Monday, February 18, 2008

Next, Cross the country, Atlantic to Pacific, II

Sunday, February 10, 2008
We found it. A scenic CG. Aguirre Springs. It is on the east side of the San Andres mountains, northeast of La Cruces, NM. Across the valley, 40 miles distant, is Oliver Lee CG where we stayed about a year ago. This is BLM property, so it is dry camping, but the price is right, $1.50 a night and a fine view. Craggy peaks on one side and the valley floor on the other. Elevation, 5,780. And we have spotty phone coverage.

We arrived at 2PM and found lots of day use people, and one tent camper. The gate is locked at 6PM, so no worries about security.

We had enough TV signal to watch 60 minutes and Nature before going to sleep.

Monday, February 11, 2008
We are on Mountain Time now. We woke up at five local time. At six, we could see the distant southeast horizon getting a slight glow. The sun did not make it over the mountain until 8. After breakfast and coffee, we took a hike up part way up the mountain. The loop is 4.5 miles. We went about one mile up and turned around. We might have gone further, but we took a wrong branch on the trail and wound up at a dead end. Too many people making new trails.

When we got back, the solar panels were pumping over 9 amps into the batteries. We discharged almost 20% yesterday and it looks like we will be back to 100% before the sun drops over the mountain just after 3.

There are only five sites here that could handle an RV here and only ours is close to level. But, we are enjoying nothing but horizon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Moving Day, again. It’s a long way to the left coast. We drove four hours to Wilcox, AZ and stayed at an OK CG that is easy on the pocketbook.

We found gasoline at $2.67. That’s the good news. I damaged the bumper and rear quarter panel pulling away from the gas pump. We are rather sick about it. It means a trip to the Mothership when we get back from Baja. I learned that when you turn the wheel in one direction, the rear end “swings out” in the opposite direction. I did not know that or if I did I had forgotten it.

I cannot figure out why I can no longer upload pictures to Picasa, so I will revert to using Flickr.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Another Moving Day, once again. Thursday we will settle down for 3 days before going into Chula Vista. I am having trouble sleeping, so I when I woke up at 5:00, I tried to be quiet, but finally gave up after 45 minutes and have been up for over an hour. It’s now 6:30 and I’m bored. Also it’s too cold in the mornings for me to go outside to have my morning camping experience, which is drinking coffee and reading, but I know that soon it will be warm. Also being on mountain time, it is dark until after 7:00. When Don gets up, I think I will fix pancakes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Today, we drove from Gila Bend, AZ to Borrego Springs, CA. Most of the drive was on an excellent four-lane rural road through the Imperial Valley and then two-lane through the desert.

While still on I8, we went through part of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area. We saw lots of sand people with their toys. Remember this, as we will come back to it.

We also saw lots of Border Patrol watching for whatever. There is no fence on this section of the border, just some recently placed PVC barricades. We did see that construction of THE WALL is underway. And is it ever hideous. Makes the Berlin Wall look like art by comparison. This will do more to sour the image of the US than any single thing we have done in recent times.

For the last 80 miles of the drive, we saw what looked like rain at our destination. Just as we got close to Borrego Springs, we got into a light rain and the air was darn chilly. When the clouds cleared, we could see that the upper section of the Vallecito Mountains to the west had snowfall.

We stopped at the VC to inquire about camping options. The kindly grandmotherly volunteer at the desk suggested parking off Peg Leg Road east of town. And so we did. We had a fine view of the mountains.

Anza-Borrego is over 600,000 acres, maybe 1/6 the size of Death Valley, but still HUGE. There are two CG’s operated by the state that have full hook-ups, but charge almost $30 a night. You can park most anywhere else in the park for free. Let’s see, pay to park next to other rigs or park where you cannot see anyone else?

Friday, February 15, 2008
We woke up and it was quite cool. After breakfast, it had warmed up, so we drove to Font’s Point. The sign said 4-wheel drive, but we stayed in 2-wheel the whole four miles and had no problems. From the point, you look down on the Borrego Badlands. I liked it almost as much as the Badlands National Park. We left our campsite and headed to VC to have lunch and watch a slide show of park. We left Koko in parking lot and took a twisty-turny road west into the mountains. We found a scenic campground, but so many ruts that we turned Pelli around and headed back to Koko. Besides, at 4,000 feet higher it was a chilly 45.

We wanted to explore more of the park, so we again took the kindly grandmotherly volunteer’s advise and went south to Blair Valley. Dorothy was driving KoKo and I was doing a miserable navigation job in Pelli. I took a wrong turn and after 10 miles I realized that I was making a loop back to our origin. Hmmmm roads named S2, S22, 78, 79 and S3 that go in all directions, with damn little signage.

Part of the drive was extremely interesting and/or scary in parts. Hundreds of toy haulers (not exaggerating here) blew past us in the opposite direction on this narrow windy road. Only a couple of times was I scared, but I made it and celebrated once we got to the campground with a couple of big glasses of wine.

Remember I mentioned all the sand people at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area near Yuma? Well, it turns out that the mountain roads through Anza-Borrego are a direct route from Los Angeles to Yuma. And on Friday afternoon, all the sand people are making time on these roads. All are pulling toy hauler fives or towing a trailer, overloaded with sand toys. It’s kind of scary when you see them coming around a bend, their left front corner hunkered down hugging the yellow line and water splashing from their tanks.

We finally found Blair Valley and got a good pull-through site. Blind luck. All of the other campers are on the other side of the valley. Some seeking to get to the other side come down our road and turn around. We are going to drive over there in Pelli and see what is so great about the other side. Besides, there are some trails over there.

Saturday, February 16, 2008
At 6:30 this morning is was 32. It was 50 an hour later and 66 at 9. We drove five miles further into Blair Valley and hiked three miles RT to some petroglyphs and a fantastic overlook at a dry waterfall. Dorothy did very well on the trail. It was easy walking; gaining 300 feet on the way in, then losing it; so you had the same 300 to gain on the way out. Elevation 3,100.

We spent the afternoon, showering, napping and reading in the warm sun.

Sunday, February 17, 2008
San Diego! We have been headed this way for weeks, today we made the final jump from the mountains to the shore. We had very little traffic in the city, Sunday we guess.

We are in one of the "swell" RV parks, on the water, jam up and jelly tight with the big rigs. God help us. They do have a hot tub.

We plan to go to the zoo and the USS Midway and drive up to La Jolla if we have time.

We leave for Baja Friday morning. No phone for a month. Internet from time-to-time. We will think of you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Next, Cross the country, Atlantic to Pacific

Friday, February 1, 2008
We drove two hours east, along the coast, to one of our fav places, Apalachicola, to St. Joseph SP on Cape San Blas. The surf was up and so was the wind, so cocktails on the beach were out of the question. But, we did walk on the beach for awhile. We entertained ourselves by watching the Johnny Cash Show on CD. He sure had a lot skinny long-haired folks in polyester clothes on his show.

Saturday, February 02, 2008
After a lazy morning, we drove into Apalachicola to window shop and have lunch at Tamara’s. The seafood bisque is still heavenly. We were disappointed that the lunch menu is now all sandwiches.

Sunday, February 3, 2008
A long day for us. We got away at 9:15 and did not get to Blakely SP near Spanish Fort until 2. We took a badly needed nap and watched TV, like A-classers the rest of the day. We even watched part of the Super Bowl.

Monday, February 4, 2008
We met Don’s cousin, Anne Harris and her son Andy, at Starbucks for a short visit. It was good to see them again. Our destination is Ocean Springs, MS to overnight with Dorothy’s college roommate. But, first we stopped at a Jeep dealer to get a replacement for the key I lost or mislaid last week. After two hours and $182 we got to Ocean Springs. It was wonderful visiting with Judy and her husband, Dave. They are perfect hosts. Nancy, a former coworker and bridesmaid in our wedding, and Ken, her husband, arrived in time with dinner. The girls stayed up until midnight chatting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Another long day to Sam Houston Jones SP near Lake Charles. The CG is OK, but everyone was so friendly. Maybe since it is Fat Tuesday? We talked with several couples.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Another five hours brought us to Carmine, Texas. We had posted to the LD forum about seeking a worm hole to speed us through Texas and a kind woman posted back about Texas 105 and US290, which is a straight route from Beaumont to Junction. This allowed us to bypass Houston and San Antonio. We were more relaxed not having to deal with traffic.

We had the CG to ourselves and did some much needed laundry.

Thursday, February 7, 2008
A three and half hour jump got us to Fredericksburg. I wanted to get to Junction today, but we were tired and Dorothy wanted to stop here anyway to get some German sausage and sour kraut. We are at Oakmont CG, nice, but pricey, as everything is in these parts. They have a great grocery store here, H E B, which we really did enjoy.

Friday, February 8, 2008
Food day: Up at 6 to get to Dietz bakery in time to get some great German bread. Back at the CG at 6:30. The bakery does not open until 8. So much for our memory. We had breakfast and drove back the bakery and got two loaves and two turnovers.

Next to Opa’s sausage factory to get some of their fine product and some red cabbage.

We did our grocery shopping at H-E-B’s one of the best groceries in the country. Bought some tilapia and some tasty sauce to go on it. Yum! Gourmet!

We had the very best BBQ ribs ever today. Cooper's in Llano, Texas. Like most BBQ places in Texas, the decor is 1940's or whenever it was built. Dorothy noted that they had a web site on a falling down sign outside. Where you note there is NOT a picture of the place.

Saturday, February 9, 2008
We left Fredericksburg and got on the best section interstate in the country. I10 west of San Antonio west to New Mexico has little traffic and a smooth road surface. The speed limit is 80 and I even went up to 65 for awhile until dropping to our usual 58-60.

I nominate I10 east of San Antonio as the worst in the country and I10 west of San Antonio as the best.

West of Fredericksburg, the west of the movies starts. The terrain changes into long vistas and you are in low humidity country. It’s 5PM right now and the sun is 20 degrees above the horizon. In Ocala, it was dusk at the same time.

Road signs want you to watch for so many things. Ice, Water, Live Stock, Falling Rocks, Elk, Stopped Vehicles, Mud, Flash Floods, etc. I think it should be Fallen Rocks, as there is not much you can do to avoid rocks that are falling.

You might think that we stay in those roadside RV parks that you can see from the Interstate. They are called Easy-off, Easy-On. We avoid them like the plague.

Tonight we are in the asshole of west Texas, Ft. Stockton. We just did not want to push further today, as we have another long day tomorrow to get passed El Paso. We planned, before we left home, to go to Balmorhea SP, an hour west of here. But, we also planned to get there early Friday. Going into a state park on a Saturday is asking to be told there is no vacancy.

We could have gone into the Davis Mountains, but I think it would be too cool right now. It will be warmer when we come back this way. It’s a fine 77 degrees here in the dusty CG.

Sunday, we will be a scenic CG in the low mountains of New Mexico or some not so nice private CG. Not a lot of choices in this area. Unless you are willing to drive longer distances in a day than we are.