Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Willcox, AZ and on to Alamagordo and Roswell, NM

 On Saturday, we explored the downtown area of Willcox, AZ.  We covered about 2 blocks...that's about all there was.  Poked in Arizona's oldest store and in the antique purchases
In the afternoon Pam and I went to Beall's a discount store kind of like TJ Maxx.  Bought some capri's etc.  Nice prices!  Also, Jerry took me about a mile to Cochise Lakes area - a bird-watching paradise.  Added several birds to my list:  American Avocet and also several in their breeding plumage.
American Avocet

Northern Shoveler pair  on left; Avocet in breeding plumage

Also the Norther Shoveler

Sunday we relaxed, Jerry went for a motorcycle ride up the "W" mountain - a 15% grade - exciting he said.  We all went into the Elks for steak dinner in the evening.

Monday, March 28 we traveled to Alamagordo, NM.  We stopped at the White Sands National Monument and looked around a little. 

Settled in at the Elks - right next to a row of pine trees with lots of birds nesting - nice to hear!  This Elks has a casino, pool and laundromat. Very windy here and the blowing sand was very hard on Pam and my allergies. 

Hills of Alamagordo from our camping spot.

So we moved on Tuesday to Roswell.  Settled in at the Elks there.  Went to the Visitor's Center and got some brochures and coupons.  Used one to have great pizza for dinner at Portofino's.  Wednesday Pam, Jerry and I toured the UFO Museum (not very well done - glad we only had to pay $3),

Getting "beamed up" at the UFO Museum - Pam, Jerry and Sue

Golden Arches - Roswell Style
then out to the Bottomless Lakes State Park and the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Both very interesting. 

One of the many lakes at Bottomless Lakes State Park

Will part company tomorrow from Pam and Ross (sniffle) and we will go east to Texas...hope the wind dies down!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Maintenance by Breakdown and Good Times for Balance

Friday, March 18 – arrived at Redlands Elks late afternoon, registered ($15/night) and then went over to Jen, Ben & Eva’s apartment.  Ben had a migraine, so we took Jen and Eva out for gourmet pizza and Hanger 24 wheat beer!  Yummmmy.  On Saturday after a relaxing day, we went over to their apartment and made enchiladas and Ben’s Mom, Dee and her friend Deb came too and made jalapeno poppers – more yum!  Had Mexican appetizers, etc.  Nice evening!

On Sunday it rained almost all day and we stayed in and read and played on the computer.  On Monday Jerry went to the post office and picked up the Pressure Pro monitoring system he ordered.  Installed the monitoring system on the dash of the truck.  In the afternoon, we went over to their apartment.  I took spaghetti and we enjoyed hanging out.  On Tuesday Jerry installed the monitors on the tires and in the afternoon, Ben and Jerry rode their motorcycles up a mountain to check out the progress of construction on highway 330.  Had a great adventure and enjoyed each other’s company.  Hanger 24 for a beer before heading back to the apt.  Jen and I took Eva to the park and then cooked chicken in rice and beans.  The end of a wonderful catch-up visit!  Big hugs and thanks!

Wednesday morning we left the Elks after dumping our tanks and went to a welding place recommended by the Lodge manager (one of our fellow Elks owns it.)  We had to jack the RV up on the left side and he welded a patch on to the I-beam.  (This was damaged in Aug. in Red Lodge, MT when all our left side woes began.  We had it welded in Missoula when we arrived there, but they did a really poor job and we found cracks in it when we had the tires off last week on the dirt road.)  Steve did a great patch weld job ($40 plus $10 tip) and we were finally on our way.  Beautiful mountain view from where we were parked in Yucaipa, CA.

Arrived at our parking space for the night west of Yuma, but still in CA – on Sidewinder Road.  Quiet spot and far away enough from the train tracks to not hear them.  Sat outside in the sun for happy hour and Sue served homemade pea soup and cheese and crackers outside as we watched the sun go down.  So peaceful – we needed that.  However, our woe’s weren’t over.  Tried to put out the living room slide and it would only go out about 6 inches….what next?  Egads! 

Went on to Yuma and found C & J RV Repair – they got us right in and found a screw had come loose – preventing the slide from going out.  Good grief!  $45 and 28 minutes later and we were back in business…continuing, it seems, with maintenance by breakdown!!!  Saw a cute sign on a church marquis -  “Free trip to Heaven – details inside.”  Will send that on to Rev Jim.  Went to Super Fuels in old downtown Yuma to get diesel and propane…not as cheap as used to be, but still beat other prices.  As we were leaving there, smelled the most awesome Mexican food at a restaurant on Orange and 6th, I think.  Was in an old Craftsman-style home.  La Casa Gutierrez!  Only 11:30 but that way we could beat the crowd!  And we did and it was awesome.  Lunch especial – two tostadas and either rice or beans.  Homemade tortilla chips and just right salsa for starters!  We think it was the best Mex. food we’ve ever eaten.  And only $5.75! 

Well, we’re heading East and it is 2:30 and we’re exhausted from the day’s events.  Jerry’s shoulder is hurting (probably from all the jack pumping!)  So, knowing Nan and Lou (our Tucson friends) are having a week’s getaway at Picacho Peak State Park, we called and asked to interrupt their “alone time.”  Arrived there about 3:30 – such a pretty place and had happy hour, combined our suppers and enjoyed a visit.  

Friday, Nan and I cooked big breakfast of blueberry pancakes, sausage and Canadian bacon and Freestone peaches.  Yum…she and I took a walk around the campground while Jerry napped a little.  On the road at 11:30 AM.  Stopped in Tucson to return the extra springs and U-bolts we had purchased in December in anticipation of our AK trip - $195 back on our card – yippee!  Finally arrived at the Willcox, AZ Elks at 3:30.  Set up next to Pam and Ross and a train came by….LOL!  You actually get used to them and hardly hear them after a few. Added the Curved Bill Thrasher to my birding lifelist.  On a tree right outside our rig - beautiful complicated song!  Wonderful.
Happy hour and great fish dinner at the Lodge.  Life is really good! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CA Adventures 3/15-17/2011

Tues PM  On our way to Corn Springs just east of Desert Center, CA. 
BLM campground - $6/$3 for us.  

Summary  Left front tire on the RV had gone down,  the tread had separated from the carcass and wedged itself between the backing plate of the drum and the leaf springs.  The excess tread had drug back and got caught underneath the left rear tire, which of course, pulled the tire tread tighter into a wedge between the drum and the leaf spring.  J had to use an angle grinder to cut the tire tread and then disassemble the spring from the axle in order to dislodge the tire tread.   

Small campground - about 9 sites.   From Wikipedia:

Corn Springs is a palm oasis situated in the Chuckwalla Mountains of the Colorado Desert in Riverside County, California, United States, seventeen miles southeast of Desert Center. Native Americans relied on the springs and they engraved many signs, petroglyphs, on the rocks in the area. In the late 19th century miners in the area also relied on the springs and they established the Corn Springs Mining District in 1897.[1]
The springs were added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1998.  The springs were used for thousands of years by nomadic Native Americans. The Chemehuevi, Desert Cahuilla and Yuma bands frequented the spring and carved elaborate petroglyphs in the nearby rocks.

Some of the oldest rock art is over 10,000 years old.[2] At times, there was enough surface water for gardening by the springs. The Indians also utilized the fruit of the palms.
Early white visitors found feral corn plants in the vicinity, giving the spring its present name

Only two other camp sites occupied.  Rest of Tuesday & Wed.  relaxed in the shade and recuperated from hot ordeal.

Today we spent quite a bit of time getting the RV propped up so Jerry could access any damage to the brake drum - inner and outer bearings and inspected the magnet and the shoes of the wheel that had the flat on Tuesday.  He was concerned since it had gotten so hot.  A sigh of relief - all seemed to be OK.  However, did find a crack in the RV frame where a piece had been welded on in Missoula last summer when we broke the leaf springs due to a flat tire.  Bummer...will have someone do some welding on it at our next stop. 

 As a reward, Jerry and I took a short motorcycle ride further into the Chuckawalla mountains on a dirt road.  Found some beautiful flowering cactus!

This is a really quiet, out of the way campground.  We will return another time to do more exploring!  
Friday - on to Redlands, CA.  Will be staying at the Elks.  Oh, by the way, we ordered Pressure Pro sensors for our tires - we've had it with the flat tires and all the damage they have caused!  Yippee. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

River Adventures

Arrived Thursday afternoon at "the cabin on the Colorado River" - owned by friends, Larry and Lana.  They have a home on Orange Co., CA but spend a lot of time here about 15 miles north of Blythe, CA, on the banks of the Colorado River. 

Their son, Keith was here, busy trimming trees and oleander bushes.  On Friday, we all pitched in to help.  Unfortunately I jabbed my left palm with a knife preparing lunch so we had to take 3 hours out of our work time to have Jerry take me to into Blythe to the ER to see if stitches were needed - nope, just steri-strips.  A little painful, but not like I expected.

On the way home, we were discussing our upcoming Alaska trip, and decided it was just going to be too expensive with the price of fuel rising to who knows what.  So, instead of telling our friends, Ken & Jan, with whom we were going, on the phone about our canceling, we drove to Indio, CA to have dinner with them at the Elks where they were staying - and tell them in person.  Well, of course, they were disappointed, but very gracious and said we could change our mind anytime.  Back home about 9:30 PM.

Saturday, Jerry, Larry and Lana helped with cleanup and I watched and relaxed.  Since it was about 85 and sunny in the late afternoon, they took us for a boat ride on the river on their pontoon boat.  So pretty

Sunday was more of the same, with awesome weather.  The guys decided to chop down a dead spruce tree but about half way done, the saw died, so we went for another boat ride.  Darn...LOL
As we were heading upriver, we spotted something on the shore...stopped to check it out.  A Kawasaki jet ski - upside down.  Apparently washed down the river on Saturday when the COE let a massive amount of water out of the dam upriver.  (In front of Larry & Lana's home, the island which creates a canal in front of their home for about a half-mile, was almost completely cover and the water was moving quite quickly.  Well, that looked like a challenge to Jerry.  Larry brought the boat close to shore and Jerry hopped out to go explore.  Was upside down but looked like not in too bad shape.  He uprighted it and confirmed that it might be worth salvaging.  Sue hopped out of the boat and took a line from the boat to Jerry to fasten onto the ski.  Larry gave it some gas and "presto" it was on the water again.  Jerry couldn't stand to see it floating along behind us - looked so lonesome without a he took care of that.  Pulled it down river to the cabin and out of the water.  They tinkered with it for a while, then it was dinner time.  What a fun day!  

Monday (today) will probably be a work afternoon with maybe some yard work - mowing and fertilizing the lawn.  May go out for dinner tonight.  Tomorrow we're packing up to move on.  Tentative plans are to go to Joshua Tree NP for three days, on to see Jen, Ben & Eva in Redlands, CA next weekend...then north and east toward home.  That will probably take us 3-4 weeks.  Little Acres here we come!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Camp Verde, AZ

Adventures continue with saying goodbye to Pam and Ross at the Elks in Phoenix on Friday morning.  About 1-1/2 hr into our trip to Camp Verde (up I-17), at 11:45 AM a sudden rush of liquid onto our truck windshield on the driver's side, then the engine temp went up!  Stopped on side of road (luckily an unusual place to pull way off as we were in the mountains where there is just usually the shoulder and a guardrail!  Angels at work.  Called the insurance company who found us a tow truck who could handle Dusty (Ford) and Alfie (RV).  While waiting we ate lunch and got a Ford garage to be towed to.  Finally after a two hour wait for the tow, 1/2 hr to hook up and 45 minute tow to Dewey, AZ at 30-40 mpr - we arrived at the Ford Garage.  They found us someone to hook onto Alfie and take us to Camp Verde as they were predicting that if it was a blown radiator, it would be Wed. til we were on the road.  Glad for greetings from Roger and Jackie, parked RV and got set up, happy hour and dinner!  Jackie and I played her Super Scrabble Game - a favorite of hers.  She won.A full day but grateful for many blessings!

Saturday, Jerry and Roger went over to the Ford garage to check on the truck...they were too busy to work on it, so won't know anything til Monday.  Relaxed around the house, took a walk and enjoyed catch-up time with R & J.  Sunday, Roger kidnapped Jerry and they went on a longggg (8 hr) ride up through the mountains in the suburban.  Had a great time.  Jackie and I went into Cottonwood and had lunch at the Thai Palace - great atmosphere and food.  Ran a few errands and back to yummy boiled dinner.  I made my new shrimp ceviche with mango, avacado, jicama, orange, lime and lemon juice, red onion and of course, shrimp - awesome!

Monday, Jerry went early to check on the truck and Roger and I worked on some Iossi genealogy! The truck was done about 1 PM...only thing they could find was possibly the gas cap needed replacing.  Kind of scary that they didn't find anything definitive.  After picking up the truck, we went to Cottonwood and I finally found a chair for my computer work.  It is really nice looking - a brown leather secretarial chair with no arms nice seat and back padding and raises up where I need it so my shoulders don't get tired.  Thank you Office Max - on sale so only spent $50!  Also got a flash drive on major sale for Jackie and then stopped at Walmart to pick up a cooling fan for my laptop since mine died.  Jackie and I played Scrabble Cubes...she won - beginners luck - LOL.  Happy hour and another lovely dinner...we're so spoiled!

Tuesday we stayed around the homefront and did some minor repairs and cleaning.  Took a long walk to see the Verde river a couple of football fields away from Roger and Jackie's home.  Snow melt is making it high and swift.  Saw a couple of ducks.  So peaceful.  Trees are starting to get fuzzy with buds. 

We laughed at Jenny, the neighbor's dog who has adopted R & J and us...  She comes around a couple of times a day for a treat and head rub.  While were were sitting on the patio, she came around, Jackie and I each fed her a biscuit and then she "talked to us" for about an hour - wanting seconds.  So funny.  Then Princess, the cat had to come out and watching the pets!  Jackie and I played Scrabble cubes on the patio in the late afternoon and I won. 

Today is laundry, pickup and finish cleaning etc.  Weather is warming and beautiful...after a stormy day Monday and windy day yesterday.  Tomorrow we will move to Blythe, CA (4 hrs or so) to Larry and Lana's cabin on the Colorado River.  Tata for now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Phoenix Sun and Fun

We were exhausted after our 12 hours of stressful VA experiences, so most of the weekend was spent resting and relaxing in our rig at the Elks parking lot.  We had leftovers to eat, so Sue didn't have to cook and we enjoyed the respite.  Here's pix of our parking area.

Happy hour with our new friends, Pam and Ross from Holland, MI were highlights of our days

Bright and early Monday we were up and out to the truck to be at the VA at 7:30 AM to do battle...alas not to be - the truck wouldn't start!  After fiddling with trying to get it started using the RV batteries and two jumper cables with the generator boosting the RV batteries, we gave us and got our friend, Coop, to give us a boost.  Lucky he was here.  That worked immediately and we were on our way - 10 miles south.  Only took us about 15 minutes to find a parking place and as we're walking in, Jerry gets a phone call from Nadia, one of the higher ups who had called him Friday afternoon.  She said we didn't even have to report tot he clinic we had been working with but just to go to the Prosthetics Dept. and they would take care of us!  Yippee!  After a few minutes there working with the technician, he said to come back in about an hour.  We had breakfast at the canteen and reported back in 45 min.  It was done, it was fitted and we were on our way after stopping at the Diamond Clinic to thank Reggie again for helping us "get'er done."
Then we found a Battery's Plus store and replaced our batteries which were still under warranty.  A great deal!
Tuesday was a Walmart and Fry's run for groceries.  Wednesday we traveled an south to visit Jan and Ken who are in Arizona City.  Looked at the house they are anticipating purchasing and went to lunch at a local restaurant.  Toured the are looking at some of the homes for sale - even saw a straw-bale house!   Nice visit with them!  Back to base and went for a motorcycle ride with Pam and Ross.  After several false starts, found Arizona Biker Leather where we purchased a couple of patches for our PGR vests.  Then stopped at the American Legion Post 117 - Pat Tillman Post.  As you may know he was the AZ Cardinals football player who was killed while serving overseas.  Sue and Pam bought tee-shirts that say we helped build the Pat Tillman post...their 1 year anniversary is Saturday, but we will miss the party.  Met nice people there...even a guy from Cedar Rapids!  Small world continues to prove itself. 
Thursday was our "date" with Betty and Duane, Boomer friends.  We had facebooked on Wed. and she had suggested we go to Tortilla Flats...asked if we had been there.  Well, of course, I replied - yes we had been to the one in the Quad Cities when it was open and we were agreeable to that plan.
When we arrived at their rig in Mesa (45 minutes to the east), we met friends, Mark and Judie who were going with us.  Then we found out that the Tortilla Flats she was referring to was a tourist sight about an hour north in the mountains - a restaurant and mercantile out in the middle of nowhere.  We had a good laugh about our confusion about the name Tortilla Flats!
Jeeped out to the town of 6 population through beautiful scenery, past Canyon Lake and had lunch in the restaurant.
 Tortilla Flats restaurant
Duane, Jerry, Mark
Interesting decor.  The walls, window sills, etc. are plastered with $1 bills which have been autographed and placed there by happy patrons since the building burned down in 1987 and was rebuilt.  Worth a lot of $$$.
Canyon Lake Vista - a pull out overlook where we stopped on the way back.
The girls at Canyon Lake Vista - Sue, Betty and Judie
A good time was had by all. Happy hour at home with Ross and Pam.

Today we travel to CampVerde for some quality catch-up time with Jackie and Roger - Jerry's aunt and uncle.  Will park in their yard - a beautiful place to stay.  Life is life is wonderful!
We are so blessed!