Thursday, November 16, 2017

Arizona and New Mexico

Kingman, AZ

The drive on October 17, 2017 to Kingman, AZ took us through Las Vegas and past Lake Mead. We could see the "strip" off in the distance and this crazy creature was climbing over the wall of the expressway.
This was another two night stop where we didn't unhook the car. In fact all of the next stops will be short stays. Our mission was to get to Louisville by the weekend before Thanksgiving, we will leave the RV and the dog with family there while we drive the car to Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with Katrina and Steve. More on that from Cottonwood.
In January, we explored Kingman while driving Route 66 so there really wasn't much we hadn't seen. We stayed at the Blake Ranch RV Park. There are around 50 sites, a mix of back-in and pull-thru.

Our site was a pull-thru with full hook-ups, plenty long enough and very level. Laundry room and bathrooms were very clean, WiFi was spotty. There are two large dog parks and the park is well maintained.
They have a pretty gold fish pond in front of the office. The view from our site was very nice. We celebrated Les's birthday here with one of his favorite things - Dunkin Donuts was just a short walk away!

Cottonwood, AZ

This was an interesting stop. Turquoise Triangle RV Park was the first surprise. We arrived here on October 19, 2017 and we knew when the driveway was barely wide enough to pull into that we were in for a treat. We were greeted by two love birds when we checked in. This is small park, with about 90% of it full time residents. The few spots that are for over-nighters are very narrow buddy sites and very short. The RV just barely fit into the spot. Pretty sure the lady parked in front of us thought we were going to hit her RV! We had to maneuver the tow-dolly along one side of the RV and park the car on the other side. Luckily the people next to us were never there because we would not have been able to park two cars. The site was not level and the sewer hook up was broken. They did come and fix that right away. The WiFi didn't work. We paid $35 a night for all of this fun. Morning dog walks took place off site as there was nowhere on site to walk her, we met a donkey and found a ball that we brought home with us.

Cottonwood is about 20 minutes south of Sedona and we got to explore it with Chuck and Gina (Nancy's nephew and his wife).
There are a number of shops and art galleries along with restaurants and watering holes. We made a valiant attempt to hit them all. Les got to celebrate his birthday again.
Chuck and Gina had to head back to Phoenix after breakfast on Saturday and our plan was to go to Sedona but we ended up in the local emergency room instead. Let's start with we are both fine. Les had not been feeling "just right" for a few days and Saturday was the worst. Short of breath and pressure and burning in his chest. We were trying to decide if we should head to Prescott to go to the VA Hospital (hour and a half away) when the pains in his chest started getting worse and going into his arm. So off to ER we went. He did not have a heart attack - thank God. They are not really sure what was going on, his blood pressure was through the roof. They wanted him to stay so he could see a cardiologist, but agreed that going to the VA was okay. They supplied us with copies of all of the test results and we mailed them off to his doctor in Asheville. After talking with him we decided to stick to our plan and head to Louisville, shortening each stop to just two nights so we would arrive by the 10th. Les will go to the VA Hospital in Louisville to have additional tests run. He still tires very quickly but no additional severe chest pains.

St Johns, AZ
Nancy B - Best in class!

On our drive to St Johns on October 23, we made a stop at the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, in Joseph City, AZ.  Nancy collects pins to put on her canvas art bag and we had bought a Jack Rabbit pin that looks like their sign on our last stop here. She lost it somewhere in Alaska so we stopped to get another one. Also while getting gas we had to chuckle at the perfect placement of these two trucks.

We do find ourselves in some pretty small places and St Johns is one of them. We stayed at the Moon Meadows RV Park. This park has seen better days, but for two nights it wasn't bad. There are a number of sites, most empty, some with full time residents. There is a mix of pull-through and back-in. We had a long pull-thru with full hook-ups. WiFi was poor but our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $20 a night with no discounts. We did have to unhook the car here as we needed to mail the test results from the hospital to Les's doctor and there were unauthorized charges on our debit card so we needed to fax papers to the bank. One really nice thing about small towns is you can always find a great breakfast place. Tlc's Family Kitchen is the one in this town.

San Antonio, NM

The drive on October 25 took us through Pie Town, NM. There is not much here except the Gatherin' Place Cafe that serves delicious pies. Of course we had to stop and try them. Pecan custard for Les and Blueberry for Nancy.

As we drove down Hwy 60 we could see the large satellite dishes  from the Very Large Array, The National Radio Astronomy Observatory. They are so big you could see them from miles away.
Then we had to take a detour from the highway in Magdalena as there appeared to be something going on downtown. The police had the road blocked and cars stationed along the detour.

After all of that we arrived in San Antonio, NM, not to be confused with the one in Texas. This one is a very small town with a bar, general store and produce stand.
Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park was home for two nights. It is just outside of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge  and if it wasn't for the loud train it would have been very quiet here. There are around 20 sites, all gravel and a mix of 30 and 50 amp electric. We were in Site 15, it was level and plenty long enough for the RV, tow-dolly and parking the car. We had full hookups, there is no WiFi and no laundry. There was lots of open space to let Mielikki run off lead. We paid $25 a night with no discounts.
We did have to jump over a number of tumbleweeds

Truth or Consequences was just south of us so off we went. There is not much here to see but we love the name. A Knight in Shinning Armor greets guests at the Dude Motel and the Statue of Liberty stands guard at the Veteran's Memorial. We were not brave enough to venture into the House of Pain!

Elephant Butte State Park is just north of Truth or Consequences and we did enjoy our stop there. It is the largest state park in New Mexico. You can boat, fish and hike here. With Les not quite up to speed we enjoyed the views from one of the overlooks.

Our departure was delayed a few hours due to needing a new tire. Les discovered a crack in the front passenger tire while doing his drive day check of the outside of the RV.  Luckily, Socorro Tires in Socorro, just 15-minutes away had the tire we needed in stock. Once that was in place we hit the road.
While waiting on the repair, Nancy and Mielikki explored the area and came across
this beautiful Mission church.

Roswell, NM
The drive on October 27, took us through a variety of scenery. Rolling hills, volcanic rock and a little bit of fall color.
This was our second time visiting the Aliens. In February 2016 we stayed here for a week.
This time we stayed at the Town and Country RV Park. Large park and very well maintained. The back section, where we were is all gravel. The sites are long but on the narrow side. We had full-hooks and the WiFi actually worked. Nancy was so happy to be able to start getting caught up on the blog posts. They have a nice dog park, a pool and a clubhouse.
We did a little shopping in town, and once again somewhat disappointed in the lack of Alien stuff. Snapped a picture of a little green man, and we loved the "eyes" on the lamp shades.

Up next is Texas.

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Be prepared
In a previous post we talked about Nancy's notebook that she keeps all of the campground information in as well as sights we want to see in the area. Her recommendation also included listing all of the local emergency information. Hospitals, both VA and regular, Urgent Care, and Veterinarians so if there should be an emergency we are prepared. Well, over the course of time we have gotten a little lazy about this and at the stop in Cottonwood we did not have this information and it would have saved some frustration and a few minutes of time. Lesson learned!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Nevada - 3 stops


As we started our drive from Dunnigan, CA to Minden, NV  on October 8, 2017 we thought at first the haze we were seeing was from a dust storm as it was very windy. But, as we drove farther we realized it was smoke, what we didn't know at that time is it was from the terrible fires in Napa Valley. Once we were east of Sacramento the skies cleared and we had beautiful scenery.
We stayed at the Silver City RV Resort which is just south of Carson City, the capitol of Nevada. It is a large park and is very well kept up. Sites were long and wide. There is a general store with basic supplies and a rec room. WiFi was slow. We paid $23.71 a night with our Passport America discount. Because the area is so rich in salt and so dry, the surrounding fields are filled with puffs of dried salt and weeds.
They have a catch and release pond surrounded by golf holes. There are two small dog parks. Mielikki enjoyed her play time each morning with Puppy (that is the dogs name) and Nancy loved her conversations with Dan. He has lived in this park for three years and he always has a pocket full of dog treats. Once again meeting people along the way has made our travels that much better.

It took two days to drive around Lake Tahoe. Always thought of the lake being in Nevada, when actually only a small portion of it is, the majority is in California. The road around the lake has a number of overlooks and places to stop and relax or hike a little.
First day out we started at Glenbrook, NV and headed south around the lake and up the west side to Tahoe City, CA and then into the historic town of Trunkee, CA. From there we headed to Reno.
There was road construction at Emerald Bay which gave us time to enjoy the scenery and the electronic flag man.
Emerald Bay is very popular, we had a hard time finding a parking spot at the overlooks on either side of the bay.  Fannette Island sits in the center of the bay. It is the only island in Lake Tahoe. Peaking out thru the trees on top of the island are what is left of the "Tea House" which was built in 1929 as part of the Vikingsholm estate. It was the first summer home built on Lake Tahoe. The area reminded Mrs. Laura Knight of the fjords of Scandinavia so she had the home designed to fit that theme. The Tea House, reached by boat, was used by her and her guest until her death in 1945.

The altitude and the depth keep the water consistently cold all year. 
Our stop at D.L. Bliss State Park was fun. We wandered down to Lester Beach where we found the largest pine cones we have ever seen. The warning sign was enough to keep us from even poking our toes in the water. Lake Tahoe sits at 6,225-feet and is the largest alpine lake in North America. It falls just behind the five Great Lakes as the largest by volume in U.S. Its depth of 1,645-feet make is the second deepest lake in the U.S. just after Crater Lake at 1,943-feet deep.

We stopped for lunch at the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company in Tahoe City. It wasn't one of the better meals we've had and unfortunately the beer wasn't all the good either! Probably the first time we have left beer in sample glasses.

Truckee has a rough and tumble mountain town history. It was a lumber town and a popular stop on the railroad. Today it is filled with galleries and restaurants. Nancy loved the "heavy metal band".

Truckee was named after a Paiute Chief who guided many early settlers in their migration west. The first groups to encounter the tribe were greeted by the Chief yelling "Tro-kay" - which means "everything is all right". The travelers thought he was yelling his name. From 1846 - 48 thousands of people passed through the Truckee Basin on the California Trail.

From Truckee it was a pretty drive to Reno, NV and our last stop for the day.

We had actually planned out the day so we would end up here late in the day and stay till after dark to see the neon lights.
But, once we got here we discovered there really aren't that many lights, so we explored a bit and headed home. We loved the old buildings and got a chuckle out the the T-shirt/Loan sign.

The second day we headed north from Glenbrook up the east side, back through Tahoe City and then down the west side.
We stopped at Memorial Point Overlook. The water is so clear and such a beautiful color.

Mielikki of course
loved the hike.

View from Hwy 207

In Stateline, NV yes it is on the state line, we took Hwy 207 to Gardnerville and Minden before heading home.

In Minden they are refurbishing this old mill and we found the craziest corner ever in Gardnerville.

On October 12, 2017 we headed south down the center of the state. We drove over passes and through flat as a pancake land.
The north and south ends of the state have things to do - not so much in the middle.
This was just a two night stop over at Whisky Flatts RV Park. We didn't even unhook the car.
There are 60 sites. They are all pull-thrus and long enough for our rig and tow dolly. The park is well maintained and they have a small store with basic needs. Laundry room and bathrooms were clean and WiFi was spotty. We paid $28.71 a night with our Good Sam discount. Next to the park is a large open area that looks like a subdivision was planned here. There are roads and sidewalks but nothing else. Did make for a perfect spot to run the dog and offered some pretty views.

We got to our last stop in Nevada on October 14, 2017.
We stayed at the Beatty RV Park. Park is well maintained. They are called pull-thrus but if someone is in front of you in the first row, you would need to back out of your spot and for those of us with a tow dolly that can't be backed up that would be an issue. The sites are narrow but the view was pretty. WiFi did not work. There was an open field next to the park for dog walking but you had to watch out for wild burro and jackrabbit scat! We paid $25.00 a night with no discounts.
Any stick will do! Not sure who left that paw print.
Nice view from our site.

We did find things to do here. Just outside of Beatty is the ghost town of Rhyolite. It was once a thriving mining town with office buildings, schools, an opera house, banks and of course a red-light district. All that remains today are the walls of some of the buildings.

In 1905 gold-laced rock was found here. By 1908 Rhyolite was the third largest community in Nevada - at the time Las Vegas was just a stage stop! It reached its peak in 1907 with a population close to 10,000. The gold-rush didn't really pan out in the long run as only $2 million in gold was found over the course of 11 years. It appears they missed the main vein of gold as a  modern day mining operation located it just a few feet from the one used in 1905.

The train depot is the most intact building.
The general store, office building and school not so much.

The Tim Kelly Bottle House sits just outside of "downtown" Rhyolite. It is believed that around 50,000 bottles were used. Mr. Kelly gathered them from local business, he did not drink them all. He also did not wash them before using them and a family of Mormon Crickets was found entombed and mummified in one of the bottles. The old rusted out truck completes the scene.

Across the street from the bottle house is the Goldwell Open Air Museum. The grounds are filled with a number of art sculptures.

A variety of artists have created the metal sculptures and wood carving.

The larger plaster sculptures are by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski.

He created the ghost figures by wrapping live models in fabric soaked in wet plaster. Once the plaster was set, the model was slipped out, and then the figures were coated with fiberglass making them weather resistant. Can you imagine how cold and uncomfortable the models were?

"The Last Supper" was the first installation at the museum in 1984.


Nancy posed in this one thinking it was an artist, because of the palette, we found out later that it is actually a server. The Ghost Rider looks like he can't figure out how to get on his bike.

Beatty is called the "Gateway to Death Valley". While Death Valley National Park is actually in California it is less than 20 miles from Beatty. We spent two days exploring here.
The first stop you come to on Daypass Road is Hell's Gate. Seems like a fitting name.
Standing at this overlook it is hard to imagine what the early settlers thought when they reached this point. Not to mention the extreme weather conditions. Pretty glad we were in our car and not a wagon or on foot or horseback.

While the gold-rush did hit Death Valley, very little to none was found here. Borax, the "white gold of the desert" was the most profitable mineral. The Harmony Borax Works was one of the first in the valley and operated from 1883-1888. Financial problems of owner William T. Coleman and borax discoveries else where in California forced the company to close. The workers lived in crude shacks and tents in the fields. The 20-Mule Team that has been a symbol of the borax industry for over a century, played an important role by solving the difficult task of getting the product to market.

When we stopped at the Furnace Creek Visitor center it was 84 degrees and we were standing 190-feet below sea level.

Another appropriate name is Desolation Canyon. Well, really the whole place could be called that. But, yet there is such intense beauty here. From the overlook you can see into the pink canyon from one side and out across the salt flats from the other. A raven came to visit Nancy and put on quite the air show.
While the raven picture looks like two pictures it is really only one with a strip of white borax in the center. 

Artist Drive was an interesting road - it twists and curves and goes up and down like a roller coaster.
The different colors and layers of rock at each turn was mind boggling.

Just when you think you have seen all the colors possible you come to the Artist Palette! Pictures and words just don't do it justice. The different colors are from volcanic minerals being chemically altered by heat and water. An analyses of this area shows iron, aluminum, magnesium, and titanium. There is also some red hematite and green chlorite. The time of day, clouds or sun or the rare rainfall changes the colors.

The Natural Bridge is just a short hike from the parking lot, you feel quite dwarfed as you drive in and as you walk through the canyon. The views out over the sand flats was pretty nice too. 

Driving thru the Badwater Basin, you start to see more cactus and brush. You can see that the road meanders a bit. 
A few walls are all that is left of the Ashford Mill. In 1914 gold ore from the Golden Treasure Mine, 5 miles east, was processed here and shipped to a smelter. The picture on the left is the office building and the top right is the mill. It was only in operation for one year. The bottom picture is of our tour guide, Mr. Lizard. 
We headed south out of the park to Hwy 127 and into Amargosa Valley where we stopped at the Area 51 Alien Center. Sounds impressive but it really is just a gas station with a cafe and a store filled with tourist trinkets!    
It seems the mirror in the bathroom was hung by a very tall person. Nancy is standing on her tip toes and you can just barely see the top of her head. 

The second day in the park we headed to the north entrance. Unfortunately we couldn't go to Scotty's Castle as the road and some out buildings were destroyed in a flood.

We did get to Ubehebe Crater (u-bee hee-bee). Oh my what a beautiful place. Once again it is impossible to grasp the power of nature.
You can walk right up to the edge of the crater and there is a path that runs along the rim.

Mielikki wanted to run down the hill and play! No, we did not let her.

This volcano exploded a mere 2,000 years ago. It spewed shattered rock over a 6-square-mile area and in some places it was up to 150-feet deep. The crater is a half-mile across and about 500-feet deep.

We also tried to drive out to The Racetrack, but the road just kept getting worse and worse. So we wisely turned around and headed back. The racetrack is where you find the mysterious moving rocks that appear to move across the dry lakebed all on there own.

The Stovepipe Wells is in the Mesquite Sand Flats. This is the only well in the sand dune area.
Back in the bonanza days of gold mining and borax mines this was at the junction of two Indian trails. It was the only known source of water on the cross valley road between Rhyolite and Skidoo. A long length of pipe was inserted as a marker so it could be found when sand drifts obscured the spot. Hence the name.

You can walk out onto the Mesquite Sand Dunes and there were a lot of people doing that. We stopped for a photo and moved on as the day was getting away from us. At Stovepipe Village you not only find two working pay phones, there is a list of free calls you can make.

The  Mosaic Canyon is just past the village and we were glad we had saved the time to come here. This is our favorite place in the entire park. The geologic history of the canyon is a succession of fill-and-scour cycles. Major flash floods fill the canyon with up to 20-feet or more of gravel every couple of decades, sometimes blocking easy passage with large boulders. Less intense storms slowly scour the canyon again, removing the earlier deposits.

The walk through the canyon is unbelievable and we only did a small portion of the four-mile trail. The power of the water and stone has carved out this pathway and has polished the stone walls smooth. They look like they are rough but they are smooth as glass and even in the spots where the sun has been shinning on them all day they are cold to the touch.

Once again the different layers of rock and sediment were so fascinating and it was crazy quiet here.

Subject to intense pressure and heat, then polished by water, the dolomite has been transformed into beautiful swirls of marble. The breccia (rocks composed of broken fragments of minerals) is thought to be the remnants of a shattered landslide that once filled the canyon. Water rich with dissolved calcium carbonate cemented the breccia together. Then when the canyon was carved out again by water, patches of the "mosaic" are exposed.

Left: Dolomite                                      Right: Breccia 

As you drive towards Panamint Springs and the west entrance of the park the landscape changes once again. You start seeing more volcanic rock as you go through Towne Pass and then you are back to another basin.

As you twist and turn through the pass you can see the road stretching out through the basin.

Father Crowley Point overlooks the Rainbow Canyon where there is layer upon layer of volcanic rock.
The military conducts low-level flight training in this area. There were a number of people with lots of photography equipment waiting for one to fly by, but in the hour we were here none came.

From this paved overlook you can take a gravel road out to a point that overlooks the basin, and the views are stunning.

The road is a little bumpy, and it has a "round-about"!

Heading back out of the park for home we went through the Mud Canyon. The hills roll up and down along side the road and we thought one of the rock formations looks like a seal.

Arizona and New Mexico are coming up next.

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Dragging chains
There are two safety chains on our tow dolly that attach to the back of the RV at the hitch. We pull the chains up when we hook them so they are not dragging on the ground. Unfortunately there are a number of roads that have large dips and bumps in them, plus many driveways are slanted so steep you can't avoid dragging the chains on the ground. It is important to check the chains for any wear. One of ours had a link that was worn through. A chain link connector solved the problem!