Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Mexico

Don blathers: Did you know that it took Congress 37 years to accept New Mexico as a state? There were 7 attempts: 1875, 1876, 1889, 1895, 1903, 1905 and 1906. Finally in 1912, it was approved as the 47th state. The only reasons I can find on the web for the continued failures to adopt New Mexico were fear of Hispanics and Indians.

Only 33 years later, New Mexico was the first place where nuclear weapons were tested. You with me here?

Monday, March 19 - It has turned cold - 43 degrees today and they are predicting 29 degrees tonight. It started sleeting. We have now seem sleet blowing sideways.

Tuesday, March 20 - Today is warmer but still cold. Our day began at Wal*Mart where I got a haircut and we bought groceries and a few other things, preparing to leave tomorrow, Then we stopped at St. Claire Winery. They said we could each have two samples and more than that would be $6. Don said he didn’t really want any, so the lady said I could have his also. She asked him what he liked and he said sweet. We were the only customers and they just kept giving us wine. Don’t know how many “samples” I had. We bought two bottles. Don saw a “Green Chile” wine and commented on it. So, of course, they let us sample that also. There are a whole lot of things that we like with green chilies, but wine isn’t one of them!

We arrived back at the campground and pulled into our site. There was a car there and there were people in our rig. I told Don that I definitely had locked the door. We couldn’t figure out what they were doing walking around in Koko. Then I looked at the front and there was no “KoKo, Hoover, AL” emblem. It wasn’t Koko, it was another tan LD. Thank goodness we did not go running in their door!

Wednesday, March 21 - Happy Birthday, Alecia!

We left Deming but did not go to City of Rocks SP instead driving on to Mogollon (pronounced muggy-own). After lunch we got our campsite and then went to the Catwalk. There were gold & silver mines here and this was where the miners walked. Of course, it is improved today. We did not get on the trail until around 2:15. It is a beautiful walk in the canyon, but we only made it 3/4’s of the way. I don’t have the energy to do things in the afternoon and the walk was getting more difficult for me, so we turned around.

We then drove to the ghost town of Mogollon, which is an occupied ghost town! Some of the homes are occupied and some homes and buildings are abandoned. Strange place. Actually a few of the homes are well kept and there are mail boxes, so the postman drives 10 miles on a one lane road to get there. Past Mogollon are several campgrounds, which are closed now due to snow, so I am sure that the town gets much busier. There are a couple of gift shops, museum and a theatre that are in good condition.

The Cat Walk

I had heard about the Cat Walk from several people and frankly it was not high on my list. We have walked through narrow canyons on cat walks before. However, it was only a few miles out of the way, so we did it. Glad we did. It’s more than a metal walkway anchored to rock walls.

The first 1/2 mile of the hike is easy and scenic. We went to the 3/4 mile mark and found it less scenic and hazardous to Dorothy. We do not need her to break a bone. That would end the trip and probably a lot more.

First, you have read about the origin of the stone gods on Easter Island. Well here is where they come from. This is a pair, yet to cleaved.

6 - Mogollon2

The first part of the Cat Walk. See the blue New Mexico sky!

6 - Mogollon3

Part of the Cat Walk

6 - Mogollon4

Once you finish the Cat Walk you drive another 10 miles to the “Ghost Town” of Mogollon. If you come in March you find everything is closed. But it’s a decent drive on a one-lane road.

6 - Mogollon7

Colorado in Arizona

Thursday - March 22 – It is difficult for me to pass on a road drawn with squiggly lines on a map. US191 has been calling to me for years. We did the section from Clifton to Springville today. It is part of the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway which follows the route of the explorer. Let me tell you Coronado had big ones to take this route. The winding narrow road forces leisurely driving through an area of dramatic varied elevations. Right!

7 - US191 Clifford3

A small section of the huge Freeport-McMoRan copper mine in Clifton. It is the worlds largest leaching facility.

After you escape the huge mines of Clifton, you climb to 6,000 for awhile, then 7,000 for a longer while, then 8,000 for a long run and finally several miles above 9,000. Our top was 9,366.

7 - US191 4

Cactus about to bloom above 7,000. No blooms seen lower. Looks like Colorado doesn’t it?

7 - US191 5

After the storm

It was scenic on the southern end. Less so on the northern end. The terrain looks much like Colorado, including blue haze and snow covered peaks.

We thought we would stay at one of the many CG’s or dispersed areas along the way, but we did not want to park above 8,000 as the temp the next morning would be 20 or less. So we continued until we ran out of CG’s and pulled into a Day Use Recreation Area on a reservoir Still above 7,000 after 90 miles! I think this must the longest road that stays above 8,000 in the states.

We left at 8:30 and did a lot of stopping and looking, so by mid-afternoon when we realized we were not going to descend we were tired puppies with 6 hours behind the wheel.

I cooked my sausage and cabbage dish for dinner.

Since I did not get a single decent picture on road, here is one taken by the Coachman’s from an overlook near the mine.

7 - US191 Clifford4  coachman

Friday - March 23 – Still on the move - two hours westward today. On a whim, we decided to see the Mogollon Rim. Everything is this area is named either Bison or Mogollon. (Muggy own). We stopped by the ranger station and found all the campgrounds along the rim were closed as the snow last week made them mushy. So we took a hint and went low, off the rim, to Payson. A delightful town. It has all the necessary stores, no traffic, great views and friendly folks. Arizona is conservative!

Note the rim seems more attractive to look up to. At the top, the view is of the forested valley. I expected a rim somewhat like you find at Canyonlands.

We settled into Houston Mesa CG, a FS facility just barely outside of town. It is a well maintained and paved CG. We found a space with good sun for the solar panels. Only TV is NBC, but we have an OK cell signal.

Don can not shut up: Arizona does not do Daylight Savings Time. Good for them! [Indian reservations in AZ do play DST] So far we have transitioned from CST, to CDST, to MDST, to MST in short order. So what time is it? Pulling my hair. If it’s 7 in Montgomery, it’s 5 here. The same as PDST. Got that?

Saturday - March 24 – A glorious day in Payson, AZ. I think we will take it easy and do some laundry. The bushes around the campsite provide a lot of privacy and scenery. Need to get some dust off both vehicles.

Rain is forecast for the Grand Canyon Monday, so we will hang here for two more days. Then we will try the 19 degree lows at the GC.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Sun Comes?

Don blathers: On our first trip in 2006 we had perfect weather for five months. We don’t recall a drop of rain on our 16,000 mile odyssey. Our luck has faded. OK, OK, it’s winter. Still, grumble. It’s been cool, cloudy or raining most of this trip. Sometimes all three! Partly cloudy and warming is forecast for Monday. Thunderstorms back on Wednesday. And so it goes.

More woes. Before we left home I did some work on the toad brake wiring. I failed to adequately re-secure the wire harness, so of course, it dropped down where the most damage could be done to it – hanging below a strut in the back of KoKo. The strut is there to prevent damage to the gray water tank if the rig is driven over too much of a dip. When we exited a restaurant in Bandera, we drug and shorted out the brake wires. Of course, we did not notice this right away. I did notice on the short run to Kerrville that the engine was revving higher than I thought it should on the not all that steep hills. Then Dorothy noticed that the toad brake light indicator was blinking intermittently. So the toad brakes were on a little and slowing us down. How many miles of brake dust we lost is not known yet.

We have eaten out more in the last two months than in any time in our lives.

Rambling on. I note that we are just miles from the 100th parallel. [99.58758] So what? Well, if you draw a line that evenly divides Kansas east/west that is close to the 100th. Then extend the line vertically, north and south. All west of it is much different from the eastern half of the country – water-wise.

Saturday, March 10 - Today is cold and dreary with misty rain. We do not have cell phone or internet coverage here. The first time in 18 months - wow! We can go to the Visitor’s Center and connect to the internet.

wx sunny

Sunday – March 11 - The sun came out. A glorious and long awaited day.

We moved to a different site this morning - it’s much more spacious between sites and there is no mud.

We took a Sunday drive to see this part of the Hill Country. It did not work out as I planned. Glenda had no clue where we were. A key county road sign was missing. We wound up on a dirt road that became a private road. Bubba and his son came out in their Mule with a rifle mounted to make sure we turned around.

We enjoyed sitting outside for cocktails. Low 70’s. No bugs. Just right.

Daylite savings time explained

Monday – March 12 –

Today is our youngest grandson, Patrick’s, sixth birthday. Happy Birthday Patrick. We got you a present while in Mexico. We will mail it to you.

Another glorious day, A year ago, we planned to paddle the Nueces River. I noted in 2010 when we passed over it in Hondo that it was the prefect river to paddle. Recall that last year Texas had a record drought. They have had rain this year, but not enough to cover the bottom of the Nueces and all the other rivers in this area. And so it goes.

We did have a great drive in the heart of the Hill Country. Did the back roads, the bump gates, saw several exotic animals and some beautiful country.

3 - Hill Country03

Back Road, Trees Starting To Leaf

3 - Hill Country04

Rio Frio behind a low dam. Dry below the dam.

3 - Hill Country05

Our lunch site. Flowers starting to pop

3 - Hill Country09

At the side of the road! One of many.

3 - Hill Country11

Why it’s call the Hill Country

The Sun Goes

Tuesday – March 13 – We woke up to a fine mist. That removed all doubts that we would head somewhere else. We left Garner SP northbound on US83 toward Junction. As we climbed up on the mesa the mist degraded to fog with limited visibility. We saw over a 100 bikers headed south. A few miles north, we saw more bikers. One or more of them had wrecked on the slippery road.

In the places where the fog was not too thick, we saw more “exotic” animals along the roadside, just inside the fences. Many types of horns were represented. Wildebeest were walking along like cows.

A lot of the Hill Country is devoted to exotic animals. How they all make any money is beyond us. We do know the fencing companies made a lot money putting up double high wire fences to keep the exotics impounded.

When we got to Junction we headed west on I10. Yeah, I know we don’t interstates, but this section of I10 has a great road surface and sparse traffic.

Overnight parking is allowed in Texas roadside picnic areas and rest areas. We went through the town of Sheffield, a pitiful little town. Then past Ft. Lancaster where the Army tried camels instead of horses. Calvary soldiers on camels – the experiment didn’t work out well. Then it was on to our beautiful site. We had the best view up high and it was cool. And stars - so many stars - you forget that there are that many when you live in light pollution. We have the huge area to ourselves. Once in awhile a local truck goes by.


Not a bad parking place for free

Wednesday – March 14 – Crossed more of west Texas. I am not sure even the coyotes like it here.  All the towns failed long ago. We overnighted in one of them, Van Horn, another sad town. We parked in the recently closed Dairy Queen lot. Dorothy wanted ice cream.

Thursday – March 14 – Finished Texas! We stopped at Costco in El Paso to get a few things. Gas $3.63.

Finally – Out West

Finally! We see mountains - we are really on our trip now. Big event was stopping in El Paso at Costco, but they didn’t have everything that we wanted. El Paso overlooks Juarez, MX, which is a very dangerous city. Thank goodness I don’t live there.

We arrived at Rockhound State Park. It’s a small park, up against a mountain. We look out our windows and see the mountain, yellow wildflowers, cacti and small junipers. What more could you want - views, cool at night, and phone, internet coverage and TV. To celebrate we had martini’s (oops, no vermouth!) but they were very good and we were relaxed. We are truly happy campers!


Our backyard




California Poppies


At Home

Friday – March 15 – We drove into Deming, did laundry and toured the Luna Mimbres Museum. They had collections of all manner of turn of the century items. We thought it was well presented, especially so for a small town.

Saturday – March 16 – We took a mile or so hike, it did not kill Dorothy and we got some needed exercise.

High winds are forecast so we moved from our perfect campsite to one with electricity so we can button up the rig from the wind born dust.

Sunday – March 17 – The winds came. 50mph rocks the rig, but the gusts only last a few seconds. The wind is supposed to lay down to gusts of only 30 by sunset.

I finished the taxes while the wind blew. Yippee!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Hill Country

Monday, March 5 - Got to Pipe Springs and visited Don’s friend from his Navy days, Rodney and his wife, Cindy. We got a tour of the ranch where they raise Peruvian Paso horses. I really do like them. They are not as tall or as long as Thoroughbred or Quarter horses. We had lunch with them at Brick’s in Bandera.

This was our third ranch stop. First my cousin’s in Louisiana, then at Victoria and this one in the Hill Country.

We then moved on a few miles headed to Fredericksburg, but saw a city park in Kerrville that looked very good with the river running through it. We stopped and signed up for two nights thinking that we would paddle the next day. It is a very large and a former COE campground.

Tuesday, March 6 - What an awful day. I started coughing during the night and when I got up I continued to go downhill. I am sure I had a fever as I had chills for about two hours. I stayed in bed and in my PJ’s all day. Don made spaghetti but I felt too bad to eat until 8:30.

The wind was gusting to 25 and was forecast to continue the next day, so no paddling.

Wednesday, March 7 - I feel much better but still very short on energy. We are now in Fredericksburg, driving about 40 minutes to get here. We are parked at the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds. It’s okay, we have water and electric for $15. The highlight of the day was grocery shopping and going to Opas’ Smoked Meats. We got all kinds of smoked sausage.

Thursday, March 8 - A very busy fun day. We went to the National Museum of the Pacific. We have been there before, but they have enlarged the George H. W. Bush gallery in the past couple of years. I really wish I could seen it with my father, that served in the Pacific during WWII. We stood for 2 1/2 hours and then drove the 30 miles to Cooper’s Barbeque. We got ribs and a small slice of prime rib. It was heaven. And we brought home enough food for two more meals.

There is BBQ and then there is Cooper’s. It’s the best. There is so much meat on the ribs, three is a meal. The bean soup is divine.

We returned to the Museum for another two hours. We did not have the energy to stay and read everything. The temperature had started to drop when we left the museum.

Ross & Beverly Taylor came to the campground to pick us up and take us to their house for cocktails. We met them at a South Central Lazy Daze Roundup. Then we went to the Fredericksburg Brewery for dinner. I really do like Fredericksburg. Food was good and Don got a red ale that he liked. We very much enjoyed the visit and hope to run into them on the road sometime.

Friday, March 9 - It started raining around 4:00 am and continued until around 7:30. After breakfast we hooked up to make the two hour drive to Garner State Park in the big hills of the Texas Hill Country. This is a very large (600+ sites) park and is on the Rio Frio River. It is also very pretty.

We had misty rain part for part of the drive This was the first test for the mud flaps. The rear window still got road crud, but the Jeep only had crud on the hood, none on the wind shield.

Today’s high is 46. The weather is forecast to improve Monday and so we may stay a day or two next week. This is Spring Break and this place is very popular. We will just wait and see how it goes. Holidays are the bane of RV travelers.

We are in our first signal hole - no cell phone or TV. The park does have wi-fi at the VC. We can get on the web, but we can not get or send mail. I guess they have those ports closed.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Last Week in Mission

Sunday, February 26 - It was a beautiful day. We made a final trip to the flea market.  Can’t believe we really enjoy it. There’s lots of good stuff and we have bought some of it and also lots of junk that we didn’t buy. I am looking for a top to a Corning Ware dish - you can find lots of bottoms, but no tops.

Monday, February 27 - Light rain last night and misting off and on this morning. I am so glad that we came to Texas to end the drought - according to people we know. We said goodbye this morning to Bill & Ruby. It was a nice visit. I took care of a little laundry, to get ready to leave Sunday. This afternoon Jim & Gayle came over for Happy Hour - it was great to sit outside.

Tuesday, February 28 - We went to Progresso for my crown today. We got there around 11:00 so we had time to go to Auturo’s for lunch. We had tenderloin tacos with lettuce, tomato and avocado and it was delicious. The wait staff is unbelievable. It’s older men only. The bus boys aren’t really boys either, more like in their 30’s & 40’s. By the time we had ordered, we had had four different people helping us. And in addition to all this and great food, the prices aren’t bad either.

The dental procedure - it took a long time. He had said 1 1/2 hours but it took more like 2 1/2 hours. He is very meticulous and does 97% of everything, with the assistants just standing by to hand him the drills and clean up after him. He made three different sets of impressions - said it had to be just right. I can’t believe I have used a dentist in Mexico - never thought I would do that, but I am very impressed. Most of his patients are Americans or Canadians. I did have some trouble with the deadening drug, septocaine. I had been having a problem with this previously, and I just didn’t feel perky for the rest of the day.

While Don waited for me, he went to the barber shop and he got a hair cut. It’s very short, but he likes it, so guess it’s okay. He also got a shave. Just think, haircut and shave for $4.

Wednesday, February 29 - This morning was perfect - blue skies, pleasant temperatures and enough wind to keep the bugs away. We are now in the preparing to leave stage. We are quite ready for a new adventure. The original plan was to leave on Thursday, but it’s pretty good that we won’t be on the road with everyone leaving the valley heading for the Hill Country. Canadians can only stay out of their country for six months a year or their health insurance is no good. So in order to get here in October for the winter, they leave the first of March.

I have defrosted the freezer. That’s not something I have missed doing since all refrigerators now are frost-free.

Such a good day that we were swimming at 10:00. Wish we could have a swimming pool and hot tub every where we go. Then we went to our last margarita party followed by more swimming and hot tub.

Thursday, March 1 - Nothing exciting today. Started doing the laundry and we went to the grocery store and of course, swimming.

2 - RGV015

Friday, March 2 - Big day. We went back to Mexico to finished my crown. Our first stop was was some shopping and then back to Auturo’s for another great lunch. Then to Dr. De La Rosa’s. The crown needed some adjustment, which was going to take an additional 45 minutes. Since we had finished shopping and eating, the only left to do to have a couple of margaritas at Auturo’s. After that I didn’t even need any numbing. I think that I got excellent care and all for only $210.

What I notice about border towns is that everyone is working. If there are rules to restrict commerce, they are not evident to me. You see elementary school kids hawking bracelets in their school uniforms. On street parking is handled by men having purchased kaki pants and shirts they take over a parking spot in the early morning. They blow whistles to direct a car into “their” space. If your car needs washing someone will appear with a bucket of water and brushes. Young men line the walks hawking dental services and pharmacies. Our dentist had a fellow that was constantly in and out of the office doing all sorts of chores. I would see him in other offices also. Everyone works.

Saturday, March 3 - Our last day at Bentsen Palms.  This is probably the nicest RV park in the Valley.  If you want to stay in a RV park, we can certainly recommend this one.  I have finished the laundry, the kayaks are on the Jeep and things are getting put away.  We aren’t in a rush to leave tomorrow since we won’t go very far.  We are definitely ready for a new adventure.

We have tried south Texas twice. We don’t see a third time. RV parks are just not for us. Besides while the weather can be great, it can be not so great. We have little in common with others as most of them are concrete campers. We think we will just stay home next year until March or April. Lesson learned.

Sunday, March 4 – We got away by 11 and stopped for the night in Pleasanton just south of San Antonio.