Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Roswell to Kansas

(Chuck) When we last checked in we were at The Ranch. Some of you will know this is the SKP park at Lakewood, New Mexico. It is a nice place, but I wouldn’t want to live there. The people were very friendly, it was great to walk around the park, it was quiet, but everybody seemed to be in that phase of life that they wanted to be in one place and they were all at least one generation older than us. Here are a few photos of some of the Agave americana plants in the park. They are commonly called Century plants. The stems are just gigantic compared to the plant that sprouts them.

Our next stop was of course at the UFO Museum and Research Center. Here are a few photos of the place. I think that it is a good financial asset for the community. We left Roswell, New Mexico with a clear conscience and a puzzled look on our faces. I don’t think there is any danger that those people will crack the code………

As some of you know, I have confided that I am from a different planet. I have never really fit in with conventional people. When everybody runs to one side of the boat, I move to the other side. I am often times a contrarian when it comes to financial matters, and as Joey Christensen says, “You’re not just another pretty face.” Two years ago, after a great deal of pressure from my granddaughter Jessica, I quietly told her my home planet was Naboo. I don’t think that she ever looked it up, so I think the secret is safe. At any rate she has a grandfather who is from another planet and an uncle who is a robot. Jessica, you have an interesting future ahead of you.

The next night was 25 April, Santa Rosa State Park, NM BD NAC $10.00 (N 35.03588 W104.68922) 4830’. The NAC means that there was no air card. It is amazing how a person gets accustomed to having internet access and if we are in a spot without it we feel deprived. We feel the same about cell phones. We like them and want to have them available. I am around people who are on vacation and they complain about their phone ringing. I tell them to turn it off. Sometimes life is just too simple. The next night was spent in Liberal, Kansas. It was a Wal-Mart stop and that was the fourth time we have done that. It is not a regular part of our travels, but sometimes it seems to fit in. 26 April, Liberal, KS, Wal-Mart FB (N37.06648 W100.91877) 2980’
That brings us to today, Melvern, KS, Arrow Rock CG, COE FB (N 38.48923 W095.76115) 1050’. Last nights stay was one of the quietest of the last week. We are in a Corp of Engineers Campground that is not open for the season yet. It is a beautiful spot on a lake and we are the only ones here. There are no services turned on yet, so it is FB (Free Boondocking) and it is glorious. The sun is shining and the birds are singing. We will leave here today and travel to Jan’s sister in Lansing, KS. That will be one of our last stops before our stay at the farm in Iowa. We will be there until the first of July and it will be a good time for Jan to be with her parents who are in their 80s and 90s. At this time they live in their own house and will enjoy the time with Jan and I. We're also looking forward to spending time with each of our sons and families. Happy Trails …. Chuck and Jan

Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24, 2009

(Jan) We spent a very pleasant Sunday and Monday morning at the BH site. I had gotten sunburned on Saturday so Chuck made several leisurely strolls out rockhounding while I beaded and read in the rig. Monday afternoon we arrived at the SKP Park - Dream Catcher RV in Deming NM. It’s a nice RV park a great stop over for those of us traveling east and west. We picked up our mail that we had sent General Delivery to Deming and got the wash done. Our new neighbors had pulled in about the same time we did, so we had a fun visit with them and then made a run to Walmart. Notice the enormous white blooms on the Yucca plant in the photos. Beautiful!
The next morning we enjoyed the Breakfast Buffet at the Holiday Inn next door. Fabulous! Fresh fruit, made-to-order omelets and as much bacon as I could eat! And of course, on Chuck’s plate there was also fluffy biscuits and gravy with sausage. All very good! We traveled south to visit Rockhound State Park and the Springs Picnic area after that. Hiking in the springs area on a steep abandoned road helped us walk off a little of that wonderful breakfast. It had quite a view of Deming to the north. The road to get to the Springs area was a 17% grade!

The temps in Deming this time of year are in the 90’s so we took advantage of the swimming pool next door which comes as part of the RV park package. Can you say COLD!? The water was very cold but invigorating! We splashed around for awhile, sat in the sun to catch our breath and then went in again. Our body temps were down after that so our evening walk around the park felt good.
(Chuck) We left Dream Catcher RV Park in Deming , NM Wednesday. Our destination was Carlsbad Caverns . We have not visited the caverns and it was on our list. The road took us through El Paso , Texas. At one point the road is next to the Rio Grande River and you can look directly into Ciudad Juarez , Mexico . The streets are dirt and narrow and it seems to be an unorganized assembly of buildings. On top of that, it is a border town with a horrible attraction of drugs and drug criminals who desire to bring their goods into the USA for sale. We provide the market and it heaps loads of misery upon both sides of the border.In any event, we journeyed on and stayed the night at Guadalupe Mountains National Park . It is a picturesque mountain range on the plains. It offers a variety of mountain hikes and it features the highest point in the State of Texas at 8749 feet elevation. We stayed in Pine Springs Campground. It was nothing more than a blacktop parking lot with lines drawn for camping spaces. Our site was at the edge of the campground and we were rewarded with a killer view.
As usual, we met another slice of Americana on our travels. Parked next to us were Robert and Cyndi. They are traveling the US with their four children ages 5 through 12. They are loving life and providing a great home schooling experience for their children. We wish them the best and look forward to hearing of their successes in the future.

On Thursday we drove up to the Carlsbad Caverns and toured the cave. We entered the Natural Entrance where the caverns were first discovered. It was a one mile journey down a winding path, switch backs many times, through large rooms and small walk ways down 750 feet to the central elevator area that takes you back up to the visitors center. From that central area we walked the Big Room 1.3 mile trail. What incredible stalagtites, stalagmites and 'popcorn' features, all at a constant 56 degrees. The colors were not as vivid as I expected, but it was simply the best cave experience that we have had. The following pofessional pictures are from the National Park website.

Highway 285 took us North and we stopped for our first visit to The Ranch SKP park in Lakewood New Mexico . The temperature was over 90 degrees today and it seemed necessary to use the air conditioner. This is the first time that we have been plugged into shore power since the 29th of March. That would be 25 days. We are dedicated boondockers and I kind of hated to break the non-electricity streak, but the AC sure feels good. We will stay the night here and tomorrow find our destiny in Roswell , New Mexico . This is one of the foremost sites of UFO investigation and I am looking forward to having a near normal experience. So unless you see us on the Sci Fi channel, we will report back a few days from now. Happy Trails…
(Jan) A Footnote - I want to wish my husband and the best traveling companion ever a very Happy 60th Birthday. He's a loving man and my rock!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Safford, AZ

(Chuck) This part of SouthEast Arizona is marginal ranch and mostly dedicated desert country. When the wind blows it keeps you inside. We spent two days holed up just outside of Safford waiting for the wind to subside. There is a little piece of BLM that we called home at (N32.79393 W109.59303) 3120’. Our goal was the Hot Well Dunes Recreation site which is about twenty miles south east of Safford. There is a hard surfaced road and it was a pleasant drive. We found a primitive place to park and we were fairly close to another couple who we had briefly met by Safford. We had happy hour with fellow Escapees, Stan and Debbie Van Kleeck. They also grew up in Iowa and we enjoyed their company for a day. Also next to us was Pearl Grissom. Pearl is from California and is also on a quest to see this country as her time allows.

We went to the Hot Well area to experience the Hot Springs that are relatively common in the SouthWest. We took a turn in the relatively small confines of the “tub.” I think it was not as we had imagined and the whole hot springs experience did not seem to excite us as we had thought. I imagine we will give it another try someday. While we had Pearl over to our rig for breakfast one morning, she described a neat place to us that caught our attention. It is called Black Hills Rockhound Area. It is only about 25 miles from where we were and it soom became our destination. This is our second night here and it fits the bill as one of the most quiet places we have found, There is not a person within several miles. There is no highway noise, and the stars in the night sky will overwhelm you with their beauty.

The primary source of excitement is the Fire Agate. We came in here without any knowledge of this mineral. What I know comes from two very helpful prospectors and what I have found on the web. At first it seemed that there were huge amounts of agate on the surface of the ground. It was beautiful and white. We were puzzeled and couldn’t figure why it seemed so easy. Then it seems the common white isn’t what we were looking for. After three hikes into the area we did find some interesting pieces. I need to get parked next to a serious rockhound to see if we have any keepers. I suspect we do, but I know we have several pounds of white agate that I think is beautiful, however probably worthless.

With or without the Fire Agate excitement this is a very beautiful place to spend a few days or lifetimes. We are so very fortunate to be able to live in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Today we hiked the area, and this afternoon we toured the 25 mile Black Hills Back Country Byway Road , It is a nice scenic drive through the local mountains to Clifton , AZ. We went to church in Clifton and then drove back down highway 191 to our rig. Tomorrow promises to be another great adventure for us. We can be rockhounds for a few days, and then once again go down the road for another adventure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On the Move in AZ

(Jan) Friday evening Chuck and I went to Good Friday services at Payson; very lovely and the music was heart rending.

We came home to more pick-ups, people and dogs with one rig parked right next to ours with a big contractor generator running. We had just enough room to get our pick-up in next to our rig and had to walk through dog doo-doo to get to our door. All this in a huge area with plenty of room to spread out! Ah, the joys of Boondocking.

On Saturday we headed down to beautiful Lake Roosevelt and stayed at Cholla CG. It was rainy on Saturday but Sunday the sun came out and it was a lovely day. We went to Mass at St.Theresa’s Chapel for Easter Sunday services. The chairs were set outside in a small yard under a big tree with flowers blooming around the walk and friendly community in attendance.

We stayed three days there and went to the visitors center, went down to the dam and bridge area and up to the Tonto Cliff Dwellings again. We saw a rare crested saguaro on the hill side off to the right of the visitors center as you face the dwellings. We also took long walks and enjoyed all of the different cactus and flowers that are blooming. My favorite is the Apricot Globe Mallow. This time of year they are coloring the hills along with the yellow brittle bush. Many of the cactus are beginning to bloom. This is a prickly pear flowering and with lots of buds just ready to burst into bloom.
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When our grandson Ryan was here, he wanted to see the ‘usual’ saguaro cactus with an arm on each side. This area has many saguaro but we had to keep looking to find the right one for Ryan. It’s amazing how many branches some of the saguaro have!

Yesterday we headed SW to the Safford area. We’re boondocking at N32.79393 W109.59303 - 3120 feet elevation. Today we will head down to the Hot Well Dunes Recreation area.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rye - Part II

(Chuck) My buddy Dean Sheeley turned 62 years old a couple weeks ago and on his birthday he took the time to purchase his America the Beautiful / Senior Pass. It is a great deal for a person who may want to visit National Parks and other Federal facilities. This photo is of Dean using his pass for the first time at the Tonto National Monument which is a few miles south of where we are staying.

(Jan) Dean made reservations for us to take a guided tour to the Upper Tonto Ruins on Monday morning. The ruins were home to the Salado culture from 1150 to 1450. Our mile and a half hike took us through a riparian area, stepping on rocks as we followed a small stream and then up a switchback path with 600 feet elevation gain. From the ruins we had a beautiful view of Roosevelt Lake. Our guide talked about the Salado people, all of the foods they used and about their daily lives. We were able to go into several of the rooms that they lived in and it was a very interesting tour. Going down on the same path was much faster but also gave us a chance to stop and take a few photos of plants we had learned about on the hike up. One of them is the agave, a plant in the Yucca family. The Americana agave grows one flower stalk in its life time and then dies. We were fortunate to see this stalk or mast. Our guide told us that it had grown about a foot in the last week since she had seen it.

The next several days flew by as we visited, hiked, beaded and grilled our evening meals together. Dean and Judy left for their new home in Prescott Wednesday after we enjoyed our last morning coffee session out in the sunshine. We did have a couple of Boomer visitors stop by. Bill and Kaaren Payne came by on Tuesday and Bryan and Susan Lavender were here on Wednesday shortly after Dean and Judy had to head out. Great visiting and so good seeing everyone. Got a phone call from Bobbie Champan, too. She and Jim have spent the winter in Florida so it was good to hear from them again.

(Chuck)Thursday we took time to go up the hill to Payson. We did the laundry and found time to carouse around in a couple of thrift shops. I found a gem that will be with me until we get to grandkidville. All the people in the shop agreed that it was a good fashion statement for me.

Any full timer will tell you that you need to find a spot for a major holiday and just hunker down and see if you can outlast the weekenders. This is Easter weekend, the first big holiday of the season. The last two weeks with Dean and Judy were calm and quiet here, but that is no more. This is the e-mail that I just sent to Dean.

Things have really changed here. It was nice and quiet for a day, but now there are at least ten pickups and trailers of various sizes in the two areas here. In the spot that you were in is a gigantic toy hauler with five adults, four kids, four quads, two dogs, a big picnic table, a BIG gas grill, several big plastic tubs of supplies, and a partridge in a pear tree. We may or may not last the weekend. I am afraid that any other place we stop may be the same.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rye - Part I

Eleven days ago we headed east and then north towards Rye,AZ. Our 300+ miles took us on a beautiful journey through the lower desert east of Yuma and the Sierra Ancha mountains east of Phoenix. Highway 60 east of Superior and Hwys. 88 and 188 through the Lake Roosevelt area are breath taking drives. Although the flowers weren’t as numerous as last year, we were still treated to a lovely show of wild flowers.

We arrived at our Boondocking site NW of Rye to be greeted by good friends Dean and Judy. So good to see them again! Friends of theirs, Sally and Greg were here for a couple of days, also, and it was fun to get to know them.

Our nine days together just flew by! Dean and Chuck went out gold prospecting several days; hard work, fun, exciting but this year not real successful. Judy and I plus their little dog Chica went out on several long walks. A couple of the days the guys joined us and we had fun picking a new path each day and getting out and exploring. Judy also learned how to bead! We had fun sharing the past time in-doors and out in the sunshine (and using the pick-up as a wind break) while the guys talked solar energy and compared notes about our rigs.

One day Dean needed to run down to see his dentist in Phoenix. He and Chuck made a Bass Pro and Trader Joe stop as well as visiting a very good deli for lunch. Judy and I took the day to shop through several second hand stores and make a Walmart run. Our lunch stop took us to a good Mexican place.

It turned off very windy so Friday after our walk we holed up in our rig in the afternoon and played Hand and Foot. We had played two games over at Dean and Judy’s with the guys winning both. This day the girls came out the winners. So, tied at 2-2 we’re all set up for the final game. That evening we headed down to the Rye Bar and Restaurant for one of the best fish fries we’ve gone too! This was our second trip of the week; three days before we had gone down with Greg and Sally for our evening meal. Neat place.

Saturday we headed out on the forest road running north and meandered through the hills. The road took us past several interesting rock outcroppings, a pretty pool, and a forest stop for our noon picnic. We also scouted out the co-ordinates for the Mineral Springs Ridge geocache and drove that direction. We then hiked up a ‘hill’ .95 miles and 590 feet elevation to find it! Quite a climb and a million dollar view of snow in the mountains and the valley below.
Sunday Chuck and I went into Payson to attend Mass for Palm Sunday. St. Phillips is a much smaller church than the church we usually go to in Yuma but it was packed. The rest of the day was spent visiting with Dean and Judy, beading, grilling dinner and playing that all important 5th game of Hand and Foot. To be continued.........
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