Sunday, November 27, 2011

Road Trips

We don’t just sit around all of the time, twice this week we actually went for a couple of drives.  On Black Friday we went sightseeing around the city, and even stopped into one shopping center (but left without buying anything).  On Saturday we got out of town for a longer trip: back to Show Low (just the opposite direction of our arrival) for lunch, then back to Phoenix by way of US60.  Two weeks ago I asked a local person at the RV park which route might be best to get us into Phoenix and she suggested we might prefer the northern route, along the Mogollon Rim and through Payson, if we were towing the car with the motorhome.  The southen route, via US60 through Globe, would be twistier.  

She was right. 

Saturday’s first stop was at a small Visitor’s Center, run by the US Forest Service, just east of Payson.  Thank goodness I had seen its location on a map and was watching for it, because it can be really easy to miss – the visitor’s center that is.  The Rim is really easy to spot: a wall over 2000 ft high x 200 miles long.

We both remembered a lot of the scenes from 2 weeks ago, but it was slightly different going in the opposite direction. 

After lunch we took the southern route, dropping off the rim soon after leaving Show Low, down into the Fort Apache Indian Reservation on our way to the Salt River Canyon.  We had heard that this was similar to the Grand Canyon, but that might be stretching things a bit.

What do you think:

We would recommend that other tourists coming through here should try both of these roads.  Since we have a diesel with an exhaust brake neither road is difficult, but US 60  is twistier, for sure (at least 4 tight switchbacks by the Salt River bridge).

 Today, Sunday, was a quiet day putting up Christmas decorations, both in our motorhome and starting in Paula’s house.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Time to get caught up

Thanksgiving has come and gone, along with Black Friday, so it is high time we got this blog up-to-date.

First off, the recent holiday helps us to think of all the things we have, and all that we can do, and to be thankful for them.  Thanksgiving at Paula and Tom’s place was casual: a buffet-style dinner with some neighbors and family; about a dozen people with food for about 50 people.  In the past, we have usually hosted about twice that many people at our place.  Paige had to learn to let someone else take charge – different; but nice, too!

Another birthday also came and went.  Thanks for the cards and phone calls from family and friends.  It wasn’t any big deal, just another year closer to Medicare.

Our plans are to stay here at Paula and Tom’s place through the end of the year, but to fly back to Minnesota for Christmas with the kids and granddaughters.  Skype, e-mails, and phone calls help, but nothing beats face to face, especially for Christmas.

At this time last year we were both still working for a living.  We’ve been out of the house and living in the motorhome for almost 11 months now, and we still get along.  Now, as buddy Ron says, “every day is a Saturday, except for Sunday”.  Yesterday we did a little sightseeing inside the city (downtown, stadiums, shopping centers, etc) and today we are planning a little road trip to get out of the city and see some countryside for a change.  That should force us to take a few new photos and post them here later.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The New "Normal"

It’s been a quiet week in (not Lake Wobegone) Glendale.  We have been here for a week already, not doing anything dramatic.  Tom left for a race in Baja on Sunday; he is doing support work, not racing anymore after his broken back incident of last June.  We have been helping out around here wherever we can, like picking up some supplies, and dropping off some paperwork for Paula & Tom’s business (they call us their “minions”), plus cleaning our home-on-wheels.  I finally got around to buffing out the hazy headlight covers.  If I’d have known how easy it was, I would have done it sooner.
Last Saturday we turned 20 lbs of potatoes into 13+dozen lefsa, in preparation for Thanksgiving next week.  We were a well oiled machine – Paige prepared the dough and rolled out the lefse, Paula was the flipper, and Bob did his normal job of packaging.  It was a change for us to not make this in our home, but Paula’s kitchen offered lots of room and efficiencies that we didn’t have before.  We were very tired by the end of the session!

Tom had a small building without a floor in it.  He had Fostino (their hired helper) empty this building so that they could put in a wooden floor.  Phil and Bob decided to do this work while Tom is in the Baja at the race.  Phil, Bob, and Fostino have been working part of each day this week getting that work done.  Phil is the brains having been a house builder in Alaska, Bob is the helper, and Fostino has been going with his truck to pick up the materials.  The floor is in and now they are putting up some shelves.  Tom will be surprised to see this completed when he returns home.

Paula has been down with the flu the past couple of days.  It looks like she’s bouncing back now and so this afternoon we started to create lists for the Thanksgiving dinner.  Phil and Elsie, Bob and Paige, along with a few neighbors will be here for the dinner.  Tomie comes home from USC on Tuesday and we’re looking forward to having her around here!

No big plans for the weekend.  The weather here has been absolutely perfect – high 70’s and sunny.  There is a possibility of a little bit of rain this weekend but it can’t be perfect forever, right?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Done Traveling – for Awhile

So, here we are in sunny Arizona.  We woke up Thursday morning in Show Low, with an overnight low temperature of 19 degrees.  As it turns out, the day really was sunny, see:

Does this look like the image of Arizona that comes to mind most often?  Only a few minutes later, Highway 260 brought us off the Mogollon Rim and down into the valley of the metro Phoenix area.  Does this look more like what was expected?

It was a full morning of driving, but we pulled into Paula and Tom’s place about 12:30 and unloaded our toys.  The map on this blog can be expanded to show all of our travels in 2011, which is somewhere around 17,000 miles on the motorhome alone (plus some more on the car and motorcycle).  We don’t expect to move the motorhome until we move to our next NOMADS project in early January, so the map won’t be changing for awhile.  I plan to start a new map in 2012.

The big news of the day is that our nephew, Ty, and his wife, Jen, are now parents.  Congratulations to them on the birth of little Leah!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Early on Wednesday we left the Rio Grande valley and climbed to a plateau ringed by peaks which help block radio waves.  Here is where the Very Large Array of radio telescopes is located. 

We stopped at their visitors’ center for a mid morning break and heard a presentation from a former employee who had been working here over 30 years.  For more detailed information, see  
Later, we crossed the continental divide about an hour from the state line.  Here is where we saw the snow.  As “SnowBirds” we are trying to get to Paula and Tom’s place in the Phoenix area before getting caught in any snow.  Not like last January when we left MN on Jan 2.  What we saw today was just a dusting, and in the shadows, not on the road itself.  The weathermen are predicting lots more snow for this area within the week, so our timing is close.

Tomorrow we will finish our trek, as we come down to the lower elevations and park at Paula and Tom’s place.  They already have some work lined up for us to do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where are we?

On Monday morning we traveled south to Amarillo and looped around it, not through town.  As a result, we didn’t see much more than truck stops.  Across the Texas panhandle the main things to see are the huge beef feedlots.  As we were crossing the border into New Mexico, we had a phone call with our NOMADS friends in Montana.  We first met them at a project in Arizona last winter and we dropped in at their house last August.  They will soon be leaving home, heading back to Arizona as well.  We will be sure to catch up with them again soon somewhere in the Phoenix area. Since Sunday was a long day we had a short Monday stopping at Clovis, the first large town into New Mexico. We did a little shopping and just relaxed.

Yesterday, Tuesday, the scenery of eastern New Mexico seemed a lot like western Texas, with straight and flat roads, but soon changed into higher plains and we began seeing some actual mountains.  A few already had a white dusting of snow on them.  We skipped on the Billy-the-Kid museum near Fort Sumner, but had lunch and a history lesson at the same time when we pulled into Mountainair where the visitors center for Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is based.  We left the high plains (>6600 ft) and dropped into the Rio Grande valley and actually drove on a freeway for awhile (I-25).  We spent the night at a nice little RV park in Socorro, New Mexico.

Our daytimes have been pleasant with partly cloudy skies and temps in the high 50’s to low 60’s; good for driving.  Nighttimes have been very quiet and cool, with temps near freezing.  Yesterday we made sure we had a full water tank and empty holding tanks overnight.  This was a good thing since there was a hard freeze here overnight.  By the time we get to Phoenix, temps should be in the 70’s.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bigger Day than Planned

Our expectation was for a short day: US 54 to Liberal KS.  It was a little too short, since we got there too early to end the day.  One alternative after another didn't look good for a number of reasons, so we kept on going.  By the time we called it quits, we had left Liberal, crossed the Oklahoma panhandle, and entered Texas.  It was a 375-mile day, so we will intentionally get a late start tomorrow.
We have also left US 54, so we will drop down to US 60 and take it all the way to Phoenix.

This is a First

Normally we post our blogs in the afternoon or evening.  Today, we are doing it before breakfast. 
With Daylight Savings Time ending last night, we stayed up a little later than normal.  Around 11PM we felt a shaking that we first thought might have come from the gusty winds, but this was different.  A walk around the RV didn't show any physical vandalism.  What was it?  Our second guess was maybe an earthquake, and that's what it really was.  This was our first.
The news this morning confirmed a 5.6 quake was centered on Sparks OK - about 150-200 miles away.  We expect the rest of the day to be calmer.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sitting Still

As predicted, today's winds are pretty strong.  Strong enough for us to take a day off and go shopping.  Paige got to check out three (count 'em, 3) yarn stores.  But she only bought from one of them. 
Coleman, the outdoor products company, is based here in Wichita and has a combination museum/outlet store downtown.  We stopped in there too and did some sightseeing in the downtown area.
We are enjoying this "downtime" by taking a short afternoon nap and a short walk around the RV park.  Homemade chicken soup is being prepared as this is being written.
It was a pleasant time off the road, but we will roll again tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Westward Ho

We are rolling again - Westward.
Seems like "Route 66" has been overdone, and with a lot of it replaced by I-40, it is work to find the original road.  Instead, we are taking a similar, but parallel, road which is US 54 which still exists all by itself with no Interstates on top of it.
Today, Friday, was a lazy day.  The project was over and there was no rush to leave.  Half of our group went out to breakfast together, then slowly packed up.  It was 11:00 by the time we pulled out and we stopped about 4:00 after crossing half of Kansas.  We are spending the night in Wichita and will get another late start tomorrow, since Paige has found at least 3 yarn shops here.
After seeing what they have available, we will continue following #54 to the west.  Weather shouldn't be too bad this weekend, other than wind.  If it becomes too high, we will stop wherever we might be - that's the nice thing about not having a schedule.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

This project is winding down

It is a cool, blustery mid-afternoon as I write this.  In exchange for extra hours we worked last Friday morning, we were given this afternoon off.  The bigger parts of our project here at Camp Galilee, El Dorado Springs, Missouri are done and the smaller items are now finishing up.  We got a lot of work done here in the past 3 weeks and it gives us a real sense of accomplishment.  At the same time, however, we are all cleaning up and packing up.  Tonight will be a group dinner when we recap all that was done and say our good byes to one another.  A group of strangers met here 3 weeks ago and good friends will soon be scattering to different directions.  It is likely that we will meet again at future projects, we just don’t yet know when or where.  Here are some examples of our activities:
Bob and Elizabeth hauling the herd of deer.

Sue and Art working on the lights in the cold today.

We even got some Geocaching and a Halloween party in too:


Our next week will be spent traveling slowly toward the warmth of the Phoenix area.  We will stretch it out for at least a week by staying toward the back roads and having short driving days.  We're looking forward to spending time with Paula and Tom and connecting with Uncle Phil and Elsie also - and some warm weather again!!  Paula complained in an email today that it was only getting to 60 today - that would be great here!!  It's only in the low 40's now.