Friday, March 30, 2018

Preparing For Re-Entry

   My last blog ended with us having decided to spend an additional night (Tuesday) at The Woods RV Park in Montgomery, Alabama. We had been to Russell's Truck Repair Monday morning where they diagnosed the problem with the driver's side front brake and ordered the part, to be shipped overnight from Seattle. We had a 10:30am appointment back at Russell's Tuesday morning to have the part installed. We readied the coach for departure and the 4.5 mile drive to Russell's. However, when I pushed the button to retract the passenger side slide, nothing happened. It's not uncommon for a slide not to respond when the button is pushed - it happens. There are two electronically synchronized motors on either end of the two big forward slides and if the circuitry senses something is even a little out of whack, it asks to be reset.  One thing it doesn't seem to like is when the extend/retract button is held too long after movement has stopped. Whenever this happens there's a red fault light that blinks to let you know there was a problem, making it necessary to walk to the front of the coach, push and reset the coach battery disconnect switch. This clears the fault and makes it possible to extend or retract the slide.
This time, however, there was no blinking red light, no clicks... no nuthin!
   When the slides are retracted they need to be locked before travel. Each slide has its own extend/retract & lock/unlock buttons. After about forty five minutes of trouble shooting I figured out that Suzanne (I'll blame it on her) had inadvertently locked the slide in the out position. When the lock is engaged, and the slide is in the out position, it apparently renders that slide completely unresponsive - not even triggering a fault light. To further complicate matters, the slide lock seems to react badly to being engaged when the slide is in the out position. It wouldn't unlock. I had Suzanne pushing the lock/unlock button back and forth while I walked around outside and inside the coach, with my ear against the walls, trying to find exactly where the mechanism was located. I finally found it behind a removable panel inside one of the upper interior cabinets. With a pair of vice grips I worked the motor's shaft back and forth a few times, tapped the shaft shear pin in a bit (it looked like it had worked its way out a little) and asked Suzanne to push the retract button and... Voila! The slide retracted!
   By this time it was 11am, thirty minutes past our Russell Truck Repair appointment time. I called Russell and was told that they had the part, I should come at 2pm and they'd get 'er done. We were in their parking lot at 1:55pm. I watched as the mechanic installed the air chamber, asking a few questions along the way so that I can do the job myself next time (hopefully there won't be a next time). $560.00 later we were exiting the parking lot and motoring down the road. It was only 3:30pm, still relatively early in the day - and even though we had ponied up $31 for an other night at The Woods, we decided to put a couple hundred miles behind us and head for Fort Valley, Georgia.


   The proprietor of Ponderosa RV Park had just closed the office and was climbing into his golf cart as we pulled off SR96 and into the park entrance. He dismounted and stepped aboard the coach. After listening to his life story (he had just tucked Mama into bed) we paid him in cash and were escorted to our site.
   Wednesday morning we left Fort Valley making our way northeast on SR49, crossing the South Carolina state line after passing through Augusta. Ironically, we ended our day at The Barnyard RV Park in Columbia, South Carolina. I say ironically because this is where we had planned to see the total solar eclipse last August before having to abandon that plan due to an improperly installed engine seal.
   But let's not go there.
   For supper, our first night in town, we sampled some local Mexican fare at San Jose. The food was delicious. Their margaritas were served in large, frosted terracotta mugs and were equally delicious! Thursday I worked around the coach on a few odd jobs while Suzanne worked at her desk. I took a late afternoon run and a shower then we sat outside and watched a little TV until it got too chilly. I cooked supper in the coach, mixed up a batch of margaritas and that was about it for Thursday.
   There is no dog park here at The Barnyard but, this morning Travis and I found a perfect spot to play ball on a grassy area just outside the park fence. Afterward, I did a little light grocery shopping at the IGA around the corner. Suzanne finished up work at around 1pm and we took a ride into Lexington to visit the Lexington County Museum, a collection of buildings and artifacts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries - then to lunch at Hudson's Smoke House for some South Carolina BBQ. Suzanne had barbecue pork and I had the catfish. Both were very tasty - as was my side of collard greens! I have to find a good recipe.

Lexington County Museum

   One of the cool things about traveling around the country is getting to sample the regional cuisine. Every part of the country has its unique foods, recipes, combinations of foods and flavors for which they're famous. We've really enjoyed all the different dining experiences we've had over the past four months on the road.
   We have a reservation at Fort Chiswell RV Park in Wytheville, VA for tomorrow night then three nights at one of our favorite spots in the Shenandoah Valley, Outlander River Camp in Luray, VA before arriving home on Wednesday.
  We're both feeling a little sad knowing our journey will soon be coming to an end. The next several months will be spent downsizing and preparing the townhouse for lease or sale. We've taken extended trips in the coach before but this was by far our longest outing. Spending four very enjoyable months on the road has convinced us that we want to try the full-time-nomadic lifestyle for a few years. We'll probably, in a couple years,  end up buying a small place, maybe somewhere in the Shenandoah, to land from time to time - but we really enjoy traveling around the country in this thing - and all the wonderful experiences we have along the way.
 It feels like home.

Thanks for reading the blog!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Them's The Brakes!

   Our destination for Saturday was Meridian, Mississippi. Having spent Friday night in Shreveport, LA and wanting to be in Charleston, SC for an extended stay (maybe 3 or 4 days) by Tuesday the 27th, our plan was to log three 300 mile days. Charleston is nine hundred miles from Shreveport. 300 + 300 + 300 = 900. Savvy? Clarke Hockwald, a full-time RVer whose blog I've been reading for a few years now, often comments that their plans are 'set in Jell-O' - a reference to the serendipitous, unpredictable nature of the full-timer life style. Absent the need to be in a particular location at a particular time - when interesting, unforeseen and appealing opportunities present themselves, you're free to go for it... or not.
   Well, we were hoping to be in Charleston by Tuesday but...
   We didn't have to be in Charleston by Tuesday.
   As we neared the Louisiana/Mississippi border we saw a sign for Vicksburg. Both Suzanne and I are interested in American history, especially if it has anything to do with the Civil War. My son, Aaron is a history nerd and has an encyclopedic knowledge of practically anything to do with American history - in particular, the American Civil War.
   As a sideline, Aaron narrates audiobooks (I'm the recording "engineer"). One of the books we recorded last year is titled The Civil War on the Mississippi  (you can listen to a sample and/or download it by clicking on the title/link). It deals extensively with the siege of Vicksburg and the battle for control of the Mississippi River. Vicksburg has been on my to-do list for a while, especially since recording the book!
   So... we saw a sign for Vicksburg!

   "I didn't realize we'd be going through Vicksburg!", I said.
   "Yep.", said Suzanne.

    Change of plans.

   Suzanne quickly got online in search of an RV park in the Vicksburg area and found the perfect spot - a 'resort' owned and operated by the Ameristar Casino in Vicksburg. It was a very nice park -inexpensive, well maintained, yards from the Mississippi River and just minutes from the Vicksburg Battlefield National Park. After checking in, setting up and playing some ball with Travis, we hopped in the car and headed for the National Park. We watched the orientation movie, wandered around the museum, bought a magnet in the gift shop then, back in the car, dialed up the cell phone audio tour and headed down the "tour road".
   It was a fascinating drive. The highlight for me was the USS Cairo - an Ironclad warship built during the Civil War and sunk in the Yazoo River on December 12, 1862. . It was discovered in 1956 and much of it, preserved by the Yazoo River mud, was recovered in the 1960s.
   The Cairo holds somewhat of a special meaning for me. While narrating the aforementioned book, Aaron pronounce Cairo as Ki-Row, as in Cairo, Egypt. Come to find out (after having completed the recording of the entire book) it is actually pronounced Kay-Row, as in.... well... as in who knows what. Who the hell ever heard of pronouncing Cairo as Kay-Row? Anyway, as the word Cairo had appeared like a gazillion times throughout the book, it was a very time consuming process editing out the wrong pronunciation and punching in the new one.
   Po-tay-tow, po-tah-tow.

USS Cairo

   We called Aaron to tell him what we were up to and he informed us that while in Vicksburg, one must eat tamales. I'm not sure how this tradition came about but hey, I like tamales!

Tamales to go at Tamale Place

   We took our tamales back to the coach where they were promptly devoured...

    After dinner we took a ride over to the casino to take a peek. It's a pretty cool casino, built to look like a paddle wheel river boat, right on the eastern bank (and out into the water) of the mighty Mississippi.

   The following morning, wanting to make up for the previous day's mileage deficit, we struck out bright and early for Montgomery, Alabama - 288 miles due east of Vicksburg.

   About thirty miles from the Alabama state line we passed this exit sign...

Chunky, Mississippi

   ... and into Alabama...

   In Cuba, AL we changed from I-20 to SR-80, a nice, smoothly paved, designated scenic byway through central Alabama. We passed through the center of Selma, following the path of the famous  1965 Selma to Montgomery March
   About fifteen miles east of Selma something bad happened.

   All of a sudden I smelled the unmistakable smell of burning brake pads. I immediately pulled to the side of the road, got out, laser temperature gun in hand and discovered that the drivers side front hub temp was in the neighborhood of 150 degrees - which is pretty doggone hot for a drivers side front hub - or any hub, for that matter. I called and consulted with the family heavy truck expert, my nephew Nick. Nick has been driving and working on big rigs for quite a while. This isn't the first time I've had to call Nick for roadside advice. I described what had happened and he pretty much nailed the diagnosis. He also suggested a couple of things I could do to get back on the road but, not having the proper tools and knowing AAA (I have the RV card) would tow me to a garage of my choice, I figured I'd better leave well enough alone.  
   With an aversion to hanging out on the shoulder of a 70mph (although relatively lightly traveled) highway and knowing, by way of Google, there was a Citgo station 1.5 miles further up the road, I creeped along the shoulder at 5mph to the gas station's large gravel parking lot. Once again, I got out to check the status of the offending wheel. It was literally sizzling. I could hear it. We sat, gathering our thoughts for a few minutes. I knew we would have to be towed but had to decide if it was wiser to return to Selma, which was fifteen miles behind us, or continue on to Montgomery, thirty five miles further east. Having determined that Montgomery was a larger city with a greater number of possible repair facilities, we opted for Montgomery. I began searching for and making calls to truck repair shops. It being a Sunday, all I got were voicemails. Finally, a real live person answered at Russell Truck Center! Cliff assured me they could make the necessary repair and that I should have the coach towed to his shop. 
   I called AAA. About five hours and several phone conversations with AAA and the towing service later (Ugh!), a technician arrived. Rather than towing the coach, the technician removed both front wheels, backed the pads off the rotors with an adjustment screw, removed the air lines to both calipers and inserted a ground-down dime (yep) in each fitting, replaced the lines and I was good to go...
... without front brakes.

The Tow Service Guy

   I still had rear brakes, of course, and the engine brake, so I had plenty of stopping power. 
   I guess it was around 6pm when we finally got back on the road. Feeling like we deserved an evening of leisure and recovery from the day's events, Suzanne had made a reservation at The Woods RV Park in Montgomery. The option was to spend the night in Russell's Truck Repair parking lot. Nope.

   A bad air brake chamber...

   We spent a restful evening of cocktails and television and at 7:30am the next morning drove 4.5 miles up the road to Russell's where a tech removed the wheel, diagnosed the problem (confirming Nick's assessment) and ordered the part. It'll be here tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 10:30.

   We checked back into Wood's RV Park for another night. 

   Oh! I forgot to post this picture after my Dealey Plaza tour last week... from the gift shop at the book depository. When was the last time you saw these?! 

   Thanks for checking out the blog!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

November 22, 1963

   It's been three days since Suzanne left for New York City on business. She left from Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) and will be returning to Dallas Love Field (DAL) sometime tomorrow night (she's supposed to be sending me her flight info this afternoon). It's been a little quieter than usual, but Travis and I have managed to stay busy - and out of trouble.
   Monday afternoon we went for a 4.2 mile walk along the Carrollton Blue Trail, a very nicely maintained paved walking/biking trail that winds its way through alternately grassy and wooded areas of Carrollton. There are ponds located along the route and a couple footbridges crossing streams. It was a beautiful, cloudless day and both Travis and I had a great time. We walked at a brisk pace so I could get a little bit of a workout and Travis could work off a little excess energy. I think we succeeded on both counts.

   Yesterday, after doing some badly needed grocery shopping at the local Kroger's and playing with Travis at the dog park, I got out my tools and the new tie rods for the Suzuki I had shipped here (and that were waiting for me when we arrived), jacked up the car, climbed underneath and got to work. I had ordered inner and outer tie rods and the driver's side CV axle. In the end, however, I decided to replace only the outer tie rods. We're planning to sell the Suzuki this year and replace it with something a little newer/bigger. The outer tie rods were really the only things that needed immediate replacing. I didn't feel like getting any deeper into the job and I'll include the remaining new parts in the sale. There has been an audible clunking sound coming from the front end - especially at slow speeds while turning. Since installing the new parts I haven't heard any clunking. Success!
   I've always had a sort of fascination with the JFK assassination and surrounding events. I'm old enough to remember. I was in the second grade and can remember our teacher, Mrs. Moreau, in tears, telling the class just before Friday dismissal, that President Kennedy had been shot. I remember watching, with my family, the nonstop television coverage that weekend - and that there was no school on Monday. I'm sure I wasn't old enough at the time to completely comprehend all that was going on - but I do remember feeling very sad and I think that even at such a young age, it had a profound effect on me.

   Today I visited Dealey Plaza. 
   Dallas is kind of a tough city to navigate. I was holding my phone in my right hand with my glasses on as I neared my destination - the twists, turns, forks etc. appearing in rapid succession. I made a quick, last second adjustment at a fork separating Elm & Commerce and, passing under a small bridge, found myself smack-dab in the middle of Dealey Plaza with the 'grassy knoll' to my left! It was kind of a surreal experience. I've been to many historically significant venues in my life but this particular one, for whatever reason, holds a singular fascination for me. 
   I made my way to the parking lot I knew, from yesterday's research, was located behind the book depository, parked the car and walked one block south on S. Houston to the corner of S. Houston & Elm. As I turned the corner onto Elm I had the realization that six floors directly above me was the window through which Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy. 
   Dealey Plaza looks almost exactly as it did fifty five years ago. If this horrible tragedy hadn't occurred  I'm sure the aging brick buildings would long since have been replaced by modern high-rises. I truly had the feeling I was stepping back in time.
   Some pictures I took...

The spot from which Abraham Zapruder shot his famous footage

   Notice the word "allegedly" and that someone has taken the time to make sure readers notice it...

Plaque on the outside of the former Texas Book Depository

    Tours are timed and I had an 11am reservation. I arrived thirty minutes early but the guy behind the ticket counter let me in anyway. The entire 6th floor is a museum displaying photos, videos and artifacts relating to events of November 22, 1963 and visitors are issued self-guided audio tour equipment before entering the elevator in the lobby. Some of the more interesting exhibits:
- The hat Jack Ruby was wearing when he shot Oswald
- Oswald's wedding ring
- The suit Dallas homicide detective Jim Leavelle was wearing when Oswald was shot.

   Picture taking was not allowed on the 6th floor but visitors are able to climb a flight of stairs to the 7th floor where photos from the window directly above the infamous 6th floor window are allowed. The area on the 6th floor,from where L.H.O shot the President, is enclosed by Plexiglas walls. Specially made, period appropriate boxes have been placed as they were on that day.

   From Dealey Plaza I drove the mile or so to the jail/municipal building where Oswald was held and ultimately killed...

   Then to L.H.O's rooming house at 1026 N. Beckley...

   And finally, to the Texas Theater in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, where L.H.O. was apprehended...

   For someone interested in the events of November 22, 1963, it was a fascinating way to spend a few hours in Dallas.

   I was back at the coach by 3pm taking Travis to the dog park for some much needed play time.

Thanks for checking out the blog!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Escorts & Coasters

   One hundred and thirty uneventful miles from Wichita Falls to Carrollton, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Clear skies and no wind whatsoever made the two hour drive a pleasure.  Before we knew it our GPS had us making the necessary exits and entrances in preparation for the final approach to Sandy Lake RV Resort (again, with the 'resort').

Check out this cloverleaf!

   We arrived around 1pm and after checking in, were escorted to our very narrow/undersized site. After a cursory visual scan from my driver's seat while waiting for Suzanne to finish the registration process, I had (wisely) decided to uncouple from the Suzuki. Trailers and motorhomes were parked very close together and, even if we ended up with a pull-thru site, I had a feeling getting properly aligned in our assigned space was going to require a bit of maneuvering.

   Understand, I had called three other RV parks before making this reservation a couple weeks ago. None of the other parks had a vacancy. I'm not sure what's going on in Dallas this week that made RV sites such a rare commodity. Maybe it's just the time of year and the location?
   We followed our golf-cart-driving escort into the park (Suzanne following me in the Suzuki), making several turns before arriving at site #157. It, indeed, was a pull-thru site and the golf cart guy pulled through, parked and dismounted and stood watching as I attempted a 'one-shot' entrance. However, there just wasn't enough room in the road to make a wide enough swing - and the site was barely wide enough to accommodate.
   Only after backing out, pulling further up the road, backing up to within inches of a big 5th wheel occupying a space in the row behind ours was I able to shoehorn the coach into our home for the next several days (actually, my home. Suzanne will be in NYC). This was all accomplished without the assistance of my escort. He stood, clueless and without so much as a hand signal...watching the show. I had to jump out once to check on some low hanging branches and the nose of the aforementioned 5th wheel.
   As for my escort.....
These escort guys are usually very helpful - walking around and back and forth making sure you're positioning the coach perfectly and avoiding all obstacles, a downward arm motion with a clenched fist indicating "You're done! Shift to neutral and set the air brakes!"
...... Crickets.

   Usually, the escort-parking-assistant deal is more of a formality. There's usually plenty of room to maneuver and, if I do say so myself, I'm pretty good at driving and parking this beast. This was one time when I really could have used some input from someone on the outside.

..... Crickets.

   The picture kinda doesn't tell the entire story. The road is very narrow with overhanging branches, protruding 5th wheels, parked cars and such.

A tight squeeze!

   Suzanne needed a couple of things at a nearby Macy's for tomorrow's trip so I drove her to the mall. I wandered around and found a 24oz cocktail shaker to replace the 18oz one I've been using. It was marked down 61%! How they came up with a 61% discount, I'm not sure. Now I can make two decent sized margaritas in one batch! I also found a drink coaster with the message, 'Not all who Wander are Lost'.  It spoke to me. I bought two. 
   The park has a small fitness room and I worked out for the first time since getting sick almost four weeks ago. Travis and I took a long walk, I cooked a pork tenderloin and it rained for a couple hours, beginning around 5pm. 
   Suzanne's flight isn't until 5pm tomorrow afternoon so we'll have plenty of time to relax before heading to the airport.

   Thanks for checking out the blog!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sometimes It Blows!

(Click on text that looks like this... it's a link!)

     This is Suzanne's little corner of the coach where, after a hard day's work, she settles into her recliner with a margarita - or maybe a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio to forget about her cares for a while. On this particular occasion (Wednesday afternoon/Acoma, NM) margaritas were served - courtesy of yours truly. I'm the mixmaster.

A still life

   We logged a little over 320 miles yesterday - more than I like to drive in a day. Generally speaking, we like to do somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 to 200 miles in a day. However, Suzanne is flying from Dallas to NYC Sunday afternoon for four days of meetings/work so we're having to push a little harder than usual. She'll be returning Thursday and we'll be able to slow our pace considerably for the remainder of our trip home. We're planning to arrive back in Herndon, VA on the 4th or 5th of April and haven't yet decided upon a route. Although, another visit to New Orleans has come up in conversation a couple of times.
   We arrived in Amarillo, Texas around 6pm last night. It had been very windy all day, which made the 320 miles behind the wheel even more tiring. The wind was from the southwest, hitting the coach from about the four O'clock position. I was constantly having to keep tension on the wheel, turning into the 20 - 25 mph winds all the while. The constant parade of northeast bound tumbleweeds made the journey all the more interesting. I will say that traveling in conditions such as these is made more tolerable by the fact that the Tour, unlike the Fleetwood Discovery we previously owned, has a tag axle. Sideways buffeting from wind and passing tractor trailers isn't nearly as disconcerting as it used to be.

   We had a pull-thru site at Amarillo's Oasis RV Park. Arriving late in the day and having no plans to drive into town, I didn't bother unhooking from the Suzuki, nor did I bother connecting to the sewer since we would be leaving in the morning.
   We had leftovers for dinner and watched a little TV. I took Travis for a walk when we arrived and another short one just before bedtime. By then, the wind had picked up considerably. We have three slides on the coach, each having a slide topper - an awning sort of thing attached to the coach along the roof line, and to a spring-loaded roller along the top of the slide. When the slide is extended the topper, pitched at a slight angle, sheds water that would otherwise collect on top of the slide. Suzanne's brother, Doug and I installed a brand new topper on one of the two passenger side slides on the coach during our stay at Indian Wells RV Resort. That slide is maybe 18' long. There's another, shorter (8 foot ?) slide in the bedroom on which the bed rides, creating more walk-around space between the foot of the bed and the opposite wall. The driver's side slide is the longest at 30' and the topper is ready for replacement. I'll be ordering a new one when I get home. The coach was parked facing northeast and the winds (25mph with 50 mph gusts) were from the southwest. It was a good orientation and spared us a lot of sideways rocking & rolling. But that big ol' 30 foot topper acted like a wind tunnel/sail with the wind blowing through it. The topper was billowing and extending several inches - unwinding itself from the tension bar during some of the stronger gusts. I was worried that it might tear... and that wouldn't have been a good thing. Finally, at 2am (and wide awake), I went outside with a flashlight and a walkie talkie while Suzanne pushed the retract button on the control panel inside. I slept much better knowing my 30 foot slide topper was safely tucked away for the night. Travis was completely wigged out and spent the night in bed with us.

     The wind was out of the west by mid-morning Friday.

   Today's leg of the trip had us continuing another ten or so miles on I-40 east to SR 287 southeast toward Dallas. We traveled a total 230 miles through towns like Goodnight, Clarendon and Childress. It's nice getting off the interstate and driving on roads that, while still large enough to allow for relatively high speeds and reasonable travel time, have you occasionally slowing to 50...then 40... then 35 when the highway becomes Main Street in some cool little Texas town. 

   We arrived at the Wichita Falls RV Park in (you guessed it) Wichita Falls, Texas sometime around 4pm. It's a nice little RV park located on the eastern bank of the Wichita River. We finished setting  up and I took Travis for a walk. With all the time we spent last year camping on the banks of the Shenandoah River, Travis has become somewhat of a water dog. Well, it figures. He is a Golden Retriever! The area of the RV park closest to the river has grassy, wide open spaces. There were no other people or dogs around so I let Travis off his leash. He made a beeline for the river (and the two geese who had just waded in)! I managed to convince him to stop short of full submersion but he really wanted to go for a swim! I wish we were going to be around for a while tomorrow so that he could enjoy the water and have time to dry off before heading out. 
Hmm... maybe we can work something out. We'll see.

   Before going into town for some Texas BBQ we drove a few miles down river to Lucy Park and walked another half mile or so to Wichita Falls.


   Tomorrow it's on to Dallas, another 140 miles southwest on SR 287. 
   Should be a nice ride!

Thanks for checking out the blog!


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Good Day!

  Well, today was a bit of a disappointment. Not a total disappointment... but a bit of one.
  Yesterday we traveled a little under 200 miles from Holbrook, Arizona to Acoma, New Mexico. The skies were sunny and it was a great day for travel. I fueled up before leaving Holbrook but not before having an encounter with an inconsiderate driver. I was about five seconds into making a perfectly legal 'right on red' into the gas station when some dip s#*t in a car in the opposing left turn lane got his green arrow. I guess he figured that gave him immediate right of way and he laid on his horn and cut me off mid-turn. I had to hit the brakes and give way to avoid a collision but I answered his anemic beep with a long, deafening blast on the air horns. He was right under my driver's side mirror at the time so I'm sure it triggered a little butt pucker.
It's the little things in life...

   The coach has air horns & a regular sounding horn.
   Why is this even an option?
   I don't get it.

    It was a beautiful drive along I-40!

Crossing the Arizona - New Mexico border

   Our destination for the day was the RV park at Sky City Casino & Hotel in Acoma, NM. I was a little worried about the potential quality of this RV park as the advertised nightly rate was $18. As it turned out, my concerns were unfounded. It's one of the nicest, cleanest facilities we've stayed at thus far...AND... 
  The nightly rate isn't $18! 
   IT'S $15!!

 I mean.... c'mon!

    New Mexico is such a beautiful part of the country. It always strikes me how each State has it's own unique character. The landscape changed almost immediately as we crossed the New Mexico State line. 

    As guests of the RV park, we have access to the hotel facilities. I considered working out at their fitness center but I'm just getting over (finally!) the cold/flu I've been battling for the past three plus weeks. That, and the elevation convinced me to wait another day or two before resuming my exercise routine. 

   So... as for today's disappointment.

   The main reason we chose this spot at which to spend a couple of nights was to see the Acoma Pueblo, a fascinating National Historic Landmark. You should absolutely take the time to check out THIS LINK and the highlighted one above to learn more about this incredible city in the sky.

   Suzanne finished her work around noon and we drove the ten or so miles out to the pueblo, only to find it was closed! Apparently at this time of the year it's only open to the public on weekends. Beginning March 24 it will be open seven days a week. Bad timing!

Enchanted Mesa - on the way to Acoma Pueblo

  There was, however, a very friendly group of Acoma tribal members waiting for us in the parking lot across from the visitors center- one of whom gave us a wonderful verbal history of his people. Others of the natives had tables set up displaying their incredible artwork. And they took credit cards! We couldn't resist buying some of their pieces (gifts for the kids?) and had a great time talking with these very warm and friendly people whose ancestors have been living atop this mesa for some eight hundred plus years! 

   After waving goodbye, we continued along the loop that would eventually take us, full circle, back to Sky City Casino & Hotel (& RV Park).  
   On the way, we climbed switchbacks a few hundred feet to the top of a mesa overlooking the vast valley below. You can see Acoma Mesa in the distance at the end of this short video clip...

   Suzanne bought a bauble from another native selling her artwork/jewelry at the top of the mesa - then sat for a moment to contemplate the universe...

   All things considered, it was a good day - despite not being able to visit the Acoma Pueblo. 
   We'll be back!
   Time to get ready to walk down to the casino for dinner.

Thanks for checking out the blog!



Monday, March 12, 2018


    (Click on highlighted text. They're links!)

     Not a whole lot to write about tonight. Suzanne had a busy day of conference calls. For the three  months we spent in California - and even now in Arizona, a state that doesn't use Daylight Saving Time, she's had to get up at 5:30am Monday thru Friday to be ready to conduct business with her colleagues in Manhattan at 9am EST. She's a morning person, often up at 5:30 anyway, so she seems okay with that.

    Travis and I spent some quality time at the dog park this morning then I washed and dried the coach. It takes a while to wash and dry a 43' motorcoach, but it was filthy and it needed to be done. Besides, I kind of enjoy it. I'm pretty fussy about keeping the coach clean. I mentioned in a recent post that I had it professionally cleaned and waxed before leaving Indian Wells RV Resort. That was the first time I've ever done that. I've always washed and waxed it myself - usually using a spray wax like Meguiar's Ultimate Quik Detailer or something similar after washing and drying. I use Mothers Aluminum Polish on the wheels and 303 UV Protectant on the tires. I just bought a bottle of  White Diamond Metal Polish to try on the wheels instead of Mothers - kind of anxious to see how it works.
     There were a couple reasons for having the coach professionally washed and waxed before leaving IWRVR. During our stay there we had a few days of pretty heavy winds that kicked up a s%#t ton of dust from the recently excavated area behind our site. The roof had a pretty thick layer of dust/sand on it. Also, the water at IWRVR has a very high alkaline content and unless one is able to immediately dry things off, the spots left behind are very difficult to remove. The wash & wax cost me $280, which was actually a pretty reasonable price. I had gotten significantly higher quotes from other mobile RV wash companies in the area. There was a crew washing a coach at Havasu Falls RV Resort and, out of curiosity, I asked how much they charged. Ten dollars per foot (a pretty standard fee)! 43' x $10 = $430. I think I got a bargain with Jose at $280.

     Anyway, the coach is looking pretty good now and I can continue driving eastward down I-40 without feeling embarrassed.

     After finishing our tasks we took Travis for a walk around the park and then to the dog park for more fun than a dog should have retrieving balls. Then we hopped in the car and tooled around town in search of an early supper. Not surprisingly, there's not a lot happening, culinarily speaking, in the greater Holbrook, AZ area so, instead, we did a little light grocery shopping at the local Safeway and I cooked supper back at the coach.
     Old Rt. 66 passes right through downtown Holbrook and there are several 50's era motels - some still open for business, others appear to have been closed for decades. By far, the most interesting of the still-operational establishments is the Wigwam Motel...

       And get this... each wigwam comes complete with its own vintage automobile!

      We drove into the parking lot and I took a few photos. If we weren't driving our overnight accommodations, we might have been tempted to spend a night or two in a wigwam. Or maybe not.

     Tonight's sunset wasn't nearly as spectacular as some of those we witnessed in the Coachella Valley, but it didn't suck.

    There are a few things I would have liked to have seen/done during our stay here but we just didn't have enough time. I suppose I could have ventured out and checked one or two items off the list... but the coach really did need to be washed. And besides, Suzanne wouldn't have been able to come with. What fun would that be?  I've started emailing myself things I'd like to see and do on subsequent trips around the country and have created a special folder in which to save them. So many cool things to do!

     Tomorrow Suzanne's last call is at 11am. I'll have everything stowed and be ready to roll when she's done. We have a really interesting destination planned! Stay tuned! I'll tell you all about it!

Thanks for checking out the blog! 



Sunday, March 11, 2018

Get Your Kicks On Rt. 66!

   We spent Friday and Saturday at Havasu Falls RV Resort. It was a nice enough park, although after having spent time at Motorcoach Country Club, I feel like the term "Resort" is used way too liberally by way too many RV parks. I feel the same about the overuse of the words "awesome" and "amazing". If everything is awesome and amazing, what words are left to describe things that are truly awesome and amazing... like when Yellowstone finally erupts or when my dog learns to balance a treat on his nose until I tell him it's okay to eat it?

                                                            Resort? You decide.

    Saturday morning Suzanne and I had breakfast at Makai Cafe located at the western end of the London Bridge. They offer outside seating and we scored what seemed to be the best table on the patio - with a great view of the bridge.
   After breakfast we took a stroll along the water and under and over (and back over) the bridge. How the bridge was acquired, transported and reassembled is a pretty interesting story. You can read all about it HERE.

     I grilled salmon, asparagus and those little purple potatoes Saturday night and we watched the last episode of Blue Bloods available on Netflix. I think we're now caught up with the current season and will have to either wait for the end of the season in order to watch it on Netflix or buy it on Amazon. We'll figure it out.
    It rained overnight. The sound of rain on the roof always puts me to sleep quickly. I barely read a page in my book.
    We got up early and after getting everything packed away and getting disconnecting from shore power we were on the road by 8am; our destination being somewhere east of Flagstaff, AZ. with a detour along a ninety mile stretch of Old Route 66 from Kingman to Seligman. 

     I took a short video early on in today's journey.

     The skies were very overcast during the route 66 portion of our trip but it was a beautiful drive nonetheless. Adding to the nostalgic feel of this iconic stretch of road were the occasional clusters of old fashioned Burma-Shave signs. They arrived in sets of five and we got a real kick out of reading them.

     Before rejoining route 40 East we stopped in Seligman, AZ. It was a tacky, tourist trappy kind of place, but not without a certain amount of charm. I snugged the coach up against the curb and we checked out a couple of gift shops, had breakfast at a 50's cafe and, of course, bought a magnet.

     I had found a Passport America affiliated RV (yes, RESORT!) online the night before our departure from Lake Havasu and was excited about spending only $40 for a two night stay. After arriving, checking in and leveling the coach I suggested we conduct a connectivity experiment. The woman in the office warned that (1) their wifi was sketchy and (2) Verizon didn't have a tower in the immediate area and our hot spots might not work very well. Suzanne needs ultra-reliable connectivity for her work so I wanted to make sure, before setting up and settling in, that she'd be good to go for work Monday morning. As we suspected, their internet sucked and we had only one bar of 3G with Verizon.  I walked back to the office, got a refund and we drove six miles back west on I40 to the KOA in Holbrook, AZ...where I sit... in the coach...writing this blog.

    We'll be staying here for two nights since Suzanne is anticipating a busy couple of days of work. 
    Oh, and it rained for most of the time we were on I40 this afternoon - and the coach is filthy! So much for the $280 wash and wax job she got in SoCal. 
    They allow RV washing here so I'll be doing that at some point tomorrow. 
     Also, I was down to half a tank of diesel fuel when we left La Quinta. I usually fill up at that point but was determined to avoid the OUTRAGEOUSLY high California fuel prices and was able to make it to Lake Havasu with about 1/16th of a tank remaining. I filled up at a Circle K this morning before departing L.H. where I paid $3.00 per gallon instead of $3.90 (plus) in California. I've seen a couple stations here in Holbrook selling diesel for $2.75 and will be filling up before we leave Tuesday. 

Thanks for checking out the blog!


Friday, March 9, 2018

On The Road Again!

     All good things must end and today marks the end of our stay in Southern California. We arrived here Christmas Eve, took a one week trip in early January to Northern California for a visit with the Napa contingent of the Richards family, then returned to the Coachella Valley for two more months. We had a great time during our stay - spending time with family, hiking, biking, eating way more Mexican food (and drinking way more margaritas) than we probably should have and enjoying the incredible weather and sunshine that makes this part of the country such a great place spend a Winter. 
    Pulling out of Motorcoach Country Club was bitter sweet. We really couldn't have had a better time during our visit - but it does seem nice getting back out on the road and looking forward to new adventures.
    Our original plan was to spend two nights near Salton Sea after leaving La Quinta, then head for Lake Havasu, AZ for a couple of days. But upon further consideration we decided, instead, to check out of Indian Wells RV Resort and into Motorcoach Country Club for two more nights of luxury RVing ...and save the Salton Sea trip for another time.
    We made a few new friends during our stay at Indian Wells. We'll especially miss Tim, our next door neighbor for the past two months. On Wednesday, the day we moved from IW to MCC, we invited Tim over for dinner and a few mild intoxicants and had a great time! He's my newest Facebook friend - so we'll be keeping in touch.

    We opted for a "Privacy" site at MCC this time rather than the "Premium Improved" site we had at Christmastime.
    About half the cost - but still very nice...

    Yesterday we returned to the Urgent Care facility to have Suzanne's sutures removed. Her finger seems to be healing well. I don't know if I mentioned it in my last blog but I came down with some sort of bug after returning from our trip to Virginia last month. When Suzanne had her two day follow-up appointment at Urgent Care to make sure her injury wasn't infected, I also saw the Dr. to find out what was going on in my chest. At the time I had been sick for a week and didn't seem to be getting much better. He was pretty confident it was bronchitis (and not a bacterial infection) and prescribed a couple meds, one of which was doxycycline. He advised that I NOT take the doxycycline unless there was no improvement in seven days. I've been coughing and feeling generally wiped out since then and yesterday, having been sick for three weeks, I decided to start taking the doxy. It may be my imagination but I think I'm beginning to feel better already. We'll see. 

    The Tour chugged up over Chiriaco Summit  without even breathing hard. The last time we climbed out of the Coachella Valley we were in our Fleetwood Discovery and had to pull over and let the engine cool at about the halfway point. I guess that's the difference between a CAT 330 and a Cummins 450. Size really does matter when it comes to diesel pushers.

    We logged 185 miles today, most of which were through some relatively desolate (but beautiful) landscapes...

     Crossing the mighty Colorado River near Parker Arizona...

      So here we are at Havasu Falls RV Resort for the next two nights. We'll be leaving Sunday morning and heading for somewhere around Flagstaff, AZ.
     Suzanne has to fly to NYC on the 18th for three or four days. She'll be flying out of and returning to Dallas where Travis and I will spend some time getting to know the area and retrieving balls. Well, he'll do the retrieving, I'll do the throwing. I'm also thinking about a JFK assassination tour!?

     Back to blogging on a daily basis.

     Thanks for checking out the blog!