Bearizona and Las Vegas . . .

Today was a travel day, from Williams, AZ to the Thousand Trails RV Park in Las Vegas. But before I tell you about that, I wanted to recount our visit to Bearizona yesterday.

Bearizona is a drive-thru/walk-thru wildlife park that just opened last year, and new exhibits are being built even now.

Bearizona Entrance

Here’s my sweetie with the park mascot.

Jan and Her Little Bear Friend

These are American Burros who are apparently more interested in dinner than us.

American Burros

Next we had the American Bison or Buffalo.

Bison 1

This guy was only about 20 feet from the truck, and I think he was bigger than the truck.

Bison 2

These are Gray Wolves. When we pulled up to their area, they were just laying around under the trees until one of the park guys went by on his ATV. They all perked up and came running over to the road, I guess thinking they were going to be fed.

Wolves 1

Wolves 2

Wolves 3

In the next area, we had Dall Sheep. We saw a lot of these along the roads in Alaska.

Dall Sheep

And more sheep, this time Big Horn Sheep. We’ve seen these a number of times traveling out west.

Big Horn Sheep 2

Big Horn Sheep 1

This is the fabled White Buffalo. True albino buffalo are extremely rare, but I don’t know what these are. They could be leucistic, which means they would have blue eyes instead of the pink eyes of an albino, or they could be a buffalo/cow cross.

White Buffalo

Finally we saw bears, lots of bears. Black ones, brown ones, little ones, big ones. All around us.

Black Bear 1

Black Bear 2

Brown Bear 1

Brown Bear 2

But the cutest ones were the four 3 month old cubs. They were playing, falling, and wrestling like a bunch of puppies, into everything.

Bear Cubs 1

Bear Cubs 3

Bear Cubs 2

I even shot some video of them.

They even had a baby javelina, with his own bed.

Baby Javelina 1

He even has his own toy to play with. I wonder if the Big Horn Sheep have a toy javelina to play with?

Baby Javelina 3

Another one of those ‘so ugly they’re cute’ animals.

Baby Javelina 2

In the Petting Zoo area, Terry made a new friend. In fact, for a while we thought he was going to follow her home.

Terry and her new best friend

A baby fox.

Fox

But, beside the bear cubs, I think everyone’s favorite were the Bobcats. It was almost like they enjoyed posing for us.

Bobcat 1

They would sit on the rock for a while, take a break and wander off, and then come back and sit on the rock again.

Bobcat 5

Bobcat 2

Bobcat 3

Just beautiful animals.

Bobcat 4

We all had a great time at Bearizona and look forward to visiting it again next year to check out the new animals.

Bearizona is well worth your time if you’re in the area.

Now back to today.

We left the Canyon Gate RV Park in Williams about 9, heading for Las Vegas 213 miles away. The reason we left so early for such a short trip was that Nick had planned to stop at the Speedco about 15 miles outside of Kingman and get the oil changed in his rig. And I was going to check out the instant oil analysis service they offered.

But it didn’t quite work out that way. Despite Nick having called twice and being assured they worked on RV’s and could get him in and out quickly, when he pulled into the parking lot, he was basically told to get out, and that they only worked on big trucks driven by guys working for a living.

When Nick mentioned that their website says they service RV’s, the guy said he didn’t care, just move!

And then they seemed to go out of their way to make it difficult for us to get out of their parking lot. So much so, that I ended up damaging the left front corner of my rig getting out of a tight turn.

Even stranger, a flat bed tractor-trailer pulled in right before us, and after talking to the same guy, started to leave immediately. But then had to wait for Nick to move out of his way. In doing so, he told Nick “these guys are a bunch of a$$hole$”.

So either his truck wasn’t big enough, or he wasn’t working hard enough, I guess.

I know that plenty of RV’ers have used Speedco, but I never have, and now never will.

So, after this brief but unpleasant interlude, we were back on the road to Las Vegas, about 115 miles away.

We were a little worried about the high wind advisories we were seeing, warning of bad conditions crossing the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, but except for the occasional ‘interesting’ wind gust, the trip was smooth and the scenery was great.

Both Nick and Jan had worried about crossing the new bridge, but because the sides are high, and RV’s are supposed to stay in the left lane, you never realize that you are almost 900 feet about the Colorado River as you cross.

It’s really kind of disappointing.

We got into the Thousand Trails here in Vegas a little after 1 and got set up. Then about 3 we drove down to Boulder Station Casino to check out the buffet there.

And it was just as good as last year. As usual we sat around talking for a good while before heading home about 5 pm.

We’re going to be here for two weeks, and hopefully we’ll have as much fun as last year.

More tomorrow.

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Thought

for the Day:

Happy FUN BALL!  – only $14.95-

Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball.

Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.

Happy Fun Ball Contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.

Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete.

Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs:

Itching Vertigo Dizziness Tingling in extremities Loss of balance or coordination Slurred speech Temporary blindness Profuse sweating Heart palpitations

If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin.

When not in use, Happy Fun Ball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration.

Failure to do so relieves the makers of Happy Fun Ball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.

Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

Happy Fun Ball comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Happy Fun Ball

ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!

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Grand Canyon – Part II . . .

Here’s Part II of our Grand Canyon visit yesterday.

Today we visited the Bearizona Wildlife Park here in Williams, but I’ll save it for tomorrow’s blog since we’ll be traveling and won’t have much that is blog-worthy.

We walked further along the rim, just taking in the fantastic scenery.

Canyon Rock Face

This is a view of the legendary El Tovar Hotel looking back from Fred Harvey’s Lookout Studio.

El Tovar

More great views.

Canyon 10

Canyon Lookout 2


Around 1 pm we headed back around the rim to the Bright Angel Dining Room to have lunch. Unfortunately, the place was busy so we didn’t get a table by the window overlooking the canyon, but in consolation, the food was delicious.

Bright Angel Dining Rm

I had the BBQ Sampler Plate with chicken, ribs, and pulled pork, with two very tasty BBQ sauces, including a Prickly Pear Honey sauce.

Bright Angel Diner

Jan had a Pistachio Chicken Salad Sandwich on Ciabatta bread.

Bright Angel Diner 2


These people are heading down one of the many hiking trails. They start out along the rim,

Canyon Trail 1

then work their way thru the tunnel.

Canyon Trail 2

You can take the trail all the way to the bottom of the Canyon and on to the fabled Phantom Ranch

Canyon Trail 3

Phantom Ranch 1


The beginning of the bright green strip is where the Phantom Ranch is located.

Canyon Trail Full 2


Up close, it looks like this. It’s a 12 mile hike down here.

Phantom Ranch 2


And then another 4 miles along here, out to the edge of the bottom canyon.

Canyon Trail 14


I was really surprised Jan was able to do this. She has a real fear of heights so this was a feat for her. I’m really proud of her.

Canyon Rim Jan

I, on the other hand, am more like this guy. The higher, the scarier, the better. Jan calls it ‘riding that ragged edge”

I call it fun.

My Kind of Guy

Canyon 11

Canyon 12

Canyon 13

Heading back to the train depot, we took a quick detour into the El Tovar Hotel. While Jan was checking out the gift shop, I stuck my head in the main dining room. Talk about nice!

El Tovar Dining Room

Finally, about 3:15, we boarded our train car for the trip home.

Canyon Train Home

We pulled back into the Williams Train Depot about 5:45 and made our way back to the RV park a few minutes away.

And we had something great waiting for us. Terry had promised to have one of her great Mexican dinners waiting for us. Spicy Chicken Enchiladas, Roasted Shredded Pork Tacos, and Refried Beans. WOW!

The perfect end to a fantastic day!

More tomorrow.

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Thought for the Day:

"Government health care is like a hospital gown. You only think you’re covered".

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Grand Canyon–Part 1 . . .

Our Grand Canyon day started early. Jan was up about 6:30, said she was too excited to sleep. I was up by 7:30, and we left the rig about 8:15 to make the 5 minute trip to the Grand Canyon Railway Station.

After we picked up our tickets, Jan checked out the gift shop while I checked out the steam engine that they used on the Grand Canyon trip until recently.

Canyon Steam Engine

We boarded our car about 9:15, and the train pulled out about 9:30 to make the 65 mile trip in about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Canyon Train Station

Our seats were in a First Class car, with an observation dome on top.

Canyon Coach

Along the way we came across this herd of horses on the move. Don’t know if they were startled by the train, or just running for the fun of it, but they paced the train for a few minutes.

Canyon Horse 1

Certainly makes you feel you’re out West.

Canyon Horse 2

The train snakes its way up to the canyon, so from our car, third from the end, we were often able to see the front of the train.

Canyon Curves

After our train arrived and we walked to the canyon rim at the Bright Angel area, our first view of the Grand Canyon was just spectacular.

Canyon First View

Everywhere you look you see colors and patterns as far as the eye can see.

Canyon Bottom

This photo shows the multi-mile hiking trail that takes you further out into the canyon.

Canyon Trail

I’ll let these next pictures speak for themselves.

Canyon 1

Canyon 2

Canyon 3

Canyon 4

Canyon 5

Looking over the edge of the canyon we saw this squirrel looking up at us. As soon as he saw us, he started climbing up the outside wall, heading our way.

Canyon Squirrel 1

It was obvious that he expected to be fed,

Canyon Squirrel 2

and despite the sign below, he was going to follow us until he was.

Squirrel Sign

Canyon Squirrel 3

And when we refused to put out, he headed down the wall looking for someone else.

Canyon Squirrel 4

The building at the left in this photo is the Lookout Studio, built by Fred Harvey to give a close up view of the canyon.

Canyon Lookout

Canyon 6

Canyon 9

Canyon 7

While I was out on one of the lookout points here, Jan stayed up top sitting on one of the low walls.Canyon 8

Suddenly another squirrel appeared, climbing up over the wall, and going directly to the trashcan. After pulling out several empty wrappers, he saw Jan sitting there and headed for her. He climbed right up on her lap, sat on her fanny pack, and put his little paws up to her.

Everyone around her marveled at this, but no one took a DARN photo.

Canyon Squirrel 5

That’s about it for today. I’ll have Part Two tomorrow.

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Thought for the Day:

You may turn the other cheek, but I prefer to look into my enemy’s vacant dead eyes.

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Wigwams and Pie . . .

We left Show Low about 9:30 this morning heading 170 miles away to Williams, AZ to spend a few days seeing the Grand Canyon and other sights in the area.

Overall the trip was pretty uneventful, with some road construction on SR77 between Show Low and Holbrook and a lot of smoke around Flagstaff.

Holbrook, where we got on I-40W was on the old Route 66, and was also home to one of the 7 Wigwam Motels in the country. My family and I stayed here on a trip out west in 1963.

WigWamMotel

WigWamMotel1

Built in 1950, it first closed in 1974, but the original owner’s family renovated and reopened it in 1988. And, in fact, the same family still operates it today.

It’s good to see it’s still around. There are only 3 of the original 7 still in existence.

After getting on I-40, our first stop was at the Flying J Truck Stop in Winslow, AZ. Nick wanted to fuel up with diesel and propane, and we all wanted to eat breakfast at the adjacent Denny’s.

We finally got back on the road about 1:30 for the hundred mile run to Williams, with Mister spending the whole trip catching rays in the front window.

Sometimes wide awake . . .

Miister 1

Sometimes dozing off . . .

Mister 2

And sometimes, just completely out of it.

Mister 3

Mister 4

Mister 5

Approaching the Flagstaff area we started seeing a lot of smoke in front of us. It turned out to be a Forest Service controlled burn. Although it wasn’t too bad, we did hit several thick patches and you could certainly smell it.

While passing through some of this, we were passed by Kenny Chesney’s tour bus. He’s got an upcoming gig in Vegas and travels in style. Must be nice to have someone to drive the RV for you.

KennyChesneyBus

Just as we were pulling into the Canyon Gate RV Park in Williams, our daughter Brandi called to check it and tell us that Landon’s daycare had called and said a little girl in his group had BIT him. We all figured that just as soon as he has some teeth, he’ll bite’r back.

After getting set up, everyone rested up, and then about 5:30 we all headed out for a drive around the area, and dinner.

And as it turned out, dinner was at the Pine Country Café, where we ate last year when we were through here. Our meal was good, but what we really came for were the pies.

They bake 44 different kinds of pie every day, but when a particular flavor is gone, it’s gone for the day.

Pine Country Pies

Jan had this huge slice of Coconut Cream, with enough left over to take home.

Pine Country Coconut Pie

And I had this delicious Strawberry Cream Cheese.

I didn’t have any left over.

Pine Country Strawberry Cream Cheese

Tomorrow Jan and I are taking the Grand Canyon Railway train trip to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It leaves about 9:30 and returns to Williams about 5:30 or so. Nick and Terry did this trip last year, so they’re going to sit this one out and rest up.

It’s supposed to get down to 29 degrees here tonight, but it’s just after midnight and it’s already 31.

So I think it might get colder. We’ll see.

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Thought for the Day:

“… that he is incapable of staying on the river of a thought, and is constantly lured down tributaries from which he can never quite work his way back–you can see him batting the little paddles of his mind against the weeds, trying desperately to return to the river but not remembering where it is, or where it was going."

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Riding the Winds of Change . . .

For a change, I got up before Jan, about 8:45, with Jan following about half an hour later. I got the coffee set up and got on the computer. Jan got up just in time for our daughter Brandi to call to tell us about Landon and his new toy.

Here’s some more shots of Landon enjoying his new Alphabet Train. Brandi says he doesn’t want to leave it, even to eat.

Landon 250

Landon 259

After lunch I went outside for a couple of more maintenance jobs. The backup camera on our toad had quit working and I wanted to take a look at it. After a little searching I found a bad connection on the wireless transmitter in the right taillight. A quick spray with CorrosionX fixed the problem.

Next I wanted to take another look at the leaking valve extension on the driver’s rear dual. I added some air and then replaced the extension with another type. We’ll see how it works.

Nick had loaned us his iPad so Jan could finish reading the murder mystery he’s written. After she finished she said it was REALLY good, and the ending was a complete twist. He’s getting it ready to put it up on Amazon’s Kindle service. Once word gets out it should be very popular.

Anyway, after Jan was finished with the iPad she left it on the sofa and Mister commandeered it as his pillow. I told Nick if he wants it back he’ll have to take it away from our 25 lb. cat who still has his claws. Doesn’t look like he’s going to let go anytime soon.

Mister's iPad

About 4 pm we heard from The Talk TV show. We had originally wanted to attend the taping on the 2nd of May. But it turns out, the entire week of the 2nd is dedicated to mothers and Mother’s Day, so they are only having mothers in the audience. They then ask if we could make a later date and suggested May 11th. We said that would be fine. And even better, that day has two tapings so we’ll get to see two shows instead of just one.

But this would mean that we would have to drive back down from Coarsegold since we plan on being there at that time. But it will make a nice overnight trip into LA.

About 4:15 we headed out with Nick and Terry to Native New Yorker to have our last dinner here in Show Low.

And that’s when everything changed.

We had been talking about when we were going to head up to Coarsegold and what route we were going to take, when Nick said those fateful words.

“Why don’t we go up to Las Vegas for a couple of weeks first?”

And that did it. Suddenly all our plans changed. As soon as we got back to the rigs we made reservations at the Thousand Trails park in Las Vegas and we were set.

So as it stands now, we’re leaving here tomorrow, heading about 170 miles over to Willaims, AZ for 3 nights so Jan and I can take the Grand Canyon Railway and visit the Bearizona Wildlife Park.

Then on Saturday we’ll head north to Sin City to try and succumb to as many temptations as we can handle.

And I think between Nick and I, we can handle a LOT!

We still plan on doing The Talk taping trip, just from Vegas instead of Coarsegold.

But of course, all this could change tomorrow.

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Thought For The Day:

Comforting lies are not your friends. Painful truths are not your enemies

fdgsdfg

The King is Dead. Long Live the King.

First off, we have a new champion, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chili.

First we had the Naga Jolokia chilies, also known as Bhut Jolokia, or Ghost chilies. Known at the time as the hottest chili in the world, it rated at a hair over 1 million Scoville units. I’ve had hot wings made with these at the Cypress Creek Café in Wimberley, TX. They call them Devil’s Breath Wings.

But after years on the throne, the Ghost chili was overthrown by the Naga Viper, rated at about 1.38 million Scoville units.

And now, The King is Dead. Long Live the King. The Butch T comes in at almost 1.5 million units.

Trinidad Scorpion

But I guess they’ve got a ways to go.

Pure capsaicin tops out at about 16,000,000 Scoville units. Apparently exposure to that can stop your heart.

The weather here has been really great, with temps in the high 60’s and low 40’s with a lot of sun. But I’ll be glad to get somewhere with higher humidity soon.

Not 95% like in Houston, but not like the 20% here in Arizona, either.

I’m really tired of waking up with the inside of my mouth dry and cracked, and feeling like a place old spiders go to die.

About 10, while I was making coffee and Jan was heating up our muffins, our daughter Brandi called to say that Landon is crawling. Later she sent some video of him playing with the new toy that arrived in the mail today from the Easter Bunny.

Here’s a still shot from the video. He does seem pretty happy with it. I think we, uh, I mean the Easter Bunny done good.

snapshot_003 

Can hardly wait until we can Skype again next Sunday.

For lunch we had leftover pizza and chips. Really good after Jan added her own special touch of spices.

Then after lunch I went outside to do some rig maintenance before we hit the road on Wednesday.

First off, was to close the grey tank valve. Not really maintenance, but I want to have pretty of water built up when I dump.

Next I checked the engine oil level and added a quart of Rotella 15W-40HD. That’s doing real good, since it’s the first oil I had to add since my last oil change about 12,000 miles ago. Plus when we’re parked on concrete, I also look underneath the coach after a few days, to check for leaks. None found so far,

Then I checked my coolant level and topped off the reservoir. This took the last of the gallon I bought in Elkhart, IN last September. Time to get another jug.

About 2 pm I drove over to Pinetop to get some extra keys made for the rig door, and then while I was out, stopped off at an NAPA Auto Parts to pick up some more diesel antifreeze. NAPA is the only place besides truck stops where I’ve been about to find the stuff.

About 5pm we headed out to meet Nick and Terry, and Jim and Shar Lewis at Red Devil Pizza in Lakeside. We ate here last year and remembered it as being good, and it still was.

Jan had the Baked Penne and I had my old favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs. Very good, and much, much better than The Pizza Factory a few nights ago.

After a lot of good conversation, we headed back to the rig a little before 7. We had a great time getting to know Jim and Shar and hope we get to see them our next time through here.

That’s about it for today.

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Thought for the Day:

"Love, sex, food, friendship, art, play, beauty and the simple pleasure of a cup of tea are all well and good, but never forget that God/the universe is determined to kill you by whatever means necessary."

dafds

Happy Easter ! . . .

    Happy Easter!

eggsbar

I was sleeping so good this morning I didn’t get up until about 10:30 and made coffee while Jan heated up muffins.

I worked on web stuff for a while and then went out and mounted a new rack on the side of my electrical bay to hang my dogbone power adapters so they don’t just have to lay on the bottom of the bay.

About 1 pm our son Chris called to say Hi and see how things were going.

I was also trying to help Nick with a clogged black tank valve, but after flushing and refilling it a few times, he finally got it to dump.

Certainly glad I didn’t have to lend a hand.

About 1:30 I made a run to Home Depot for some 4-40 screws and then on to Wal-Mart for cake flour, strawberries, and whipped cream.

She wanted to bake her world-famous pound cake for dessert tonight after Terry’s fantastic Mexican feast. So after a short nap, we headed next door about 5:45 for dinner with Nick and Terry.

And boy, was it good. Shredded Beef Tacos with homemade pico de gallo, chicken enchiladas, and of course, refried beans.

Terry's Mexican

Muy delicioso!

After that great dinner, we sat around for a while trying to make room for pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream, and trying to nail down our plans for the next few weeks.

We know we’re leaving here on the 27th, and heading over to Williams, AZ to take the Grand Canyon Railway day-long trip to the southern rim of the Canyon. While we’re there we also want to check out Bearizona, a drive-thru wildlife park in the area.

After that the plans start to get kind of hazy. We’re trying to get tickets to The Talk day-time talk show. If so, we’ll probably try to stay at the Soledad Canyon Thousand Trails near Acton, and then head up to Park of the Sierras Escapees park in Coarsegold, CA near Yosemite where we stayed last year.

If our tickets don’t come thru, we’ll probably head straight up to Coarsegold. But who knows?

It could all change tomorrow.

After all, that’s part of the fun, isn’t it.

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Thought for the Day:

"If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way." – Mark Twain

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