Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Pictures

Hi all...we've had a wonderful time here in Sampson County this Christmas.



We also have enjoyed visiting with family and friends in Durham and Hillsborough.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Long overdue

As you know by now I've very delinquent in updating our blog. We've had an eventful late summer and fall. We spend most of August in Oregon and Washington. Both were beautiful states that we hope to visit again someday. About the first of September we put the petal to the metal and took off for Michigan. We paused for a week of so in Montana, long enough to visit Glacier National Park..then continued on east.

We spent a wonderful 3 weeks with our friends Gary and Sue Tomlinson in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Run Ragged Tours had an amazing itinerary for us. It was outstanding. We saw more beautiful waterfalls than anywhere we've been before. And walked and hiked more than we had for some time. It was awesome. Our last week together was spent in Ohio at the Gypsy Journal Rally. This small rally is put on by our friends Nick and Terry Russell. We had a great time visiting with Eascapee class of 05 and 07 friends too.

The last day at the rally found me on the phone with my sister. My Mom's health had taken a turn for the worse so we decided to head on back to North Carolina. We pulled out of Celina Ohio about 1pm on Friday and arrived at their home in NC by about 6pm on Saturday. The only problem we had making the quick run was Gary started feeling poorly and I actually drove us through the mountains in Virginia. Yipes, the first time I'd pulled the house in some time. We made it though...no bumps or bruises. :)

We spent about a week with Mom and Dad helping out. Mom got better so we headed up to Mount Airy, NC for the Autumn Leaves Festival. We'd been planing this for some time. We enjoyed a long weekend with our friends, Van and Rita and their son Daniel, Ken, Laverne, along with Steve and Robin. Other than it being a little bit rainy on Saturday we had a very good time.

After the weekend we moved down to Durham to stay at Russell and Tootsies home. They are Rita's parents and have welcomed us to their back drive every time we return to Durham. We spent the next 3 weeks there taking care of various appts and catching up with friends and family in the area.

Gary went to his primary doc a couple of days after we got there and told him he had started to have chest pain. His doc immediately scheduled him for a stress test, which was positive. Two days later he had a cardiac cath and a stent placed. The very good news was he didn't have a heart attack. They caught it in time. He is doing very well now, and hasn't had any more pain. He is going to Cardiac Rehab three times at week at Betsy Johnson Hospital in Dunn and will continue with this until January. Today we went back up to Chapel Hill to see his Cardiologist and all was well. Just keep exercising, eating right and taking all his meds.

We're going to stay here in Dunn for now. Mom and Dad need our help and we're enjoying the time spent with them along with time spent with our daughter Jennifer and others. We hope to be back on the road at some point, we're just not sure when that will be.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone. Love, Deb

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Our route from Texas to Here...April to August

Our route since leaving Texas on April 1st. If you click on the Larger Map it'll open so you can scroll out and see the entire route.

View Larger Map

Monday, August 17, 2009

July in the North West-Lincoln City, Oregon

After leaving the Thousand Trails near Bend we moved west to be near the shore. Lincoln City runs about 7 miles along the coastline. This small town was very welcoming and we enjoyed our stay. It's a bit pricier being on the shore but wasn't too bad. We paid $13.00 a night for a week's stay at Chinook Bend RV Resort. This was another membership park where we get a discount rate thru our Resort Parks International. Another perk of owning a Thousand Trails membership. The park was OK..very tight spaces. I'm glad we only paid the lower rate. It is located on the Siletz River. They rent canoes and boats. We had planned to take them up on this, but the weather was pretty cool and rainy for much of our stay.
One day we drove south route 101. This route follows the coastline. It is winding very busy.
Along the way are many many very small state parks. These are usually located at the top of cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The views were outstanding. Another day we drove north on 101. Not as many state parks, but a beautiful scenic drive. I love the Oregon coastline. If I were ever to live on the coast..of all we've seen so far, this is the most beautiful.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More July in the Pacific North West-Crater Lake

One day was spent going about a 100 miles south to Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake is located on the crest of the Cascade Mountain range, 100 miles east of the Pacific Ocean. It lies inside a caldera, or volcanic basin, created when the 12,000 foot high Mount Mazama collapsed 7,700 years ago following a large eruption. Generous amounts of winter snow, averaging 533 inches per year, supply the lake with water. There are no inlets or outlets to the lake. Crater Lake, at 1,943 feet deep, is the seventh deepest lake in the world and the deepest in the United States. Evaporation and seepage prevent the lake from becoming any deeper. The water is crystal clear blue that reflects the mountainous rock cliffs and the two islands.

July in the North West- In and Around Bend, Oregon

We also took a couple of short trips from the preserve to and around Bend. It is about a 20 mile drive right through the middle of volcano country. We spent several hours traveling up and around the volcanic mountains.


Friday, August 7, 2009

July in the West

At the end of June we left California and took a short detour into Nevada.
Gary felt the need to check out Reno since we'd been to Las Vegas earlier on our trip. Reno is called the Biggest Little City of the World. I'm not really sure what that means but it's their motto. The city is like Las Vegas..but smaller and a little "less refined" (imagine tongue in cheek here)... if that is possible. We visited Scheels, a very large sporting goods store while there. Ever been in a store that had it's very own ferris wheel? Pretty cool!!



Please note Gary's very creative support system for the sewer hose. County law required it be off the ground completely.

We also took a drive down to Carson City and the north shore of Lake Tahoe.
To quote the Offical Lake Tahoe Visitor Bureau website...
"About 2 million years ago, a shift in tectonic plates caused the Tahoe Basin to drop down between the Sierra crest to the west and the Carson range to the east. Volcanic activity, also caused by the tectonic shifts, led to expulsion of magma up through the faults, filling in gaps and damming the valley.

Ten thousand years ago, at the time of the last ice age, individual glaciers formed at the area’s highest elevations, on the north, west and south ends of the Lake. Movement by the glaciers scoured out basins and formed Donner Lake, Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake, which sits up and to the West of Lake Tahoe.

Today, erosion and weathering is causing a slow, undetectable lowering of the Sierra, the mountain range that houses Tahoe. It is believed that Lake Tahoe is filling in with sediment at a rate of one foot every 3,200 years, so that in 3,158,400 years the lake will be replaced by a meadow."

Wow..pretty impressive..I'm just glad I wasn't around when all the action was occurring. And won't be around once it's reduced to a meadow..
Its a beautiful place..but filled with gated homes worth $$$$$ ...way more than our tax bracket for sure. We also saw one of the ski slopes..very different looking than the winter I'm sure. There was still some snow around but nothing you could ski on.



The picture of the pole is a snow marker. These are placed along the road so that when it snows, folks can find the road...this give you some idea of the amount of snow they get???


We left Reno after a week and moved up near Bend Oregon. On the way we traveled thru the Oregon Outback. This area is unlike anything we expected in Oregon. In many areas it looked more like the southwest, New Mexico or Arizona. Very desolate for miles and miles.




We spent 1 night at Lakeview Oregon..this small town in Lake County is called the hang gliding capital of the west (self proclaimed). Lake County is a land of stark beauty where we appreciated broad expanses of desert, sagebrush, high bluffs and rim rocks, plus the solitude of mountain forests. We looked for their crystal clear lakes...most of which seemed to be dry this year. Lakeview was a nice small town with a pretty good Mexican restaurant that we enjoyed for dinner. Or at least I did..Mr P had his usual hamburger...the only American food most of the Mexican restaurants seem to offer.

Before we left in the morning we drove down the street to the Old Perpetual Geyser. This geyser was supposed to go off every 90 seconds. We later learned that we arrived during it's summer vacation. Evidently it stops erupting when the water table for the area drops in the summer. Oh well..we looked at pictures on the web instead. And it still doesn't compare to Yellowstone's Old Faithful. See below..




We stayed at the Thousand Trails near Bend for two weeks. Most of that time we spent sick. We missed all the 4th of July festivities at the park and in town. Gary started out with a cold/flu and we took him to a local doctor's office on Friday. By nightfall, I was sick too. We had all the symptoms of cold/flu and it was no fun. We were glad to know that the Swine flu had been and gone in the area before we arrived. We spent a lot of time going from chair to bed and back for over a week. My cough is still lingering.

More to come..I know I'm behind...I'll catch up soon. Love to you all. Deb

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Around Lake Mendin Thousand Trails

Lake Mendin was one of the smallest Thousand Trails Preserves we've visited. While there we went down to visit Sacramento. The capital of California is a busy place. Even on a Sunday afternoon. We went by the capital building but didn't see the Governor. Or the Governator as we heard Mr Schwarzenegger called.

In downtown Sacramento we visited Old Sacramento. This 28-acre town of historic buildings constructed in the 1850s, on the Sacramento River contains several museums dedicated to educating us about the history or the area. To quote the Chamber of Commerce Web Site "The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill capped off the greatest human migration in history. Thousands of hopeful pioneers headed towards Mexican California on the Oregon Trail in search of a better life. From the settlement town of Old Sacramento, to the supply center and trade post of Sutter’s Fort, the Sacramento region is rich in Gold Rush History. "

There are wooden sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages, old-fashioned candy shops and even a Mississippi-style riverboat. There are many shops and restaurants to collect the tourist $$$ too.

We eat a barely passable lunch at Annabelle's Pizza. Cheap and filling but I wouldn't go back. CiCi's Pizza shouldn't worry. Noooo competition.

We also saw the Tower Bridge which crosses the Sacramento River nearby. The bridge is painted an odd gold color. It is supposed to be representative of the gold leafed cupola on the nearby State Capitol. I'm not sure they succeeded in that.



The Lake Mendin Thousand Trails is surrounded by farm land. And for the first time we saw rice growing in the flooded fields. There are also many groves of walnut trees.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gary and the Street Entertainer

Along The Embarcadero and the Wharfs of San Francisco there are many street entertainers. On our way back to the hotel one night, Gary got "caught"..and became a participate.

If you click on the pictures, it'll open in a larger screen.


Check List for San Francisco

We had a list..
See Alcatraz....check
Eat Sourdough Bread in San Francisco...check
Ride a Street Car...check



Take a boat ride on the bay...check



Visit Fisherman's Wharf...check
Visit Haight Ashbury..check
See Coit Tower...check
See the Golden Gate Bridge....check
Ride across the Golden Gate Bridge...check
See the Sea Lions at Pier 39...check



Ride down American's crookedest St..Lombard Street...check

We spent 4 days in San Francisco. It isn't nearly enough time to enjoy this wonderful city.

Alcatraz Tour

When we were planing our trip to San Francisco one of the first things I said was, " I want to see Alcatraz". Having seen movies over the years like "The Rock and Escape From Alcatraz", I was curious to see how the "real" rock looked. I was surprised to learn that Alcatraz was actually used for several purposes other than a Federal Prison.

While there isn't a charge to visit the island you must take a ferry to get to the island. The ferry company offers many choices of times and we decided to go in the evening so we could see the lights of San Francisco from the island and boat. It was difficult to get a clear picture at night while on the boat.





In 1775, the Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala was the first to sail into what is now known as San Francisco Bay. His expedition mapped the bay, and named one of the three islands Alcatraces. Over time, the name was changed to Alcatraz. While the exact meaning isn't really known, Alcatraz is usually defined as meaning "pelican" or "strange bird."

Alcatraz became the first long-term Army prison. The first prisoners to be brought in to Alcatraz were Civil War and Spanish American War Prisoners during the 1800s. As the number of inmates increased, the prison structure was also extended and renovated. By the 1920s, the three-story building was almost at full capacity.

Alcatraz Island was declared a military reservation in 1850 and troops had arrived by 1859. For almost eighty years the Island was the site of the first fortress and military prison on the west coast.

Due to its isolated location and the extremely cold San Francisco Bay waters, the authorities considered Alcatraz as an ideal place for holding dangerous prisoners. Criminals like George "Machine Gun" Kelly and Al Capone are some of the most famous inmates to claim residence on Alcatraz.

Alcatraz operated for a full 29 years and during that time, there has been no known case of any successful escape attempts. In 1962, three prisoners - Clarens Anglin, his brother John and Frank Morris – disappeared from the premises and were never found. But nobody knows if they ever reached the shore.

From the mid 1930's until the mid 1960's, Alcatraz was America 's premier maximum-security prison, the final stop for the nation's most incorrigible inmates.

On March 21, 1963, when the prison was closed, Alcatraz had already accommodated 1033 prisoners.

From November 1969 until June 1971, the American Indians inhabited the island. Since October 1972, Alcatraz has been a historic site and is part of the "Golden Gate National Recreation Area" ran by the National Park Service.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Amy

On Monday June 1st my niece Amy turned 16. And...promptly went and earned her driver's license. Congratulations Amy. You are very special to us and we love you dearly.

We're back in Thousand Trails

After lots of hugs, we left Nikki and Bill on Monday and moved to the Thousand Trails park at Lake Mendin near Nicholaus. Compared to the parks we've stayed in previously in California this is a small preserve. With only water and electric at the site conservation is the word for our stay. They offer sewer pump out twice a week for $15.00. Since we're going up to San Francisco tomorrow for the weekend without the house, we should only need it once before we leave here on the 15th.

We're taking a vacation tomorrow and going up to San Francisco. We have reservations at the Sheraton at Fisherman's Wharf. Love those credit card points. Thanks American Express. We have tickets to see Alcatraz on Friday evening. We're going to eat sourdough bread and seafood, ride a streetcar and walk Fisherman's Wharf. I can hardly wait.

Love to you all...Deb

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Massive, ancient giant sequoias live in three groves in Yosemite National Park. The most easily accessible of these (spring through fall) is the Mariposa Grove near the park's South Entrance, off of the Wawona Road (Highway 41). On Saturday Gary and I along with Miss Ellie drove back to visit. When we arrived we learned the parking lots were already full so it was necessary to drive down to the Wowona Hotel to park. We walked Miss El, and set her up with water to wait for our return. We caught the free shuttle provided by the park service and went to the grove. There are several self-guided trails thru the grove. We walked about a mile up (yes..up..up..up) and then back down to get up close with these awesome trees.

Many of the trees have been recently changed by fire. I don't say damaged as we learned fire is a normal and desired part of life in this forest. It helps to clean out the undergrowth to allow the tress to continue their own growth.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Park of the Sierra with Nikki and Bill

This past week we had a wonderful visit with Nikki and Bill Sage. Nikki and Bill were our next door neighbors in Texas at Rustic Cove. They invited us to visit Park of the Sierra Escapees SKP park in Coarsegold. This park is a Co-op where Escapee members can buy a lease to use a site for their life (or until they want to leave). The park is beautiful. So far it is the prettiest Escapees park we've stayed in.

When we arrived on Friday evening, they prepared a great steak dinner to share with us. We enjoyed visiting with them on their patio surrounded by flowers and bushes. They have landscaped their site with many bushes and flowers. It is very cozy and pleasant. There was even a hummingbird that flew by occasionally on it's way to the flowers. It buzzed Gary's head one time.



On Saturday the town of Coarsegold had a Memorial Weekend antique and craft fair. Gary and I went down with Miss Ellie for a few hours. Lots of "stuff" to see. We didn't buy anything, but it's always fun to look.

On Tuesday we rented a car with Nikki and Bill. They shared Yosemite National Park with us. They both were born and raised in California and are very familiar with the park.

Our first stop was at the Wowona Hotel. This beautiful National Historic Landmark, rests near flowering meadows and beside a rushing stream. The white Victorian-style lodge seemed a very peaceful place to visit for a while. There aren't any TVs or phones in the rooms. That would sure be peaceful to me. Nikki and Bill have their 60th wedding anniversary coming up in June. They wanted to check on reservations for a visit to celebrate.









Next we took the 16 mile mile up to Glacier Point. Once at the parking area we hiked up about a quarter mile to the peak. The views of the surrounding valley and mountains was incredible. Yosemite is home to countless waterfalls. And we saw many of them during our visit. Yosemite Falls is actually 3 falls, 1 above the other. Wow!!! May was the best time to visit as the snow runoff increases the size of the falls.




We enjoyed a tasty lunch at The Ahwahnee® Hotel patio. While there Gary saw a bear...yes, a bear. It ran across the meadow right near the dining area. Several other folks saw it too as they started running over to the area with cameras in hand. But, that bear was running fast and was quickly gone for sight.
This is a picture of the hotel from the overlook. It was built in the early 1920's to accommodate the affluent and influential traveler. It's still serving that purpose today. It looks like it's built of redwood but because many of the earlier hotels burned it is actually made of poured concert stained to look like wood.






Very large fireplace in one of the setting rooms.



After lunch we continued our exploration of the valley. It started to rain but we stopped and visited Bridalveil Fall anyway. What's a little water??? It is 620' tall and even in the rain very beautiful.




Thursday, May 21, 2009

Around Hollister and San Benito Thousand Trails.

San Benito TT is located in the valley with acres of farm land surrounding it. They are growing everything from grapes to artichokes. It is great to see all the activity as crops are harvested and new crops are planted.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Last week we spent the day at Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is the best (and most expensive) aquarium I've ever visited. The displays are very well done. It is clean and well designed. There are many interactive exhibits that help make learning easy and fun. We spent an entire day exploring and enjoying. Their new Seahorse exhibit has the most varieties of seahorses on display I have ever seen. We enjoyed a decent lunch in their restaurant. Watching the sea otters in the exhibit and out in the bay was great.

This was one of the highest $$$ days for us in a while. $29.95 per person admission, almost $30.00 for soup and pizza lunch and $11.00 to park. I have no regrets. I enjoyed the beautiful day at this wonderful aquarium.

The slide show is a bit long with over 50 pictures..but I had a hard time choosing..so much to see. I hope you enjoy it.
If you want to learn more about the aquarium check out their website.
http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/news/

Sunday, May 17, 2009

San Benito Thousand Trails Horseshoe Tournament

When we arrived here at San Benito we learned there was a Horseshoe Tournament scheduled for this weekend. Gary was invited by some of the guys to join in. So, after practicing several mornings he did. He qualified for the tournament on Wednesday with an average of 24%. To qualify he had to thrown 50 horseshoes and count the # of ringers he got. So, he threw 24% of his throws as ringers. Not too bad for someone who hadn't thrown a shoe for at least a couple of years.
Yesterday's play was singles. He played 6 games and won 1. Not as good as he would have liked, but better than a couple other guys.
Today he was matched with Bill as a partner for the doubles games. He played 5 games and won 3 of the 5. Overall, they came in third place. And he won $ 35.00. Since it cost $30 to play he made his money back and them some. That was great. I think he feels pretty good about his first tournament. And is already planning to play another one in July.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hollywood, LA and Santa Monica California

We spent the better part of two days exploring around Hollywood, Santa Monica Beach and Los Angeles. It was interesting but there was way too much smog, traffic and people for me.
We saw the Hollywood Blvd Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the Captiol Records building, the El Capitan Theatre and of course The Hollywood Sign. We saw the Kodak theater (home of the Academy Awards) and the Hollywood Bowl too. And we saw a few strange sights on the streets too.
We just had to drive down Rodeo Drive. It was pretty quiet with no celebrities visible.




We visited the Santa Monica pier and saw the Pacific ocean for the first time. It was a bit too cool to get in the water. The sun was shining but it was cool and the wind was blowing.




On Wednesday we were audience (show enhancers) for the Late Late Show. Gary is a big fan of Craig Ferguson. This show is taped in the late afternoon for showing at 12:30am.
It was very interesting, fun and actually a little tiring. Clapping and cheering for about 2 hours takes a lot of out you. We were on the front row and at one point could have touched Craig. I don't have any pictures to share as CBS doesn't allow cameras in their studio. :(

LA and Hollywood was fun to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blown into California

Today we left Vegas heading southwest on I-15. It was a tough day. First we stopped at Exit 1 in Primm Nevada for lunch and 1 more visit at their gaming establishment. We went to Buffalo Bills and had lunch at their Wagon Master Coffee shop. I had my usual Mexican lunch and Gary had breakfast. Pretty good food overall. We got back on the road about 2pm. We stopped in Baker California for fuel and I got out to take a picture of the largest thermometer in the world.
When I got back in the truck I realized I didn't have my cell phone. It isn't to be found anywhere. Not in the truck, on the ground, in the store, in the house..no-where..I think I left it in the Wagon Master when we had lunch. That is the last place I remember having it. We called the restaurant and no one had turned it in. I talked to Security too and they took my contact information. If it turns up they said they'd call us. I'm not counting on that though. I called All-Tell and canceled the line for now.
I feel naked...I want my phone. OK..just a little whining..oh how attached we become to our electronic stuff!!!
We still have Gary's phone so we'll make out for now. Only time will tell if it turns up.

Continuing on I-15 we went thru a construction zone..slow..slow..slow
then, the winds started. Wind..wind..wind..slow..slow..slow..sometimes we were only going 30 miles an hour on an interstate that had a 70 mile per hour speed limit. We were being pushed hard. Gary did an excellent job keeping us between the lines but it was tough.
Several miles inside California we had to stop at the state Agricultural checkpoint. The inspector came into the house, had me open the refrigerator so he could see what fruits or vegetables we had. He asked a lot of questions. Where were we from, which county, did we have unshelled nuts or other plants. He checked my lucky bamboo(my only houseplant). The wind was so bad we both had to open and close the house door together to keep it from banging against the house. No problems, so we rolled on into the wind again. We finally arrived at Thousand Trails tonight about 7pm.

This TT preserve isn't as nice as some of the others we have stayed at. They have a lot of problems with the electric system and many of the sites don't have working electric boxes. We were told to check the box before moving into the site to be sure there was electric. We did and settled on our second choice of site. So far it is working OK, and hopefully our electrical monitoring system will catch any problem before it can cause any damage to the house. We're both pretty tired and ready for bed. Traveling against the wind, losing my phone, and arriving so late has worn us out. So, good night all. Hope you're doing well. Love, Deb

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Colorado River Bridge at Hoover Dam

A new bridge is being built around Hoover Dam. An engineering marvel.
I've included some pictures of Hoover Dam followed by pictures of the new bridge under construction.

Lake Mead Pictures

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

From their web site: "Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers a wealth of things to do and places to go year-round. Its huge lakes cater to boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers. It is also home to thousands of desert plants and animals, adapted to survive in an extreme place where rain is scarce and temperatures soar."

Lake Mead is a reservoir created by Hoover Dam. About 96 percent of the water in Lake Mead is from melted snow that fell in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming. There must have been several consecutive years where outflow has exceeded inflow because the water levels is pretty low. But, folks were still enjoying it on this sunny weekday.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Las Vegas Casino Pictures

These are pictures of the skyline and casino buildings in Las Vegas. You are not allowed to take pictures inside the buildings. For that I am sorry because some of them are quite a sight.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

It's Vegas Baby!!!

Yep, we're in Sin City. And there are sights to see. All kinds of sights.
Wednesday night we went to Fremont Street to experience the Fremont Experience. Just a normal Wednesday night..right??!! Fremont Street has many of the older casinos that were started in the days of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Several blocks of the street have been closed to cars. It has a metal mesh roof that contains fiber optics and at night they flashed lights and signs on it. Very impressive.
We saw crowds of people...people eating, drinking, dancing, laughing, and yes even gambling.
There was a guy playing the sax...a band singing Rolling Stones tunes..it was a "sight" to see. We enjoyed walking along and absorbing it all. The police were there, on bikes, on foot and on Segway.

We eat dinner at one of the casinos...$7.77 all you can eat buffet. And it was actually pretty good. I didn't take my camera but if we go back I will. Afterward we drove down Las Vegas Blvd. This 3 and half mile strip has 1 mega-hotel and casino after another for your pleasure.

We spent the rest of our time in Vegas resting, working, sampling the local cuisine and visiting a few of their gaming establishments. Nothing exciting, but enjoyable.

We did drive out to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam one afternoon. There is a new bridge and road being built that will bypass the Dam. Once it opens next year, no one will be allowed to drive over the dam any more. A security checkpoint is now in place right before the dam. We were just waved thru, but we did see another pickup stopped and the back of it being inspected. I guess they are looking for bombs or other incendiary devices. The new bridge is a marvel of engineering. I don't think there is enough money that would get me to do the job they are doing. We watched them move men and equipment via a gondola suspending from cables moving from 1 side of the river to the other. Way too high up and scary for me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grand Canyon Pictures. Enjoy..

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Verde Vally Thousand Trails

We spent 4 nights at this wonderful Thousand Trails park. It is located a few miles outside Cottonwood in the Verde Vally. We liked this park the best of any we've stayed in so far. Beautiful mountains surround the park. We will surely return when we are able. For two days we toured the area. Sedona, Prescott Vally, Prescott, Camp Verde and Cottonwood. The area is beautiful beyond words. And depending on where you are the terrain changes. The colors range from all shades of green to the richest shade of orange and red.

We visited Montezuma Castle National Monument and Montezuma Well. It is one of a number of well-preserved ancient dwellings in north central Arizona. We were told that it is probably the most spectacular; an imposing 20 room, 5-storey structure built into a recess in a white limestone cliff about 70 feet above the ground. When first (re)discovered the ruins were thought to be Aztec in origin, hence the name bestowed on them by early explorers, but they are now known to belong to the Sinagua Indian peoples who farmed the surrounding land between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, before abandoning the area.
We hiked the short but very steep trail to the top of the mountain. Very impressive views of the surrounding area and the Well.
On Sunday we drove to Sedona. The rock formations in the area are indescribable. Beautiful. We ate lunch at a KFC. I tried the new grilled chicken. OK, but it needed more spice for me. I like a kick to my food.
On Monday we rolled out again. Our destination was going to be Kingman Arizona. But..as we've said before "our plans are in jello". We stopped in Williams for lunch. Williams is the Gateway to the Grand Canyon. It is only 59 miles from the park. So, we decided we just couldn't pass that close to the park without visiting. So, we found an RV park and stayed for 2 nights.
Yesterday we drove up to the Park. We visited it with Van and Rita a few years ago. The day was cool and very windy. I was very glad to wear a jacket and hat. We walked along the South Rim. I took many pictures. I'll post some as soon as I can.
Today we moved on into Nevada.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the road to Arizona.

This morning we pulled out of Hidden Valley about 8:30am. First stop was the Holiday RV Dealer. When we arrived last week, our living room slide didn’t want to slide out. Mr P climbed under the house, held up the motor, I pushed the button and it went out but not happily..it made ugly nosies. We called Carriage and reported the problem and they had us contact Andrew at Holiday. Due to the RV Rally that they were participating in, we couldn’t get in on Tuesday. They were busy moving all of their RV’s back onto their lot. So, we stayed over an extra day and went this morning. God was smiling on us. Once it was determined the motor was bad, they actually had the part in stock. Sometime in the past they had ordered it for another customer but didn’t need all that came. So, they had it..wow..talk about luck. At first we thought they’d have to order the part and we’d have to stay here longer. That wouldn’t be a problem, but it was nice to have it repaired so quickly. We were on the road again by about 11am.
This afternoon we’ve traveled I-40 heading to Holbrook Arizona. We’ll spend the night there and move on tomorrow to Cottonwood. The plan is to stay at the Thousand Trails for 4 nights. We’ll be able to tour around Sedona and Verde Valley while there.

Tuesday on the Turquoise Trail

Tuesday morning the rally was over. Several rigs that had been staying at the Balloon Fiesta Park moved into Hidden Valley with us. We spent the afternoon riding up NM 14 which is called the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. We went as far as Madrid a small artsy town.
Afterward we took the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway up to the Sandia Crest. The Crest is a mile above the surrounding countryside and 2 miles above sea level. The Sandia Crest Highway is the highest scenic drive in the southwest. The Sandia Mountains were created by an uplift, leaving the forested eastern slope we drove up, and a craggy, cliff-like western face. Part of the Cibola National Forest, the Sandias are home to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bear and many other mammals and birds— including the golden eagles. Mostly we saw snow..snow and more snow. I think the only animal I saw was 1 little rabbit. Oh-well maybe next time. We carefully walked up the ramp to the overlook. As you can see from the picture it was partly covered with snow. The view overlooking Albuquerque was beautiful and worth the slightly cold feet I got.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Rally

The Infinity group which now owns the Good Sam RV Club, Camping World and Coast to Coast put on a 5 day Rally here in Albuquerque. We had planned this trip with our friends Gary and Suzanne Tomlinson. But, due to a health issue they had, they had to return to Michigan and were unable to come. We stayed at Hidden Valley RV Resort in Tijeras. This small town is about 15 miles east of Albuquerque.
At about 1500 feet higher elevation than Albuquerque it was a bit colder. We had night-time temps in the low 30’s every night. On Friday night we came home from the Rally evening entertainment to see that it was snowing hard. It had snowed, sleeted and rained all day but this was a bit of a surprise. We had about 1 ½ “ on the ground, trees and bushes. Our house too. It didn’t stick to the roads thank goodness. The sand trucks were out covering the bridges because I’m sure the roads froze overnight.



The Rally had 3112 rigs parked on site at the Balloon Fiesta Park. There were more of us scattered around at the various RV parks. And folks from the area were able to join in the fun for a $10.00 day pass. The seminars, RV show and Vendor booths were set up at Expo New Mexico, their state fair grounds. The evening entertainment was held in a very large tent at the Balloon Fiesta Park. Buses ran between the two locations to transport the RVers back and forth. The weather on Friday was pretty miserable and this caused some delays. The route normally takes about 15-20 minutes but with the weather and road construction on both I-40 and I-25 it was taking almost an hour for 1 bus to go 1 way. This made some folks very unhappy. Some even missed the Friday night entertainment because they had to wait so long for a bus. It got better on Saturday as they brought in more busses and more folks drove their own vehicles.
Friday night’s entertainment was Neil Sedaka. I don’t remember ever hearing him sing before. Gary had and was sure I’d be surprised. I knew he was known for having written many, many songs other singers have made famous. And Gary was right. He was great. He is 70 years old but boy could he belt it out. His back up band and singer were great too. You might have seen him on Tuesday morning when he appeared on LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY.
Over the weekend and Monday we went to several classes, attended a wine tasting, looked at new RVs and enjoyed the many other festivities. Several classic rigs were on display. Very cute and I can't imagine actually living in one of them.

We went to hear Rita Coolidge sing on Saturday night but didn’t enjoy it and left early. We skipped Sunday night’s Osmond Brothers and Gary went to hear Daddy Do Run Run on Monday by himself. I wasn’t feeling great and just decided to hang out at home with Miss Ellie. Gary enjoyed Daddy..they sang many classic rock and beach music.




Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Visiting in Socorro New Mexico

On Monday morning we met them at the El Camino Restaurant. We’d eaten there when we visited before and I really enjoyed their huevos rancheros. Their version consisted of a corn tortilla fried lightly, covered with a fried egg smothered with refried beans and chili sauce. When ordering I was asked “Red or Green”. This means which kind of chili sauce did I want. I got the red with some green on the side. If I’d ordered both on the plate I’m told the correct answer is “Christmas”. This came with extra crispy hash brown potatoes and several slices of bacon. Can we say “heart-attack on a plate”? But it was sooooo good. Gary got his usual pancakes and bacon. It was pretty good too he said.

After breakfast we went back to the Coffeehouse so Prescott could make a list of the paintings and check on the labels they had applied for each painting. We met some of Prescott’s morning coffee group.

Afterwards they told us on a tour around Socorro in their four-wheel drive 4-Runner. The Quebradas Backcountry Byway is an unpaved county road traversing about 24 miles of rugged, colorful landscapes east of town. We spent about 2 ½ hours traveling a road I sure wouldn’t want to drive on without 4-wheel drive. We had great weather to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery.



We stopped to eat again at Manny’s Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio. This is one of Georgette and Prescott’s favorite places to eat. The Buckhorn has been ranked 7th in the country by GQ magazine for the best green-chili cheeseburger in the US and is in an on-going battle for the title with the Owl Café which is just in the next block. I know I had one of the best Taco Salad’s I’ve ever eaten. And the burger Gary had was large and very tasty. This small town tavern may not look like much but the folks are friendly and tho food is great.
After a stop at our house so I could work for a bit, we went back to their home and had some of Prescott’s BB Q pork ribs for dinner. We enjoyed our visit with them and called it a night about 9pm. Thanks for the hospitality Georgette and Prescott. See you next time.



Buddy


Spike

On Tuesday morning, we hooked up again and took off for the Rally in Albuquerque.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunday- Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to Us. Today is our 35th Wedding Anniversary. Can you believe I’ve been with HIM 35 years? And he’s still with me….I’m excited. We know we are so blessed with our life and enjoy each day we’re given. We love our family and friends and think about you all often. Watch out..one of these days we’ll be pulling into a driveway near you.

We spent the day traveling from Roswell to Socorro. Along the way we went thru the Lincoln National Forest and stopped for lunch in Capitan. We enjoyed lunch at the Smokey Bear Restaurant. They were having a special ham lunch since it was also Easter Sunday. They gave us 2 pieces of chocolate cake since we were celebrating our anniversary. Very nice owners and family. And very good food. If you go through Capitan be sure to stop and check it out.
http://www.smokeybearmotel.com/restaurant.php





We stopped at the Valley of Fires Recreation Area to take pictures of the volcanic landscape. This is an amazing place. So quiet. All you hear is the wind whistling. They have a nice RV park and boardwalks that you can use to get out into the middle of the rock. The Valley has many square miles of buckled, twisted lava, part of an extensive flow up to 50 meters thick and over 45 miles long that originated from several volcanoes, including one vent now known as Little Black Peak. The volcanic action responsible was relatively recent, only between 1500-1000 years ago, but the lava has become quite overgrown with grass and small bushes so the landscape is somewhat greenish rather than black. A lonely place to visit.



In the afternoon we pulled into Casey’s RV Park in Socorro. After getting settled, we called our friends Georgette and Prescott Grey to let them know we had arrived in town. We first met them when we traveled to NM a few years ago with Van and Rita. Georgette and Rita were college room mates. Georgette is a watercolor artist. We joined them at Manzanares Street Coffeehouse where they were hanging some of Georgette’s watercolor paintings. They are going to be on display for a couple of months.
http://www.socorrocoffee.com/

She does several shows in NM each year and teaches classes thru NM Tech. Visit her website to see samples of her beautiful paintings. You can also purchase from the site.
http://www.gegrey.com/

They took us to dinner at the Socorro Springs Brewing Co restaurant. Pretty good pizza at a decent price. http://www.socorrosprings.com/

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 11-12 Roswell and the Aliens

On Friday and Saturday we stayed at the Red Barn Campground in Roswell. This was a small family owned park with only a couple of traveler’s spaces. Most of the sites were in use by long termers. The lady that checked us in was very friendly and explained their honor system. Since she didn’t stay in the office all of the time, if you needed to wash clothes or buy snacks, you just did your laundry or choose your snacks. Then wrote down what you did on a yellow note and put the note and the money in a box. We thought it was a very nice way to do business. Very clean facilities with a bumper pool table and TV to enjoy while we waited for the wash to finish. Even though we have the washer/dryer in the rig occasionally it’s nice to do it in 1 or 2 big loads.

Roswell is known for being the “Alien Capital of the World”. We visited the International UFO Museum and Research Center. There are many exhibits, (bring your glasses…lots of reading) that explains the events of July 1947.

The town has many alien themed shops and restaurants and the museum even has an alien festival each year.

http://www.roswellufomuseum.com/

Friday, April 10, 2009

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens Carlsbad,NM



Before leaving Brantley Lake State Park this morning we drove back into Carlsbad to spend a couple of hours at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. This is a small park with a self guided walking trail through the exhibits. The exhibits change as you move through different types of terrain. We also saw animals, birds and reptiles.

One of the park's highlights are the endangered gray wolves. The Living Desert participates in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Mexican gray wolf Species Survival Program, exchanging wolves with other zoos to help ensure their survival. They had 3 living on site (that we saw).
They also have a greenhouse called “Succulents of the World”. It was beautiful. Full of all kinds of cactus. We were lucky to see some of them blooming.
Overall, well worth the time and $5.00 admission fee.
http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/PRD/LivingDesert.htm

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We spent Thursday at Carlsbad Caverns. The caverns are located under the Chiluahuan Desert. There are miles and miles of caverns under New Mexico.
We spent a couple of hours hiking through 1 cavern called the Big Room.

If you watch the slide show you'll see 1 visitor that we took pains to avoid.
You'll also see several of the formations named by the cavers that have explored the caverns for many years. 1 picture shows the original wire ladder that was used to explore the lower cave. Look closely so you also see the old man in the rock.

The Big Room is shaped like a cross and the self-guided tour follows around the walls of the room. There are lights spaced to high-light the most impressive rock features. But, overall it is quite dark and visitors are encouraged to speak softly.

Crossing West Texas into New Mexico

On Monday we left all the deer behind at Medina Lake and took off across the vast desert of west Texas. We stopped for the night at Fort Stockton. The park was pretty nice considering it is in the desert and therefore had some dust. They had a sign posted "Is the wind always this bad? No, sometimes it's worse." They didn't lie.



They have their own restaurant called the Roadrunner Cafe. We enjoyed both dinner (Mesquite BBQ pork ribs) and breakfast before pulling out to continue to New Mexico.
Having been told there were roadrunners on the property we looked for them. No luck. We saw and heard many birds, but none were the roadrunner. We did see this one in downtown Fort Stockton. It doesn't move too fast.



Along I-10 we came across a windmill field. Note the "old" style windmill next to the farm house, and in the distance the new wind turbines. HUGH!!!





Things were going pretty good until we started seeing signs that said "DETOUR". Ahead was a bridge with some kind of problem. All rigs over 11,000 lbs had to detour around. OK..no problem..76 miles later we had seen more of west Texas and entered New Mexico via a very bumpy road. Straight but BUMPY!!!



Along the way the detour took us through Kermit Texas. And guess what. They have Kermit painted on their water tower. Cute.



We were delighted to find the Wal Mart in Carlsbad and just stop for a while. We needed to rest up before deciding where to spend the night. We had thought I-10 coming through Louisiana was bad but this little road beat it out for sure.
Gary even asked if he could sue the state of Texas for the lose of the fillings in his teeth as he was sure they were popping out.

After resting a bit and watching the multitude of motor homes pull into the WM parking lot, we decided to get out of town. We called the Brantley Lake State Park which is located about 12 miles up the road. They had space so we took off. This State Park is located on the top of a hill overlooking the lake. Awesome views of the surrounding desert. I don't think the pictures do it justice.
We stayed there for a couple of days.






Our Home at the Lake.



The Brantley Lake Dam.



The Lake.



Santa-Rita (Purple) Prickly Pear Cactus



Roadrunner.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

And the Wheels go Round and Round

Yes, the wheels still roll and we rolled out of Rustic Cove on Tuesday. By the time we got everything put away, and I vacuumed the inside of the house to get rid of some more of Rustic Cove's sand it was almost noon before we left.



George, Steve, Bill and Nikki were on hand to help us out and wish us safe travels. We waved to Phyllis and Daryl as we pulled out of the park. See you next year guys!!!

We took rural roads to Medina Lake and didn't see any real traffic until we got near San Antonio. Only 1 small busy area before we turned away from town toward Medina Lake. The Lake is about 35 miles from San Antonio. The water level is very low because of the drought in the area. The boat ramp isn't usable as it ends at a concert cliff. Yipes!! Bad for the fishermen.



The preserve is very pretty. Everything is going green even with the lack of rain. The deer in the park are thriving. There must be a few hundred of them around. Even as I write this I can see one or two walking by outside my window. We also have rabbits, squirrels, cardinals, and doves as neighbors.



Can you see the deer in the woods?




Yesterday after I worked for a bit in the morning, we drove up to Boerne. There are many shops in the downtown business area that looked pretty busy for a Wednesday afternoon. We had a pretty good BBQ pork sandwich at Fritze's BBQ. Afterward we drove on up to Kerrville. This is busy town on the Guadalupe River. We went down to the river park and let Miss Ellie run around for a bit.






This area of Texas is called the Hill Country. And it is...lots of tree covered hills. Very pretty as the wildflowers and trees are starting to bloom.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This is our Last week at Rustic Cove.

This is our last week at Rustic Cove. Gary worked his last day on Thursday. On Friday morning we did something we've wanted to do for months. We finally went kayaking. We arrived at Captain Ron's Watercraft Rental at about 11:00am.
They were ready for us with 2 new Redfish kayaks. We put on the life vests with whistles attached. Wearing our Rustic Cove hats and sunglasses we took off..or I should say paddled off. We did pretty good. I was very pleased with our adventure. We paddled around the bay, went under a bridge to the other bay and just enjoyed the beautiful weather. The birds were flying and fish were jumping. We stayed out about and hour and a half. Not too bad for a couple of out of shape old folks. If you're in the area and want to rent water craft we definitely recommend Captain Ron's. The staff was very helpful. They explained everything very well.
http://westofkeywest.net/index.html

I had lunch with some other ladies at their restaurant, West of Key West on Tuesday and the food was excellent.

I'll have some pictures once I get the film developed from the disposable waterproof camera I took with us.

Last night we had dinner with our wonderful neighbors Bill and Nicki Sage. We've really enjoyed getting to know them and plan to stop by their home in California when we're in the area this summer.



Today we had lunch with Molly and Bob Piner. They are fellow Class 0f 07 Escapees. We went to the Big Fisherman restaurant and enjoyed renewing our friendship. They are heading home to Virgina. We hope to see them again next fall at the Ohio Gypsy Journal Rally. Molly has a great blog where she shares their travels.
http://www.moonriverandwe.blogspot.com/

Tomorrow and Monday we pack..on Tuesday we're moving to Medina Lake near San Antonio. We plan to stay there for about a week and see some of the sights in the area. Love to you all..Deb

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jenn and Mark come to Texas

Last Friday Jenn and Mark flew Continental to Texas. We were excited and happy they arrived safe and sound. The rain had also arrived along with them. It rained all day on Saturday and for some of Sunday too.

On Saturday we drove up to Goliad Texas. This small town was having their first for the year Market Day. Unfortunately the rain caused most of the vendors to head out early. We stopped at a small pizza restaurant for lunch. It was nice being together even though the trip was pretty much a washout. Gary worked on Sunday. Jenn and Mark went to the Maritime Museum in Rockport. We enjoyed a roast beef dinner when they got home to the cabin.


On Monday, we went to the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay. This WWI aircraft carrier has been dry docked in Corpus Cristi and is open for self guided tours. We got our exercise for the day as we climbed up and down stairs in the ship. It was pretty amazing and somewhat sobering to learn about this ship and it's many roles through out it's active lifetime.



To quote their website:
"Commissioned in 1943, LEXINGTON served longer and set more records than any carrier in U.S. Naval history. Decommissioned in 1991, the 910-foot, 16-deck, 33,000-ton aircraft carrier now serves as an important historical repository and museum. Because of the historical significance of the USS LEXINGTON, the ship is maintained as a tribute to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and as a memorial to the people who died serving the US, in the defense of freedom, especially in World War II. Displays, ceremonies, and other programs emphasize the heroism and sacrifice of those who have served the nation in the Navy and the Marine Corps."




On Tuesday we headed out bright and early to San Antonio. First stop was Denny's where we and everyone else in San A eat breakfast. CROWDED!!. Lots of folks around enjoying St Pat's Day and Spring Break. After fueling up, we went to the Riverwalk. We got tickets and took the boat ride down the river. Once again the tour guide was great. Shared interesting history of the river, the area and the buildings we saw. After lunch we went over to the Alamo. The rest of San Antonio (the one's not at Denny's) were there. With the St Pat's festivities and Spring Break there was a long line to go into the Alamo. So, we only toured the gardens and took a very quick trip through the gift shop. Jenn and Mark enjoyed a horse drawn carriage ride around the downtown area.




Scenes from the Riverwalk.



Wednesday was Mark's Birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARK.

Mark spent the day doing exactly what he wanted. Vegging out..resting and watching TV. Jenn and I did a little bit of shopping (or looking as we didn't buy anything). Gary worked. We had a good dinner together.

On Thursday we went back to Corpus Cristi to the Texas Aquarium. We spent several hours touring around. We watched a couple of shows. One showcasing their birds and other exotic animals. The other was a dolphin show. Three dolphins and their trainers showed off there many tricks. The weather was perfect. Warm and breezy.



On Friday we went back up to Goliad. Goliad is one of the oldest municipalities in Texas. In 1749, the Spanish government transferred Mission Espiritu Santo and its royal protector, Presidio La Bahia, to the site of a small Aranama Indian village, which they named Santa Dorotea.
This mission served the Aranama, Tamique, and their allies for 110 years, longer than any other Spanish colonial mission in Texas.
A small villa grew up around the walls of the presidio, and was called La Bahia. This area was occupied by the Spanish until 1821, when Mexico won its independence from Spain. The name of the town was officially changed to Goliad in 1829.
Goliad is a phonetic anagram of Hidalgo, the name of the priest who became a hero during the Mexican Revolution. Mexican soldiers occupied Presidio La Bahia from 1821 to 1825.
The first great cattle ranch in Texas is said to have its beginnings at Mission Espiritu Santo. Along with its sister, Mission Nuestra Senora del Rosario, Mission Espiritu Santo possessed the largest longhorn herds in the state, at times owning more than 40,000 head.


We started our visit with lunch at the Empresario Restaurant. This very old building is located right on the square across from their beautiful courthouse.



After lunch we visited the Mission Espíritu Santo State Historic Site at Goliad State Park. We toured the beautiful reconstructed Franciscan Mission. It was the home of the largest ranching operation in Texas in the 18th century. We enjoyed the serenity of the Spanish colonial church and viewed exhibits that explore the history and daily life of the missionaries and Indian converts - including some of the original artifacts they used. The ranger on duty was very knowledgeable and seemed to love to share his knowledge.




Nearby was the Presidio La Bahia.
Presidio La Bahía is located one mile south of Goliad, Texas on U.S. Highway 183. Presidio La Bahia was established at this location in 1749. It has been owned by the Catholic Church since 1853 and is currently operated by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Texas. We viewed exhibits and imagined life at the fort. Originally built in 1749 to protect the Mission and the frontier, it later played a major role in the Texas Revolution. Here, Colonel Fannin and his ill-fated men were held prior to being executed at Santa Anna's order, an act of infamy later recalled at the Battle of San Jacinto with the cry, "Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!"
You can learn more about the site at
http://www.presidiolabahia.org/index.html



On our way back to Rustic Cove, we saw some longhorn cattle and stopped to take pictures.