Thursday, October 28, 2010
November Witch: the name given to the winds that blow across the Great Lakes in the Fall.
We have endured two days of incredibly strong winds. 30-40 mph with gusts to 60. This storm had the lowest, non-tropical low-pressure on record.
Tuesday I went out to have lunch with a friend. Tuesday also happens to be garbage day. Tom watched for the truck before bringing the trash can and recycle bin to the curb and then brought it back in as soon as it was emptied. Most of our neighbors work and their garbage cans were rolling down the street and recycle bins were tumbling down the street and across lawns end-over-end like tumbleweeds. I had to dodge one that was caught by a gust as I went past.
Our privacy screen was swaying in the breeze but stayed put but our grill cover is toast. Somehow our leaves mostly disappeared. One of the local television weather ladies said her leaves were in Canada by now and I think ours joined them.
The winds died down last night. All appeared well . . .
. . . Until this afternoon. We let the dogs out into the yard for the umpteenth time today and Harley disappeared. I went out and checked around the corner of the house—no Harley. As I headed back inside I noticed a gaping hole in the fence behind our shed. Tom called Harley as he went to check out the damage. There on the other side of the fence was Harley. Did he run? Don’t know. How far did he go? We will never know. He is a chicken so he probably didn’t go too far. How long was the fence section down? Who knows. The real question is why didn’t the new neighbors, who have dogs of their own, say something.
Later I noticed her in the yard with her dogs so I yelled over the fence, “Hi, new neighbor,” and went over to the fence. I introduced myself and mentioned the fence section down and she said she had noticed it and thought about letting us know but was too busy unpacking. WHAT!
About our fence. We did not put it up. The previous owner did. If we would have put the fence up, it would have been done properly. Tom has had to add screws to many of the sections. Some only had two screws when they should have had six. It is clear now that in some places the screws that were used were too short or did not catch enough wood.
Tom and I made temporary repairs yesterday but our drill battery died. Also Tom will need to scab some 2 x 4s on to the fence posts and then screw the fence to them.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Very Large Array—Very Large Array is a premier astronomical radio observatory consisting of 27 radio antennas configured in a Y-shape, 50 miles west of Socorro, NM
Tombstone, AZ—Tombstone is silver-mining town made famous by the O.K. Corral gunfight.
Carlsbad Caverns, NM--Under the rocks, canyons and cactus are hidden 117 caves which formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park-The park is located in northwestern New Mexico, , in a relatively inaccessible canyon cut by the Chaco Wash. The canyon holds the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument--Reflecting one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, the cultural resources of Canyon de Chelly include distinctive architecture, artifacts, and rock imagery.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park--This great valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower above the valley floor. Many familiar formations were featured in many Western movies.
El Camino Real International Heritage Center-- From 1598 until about 1885 colonists from Mexico and Spain entered New Mexico along El Camino Real, which extended from Mexico City and the port city of Veracruz in Mexico to Santa Fe, NM and beyond, a distance of over 1,500 miles.
Sandia Peak Tramway—This aerial tramway spans 2.7 miles of stunning natural beauty. From he observation deck atop 10,378 foot Sandia Peak an 11,000 square-mile panorama of the Rio Grande Valley unfolds.
I know there are other sights to see, but these are the ones that come to mind right now.
Monday, October 18, 2010
I began the end-of-season cleaning on Saturday. I began at the back, vacuuming and dusting as I went. Next I spot cleaned the carpet with my little Bissell Spot Lifter. This is a good size for washing carpet in our RV as space is limited. The drawback is that it is meant for spot cleaning, not washing all the carpet. The solution tank is small and the pick-up tank has a float the stops the picking up of soiled water if the machine is tilted too much. This makes the cleaning process tedious, constantly filling the solution/water mixture (no water in RV, it’s winterized) and emptying the pick up tank.
I have cleaned the stove-top and fridge. No need to clean the oven, as we rarely use it. The bathroom has been cleaned. The tub is separate and still needs to be washed down. The kitchen sinks and counter are clean as well as the blinds on the kitchen window.
I have three more sets of blinds to clean. I love the blinds but cleaning them is a pain. I want to wash all the windows and mirrors throughout the RV. There are a lot of nose prints on the windshield. I wonder how they got there?!
Another project I want to tackle is replacing the carpet on the steps by the door and near in an awkward place by the bathroom door with self-adhesive tile. Tom tells me that the carpet is glued so this may be problematic.
I need to get this all done before it gets too cold outside to work. Tom is taking the RV in to have some bushings replaced on Wednesday so would like to be done by then. I didn’t work yesterday as I was trying to hash out the trip expenses.
Mexican food as I am accustomed to in the Midwest is based on Taco Bell as the standard.
At the Whole Enchilada Festival in Las Cruses, NM, we had as you might expect, enchiladas. These were a bland mixture of ground beef and onion. The only kick came from the “mild” salsa we added ourselves.
Next, we tried more Mexican in Alamogordo, NM. This was a local eatery, not a chain of any kind. There were a lot of cars outside when we arrived so we expected more. Sadly we had the same result. The enchiladas were huge but had nearly the same flavor as in Las Cruses. Hmmm.
Is it real Mexican? Who knows. But it was what we perceived to be Mexican and I guess that is what matters.
- White Tail
- Buffalo (in pen)
- Marsh Hawk
- Boat-tailed Grackle
- Rattle Snake
- Yellow-Headed Blackbird
- White Winged Dove
- Mule Deer
- Great Blue heron
- Gambel’s Quale
- Wren (Cactus?)
- Belted Kingfisher
- Walking Stick
- Turkey Vulture
- 2 Lizards (species undetermined)
Sunday, October 17, 2010
2010 Trip Stats
- RV Miles = 4415
- Car Miles = 970 (took turns driving w/Jim and Sherry)
- Total Miles = 5385
- RV Gas = 588.41 gal.= $1553.45—7.23 mpg
- Car Gas = 43.38 gal. = $116.51—22.36
- Lowest gas price per gallon = $2.43
- Highest gas price per gallon = $2.89
- Camping = $580.35
- Least expensive = $12-Lake Carlyle
- Most Expensive = $34.69-Las Cruses
- Most Expensive = $2.89—Las Cruses, NM
- Least Expensive = $2.43—Tucson, AZ
- Special Events (Samborees/Balloon Fiesta) = $530
- Souvenirs, Admissions, Tolls, Misc, Beads, Parking, Shuttle/trolley, Photo permit = $499.44
- Restaurants/Snacks = $294.82
- Duration 41 days
- Total Expenses = 3574.57 / 87.28 per day
- Did not include groceries as we would have had to eat at home anyway.
2009 Trip Stats
- Motorhome Miles = 3696
- Car Miles = 1920
- Total Miles = 5616
- Gas Motorhome 520.19 gal = $1301.75 mpg 6.89
- Gas Car 75.82 = $208.24 mpg 25.33
- Lowest price per gallon $2.04 Great Bend, KS
- Highest price per gallon $2.89 Sidney, WY & Moab, UT
- Camping = $524.85 (includes Samboree)
- Most expensive $39.48 Zion (private cg)
- Least expensive $5 Capitol Reef
- Misc. Expenses--souvenirs, ice cream/snacks, admissions, tolls = $291.43
- Restaurants = $217.93
- Ate out six times. One time was dinner and show.
- Total 30 days $2609.90 / $87 per day
- Did not include groceries as we would have had to eat at home anyway.
2003 Trip West
- Duration = 27 days
- Total Expenses = $2433.49 (includes groceries)
2004 Trip West
- Duration = 36 days
- Total Expenses = $2668.33 (6 days no camping fees stayed with family) (includes groceries)
Friday, October 15, 2010
Empty the freezer, fridge, three cabinets of other food; strip the bed, empty the clothes closet and cabinet (my side), medicine cabinet and haul it all inside. Also haul in camera, laptop, printer and various other gadgets. Wash five loads of clothes, towels and bedding. Put everything away. Still have shoes and miscellaneous stuff to bring in.
Tom went shopping and picked up the accumulated mail at the post office. All needed to be sorted. I did triage eliminating definite junk and sorting into piles for me and Tom.
Tomorrow I will thoroughly vacuum and then wash the carpets in the RV. If I have the strength I will wash all the counters, mirrors, cabinets and tile floor.
Then sometime next week we will winterize.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
317 miles to home! We broke camp early and were off. I decided to drive the first stretch, it was only about 60 miles. Yeah, 60 miles of curvy, two-lane State Hwy. 127. What was I thinking? There are only three towns of any significance between Lake Carlyle and I-55, but there are many crossroad communities with reduced speed.
I was going at a the speed limit, until the 100 year-old man pulled in front of me with his vintage yellow Chevy pickup. No he could have waited for me and the line of cars to pass him. But noooo. He crept out in front of us then went 10-15 mph slower that the limit for probably was 15 miles (seemed like twice that). Tom wanted me to flash my lights, which I did, and honk, which I would not do when I caught a glimpse of the old guy. I didn’t want to be the one to cause him to have an attack of some kind. Tom wanted me to get closer and “encourage” him to speed up through intimidation—the grill in the back window kind. I would not because I figured when he turned there would be no warning. Sure enough, when he turned—no turn signals. I was glad I wasn’t on his bumper.
We finally reached I-55 after one hour and twenty minutes. In a short while there was a Rest Area and I pulled in so we could switch. After Tom took over the wind picked up and we had strong winds the remainder of the way home.
. . . to home.
This isn’t all. There will be more postings about this trip and the final stats.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday morning we headed north from Memphis. We split up after lunch—Jim and Sherry heading to the St. Louis area and we headed to Lake Carlyle.
Our planned lunch stop, Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston, MO, is the home of the throwed rolls.
Baby bear, Momma bear and Papa bear in the Lambert’s lot. Don’t know who Papa bear is, just thought this was a great picture.
Inch by inch . . .
Foot by foot . . .
I could smell the sweet, earthy familiar smell of the woods.
Mile by mile . . .
Monday, October 11, 2010
Our campground is in West Memphis, AR, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. It is a beautiful spot, but we didn’t stay put long enough to enjoy it. We stopped at the campground office before we headed to Memphis to get the low-down on the best places to eat.
We found a metered parking spot right on Beale Street. The meter, though, would only clock up one hour, so we headed out to find one of the suggested restaurants. We found the Pig on Beale Street and got a table.
We ordered ribs, of course. They were tasty but the sides were lack-luster. We had a little left so we got a box, paid for our meal and headed out. Tom went back to the car to feed the meter and I forgot to give him the box to put into the car so I had to carry it as we walked up and down the block and into shops. Not too cool.
The street was filled with music from every direction. It was a bit overpowering at times.
The Pig on Beale Street where we ate.
After we finished our visit to Beale Street we took the Riverfront Trolley Loop. It cost us just $1 each to get a good overview of the city. The trolley we were in was about 75 years old.
We met a couple from New Zealand on the trolley. They are on the last leg of their trip too and will be heading to Nashville next then will take a plane to California and home. They were very interested in our trip and our RVs. He said that in New Zealand you need a special license to drive anything longer than 20 ft. and a new Winnebago would cost about $700,000.
There is no easy way to get to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR from Fort Smith. We were in the Ozarks and straight roads are almost non-existent. I don’t believe we got any faster than 50 mph. Most was around 40. After several hours we arrived at the park. The campground had recently been entirely redone with level pads, new picnic table, grill, tent pad, water, electric, sewer and a fire pit (no fires—burn ban due to drought). In two weeks they are to have Wi-Fi. This was probably the nicest state park we have stayed at.
After we got set up we went to the diamond field. We brought shovels and hand trowels. Jim and Sherry had a bucket too. You did need to rent screens for the wet or dry sifting. We chose dry. It was about $4 for the two screens plus a $20 deposit. A brief video gave you general instructions. There was an admission fee of $7 per person.
We spent only two hours diamond digging and now have a new appreciation for the ‘49ers. We really did very little digging and sifting in the time we were there, but it was exhausting. We all were hot, sore and filthy.
Sherry and Jim
We kept any interesting stones we found. I got excited when I found a clear stone. We brought our loot back to the “expert stone identifier,” who pronounced my “diamond” a quartz crystal. The other stones were mostly jasper. Some very expensive rocks.
We returned to the RVs, had supper and went to bed early. No TV reception so nothing else to do but sleep and give our sore bodies a rest.
In the morning we got ready to go but before we left we took the mile-long River Walk to the Little Missouri River. The handicap accessible trail was concrete all the way to the river. We took the unimproved trail back. It wasn’t bad, we just had to watch for tree roots. Quark spotted a deer and was in hunting mode for the remainder of the walk.
The local trolley museum offers a brief tour of Fort Smith for $2 a person. The trolley drive gave us information about the trolley service in Fort Smith as well as other history and lore.
After the trolley ride we headed to the Fort Smith National Historic Site which consisted of the sites of two old Federal forts as well as the Federal Court for the District of Western Arkansas where Hanging Judge Parker presided for 21 years. Judge Parker helped to establish order in not only Fort Smith but the Indian Territory to the west. This area was frequented by the likes of notorious characters such as the Youngers, James’, Quantrells, Belle Starr and other desperados.
Fort Smith was a point of departure for many settlers heading to the southwest. Additionally, most of the Native Americans on a forced move, the Trail of Tears, to Indian Territory from points east were funneled through Fort Smith.
Judge Isaac C. Parker’s courtroom.
A paddy wagon
Having lunch at a local eatery.
The local visitor center, Miss Laura’s, is also a point of interest. A restored house of ill-fame in what was Fort Smith’s infamous Red-Light district call “The Row.” The building narrowly escaped three disasters: a fire that took out much of “The Row,”the wrecking ball in 1963 and a storm that took the roof (don’t know the date).
Three parlors (below) with the original pocket doors.
Fort Smith turned out to be a very interesting place. Too bad we didn’t have more time to spend exploring, but we had to get back to the festivities at the Samboree.
Well, there were 26 of us Catholics waiting for the promised Mass at 4:00 p.m. At 4:05, someone showed up to say they could not find a priest to come out. We tried.
This evening’s entertainment was the duo, Pamela G. and Jackie H. One gal played the piano like nobody’s business and the other gal the guitar, mountain dulcimer and spoons. They were fabulous. They performed rock, country, big bands, and gospel. They had fantastic harmony, interacted with the audience and did a request or two. Sherry and some of the ladies line-danced to a few of the songs.
Sherry line dancing. The white blob is someone’s melon.
One request was When the Saints Go Marching In. Apparently some of the more southern states have a Mardi Gras-like parade around the auditorium at their Samborees, complete with costumes, funny hats, parasols, and beads. This was the first time Tom and I had experienced that. Sherry and Jim had seen this done in Louisiana.
Door prizes were awarded after the performance and once again none of us won. This Samboree had far fewer prizes than others we have been to and they did the drawings a little differently.
We had packed up our chairs, rugs and dog pen before the show so we would only need to disconnect the electricity and hook up the cars.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Arrived here Thursday afternoon. It seems most everybody was here already, we were #s 203 and 204 of 218 rigs. We were parked on the grass by the wagon master. Had trouble leveling and moved to the blacktop and still could not get level.
Thursday evening entertainment was put on by one of the Arkansas chapters. The theme this year is Riverboat Gambler and the skit was several acts about gambling and the riverboat. There was audience participation for some of the songs. Several of the group played piano, guitar and banjo and all were dressed for their parts. There were jokes and gags and even a plot. One lady came out with signs for each act, just like in days gone by. It was very clever and you could tell a lot of thought went into the production. I wish I would have brought my camera. I usually take it everywhere but not this time.
Friday night the Mayor of Fort Smith and Chamber of Commerce supplied dinner for all of us (over 400 people). Dinner was fried fish and/or chicken, cole slaw, pickled green tomatoes, hush puppies. There was peach and apple pie a la mode. At 6:30 the entertainment for the evening began, it was a Christian vocal group (eh, would have liked anything else), then drawings for door prizes.
Saturday we had ice cream. We thought it would be the usual a cup or cone. It was a whole pint of vanilla. It was really great but couldn’t finish so it’s in the freezer. After that it was time for the turtle races. Sherry and I were just going to observe but were asked to play. We didn’t win but had fun anyway. As I write there is a large group playing Samgo (Bingo). At 4 p.m. they are offering a Mass. This is the first time we have had a Mass at a Samboree. A non-denominational service is offered Sunday morning.
Have no idea what the evening entertainment will be tonight. There will be drawings afterwards. They have far fewer prizes here than New Mexico.
In the morning we will break camp and head for Crater of Diamonds State Park we will spend time on Monday digging for diamonds to recoup the cost of our trip. Then we will be heading north toward home. We are all tired of being on the road although we have had a great time. Six weeks is a long time.
After our stay at the Balloon Fiesta we had a long ride to Fort Smith, Arkansas and the Arkansas Samboree.
We went to the launch field one more time before we left, but were able to get on the road by 9:30 central time. The drive to Amarillo was a long 300 miles. The trip was pretty unremarkable except for the strong cross winds. Tom and Jim were exhausted by the time we arrived.
We stayed at the same place on the way west. The guys used the whirlpool to soothe their aching muscles after fighting the wind for hours.
The next day we bounced and rumbled along the Interstate through Oklahoma. By far, Oklahoma has the worst Interstate. There were fissures in the road that had never seen any patching material. The gaps, I would estimate, varied from one to three inches wide. There was also quite a bit of construction on the stretch from the Oklahoma/Texas line to Tinker AFB where we spent the night. This leg of the trip was 261 miles.
Tinker AFB FamCamp was small but very nice. It was in a park-like setting with a fishing pond across from our campsites. We were lucky to get a space. We took advantage of the $.50/load laundry. (We paid as high as $1.75 per load elsewhere.) Taps was played over the loud speaker at 10 p.m. and woke Jim from a sound sleep.
The final leg from Tinker AFB to Fort Smith was 176 miles. This stretch of I-40, while it was still rough, had beautiful scenery. The eastern portion of Oklahoma has undulating hills with forests and large reservoirs.
Subway has $5.00 foot-longs and that was the best deal.
Cowboy boots original price $1050 marked down to $400.
Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi
Whimsical sculpture of St. Francis
Our Balloon Fiesta afternoons were free. We were told that we should be back by 3:30 as after that time there is an influx of people for the evening events, so we were somewhat limited as to how far we could go.
We tried to go to Old Town the previous day but there was no parking to be had. We were told there was shuttle service from the standard RV lot, so we got into our car and drove over there. The shuttle tent was located in the center of that lot and we had to tell the lot “guard” where we were going. The shuttle was $5.00 per person and it was worth it. Shuttles ran every 1/2 hour and the last shuttle home was 3 p.m. The shuttle stop was just off the square, convenient to everything.
We headed to San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church where they were having a church festival. It was about lunch time so we purchased lunch from the church ladies. We all had hamburgers but we did sample some spicy soup, which was too hot for our tastes.
We walked around the square and in and out of many of the shops. The guys tired of this and decided to take an earlier shuttle back to the park. Sheri and I continued our browsing and made our way to the Candy Lady. Mmmm, Mmmm. The chocolate covered fruit was very expensive but I bought a quarter pound anyway. We next found our way to a bead shop. What a wonderful selection. It was like going to a restaurant with too much on the menu and you can’t decide. Well we couldn’t make a decision and went away empty handed.
We went into a gallery with hand made jewelry which was very high priced. The man said the business was family-owned. We said that prices were too high so he brought us to a display where his nieces had some jewelry on display and prices were more reasonable. Then the niece came by with more of her work, which was beautiful but we weren’t buying. The Uncle said that this is how the girls put themselves through college. Talk about pressure. But we did not succumb.
We took the shuttle back shortly afterwards with only the candy.
The launch field is divided into over 250 spaces designed to allow room for balloons to inflate. Over 500 balloons can launch during a mass ascension. The term mass ascension is deceiving because all the balloons are not launched at the same time. Balloons begin inflating and launching in waves.
Balloon arrive in various types of vehicles—vans, pickups pulling trailers and RV-like specially designed vehicles. They arrive at their designated spaces and the balloons and baskets are unloaded. Permission to inflate and launch is the responsibility of “Zebras.”
For collectors, each pilot has cards of their balloon for the asking.
Day three was, in my opinion, was the best. Pilots participated in a contest. Balloons were maneuvered into place using wind directions at various levels in order to drop sandbags with their number on to targets. This maneuvering filled the skies above the launch field with hundreds of balloons at all different levels, traveling in different directions.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Ever since arriving at Red Rock Park in Gallup, we have been in the Dust/Sand/Dirt. You shower in the morning and the breeze blows dust on you and your shower is undone. Grit gets in your teeth and eyes, your skin and clothes feel dusty.
Vacuumed the RV when we got to Amarillo last night. We had been without electricity for four days and only had a chance to sweep. We may (I hope) finally be rid of sand burrs in the RV. I am sure there is still plenty of dust but will get to that as we come to it.
We are all looking forward to green grass and no dust.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
So we walk down to the to the launch field to see the Twilight Twinkle Saturday night. We are early and we walk the Midway. As we walk along, clouds are gathering and there is lightening in the distance. We are still optimistic that the storm will go around us. Balloons cannot inflate or fly if the weather is not ideal. As we go along it is obvious the storm is heading for us so we head for the RVs.
We made it back before the rain. There wasn’t any real rain, only sprinkles. We see that they are firing some test fireworks so we take our chairs to the roadside so we have a clear view of the show. Our neighbors Bill and Eileen join us too. So the six of us are sitting there and without any warning the wind comes up. The wind was strong enough to kick up a dust storm and send us running for cover. We ended up watching the fireworks from our individual RVs.
We were lucky to have our awnings rolled up but others didn't fair so well. We saw at least two RVs with ripped awnings and with thousands of RVs at the event I'm sure there were more.
Sunday we went to see the Balloon Glow.
Looking east toward the sun rising from behind the mountains. The picture was taken from the launch field.
Our days begin by arriving on the launch field before 7 a.m. Then walking among the inflating balloons. It is hard to describe walking among the towering balloons.
Saturday evening a Twilight Twinkle is scheduled and on Sunday a Balloon Glow, then fireworks both nights.