Home in Verde Valley . . .

This morning began way, way too early, 6 am too early to be exact. I got up and let Jan sleep while I went outside and started disassembling our RV site. We plan on leaving the Pima County Fairgrounds here in Tucson this morning and heading about 230 miles north to the Verde Valley Thousand Trails RV Resort near Camp Verde, AZ

A little before 7 I went in to wake up Jan to get ready to go meet Al & Adrienne for breakfast at Poco & Mom’s. Although she was feeling a little better when I talked to her about 3 am, she definitely was feeling worse now.

So about 7:30 I headed out alone to meet Al & Adrienne. We had a great meal and talked about our mutual plans for the next few months.

They plan on spending the summer working in Cody, WY near Yellowstone National Park and we’re going to try to stop in and see them when we’re in the area later this summer, probably in June.

After saying our goodbyes and getting Jan a cheese quesadilla and iced tea to go, I got back to the rig about 9:15 to find Jan up and about, but without a lot of energy to do anything, but she was trying. I told her to stay on the couch and I would get us ready to leave.

By about 10:45 we were hitched and heading out. But the cats were very confused. They couldn’t figure out why we were moving, but Jan wasn’t in her chair for them to sit with. Finally Mister apparently decided he’d just climb up there and wait on her. Then a little before Phoenix, Jan was feeling well enough to leave the sofa and join me up front.

After some steep grades, but a smooth trip overall, we arrived at the Verde Valley TT gate right at 3 pm. And they had all our check-in stuff waiting for us, smooth as silk.

We knew Nick and Terry were in Section C, so we headed over that way. We soon found their rig, and got set up right next door.

They showed up a few minutes later, coming back from town, but since Jan still wasn’t feeling well, and we didn’t want to take a chance giving them something, we decided not to get together until later, although that ‘later’ maybe Saturday, since they’re making a daytrip to Show Low tomorrow.

The Verde Valley TT park is really nice. It’s out in the country, kind of carved out around the hills and valleys. And it’s got a really strong 30 amps. With everything else turned off except the frig and the water heater, we were able to run both A/C’s during the afternoon to cool the coach down quicker.

We didn’t do much for supper, with Jan having the rest of her quesadilla, and I had my spaghetti leftover from Argenziano’s on Tuesday.

Jan seems to be on the mend. Hopefully she’ll feel even better tomorrow.


Thought for the Day:

"Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other.” – Benjamin Franklin


We leave tomorrow–Yea! . . .

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Jan is really under the weather. She woke up this morning with a headache, and then later in the morning started feeling queasy. And it just got worse as the day went on.

By the evening she still had her headache, queasy stomach, and maybe a little fever and joint aches. Basic symptoms might indicate flu, but she has no cough or runny nose. And to the best of my knowledge we’ve not been around anyone with the flu. The normal incubation period is 1 – 4 days.

We got up about 9 this morning and had coffee and Miss Terry’s toast, before going out to see Nick and Terry off about 10. They’re heading about 240 miles north to Camp Verde, AZ and the Verde Valley Thousand Trails RV Resort. Hopefully our TT membership number will come through this afternoon, and we can follow them tomorrow.

After extended hugs they pulled out and left us to our own devices.

Total boredom set in almost immediately.

About 2:30 I put in a call to Thousand Trails to see if the TT computer had spit out our membership number. And lo and behold, it had.

We were now officially Thousand Trail members. So I immediately tried to make a reservation at Verde Valley. And found out that you can’t make a reservation without a PIN number, and you can’t get a PIN number online, even though it says you can generate a new PIN, you must already have one to get one.

So after calling TT Membership Services and being given one, I went back online and made a reservation for tomorrow.

We’re on our way.

About 3 I drove over to Ace Hardware to pick up some 3’ #10 wood screws to use with the EZ Anchors I already had. EZ AnchorI was trying to remount the grab bar mounted under the dashboard at the entry door and the original holes had enlarged too much when the bar came off. But these anchors will hold 50# a piece, so we’ll see if they hold.

About 5:45 Al & Adrienne called to say they were ready for supper, but Jan was just too sick to go, so we made a date for breakfast tomorrow morning at 8am at Poco & Mom’s. Hopefully Jan will be feeling better by then.

Later in the evening I decided it was time to finally install Service Pak 1 for Win7 that came out a few weeks ago. And I also installed Internet Explorer 9 at the same time. I’ve learned over the years to never install an update when it first comes. It’s much safer to wait a couple of weeks to MS to get the bugs out.

But luckily everything went fine. I’m still trying to get IE9 configured like I like it, since they moved some things around and hide others.

More from Verde Valley tomorrow.

I’ve reposted our visit to Sequoia National Park last April.


Thought for the Day:

Wind is just air, but pushier.


Some Really Big Trees…

Posted on April 30, 2010

Today we headed out to visit Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Leaving about 9 am we drove 70 miles south thru Fresno to the entrance to Sequoia National Park.

But before we left we set the crockpot on a timer so that when we came home we’d have a big pot of Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti waiting for us. Then we hit the road, heading toward Fresno, about 30 miles south.

Leaving Fresno, which is at 300 ft elevation, we starting the climb up into the Sierras, with some great views along the way. Click to enlarge the pictures!


And just like yesterday we ran into snow. We started encountering it about 4500 feet, and it just got deeper the further up we went.



SnowPile 2

When we got to the Ranger Station at Grants Grove at almost 7000 feet, we really saw the snow in deep drifts.


There was a lot more snow here in Sequoia than in Yosemite yesterday.


After checking in at the Ranger Station and checking out the Gift Shop, we had to change our travel plans. We had planned to drive the big 60 mile loop thru the park and come out down south near Visalia. But we found that loop was closed due to the heavy snowfall and would not be open anytime soon. That meant we would not be able to see the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. Bummer!

But we would be able to see the 2nd largest tree, the General Grant tree, so we headed over to Grant’s Grove a couple of miles away to take a look.

This is the first big tree we saw right in front of our truck when we parked. It’s hard to convey how really big these trees are. The pictures really don’t do them justice.


And across the parking lot were these twins.


And here is the General Grant tree. It’s 267 feet tall and about 35 feet in diameter. It is estimated to be over 1600 years old.

Grant Tree 3

And here is an internet picture of the General Sherman that we didn’t get to see. It’s about 275 feet tall and about 40 feet in diameter at the base. That’s bigger than our RV ! It’s between 2300 and 2700 years old. The spread of the branches at the top is almost 110 feet wide.

Sherman Tree

After viewing the trees, we went back to the lodge for a really good lunch at the restaurant, much better than the one at Yosemite yesterday.

Then after lunch, we drove out into the forest for about 10 miles just taking in all great scenery along the way.


SnowRoad 2

Then it was time to head home. Coming back down thru the mountains, we went thru several cloud layers, but by the time we got down to the bottom, it was clear and sunny again. And going from almost 7000 feet to 300 feet really makes the ears pop.

We got back about 3:30 to a coach filled with wonderful smell of our dinner cooking away.

We ate about 6 pm and it was great. It’s the first time Jan’s fixed this Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti, but we’ll definitely have it again.

Tomorrow is a take-it-easy day. We’re going to get together with some friends, George and Sandy, who we’ve corresponded with for awhile, but didn’t actually meet until the Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal Rally in Yuma this past March. We discovered yesterday that we’re both in the same park here.


Interstates and Ferry Hawks . . .

Jan and I both slept late this morning so no time for coffee before we had to be ready at 10:30 to head out to Camping World with Nick and Terry.  We were taking separate cars since we were going to split up after that.

I wanted to pick up a grey water valve to complete my set, and while there the new issue of “The Next Exit” caught my eye. In case you’re not familiar with it, “The Next Exit” lists every exit on every Interstate in every state in the US.

It also tells you what stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc. are located there, and whether or not, diesel is available and if you can get a big RV in the station. It also shows rest areas and pull-overs. All in all, very useful.


But last year, after I had already bought the 2010 “Next Exit”, I came across a new one from Good Sam’s and Camping World called “Exit Now”.


Although it’s more expensive ($16 vs. $10 on Amazon), “Exit Now” is spiral-bound and uses much better quality paper. And the brighter-white paper should be easier to read compared to the newsprint-type paper used in “The Next Exit”. So it looks like in 2011 we’ll be giving “Exit Now” a try. We’ll see how it goes. While there Terry picked up a new faucet for the bathroom and some light bulbs.

Leaving Camping World, Nick and Terry headed over to see Nick’s cousin Beverly, while Jan and I headed toward Corona de Tucson, a small town south of the Pima County Fairground on S. Houghton Rd. We were meeting Al & Adrienne at Argenziano’s, an Italian restaurant they like.

Getting there about 10 minutes early we stopped at the Ace Hardware next door, but ran out of time before I found what I wanted.

Argenziano’s was really good, with Al & Adrienne splitting a pizza, while Jan had ravioli stuffed with roasted garlic and shrimp, and I had spaghetti and meatballs. We had our usual good time with them and made plans to have dinner tomorrow night, our last night in Tucson, hopefully.

I say ‘hopefully’, because it depends on our getting our Thousand Trails membership number tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes.

Leaving the restaurant and Al & Adrienne, we went back next door to Ace Hardware to finish up our shopping. Heading back to the fairgrounds, we detoured to get gas and stop off at Fry’s to pick up a few groceries, and while we were there, I talked to Thousand Trails to see how our membership processing was going. Again, ‘hopefully’, we’ll have our number tomorrow.

Later, we left the rig about 5 to meet Nick, Terry, and Beverly at Chuy’s – Tucson. It turned out to be more bar & grill than restaurant, and you had to order at the counter, but the food was good, even though the service was spotty because they were so busy.

Nick and Terry are leaving here tomorrow and heading up to Verde Valley Thousand Trails RV park near Camp Verde, AZ. Hopefully, there’s that word again, ‘hopefully’, we’ll follow them on Thursday . . . or Friday . . . or when we get our TT membership number. Hopefully.

We got home a little before 7 and were down for the night. Nick and Terry are leaving about 10 so we’ll be up in time to see them off.

I’ve reposted some more of our time in the High Sierras last year.


Thought for the Day:

“Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.” – Otto Von Bismarck


Clean today…Road trip tomorrow

Posted on May 1, 2010

Today we started off with breakfast at Pete’s Place and it was just as good as last time. Then, on the way home we stopped off to get gas for our road trip tomorrow.

Getting back to the park I stopped by the office to extend our stay by one day. We now plan on leaving Wednesday morning.

Jan had designated today as Cleaning Day, so we went thru the coach, dusting, cleaning, tidying up, moping, vacuuming, etc., ‘til everything was spic and span.

Around 12:45 pm Jan noticed a large bird in a tree right across from us. It was so large that at first I thought it was an eagle, but after a little research I think it’s a Ferry Hawk, or Ferruginous Hawk. Apparently it is often mistaken for an eagle because it is so large.

Hawk 1

That is a beautiful bird!

Hawk 2

This was a very popular tree limb. A little later a Acorn Woodpecker showed up.

Acorn Woodpecker3

Next, another bluebird showed up, again on the same limb.


About 5 pm we drove over to pick up our friends, George and Sandy Stoltz for supper at El Cid Mexican Restaurant. We had a great time getting to spend some time with them. And it was really nice for our friend Nick Russell to treat us to dinner. Thanks, Nick.

Us with George and Sandy

Tomorrow we are taking a road trip about 180 miles to San Simeon on the coast to visit the Hearst Castle, and spend some time driving down the coast to Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. We’ll probably stay overnight and come back on Monday.

More tomorrow…


Thousand Trails in the Mail . . .

After coffee and some of Miss Terry’s great homemade bread, we slowly got the morning started around 9:30.

After Jan talked to Al & Adrienne about getting together tomorrow for lunch, I spent time talking with a client for a while, and then about 11:45 I went up to the RV Office and paid for our site for two more days. They told me that we would have to start using another entrance/exit to the fairgrounds since they are repaving the main entrance before the Pima County Fair starts on April 14th.

Then about 12:30 I called the fairgrounds office and found out my Priority Mail envelope had arrived, so I jumped in the truck and headed over there.

I was waiting for my paperwork from Thousand Trails so I could get it turned back ASAP, so we can head up to the TT park in Camp Verde, AZ within the next few days. We can only stay here for a few more days before we have to leave because of the upcoming fair.

I got the papers filled out and faxed in, and then called them to make my transfer payment over the phone. Hopefully I will have our membership number in the next couple of days so we can head north.

While I was driving around the fairgrounds we got these photos of some of the RCS carnival equipment.

This is one of their large dormitory 5th wheels.

RCS Dormitory Trailer

And out on one of the side lots are a bunch of the ride trailers.

RCS Rides

About 5:30 Jan and I drove over to Jack’s BBQ to meet Nick, Terry, and Beverly for supper. According to the online reviews, Jack’s is the best BBQ place in Tucson, and the reviews were pretty accurate. Jan had a BBQ Beef/Pork sandwich, and I had the Sampler Platter with a little of everything. All very good.

After dinner, we headed back to Beverly’s so I could look at a problem with her computer. It took a while to get it fixed, but that just gave us time to get hungry for DQ. So about 8:30 we drove over there to get Nick’s DQ fix.

Then it was home for the evening.

More tomorrow . . .

I’ve reposted some more of our visit last year to the California High Sierras and Yosemite National Park.


Thought for the Day:

My greatest fear is that when I’m gone my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them.


Oh WOW !!!!

Posted on April 29, 2010

We left the rig about 9:15 am heading out to see Yosemite National Park. As we got closer to Oakhurst, the 2nd town over, we started to see a lot of snow on the mountains that wasn’t there yesterday.

After stopping for gas in Oakhurst, we headed north about 5 miles and entered the Sierra National Forest, which borders Yosemite. Along the way we encountered more and more snow, which gave us some incredible views. Click to enlarge the pictures.

SnowDrive 2 SnowDrive 1

Another 10 miles later we entered Yosemite National Park at the Ranger Station. Because of the heavy snow last night (between 6 and 12 inches) we were told we that we needed either chains or a 4 wheel drive vehicle with snow tires to enter the Park.  We had the 4 wheel drive, but no snow tires, but lucky for us they didn’t really check, so we got in. As it turned out, the roads were pretty clear and we never needed it.

SnowDrive 4

SnowDrive 3

We did see several snow plows during our drive so I guess they did a good job. But the higher we climbed the more snow we saw. We finally topped out about 6500 feet, with snow covering everything but the road. And the views were spectacular.

SnowDrive 6

SnowDrive 5

SnowDrive 7

After a lot of hairpin turns we came to the area known as Tunnel View, which of course involves a tunnel.


Coming out of the tunnel there was a large viewing area looking out over the valley, including BridalVeil Fall. Yes, for some reason it’s called Fall, not Falls.


As we got closer, the Fall got more and more impressive.



We stopped at the Fall viewing area and walked up the 1000 foot trail to the base of the fall. With all the spray in the air, it was almost like it was raining.


SnowPeak 2

Then it was on to Yosemite Village, which is the turnaround point for the trip, with more great scenery along the way.


SnowPeak 3

As we got close to the Village, we saw the other big waterfall in the park, Yosemite Falls. Yes, this one is called Falls, not Fall. Don’t asked me why.

Yosemite Falls 2

Yosemite Falls 3

After buying some souvenirs at the Yosemite Store, we stopped and had a bad lunch at the Lodge. The best part was the cookie we had for dessert.

We also saw a lot of Sequoias in the Park. For some reason I always thought that Sequoias and Redwoods were the same tree, but they’re not. It turns out that Redwoods are only found in northern coastal California up near the Oregon border.


Coming home, we started seeing first rain, then sleet, and finally, sleet, hail,and snow, all mixed together.

We got home about 3:30 pm, glad to be back where it was warm and dry.

Tomorrow we plan on heading south about 75 miles to Sequoia National Park where we’ll see a lot more, bigger Sequoias.

More tomorrow…

Late Update:

Tonight  on CSI they investigated a murder they thought was done at a shooting range. Although the name was different, the store they used was the one where Jan did her machine gun shooting when we were in Las Vegas.

Gun 3


Goldilocks Pants . . .

Another lazy morning starting with coffee, and Jan and I splitting one of Terry Russell’s delicious cinnamon buns. Then I caught up on some computer stuff while Jan read. A really nice way to spend the morning.

About 11 Nick called to see what we had planned for today. Which, like most days, was pretty much nothing, just enjoying life.

Next I tried on the three pair of new pants I got at Wal-Mart yesterday. And once again, I bought  Goldilocks pants.

You know what I mean . . . Goldilocks Pants. One pair is too tight, one pair is too loose, and one pair is juuuust right. How do they do that?

The pants, Wrangler Cargo Pants, are all the same style, just different colors.

I’ve also purchased Goldilocks Underwear. In this case, a 3 pack of Hanes, with the same problem

Also, while I’m ranting, why do they only make pants in even sizes. Normally I wear a 36 waist, but depending on the style, a 37 would fit better. But they don’t make a 37, just a 38, which is too loose.

And getting back to men’s underwear, they all seem to span two sizes, i.e. 32-34, or 36-38, with no overlap. Why don’t they make a 34-36, which would fit me better?

Who makes up these rules?

Then a little later I went out to check on my black tank valve replacement from yesterday. Removing the cap, I found no black tank leakage, but a couple of tablespoons of grey water leakage. It’s probably been that way for a while, but was masked by the black tank stuff.

So it’s now on my list to also replace while I’ve got the panel off. I’ll try to pick one up at Camping World before we leave the area.

Later,over at Nick’s we worked on some problems with his blogs. And it looks like I may have caused another one. In trying to figure out how to add pages to the nav bar on his theme, the menu shifted up on top of his logo picture. Don’t know why or how it did that. So we called Chris Guld of Geeks on Tour who set up the blog to take a look at it.

About 4:30 Jan and I headed out to meet Nick, Terry, and Nick’s cousin Beverly, at Lucky Wishbone, a steak fingers, chicken, and fish place we ate at once before, but this was a different location. But it was just as good as last time.

Coming home about 6:30, since it was on our way, we went by Camping World to pick up a grey tank valve. Figure they might already be closed, and they were. Will try again tomorrow.

Later, after Nick got home we fooled with the blog problem some more and found out something interesting. The menu problem only shows up on some computers, not all.

It shows up on mine and Nick’s, but not on Terry’s. It also doesn’t show up on Beverly’s or Chris Guld’s.  Strange.

That’s about it for today. Thought I repost some more of our visit last April and May to the High Sierras of California.


Thought for the Day:

Better to keep your enemy in your sights than in your camp expecting him to guard your back.


High in the Sierras…

Posted on April 27, 2010

We decided to go out for breakfast about 9 am while we were waiting to see if our new site was open yet. Noting that the site was on the way out, we drove by to check it out and found that it was already empty. But there was a problem.

Although it was a pull-thru, the site was kind of short and rolled off down the hill in the front. By the time I had pulled far enough into the site to setup I’d be tilted downhill too much to get leveled. I thought I’d talk with the Park office when we got back.

On recommendation of the office we had breakfast at Pete’s Place in Oakhurst and it was really pretty good. The bacon was especially good.

We got back to the park about 10:30 and I stopped off at the office to find out if another site was available. One of their people took me out to look over two other sites and I picked 511.

About 11:30 we moved into our new site and got set up.

Click to Enlarge !

This is a really nice area of the park, off the main road so it’s nice and quiet.

Click to Enlarge !

Click to Enlarge !

But because of all the nice trees it took a while to get a sight line on the satellite, I had to move it three times before I got a signal. Here’s how I ended up finding a hole in the trees.

Click to Enlarge !

If I had a roof-mounted sat dish, we’d have been out of luck. As it is, I had to set up the dish about 30 feet behind the coach.

The weather had been overcast and drizzling on and off all day, and it seemed like the perfect time for an afternoon nap.

And it was.

About 4:45 pm we drove into Oakhurst to have dinner at El Cid, a Mexican restaurant that advertised in the park brochure. And it was well worth the trip. The chips were hot, the salsa was cold, the iced tea was good, and the food was great!

And the view wasn’t too shabby either. We sat out on the glassed-in patio that overlooks the High Sierras,

Click to Enlarge !

and looks down on a cactus garden with numerous bird feeders. And tulips, too.

Click to Enlarge !

Click to Enlarge !

Jan was happy to see all the finches since she used to feed them in Houston before we went fulltime. She was surprised to find out that the finches stay here all year, even during the winter with snow on the ground. In Houston they only stay around for a couple of months in the fall.

Click to Enlarge !

We saw several of these red headed birds too, but no one knew what they were. A little Googling told me that these are male house finches. We had never seen them before.Click to Enlarge !

Click to Enlarge !

Even bluebirds were hanging around. Don’t know how happy they were, tho.

Click to Enlarge !

We got back to the rig about 6 pm and settled in for the night.

The weather is supposed to be even worse tomorrow, so we’ll probably wait until Thursday before we do any sightseeing, but we’ll see.

More tomorrow…


Great Bread and Italian Beef . . .

We both slept in this morning, Jan getting up at 9:30, with me following about 10. I made coffee and Jan toasted up some of Miss Terry’s great homemade bread.

Terrys Bread

Didn’t even need jelly, just some butter slathered on. Great!

After enjoying our coffee and toast, and checking my email, I went out about noon to change out my leaking black tank valve.

First I drained the black tank, and then used the built-in flush system until the water ran clear in my transparent hose segment.

About a week ago I’d sprayed the four bolts with penetrating oil hoping that would free up the somewhat rusted bolts.

And it did. Or at least it did for the front two. They came off very easy. However the rear two just would not budge.

I finally had to get a couple of pieces of pipe to use as ‘cheaters’ to give me enough leverage to break the nuts loose.

But it didn’t work. At least not that way. It did however shear the bolts into, which accomplished the same thing.

After I got the bolts out, it took only a couple of minutes to pull out the old valve and the gaskets.

Next I mounted the new gaskets on the ends of the exposed sewer pipe, and then slide the new valve in place, rotating in up and down to be sure it had seated with the gaskets.

I then installed the new bolts after greasing them up. Then after carefully tightened the bolts, I closed the valve and put the cap back on the hose connection.

Before I put the panels back on tomorrow and close everything up, I’ll take the cap off and be sure I don’t have any leakage.

All in all, it was a pretty simple job. It would have only taken about 30 minutes if it hadn’t been for the stuck bolts.

Black Valve

While I was working on the valve, a guy from RCS came over to borrow a pair of Channel-lock pliers. RCS is the company that runs the carnival that is arriving here at the fairgrounds to prepare for the Pima County Fair that starts April 14th

I was surprised to find out that they were coming here from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo in where else, Houston. If they do the Houston Rodeo, they’re a big outfit.

About 3 pm, Nick and Terry, and Jan and I headed out, first for Wal-Mart for shopping, then on to Barnes & Noble for books, and then Luke’s Italian Beef for what else, Italian Beef. And Luke’s was as good as last time.

Coming home we stopped off at Nick’s cousin Beverly’s for a while.

After getting home, Nick and I went over some problems he’s having with some of his blogs, before finally calling it a night.

Here’s a repost of some of our visit to the Yosemite area last May.


Thought for the Day:

Without coercion and extortion, most governments would cease to exist.


The Acorn Pole…

Posted on May 4, 2010

Today was another ‘get ready to travel” day. We plan on leaving about 9 tomorrow morning and moving about 230 miles north to the Wind Country RV Park in Rohnert Park, CA,  which will put us about 45 miles north of San Francisco.

We plan on staying there a week exploring San Francisco, Monterey, and the Napa wine country.

About 1:30 I dropped Jan off at the park laundry so she could do some heavy rugs.

When I picked her up about 4 pm we drove over to the acorn pole here in the park to see the handiwork of the Acorn Woodpecker.

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker2

And this is their work.

Acorn Pole

Acorn Pole2

What you see above is a telephone pole, and food storage container for the Acorn Woodpecker and his acorns.

He enlarges the cracks in the pole and stuffs his acorns in there to keep them safe. But sometimes that doesn’t work. In Arizona, Acorn Woodpeckers stored 485 pounds of acorns in the sides of a wooden water tower that fell thru to the inside and they couldn’t get them back out.

About 4:30 pm we picked up George and Sandy Stoltz at their RV here in the park to drive into Oakhurst to have dinner at El Cid, a great Mexican restaurant we found here.

Great Friends, Great Times, Great Food.  I”m sure we’ll bump into them again somewhere on the road.

More tomorrow from the Napa Valley


A Two’fer . . .

Jan and I slept until about 9 am this morning, another semi-early wakeup call, but well worth it.

We had two good things waiting for us – Our friends Al & Adrienne were coming over at 10, and Miss Terry was going to have cinnamon buns waiting for us. A real ‘Twofer’

They were coming over to see the new cabinets and work stations Nick and Terry had done on their coach. Then with hot coffee and warm-from-the-oven cinnamon buns, we had a great time just sitting around talking RVing and other stuff. And since it looks like we’ll be leaving here Tuesday or Wednesday, we’re going to try to have supper together Monday night.

Al & Adrienne had an appointment so they left around 11:30, but Jan and I stayed talking until almost 1 pm.

Then later while Jan was napping, I drove over to the Fairground’s office to see if there was anyway to get mail on Saturday. The answer was ‘NO’. Apparently the Post Office doesn’t deliver mail to the fairgrounds on Saturday.

Coming back to the rig, I checked to see if I could just pick up the letter at the PO, but found out it was closed on Saturday.

About 5:30 we all headed into Tucson to pick up Nick’s cousin Beverly before ending up at Golden Corral for supper

After much sniveling we finally gave in and took Nick to DQ about 9 pm to get his chocolate milkshake fix. He was starting to go into withdrawal since he hadn’t had a DQ fix since Tuesday.

Poor Baby!

Tomorrow I’m going to try and replace my black tank valve. Hopefully it won’t be too messy. We’ll see.

More tomorrow  . . .

Here’s a repost of our visit to St. Augustine in 2009. Enjoy.


Thought for the Day:

Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Nothing!


Tour Trains & Komodo Dragons…

Posted on June 8, 2009

Today Jan and I did ‘touristy’ stuff

We started off at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.  This is probably the nicest small zoo we’ve been to.  And believe me, we’ve been to a bunch of them.

They had some very unique displays including komodo dragons, the bird rookery, and the albino alligators.

Founded in 1893, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is one of Florida’s oldest zoological attractions.  In the early 1880s, two men began collecting alligators they found on Anastasia Island.  These individuals, George Reddington and Felix Fire, were the founders of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm at South Beach.

In 1937,  Reddington and Fire sold it to a pair of young business men in the community:  W.I. Drysdale and F. Charles Usina.  And the Drysdale family still owns the park today.

In 1989,  The American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums extended accreditation to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, thereby elevating the institution to a select list of facilities throughout the nation recognized for the quality of their collections and the care afforded them.

The Alligator Farm is the only zoo to have all 23 species of the worlds’ crocodilians exhibited in individual habitats.

Here are some pics:



These alligators are true albinos with pink eyes.  They have no skin pigment.

White Alligator

White Alligator

There are other white alligators, called leuistic alligators.  Unlike albinos, leuistic alligators have pigment.  It’s just a white pigment.

And they don’t have pink eyes.  They have bright blues eyes.  There are only about 12 known in the world, and they are all males.

Leuistic White Alligator

Leuistic White Alligator

Pile of Gators

Pile of Gators

We really enjoyed seeing the Komodo Dragon again.  The last time we saw them was at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 1971.

Komodo Dragon 1

Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon 2

Komodo Dragon

Reticulated Python

Reticulated Python

Northern Cassowary

Northern Cassowary

This is ‘Gomek’.  He was a 17 foot,  2000 pound Saltwater Crocodile who lived at the Alligator Farm.  When he died, they had him stuffed and put back on display.  He just doesn’t move around as much anymore.

Gomek - Tha Saltwater Crocodile

Gomek – Tha Saltwater Crocodile

We really enjoyed The Rookery.  This is a walk-thru area with nesting birds in some cases, just inches from the walkway.

Nesting Egrets

Nesting Egrets

The Rookery

The Rookery

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

Nesting Roseate Spoonbills

Nesting Roseate Spoonbills

Stork Chicks

Stork Chicks

Nesting Tri-Color Heron

Nesting Tri-Colored Heron

Snowy Egret and Hungry Chicks

Snowy Egret and Hungry Chicks

This is a fake dead zebra.  It is used for the realistic feeding of the vultures and storks who regularly feed on carcases.

"Dead" Zebra


Hooded Vultures

West African Crowned Crane

West African Crowned Crane

Black Swan

Black Swan

Blue and Gold Macaw

Blue and Gold Macaw

Indian Gharial Crocodile

Indian Gharial Crocodile

The hand belongs to Christie.  She goes into the pen to feed the alligators.  And yes, that is a rat, a dead rat.  Apparently, dead rats are alligator treats.  The zoo buys them already dead.  She said the rats are cheaper than chicken and the gators like them better.

Alligator Feeding Time

Alligator Feeding Time

Feeding Skipper

Feeding Skipper

He knows it's here somewhere

He knows it’s here somewhere



All Gone!

All Gone!

Taste like Chicken!

Taste like Chicken!

Golden Lion Tamarin

Golden Lion Tamarin

After we left the Alligator Farm, we headed over to take the Old Town Trolley Tour.  This is same tour company that we took in Key West.  They also have tours in Savannah, Washington, D.C.,  Boston, and San Diego.  We plan on taking this tour in all these cities as we visit them.

One of the places we passed thru on the tour was Magnolia Ave.   Strangely enough, there are no magnolia trees on Magnolia Ave.  Just some beautiful oaks trees in a canopy over the street.

Maganolia Ave

Magnolia Ave

After our Trolley Tour, we drove down the road a ways to eat lunch again at the Oasis Restaurant.  We ate here a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it.  And it was close by.

Oasis Restaurant

Oasis Restaurant

After lunch, we headed over to Walmart to pick up our prescriptions, and then it was on to Camping World to get some more parts for my new toad tail light setup.

After that, we stopped off for coffee before heading back to the coach.

All in all, an enjoyable day.

And tomorrow?     Road trip!!!


Bay Doors and Waste Valves . . .

As is pretty normal, Jan had one of her ‘rebound’ 2nd day migraines, not as bad as the first one yesterday, but still not fun.

A little after 11am I called American Coach with some questions on several projects I’ve got in work on our coach, and as usual, they came thru with great info.

Then Nick Russell called a few minutes later to talk about finishing up our battery checks from yesterday. Since we picked up some distilled water last night, we’re good to go today.

The latest news on my dented bay door is not good. The fairgrounds and the landscapers are pretty much denying that they did it.

Coach Bay Door

But it was not there last Wednesday when we moved from site 407 to site 404 to get a 50 amp hookup. We haven’t moved since, and no one else has been back there, except them.

And since I just changed from Progressive Insurance to GMAC I really hate to file a claim less than two weeks after I got my new policy.

Still deciding what to do.

After lunch Nick and I got back to work on checking our battery’s water level. Nick has been dissatisfied with the capacity of the 3 12volt Interstate Batteries he installed after he got the new coach. So we checked water level, connections, etc.

Then next we look at a starting problem with his Onan generator, but of course today when we were looking at it, it started fine. So we’ll have to keep an eye on it to see if the problem returns.

About 4:15 pm Jan and I headed in Tucson to meet Nick and Terry, and Nick’s cousin Beverly at Poco & Mom’s, a very small, very delicous Mexican restaurant that we were introduced to last year by our friends Al & Adrienne.

Poco & Mom’s does wonderful things with Green Hatch chilies, and we always eat here when we’re in Tucson.

Coming home, we detoured over to Camping World to pick up new black tank waste valves for both Nick and I.

Valterra ValveWe both have valves that leak slightly and want to replace them. I suspect mine may just have something stuck in the gate, but since I have to remove it anyway, I figure I might as well just replace it instead of cleaning it.

Mine looks to be pretty easy to remove and replace, but Nick’s may be more problematic.

We’ll see.

I got an email this afternoon that the paperwork for my Thousand Trails membership is in the mail and hopefully will be here Monday. Don’t yet know how long it will take to get everything wrapped up.

That’s about it for today. Hopefully Jan will be feeling better tomorrow, since Al & Adrienne are coming over tomorrow morning to check out Nick & Terry’s computer desk.

More tomorrow . . .


Thought for the Day:

In war everything is very simple, but the simplest things are very difficult.


Bisbee Blue and Shady Dell . . .

Continuing from yesterday . . .

After driving around the narrow and twisty streets of Bisbee and then heading out of town on SR 80, it was hard to miss this really, really big hole in the ground.

This hole is the Lavender Pit, and at 300 acres and 900 feet deep, was one of the largest open pit copper mines in the country. The ‘steps’ you see are 50 feet high by 50 feet wide.

Lavender Pit

It opened in 1950, and until it closed in 1974, produced over 86 million tons of ore, containing copper, gold, silver, and turquoise.

The turquoise, known as Bisbee Blue, is considered some of the finest and most beautiful in the world.

Bisbee Blue

Then, a couple of miles further down the road, we came to The Shady Dell.  A motel / RV park, The Shady Dell is an adventure in ‘midcentury modernism’.

Shady Dell 1_thumb[4]

Besides a few RV sites, the motel units are actually completely refurbished vintage camping trailers. Furnished with Black & White TV’s, period radio programs, books, and magazines, staying here is a trip back to the 1950’s.

Shady Dell 2_thumb[4]

Shady Dell 4_thumb[4]

You can even stay in a 1950’s cabin cruiser.

Shady Dell 3_thumb[4]

And for a quick snack, Dot’s Diner is right at hand. Built in 1957 this diner sat at the corner of Ventura and Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Los Angeles. Then in 1996, it was transported to The Shady Dell on the back of a flatbed truck,

Shady Dell 5_thumb[4]

Leaving the 1950’s, we turned south on SR 92 to check out the small border town of Naco, AZ.

Naco is famous in American culture as a boyhood home of Nick Russell. Nick’s father was with the US Border Patrol, and was stationed there several times during the late 50’s and early 60’s. Driving around the small town, Nick was even able to find the remains of one of the houses he lived in.

Naco is also home to one of the oldest golf courses in Arizona, the Turquoise Valley Golf, Restaurant & RV Park. A Passport America park, Turquoise Valley boasts a clubhouse built in the 1930’s and is very popular with snowbirds.

Leaving Naco, we headed toward home by a different route passing thru Sierra Vista, home of the nearby Fort Huachuca Army Post.

Fort Huachuca was established in 1877 and has been deactivated and reactivated several times during its life. It was even a US Air Force base for ONE month in 1951.

After making a mandatory DQ stop, and checking out the RV parking at the local Elk’s Lodge, we headed north on SR 90 to get back on I-10 for the trip home.

On the way, Jan talked to Al & Adrienne to set up dinner tomorrow night at Silver Saddle Steakhouse in Tucson. And then a few minutes later Jan got a call from her friend Linda in Billings, MT. Linda and Jan used to work together at a hospital in Houston, until Linda packed up and moved to Billings. We’ve managed to see her there several times over the last several years, and hope to do it again this summer.

We got home about 6:15 after a long but fun day.

And now for the rest of the story . . .


Today was another early start, but completely unplanned. About 7:15 am fairground workers started trimming the tall oleanders right behind the coach . . . WITH A CHAINSAW!!!

And to top it off, they apparently put a big dent in one of my bay doors, one of the ones I just had painted last fall.

Double Bummer!

Getting up this morning, it was really nippy, having gotten down to 38 degrees last night. It’s supposed to be a little warmer tonight, but not by much.

Unfortunately, Jan woke up with a migraine, and THE CHAINSAW wasn’t helping things, but she took one of her magic Imitrex pills and by later in the afternoon she was feeling much better.

A little later I made coffee and had half of one of Miss Terry’s cinnamon buns, but Jan wasn’t feeling hungry so I had it all to myself.

Then Nick and I were going to check our battery water levels, but after discovering neither of us had any distilled water, we decided to put it off until tomorrow.

Around 4:30 we all drove into Tucson to meet Al & Adrienne for dinner at Silver Saddle Steakhouse. You’re always worried when you introduce two sets of good friends.

What if they don’t like each other?

But they all seemed to hit if off, and after a great steak dinner, we went back to Al & Adrienne’s to talk some more. They’re very interested to see the work areas that Focal Wood Products built for Nick and Terry’s rig, and are coming over Friday morning to check them out.

Nick's Desk

Then coming home around 8:30 we detoured by a Fry’s to pick up some things, including distilled water for our batteries tomorrow.

More then . . .


Thought for the Day:

When a fail-safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safely.


Trains and Tombstones . . .

First off we have a new Landon photo taken while he was Skyping with his other grandmother in OK.

Landon - Skype

This morning started really early, (Hey, for me, 7am is EARLY) but at least we had time for coffee. And splitting one of Miss Terry’s fabulous cinnamon buns.

It was really nice outside this morning since the winds had died down, and the light, but steady, rain all night had finally settled the dust. And it looks to be nice for the next several days with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 40’s.

Really nice.

About 9am Nick Russell, his wife Terry, and Jan and I headed out to Tombstone, AZ, “The Town Too Tough To Die”, about 55 miles away.

The first 25 took us east on I-10 to Benson where we got on State Road 80, toward Tombstone.

Passing through Benson, we took a loop around the Escapees SKP park located on the outskirts of the town. This park is a co-op park that allows the owners to build structures on their lots next to their RV pads. And some get even more involved.

This owner build his own outdoor western-themed train layout. I told Jan this makes me want to reconsider buying a lot in a park somewhere. If I weren’t RVing fulltime I’d have a big train layout like I did as a kid.

Escapees Train 1

Escapees Train 2

Escapees Train 3

Nearing Tombstone, Nick took us on a tour of an Arizona ghost town called Fairbank. Founded in 1881, it prospered from being the nearest railroad station to the bustling city of Tombstone, one of the largest cities in the western US at the time.


But a combination of floods and droughts gradually killed off the town, although there were a few remaining residents until the 1970’s when the last of the buildings were condemned.

fairbank AZ

Today the area is owned by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and is open to the public.

Leaving Fairbank, it was only a few minutes further down the road to Tombstone. And just about the first thing you see coming into town is Tombstone’s legendary Boot Hill. And it was our first place to stop.

Apparently only about 200 of the 300 graves here are identified, due to some buried without grave markers, and some markers lost. But the ones that remain are very interesting.

Some of the first graves you find are the result of the (in)famous Gunfight at the OK Corral.

OK Corral 1

OK Corral 2

Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, and Frank McLaury were killed in a shootout with Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday. The two other initial participants, Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran when the shooting started.

The feud between the Earps and the Clanton gang continued for another six months, resulting in the death of Morgan Earp and the severe wounding of Virgil. Finally in April 1882 the Earps left the Arizona Territory for Colorado.

Later, after serving as a film consultant for silent cowboy moves, and also as a deputy sheriff, Wyatt Earp died in January 1929 at the age of 80 in his small apartment in Los Angeles.

On a Trivial Pursuit note, his friend Bat Masterson, died in New York City at his desk at the New York Morning Telegraph newspaper where he was head sports editor. A big change from a gunfighter/lawman in the Old West.

Courthouse Gallows

Tombstone Gallows

The gallows still stand at the old Cochise County Courthouse, and some days they got a real workout.

In this case, 5 in one day.

Legally Hanged

It’s good that they clarified they hung these guys ‘legally’, caused this guy was just lynched outright.


And in one of those ‘Oops. Sorry ‘bout that’ moments, this poor soul was done in by mistake.

Oh, well.


After driving around Tombstone, and agreeing with Nick and Terry that the place had been turned into a complete tourist trap, we pressed on to Bisbee, AZ.

Our first stop was lunch at the Bisbee Grille, a place that got great reviews, but Nick wasn’t as enamored of it as we were.

Bisbee 1

Bisbee is a quaint little town scattered up and down the mountain side, with a lot of neat shops and stores. It has a real artist’s colony feel to it.

This post is starting to run long so I’ll finish up the rest of our trip tomorrow.


Thought for the Day:

If rebooting fails, hit it with a hammer.