Semonole Canyon….Castroville, TX
Elephant Butte…to ..Fort Stockton
Semonole Canyon….Castroville, TX
Elephant Butte…to ..Fort Stockton
The Galveston bird Festival called Feather Fest starts on Thursday. Jayne has signed us up for a few of the events, mainly the groups going out to see birds.
The first one is with a guy named Greg Miller. He is a famous birder and a movies was made about Him a few years ago called The Big Year. Although we have seen a lot of birds most say they still have not arrive from crossong the Gulf. That was the reason to come down here.
A lot of photos from Feather Fest are posted in this gallery…enjoy
Galveston Island is a big island that mostly is tourist related and a lot of oil support industries and of coarse, cruise ships for the Caribean runs.
The old Pleasure pier built in the 40’s and rebuilt twice after hurricanes is kind of a land mark in the center of the tourest part of the island
The RV park we were in was at the East end, called Sandpiper RV ..it was close to the all the down town areas and very nice. Nice wide spots.
One of the events was wine and snacks at a restored old home with Greg and snother birder, Kevin Karlson. We were on a birding trip with Him last Sept in the Galapagos.
Kevin is holding up His new birding photo book.
The photos from the Galapagos that trip are here…
We left Galveston for Port Arthur for 3 nights. High Island is one of the big birding areas and is about half way between Galvestonand the Port Arthur RV park, but no ferry so its faster. Speeking of the ferry, it runs between Gslveston Island and the Bolivar Penninsula where High Island is. This is a FREE ferry and runs about every 30 minutes..that means they have several ferries crossing.
Big trucks RV cars….anyway we decided to take it across, but I was worried about the tow, so Jayne drove the tow. Should not have been worried, as there were a couple Rv with tows bigger than us.
The RV park in Port Arthur was very nice..no problems and large sites. I was worried about it, but worked out fine. Using that as our base we drove to Hi Island and hit the birding places. The best was the Rookery where the Spoon Bills and Harions were nesting.
On the way out one morning we saw this turtle in the middle of the road. Jayne stopped snd I got out and was going to pick it up snd tske it across the road. I taped it with my foot hoping it would pull His head znd feet in so zi coud pick it up. He did not, but as I reached dow to ppick it up from behind, his head came out about 6 inches and almost got me…ok you just stay there…
Next stop Paragon Casino…
Broad-tailed grackle in full bloom. Rascal. You should hear them, make very strange sounds. Mercedes, TX.
So long you long legged creatures.
Time to go, heading north today to a spot by the ocean. Going to be a windy drive. Waitin” for the sun to come up.
About 300 miles North of Our last stop is the Matagorda Bay Nature Park. We heard about this from someone we met on a walk. A well kept secret!
This Park is right where the Colorado River flows into the gulf. This is the Texas Colorado River..
Last night we parked on a river that empties into the Gulf. Across the river we noticed a herd of cattle that came and gathered by the river. They were staring across at us, crying and moaning. Found out from the locals that on April 1 the ranchers drive the cattle across the river to our side here to move them and their new calves to summer grazing lands. Somehow the cattle know it is that time of year and start coming by everyday looking for the ranchers. A few get a little antsy and swim across early and are put in some pens nearby us until the ranchers get here. Love it…..extended our stay so we can see the Big Swim…
Passsin’ the time watching shrimp boats come and go up the river as we wait for the cattle crossing.
Also spending time watching the birds, and they are watching us.
A little bit of foreplay going on here
Had some excitement here this evening. Apparently some kayakers were outside the jetty and lost control of their kayaks. Fortunately they were able to get to shore. Coast Guard came to the rescue and threw them lines and pulled them aboard to safety. Not sure why they were out in those seas as the Gulf is and was raging and we are expecting severe storm conditions this evening. Good outcome though as every one is safe. Lost the kayaks though I think……turns out it was a small fishing boat with 3 guys in it..got dumped and were stranded on the dike
Went out early this morning to photograph birds but saw this guy throwing a net for bait fish. Wow, the sea was raging but didn’t deter this guy.
So happy to get a picture of this bird today, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher found only in Texas in the US. He just caught a bug! Beautiful bird.
Black-necked Stilt here on the Gulf Coast, TX. PS Texas, please pick up your trash. So sad to see it everywhere the birds are.
Breakfast anyone? Take a look at the look on that fish’s face.
Tuesday April 4th
We stayed 2 extra days to see the Big Swim. Jayne wants to take photos of this event, but we are tomove to Galveston for the Feather Fest. Finally we decided I would go ahead with the coach and Jaune would stay until the Big Swim happened. Finally, about 5 pm it happened. They had to wait for slack tide. Down here in the Gulf there is only 1 high and one low per 24 hours…this was a high.
The Big Swim..
Jayne finally followed snd we had dinner at a local joint in Galveston…Feather Fest starts zthursdsy so a day to get ready…
We have been driving to San Antonio from Castroville the last few days. Seems there is a lot to see.
We followed the trail of missions today to the Alamo. Mission San Jose today. San Antonio, TX.What an impressive sight.
This is Mission Conception.
Was admiring all the characters in the sculptural detail of the entry to Mission San Jose today and low and behold we find one of the saints holding a nest. Take a closer look.
Egyptian Goose……Saw these unusual looking geese where we are camped. Thought they were a Black-bellied Whistling Duck until I looked it up on the internet. Egyptian Goose is found in the Nile Valley and Africa, south of the Sahara.
Populations have been successfully introduced to United Kingdom and Netherlands. That’s all I know. Very interesting.
Not really roughing it here.
Had a nice bike ride yesterday along the San Antonio River from outside of town all the way into the Alamo area. You can ride all the way from the missions to the Alamo along the river on an amazing bike path.
Friday, March, 17
Mercedes, TX …..about 280 miles almost straight South of San Antonio, very close the the Mexican boarder. Several large RV resorts in this area. We are at Llano Grande in Mercedes. A very large resort with lots for sale. We stayed here last year as it is close to several of the bird parks. Seems a lot more crowed this year as many more casita have been built. Nice and clean, but does not come close to the Motorcoach Resort in Indio.
Most of what we do in this area is birding at several State Parks and reserves. We have set up our feeders beside the coach and get a lot of visitors.
“Are you coming out today? How about throwing out a
few peanuts ?”
Good morning, I hope. Four days sick in bed with horrible cold. Been playing bird calls on my bird apps to the particular birds as they come by the bus. We are having back and forth conversations but have no idea what we are talking about.
We were driving around Harlingen…
“Came across this wonderful mural the other day driving around the little backroads around southern Texas. Glad they decided to save the old gas station too. The pig building is in the mural to the right and just so happens we saw it in San Antonio and took a quick photo of it. Lots to discover around here.”
The Pig building is shown in the mural to the far right.
“They call it “The Big Pig” but [in reality] it was the baby pig, the “Big Pig” was BIG. I remember it was a big deal when Papa would drive by it.
Baby wasn’t forlorn until Mamma was torn down to make way for progress. Both pigs were piggy-cornered to the old Mission Drive-in theatre on East White and Roosevelt. Mama was a restaurant, and Baby sat happily nearby. Baby Pig is thought to have served as a carhop shelter in days gone by at the South Presa Pig Stand, but evidently escaped his pen in the 1940s. He was re-discovered in the early ’90s, sitting forlornly without his mama. He had been serving as living quarters, but was returned to his original Presa Pig Stand home and spiffed up. Sadly, he sits forlornly once again since this Pig Stand went out of business a year or so ago.” – Sarah Reveley, March 2008
Dionicio Rodríguez who created the faux-bois sculptures all over [San Antonio] city and other states.
Thursday….we took a trip down to South Padre Island.. Somehow it just did not do much for us. We did see some birds along hwy 48, but the wind was just not making for a fun day.
We expected more crowds of spring breakers around, guess they were all at the beach.
Wow, was thinking we might lure some hummingbirds, so didn’t expect to have this very special visitor, an Altamira Oriole! Very rare bird.
Altamira Orioles are common in the southern part of their range, but in the U.S. are only found in the extreme south of Texas, where they have been listed as threatened by the Texas Organization for Endangered Species. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 2 million birds, with 3% living in the U.S., and 73% living in Mexico.
Hope it comes back again so I can get a decent picture of it!
Good morning! Thinking this is the Hooded Oriole and not the Altamira as I previously thought. Not supposed to be in this area until summer?
It’s mate? the female.
The nocturnal Common Paraque today, napping in the twigs. Common throughout the American tropics but only found in the US in a small area of southern Texas, where we are.
The wind will just not stop blowing here, day after day, 30 knots. Not good for birding but lots going on at the feeder. Everybody loves oranges here.
We found a gate open to the fields along the river..
Black-necked Stilt. Legs even longer than they look. Mercedes, TX.
American Avocet stretching it’s wing while the Black-necked Stilt stands by. Love it’s curved thin beak. Mercedes, TX.
Plain Chacalaca, Mercedes, TX. A little turkey-ish in the face, about the size of a chicken.
Look who hopped across our path today. Lucky I had the camera. Just in time for Easter1
Hooded Oriole and his wife love the sugar water but will only allow me to photograph him from inside the bus through the glass. He sure is a beautiful bird and so happy he likes our feeder.
American Avocet yesterday afternoon. Mercedes, TX.
Ah, finally found the Green Jay today. Thought we were going to leave without seeing one. Mercedes, TX>
This little Tufted Titmouse wasn’t on the list of we expected to find today but was a welcome visitor. So cute! We don’t see them on the west coast so was a pleasure to see one up close.
Rare little moment when the raucous Red-winged Blackbird gave me a glance.
So excited to get pictures of these Orioles building their nest. Too bad we won’t be here long enough to see the whole process and the babies.
Finding this Oriole nest was the highlight of my visit in this area. Wow!
And there were Butterflies too!
We are leaving tomorrow , March 30th, for a couple nights at Matagorda Bay….this was recommended by a person we met on a walk to the caves…Jayne will have to drive as Ziam down with the crud! Everything hurts! She has done a good job getting us ready.
its been fun here, but Jayne was down for the first few days and some of the reserves have quit feeding the birds…there excuse is the Big Black birds come in and take over….AND the bugs are gettinf to us along with 90 degree heat nd humidity every day…time to move on…
It is a short 150 mile drive from Stockton to the Seminole Canyon State Park. Seemed longer, maybe because both of us were tired from yesterdays long windy drive.
When we left this morning the Sat TV would not store…got out the emergency instructions and as Jayne read them, I punched the codes in…it worked…was able to store the antenna. My guess we had strong winds and the antenna moved just enough that the controller was not sure where it was.
We have been out of Verizon coverage for a couple hours and there is none here at the park, although AT&T seems to work. Guess this is their part of the world.
We crossed the Pacos River ..wow..never knew that ran thru limestone canyons like those! In fact in this rolling hill country you would not know that a canyon even existed. We got to the park and got our assigned spot..it is very nice and secluded. The Coach would not Auto level, but I got it leveled using the manual mode. First time I tried that..
Today we took the canyon tour. Access to the actual canyon is by guided tour. Well worth 0the trip. From up above you can not see the caves where the puictoglifts are. These are huge caves that ?? lived in or used thousands of years ago. There is a trail with lots of steps that lead you down to the canyon floor and then lots of steps back half way up to the caves. Interesting history..
“Took an amazing hike down to Fake Bell Shelter along the Seminole Canyon Rim in Texas to see some ancient rock art. Hard on the knees but well worth it. What an awesome place.”
The Gods would be angry I’m sure if they could see this. Graffiti left by a couple of railroad workers of the Southern Pacific Transcontinental Railroad marking their name alongside the ancient rock art, dating 1884.
This is a good camp site to watch the birds and butterfly’s.
I wonder if anyone even misses us. No cell coverage at all…no internet..but we do have SatTV …but have been to tired to watch it, except the news at dinner.
There is a 2 3/4 mile trail that goes down to the Rio Grand to an overlook across the river (Mexico) to a cave that has a panther painting in it. We rode our bikes down, but the bushes have grown up in front of the cave so that you can not really see anything except the tail. The view is worth the ride in itself.
Today we are to leave for the San Antonio area. About a 4 hour drive down US 90. Staying at the Alsatian RV park in Castroville. Kind of upscale with a big golf coarse. We got a spot overlooking the course.
“We are just outside of San Antonio now in a little town called Castroville. Has a charming historic area that they seem to be taking loving care of. Has Alsatian roots, French, German, you know…lots of saurkraut and pastries.”
The town is kind of nice, old Alseatian. We went to breakfast at Sammys….that was kind of a dump..then we tried the Mex place that was in the recomendations…food was bad…Jayne was ready to leave the area.
We found a nice cafine shop in an old gas station and next door was the Castroville Cafe…looked nice and was open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. This is Saturday so we tried it..Very Good!
The cafine shop is in an old gas station…
“I think he’s called Cheese Crisp. For real. It’s the town cat. He joined us here for afternoon coffee break and then at nearby cafe for dinner”
“Love, love, love this mailbox. Don’t know why I love rusty old things and add a bird to it..viola”
“Beautiful catholic church here made from their local sandstone. It is the most beautiful and understated church, wow, what a gem.”
“Poppies are everywhere here. Old German water storage tank (I think).
This royal “creature” is residing next to us. He is bigger than the RV the owners are traveling in. We wonder how comfy it is with them all snuggled in there at night. That dog goes everywhere with that owner. I woke yesterday morning to seeing him out in front of us on the golf course, thought it was a wild horse!”
“Some of the streets are curbless and dirt, just the way I like it.”
“The old Inn, been in use since the beginning for travelers heading to San Antonio.”
This is the old folks retirement home in this old historical building on the old square. Lots of chairs for the folks to watch the younger world go by.
Love the shutters, old benches and iron supports for the old wood awnings
“Okay Larry, make up your mind…the loaf will last longer if you go for the left.”
Monday, March 13
Took a long drive around the hill country today. Neat little town Bandara a small version of Fredricksburg.
About 100 north of Las Cruses is Elephant Butte State Park. Up at the North End is a campground that we saw last year when here, a place that has been on Jaynes bucket list. Space 19 at the very end over looking the Rio Grand and Elephant Butte Lake. Its a great spot even though it is laid out backwards. We drove in with the big windshield facing the lake. The power and water are on the right. I guess this is laid out for trailers and 5th wheels. Our power cord would not reach, so I drove back to Elephant Butte found Walmart and got a 30 foot 30A cord.
Birds are the attraction for us and there seems to be plenty although the cranes have already headed North. A few stragglers. We drove the 40 + miles up to the Bosque Del Apache reserve to see what was there. Not much. There are more birds down where we are.
We did stop in the little town of San Angelo just Nofth of Bosque Del Apache and had lunch at a place call The Owl. They were to have the BEST chillie burgers. Turns out this is where Conrad zhilton got His start. Guess his parents owned this as a store at one time. During the early nucular testing in this area prospectors used to cpme in and order this burger. Turns out they were nucular engineers for the tests in the area.
A few miles South is the town of Truth or Consequences. I guess many years ago it was famous because of the Hot Springs, but that seems to not be in favor any more. There is a great little coffee bakery that we like. We had to stop and have a scone and muffin and watch the locals. I guess this is also famous for the space port. We did visit there display in the hotel last year, but have not driven out to the actual site. We did hear that its looking for money from tax relief.
We drove around the Dam and out to a small town about 18 miles East of Truth or Consequence called Engle…..well that was a bust…nothing out there at all..nothing. At the end of the county road is a few buildings which is the headquarter to the Armendaris ranch. This is ONE of Ted Turners ranch that extends for miles along the Rio Grand. The story is He bought all this land so the Buffalo could migrate.
Sat. March 4th
Heading to Roswell, NM..
“Up early, bus stocked with local chilies and homemade tortillas and on the road to Roswell and going by the site where they tested to first Atomic bomb.”
Got worried about fuel…left with a 1/4 tank but about half way with 💯 miles to go I was down to 1/8 ..who knows if gauge is right? Put in 125 gal..Only hold 150…guess I would have made it, but we were lucky. Problem this is all desert and more desert..lucky found a gas station I could get into who had diesel….very 🍀
From now on 1/4 tank ..fuel no matter what..
“And here we are in the middle of no where having to fill up! Yikes!
Had to restart the pump twice so it could accommodate 125 gallons! Holy moly Larry”
March 4 th …Roswell, NM
What a different place..if it were not for the whole Alien thing..this would be a total dump. The Alien museum was interesting. Bottom line ..make your own decision.
From there we made our way to Fort Stockton. We left at 06:30 trying to beat the wind that was forcasted to get worse. I was using a web site that allows you to see wind gusts and wind at various times and locations. In any case we decided to head out. For the most part it was just strong wind. A few good gusts did rock us, but we made it with little effort. Very interesting drive with all the fracking going on in Texas. The roads full of trucks and wide loads. Carlsbad is a dump. I always thougt it was close to the caverns, but its not..66 mile further South.
“That is the moon up there too! Amazing sunset last night. Wild winds on the drive yesterday but the day ended nicely. Fort Stockton, TX.”
“Whoa! Wild ride yesterday through the dusty oil fields on a windy day. Wow, does anybody have any idea what goes on out here? These truckers are working their dogs off, hard dusty dangerous work. How about hauling this load, gave us some pause getting by him.”
Little Scaled Quail family scooted by the campsite yesterday. Texas.
Holy moly, making a truck load of fresh tortillas in the grocery store here. Fort Stockton, TX and it’s not Walmart.
TIP…..you can tap on the small photos to enlarge
Wed, Feb 22nd
We sadly left Motorcoach Resort heading to Apache Junction to have a small air leak looked at. We stopped at the Sams parking lot and met a guy to weigh all four cornors of the coach. He had portable weighing equipment. He provides a summary of your weight for each wheel and where you are heavy on one side or another. In general we sre within limits bur our Drivers side aft is heavy. I guess the coach was built that way as we really do not have anything on that side. Where I was worried we have room for more.
We ended staying in the parking lot of East Vally RV Specialist as our appointment was not until Thursday AM. When we opend the slides Jayne found that the mirror on the closet door had fallen off. Thank God that it did not break and happened when we were at a repair place. They guy doing the work was real pro. He knew how to get the door off the track…easy when you know. He rebuilt that door and I had the other one re staples just to be sure.
The leak in the air system was found in about 10 minutes…and the fix…cut the hose off and reinsert. He check all the other connections….all ok. While there I decided to have him do a complete check on the Aqua Hot system too…just to be sure…all ok..
The work probably took 3 hours, but it was 2:30 by the time we got out of there. Always a scheduling conflict and the guy was working on something else. Nice thought, Tiffin covered the air leak as part of the 3 year chassis warranty.
We headed out at 2:30 and Jayne drove the car rather than hook up the tow. The route thru the mountains is really great. We ended up at the Apache Gold RV which is part of the Casino Resort in San Carlos, a 70 mile drive..
Here we are at the Apache Gold RV park. Really a big parking lot, but clean and great for hat we need..water and power. Woke up to a cold bus as it was about 30 degrees and I did not have the diesel heat on and the electric can not keep up when its that cold. The floors are nice and warm and as soon as I got up and turned the diesel heat..it was warm.
Off we went to see the area. Globe first, to the Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological . Interesting area to see how they lived in the 12-1300
Then we went up to Tonto National Monument….never really had understood these. We did not take the hike up to the actual ruins as Jayne would like to have, but is Her foot is still very sore. With The big lens we got some photos anyway
On the way back we went back along the way we came in yesterday to take some video of the rocks and mountian formations. This really is a great drive if you go slow, but who goes show..everyone is in a hurry and alway on your tail.
This struck us as pretty funny. Yesterday we drove by and noticed a cow on the steep side of this cut away mountain munching away at some freshly laid straw that we assume was put down to retain the hillside from erosion. It was pretty hilarious and adventurous of this cow as the hillside was ridiculously steep. Several hours later returning from our day’s drive we saw the whole gang was there. Guess that idea of laying down some hay to keep the mountain from washing away was not so good. Or, is that the rancher’s area to feed these cows? Either way, pretty insane to see……….John Blinkenburg commented…It is a common, used, just like you said, to prevent erosion. The hay attracts the cattle, the cattle both use their hoofs to stomp the hay into the fresh soil and in the process fertilize the soil. After a little rain that hillside will be green with new grass and, hopefully, if all goes as planned, the hillside will again become stable. Plus, cattle work cheap.
AND..a drive thru the Globe cemetery . ..This town like many we have seen on our travels is a modern ghost town.
We left Apache Gold today for Las Cruses…
We are comfortably parked, spread out and hooked up on a patch of gravely dirt in Las Cruces for a couple days. Love to be in the land of incorporating green chilies on every meal, with a side of fresh tortillas to go with and within bike ride to old Mesilla, a well preserved adobe Presidio located right along the old El Camino Real trail.
Yesterday we were reunited again with our old “friend” Interstate 10 for half of the trip. I still recognize her bad acne of pot holes and patched sections, and the never ending mind numbing clickety, clickety clack of it’s uneven cracked and bandaged backside. How much longer can she can survive like that? It is questionable.
I’m sure she jiggled several important screws loose in the bus that will create havoc for us down the road elsewhere and definitely she created several new noises that are already plaguing our zeroing-in skills for their location. We temporarily sufficed with stuffing cotton balls and folded pieces of paper in cracks and crannies as we rolled down the cracked highway hoping to resolve the annoying new noises. We look a bit like a wounded warrior with her, Interstate 10, to thank for it.
One thing we noticed with even more concern than the last trip across the country and what’s becoming a common sight, is the great swath of modern day ghost towns and down right poverty sprinkled along our countries back roads. When did it become common to live in decrepit motor homes with trash and relics spewed everywhere? It’s like many have given up. It’s eye opening and sad.
We are taking as many back roads as humanly possible on this trip. Why? We want to see how people live even though it takes longer. We are sick of looking at the chain stores and chain restaurants, the stucco look alike strip malls and less likely to encounter the big rigs that practically blow you off the roadside as they rumble by on impossible schedules to get to the next delivery location.
We passed loads and loads (in my mind) of photo opportunities to capture this changing look of the land, of sad empty deteriorating “homesteads”, gas stations, cafes, motels, because, of course, you can’t stop in this big rig without major consequences, that being: impossible to turn around, impossible to stop in time or find a place to park off the road that is big enough, but we have the mental pictures to remember them by. Larry says that is why we have this thing, park it, make home base for a couple days, and explore by, the more flexible, car. So we will.
Monday, Feb 27
We took a long drive today back the way we came to Deming, a small town that we thought might be interesting…not much there unless you come for the duck races.
A little stop along the old Butterfield Stage Route and then travel along the Old West Highway.
We decided to head to Hatch for Lunch. The drive is out in no mans land except for big wind farms and solar farms. We heard about a pace called Sparkies that is famous. It was closed, but looked like it would be interesting. Guess it has all kinds of Stuff…Here is what we saw outside.
Red or Green Chilie everything!
Green Chilie Sundae, Green Chilie Burger, Green Chilie Wontons, Green Chilie Vodka, Green Chilie Bloody Mary, Green Chile Margarita, Filthy Dirty Green Chilie Martini, Green Chilie Lasagne, Green Chilie Tortellin with Green Chilie Alfredo, Green Chilie Hummus, Green Chilie Beer, Red and Green Chilie Pizza, Green Chilie Chicken Spring Rolls, Green Chilie chicken Wings, Green Chilie popcorn, Green Chilie Pistachios and Pecans, Green Chilie Pistachio Chocolate Bar, Green Chilie Shake, Green Chilie Jerky, Green and Red Chilie Potato Chips, Green Chilie Marmalade, and last but not least, Green Chilie Wine!
They actually all sound really good to me.
On the way back we took the side road and came across a field of Red Chilies..I have never seen so many and the Western Blue Birds like them too!
Glad we decided to stay an extra day as BIG wind storm came thru…50 mph winds and so much dust you could not see more than a mile. Took the oportunity to have the tires changed on the GMC. I do not want problems while towing that.
We are now heading to South Monticello Camp ground for 3 nights. A place Jayne has always wanted to come back to. Its about 70 miles north and on a plateau on the Rio Grand River. Its a State park.
We bought a Go Pro..be interesting to see how that works today. Going to try the Time Laps function.
Arrived in Indio with no issues. Great to be in civilazition!
This is a first class resort! ….Home for the next few weeks
Drove around this afternoon to see what has changed since our last visit 2 years ago. A few place have gone out of business, a few new buildings, but overall , the same.
Put the Hummingbird feeders up!
We love it here at this place. It is amazing. They have a mile of waterways and an 18 hole golf course, restaurant, tennis courts, large pool and spa. The landscaping is quite nice. It is gated. All the spaces are large with most having views of the waterway or the golf course. They had a big outdoor party last night with a singer that sounded like Frank Sinatra out by the pool area with fire pits and pot lot if you wanted and a couple very fancy motor coaches on display.
This is probably the best and most upscale motor coach resort in the world. Quite a contrast from some of the places we’ve been. Everyone rides around on golf carts, fancy ones that look like Rolls Royces or Cadilacs, mini sized of course. The restaurant is amazing with large bar area that overlooks everything. Some people also have little concrete dock pads with boats and we’ve seen them floating around at cocktail hour and/or ride to the restaurant where they can dock for dinner.
Most of the RV spaces have been individually built out with cabanas and casitas, with outdoor cooking areas, jacuzzi’s mini bars and elaborate landscaping. It’s amazing how much they can design and put on these lots. Can’t tell you how many Mercedes, BMWs, etc parked by their coaches plus other toys. There are wild birds galore also, hummingbirds, egrets, herons cormorants, kingfishers, and more. There are views almost 360 degrees of the heavily snow covered mountains which are breathtaking. Usually they are brown desert mountains but with all the rain and cold weather they have had, the mountains are just covered in snow on top and fuzzy green on the bottom.
We are close to shops and restaurants and activities. So pretty nice. I will hate to leave. We’ve been enjoying all our old haunts for meals. It’s been a good break and rest and nice not to have to cook all the time. I love that you can actually get some healthy things to eat and tastes good. People coming here demand it I guess so we are taking advantage. I got a kick out of one restaurant offering gluten free and antioxidant salads. We’ve been working off lunches by riding the bikes and looking at all the motor coaches and their pads. A lot of the coaches here cost over a million to a million and a half, maybe more? We are the paupers I guess but I don’t care. Who in the hell would put that much money into one of these things?
Even got someone coming to wash the coach, detail the car, and dropping the clothes off at an actual dry cleaner! OMG! I forget how much we do without living on the island and what a treat some of these small things are. One thing though, everyone looks great and has great clothes and I still look dumpy. Got pulled into a shop on El Paseo on a rainy day, claiming they had a miracle cream to take away the wrinkles. Yeah sure. During a weak moment I let them put the cream on one eye only and guess what it worked! Didn’t buy any though,… ..who wants to bother with that everyday?
We have spent 4 weeks here, how time flys. Jayne got Her eyes checked…did NOT need cataract surgery ! Also had that nerve fixed in Her foot that has been hurting for years.
Its been fun…we have ridden our bikes all over this place…9 miles round trip to La Quinta for a muffin and up to the French Bakery at Washington and 111 for breakfast..
There was one lot for sale that we really fell for..a great view and more space between coaches. We went back and forth on whether to buy it or not. Finally, we came to our senses and decided not to. We can come back and rent for a month in the winter when ever we want.
A visit the doctor to have the stitches removed from Jaynes foot…time to move on
Up 95 from Yuma is the famious Qusrtzite. Out in the desert with 1000s of RV all around on the BLM land.
As we got closer to Quartzite we began to see cluters of RVs We chose to stay at a Park about 13 miles East, Desert Gold.
You never know what they are really like, but this one is nice. Great Wi Fi and nice gravel pull thu.
Watched Pres Trump get swarn in…just about 1 minute before, the power went out..somehow the inverter did not kick in as it should and the TV receiver went dead…what a disaster! Jayne was panic stricken, got the wifi up so she could watch on the computer. For some reason , the receiver took longer than normal to reboot. Finaly, it came back just in time for Trumps speach.
Been raining on and off today. We drove into Quartzite and looked around. What a zoo! I guess so many RVs come here for the winter and all kinds of “SHOPS” sprout up. Most are junk…..
We drove thru one of the camp grounds on BLM land..
Today is the opening of the RV show….Jayne has been very tolerant. We arrived about 10am and found a $5 parking place. Not a lot of RV dealers, but a huge tent of stuff..tent was maybe 100 yards long and basicly 4 rows. It was packed! Was very hard to even walk. Not really fun if you wanted to stop and look at something. There was nothing really new. Lots LED vendors..kitchen vendors ….rags and glue.
After walking the tent we went out side to all the tents ….100’s…one area has the rows A to Z. We did Z down to about L and decided that was enough. After awhile you start to see the same things..nothing of real value.
We were walking thru the area the vendors for the show had their RV’s, kind of like a marina where the pump out boat comes around….we will is a pump out wagon….note the writing on the tank (tap to enlarge)
Jaynes photos tell the story…
Tomorrow we are off to Palm Desert…
Just got to Ajo late yesterday, out in the boonies, close to the border. What a interesting town, built around mining and now trying to hang on by making it an artist’s center and history of the mine. Some amazing buildings built by the mine company to attract workers, many little bungalows are now for sale, a town trying to hang on.
A sharp contrast is the amazing town square cbuildings, some designed by AIA George Washington Smith (famous for Santa Barbara architecture and establishing Spanish Colonial revival) and city plaza layout partially influenced by Frederick Law Olmsted, famous landscape architect most well known for design NYC Central Park. What a contrast, it’s hard to fathom.
What an adventure…Organ Pipe National Monument…not what I expected. In search of birds and wildlife. We had heard of a pond or spring close to the Mexican boarder and we wanted to go there. Also the park service had recently opened a loop road that winds thru the desert and passes this pond. There is a two way dirt road that leads to this pond and from there it turns into a oneway 4 wheel drive only road. The problem is the direction is backwards if go to the pond first.
So we chose to do the 4 wheel path first….ITS 40 MILES.. This is way out no where. We only saw 2 other vehicles making this loop. Glad this GMC has 4 wheel drive as we needed it to get up a couple washes. When we reached the place where the pond was to be we were 100 feet from the boarder fence looking into Mexico watching the cars and trucks drive along Mexican hwy 2.
Some how we missed the pond. When we returned to the visitors center and ask, they said it was about a 100 yards from where we were and had to walk in. I guess we were so taken by the traffic across the boarder we did not look hard enough. Maybe we were intimidated by the big sign warning of illegals and not to walk alone etc.
As we head back from the that point the road run in a wash for about a mile….guess that why the signs say do not travel this portion in the rainy season. For about the 14 miles back to the main road this parallels the boarder. No wonder why there are so many crossing here…just walk across. We were driving less than a 100 yards from that highway..
Yes…thats the boarder! Thats a gas station on the other side of thst fence..
One very sad thing here is the story about the illegal immigrants. We were told this is one of the busiest corridors for illegals to come through. When you see the minuscule fence you will understand why. 80 people died here in the desert inthe last three years. A humanitarian group has now placed crosses at the locations people have died and decorate them as many have no identities and so they feel compassion to honor them in this way.
Also we came across a few blue water barrels left by this group thatare marked by a tall waving flag, put there for the illegals as many have died from dehydration. Part of the park drive we took was 14 miles along the border and we saw how shockingly easy it would be to hop the fence. There is a very active presence of border patrol in this area, mostly on ATV’s racing across the desert. We came across a few in a chaise.
Friday the 13th
In Yuma..this must be the RV retirement capitol. I bet there is 350,000 RV around here in more RV parks than you can count. All out in the desert.
The Palms RV resort , where we are, must be one of the best. Really first class resort.
Yuma….Over all this is just a desert with a lot of RV infrastructure…lots of sprawling strip malls and really nothing much to do. The Territorial Prison is the big focus. The CA side if the river has the Casino and Indian lands. Jayne enjoys the old buildings, which there are not many remaining.
We took a bike ride along the river, but compared to places…a 3 on a scale of 10. I guess we just like the more remote places. Went to a restaurant called the The Landing for lunch…interesting decor…all old photos and antiques of the early 20/30’s. This is the site of the first airplane to land in Arizona ….a bi-plane.
Three nice big Busses came in on Sunday afternoon. All traveling together and all Black families. The one next to us stopped to say hello and was a real nice guy. They just came from the rally in Indio. Said he was getting some teeth work done tomorrow …at first I thought why here….your from Sacramento…then I remembered. Right across the boarder is Algodones..where everyone goes for dental work.
Fry’s is the big grocery chain here in AZ, and there is a BIG one not far from our RV site. Compared to the one in Sierra Vista, this is a 5. Some how the produce was not a nice, seems to just cater to the old folks where Sierra Vista was much better. More personable and great produce. Mayne because it is an Army town.
You can tell this s a big retirement/RV place….just down the road is a big open air market..BIG covers lots of ground and covered with tents in rows. Some produce but mostly RV stuff and all the junk like shirts nic nat hardware. Reminds me of the week end market in the desert. But down the road there is also a big hardware store that has everything. Never seen a place like this..dishes, RV parts nuts bolts just about everything you can think of. I spent an hour just wondering the isles. They did not have a coffee pot I am looking for though, but they did have coffee pots
This is Jaynes take on Yuma…
We are in Yuma for a week, taking a break I guess. The RV resort is “one of the top in the Southwest” and it is nice but Yuma is a pit. So many snowbirds in RVs here in Yuma that it’s crazy crowded. This place must be like a ghost town when the season changes and they all head north. I have searched and searched for something interesting to take a picture of or a bird to see, but this is scrub brush, dune buggy land.
I never did like this area and still don’t. Larry brought me to this area when we first started dating to go water skiing on Colorado River and I hated it then. All I remember is getting bit on the butt through my swimsuit as I floated face down on a water float thinking that if I was out on the water they couldn’t get me. It was so bad that to eat a peanut butter sandwich you had to literally run back and forth swatting the air to keep them off your sandwich. Yesterday we took a ride on our bikes down by the river in a new restored wetlands area. There were so many gnats that you had to keep you mouth shut or they’d fly in. Even my dog knew the area was a dump. We stayed in some crummy resort an Buster immediately jumped on the furniture. There wasn’t enough water pressure to flush the toilet and the door knob fell off on the floor to the bathroom. Larry was convinced Buster would stay on shore by the camp while we water skied much to my objection. I watched as we left him on shore to go skiing and soon he jump in the water and started swimming towards us. We had to rescue him and that dog weighed about 90 pounds. It was like hauling up a 100 pound halibut onto the boat. He was so tired he just lay on the floor panting.
Supposed to be lots of cowboy history here, you know, always mentioned in the old westerns (3:10 to Yuma and others), so thought maybe the old section of town would have some interesting buildings. I guess they did but somebody got the stupid idea that restoring an old building was slapping a thick coat of stucco over everything, even wood trim. So stupid. Ever heard of Depression Era Art Deco style? Neither have I but that is on their list of buildings to see. It’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen and for someone to put on a list of “must see historic” is mind boggling.
We are going to the old Yuma prison today to see that. Hopefully something is left to see there that hasn’t been stucco’d, but I think it has mostly eroded away.
Haven’t found a good place to eat yet. We ate at a place called the Landing yesterday. it’s an icon and been here for years. Loved all the old photos on the walls, but the food was borderline. Larry was burping up he “old dehydrated chicken tacos” all afternoon.
This RV resort is like one big retirement home. They’ve got a swimming pool, shuffle board, pottery and jewelry making classes, and even an entertainment theatre with “big name” entertainers (have never heard of any of them). Also, about every two hours the sirens go off and you know somebody has probably gotten into a car accident. When we arrived there was a crash at the nearby intersection, two old people, and before 30 minutes the tow truck was there and everything was removed, lickity split. So every time we hear the sirens we think, well either somebody has kicked the bucket or it’s another accident to clean up.
Well, we have a weather alert today. Heavy fog in the desert. What? Been supposed to rain each day but not a drop and now fog. Who ever heard of fog in the desert?
Next stop is Quartzite where thousands and thousands of RVs gather and park in the desert. It’s supposed to be something to see. We will see.
We’ve been doing our best to have fun to see whatever there is to see in this God for saken desert area of Yuma. Never liked it and still don’t but did learn a lot about the history that I never knew.
Didn’t realize that at one time the Colorado River was so big and flowed so fully that they actually used to bring supply ships up from the Gulf of Mexico to supply settlements and forts along the river. Now it’s the most dammed river in the world and has been reduced to a kind of a trickle as it finally reaches and dribbles out to the Gulf.
I kept complaining that with all it’s history, where are the old historic buildings? There is not much left except a few rock dugouts for the Yuma prison. Well, talked to some docent at the visitor center and learned there was a huge flood in 1916 (which also by the way, decimated a good bit of San Diego). It was so bad here it washed out many of the old buildings on Main street, which was in the flood plain, that includes the old pioneer cemetery. Apparently hundreds of corpses and coffins were unintentionally unearthed and floating down Main Street by the great flood of water from the river. We found this out because I saw a sign up on the hill from the river, one of few hills in the valley area) that said “”Yuma Pioneer Cemetery.
I couldn’t resist taking a closer look and we were amazed at all the unmarked graves. 100’s are now just marked with small stubs of concrete stuck in the sand (lots of sand around here, mostly used by dune buggy-iers). There were hundreds of these markers. Apparently these are the corpses that were floating down Main Street and reburied up on the hill out of the flood plain. Also when the railroad came Yuma they plotted it right through town and the old cemetery and therefore had to move all the graves and no names, etc. We were also surprised to find many other markers, more current, without ID’s identifying just the date the person was found and gender. We didn’t get an answer on those but guessing they are immigrants coming across the border and didn’t make it, just found in the desert? Who knows. I’ve looked and looked on line to find out more info but no luck.
Did not realize this was such a main route for travelers throughout history. That is because it was the narrowest spot in the river and therefore easiest to cross. So it goes, back to the Spanish, the Gold rush (when 60,000 came through), and now Interstate 8. It used to join up with the Gila River which is now a dry bed and only thing left is a huge iron bridge that now goes to nowhere and a dry bed of sand. This is because a guy from Massachusetts in the turn of the 19th century invented and patented an odd looking machine that actually took the sandy water from the river, cleaned and purified it for drinking and other uses. Only reason I know about that is because we came across this machine, all rusted and bent on a concrete pad under the Interstate with a small placard. It’s still there out in the elements for no one to look at except a person off track. He then devised a scheme to reroute the huge amounts of water coming through here for agriculture, including dikes and culverts and canals and now ta da, there is a huge agricultural business in the driest sandy desert.
You’d think when we were fighting the Mexican American war we would’ve taken more of Mexico, at least to the port on the gulf where the ships were coming up river but no, California would have none of it because it did not want competition for ports. See, they were crazy even back then. Another smart decision from the La La state.
The other thing of note, that I learned, besides the old Yuma prison now being a tourist attraction and mentioned in many old Westerns (3:10 to Yuma) is when they disbanded it and it was used as emergency Depression Era housing and after that squatted by hobos (train stop), and finally school rooms when the local high school burnt down. During that time Yuma high school had a game with Phoenix and Phoenix lost ” biggly” and out of spite the Phoenix school called them “criminals”! The name has stuck . The mascot for the Yuma High School is “Criminals”.
One last note, during the depression, when all the “Okies” were heading West, this was an important route for them but guess California back then didn’t want American poor coming in and they were stopped them at this crossing, so many got stuck here and settled so many decedents are still here.
So guess I did find something interesting here. Just thought it was a stop on the long stretch of the Interstate to get somewhere else, with chain fast food and motels and a place for professional base ball players to practice, and also for desert rats to dune buggy it, rock hounds and now 1000’s and 1000’s of snow bird RV rats, many Canadian, French Canadian too. Guess that’s because it’s so cheap around here. But, this year since the dollar is so weak, there aren’t so many Canadians here. I’ve seen a few here at the RV park, with all their toys, motorcycles, buggies, outside camp fire bbq’s, etc. etc. They aren’t popular with the rest as the French have a bad reputation for being rude. They still stay outside like they are camping talking until late in the night, while the rest of us consider our neighbors and “quiet time”. They did the same when we were on the boat going through the canals, always pushing and butting in your way. They still are pushy and loud and rude, just come across one in the gigantic Fry’s market down road from. That’s another story and that is that market. It is the biggest sucker we’ve seen yet. At first I was so thrilled at all the stuff and fresh produce that I thought I could live in it. But after a few days I dread the trek to it. It’s full of RV’s trying to get the cheapest price on everything and grabbing and pushing. It’s so huge that you are exhausted when you get out. You are herded around in a path that eventually leads to a mile long line up of unfriendly checkers and then a long trek out to a parking lot so big that you better remember where you parked before you get it or the exhaustion after getting out, will prevent you from walking around the lot to find you car. The mad rush here only lasts for a few months in the prime weather months and then this area clears out, leaving empty dusty sand spots and the marine base and less than half staff at the Fry’s market.
What a strange stop this place has been. I did my best to find something to photograph that I found interesting but nothing of any artistic quality exists at least for me. They are trying to restore the river by re-establishing wetlands and claiming you can see hundreds of different varieties of birds. Kind of hard looking up for birds when you have to watch you feet for rattle snakes! Most of the restoration is done by the Chuachuan Indians who still own the hill across the water on CA side. Most of their land was taken over once the guy from Mass invented water drainage system. The indians own this famous nob of a hill where historical Yuma Fort is. The buildings, what’s left of them are still there waiting to be saved and put on display along with two early 20th centry churches, but the fort is falling apart. The buildings, many that still there and could be “fabulous” in an old Western way, but no one seems to care. I looked on their website and the biggest thing they promote and are proud of is the new ugly casino just down the hill by the wet lands. What caught my eye to this hill at first was the beautiful small white stucco cathedral on the hill, overlooking the whole valley, but it was stunted and out shined by two modern gigantic white water cylinders plopped stupidly right next to it. Who in God’s earth would think to do that? So stupid and just down the hill, on the ugly scared hillside is the remains of the old train station and steam boat stop. It is in ruins and only wa to get to it is off a dirt side road. No one seems to care or even have an interest in what it is.
To add to the absurdity of it all, some brilliant “planner” back in the day, decided at some point to run Interstate 8 completely through the important historic area. You can get a quick glimpse of the fort, cathedral and Yuma prison if you don’t wink as you speed by at 75 miles per hour on your way to Phoenix.
Anyway, that’s my take on Yuma. Now we are headed to Quartzite, not because I want to but because Larry wants to. He has put up with lots of bird treks so it’s my turn. Wonder what take I will have on it? Soon we will be in Palm Desert, and nice restaurants and clothing shops, and gated golf courses, and grass! Something green for a change! Thank God California is out of the drought now.
We having been wanting to try a little more remote camping. This is a great county park about 15 mile west of Tucson. Close to the Desert Museum. The is only 30A power and no hookups. We filled the water tank and emptied the holding tanks before we came.
This is a learning curve as to how much water we use over the next 6 days…good thing there is water across the street and I can get to it if need be.
We have driven thru this park several times and had picked out a spot we liked..No reservations so it is first come basis. The day before we drove thru and stopped at the site and ask when the people were leaving..tomorrow..great..Jayne drove out about 9am and waited for them to leave and them drove in. Good thing others were circling too. They left at 11:00 , the very last minute they could.
This has been a great spot for Jayne. She got the humming bird feeders out and also put an orange out. The birds down here like oranges. Even the woodpeckers come and eat them. Good thing I picked some from the trees at the RV park before we came out
A few of the visitors…
We drove down to get gas in case were wanted to go someplace tomorrow. On the way back we stoped at Old Tucson. We had never been there, but drove by it many times. Old Tucson is like a Knotts Berry Farm. It was originally built as a movies studio for western movies back in the late 30’s .Over 300 movies were made there with stars like John Wayne. Its now mainly a tourist place.
Here are some photos…tap to enlarge..
New Year eve was quiet…we watch a couple movies and managed to stay up until about 10:30..saw the NY ball drop…
January 1, 2017
Lazy day…rained this morning..most of the morning.
New project for Jayne..she made suet and used half an orange as a cup. Birds seem to like it..and the little ground squirrel.
We took a drive out to Saguro National Park. We have been there before, but always nice to visit. Took a short walk up one trail looking for an old nest we saw a year ago. Short walk as it was about to rain again.
Jayne is getting quite a collection of cacti photos.
Jan 3, 2017
Just before we left, Jayne made one more batch of suet with raspberries in it
Headed to Quail Run RV Park just north of Sierra Vista. A short run of about 75 miles.
Sierra Vista is the home of a large Army base, Ft Huachuca. Must say they have a great grocery story..Fry’s
Jan. 4/5, 2017
The day we arrived was spent getting settled..laundry and then a drive to Sierra Vista for groceries. There is a Big Fry’s we found..what a store…everything
Wednesday we drove to Bisbee for the day. We went the Southern route which we had never done snd came to a border town of Naco…I know We never heard of it either. Not much there, but the remains of the first army outpost during the Mexican war..
Built between 1919 and 1923, Camp Naco (also known as Camp Newell) first housed military personnel during the Mexican Border Defense campaign and later served as a base camp for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Troops encamped at the facility included units of the renowned Buffalo Soldiers. The only Western camp made of adobe—and, ironically, the only one that remains fairly intact.
As we were wandering the border, in this small dusty town, the most interesting building was the old Pueblo style building serving as the border crossing building. It was looking back in time. It peaked my interest. This building is part of the very first buildings designed in the early 1900’s to accommodate new travel across borders by car:
The government developed a model for the first border patrol buildings and here was some of the criteria.
The U.S. Border Inspection Stations from 1931-1943 were a newly invented, modern building type designed in response to the advent of the automobile. Usually located along the highway as one crossed the international border, U.S. Border Inspection Stations were often the first buildings encountered when entering the United States by road. The use of revival styles for historic Border Inspection Stations conveyed a federal presence and United States-specific imagery associated with the country’s earliest Americans. Though a version of Georgian Revival, referencing the buildings of the early American Colonists is often applied, Spanish Colonial Revival and Pueblo Revival, which reference the first European settlers and early Native Americans in the southwest, are often employed in that region. This station, now a forgotten gem residing in a dusty border town now mostly known for illegal crossings, drug dealing and murders, was built in 1937 and designed by Simon, Louis A.; Neal A. Melick.
Saw a different side to Bisbee area and that was the nearby town. It seems swallowed up by the excavation left by the mining process. People still are living in these little miners cottages. Oneside of town had the shacks and the otherside just a block away had the “upscale” homes. Really amazing wandering through the area.
Bisbee is an interesting town trying to survive from the closure of the copper mines. Just on the efge of town is one of the biggest holes I have seen…a huge copper strip mine..
This shows yesterdays trip and the one we are about to do to Dogulas
Yesterday we were on one of the back streets of Bisbee which has old motorcycles shops and I was listening to one of the old long bearded guys telling a guy to be sure to stop snd see the Gadsden Hotel….and the town is biker friendly…
This is a good UTube about the Broken Spoke
That was our destination ……for today…Douglas….a border town where this hotel is. Douglas is another mining town..Silver..that is decaying before our eyes, but you can tell it was a place to be at one time. The story Poncho Via was in a battle in that hotel. They had a small museum that was interesting, showing the different events in a timeline fashion.
Stopped at the border town of Douglas. Just a dusty town now with lots of history anchored by the old Gadsen Hotel whose famous guest list included Pancho Villa, John Wayne, Ave Gardner, and the Douglas Grand theatre where Ginger Rogers once performed, are all hanging on for survival. The lobby is quite grand compared to the surrounding downtrodden buildings and current lifestyle. was interesting to note the territorial style architecture around town. I hope it somehow survives without modernization.
Of coarse Jayne has done Her homework and we had to stop at the Whitewater Draw wild life preserve and then on to Tombstone for some local honey before completing the loop back.
Jan 7.. Saturday
Headed to the Coronado National Monument today. Not really expecting much that we have not seen. Official statements indicate that it was initially designed as a gesture of goodwill and cooperation between the United States and Mexico, through the recognition of to the area.
I guess my history class never new about this expedition
More here…. http://arizonaexperience.org/remember/coronado-expedition
Anyway it was interesting, BUT the road from the visitors center continues on for about 3 miles…the last 3 dirt to the top of the mountain to a place called Montezuma Pass……from there you can see for miles in the valleys on either side snd into Mexico..
When we got there there were to trucks parked on either side of the parking lot…..border patrol… there were looking at each valley.
I went up to one who had His door open a little and looked inside. A officer was sitting inside looking at two monitors….one was a radar and the other was a camera….He told me the radar looks for movement and then if he tsps the screen where the movement is the camera automatically zooms to that location. He has several chase trucks that he can then direct to that location…..He said it was a slow and boring day as it is a Mexican holiday. The only think He has seen was a deer. On South East side is the valley that Coronado came thru. There is a long boarder fence that stretches for miles ….guess Trump is getting it done. My guess this is on this section because of the Army Base up the valley at Sierra Vista.
One day as we were heading to Sierra Vista we saw a large drone, coming in for a landing at the Army base. I ask the Boarder guy in the truck if they use drones….He said no , but they do use use them for training the people at the Army base as it is the Army’s Headquarters for intelligence.
From the parking lot there is a trail that goes to the top of the mountain…Jayne went all the way up for the 360 degree view .
From here the road does continue to the West…15 miles of dirt road to a small lake and then you get back to a poor paved road. We made the loop and ended up in Sonoita at our favorite steak house….The Steak Out. We did come across this historic sign before we got to the lake
The day had been a little slow on wildlife, but after the lake things picked , deer, cows, birds and a road kill.
Took an amazing bike ride up the San Pedro River, visiting the remains of an old mining settlement, Fairbanks.. We Made a loop up the river of about 4 miles to an old mining cemetery and then on the the ruins of an old stamping mill for mining.
Saturday, Dec 17th
Ever hear of Chiricahua National Monument. I had not, but Jayne had….We started out just to go to Wilcox to see the area. Stoped at a great barbaQ place for lunch. It was in a old railroad car that had bee added on to. I could tell Jayne did not want to go in, but did for me. Glad we did as it was really good!
Jayne had read about this place, Chiricahua, so we headed that way..started the tracking app on our way snd it shows where we were and our route back. Below is a map of the park…thata about a 7 mile drive up to around 7000 feet
The rock formations are just outstanding….they have been formed over the years by weather….the pictures just do not do justice to the formations..
At one of the look outs the sun was reflecting off the tree branchs that still had ice on them from yesterdays rain..
On the way back we came across deer in the tall grass
Tuesday, Dec 20th
Went for a drive up to Oracle and ended up making a loop back on the Eastern side of the mountains. Over 40 miles of that was a gravel road with a lot of wash boards in it. That is really deselate country! Jayne was luckey and spoted an Owl sticking its head out of a cactus hole. See the photo in the Tucson wild life photo album…..The cactus formations were outstanding..and of coarse these Jack Asses
Friday, Dec 23
On the last trip, we were going to cut thru on Redington Rd, but thought it was much ruffer than the road we were on. Today we decided to see the Tucson end and drove part way thru the mountians.
As we drove up the dirt road full of holes, several off road buggys came by. We chased a few Hawks that were soaring above and lead us to a canyon that had runing water and water falls.
Monday, Dec 26th
We took another drive to the Sagurao National Forest East. This is just South of where were were earlier this week.
It is about an 8 mile look thru the foot hills filled with Cactus, but filled with Snow Birds. Crowded is the best word. We could not even stop snd take pictures as there was alwas a line of cars behind ..there were not a lot of birds anyway.
At the visitors center there was this 3D mural that showed all the various animals in the desert..
Then there was this strange animal…
Reminder….tap any picture to see it larger
Sunday, Dec 4
Went down town where found the old hotel CONGRESS that had a great Restaurant. We were surprised to find in the lobby a 3 piece trio that was GREAT. There was a bar where they made custom Bloody Marys. You had to fill out this form and then they make it for you..
Jim..this is a place for you..really great Bloody Marys…define what you want in them!
The food was great too. We will be going back here.
Monday the 5th
Went to theTucson Botanical Garden today and were surprised to find they had a butterfly section. This one really liked Larry.
Tuesday the 6th
Explored Sabino Canyon yesterday. They have a tram that will take you 3.5 miles into the canyon where you can get off at different stops and hike. We road up and walked part way down and stoped by the stresm and ate the packed lunch we brought and had a great time. Found this neat spot where the stream water collects in pools and small waterfall where we had lunch.
Webnesday the 7th
Went looking for a place called Wetlands Park….found it. It is a big water reclaimed area, sewage plant, lots of cattails and birds. We did not have cameras as we were just looking. There is a big bike trail that runs along the river. And wr had the bike so we took off. After about a mile we crossed to the other side hoping we could cross again and mske a short loop. Boy was that wrong. By the time we figured out that there was none, were were to comitted..bottom line, we road 8 miles round trip.
After that it was time to eat..went up and tried the Tucson Tamales…boy were they good!
Friday, the 9th
DirecTV was to come and install a new Geni receiver this morning. They called at 5:15am to confirm. Some how they think the install is in New York, I went thru all that with them 3 days ago…I got an email after the call saying they would be there at 11:15am. Agsin the New York address..I called and after a long discussion they said I could not instsll a Geni on an RV so they were cancling. Bottom line after several calls I need to open a new account…
By now its 11:00 am and we are off to the 4th Ave street fair which starts today. Parking was full all around and most streets are parking petmits only. We did find a lot at the top end for 5 bucks. Walked both sides..bottom line….no really interesting stuff.
Saturday the 11th
Took a trip up to Madira Canyon today….Met a couple from Missouri up on the mountain who had a 10 year old Jack and were birders. Seems we had a lot in common.
Tomorrow we are going to the Toy Train Museum.
Sunday, the 11th
Went to the Congress Hotel for Brunch again..guess this is our Sunday Brunch place. The Trio was there again so We brought a CD. We enjoy their music
After Brunch We went to the Toy Train Museum. It is only open a couple Sundays a month.
This is a wooden model of an old Steam Engine. The tender says BURLINGTON…Day worked on these as a machinest for 45 years. This model was carves with the pocket knives you can see in the left edge of the photo.
As a kid I used to go to work with my Dad and get to run the Turn Table represented in this model.
They had minature setup of all the different model gusges. HO, N ,Ect
We arrived in tucson on Sunday afternoon the 20th…stayed at the La Posada Lodge. It was an old place but nice.
Monday We went to see the Bus and get the new cell antenna installed. Found the bus to be in great shape…I had it waxed and found a few places that needed touch up. They came and did that fast.
The cell phone install was fairly easy, but getting the antenna thru the cabinet was not as easy as I thought,
but all installed except for the amp and testing.yn
Tuesday we Tuesday we were up early and I called LazyDays to see if we could come earlier in the day…no problem so we pick up the bus and headed down to get settled.
We got space1364, a nice spot with grass, and we can stay in this spot until Jan 2. Now getting everything back on line. Got the basics done, electric hooked up and water…we are in..but I brought a new DVR and need to get that running ASAP, you know the voice is on tonight. That turned out to be a night mare…trying to get Directv to turn this one on..3 calls to them and 2 to the installer who put the Travler Dish on in LasVegas last year…
When I thought it was all done I find out the remote does not seem to work or is it the IR system in the Bus?
I did get the router working with the campground wifi….here it is fast enough not to need the cell booster..
Wednesday, the 23rd….getting ready for Thanksgiving….we decided to get all the fixings from a GREAT market that has a great deli. We went up around 10:30 on Turkey Day and were glad we did. We were not the only ones who did not want to cook! There was a mob, and more picking up ready to go big turkeys. We tried Netflicks using the campground wifi…it worked! Just wish I could get that remote to work..
We enjoyed 2 dinners that day one about 1 pm and of course left overs around 6 pm with pumpkin pie. Good thing it was a small one, because we ate the whole thing!
Sunday, the 27th…We decided to go down to Tubac, a little tourist town, with a great restaurant we like , called Elvira’s… and of coarse to look at all the art stuff. Jayne found a little bird shop and we got a small bird bath and a feeder to go with the humming bird feeder we bought the other day. They are now outside the Bus and we have birds!
I had to buy a new pair of cheater glasses and did not have a knife to remove the tag, but need them at Evaliers ..so I could read the menu
Monday, the 28th
Took our 1st bike ride today. Tucson has a great system of bike trails….well they are more than trails they are paved roads…you can ride all over the city, if you have the stamina ..
I am going to load the tracking APP on my cell phone so we can see where we road..just for fun..
Friday, Dec 2nd..
Today we took a drive up to Mt Lemmon. It’s about 10,000 feet and at the end there is a small ski area. The say the Southern most in the U.S.
The drive up was spectacular! I gave never seem rock formations like these, even in the Rockey Mts. Look close at the Satalite photo you can see where we were and the big
canyon were going around as we went up. A couple photo shots…
Went to a Mexicsn Restruant for lunch on Saturday….Just could not resist getting this..
Located near Red Bay Alabama
October 28 – 25 degrees
Missoula to Pocatello, Idaho
Cowboy RV Park $37 with Good Sam discount
Nice stop, clean , easy to get into on the end spot by office. 50 amp two picnic tables, and quiet.
Holy Moly we are on our way, finally! Been 6 long exhausting days at the RV dealership! Began to feel like we were in a surreal horror film, stuck in the dealership, never to surface again. Everyday it was another high pressured sales pitch for “something we absolutely needed!” or so they said. Once we had dished over the final money and got legal possession, you’d think by what they were saying that the motor coach was going to fall apart, that is unless we purchased all the goodies they were pushing.
JUST SAY “NO”!
First it was the “protective finish for the paint” because it was going to get “pitted and scratched and sun faded”. Then it was the “protective shield finish” for the windshield that was going “to develop valleys of bugs, 1000’s of bugs that would gather and harden like cement and then we won’t be able to scrape them away with the windshield wiper!” Or, another scenario that they told us…” you might be going down the highway and get a blow out and oh my, you don’t want that to happen at 80 miles per hour!!” They also told us that we “should really, to be safe, purchase this special stuff that we will inject like a filler” into the brand new Michelein tires “to prevent any blow-outs and you going into the ditch”. None of these miraculous, but “necessary items” were inexpensive costing only a mere $1000 here and a $1000 or even more there. Oh, and don’t forget the other dangers INSIDE the coach! If we didn’t buy a special treatment the coach will mildew and sun fade. “What did that treatment entail?” I asked. They would spray some mildew resistant chemicals over everything to prevent such a catastrophy (and meanwhile I think to myself,and we would be breathing that stuff in an enclosed environment!)
They hit you with all of this (Larry calls it Snake Oil) when you are totally exhausted and weak. We had been running ourselves ragged, back and forth all week to the strip mall and local hardware stores and back, getting stuff like shelf paper, dishes, towels, tools, etc. etc., everything we thought we needed for the coach. We wanted to be ready to hit the road before the first winter storm arrived;,to get south on dry flat roads to practice our nonexistent driving skills in this big Mother Ship. The last thing we don’t want to hear was a high pressured sales pitch as you are signing the final papers, ready to take possession and spend your first evening in your brand new coach, that you need to spend gobs more money and if you don’t this expensive piece of machinery is going to mildew, crash and burn.
We were also exhausted and Larry in particular was tired of arguing with the Service Manager but that’s a whole other story that Larry will have to write about. It was a constant battle to get the tow system that Larry wanted and installed the way he wanted and then on top of it he had to promise to sign a legal waver to remove the dealership of all responsibility if it fails. I was beginning to wonder if this shiny box of metal was going to fall apart as soon as we were headed down the highway in a remote area, heck even in a populated area. My fears were building. We even had to argue with the service guy about the type of enzymes we wanted to put in the holding tank. He swore that what Larry wanted to use was not going to thrive or survive in the 130 degree temps that build up from the road heat! What? No, we should buy theirs. Where in the hell are we going that will be 130 degrees? Not sure even Death Valley gets that hot.
GETTING USED TO ALL THE NEW NOISES
Once we got legal possession and after having managed to say “no” to all the high pressured sales pitches, it seemed like we were never going to get out of the dealership parking lot. Larry had nothing but arguments with the service and parts guy about the tow system.
It was going on 6 days now living in the RV parked in the RV dealership lot. It was getting to be unbearable. There was nonstop noise as tractors were going back and forth moving what seemed like 100’s of RVs for winter storage, and trucks coming and going never turning their diesel engines off, and others like us (here for service) in the same predicament but not as lucky as we to be hooked up to power and were running their generators. We had no water hook up because they had cleared the water lines for winter so the pipes wouldn’t freeze and no pump out. I was worried about that as the days grew on.
I felt tense straining trying to listen to all the new and strange sounds that the RV made in competition with all the outside noises including the nearby Interstate HWY. Little alarms would go off indicating something or other and then the Mother Ship had a tendency to shift position like a person in an uncomfortable chair. I guess as we walked around it would sometimes cause the air pressure to readjust itself. I’m used to a boat moving around at a slip but nothing like this on hard ground. All items were normal but it was a learning experience to figure out what they were and meant.
THIS DAM TOW!
It was taking way longer than we expected to get all the lose ends tweaked but mostly the install of the “notorious” tow system. I was becoming less and less confident about the tow system. I was worried and wondering if the service guy that was taking our new Denali apart; opening panels, drilling holes through the metal and moving, cutting and adding wires for the tow system, did he really know what he was doing. Larry had been talking to them for weeks, going over how the installation should be as they were unfamiliar with it. Each day we expected to be nearing completion but there were so many excuses. Larry would be talking with people one day and then the next day those people were gone and he would have to go all around the dealership to see what was going on. We got excuses like, so and so is sick, or he’s off hunting, had to go to the dentist, then fishing, or had to pick up his kid, etc. etc.
Finally the tow system was installed and we were ready for the first test and instruction on how to use it. I took a small video because there were so many things to hook up and do in a certain order. All went fine and all the concerns I had were flying out the window until they unhooked the car so we could move the van. Suddenly the car’s transmission was frozen. If you tried to put it in another gear there was a horrible grinding noise! No one seemed to know what or why or how and were washing their hands of responsibility. Nothing we tried worked to unlock it. Finally Larry called our GMC dealer in Bellingham, WA and pretty quickly they said it needed a software update for the transmission! So we had to call Auto Club and get the car towed to the nearest GMC dealership. (Don’t you love computers and their updates? What if this happened somewhere out in the wild?)
We were pretty depressed that night, I wasn’t confident that the RV place didn’t install something wrong and ruined our transmission on the car. Larry was up at the crack of dawn to the GMC dealer and to my surprise called me a few minutes later saying it was FIXED!. Now we can GO? So we were on again to get the car back and hooked up and out of here.
FINALLY, CAN WE GO? NO!
It was pretty nerve wracking thinking about driving this big RV down the highway let alone towing the big GMC behind it. We didn’t even get a driving lesson but didn’t care. We were so sick of this place we just wanted to leave. The thought of driving this thing didn’t faze Larry one bit though. He always seems in control and confident.
We didn’t even tell the dealership we got the car back. Larry immediately pulled the RV out into the street alongside the curb and told me to pull the SUV up carefully behind, lining it up to hook the tow up. Larry hooked all the “tow lines and rods” and here comes the big moment to test the transmission to see if that was the fix. Oops not working again!! DAM!
I can’t stand it. This RV thing was supposed to be fun. Will we ever get out of this place I wondered? Larry walked down street to get the mechanic to come see what was wrong. Thank goodness it was a simple mistake, Larry hadn’t pushed one of the plugs in far enough! That solved the problem instantly and we were ready to go and the transmission lock up problem seemed gone too!
We got in the motor coach, engine running and ready to go. Larry unfortunately decided to take a quick bathroom break. It was just a couple second delay that caused us a two hour delay. Larry was just coming out of the head when the Service manager was knocking on the door. What the hell?
I invited him in because the temps were below freezing. He did a little chit chat, like where were we headed, etc. and I thought how nice but not now as we are leaving. But, no, he didn’t come by to be friendly and wish us a good trip. What he really was there for was to get Larry to pay for more stuff that he (the parts guy) had ordered but Larry didn’t want. Also, he said, don’t forget you have to sign a legal waver on the tow.
Larry had been arguing with this guy for weeks now and this was the final straw. We had been there for a week and now he comes to argue these items as we were ready to leave? In fact, Larry went in to the office to settle up yesterday but he was gone (off sick) so Larry had someone else finalize the bill so we could take off early in the AM. Larry walked back to the dealership with him, his arms waving with exclamations as he I’m sure was giving him a piece of his mind. They were gone for a long time. I stayed in the coach with engine running, waiting and wondering when we’d get out of here. I waited and waited and waited and was getting very worried about why it was taking so long. Finally I see Larry coming back with a tall man and woman and I can see him again waving his arms in exclamation even more exaggerated than before, and his mouth was going on something whcih I knew was not good. I rarely if ever see Larry get like that so knew he was furious.
Turns out he had to wait for their attorney to draw up the papers for the waver and then if that wasn’t enough, it had to notarized, so they had to call a notary to come. Larry later told me that they wanted me to come in to sign it but he told them “if you want it signed by Jayne you can walk down the block, she’s in the motor home!” So here they come in short sleeves in the freezing cold (25 degrees out!).
They apologize profusely for the inconvenience but somehow it didn’t make us feel any better about what we had been going through there. We were so glad to get out of there.
ON THE ROAD! FINALLY!
There was no time to dwell on the frustrations of that place as we were headed out in this mammoth piece of machinery going down the highway at 68 MPH! It was nerve-wracking right off the bat as an alarm was occasionally going off. Once we figured out that it was warning you every time you get too near or go on the white line on the highway, we relaxed. It was annoying but right now it was a good training device to keep us in check.
We had originally planned to go to Polcatello, South of Idaho Falls but now that we were leaving so late we were thinking of going to Dillon for the night, a 2 1/2 hour drive. I had made some peanut butter and jelly sadwiches to tide us over. As we drove and became more confident we decided we’d make a long day of it so we could get further south and beyond the mountains. (Maybe because it was easier to keep going than to stop? :))
After getting used to driving this thing, we relaxed and got into the momentum of the highway. We actually could enjoy the beauty around us and with such a big window! You are up high and have a grand view with such a large window!
What beautiful place Montana is. We rolled past vast vistas of golden grass covered hills and yellow leafed trees that gathered along the winding streams. The colors of fall were still in full view with yellow leafed trees and mauve, burgundy and pink brush everywhere. Unlike a few weeks ago when we were here to see Yellowstone, the flat vacant valleyed grasslands which were then empty of livestock are now filled with grazing cattle for the winter, moved down from the higher elevations. Large hay stacks like huge buildings scattered the prairies ready to feed the cattle for the winter. The highway naturally seems to either follow along the railroad route or the slow meandering river. The sky is robin blue with streakd white clouds.
In the distance now we see the mountains of Idaho covered in snow and decide it is a good idea to keep moving. That is now our goal today, to get past those mountains. We don’t want to deal with icy roads or rain with our inexperience driving this rig. So onward we go with our frequent alarm going off nagging us to keep in the center or our lane.
What a strange feeling it is not being able to stop when we’d like. We have to consider what the turns are like off the highway now, etc. so it keeps us moving. We pass old wooden barns and homesteads now abandoned from the 1800s. Rustic farms and ranches with their name and brand proudly shown mounted on their lodge pole entrances. I love this country. I wish we had time and weather to see more of it.
OUR FIRST DOCKAGE
We made it easily, but it was a long day, our first day, to Pocatello, Idaho. We settled into our first RV park and interestingly called Cowboy RV. No cowboys or cattle or horses to be seen. In fact we are smack dab in the center of a modest residential section of town. It is late in the day and begins to rain. We settle in, make our first dinner and enjoy a quiet restful night. No thought of visions of the next day and what trouble we can get into.
Land adventure, something new. Left San Juan Island late October for Montana to pick up our new boat, er I mean, motor coach. Time to see the hard ground of this country. This blog will serve to keep our experiences and memories for us of our travels. Got some catching up to do as it’s now November 12th and in the last couple weeks took possession of this 37 plus foot of steel on wheels, learned all the mechanisms (still learning by the way) and packed it full of what we thought we’d need for the next several months. We were in a rush to get her south before the snows and bad weather hit the northern regions. Luckily, we left Missoula where our dealership was and drove some 350 miles the first day to land our first free night was in Pocatello, Idaho in what they called Cowboy RV resort. The place resembled nothing like the wild west. It served merely as a stop over point on a rush to get south. Next stop was Zion, Utah where we felt a little more comfortable about the weather which was warm and sunny. We were only two hours plus from Las Vegas so figured we could take a couple days and see Zion. It would be our first sightseeing excursion on this new adventure.
Next blog will detail a little about this new, what I like to call, “Mother Ship” and all the crazy stuff we’ve been going through. I thought boating was an adventure, this is proving to be just as challenging.