Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 8 - Ft. Smith

We are in Ft. Smith, AR visiting Steve's mother.

Didn't stay in Junior last night (applied glue to a cracked shower floor - had to let it set), but, rather, slept on the floor in her apartment. This evening we have moved to the state park campground about 8 miles from her place.

We expect to leave here Wednesday for Donna's folks in Desloge, and leave there on Friday to really begin the trip.

It was very difficult to find a campsite for Friday or Saturday of this week. Luckily, Jim and Linda will be home and offered us a campsite at their place for those two nights. They spend the Summers just North of Springfield, IL and have an extra RV site for guests. Jim says we'll get to see a large fireworks display on the 4th. Jim and Linda usually spend some of their Winters in Apache Junction. Some of you may have remembered them from a couple of years ago when Jim workamped at Gold Canyon. Thanks guys - see you Friday.

This will change our trip slightly; we'll cross the country a little further North in IL, IN, and OH, but expect to miss the major cities and return to the original plan in NY.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 6 - Amarillo to Checotah, OK

When we left Amarillo at 9am it was 82 degrees - looking back, now, that was pretty cool!

A very long day of travel across Texas and Oklahoma. It's not because I'm from Kansas that I say this, but I really don't want to go through Texas or Oklahoma again. I can't get on my soap box on this blog (says Donna), but the United States is changing.

Saw a couple of long trains transporting military vehicles - all painted desert beige. Had never seen that kind of train before. Hopefully, one of the pictures turned out ok and I'll upload it.

We stopped for lunch in Dill City, Oklahoma, thinking for sure every small town has a City Park. After driving around town for a while, we gave up and parked by a deserted building on main street. Fired up the generator to power the air conditioner (it was 100 degrees), and ate our sandwiches. As we left town, we passed a cute little city park - it would have been too hot to eat outside anyway.

Did you know the home of Johnny Bench is in Binger, OK? Well, neither did we. By the way, Henryetta, OK is the home of Troy Aikman. We're staying at the KOA in Checotah (home of Carrie Underwood - American Idle Winner). So, I guess some good things come from Oklahoma.

We'll be at Steve's mom for a couple of days and then some time at Donna's folks, so don't expect a blog update until about the 4th. Oh, by the way, we're having problems finding places to stay this next weekend. Something about a holiday.

Miles Driven: 385
Travel Time: ~ 6 hrs
MPG: 19.7
Fuel: $30.52 (11.8 gal $2.59/gal)
Camping: $22.45

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 5 - Raton, NM to Amarillo, TX

Welcome to Chris and Mary.

We left the Raton KOA at 8:50; it was 71 degrees and sunny. The main site of the day was Capulin (cah-poo-Leen, Spanish for Choke Cherry shrub that grows throughout the park) Volcano National Monument (and with my new Senior Pass - it was FREE).

"It erupted into existence sometime between 56,000 and 62,000 years ago. Capulin conical form rises over 1,300 feet above the plains to 8,182' above the sea level. The cone consists chiefly of loose cinders (one found Steve's eye), ash, and other rock debris formed by gaseous lava that cooled quickly. The volcano's symmetry was preserved because subsequent lava flows did not come from the main crater, but from the boca (Spanish for mouth), located at the Western base of the cone. From the highest point on the crater rim trail on a clear day, visitors can see formations in Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Some claim to see Kansas, but since there are no high points in western Kansas (Steve says there are some high points in Kansas - he's not sure where), it's hard to tell. The last formation in New Mexico to the east, Rabbit Ear Mountain, is visible on clear days and anything beyond it is Texas."

The main reason for revisiting Capulin was to see the ladybugs. From the Monument's web site -

Convergent Ladybug Beetle(Hippodamia convergens)- this beetle gets its name from the converging white lines on its thorax. They usually have 13 black dots on an orange elytra or shell.

Each summer at Capulin Volcano a new generation of ladybugs participates in a passive, or wind-carried, migration and takes up residence at the highest points of the volcano. After feeding all summer, they hibernate through the winter on the volcano. Surviving beetles then catch a warm current off the volcano in February to the south to reproduce. Since the wind carries the ladybug in its migration, it has a hard time controlling its destination and may go to aphid-infested fields near the volcano or maybe to aphid-rich wheat fields in Texas.

During a lifespan of a few months, the females lay up to 500 eggs on leaves and twigs. The eggs hatch and the larvae engorge themselves on the aphids. After the larvae clear the area of aphids, they pupate. Since the larvae usually clean the area of their favorite food, aphids, the adults migrate back to Capulin Volcano to await the opportunity when they too can go back to these aphid-rich areas and lay their eggs.

We had seen them many years ago on a motorcycle trip with friends from St. Louis. Donna was so impressed; she wanted to see them again. This is, afterall, a trip to "smell the roses" or "see the ladybugs." We succeeded. See the photos for a few examples.

We changed our itinerary to Amarillo so we could do laundry. We're staying at the Overnite RV Park. We've stayed here before and now note that things have changed a little. Upkeep is lagging.

Tomorrow, we know not where. We have yet to find an acceptable campground in Oklahoma on our "Blue Highways" route.

Distance: 237 miles
Travel Time: 4 hrs 37 min
MPG: 18.1 (it was really windy)
Fuel: $38.81 ($2.60/gal)
Camping: $27

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 4 - Fenton Lake to Raton

Departed Fenton Lake at 8 am. Weather 57 and cloudy.

Arrived in Bandelier National Monument at 9:30 and purchased the coveted Senior Pass! Very warm in Frejoles Canyon. We only took the loop trail. The crowd was small, but had grown by the time we returned to the parking lot.

As we entered NM we had picked up a brochure on wineries. We looked for one around White Rock - arrived at the published address, but no indication that it was other than a residence. We continued on through Espanola, and just North of town we found the Black Mesa Winery. Cute little area with a small vineyard and lots of wine to taste. However, we were very good and only tasted two. Bought one - a Sauvignon Blanc. Their claim to fame is a red dessert wine with chocolate taste. We tried it and it wasn't bad.

The road between Taos and Eagle Nest was the PITS! New gravel, and not just a little, but a lot. The road after Eagle Nest was a dream.

We arrived at the Raton KOA at 4:20; even though we had driven only 220 miles, we were ready to stop and "smell the roses". Not a bad KOA, and I learned that my KOA account was still valid, so we saved a little.

Plans are to see Capulin Volcano in the morning and spend the night in Texas or Oklahoma -- yeehaw!

Miles Driven: 220
Travel Time: 5 hr 17 minutes
MPG: 25.1!!!! Slow curvy mountain roads and free downhills.
Fuel: Did not buy any today
Camping: $28

Day 3 - Silver City to Fenton Lake

We left Silver City at 9:05 am. We stopped at the Santa Rita Copper Mine just East of Silver City (shouldn't it be a silver mine?). Drove hiway 152 to I-25. 152 is a very good road, very scenic. At Emory Pass be sure to take the short vista road overlooking Kingston - quite a view. Hiway 152 is a very curvy, mountain road - well maintained.

We had initially planned to detour on Hiway 50 around Albuquerque, and spend the night near Tent Rocks. However, after reading about campgrounds, etc., we elected to spend the night in Fenton Lake State Park near Jemez. Should have gone to Tent Rocks.

Fenton Lake is a small pond that is popular with the family campers. We made the reservation on line and because it was made online, we had to pay an additional $10.60 for a $14 camp site!! Upon arrival, we discovered the Park Office had closed, so we drove until we found our site. Luckily, no one else had taken it. And, it appeared to be the only site left in the park. Sites were very close together and ours was next to a large family - they did quiet down in the evening. The site was very dirty and the water faucet was on the curb side of the rig, so our hose would not reach. AND, it rained. BUT, we saw a Bullocks Oriole.

We grilled sliders (we had purchased hamburger at the Wal-Mart in Belen, NM) and they were quite tasty with Swiss cheese and Spicy O's. See pictures.

Distance Travelled: 315 miles
Driving Time: 6 hrs and 26 minutes
MPG: 21.7
Fuel: $33.12
Camping: $26.60 (too much)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 2 - Kartchner Caverns to Silver City

We left the Caverns campground at 8:45 am after a leisurely breakfast of cereal and coffee. French pressed coffee sure taste good at a campground.

The first stop (or drivethrough) was Tombstone. Dusty, touristy, and nobody there!

The next POI was Bisbee, AZ. A cute town, built on a hillside (a little like Eureka Springs, AR). But, pretty dirty and rundown.

Still needed bread, so our next stop was to be Douglas, AZ. We have two GPSs, and both showed Wal-Marts, but in different locations. Neither location had a Wal-Mart. Didn't stop. Mostly rough road from Douglas to Lordsburg, NM. Desolate, but scenic (according to the map).

We arrived in Silver City at 3 pm. We got the bread at Wal-Mart! Trailer Life says that Manzano RV Park is the best - yuck! Instead, we are staying at the Rose Valley Ranch. They gave us FREE coffee mugs (not sure we have room for them!). It was cloudy and 78 degrees upon arrival - much nicer than Kartchner Caverns.

We are using the new screens that Donna "worked so hard on"; very nice with the evening breeze. They cover the sliding door and half of the rear door openings. Has kept out all flies, save one.

The bird of the evening is the Western Scrub Jay. Tomorrow we hope to be at the Cochiti Lake Campground, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Driving Distance: 237 miles
Driving Time: 4 hr 53 min
MPG: 20.4 (and that's with a uphill drive with head wind to Silver City)
Campground Cost: $25.20
Fuel Cost: $46.12 ($2.80/gallon)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 1 - Ants (what happened to Day 0?)

The pills arrived! We left at 10:50 am. Yeah!

Yesterday I said something about going back and forth from the house to Junior to get food, well we left the bread at home! Hopefully, that was all we left there.

Headed down hiway 79 toward Tucson; arrived at Kartchner Caverns State Park about 2pm. We had no reservations for either the campground or the cave. Not a problem. Turns out that most people don't want to camp in Arizona in the Summer (about 100 degrees here). Only three campers in the campground: us, a popup, and a tent. Were able to see the cave on the 3:40 pm tour. Not a huge cave, but very impressive facilities, and very interesting formations.

While in the park, we've seen deer, jackrabbits, lizards, Rock Wrens, Vermillion Flycatchers, many other birds, and ANTS!!! Big ants, little ants, red ants, black ants ... ants. We were able to set outside by the RV and have a glass of Vino without too much bothering by the ants, but there were nearby.

Internet access via cellular service is very slow. I've tried to upload some photos, but not having too much success. Later for them. Tomorrow it's off to Silver City, NM - we think.

Miles driven: 162
Driving Time: 2:52
MPG: 17.7 (got to do better)
Campground: $22
Fuel: Still on the first tank

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day -1?

If we get my heart medicine tomorrow; we leave at noon. We'd better leave, all the food is now in Junior. So, we keep running out to the driveway to get bread, juice, booze, etc.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Start Next Week

We had our dentist appointment today - will have to return in September for more work. My cardio appointment is Thursday. IF I get my already ordered drugs by next Monday, we plan to depart Tuesday or Wednesday. Our first stop is Kartchner Caverns in Southern Arizona. We hope that walk-up tickets are available.

Welcome to Sara as a "follower" to this blog. We hope your job is going a little better.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fuel Prices

Starting to get a little nervous about the fuel cost escalation. A 10,000 mile trip should be about 460 gallons. So, maybe shouldn't get too nervous - just don't eat out as much.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cell Service Update

Visited Alltel today and upgraded our phone and data service to work in Canada.  We now have voice cellular with no roaming charged, and unlimited data service.  The unlimited data service cost an additional $40 dollars a month (now $99 total per month), but we'll convert back to US only service on our return.  It was that or pay $.003 per kilobyte.  Not sure which is the better deal, but feel like the $40 dollars is the winner.  At least I'll be able to upload lots of pictures!

A Walk in the Park

Took a walk in the Park this evening.  Around the perimeter - hardly anyone here.  Only saw one other person walking - Janice Rogers.  She thought they might go to Idaho later.  The only people out on a deck were Donna & Jeff with their dogs (Howard and Blair were indoors working on Blair's computer).  A very nice evening with temperature in the mid-eighties.

Keith and Connie should know that another unit is for sale on our street - a very nice one, too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Blog

We begin a new adventure in a few weeks - a trip to Nova Scotia and other Maritime Provinces. Here we attempt to chronicle that trip in pictures and words; hopefully on a daily basis - internet access permitting. Stay tuned.

Back in Gold Canyon

We returned home today. Yeah!

We've disconnected the DirecTv and have installed Tivo to handle the FREE HD channels offered in this area. Hope we can survive with only those channels?!? Who knows, maybe the Park will get HD someday.

Tomorrow we prepare for our 6week trip to Nova Scotia. I had thought we might make it to Newfoundland, but not so sure now. Maybe.

It's great to be back here - dust and all!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lifehacker Pack 2009

Another list of recommended programs (free); this time from Lifehacker. I've used a good share of these and like them.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The World of Goo

Not too long ago I read about a new WII game – The World of Goo.  Did a little browsing and discovered it might be a game for me.  To give it a trial, I downloaded a demo for Windows.  I think I’m hooked.  AND, as soon as I get home, I’ll get a copy for the WII.  You should give it a try.

Tonight I made it to “The Regurgitation Pumping Station”!  I can’t wait to see what that is.  So, bye for now.  (We leave for home on Saturday!!!)