds made taking pictures beyond my capabilities. With perfect weather, I still don’t know how to take a picture of such vast landscapes. The canyon area is 10 to 30 miles wide in every direction, with features from the fore ground into the distance. We just looked with slacked jaws and said Oh Wow all day.

Monday, May 21, 2007
It is overcast and windy this morning. 8am. A front came through during the night. The weather is supposed to cool off for a few days.

By 10:30 all of the gray clouds were gone, an hour later only a few high level wispy clouds remained.

The plan for the day was to drive Hwy 128 to Fisher Towers. We got as far as Negro Bill’s Canyon and started hiking the two miles to the worlds 6th largest arch. The canyon reminded us Capital Reef, which is not that far away to the west. It’s an unusual canyon in that the stream flows year around. We got about a mile up the canyon when the path narrowed so that poison ivy was going to touch you some place to pass. Given Dorothy’s reaction to being near the plant, we bailed out.

Our next stop was Red Cliffs Lodge where several movies were made. We toured their museum of movie memorabilia rather fast, as they did not feel that a/c for that part of the lodge was worthwhile. We had thought about eating lunch there, but they do not serve on Mondays’.

Our next adventure was up the La Sal Mountain Loop Road, which is not a loop this year, as the Mill Creek bridge is out. The road starts out at the Colorado River at 4,000 feet and climbs to 8,000 and has a view to the west of Castle Valley, the river and Arches NP. At the road closure, we parked and napped in the cool air. We discovered one unnamed and nearly unmarked forest service CG and some great sites overlooking the canyons.

We made it back to the CG by 4:30, three hours after our planned return time. There is so much to see here.

At 9pm, it is a delightful 77 with a light breeze, perfect for sitting outside.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I was wrong about the front moving through last night or maybe it was a pre-front. Anywho, we had more wind last night and three very light sprinkles.. Last night, I rinsed some of the dust off the van. The trace rain wet the van and the wind borne red dirt affixed to the van. And the mountains got fresh snow above 11,000 feet. This morning it is 56, so we put on our long hiking pants.

We went to Arches NP this morning. Our plan is to spend 3 to 4 days exploring it so as to not exhaust ourselves. Today, we spent some time in the VC and did the one mile hike through Park Avenue – tall monoliths that some think look like NYC buildings. The trail leads down a canyon and we took our time, about 40 minutes. I talked Dorothy into saving her energy and she waited for me to hike back up the canyon, get the van and pick her up at the end of the trail. I fast walked it in 15 minutes and got my heart rate up. The steps up to the parking lot were the most strenuous.

After a sandwich, we did the short hike to Double Arch. It’s a beauty. See pictures. Dorothy was running low on energy, so we called it a day and went back to the CG and had a short nap.

Moab is the best!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Monument Valley

Thursday, May 17, 2007
We drove 5:30 hours north to Monument Valley. This is THE place Dorothy has wanted to see since 1994. We arrived after 3, losing an hour to Mountain time. We toured the rather interesting Goulding “museum”, had a swim, dinner and then watched “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” in the theatre. We have watched it more than a few times on TV, but it was more interesting on the larger screen.

For whatever reason, we were assigned site 59, which is on top of the hill. Our good fortune with the site is that we have a view and they did not put anyone else on the hill.

Friday, May 18, 2007
We set the alarm so we could be sure to be ready for the 8:30 tour of Monument Valley. We were on an open “bus” with 18 other souls and saw all that you can see. It was worthwhile.

When we got back to the CG, we saw that “our” hill was filling up for the weekend. Even if it fills up, we have more space and privacy than the rigs down below.

We have been invited to party with four women from Colorado tonight, but we want to watch Big John in “The Searchers” ride around Monument Valley on the big screen.

Saturday, May 19, 2007
The drive to Moab was through some of the best, in our opinion, scenery in the southwest. We are in a decent CG four miles south of the confusion of Moab. We don’t recognize Moab from 1994. We found this CG through Passport America. This is the fifth one we have stayed on this trip. All have been above average and cost us half the price. Important for those of us, who have all we are ever going to get.

After setting up and resting during the heat of the afternoon, we drove Utah 168 a few miles north of Moab. In 1994, we drove it southbound from I70 to Moab. We think it is THE best canyon road in the country. The plus is that the road follows the Colorado River.

There is BLM camping along the road and some of the spaces are big enough for us. Maybe, just maybe, we can get one next week. We saw three Lazy Daze’s camping there. And $5 a night is a good deal.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Leaving CA, entering Red Rock Country

Sunday, May 06, 2007
Moving Day - We are in Silent Valley RV park, just south of Banning. It's is a real treat. It's a private CG, but open to Passport America members also. $15 a night, full hookups, wi-fi, pool, hot tub, etc. One of the top 10 CG's we have been in. It has trees! Lots of trees. There were several people here when we arrived, but we had no problem finding a site with shade trees. The weather could not be more perfect. The downside is that it is over 2,000 feet straight up from I10. When go back down, I am going to take the long way down through the valley.

Part of I10 around Palm Springs is dedicated as a memorial to Sonny Bono. You recall the guy who was killed when he snow skied into a tree.

Monday, May 07, 2007
When we got up, most of the rigs had disappeared during the night. Back to work I suppose.

When drove into “LA”, Yorba Linda actually to the Nixon library. It is an hour and half from here. I was never a fan of Nixon, but the library includes contemporary history with the story of Nixon. For instance, for all of his campaigns, they have as much about his opponent as they do him. Fair and balanced. Talk about no choice, Nixon or Humphrey. Factoid, he was opposed to price controls early on. It did not explain why he put on wage and price controls. I can recall the glee the company I was working for established wage controls.

I drove in to “LA” and Dorothy drove back home. It was not bad. The only problem was road construction on the way in. I looked at the map and counted 11 construction projects in “LA” this year. Maybe more than Atlanta?

We want to do the Getty and Regan’s library. Both are over two hours from here. We are thinking of getting a room in Simi Valley Wednesday night so we don’t have to drive back to Banning and then back to Malibu.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Back into “LA”, Montclair to visit the factory where our motor home will be built. I wanted to see how they are put together. Under the aluminum skin, it’s built like house, only stronger. Very impressive.

Back at the CG, we did the pool and spa. It is getting to be ritual. California life is good.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
We drove all the way across “LA” to Simi Valley to the Regan Library. It took 2.5 hours and we did not have any slowdowns. You can drive from Leeds to Fairfield in only 45 minutes. That’s the difference in size, 45 minutes versus 180 minutes. I had no idea they had some many freeways. Dozens and that’s not counting the interstates. I did count the number of freeway construction projects going on this year – 11.

The view from the Reagan library is impressive. It is more visual, while Nixon’s has a lot more history.

To avoid, five hours of driving, we got a room in Thousand Oaks tonight. Semi Valley would have been nice, but the prices are well north of $200.

We filled up the gas tank today and set a new record - $95. Only $3.50 a gallon.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
We had a late breakfast at the motel and lounged around some more. We drove down Malibu Canyon to, where else, Malibu. Things sure change in 45 years. Malibu is run down. Still pricey, but the houses have turned to near shacks. The homes above the PCH are quite nice. Work trucks on every block doing something to every other home. We killed a half hour parked on Ocean Blvd in Santa Monica. We had lunch and watched the not so pretty folks jog in the park. The Jennifer Anniston types are not to be found out here. The gene pool is in sad shape.

We arrived on time at the Getty Villa and spent three hours looking at the collection of antiquities. I enjoyed the marble floors and walls as much as the Greek treasures.

We had not encountered real “LA” traffic until today. It started with the Topanga Canyon road we used to get from the PCH to the 101. This is the road I somehow always wound up on when I rode my bike from San Diego to “LA” circa 1964. The 101 was backed up as was most every freeway we got on east bound. It took 3:45, about an hour longer than it should have. Having logged 12 hours on the freeways, I can say I have no desire to live here. None at all.

Friday, May 11, 2007
Veg Day – We slept until 8. We drove to the end of CA 243, the road you take from I10 to the CG. A moderately scenic road, some of it through Forest Service lands, but more through private lands with lots of homes hung off the side of the mountain. We got back to the CG for lunch, nap and a swim followed by reading in the lounge chairs.

Tomorrow we are to plan our route to Moab, UT. Anyway we go it will be long, 12 to 14 hours and we need to chart out where to break the drive. The fastest route is through Las Vegas and we don’t want to go there again.

Saturday, May 12, 2007
We planned our route to Moab. We will do it in four hops. First to Salome, AZ for one night, then to Dead Horse Ranch south of Sedona for three nights. Then two nights at Monument Valley and finally to Moab next Saturday for a week.

After Moab, we will head east and home, though I expect it will take two weeks to get there.

We enjoyed our last day here at Silent Valley and it is real tempting to stay another week, but that would mean Moab would be even more crowded. And it has been our number one destination the whole trip as we missed it last fall.

One more day and we will be in red rock country!

Sunday, May 13, 2007
We over-nighted in Salome, AZ. This is out in the middle of no where in the desert. We have seen over a dozen RV parks here in the middle of no where. Small lots sell for $50,000 out in the middle of no where.

Nice enough CG, our price, $12. Thanks Passport America!

We left our last home at 4,000 and enjoyed the cool air even down below on I10 until we passed the desert cities (Palm Springs et al) We went to a/c for the rest of the trip. When we arrived here around 2, the dry desert heat was 91 and felt like 119. However, by 5, it was pleasant.

Monday, May 14, 2007
On the move north. We took US89 and 89A. Both cross mountains and have numerous hairpins turns and more than a few 15mph speed signs. You get up to 7,000 feet at one point. The real fun begins when 89A descends 2,500 rather quickly. We came close to being in a wreck. Some bozo in a beat up rice car passed several cars and bikes on a hairpin curve. We were in the middle of the curve and so was a small car headed up hill. The bozo somehow got by us. We stopped at a turnout and the bikers who saw it all marveled that no one got hit.

We are at Dead Horse Ranch SP in Cottonwood, AZ. A decent CG with W&E for $19. The big deal is that we are finally in red rock country with green trees. There are many things to do here but we have made reservations for next week, so we will not have time to do it all. This time anyway. We did not want to be in Moab for Memorial Day, so something had to give, so we cut this stop short.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

We had a long day exploring. We made some stops in the morning that were not planned and we did not get back to the CG until 5:30. We were bushed. Recreating is darn hard work and you need to be in good shape to do it.

We took 89A north towards Flagstaff and stopped at Red Rock SP. How could we not stop, we love red rocks. We decided not to take any of the several hikes, as we wanted to conserve energy in the building heat. We did enjoy a rather long film in the VC which was an excellent orientation to the area. It made us want to come back here when we have more time and when it’s cooler.

Oak Creek Canyon is billed as a major hole in the ground. We have seen many canyons that we thought were a lot better. However, it was a little cooler at 6,500 feet, so we loitered around for awhile.

Our final destination for the day was down Hwy 179 to some fine red rock formations. We saw some kids on skate boards high up on one of them.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
We are taking another lazy day. We did our marketing in the morning. It will be the last Wal-Mart for two weeks and also the last major town. BTW, this was the third or fourth Wal-Mart we have been to that has a view.

After shopping, lunch and a nap, we drove the short distance to Tuzigoot – yet another Indian ruin. This one has 40-odd rooms in one structure that blends into contour of the hill. What a view they had of the surrounding mountains. While we were in the ruins, dark clouds from thunderstorms thirty miles away blocked the sun and the cool breeze was divine. We could see rain to the west and north, but the drops did not get close to us.

We stopped by a rock shop on the way back, but their prices were quite dear. Rock shop owners are very introverted, They can barely say hello.

We did margaritas until 6 and Dorothy is cooking what we call Korean Chicken for dinner. After dinner we may try to find wifi. We downloaded updates from Microsoft last week and that shut off our web access. We could still get mail, but no web sites. I rolled back the updates and want to see if that cured the problem. It has been 10 days since we updated our web log. Funny thing, we are not hearing much from anyone back home.

Tomorrow, the long drive to Monument Valley.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The last of Arizona, California here we are

Monday, April 30, 2007
We drove to Saguaro National Park. There are a lot of saguaro cacti here - acres of them. The do not start to branch until they are 55 – 80 years old and they live 105 – 200 years. There are also a variety of different cacti, some we had not seen before. We went to the Visitors Center last and while we were still outside, Terry & Betty came up. We had just received a text message from them asking out site number, so this was a pleasant surprise.

We then went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It was $12 per person and well worth the money. They irrigate the plants, so there were lots of blooms, even though there has been a drought recently. Also there was a hummingbird aviary and then another aviary for the local birds. It was fascinating to see the birds fly/walk right by you.

Back at CG, we had cocktails with Terry & Betty and they will come over for hot tea and show pictures since we last saw them.

Note to file: Mr. T’s margarita mix is better then Sauza’s. But, it does not come close to the taste south of the border.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
We drove the Mt Lemmon Highway. It is a 27-mile mountain road, superbly maintained by the Forest Service. Downstairs, Tucson is around 2,500. Mt. Lemmon is 9,100, so elevation gain not only provides dramatic vistas, but cooler weather. No wonder the village near the top is called Summerhaven. The upper area is populated with firs and pines and the smell was welcome after weeks in the desert.

There was a brief rain shower in the afternoon - more clouds, than water. But, it cooled the air. It was a delightful night to sit out. Sadly most of the stars were obscured by clouds. Dorothy was watching a bright light just below the ridge of a mountain. It kept getting brighter. Surprise! It was moonrise. We never see that at home.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Errand Day. Haircut for Dorothy, oil change, new boots for Don, groceries and laundry.

Thursday, May 03, 2007
Moving Day – a LONG 5:15 hour drive over unremarkable terrain to Joshua Tree NP. We are in the south end of the park, near I10, in the Cottonwood CG. We have a grand vista for cocktails. There are only 8 in the CG tonight. We are at 3,100 feet, there is a light breeze, the weather is perfect and life is good.

Friday, May 04, 2007
We made the LONG 40 mile drive down and up across unremarkable terrain to the north end of the park where the jumbo rocks and Joshua Tree’s live. We did a short hike to Arch Rock at White Tank CG. Then we drove to Keys View at 5,100 feet so we could look down to Palm Springs. Well, the exhibit said the town was down there, but it also noted the name of the pass next to it that allows smog from LA to fill the valley. So we did not get to see the 100 golf courses in the valley. The view to the east as not bad and the drive through the miles of Joshua Tree’s was good, plus we had cell phone coverage at the peak and were able to make reservations for the LA jump.

Saturday, May 05, 2007
We did the long drive to the north end of the park again today to hike the Hall of Terrors and Hidden Valley. We were not terrified at all. We must have missed a turn on the trail? Still a good hike. Hidden Valley was crowded. A weekend, near large cities, with decent weather. Everyone that could afford to shop at Eddie Bauer’s was on the trail today in their new finery.

I was getting nervous about gas, so we exited the park’s north entrance and drove west to Palm Springs. It was not what we expected. Where the road intersects with I10 is a humongous windmill farm. Very green. All the gas stations were passed had prices north of 3.39. We got off of I10 in Indio seeking a Mexican lunch and gas. Two stations were selling for 3.79 and a Circle K was busy at 3.29. We had a near gourmet lunch - Carne Asada, seasoned Pinto’s, and pear cactus. The latter was divine. It looked like chopped green beans.

The breeze picked up yesterday afternoon and it got cloudy. Today, the breeze is 5 to 15, but crystal clear. Well as clear as it gets this close to LA.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Arizona 2

Thursday, April 26, 2007
Moving day. We enjoyed our four days in Benson at Pato Blanca. Very reasonable price with good amenities. Only drawback was being close to I10 and the rail. We are two hours south near Patagonia, NM in a AZ state CG. The sites are OK, but the baths are just OK and the price is $22. The attraction is a lake, one of the few in the south end of the state. Most of the sites are taken for the weekend. There is supposed to be good birding here. There were dozens of birders coming back from a walk when we arrived.

The plan for here is to veg and paddle the boats.

Friday, April 27, 2007
We paddled around the lake for an hour or so. Not having sense enough to have put on SPF, we decided to come in. Decent lake, cool water.

After lunch and a nap we drove to Nogales and crossed over. This is an old border town and a major crossing point. Not many restaurants, but scores of street hawkers. It seemed to us that more were crossing north to shop than the other way around.

I forgot to mention we heard a 18-string guitar at Pato Blanca. He said he was world’s best, as it was a one of a kind. Great bass sound and wonderful harmonics.

Saturday, April 28, 2007
We went birding the morning. Lots of small yellow and red birds - Finches and Summer Tatingers. After lunch we drove up to Patagonia to find wi-fi, ice cream and hummingbirds. We found the first two, then a thunderstorm came through and we went back to the CG. We should have hung around as it cleared up quickly.

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Moving day. We drove two hours north to Catalina SP that is just north of Tucson in the shadow of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The elevation is only 2,100 and the area has been warming for the last week, so it just below hot. We are glad to be able to run the A/C. It would be not fun without it.

There are several malls with all the big box stores within five miles of the CG.

As usual on moving days, we don’t do much. Getting groceries is enough to do. At dusk, we will explore a trail and take some pictures of the cactus. The big ones you see in the movies. It has taken me a month, but this is the cactus trip. We have been eyeballing them since Big Bend. After we see the Shuaraw catus here, we are going to stop at Joshua Tree in CA. We have seen farms of them elsewhere, but we will not pass up a NP, especially one that is on the way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Saturday, April 21, 2007
NM parks put on a program about migratory birds. There are 240 species that hang out in the area and we found in a quick walk-about you could see over 30 birds. A treat for us seeing was an injured peregrine hawk that one of the rangers had to rehabilitate – on permit The afternoon sessions were canceled due the forecast of high winds and the desire of the park employees who lived over six hours away desiring to get home before the weekend was over.

Signs on I25 alert travelers that Aerry Derry is the next exit. Turns out they are two towns close together. I though it was proper that the signs did not read Derry Aerry. Well the signs do read that way southbound.

Sunday, April 22, 2007
We drove about four hours west to Benson, AZ. We intended to stay one night. But the CG is so nice and there are so many things we would like to do in the area, we will stay through Wednesday and then go on to Tucson. The CG is mostly vacant and has a pool and hot tub all at a good price.

We washed the van yesterday, first time in a month. It looked clean until we hit a swarm of honey bees on I10 today. It was over in a flash, leaving a hundred or so bees splattered mostly on the windshield.

Monday, April 23, 2007
Today we went to Chochise Stronghold. I was not expecting much. Dorothy was keyed up for it. It turned out to be one of the best hikes we have had. It was a rather easy one-mile hike over mostly easy terrain. The trail goes up a canyon, mostly through a wash to Chochise Spring. Which was probably not named by the Chief, but in honor of him. Now that the whites have killed most of the Indians, it’s PC to honor them.

Chochise did not think of the place as a stronghold, but the place where he and his clan lived. However, the geography could not have been better, it’s a fortress. They could see who was coming for miles and there are countless ambush points.

The small CG there is shaded and delightful. We will be back in the Lazy Daze.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
We did a day trip to Chiricahua NM. We hiked one mile down the Echo Canyon trail to the “Grotto” area. We think it was the single best hike of our lives. The Apache called Chiricahua the land of standing rocks. It may also be the capital of balanced rocks. Great landscape with BLUE skies.

Chiricahua is about 30 miles from Chochise Stronghold. Perfect range for smoke signaling from Geronimo to Chochise. I have no idea if the Apache actually used smoke signals.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Our destination today was Ramsey Canyon which was billed as a unique micro-climate canyon. It may well be. The Nature Conservancy has bought it and charges five bucks a person to hike it. We passed.

We drove to Bisbee, AZ, billed as an historic mining town. It is. Since the copper mine did not play out until 1952, all of the stone buildings are in decent shape and have been taken over by artists catering to tourists. Bisbee also has a population of old hippies. I always wondered where they wound up. We had delightful Mexican fare for lunch. Drove home through Tombstone, which has nothing worth seeing.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007
We took our time getting off, we hated to leave I suppose. We loved the view. I had an epiphany over the last few days that what I like most about this life style is the pleasure of envisioning that I have my perfect hacienda where we are staying. Seeing the sights and meeting new people is pleasurable, but it’s the exuberance of day-dreaming that I live where we are that is most important to me. It’s hard to get into that mental place if we are constantly on the move. I need to have my coffee and cocktails with same view for a few days to make myself believe it.

We passed through another Border Patrol checkpoint today. I have no idea if the swarms of Border Patrol out here have any positive effect on illegal immigration, but it sure has provided a lot of jobs. Guess who got the jobs??? But, of course.

Percha Dam SP north of Las Cruces is not a scenic park. But it is on the way west and it is about empty. The US Fish and Wildlife Service brought in an exhibit trailer this afternoon and has programs all weekend. What luck for us! Maybe a fish fry?

We will make a long day trip up past Silver City to the Gila Cliff Dwellings NM in the morning. I don’t care to drag our rig into these mountains.

There are three state parks within two miles of us. I suppose the dammed up Rio Grande is a major attraction in the desert. If the wind lays down, we will paddle the yaks.

It seems that wind in the southwest blows two speeds in the spring, breezy and windy. The latter is 25 plus. We have learned that when its very windy (50MPH or more) all rigs vibrate, but it is still not comfortable. Spring is the windy season and the rainy season is July and August, except when they have unusual weather with rain, like now.

I am about finished with Buffet’s 1992 “Where is Joe Merchant” Hey, it’s new to me. He conjures characters and plots that are unique to say the least. I find it difficult to believe that he has not had a “hit” in 20 years as fertile as his mind is.

Friday, April 20, 2007
A very long, but splendid day. We drove 2.5 hours on various mountain roads to Gila Cliff Dwellings. Highway 151 is one of THE great driving roads in the country. It may be the leader for having the most turns per mile. In many stretches, it’s one turn after another without a break. Most turns are ho-hum, others warn you to slow to 10mph. I found 20mph to be fine in the van. I daydreamed about driving the road in something low to ground, with 6 forward gears, a throaty engine and BIG finned brakes. Of course I would obey all the traffic laws! I would not want to attrack the attention of the police who patrol the highway on Friday afternoons looking for drivers who are trying to make a little time getting to their mountain home for the weekend.

The road is terrific, but so is the scenery, the best and the most varied we have seen this trip. Some LONG views from above 8,000 feet.

Almost to Gila Cliff Dwellings is Lake Roberts, small, but charming. The first good-looking lake of this trip. Deep green water. Just south of there, is a fine Forest Service CG that we will return to one day.

Our destination, Gila Cliff Dwellings, was worth the trip. You get to the cliff caves, by walking up a narrow canyon, slowly climbing 180 feet to the catwalk in front of the six caves. You can walk through the three larger and interconnected caves. Each cave is divided into several rooms by stone masonry. They were built about 1240 and abandoned 30 years later. Perhaps due to severe drought in the area.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007
The drive to Oliver Lee SP just south of Alamogordo was rather boring, as is much of this part of New Mexico. That said, the view from our campsite over the Basin to the west is rather dramatic. We are at about 4400 feet. The CG is on the side of the Sacramento mountains which is a great back drop.

It was cloudy most of yesterday, perhaps the remnants of the storm that dumped late snow in the southern Rockies and will drop temperatures for the second week in a row back home. We had an early evening shower here. We went outside afterwards and noted a light snow on the peaks above us.

Saturday, April 14, 2007
After a yummy breakfast, we got a late start and drove to White Sands NM on a bright and mostly clear day. We took our chairs and a blanket up a dune and had lunch and a short nap. We could have spent the whole day there. Why didn’t we?

Back at the CG, we had another nap and then did cocktails with the Wood’s, Lindstrom’s and Kate and Terry of “Choula Red”. Dinner was another round of the sausage and red cabbage we snared in Fredericksburg.

Sunday, April 15, 2007
I spent most of the morning doing camp chores and we got away at 10:15 and drove up to Ruidoso to see some old sailing chums who have retired there They have a fine condo with a great view of Sierra Blanco, the local 12,000 footer. We stopped at Chileo’s for lunch, which was very delicious and cheap. It snowed two days ago in Ruidoso, but today was thoroughly delightful weather. We took the route back through Cloudcroft which is the first mountain road we have been on this trip.

Monday, April 16, 2007
We drove back up in the Sacramento mountains, first to hike the Osha Trail that Delorme suggested. It was an OK trail, but lacked dramatic views. The 2.5 miles was good for the heart tho. Next we drove the Sunspot Road to the National Solar Observatory. Who knew we had one? Our tax dollars at work. It was started by the Air Force to study the effect of solar flares on communications so we could always be able to launch the big one even during a solar storm. [Did you know what we now call the internet had a similar purpose?] Anyway, the exhibits were well done and educational. You could go into two of the working observatories and see grad students plodding away on their thesis.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Terry and Kate of Choula Red invited us to join them to see the Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso. How could we pass up someone driving us? The exhibits were worthwhile and the trip was fun. We had lunch at Chileo’s, again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
It’s laundry and shopping day. Surprise the Laundromat has wi-fi!
Tomorrow we will move west to Percha Dam SP, still in NM.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday, April 12, 2007
We have not been keeping our log up every day like we did last year. Probably because we have spent our free time having cocktails. Here is a quick synopsis of the week.

Monday we drove the four hours from Big Bend to Van Horn. We bought groceries and over-nighted at a KOA. Tuesday we drove another four hours to Columbus, NM, which is a little village on the border that Pancho Villa raided in 1916. We soaked up the local history and had cocktails. Wednesday, we drove 30 miles north to Rockhound SP, where we were supposed to be able to find all sorts of great mineral rocks. This might still be true if you are a goat and can scale the high peaks without benefit of a trail. We found nothing of interest in the lower area, but the view from Spring Canyon was worth the trip.
Thursday, the others left for Oliver Lea SP. We had paid for today here and frankly we needed a down day and a chance to plan where we are going next week. We spent the morning at the delightful village library, came back, had lunch, a nap and will probably return to the library later in the day. The forecast wind of 55mph did not arrive and is no longer forecast. Tomorrow we move 3 hours NE, near Alamogordo.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Monday, April 2, 2007
Brake repair was completed and we were on the road at noon. We drove all the way to Big Bend, seven and half hours. We were surprised that we were not real tired. Adrenalin we suppose. The Lindstrom’s and Wood’s were waiting for us.

Tuesday April 3, 2007
We did a short drive to get acclimated to BB. In the afternoon, the breeze quit and it was HOT! 97 I heard.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007
We drove 60 miles to the west end of the park with two other couples and put the yaks in and paddled up Santa Elena Canyon, which has 1200 foot sheer walls on both sides. The current was slack for almost two miles, then it increased to over three knots. That’s too strong to make it any fun, so we all relaxed in the shade on a gravel bank on the Mexican side. It took less than an hour to get back. The first half-mile went real quick going with the current and the wind at our backs.

Thursday, 5, 2007
We all went on Wood led hike on Blue Creek Trail, aka Red Rock trail. We are starting to appreciate the diversity of plant life in BB. Cactus glore. The ranger said this is the best year for flowering plants in a decade, maybe two.

Friday, April 6, 2007
The Lindstrom’s took our van and yaks and paddled the Santa Elena Canyon. We took their Honda up to Dagger Flats road and saw the acres of Yucca’s in bloom. Impressive.
The evening ranger talk was most informative and well done. The wind increased all day. By cocktails it was gusting to 20. The wind blew all night and we had some rain.

Saturday, April 7, 2007
The wind continues at 20-30 with higher gusts. It’s cold. The low in the morning will be low 40’s. It is supposed to warm up after that. It snowed 60 miles north of here last night and the panhandle had it worse. The CG was almost full last night. This afternoon it’s almost empty. They had to go north either to home or to colder climes.

Sunday, April 08, 2007
Our last day in Big Bend. While we already extended one day, we got here two days late. We could extend another two days, but frankly, we have no hope of “seeing it all” as it is far too much territory. We never got up to the Chisos basin and there are hundreds of trails that can be hiked. We must get back here.

We slept in until 8 this morning and lazed around until 10 waiting for the chill to lift. Dan took us in his car to the Hot Springs and we took a short hike there. The cactus along this trail were the best we have seen. Each day is different.

We went to the CG, had lunch and drove to Boqillias Canyon. Not much to see there, but the river was flowing nicely. I would have liked to put the yaks in, but the exit from the canyon is many miles distant.

After 36 hours of high winds, it settled down about 8 last night and by noon today, the sky is blue all around.

In the morning, we will drive to Van Horn, overnight and head to New Mexico. We will be off the grid there.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Big Bend

We left home Monday. We spent the first night in Vicksburg, MS and Jacksonville, Texas the next night. Wednesday, we made it to Fredricksburg, Texas after smoking the tires on I35 in Austin, see brake saga below. My oldest mate from Navy days drove up to see us. Betty and Terry joined us for a fine dinner at a German restaurant.

Thursday, March 29th
This trip is off to a not so great start. I tried my best to blame it on Dorothy, but it was my fault. I changed one procedure for getting underway Wednesday and it resulted in tripping the brake-away brakes and in the process toasting the campers brakes. So rather than spending two days in Fredericksburg, Texas, we will be here for an extra four days until parts can be shipped and repairs made. There are a lot worse places to be stranded, as there are plenty of things we wanted to do here, they were just not on our to-do list for this trip.

However, the rain finally arrived here after lunch today. The skies turned dark last night. The forecast is for rain off and on for the next 10 days. No rain is forecast for Big Bend, where we were supposed to be Saturday. And so it goes.

Friday, March 30, 2007
We amused ourselves with the Adm. Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War this morning. Well the inside of the museum, as it was sheeting rain. We bought smoked sausage, red cabbage and sauerkraut at a local place. Along with some of the best whole wheat bread we have tasted in some time. German cooking is prevalent here.

Rain continued all day so we sat inside the camper and read.

Saturday, March 31, 2007
We went to the LBJ Ranch. I understand why Johnson loved the Hill Country so much. The State of Texas owns part of the property and the National Parks owns the remainder. First we watched a 25 minute movie with President and Mrs. Johnson talking about their home. Next we were on a tour bus with NPS volunteer driver talking about the points of interest. We stopped at LBJ’s birthplace and then walked over to the cemetery where he is buried along with his brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents. While there, one of the women said “Mrs. Johnson isn’t buried here”. I told her she wasn’t dead yet! She is 94 years old and she and the family come to the ranch from Austin almost every weekend. We were able to drive to the house, but the Secret Service does not allow the driver to open the doors. Anyhow, it’s a great house. They bought it from President’s Johnson’s aunt and immediately started adding on.

We returned to Fredericksburg, back to the Museum of the Pacific War. There are a lot of dioramas throughout and reading about the places where the war was fought certainly made me think of my Daddy. To see the names and pictures of the places where he was made it very real. Next we went to the George H. W. Bush Gallery. There is a plaque for each of the eight Presidents that served their country during WWII. Daddy Bush is the last one. Then we went to the Pacific War Zone. This area had a recreated war zone complete with sounds. There were bunkers where these Japanese fought, a cemetery with GI dog tags and a mobile hospital. All one has to do is go back in time and know that President Truman did the right thing dropping the two bombs.

Sunday, April 1, 2007
We drove to Enchanted Rock, which we had visited 23 years earlier. Today it is a state park and the entrance fee was $12! We could see the rock and it’s pretty, but it’s certainly not worth the price. We spent the rest of the morning driving the northern Hill Country up to Llano and back by way of Marble Falls. Just before Johnson City, we took a ranch road that goes north of the Pedernales River.

Tomorrow we will be at shop at 8am to get the camper brakes repaired. If we can get out by noon, we may try to make it to Big Bend, seven long hours away.

This may be the last post for a week or so.