Counting Down To Blast Off (AKA: Escaping the 3rd World Tyranny That Is Kalifornia)

This will be a short post due to our “limbo” status but beware—-many pictures of grandkids to follow! So, despite the absolute fiasco of the China virus shutdown, apparently Glacier Nat’l Park has reopened (with limited services, of course) and the W. Glacier KOA is open so our original plans of flying Chad & his family into Montana for a week’s run on the Nat’l Park are still a go. With Jeanne’s mom settled in, we ventured south back to Atascadero for a month’s worth of babysitting the two granddaughters Hailey & Ellie. It seems the scam China virus shutdown caused Chad’s wife Crissy to get furloughed from her job, then their daycare was shut down (luckily Crissy was forced back into being a stay-at-home mom), but then all of a sudden she got called back to work in June, with no daycare available. Hence, Oma & Opa to the rescue. They were able to find new daycare (but not until July), so it was June in Atascadero for us! We started off with a stint back at the Atascadero Elk’s Lodge RV lot.

It got tiring having to put up with the China virus silliness, what with not being allowed in certain businesses without wearing a useless mask, to businesses being closed, period, to having to stand in insufferable lines just to get into buildings, but we did manage to squeeze some fun into our babysitting tenure. We made a run into Pismo Beach to play at the Dinosaur Caves Park. Chad, Crissy, Hailey, Ellie, and the old folks (Oma & Opa) went on a mild hike (ending with getting drenched in the rain) at the 3 Bridges Oak Preserve. The girls got some water time on several very hot days in their backyard inflatable pool. Then, we spent a week back at the Cava Robles RV Resort in Paso Robles where the girls got some REAL pool time at the fancy pools there.

And here we are, winding down our last few days of babysitting. We will start working our way north again, with stops to see our daughter Jenn and her family (which just happens to include Maximus, our Gladiator 8 year old grandson) and another stop to check on Jeanne’s mom. Then it will be, “Look out Montana, here we come!” Until next post…

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Family Medical Issues Put the Stall On Our Travels

With Big Bend Nat’l Park in our rearview mirror it was “California here we come.” First stop was for a few days at the Las Cruces Elk’s Lodge for some big city shopping for supplies and stuff. This Elk’s Lodge just finished putting in several nice FHU RV sites. 

From there it was on to the Bernalillo (Albuquerque) KOA for another couple of days. Now, I thought I have learned from my mistakes over the years. After many instances of being misled by locals, I STILL tend to give them the benefit of the doubt when they give me information. Many times we ask “locals” about the area, how to get anywhere, etc., we either get very incorrect directions or the ever popular “I don’t know…” I have learned over the past 8 years to ask the clerks at the RV parks if the interior roads were easily navigable for my 40’ bus with Jeep in tow or do I need to disconnect prior to driving to our site. More than I care to admit I have been told “No problem, no need to disconnect…” only to find out the hard way and having to try to disconnect the toad at a difficult angle. Well, the Bernalillo KOA female clerk just laughed at me when I asked if I should disconnect at the office, and told me I would see her humor as I navigated the spacious interior roads of their park. I foolishly took her word for it and, well, I did not see her humor as I promptly got stuck on a very tight turn in the half-lane wide road and needed a sledge hammer to get the toad disconnected. Shame on me…We did get a chance to sample some of the local fare by way of a couple of breweries, Basque Brewing Co. and Kaktus Brewing Co., neither of which were real memorable.

Moving on we overnighted at the Holbrook (AZ) KOA, then a couple more days at the Prescott Valley Elk’s Lodge. From there we returned to the Jawbone Canyon OHV area outside of Mojave, CA for an overnight boondock, then into Atascadero for a pre-birthday visit with our granddaughters Hailey & Ellie, both soon to be 4 & 2, respectively. A couple of days entertaining the girls at  a couple of local play areas, then we needed to head over to Madera and assist Jeanne’s mom (Yvonne). Her health issues became a priority and required the family to team up and relocate her to brother David’s home in Anderson, CA so she could be closer to medical assistance. Her previous residence in Coarsegold, CA was just too far away from her frequent doctor’s appointments in Fresno and Madera. So we got her moved out, with Jeanne’s brothers Dwayne’s and David’s help. With Yvonne loaded up in Rosie with us, we set up short camp at the Madera District Fairgrounds for a couple of last minute doctor appointments in Madera. Unfortunately, Yvonne began a bout with A-Fib and a racing heart and we got her into the ER. Less than a week later, heart settled down and stable, Yvonne was released and we made our way to Anderson and her new digs at David’s house. The task was then to get her settled in with all new medical personnel.

Well, with everything else in life, it seems timing is everything. We mooch-docked at Dwayne’s house for our time there which we surely appreciated. But soon all hell broke loose. With all the headaches involved in trying to establish medical care (for Jeanne’s mom) after a move, we got hit with off-and-on sloppy weather, rain, hail, wind, etc. And since that is not enough to contend with, China decided to let loose on the rest of the planet with the China virus (China virus China virus China virus China virus China virus China virus China virus, there, I said it!) and with it came the ensuing stock market crash. We stayed very busy tending to Yvonne’s medical needs, appointments, etc. and the issues related to the China virus China virus China virus were not conducive to much heading out on the town, visiting friends, or in other words having much FUN! But hey, you know the saying about life, lemons, & lemonade. Dave & I found a fairly clear day to hit Lake Shasta in his fishin’ boat for some good quality self-quarantine time. He caught the lone, scrawny little trout of the day, but you know the saying, “Your worst day fishin’ is better than your best day workin’!” On another day we decided to commit an act of civil disobedience, Jeanne & I hiked the Flanagan Rd. Trail to Chemise Peak overlooking Lake Shasta Dam. It was a fairly easy 5+ mile hike and as it was, we discovered a whole lotta other folks committing the same act of civil disobedience. Go figger…Time for society to re-engage I guess…

Well, this was not much of a blog post. We are kinda in limbo still because of Yvonne’s medical status, coupled with China’s malfeasance and our governmental response. We will continue lollygagging indefinitely in the Redding area until Yvonne’s health care regimen gets established & stabilized. Until next post…

I think we wore Jeanne’s brothers out, Dave & Dwayne!
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Southwest Texas in the Wintertime

Having left El Paso, TX, we wanted to head up to Guadalupe Mountains N.P. for a little ‘splorin’ & boondocking. However, after conducting some due diligent weather checking, we discovered the forecast highs for the next few days was to be at or around 20 degrees, with snow expected. “Aha! No you don’t!” Being the smartest human on the planet, I altered our destination to the big city of Van Horn, TX. Mother Nature-0, Me-1! (Or so I thought, as you will soon read about). We rolled into town just as it was turning dark and found the Wild West RV Park had space for a couple of days, taking an extra day to explore the area. Well, it took all of about 10 minutes to thoroughly explore the area (Van Horn is a little tiny town/rest stop at the side of I-10. You know you are in Sticksville when the town is limited to one Dollar General store for all your fine shopping needs.) OK, now I gotta give Mother Nature-10, Me-0. Forecast was for snow in Van Horn on our exit day, so we re-upped for one additional day to stick it out. And it did snow, to the tune of about 6” of fine powder. The RV park clerk said it was the most they had gotten in several years. Yeah, that makes me feel good…

So we hung around a little later into the morning of moving day to give the roads a chance to de-ice a bit more, then hit SR90 headed south, intended destination of Marfa, TX. The roads turned out to be good but when we got to the megalopolis of Marfa, we found no RV space acceptable & available. So, march on we must, on into Alpine, TX.  We found a home at the Lost Alaskan RV Park for a couple of days.

One of those days we headed back over to Marfa to take in the sights. About the only claim to fame Marfa has is they have a rare local phenomenon called the Lights of Marfa. About 9 miles out of town the locals have built a nice little observation station/rest stop from which to attempt to view those lights. Their originating source is not known; some claim they are reflections of vehicle traffic from the highway (it runs nowhere near the area of the lights), some say swamp gas, some say camp fires, but nevertheless nobody has discovered their source. After researching a little about the Lights of Marfa, because they are reported so infrequently, and me not desiring to sit out in the frigid temps at night to hope to see them, we decided not to do another night trip into Marfa for the lights. But we did check out the big city, which is a whole lotta depressed, distressed buildings and closed up shops.

Our second day out of Alpine we drove over to Marathon, TX. Jeanne wanted to see the world’s smallest Target store and that just happened to be on the way. It’s not really a Target establishment, some “artist” painted some logos on a tiny square building in the middle of nowhere and parked a shopping cart in front of it. Marathon itself is another booming, bustling southern Texas town…NOT! There was not a lot other than the Gage Hotel, the White Buffalo Bar, and the Brick Vault Brewery & Barbecue. They have an awesome American Stout called Starlight Stout, for you stout/porter drinkers out there. Marathon does happen to have an RV lot at the hotel, in case anyone wants to make this their vacation destination…

Out of Alpine it was on to Terlingua, TX for our stay at Big Bend National Park. The RV parks around Terlingua just outside the park are all pretty “rustic”, and we found home at the Big Bend Resort & Adventures. This is a pretty good sized park, sites large and spread out, FHU’s, and a gas station parked right next to it.

First up was a short drive up to the “ghost town” part of Terlingua. On the way we encountered the Terlingua Cemetery. This is an ancient cemetery with wild west style gravesites scattered on the hillside. Just a stone’s throw up the hill we found “downtown”. There is the old Terlingua jail, a hotel, a trading company, & the remnants of an old gas station among the many ruins covering the area. People still live there, some of the homes looked to have been “add-ons” to the ruins of older buildings.

We were told by a local in Van Horn that we just had to go to La Kiva for dinner. The place is cave/dinosaur themed and does indeed have a cave-like architecture/feel. It also has a dark history for the folks of Terlingua. It seems the former owner, Glenn Felts was murdered out in the parking lot of the business back in 2014. A local river guide/drinking buddy of Felts was charged and acquitted of the murder. La Kiva should not be confused with an establishment of fine cuisine, but it is quirky and worth seeing if you ever find yourself in the area.

The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, with return on Old  Maverick Rd. was next on our dance card. We loaded up Woodrow Wilson in the Jeep and hit the road. The Scenic Drive is a paved 2-lane road down to the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook and trailhead, then Old Maverick Rd. is a mild Jeep trail back to Maverick Junction and the park entrance station there. With constant scenic views along the way, there were several points of interest that we took in. The Homer Wilson Ranch, Mule Ears view point, Tuff Canyon, Castolon, and Santa Elena Canyon were all along the Scenic Dr. Santa Elena Canyon is very cool, the Rio Grande River flowing at the bottom and through the dueling cliff faces, one belonging to Mexico, the other to the USA. On the Old Maverick Rd. we found an abandoned family’s home called Luna’s Jacal. Back in them days I guess either humans were really really short, or folks just did not care to stand erect inside there homes, as the photos will show.

We returned home, fed our faces, then left Woody to guard the bus while we headed over to Chisos Basin to try and catch a sunset through a mountain formation called The Window. The views were OK, not outstanding, seeing that it was most fully overcast during sunset that night. And we FINALLY got our first real glimpse of wild critters as we were driving home at dark…a couple of Wile E. Coyote’s cousins ran across our headlights.

The Rio Grande Village area is on the eastern side of Big Bend N.P. We left Woody at home for this trip (poor guy, but we think he tends to get car sick so we try to limit his road trips). First detour was to see the Hot Springs just outside the Rio Grande Village. A short walk past some of the old buildings led us to the small hot springs. The springs are on the Rio Grande River (our border with Mexico). Along the path we found where some of the Mexicans from across the river had set up a little “arts and crafts” area, selling walking sticks and desert art (mostly wire & bead scorpions) with a self-pay jar and prices listed. Jeanne actually read in the National Park’s newspaper that it is illegal to purchase these “arts & crafts”, I’m sure it has to do with duties and taxes, it’s all about government greenbacks…

We then continued on to Boquillas Canyon Overlook. There we got an overview of the big Mexican city of Boquillas Del Carmen, as well as a short walk to see into Boquillas Canyon where, again, the Rio Grande River splits the canyon faces between Mexico & the USA. We found more “arts & crafts” along this way, and this time I believe we got to see some of the “artists”, lounging across the river.

A little bit of mild Jeep trailing (4 miles +/-, one way) led us to Ernst Tinaja. Ernst is the name of the German who came to the area in 1873 and discovered this particular “tinaja” (translates to big earthen jar), a rock formation containing a large pool of water.  Stories have various animals getting caught trying to drink from the water, falling in, then drowning when unable to escape the smooth limestone walled pool. There are also stories of Private Morton Diedel of the 14th Cavalry, during the Mexican Revolution in 1913, having fallen into the big tinaja and drowned. And as it turned out, we happened upon an old gravesite for a 26 year old named Juan De Leon, died in 1932, a short distance from Ernst Tinaja. He was supposedly on his way to or from Ernst Tinaja when he was shot & killed. Buried on the spot, murder never solved. The canyon containing the tinaja was pretty scenic.

On a day that it was supposed to rain on us but did not, we decided to load up Woodrow Wilson and take the scenic drive to Presidio, TX, through the Big Bend Ranch State Park. The drive was very scenic, most time spent parallel to the Rio Grande River, passing by more ruins, an area called Hoodoos (not like Utah hoodoos at all), lots of steep canyon walls, and a pass through a golf resort area called Lajitas. We stopped for chow at a place in Presidio called El Patio—-not the best Mexican cuisine I’ve had, kind of a mix between Mexican diner fare and Tex-Mex. We even got treated to a herd of wild donkeys and a couple of wayward Wile E. Coyotes along the drive.

With a little clearer skies, we returned to Santa Elena Canyon to take the short 1.6 mile round trip hike into the canyon. The hike actually climbs the USA side of the canyon wall and leads you into the mostly shaded canyon above the Rio Grande River. The river is a popular venue for kayakers/canoers led by river guides and we were treated to a 4-boat floatilla coming through the canyon. Once out of the canyon, there was a small piece of quicker moving water. I’m no expert on river rapids classifications, but I would say these “rapids” needed to pick up just “a touch” of speed to approach a Class VI rapids. However, as you can tell from some of the photos I took, one of the presumed guides had a bit of a struggle “shooting the rapids”…On our way back home we stopped by the Sam Nail Ranch, one of the features of the park. It is an old, abandoned (in ruins) ranch, tucked in amongst the thick cacti, with one of two windmill water pumps still working. There was basically only part of one wall still standing, an old chicken coop, and for the life of me I don’t understand the desire to locate a ranch in the thick cacti.

The next morning it was back to the Chisos Basin where  The Window trail takes you through the desert mountains to the “pour off” point where a spring fed creek goes over the cliff, they say falling about 200’. We got to the trailhead bright and early, wearing 43 layers of clothing because it was FREEZING! (Just kidding, we only bundled up in 21 layers. OK, OK, it was 3 layers, jeesh!) Off we ventured, down to the valley floor and out to the base of The Window. It is a 6.1 mile round trip hike from the store with some pretty spectacular scenery. Once we reached the “pour off” point, I made a wise decision not to get too close to the point to try & verify the 200’ waterfall…the edge is all slickrock, not many handholds anywhere, and the slickrock looked damp – bad juju if you ask me. We pretty much had the trail all to ourselves that early in the morning which was nice. On the way back, all the fair-weather hikers had arrived and there was quite a bit of them passing us. The last mile or so of the return hike is moderately strenuous, it had us huffing & puffing.

Seeing that this was a nice, clear day, we decided to return for the sunset as seen through The Window. We had dinner at the Lodge, then hung around and waited for sunset to arrive. A couple of deer wandered by as we waited, then sunset arrived. There were no clouds to offer much contrast in the sky colors, but it was a cool sunset just as well.

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Southwest Follies in 2020

Jeanne found us a spot to do a little boondocking just outside the Valley of Fire S.P. near Vegas, at lat/long 36.444454 – 114.675583. It was on a nice & wide/level gravel road on BLM land with ample numbers of “sites” for rigs of all sizes. In fact, I was able to make a U-turn on the dirt road with our 40’ MH (with toad). We had all of (4) “neighbors” that were in visual sight but scattered pretty well. After set-up, we ventured out to let Jeanne do a little Jeepin’ in the area while exploring our new back yard. The weather here was cool but clear, 50’s-60’s for highs, and the lovely cholla’s were just starting to “glow” (you know, where the little prickly pods are starting to morph into the appearance of cute, but lethal, fluffy cotton balls…ouch!). A negative here was that our closest neighbor (100 +/- yards away) ran their generator all night long. Some folks just seem to think boondocking negates RV-etiquette of maintaining some semblance of “quiet time”. Thankfully, they left the next day. I discovered an additional RV-etiquette violation by this former neighbor – they had (3) very large K-9’s which were allowed to fertilize the edge of the desert (in a very prolific manner I might add). I don’t care if you do need a backhoe, CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR %$#&*@! DOG!!!!!!

We got up the next morning, gave Woodrow Wilson a walkabout in the desert, left him to guard Rosie the Bus, then we ventured over the mountain into Valley of Fire S.P. When we boondocked out at Government Wash along Lake Mead several years ago, we managed to sight-see most of the area except for Valley of Fire S.P. This day we drove the whole park, west entrance to east entrance, then Visitor’s Center up White Domes Rd. to the White Domes Trail. Because of time (Woody back at the bus), we were not able to hit all the features of the park, but did get a couple of hikes in (White Domes & Fire Wave), then got to see Arch Rock, Atlatl Rock, Beehives, Seven Sisters, the Cabins at Lone Rock, the Clark Memorial, Elephant Rock, and a drive around the Scenic Loop Rd. I do have to say despite this Park being a very scenic experience, as far as the level on my “spectacular meter”, it is not as high as was the “Bowl of Fire” that we experienced during our first stay in the area at Government Wash. It is still worth a visit. And for all you tent campers and smaller RV types, there are a couple of campgrounds with at least some sites for smaller RV’s with W/E hookups, those campgrounds/sites wedged in between some of the beautiful red rock formations.

Our next stop was a scheduled service for the MH & the generator at the No. Las Vegas Cummins shop. We were very satisfied with their customer service and work that they had done for us when we had the malfunction with the Bakersfield Cummins shop last year, so we decided to get our yearly service done here now. And they have several sites for RV’s out front, with E hookups. After a frustrating delay waiting all day for an air filter to be delivered, we finally were able to hit the road.

Waiting on an air filter at No. Las Vegas Cummins.

We were still in the mood for more boondocking and decided on the area around the big megalopolis of Congress, AZ. We needed some hookups to prep tanks and do laundry, so we returned to the North Ranch SKP park to do just that. We also did some recon scouting up on Vulture Mine Rd., an area we had previously boondocked at. There was also a boondocking area out next to the old Congress Cemetery we checked out. That one was a little bit rough as far as the dirt roads went. After all was said and done, we decided against a repeat boondock in this area. But before we lifted jacks, we spent a day on an 8-mile hike at the Granite Mountain Hotshots State Park. The park is a memorial tribute to the local Hotshots crew who lost 19 of 20 members in what was called the Yarnell Hill Fire back in 2013. The hike traverses through the Granite Mountains with a 1,200’ elevation gain and up to 8% grades, with sweeping views of Congress, Wickenburg, and Yarnell. Along the trail they placed memorial plaques for each of the Hotshots that perished during the fire. The hike was moderate+, I wouldn’t call it strenuous but it had this 60 year old and his lovely wife “a-huffin’-and-a-puffin’”! The plus was that it was mostly uphill from the start, then once we got to the observation platform it was only about 3/4 mile down to the valley floor and the fatality site. That meant the return hike was downhill from the platform…The fatality site has a memorial built around it, a very somber, melancholic atmosphere. I can only imagine the level of grief for the families of the firefighters, now knowing and seeing just how near the crew had been to their designated “safe zone”. That would be the ranch that appeared less than 400 yards from the fatality site. The park ranger we spoke with said “the ranch” had that designation due to the wide clearing of brush from the structures, as well as the stucco construction with metal & tile roofs. Such a sad note to end our stay in Congress, AZ…

So now we were eastbound and down. Our “goal”, if you want to call it that, was to get back to the great state of Texas where I need to renew my driver’s license (in-person due to the Class B endorsement) and get our Jeep & bus safety inspected (a requirement for Texas vehicle registrations that we have been able to waive in the years we were not present in state). We hooked up to I-10 outside of Phoenix and settled in for our stop-n-go eastward journey. In Tucson we found the Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel that welcomes RVers to stay in their back parking lot (free, dry camping). I never asked the security folks I talked to about stay limits, but the casino only asks RVers to check in with them if they will be staying longer than one week. We used our time at the casino to get some shopping done, then relieved the casino of a few bucks, only to feed it back to them a little later. We also checked out one of the many local microbreweries, the Sentinel Peak Brewing Co. It was created by a trio of firefighters “moonlighting” as beer aficionados. The beers I tasted were OK, just did not give me the “WOW” factor. Jeanne found a little Mexican restaurant touted as the nation’s longest running family-owned & operated Mexican restaurant (since 1922) called El Charro Cafe. We hit them for lunch and had an excellent meal, definitely one of the best Mexican restaurants I have eaten at.

From Tucson we continued East for a return stop at the Dream Catcher SKP park in lovely Deming, NM. With not a lot for us to see that we already haven’t, we got chores and shopping caught up, got to send for supplies at , and even squeezed in a road trip to beautiful downtown Columbus, NM, which is a bordertown neighbor to Palomas, MX. You can all pass on making Columbus, NM your top vacation destination.

The boondocking lifestyle was still calling to us. Jeanne found Sierra Vista Campground (BLM) just outside of Dripping Springs Natural Area at the base of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Nat’l Monument, in Las Cruces, NM. We found it to be a very small (limited spaces) improved area in the desert just 7 miles from town. There are no services/amenities, it is free, and carries a 14-day stay limit. We lucked into a site that could accomodate a 40’ beast. It is fairly popular by the way it stayed filled up while we spent 8 days there. This area had some hiking trails running off into the desert, as well as some easy Jeep trails where Jeanne got to test her skills at avoiding brush scratch on the Jeep.

We ventured up to the Dripping Springs Nature Area (sans Woodrow Wilson), where Jeanne & I took about a 7 mile walkabout to check out the springs, Van Patten Mountain Camp (ruins from days gone by), Boyd’s Sanitorium (also ruins from the past), Fillmore Falls (alas, dry as a bone at this point in time), and La Cueva.

Old Town La Mesilla boasts La Posta de Mesilla as T-H-E place to eat for Mexican fare, so we motored on over one day to partake as well as walk the tiny town area made famous by the Billy The Kid imprisonment, trial, and where he was sentenced to hang. The food was real good at La Posta, as were the margaritas.

When we were last in this area, we never happened to venture much North, so this time we wanted to check out the infamous town of Truth Or Consequences (TOC to locals). We grabbed Woody and drove the hour and a half North to find the quirky town. We walked the main drag, checked out a funky used book store called Xochi’s Book Store, found the Truth or Consequences Brewing Co. for a flight of tasters, then ate lunch at Latitude 33, a little hole in the wall Asian Fusion style eatery with very awesome food. The beers at TOC Brewing were pretty good, they brewed a Belgian Tripel that was out of this world. The townfolk we spoke with mentioned they currently have a campaign on-going regarding re-naming the town…again. We learned the town was previously named something similar to Hot Springs, but back in the day the game show host for the TV show Truth or Consequences dared the town to change its name to that of the TV show. Lo’ & behold, the townfolk up and did it! Sounds like maybe they regret the name change…

While in Las Cruces, we managed to drive into El Paso where I found one of their Departments of Public Safety (DL bureaus). Boy was I surprised that my in-n-out time was just one hour and I had my DL renewed and ready to rock! We also found an inspection station & got the Jeep safety inspected (registration requirement). Now we just gotta get Rosie inspected (the bus).

Finished with Las Cruces, it was eastbound and down into El Paso, TX for a few days of lolly-gagging. We had a bit of a hard time trying to find an RV park with hook-ups (coming off an 8-day boondock) that was not full. But we lucked into the Mission RV Park on the east side of town. More chores (massive laundry), shopping for another upcoming boondock, and a tiny bit of sight seeing at the Scenic Drive Park were in order. El Paso closes Scenic Drive on Sundays and only pedestrian/bicycle traffic is allowed. The views from the road open up to a very large panoramic viewing of the towns of El Paso TX/Juarez MX, both towns only divided by the Rio Grande River.

Before leaving El Paso, we have to stop by the local Freightliner shop to get a couple of minor issues addressed. From there, we will be heading for more boondocking, hopefully at the Guadalupe Mountains Nat’l Park area. If not, then wherever the wind blows us, we’ll let you know next blog post. Stay tuned…

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Headed Back To Prescott AZ

Since Jeanne and I were not going to be with our kids for the end of the holidays, we had a nice family get-together for Thanksgiving/XMAS/Max’s birthday in Atascadero. Jenn, Gus, & Max drove down for the T-Giving weekend to spend the time with family at Chad’s house. It was great to spend the time with the grand-chitlin’s all at the same time. So here are a few (OK, more than a few!) parting shots of our time spent together.

After being on the road as full-time RVers for over (7) years now, hitting all of the lower 48, Jeanne & I are starting to think about settling down again, just not decided on a location. The Prescott, AZ area is on our short list, so we decided to head over there and spend a little more time exploring the area for that purpose. A couple of mishaps (OK, brain-farts on my part) happened along the way. The first was our stop at the Palmdale Elk’s Lodge for an two-night stay. On the morning that we pulled out, as I neared the driveway, I could see the dip was pretty intense with evidence of previous RVers failures to clear the pavement (where they bottomed out/scraped the asphalt). But hey, I am the most intelligent person on the planet (a legend in my own mind) and I KNOW how to navigate such hazards. I crept along at a speed where you could clock me with a calendar, achieved an extreme angle to avoid bottoming out, and nevertheless scraped the $hit out of that asphalt anyway, only with one corner of my rear cap. “%&$*#@!” That was enough to wreck one’s day, but travel on we must. (The second mishap soon to follow.) We next two-nighted at the Needles Elk’s Lodge, this time without incident. We completed our escape from The Evil Empire and landed in the Prescott/Prescott Valley area. There we split our time between the Prescott Elk’s Lodge, the Prescott fairgrounds, and Point of Rocks RV Park. My second brain-fart happened when we were moving from the fairgrounds to Point of Rocks. Due to the park’s prohibition from early check-in, we had to kill a couple of hours. On the way in we found the Constellation Trails, a small park, where we took Woodrow Wilson out for a short walk. This park is off of one of Prescott’s INNUMERABLE traffic “roundy-rounds” (complete with skinny lanes) and as I pulled out to head for our new destination, somebody put one of those $%&@*^# low guardrails alongside the road. I promptly scraped against said guardrail and caused yet more minor body damage. “%&$*#@!” (We’ll be hunting down an RV body shop in our travels soon). Jeanne’s brother Dave wanted to take his son Alex on a vacation, so he booked a flight to Vegas where he rented a small Class-C motorhome and drove out to meet up with us. Dave & Alex joined us at Point of Rocks RV Park. The weather was a little harsh, most nights the temps were teens to twenties and we had to disconnect water hoses. But the days warmed up into the blazing 30’s to 40’s…

Playing tourguides for Dave & Alex, we first ventured out on a small hike around Watson Lake (OK, small is a relative term. This “small” was about 8 miles, plus or minus). Alex got a kick out of the weird ice formations we ran into.

On a fairly clear day we drove up to the old mining town of Jerome and walked the streets taking in the views and reading some of the history of what is now considered a ghost town.

Jeanne wanted to shake off the dust bunnies from her 4-wheelin’ skills, so what better way than to try to jar Alex’s eye teeth on the dirt road to Crown King, AZ. S. Senator Hwy leaves downtown Prescott and 7 miles out loses the asphalt. The road/trail is not particularly difficult as far as 4-wheelin’ goes, but there were a couple of fairly deep water crossings. We came upon Palace Station, touted to be one of the oldest structures in Arizona. What was once a stage station on the Senator Trail from Phoenix to Prescott is now used residentially by the U.S. Forest Service. Crown King is but a “wide spot in the road” where a couple of folks have set up businesses and call it a town. We stopped in to the local saloon and had a beer before we headed on back to civilization.

The “big kahuna”, the “piece de resistance”, the “BMOC”, has to be Grand Canyon N.P. We dragged Dave & Alex up to the South Rim where they were awed by the spectacular views of the canyon, even on a semi-overcast day like it was. There was just a touch of snow added to the scenery and the short couple mile walk along the rim was envigorating.

What visit to the Prescott area would be complete without a trek into Sedona? First stop on the way was the Nat’l Park site called Montezuma’s Castle. We got to give Alex exposure to some early Indian cliff dwellings that, even though named after Montezuma, Montezuma never actually had anything to do with and never visited. Then it was on to Sedona and the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Views were extraordinary from the small hill this church was built into. It also overlooks “The House”, a good sized mansion built by the inventor of Lasik eye surgery. From there we ventured into downtown Sedona for a stroll and lunch at Oaxaca Restaurant.