Rambling thoughts of 2 BabyBoomers, originally from MN, who have hit the Road as members of the FullTime RV Class of 2011.
We are members of ESCAPEEs (see http://escapees.com/) and Nomads-UMC (see http://nomadsumc.org/)
The week is almost gone once again, so it is time to bring
this blog up to date.Monday was another
travel day, and a fairly long one at that: north through most of Oklahoma
(including Oklahoma City) and about half way up through Kansas, stopping in Salina.The weather had been rainy earlier in the
week and the forecast was for more bad weather, so we took advantage of Monday’s
tailwind and put in a long day.
Tuesday was that much shorter since we planned to stop and
see Bob’s sister, Mary, and her husband, Bill, in southern Nebraska.
They have told horror stories about the dirt roads in their neighborhood
that become extremely slippery when wet.We had called them to ask about road conditions and they advised us to
camp at a former Pony Express Station east of them.It wasn’t particularly convenient for them,
but it was paved all the way there and the parking area was paved as well, so
we wouldn’t sink into the ground.Our
rig is about 35,000 lbs and getting a tow is not a small undertaking, so we
appreciated their help in finding this parking area.They came to visit us on Tuesday evening and
again when we had them over for dinner on Wednesday.The bad weather came, as predicted, on
Tuesday night and this was one of the few areas that was not drenched with
rain, pelted with hail, or blown over by the wind.It was one of very few areas that was spared.
On Wednesday, we took a trip to Lincoln to do laundry, errands, and lunch with
Mary.It was great to spend time with them!
After a little down-time there, it was back on the road
again.Thursday was cloudy and cool, but
without wind and rain so it was good to put in another longer day.We stopped at a Corps of Engineers-managed
area just north of Des Moines.This made
for another shorted day on Friday, just getting to Forest City, where Winnebago
RVs are built.We have a service
appointment there next week which is great since we developed problems with two
of our slides last night.Our large
passenger side slide seems to have developed the same problem that was “fixed”
at LaMesa in February.Grrrrrrr!We’re lucky to be able to get this fixed here
as the factory seems to be more reliable than their dealers.
April has been a month with lots of driving: from California
on the first to northern Iowa by the end of the month.Our little sightseeing in West Texas has
meant about 3,000 miles just this month, which will likely be more than half of
our expected miles for all of this year.
Where did we leave off?Oh yes, Thursday morning was spent wandering the Hill Country of Texas –
nice roads and scenery! The noontime was spent tracking down Paige’s mother who
was having some unplanned medical issues that have since been resolved
(mostly).The rest of the afternoon was
Friday was yet another travel day, getting through the
combined San Antonio – Austin metropolitan areas.There was lots of crowding and road
construction as well, so it wasn’t quick.Just north of Waco we found a place alongside of the Interstate and
stopped for the night.Billboards along
the way promoted the Czech heritage in this area and advertised a couple of
nearby bakeries.We got some kolachis at
a nearby store which reminded us of the bakery items at Tobies in Hinckley
Saturday was another day of metro traffic and road
construction; this time getting through Fort Worth.This will be the last large city for awhile,
thankfully.We crossed the border into
Oklahoma and stopped for the weekend at a private RV park across the road from
the Chickasaw Cultural Center.It was
too late in the day and too close to closing time for us to stop when we drove
through the area.But we did find a
Braun’s Ice Cream Shop.We found one of
these in Tahlequa when we worked at a project in Oklahoma a couple years
ago.Braun’s has a huge selection of ice
cream and a 2 scoop ice cream cone for $1.99.Can’t pass that up!
Sunday was a day for church and rest and recuperation.We met an interesting couple during a stop at
Their parrots go with the couple when doing errands.They are 4 and 5 years old, with a life expectancy of about 50 to 60 years.Their plan is to pass them to any of their children who do not provide them with grandchildren.
As mentioned in the prior posting, Sunday was a day to
travel into the Big Bend area.We
stopped for two nights just to the west of the national park in an area called
Lajitas, at a nice resort type campground.
This is not really a town, but it does have a mayor (who is
On Monday we passed through Terlingua, a former ghost town
which has become famous for its chili cookoff competitions, on our way to the
park itself.Big Bend is a huge park and
is so far out of most peoples’ way that it is also lightly used, see https://www.nationalparkreservations.com/park/bigbend-national-park/map/
for more information.One of the park’s
highlights is the mouth of the Santa Elena Canyon.This is where the Rio Grande comes out of a
narrow rock canyon into a wider flood plain.Mexico is on the far side of this river.To save 30 miles of paved road, we got there on a 13 mile dirt road; 4
wheel drive was not required, but high clearance helps and it was dry today.
Another highlight is the Windows View Trail.We drove the paved Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
to get there, including driving up a mountain to the nearby visitors’
center.The top was socked in by clouds
with a heavy mist in the air making it hard to see across the parking lot, so
we skipped the hike and returned home.
Tuesday was another moving day. Many cactus were in bloom:
The Texas Hill country was too far away for a single day, so
we stopped in Sanderson TX.We learned
that the Big Bend Open Road Race is scheduled for later this week and Sanderson
will be the turn-around point. There
were 2 RV’s in the campground with us that brought cars for the event.After a week full of registration,
inspections, qualifying and meetings, on Saturday US 90 is closed to all public
traffic and becomes a timed road course for about 59 miles.The drivers’ objective is to maintain a
particular average speed and get to the finish line at the right time.Target speeds range from 85 to 150 mph.Cars leave individually in the order of their
target times, so there shouldn’t be any need for passing.After every one has gone south, they turn it
around and every car is timed north.We
didn’t stick around to watch someone roar past, but we did cruise by the tech
On Wednesday we left Sanderson, headed to Hill Country.Just after a mid-day stop in Del Rio we
crossed the 100 degree Longitude line, leaving the West behind.Now we are in an area where rivers actually contain
water, row crops are planted, and the real color of green exists, not the
desert’s pale shade.It is also quite
humid, something we haven’t felt for many months.
We planned to sample some of the Hill Country’s scenery on
the motorcycle, but the sky was dark and the forecast was for rain.The V-Strom went back on the lift and we
jumped into the truck, and had a gorgeous sunny day, but no photos.
We had a busy Saturday around Fort Davis: first we found a
geocache and left a trackable coin that we got from Yuma, then we visited the
Fort Davis National Historic Site(see https://www.nps.gov/foda/index.htm).
Then we went down the road to nearby Alpine where we toured
the free Museum of the Big Bend.Very
interesting!All this was before noon.
We had afternoon tickets for a guided tour of the University
of Texas’ McDonald Observatory.To get
there, we had to drive the highest paved road in all of Texas, nearly 7000 feet
above sea level.They have many
telescopes here and we got inside two of them.
Our guide made astronomy almost understandable.These telescopes are incredibly
complicated!A number of the research
team live on the site and sleep days so they can do their research at
night.The sky is brilliant with stars
here as there is no nearby light from a city so it’s a good location for the
telescopes.The evening turned windy and
cloudy so they might have had a hard time doing research then.
Sunday was another traveling day as we went south to
Presidio on the Rio Grande.We slowly followed
the river downstream to Lajitas.It was
interesting to see Mexico right across the river while we drove.In spots there might not be room for Crazy
The river road, El Camino Rio, is slow and roller
coaster-like as it follows the riv er.At one spot there is a 16% grade up to a mesa and overlook, and another
16% gradeto get back to the river level.Bob likes his diesel torque and exhaust brake.Paige liked the scenery – very twisty and
Tonight we are at a private RV park outside of the Big Bend
National Park.We plan some non-paved
roads, some hiking, and some scenic views for tomorrow.
We have been making up for lost
time, putting on quite a few miles lately the past couple of days.After sitting around in Yuma for about a week, Wednesday’s drive across
most of Arizona was just a warm-up.On
Thursday we entered New Mexico and crossed the Continental Divide, so we are
back in the middle part of the country.By the end of the day, we finally got to a river that had water in it:
the Rio Grande, where it comes south out of New Mexico toward El Paso before it
becomes an international border.We used
our membership in Harvest Hosts (see https://harvesthosts.com
) to spend the night at a winery near the state line and also near the river.
Yesterday was a little longer
day, ending in Ft Davis Texas after a quick detour through Pecos (not quite on
the way).Pecos didn’t have what we
wanted for an overnighter, so we came south into the Davis Mountains.The last 15 miles or so was especially
pleasant.This is the highest town in
the state, at over 5000 ft elevation, and has some interesting history.We plan to take today off and play at being
tourists again.We should have some
interesting photos and comments for tomorrow’s posting.
It has been over a week since our last posting.In the prior post we had mentioned our plans
and they all worked out.First, we had 3
days being a snowbird in Yuma where we saw the Territorial Prison (now a State
Park), went to Los Algodones Mexico (to see where Paige’s folks used to buy
their medicines) saw the Yuma Proving Grounds and Imperial Dam. Here is Bob waiting for "The Especiale" in a downtown tavern:
You know you are in "Snowbird Country" when the supermarket has a fleet of more than a dozen battery-powered shopping carts:
Last Wednesday, we moved about 17 miles to a large RV park
that was hosting a number of RV rallys: the Fleetwood owners club had just
finished, and both the Alpha and Freightliner clubs were there for the rest of
the week.Freightliner (the same company
that makes big trucks) makes rolling chassis for a number of RV builders.Freightliner puts together the frame with
wheels, tires and brakes then adds engine and transmission, steering and dash
hardware then Winnebago (or other manufacturer) adds all their stuff.This rally is part of the Family Motor Coaching
Association and is a chapter, or sub-group, for the owners of any brand of
motorhome built on a Freightliner chassis.We knew only one couple when we arrived, but made a number of new
friends.Two sites north of us was a
couple from Nova Scotia who had our same motorhome (but with a different paint
job).We had fun touring each other’s
rigs comparing storage ideas and problem areas.Just south of us was another couple with a house in the same area of
California where we just completed 2 projects.We sat in on a number of informative presentations and shopped at a
couple of vendor’s booths.
After the rally ended, Freightliner held two
limited-enrollment schools for 2 days each.Bob was lucky enough to get into the Mon/Tues school which just
finished.Paige had the opportunity to
spend time at Starbuck’s and doing little projects and cleaning around the
motorhome.Some people we met had to
loaf around (like seniors can do) until today when their school started.Now we know enough to be dangerous around a
service shop. Paige had time to hang around the pool:
Today was our longest driving day of the year at 275 miles.We are parked at the Escapees club’s Saguaro
Co-Op in Benson AZ.Here is what our
view through the picture window (windshield)
We finished working last Thursday and had a pleasant dinner
with the group that evening.This group
was such fun!We did a ton of
laughing.We don’t say “goodbye”, but
instead say “we will be seeing you again somewhere/sometime.”One couple pulled out early Friday morning,
and the other two went sightseeing to Venice Beach where there is great
people-watching.We stayed around
LaVerne and did routine errands and relaxing.On Saturday morning we hosted the others for a waffle breakfast, then
hooked up to leave the Los Angeles area.We stopped for the night at the Escapees Jojoba Hills Park outside of
Aguanga CA.This co-op park is
member-owned and, this time of year, the members are all here so the only space
for us over-nighters is in a boondocking area (no electric).After living with low voltage at LaVerne for
the past 6 weeks, we now have No-Voltage, so we are only staying here for one
night.It is a very scenic area with
lots of hills and ranches.
Tomorrow we will head for Yuma where we will be staying for
10 days: 3 on our own, 5 at a FMCA rally, and 2 at a Freightliner school.It looks like there are some interesting
sites to see there – a date farm, Algadonas Mexico, an old prison, etc.We should get some photos for the next posting.